Hello. I think I’m in the right spot. This seems like such a picturesque, historic community. What happened? How did it all fall apart?
The Joseph made it to this window right here before he was shot and fell. Hello, sts. For those of you who don’t know who I am, my name is Jeff. I am a Christian pastor exploring all things LDS, latterday Saints, Mormon church. And today I’m going on a field trip to NABU, Illinois.
If you don’t know what that is, you’re going to want to keep watching. So, like subscribe and let’s go.
So tonight before my trip to Navu, I really have no idea what to expect. But one of the things off the bat that seems so strange to me is I always associate Mormonism or the eldest church in Utah, way out west, and I don’t ever really associate it with my neck of the woods, which is the Midwest, which is Illinois. So it’s going to be really interesting because that geography plays such an important role, I think, in the culture.
Okay. Got up a little earlier than normal because I thought Navou is like two and a half, 3 hours, but it ends up it’s like three and a half hours. So going to pull some stuff together, get out of here. I really don’t know what to expect. I know that there’s a temple up there and I know there’s a visitor center.
That’s all I got right now. So this really is going to be kind of fun when I see my pants. So see how it goes.
So the Martin way to not let’s talk just for a second about what I do know about Mountain View, Illinois, because I’m currently finishing biography in Joseph Smith called Gruff Stone Rolling by a church member named Richard Bushman. But Joseph Smith is actually from Vermont. He established a church in New York. Spent a lot of time in New York. Pennsylvania.
Ohio. Spent some time with some church members that had settled out in Jackson County, Missouri, before they all ended up in Navou, Illinois. And that is the story that I’m going to be exploring today.
Stuck in traffic behind the giant tractor. Come on, man. This is not Utah. No, Illinois.
Knob, Illinois is situated on the Mississippi River in western Illinois, right at the border of Missouri and Iowa. And I don’t know the details, but I know it plays an important role in the story.
Hello. I think I’m in the right spot based on the temple and the water tower.
Welcome to Naboo.
All right. First thing I need to do is I need to find the visitor center and figure out where I need to go and what I need to see. Let’s do it.
All right. Just so the visitor center, I’m going to give you my first impressions. First of all, I had a really long conversation with I think he’s called a senior missionary. So there’s an older gentleman who is from the Utah area, but he’s working in the visitor center. And he gave me a ton of great information.
He basically told me the whole story of why the LDS members settled in NABU, why they left NABU, and why they came back. According to the LDS history and tradition, everywhere they went, they grew. And everywhere they grew, whoever was there before, whether it was in Ohio or Missouri, felt threatened, specifically politically, by the influence that the LDS church members would have. So then they would start to persecute them and eventually would run them out. And that’s what happened in Navu.
That Joseph Smith, who had a bad reputation in Ohio and also in Missouri and was even accused of trying to assassinate the governor of Missouri navu was one of the last places where he tried to assemble all of the church members to settle where they can worship freely. Initially, things weren’t going very well when they settled here because it was all marshland, because it’s on the banks of the Mississippi. But he left. Went to Washington, DC. To try to get some protection from some of the politicians out there.
When he got back, it was doing pretty well. So he was in and out of NABU. He was hiding in NABU, avoiding extradition to Missouri, but eventually things caught up with him. Want to check this place out? Let’s go see the temple.
There’s no denying that the architecture of this temple is unbelievable. One thing I didn’t know till recently is that these temples aren’t necessarily where LDS church members worship on Sunday mornings. LDS church members actually worship in wardhouses or meeting houses, which are essentially think about them as neighborhood churches. So what do they do in the temple? Well, this is where they carry out specific religious ordinances, similar to the Old Testament, where various religious rituals were carried out.
That was something that Joseph Smith was very clear about. And some of the things they do is what is called proxy baptisms, where you can be baptized for a family member who is already deceased. Also, the temple is really important for marriages. Whether or not someone gets married in the temple or not sort of carries over into the afterlife. So it’s very important if you’re an eldest church member to get married in the temple.
If you watched my first Vlog on the channel, you’ll remember that I made a reference to seeing LDS meeting houses all over Utah, thinking they were churches, not realizing that these are technically LDS churches. One of the ways you can tell the difference between an LDS meeting house and a regular church is just look right up here on the steeple. Notice there’s not a cross up there. I’m still exploring all the reasons as to why that’s the case. Also, you can obviously tell it’s an LDS meeting house by the sign that’s on the front of the building, which makes it more obvious.
So the historic part of Navu, where most of the early LDS church leaders lived and settled all those years ago, is no longer really occupied by the people of Navu. They moved everything up on top of a higher area. So that’s up by the temple now, but down where all of the historic houses are and buildings, it restored a lot of them. And you can access a lot of the homes and take a lot of tours, all of which are free, which is pretty great. And I’m actually about to get on a horse and wagon right now, so let’s see what it’s like.
Music is Main Street in Old Navu. It’s one of the most important streets because 150 years ago, this would have been an incredibly busy place, because if you look right here behind me, this is where a lot of boat traffic on the Mississippi would dock and come up Main Street, which is why right here you have the original homestead of the Smith family. And if you look back here behind me, that’s actually where Joseph and Emma Smith lived at the time that he was killed. The population of NABU around that time was about 100 people. It was one of the largest cities in Illinois and actually rivaled the size of Chicago at the time.
This place was pretty hoping.
