“The Second Coming of our Saviour … is just around the corner”: Raising the Voice of Warning in 2008

By April 7, 2008

Two weeks ago, just after the completion of the Easter holiday, Elder Philip Gill, a Presiding Elder in the Latter Day Church of Jesus Christ, delivered the new church’s first Easter message to the world on YouTube.  For those not familiar with this organization, it was established in England in 2006, and recognizes Matthew Gill as a prophet and Joseph Smith’s rightful successor. Gill translated a record delivered to him by an angel that contains the record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the British Isles who left the Middle East and journeyed to present day England. The translated work has been published as the Book of Jeraneck

Elder Philip Gill, who is Matthew Gill’s father, sounded a voice of apocalyptic warning in his Easter message.  Here are a few excerpts from his testimony.

What people forget is that the Lord never designed the world to last forever. … We don’t need [natural resources] to last forever. . . .

People don’t have to worry [about running out of natural resources or environmental problems] if they stay true to the gospel. The things that were put on the earth were put there for a finite time, and if the world were still in tune with the gospel, they would know this. We are on the verge, within a few years … maybe 5, 6, maybe less … certainly not much more, of the Saviour coming upon the earth again, reigning upon the earth for a thousand years, and taking care of all these difficulties. We will be living a priesthood life-living by the priesthood, living by the spirit.  We won’t have to worry about if we’re going to run out of coal, gas, iron ore … whether you’ve got a big house, whether its being paid for, worrying about debts.  That doesn’t mean that these things are going to come to us free. We’ve got a lot of things to do.  For instance, before the Saviour comes again, the world will have to go through an enormous tribulation-we have to go through famine, pestilence, war, rumors of wars. . . .

What we need to live is a more Christlike-centered life, and a simpler life, and that’s what’s coming around the corner.  It’s going to be forced on us in some instances because there won’t be the resources to have. . . .

We don’t want to live like that … we want to live a more Christlike life, we want to live by the spirit, we want to be able to … if you like … live a more family-centered existence, and for most of us, that’s enough.  But when you see what’s happening in the world — pornography, pollution, degradation, family life breaking down … there has to be something that’s going to motivate the vast majority of people to want to live this Christlike life, and at the moment that motivation isn’t being provided by the government. . . .

The world is crying out for the Saviour to come back to earth again, and to take charge, and to stop petty rivalries and petty squabbling.  Now here in the Latter Day Church of Jesus Christ, we have a wealth of learning to give out to the world.  We have been given scriptures-we have the Bible like most Christian churches do-and we are a Christian church; we believe fundamentally that the head of the church is Jesus Christ-but we also have the Book of Mormon, which tells of the dealings on the American continent; of those people and their dealings with Jesus Christ.  We also have the Book of Jeraneck, which tells of another people, that left the plains of Shinah, which was in the Middle East, and traveled towards Europe, through Europe, and eventually landed on British shores, and set up cities and villages here, written at the time of Stonehenge, and that tells of those people’s dealings with Jesus Christ.  And don’t be fooled; Christianity goes back a long, long, long way before mainstream Christian scholars will tell you that Christianity happened in Europe.  We also have the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and that gives us another insight into what the Lord wants for his people.  So we’re constantly being led and inspired by our Saviour, and I encourage you to reach out to these books of scripture.  … Remember, we are a proselyting church that is being led by a living prophet and a Saviour that talks to us on a regular basis and leads and directs His church on the earth.  We only have everyone’s interest at heart.  We want to gang together as a large group of people and prepare ourselves for the Second Coming of our Saviour. It is imminent, it is just around the corner, and keep your family on the straight and narrow in the future years.  And I leave these words with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

I am struck not only by the sense of immediacy of the Second Coming (5 or 6 years from now!) expressed by Elder Gill, but also by the interesting combination of 19th-century Mormon discourse and more recent emphases of Latter-day Saint leaders, and what this possibly illustrates about this new religious organization that is trying to establish an identity that is clearly “Mormon,” but uniquely unlike other brands of Mormonism.  A group like this faces a difficult task, as they not only have to establish an identity to separate it from the world, but also from the religious tradition from which it springs.

