Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tim's Open Letter to Evangelicals

Tim, primary contributor to the excellent LDS & Evangelical Conversations blog, has recently provided a superb, thought-provoking post titled "An Open Letter to Fellow Evangelicals". It's the sort that I heartily recommend everyone read. Tim posits that, given the current state of LDS affairs, perhaps the time has come for a new Evangelical approach in which we "focus on explaining how and why we live out our faith", indeed "step[ping] up these messages at the expense of talking less about Joseph Smith", because - Tim contends - the Internet era has already resulted in the exposing of the "questions that threaten the LDS church". Tim concludes with the following lines:
We have a new mission. Let us recognize that our battle is not against Mormon flesh and blood but rather against Mormon powers and principalities. Begin your transition. It's time to be spiritual healers. It's time to be pastors. Let us no longer erect bulwarks against those lost to Mormonism. Let us now build bridges for those Mormonism has lost.
Now, of course this is specifically intra-Evangelicalism discourse; our LDS readers may not cotton to the way Tim phrases things, or the very concept of a mission of proselytism to Latter-day Saints at all. For my own part, yes, I do believe in the mission to reclaim Latter-day Saints for the fullness of the historic Christian faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints in former days and has enlivened and invigorated the ever-present church of Jesus Christ for millennia. And while I do think that a depth-analysis of traditional and nontraditional LDS teaching is requisite for this task, I also agree with Tim that there's a need to become at least as starkly pro-Jesus, pro-gospel, pro-orthodoxy, pro-Evangelicalism as to be a critic of whatever errors and faults one might find within the LDS variant on the Christian message and its practice. For more details, I once again encourage the reading of Tim's open letter.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Past and Future Existence

The following article, theologically enlightening (but rather mean-spirited and ill-informed, if I may editorialize very briefly there for a moment), previously appeared as Orson Pratt, "Past and Future Existence", The Latter-Day Saints' Millennial Star 28/46 (17 November 1866): 721-723.
There are but few persons, who have correct ideas, concerning any state of existence, except the present. They find themselves here; but where they came from, or whither they are going, they have but a faint idea. Indeed, the greater part of the millions of Christendom, do not believe in the Bible doctrine of pre-existence: they look upon the natural birth of man as the origin or commencement, not only of the body, but also of the spirit. They readily admit the pre-existence of the materials which enter into the composition of the body; but discard the idea of a pre-existing spirit either organized or disorganized. They suppose each individual spirit to be created from nothing at or about the time of the organization and birth of the infant tabernacle. That then, it is supposed, we awoke from nothing to consciousness, from non-existence to existence, from vacancy to substance, that thoughts and perceptions sprang into being, assumed identity, and began their career as movable intelligent souls. This unscriptural, and most absurd, and unreasonable doctrine originated in the brains of a corrupt Priesthood, and is unworthy of the consideration of any but lunatics and madmen.

It is strange, that men professedly wise, capable of reason, and common sense, could possibly work up their minds into a belief that human spirits are called into being from nothing at the average rate of about twenty every minute. How much more consistent is it to believe that the substance of our spirits, like the substance of our bodies, had a pre-existence; that both are eternal, and that not one particle of either ever sprang from nothing; that creation signifies organization of pre-existent materials, and not the production of these materials from nothing? The former is a Scriptural truth; the latter a vague, foolish, unphilosophical, absurd speculation of men who believed in an immaterial god "without body or parts," which is equivalent to no God. When will man burst the shell of his traditions, and have common sense! When will he turn from such disgusting absurdities to the word of God!

Man is not only ignorant of his pre-existence, but seems to have but a very imperfect idea of his future state. It is true, Christendom expect a future state of being, but have endeavored to make such a state, as shadowy, as unlike everything connected with real existence, as they could possibly imagine. Their heaven is a spiritual, immaterial world, "beyond the bounds of time and space," having no connection with time, no relation to space, no parts, no whole, nothing in common with matter. Their future being is immaterial, shapeless, bodiless, occupying no space, has nothing to do with duration, is destitute of all properties common to matter, possessing, like their imaginary god, neither "parts nor passions." Such is their own description of their imaginary heaven; such their avowed belief in regard to their future existence. The Devil could not possibly invent ideas more atheistical, than these. The worst forms of heathen divinities do not begin to compare with the absurdities of the sectarians' god: a heathen heaven is a place compared with the sectarian heaven, excluded from time and space: the heathens' idea of a future existence, though false, is incomparably better than an "immaterial existence," which is only another word for total annihilation.

It is, indeed, comforting to know whence we came, and have a correct understanding in regard to our future. This interesting and most important knowledge is only to be obtained by divine revelation. God has abundantly revealed these things that man might rejoice in them. There are no people upon the earth who have so great reason to rejoice as the Saints; for to them God has spoken, and plainly manifested much, concerning both the past and the future; and hence, they know what kind of an existence to pray for, what blessings to hope for, and where they shall receive their everlasting inheritance.

A Saint, who is one in deed and in truth, does not look for an immaterial heaven, but he expects a heaven with lands, houses, cities, vegetation, rivers, and animals; with thrones, temples, palaces, kings, princes, priests, and angels; with food, raiment, musical instruments, &c.; all of which are material. Indeed, the Saints' heaven is a redeemed, glorified, celestial, material creation, inhabited by glorious material beings, male and female, organized into families, embracing all the relationships of husbands and wives, parents and children, where sorrow, crying, pain, and death will be known no more. Or to speak still more definitely, this earth, when glorified, is the Saints' eternal heaven. On it they expect to live, with body, parts, and holy passions: on it they expect to move and have their being; to eat, drink, converse, worship, sing, play on musical instruments, engage in joyful, innocent, social amusements, visit neighboring towns and neighboring worlds: indeed, matter and its qualities and properties are the only beings or things with which they expect to associate. If they embrace the Father, they expect to embrace a glorified, immortal, spiritual, material Personage; if they embrace the Son, they expect to embrace a spiritual Being of material flesh and bones, whose image is in the likeness of the Father; if they enjoy the society of the Holy Ghost, they expect to behold a glorious spiritual Personage, a material body of spirit; if they associate with the spirits of men or angels, they expect to find them material.

Materiality is indelibly stamped upon the very heaven of heavens, upon all the eternal creations; it is the very essence of all existence. While an immaterial substance does not exist, in heaven, earth, or hell, and cannot even be conceived of, thought of, or known, as substance. The very idea never could have been originated, only in the wild wanderings, and vague hallucinations of disordered brains.

We smile at the absurdities incorporated in heathen mythology, and pity the poor weak minds which could be gulled with such superstitions; but we defy the whole race of modern Christendom to show from heathen ethics one feature so glaringly absurd, as the modern Christians' immaterial god, consisting of three persons "without body, parts, or passions." How one of these bodiless persons could have been crucified, is among the incomprehensible mysteries of sectarianism! How one of these persons, "without body or parts," could have been dead and buried, or could have arisen and ascended into heaven, is another most astounding mystery of sectarian theology!

Such are the absurdities incorporated in the ethics of nearly two hundred millions of human beings, calling themselves Christians. With such disgusting nonsense in their creeds, it is very difficult to persuade ones self that it is possible for them to be sincere: yet from the exertions which many make to sustain these monstrosities, it is evident that some of them are so lost in the depths of idolatry, that they really do believe in the absurdities above alluded to. It is a shame and disgrace from man, to think that any portions of his species have fallen so far below the fables of heathenism, as to render themselves so supremely ridiculous, and so apparently devoid of all glimmerings of reason or common sense.

It may have been a wonder to some, why the heathens have not sent forth missionaries, among the benighted nations of Christendom, to convert them. But it is evident, that the frightful disgusting picture of the modern Christians' creed, would have disheartened the most zealous among them, from undertaking so hopeless a task. There are none, perhaps, who would have courage and fortitude to attack so formidable a monster, unless he were armed, like the Latter-day Saints' missionaries, with divine authority from heaven. It is not to be expected, however, that even an angel from heaven, will arouse those who have been in such gross darkness, whose traditions have so long cherished the worship of a being "without parts."

But let the Saints bear with patience the gross ignorance of this degraded race: let them be filled with pity towards the deluded masses: let them seek by reason, by the word of God, by kindness and long-suffering, to reclaim as many as possible; or, at least, if they cannot lift them up out of the deep mire, to faithfully discharge the duties of Saints towards them, that the consequences of their false religions may be upon their own heads, and not on the heads of the children of the kingdom. Teach them, that in the great judgment day, they will learn to their sorrow, unless they repent, that eternal justice will be executed by a God who has passions, whose fury will come up in his face, and whose wrath will burn to the lowest hell, upon all the unrighteous and the ungodly. Teach them that he who sits upon the throne is not an inconceivable nonentity "without body or parts," but a glorious Personage, a mighty King, a wise Law-giver, a great Judge. Teach them that a future state is not an immaterial, dreamy, shadowy, existence, but a tangible, substantial, material reality, a heaven that has foundations, a world that has stability.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Questions and Answers with Orson Pratt

The following is an interesting Q&A session printed in the Latter-Day Saints' Millennial Star 28/33 (18 August 1866): 516-519. The questions were all posed by an English Latter-day Saint named William Wolstenholme, and answers were provided by Orson Pratt.
Mr. William Wolstenholme, of Preston, has addressed fourteen questions to Elder O. Pratt, touching items of considerable interest in relation to doctrine, future events, &c., requesting answers through the medium of the STAR. The following are the questions with Elder Pratt's answers.

