The Word of the Lord by Harry Edgar Baker

There are three different texts titled The Word of the Lord used by different Mormon splinter groups. One was written by Otto Fetting between 1927-1933. Another was written by William Draves starting in 1933. However, I could find next to nothing online about about the text written by Harry Edgar Baker between 1916 to 1918. Wikipedia mentions the other two books sharing this title, but not this earlier one.

All I could find out about Harry Edgar Baker besides basic genealogical information (dates of birth, baptism, marriage, and death) is that he was apparently never excommunicated from the Mormon church, despite writing his own scripture and practicing polygamy after the mainstream Mormon church ceased the practice.

The full title of the book is “The Word of the Lord to His church in the wilderness: and to all the nations of the Gentiles, being the words of Jesus Christ, the son of God, to the sheep of Israel, who are not in the fold, and to all the present generation of the earth.” It was written in April 1916 and published in December 1917. I also found a followup online titled the Second Message published in 1918.

The First Message begins, “And on the sixth day of April in the year 1916, came the word of the Lord to me, Harry Edgar Baker, of the city of Chicago, son of James Heaton Baker, who was of the city of Mankato, saying, Thus saith the Lord:” (The Word of the Lord 1:1) He then goes on to say that World War I is a punishment sent by God, but those who survive will prosper. (He apparently didn’t see World War II coming.)

“But those people which shall remain, will I favor, saith the Lord. They shall rise in meekness, and in righteousness, out of the wrecks of their ruined empires; and I will provide new states and just governments; that all men may enjoy that equality of rights, which the Father designed for them even from the beginning; but which has been sacrificed to the free-agency of man.” (The Word of the Lord 2:8)

He goes on to make another failed prophecy: “Behold, the time is fully ripe, when my word must go forth unto all men; yea, and be translated into all tongues and languages; for I will not suffer that it shall continue to be held back from the world.” (The Word of the Lord 3:1)

Since The Word of the Lord is so obscure, it doesn’t even get a Wikipedia page, I think it’s safe to assume it was never translated into every language or known by all men. Besides, why would God wait until 1917 to spread His word to all the world in the first place? Why not tell the world two thousand years sooner? Or six thousand?

“For lo, I the Lord, remove the curse which has rested upon Judah, now these many generations; even the curse of blindness, and that bitter curse of the hatred of men. Which blindness fell upon their fathers, because they rejected their Messiah, for whom they were looking; and who truly appeared in that generation, as the prophets and the seers of Israel had foretold; for these had prepared the way.” (The Word of the Lord 4:2)

It’s nice that the Jews aren’t cursed anymore (4:5 even goes on to say the Jews will see the Lord in Jerusalem). But why did God curse the Jews in the first place? It doesn’t seem fair to curse people living almost two thousand years later for something their ancestors did.

We then get a potentially true prophecy about the Jews: “Wherefore, I will bring them into their own country, even into the land of Judea; for I will gather a host of them, saith the Lord, to the land of their fathers; and there will I plant them, and make of them a strong nation as in days of old.” (The Word of the Lord 4:6)

Since Israel wasn’t established until the 1940s and the author was promising all this would happen “soon”, I think the timing is a bit off. Also, it’s not that impressive of a prophecy since the Zionist movement existed long before WW1, but at least this prophecy isn’t entirely wrong.

Whether this next paragraph counts as a successful prophecy or not depends on your definition of the word “swift”: “And now I speak unto all peoples, and say unto every man, that I will send a swift judgment upon that house or that nation which brings distress upon the scattered sheep of Judah; for I have set my hand to deliver them, and to keep the covenants which I made with their fathers. Take counsel therefore, you that have done this thing hitherto.” (The Word of the Lord 4:7)

In Section V, the Lord removes the curse he placed upon the Gentiles for killing the Twelve. He must not be counting Judas as one of the Twelve, and he also must not be familiar with the tradition that John died of old age. I’m curious if he’s using the word “Gentiles” to mean non-Jews or non-Mormons or something else.

