|The Condemnation of the Church and the Reorganization ....||Bob Moore|
When Restoration saints separated themselves from the administrative structure of the church, they provided an exceptional opportunity for critics to circulate assorted accusations against and diverse condemnations of the latter-day work. Faultfinders thrived long before the first Restoration branch formed. They date back to the publication of the Book of Mormon and the organization of the church. From that time, members and non-members have alike exposed what they believed were contradictions and falsehoods in our message, performance, and administration. The Reorganization responded to every criticism, particularly during the presidency of Joseph III, and successfully overcame each one, but that was years ago, before many present-day members were born.
The revisions church leaders recently made to the restored gospel not only revealed them as unsteady believers, but they ignited the spirit of accusation among the saints. Members believed that they were being betrayed by their pastors, district and stake presidents, appointees, and even apostles. Even the prophet was denounced. Most conservative saints grew suspicious of the motives and activities of church leaders. As they closely inspected every word and deed, some began wondering if the deviations from the original teachings of the church began generations before. A few devoted themselves to detecting every error. Perhaps they believed that if they discovered the first mistake, the saints could return to that juncture and, after correcting it, directly proceed to finish the great latter-day work. Their efforts only resurrected the wide assortment of past accusations and complaints, which quickly spread among Restorationists. These saints, already made suspicious by the present-day betrayal, willingly received, nurtured and sometimes expanded the criticisms.
Because too few saints know the response that the Reorganization made to past complaints, they are unable to confound the present-day critics or subdue their accusations. They are, as Roscoe Davey observed in 1966, a "cut-flower generation," severed from their roots and unable to long abide. Consequently, the independent Restoration branch movement is currently rife with alternative teachings, complaints and interpretations, while many honest saints lie confused and disheartened.
One popular position now circulating among the saints is that God placed the church under condemnation in 1832 and that it still remains there. The revelation states, "Your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief and because you have treated lightly the things you have received, which vanity and unbelief hath brought the whole church under condemnation. And this condemnation resteth on the children of Zion, even all; and they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written, that they may bring forth fruit for their Father's kingdom, otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion" (D&C 83:8).
While the church was censured for unbelief and light treatment of the things received, God placed the burden for this condemnation squarely on the saints who lived in the land of Zion. The revelation states, "This condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all" (D&C 83:8b). Just as Achan's sin brought all Israel under condemnation and caused the death of 36 men (Josh 7:1-5), the vanity of the saints in Zion placed the entire church under divine censure. Only the saints in Zion could correct this wrong by repenting. The Lord made that fact clear when he said, "They shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written" (D&C 83:8b). The "they" in this injunction refers to the saints in Zion. It is the previous noun to that word in the sentence. The they cannot refer to the church. Not only must the reader ignore two references to the saints in Zion to jump back to the word church, but proper grammar would require the injunction to read "It shall remain . . . " if the Lord meant the church.
A close analysis of the revelation discloses that the saints in the land of Zion were treating the glories revealed in the latter-day work too lightly, disbelieving portions of it, and causing God's condemnation to come, not only on them, but on the entire church. The remedy was for the saints in Zion to remember and follow all those revelations -- the Book of Mormon and the "former commandments." If the saints in Zion refused, the commandment warned, "There remaineth a scourge and a judgment to be poured out on the children of Zion" (D&C 83:8c). The judgment was not for the church, but for the saints in the land of Zion.
Critics emphasize the saints' failure to remember the Book of Mormon, but ignoring that book, according to the revelation, is only part of their failure. In addition to the Book of Mormon, they needed to remember the "former commandments." The former commandments refer to the latter-day revelations, which the saints in Zion were suppose to publish in the Book of Commandments. God did not like the way they regarded them. Perhaps they were modify the language of the revelations or refusing to obey the requirements that they imposed. Critics overlook this part of the divine injunction and concentrate on the Book of Mormon. Recent changes implemented by leaders of the Reorganized Church that have apparently diminished the stature of the Book of Mormon are easy to point out to Restorationists and may be the reason critics concentrate on its presence in the revelation.
