Wednesday, March 26, 2014

"Man's Destiny": An LDS View from 1899

Albert Arrowsmith (1861-1936) was an English-born convert to the LDS faith, having been baptized in July 1883.  He served a two-year mission in his homeland of Great Britain in 1894-1896 and then went on to serve in the Southern States Mission.  Shortly after his arrival in Tennessee on 16 February 1899, he was called on to serve as president of the Kentucky Conference on 16 April 1899 and then, shortly thereafter, as president of the newly organized North Kentucky Conference.  The following article by Elder Albert Arrowsmith originally appeared as "Man's Destiny", Latter Day Saints Southern Star 1/35 (29 July 1899): 277-278.
Man is a most peculiar study, but as one writer observes, "There is nothing great on earth but man, and nothing great in man but mind," cannot we readily understand that the mind and intelligent part of that dual incarnation, came from above, and is a product of Deity, but in its hampered state, in mortality, realizes little, but nevertheless, is Lord of all animated creation.  He alone being subject to God, his Father, whose laws must be obeyed, or justifiable punishment is meted out with merciful severity according to the crime committed.  For illustration, let us take Father Adam, who came here clothed with immortality, a perfect man, an image of his Creator, one who, inclusive with all creation, was pronounced very good, unquestionably perfect, physically, mentally, and spiritually, but having lost his identity, was evidently lacking a knowledge of evil, which was essential to full perfection, to sit among the Gods as an impartial judge, if the knowledge of good and evil is necessary to make a righteous judge.  The plan prepared by our Father before the world was, is grand and feasible; and the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the proper way to become as Gods, "knowing good and evil," for if a man did not have sorrow, could he comprehend suffering or appreciate joy?  If he never saw darkness could he understand the beauties of sunlight?  If the bitter was not tasted, sweetness would not be enjoyed, and a man not initiated in this knowledge would be incompetent, and lacking in intelligence, and the glory of God being intelligence, he designs us, His sons and daughters, to become like Him.  Therefore, in this stage of progression, He created this tree of knowledge of good and evil, and gave a law, with a penalty affixed, that if the fruit were partaken, they should die.  There was design in all this.  The tree being prominently located in the center of that beautiful garden, and no doubt was very desirable to look upon, so that transgression was easy, and the Father who knew the end from the beginning, was satisfied the fruit would be partaken of, fulfilling the end intended originally, by placing the tree in such prominence, which was a perfect knowledge.  Adam and Eve, apparently, did not know what light, joy, happiness and goodness were, (which appears strange, as they had dwelt in such an environment from their creation), and could not appreciate nor understand the light which shone so resplendently from their God, in daily contact and communion, until that was shut off, which was the spiritual death, and gross darkness covered their minds, obliterating from view that vast spiritual creation, which originated before the world was.  Oh! what a change was wrought.  We can but faintly understand the vastness of that fall, which affected all creation, turning life into death, pleasure to pain, fruitful fields into deserts, and scattering devastation and desolation throughout the domain of the earth, that man might be perfected, and brought to a knowledge that God designed he should have among the intelligences created by Him, primevally.  What a work, oh man is thane, taking thy inception from God, dwelling with Him from the beginning, shouting for joy in contemplation of an evolution from a spiritual entity, to a perfected man; being both spiritual and mortal, provided with a tabernacle in which that spirit might dwell.  What a comprehensive design!  And how glorious the designer!  God, who created all things, first spiritually, both vegetable, and animal.  With what joy we would look forward to the time when we could take upon us mortality, learn the lessons pertaining to this existence, progress and advance, preparing for the great change death brings to pass, a transitory condition, which is involved in this great evolutionary principle of progression.
