John L. Smith
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  • Transcriber's Comments

  • 1900s Rev. Robert B. Neal's pubs   |   1900s Rev. John D. Nutting's pubs.   |   The Tanners

    entire contents © 2003-2006 John L. Smith Ministries, all rights reserved

    Vol. III.                          Marlow,  Oklahoma,  Mar.-Apr., 2004                          No. 20.

    [p. 7]

    An Article In Dialogue:
    Journal of Mormon Thought

    Vol. 1, Winter of 1966, Page 15

    The article, by Karl Kotter [sic - Keller?], a professor at San Diego State College, concerns a manuscript lecture of Sidney Rigdon's son, John Wickliffe Rigdon. This was delivered at Alfred University and other colleges and communities in the New York area around the first of the 20th century.

    The son, after losing his holdings in the oil industry and having only small success as a lawyer, wrote this lecture out of pride for his father.

    He suggests that his father might have achieved fame and fortune if he had limited himself to one philosophy -- but during his life he was a Baptist, then a Campbellite and a Mormon. Then he ceased to be either.

    The son seems to be saying, "I was there, I saw the makings of things, I watched a great man rise and fall."

    It appears that all-personal records of Sidney Rigdon and his family were destroyed.

    Though it was reported that in his later years he wrote "novels and books" they were all destroyed by the family, so states a granddaughter described as the only remaining descendant of the family. She preferred to remain anonymous.

    Wickliffe Rigdon, in the 1890's, after he had rejoined the Mormon Church, wrote a manuscript that he called "Life Story of Sidney Rigdon."

    Though never published, it is now in the LDS Church Historian's office in Salt Lake City.

    Why was it never published?

    (B. H. Roberts in his Comprehensive History of the Church (vol. 1, 234-5) includes two paragraphs, Joseph Smith, in his History of the Church (I, 122-3).

    In the quote by Roberts, John Wickliffe Rigdon related how he himself visited Utah in 1863 and that he "was not favorably impressed with their religious life, and came to the conclusion that the Book of Mormon itself was a fraud."

    He determined to ask his father more of what he knew about the origin of the Book of Mormon and concluded that he was "suspicious" of the story.

    Upon asking his father if the story about the Book of Mormon was true as Mormons told it, "Sidney Rigdon again confirmed the story."

    However, he did, in the 1890's re-join the Mormon Church.

    The Dialogue article says that Wickliffe's Life Story "makes him appear much more favorable to the LDS Church than in his many lectures."

    In his lectures he often mentioned the Spaulding Theory and the RLDS movement.

    In July 1965, Friendship, New York held a Sesqui-Centennial commemoration and celebrated Sidney Rigdon as one of its most famous sons. Though the Dialogue article mentions that few in the area had ever heard of Rigdon.

    The Rigdon family graves were referred to as points of interest.

    During the celebration a "commemorative service was conducted by President H. Lester Peterson of the Mormon Cumorah Mission and President H. H. Christenson of the Susquehanna District of the Mormon Church at the local Baptist Church, a building that Rigdon was forbidden to enter all the days of his life in Friendship, New York." (Our Italics)

    In the evidently heretofore unpublished manuscript Wickliffe refers to himself as the only surviving child of Rigdon. Rigdon died there in 1876 at the age of almost 83 years.

    Wickliffe declared that he could not remember a time when he did not know Joseph Smith. He always lived close by.

    Sidney was born, he says, 10 miles from Pittsburg (PA) then a city of 10,000 inhabitants. He was the 4th child of his parents. His brother, Loami was sickly and thus unable to do farm labor, was to be educated and became a physician never to return home.

    Sidney too wanted to be educated. Thus, he pursued History, English, the Bible, even spelling and grammar were among his pursuits.

    At length his father died, they sold the farm and his mother went to live with a daughter.

    Sidney studied theology and wanted to become a Baptist minister. The young Rigdon says that he studied under a preacher named Peters who was a "Straight Baptist." Wickliffe adds in parenthesis "(I do not know what a straight Baptist means, unless it is those Baptists Who believe in infant damnation...)" (Author: In this he must have been grossly ill-informed.)

    Young Rigdon had already mentioned his dad's fine grammar, his precise language, and an eloquent preacher, now he says that "Nature made him an orator...."

    At length Rigdon married and became pastor of the Baptist Church in Pittsburg, the largest congregation in the city.

    At length, according to the Dialogue account, an older preacher arrived and asked Sidney it he "taught the Baptist confession of faith [regarding] infant, damnation?"

    When Rigdon replied that he did not, the old preacher replied "that we would have to teach it as it was a part of the Baptist Confession of faith."

    (Only having been a Baptist minister for 65 years, and having spoken in a thousand Baptist Churches and dozens of College and seminaries that is, new to me!)

    Anyway, that's the way Young Rigdon told it'

    Thus, the story goes, when he "referred to teach the Baptist confession of faith" there was quite a stir in the congregation.

    To avoid a quarrel, he resigned!

    For a time he worked as a tanner with his brother-in-law.

    According to Wickliffe's son, Sidney Rigdon and Alexander Campbell immersed each other -- and thus the "Campbellites" were born. (Their group is now called The Disciples and the Church of Christ.) Wickliffe said there was not much to their confession of faith, "they believed in the Lord" and were "baptized for the remission of your sins" and professed to take the Bible as their guide.

    Rigdon moved to Mentor, Ohio and soon had "quite a large congregation." They bought him a little farm nearby and built him a house. Before they could move in, Parley Pratt and two or three other fellows came by.

    They brought a new book, the Book of Mormon. He had never seen it before.