Almost four months after receiving Section 83, Joseph Smith wrote W. W. Phelps, who lived in the land of Zion, a letter in which he revealed his complaint against the brethren there. He wrote, "Our brethren in Zion indulge in feelings towards us which are not according to the new covenant, yet we have the satisfaction of knowing that the Lord approves of us, and has accepted us, and established his name in Kirtland" (CH 1:266). Joseph's words show that God approved of the saints in Kirtland, but not those in Independence. Later, he prophesied, "If Zion will not purify herself so as to be approved of in all things in his sight, he will seek another people; for his work will go on until Israel is gathered . . . Repent, repent is the voice of God to Zion . . . Hear the warning voice of God, lest Zion fall, and the Lord swear in his wrath 'The inhabitants of Zion shall not enter into my rest'" (CH 1:267-270).
Other relevant words in Joseph's letter are, "Our hearts are greatly grieved at the spirit which is breathed, both in your letter, and that of Brother G-----'s; the very spirit which is wasting the strength of Zion like a pestilence; and if it is not detected and driven from you, it will ripen Zion for the threatened judgements of God"; "I did not expect that you had lost the commandments, but thought from your letters you had neglected to read them, otherwise you would not have written as you did" (CH 1:271). These two sentences help us understand that the "former commandments" were neglected by the brethren in Zion, a condition from which Section 83 required them to repent, and that those saints carried a spirit that, if left among them, would bring God's judgments. Joseph's letter to Brother Phelps shows that the condemnation gathering on the church resulted from problems in Zion. The way to remove that condemnation was for the saints in Zion to repent and remember, or stop ignoring, the former commandments and the Book of Mormon. If not, God's condemnation would bring his wrath in such a measure that, as the revelation specifies, "He will seek another people" (CH 1:268).
Zion did not sufficiently repent and God's judgments came. The saints were driven from the land of Zion and finally expelled from the state of Missouri. Such judgments injured the church, for it no longer had a divinely appointed place on which it could build a holy city. They also fulfilled the divine condemnation placed on the saints in Zion. Just as Achan's death removed God's censure from Israel (Jos 7:13-26), the banishment of the saints from the land of Zion completed God's condemnation of latter-day Israel. The church was left to suffer under its penalty until his verdict prepared its members, or a portion of them, for a return to the appointed land. After enacting punishment, God could not justly condemn the saints again without giving them another warning for other misdeeds. That second warning came in 1841 and revealed that if the church did not build the Nauvoo Temple, it would be rejected (D&C 107:11a).
At the time that the saints in Zion were being driven from the land of Zion, God made a promise to the church. He said, "Zion shall not be moved out of her place, not withstanding her children are scattered, they that remain and are pure in heart shall return and come to their inheritances; they and their children, with songs of everlasting joy, to build up the waste places of Zion" (D&C 98:4g). Among those driven from Missouri were Emma, Joseph III, and Alexander Smith. They returned and their children, David Smith, Elbert Smith, Vida Smith, and Audentia Anderson penned the songs of Zion, some of which are still sung among the saints. These people were not the only saints or children of saints driven from Missouri who also returned, but those that did, returned under the care and direction of the Reorganized Church. God called these returnees the "pure in heart." They remained when pretentious and ambitious leaders scattered the flock. Joseph declared that if necessary God "will seek another people" (CH 1:268). That other people is the Reorganization. They remained, were pure enough in heart to be led back to the land of Zion, and began building up its waste places.
The Reorganization was a new organization of the saints recognized by the civil courts as the legal successor to the original church. It is a point of law that a new organization, even if it is a successor, cannot be burdened by the encumbrances of the former entity. Any divine condemnation or rejection of the original church was exercised on that body and cannot be lawfully charged to the Reorganized Church. The Reorganization is only responsible for its own errors.
In his first epistle to the scattered saints, Joseph III wrote, "In the name of bleeding Zion, I call upon all those who have been wandering in by and forbidden paths, and have been led astray by wicked and designing men, to turn from their scenes of wickedness and sins of convenience; . . . to turn and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon; to lay hold anew upon the rod of iron which surely leads to the tree of life; to remember that those who live to the Lord keep his commandments" (CH 3:294-295). In this epistle, the prophet invited the saints to meet the conditions specified in Section 83 for the removal of the condemnation once placed on the saints in Zion: that is, to remember the Book of Mormon and obey the latter-day revelations. Simply by obeying that part of the epistle the saints were prepared to reoccupy the land of Zion. That invitation was extended long before any of them returned to Missouri. As scattered members heard and obeyed the invitation, they equipped themselves for the time when God fulfilled his promise to return the faithful saints. The fact that God led the Reorganization back to the land of Zion years after the epistle made its invitation witnesses that the saints coming under the Reorganization's government complied with the epistle's direction. They remembered the Book of Mormon and the latter-day commandments. They were not under divine condemnation because of disbelief. At no time since its return has God said that he placed the Reorganization under condemnation.