With what glee we accepted this perfect plan can only be understood by God's word: "All the Sons of God shouted for joy."  We left our spiritual abode, where since the rebellion, and the casting forth of Lucifer and his myrmidons, we dwelt so peacefully in unity, coming here, possibly, not fully realizing the extent of our fall, not thoroughly sensing it in our primeval state, a veil kindly interposing, shutting out our previous knowledge, friends, associations, joys, all lost to our memory, inheriting mortality as a little child, not possessed of ordinary brute intelligence: but placed below all animated creations - not able to control any of the senses, but entirely dependent for life and sustenance upon the nurse: yet, that dormant and imperfect mind, might be in embryo, an Alexander, Napoleon, a Socrates, or Cicero, who can tell what mighty achievements he as a man, might attain unto?  There may be in that mind latent powers to revolutionize a world.  How mysterious are thy works, Oh God, might be applied to this senseless atom, nevertheless grand piece of mechanism, and what design is shown forth in raising this animated piece of clay from ignorance and degradation to the pinnacle of perfection and exaltation.  It is beyond the comprehension of man in mortality, to entirely fathom the handiwork of God, but we can see existing design, order, and law, on the part of the Maker and on the part of the creature made an innate inclination of adoration and worshipful respect for Deity which argues that we are part of that Deity, and a spark implanted by our residence in a purer existence, which gem, shines and shows its lustre, despite all the allurments held up so glowingly by that arch fiend, Lucifer, and which causes a pleasureable feeling in doing good and working acts of righteousness, and causes us, when in despair, to cry "Abba! Father."  Satan has tried many devices to break down this innate feeling, and desire for reliance on an omnipotent God, and has introduced idolatry and infidelity in their various forms, and also a system of evolution calling nature, the great God and panacea for all human ills, and tries to make intelligent men believe he originally came from the jelly fish, or some other low form of life, and that his antecedents were monkeys.  What preposterous ideas men do get, trying to unfathom the mysteries of Godliness without His spiritual aid, so that by a constant rejection of that light originally implanted, darkness arises and men run after devises of Lucifer - vagaries and hypothesis, cunningly implanted by a rejection of God's laws as "the spirit of God will not always strive with man, and the things of God are only understood by the spirit of God."  By this spirit we see our Creator deliniated in all things, from the grand planetary systems of the smallest animaleue, and we can realize that this nature, so called, is the life giving element which rules, governs, and controls all things, being one of the component parts of the eternal elements, and without which we cannot exist.  It is the great spirit of God disseminated throughout all space and part of that great triune Godhead, being the Holy Ghost, which leads into all truth.  By giving proper heed and respect to this spirit, man will be led to honor law, and observe the commands of his Maker, he will be led to know the mind and will of God, hence an investigation of the Holy Scriptures as this agency, and unbiased mind, must "prove all things and hold fast that which is good," and if man will study the Bible in this way he cannot but come to the conclusion that it is the word of God, as he can compare profane, ancient and modern history with modern archaeological investigations, which testify beyond a peradventure, as to the divinity of that Book, and man can gain such light from its perusal and by the observance of the laws and commands therein written, to know without a doubt, his position here, and part of God's plan in placing him in this great mundane sphere.  He can then see how necessary the fall by Adam, "that man might be," and to obtain that perfect knowledge - also the necessity of the Redeemer to atone for the fall and to act as our mediator with the Father, and we can see the necessity of the Everlasting Gospel, or code of laws, with the powers of God's priesthood, and his authorized delegated servants in counteraction to the priesthood of Lucifer, who sways mankind with such power.  It is not reasonable to suppose that our Father would leave us entirely to the mercy of our fallen brother, Satan, but the warfare which originated in heaven, is continued here, and will not terminate until mankind is sanctified and redeemed in God's presence, and every knee bow, and tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Lord of all.  He came in the meridian of time, and thoroughly substantiated his claims as the "first born among many brethren," our Redeemer, and our God, and left us his laws which, by a compliance thereto will restore us back into His presence and make us a joint heir, and one with Him, as He is one with the Father.  Can you my brethren and sisters, conceive the excellence of this great exaltation to be one with Christ?  Is it not to be a God?  It certainly is.  Would not our earthly parent desire us to walk in his footsteps, he being an exemplary man?  Yes: then why should not our Heavenly Father, who is full of love, mercy and all perfections, wish to bring us up to that plane of excellence as himself.  Oh! ambitious man, grovelling in darkness, lift up thy head and shout "Excelsior," as there is no end to progression among the Gods.  You may inquire respecting the laws of Jesus, which are absolutely essential to place you in that straight and narrow path which few find in this life.  They are faith, repentance, baptism, to remit sins, laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost, spoken of which leads into all truth, these gifts and blessings, being administered by a duly authorized minister of God.  Then a life of purity, and meritorious conduct engendered by close communion with God, through prayer, all of which will lead you towards the goal of your high calling in Jesus Christ, to become one with Him in the celestial city, trusting you may press forward towards this mark and gain the prize.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Oropeza on Apostasy and Apostolic Succession

