kirtlanddedicationD&C 109:35-37; “Let the anointing of thy ministers be sealed upon them with power from on high. 36 Let it be fulfilled upon them, as upon those on the day of Pentecost; let the gift of tongues be poured out upon thy people, even cloven tongues as of fire, and the interpretation thereof. 37 And let thy house be filled, as with a rushing mighty wind, with thy glory.”

Was this a true Pentecostal experience, or a drunken soiree?

Today we’re exploring written accounts of the Kirtland temple dedication on March 27, 1836. The narratives of those in attendance tell two very different stories, and if you didn’t know better, you might think they were two separate events.

Festivities on the official day of the dedication began at 7:00 p.m. with lofty estimates of 1,000+ people in attendance. By the end of the submission in the ‘history of the church’, it was shaved down to a modest count of 416. Whatever the number, the ceremony began with obligatory Hosanna shouts, singing a couple of hymns, taking donations, and reading from the 96th & 24th Psalms.

By this time they’d been there for two hours. Now the timing is significant in all this, as it shows how some of the opposing claims are very plausible when you consider how long they were there.

HC 2:413-416

After their scripture reading the choir sang several hymns, prayers were offered for the temple, and initiated apostles, as well as other church officials. Incredibly, this celebration labored on for another seven hours. And you thought your pastor was long winded!

Along with all the sermons that were delivered, the Lord’s Supper consisting of a little bread and a liberal amount of wine was distributed. By the end of the service, several testimonies reveal it had turned into a drunk fest.

When most people thought it was over with, Smith stood up and shared his testimony, and then Don Carlos Smith, Oliver Cowdery, and Frederick Williams shared their individual testimonies as well. The latter told everyone he saw an angel come through the window, and take a seat between Joseph Smith, Sr., and himself during the prayers.

When he finished his testimony, David Whitmer testified to seeing angels in the room too, and Hyrum Smith shared his belief in the truth of the gospel. Sidney Rigdon offered a closing remark with a short prayer to close things up.

The congregation then felt compelled to shout hosannas and amens, but not before a Pentecostal moment swept over two others. Brigham Young took the pulpit to speak in tongues with David Patten interpreting, but then Patten began preaching in tongues himself for awhile.

In all, the ceremony lasted nine hours with people not leaving until 4:00 a.m. the next day (Monday, March 28, 1846). And this doesn’t include those who met with Smith from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the day of the dedication.

Obviously, having access to all of the data shines a new light on things, and explains the differing opinions you read in the LDS’ version of history and that of other’s. One thing’s for certain; staying up all night, going without food for several hours, and consuming alcohol can be a dangerous mix.

You can find summaries for some of the testimonies listed below. My personal experience with Mormonism is where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire. If more than one person gives an opposing account of an event, it’s enough to give me pause, and reevaluate what the Church would like people to believe.

Angelic Manifestations

George A. Smith

History of the Church 2:428 

“Brother George A. Smith arose and began to prophesy, when a noise was heard like the sound of a rushing mighty wind, which filled the Temple, and all the congregation simultaneously arose, being moved upon by an invisible power; many began to speak in tongues and prophesy; others saw glorious visions; and I beheld the Temple was filled with angels, which fact I declared to the congregation. The people of the neighborhood came running together (hearing an unusual sound within, and seeing a bright light like a pillar of fire resting upon the Temple), and were astonished at what was taking place. This continued until the meeting closed at eleven p. m.

The number of official members present on this occasion was four hundred and sixteen, being a greater number than ever assembled on any former occasion.”

(Note: this is totally opposite of what they stated earlier…)

Oliver Cowdery

Leonard J. Arrington, “Oliver Cowdery’s Kirtland Ohio ‘Sketch Book,’” Brigham Young University Studies, Volume 12, (Summer 1972), 426

“Sunday, the 27th attended on the dedication of the Lord’s house. For the particulars of this great event see my account written by myself, and printed in the March No. of The Messenger and Advocate, signed C. In the evening I met with the officers of the church in the Lord’s house. The Spirit was poured out–I saw the glory of God, like a great cloud, come down and rest upon the house, and fill the same like a mighty rushing wind. I also saw cloven tongues, like as of fire rest upon many, (for there were 316 present,) while they spake with other tongues and prophesied.”

