DENNIS RICHMOND'S PERSONAL STORY
HOW THE SEALED PORTION AFFIRMED MY CONVICTION THAT ORGANIZED RELIGIONS EXEMPLIFY ALMA'S "CHAINS OF HELL"
By Dennis Richmond
Shortly before midnight on 7 December 2006 I turned off my computer, folded my arms behind my head, leaned back in my chair and contemplated the task I had just finished which began 3 weeks and 5 days earlier on Veteran's Day, 11 November. For the past 26 straight days, working an average of 17 hours each, I had been transcribing verbatim the text of The Sealed Portion of the Book of Mormon -- The Final Testament of Jesus Christ (TSP), as translated and published to the world "upon the housetops" by Christopher Nemelka on 3 October 2004. And I realized that Isaiah's prophecy had at long last been fulfilled:
The singularity of that moment was truly profound as I realized that it crowned my long search for truth that had begun 18 years earlier when I voluntarily quit the LDS Church after determining that it no longer met my needs and was self-evidently fulfilling many of the prophecies that the Book of Mormon expressly warns about. So this is the story of how The Sealed Portion affirmed my conviction that every organized religion on earth exemplifies what Alma termed the "chains of hell," after having spent nearly the first half-century of my life in that organization. Now, 3 years later, I know that Alma was right.
It had long-since become obvious to me that all organized religions, along with every other man-made institution on earth, fell squarely within Nephi's definition of "the church of the devil" (1 Nephi 14:10), so I made the decision that was right for me at that time and elected to proceed with the rest of my life free from those "chains of hell" that are so plainly exemplified in Alma's words. I had no way of knowing what the future might hold but I was no longer willing to risk being "cursed" for putting my trust in the "arm of flesh," so what did I have to lose by heeding those passages? I sensed that God and I were going to get along just fine, and that's exactly how it is today in ways I couldn't have imagined back then.
Thus was begun my quest to find the real truth about the "mysteries of God" that Alma talked about, but which I had long been counseled by LDS leaders to "leave...alone," which counsel I considered obtuse when viewed in light of Alma's words. The fact that they didn't understand the "mysteries of God" was one thing, but for them to counsel me to "leave the mysteries alone" based on their lack of wisdom was quite another. Of course, that wasn't the only issue I had with the way the Church appeared to be headed, but taken collectively with all the other issues I had it wasn't difficult for me to conclude that it was destined for a spiritual train wreck and I elected not to remain aboard anticipating that event. So at one stop along the way, I let myself off with a cordial tip of my hat to the conductor and then left the station as it disappeared behind me. That was about 21 years ago, or "about the space of half an hour" in the Lord's time (Rev. 8:1); time in which to learn the mysteries for myself.
Interestingly, the date of 7 December 2006 coincided with the 65th anniversary of the Sunday morning attack on Pearl Harbor that plunged the United States into World War II in the Pacific theater. That date is significant to me because had I been born just three days earlier, my mid-morning birth would have corresponded almost simultaneously with that horrific event. But, instead, I was destined to be "Wednesday's Child," born on the 10th. Thus, the first 3-1/2 years of my childhood were spent under the cloud of a full-scale world war, but I don't remember much about that except for learning that war is bad.
There were two main reasons why I felt compelled to transcribe every last syllable of The Sealed Portion. First, because for the previous 18 years I had been actively searching for real truth, and second, because years earlier I had also transcribed the entire Book of Mormon, thus it was easy for me to recognize Moroni's hand when I encountered it again in The Sealed Portion. Others have noted that as well upon reading TSP, so it is not my perception alone, although what others might perceive has little bearing on what I conclude. But as independent opinions arriving at an identical conclusion, it carries great weight in proving the veracity of The Sealed Portion to logical minds, as well with respect to the one who was called by a resurrected Joseph Smith to translate it by means of the same Urim and Thummim that Joseph used to translate the unsealed portion of that record.
As I pen this in late July 2009, it has now been nearly 3 years since I first discovered The Sealed Portion and the "marvelous work and a wonder" that it quietly ushered in as the Lord "set his hand again the second time to restore his people from their lost and fallen state" (see 2 Nephi 25:17; 27:26). As that restoration occurred, it exposed what Moroni termed the "three unclean spirits," of "selfishness," "lust," and "hate," which are so prevalent in our "lost and fallen state." It was enlightening for me read how he explained it:
Those words resonated extremely well with me based on my personal experiences with government and organized religion as man-made institutions, thus I felt justified in having heeded Nephi's warning about not trusting in the "arm of flesh" when I left the church nearly two decades earlier. Indeed, it was as if the "silence in heaven" that had existed in my life for "about the space of half an hour" was nearing its end in my diligent search for truth as I started to learn for myself the "mysteries of God" which began with reading The Sealed Portion.