Question 1st. - "How does it happen that the Elders who have gone to different nations and different peoples, have not preached the Gospel to them in their own language, without learning the same?"

Answer. - One of the great objects with the gift of tongues, is to preach the Gospel to different nations in their own language. This gift, like all other gifts of the Spirit, is obtained by faith. When a servant of God is called to go to a foreign nation, he is not only to exercise faith enough to perform the journey, but when he arrives he is also to exercise faith to speak in a foreign tongue. Without faith and exertion, he could not properly obtain the gift of preaching, by the power of the Holy Ghost, even in his own tongue; much less, without mighty faith and great exertion or works, could he expect to speak by the inspiration of the Comforter in a foreign language. It is, however, an indisputable fact, that many of our missionaries, acquire this great gift, in so marvellous a manner, that within a very short period they find themselves preaching to large congregations in a foreign language. This often occurs to the astonishment of themselves, and to the astonishment of their hearers. Others, whose faith has been weak, have been longer: but in almost all cases the gift has been given, in an incredibly short time. I have heard young and timid Elders, who formerly were without experience in public speaking, testify that within a few weeks, after arriving among a people of another tongue, they have called upon God in fervent prayer, and ventured to arise before a congregation, and have been filled with the Holy Ghost to that degree, that they have spoken with ease and great fluency; words, before unknown to them, have been given at the very moment, and their tongues seemed to be operated upon by a power which could only have come from God. It is not to be expected that all will have the same faith; but it is an invariable rule, that God fulfils his promises, according to the faith of his people. Missionaries have been sent to almost all the principal nations of Europe: and in many cases the Elders arrived without purse or scrip among a strange people of a strange language: and as a testimony that God has been with them, they have succeeded in building up churches in their midst. The Lord has not only helped them to speak, but has confirmed the word by giving the Holy Ghost to the obedient, and by healing their sick. If Mr. Wolstenholme, will read section 85, paragraphs 3 and 4, of the book of Doctrine and Covenants, he will learn that the missionaries who are sent with this great latter-day message, are destined to "go forth unto the ends of the earth, unto the Gentiles first, and then behold, and lo, they shall turn unto the Jews; and then cometh the day when the arm of the Lord shall be revealed in power in convincing the nations, the heathen nations, the house of Joseph, of the Gospel of their salvation. For it shall come to pass in that day, that every man shall hear the fulness of the Gospel in his own tongue, and in his own language, through those who are ordained unto this power, by the administration of the Comforter, shed forth upon them, for the revelation of Jesus Christ." By this extract from modern revelation, it will be perceived that we do not look for the full manifestations of the Lord's power, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. Although we now look for the blessings and signs, promised to believers, yet we know that there will be a manifold increase of these precious gifts and powers, when the day alluded to shall arrive. We are thankful to obtain blessings even in a small degree; and when we see these blessings increasing from year to year, in proportion to our faith and diligence, we are still more encouraged to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the Saints, believing that as the gifts ceased gradually, and not all at once, in proportion to the decrease of faith, so they will be restored gradually in proportion to the increase of faith.

Question 2nd. - "What are we to understand by the saying of our Savior, John 10:1. 'He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber?' Does the door spoken of mean water baptism or our Savior?

Answer. - In the 7th verse, Jesus said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep." None can enter the sheepfold, through and by the authority of Jesus, only those who obey the whole plan as given by our Savior; and that plan embraces, true faith, true repentance, water baptism, and the baptism by fire and the Holy Ghost through the ministrations of an authorized servant, commissioned by revelation. Jesus is the only door, and the Gospel is the only means of entrance through the door.

Question 3rd. - "When will the second coming of our Savior take place, and the Millennium commence? And will the first resurrection immediately precede the Millennium?"

Answer. - Both ancient and modern revelations testify that the exact time of the second coming of Christ is unknown. The word of the Lord, given in March 1831, reads as follows: "Thus saith the Lord, for I am God, and have sent mine only begotten Son into the world for the redemption of the world, and have decreed that he that receiveth him shall be saved, and that he that receiveth him not shall be damned. And they have done unto the Son of Man even as they listed; and he has taken his power on the right hand of his glory, and now reigneth in the heavens, and will reign till he descends on the earth to put all enemies under his feet, which time is nigh at hand. - I, the Lord God, have spoken it; but the hour and the day no man knoweth, neither the angels in heaven, nor shall they know until he comes." Doctrine and Covenants, page 217. Although we are precluded from knowing the hour and day, yet we are not left in uncertainty in regard to the period or age. Again, let me refer you to a new revelation given in answer of the question, "What are we to understand by the sounding of the trumpets, mentioned in the 8th chapter of Revelations?" Answer - We are to understand that as God made the world in sixth days, and on the seventh day he finished his work, and sanctified it, and also formed man out of the dust of the earth; even so, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years will the Lord God sanctify the earth, and complete the salvation of man, and judge all things, and shall redeem all things, except that which he hath not put into his power, when he shall have sealed all things, unto the end of all things; and the sounding of the trumpets of the seven angels, are the preparing, and finishing of his work, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years; - the preparing of the way before the time of his coming." Pearl of Great Price, page 34. The seventh Millennium will commence at the beginning of the seventh thousand years; in the morning of this period the seven angels will sound. The first resurrection will take place soon after the first angel of the seven sounds: but the whole seven must sound before the preparations are complete; after which Jesus and his Saints will reign on the earth with power and great glory. But before this universal reign, Jesus will suddenly come to his temple upon mount Zion, and will be manifested in a cloud and flaming fire upon all the dwellings of Zion.

Question 4th. - "Will the Latter-day Saints return to Jackson county, Missouri, within ten or twelve years from this time?"

Answer. - I do not know the exact time. They will most certainly return and build a temple upon the consecrated spot in that county, before all the generation who were living in 1832, have passed away.

Question 5th. - "Will a good Methodist, or Roman Catholic, or devotee of the Church of England, who have been privileged to live, where the Gospel, as taught by the Latter-day Saints, is preached from Sabbath to Sabbath, ever attain to a telestial salvation, and if they do, will they attain to any higher state or kingdom and afterwards die?"

Answer. - All who reject the everlasting Gospel, now sent forth for the last time, will be thrust down to hell, to suffer the wrath of Almighty God, in the society of the Devil and his angels, and there remain until the last resurrection, which will take place at or near the time of the passing away of the earth; when, if they repent, they can be saved in a telestial kingdom: whether they will, in the lapse of ages, ever attain to a higher kingdom is not revealed: but it is revealed that "where God and Christ are, they cannot come worlds without end."

Question 6. - "When will the Government of the United States be changed from a human to a divine Theocracy."

Answer. - Never.

Question 7th. - "How is it that the American war has terminated, without any or all of the nations being drawn into it? How is it that Great Britain has not been called by the Southern States to assist them against the Northern States? And how is it that the slaves have not arise en mass in accordance with the revelation and prophecy given to Joseph Smith? For there are no slaves in America now, the Civil Rights Bill having passed both houses of Congress."

Answer. - First, there is nothing in the revelation, alluded to, which either indicates or declares that all nations, or even one foreign nation should be drawn into the American war. Second, The Southern States did, by their representatives sent to England expressly for the purpose, call most earnestly upon Great Britain to assist them against the North: but Great Britain did not yield to their entreaties. Third, There is no revelation that the slaves should arise "en mass;" but it reads thus: "And it shall come to pass, after many days, slaves shall rise up against their masters, who shall be marshalled and disciplined for war." Before the termination of the American war, the North brought into the field on Southern soil about one hundred thousand of marshalled and disciplined slaves to fight against their masters. But the greatest terrors of the American Republic are yet to come. And the black race who one third of a century ago, were called slaves in the prophecy, in contradistinction to their masters the white race, will "after many days" inaugurate a scene of general massacre far more horrible than anything that has yet occurred. Moreover, the Lord gave us a sign that we might know the beginnings of a war which would eventually become universal. Or as the revelation expressed it: "The days will come that war will be poured out upon all nations, beginning at that place," meaning South Carolina mentioned in the previous sentence. England is mentioned by name as being one of the participators in the general calamity. The days will come when every jot and tittle of this great modern revelation will be fulfilled; when Zion, in America, will be the only people upon all the face of the earth dwelling in peace. For further information on this subject, you are referred to an article in the 32nd No. of the present Vol. of the STAR, entitled "THE UNIVERSALITY OF THE LATTER-DAY WARS."

Question 8th. - "Will the wicked be destroyed at our Savior's second coming, and will none but those who obey and believe the true Gospel live and reign with our Savior during the Millennium?"

Answer. - "For behold the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, and it shall leave them neither root nor branch." (Malachi 4:1.) "And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power: when he shall come to be glorified in his Saints." (2 Thess 1:7, 8, 9 and 10.)

Question 9th. - "Will Zion and Jerusalem both be built up between this time and the expiration of the Millennium? Will both be caught up from the earth, while the earth is cleansed by fire?"

