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.

No comments:

Post a Comment