34 Doctrines from the King Follett Discourse

King Follett Analysis

The King Follett discourse is the ultimate culmination of the slow and steady evolution of Mormonism from 1830 to April 7th, 1844, when the discourse was given. During the life of Joseph, Mormonism changed from Palmyra, to Kirtland, and finally culminated in the doctrines of Nauvoo that we know today. The King Follett discourse is a pivotal discourse in the church since it encapsulates everything that the church had become in Nauvoo and was the last general address that Joseph gave before his death.


In looking at the King Follett discourse a bit closer, we can see at least 34 distinct ideas that were taught by Joseph Smith. Many of these were quite controversial at the time however many were also natural extensions of Christianity as well. Historically we can see a significant amount of push back after the discourse was given. This was natural considering many of the idea have no scriptural basis at all and actually seem to be going against the Bible and Book of Mormon text.

The ideas will be presented chronologically, as spoken by Joseph, using the amalgamated text from Stan Larson. I find his research to be the best merger of all four accounts of the King Follett discourse. Due to length, each point will only be examined very briefly. The most controversial ones have already been looked at in much more detail so I would recommend that if you are interested.

In looking at each point I will prefer scriptures, specifically the Book of Mormon and Bible. However, as we will see, some of these points are completely outside the realm of scriptures so we ultimately have very little to support the idea except the claim of Joseph.

In reading through the discourse though, it is surprising how little it has to do with modern Mormonism. Being sealed in marriage or as families is not found anywhere in the discourse. Yet today it is the pinnacle of Mormonism. No mention of temples or temple ordinances, yet those are seen as essential for exaltation. Rigid priesthood hierarchies are also not found in the discourse yet today that is seen as essential for the operation of God’s kingdom. Unquestioning obedience to leaders who will never lead us astray is also found nowhere in the discourse, yet this is a crucial pillar of modern Mormonism.

In my opinion, the discourse simply sounds like it would be given by any person who is seeking after God and has some personal opinions. Some things may be right, and some things may be wrong, however it is the seeking after the divine which is the most important thing. Today in Mormonism we are not allowed to seek and query the unknown in our search for truth. We are to stay in the “Old Ship Zion” and avoid spiritual distractions which actually means to stay focused on the leaders. This is a recipe for spiritual disaster instead.

As a helpful guide, I went ahead and labelled each point with what I essentially consider to be a pass-fail score. The green checkmark, ✅, implies that the concept makes sense and seems to be scriptural while the red X, ❌, suggests that either there is a misunderstanding or there is no scriptural support for the concept. This of course doesn’t mean the concept is wrong, but for some of them there is absolutely no scriptural support, and as we saw previously some of them clearly violate previous teachings of Joseph. Therefore, we really need to be careful when we adopt them just because Joseph said it. The score also is just a helpful guide. You may see things completely differently which is perfectly fine. If I am way off on any of them then please let me know.

The King Follett Discourse

❌ 1. We must know God for eternal life

If any man inquire … he will realize that unless he knows God he has not eternal life for there can be eternal life on no other principle

Joseph Smith

Based on the context of this statement, it seems that Joseph was intending this to mean that knowing the type of being God is, is what determines whether we have eternal life or not. This is essentially what he was setting up and describing in the beginning of the discourse. This idea is very difficult to support through the scriptures. For instance, in the Book of Mormon there are several descriptions of how to obtain eternal life and none of them support the idea that we have to know anything specific about God. Nephi in 2 Nephi 31, gives his final testimony of the simple Doctrine of Christ and mentions that following that simple doctrine is what leads to eternal life. Nephi says nothing about knowing the physicality of God and that being a requirement. Little children have eternal life, and they obviously don’t know much about God. Christ also teaches how to obtain eternal life in 3 Nephi 15 and mentions nothing about knowing specific things about God.

❌ 2. Freedom of religion

All laws and government ought to tolerate and permit every man to enjoy his religion, whether right or wrong. There is no law in the heart of God that would allow anyone to interfere with the rights of man.

