Mormonism and doctrine/Miscellaneous

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Mormonism and doctrine/Miscellaneous



Obedience and agency

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Criticism of "17 Points of the True Church"


Question: What is the Mormon understanding of the nature of angels?

LDS doctrine on angels is consistent with Biblical passages which portray at least some angels as former righteous mortals

LDS doctrine on angels is consistent with Biblical passages which portray at least some angels as former righteous mortals.

This doctrine does not, however, derive simply from a reading of the Biblical data, which is not conclusive enough to decide the issue one way or another. Rather, like most LDS doctrine, it derives from modern revelation and the accounts of modern prophets.

Latter-day Saints have a fairly well-defined understanding of the nature and role of angels: They (along with the Father and the Son) are of the same race as humans, but are not mortal. They are either pre-mortal spirits, post-mortal spirits, translated beings, or resurrected beings. Our understanding comes from modern revelation and direct contact by prophets with angelic beings (such as Joseph Smith's encounters with Moroni, a resurrected being).

However, the Bible is less than clear about the nature of angels, and—by itself—leaves much room for other interpretations. Because of this, most Christians believe that angels are a separate, distinct creation from man.

The Hebrew word malak and the Greek word angelos (whence we derive the English "angel"), which are the words generally translated as "angel" in the Bible, simply mean "messenger." People read the Bible in the light of their preexisting theology to see there what they want to see.

For example, in Genesis 17: "three men" visit with Abraham. Towards the end of the chapter the LORD (IE Yahweh) turns away (portrayed here as one of the three men), but the other two are then identified as the "two angels" at the beginning of Genesis 18: that visit Lot.

A Mormon reads such a passage, and concludes, "This shows the angels were *men*." Another Christian reads that, and concludes, "This shows the angels have the capacity to manifest themselves in the form of men, but they were not men themselves."

Either reading is consistent with the Biblical account.

  • A useful definition of angels from a non-LDS viewpoint can be obtained from the Catholic Encyclopedia here.
  • A collection of quotations about the LDS understanding can be found here.

Biblical evidence

Mount of Transfiguration

One interesting episode involves the appearance of Moses and Elijah to Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration. There, Jesus and Peter, James, and John saw at least two heavenly messengers: Elijah and Moses (Matthew 17:2-3). The LDS view has both being translated (i.e. taken to heaven without dying, since they needed to have bodies to pass on priesthood keys).

The Bible itself has Elijah being taken in a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:11), but describes Moses’ presumed death (Deuteronomy 34:5-8, Joshua 1:1-2).

So, this is at least some Biblical evidence that in at least some cases heavenly messengers can be former mortals who once lived upon the earth. Moses and Elijah were impressive enough that Peter wanted to build tabernacles to/for them—which sounds fairly angelic!

Book of Revelation

Another relevant account is John the Revelator's vision, in which John says:

And when...I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel... Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren the prophets..." (Revelation 22:8-9).

This is another instance where an angel identifies himself as a righteous man who had returned as an angelic messenger.


Question: Did Joseph Smith teach animal sacrifice as part of the "restoration of all things"?

Modern Church leaders teach that the need for sacrifice by the shedding of blood was superseded by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ

It is claimed that Joseph Smith favored "Old Testament practices" including "teaching animal sacrifice." However, modern Church leaders teach that the need for sacrifice by the shedding of blood was superseded by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith taught that it would be necessary to restore some form of sacrifice as part of the restoration of all things. The Lord clarified that these sacrifices would be a "memorial" to the sacrifices practiced by the Sons of Levi. Joseph Fielding Smith taught that a symbolic restoration of sacrifice would occur.

Official Church publications on the subject

Statements made by Joseph Smith and Joseph Fielding Smith regarding animal sacrifice are included in the Doctrine and Covenants Institute Student Manual, Section 13 - The Restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood. See section: D&C 13:1. What Is Meant by the Sons of Levi Offering an Offering of Righteousness unto the Lord? (online at lds.institute.org) These statements are discussed in the following sections.

