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Last Update: 4/2014

Journal of Discourses

The LDS church today "disavows" many of the "theories" presented in the Journal of Discourses.  Today's LDS church leadership teaches transcriber errors do not allow for an accurate representation of the doctrines presented in the Discourses.  In this section, I present facts directly from the church that contradict the stance the current leadership takes with regards to the Journal of Discourses.

Leadership Continues to Teach from the Journal of Discourses

On the sub-link within this Journal of Discourses (JOD) tab is a list of quotes from the Journal of Discourses taken directly from, an LDS Church owned website:

In the last 25 years LDS church leadership has quoted from the Journal of Discourses approximately 500 times within official church magazines (Ensign, Liahona, New Era, etc.), manuals, and at General Conference sermons.  Why do the authorities in the church quote from it if they do not want you to use it? The church leadership continues to quote from it, yet they do not ever follow quotes with any type of disclaimer on the accuracy.  This creates a double standard because the church leaders are allowed to quote from the Journal of Discourses, but do not want regular members of the church or non-members reading and using quotes.  The reason is because they are embarrassed and disturbed by the teachings of the prophets and apostles during that time.  Even the 2009 edition of the Gospel Principles book every Mormon receives states the inspired words of the living prophet are to be accepted as scripture (p.48).  Sure these old prophets have passed away, but when they gave these sermons, they were very much alive to all their followers.  So if the doctrines they taught to their followers for many decades are now considered pagan or blasphemous by the church today, have these souls been lost forever?

The 1997 priesthood manual, Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, cites dozens of quotes from John Widtsoe’s 1925 book, Discourses of Brigham Young.  This book by Widtsoe was compiled by heavily relying on the Journal of Discourses as stated in the preface.  Given the General Authorities are using recent LDS publish manuals which cite a book that was only authored because the Journal of Discourses, doesn't this mean the LDS Church is still endorsing the Journal of Discourses?

Journal of Discourses: Standard Works and Eternal Truths

Each of the introductions to the discourse volumes has mainly prophets and apostles making bold statements such as the Journal of Discourses is “among the standard works of the church” or “is a vehicle for doctrine” or is “eternal truth.”  So when the current General Authorities tell you not to read and study it because of some potential transcription issues, would it not be natural to try to reconcile this?  Do you not think the General Authorities would have checked what was to be published over and over for accuracy since it was going to be presented to the world for Mormons and non-Mormons?  Sure, I can understand a few slips of the pen, but surely complete sermons on doctrines they taught could not have passed through to print.  If the Journal of Discourses has transcription errors, why don’t the General Authorities inform us where these issues occur so we will not use those selected words?  

The same goes for any other historical book or volumes the General Authorities have produced such as History of the Church, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, Mormon Doctrine, and many others.  By the way, virtually all of these books you can buy from  Why would Prophets and Apostles author these books if we are now left to assume the doctrines contained in them are no longer essential and eternal given the current General Authorities do not recognize and approve them?

Journal of Discourses Recorded "Verbatim"

Anyone who argues the Journal of Discourses is not accurate or unreliable is completely ignorant to the meticulous care in the transcription and preservation of the discourses or is willfully and knowingly lying to themselves.  The Journal of Discourses was published by Brigham Young's personal stenographer, George D. Watt.  Watt was one of few skilled in Pittman Shorthand, which allowed him to record sermons verbatim with a high degree of accuracy and reliability.  Current Mormon Assistant Church Historian Richard Turley Jr. and  LDS Pittman Shorthand specialist LaJean Carruth were interviewed in a 2013 video posted at to discuss the remarkable accuracy at which George Watt was able to record the sermons which are now published in the Journal of Discourses. 

LaJean Carruth states: "In Pittman Shorthand a skilled reported could record things verbatim so you would have exactly what the person said."

Turley states: "George D. Watt became the first person to take down sermons word for word."

Yesterdays Doctrine, Tomorrow's Heresy
Apostle George Q. Cannon stated the following regarding these discourses: "Read the discourses of the first Presidency and the Twelve, and you will see that they are filled with revelation, with light, with knowledge, with wisdom, and with good counsel unto this people...There has not been a single minute that this people has been left without the voice of God" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 10, pg. 345).

Brigham Young was quoted in the Mellenial Star saying, "We do not wish incorrect and unsound doctrines to be handed down to posterity under the sanction of great names, to be received and valued by future generations as authentic and reliable ... Errors in history and doctrine, if left uncorrected by us who are conversant with the events, and who are in a position to judge of the truth or falsity of the doctrines, would go to our children as though we had sanctioned and endorsed them" (Millennial Star, 1865, vol. 27, pg. 659).

Burying your head in the sand and ignoring the teachings of Prophets like Brigham Young does not change the fact that the essential and eternal doctrines they preached are now considered heresy by church doctrines of today.  God did not ask us to check our brain at the door once becoming a member of the LDS church.

What do you have to lose by looking at all the objective facts?  I am not suggesting you go trust everything you read on the internet because I do believe there are certain things pertaining to Mormonism which are incorrect and/or hateful.  Reading from accurate and unfiltered church history documents should be a win-win situation for the typical Mormon.  You will gain one of two truths: 

1.) You will educate yourself of the historical issues within the LDS church and be able to defend your faith to non-believers while strengthening your testimony.