Since my discovery of The Sealed Portion, I have noted that those who seem hell-bent on finding fault with that work and its translator include scholars, historians, and other "learned" persons, mostly within the LDS Church, who term it variously as a "fraudulent translation," an "imitation," or whatever they might choose to define it. And, as free-willed beings, they are certainly entitled to form their opinion however they may. Those same types of individuals who lived in the days of Joseph Smith often characterized him and his work the same way, calling the Book of Mormon "Joseph's gold Bible," and etc., as if he had written it himself. But more often than not, many of those critics have not bothered to actually read either work in its respective entirety, thus essentially "judging a book by its cover," or more correctly, judging the man who produced it according to their opinion tainted by organized religion and its "pretended precepts and commandments."
Thus, for example, when I read U. S. Senator Bob Bennett's letter to Ida Smith in this venue, who vainly attempted to convince her that Christopher's translation was a "forgery" based on the admitted fact that the "learned" Senator had only "dipped into the Sealed Portion to get a flavor of it as well," I chuckled to myself knowing full well that he had no idea of what he was talking about with respect to the very document that I had spent 442 hours to painstakingly transcribe verbatim. But while I must respect his opinion and his right to reach an entirely different conclusion than I (and Ida, among numerous others) had reached, I managed to assuage my disagreement by thinking, "he's ‘dipped' in it all right," but I won't say what "flavor" as he could scrape it off his shoe. My recurrent thought about his errant "Weapons of Mass Destruction" vote in the Senate was that we also disagree upon what I had learned since early childhood: that "war is bad."
Such conclusions and judgments regarding this Marvelous Work and a Wonder® are typically rendered by those who are not searching for real truth because of their sincerely held religious belief that they already know the truth. I am at least as opinionated as anyone else, so I tend to value my own convictions. Thus I differ markedly from those critics because I was diligently searching for real truth and had done so for years. In fact, I was sick and tired of reading what others had written expressing their ideas on truth. Hell, I could write better stuff than some of the things I had read, so if there was any flaw to be found in The Sealed Portion, or in the character of its translator, I was bound to discover those things as I scrutinized the book and whatever I could find out about its translator.
During my 18-year search, I never lost sight of the fact that wherever the truth might be found, that work would ultimately have to speak for itself and The Sealed Portion was no exception, regardless of who its translator might be. I never had any problem accepting the Book of Mormon, even though I never met Joseph Smith, because it truly did speak for itself. And once I accepted it on its merits, it wouldn't have mattered to me if it had been translated by Genghis Khan. In fact, the Book of Mormon speaks so well for itself that it eventually caused me to leave the LDS Church, which claims that book as its own, once it became apparent to me that its leaders were fulfilling many of its prophecies, rather than issuing any new prophecies by way of some "pretended" "revelation from God."
I now know that God does not work that way because "God is no respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34). If LDS leaders understood that, they would not find themselves at variance with those words by teaching their followers that God speaks through them for purposes of their organized religion. Joseph Smith understood that, but because the LDS Church does not know Joseph Smith any better than it knows its own scriptures, they unwittingly continue their errant ways, according to my personal assessment and experience in that man-made institution.
I accepted The Sealed Portion before I even got a good start on transcribing it because Moroni's hand was so obvious to me. Once I had made that determination, I couldn't have restrained myself from completing that self-imposed task if I'd tried. Again, if Genghis Khan himself had translated TSP it wouldn't have bothered me one bit, knowing who originally authored both the unsealed and the sealed portions of the gold plates. The Sealed Portion truly speaks for itself and I was indelibly impressed by that fact, to say nothing about the way it was translated by the one called to effect the Father's plan in these last days.
In that work, Moroni encouraged me to "...seek out this bearer of Christ that shall have this record" (TSP 39:52) and then later asks, "...have ye spoken to the last of these two latter-day prophets about these things?" (TSP 81:63), "...yea, seek him out" (TSP 87:86), so that became my next priority. During the interim from the time I finished my transcription of TSP until I met Christopher 3-1/2 months later, I prepared a detailed list of some minor typographical errors I had detected in the early edition I had worked from and happily presented them to him when we first met, trusting that he would perceive my good intentions and accept them in that spirit. He didn't disappoint me as I heeded Moroni's invitation to "seek out" the translator of "this record" -- even as it's self-appointed "editor."
