True and Living Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of the Last Days
by Tim Martin
Founder: Jim Harmston
Works Published: Manti Times and Season
Organizational Structure: Leadership consists of one prophet,
Jim Harmston with twelve apostles under him.
Unique Terms: Multiple mortal probations, rescuing, piercing
In 1990, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints (LDS) altered portions of their sacred temple ceremony.
As a result, many Mormons believed the LDS Church was straying from the
truth. Consequently, many journeyed to Manti, Utah to join other
disgruntled Mormons.1 One of these
men was a retired real estate agent named Jim Harmston.2
In November 1990, Harmston received a spiritual visitation. He
was in his home when his spirit left his body and hovered in the air.
Then, four personages gathered around him: Elohim, Jehovah, Adam and Jesus.
These beings are four generations in a family: Elohim is the grandfather
of Adam, Jehovah is the father of Adam, and Jesus is Adam's son.
In this vision, the four personages laid their hands on Harmston, giving
him the keys to the priesthood.3
In 1992, a group of approximately 30 disgruntled Mormons, along with
Harmston, began meeting together to study and practice the original teachings
of the LDS Church. They called their newly formed meetings, "The
Council of High Priests." One of the many teachings that the LDS Church
has abandoned is polygamy (multiple wives). At present count,
Harmston has 13 wives. The group also pursued adoption by the
Sioux Indian tribe. As with other native American tribes, the Sioux
are not obligated to the United States Government. Once adopted by
the Indians, the Council of High Priests would become legally detached
from the United States Government, an institution believed to be evil.
This pursuit was later terminated when the group split.4
The TLC was formed out of a division among the Council of High Priests
over the practice of taking more than one wife to bed at a time.
Some believed this practice was wrong. In 1994, Harmston claimed
to have a revelation from God. God told him that men can only take
one wife to bed at a time. Those opposing Harmston broke from the
group because he was a mere man, and the scriptures did not support his
revelation. Shortly afterwards, Jim Harmston began receiving revelations
indicating that he was more than a mere man, but a prophet of God.
Those following Harmston took on the name, "The True and Living Church
of Jesus Christ of Saints of the Last Days," (TLC). As time passed,
Harmston's understanding of his identity increased. He now claims
that he is Joseph Smith and the Holy Spirit.5
The beginning of the LDS Church rests on the premise that Biblical truth
had been lost from the earth, and needed to be restored by Joseph Smith.6
The TLC affirms this teaching, but adds that the LDS Church also fell into
serious error after Joseph Smith and Brigham Young died. In the pamphlet,
My House Shall It Begin, TLC lists eleven key doctrines they adhere
to including, anti-abortion, black's unworthiness to receive the priesthood
and the gathering of the elect.7
Because the LDS Church has abandoned these teachings, they are considered
to be in, "a state of rebellion against the Lord."
Subsequently, as with many LDS splinter groups, TLC beliefs are usually
defined as a reaction against the Mormon church instead of defining
their own doctrines. The Profile on the "Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints" lists the basic doctrines of the LDS Church, in which
the TLC would agree.
Reinstated Mormon Doctrines
TLC includes the same books of scripture as the LDS Church: Book of
Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price and the Bible.
However, they use the original 1830 version of the Book of Mormon.
More than 3,900 changes have been inserted into the Book of Mormon since
Joseph Smith originally published it. Hence, the TLC Church uses
the original Book of Mormon because the purest doctrines come from the
original. TLC also uses the book, Lectures on Faith, a collection
of teachings by Joseph Smith that was originally used as scripture by the
LDS Church. Since TLC formed, it added another book of scripture
called The Manti Revelation Book.8
New members receiving the priesthood are required to swear adherence to
this book. However, new members are not allowed to view this book
to see what they are swearing obedience to. Only a few people have
ever seen it. Hence, not much is known of its contents. Lastly,
any person within TLC can receive divine revelation from God
However, Harmston is the only person who can declare their revelation to
be true or false.9
According to early LDS leaders such as Joseph F. Smith and Brigham Young,
polygamy was a requirement for exaltation and salvation.10
"The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter
into polygamy."11 TLC women believe
as the men do that plural marriage is "a true principle of the Gospel of
Jesus Christ and must be lived to gain the highest level of exaltation."12
They are honest and admit that this is a hard lifestyle, even producing
suffering. However, "there is no one who has suffered like our Saviour."13
Hence, though it is a difficult principle, a person needs to submit to
plural marriage to obtain exaltation.