Heber C. Kimball

Journal of Discourses 9:376

“During the ceremonies of the dedication, an angel appeared and sat near President Joseph Smith, Sen., and Frederick G. Williams, so that they had a fair view of his person. He was a very tall personage, black eyes, white hair, and stoop shouldered; his garment was whole, extending to near his ankles; on his feet he had sandals. He was sent as a messenger to accept of the dedication…While these things were being attended to the beloved disciple John was seen in our midst by the Prophet Joseph, Oliver Cowdery and others.”

George A. Smith

Journal of Discourses 11:10

“There were great manifestations of power, such as speaking in tongues, seeing visions, administration of angels. Many individuals bore testimony that they saw angels, and David Whitmer bore testimony that he saw three angels passing up the south aisle, and there came a shock on the house like the sound of a mighty rushing wind, and almost every man in the house arose, and hundreds of them were speaking in tongues, prophecying or declaring visions, almost with one voice.”

Eliza R. Snow

Women of Mormondom, p. 95

“One striking feature of the ceremonies, was the grand shout of hosanna, which was given by the whole assembly, in standing position, with uplifted hands. The form of the shout is as follows: ‘Hosanna-hosanna-hosanna-to God and the Lamb-amen-amen, and amen.’ The foregoing was deliberately and emphatically pronounced, and three times repeated, and with such power as seemed almost sufficient to raise the roof from the building.

The ceremonies of that dedication may be rehearsed, but no mortal language can describe the heavenly manifestations of that memorable day. Angels appeared to some, while a sense of divine presence was realized by all present, and each heart was filled with ‘joy inexpressible and full of glory.’”

Benjamin Brown

Testimony for the Truth,” Gems for the Young Folks (Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor Office, 1881), 65

“There the Spirit of the Lord, as on the day of Pentecost, was profusely poured out. Hundreds of Elders spoke in tongues. We had a most glorious and never-to-be-forgotten time. Angels were seen by numbers present. It was also at this time that Elijah the Prophet appeared, and conferred upon Joseph the keys of turning the hearts of the fathers to the children, previous to the re-institution of the ordinance of baptism for the dead.”

Truman Angell

Autobiography, Our Pioneer Heritage, Writings of Early Latter-day Saints, 198

“When about midway during the prayer, there was a glorious sensation passed through the house [Kirtland Temple]; and we, having our heads bowed in prayer, felt a sensation very elevating to the soul. At the close of the prayer, F. [Frederick] G. Williams being in the upper east stand- -Joseph being in the speaking stand next below–rose and testified that midway during the prayer an holy angel came and seated himself in the stand. When the afternoon meeting assembled, Joseph, feeling very much elated, arose the first thing and said the personage who had appeared in the morning was the Angel Peter come to accept the dedication.”

No Angelic Manifestations

As mentioned earlier, we’re investigating to determine if this was a true Pentecostal event, or if it was a well thought out scheme Smith manufactured well in advance.

After obeying Smith’s directives to fast all day, and then only ingesting a few pieces of bread, it’s not hard to figure out these things could result in seeing angels and hearing things.

Christopher G. Crary

 “It was reported, however, that they consumed a barrel of wine and other liquors at the dedication of the Temple, enabling some of them to see angels, have visions, prophesy and dream dreams.”

David Whitmer

The Des Moines Daily News, Oct. 16, 1886

“The great heavenly ‘visitation,’ which was alleged to have taken place in the temple at Kirtland, was a grand fizzle. The elders were assembled on the appointed day, which was promised would be a veritable day of Pentecost, but there was no visitation. No Peter, James and John; no Moses and Elias, put in an appearance. ‘I was in my seat on that occasion,’ says Mr. Whitmer, ‘and I know that the story sensationally circulated, and which is now on the records of the Utah Mormons as an actual happening, was nothing but a trumped up yarn…”

“Note: Note: This lengthy, illustrated David Whitmer interview article was compiled by Omaha Herald journalist David Cameron Dunbar (1858-1938), a Mormon who had previously worked at the Salt Lake Herald. Several different versions of the report were published during the second and third weeks of October, 1886. Each paper evidently appended its own unique heading — some of which gave the impression that the paper exployed the reporter who conducted the interview with Whitmer. The Omaha Herald was the first paper to run the piece — on Oct. 10th. Among the newspapers featuring somewhat different versions of the article on Oct. 16th was the Des Moines Daily News. Two papers that printed the interview on the 17th were the Chicago Inter-Ocean, and the Philadelphia Press. See notes appended to the Los Angeles Times notice of Oct 3, 1886. See also pages 21-23 of the 1886 book, A Few Choice Examples of Mormon Practices and Sermons.”