The sacrifice of Jesus Christ ended the need for performing sacrifice by the shedding of blood

Monte J. Brough said,

Latter-day Saints believe that the law of sacrifice is an important element of their lives. Because the great sacrifice of the Son of God ended sacrifice by the shedding of blood, today we live the law of sacrifice in other ways.
(Monte J. Brough, “Living the Law of Sacrifice,” Ensign, Apr 2000, 44)

M. Russell Ballard,

Usually, the first thing people think of when they hear “law of Moses” is animal sacrifice. The somewhat gruesome nature of blood sacrifice has led some to ask, “How could such an activity have anything to do with the gospel of love?” We can better understand the answer to that question when we understand the two major purposes for the law of sacrifice. These purposes applied to Adam, Abraham, Moses, and the New Testament Apostles, and they apply to us today as we accept and live the law of sacrifice. Its two major purposes are to test and prove us and to assist us in coming unto Christ.
(M. Russell Ballard, “The Law of Sacrifice,” Ensign, Oct 1998, 7)

In 1840 Joseph Smith taught that the Old Testament (Malachi 3:3) foretells the restoration of elements associated with ancient Israelite temple service

In 1840 Joseph Smith taught that the Old Testament (Malachi 3:3) foretells the restoration of elements associated with ancient Israelite temple service, including some form of sacrifice.

[Jehovah] continued to [Noah] the keys, the covenants, the power and the glory, with which he blessed Adam at the beginning; and the offering of sacrifice, which also shall be continued at the last time; for all the ordinances and duties that ever have been required by [p.211] the Priesthood, under the directions and commandments of the Almighty in any of the dispensations, shall all be had in the last dispensation, therefore all things had under the authority of the Priesthood at any former period, shall be had again, bringing to pass the restoration spoken of by the mouth of all the Holy Prophets; then shall the sons of Levi offer an acceptable offering to the Lord. 'And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord.' (See Malachi 3:3).

It will be necessary here to make a few observations on the doctrine set forth in the above quotation, and it is generally supposed that sacrifice was entirely done away when the Great Sacrifice [i.e., the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus] was offered up, and that there will be no necessity for the ordinance of sacrifice in future: but those who assert this are certainly not acquainted with the duties, privileges and authority of the priesthood, or with the Prophets . . . .

These sacrifices, as well as every ordinance belonging to the Priesthood, will, when the Temple of the Lord shall be built, and the sons of Levi be purified, be fully restored and attended to in all their powers, ramifications, and blessings. This ever did and ever will exist when the [p.212] powers of the Melchisedic Priesthood are sufficiently manifest; else how can the restitution of all things spoken of by the holy Prophets be brought to pass? It is not to be understood that the law of Moses will be established again with all its rites and variety of ceremonies; this has never been spoken of by the Prophets; but those things which existed prior to Moses' day, namely, sacrifice, will be continued. (History of the Church 4:211).

Joseph Smith's comments on animal sacrifice comments were made on 5 October 1840. The Lord further clarified the nature of these sacrifices in the Nauvoo Temple revelation (D&C 124) dated 19 January 1841:

Therefore, verily I say unto you, that your anointings, and your washings, and your baptisms for the dead, and your solemn assemblies, and your memorials for your sacrifices by the sons of Levi, and for your oracles in your most holy places wherein you receive conversations, and your statutes and judgments, for the beginning of the revelations and foundation of Zion, and for the glory, honor, and endowment of all her municipals, are ordained by the ordinance of my holy house, which my people are always commanded to build unto my holy name. (DC 124:39) (emphasis added)

Joseph Fielding Smith stated that animal sacrifice would happen again to fulfill a symbolic role

Joseph Fielding Smith stated that animal sacrifice would happen again to fulfill a symbolic role as part of the restoration of all things in this dispensation:

Now in the nature of things, the law of sacrifice will have to be restored, or all things which were decreed by the Lord would not be restored. It will be necessary, therefore, for the sons of Levi, who offered the blood sacrifices anciently in Israel, to offer such a sacrifice again to round out and complete this ordinance in this dispensation. Sacrifice by the shedding of blood was instituted in the days of Adam and of necessity will have to be restored.