Answer. - Both cities will be commenced before the coming of Christ; but how far they will be finished when he comes is not revealed. They may receive some additions during the thousand years. Before the earth passes away by fire, both cities will be caught up. For further particulars see my pamphlet entitled "New Jerusalem," also the Book of Ether.

Question 10th. - "What is the price of your new work on Equations?"

Answer. - 8 shillings.

Question 11th. - "What is meant by the second death, recorded in the Revelations of St. John?"

Answer. - To answer this, I will refer you to a new revelation, which reads thus: "Wherefore, it came to pass that the devil tempted Adam, and he partook the forbidden fruit and transgressed the commandment, wherein he became subject to the will of the devil, because he yielded unto temptation. Wherefore, I the Lord God caused that he should be cast out from the garden of Eden, from my presence, because of his transgression, wherein he became spiritually dead, which is the first death, even that same death which is the last death, which is spiritual, which shall be pronounced upon the wicked, when I shall say - Depart ye cursed." Doctrine and Covenants, page 116. Also see Book of Alma, chap. 9: par. 3.

The 12th question, as to whether any one can be saved without obeying the ordinances of the Gospel, is so clearly answered in all our writings, that it would seem almost superfluous to give a repetition of the doctrine.

Question 13th. - "When will the great Pacific railway through Salt Lake City be completed?"

Answer. - It is to be hoped that it will be finished within four or five years. Perhaps sooner. When done, it will greatly facilitate the gathering of the Saints, and place it within their power to emigrate to their mountain home, at all seasons of the year.

In answer to Question 14th, in relation to a prophecy concerning a seven years' famine, we would say that we have never been made acquainted with the supposed prophecy. That there will be great and terrible famines, during the present dispensation, is most certainly true. And it becomes all Saints to humbly incline their hearts to receive the warning message, and depart out from among the wicked, if they would escape the approaching calamities, and be made partakers of the great blessings of this last dispensation.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Lorenzo Snow on the Grand Destiny of Man

The following discourse is a significant message delivered by Lorenzo Snow (fifth president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) during his presidency (1898-1901), specifically at the Mill Creek Ward Meeting House on 14 July 1901. It was printed as "The Grand Destiny of Man", Deseret Evening News (20 July 1901): 22; I here omit an assortment of newspaper-style subheadings as unnecessary. The significance lies partly in setting forth and expounding the 'Lorenzo Snow couplet', though this is not the first published source to have done so.1
Your Bishop, brethren and sisters, wishes me to address you with a short time, and I have pleasure in answering his wishes.

Over sixty years ago I saw for the first time Joseph Smith, the Prophet of the Lord. He was holding a meeting in the town of Hiram. He was about three miles from where I was born and brought up. He was standing by a door and talking to an audience of about 250 persons under a bowery. I was about eighteen years of age. I had heard something about the "Mormon" Prophet, I felt some anxiety to see him and judge for myself, as he was generally believed to be a false prophet. My mother and my two sisters (one of whom was Eliza R. Snow) received the principles of "Mormonism" and were baptized. At the time I refer to, Joseph Smith was not what would be called a fluent speaker. He simply bore his testimony to what the Lord had manifested to him, to the dispensation of the Gospel which had been committed to him, and to the authority that he possessed. As I looked upon him and listened, I thought to myself that a man bearing such a wonderful testimony as he did, and having such a countenance as he possessed, could hardly be a false prophet. He certainly could not have been deceived, it seemed to me, and if he was a deceiver he was deceiving the people knowingly; for when he testified that he had had a conversation with Jesus, the Son of God, and had talked with Him personally, as Moses is said to have talked with God upon Mount Sinai, and that he had also heard the voice of the Father, he was telling something that he either knew to be false or positively true. I was not at that time what might be called a religious boy, but I was interested in what I saw and heard there. However, being busy in other directions, it passed measurably out of my mind. Some two years and a half later, business called me to Kirtland. My two sisters had been there for some time, and I made my home with them. There I became perfectly acquainted with Joseph Smith, the Prophet. I sat at his table and had a number of conversations with him. I also became somewhat intimate with his father. The first time I saw Father Smith he was holding a patriarchal blessing meeting, at which there were twelve or fifteen persons present. I was then searching to know whether there was many truth in "Mormonism." I had never experienced anything supernatural, with one slight exception, and I did not know that anything supernatural had ever been exhibited among the children of men. I had heard Methodists, Presbyterians and others relate their experiences, but I thought I could attribute all they said to natural causes. It was hard to me to be convinced that there could be such extraordinary manifestations as I saw exhibited in visiting the temple and listening to the testimonies of persons and hearing the extraordinary accounts of what the Lord had manifested to them. Talking with President Joseph Smith, and being with him and with his father, I could not help but believe that there was something more than common in what was called "Mormonism."

At this meeting that Father Smith held I listened with astonishment to him telling the brethren and sisters their parentage, their lineage, and other things which I could not help but believe he knew nothing about, save as the Spirit manifested them unto him. After he got through with this meeting, I was introduced to him, and in the course of the conversation he remarked, "Why, Brother Snow [he called me Brother Snow, although I had not been baptized, and did not know that I ever would be], do not worry; I discover that you are trying to understand the principles of Mormonism." I replied that that was the object I had in view. "Well," said he, "do not worry, but pray to the Lord and satisfy yourself; study the matter over, compare the scriptures with what we are teaching; talk with the brethren that you are acquainted with, and after a time you will be convinced that "Mormonism" is of God, and you will be baptized, and you will become as great as you will want to be - as great as God Himself, and you cannot wish to be greater." Of course, such expressions as those I could not understand. I thought it was wonderful that a man professing what he did should talk in that way. Anyone seeing old Father Smith as he then appeared and having read of old Father Abraham in the scriptures, would be apt to think that Father Smith looked a good deal like Abraham did; at least, that is what I thought. I do not know that any man among the Saints was more loved than Father Smith; and when anyone was seriously sick Father Smith would be called for, whether it was night or day. He was as noble and generous a man as I have ever seen.

One Sunday the Prophet Joseph arose in the pulpit just before the meeting closed and said, "A young man by the name of Lorenzo Snow wishes to be baptized, and Brother John Boynton (who was then one of the Twelve Apostles) will baptize him." I was baptized in the stream that ran through Kirtland, and hands were laid upon me by Hyrum Smith and some others. I received no special manifestation at that time, but I was perfectly satisfied that I had done what was wisdom for me to do under the circumstances. I had studied the scriptures and was convinced that the Gospel as preached by the Latter-day Saints was in accordance with that taught by the Son of God and by His Apostles in former days. A peaceable, good spirit came upon me that I had never experienced before, and I felt satisfied at the sacrifice I had made. Since then I have been ashamed to call it a sacrifice, but at that time it was a sacrifice to me, because I could see that it would change my whole future and perhaps destroy all my worldly prospects and aspirations, besides being a great disappointment to my relatives and friends.

About two weeks after that, Elder Sherwood, at that time one of the right hand men of the Prophet's, said to me, "Brother Snow, have you received the Holy Ghost since you were baptized?" That question struck me with almost consternation. The fact was, while I had received all I had needed perhaps, I had not received that which I had anticipated; and after Brother Sherwood put this question to me I felt disatisfied, not with what I had done, but with myself. With that feeling I retired in the evening to a place where I had been accustomed to offer my devotions to the Lord. I knelt down under the shade of a tree, and immediately I heard a noise over my head like the rustle of silken garments, and there descended upon me the Spirit and power of God. That will never be erased from my memory as long as memory endures. It came upon me and enveloped my whole system, and I received a perfect knowledge that there was a God, that Jesus, who died upon Calvary, was His Son, and that Joseph the Prophet had received the authority which he professed to have. The satisfaction and the glory of that manifestation no language can express! I returned to my lodgings. I could now testify to the whole world that I knew, by positive knowledge, that the Gospel of the Son of God had been restored, and that Joseph was a Prophet of God, authorized to speak in His name, just as Noah was in his day.

I do not remember ever having related these incidents before in a public meeting as I now tell them to you, but I felt, from the remarks made by Brother Winter, that it would be a good opportunity for me to testify something in regard to my first experience in connection with this holy Gospel. I received these truths with an open heart, and I was determined not to rest there. I was then attending a high school in the temple at Kirtland, and preparing myself for some eastern college or university. A professor by the name of Haws was teaching us, and President Woodruff and other brethren attended this school. I began to be a little worried in my mind whether, after having received this wonderful knowledge, it was proper for me to remain without testifying in reference to it. Young men who had been sent out upon missions were returning and testifying of the blessings that had attended them in their traveling without purse or scrip in Ohio and other places, and I began to think that, instead of preparing myself for an eastern college or university, I ought to start out and bear testimony to what the Lord had so fully given me a knowledge of. At the same time I did not like to give up my prospects of an education, because I had had it in mind for a long time, and I then had an opportunity and the means to accomplish it. I concluded to go for advice to President Rigdon, who was then President Joseph Smith's first counselor, and with whom I had been acquainted before he joined the "Mormons," when he was a Campbellite and used to preach in my father's neighborhood. I told him what I wanted, and he said, "Brother Snow, I would not give anyone else such counsel as I feel to give you, under the circumstances. If I were in your place, I would go on with my intentions and get an education." That was just the very thing I wanted him to say, and it pleased me. I was contented for a time; but in the winter season, hearing these young Elders testify of their success in preaching the Gospel, I began to think about it still more. The Lord had given me a knowledge that He was coming upon the earth, and that there was a preparation necessary to be made; He had given me all that I had asked for, and more; for the baptism which I received, of the Holy Ghost and the perfect knowledge then given to me was more real and convincing than my immersion in the cold water; and I felt that there was a responsibility resting upon me. So I shut up my books, laid my Latin and Greek aside, and I have never seen them since. I started out without purse and scrip, and under the circumstances that was about as great a sacrifice as I have ever made. I had not been accustomed to depend upon anybody for food or shelter. If I were going off any distance, my father would make sure that I started out with plenty of money for my expenses. And now, to go out and ask for something to eat and for a place to lay my head, was very trying to me, it being so different to my training.