“And thus did I establish my Church upon the shoulders of mine Apostles, whom you slew, you and your fathers; and when you slew them, you took away the foundation of my Church, and the light of my Gospel, and left the world in darkness, which is confusion, for I would not renew the Twelve unto you again.” (The Word of the Lord 5:4)

This tracks with Mormon tradition that the true Church of Christ disappeared from the earth almost immediately after Christ died and didn’t come back again until Joseph Smith’s time. He goes on to say the Gentiles, who had only partial truth, were still better off than the Jews who killed the Redeemer, but they were cursed to be divided up into competing sects and churches. I wonder if he considers all the competing Mormon sects to be a curse as well.

In Section VI, he says the Lord concealed certain parts of Scripture in mystery (especially what John wrote on the Isle of Patmos, i.e., Revelation) to hide them from the Gentiles who only partially understand it. But now, the time has come to reveal its true meaning to the world. The Lord has raised up prophets to spread the word to all nations. (As far as I’m aware, Baker is the only prophet spreading this particular message.)

“And again, I say unto you also, that before this generation shall have passed away, the pure in heart shall see God, according to the promise; yea, they shall see Him dwelling with them in the flesh.” (The Word of the Lord 7:5)

There are very few members of the generation who was alive in 1917 who are still alive today, but I guess technically the prophecy that they’ll see God dwelling among them in the flesh hasn’t failed quite yet.

Here’s another prophecy that hasn’t come true yet: “Statesmen will arise who will guide the nations and destroy the motive of war, which is the greed of nations. The peacemakers will assure that there will be no more war.” (The Word of the Lord 7:7)

“God will destroy the wicked very soon using flood, earthquake, cyclones, fires, pestilence, famine, and war.” (The Word of the Lord 7:8)

He wrote this shortly before the 1918 flu pandemic, so we could give him credit for predicting pestilence, however, it wasn’t only the wicked who were destroyed. According to Our World in Data, there was a spike in wildfire deaths during this time period as well, however there were fewer than usual earthquake, flood, and storm victims. So this prophecy only gets partial credit.

Overall, he spends a lot of time telling us that the wicked will be punished. It’s understandable, though, that people living through World War I would think it was the end of the world.

Section VIII tells us the time is near when all men shall know that the words of all the prophets are true. (Presumably, not the parts of Scripture the Gentiles got wrong.) He tells us the wicked will be punished, which is a recurring theme throughout the book. We’re also told that we shouldn’t worry about the children or the righteous people who are killed in the violence of God’s judgement since they’ll have a chance to repent.

Section IX tells us unbelievers will be punished. You might object that it’s not your fault you don’t believe, but if the sufferings of Christ aren’t enough to make you believe, nothing is. The only possible reason someone has for not believing in Christ is that they love sinning too much. (There’s no way they could consider the story of Christ to be mythical.) Not exactly air-tight logic, but it’s the best he’s got.

Jesus is apparently in favor of segregation: “I will place them, every tongue and every people in their own lands.” (The Word of the Lord 10:13)

No matter how many natural disasters God sends, men still don’t repent. “How long, O ye, my people, will you suffer these things, and not come to understanding?” (The Word of the Lord 11:5) It seems like God is the one who lacks understanding here. How long will He keep doing the same thing while expecting a different result? If sending natural disasters doesn’t work, why not try a different approach? If you want men to repent, maybe communicate that to them in a clear manner instead of passive-aggressively sending disaster after disaster and expecting them to read your mind.

“Hear now, and I will reason with you as a man. Your wise men read out of the book of nature the laws of cause and effect, and in confidence of their wisdom you trust their philosophy; but it is truly written that the wisdom of the wise shall perish.” (The Word of the Lord 11:8)

Is that how reasoning works? We’re supposed to ignore what our senses and logic tell us about the world and instead trust what’s written in some random book that often contradicts itself? Makes you wonder why God gave us the ability to reason if He doesn’t want us to use it.

OK, I actually really love some of the writing from Section XII. It’s a poetic way of condemning World War I using a Biblical writing style.

“You have devised the murder of innocense under the sea, that sharks may devour the tender child, and the great deep swallow up a host. Your inventors have perverted the gift of God, to build your crafts of war, even for the very clouds of heaven; that you might rain your thunder-bolts of death upon the heads of the innocent, to take away the life which has given no offense; that you might horrify the world with cruelty, and thus constrain the nations to give you victory.” (The Word of the Lord 12:3)

“Woe unto him that pursueth victory at any price; and also unto him that pursueth peace at any price.” (The Word of the Lord 12:3) This one made me go “Huh?” at first, but he goes on to say we should pursue justice instead of victory or peace.