The sacrifice of animals will be done to complete the restoration when the temple spoken of is built; at the beginning of the millennium, or in the restoration, blood sacrifices will be performed long enough to complete the fulness of the restoration in this dispensation. Afterwards sacrifice will be of some other character. (Doctrines of Salvation 3:94)


Question: What does the term "anti-Mormon" mean?

Those who are "Anti-" some thing oppose and fight against that thing

Some critics of the Church object to the use of the term "anti-Mormon." They do not like to be referred to as "anti-Mormons," and deny that their books, speeches, blogs or videos are "anti-Mormon." Such critics often insist that the term "anti-Mormon" is unfair because they are not "against" Mormons, but only write and act as they do because they "love" Mormons or Mormon investigators and want to bring them to the truth.

President Boyd K. Packer said,

There are misinterpretations and misrepresentations of us and of our history, some of it mean-spirited and certainly contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ and His gospel. Sometimes clergy, even ministerial organizations, oppose us. They do what we would never do. We do not attack or criticize or oppose others as they do us...Strangest of all, otherwise intelligent people claim we are not Christian. This shows that they know little or nothing about us. It is a true principle that you cannot lift yourself by putting others down.[1]

Those who are "Anti-" some thing oppose and fight against that thing. Anti-Mormons spend their efforts in opposing Mormonism instead of preaching their own beliefs. The label "anti-Mormon" is thus accurate and appropriate.

Members of the Church wish only to share their own beliefs, and not attack the beliefs of others. They generally consider other believers to be well-intentioned, and hope that they can add to the truths which others already have.

FairMormon's mission is only to defend LDS doctrine, history, leaders, and practice from illegitimate attacks by critics. It does not desire to criticize the faith or beliefs of others. If readers note any violations of this policy in FairMormon's materials, they are requested to bring it to our attention.

Not everyone who disagrees with the LDS Church is "anti-Mormon"

An anti-Mormon protester at the Church's 2003 Mesa Easter Pageant expresses his view that "Mormonism is worse than child molesting homosexuals." Most anti-Mormon writers do not reach this level of vitriol, though some do. Unfortunately, a thriving anti-Mormon book and video industry spreads the misinformation that encourages such views and behavior.

FairMormon and other apologetic organizations tend to use the term "anti-Mormon" when it is an accurate description of an author and his/her tactics.

FairMormon does not believe or argue that everyone who disagrees with the LDS Church is "anti-Mormon." As one prominent scholar of anti-Mormonism put it:

The hallmark of anti-Mormonism is an agenda, whether covert or openly expressed, of combating the faith of the Latter-day Saints and opposing their church.[2]

It is somewhat strange that critics of the Church wish to somehow divest the term "anti-Mormon" of its clear meaning.[3] It is composed of two elements:

1) the prefix anti-

Noun: "A person who is opposed to something, such as a group, policy, proposal, or practice"
Adjective: Opposed
Preposition: Opposed to; against.[4]

2) ...and Mormon, as a colloquial term for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

An Anti-Mormon protester at the 2004 Mesa Easter Pageant uses a megaphone and an equally unsubtle written message.

The term "anti-Mormon" is a descriptive term for those whose tactics or desires oppose or fight against the beliefs, members, or practices of the Church

"Anti-Mormon" is not a slur nor is it pejorative in its use; it is a descriptive term for those whose tactics or desires oppose or fight against the beliefs, members, or practices of the Church. Being "anti-" something may be a positive or negative thing, depending upon one's perspective. Almost everyone would be happy to be considered "anti-child abuse." Few people would want to be known as "anti-Semitic."