Joseph Smith

It is interesting that Joseph speaks about religious freedom and then almost exactly two months later he ordered the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor which opposed his religion and wanted a reset back to simpler principles. It is very easy to allow others freedom when they are not conflicting with you, however when there is a conflict then inevitably, we seek to control and limit others. This is human nature, and it takes great humility to not succumb. Today we have attempted to establish the legality of destroying the Nauvoo Expositor, however that misses the entire point.

❌ 3. God is a man

God Himself who sits enthroned in yonder heavens is a Man like unto one of yourselves—that is the great secret!

Joseph Smith

We know from Ether 3 that God can take the form of a man, however being a man is completely different. This statement of Joseph was actually seen as quite blasphemous at the time. There is also nothing scripturally which supports this concept. Jesus of course took the form of a man. However, this was not in an exclusionary sense. There was something we call Father that still existed outside of what we call the Son. Therefore, Jesus was not fully the Father and the Son while being human. Otherwise, the Father wouldn’t have existed while Jesus was alive on the earth. It does make sense to me though that God can appear to us as a man, however I doubt that he is in fact a man as we would think of what that means. Would he not appear to intelligent life in whatever form they were created as? A multidimensional pulsating blob is a lot harder to communicate with than a human figure.

✅ 4. Converse with God face to face

We may converse with [God] the same as one man with another

Joseph Smith

I don’t see any reason to think that we cannot converse with God in a very literal sense. If God is the author of all things, and “all things denote there is a God” as Alma says in Alma 30 then all things are extensions of God. In addition, angels have also been sent as messengers of God. Therefore, speaking to them would be equivalent to conversing with God. We may not always be able to converse with God, however we can always commune with him though the immensity of his creations. God could also appear to us in whatever form he chooses, and we could communicate with that face to face as Joseph mentions.

❌ 5. God dwelt on an earth

God Himself, the Father of us all, once dwelled on an earth

Joseph Smith

This idea of God being a man on an earth once, was seen as the one of the most controversial ideas after the discourse was given. It was essentially redefining who God was which was very upsetting to most Christians of the time. There is not a single scripture to suggest that God wasn’t always God, but was instead a man at one time that worked his way up to being a God. There are however numerous scriptures to suggest that God was always a unique being and was always the same. Of course, this could be interpreted a lot of ways however nowhere does it suggest that God was a human at some distant point in eternity. For instance, Mosiah 3, Isaiah 46, 2 Nephi 27, and Isaiah 43 all suggest this concept as being wrong.

❌ 6. The Father died and was resurrected

As the Father has power in Himself, even so has the Son power in himself. To do what? Why, what the Father did. That answer is obvious; even in a manner to lay down His body and take it up again.

Joseph Smith

The idea that God died and was resurrected is just an extension of the previous idea that God was a human once. If God was a human, then naturally he would have the lifespan of a human and it would be logical to conclude that he would have to have died at one time. However, for this whole concept to work then we would need to redefine what the word “God” means. It no longer means the infinite eternal being we call God, but instead is a title. As shown in the previous look at the King Follett discourse, Joseph also taught that God could fall and be cast to hell by his God thus further complicating the entity that we define as God.

❌ 7. All gods follow the same pattern

You have got to learn how to make yourselves Gods in order to save yourselves and be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done—by going from a small capacity to a great capacity

Joseph Smith

Throughout the entire discourse, Joseph spoke in many different ways about a divine plan of advancement from a lower entity to a higher entity. I think to a degree this makes sense, however of course there is nothing to support the concept in the scriptures. Certainly nothing to suggest that everyone has to follow a specific formula in order to advance throughout eternity. For instance, in Mormonism Jesus was primordially much more advanced than everyone else, and was a god, yet he didn’t follow any of the patterns laid out. Therefore, it seems possible to be spiritually godlike without following this pattern. There could possibly be multiple patterns or a more general pattern that is not described.

✅ 8. Eternal advancement

To inherit and enjoy the same glory, powers, and exaltation until you ascend a throne of eternal power and arrive at the station of a God, the same as those who have gone before.