    (Here his story parts with the other stories of the event.)

    Now Parley had been acquainted with Rigdon and they told him of Oliver Cowdery's cousin, Joseph Smith, and the story of this new book. He allowed them to preach to his people that night. It appeared that he knew nothing of their strange teachings prior to that night.

    Rigdon stayed up most of the rest of the night talking to these fellows and reading the Book of Mormon.

    Of course there are many, many reasons to believe that this was not Rigdon's first knowledge of the book or of Joseph Smith.

    A few days later the guests returned and for the record at least, Sidney Rigdon became a Mormon.

    Sidney Rigdon was never able to move into that new house in Mentor that the congregation had built for him. Even the Campbellites refused further relationships with him.

    He moved to Hiram, Ohio and one night a mob came after both men. They got Rigdon first. He weighed about 225 pounds. They dragged him by his heels over the frozen ground, bumping the back of his head, then they tarred and feathered him and pounded him until they thought that he was dead.

    Then they found Joseph Smith and tarred and feathered him. Being younger, he was not seriously injured.

    Then Wickliffe proceeded to tell how Joseph and Sidney started for Jackson County, Missouri.

    The next years seemed to go rather rapidly according to Wickliffe's story. There was trouble in Jackson County so they moved to Clay and Caldwell counties.

    Then they moved to Kirtland, Ohio and built their temple there.

    Still standing, the RLDS movement now owns this building. After only three years their temple there was finished.

    Sidney Rigdon preached the dedication sermon there. A footnote in Dialogue, page 27 says, "Sidney Rigdon preached two and a half hours!" It also states that the temple was not dedicated.

    In less than two years after the completion of the temple they were forced to leave. This time over the starting of Kirtland Bank. It failed, a footnote says because of a national financial panic in 1837 and the resulting depression, but it was rather the result of "extravagant borrowing of church members in 1836-37." The footnote on page 28 mentions the real problem. When refused a charter (after the money had been printed), they inserted the words anti and ing making the name of the bank not Kirtland Bank Co but Kirtland antibanking Co.

    Therefore, after all kinds of subterfuge, the bank failed, and Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon (officials of the bank) took "leg bail." They left in the night.

    Young Wickliffe spoke quite eloquently of the episode of that trip that began in the night at Kirtland and ended day's later (pg. 28-30).

    His story of the "war of extermination" speech beginning on page 31, telling of David Patten and his death (pg. 32) which proves the book could not be what it claims (D&C II 4:1). For after prophesying Patten's mission, to begin the next spring, he was killed at Far West, Missouri and, of course, was unable to perform this prophetic mission.

    After several pages Young Rigdon finally reports Smith's death in Carthage Jail (pg. 39) at the hands of the mob and of his father's rejection by Brigham Young and of his leaving Nauvoo never to return.

    Interestingly, Young Rigdon declares (pg. 40) "I do not think the church made any mistake in placing the leadership (of the church) on Brigham Young. He, in my opinion was the best man for the place that the church could have selected. Sidney Rigdon had no executive ability, was broken down in sickness, and could not have taken charge of the church at this time."

    Young Rigdon ended his book by telling about his visit to Salt Lake City years later! Though he seemed to profess his faith in the Mormon Church and he reported that for the last 25 years of his father's life he said his father denied knowledge of the Book of Mormon's being anything but what had always been claimed by faithful Mormons, and his having had no part in the authorship. I thought it interesting that on page 41 of his report -- he said that while living in Utah in 1863 (?) "I saw a great many things among the members (of the Mormon Church) that seemed so different from what they were. They would swear, use tobacco, were vulgar in habits, drank whiskey and get drunk. They did not preach the gospel when they went to church. They would tell about drawing wood, how to raise wheat and corn, and not a word said about the gospel. (They) came to meetings in everyday clothes and did not seem to care anything about religion. Mormonism seemed a humbug and I said when I got home I would find out from my father how the Book of Mormon came into existence. I made up my mind he should tell me all he knew. He had not seen a Mormon in 25 years."

    Upon his return, his father still remained (he said) a firm believer in the Mormon Church.

    Would you have expected anything less from Sidney Rigdon?