I remember my experience the first night after I started out. About twenty miles from Kirtland I stopped at my aunt's. She was a Presbyterian, a very wealthy woman, and a woman of considerable experience. I was telling her that I expected to be treated like other Elders, turned out of doors, etc., and she said, "Lorenzo, I don't believe a word of that. They will know you are an honest man, and you will not be turned out." "Well," I replied, "I do not expect to be treated any better than my brethren." - and I was not. After leaving my aunt that night, I walked several miles, and as the sun was going down I thought it was about time to make an experiment and ask for some place in which to stop. I did so, and I shall never forget the house - where it stood, its distance from the road, the picket fence, and the gate that I went through. I walked up to the house, knocked, and was bidden to come in. A gentleman and his wife were there, and I told them that I was a "Mormon" Elder, travelling without purse or scrip, and would be very much obliged if I could get a night's lodging. They made some kind of an excuse. I told them I was not particular; the privilege to lie down on the floor with a blanket would suit me. But no; they did not want to keep me. Well, I had a little more courage when I came to the next house, but was met with the same objection. So it went on until I got to the ninth house, where I got a night's lodging, but had to leave without breakfast. The next day or two I arrived at one of my aunt's, and preached there for the first time in my life. I was quite bashful then, and, not having spoken in public before, it was a very difficult thing for me to get up there and preach to my kindred and the neighbors who were called in. I remember that I prayed nearly all day preceding the night I was to speak. I went out by myself and asked the Lord to give me something to say. My aunt told me afterwards that she almost trembled when she saw me getting up to speak; but I opened my mouth, and what I said I never did know, but my aunt said I spoke fine for three-quarters of an hour. I held another meeting the next night, and the night after that I was invited to speak in the Medina court house by the party who had it in charge. After I got through speaking there a gentleman came to me and said, "Now, Elder Snow, I am a much older man than you. You are a young man, just starting out, I see, to be a minister. I want to give you a little counsel. If you continue to talk as loud as you talked tonight, in six months you will be taken to the cemetery." I thanked him very much and told him that I would try and benefit by his counsel. Then I thought I owed a duty to my uncles and aunts and my schoolmates, and they let me have the school house in which to preach to them. The house was nearly filled by my grandfather, my uncles and aunts, and a numerous lot of cousins. I thought I was going to convert them all, but after I got through talking and bearing testimony, all I could get from them was, "Well, Lorenzo is an honest boy, but he is deceived." Then I got the town house in the place where I was born, and preached there, as well as in a Presbyterian meeting house. The result of it all was, I baptized a few, very few, of my classmates.

The first time I ever attempted to speak was at one of Father Smith's evening testimony meetings, at which there were probably twenty or twenty-five brethren and sisters present. Father Smith was an exceedingly kind and gentle old soul, and he would beg the brethren and sisters to get up and speak. He would not want the meeting dismissed until every one had spoken. He would say in a very kindly spirit, "Now brother (or sister) you must get up and say something, no matter how little, or if you don't you will be sorry when you leave, and I am afraid you will lose the Spirit." But I did not like to get up, I was so bashful and diffident; nevertheless I could not bear the idea of having the meeting dismissed without making the attempt; so when nearly all had spoken I got up, and everything I could think of to say was said in about one minute.

I am telling you these things so that if any of you can derive any benefit from my inexperience, I want you to have it. We were talking here this morning about President Snow being a Prophet, and creating almost a furore among the children to hear a Prophet, and I imagined that when I got up they would expect to hear something extraordinary, but I told them that they would probably hear no more than they had heard before. I tell you these things, brethren and sisters, that none of you need be discouraged. You that are members of the Young Men's and Young Ladies' Mutual Improvement associations, do not be afraid to get up and speak; you cannot do any worse than the President of the Church has done; you cannot make yourselves any less than he has done, not only once, but several times. But there is one thing to say in this connection: When the Lord gave me the revelation that I have mentioned, I made up my mind that I would do my duty, and that has been my guide through life.

Now, I have told you what Father Smith said to me, that I should become as great as I could want to be, even as great as God Himself. About two years and a half after, in Nauvoo, I asked Elder Sherwood to explain a certain passage of scripture, and while he was endeavoring to give an explanation the Spirit of God fell upon me to a marked extent, and the Lord revealed to me, just as plainly as the sun at noonday, this principle, which I put into a couplet:

As man now is, God once was;
As God now is, man may be.

That fulfilled Father Smith's declaration. Nothing was ever revealed more distinctly than that was to me. Of course, now that it is so well known it may not appear such a wonderful manifestation, but when I received it, the knowledge was marvelous to me. This principle, in substance, is found also in the scriptures. The Lord said to John, as recorded in the third chapter of his Revelation:

"To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father on His throne."

Have you ever heard the ministers of the day preach a doctrine of that kind? They read it, but do not believe it. Paul says in his second epistle to the Corinthians, 12th chapter:

"I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.
And I knew such a man, (whether in the body or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)
How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter."

This same Paul, writing to the Philippians, says:

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God."

Do we ever hear ministers try to explain that? But these things are undoubtedly clear to your minds. I say to you sisters, your husbands, if they are faithful, will be Gods in eternity. After we have passed through the various ordeals of life and go to the other life, where our Father dwells, even the God of heaven, the promise is that we shall be like Him. The Apostle John says:

"Beloved, now we are the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him."

As an illustration, here is an infant on its mother's breast. It is without power or knowledge to feed and clothe itself. It is so helpless that it has to be fed by its mother. But see its possibilities! This infant has a father and a mother, though it knows scarcely anything about them; and when it gets to be quite a little boy it does not know much about them. Who is its father? Who is its mother? Why, its father is an emperor, its mother is an empress, and they sit upon a throne, governing an empire. This little infant will some day, in all probability, sit upon his father's throne, and govern and control the empire, just as King Edward of England now sits upon the throne of his mother. We should have this in mind; for we are the sons of God, as much so and more, if possible, than we are the sons of our earthly fathers. You sisters, I suppose, have read that poem which my sister composed years ago, and which is sung quite frequently now in our meetings. It tells us that we have not only a Father in "that high and glorious place," but that we have a Mother too: and you will become as great as your Mother, if you are faithful.

Wives, be faithful to your husbands. I know you have to put up with many unpleasant things, and your husbands have to put up with some things as well. Doubtless you are sometimes tried by your husbands, on account perhaps of the ignorance of your husbands, or perchance at times because of your own ignorance. I wonder if any of my sisters whom I am now addressing ever saw a time when they wished they had a better husband and perhaps entertained the idea of getting a divorce. I tell you how I used to do when I was President of the Boxelder Stake of Zion. Once in a while a woman would come to me with the information that she had been abused by her husbands and she wanted a bill of divorce. What has your husband done? I would ask. Well, he had done such and such things. Have you ever done wrong? said I. Well, she thought perhaps she might have done wrong sometimes. "Have you ever prayed that your husbands might be a better man?" She did not know that she had prayed for him very hard, because at times he had been so abusive that she could scarcely exercise much faith in that direction. "Well," said I, "you go home and think about it; see if you have not been unwise sometimes and offended your husband; and go into a secret place and pray for him." I had at that time some very nice apples growing in an orchard which I had planted in an early day. One tree especially yielded some choice red apples, and I would pick six apples from that tree and give them to her, three for herself and three for her husband, and I would ask her to be sure and give him those three apples without saying that I gave them to her for that purpose. "Then," I said to her, "if things do not get better, in about two or three months come to me again and I will see what I can do for you." Well, the apples I gave and what I said to her accomplished the object. Sisters, I do not say but that your husbands are bad - just as bad as you are, and probably some of them are worse; but, never mind; try to endure the unpleasantnesses which arise at times, and when you meet each other in the next life you will feel glad that you put up with those things. To the husbands, I say: Many of you do not value your wives as you should - unless you are different from any audience of this size that I have ever had before me. Be kind to them. When they go out to meeting, you carry the baby at least half the time. When it needs rocking, and you have not much to do, rock it. Be kind when sometimes you have to make a little sacrifice to do so: feel kind anyway, no matter what the sacrifice.