A second complaint accuses the church of failing to take the gospel to the Indians as commanded in latter-day revelation. The Lord admonished Oliver Cowdery, apparently in late August 1830, saying, "Behold, I say unto thee that thou shalt go unto the Lamanites, and preach my gospel unto them" (D&C 27:3a). The same revelation specified that the mission should wait until after the next conference and the settlement of difference between Oliver and Hiram Page (D&C 27:4a-b). Church history records that the conference began on September 1 and continued for three days, during which time "Brother Page, as well as the whole church, who were present, renounced the said stone, and all things connected therewith, much to our mutual satisfaction and happiness" (CH 1:123-125). Later that month, the Lord assigned Peter Whitmer to accompany Oliver (D&C 29:2a). At a conference in October, during which time "a desire was manifested by several of the elders respecting the remnants of the house of Joseph, the Lamanites, residing in the west . . . that they would receive the gospel and enjoy its blessings" (Times & Seasons; Vol 4, No 11; April 15, 1843; P 172), a revelation added Parley Pratt and Ziba Peterson to the group (D&C 31:1). Parley Pratt says that the four of them left on their mission in late October 1830 (Parley Pratt; Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt; P 47). The missionary party's first stop was to the Catteraugus Indians near Buffalo, where they "made a present of two copies of the Book of Mormon to certain of them who could read, and repaired to Buffalo" (Pratt; P 47). From Buffalo, they traveled 200 miles to Kirtland where they shared the gospel with Sidney Rigdon, a friend and instructor of Parley. The elders were well received and they stayed in Kirtland to explain the latter-day message and organize a branch of the church. F. G. Williams of Kirtland joined the party when they continued their journey, but the missionaries were halted only fifty miles later in the area where Parley had recently lived by the arrest of brother Pratt. He was tried on a "very frivolous charge" (Pratt; P 48), the judge demanding that the elder prove himself an apostle. Parley escaped and the missionaries proceeded to western Ohio where they stayed with the Wyandot tribe and shared the latter-day message. Upon their departure from the Wyandots, the missionaries went south to Cincinnati where they preached the gospel without success until they boarded a steamer for St. Louis. Ice blocked the river where the Ohio enters the Mississippi, forcing the missionaries to disembark. They traveled on foot, again preaching along the way, and passed through St Louis shortly after New Year's Day. They arrived in Independence sometime in late January 1831.
Oliver Cowery and Parley Pratt and a third* crossed the border into what is now Kansas to visit the Shawnees and Delawares. They taught the gospel to the leaders of the latter tribe and presented them with copies of the Book of Mormon. The Delawares enthusiastically received the message and made plans to build a council house that spring in which the elders could teach the Book of Mormon. Some of the tribe began repeating in their native language what they heard to other Indians. News began to spread among the Indians, but their zeal led to the missionaries' expulsion from Indian territory. Parley Pratt records, "The excitement now reached the frontier settlements in Missouri, and stirred up the jealousy and envy of the Indian agents and sectarian missionaries to that degree that we were soon ordered out of the Indian country as disturbers of the peace; and even threatened with the military in case of non-compliance" (Pratt; P 57). The elders left Indian territory before February 14, 1831, less than four months after they began their journey and within six months of the first command to undertake it.
Critics now condemn the missionaries for hindering their expedition to the Indians with unnecessary stops along the way, primarily with their stay in Kirtland. They maintain that other Indians, some who might have been divinely led, failed to hear the gospel because the elders arrived too late at the frontier. They cite the journey for four Nez Perez and Flathead Indians who came from Oregon territory. The Northwest Indians arrived in St Louis in 1831 hoping to receive copies of a book that contained commandments from the "white man's God." Their names were Black Eagle, Rabbit Skin Leggings, No Horns On His Head, and Man Of The Morning (Alvin M. Josephy, Jr.; The Nez Perce Indians and the Opening of the Northwest, Abridged Edition; University of Nebraska Press; 1971; P 89). They did not find what they came to receive. When they left, one of their numbers addressed General Clark, saying, "I come to you over a trail of many moons from the setting sun. I came with one eye partly opened, for more light for my people who sit in darkness. I go back with both eyes closed. How can I go back blind to my people? I made my way to you with strong arms through many enemies and strange lands. I go back with both arms broken and empty. My people sent me to get the white man's Book from Heaven. You took me where you allow your women to dance, as we do not ours, and the Book was not there. You took me to where they worship the great Spirit with candles, and the Book was not there. You showed me the images of good spirits and pictures of the good land beyond. But the Book was not among them. I am going back the long, sad trail to my people of the dark land. You make my feet heavy with burdens of gifts, and my moccasins will grow old in carrying them. But the Book is not among them. When I tell my poor, blind people after one more snow in the big Council that I did not bring the Book, no word will be spoken by our old men or by our young braves. One by one they will rise up and go on the long path to other hunting grounds. No white man will go with them, and no white man's Book to make the way plain."* Supposing that the Indians came for the Book of Mormon, the critics maintain that if the elders had hurried in their journey, they would have met this Indian delegation and provided them with the book they sought.
