Adam Stokes is a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ – The Assured Way of the Lord. We’ll learn more about the founders of the movement, Otto Fetting and William Draves, and more about this group that has roots in the Temple Lot Church. Check out our conversation…

Intro to Adam Stokes

Adam  00:48  I’m Adam Stokes. I’m an apostle, elder, and core member for the Church of Jesus Christ – the Assured Way of the Lord. That’s a really super huge title. There’s a whole history behind that, which we’ll probably talk about at some point, over the course of our time together.

GT  01:03  Okay, because I thought it was called the Elijah Message. Did it used to be called the Elijah message? Because it seems sounded like there was a merger there or something.

Adam  01:11  Yes, there was. There’s a Church of Jesus Christ with the Elijah Message. There’s actually three different churches and there’s three different, what we call Feting-ite or Dravite churches. The Church of Jesus Christ with the Elijah Message, those are the people who actually kept the trademarks name. Then there’s a another group Church of Jesus Christ with the Elijah Message. We call them the 608 group, because their headquarters are on a street, which is numbered 608. They have a church there. And then there’s us, the Assured Way of the Lord, which was formed, technically in 2003. And so there’s a history of some divisions within my tradition, beginning in 1994, with the death of our founder, basically W.A. Draves. Right before he died, there was some stuff going on in the church, about leadership issues, who was to head the church, and then that all came to a head after he died. And so you get these different branches. So the the Church of Church of Jesus Christ with the Elijah Message, Incorporated. Then you have my group The Assured Way of the Lord, which consist of most (not all, but most) of the apostles who were apostles in the quorum at the time of brother Draves death. Now, some of those apostles have passed on, but most of them are part of the Assured Way, though. Several others are part of some of the other Elijah message churches.

Adam’s Intro to JST & Book of Mormon

Adam  08:44  So my introduction to the Book of Mormon came years after Yale. I knew a little bit about it from my friends at the Divinity School, shout out to Carl Cranney. I believe he’s at American University. But I didn’t know anything about the Book of Mormon. My interest in the Book of Mormon came years later. I was still doing my Ph.D. And there is a conference that basically all biblical scholars go to all biblical students go to all religious students go to in the U.S. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. The Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion. So they have a conference every November. And one at one of these conferences, BYU had a kiosk. They had a copy of the Joseph Smith Translation on CD. I think I still have it over here somewhere.

GT  09:36  Of the Bible.

Adam  09:37  Of the Bible. Yes. And I was really interested in that at the time because I was really interested in the history of interpretation of the King James Bible. [I’m interested in] how it’s basically influenced Western civilization and what people have done to it over the centuries. The Joseph Smith Translation [is] a really cool example of that. Now I had no religious affiliation. At the time, like I said, I was kind of hanging out the Quakers, but I wasn’t officially with any groups. So this seemed curious to me. And so I bought the CD and put it into my laptop. And I was just blown away, Rick, because I was coming to it at first, just as an example of American interpretation. And something about it just really grabbed at me. And I think that and other people have asked me this. I know you had Ben Shaffer on the show. He’s asked me this as well.

GT  09:37  Of the Bible?

Adam  10:34  I think that the way that especially the first 10 chapters, that Joseph Smith translation, provide an alternate story of Adam and Eve, where it’s not so much–I’m coming from the Baptist tradition. So we’re like the Calvinists, in regard to total depravity. So Adam ate from the apple, and we’re done. We’re completely done as human beings. And the Joseph Smith Translation for me challenged that and said, “No, Adam wasn’t done when he ate the apple. In fact, God continued to have a relationship with Adam. God in Genesis, Chapter Six of the Joseph Smith Translation forgives Adam, and he exalts Adam, to the priesthood. And so it was a completely different understanding of that story than what I ever been exposed to. And that got me interested in reading more Latter Day Saints and restorationist literature. And so I remember this day very well. This was exactly to the day, Rick, of the one year anniversary of my wife not being married. The 10-year anniversary was last year, but this was the one year anniversary of my wife and I being married 2013. Yep. And we were at a Marriott Hotel in Princeton. And she went out to get Chinese food. And I stayed and I opened up [a drawer,] because usually have a Gideon Bible and stuff. I just like to see what things are in there.

GT  12:03  Not at the Marriott!

Adam  12:04  Not at the Marriott. I learned later that you Mormons own that. So I saw this. There was this Book of Mormon there. And so I picked it up. And I just started reading, and I had this mystical experience with the book. And I’ve told other people this and I’ll gladly say to you, Rick. I was basically drawn into the world with the Book of Mormon for a few seconds. You can believe that. You cannot believe that. I was in the jungle and there were Lamanites. I was not in the jungle, the forest. And some Lamanites were running by. I will go on an oath is saying that. You can take me to court. You can psychologically evaluate me. And I will say exactly what I’m saying to you right now. And I knew. The point of all this is that I knew that the Book of Mormon right then and there was true. I didn’t know anything about the Book of Mormon besides that it had been translated by Joseph Smith, and it was Mormonism’s sacred texts. I didn’t know anything else about it. But I knew right then, that it was true. And that made me want to seek out groups that believed in in the Book of Mormon. And so there was right down the street [a church.] This goes into real complex history with my relationship with to the restoration. There was a Bickertonite Church down the street.