I’m intrigued by the emphasis on Christ and the stress placed upon clarifying that the Latter Day Church is, indeed, a Christian organization.  I’m even more intrigued that the evidence provided for that claim is much the same as any given member of the Latter-day Saint church would give — “we believe fundamentally that the head of the church is Jesus Christ,” and that He leads the church via revelation to prophetic figures.  Other similarities are evident, too.  The denouncing of pornography and the secular assault on the family, the admonition to “live by the spirit”, and the counsel to simplify one’s life.

There are also some clear examples, though, of efforts to establish difference between the Latter Day Church and the Latter-day Saints.  The prophecy that the Second Coming is “not any longer” than five or six years away is a sentiment Saints might have heard from Parley Pratt or Heber C. Kimball, but wouldn’t expect from Thomas Monson or M. Russell Ballard.  The addition of an entire book of scripture is something modern Mormons might be open to, but probably don’t expect any time soon.  The Latter Day Church, however, stresses the Book of Jeraneck as evidence of prophecy and revelation being alive and well today.  Thus much like 19th-century Saints longed for the primitive church of the ancients, the Latter Day Church of Jesus Christ appeals to a longing for the primitive church of Joseph Smith.

___________________________

*For those interested, Matt Bowman and Jacob Baker will be presenting papers on Matthew Gill and the Latter Day Church of Jesus Christ at the Mormon History Association’s annual conference in Sacramento this year.

Article filed under Miscellaneous


Comments

  1. Fascinating. Especially how the book of Jeraneck seems to be not too dissimilar from our book of mormon at least in the snippet they had on your link.

    Comment by JonW — April 7, 2008 @ 3:28 pm

  2. plagerism 🙂

    Comment by JonW — April 7, 2008 @ 3:29 pm

  3. I’d never heard of this movement before. Here’s a wiki. Interestingly they deny that Joseph ever practiced or taught polygamy. They appear to be a break off by some former LDS British members.

    Kind of interesting although also nice that breakoffs aren’t turning into some wild polygamous group.

    As you say it is an interesting parallel in terms of eschatological yearing both forward and backwards. I suspect in that regard it parallels why some in Utah join these other groups. Kind of a yearning for the 19th century.

    Me, I like the late 20th century myself. I’m very, very glad I wasn’t born in the 19th or earlier.

    Comment by Clark — April 7, 2008 @ 3:30 pm

  4. Remember, we are a proselyting church that is being led by a living prophet and a Saviour that talks to us on a regular basis and leads and directs His church on the earth.

    This is something that they emphasize quite a bit, that they’re led by a living prophet that actually receives revelations. I suspect that, perhaps without knowing it, Gill is tapping into some of the same arguments and charisma used by Strang against BY. (although I think there’s some evidence that Gill has read Quinn’s Hierarchy series, so he may know about Strang)

    Comment by David G. — April 7, 2008 @ 3:34 pm

  5. Especially how the book of Jeraneck seems to be not too dissimilar from our book of mormon at least in the snippet they had on your link.

    In the same way that the Book of Mormon is not too dissimilar from the Bible. I like to think I’m the only person on this side of the Atlantic who’s read every word of the Book of Jeraneck several times over; I’ll be talking about it (and the literary techniques with which Gill marks it as scripture) extensively at MHA.

    Clark – the Gills were indeed members of the Derby Ward in England until not too long ago. I’m not surprised you’ve never heard of them; Jacob and I speculate that they’ve got somewhere under a dozen members right now. Gill (with whom we’ve been in contact) will not confirm or deny this.

    Chris is, I think, getting at something both our papers will discuss; the way in which Gill is re-enacting Mormon sacred narratives.