Christopher personified Moroni's able description of him in The Sealed Portion and welcomed my editing efforts stating, "that's just what we need." I, on the other hand, was happy to know that "...the work of the Father has commenced upon all the face of the land" (Ether 4:17), and equally happy to do whatever I could to assist that work. Moroni was right and I silently thanked him for the personal invitation to meet Christopher. The Sealed Portion had been a long time coming and I could hardly wait to see what lay ahead in the rest of the "marvelous work and a wonder" that it introduced, again sensing that we were all going to get along just fine. That thought alone was a bit mind-boggling to me when I considered just who "all" might consist of in connection with the final "work of the Father" in these last days and it still crosses my mind on a regular basis.
I came away from that meeting with a renewed sense of purpose knowing that I had done the right thing so long ago by relying on the dictates of my own conscience, free will and common sense when I left the LDS Church and began my quest for real truth, finally having learned to think for myself instead of "relying on Moses to speak to God for me" through the medium of organized religion and its countless churches set up and operated by "learned" men for a fee if only because that's what the people have always desired. But in their desire I have since come to know what I had long suspected: that they look "beyond the mark" of what Christ taught which has always caused people to stumble. As it was with the Jews of old, so it is with the modern LDS people, as well as with every other organized religion for that matter. In that, they are all on equal ground, trusting their leaders to teach them what those leaders cannot understand themselves. Yet modern LDS leaders go above and beyond that by setting themselves up as "prophets, seers and revelators" and even "special witnesses of Jesus Christ," notwithstanding the fact that they fall far short of the true spirit of prophecy which they so self-evidently never possessed. Jacob explained it best:
Joseph Smith obviously understood those passages because he translated them. So does Christopher Nemelka understand them. And now so do I, as do many others. How I finally arrived at that level of understanding is something any high school kid could do, with 50 years' experience. But everyone begins where they are, so their own experience and desire controls what they seek to understand. A good place to start is by reading The Sealed Portion, and not just skimming through a few chapter headings as if to absorb it by osmosis. Moroni patiently waited nearly 1,600 years for The Sealed Portion to come forth, so the way I saw it, the least I could do was read it. If you're looking for real truth you will find TSP to be like a new, fast-acting medicine that is administered through the eyes and absorbed by the brain. But it's only effective with those who have eyes that see, not those who are blinded by the cataracts of organized religion set up and operated by prideful men who, for a luxuriant stipend in order to get gain, are firmly bound by the "chains of hell."
It took me nearly 50 years to figure that out. You should be able to do it in far less, unless you're happy being bound by the "chains of hell." In that case, just stay put and continue to be happy with your own choices and know that it is impossible to "fail" the test of mortality because our Creators guaranteed our eternal happiness ("salvation") long before this imperfect world was created. That guarantee was assured when we were first created in the perfect world of our Eternal Parents and cannot possibly be altered or affected by anything that occurs during a mere 7,000 years of mortal existence, including whatever the vain and foolish imaginations of men can conjure up in connection with the establishment of organized religions and churches imposing their "silly traditions" for a fee under the illusion of "religion," knowing that its strength is derived from the fact that it falls in with peoples' instinctual desire for "many things which they cannot understand" but pretend to.
However, if one is interested in learning the details of real truth regarding the "mysteries of God;" e.g., "things as they really are, and of things as they really will be," then one would seemingly be well advised to read what Moroni translated in that regard from the ancient record of the brother of Jared (by means of the same Urim and Thummim that Joseph and Christopher subsequently used) and then sealed up to come forth in the latter days. (Ether 3:25; 4:4-5) Like all other true prophecies, that event has now come to pass, exactly as Isaiah predicted. All one has to do is "receive this record" and then read it:
I now understand that the Book of Mormon, being "the lesser portion of the word," does not fulfill Isaiah's prophecy because it is not the record of "all things ... which ever have been among the children of men, and which will ever be, even unto the end of the earth." Those "things" are largely contained in The Sealed Portion, being "the greater portion of the word." Alma was taught by the true prophet Abinadi and wrote his words (Mosiah 17:2-4), hence we read:
In view of those passages, I considered what the false prophets of organized religion, particularly those of the LDS Church, counseled me (and millions more) to do:
Really!? In light of these conflicting statements who was I supposed to believe, the words of Alma, or those who have set themselves up as "prophets, seers and revelators" yet admittedly know nothing of the "mysteries of God"? And thus, "...they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell," just as Alma said. Nevertheless, the LDS people insist:
I thought to myself that perhaps in the opinion of some unenlightened minds in the LDS Church who authored that statement it "should mark the end of controversy," but it doesn't. How could it, except among those who have no desire to think for themselves? But so also thought the stiffnecked Jews of their leaders, who ultimately caused them to lift Christ upon the cross. So I rest my case, knowing that a mind is a terrible thing to waste.