Recently I've been reading through B. J. Oropeza's three-volume set Apostasy in the New Testament Communities, and I found some interesting comments touching upon the nature of apostolic succession.  As is well known, the replacement of Judas by Matthias (Acts 1:12-26) is a scriptural incident that has often been interpreted by Latter-day Saint thinkers as clear precedent that the Twelve was to be an ongoing body, with the death of any member requiring the selection of a new replacement so as to keep the Twelve at a full quorum.  (In LDS thought, the failure to keep up this process has often been cited as a contributing factor toward the purported Great Apostasy that overtook the church.)  Of course, as J. Reuben Clark, Jr., admitted, the replacement of Judas by Matthias is the only clear example we have of this in the New Testament (On the Way to Immortality and Eternal Life [Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1953 (1948)], 34-35, 48).  However, Joseph Fielding Smith advanced the argument that other members of the Twelve were likewise replaced upon their deaths by other New Testament figures designated with the title 'apostle', such as Paul (Doctrines of Salvation 3:152-153):
We know that Judas Iscariot lost his standing because of his treacherous betrayal of the Master, and Matthias was called to take his place.  We know that James, the son of Zebedee, was killed with the sword not long after the resurrection of the Lord.  [...]  We know that it was the custom in the beginning to fill vacancies in this presiding council, for the quorum of the Twelve was to remain in the Church during its entire existence.  We know that in the course of time there came a "falling away," and that the Church was taken from the earth, and that the priesthood went back to God for a season.  [...]  Paul was an ordained apostle, and without question he took the place of one of the other brethren in that Council. 
Contrast this, of course, with Clark's statement that "there is no record that he [Paul] was ever a member of the Twelve" (35).  Oropeza's findings also differ markedly from Joseph Fielding Smith's view (which is unsubstantiated by either biblical evidence or early church tradition) and support an alternative view of the Twelve (In the Footsteps of Judas and Other Defectors: The Gospels, Acts, and Johannine Letters [Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2011], 149):
Second, Jesus promised the Twelve they would sit with him on thrones "judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Luke 22:30/Matt 19:28).  The apostasy of Judas reduced the number of disciples to eleven (Acts 1:26; cf. Luke 24:9, 33) and left a vacant seat that needed to be filled if twelve disciples were to reign in the future kingdom, and so Luke includes the replacement of Judas by Matthias in the Acts narrative.  Significantly no replacement is needed for James, another member of the Twelve, when he dies later on in Acts 12:1-2.  His eschatological place is secure because he died a martyr.  He will sit on one of the twelve thrones judging the tribes of Israel.  The same could not be said of Judas; another must take his place because he will not participate in the future kingdom of God. 
Oropeza's research supports the mainstream Christian tradition: that the operative factor requiring the replacement of Judas by Matthias was not Judas' death per se but rather his irrevocable act of apostasy - made irrevocable by his death.  Therefore, Judas is replaced, but James and the others are not.  This indicates that the Twelve was not meant to be an earthly body with a lengthy succession of members; rather, it was meant as a once-for-all eschatological quorum - and no replacement has ever been needed for any member but Judas because all of those members still hold their position in it.  Naturally, the implications of this for LDS thought would be extraordinarily significant, given how overwhelmingly the LDS priesthood hierarchy is founded upon its claims that the biblical Quorum of the Twelve was just such a succession-based body. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Rev. Anksworth's 1898 Advice on "How to Combat Mormonism"

Several months ago I came across an interesting piece by one Rev. W. W. Anksworth that originally appeared in the May 1898 issue of the Christian Advocate, but then was excerpted in the Latter Day Saints Southern Star 1/11 (11 February 1899): 83:
At the risk of saying something superfluous on the much discussed matter of the Latter-Day Saints, I submit a few thoughts from a personal experience stretching throughout one year, on how to successfully meet the attacks of the Saints.  I say successfully, for I am satisfied that by the right method they can be turned down in any place.  And the work can be done by anybody.  The onslaught is made on our weaker charges, often against our younger men.  But none need be dismayed.  And I believe anyone may profit by the year's experience of the writer.