Perhaps the critics believe that the missionaries failed their commandment because they preached to Americans along the way. If they believe that the elders were not suppose to proclaim the gospel to anyone except the Indians on their assigned mission, then they misunderstand an elder's responsibility. The Lord's commission to the elders is to cry repentance to all (D&C 18:2l). He did not suspend their divine obligation for this mission. Joseph confirmed the expectation that the elders would preach in any place through which their journey took them. He wrote, "Having got ready for their journey, they bade adieu to their brethren and friends, and commenced their journey, preaching by the way, and leaving a sealing testimony behind them, lifting up their voice like a trump in the different villages through which they passed" (Times & Seasons; Vol 4; P 172). The preaching of the gospel by the missionaries at Kirtland, near Parley's former residence, in Cincinnati, or through Illinois, did not violate God's commandment. It fulfilled it.
The critics suggest that the missionaries delayed their mission so that they could visit Kirtland. This is not true. The elders first visit was with the Catteraugus Indians near Buffalo, not with the whites in Kirtland. Kirtland was simply on the way from the Catteraugus tribe to the Wyandot nation. Perhaps the critics believe that the reason the elders missed meeting the delegation from Oregon Territory was because their delay in Kirtland made their arrival in Missouri too late. A close analysis will prove this supposition equally false. Although they found great success, their stay in Kirtland was brief. Parley's round trip to Independence lasted about six months (Pratt; P 61). The trip to Independence took three months. If Parley spent approximately two weeks with the Delawares, his return trip lasted about two and one-half months. This means that the stops made by the missionaries delayed their arrival in Independence by just three weeks. Part of that time was spent with the Catteraugus and Wyandot tribes. This analysis suggests that the elders could not have spent more than two weeks in Kirtland. The matter, however, is irrelevant. The four Indians from the Oregon Territory arrived in St Louis during 1831. As it was, the Elders passed through St Louis during the first few days of 1831. Had they not stopped in Kirtland, they would have arrived in St Louis around the middle of December 1830, even further ahead of the Indian delegation then they did.
Another reason that the elders missed the Nez Perez Indians is that the missionaries went to Independence, while the Indians went to St Louis. The commandment specified the elders' destination when it revealed, "It shall be on the borders of the Lamanites" (D&C 27:3d). While the context refers to the site of the holy city, it is contained in the same paragraph in which the mission to the Indians is commanded. Joseph Smith showed that the church understood that the revelation required the missionaries to travel to the western side of Missouri He wrote, "Immediately on receiving this revelation [Section 31, October 1830], preparations were made for the journey of the brethren therein designated, to the borders of the Lamanites" (Journal of History: Vol 3; No. 1, January 1910; P 61). St Louis is not near Independence, nor was it on the border of the Lamanites at that time. The criticism that the elders should have met the Indians is unjust. They never intended on staying in St Louis and were only there sometime during the first few days of January 1831. Parley Pratt returned through St Louis in "the latter part of February" (Pratt; P 58) 1831. Where were the Indians when the elders were in St Louis?
Joseph passed through St Louis sometime near the first of July 1831. He arrived there in a steamer and disembarked, continuing his journey on foot to Independence (Church History; Vol 1; P 202). He returned from the dedication ceremonies at Independence and passed through St Louis around the first of September 1831 (Church History; Vol 1; P 213). His account mentions no sermons to or even contact with anyone in the city. If the Indian delegation was in St Louis during that time, they had a wonderful opportunity to not only obtain a copy of the Book of Mormon, but to meet the latter-day prophet himself.