    Note: The full quote, from which John L. Smith took the excerpt provided above, reads: "In a Manuscript History of his father's life, filed in the Historian's Office, Salt Lake City, John W. Rigdon, near the close of that History makes final reference to the coming of Cowdery, Pratt et al to his father's home in Mentor with the Book of Mormon. He relates how he himself visited the then territory of Utah in 1863, where he spent the winter among the "Mormon" people. He was not favorably impressed with their religious life, and came to the conclusion that the Book of Mormon itself was a fraud. He determined in his own heart that if ever he returned home and found his father, Sidney Rigdon, alive, he would try and find out what he knew of the origin of the Book of Mormon. 'Although,' he adds. 'he had never told but one story about it, and that was that Parley P. Pratt and Oliver Cowdery presented him with a bound volume of that book in the year 1830, while he (Sidney Rigdon) was preaching Campbellism at Mentor, Ohio.' What John W. Rigdon claims to have seen in Utah, however, together with the fact that Sidney Rigdon had been charged with writing the Book of Mormon, made him suspicious; 'and,' he remarks, 'I concluded I would make an investigation for my own satisfaction and find out, if I could, if he had all these years been deceiving his family and the world, by telling that which was not true, and I was in earnest about it. If Sidney Rigdon, my father, had thrown his life away by telling a falsehood and bringing sorrow and disgrace upon his family, I wanted to know it and was determined to find out the facts, no matter what the consequences might be. I reached home in the fall of 1865, found my father in good health and (he) was very much pleased to see me. As he had not heard anything from me for some time, he was afraid that I had been killed by the Indians. Shortly after I had arrived home, I went to my father's room; he was there and alone, and now was the time for me to commence my inquiries in regard to the origin of the Book of Mormon, and as to the truth of the Mormon religion. I told him what I had seen at Salt Lake City, and I said to him that what I had seen at Salt Lake had not impressed me very favorably toward the Mormon church, and as to the origin of the Book of Mormon I had some doubts. You have been charged with writing that book and giving it to Joseph Smith to introduce to the world. You have always told me one story; that you never saw the book until it was presented to you by Parley P. Pratt and Oliver Cowdery; and all you ever knew of the origin of that book was what they told you and what Joseph Smith and the witnesses who claimed to have seen the plates had told you. Is this true? If so, all right; if it is not, you owe it to me and to your family to tell it. You are an old man and you will soon pass away, and I wish to know if Joseph Smith, in your intimacy with him for fourteen years, has not said something to you that led you to believe he obtained that book in some other way than what he had told you. Give me all you know about it, that I may know the truth. My father, after I had finished saying what I have repeated above, looked at me a moment, raised his hand above his head and slowly said, with tears glistening in his eyes: "My son, I can swear before high heaven that what I have told you about the origin of that book is true. Your mother and sister, Mrs. Athalia Robinson, were present when that book was handed to me in Mentor, Ohio, and all I ever knew about the origin of that book was what Parley P. Pratt, Oliver Cowdery, Joseph Smith and the witnesses who claimed they saw the plates have told me, and in all of my intimacy with Joseph Smith he never told me but one story, and that was that he found it engraved upon gold plates in a hill near Palmyra, New York, and that an angel had appeared to him and directed him where to find it; and I have never, to you or to any one else, told but the one story, and that I now repeat to you." I believed him, and now believe he told me the truth. He also said to me after that that Mormonism was true; that Joseph Smith was a Prophet, and this world would find it out some day. -- After my father's death, my mother, who survived him several years was in the enjoyment of good health up to the time of her last sickness, she being eighty-six years old. A short time before her death I had a conversation with her about the origin of the Book of Mormon and wanted to know what she remembered about its being presented to my father. She said to me in that conversation that what my father had told me about the book being presented to him was true, for she was present at the time and knew that was the first time he ever saw it, and that the stories told about my father writing the Book of Mormon were not true. This she said to me in her old age and when the shadows of the grave were gathering around her; and I believed her.'"


    Vol. III.                            Marlow,  Oklahoma,  Mar.-Apr., 2005                            No. 23.

    [p. 14]


    I'm convinced that Joseph Smith had little, if anything, to do with the writing of the Book of Mormon.

    He was a glib, New York farm boy. I think he met Sidney Rigdon about the time that his brother Alvin died, November 15th of 1824.

    His mother, in her Joseph Smith History published by Orson Pratt in 1852, tells of Joseph's brother Alvin dying when Joseph was 19 years old. Joseph was born December 24th of 1805.

    She tells of a man, shortly after Alvin's death who "commenced laboring in the neighborhood, to effect a union of the different churches..."

    That was Sidney Rigdon who shortly after a bout with the Sandemanians, joined up with Alexander Campbell who is known today as the founder of The Church of Christ, later known also as Disciples of Christ.

    After Rigdon's break with Campbell, he became involved with Joseph Smith, and I'm convinced he, Rigdon, was instrumental in the production of Joseph Smith begins his work printed in 1833, titled the Book of Commandments for the Government of the Church of Christ.

    In another article I deal with Joseph Smith (and others) in their involvement with Rigdon who I'm convinced was the main contributor to the beginnings of Mormonism.

    I believe he was the major contributor to the production of the Book of Mormon. He may have used Solomon Spaulding's Manuscript Found, the sometimes-Congregational preacher who had died about 18 years earlier, who had frequently shown his manuscript to visitors and friends the book he had worked on for years.

    Rigdon who was known to have been enamoured with the book left at a printing office after they had gone out of business.

    Rigdon, and the young Joseph Smith, were involved in the beginning of Mormonism. Rigdon lent his religious background and pulpit experience to the young religious zealot, Joseph Smith.

    I have 50 pages or so of a manuscript that I toyed with -- for years, endeavoring to show the involvement of perhaps Spaulding and Sidney Rigdon in the founding of the cult of Mormonism in 1830.

    Notes: (forthcoming)


    Vol. III.                            Marlow,  Oklahoma,  May-June, 2005                            No. 23b.

    [p. 2]


    Mormonism continues to grow, but its growth rate has dropped in recent years.

    I can refute Mormonism with their own books.

    If I wrote a book and claimed I found it on golden plates over 2,000 years ago you would know that I was a liar, especially if I discussed super highways, airplanes and modern automobiles.

    The Book of Mormon is that kind of a book!

    It professes to speak of Jesus, of the church, baptism, and the Bible long before Jesus was born, more than 2,000 years ago.

    If that were the only example, I might insist that angels had visited me -- but you wouldn't believe it.

    Then the Book of Mormon quotes the King James Version of the Bible 2,000 years before it was translated. One would have to be gullible to buy that!

    I could submit many, many reasons to disbelieve Mormon claims.

    The Book of Commandments was first printed in 1833. In 1962 a prominent Mormon, Wilford C. Wood, reprinted that book. The 160-pages profess to be a message quoting God (page 5). Verse 5 on that page says, "Behold I am God..."

    Sidney Rigdon was a prominent Baptist minister and pastor in New York [sic - Ohio?].

