Joseph Smith taught that there are Fathers in Heaven. A friend of ours showed me this card. I asked him if I could have a copy of the card. Here is part of the email he sent me. [used with permission]
Joseph knew what he was saying. The LDS church used to give (and maybe still does) church office building employees a nicely bound gospel book each year. My step-father would pass along many of these to me as he was not too interested. Many years ago I kept the card that was included with one of the books because I liked the picture on the front and the quote within. It’s a quote of quotes:
My heart swells with gratitude inexpressible when I realize the great condescention of my heavenly Fathers, in opening the hearts of these, my beloved brethren to administer so liberally, to my wants and I ask God in the name of Jesus Christ, to multiply, blessings, without number upon their heads, and bless me with much wisdom and understanding, and dispose of me, to the best advantage, for my brethren, and the advancement of thy cause and Kingdom, and whether my days are many or few whether in life or in death I say in my heart, O Lord let me enjoy the society of such brethren. [emphasis added]
This quote can be found in the pen of Joseph Smith in his 1835-1836 Journal, as preserved in the JSP project here. Joseph wrote this verse after a number of brethren had come forward to pay off some of his debts (the ledger is included above the quote in the journal). All the LDS church references to this quote make Fathers singular, but you can clearly see JS wrote this word in the plural form when he originally wrote it. I’ve attached a photo of the card — impressively, the church history department stuck with the original “Fathers".
- That quote, the original version, was an entry in the JS Journal from Dec 9th, 1835. You can find it on page 118 of the JSP Journals Vol 1: 1832-1839.
- That quote is NOT SEARCHABLE in the JSP project using the term “my heavenly Fathers” (or any variation of it using CAPS or lower case, with and without the comma, etc), try it here and see if it comes up…it doesn’t. You get 21 other references to “my heavenly father”. The only reason I knew of the existence of that quote was because of that card the Church History department gave to my step-dad. I honestly think, regardless of intent, that someone in the church has blocked the term “my heavenly fathers” from being searchable.
- I don’t know all the details of how the Manuscript History of the Church was compiled, but I do know that there were 6 volumes and volume A-1 was completed prior to the death of JS and it is claimed he edited/reviewed it. However, that volume only went up through Aug 1834, over a year before this quote. Volume B-1 commenced in Oct 1843 and took several years to complete, I believe….and JS wasn’t around to oversee: "Though JS did not dictate or revise any of the text recorded in B-1, Willard Richards and Thomas Bullock chose to maintain the first-person, chronological narrative format established in A-1 as if JS were the author. They drew from a variety of primary and secondary sources including JS’s diaries and letters, minutes of meetings, the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, church and other periodicals, reports of JS’s discourses, and the reminiscences and recollections of church members. As was the case with A-1, after JS’s death, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, George A. Smith, and others modified and corrected the manuscript as they reviewed material before its eventual publication.”
- Now, look at this quote (just the first part) in the History B-1: "My heart swells with gratitude inexpressible, when I realize the great condesentions of my heavenly Father in opening the hearts of these my beloved brethren to administer so liberally to my wants…” There it is…changed!
I just find this to be an incredibly interesting quote that was either deliberately or carelessly changed by editors within a couple of years after the death of JS…one of many I’m sure. I wonder for every one gem like this how many others have been totally lost?
Anyway, the original quote conveys both Joseph's close relationships with his Fathers in Heaven and Christ, as well as the beautiful affections he had for his brethren….a fellowship above and a fellowship below. It’s a treasure.
I believe the Doctrine of Christ is the path of ascension. It teaches me who I am and how to follow in the footsteps of my Father. The Father bears record of the Son and the Son bears record of the Father; but they do not bear record of the Holy Ghost because it is still in a state of probation. The Holy Ghost bears record of the Father and the Son by following in the footsteps of the Son, doing His works, thus glorifying the Father and the Son.
I see there is still much for me to learn about the eleven verses in 3 Nephi 11:31-41.