One member of TLC has claimed that fruits of monogamy are adultery,
homosexuality, prostitution, sexual diseases, incest and homosexuality.14
In contrast with many polygamist groups, TLC wives are usually adults,
and many of them are educated. However, one of Harmston's wives was
16 years old when they married.15
Current LDS doctrine teaches that Adam, like all other persons born
on this earth was originally born as a spirit in the pre-existence.
However, he "was one of the most noble and intelligent characters who ever
lived," second in rank only to Jesus.16
Though this teaching highly esteems Adam, early LDS sources teach that
Adam was even higher than this, he was God. "[Adam] is our Father
and our God, and the only God with whom WE have to do. Every man
upon the earth, professing Christians or non-professing, must hear it,
and will know it sooner or later."17
The members of TLC embrace this doctrine as taught by Brigham Young.18
Hence, in Harmston's first vision recorded above, the Adam that appeared
to him was not just a man, but the god over this planet.
Newly Developed Doctrines
In the TLC and LDS Church, the priesthood is the "power and authority
of God delegated to man on earth to act in all things for the salvation
of men."19 It is in the best interest
of man to obtain the highest priesthood possible, to ensure a better existence
after this life. Men receive the priesthood, women are not eligible.
Hence, a woman's position in the next life depends on her husband's level
of priesthood authority in this life. If a man with high priesthood
authority wants to help a woman married to a man with a lessor priesthood,
he can rescue her. This means that he can lawfully, in the sight
of God, take her from her current husband, and marry her. This practice
has been increasing in recent times. Some women have been rescued
up to three and four times.20
True Order of Prayer
When a person with the priesthood goes through the TLC temple ceremony,
they receive signs (hand gestures) and key words. To perform the
true order of prayer, the person executes the signs and repeats the key
words. Certain parts of the key words need to be vocal, and other
parts can be silent. When performed correctly, the true order of
prayer will pierce the veil. Piercing the veil allows the TLC access
to the invisible spirit world. This spiritual realm contains people
who were once living on this earth. After the veil is pierced, the
person can communicate with the dead.21
Communicating with the dead is important for their process of baptism
for the dead. The basis for this baptism for the dead is taught in the
LDS Church. Deceased people will have their eternal destinies impeded
if they were not baptized while alive. Hence, Mormons will find these
people through genealogical research, then get baptized in behalf of the
deceased. Instead of using genealogical research, the TLC members
contact the dead person by piercing the veil and asking each person if
they want the proxy baptism.22
Multiple Mortal Probations
This doctrine is comparable to reincarnation in Hinduism,
and the New Age Movement. Reincarnation
is the belief that "the soul reappears after death in another and different
bodily form."23 However, in multiple
mortal probations, the person returns with the same gender and personality.
Through the practice of piercing the veil and receiving the patriarchal
blessing, many TLC members have learned who they were in previous lives.24
Not only do multiple mortal probations occur on this earth, but up to
five other planets. The more righteous a person is, the less probations
he or she will have to experience. Harmston teaches that Abraham,
Enoch, Moses and Noah were all Jesus in previous mortalities. This does
not mean that Jesus merely appeared as Moses to communicate a particular
truth, but was living the life of Moses as a probation. Once Jesus
proved himself worthy in one life, his next life would take him one step
closer to godhood. Elohim, Jehovah, Adam and Jesus, from Harmston's
initial visitation were four people in different levels of progression.
In the next world, Harmston will take the role of Jesus, Jesus will take
the role of God (Adam) and so forth.25
Harmston reports having lived several important roles in religious and
secular history: Jeremiah, John the Baptist, Martin Luther, John Wesley,
and Benjamin Franklin. Gordon B. Hinkley, the current prophet of
the LDS Church, was Cain in the Bible.26
The process of persons progressing toward godhood through multiple lives
can work in reverse. People who leave TLC are told that they will
come back with black skin in the next life. If they are further disobedient
to the truth in the next life, they may digress further, becoming demons.27
According to TLC, Joseph Smith's restoration of the Church began the
final dispensation of earths' history. Now, we are living in the
latter part of this dispensation, awaiting the end (destruction of the
wicked). In preparation for the end, people must gather in Manti,
Utah, located in the Sanpete Valley.
We testify that those who are the elect of God are waking up and are
heeding the prompting of the Holy Ghost to Gather. We know by the Spirit
that the Sanpete valley in Utah has a manifest destiny in the work of the
Lord, and we testify that great and marvelous events will yet transpire
in this prophetic valley . . . This valley will serve as a temporary
refuge for the righteous while great destructions occur in all the land.