I wonder if there are any bachelors in this audience. Now, when a young man is twenty-one years of age he ought to get married; and if he does not get married, let the Bishop or the President of the Stake send me his name, and we will send him on a mission for two or three years. On the other hand, if he gets married when he is twenty-one, and he happens to be called to go on a mission, just let me know and we will give him the privilege of staying at home for one year. That is what they did in ancient Israel, and Israel did just right in some things. You will find this provision recorded in the 24th chapter of Deuteronomy:

"When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken."

I think we ought to be as liberal as the old Israelites were.

Now, God bless you, my brethren and sisters. I am pleased that your Bishop was determined I should come to see you. He came to my office three or four times to remind me that I was to come today; and I have come, and have talked to you as I have, and I trust I have done you no harm. God bless you. Amen.

1 Lorenzo Snow's autobiographical writings, in Eliza R. Snow, Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow, One of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret News, 1884), 46-47: "I here record a circumstance which occurred a short time previous - one which has been riveted on my memory, never to be erased, so extraordinary was the manifestation. At the time, I was at the house of Elder H. G. Sherwood; he was endeavoring to explain the parable of our Savior, when speaking of the husbandman who hired servants and sent them forth at different hours of the day to labor in his vineyard. While listening attentively to his explanation, the Spirit of the Lord rested mightily upon me - the eyes of my understanding were opened, and I saw as clear as the sun at noonday, with wonder and astonishment, the pathway of God and man. I formed the following couplet which expresses the revelation, as it was shown to me, and explains Father Smith's dark saying to me at a blessing meeting in the Kirtland Temple, prior to my baptism, as previously mentioned in my first interview with the Patriarch. 'As man now is, God once was: As God now is, man may be.' I felt this to be a sacred communication, which I related to no one except my sister Eliza, until I reached England, when in a confidential private conversation with President Brigham Young, in Manchester, I related to him this extraordinary manifestation."

Monday, January 23, 2012

Come, Come Ye Saints

One of my favorite LDS-authored hymns is William Clayton's 1846 composition "Come, Come Ye Saints" (initially titled "All is Well"), written en route from Nauvoo to Utah. The following, I think, is one of the better performances available on YouTube, since the Mormon Tabernacle Choir rendition is too... choir-y... for my taste:

Personally, I think it's beautiful, both musically and lyrically. (And have I mentioned that I'm a total sucker for the word "wend"?) It's also one of the few LDS hymns that's been adapted and adopted by Protestants. A while back, a woman named Avis B. Christiansen modified the third verse slightly to make it more suitable for Protestant audiences; I'm told that it's appeared in a United Church of Christ hymnal.

This past week, I've spent an inordinate amount of time at the headquarters of my denomination, going through a Pastoral Assessment Center (which went well, with the result that they'll be recommending that the conference approve me as a candidate for the ordination process; those interested may feel free to read a trial evangelistic sermon I preached while there). While there, I had a chance to look at the most recent hymnal we've published, The Singing Church, which my own congregation has never used but which, apparently, my best friend's church does. Somewhat to my surprise, I found that we've got "Come, Come Ye Saints" in there, in Christiansen's adaptation. Small world!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Zion's Freedom: An 1889 LDS Poem

The following poem by T. W. Brookbank is taken from The Latter-Day Saints' Millennial Star 51/49 (9 December 1889): 784. The historical context, I'd surmise, is the legal repression that the Latter-day Saints faced for their continued violations of the anti-polygamy laws of the day, as warranted by the Edmunds Act of 1882 and later the Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887; this state of affairs reached a turning point when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints publicly renounced polygamy in the Manifesto of 1890, though continuing to practice it covertly until this was exposed, requiring a Second Manifesto (1904).
Christ the Lord will succor Zion -
King of mighty Kings is He -
'Tis His arm the Saints rely on.
For their promised victory:
Gentile sway shall soon be broken;
Haughty foes before Him flee;
For this word our God hath spoken,
"Zion's people shall be free."
Then, O foemen, bind your chains,
Saints of God despise their pains,
Nor can death their souls appall;
And your tribes ere long shall see
Dearest Zion strong and free;
High enthroned above you all.

Though the Saints you hail to prison,
Boast not rashly in your pride;
Never yet have there arisen
Tyrant hopes no ills betide:
Zion's armies do surround her,
Marshalled there from heavens wide,
And in their glory they will found her,
When her sons are fully tried.
Then, O foemen, build your jails,
Not one hero spirit quails,
Freedom's hosts you'll ne'er subdue;
But your tribes ere long shall see
Dearest Zion strong and free,
And enthroned in glory too.

Spoil our rights by charter granted;
Plunder consecrated gains;
Breathe out war, where now implanted,
Smiling peace so sweetly reigns;
Tear protection from the mother;
Seize our homes and fertile plains;
Zion's hopes you cannot smother,
E'en when bound in felons' chains.
Then, O foemen, fill ye up
Direst woe's most bittter cup,
You shall drink its dregs at last;
While the Saints in Zion free
Shall outspread from sea to sea;
Glorified by troubles past.

You may safely hunt the lion
When no lion is in view;
But your safety don't rely on
When the lion is hunting you;
Thus you war against Jehovah,
And you wage it fiercely, too;
But before your days are over,
He will wage a war with you.
Then, O foemen, fill ye up
Direst woe's most bitter cup;
You shall drink its dregs at last;
While the Saints in Zion free,
Shall outspread from sea to sea;
Glorified by troubles past.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Adam as Father and God: An 1853 LDS Article

The following article appeared as an editorial (during the editorship of Samuel W. Richards) in The Latter-Day Saints' Millennial Star 15/50 (10 December 1853): 801-804. I feature it here as an item of historical interest, since this piece has gotten a slight bit less attention than some other 'Adam-God' statements of the early 1850s, and at any rate I think it good that such statements be read in their fuller literary context. Note that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints no longer wholly endorses the theology here espoused.1 The article that follows is a reaction to the pushback and surprise that was felt by some readers about some things printed two issues previously; those items were a discourse by Brigham Young in which he expounded his 'Adam-God' thesis,2 and an editorial note to the effect that the Saints must remember to pay close attention to these latest messages received through the Lord's appointed servants.3 All inserts in square brackets are my own for reference; 2 Nephi 2 as a whole is important background on the LDS perception of the Eden narrative and the story of the Fall, and also D&C 27:11 for an identification of Adam, Michael, and the Ancient of Days.
Adam, the Father and God of the Human Family

The above sentiment appeared in Star No. 48, a little to the surprise of some of its readers; and while the sentiment may have appeared blasphemous to the ignorant, it has no doubt given rise to some serious reflections with the more candid and comprehensive mind. A few reasonable and Scriptural ideas upon this subject may be profitable at the present time.

Then Adam is really God! And why not? If there are Lords many and Gods many [cf. 1 Corinthians 8:5], as the Scriptures inform us, why should not our Father Adam be one of them? Did he not prove himself as worthy of that high appellation as any other being that ever lived upon the earth? Certainly he did, so far as history informs us, unless we can except the Son of God. We have no account in Scripture that Adam ever wilfully transgressed, when we consider him independent of the woman. The Apostle informs us distinctly that the woman was in the transgression, being deceived, but Adam was not deceived [1 Timothy 2:14]. Adam fell, but his fall became a matter of necessity after the woman had transgressed. Her punishment was banishment from the Garden, and Adam was necessitated to fall, and go with her, in order to obey the first great command given unto them - to multiply and replenish the earth [Genesis 1:28]; or, in the language of the Prophet Lehi, "Adam fell that men might be." [2 Nephi 2:15] The fall of Adam, therefore, was virtually required at his hands, that he might keep the first great command, and that the purposes of God might not fail, while at the same time the justice of God might be made manifest in the punishment incurred by the transgression of the woman, for whom the man is ever held responsible in the government of God.

The Scriptures inform us that Christ was as a lamb slain from before the foundation of the world [Revelation 13:8]. If, therefore, the plan of salvation was matured before the foundation of the world, and Jesus was ordained to come into the world, and die at the time appointed, in order to perfect that plan, we must of necessity conclude that the plan of the fall was also matured in the councils of eternity, and that it was as necessary for the exalting and perfecting of intelligences, as the redemption. Without it they could not have known good and evil here, and without knowing good and evil they could not become Gods, neither could their children. No wonder the woman was tempted when it was said unto her - "Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." [Genesis 3:5] No wonder Father Adam fell, and accompanied the woman, sharing in all the miseries of the curse, that he might be the father of an innumerable race of beings who would be capable of becoming Gods.

With these considerations before us, we can begin to see how it is that we are under obligations to our father Adam, as to a God. He endured the sufferings and the curse that we might be; and we are, that we might become Gods. Through him the justice of God was made manifest. Jesus came into the world, endured, and suffered, to perfect our advantages for becoming Gods, and through him the mercy of God abounded. By the first man, Adam, came death, the triumph of evil; and by the second, came life everlasting, the triumph of good [cf. Romans 5:17]. Each was necessary in the order he appeared; if the first Adam had not performed his part, the second could not have had his work to do. Both acted the part assigned to them, in a most God-like manner, and the Great Eloheim accepted the work at their hands as His own, "for by the power of my Spirit created I them; yea, all things, both spiritual and temporal: firstly, spiritual - secondly, temporal, which is the beginning of my work; and again, firstly, temporal - and secondly, spiritual, which is the last of my work." [D&C 29:31-32] Thus the great I AM owns all things - the temporal and the spiritual, the justice and the mercy, to be His own work. Then why may not Adam be a God, as well as any of his sons, inasmuch as he performed the work to which the Great Eloheim appointed him?