Joseph Smith

One thing unique about Mormonism is the idea of eternal advancement or progression. I have always thought that this has made sense, however I am not sure specifically what it means. For instance, in mainstream Christianity we speak of eternity however scripturally we know very little about what that specifically means. We know we will be doing good things in heaven, however what about in a billion years or a trillion years. Eternity is such a vastly long time that I don’t think anything really makes sense once we start thinking about it. I certainly hope though that eternity is meaningful and purposeful for each individual.

❌ 9. Eternal MLM

When I get my kingdom, I will give it to the Father and it will add to and exalt His glory. He will take a higher exaltation and I will take His place and I am also exalted

Joseph Smith

According to Joseph, as we progress throughout eternity, we will grow in power which will cause our God to grow in power then our creations will grow and repeat the cycle. This will then cause an ever-increasing pyramid to grow in size with us at the top. This is the exact definition of a pyramid scheme, and I don’t see how it is even remotely sustainable. It also sounds very self-serving on God’s part. For instance, assuming there are only 1000 people who become gods and they create worlds where only 1000 people become gods and so on. After one iteration we have 1000 people, after two we have 1,000,000, after three we have a 1,000,000,000 and so on. These numbers start to grow astronomical very quick and after just a few generations you have more people than the atoms in the universe. This of course grows vastly quicker if you assume more than 1000 people become gods. We don’t know what eternal advancement looks like, however I doubt there are trillions upon trillions of gods creating and populating planets.

✅ 10. Learning after death

It will be a great while after the grave before you learn to understand the last, for it is a great thing to learn salvation beyond the grave and it is not all to be comprehended in this world

Joseph Smith

Along with eternal advancement goes the idea of eternal learning. Learning can take many different forms, however if there is eternal advancement then it would make sense that we would also be learning something along with the advancement. The scriptures don’t really speak much about this specifically as the scriptures almost exclusively deal with this earth life. If we are not learning though, then it would be consistent to conclude that we have reached an eternal plateau of knowledge which doesn’t sound very pleasant. However, if God knows all things, then there is nothing that he doesn’t know, and he has reached a plateau of knowledge. As mentioned before, we know almost nothing about the next life so saying anything specifically like Joseph did is just conjecture. I would think though that learning, and advancement, are two sides to the same coin, so I think this idea makes sense.

✅ 11. Council of Gods

Thus, the Head God brought forth the Head Gods in the grand, head council.

Joseph Smith

The concept of a divine council is something that we almost never speak about in Mormonism, however the bible actually makes it pretty clear. There is a divine council of beings which God presides over. Some members of this council rebelled against God, and this is what we refer to as the War in Heaven. We can see this council referenced in places like Psalms 89, Psalms 82, 1 Kings 22, and Daniel 4.

✅ 12. The Gods planned everything

The Gods came together and concocted a scheme to create this world and the inhabitants.

Joseph Smith

In the concept of the Divine council, it makes sense that God would use their input and assistance, otherwise what would be the point of the council? We can see this pattern in 1 Kings 22 where God calls his divine council together and asks what to do about the wicked king Ahab. A suggestion is put forth and God asks for details. God then seems satisfied and allows the council member to proceed. God could of course do everything himself, however God’s entire purpose is to help us manage the chaos of creation with him.

❌ 13. Knowledge is key to approaching God

When we begin to know how to come to Him, He begins to come to us. When we are ready to come to Him, He is ready to receive us.

Joseph Smith

The idea that we must have correct knowledge in order to approach God or to approach him more fully is honestly quite gnostic. Certainly, we must have some knowledge, or belief, that there is a God in the first place. However, there is no indication in the scriptures that we must have a specific belief or advanced knowledge to approach God. In fact, two great examples from the Book of Mormon are Lamoni in Alma 18, and Lamoni’s father in Alma 22. Both knew very little about God, were taught what we would consider basic information today, and then approach God and were accepted by him. There is no indication there was any secret or advanced knowledge given. There is also no reason to think this is needed for any purpose at all. Why would we have to know something specific in order to communicate with God?