That righteous remnant of the elect are already gathering to this place
to fulfill the covenants they have made with God before they come to earth.28
To prepare for the end, in 1997 Harmston sent teams of apostles around
the continental United States to anoint all State Capitols and LDS Temples,
sealing them for destruction. On April 15, 1999, God told TLC Church leaders
to cease proselyting efforts, and terminate communication to the media
about their beliefs and practices in anticipation of the end.29
A date for the end has not been given. Harmston formerly taught
that everyone in the Sanpete Valley except TLC would be swept from the
earth between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur in 1999. However, that
event did not occur. Currently, Harmston teaches that the millennium
started on Rosh Hashana. Also, he has prophesied that a coalition
of China, Russia and some Islamic nations will invade the United States
before the first snowfall in 1999. Their attack on the United States
will take them to Utah, where they will be stopped at Manti.30
Around this period, members of TLC will be translated (transformed) into
terrestrial beings with the fullness of the priesthood power. The
fulness of the priesthood power will be able to command the elements (hurricanes,
earthquakes etc.) This is the same power that God gave Moses to part
the Red Sea. With these powers, they will work in conjunction with
the Holy Order (those beyond the veil) to cleanse the Sanpete Valley.
Consequently, TLC members will leave the Sanpete valley and go to Salt
Lake City to destroy the wicked valley by bringing down mountains.31
1. No one will know when the end will happen.32
2. People only live and die once, then they receive eternal punishment
or eternal life.33
3. Adam is not God, but was created by God.34
4. The truth would never be lost, therefore restoration is unnecessary.35
5. God forbids contacting the dead.36
1 Chris Jorgensen, "Schism Disrupts the Faithful in
Sanpete Valley," Salt Lake Tribune, 28 August, 1994
[Online] URL http://www.polygamy.org/past_media%20plyg%2050%20trib.htm
2 Chris Jorgensen, "Ex-Mormons Found New Faith,
Preach Polygamy and Doom," Salt Lake Tribune, 20 August, 1994 [Online]
3 Anonymous interview with former TLC member #2
4 Anonymous interview with former TLC member #2
5 Anonymous interview with former TLC member
6 Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith History, 1:19.
7 Pamphlet, Upon My House Shall It Begin.
(published by TLC, Manti, Utah, date unknown) p. 5-6.
8 Anonymous interview with former TLC member
9 Anonymous interview with former TLC member
10 Apostle Joseph F. Smith, July 7, 1878, Journal
of Discourses vol.20 p. 28 as quoted in the pamphlet A Warning Testimony
(published by TLC, Manti, Utah, date unknown) p. 17.
11 Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses
Vol. 11 ppg. 268-69 as quoted in A Warning Testimony (published
by TLC, Manti, Utah, date unknown) p. 17.
12 Pamphlet: Women Testify of Plural Marriage,
(published by TLC, Manti, Utah, date unknown) p.16.
13 Ibid p. 9 sic.
14 Pamphlet: Women Testify of Plural
Marriage, (published by TLC, Manti, Utah, date unknown) p. 33-34.
15 Anonymous interview with former TLC member #2
16 McConkie, Bruce R., Mormon Doctrine,
2nd ed. (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1966) p. 17.
17Young, Brigham, "Millennial Start," 1853, Vol 15,
p. 769 emphasis in original.
18 Pamphlet: Upon My House Shall it Begin (published
by TLC, Manti, Utah, date unknown) p. 5
19 McConkie, Bruce R., Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. (Salt
Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1966), p. 594.
20 Anonymous interview with former TLC member #2
21 Anonymous interview with former TLC member #1
23 Webster's New World Dictionary, 3rd ed.
(New York, New York: Webster's New World Dictionaries) p. 1131.
24 Anonymous interview with former TLC member #1
26 Anonymous interview with former TLC member #2
27 Anonymous interview with former TLC member #1
28 Pamphlet: The Gathering of the Elect, (published
by TLC, Manti, Utah, date unknown) p. 7.
29 Anonymous interview with former TLC member
30 Anonymous interview with former TLC member #2
31 Anonymous interview with former TLC member #1
32 Mark 13:32.
33 Hebrews 9:27, Matthew 25:46.
34 Genesis 2:7.
35 Matthew 16:18.
36 Deuteronomy 18:10-12.
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