A closer examination of the reasons for the Indian delegation and the company with whom they came provides additional clarity. During the winter of 1829-1830, Spokan Gerry preached throughout the Nez Perez tribe. He was son of Illim-Spokane, the most influential Spokan chief, who, in 1825 had been given by the chief to Sir George Simpson for an education at a white man's boarding school. Simpson took him to the newly established missionary school at Red River, where the lad was baptized on April 12, 1829, into the Church of England (Josephy, P 77). Garry returned shortly after his baptism with a leather bound copy of the King James Bible and showed it wherever he preached. After the winter of 1830-1831 the Nez Perez in council with the Flatheads decided to send a delegation to obtain a copy of the book for themselves. Some modern scholars think their purpose included courting American assistance in their growing dispute with the Spokan tribe. Two traders, Lucien Fontenelle and Andrew Drips, both attached to the Hudson Bay Company, were preparing to return with their bounty of furs and obtain supplies for the coming year. The Indians asked to accompany them.
Fontenelle and Dips left Utah on June 6,1831, (Josephy, P 85) and traveled to Monida Pass on the Montana - Idaho border, where they joined the four Indians. The party followed the Missouri River to St Louis, arriving there around the first of October, about a month after Joseph left the city for Kirtland. Fontenelle took them to the home of General William Clark, the partner of Meriwether Lewis. The two had survey the Louisiana Purchase for Thomas Jefferson from 1804 to 1806 and visited the Indian Tribes throughout the Oregon Territory. Black Eagle, the head of the Indian delegation, came from a community in which its chief had personally met Clark. The American explorer was still widely revered among the Northwest Indians, which was undoubtedly one reason why the Indian delegation chose an audience with him. Another reason is that General Clark supervised Indian affairs for the government, serving as Indian Agent from 1822 until his death in 1838. He was the most logical person to hear and meet the Indians' request.
During their visit in St Louis Fontenelle took the four braves to the local Catholic Church. Black Eagle died on October 31, 1831 and Man of the Morning perished on December 17, 1831 (Josephy, P 89-90). Both were buried in the Catholic Cemetery, an indication that the two had been baptized Catholics before their deaths. The remaining two braves left St Louis with Fontenelle aboard the steamboat Yellowstone on March 26, 1832. When they arrived at Fort Union near the mouth of the Yellowstone River, No Horns on His Head died (Josephy, P 90). Only Rabbit Skin Leggings return to the Nez Perez nation with news of the delegation's visit.
The journey of the four Northwest Indians might be unpublished today, except for the efforts of William Walker. Walker, a white-man, had married a Wyandot woman. The Wyandots placed him in a leadership position, probably because he was an American. Walker came to St Louis on his way to inspect lands in Western Missouri to which the government was requiring the Wyandots to relocate. He sought an audience with William Clark at the same time that the Nez Perez Indians called on the General. According to Walker, the Indians sat in an adjacent room while he talked with Clark. Walker wrote a friend, G. P Disosway several letters, telling about the Indians and their plight. Disosway, a New York banker and Methodist who was interested in missionary work among the Indians, published the letters, the first appearing in the Christian Advocate on March 1, 1833. A portion of that letter reads as follows:
"General C. related to me the object of their mission ... It appeared that some white man had penetrated into their country, and happened to be a spectator at one of their religious ceremonies which they scrupulously performed at stated periods. He informed them that their mode of worshiping the supreme Being was radically wrong; ... he also informed them that the white people away toward the rising of the sun had been put in possession of the true mode of worshiping the great Spirit. They had a book containing directions how to conduct themselves in order to enjoy his favor and hold converse with him; and with his guide, no one need go astray; but everyone that would follow the directions laid down there could enjoy, in this life, his favor, and after death would be received into the country where the great Spirit resides, and live forever with him. Upon receiving this information, they called a national council to take this subject into consideration. . . They accordingly deputed four of the chiefs to proceed to St. Louis to see their great father, General Clark, to inquire of him" (Hiram Martin Chittenden; American Fur Trade of the Far West, Vol 2; Academic Reprints, 1954; P 916-917).