❌ 14. God organized the world

Hence, we infer that God Himself had materials to organize the world out of chaos—chaotic matter—which is element and in which dwells all the glory.

Joseph Smith

If God didn’t create the matter, then where did it come from? Did a god before him create it? Who created that God and so on. We know scientifically that energy and matter are essentially the same thing and can be converted to each other. However, what happens when we run out of matter as it physically can’t be infinite? There is obviously a bunch of questions in this realm. Scripturally though we can’t really say one way or the other. However, it certainly seems like Hebrews 11 says that God created the universe out of nothing which makes far more sense to me. Is matter more eternal than God, or is God more eternal than matter?

❌ 15. Matter is eternal

Element had an existence from the time He had. The pure principles of element are principles that never can be destroyed. They may be organized and reorganized, but not destroyed. Nothing can be destroyed

Joseph Smith

We know scientifically that matter can’t be created or destroyed. However, this presupposes a closed system which we don’t know that the universe is. There is no reason to believe that God couldn’t take or add matter or energy to our universe from some other place. For instance, our entire universe could be a transitory entity that only exists for a finite amount of time. If matter is eternal though, then it has to be finite and it will eventually be used up completely. What happens then? According to the Bible though, God created everything, which would include matter. In 2 Maccabees 7, which is not included in the Jewish Bible but was in the original KJV, it specifically says God didn’t use preexisting matter in creating things. Again, if matter is eternal and exists independent of God then matter is in fact greater than God and God is a servant to matter. This whole concept doesn’t make sense to me religiously.

❌ 16. Mind of man is eternal

Man existed in spirit; the mind of man—the intelligent part—is as immortal as, and is coequal with, God Himself.

Joseph Smith

It is not apparent what Joseph meant with the concept of being coequal to God. However, it appears that it means being equally eternal. However, Joseph previously said that God was not eternal but had a beginning, so I am not sure if this makes any sense. If mind of man is eternal and God was a man once, then all intelligent entities existed as a set of unembodied minds. How did that first mind escape and elevate themselves to godhood so they could elevate others? If this is possible, then why do we need God at all as it can clearly be done without God. If it is not possible then how did the first mind do it?

✅ 17. Spirits exist after death

But their spirits existed coequal with God and they now [, after death,] exist in a place where they hold converse together one with another the same as we do on the earth.

Joseph Smith

Again, I am not sure what coequal means in this sense. However, it appears to mean eternal. Much of the scriptures are written from the perspective that this life will determine our eternal state. For instance, Alma 12, Mosiah 2, Daniel 12, and Matthew 25 all speak of eternal consequences for our actions in mortality. This would certainly suggest that we exist in some form eternally. However, there is no mention that we existed in a permanent eternal state alongside God. We certainly could have been spiritually created at some previous time and then existed since then. However, it certainly seems that Job 32, Zechariah 12, and Alma 22 suggest that we had a starting point. With that said though, the scriptures strongly suggest that we will exist with God after this life, so this concept does make sense. I would however want to clarify what being coequal with God means as that could be a lot of different things.

❌ 18. Spirit is eternal

Is it logical to say that a spirit is immortal and yet have a beginning? Because if a spirit of man had a beginning, it will have an end, but it does not have a beginning or end.

Joseph Smith

It is interesting that Joseph says that spirits are eternal by comparing them to a ring. The ring had a beginning and if God wanted it to never have an end, then he certainly could do so. We know that the physical body had a beginning yet through the resurrection it will not have an end. Yes, it might not be the exact same body as before, yet it is still what we would consider “our” physical body. Why could the spirit not be the same? Based on the previous point, it is also not clear if this is true according to the scriptures. From the scriptures it certainly seems like we had a creation point at some time and we didn’t exist in a conscious state prior to that. According to Joseph’s logic though, God had a beginning so he will have an end which contradicts Joseph’s logic. This is obviously self-contradictory.