    Chapter one of the Book of Commandments professes to have been written after the sixth day of April 1830 when the Mormon Church was supposed to have begun. It speaks of, "I the Lord," in chapter II, it speaks of a revelation given to Joseph in July 1828, almost two years before the printing of the Book of Mormon. The book is mentioned several times before it came off the press in April of 1830.

    It speaks of Lamanites in the May 1829 chapter IX, this was in Pennsylvania, a year before the Book of Mormon came off the press.

    Now the Mormonism of 2005 is far from the Mormonism of 1830. 1 could agree with the theology of the Book of Commandments, except for its having been the result of the presence of God, and its professed relationship with Smith and Rigdon and their founding of the Mormon Church. The Book of Mormon is mentioned but no detail is given.

    I believe the Book of Commandments proves the presence of Sidney Rigdon with Joseph Smith before December 1830. I believe they'd had an acquaintance from the early 1820's if not before. Many of our readers are aware of my conviction that Rigdon is referred to in Joseph Smith's History by His Mother on page 90.

    This event is also to be found in the History of Joseph by His Mother reprinted by Bookcraft, an LDS Publisher.

    Both books mentioned, on page 90, Joseph's brothers death and of the [sic] a "man commenced laboring in the neighborhood, to effect a union of the different churches..." (We have been quoting from Joseph Smith's History By His Mother for many years.)

    That's Sidney Rigdon!

    A careful reading of the Book of Commandments, with some knowledge of Mormonism's beginnings, should prove beyond doubt that Sidney Rigdon, an able preacher, after his relationship to Alexander Campbell, (the efforts of the two, Rigdon and Campbell, and the Campbellite, Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, movement) should indicate that this -- and not the story of Joseph Smith, Jr.'s visits by God and Christ as two separate physical beings, was the origin of the beginning of Mormonism.

    These facts should be learned and distributed to God's people of whatever religious orientation.

    Mormonism is not of God!



    I've had a conviction for years that Sidney Rigdon a Baptist minister who became a follower of Alexander Campbell, one of the founders of the Campbellite movement, was really the founder of the Mormon Church.

    However, at the death of Joseph Smith in 1844 Brigham Young became prophet of the Mormon Church.

    I'm convinced that Rigdon is really the founder of Mormonism. I don't believe he intended it to teach what it does now, but he was really the founder of the Mormon Church.

    The Book of Mormon was probably written by an elderly Presbyterian or Congregationalist preacher who, in bad health, spent his time writing a novel about the origin of the American Indians. He often showed his work to friends who visited him. He left his novel at a printer and there have been rumors of this since Spaulding's (or Spalding's) death in 1816.

    A copy of that manuscript is in existence. Rigdon had toyed with the Sandemanians, a group that with a Presbyterian background was teaching. He used to 'hang out' at the printers where the Spaulding manuscript was left.

    There are reasons to believe this theory is true.

    However, Joseph Smith's mother wrote a book about her son, Joseph Smith, Jr. On page 90 of her book, Joseph Smith and his Progenitors by his Mother, (of which I have a copy) she wrote of the death of her son Alvin in 1824.

    She mentions that shortly after her son Alvin's death there was a man in the neighborhood who was trying to "effect a union of the different churches in order that they might become one..."

    Strange, in the History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, Lucy Mack Smith, a beautifully printed book with notes and comments by Preston Nibley, (by Bookcraft, a Mormon publisher) it mentions Alvin's death almost word for word (also on page 90). And on page 173 the new book also mentions the "discovery and translation" of the Book of Mormon.

    Now, I have reprints of the first edition of the Book of Mormon (1830) made by the Mormon Wilford C. Wood. There was also a volume II, including several Mormon related publications. I've heard the originals sold sometime ago for $35,000.00 or perhaps $135,000.00.

    This reprint, pages 2 to 160 is printed in this book.

    However their 160 page record is supposed to have been written beginning April 6, 1830 (page A2), Rigdon was not supposed to have become a Mormon until December 1830.

    Remember, Rigdon had quite a reputation as a Baptist preacher and pastor.

    For the record he was converted by Joseph's cousin and several of Joseph's fellow church members. Smith was not supposed to have even met him until after Rigdon's conversion.

    Remember the two books I mentioned earlier about Joseph's brother Alvin's death in December 1830 [sic - November 1823?]. Now Smith was born on December 23, 1805 so Joseph would not have been 25 years old until after Rigdon's conversion.

    Remember that Joseph's education was very limited. Too, his activity in any church was likewise small.

    The word 'church' is in verse 1, verse 5 begins with "Behold I am God..." The words "book of Mormon" is found in verse 5. The words "I the Lord" are found in verse 1 and 2.

    Those expressions are found throughout the Book of Commandments. The first verse was supposed to have been written the 6th day of April 1830, the day of the founding of the LDS Church. The word illustrated is misspelled. The spelling is generally very good. The Chapter II was supposedly written in July 1828, two years previous to the writing of verse one.

    The words Nephites, Jacobites, Josephites, Zoramites and Lamanites and Lemuelites are mentioned.

    It's interesting, Lemuel is mentioned only twice (Proverbs 3 1:1 & 4) in the Bible. But it's mentioned many times in the Book of Mormon, as a name of people, a city, a valley, and Lemuelites is mentioned several times in the Book of Mormon.

    The chapters mention several names.

    Chapter IV mentions Joseph and Martin (Harris) and in verse 2 it says, "I the Lord am God."

    Chapter V is to Oliver (dated April 1829). Verse I says "behold I am God..." Verse IO says "Behold I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God."