With the coming forth of The Sealed Portion and the "marvelous work and a wonder" that it ushered in, I no longer had to concern myself with the many things I had come to question during my final years in the Church. At that point, the real truth of "all things" began to be made known and I have been engrossed ever since trying to absorb it all. The Marvelous Work and a Wonder (MWAW) is not limited to The Sealed Portion, however, because the MWAW includes "all things," which would necessarily encompass, among other "things," the "Lost 116-page Manuscript," or Book of Lehi, that has been lost to Mormon history since the days of Joseph Smith, who was forbidden to retranslate it for a "wise purpose in the Lord." I now understand what that "wise purpose" was: Had Joseph been permitted to retranslate the Book of Lehi, the modern LDS Church would never have been established for the people to "stumble" over in pursuit of their desire for a "golden calf" to worship instead of the true gospel of the Christ in its fullness, which "mark" they look "beyond" thus resulting in their self-inflicted blindness. "And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble," exactly like the Jews at the time of Christ. That seemed plain enough to me and I felt certain that my remaining days would be far more enlightened than the first 65 years of my life. In fact, the last 3 years have proven exactly that.
The Book of Mormon itself alludes to the fact of "other books" that were to come forth after it, some of which would restore "the plain and precious things" that "had been taken away from" the Bible (1 Nephi 13:40) by the editors of the Old and New Testaments. So in addition to The Sealed Portion and the Book of Lehi, I could also reasonably expect the book of Revelation to be "unfolded in the eyes of all the people" that were "caused to be written by my servant John" (Ether 4:16). The book of Revelation supports that prophecy: "And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings" (Revelation 10:11). I had often wondered how that would come about.
In 2006, those prophecies came to pass with the publication to the world of "666, The Mark of America -- Seat of the Beast: The Apostle John's New Testament Revelation Unfolded," which was duly prepared by Christopher acting under the authority and direction of John the Beloved himself; the very same person whom the Bible tells us was permitted to "tarry till I come" (John 21:22-23 (21-25)). Thus, through the very mouth of the original author was fulfilled the words that he "must prophesy again." So that automatically became my next transcribing task, which I set out at once to do, completing it a few weeks later -- with express permission, of course, respecting its copyright, as with all the "other books" I transcribed to facilitate computer access for my personal future reference. After all, I had waited 65 years for them, even though I didn't fully realize that until nearly 3 years ago.
Next came another revealing book: Sacred, not Secret -- The Official Guide In Understanding the LDS Temple Endowment (2008). In this book, Christopher reveals the exact purpose and intention of Joseph Smith in writing the endowment the way he did, and why Joseph was commanded to do so. As was the case with the quasi-immortal John the Beloved, so also did an immortal, resurrected Joseph Smith provide Christopher with the authority and direction to prepare this publication; the same Joseph who gave Christopher his present calling on 16 June 1987. This was the first book I had the opportunity to help with by serving as one of its editors and it effectively tripled my reward for leaving the LDS Church long ago.
As I write this, the next book to be completed and published is currently in process. Entitled, Human Reality -- Who We Are and Why We Exist, it is quite unlike any other book ever written. Overseen by those known to readers of the Book of Mormon as the "three who were to tarry" in mortality (3 Nephi 28:12) like John the Beloved, whose names are included among the twelve disciples that the Christ chose (3 Nephi 19:4) when he appeared to the Nephites and Lamanites in North America following his crucifixion but who Mormon was not allowed to identify as such and thus "they are hid from the world" (3 Nephi 28:25), the Human Reality book will speak for itself. But readers of The Sealed Portion do know the names of those "three who were to tarry," for Moroni was allowed to identify them for us:
Namely: Joseph Smith, Jr. and Christopher Marc Nemelka. But because the LDS people have been led to believe: "When our leaders speak [or write], the thinking has been done," they unwittingly err by referring to the "three who were to tarry" as "The Three Nephites." For at no place in the text of the Book of Mormon does that phrase appear, but only in the chapter headings or "summaries" that were later added to Joseph's translation by "thinking" LDS leaders. (See, e. g., 3 Nephi 28) Yet, in the "learned" Senator Bennett's letter to Ida Smith, referenced above, he again explained his own "thinking" in that regard as follows:
Unfortunately for the "learned" Senator, however, admittedly having "dipped into" rather than having actually read The Sealed Portion for himself, he did not realize the glaring errors in those "beefed up" chapter summaries of the Book of Mormon. For "how the Book of Mormon was actually structured originally" it made no reference to "The Three Nephites" for good reason: because two of the three are Lamanites! namely: Mathoni and Mathonihah. Timothy alone is a Nephite. It is these "three who were to tarry" (not "The Three Nephites") with John the Beloved, who are in charge of this Marvelous Work and a Wonder today, providing counsel and guidance to Christopher, just as they did with Joseph. Thus, Bennett provides us with yet another "ignorant" example that "...the blind lead the blind" where they all struggle together in the same ditch.