✅ 19. Connection to God is spiritual

His commandments are revealed to our spirits precisely the same as though we had no bodies at all and those revelations which must of necessity save our spirits will save our bodies.

Joseph Smith

According to Joseph, God sees us as spiritual beings with a body instead of physical beings with a spirit. This makes sense since our bodies are currently just temporary shells for our spirits. Our bodies also are really not who we ultimately are. Every one of us was born with specific physical advantages and disadvantages that define us in mortality, however they are not who we ultimately are. God sees past these things and sees us as we truly are. In 1 Samuel 16, God says that man looks on the outward appearance, while God looks on the inward.

❌ 20. Baptism for the dead

All the spirits who have not obeyed the Gospel in the flesh must either obey the Gospel and be baptized, or be damned.

Joseph Smith

It is very clear from scriptures such as 3 Nephi 11 and 2 Nephi 31 that baptism is a core part of the doctrine of Christ. However, it seems equally clear from Moroni 8 that little children and those without the law don’t need baptism. Mormon says that those without the law are under no condemnation because they cannot repent therefore baptism for them is pointless which is the same for little children. Mormon actually says it is a mockery to God and puts our trust in dead works. Therefore, it is confusing as to why Joseph would say that baptism is required for everyone even if they didn’t receive the gospel in this life. It is possible that baptism for the dead could be useful for those that have died with the law, but chose not to be baptized. However, those without the law seem like a clear separate category. Baptism for the dead does seem like a dead work according to Moroni 8 though.

✅ 21. God sees us as eternal beings

We are looked upon by God, who dwells in eternity, as though we were in eternity, and when His commandments touch us it is in view of eternity. He does not view things as we do.

Joseph Smith

This seems almost identical to God seeing us as spiritual beings instead of physical ones. Certainly, God doesn’t see us as toys or playthings. He sees us as images of him and results of his selfless love. In fact, everything he does is to help us personally. God wants us to achieve all that we are capable of so how he sees us and everything he does for us is in view of this fact.

❌ 22. Proxy work is essential

The greatest responsibility that God has laid upon us in this world is to seek after our dead

Joseph Smith

If the greatest work we can do is proxy work for those that have died, then why is this concept not found in the scriptures? Why did the Biblical apostles not teach it? Why did Christ not teach it when he visited the Nephites? Why did Lehi and Nephi not teach it when they came to the new world? Why is the only support for this a cryptic scripture in 1 Corinthians 15? Mormon seems to make it very clear in Moroni 8 that baptism is unto repentance and repentance is only for those under the law who can repent. It would make sense that if seeking after our dead is the most important thing to do then Mormon would have mentioned something as it certainly seems like Mormon is excluding all the possibility of proxy work entirely.

❌ 23. Saved with our dead

I say to you, Paul, “You can’t be made perfect without us.” I will meet Paul half way. It is necessary that those who have gone before and those who come after us must be made perfect and have salvation in common with us.

Joseph Smith

In this case, Joseph seems to be referring to Hebrews 11 where Paul refers to “better things” which is Jesus himself. Thus, after the appearance and resurrection of Jesus the church was essentially complete, and the work of the Father was finished. If we really think about it, then God’s work is already done, and he is just wrapping things up at this point. The ancient and modern Saints, in Paul’s day, could finally be perfected through Christ together. This scripture has nothing to do with any kind of proxy work or joint salvation. Once the work of salvation through Christ was complete then we have an opportunity to be part of that or not. It is also interesting that the JST for that verse seems to agree with this interpretation and not with the proxy work for the dead interpretation that Joseph is suggesting here based on the KJV reading of the verse.

✅ 24. Forgiveness of sin

All sins and all blasphemies—every transgression that man may be guilty of—shall be forgiven in this world or the world to come, except one—the sin against the Holy Ghost.

