Abstract: In this article, we examine circumstantial evidence for the claim of Zebedee Coltrin, contained in a secondhand report within a heretofore unpublished letter, that Jesus Christ came personally to the Kirtland Temple over an extended period to give instruction about temple work. After summarizing what Joseph Smith seems to have known about temple ordinances by 1836, we attempt to show when and how the experience reported in the letter might have occurred. We give short biographies of the participants in the story of the letter: Luna Ardell “Dell” Hinckley Paul, Zebedee Coltrin, and “Brother Potter.” We cite Matthew. B. Brown’s observations on the question of why it might have been expedient that the Saints wait several years before receiving the full complement of temple ordinances that were eventually administered in Nauvoo. Both a typescript and a reproduction of the manuscript of the letter are provided, as is an additional letter to family members from co-author K-Lynn Paul describing the circumstances under which his grandmother’s letter was found and donated to the Church. The Dell Paul letter is consistent with arguments that the Prophet learned much about temple ordinances through personal experiences with heavenly beings, translations, and revelations as much as a decade before he got to Nauvoo. If the letter’s claim that Jesus Christ “stood and talked to them just as I am talking to you” is accurately reported, it provides an additional witness of the Savior’s frequent presence in Kirtland in 1836. Continue reading
About K-Lynn Paul
K-Lynn Paul was born in Fergus Falls, Otter Tail County, Minnesota. He was called to the Northwestern States Mission, and served in Washington, Oregon, and northern Idaho. He graduated from Brigham Young University in 1963, and from the University of Minnesota Medical School in 1967. In 1971, he completed specialty training in psychiatry at Kansas University Medical Center. After two years as a Major in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, he worked at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and the VA Hospital in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He then became Director of Psychiatric Residency Training at the University of South Dakota School of Medicine in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. There, he directed the training of physicians to become psychiatrists until he retired in 2005. K-Lynn and his wife, Karen, served a two-year mission in Hong Kong as Area Mental Health Advisors for missionaries in the Philippines and in Asia from 2009–2011. K-Lynn has served in member missionary leadership callings for many years and currently serves as a ward mission leader. He has also served as a high councilor in two stakes, as a bishop in Sioux Falls, and as a high priests group leader.