This seems like such a picturesque historic community, which leads to the question, what happened? How did it all fall apart? Well, there’s probably a lot of videos I could do to get into that because I’m still kind of learning about it. And there’s also two sides to every story. But from what I’m gathering, joseph Smith was a polarizing character, and he started to get involved in a lot of things like polygamy that was causing a lot of controversy in different circles within NA Vu and even in neighboring communities.
And even led to, like, the development of different militias and things of that nature. And that led to these rumors being printed in the press, which led to him overseeing the destruction of one of the newspapers. And that led to charges, which leads us to the next place I want to check out, because that’s sort of where the story of NA Vu really unravels. Let’s check it out.
So a lot of people may not know that Joseph Smith never made it out to Utah. This is a surprise to people from the Christian background. If you’re an LDS church member, you know full well that he was charged with treason. He was brought about 15 to 20 miles from Navu to this place, Carthage. He was held in this building where a mob showed up and eventually a gunfight broke out and he was killed.
Let’s go inside and check it out.
So this is the spy right here at that door where the mob was coming through and was attempting to attack all of the men that were with Joseph Smith. They even have an indication as to where bullets came through and killed Hiram, Joseph’s brother.
So the story goes that a mob came through the door right there and up the stairs and then entered into the room where Joseph and everybody else was, where he was killed. But Joseph made it to this window right here before he was shot and fell. Bill and this is where everything ended up, back at the homestead, back in Navu. And here you have the graves of Hiram and Joseph and Emma.
All right, so what do I think of NA? Vu well, I’m going to give you my reaction, and then I’m going to give you my perspective. Here’s my reaction. First of all, I’ve learned a ton. Super glad I came here.
I feel that I have a greater appreciation and understanding of the LDS heritage and history. Second thing is, I really enjoyed everybody I encountered today. Everybody I interacted with today was super friendly, super nice, wanting to help out. There were times whenever I was just sitting looking at stuff and somebody would just walk by and just voluntarily start talking to, being like, hey, this is what this is, and this is why it’s important. I wish that, to be quite honest with you, people from my context were as eager to share their knowledge and passion about things pertaining to their faith.
I think one of the main things that I walk away with, though, is that there’s this sadness in the air here. You can, like, sense the tragedy that unfolded where, on one hand, this place was filled with so much hope and optimism, sort of a new start, but then everything sort of deteriorated and it led to such tragic things. And like I said, you could almost sense the sadness in the air here for all the things that unfolded. But at the end of the day, I think this is my biggest takeaway. And here’s my perspective.
The thing that struck me most from a Christian pastor’s perspective was the presence of the temple and the absence of the cross. So the absence of the cross. I understand that the Eldius Church teaches that Jesus died on the cross and that if we put our faith in Him and believe in Him, that we can be resurrected as he was resurrected. But I’m not entirely sure if the Eldias Church agrees with the rest of Christianity about how significant the cross was and what it actually accomplished. And that sort of leads me to the temple.
You see, even this temple here in NABU that I’ve been learning about today, it was actually burned and then was torn down by a tornado in the this lot sat vacant for over 100 years. And it wasn’t until the 90s that an effort was made to rebuild the temple here in Navu. And I have to ask the question why? Why was it important to rebuild this temple? Why is it important for there to be temples in general in the LDS Church?
You see, my perspective as I read the Bible is that the reason we don’t need temples anymore is because we have the cross. There’s a lot of reasons why God commanded his people to build the temple in the Old Testament, but there were two primary functions. The first was to carry out religious duties and rituals and ceremonies that were important for salvation as the people of God. And the second reason was because it brought God’s presence near. His presence resided in the inner sanctum with the Ark of the Covenant and see what the Bible teaches, what Romans teaches and what Hebrews teaches, and a lot of other passages in the New Testament is the reason we don’t need the temple any longer is because when Jesus came and he died on the cross, he paid the ultimate payment for sin.
And he actually fulfilled the requirements of the law. Which is why we don’t need to. Have a temple to carry out specific religious duties or ceremonies anymore because his death was sufficient to save, by his grace all of those who repent for their sins and put their faith in him. Which leads to the second thing. And that is the reason why you don’t see temples in the rest of the Christian world, because when Jesus came and he died, he brought God’s presence near.
Jesus is called Emmanuel God. God with us when he died on the cross. It says in the Book of Matthew that when he died, that the garment in the temple that separated God’s presence from the rest of the temple was torn from the top down, essentially symbolizing the fact that we’re no longer separated from God’s presence, but Emmanuel God. Jesus has brought God’s presence to us and has put it in us by the Holy Spirit, which is what one Corinthians says. So we no longer need a temple where God’s presence resides.
All of this was accomplished on the cross, which is why, if I’m just going to be honest, the absence of the cross and the presence of the temple is something that did strike me as a Christian pastor. We believe that when Jesus came, he fulfilled the requirements of the Law. He brought God’s presence near, and now he resides in us, and we are his temple. The temple is no longer made of brick and stone. The temple is whomever God is residing in, by whomever has put their faith in Jesus and what he did on the cross.
It’s a little bit unique from the message that I was hearing from a lot of the LDS Church members today. But I have to say, I’m super glad I came here. I have an increased respect for the LDS history and heritage. It gave me a lot of things to think about. It gave me a lot of ideas for other videos.
I can do which is all the more reason why you need to like this video and subscribe. I would also love it if you would consider supporting me on Patreon. Check out my different support tiers, which could give you early access to videos, a sneak peek behind the scenes, and even the opportunity to interact with me directly. And I hope you come back because we have so much more to talk about. Until then, I’ll see you later.