A Response to the First Presidency’s Covid Vaccine Position
The Lord has told us repeatedly in scripture that signs and miracles would “follow them that believe.”1 We have also been made aware in several places of a vast array of spiritual gifts the Lord has promised to pour out upon the faithful. Moroni said that these gifts “which are spiritual, never will be done away, even as long as the world shall stand, only according to the unbelief of the children of men.”2 He further warned—writing to us—that if the time did come when these gifts “shall be done away among you” we would know “there shall be none that doth good among you, no not one.”3 Among the signs, miracles, and spiritual gifts that follow the Lord’s believing disciples in every age are: casting out devils, healing the sick, protection against deadly poison, mighty miracles, and more.
This leads us to ask the question: what are we to assume if the signs and gifts are not being experienced? Apostasy at its core involves a departure from the ways of God. It is chiefly caused by idolatry, which leads to the perversion of doctrine, and lowering of doctrinal expectations because people stop experiencing what the scriptures promise.
Trust in doctors and physicians is exercised to the level of idolatry in the Church today. Most Latter-day Saints are more likely to run to men in white coats than the Lord in white robes when they are sick, afflicted, or seeking deliverance from physical ailments of any kind. The same is true when it comes to taking preventative measures against sickness or receiving knowledge and advice about health. Doctors seem to have replaced the Lord who “created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are.”4 Because of this, the gift of healing has virtually disappeared as a widespread sign of our faith in Christ, and miracles and blessings that would otherwise have been received are being forfeited. This is not surprising, however, considering the example that is set by the spiritual leadership. Consider Russell M. Nelson’s endorsement of the Covid-19 shot:
“With approval from our physician, my wife, Wendy, and I were vaccinated today against COVID-19. We are very grateful. This was the first week either of us was eligible to receive the vaccine. We are thankful for the countless doctors, scientists, researchers, manufacturers, government leaders, and others who have performed the grueling work required to make this vaccine available. We have prayed often for this literal godsend. As a former surgeon and medical researcher, I know something of the effort needed to accomplish such a remarkable feat. Producing a safe, effective vaccine in less than a year is nothing short of miraculous…For generations, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has donated considerable resources to making vaccinations available for people in developing countries. Vaccinations have helped to eliminate diseases such as diphtheria and smallpox. My professional and ecclesiastical experiences convince me that vaccinations administered by competent medical professionals protect health and preserve life. Receiving the vaccine today was part of our personal efforts to be good global citizens in helping to eliminate COVID-19 from the world.” 5
Notice the verbiage here: approval to receive the vaccine was sought out and received from a doctor—not God, the shot was characterized as a “literal godsend,” and the production of a “safe” and “effective” vaccine in less than a year was described as “miraculous.” He noted that receiving the vaccine was something of a moral obligation in order to be “good global citizens.”
Implied in his comments are two ideas, namely: all Latter-day Saints should get the Covid-19 vaccine, and the shot is the means God has provided to be saved from the Covid-19 virus. These falsehoods, from a physician holding a high office in the Church, are very offensive in the sight of God, and couldn’t be further from the truth. Nelson’s words bring to mind Isaiah’s prophecy of the Ephraimite leaders in the end time: “priests and prophets have gone astray through liquor (or deception)… they err as seers, they blunder in their decisions.”6 Not to mention the conflict of interest that is created by the fact that the Church has invested over 600 million dollars in Johnson & Johnson stock, 400 million in Merck & Co Inc. stock, and 300 million in Danaher Corp stock, all of which are vaccine manufacturing companies.7
In similar, albeit more urgent fashion, the First Presidency recently sent the following message to all Church members around the world back in August:
“Dear Brothers and Sisters: We find ourselves fighting a war against the ravages of COVID-19 and its variants, an unrelenting pandemic. We want to do all we can to limit the spread of these viruses. We know that protection from the diseases they cause can only be achieved by immunizing a very high percentage of the population. To limit exposure to these viruses, we urge the use of face masks in public meetings whenever social distancing is not possible. To provide personal protection from such severe infections, we urge individuals to be vaccinated. Available vaccines have proven to be both safe and effective. We can win this war if everyone will follow the wise and thoughtful recommendations of medical experts and government leaders. Please know of our sincere love and great concern for all of God’s children.” 8
Serious research on the Covid-19 vaccines (outside of mainstream sources) will lead the reader to understand just how farfetched the First Presidency’s statement on their safety and efficacy truly is. Perhaps the most troubling part of the message, however, is what is not in it. Notice there is not one mention of the name of Jesus Christ, the gift of healing, exercising faith, living the Word of Wisdom, or seeking out priesthood ministrations. They do not cite a single scripture, nor claim to have received a revelation from the Lord. They did not seek the Lord’s will through prayer, nor are they inviting the Church members to do so. Instead, they assure their audience that “We can win this war if everyone will follow the wise and thoughtful recommendations of medical experts and government leaders.” What about Nephi’s warning that “cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh”?9 I thought we were followers of Jesus Christ, the Master Healer? Instead of inviting God’s people to turn to Him in a time of trouble, these leaders encourage everyone to place their confidence in conspiring men. The lack of faith in God inherent in this appeal is a direct reflection of His absence in the lives of those doing the inviting.
