Misinterpreting the First Horseman
Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon religion, causes many difficulties even today, because again and again he misunderstood passages in the the King James Bible. He read quickly. He skimmed through complex poetry, seeking nuggets for his sermons. He had a good memory, but he was on his own for deciphering biblical text.
He had no access to Koine Greek, per se, or to The Revelation in its own language. He did not know its history. He had no access to the main body of Catholic or Protestant annotation for these verses. He made guesses.
Smith had no one to serve competently as a content editor or as a researcher for his writings. He also took to changing the Bible where he thought to make improvements. (No small ego, this guy!) As one example, Smith was much impressed with the verses of The Revelation of St. John the Divine, Chapter 6:
1 And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.
2 And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.
This is his departure point for what is called the "White Horse Prophecy"
(or WHP for short.)
At one point Joseph Smith raised his own army, a force of some 5,000 men. He liked the idea of a conqueror. In 1843 Smith, acting as The Prophet, delivered his "White Horse Prophecy" based explicitly on this section of the 66th book of the King James Bible.
Accordingly, a Mormon man will ascend to the American presidency and "save the constitution." Mitt Romney said he believed he was that man destined for Smith's "White Horse." Mrs. Romney said this year that she wanted him "to fulfill his destiny." Mitt Romney said when he was a teenager that he would become this first Mormon president.
There are a number of extreme statements in the WHP. It reads like a graphic novel. We have no idea how much of the text took hold for Mitt Romney or what he remembers of it. A few weeks ago he said something odd, apparently out-of-time about Russia, which recalls this WHP snip:
...Many will come with bundles under their arms to escape the calamities for there will be no escape except only by escaping and fleeing to Zion. Those that come to you will try to keep the laws and be one with you for they will see your unity and the greatness of your organization. The Turkish Empire of the Crescent will be the first power to be disputed, for freedom must be given for the Gospel to be preached in the Holy Land. The Lord took of the best blood of the nations and planted them on the small islands now called England and Great Britain and gave them power in the nations for a thousand years and their power will continue with them that they may keep the balance of power; and they will keep Russia from sweeping her power over the world.
LDS hierarchy protest that WHP is not doctrine. It never was, because the extant text was written after Joseph Smith's death. He never saw it in writing.
The status of WHP is as strong today in Mormonism as at any time in history. Glenn Beck, for one, all but wallowed in WHP for his televised rants. Typically:
"...at a certain point, the Constitution would 'hang by a thread' and the leaders of the LDS Church would come forth to protect and restore the Constitution. Despite the continued controversy regarding the authenticity of this account, the White Horse Prophecy has been embraced by Mormon culture. Mitt Romney has denied that it is part of his own beliefs, despite his father’s own stance on the subject (he felt that Mormons would, in fact, save the Constitution). Glenn Beck has referred to this in his own crazed rants over and over. The White Horse prophecy is embedded into the very fabric of Mormonism."
"Why Romney’s Mormonism Matters" at Counterpoint
-- Renato Wardle, Happy Valley, Utah
Prophet Smith was spectacularly talented at blending magic with real world goals. There can be no question of his gifts. He founded LDS.
Nonetheless, this Chapter 6 tells the story of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Understanding the main implications of this text requires that we consider connections with more than a dozen other sections of the Bible. That is work for trained biblical scholars, people with the language skills to work with original texts. As noted, Joseph Smith had no such language skills and he was not suited to comparative textual analysis.
That work has been done over many years. Annotated Chapter 6 texts are available. A variety of opinions can be found to help understand The Revelation's poetry. Within the school of thought that sees The Revelation as prophecy for future events, the identities of the major figures have been worked out.
The rider of this first horse, the horse of Smith's "White Horse Prophecy," is not a hero. Not at all. He is the prime villain of The Revelation, a bringer of worldwide destruction. This first rider is presented similarly in other sections of The Revelation. He is identified by virtually all contemporary biblical scholars as the Anti-Christ.
Smith did not assay the connections. He misread and misunderstand to the point of reversing the meaning of Chapter 6.
Joseph Smith considers the White Horse of his prophecy to be an allegorical figure. Yet he gives it power. He gives it an existence in the human world. He gives it a magical power, as a spell or a charm.
