I wasted many years of my life studying the ancient Christian writings such as the Ante-Nicean Fathers and such. Tens of millions of words. Why? I was looking for "Mormonism" in the ancient Christians writings (i.e. writings of Christians of the first four centuries). If Mormonism is a "restoration of primitive Christianity" then one should be able to find it in the writings of the first Christians. After reading tens of mEillions of words, which took me many years, I discovered....
*Mormonism CANNOT be found among the writings of the first Christians.
*Mormonism CANNOT be found among the writings of the first heretics (the Gnostics)
*The term "Saints" (holy ones) referred to early christians who practiced "virginity" (i.e. celebacy) and not to Christian in general.
*Young boys did not hold the priesthood as in the LDS Church
*All males did not hold the priesthood as in the LDS Church
*Nothing about anyone, including Elders, holding a "Melchizedek Priesthood"
*Elders were men over the age of 49, not young men.
*Nothing about Cainites being black skinned
*No baptisms of the dead other than baptizing Catechumens who had died...the early Church did not
baptize a believer until after a one year probation, and if they died within that year (and some did) a living person was baptized in their name
*No evidence that early Christians kept genealogies so they can do "works" for their dead ancestors.
*No evidence of secret Masonic-like rites with secret handshakes and passwords
*The early Christians did NOT consider the Apostleship to be on-going as in the LDS Church (i.e. that
when an Apostle dies he is replaced by another Apostle), but that the Bishops are the successors to the Apostles
*No eternal marriage rite, although Irenaeus (bishop of Lyons France) did write that Christian women who are martryed but have no children will have children in the World-to-Come.
*The Christian School of Alexandria, Egypt, did teach the Pre-Existence of Souls and also three levels of reward in Heaven, but other Churches thought these were heresies (false doctrines)
*The Christians believed there was only One THE GOD, but Christians could become "Gods" but no evidence that they believed that the gods were married or that they create their own planets.
*The Greek word "Apostasia" does not mean "falling away" (as the Latin does) but "rebellion". The "Day of the Lord" does not refer to the second coming but to Jesus's words in Matthew 24 which was fulfilled in 70 A.D. when the Jews rebelled against Rome, sacked Jerusalem, the fire caused the Sun to darken, the Moon to appear like blood, and the Romans catapulted flaming tar balls upon the city which appeared to the Jews as if the stars were falling from heaven. IN OTHER WORDS...the "great apostasy" has no reference to the Church falling away, but to the Jewish rebellion against Rome in 70 A.D. (this generation shall not all pass away until all these things shall be fulfilled).
The beliefs and practices of the most ancient Christians correspond very well with the current beliefs and practices of the Eastern and Greek and Coptic Orthodox Churches and the Assyrian Church of the East.
"Mormonism" seems to have been originally a conspiracy between Ethan Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Oliver Cowdery, and Joseph Smith Jr. Ethan Smith and Sidney Rigdon wanted to try to unite all Christians in America into one single "Church of Christ" as well as to convert the Indians to Christ. Oliver Cowdery seems to have wanted to destroy Freemasonry in America (the Anti-Masonic teachings in the Book of Mormon), and well as become rich. Joseph Smith seems to have wanted to become rich and powerful, and have as many woman as possible.
Solomon Spaulding wrote several novels, and a novel in Bible-style that according to his relatives and his neighbors had "Nephit" and "Lehi" in it and contained so many "And it came to pass..." that Spaulding got the nickname "Old It Came to Pass"
Spaulding tries to have it published, and leaves it in the Patterson print shop in Pittsburg in 1816, but Spaulding soon dies, still trying to find a financier for the book
His widow claimed Sidney Rigdon stole it from the Patterson print shop in Pittsburg in 1822
Ethan Smith, Oliver Cowdery's pastor in Vermont, who was a personal friend of Solomon Spaulding, wrote "Views of the Hebrews" that quotes the same verses of Isaiah that Nephi does, and he is in Palmyra the same years "Moroni" is (1823 and 1827)
Oliver Cowdery is a scribe for William MORgan in Batavia, New York, who is writing the first anti-Masonic expose, but he is kipnapped and presummed killed, and the body of Timothy MONroe is soon found, and it is also called an anti-Masonic martyr, and the anti-Masons like Morgan and Cowdery refer to Freemasonry as "Secret Combinations"
Oliver Cowdery, fearing he will be killed by fanatical Masons, flees to Ohio and lives with relatives for a time, near Mentor, Ohio, where Sidney Rigdon is living and preaching.
According to later accounts of associates in Mentor, Ohio, Rigdon tells them about a book that will soon come forth that would revolutionize religion.
According to Lorenzo Saunders, he sees a strange man at the Smith farm in 1929, and he asks Hyrum who the man is, and Hyrum says, "That is Sidney Rigdon from Ohio". Rigdon later claims he never met Joseph Smith until 1831.
Ethan Smith is in Palmyra is 1827, promoting his book "Views of the Hebrews" that puts forth that the American Indians are the descendants of the Lost Tribes. He travels on foot, because housing a horse is expensive, and ministers such as himself can knock on almost any door and be served lunch or dinner and have a place to sleep for free every night. Ethan Smith severed in the US Army during the War of 1812. He was the best man at the wedding of Solomon Spaulding, his former class-mate at Dartmouth College (then a seminary for Congregationalist ministers)
In the Dartmouth College library, there are books by Shakespeare (..."from whence no traveler returns") and also a book about Captain Kidd and Kidd's stay in Moroni, in the "Camora" Islands, while he was running away from the British Navy. Moroni (Mo-ro-nee) is Swahili, and means "Place of Fire". Ethan Smith studies theology, Greek, Latin, and Hebrew at Dartmouth, and the classics. His first year is Solomon Spaulding' s last year, and they become close friends. Dartmouth College in the late 1700s only had about 30 students at one time and was a training school for Congregationalist ministers only.
In the 1820s, Joseph Smith Sr. and friends work as money-diggers, and Joseph Smith Jr. claims to "see" treasures underground. Farmers pay them to "dig" but no treasure is found. Joseph Smith Jr. tells his friend Peter Ingersoll that he is "forced" to do this (i.e. by his father and his father's friends), but doesn't like it, and he tells Isaac Hale, father of Emma Hale, that he is giving up pretending to see buried treasure (Joseph is now 20). Joseph and Emma then elope.
While taking Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery back from Harmony Pennsylvania to Palmyra in a wagon, David Whitmer claims to see an old man walking with an Army knapsack. He asks the old man if he wants a ride, but the old man says, "No, I'm going to Cumorah". Joseph Smith says, "Do you know who that is?" Whitmer says, "No". Joseph says, "That's Moroni". Whitmer looks back, but the old man is gone.
Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were staying at a Whitmer farm in Pennsylvania to translate the Book of Mormon, but according to later witnesses, Joseph Smith was accused of seducing a 16 year girl in Harmony, and local residents were planning to tar and feather him, so they had to leave.
In 1929, Mary Whitmer is in her barn near Batavia, New York, and sees an old man in a brown suit, who shows her the gold plates, and she goes to tells others, but when they return the old man is gone.