How not to:
  1. You can't pray them out.  It's a matter of instruction.  Only the older men and women remember anything about Joe Smith and Mormonism.  The people must be informed. 
  2. You can't revival them out.  I tried that.  Three whole weeks we ran counter meetings at the same four corners.  The Saint beat me in sustaining interest and drawing the crowd.  The Saint Missionaries are shrewd, subtle, able fellows, and in most instances will tower above our ordinary men.  After three weeks I saw that I was beaten at that game, and adapted a more successful method. 
  3. You can't ignore them out.  Silence is doubtless golden, but the preacher, especially the Methodist preachers, who sits by and sees inroads made upon his work by the Saints, is either a laggard or a coward.  In either case he is unworthy of his robes.  There are in any community many uninformed, innocent, unsuspecting souls, especially sisters, who can be easily wrought upon and prejudiced by the smooth, wily Saint, and it is our work to open their eyes to what is behind.  Unless the pastor exerts himself, and that right speedily, they will be lured away and lost. 
  4. Don't debate.  This may sound strange.  But it is good advice just the same.  Debating is peculiar work.  It is an art all by itself.  Many successful preachers are not debaters.  Few debaters are successful preachers.  If you know that you have the gift of debate, go ahead.  But even then it is not the best way; at least seldom so.  Saint Missionaries are tried and gifted debaters.  Be careful how you cross swords with them or they may whip the life out of you and carry away the whole community in their hearts.
How to do it:
  1. Begin the very day the Saint preacher begins.   Earlier if you hear of his appointments ahead.  They will not undertake an even fight if you fight right.  Part of their work is done by making friends.  They practice every imaginable wile and trick to get into people's hearts.  That is to get people to like them personally.  If you begin at once, you head them off on this line, which is very important. 
  2. Master and preach Mormonism as it is.  You will find it only in the Mormon Bibles: "Book of Mormon," "Book of Doctrine and Covenants," "The Inspired Translation of the Bible."  These are their true books of revelation.  Other books will be helpful.  But these are all-important.  These are the only books that will defeat the Saints at their own work.  I defy an angel from heaven to down the Saints in a community, without these books.  With these books, any schoolboy is too much for them.  Just get these books, study them, take them into your pulpit, read their black and woeful contents to any American audience, and they will drop Saintism as though it were burning brimstone from the pit.  You may think this cynical and foolish.  But if you have to go through the fight you will understand.  These fellows come in with our Bibles in their hand, denying that they have other Bibles.  They get their converts baptized and stepped in prejudice against the church and Christians before they say anything of these books at all.  Converts to Saintism may be found on my charge today, converts of two years' standing, who will deny that the Saints believe in these books.  These books should be bought and mastered now, before the fight comes on.  If the Saint Missionary has not been in on you yet, it's only a matter of time till he comes. 
  3. Don't take up unnecessary issues with them.  For instance, the Missionary will say: "Please don't call me a Mormon.  I am not a Mormon.  I am a Latter-Day Saint."  All right, call them Saints.  Show up Saintism, and soon the people will see that Saintism is as bad as Mormonism: in fact, the same thing.  Again they will attack the church and John Wesley.  But the church and Wesley can take care of themselves, for all the Saints.  Again they preach immersion as the true baptism.  Don't dispute it with them.  Let the Baptists have all the consolation there is in this agreement with the Saints.  Keep to Mormonism as found in those books.  Don't be side-tracked.
  4. Do the work yourself.  Nothing can give a man such a grip on any community as to defeat the Saints.  After the smoke has cleared away, the pastor finds every man is his friend.  To delegate this work is sometimes necessary, but always hurtful to the influence of the pastor, that is, it advertises his incompetency.  It is a task where a specialist is not really necessary if the proper method be pursued.
  5. Keep sweet, cheerful, kind, patient.  Be kind and civil to the enemy.  Invite him down to dinner.  That is, use his own methods on himself.
Victory is as sure as you begin the conflict.  The American people are not sufficiently degraded to endorse the Mormon Bibles, which tell us that we shall not commit adultery, unless God wills to raise up offspring to his servants, in which case he will make it known - otherwise obey the Doctrine Book of Mormon. 
For my part, I found Rev. Anksworth's article rather amusing.  How interesting that, in his era, he thought that LDS missionaries were "tried and gifted debaters" who might actually best local clergy in a match - and how different this is from the modern reality!