“And as for the nation that slays the innocent out of the heavens, and defiles the great waters with the blood of murder, I will remember them, saith the Lord, for I will shut up the heavens against them from above, and open the gates of hell upon them from beneath. I will cut off the blessing of heaven from them, and the sea shall be the sepulchre of their strength; their pride and their glory shall go down together into the deep, and it shall be their everlasting tomb.” (The Word of the Lord 12:5)

In 12:9-10 he says the only time it’s okay to kill is in self-defense, but adds the caveat that the death penalty counts as self-defense for some reason.

“He that buildeth for war, seeketh war, and sueth for the spirit of war, shall he not have war? And he that would kill with the sword, shall he not perish by the sword also?” (The Word of the Lord 12:13)

Section XIII refers cryptically to “a country that is select and beautiful, a land that I have set my seal upon” that will be destroyed. Also, “a little one shall set it upon edge, end-wise” (The Word of the Lord 13:1)

This might be a reference to Washington D.C.: “And the city in the border, which is the center thereof, will I pluck up.” (The Word of the Lord 13:2)

I’m not sure what this refers to: “And out of the sea the monsters of the deep shall rise up; and they shall send forth desolations as a flood upon that land. And I will bring clouds of dense darkness, and overcast them with the red glare of war. […] For, lo, the red and the black shall be against her.” (The Word of the Lord 13:3)

“Her statue of justice is broken down” (The Word of the Lord 13:5) seems to be a reference to the Statue of Liberty. 13:6 tells us this land is corrupt and lawyers connive to let guilty men go free.

“And ye boast of liberty. Has not that liberty which your fathers obtained in blood, become a delusion and a sham?” (The Word of the Lord 13:8) Liberty is a sham in this country because the poor are treated like beasts of burden and widows, orphans, and the elderly are not provided for. He seems to be predicting that America will be laid low during WW1, but since this didn’t happen, we need to count this as another failed prophecy.

Section XIV predicts that God will create a New Jerusalem and peace will reign for a thousand years, which is basic Mormon stuff. Section XV, like most of the sections, tells us yet again that the wicked will be punished. Section XVI advises us to turn away from the dead prophets and to focus on the living ones. (Since Baker is a dead prophet now, does this mean we should no longer pay attention to anything he said?) Finally, Section XVII tells us to appoint a day of fasting and prayer. We should repent to avoid punishment. Thus ends the First Message.

The Second Message (written March 1918, published October 1918) is more focused on theology than current events or predictions of future events. The main message seems to be that Catholics are wrong.

Sections I-II tell us Christ is returning soon to reward the righteous and punish the wicked. Section III chastises those who say revelation has ended and those who prize money over the truth of God. Sections IV-V chastise false churches, ridicule the idea of immaculate conception, and criticize those who make God mysterious.

Section VI insists that God is in the form of a man, using examples from the Bible. Section VII tells us everybody has a spirit that departs upon death. Also, the Father and Son are separate from each other, not a single substance. Section VIII informs us that only one plan of salvation is correct, most churches have it wrong.

Section IX speaks of the Mormon idea of the spirit prison. I’ve never heard it explicitly linked to those who died in Noah’s flood before: “And you learn from the Scriptures, concerning the children of the flood, how that I prepared a prison for them, from whence they came not out until, in sorrow, they despaired of deliverance. Yet, in a day long delayed, they were visited of the Lord, as the Scripture saith: For He was put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the spirit by which He went and preached to the spirits in prison which sometime were disobedient when once the long suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing. Which Scripture saith also, concerning them, the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God and they that hear shall live, meaning, they which believe and obey, shall live. And thus it was that two thousand years and more passed away while the disconsolate children of the flood sorrowed for the mercies of God, to open the prison house unto them that were bound.” (The Word of the Lord, Second Message, 9:9)

Section XI warns us that some who think of themselves as righteous may be committing the sin of vanity, so you need to be humble. Finally, Section XII says sinners won’t necessarily be in hell forever. If they repent, they’ll be forgiven.

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