"The White Horse," as re-conjured by Prophet Smith, is a magical protection for lies.
-- Smith identifies lying severally and throughout his works and sermons to be the most powerful weapon for gaining earthly political power.
-- In practice, Smith's "White Horse" functions as a protection for public lies -- specifically, lies that are constructed to achieve advancement outside of the Church.
What could be of concern for Christians, literal-belief Christians all the more, is seeing a politician come along who believes these things. Who sees WHP as his personal destiny. This man will change any position. The man lies with no moral distress. He will say almost anything.
During the Wednesday night debate, Mitt Romney spoke quickly, smoothly -- apparently more at ease -- when he was reciting planned lies. This speech-pattern change is apparent with his 38 repetitions of the false-witness claim that Obama and his people had taken "$716-billion" out of Medicare.
Romney has come to be comfortable with planned lying. He is not so free and easy with ordinary talking, where he has to work at it to maintain control of his phrases and messaging.
Media are doing little to call out demagoguery.
Romney is pressing claims to simultaneously cut tax rates, not add to the deficit, repair America's shattered world image, create 12-million jobs, raise military spending, and save both Medicare and Medicaid from destruction. Let the campaign go on past Election Day and he will promise to learn to fly without mechanical assistance.
The corporations' media employees are assigned a motto: "Hear no evil. See no evil. Speak no evil."
Smith's White Horse is functioning perfectly. Based on these observations, anyway.
The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints is not involved. The original White Horse Prophecy is never discussed in the context of Chapter 6 of The Revelation. Despite that Joseph Smith was explicit in his sourcing, bringing up this connection to the Holy Bible is forbidden. Insisting on bringing up Smith's misreading of biblical text by a Temple-letter Mormon would almost certainly result in excommunication.
LDS has a simple failing. There is no independent quality control. LDS is not the only religion with this problem. Appeal to Authority, a standard type of informal fallacies, is allowed to dominate approved thinking. In LDS bowing to authority is called "faith-supporting."
Excommunication shuts off bottom-up efforts at quality control.
Joseph Smith's "Book of Abraham," for example, has been proved to have a dishonest provenance. He claimed it to be a "translation" from "Reformed Egyptian" on mummy wrappings. One could not construct a broader example of dishonesty.
Plainly bad teachings, such as this White Horse Prophecy, are given a forced respect. It is not Church doctrine, legally and officially, yet the words came from Prophet Smith and Prophet Brigham Young vouched lion-like for its central themes. Statements from Prophet McKay and others have never addressed the nature of the White Horse, itself, same as they never admit that the Red Horse is violence.
Tests for honest sourcing and truthfulness are not applied, apparently from fear that improvements will cause embarrassment. Of course, they do. "Every improvement embarrasses someone," from the great Japanese engineer Ichiro Ishikawa. That is why organizational change demands courage.
Easier to kick it all down the road. Easier to look the other way and count gold.
One casualty of this failure to clean shop at LDS is Mitt Romney.
The man did well at Harvard Law, if not quite as well as President Obama. He has ability. Yet as a young man he had a talent for lying. When he came upon this "White Horse Prophecy" he fell into it -- a hazard left on his life's road by the management at LDS -- and went on down like Alice falling into the rabbit hole at the start of her Adventures in Wonderland.
Please consider an analogy with drinking alcohol. Fully 10% of social drinkers become alcoholics. They lose control of their habit. They fall down that rabbit hole. So what do you think happens with liars?
America as a Civilization
We must be our own leaders, as Occupy says. We must determine where problems exist. We must act when needed.
We must be vigilant. We must act when our liberties are threatened. We must beware that wealth and such as a man's clothes do not make the man.
False witness, slandering lies told over years and years? Yes, that makes something. What Mitt Romney makes of himself by attacking so many truths ???
You can decide for yourself what you think of him.
His speech pattern from Wednesday evening is not encouraging. Romney is at ease, he feels protected telling prepared lies. There is less chance, then, that a clumsy phrase will catch him out.
Mitt Romney is not a supernatural figure. He is not a death-eater Anti-Christ. He just plays one in real life. Physical work, money, whatever it takes from us -- we do have to stop this guy.
If you would like to see more in the way of links and what Romney has done with big lies over the years, then please follow below le chignon d'orange....