In ancient times they were called Gods unto whom the word of God came [John 10:35], because of which Moses became a God unto Pharoah. The Almighty was not so jealous of His Godly title but that He could say to Moses - "See, I have made thee a God to Pharoah." [Exodus 7:1] And if John's saying be true, God has purposed to make him that overcometh, a pillar in the temple of God, and to "write upon him the name of my God." [Revelation 3:12] "His name shall be in their foreheads." [Revelation 14:1]

This is the hope of all Saints who have a just conception of the future; and why should we not be willing for father Adam to inherit all things, as well as for ourselves? He is the first, the Father of all the human family, and his glory will be above all, for he will be God over all, necessarily, standing as he will through all eternity at the head of those who are the redeemed of his great family. Though all the sons should, through their faithfulness, become Gods, they would still know that the Son was not greater than the Father.

Were we to trace this subject in all its bearings, we should find the principles of the Godhead planted in every righteous and well-organized family upon the earth, and that they only require cultivation to cause their expansion and development to be equal to anything we can now conceive of as adding power and glory to the God of all worlds. The Great Eloheim rules over all worlds. He is God over them, because of His right and power to rule, govern, and control. The exercise of this power is a natural right in the order of Priesthood, which belongs to every Patriarch, or Father, in the human family, so long as he rules subordinately to the laws of Heaven. According to the order of that God by whom we are ruled, a man is not only permitted to hold full jurisdiction over his own family, but he is held responsible for any violation, by them, of the revealed will of Heaven. A man that controls a work, is the only one that can be held responsible for that work. It would be most unjust to require responsibility where there is no power to govern and control. Every man who has a family, and power to control them, is exercising the rights and power of a God, though it may be in a very small capacity. There are two grand principles, by virtue of which all intelligent beings have a legitimate right to govern and hold dominion; these are, by begetting children from their own loins, and by winning the hearts of others to voluntarily desire their righteous exercise of power extended over them. These constitute a sure foundation for an eternal throne - a kingdom as perpetual as God's. No usurped power, to be maintained by the shedding of blood, is connected with such a government. It is upon this foundation that the throne of Michael is established as Father, Patriarch, God; and it is for all his children who come into this world, to learn and fully understand the eternity of that relationship.

Could we view our first Parent in his true position, we should find him acting in a similar capacity to the whole family of man, as each father does to his individual family, controlling, at his pleasure, all things which relate to the great object of their being - their exaltation to thrones and Godlike powers. We can conceive, from Scripture, principle, and analogy, that Adam's watch-care is ever over mankind; that by his own approbation and direction Gospel dispensations have been revealed from heaven to earth in different ages of the world; that he was the first that ever held the keys of Gospel power upon the earth, and by his supervision they have been handed down from age to age, whenever they have been among men; that under his direction a Deluge once swept the earth of the wickedness which was upon it, and laws were given to Israel, as a nation, to lead them to Christ; and that he will in the end call men to judgment for the privileges which have been extended to them in this world.

Hear what the Prophet Daniel says upon this subject - "I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days (Adam) did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him; thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the judgment was set, and the books were opened. . . . . . . . And behold, one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed." - (Dan. vii. 9, 10, 13, 14.)

Again, the word of the Lord through the Prophet Joseph, gives additional importance, if possible, to the part which Adam acts relating to his children, which reads as follows - "But, behold, verily I say unto you, before the earth shall pass away, Michael, mine archangel, shall sound his trump, and then shall all the dead awake, for their graves shall be opened, and they shall come forth; yea, even all." [D&C 29:26]

From the foregoing we are enabled to draw important conclusions, that before the coming of the Lord Jesus in the clouds of heaven, to take the reins of government upon the earth, Adam comes and gathers around him all that have ever held the keys of power under him upon the earth, in any of the dispensations thereof to man; he calls forth the dead from their graves, at the sound of his trump; he brings them to judgment, and they render unto him an account of their several stewardships; the books are opened that a righteous judgment may be rendered by him who now sits upon his throne, not only as the Father, but the Judge, of men; and in that capacity thousands minister unto him. An august assemblage are now gathered in one grand council around the great Patriarch of all Patriarchs, consisting of his sons, who have been faithful in that which was committed to them; and all this preparatory to that great event, when the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven should be given to the Saints of the Most High. Daniel saw that the Saints possessed the kingdom, by virtue of which Adam was once more in possession of the dominion given unto him before the fall, which was over every living thing that moved upon the earth, which rendered him the universal Sovereign and Lord of all.

At this important period, when Adam is reinstated with full power upon the earth, seated upon his throne, as Daniel saw him - a glorious and an immortal God, one like the Son of Man comes in the clouds of heaven (as oftimes represen[ted] by the Apostles), to the Ancient of days, and receives from him dominion, glory, and a kingdom; or in other words, Michael, having accomplished the work committed to him, pertaining to this world, delivers up an account of his stewardship of the same, to that character represented as Yahovah in the creation of the world, who reigns in unison with those upon the earth, until his work is fully accomplished - till the last great contest with the enemy, who has been released for a little season, is won; then he in turn delivers up the kingdom to the great Eloheim, that in the language of the Apostle, "God may be all in all." [1 Corinthians 15:28]

This final surrender, we are to bear in mind, does not detract from the God-like power and dominion of our first Parent, nor of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the Patriarchal order of government, each and every ruler is independent in his sphere, his rule extending to those below, and not to those above him, in the same order. While the God of unnumbered worlds is acknowledged to be his God and Father, Adam still maintains his exalted position at the head of all those who are saved from among the whole family of man; and he will be God over all those who are made Gods from among men. Each and every God will be honoured and adored by those over whom he reigns as a God, without any violation of the laws of heaven - without any encroachment upon that command which saith, "thou shalt have no other Gods before me," [Exodus 20:3] for the glory and honour of all true Gods constitute the glory, honour, power, and dominion of the great Eloheim, according to His own order of government.

We can conceive of no higher, or more perfect order of government than that which is embraced in Patriarchal authority. By virtue of this order, all Gods, whether in heaven or on earth, exercise a righteous power, and possess a just dominion. In this order, all are both subjects and rulers, each possessing Almighty rights and powers - Almighty rulers over those who have descended from them, at the same time rendering all honour and power to those from whom they have descended. What a glorious system of order is here portrayed - one in which an innumerable succession of Gods, Patriarchs, and rulers, can reign forever in the greatest possible harmony that can be comprehended by intelligences, while each is independent in his position, as is all intelligence. As the great Eloheim is supreme and Almighty over all His children and kingdoms, so is Adam as great a ruler, or God, in his sphere, over his children, and the kingdom which they possess. The earth and all things upon it were created for Adam, and it was given to him of his Father to have dominion over it. In that dominion he will be sustained throughout all eternity.

In relation to this earth alone and its inhabitants, Michael and Gabriel have perhaps held the greatest keys of dominion and power. They were, both in their day, Fathers of all living, and had dominion given unto them over all things. Gabriel, or Noah, held the keys of this power under Michael, and to him he will render an account of all things before Michael renders an account of his stewardship to Him whose dominion reaches over many worlds, and who is God over all Gods. These two important personages have ever been watchful of the interests of their children, hence we find them ministering from time to time to holy men upon the earth - Gabriel often appearing unto Daniel, and opening to his view the most wonderful visions of the future, by which he could act as a God to the people, outvie the wisdom of the astrologers, and so control the elements that the burning furnace could have no power over him; Michael also coming to the release of Gabriel, when he was withstood one and twenty days from answering Daniel's prayer [Daniel 10:13].

We also read of Michael disputing with the Devil about the body of Moses, probably because the Devil was not willing that Moses should be translated, inasmuch as he had sinned; but even in this, Michael was the great deliverer [Jude 1:9]. Again we read that Michael shall stand up for the children of his people in a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation, and at that time every one that shall be found written in the book shall be delivered, and those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake [Daniel 12:1-2].