Characteristic of anti-Mormon tactics, aims, and behavior is their tendency to not preach their own faith, or tell Church members what they believe. Anti-Mormon authors seem to want to spend most of their time telling us that Mormons are wrong. They are, therefore, "anti-Mormon."

Anti-Mormons may have noble or base motives. They may be sincere or insincere. Their criticisms may be well-founded or baseless. The term "anti-Mormon" only describes their approach, goals, and tactics.

The stated or implicit goal of anti-Mormons is to prevent investigators from joining the Mormon Church, and to encourage Mormons to abandon their faith. They fight against the Church. Apologists would not label them anti-Mormon if they were among the many people evangelizing for their faith by encouraging people to join their faith, preaching for something rather than against something.

But, strange to say, some Christians do attack other Christians' beliefs. Of course, we know that Christians do not agree on all points—otherwise, there would be only one Christian denomination, not thousands. Anti-Mormons make up a very small proportion of Christians, but they are rather a vocal minority.

That being said, it should be noted that not all anti-Mormons are Christians. Anti-Mormons could (and have) come from non-Christian belief systems, or from the ranks of atheists and agnostics. Again, the determining factor is whether the individual preaches against the Mormon belief system rather than for their own belief system:

It should be noted that there is nothing unusual about the labels anti-Mormon or anti-Mormonism. Nothing in the prefix anti- implies that those individuals or agencies linked to this compound word advocate or participate in violence or are mean-spirited, unsophisticated, evil, irrational, and so forth. When an individual or agency either self-identifies or is identified by the LDS community as anti-Mormon, what is meant is merely that they oppose, dispute, or are against the well-established beliefs of the Saints. When they publish essays and books in which they clearly oppose the crucial core beliefs of the Saints, it seems odd for critics to express desires to avoid being known as "anti-Mormon."[5]

Anti-Mormon authors use the term "anti-Mormon" themselves

Jerald and Sandra Tanner, some of the most well known anti-Mormon writers, use the term "anti-Mormon" to refer to others who oppose the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In their book The Changing World of Mormonism, the Tanners use the term fourteen times.[6]


Question: Are Mormons "anti-Christian" or "anti-another faith"?

It makes no more sense for Mormons to be "anti-Christian" than it would for Pennsylvanians to be "anti-American"

Critics sometimes attempt to insist that because the LDS Church considers all other faiths to be deficient in some way, that Mormons are therefore "anti-Christian" or "anti-all other faiths." This charge reflects a clear misunderstanding (not least because the LDS are devout Christians, and so it makes no more sense for Mormons to be "anti-Christian" than it would for Pennsylvanians to be "anti-American.")

Clearly, Mormons believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has something to offer which other denominations do not. This is not news, or surprising, for otherwise they wouldn't be a separate Christian denomination. Hopefully every other denomination (Christian or not) believes that their faith system similarly has unique beliefs that set it apart from others or mark it as "true" while others may be in error.

The Church's scriptures, publications, and missionary efforts do not spend time detailing the errors or failings of other Christian faiths. Rather, they simply teach the gospel as the LDS understand it. One will not find books published by Mormons, for Mormons or others, explaining how to attack the 'false beliefs' of other faiths. One will not find films and videos explaining how "wrong" Baptists or Pentecostals or Greek Orthodox are. Mormons do not hire speakers to address their congregations on the 'dangers' or 'evils' of these faiths.

Unfortunately, all too many Christian churches engage in exactly this type of behavior against the Mormons

Unfortunately, all too many Christian churches engage in exactly this type of behavior against the Mormons, and other faiths with whom they disagree. This is 'anti' behavior; it does not build the body of Christ, but seeks to tear down the belief systems of others.

Members of the Church want only to explain what they believe, and invite others to consider it. That is the fundamental difference between their tactics and those of the anti-Mormons.


Question: What is the history and origin of the term "anti-Mormon?"