You can read Whimer’s other accounts mentioned above at this link.

This is also a contradiction of what George A Smith reported.

William McLellin

The McLellin Papers, pp. 436, 493-494

We’ve listed two examples below, but you can read much more in ‘The McLellin Papers’, by Stan Larson and Samuel J. Passey. The book chronicles several letters McLellin wrote where he spoke candidly on events at the Kirtland temple, amongst other things. His testimony discredits Smith’s claims, and separates fact from fiction. It’s  highly doubtful a 2nd Pentecost really happened.

Example #1 –

April 1854 Letter to Orson Hyde

“Orson, you cannot have forgotten the scenes of drunkenness during the pretended enduement [sic] in Kirtland in 1836. I shall never forget them, nor the hundreds of false prophecies delivered in the Temple on that occasion.”

Example #2 –

July 1872 Letter to Joseph Smith III

“In 1836 when they undertook to get an endowment in the Kirtland Temple. All washed and with oil anointed themselves, and appeared in the Temple at sunrise…and about five hundred ministers took their places, and solem[n]ly prayed. We remained there fasting until sunrise next morning. We however partook of some bread and wine in the evening. And some partook so freely, on their empty stomachs, that they became drunk! I took care of S[amuel] H. Smith in one of the stands so deeply intoxicated that he could not nor did sense anything. I kept him hid from the crowd in the stand, but he vomited the spit-box five times full, and his dear brother [Don] Carlos would empty it out of the window.”

William Harris

Mormonism Portrayed, pp. 31-32

“In the evening, they met for the endowment. The fast was then broken by eating light wheat bread, and drinking as much wine as they saw proper. Smith knew well how to infuse the spirit which they expected to receive; so he encouraged the brethren to drink freely, telling them that the wine was consecrated, and would not make them drunk…..they began to prophecy, pronounce blessings upon their friends, and curses on their enemies. If I should be so unhappy as to go to the regions of the damned, I would never expect to hear language more awful, or more becoming the infernal pit, than was uttered that night.”

Mrs. Alfred Morley

Naked Truths About Mormonism, Oakland, Calif., April, 1888, p. 2

“I have heard many Mormons who attended the dedication, or endowment of the Temple say that very many became drunk….The Mormon leaders would stand up to prophesy and were so drunk they said they could not get it out and would call for another drink. Over a barrel of liquor was used at the service.”

Isaac Aldrich

Naked Truths About Mormonism, Oakland, Calif., April, 1888, p. 3

“My brother, Hazen Aldrich, who as president of the Seventies, told me when the Temple was dedicated a barrel of wine was used and they had a drunken pow-wow.”

Stephen H. Hart

Naked Truths About Mormonism, Oakland, Calif., April, 1888, p. 3

“Mr McWhithey, who was a Mormon…said he attended a service which lasted from 10 AM until 4 PM, and there was another service in the evening. The Lord’s Supper was celebrated and they passed the wine in pails several times to the audience, and each person drank as much as he chose from a cup. He said it was mixed liquor and he believed the Mormon leaders intended to get the audience under the influence of the mixed liquor, so they would believe it was the Lord’s doings….When the liquor was repassed, Mr McWhithey told them he had endowment enough, and said he wanted to get out of the Temple, which was densely crowded.”

It seems that if hundreds were in attendance for such an all-important event, more than just one or two people would’ve seen angels flying around.

The statement by George Smith is another contradiction all on its own. He stated David Whitmer saw angels, but Whitmer flatly denied any such thing, so whom are we to believe?

Furthermore, if Smith had the ‘Word of Wisdom’ revelation five years previous to this event, why were they all drunk? See D&C 89.

Still another problem at the Kirtland temple lies in Smith’s story of other heavenly visitations. Smith was obviously confused about the biblical hero Elijah. Thinking that Elijah and Elias were two separate people, he bragged about seeing these two when in reality, Elijah is Elias.