    Comment by matt b — April 7, 2008 @ 4:23 pm

  6. The more you read of them on their website (which is virtually the only source of information about them) the more you can imagine what it was like to be a Christian in the early 1830’s and come into contact with the fledgling LDS church with its prophet, gold plates, and institutional hierarchy. They use somewhat the same arguments to not dismiss the Book of Jeraneck (e.g., the Lord continues to reveal His word and the canon is open and added to) as Mormons have used in reference to the Bible and the Christian Tradition. With the Gillites in the room, we are the mainstream tradition critical of a “crazy break-off sect.” This, of course, is not very different from comparing ourselves to other Mormon movements, but their movement is essentially a line-by-line reconstruction of the Kirtland era, accepting only the 1830 Book of Mormon, the 1835 D&C, etc. And they try to “close out” the Divine Testaments with the Book of Jeraneck: The First Testament (Hebrew Bible); The New Testament; Another Testament (the Book of Mormon); the Final Testament (the Book of Jeraneck).

    BTW: Steven Shield’s 5th edition of Divergent Paths of the Restoration will include an entry on the Gillites.

    Comment by Jacob B. — April 7, 2008 @ 4:29 pm

  7. Thanks for commenting, Matt and Jacob. I was hoping you’d offer your insight. I’ve read the Book of Jeraneck once through, as well as every post on their website (and viewed all but the most recent video), and am anxious to hear your MHA papers.

    Regarding the number of members … I would guess your estimation, Matt, of less than 12 is about right, as evidenced in the most recent post on the wesbite. They’re awfully excited about an investigator coming to an upcoming meeting, and are hopeful that he will “feel the spirit” and gain a testimony of the truthfulness of their message.

    Comment by Christopher — April 7, 2008 @ 4:39 pm

  8. Chris is, I think, getting at something both our papers will discuss; the way in which Gill is re-enacting Mormon sacred narratives.

    That is, indeed, what I was trying to get at. Thanks.

    Comment by Christopher — April 7, 2008 @ 4:41 pm

  9. Jacob B:
    Where can one get the Shield’s 5th edition? I purchased the second edition maybe 20 years ago and have never seen a 3rd or 4th edition, even at places like Sam Weller, Eborn and Benchmark Books in SLC.

    Comment by larryco_ — April 7, 2008 @ 5:03 pm

  10. larryco_:

    Herald House published the 4th revised and enlarged edition in 2001. The 5th edition will probably be out by the end of the year.

    Comment by Jacob B. — April 7, 2008 @ 5:14 pm

  11. At the recent Restoration Christianity conference, John Hamer indicated that it’s probably a couple of years away, and that it would have close to 800 pages.

    Comment by David G. — April 7, 2008 @ 5:18 pm

  12. The 4th edition of Divergent Paths is available here.

    Comment by Christopher — April 7, 2008 @ 7:32 pm

  13. Wonderfully apocalyptic. My primary initial impression is of the parallels between Phil and Joseph Sr. Viewing this sweet but odd and rather homely “bloke” who is the father of the prophet, I am reminded of the way many if not most external observers viewed Joseph Sr (and Lucy).

    The Gillites appear to be good mimics of both Strang and Joseph Jr. (The polygamy clock begins to tick…)

    I love their use of Stonehenge the way early LDS used burial mounds of the Adena/Hopewell/etc culture groups. (Though I can’t keep Spinal Tap out of my head.)

    Matt I’m excited to hear the papers in May.

    Comment by smb — April 7, 2008 @ 10:29 pm

  14. After watching part of the Winter General Assembly (via youtube), including the sustaining of Philip Gill, I am wondering if anyone was in attendance (other than the Gills).

    Comment by Justin — April 8, 2008 @ 9:47 am

  15. The prophecy that the Second Coming is “not any longer” than five or six years away is a sentiment Saints might have heard from Parley Pratt or Heber C. Kimball, but wouldn’t expect from Thomas Monson or M. Russell Ballard.