The Lord has provided very clear revelation on how we are to obtain healing from sickness. When someone is sick, we are to call for “the elders of the church” who “shall pray for and lay their hands upon them in my name.”10 If the person has the faith to be healed, and is not appointed unto death, according to the Lord he or she “shall be healed.”11 If the individual does not have the faith to be healed, the Lord provided the following instruction: “And whosoever among you are sick, and have not faith to be healed, but believe, shall be nourished with all tenderness, with herbs and mild food, and that not by the hand of an enemy.”12 This is consistent with the way the Lord has saved covenant people from sickness in the past. Mormon described the Nephites’ deliverance from illness “because of the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared to remove the cause of diseases.”13 The faithful Nephites relied on God and what He had provided for them in the plants He created. These natural remedies removed “the cause of diseases,” getting to the root of the problem; pun intended. This is the pattern Joseph Smith, the prophetic head of this dispensation, endorsed:
“I preached to a large congregation at the stand, on the science and practice of medicine, desiring to persuade the Saints to trust in God when sick, and not in the arm of flesh, and live by faith and not by medicine, or poison; and when they were sick, and had called for the Elders to pray for them, and they were not healed, to use herbs and mild food.” 14
The Lord has also provided direction on receiving deliverance from plagues in the last days. The revelation in section 89 of the Doctrine & Covenants known as the Word of Wisdom holds many secrets within it, but one of its main purposes was to provide Latter-day Saints with the Lord’s manner of deliverance from plagues in the last days. It was given as a warning “In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days.”15 To put it simply, the Lord was warning us here of wicked and conspiring men who would put our lives in jeopardy through what they entice us to put into our bodies. After providing guidance on what we should allow into our bodies, and how we should take care of them, the Lord then revealed the promises for keeping this word of wisdom:
“And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint. And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.” 16
The part most often emphasized in these verses is where we are told that if we keep and do the sayings given in the revelation, we will receive physical health and strength. The part that is often glossed over and ignored, however, is the promise “that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them.” Instead of revealing it outright, the Lord is hiding the great mystery of the revelation here in prophetic code. Paradoxically, only those who truly live the word of wisdom and are given access to the “wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures” promised will be able to discern this, the last of the assured blessings in the revelation. The destroying angel and the children of Israel are being given as a type and shadow. They received deliverance from the crowning plague unleashed upon the Egyptians as they obeyed the Lord by sacrificing a pure lamb and painting its blood on their doors. To the Israelites the Lord said “the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.”17 In like manner, strict obedience to the Word of Wisdom serves as a token between us and the Lord that enables the destroying angel to pass us by as we are saved by the Lord from the plagues poured out upon the wicked in the end time.
You can observe the stark contrast between Jesus Christ’s words and the words of Russell M. Nelson and his associates in the First Presidency. Choosing to trust in the arm of flesh by heeding Nelson’s words over the Lord’s constitutes a serious form of idolatry and could lead many to ironically suffer and die from the very thing they thought would protect them.
This post is an excerpt from chapter 19 of my new book “Upon My House Shall It Begin.”
Mark 16:17-18; Mormon 9:24; D&C 35:8-9, 84:65-73
3 Nephi 9:15
Russell M. Nelson, Facebook Post, January 19, 2021
Isaiah 28:7, Isaiah Institute Translation
The Salt Lake Tribune, “LDS Church discloses the $37.8 billion stock portfolio of its biggest investment fund,” March 7th, 2020.
Russell M. Nelson, Dallin H. Oaks, Henry B. Eyring; “The First Presidency Urges Latter-day Saints to Wear Face Masks When Needed and Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19,” August 12, 2021.
2 Nephi 4:34
Joseph Smith, Sept. 5, 1841, DHC 4:414