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Critics Corner


Reachout Trust (ROT)

Correspondence between Mike Thomas (ROT) 
and Spencer Macdonald
Letter 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Because of the misrepresentations of LDS doctrine by Reachout Trust (ROT), we present the following correspondence.  Mr. Doug Harris & Mr. Mike Thomas of ROT represented that in LDS doctrine Joseph Smith is of equal ranking with God and Jesus Christ.  Such an idea has never been a belief of the LDS Church or  it's members.  The following significant statements should set the stage for the correspondence that follows:

Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save[*] Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. (Emphasis ours - SHIELDS)
(D&C 135:3 [written by John Taylor, an apostle at the time, and later President of the Church])
"....Joseph told us that Jesus was the Christ, the Mediator between God and man, and the Saviour of the world.  He told us that there was no other name in the heavens nor under the heavens, neither could there be, by which mankind could be saved in the presence of the Father, but by and through the name and ministry of Jesus Christ, and the atonement he made on Mount Calvary."  (Emphasis ours - SHIELDS)
(Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 9:364-365, 31 August 1862)
(Provided courtesy of Danel W. Bachman)
"I shall bow to Jesus, my Governor, and under him, to brother Joseph.  Though he has gone behind the vail [sic], and I cannot see him, he is my head, under Jesus Christ and the ancient Apostles, and I shall go ahead and build up the kingdom."  (Emphasis ours - SHIELDS)
(Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 4:41, 31 August 1856.)
(Provided courtesy of Danel W. Bachman)


Spencer Macdonald read several e-mail exchanges between a number of LDS and Doug Harris of ROT.  Spencer felt that Mr. Harris & Mr. Thomas had not satisfactorily dealt with the points raised by his LDS correspondents.  ROT also had not changed its web site to correct the error concerning LDS beliefs about Joseph Smith and the judgment.  Consequently, Bro. Macdonald engaged ROT in the following correspondence:

Letter One

Date: Wed, 10 Nov 1999 20:48:21 -0700 (PST)
Subject: Your Statement Re: Joseph Smith

Dear Mr. Harris,

I have been a silent observer of your website and the discussion between yourself and Daniel Petersen, Dan Bachman, and others.  The topic has been your claim that the LDS Church teaches that Joseph Smith Jr. is equal to Jesus Christ.

Having been raised in the LDS Church, graduated from seminary, served a mission, attended BYU, and studied the doctrines and history of the Church for several years as a personal interest, I feel safe in stating that I am very familiar with the doctrines, teachings, and beliefs of the LDS Church.  I have observed for many years how the scriptures, General Conference addresses, sermons, manuals, etc. have been interpreted by an LDS audience.

I state unequivocally that I have never heard any General Authority or other ecclesiastical leader make the claim that Joseph Smith is equal to Jesus Christ.  I have never read any scripture, historical account, or statement by any active Latter-day Saint that makes this claim.  I have never heard or read anything that agrees with your interpretation of this issue as posted on your web site.

Simply put, it is false to claim that the LDS Church teaches that Joseph Smith is equal to Jesus Christ.  I have never read it or heard this absurd claim.  I do not believe it.  I do not know any LDS who believes or teaches such a claim.

To persist in miss-representing what I and virtually all Latter-day Saints believe and teach is called "bearing false witness."  You are wrong.  Please change the content of your site to accurately reflect your assertion as your personal opinion only.  To insist that it is what I "really believe" is to maintain a falsehood unworthy of any follower of Christ.

-Spencer Macdonald

Letter Two

Date: Fri, 12 Nov 1999 11:27:21 -0000
Subject: Joseph and Jesus
From: "Mike & Ann Thomas" <>
To: <>
Cc: "Doug Harris" <>

Dear Spencer

Doug Harris of Reachout Trust passed on your Email addressing the subject of Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ. As the original author of the article that led to the protracted correspondence of which you have been so long a "silent observer" I feel perhaps I should write. I would be glad to consider your objections if you would first answer for me two basic questions:

1.. How would you define "the fulness of the everlasting gospel?
2.. Does the Bible contain "the fulness of the everlasting gospel"?

I understand that I seem to be straying far off the point but if you would be patient and indulge me I feel we might make some progress.

Yours Sincerely
M Thomas

Letter Three

Date: Fri, 12 Nov 1999 09:32:02 -0700 (PST)
Subject: Re: Joseph and Jesus
To: "Mike & Ann Thomas" <>

Mr. Thomas,

There are a variety of sources that explain this term. Bruce R. McConkie's "Mormon Doctrine" says it "consists in those laws, doctrines, ordinances, powers, and authorities needed to enable men to gain the fulness of salvation."  There are several LDS websites that include statements on this topic (start with the Dean Farnsworth article "Fullness of the Gospel", found at  There are a variety of books written by General Authorities that expound upon the meaning and significance of the term. 

I am sure you are aware of these resources. I am also sure that you are now attempting to launch a defense for the false statement which you refuse to remove from your website. Such an interchange was not my intent, as others (Mike Parker, Dan Bachman, Daniel Peterson, Wade Englund, etc.) have supplied you with copious amounts of evidence, personal experience, and testimony that what you are saying is false. 

There is no need to re-invent the wheel. 

You have made a patently false statement.  You have been provided with overwhelming evidence to the contrary.  You espouse Christian ideals, yet you yourself refuse to adhere to one of its most basic tenets:  "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour." (Exodus 20:16). 