    Chapters VI, VII, VIII are to Oliver (Cowdery). The word 'book' or Mormon is not capitalized.

    Chapter IX, May 1829, again the word 'book' in this chapter is not capitalized. Lamanites are mentioned in verse 11, page 25. In verse 15 of chapter X it says, "Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God: I came unto my own, and my own received me not." The entire chapter is almost quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.

    Chapter XI supposedly was given to Joseph (K) whoever that is. The chapter begins "A GREAT and marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of man: behold I am God..."

    Chapter XII verse 5 says, "Behold I am Jesus Christ the Son of the living God, which created the heavens and the earth, a light which cannot be hid in darkness." More preacher talk! Not that of a bunch of uneducated young farmer[s]!

    Again in Chapter XV (page 34) the word 'church' in small letters, according to the "fullness of the gospel..."

    In verse 36 (page 37, chapter XV) it says, "and I am Jesus Christ, your Lord and your God. I have spoken it." Today Mormons say God and Jesus are not one...

    This is not Campbellite doctrine either.

    Chapter XXIV says, "the Father and the Son, which Father and Son and Holy Ghost is one God, infinite and eternal, without end."

    Joseph and Sidney are mentioned on page 75. A Revelation was given to Joseph and Sidney, December 1830. Sidney, for the record had just been baptized. Chapter XXX-VIII, again in December 1830 (verse 3). thus Chapter XXXIX are all mentioned during December 1830. Note: Here Sidney and Joseph are mentioned three times in December 1830. They are both mentioned in January 1831 (XLII). They are mentioned again in February 1831. the church is mentioned many, many times throughout the book. He is mentioned in March 1831, he is mentioned in June LIV 183 I. Verse 24, page 125, in Chapter IV, LVII, and verse 6 in June of 183 1. He is mentioned again in 70 & 71 on page 138. He is to consecrate and dedicated the temple.

    On page 145 (verse 8 of Chapter VXII), a Sidney 'G' is mentioned.

    Just 'Sidney' is mentioned in verses 11, 14, 25, 31. He is mentioned again in verse 61 (page 155). See also verse 77 on page 156.

    Sidney (G) is mentioned again on page 159, verse 23. Sidney (G) is mentioned again on the last page (160).

    You who do not have this reprint of the old book, you will find the entire 160 pages on

    I'm thoroughly convinced that Sidney Rigdon, more so even than Joseph Smith, Jr., was involved in and was a major contributor if not the real founder of the Mormon Church.

    There are multiplied millions who've accepted this deception. The world needs to know. There'll be thousands or more in hell because of it.

    Note: Exactly why it is that Rev. Smith feels the 1833 Book of Commandments text proves that Sidney Rigdon wrote the Book of Mormon is unclear. Rev. Smith appears to have seen some special evidence for that assertion in the 1833 book's mis-spellings and mis-captializations. While the Campbell-Stone restoration movement leaders sometimes used the term "Church of Christ" in reference to their group, that was not their formal, denominational name during the 1820s or early 1830s. The Book of Mormon's emphatic insistance upon "Church of Christ" (along with the first Mormons applying that name to their church of 1830-34) may show theological ties to "Campbellism," but such things do not prove a Rigdon authorship for the Book of Mormon.


    Vol. III.                            Cleveland,  Ohio.  July-Aug., 2005                            No. 24.

    [p. 15]


    It's my conviction that Sidney Rigdon really wrote the Book of Mormon. I always add, "He probably used Spaulding's manuscript for information on the plot."

    Few Mormons know the story but there is a good reason to accept that theory.

    Joseph Smith's mother wrote a book in which she spoke of a man who preached in the neighborhood during the fall of 1824 who was preaching "to affect the union of the different churches."

    The Mormon Church published a book, (printed by the Mormon publisher Bookcraft) which on page 90, the same page as in the book by Joseph's mother, which mentions the same fact and relates it to the time of the death of her son Alvin, the first of November 1824. That was more than five years before the Book of Mormon was printed.

    On page 173 the book says, "Joseph briefly related the discovery of the Book of Mormon near the time of Alvin's death."

    So there you have it, the Mormon Church leaders mention the fact that someone filling the description of Sidney Rigdon was in the area and evidently involved with the author and the real originator of Mormonism, Sidney Rigdon. And the Joseph Smith family was aware of it.

    There's the admitted participation of Sidney Rigdon before the conversion of Rigdon.

    I'm by no means the first to insist that Sidney Rigdon was perhaps the real founder of Mormonism.

    During the first years of Mormonism, as evidenced by the book Joseph Smith Begins His Work, volume II, originally printed in 1833, the first 160 pages reveal the part that Sidney Rigdon, the Baptist, Sandmanen [sic - Sandemanian?], and co-worker with Alexander Campbell, etc. had in the beginning of Mormonism.

    I believe you will find Rigdon's part on page 45, where the word church [is used] beginning April 6, 1830. This was the founding date and printing of the Book of Mormon.

    The use of the word 'church' (without the word being capitalized) is found on page 45 (three times) and page 47, and several more times on following pages. The words "church of Christ" are used several times throughout the 160 pages of the Book of Commandments.

    Notes: (forthcoming)


    Vol. III.                            Marlow,  Oklahoma,  Jan.-Feb., 2006                            No. 27.

    [p. 5]


    It wasn't Joseph Smith! It must have been Sidney Rigdon! He really was involved in the beginning of the Campbellite (Disciples of Christ of Church of Christ) movement. No doubt about it!

    Then he participated in the beginning of the Mormon Church.