    It is a curious thing, that the older the church gets, the further away the second coming appears to be. Judging from journals and patriarical blessings, my ancestors expected the millenium to come in the 1890s, or thereabouts. Growing up in the 70’s, it wasn’t uncommon to talk about “when we go back to Jackson county”. A decade ago, leaders in my stake were hinting at “something big” in the year 2000. But such sentiments seem pretty absent now. Are we becoming more settled in with long term views of the planet and the advent as a more metaphorical device, or are we just being more cautious after numerous non-events?

    Comment by NorthboundZax — April 8, 2008 @ 11:32 am

  16. NorthboundZax,

    I’ve often wondered if it is a way to distance ourselves from other millenialist religious traditions.Such distinctions seemed important on my mission in South America.

    Comment by Joel — April 8, 2008 @ 11:53 am

  17. >>They’re awfully excited about an investigator coming to an upcoming meeting, and are hopeful that he will “feel the spirit” and gain a testimony of the truthfulness of their message.

    What they need is some angel costumes and tin plates. 😉

    Comment by Chris — April 8, 2008 @ 1:04 pm

  18. The church is also in the process of deciding which apocryphal books to include in its biblical canon. (From their Wikipedia entry)

    Based on the style of the pictures for the children’s Book of Jaraneck, and the Stonehenge reference, my money is on “Bel and the Dragon” to be included in the accepted apocrypha.

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — April 8, 2008 @ 2:00 pm

  19. Offtopic: no Jared and Christopher, neither of you provoked the anti-intellectual post. That award goes to others.

    Ontopic: I heard about this group earlier this week and visited their blog, but haven’t yet read the Book of Jeraneck. Reminds me of a Strang imitation, sans the polygamy. I don’t think they’ll get too many converts, though. I am also reminded of the True and Living Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the TLC), with their emphasis on establishing Zion.

    I wonder, though, about the appearance of more “translated, ancient works” such as the Book of Jeraneck, the Mentinah Archives, the Strangite addition (the Book of the Law, I believe it’s called), etc. They almost appear to be signs to the LDS, if not to all people, of what is coming. We LDS are slated to receive the plates of Brass one day, after all. Perhaps that day is not as distant as we might think.

    Regarding the Second Coming, the Lord is supposed to compress the times before he comes, so making claims of 5 to 6 years is not all that outlandish, though I believe they are incorrect.

    Comment by LDS Anarchist — April 8, 2008 @ 2:36 pm

  20. Interesting stuff. I wish they had missionaries who would bring me a free copy.

    Comment by BHodges — April 8, 2008 @ 4:07 pm

  21. LDS Anarchist, thanks for stopping by.

    Section VI of Elder Oaks’ April 2006 General Conference talk is one of the most recent and clear affirmations of the coming forth of new scripture in the Church. I find it interesting that he uses the Dead Sea Scrolls as an example of how it might take place. I’d like to ask him if he means that new scripture might come from outside the Church and not necessarily in a dead language that can only be read by miraculous means. It would be interesting to see also if such an idea has implicaitons for an expansion (or retraction) of the canon by prophetically sanctioned higher criticism.

    PS: Sorry to hear the award goes to “others”, now I have to take the laurels out of my hair.

    Comment by Jared T — April 8, 2008 @ 4:16 pm

  22. By the way, thanks for posting their blog. I was finally inspired to change my blog format a little.

    Comment by BHodges — April 8, 2008 @ 5:47 pm

  23. Joel, #16. I can see the distancing from other millenial traditions as you put it – they can come across as rather wacky. The interesting aspect to me is our distancing from *our own* millenial traditions (even the term ‘Latter Day Saint’ speaks to this). I can’t imagine anyone in Gospel Doctrine bringing up moving to Jackson County in the near future viewed as anything but a bit wacky. Yet, that was not far outside the norm a few decades ago – and well inside the norm several decades before that. Surely we’re closer to the second coming now, if there’s going to be one, than we were then.