Joseph Smith

This idea that all sins can be forgiven except the unpardonable one is clearly indicated in Matthew 12 and Alma 39. God is very kind and loving and I don’t think he would ever eternally hold something against us. We constantly make mistakes even incredibly dumb mistakes in our pursuit of God so this is very reassuring. I know I have had to rely on the mercy of God as I have tried to do what he wants of me. The language of Alma 39 though, seems to suggest that forgiveness of the unpardonable sin is possible, but is not an easy thing to achieve. I think this make sense. Is anyone too far gone for God to reach them? No, I don’t think so. If even the most corrupt people, with certain knowledge of their corruption, repent and turn to God, do we think that God would cast them aside eternally or would God give them another chance after they have made restitution? I seriously doubt anyone is outside the realm of God’s forgiveness and assistance.

❌ 25. No unpardonable sin after death

A man cannot commit the unpardonable sin after the dissolution of the body

Joseph Smith

Joseph mentions that a physical body is required to commit the unpardonable sin. This may be because outside of the mortal realm we have different knowledge and opportunities. However later in the discourse Joseph defines the unpardonable sin as simply ignoring truth that you know is truth. Therefore, it is not clear as to why we can only do this in mortality. If it is true though, then Satan, who could be described as the father of sin, couldn’t qualify for this definition and is not guilty of the unpardonable sin. Would we not be committing the unpardonable sin, in the next life, if we went to God directly and told him he was completely bonkers? I think it makes more sense to think that we can ascend or descend spiritually at any point in our spiritual journey back to God. This is whether we have a body or not.

✅ 26. No eternal damnation

He cannot be damned through all eternity; there is a way possible for his escape in a little time, so he is not particularly damned. If a man has knowledge he can be saved, for knowledge saves a man.

Joseph Smith

In modern Christianity many hold the viewpoint of an eternal reward, or an eternal punishment, based on your actions in mortality. Good works are certainly something to strive for. However, I think this is a fundamentally flawed concept. Are we to believe that because I sinned here in mortality, I am forever separated from God regardless of my future choices? Are we to believe that if I were to go to hell then, live according to the teachings of Christ, that God would require me to live in hell for eternity? What if everyone in hell repented and lived the gospel? Would it still be hell or would it become heaven? It seems far more likely that God will allow us to repent and return to him at any stage of our existence. It also seems likely that we can do the opposite which is evident though Satan and his actions. If at any point, we rebel against God then we separate ourselves from him. Therefore, we always have a choice whether we are progressing towards God or regressing away from him.

✅ 27. Saved by obedience to Gospel

When he consents to obey the Gospel, whether alive or dead, he is saved.

Joseph Smith

This point is somewhat similar to the previous one. If there is no eternal damnation, then there has to be a way to escape the damnation. This way is to follow God and his plan of deliverance from sin. This is the good news of the Gospel. According to Joseph then this way of deliverance is available during and after this life which makes sense. Understanding God’s requirements and obedience to them is all that God asks of us. This is like being locked in a room with only a very specific way of getting out. Once we understand the way and follow it then we can exit the room. However, how long we stay in the room is entirely dependent on us. As we have seen, the mercy of God knows no bounds so it is consistent to think that once we turn to him that he will allows us back into his presence.

✅ 28. State of hell

I have no fear of hell fire, that doesn’t exist, but the torment and disappointment of the mind of man is as exquisite as a lake burning with fire and brimstone—so is the torment of man.

Joseph Smith

Hell in the scriptures is certainly described as a lake of fire like in 2 Nephi 9, however it is also described as a bottomless pit, darkness, death, torment, and eternal punishment. We can see this in Revelation 20, Matthew 25, and 2 Nephi 25. It would be accurate then to think of hell as more than just physical pain for all eternity. Even if hell was a lake of fire, then it is not clear as to how physical pain would be consistent with a punishment for sin. It is much more consistent to imagine that once we understand the truth, with perfect clarity, then we will see exactly how dumb our actions have been and how we were the ones who separated ourselves from God. This perfect clarity is the hell that Joseph is describing which I think is perfectly consistent with the rest of the gospel message.