    On the internet you can find word for word what was published in 1833 by the founders of the Mormon Church. It is called A Book of Commandments for the government of the Church of Christ organized according to law on the 6th of April 1830. It was first published by W. W. Phelps & Co. in 1833.

    On page 3 you will find the words (verse 5), 'book of Mormon.' On page 7 in verse one you will find a misspelled word, 'frustrated.' The heading mentions "a revelation given to Joseph," that's Joseph Smith.

    On page 9 you will find chapter III, for the next several pages you will find 'Joseph' mentioned several times, on page 25 verse 11 you will note the word 'Lamanites' a Book of Mormon word.

    On page 34, XV in the heading, you will notice the church of Christ, note church with a little 'c'.

    On page 47 you will find the words 'church of Christ' (little 'c') in the heading and again in chapter X-XIV he mentions the "rise of the church of Christ" given in 1830. Again the word "church" is printed without a capital 'c'.

    (If you would like to pursue the matter further, you will find a web-site www.thywordistruth/church/whatschurch.htm)

    If you continue [your] study on page 47 you will find a couple of references to the 'church.' in chapters XXIII and XXIV Oliver Cowdery is mentioned in verse 4 and following.

    The word 'church' (little 'c') is mentioned several times in verses 30, 33, 34, 38 (twice), 39, 40, 43, 461 49, 50, 55, 60, 61 (twice), 63, and 64.

    This proves beyond a doubt the relationship between the church of Christ and the LDS Church.

    We usually do not see this emphasis on the little 'c' in the United States.

    Chapter XXV in the Joseph Smith Begins His Work mentions the "book of Mormon."

    Chapter XXX, verse 7, mentions the 'Lamanites', the Mormon word for the American Indians.

    (Recent DNA checks have proven that the Indians are not descendants of the Jews, but descendants of Mongolians.)

    There are many incidences where the word 'church' is spelled with a small letter.

    Sidney Rigdon is mentioned by name on page 75 and 79, chapter XXXVII.

    Joseph and Sidney are mentioned again in chapter XXXIX.

    Mormons would rather you not know of the relationship of Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon before 1930 when Sidney was supposedly converted before he knew Joseph Smith.

    From this point on, in XLII Joseph and Sidney were known to be together since November of 1824 when Joseph's brother died. They had been together at least since just after the death Alvin.

    They are mentioned again on page 100, 116, verse 3; 123 verse 2; 125 verse 24; page 130, 138 verse 70.



    I am by no means the first or strongest proponent of the idea that Sidney Rigdon was the author of the Book of Mormon.

    Back in 1977 Wayne Cowdrey, Donald R. Scales and Howard Davis wrote a book Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon which was dedicated to Walter Martin, an author, comparative religion professor and director of the Christian Research Institute.

    I knew Martin quite well, I heard him speak several times and I spoke in at least a couple of his classes at Melodyland in California years ago.

    He passed away some years ago.

    It was Martin's conviction as well as mine that Sidney Rigdon was really the author of the Book of Mormon.

    That was my conviction before I saw the book Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon but they've done a good and convincing job of writing the reason for their conviction.

    I am by no means the first to believe Rigdon was its author.

    It is known that Solomon Spaulding, a Congregational or Presbyterian preacher, who died in 1816, wrote a manuscript which he entitled Manuscript Found. In bad health, Spaulding (sometimes spelt Spalding) spent his time writing a novel attempting to explain the origin of the American Indians.

    There are several records of his having entertained visitors with his admitted novel.

    Spaulding was well-educated, reportedly the holder of a Master's Degree from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire in 1785.

    At that time the Congregational denomination was one of the most widespread denominations in that area of the United States.

    After serving as a pastor [sic - evangelist?] for a time, he finally terminated his public ministry; his health was a deteriorating factor.

    The book Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon spends pages concerning Solomon Spaulding by several of the residents of that area of the United States. The 1977 book contains pages of material about the Spaulding manuscript.

    Sidney Rigdon was born in 1793. There have been reports in several publications of several who were aware of, and participating in reading the manuscript that had been left at a print office. Over the period of possibly a few years, his copy of the handwritten novel was known by many of the people in this small agricultural area.

    For a time Spaulding is known to have operated a non-alcoholic tavern and during the time of his failing health he often mentioned his novel to his customers and friends.

    Spaulding died and when the Book of Mormon showed up several years later, many in the rural community remembered the reading's of Solomon Spaulding and noticed the obvious resemblance.

    Rigdon, a Baptist pastor, began toying with the ideal of a new religious group. For a time he joined with Alexander Campbell in establishing the Campbellite (Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, The Christian Church) movement.

    Then we find Rigdon involved with Joseph Smith in establishing Mormonism.

    Joseph Smith, Jr. was a glib-tongued young fellow who had never appeared interested in church.

    The Book of Commandments (available online) is most revealing. Rigdon (1793-1876) is known to have been associated with Joseph Smith, Jr. early in the history of Mormonism.

    Two sources of interest on the subject are found in books written during and following the beginning of Campbellism.

    The first is Joseph Smith's History by His Mother, earlier entitled Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet and His Progenitors for Many Generations by Lucy Smith (Joseph Smith's mother).

    The Tanners have a photographic reprint of that book which was printed in 1853.

    On page 90 of that book it says, "Shortly after the death of Alvin, a man commenced laboring in the neighborhood, to effect a union of the different churches, in order that all might be agreed, and thus worship God with one heart and with one mind."

    That was Sidney Rigdon! Strangely, in Rigdon's [sic - Lucy's?] book we find a reference on page 170, "While he was preaching, Sidney Rigdon and Edward Partridge came in, and presented themselves to the congregation."