My email was not an inquiry.  It was not a request for you explain your reasoning for such an absurd claim.  Such an exchange has already occurred (several times) without effect. 

It was my testimony to you (or perhaps against you) that what you are saying is a lie.  The LDS Church has never taught, nor does it now teach, that Joseph Smith Jr. is equal to Jesus Christ.  You are bearing false witness against myself and millions of Latter-day Saints. 

Stop it. Please remove this false statement from your website.  That is the only "progress" to be made.

-Spencer Macdonald

Letter Four

Date: Fri, 12 Nov 1999 19:19:56 -0000
Subject: Joseph and Jesus
From: "Mike & Ann Thomas" <>
To: <>

Dear Spencer

Thank you for your reply.  I am sorry that you were unwilling, or unable, to answer two question on the very basics of your faith.  I am sorry also that, having offered to open a dialogue to address your concerns, you cannot respond in kind but feel free to call me a liar.  Had you found it in your heart to indulge me with simple answers to my quesitons [sic] I feel we might have made progress.  Since progress is not a high priority for you I don't what more I can do.

M Thomas

Letter Five

Date: Fri, 12 Nov 1999 14:06:26 -0700 (PST)
Subject: Re: Joseph and Jesus
To: "Mike & Ann Thomas" <>

Mr. Thomas,

I find your response singularly ironic. 

*You* are the advocate for an organization whose sole purpose is to tear down other's religious beliefs.

*You* are the person who has leveled grossly inaccurate accusations at the LDS Church and its members. 

*You* are the one who has posted a falsehood on the Internet and refuses to remove it despite statements from multiple informed Latter-day Saints, as well as a wealth of written evidence. 

*You* are the one bearing false witness. 

I have said nothing against your religious beliefs.  I have not labeled you with any of the offensive terms you apply to Latter-day Saints.  I have not picketed your meetings.  I have not published a website with false statements.  I have simply borne testimony to you that your statement in a falsehood and asked you to remove it.

Your attempt to claim some moral high ground in this scenario is appalling.  I am not attempting dialogue regarding the veracity of your statement.  I made this clear in my second message to you. I do not wish to engage in a protracted theological debate, because the issue is clearly resolved. 

There is nothing I wish to discuss with you except removing the spurious claim on your website that LDS believe Joseph Smith to be equal with Jesus Christ.  There is *no* validity to this statement.  I have borne witness to you reflecting that and asked you to cease bearing false witness. 

Progress is defined as "a forward or onward movement (as to an objective or to a goal)."  Your attempt to rehash was has been discussed several times over (and resolved to the satisfaction of everyone but ax-grinders such as yourself) is clearly not an attempt at progress.  You are simply too proud to back down from a false claim. 

Proverbs 11:2 is a perfect description of your attitude: "When pride cometh, then cometh shame."

It appears your unwillingness to recant is based in either pride or shame.  Pride because you are too arrogant to admit or a mistake, or shame because you are too embarrassed.  Whichever it is, please re-consider your position and remove this false claim from your website.

-Spencer Macdonald 

Letter Six

Date: Sat, 13 Nov 1999 15:11:29 -0000
Subject: Re: Joseph and Jesus
From: "Mike & Ann Thomas" <>
To: <>

There is, then, nothing more to say.

M Thomas

Letter Seven

Date: Mon, 15 Nov 1999 12:50:53 -0700 (PST)
Subject: Re: Joseph and Jesus
To: "Mike & Ann Thomas" <>

Mr. Thomas,

You wrote:

>There is, then, nothing more to say.

Indeed.  The case has been heard, the evidence presented.  Your false claim would not withstand scrutiny in any earthly court, nor will it in the court that really matters. 

I am saddened to see you take this path.  I am disturbed that you have convinced yourself that bearing false witness is justified if you mouth it with falsely pious, self-aggrandizing claims of concern for "lost souls".  I am offended that your "ministry" blatantly misrepresents my faith.  I am amazed that you have the audacity to claim to know the doctrines, teachings, and beliefs of the LDS Church better than her members, teachers, and leaders. 

Finally, I am disgusted that you do all of these things while invoking the name of our Lord.

As with the other LDS that have written you, I bear no animosity towards you.  I have no grudge against you, no score to settle.  I simply encountered a lie about me and my Church on your website and asked you to remove it. 

Please reevaluate your reasoning.  I have reviewed your "Ten Reasons" numerous times and found them to be faulty on several counts.  So have Mike Parker, Dan Peterson, Dan Bachman, and a host of other LDS.  All of us are willing to admit that our leaders are fallible, make mistakes, and sometimes say things that could lead to misunderstanding.  We are willing to admit that we ourselves sometimes misunderstand some of the more obscure, esoteric doctrines.  We are willing to admit our foibles.

This is not one of them.

We do *not* believe Joseph Smith Jr. to be equal to Jesus Christ.  We hold him in high regard, equal in power and authority (perhaps even surpassing) the great prophets of the ages:  Adam, Enoch, Noah, Moses, Isaiah, etc.  That regard, however, is minute compared to the reverence we feel for the Savior.  He completed an atonement that enables us to return to God's presence.  There is no reason to even attempt a comparison of the magnitude of the Savior's atonement and Joseph's testimony of it.

I assume this limited "dialogue" to be at an end. I hope it was not fruitless.  Please stop publishing lies about LDS Church. Please remove the false statement.

-Spencer Macdonald

* The context of the usage of the word "save" here means "except."