✅ 29. Unpardonable sin

What must a man do to commit the unpardonable sin? He has got to deny the plan of salvation; he has got to say that the sun does not shine while he sees it with his eyes open;

Joseph Smith

Joseph is describing here that the only unforgivable sin is to essentially turn away from God and deny him when you know that you are denying him. Everything else can and will be forgiven if we want it to be. This seems very consistent with Alma 39. We have to willingly go against the light and knowledge that God gives us in order to commit this sin. We can only do this willingly as it is never an unintentional action.

✅ 30. Die in faith

Your friends who have been murdered in the persecutions shall triumph gloriously in the celestial world, while their murderers shall welter and dwell in torment for years, until they pay the uttermost farthing.

Joseph Smith

The idea that those that die in the faith receive an eternal reward seems to be a universal Christian concept. It seems those that endure until the end of their lives or that are persecuted until death make the ultimate sacrifice. They seal their testimony with their life itself and show their willingness to God. This concept is reaffirmed in several scriptures like Alma 46, Revelation 20, and 3 Nephi 12.

❌ 31. Eternal children

[A child who dies] will never grow, it will be the child in its precise form as it was before it died out of your arms. Children dwell and exercise power, throne upon throne, dominion upon dominion, in the same form just as you laid them down. Eternity is full of thrones upon which dwell thousands of children, reigning on thrones of glory, with not one cubit added to their stature

Joseph Smith

This concept has no scriptural basis and doesn’t really make a lot of sense. I am not sure why God would require someone to be a child eternally even if the body didn’t really matter. It would be safe to assume that if we did exist spiritually before this life then we did so not as children, but as adults. Therefore, why could these children not be like their previous adult form? Also, historically billions of children have died very young so it would seem then that these children gods would be very common. Maybe even more common than adult ones, since children are automatically enveloped in the redeeming power of God.

✅ 32. Baptism is required

The baptism of water with the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost attending it is necessary and inseparably connected. He must be born of water and the Spirit in order to get into the kingdom of God.

Joseph Smith

It is unclear whether baptism is required for all people or just people who receive the law of God in the flesh. It is clear though that baptism is a special act that signifies an inward covenant that the person has already made with God. We can see this in John 3, Moroni 6, and 2 Nephi 31. There also does seem to be a link between a baptism of water and a baptism of fire or the spirit. Scripturally it seems that we can receive the physical baptism of water, however the baptism of fire or the baptism of the Holy Ghost is something that God does not necessarily give at the same time as the water baptism.

✅ 33. One baptism

There is … one baptism; that is, all three baptisms make one.

Joseph Smith

Joseph mentions that all the baptisms are connected, however he unfortunately doesn’t go into much detail at all about this. In 3 Nephi 12, one of the first things Christ does is to give twelve disciples the power to baptize with water. However, Christ mentions that he will be the one to baptize with fire and the Holy Ghost. Christ doesn’t mention how this will happen, but he clearly says that he will be the one to do it. Other scriptures like 2 Nephi 31 also support the link between a water baptism and a baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. According to 3 Nephi 9, it is also possible to be baptized with fire and the Holy Ghost while not knowing you are doing so. It is unclear how this is possible, honestly. I would imagine though, God does many things for us that we don’t know about.

✅ 34. Religion won’t save you

Repent! Repent! Turn to God and obey the gospel. For your religion won’t save you, and if you do not, you will be damned, but I do not say how long.

Joseph Smith

This is really interesting that it is one of the last things that Joseph says in the King Follett Discourse. He is simply calling for the people to repent and return to God. He doesn’t mention temple work, he doesn’t mention obeying leaders, he even doesn’t mention going to church or reading the scriptures. All he mentions is to repent and return to God. In Mormonism we place so many things between us and God. However, Joseph is here saying that it is actually very simple. In Joseph’s words religion won’t save us. It is only our ability to repent and return to God that will save us. Each one of us needs to examine ourselves individually and see how we have deviated from the pure and simple doctrine of Christ. We are then continually invited to repent and return. As we have seen God is always willing to receive us back into his protective fold.

Author: Patrick