The foregoing history proves that the church missionaries did not arrive too late to meet the Indian delegation. The elders arrived in Independence at least six months before the four chiefs began their journey and remained there during the entire time that the Indians visited the State. If the Nez Perez had heard about the Book of Mormon libraried with the Delawares, they would have headed for Kansas. Twice they passed Independence as they followed the Missouri River, making no effort to call on the elders. Their destination was General Clark in St Louis, showing that they either never knew or willingly ignored the church's mission to the Indians. Either way, the book for which they came was the Bible, not the Book of Mormon. They wanted a leather bound copy of the King James Version, but were probably offered a Catholic Bible instead.
If critics want to condemn someone for the failure of the Nez Perez delegation to hear the gospel or receive a copy of the Book of Mormon, either William Walker or General Clark are better candidates than Oliver Cowdery and his companions. As superintendent of Indian affairs, General Clark should have known about the church's mission into Indian Territory. If the excitement was so great that the border was closed to the elders and the threat of military force made, proper protocol would have at least dispatched news of the action to General Clark and at most obtained his sanction for it. Even if he sympathized with the elders, he failed to lift the ban. When the Indians complained to General Clark about their failure to obtain the book, the General could have directed the delegation to Independence.
William Walker, on the other hand, probably knew about the elders' mission to the Indians and the Book of Mormon that they distributed. He was a tribal leader of the Wyandots and came from their nation in Western Ohio during the fall of 1831. He may have met the missionaries when the visited the tribe a year before. Perhaps, he heard them preach. Maybe he saw a copy of the Book of Mormon. Since he is the one who publicized the failure of the Nez Perez Indians to obtain a copy of the sacred book, he was certainly aware that the Book of Mormon could have satisfied their desire. His failure to tell the Indian delegation about the Book of Mormon and the elders shows that he disbelieved the latter-day message. His disbelief was further revealed by his letters to Disosway, a person he knew to be active in Methodist missionary work.
No honest investigator can rightfully accuse the church missionaries of failing to meet the four braves and provide them with the Book of Mormon. Those Indians came for the Bible, not the Book of Mormon; went to St Louis, not Independence; and came after the elders arrived, not before. The early church believed its mission to the Indians in 1831 was a success. Parley wrote, "Thus ended our first Indian Mission, in which we had preached the gospel in its fulness, and distributed the record of their forefathers among three tribes. . . We trust that at some future day, when the servants of God go forth in power to the remnant of Joseph, some precious seed will be found growing in their hearts, which was sown by us in that early day' (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt; P 57). Part of their success can be measured in the number of Book of Mormons that the missionaries distributed. While the total taken is not disclosed in the historical record, most, if not all, that they took were given away. One reason for Parley's return to New York was to "procure more books" (Pratt; P 58).
The first mission to the Indians, while reasonably documented, was not the only connect that the church made with that remnant of Joseph. On August 12, 1841, a sizable number of Sac and Fox Indians visited Joseph in Nauvoo. During the visit Keokuk, a prophet for the Fox, told about the book Joseph had personally given the Indian sometime before. Joseph recorded, "Keokuk replied that he had a Book of Mormon at his wick-a-up, which I had given him some years before" (Journal of History; Vol 3, No 1; January 1910; P 67). This obscure account reveals that other efforts by the church had distributed the Book of Mormon among the Indians. We know that W. W. Phelps preached to an "audience of white pioneers, negroes, and Indians" (Journal of History; Vol 3, No 1; January 1910; P 67) in July 1831 when Joseph and his company visited Independence for the purpose of laying the cornerstone of the Temple. The only other account of preaching to the Indians before the death of the martyr tells of a visit of Pottawamie Indians to Nauvoo "during the summer of 1843" (Journal of History; Vol 3, No 1; January 1910, P 68). How many Indians heard the gospel or received a copy of the Book of Mormon in those early days cannot be known, but the evidence shows that the elders made several contacts, perhaps more than we now assume, and certainly more than the critics suppose.
To maintain that the Reorganized Church has been under divine condemnation, whether for the failure to build up the church among the Indians in 1831 or because the inhabitants of Zion failed to remember the Book of Mormon or the latter-day commandments, is outrageous. It completely ignores historical facts. Worse yet, it accuses saints whom God authorized and led. The Bible reveals that the accuser of the brethren is the devil (Rev 12:10). Satan would like the Restoration saints to discard that which they have inherited through the Reorganized Church. Such an abandonment only spreads confusion and division. The pure in heart will resist this temptation, bring no accusation and render no judgment against the decisions and positions of the Reorganized Church during its time of doctrinal fidelity. To do otherwise, is to embrace the wiles of the devil, sow discord, and dishearten the saints.