But perhaps the most egregious error is found in the chapter heading for 2 Nephi 3, which reads, in pertinent part: "...He prophesied of Joseph Smith, the latter-day seer; . . ." Yet we now know through this Marvelous Work and a Wonder that this "latter-day seer" was NOT Joseph Smith, as the LDS people have erroneously been led to believe. They likewise err in believing that "the man" mentioned in 1 Nephi 13:11 who "went forth upon the many waters" refers to Christopher Columbus, when in fact it does not, as Moroni explains in detail in Chapter 84 of The Sealed Portion (TSP 84:70-83). And although Moroni was not permitted to disclose the name of "the man" mentioned in that Book of Mormon chapter, those who follow this Marvelous Work and a Wonder do know his name, as well as that of the "latter-day seer." Thus, with respect to the LDS people, it becomes self-evident that the Lord has "delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand,... ...And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble." God also put it this way, cutting directly to the chase:
After the Human Reality book has been completed, the fifth and final book of this Marvelous Work and a Wonder will be prepared. Entitled, The Light of the Moon -- The Plain and Precious Words of the Ancient Prophets, it will restore "all things" that have been lost from the Bible by subsequent editors attempting to meet their own "religious" agendas. In order to restore those "plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God" (1 Nephi 13:28), Christopher will perform that task by means of the Urim and Thummim. It will be my humble privilege to serve as the one in charge of the final edits regarding that book and I'm anxiously looking forward to the opportunity.
In sum, many people with "sincerely-held religious beliefs" who subsequently discover The Sealed Portion are surprised to find out that everything they have been taught to believe all their lives by their particular organized religion was wrong. But those who are looking for real truth quickly perceive it in Moroni's enlightening words because it resonates with what they inherently know to be real truth, which all humans automatically recognize by the very nature of their essence. Moroni brings it to one's attention in a profound way.
Those who are not looking for real truth have those same instinctual desires, but err in thinking that they already know the truth because of what they have been taught to believe all their lives under the illusion of "religion," which is nothing more or less than the creation of prideful men who feel compelled to act as a "Moses" between their fellow men and God, as if God were such a "respecter of persons" to require their services to effect the personal salvation of others, much less for a fee in order to get selfish gain. Thus, common sense exposes the glaring fallacy of organized religion without further argument; hence we read, "cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm." (2 Nephi 4:34)
In my case, by believing and heeding those words, I had long been suspicious of the motives of fallible men behind organized religions and finally decided that I wanted nothing more to do with either. Indeed, what "little child" concerns itself with such a mysterious precept as an "organized religion" with all its esoteric doctrines? (See Matthew 18:2-5) Is it not from those very organizations and their respective churches that fallible men receive their "authority" to act as a "Moses" in behalf of their equally-blind followers? -- yet even a "Moses" who never saw the "promised land" himself according to Jewish "history."
From that point on, my mind was open to real truth wherever I might find it and I was completely free to follow the dictates of my own conscience, free will and common sense in pursuing that quest. That "silence in heaven" lasted for "about the space of half an hour," during which time I had learned the "mysteries of God" while free from the "chains of hell" exemplified by organized religion and all its "pretended precepts and commandments."
I thought about that again just before midnight on 7 December 2006, when I finished transcribing The Sealed Portion. And I paused, knowing I had finally discovered the key that unlocked those "chains of hell" forever. It almost felt as if I had survived Pearl Harbor a second time; the first time had been nearly 20 years earlier, but that remains to be explained at some future date. Today, I'm perfectly happy with a few verses that I compiled based on my life's experiences, coupled with some other things I've learned since discovering this Marvelous Work and a Wonder. When put together, they go like this:
I like that, a lot. It forms the basis of my opinion and my underlying philosophy of life these days. How things have changed for the better, indeed. For as we now read in the closing verses of the Beatitudes (Matthew 5, 6 & 7) with all of its "plain and precious" parts restored:
I like that even better.
WHAT IS THE VOICE OF THE 'ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS' TELLING US? Ask Him Yourself!
© 2005 A Marvelous Work and a Wonder Purpose Trust