From these and many other Scriptures, we find that those important personages are clothed upon with no mean authority, and that Michael has power to deliver men from the power of the Devil, which is death; that by the sound of his own trump - the trump of the archangel, the nations of the dead shall awake and come forth to judgment, and there render an account to the ANCIENT OF DAYS seated upon his burning throne. Then shall the nations know that he is their Judge, their Lawgiver, and their God, and upon his decree hangs the destiny of the assembled dead. Yes, our Judge will be a kind and compassionate Father, by whom none can pass, but through whom all glory, dominion, and power, will be ascribed to the great ETERNAL.
A few questions for discussion:
  1. How does this article's exposition of 'Adam-God' ideas compare to other discussions of Adam-God by, e.g., Brigham Young and others?
  2. Early on, the author labors to distance Adam from any connection with sin or disobedience. How does his treatment fit into the history of LDS treatments of the Fall?
  3. How does the author's perception of the Fall and his discussion of its position in salvation-history relate to discourse about the Fall in the broader Christian tradition?
  4. What appears to be the relationship between 'Eloheim', 'Yahovah', and 'Michael/Adam', as the author conceives of it?
  5. The author states that "we are under obligations to our father Adam, as to a God". What sort of 'obligations' would we have to Adam at the present moment, if the author is correct?
  6. In the theology of the author, what might be our relation to "the Great Eloheim"?
  7. What might the author be inclined to say if pressed to talk further about the present-day role and status of Gabriel/Noah?
  8. In light of the author's discussion of other issues, how might the author conceive of his own statements about humans "becoming Gods"?
  9. The author uses language of "control" on numerous occasions throughout the article when he describes the power that a Patriarch has over his subjects. How does this language relate to the concept of free agency?
  10. How does the author envision gender relations? What reception might his vision have in a modern-day LDS ward?
  11. How does the author envision family dynamics? What might the author think of a 'typical' LDS household today?
  12. How does the author's approach to various biblical passages quoted or alluded to, compare to other LDS and/or Christian interpretations?
  13. What in the article still comports with modern-day LDS teaching, and what does not?

1 Spencer W. Kimball said: "We hope that you who teach in the various organizations, whether on the campuses or in our chapels, will always teach the orthodox truth. We warn you against the dissemination of doctrines which are not according to the scriptures and which are alleged to have been taught by some of the General Authorities of past generations. Such, for instance, is the Adam-God theory. We denounce that theory and hope that everyone will be cautioned against this and other kinds of false doctrine." See Official Report of the One Hundred Forty-Sixth Semi-Annual Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Held in the Tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah, October 1, 2, 3, 1976 (Salt Lake City, UT: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1977), 115.
2 [Brigham Young], "Adam, Our Father and God", The Latter-Day Saints' Millennial Star 15/48 (26 November 1853): 769-770; excerpted from Brigham Young's 9 April 1852 talk as printed in Journal of Discourses 1:46-53 (excerpted portion on 50-51). The most famous quote from this talk, as reprinted here on page 769, is: "When our father Adam came into the garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organize this world. He is MICHAEL, the Archangel, the ANCIENT OF DAYS! about whom holy men have written and spoken - HE is our FATHER and our GOD, and the only God with whom WE have to do. Every man upon the earth, professing Christians or non-professing, must hear it, and will know it sooner or later." A close second, appearing on page 770, is Brigham Young's statement that "Jesus, our elder brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the garden of Eden, and who is our Father in Heaven", which should be read in light of the earlier statement (pp. 769-770): "When the virgin Mary conceived the child Jesus, the Father had begotten him in his own likeness. He was not begotten by the Holy Ghost. And who is the Father? He is the first of the human family; and when he took a tabernacle, it was begotten by his Father in heaven, after the same manner as the tabernacles of Cain, Abel, and the rest of the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve; from the fruits of the earth, the first earthly tabernacles were originated by the Father, and so on in succession."
3 "Our Father Adam", The Latter-Day Saints' Millennial Star 15/48 (26 November 1853): 780. The statement is as follows: "OUR FATHER ADAM. - The extract from the Journal of Discourses may startle some of our readers, but we would wish them to recollect that in this last dispensation God will send forth, by His servants, things new as well as old, until man is perfected in the truth. And we would here take occasion to remark, that it would be well if all our readers would secure a copy of the Journal of Discourses as it is issued, and also of every standard work of the Church; and not only secure these works, but attentively read them, and thoroughly study the principles they contain. Those of the Saints who fail to obtain the standard publications of the Church, will not be likely to prove very intelligent Saints, and will be very liable to wake up some day, and find themselves wonderfully behind the times, and consequently will not be able to stand the day of trial, which will come upon all the world. Without the intelligence that comes through the Holy Priesthood, the Saints cannot gain salvation, and this intelligence is given in the various publications of the Church. Who then will endanger his salvation by being behind the times? Not the wise, certainly."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Lorenzo Young on Scriptural and Apostolic Authority

The following quotation comes from a discourse that Lorenzo Dow Young delivered on 29 August 1852 at a special conference held in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City:
Now, brethren, the calling of an Apostle, is to build up the kingdom of God, in all the world; it is the Apostle that holds the keys of this power, and nobody else. If an Apostle magnifies his calling, he is the word of the Lord to this people all the time, or else he does not magnify his calling - either one or the other.

If he magnifies his calling, his words are the words of eternal life and salvation to those who hearken to them, just as much so as any written revelations contained in these three books. (Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants.) There is nothing contained in these three books, that is any more revelation, than the words of an Apostle that is magnifying his calling.1
Sorting out the complex web of religious/doctrinal authority within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has for a long time been a contentious issue between various parties both inside and outside of its institutional parameters. Where did Lorenzo Dow Young fall on the issue? How did Lorenzo Dow Young seem to understand the respective doctrinal authority of the Standard Works on the one hand and the General Authorities on the other hand?

1 Minutes of Conference: A Special Conference of the elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Assembled in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, August 28th, 1852, 10 o'clock, a.m., pursuant to public notice (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret News, 1852), 25.

On Resignation from a Discussion Group

During the past few weeks, I had some involvement in a Facebook group/page professedly devoted to LDS-Evangelical civil dialogue. Over my time there, I've found several aspects of the group profoundly disturbing, and with recent turns of events I find that I could no longer in good conscience even participate in that environment. The following is a message I sent this morning to the group's initial creator setting forth my reasons for terminating my association with the group; names have been partially redacted in the interest of the privacy of those individuals involvement.
While I joined [this Facebook group/page] with great hope and optimism for high-quality, even-handed, grace-filled, mutually edifying discussions, I found myself routinely disappointed by the strong double standards that prevailed. Rules against 'debate' seemed to be persistently abused, for instance. People who actually lifted the quality of conversation through civil, respectful, well-documented, and well-reasoned comments (e.g., [AS] – who, shockingly, has now apparently been accused by [DH] without substantiation of being an insincere paid shill) were removed temporarily from the group from time to time. On the other hand, people who dramatically lowered the quality of conversation through uncivil, disrespectful, condescending attacks on others and on their beliefs (e.g., [DB]) do not seem to have faced much censure from any administrator, nor even from most Latter-day Saint participants. If an Evangelical had behaved even a tenth as poorly as that, I have no doubt that such an Evangelical counterpart would have found himself removed from the group within several days at most. (I do note, however, that in a comment I just now read, you've told [DB] that he is "bordering on being banned" – as I think is only fitting.) This was not merely a one-time event, but rather an enduring state of affairs that commenced well before I joined the group and that exists without diminution at present. This is not merely a flaw, I think, in the administration of the rules, but also highlights worrying facets of the group's culture, facets that prove themselves obstacles to productive civil discourse – which is supposedly one of the five points of the group's purpose.

The same double standard appears to be active with regard to any rules against attempting to dictate the beliefs of others to those others. On the one hand, many Evangelical participants were routinely censured for this, though I have seen precious few instances of it. On the other hand, some Latter-day Saint posters (e.g., again, [DB]) made a frequent sport of this tactic, even transforming it into a sort of art form, in informing Evangelicals of what Evangelical doctrine is. No action was taken, nor did the offenders cease when their contravention of the rules was publicly pointed out to them.

Further, I note with dismay that various negative Evangelical 'buzzwords' like "cult" and "blasphemy" are forbidden explicitly in the rules; but, despite a semi-recent public push by Evangelical posters for equitable treatment, no similar action has been taken with respect to LDS 'buzzwords' like "anti-Mormon". Contrary to [TB]'s belligerent grandstanding, if the extremely rare positive adoption of "anti-Mormon" (under some understanding of the term) by some precious few Evangelical critics of the LDS faith justifies keeping it on the table, then the more common adoption of "cult" (again, under some understanding of the term) by some few Latter-day Saints necessitate that it receive equal standing.

Most recently, I've witnessed extremely heavy-handed tactics by [SS], who apparently deleted a thread that in his opinion was non-doctrinal and inappropriate, based on his sudden decree from his lofty administrative heights that only "doctrinal" LDS topics are appropriate for discussion. This, of course, creates another blatant double standard, as no comparable constraint of 'officiality' appears to bind LDS posters (e.g., [SS] himself, [DB], and so forth) who wish to take potshots at Evangelical beliefs of varying degrees of prominence, universality, etc. Moreover, [SS] has further qualified his edict by insisting that only those things that can be demonstrated to be LDS doctrine from 'scripture' are permissible for discussion, and that 'scripture' must be taken to encompass the Standard Works exclusively. On both of these points, however, there exists a spectrum of positions within LDS circles, let alone outside of them, and hence [SS] has evidently taken to abusing his administrative position to enforce his own understandings of LDS doctrine and scripture on the group as a new standard, and has also engaged in bullying of those who dissent. [RM] challenged the boundaries of Stephen's definitions and had her LDS testimony called into question by a professing fellow Latter-day Saint in return; [RM] also indicates that, contrary to the group's stated purpose to "forge links, not to break them", she lost at least one contact/friendship as a result of daring to speak out. Meanwhile, while in the course of challenging [SS]'s policy and tactics, [KD] – herself a very devout Latter-day Saint – suddenly found herself removed from the group, with no warning, no justification given, having committed no breach of the rules, and without even an identification of the party or parties responsible for the decision. Even [CB] – a noted LDS blogger whose conduct here has been beyond approach – has recently been challenged (by [DH]) for not toeing the party line and for daring to stick up for respect and civility; and she has also been attacked (by [DB], predictably) as having "an agenda against the Church", and hence allegedly she "should not group [her]self with the LDS"; and, later on, "We know you're not active LDS, and that you have an agenda of undermining the Church". In addition to a few of the things mentioned here highlighting gross administrative abuse on the part of certain aforementioned parties, all of this also displays a group culture markedly at odds with the group's stated purpose.