    I suspect that, at least partially, there is an element of ‘millenial fatigue’ that arises from continual non-events. And like the JWs we have ratcheted down both our rhetoric and expectations so future non-events are less problematic.

    Comment by NorthboundZax — April 9, 2008 @ 2:34 pm

  24. I repeat, do not send money for Zion Camp!

    Comment by Christine — May 15, 2008 @ 8:57 am

  25. Prophet Gill appears to think that Wesley (of Methodism) was around at the time of the REFORMATION!

    Comment by Christine — June 7, 2008 @ 1:29 pm

  26. Don’t laugh to hard, Christine, apparently Joseph didn’t know Jerusalem had a wall around it. 🙂

    Comment by Jared T — June 7, 2008 @ 3:06 pm

  27. Christine, you think that’s weird? Parley P. Pratt thought Wesley was a Mormon!

    Comment by Christopher — June 7, 2008 @ 3:40 pm

  28. I know these people (the Gills) very well. The whole thing – the ‘breakaway’ church and especially the appeal for money turns my stomach.

    Comment by Christine — June 13, 2008 @ 3:02 pm

  29. After watching Gill’s videos and reading articles in his blog, I found him to be quite illogical. Have a look at his article on Joseph Smith’s prophey concerning the Civil War.

    “Many LDS members believe that Joseph Smith Jr prophesied the American Civil War in 1832 but it fails to appear in any contemporary writing of the time even though in the LDS edition of the Doctrine and Covenants section 87 it is dated December 25, 1832, this did not appear in the 1833 Book of Commandments or in any edition of the Doctrine and Covenants or in any LDS scripture for that matter until after the Civil War began! It was first printed in the 1851 Pearl of Great Price in England.”
    (Source: http://thelatterdaychurchofchrist.blogspot.com/2007_07_01_archive.html )

    And please note the last two sentences. He clearly claims that the prophecy appeared in the D&C after the Civil War. However, ironically, he “backs” his opinion with the fact that it was first printed in the 1851 Pearl of Great Price. And as you would know, the Civil War(1861~1865) broke ten years after 1851. Knowing this, no further exchange of ideas is necessary to prove how ignorant and illogical this man is. In short, he doesn’t even know about what he’s into. And I laughed my guts out how he spoke of the saints after his poor work of denying the prophecy.

    “So to all those LDS members that keep bombarding my office with emails and letters asking why we have gone astray from the true church I say this, maybe you need to look a little closer at your own scriptural faults and not at ours. Joseph Smith Jr was a great man a man that used sense not illogical thinking…”

    Faults….what faults?

    Comment by Doug — June 26, 2008 @ 2:25 am

  30. The plot thickens! Have you read the Nauvoo Forum comments recently, anyone?

    Comment by Christine — July 14, 2008 @ 10:02 am

  31. While anyone is allowed to comment here, let me just remind our readers that the Juvenile Instructor is a blog dedicated to the academic study of Latter Day Saint (with interest in all Latter Day Saint denominations) history and culture. As such, we’re more interested in studying the Gillites as a movement, and how they are situating their identity in relationship to other Latter Day Saint groups and their larger host culture. This is not the forum to ridicule their beliefs or approach to scripture or anything else.

    Comment by Christopher — July 14, 2008 @ 10:17 am

  32. What have Bowman and Baker at the Sacramento conference had to say on the subject of the Gillites; Does anyone know, please?

    Comment by Christine — July 24, 2008 @ 2:25 pm

  33. I am surprised that no one in the LDS community has been able to pass on any information about what the Sacramento conference brought up about the Gillities from a doctrinal/theological angle.

    I sincerely want to know this.

    Comment by Christine — September 29, 2008 @ 9:34 am

  34. Well, I am still waiting to be enlightened.

    Comment by Christine — December 7, 2008 @ 2:15 pm

  35. […] The Gill-ites and the Second Coming […]

    Pingback by Juvenile Instructor » From The Archives: Posts You Might Have Missed, March-May 2008 — July 2, 2009 @ 7:51 am


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