    In the Mormon printing of History of Joseph Smith by His mother, on recounting this event on page 173 it says, "Joseph briefly related the history of his family, the death of Alvin, etc. He then began to speak of the discovery and translation of the Book of Mormon."

    Interestingly, these quotes appear on pages 90 and 173 of the LDS church's publication.

    If you will check "the Book of Commandments" on your computer, you will find the 1833 Book of Commandments.

    On page 3 it says, "Behold I am God" (verse 5), and in that verse it mentions "the book of Mormon." (Note the small letter 'b' in the title.)

    It is also mentioned again in the italicized statement in the beginning statement of chapter two. This is exactly as you'll find it in the Mormon Churches reprint of the Book of Commandments Joseph (Smith) is mentioned in the italicized heading of chapters 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and verse 8 of chapter 15.

    Joseph Smith is mentioned in chapter 8, verses 1 & 2. Note: this is in April of 1829. The Book of Mormon was not printed until April of 1830.

    Lamanites (the Mormon word for Indians) are mentioned in verse II of the IX chapter (page 25).

    Note that "the church of Christ" is mentioned in the heading of chapter XV in June 1829. Smith and Rigdon were already together, though this was not supposed to have occurred until November or December of 1830.

    The book of Mormon and Lamanites are mentioned again on page 41, verse 27.

    I find it most interesting when the church of Christ is mentioned.



    Richard S. Van Wagoner wrote a book some years ago about Sidney Rigdon. The name of it was Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait of Religious Excess.

    Van Wagoner says "that from 1831-1839, he more than perhaps anyone -- including Joseph Smith." I agree! He was its founder! Smith was little more than an uneducated farm boy when they met.

    Van Wagoner says "doctrines, policies and the priesthood, the second coming in early Mormonism," Joseph Smith's "translation" of the Bible, portions of the Pearl of Great Price, the word of wisdom, the United Order, a First Presidency, the name of the church," the term "Latter-day Saints," Lectures on Faith, a new Jerusalem and Zion in Jackson County, "the settling of Nauvoo" were largely Sidney Rigdon's idea.

    Mormonism would be quite different today if it were not for Rigdon's influence.

    Revelations were said to be by Joseph Smith, but Sidney Rigdon was the leader.

    Why is Rigdon a forgotten source? Or was it the succession crisis after Smith's death.

    The current faith-promoting version has Mormons the complete victims. In reality, Rigdon and Smith left Kirtland in order to escape creditors, lawsuits, and possible jail time!

    You should read Van Wagoner's book!

    Notes: (forthcoming)


    Vol. III.                            Marlow,  Oklahoma,  May-Aug., 2006                            No. 26.

    [p. 3]


    A Mormon writer wrote an article some years ago about Sidney Rigdon. He said that Joseph Smith's life was preserved by his early death, before time "could erode his youthful brilliance."

    In contrast, Rigdon lived to be 83. Few Mormon leaders have been more extravagently admired or more savagely reviled than Rigdon.

    After his years with Smith, Rigdon spent the last 20 years of his life in a small hamlet.

    Rigdon explained those years as "self-exile."

    He was poverty stricken, ignored, an eccentric old man who had loved the limelight. And found formal invitations too few.

    Rigdon taught that Mormonism had all the answers.

    First Rigdon had been a Baptist, then a Campbellite, then forever afterwards a Book of Mormon believing LDS member.

    When Brigham Young became the prophet after the death of Smith, and kept polygamy active, Rigdon had a problem.

    He felt that because of his long commitment to Mormonism he should have the personal gratuity like Brigham Young was enjoying in the Utah Territory.

    He had been Joseph Smith's foremost advisor, stratigist and divinely appointed spokesman, a role, noted Joseph Smith, which the Book of Mormon had predicted thousands [sic - hundreds?] of years earlier.

    As Smith's designated spokesman, he had enjoyed his role for nearly a decade.

    His last years were spent in what he called personal self-exile.


    [p. 10]


    Sidney Rigdon, a former Baptist, became an associate of Alexander Campbell who is usually credited with being the founder of the so-called Church of Christ or Disciples of Christ, but it was Rigdon who was really the author of the Book of Mormon and the founder of Mormonism.

    In recent issues we've mentioned his evident visits to the Smith home, the mention of a man who endeavored "to effect a union of the different churches" both in Joseph's mother's Joseph Smith's History by his Mother, page 90 and also the Mormon Church's recent printing of History of Joseph Smith band His Mother, also on page 90.

    That of course is Sidney Rigdon.

    It is a fact that Sidney Rigdon admitted his conversion to Mormonism in December [sic - November?] of 1830.

    It is also admitted that he became a leading companion of Smith in January of 1831.

    If one reads the book Joseph Smith Begins His Work: Book of Commandments, 1833 (also available on the Internet) he will find mention of the book of Mormon (note little 'b') on page 5, and a mention of the "book of Mormon" on page 3, in the italicized heading of chapter II, the word "Lamanites" in verse 11 on page 25 (May 1829), the word "church" in Chapter XV, page 34; "church" is spelled with a little 'c' in the heading of the chapter.

    This was the thinking of the Campbellites during that period. This was June of 1829.

    On page 41, verse 27 "book of Mormon" is mentioned, and also Lamanites. (Again, Lamanite is the Book of Mormon word for Indians.)

    The "church of Christ" in the heading of the comments at the heading of Chapter XXIII (twice) and in Chapter XXIV, again twice on page 47.

    Then on page 51, the word church (little 'c') three times; again the thinking of Sidney Rigdon and several times on page 52-55.