2.) You will realize there is an enormous amount of covering up of radical doctrines and issues the church suppresses for a reason. You may then realize that you have been turned to another gospel and a different Jesus as Paul mentions in the Bible (Galatians 1:6-9). 

These historical doctrines Joseph Smith and Brigham Young once declared essential and eternal have now been eliminated or suppressed by the General Authorities.  I know if a Mormon were to ask a question regarding any of these doctrines to your church leadership (because I did), they will shift the focus from your question to questioning your testimony. The most you could get from them resembling any sort of answer would typically be, “it’s deep doctrine,” but only after they share their testimony of the LDS Church.  Now does this sound wrong to anyone?  Asking a simple question about the church and one’s testimony is attacked or they are just told to not focus on the history because it’s “deep doctrine”?  God has never rebuked anyone honestly searching for answers. The approach one is commanded to take regarding what we are being taught is at polar opposites in the Gospel vs. Mormonism.

God has promised us He and His word has never or never will change or pass away (Isaiah. 40:8, Psalm 100:5, Hebrews 13:8, James 1:17, Matthew 24:35, Mark 13:31, Luke 21:33).  We are under a new covenant (contract) through the death of Christ on the cross.  Terms of contracts do not change, just as God’s promise to us does not change.  So why are the terms of exaltation in Mormonism changing over time on doctrines the Prophets once declared everlasting?  Eternities in heaven or hell (both the Bible and the Book of Mormon only mention one or the other, not three degrees of heaven and outer darkness) are at stake and no matter what a person feels is right does not change the foundational doctrines and history of Mormonism.  People can be as sincere as possible; you can be sincerely wrong, but that will only lead to spiritual death.  You can be wrong about who you vote for or what you what car to buy, but I urge you that you cannot be wrong about what Gospel you choose to follow.  The consequences are eternal.

Truth Loves Light; Lies Love Cover of Darkness
Jesus said the truth loves the light and lies love being hidden in darkness (John 3:20-21).  Are members of the LDS church who are told by the leadership to only read and study specific church approved material and websites really able to make an honest, accurate, and objective assessment of the historicity of the church?  If the LDS church were the true church, leadership would promote their members and investigators to test the claims of the church, because if it is true then all they will find it truth!

Gordon B. Hinckley stated, “Well, we have nothing to hide. Our history is an open book. They may find what they are looking for, but the fact is the history of the church is clear and open and leads to faith and strength and virtues." - Dec. 25, 2005 interview with The Associated Press.

Though Boyd K. Packer had a different opinion in a 1981 speech to seminary and BYU teachers called “The Mantle is Far, Far Greater than the Intellect”.  Packer states, “"You seminary teachers and some of you institute and BYU men will be teaching the history of the Church this school year. This is an unparalleled opportunity in the lives of your students to increase their faith and testimony of the divinity of this work. Your objective should be that they will see the hand of the Lord in every hour and every moment of the Church from its beginning till now... Church history can be so interesting and so inspiring as to be a very powerful tool indeed for building faith. If not properly written or properly taught, it may be a faith destroyer... There is a temptation for the writer or the teacher of Church history to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not... Some things that are true are not very useful... That historian or scholar who delights in pointing out the weaknesses and frailties of present or past leaders destroys faith. A destroyer of faith — particularly one within the Church, and more particularly one who is employed specifically to build faith — places himself in great spiritual jeopardy. He is serving the wrong master, and unless he repents, he will not be among the faithful in the eternities... Do not spread disease germs!"  

What Packer is saying is to stop teaching these kids the true history of the church because is destroys faith.  Hiding the facts of Church history is deception which, the Bible and the Book of Mormon are both against.  Let me ask you this question Mr. Packer.  What is more faith promoting than truth?

Mormons have a very strong faith in their doctrines and prophets.  But the strength of your faith is not as important as the object in which you place it in.  A weak faith in the biblical Jesus is infinitely more important than the strongest faith in a particular church, prophet, non-biblical gospel, or false Jesus.  This is the reason the Gospel of Jesus Christ desires us to test the claims of what we are taught in our churches or by proclaimed prophets against the Bible.  From the birth of Jesus’ Church, people have tried to bring in new doctrines (such as circumcision) telling the early Christians if they really want to get close to and accepted by God to follow these Jewish customs.  Paul warns the Galatians of this very thing, which he calls accepting another gospel in his writing to them.

The church leaders have consistently stated the church is either the only true church or it is a fraud; there is no middle ground.  If that is the case, then you owe it to yourself and your families to test your faith and the claims of the LDS church as the Bible implores you to do.  Search the scriptures.  Read some unfiltered historical church documents to see if Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and other leaders of the church are the same people and have the same teachings as what is given to you today.  Test their doctrines and prophecies as the Bible commands.  Remember, if the church is true as it claims, it should welcome investigation because the only thing people would find is truth!

It should be no surprise that among the highest percentages of Mormon groups who are no longer with the church are Church Historians, Assistant Church Historians, BYU Professors (especially in the field of science), and General Authorities.  In fact, of the original 12 Apostles, only five did not leave the faith.  Additionally, of the 11 “witnesses,” only five were not excommunicated or did not leave the faith.

While you are reading, please keep in mind all the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church manuals the LDS church uses for lesson teaching during church service and see if the teachings in those manuals line up with the teachings from these same Prophets and General Authorities sermon excerpts on the JOD Quotes link.