What do I think of Steven Shields’s book? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Behold the words of Joseph Smith:
“Come on! ye prosecutors! ye false swearers! All hell, boil over! Ye burning mountains, roll down your lava! for I will come out on top at last. I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet…When they can get rid of me, the devil will also go” (History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 408).
So we are often told by Mormons. Look at how much the church has split. Look at how many denominations there are! However, Joseph Smith held his church together. I mean, we know about some groups, but there’s only a small number. Right?
As it turns out, there were differences even in the lifetime of Joseph Smith. After he died, there was more and more separation radiating out of the church. To be fair, not all splinter groups are major groups. Some would only have a few people. Some, however, did have sizable followings.
Not only this, many Mormons will point to the Scripture they have, the translations of plates that they did, and the revelations that Joseph Smith received. The hard part here is that many of these other groups claimed the exact same thing. Many of these groups had people who claimed that they had revelations and that God had called them to carry on the work of Joseph Smith or sometimes that even during the time of Smith, the church had gone astray.
It’s as if many of them followed the exact same blueprint.
Many of these also get very far away from Mormonism. Some of them come to embrace New Age teachings. You have some that are extremely friendly to the LGBTQ position. There are some that get into a sort of Gnosticism.
The author has done in-depth research on these with references at the end of each section. He does point out that some of these are more unverified and some of these do just exist on the internet. There are, of course, many of these groups that are real and there come to be splinters of the splinters.
This is a great book to read also because you can get plenty of these groups and I just go to Mormons I interact with and ask “Why not this group? They have the exact same credentials as your group does with claiming revelation. Why do you not accept them?” We are also often accused of having a closed canon. Well, the main LDS church has a closed canon with regard to these other groups.
This book is also very large. There are over 900 pages of information. Still, if you want to know more about what happened in the life and after of Joseph Smith in relation to the unity of the church, this is the place to go. You can find it here.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)