    Then the "book of Mormon" is mentioned on page 55 in the first verse of Chapter XXV.

    All this and more in several succeeding chapters before December of 1830 when Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were supposed to have met!

    Then on page 75, December 1830, there is the first mention of "Joseph and Sidney."

    Then on page 79, during that month of December 1830, Joseph Smith and Sidney took a trip to New York.

    I am convinced, in my 55 year study of the subject that Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith had conversed for nearly 10 years before 1830.

    Sidney Rigdon is really the founder of Mormonism. Joseph Smith, at 25, almost totally uneducated, could not have been the lone founder of Mormonism.

    Readers can find the 1833 Book of Commandments on their computer to verify the above comments.

    Note: Why it is that Rev. Smith feels that the 1833 Book of Commandments text proves that Sidney Rigdon wrote the Book of Mormon remains unexplained. Rev. Smith evidently see some special significence in the 1833 book's mis-spellings and mis-captializations. While the Campbell-Stone restoration movement leaders sometimes used the term "Church of Christ" or "church of Christ" in reference to their group, that was not their formal, denominational name during the 1820s nor the early 1830s. The Book of Mormon's emphatic insistance upon "Church of Christ" (along with the first Mormons applying that name to their church of 1830-34) may show theological and religious vocabulary ties to 1820s Campbellism, but such oddities do not prove a Rigdon authorship for the Book of Mormon.


    Vol. III.                            Marlow,  Oklahoma,  Apr.-June, 2007                            No. 32.

    [p. 4]


    I've been interested in Mormonism for most of my life. I was never a Mormon, but I lived in Utah for 17 years. I was never mistreated by a Mormon, but I consider Mormonism a cult.

    I've written a dozen books on the subject, my newest was Did Joseph Smith Write the Book of Mormon?

    I'm thoroughly convinced that Joseph Smith, Jr. did not write it.

    It was obviously written by Sidney Rigdon, an aging preacher who had befriended Joseph Smith, Jr. and later seeing him rapidly declaring himself to be prophet and taking over his position as a leader among his people.

    I don't believe Sidney Rigdon ever had the slightest idea that Joseph Smith, Jr. would become the recognized leader that many see him [as] today, with literally millions of followers world-wide.

    Mormonism is a cult, an extremist group considered to be obsessive in their beliefs, (Webster's Quick Reference Dictionary Notebook.)

    Rigdon had no idea of the success of the cult that he had a part in establishing. O'd hate to think I had a part in such an absurdity. I don't believe Sidney Rigdon ever dreamed of what was to occur.

    We need to be careful lest we become a party to such a farce!


    Did Joseph Smith Write the Book of Mormon? is on sale now for $10.00 postpaid.

    This is a 566 page book, my 12th on Mormonism; I also wrote The Extraordinary Life & Monistry of An Ordinary Preacher, which is also available for $10.00 postpaid.

    The Book of Mormon is obviously not scripture. It's a novel...


    [p. 5]


    There are many who claim to know! The Book of Mormon was not written by Joseph Smith, Jr. It was written by Sidney Rigdon, Joseph Smith, Jr.'s protector and friend.

    At the time of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith was a young, uneducated, inexperienced fellow who could not have written the book. Rigdon, a reticent, retired preacher wrote it... The Book of Mormon was a novel, a new and unusual, fictional account. It was not inspired...


    [p. 7]


    As you already know, I believe Sidney Rigdon really wrote the Book of Mormon.

    I am satisfied he wrote it as a novel. He never even hinted that it was scripture. There are several reasons to know that it was not scripture...


    [p. 11]

    AS  A  NOVEL

    The Book of Mormon is not scripture. But as a novel, it would not be a bad book....

    The Book of Mormon obviously is a novel. It was written by Sidney Rigdon, a soon to be retiring Baptist and Campbellite minister...

    Note 1: Rev. Smith's views regarding Book of Mormon origins appear to have changed, since 2006 when he credited the origin of the book to Solomon Spalding. Rev. Smith then said: "Rigdon, a Baptist pastor, began toying with the ideal of a new religious group. For a time he joined with Alexander Campbell in establishing the Campbellite (Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, The Christian Church) movement. Then we find Rigdon involved with Joseph Smith in establishing Mormonism." It is difficult to fathom how Sidney Rigdon might have become secretly "involved with Joseph Smith in establishing Mormonism," of the Book of Mormon itself was not intended to serve as a primary revelation for the new religion.

    Note 2: It is not altogether unreasonable for the modern investigator to conclude that Solomon Spalding first wrote a good deal of the book, as a "reticent, retired preacher." At least some past evidence has been offered in support of that general explanation. However, in the late 1820s Sidney Rigdon was anything but a "soon to be retiring" preacher of religion; rather, he was then a "Reformed Baptist" pastor and itinerant evangelist, in the prime of his life and nearing the peak of his fame and popularity.

    Note 3: In stating these simplistic over-generalizations, however, Rev. Smith may have hit upon a better model for the old Spalding-Rigdon authorship theory -- an explanation in which Sidney Rigdon actually did begin his editing of a fictional work by Solomon Spalding, without initially planning on offering up the results to the public as "scripture." Whatever Rigdon's early intentions may have been, the text identifies itself as a divine revelation and that same text was published to the world as a "second witness for Jesus Christ," and not as a novel. In November of 1830 Sidney Rigdon made some show of pondering the newly published book, to determine if it really was just such a new revelation -- and in his conversion to Mormonism he publicly accepted it as such.


    Transcriber's Comments

    Rev. John L. Smith's Publications

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