GT  13:33  I didn’t expect that! Wow.

Adam  13:35  So, then I was going to [Bickertonite Church] for a while.

Adam went on later to join the Community of Christ before joining the Assured Way.

Otto Fettings Visions & Revelations

GT  00:56 I bet you most of my listeners, we haven’t talked [him.] I know about Otto Fetting because Paul gave me some literature that I read. And so, I’m a little familiar with Draves. But yeah, let’s talk about Otto Fetting. What can you tell my listeners about Otto Fetting and how he started the Fettingite movement?

Adam  01:22  Yeah, absolutely. So Otto Fetting is an apostle in the Church of Jesus Christ -Temple lot in the early 20th century in the 1920s.

GT  01:32  Before that he was a member of the Community of Christ. Right?

Adam  01:35  Member of the RLDS. Yes.

GT  01:37  Yeah. They were known as RLDS back then, yeah.

Adam  01:40  And [he] joined the Temple Lot. In around 1927 he says that he has visions and revelations from John the Baptist. In fact, he sees John the Baptist, in physical form. There’s a very famous statement in message number one, where John the Baptist hits Otto Fetting on the shoulder. He basically tells him wake up. “I have a revelation for you,” and gives him the revelation. He starts. He is still a member of the Temple Lot Church, and they accept at that time, the first 12 messages. Now the content of all these messages is that the temple is going to be there’s going to be a temple built. There has to be a temple built on the Temple Lot grounds. I don’t know how much you’ve talked about the Temple Lot Church, but the Temple Lot is kind of the Mecca of the restoration. So you LDS guys have a Visitor Center there. Community of Christ has their big spiral temple there, and the Temple Lot has their church there. And next to the church is the actual lot where the temple is supposed to be built. The cornerstones that Joseph Smith mentions in the Doctrine and Covenants that you can see on the Temple Lot. That is the most sacred space in our tradition. That’s basically Mecca for the Elijah Message church and same for the Temple Lot Church.

Adam:  So Otto Fetting at the time in the late 1920s is saying that the temple is going to be built on these grounds and the Temple Lot people are cool with that. They like what he’s saying. They believe what he’s saying up until the 12th message where Apostle Fetting is highly critical of some of the leadership in the Temple Lot Church. And so at that time, they reject his messages. He’s excommunicated. And he formed his own church called the Elijah Message Church.

Adam:  And so, he has 30 revelations between 1927 and I believe 1933. He’s an old man at this time. He’s had a whole career as a construction worker. In some ways, that explains why a lot of the initial revelations if you read revelations one through six, it gives very specific details about the construction for the temple, because Otto Fetting himself was a construction worker. So he would know all of what needed to be done from a from a construction perspective. He dies in 1933 with his own church, and nothing really happens until 1937, where another apostle from Fetting’s church, W.A. Draves also says that he’s receiving revelations from an angel. Now to make this even more complicated than what I’ve already said with the split between our three groups and everything. There are some churches that are purely purely Fettingite which means that they only accept the first 30 messages that were delivered by Otto Fetting. And they do not believe in the messages of W.A. Draves. So there’s some small groups, they’re about 100 members here, 10 members there who still do that. But most of the people who accepted Otto Fetting’s messages, accept the messages of W.A. Draves. And W.A. Draves continues to have messages from around 1937, all the way to 1994. So almost a period of 60 years, he has these messages. And there’s some really amazing things in them.

Adam  05:33  From a faith perspective, I believe that they’re revealed by God. But they seem to predict events such as World War Two, the fall of the Soviet Union, and even some of the events, Armageddon, some of the events in the Near East, in the early 20th century. The war between the West and the Near East in the early 2000s. So there’s a lot of really interesting stuff in them. But that’s the basic history. And then in 1994, when Apostle Draves dies, that’s when you start to have these further splits. Before his death, there was some controversy. There were some things that were going on financially and involving the leadership of the church. In fact, Brother Draves, was excommunicated from his own church, and then brought back in right before he died. So there were things were very messy in 1994. And that just led to further and further schism in division after that.

GT  06:40  Wow, that’s interesting. I didn’t know about that. Jumping back to Otto Fetting, he was the one responsible for them actually starting to dig the foundation for the temple. Is that correct?

Adam  06:53  Yes, exactly. There’s a famous revelation, where Otto Fetting says the cornerstone will be found that was indicated for the temple will be found here. And the Temple Lot uncovered that and found it. Even to this day, there are some members of the Temple Lot that will least have to accept the first six or 12 messages because of because of that prophecy.

GT  07:17  Okay, so…

Adam  07:19  But officially the Temple Lot doesn’t accept the messages.

GT  07:23  Oh, that’s interesting. Okay, so they started breaking ground. Was it in 1927? Or soon after there?

Adam  07:30  Soon after that.

GT  07:32  Yeah. Okay. So soon after that. That’s when they got that big hole. That lasted for decades until Harry Truman. I guess he served this time as President of the United States, and then the city of Independence was like, “that’s pretty big of an eyesore.” We’re going to help you fill that hole. Because we don’t want Harry Truman to see it. Right?

Adam  07:53  Yeah, yeah. Right down the street.

Have you heard of Otto Fetting or the Elijah Message Movement? What do you make of Otto’s revelations?