I'm genuinely saddened by the way things have gone. Aside from the sheer practical factor of keeping up with the pace of the discussions, and the difficulty of carrying out any substantive exchange through the medium of Facebook comments, I've found that I'm too profoundly disturbed by the overall tenor of the group to continue my membership and/or involvement so long as overzealous LDS administrators are permitted to run roughshod over the rules (and over common decency) and perpetuate double standards, and so long as little effort is made to evenly discipline participants without regard to their religious affiliation. I send this to you directly since, no longer being a member of the group, I cannot post it as I otherwise might have.

Peace in Christ,

EDIT [11 January 2012]: On a somewhat more pleasant note, the response I received informed me that several of these problems are in the process of being addressed now (including, fortunately, the permanent ban of one of the worst offenders, 'DB'), and so I hope and pray that the group will become a healthier place in the weeks to come; perhaps I'll find a place there again. However, so far as I can tell, 'SS' remains a heavy-handed administrator; his edicts remain essentially in place; 'TB' still seems set on antagonizing Evangelicals; 'CB' has been banned for undisclosed reasons, and many LDS participants defend that ban (though a few Latter-day Saints remain who have the courage to question it, such as 'RM'); and participants are widely being encouraged to leave if they dislike the patently immoral operative policies still in place, and these tactics are engaged in by another LDS administration, 'DJ', and defended by 'DH'. This is the latest message I've sent to the group's creator:

Thank you very much, [WK]! I appreciate that. I can only imagine how busy it would be to clean things up - especially since, from the looks of things whenever I peak in, they and others seem intent on creating more ([SS]'s edicts against anything 'speculative' or 'unscriptural' as he sees it; the ban of one of the best contributors to the group [CB]; the mild bullying of [RM] by [DJ] and [DH]; [TB]'s continued antagonism toward Evangelical participants; and so forth). If things clear up and settle down at some point, I'd definitely consider coming back to a healthier version of the group. (And as an Evangelical, I'm not personally affronted by the new name; I just thought I remembered one or two Roman Catholic members when I first joined.) I look forward to hearing back from you when you have a chance, and I thank you for the effort you've put into these things.

Peace in Christ,

In the meantime, another group has been started containing of a few of the unjustly banned and others dissatisfied with the original group's course, and so I may join that in the meantime.

[EDIT: As a further note, I ought to add that, contrary to all claims of a permanent ban on [DB], he was permitted to return, and no measures seem to have been taken whatsoever against any of the other major abuses that occurred in the group. It's a real pity.]

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Hyrum Mack Smith on 'False' Churches

The following is a considerable excerpt from a talk by Hyrum Mack Smith (member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, son of then-President Joseph F. Smith, brother of future-President Joseph Fielding Smith, and father of future-Presiding Patriarch Joseph Fielding Smith; also maternal grandfather of M. Russell Ballard of the current Quorum of the Twelve Apostles), delivered at the October 1916 Semi-Annual General Conference, as printed in the official conference report (pp. 41-43 for the following quotation):
The Latter-day Saints who have been gathered out of the world and planted in the valleys of the mountains have in a sense been born again. When they have taken their citizenship in this goodly land they should have foresworn allegiance to foreign lands, and to the dominion of corrupt kings and princes, and they should hold themselves aloof and apart from the quarrels and the wars that the nations of the earth engage in. It would be just as consistent for the Latter-day Saints, who have come out of the Protestant churches or the Catholic church, or for the children of men and women who came out of the Presbyterian church or the Baptist, or the Methodist, or the Congregationalist, to take sides with those corrupt and apostate churches in their contentions and their quarrels among themselves. We, or our fathers who received the gospel of Jesus Christ, as it has been proclaimed by divinely appointed and authorized men in this dispensation, have been born again. We have forsaken the corrupt religions of the world, and we have foresworn all allegiance to these false churches. We have no interest in their contentions. At least the only interest we have in them is a desire that the adherents of these various churches may also see the light, come to a knowledge of the truth, and forsake evil and error and falsehood, and receive the gospel of Christ which is the power of God unto salvation. The only interest which the Latter-day Saints have or can have in the contentions of the nations of the earth, political or otherwise, is that the time may come when peace may be restored, when men shall cease to make war upon each other, and live in peace and love and in a desire to make every land a blessed land and all men brothers.


Christianity, as it is known in the world today, has fallen far short of the accomplishment of what might have been expected of it. It has failed in establishing those principles which Christ taught among the children of men. The great Catholic division of the Christian world, the Catholic church, is a national liability to any country. It wields a great power over the minds and the hearts of the children of men, but it is a power for evil rather than for good. It brings countless thousands regularly to confession; it rarely brings a single man to repentance and the abandonment of his sins. The power wielded by that organization is one that does not promote civilization, nor advancement morally or spiritually, but it binds its adherents in the thralldom of superstition and ignorance and fear, and denies them the liberty to make an open-minded investigation of other questions; and the nations and peoples governed and controlled by that power are the least advanced intellectually and morally and industrially of any people in the world called Christian or civilized.

The Protestant division of Christianity has practically ceased to exert any influence whatever over the hearts and the minds of the children of men. Mankind has largely ceased to be very much interested in Protestantism, as one prominent official in the British Government told me when I had occasion to visit him, that all professors of religion and particularly the ministers of religion were narrow-minded and that no broad-minded man, no thinking man in this day paid any attention to the religions of Christianity, or other religions for that matter. That was his view. My observation confirms, that view. What is the reason for this? Why, my brethren and sisters, even the dumb brute will not answer many times to the call to the crib or the lick, when no food or salt is provided. They will soon cease to come, when they have learned that nothing is provided for them, and it is the same way with Protestant Christianity. Are men less intelligent than the lower animals? The call is made to the people to come, and when the people have come they have been given, too often, the empty husk or the blighted ear, therefore many have ceased coming. Yet I would not have you understand me as believing all mankind, Christian or otherwise, have turned away entirely from thoughts of God and from the hope of salvation. The very image of God is impressed upon the children of men. They belong to him; He owns them, and he will never rest until he has brought them into a condition where they gladly and voluntarily render unto God what belongs to God. They have been deceived and are deceived by corrupt professors, corrupt ministers.

Let me explain, when I use the term "corrupt" with reference to these ministers of the gospel, that I use it in the same sense that I believe the Lord used it when he made that declaration to Joseph Smith, the prophet, in answer to the prophet's prayer. He did not mean, nor do I mean, that the ministers of religion are personally unvirtuous or impure. I believe as a class they, perhaps, in personal purity, stand a little above the average order of men. When I use the term "corrupt" I mean, as I believe the Lord meant, that they have turned away from the truth, the purity of the truth, the beauty of the truth, and have turned to that which is false. A false doctrine is a corrupt doctrine; a false religion is a corrupt religion; a false teacher is a corrupt teacher. Any man who teaches a false doctrine, and who believes in and practices and teaches a false religion is a corrupt professor, because he teaches that which is impure and not true. That is the trouble with Christianity today. It is not true. Christianity is, perhaps, no truer or falser than any other religion, than Mohammedanism, Confucianism, Buddhism or any other ism or philosophy. In fact, my brethren and sisters, if the falsity of a religion can be measured in any degree by the amount of trouble and turmoil and strife and bitterness and hatred that it has engendered in the hearts of men, if it can be judged by the number of wars it has carried on and the rivers of blood it has shed, the amount of misery and sorrow, it has caused, or the extremes of impurity, found among its adherents, then Christianity, that which is known as Christianity, is the falsest of all religions in the world. For in these last sixteen hundred years, if not longer, the small minority of the population of the earth known as Christians, have carried on the great majority of the wars of the world and have destroyed the greatest amount of life and of property and have inflicted on the world the greatest degree of misery. And, so far as my observation goes - and I have tried to observe some of these things - there is less of piety, genuine sincerity and honesty in living up to their professions among Christians, than you will find among the confessors of any other religion whatsoever. The trouble is, as God declared to Joseph the Prophet, mankind have gone astray. Their religions are an abomination in his sight, and their professors are corrupt because they have turned away from the truth and have turned unto fables. When men go to church nowadays they do not receive that which satisfies the soul, which the soul longs for; they are not instructed in the ways of life and of purity and right. They go away empty and disappointed.
Ordinarily I just post these selections without commentary, but in this case, allow me to restrain my impulses and make the very brief understatement that I do not "go away empty and disappointed", and nor have I seen greater 'instruction in the ways of life and of purity and right' in any sacrament meeting than I have in the services of my own congregation.