1841 Anti-Mormon Almanac for the year 1842

Containing, besides the usual astronomical calculations, a variety of interesting and important facts, showing the treasonable tendency, and the wicked imposture of that great delusion, advocated by a sect, lately risen up in the United States, calling themselves Mormons, or Latter Day Saints; with quotations from their writings and form public document no. 189, published by order of Congress, February 15, 1841, showing that Mormonism authorizes the crimes of theft, robbery, treason, and murder; together with the number of the sect, their views, character of their leaders &c., &c. (New York). Reviewed in Times and Seasons 2.20 (August 16, 1841):13-4. “We have seen a notice in one of our exchange papers of an almanac bearing the above title, published in the city of New York, for the year A. D. 1842. -- It seems that Satan and his emissaries are determined to bring the saints into notice, and raise an excitement among the people. Although we deprecate the spirit which actuates those who engage in such plans to put down the truth, yet we are assured that in the providence of God they will ultimately tend to the glory of God -- the spread of truth and the good of the church. Although the world be flooded with lies and evil reports; let the servants of God go forth, "with the pure testimony put forth by the spirit," and they will brush away the cob webs of superstition, and the refuge of lies will be swept away.”

[NOTE: see Crawley, 1. 173-4; Flake 179]

1841 Millennial Star 2. 6 (October, 1841): 93

Elder Woodruff, writes from New York, under date of August 26th. He informs us that peace and tranquility prevails among the saints at Nauvoo, and that the emigration continues with great rapidity; that the temple is fast building, and the work of God moving in majesty and power.

He also informs us, that every thing but God and the saints are combined together, and raging against the truth with one mighty struggle, as though it were their last attempt. All the presses were in continual uproar throughout New England, and all other states, bitterly opposing and lying against the saints. Anti-Mormon meetings were being continually held in New York, and other places, and prejudice great. But while all these things were going on, truth was still prevailing, and the Lord was in reality beginning to vex that nation with many sore divisions, vexations, signs, wonders, and judgments.

1843 “Great Meeting of Anti-Mormons!” Warsaw Message, 13 September 1843, page 1

[in The Joseph Smith Papers (2008): xxvii.]

1844 Brooklyn Eagle, July 8, 1844, page 2

“Joe and Hiram were both confined in the debtor’s room of the Carthage jail, awaiting their trial on a charge of treason. The jail was strongly guarded by soldiers and anti-mormons, who had been placed there by the Governor”

1845 NILES' NATIONAL REGISTER, Baltimore, Nov. 1, 1845

“Illinois. Termination of the Mormon War. “To the Anti-Mormon Citizens of Hancock and the Surrounding Counties”, signed by Gen. John J. Hardin, Stephen A. Douglas, and two others, Nauvoo October 1, 1845. Broadside; reprinted Millennial Star 6. 12 (December 1, 1845): 188-191 [Crawley 1. 324] [The broadside must have been reprinted in Niles National Register]

1845

Edwin Guthrie, Lee County anti-Mormon meeting, signed October 18, 1845, by Edwin Guthrie, president of the meetings. Broadside [Flake 3767; Crawley 1. 435, note 283]

1845

John Greenleaf Whittier, “A Mormon Conventicle”, Howitt’s Journal, reprinted in The stranger in Lowell…. (Boston: Waite, Pierce and Company 1845), chapter IV; reprinted in Littell’s Living Age 15. 186 (Boston 4 December 1847): 461-2. “The reports circulated against them [‘Latter-day Saints’] by their unprincipled enemies in the west are in the main destitute of foundations” (461) [Also printed in Among the Mormons. Historic Accounts by Contemporary Observers. Edited by William Mulder and A. Russell Mortensen (New York: Alfred A. Knopf 1958): 156-59]

1846 Columbian Washingtonian, Hudson, New York, July 16, 1846. Page 3

"The Anti-Mormons, in Hancock county, Illinois, says the St. Louis Reveille, of the 16th ult., are endeavoring in a lawless and shameful manner to enforce the removal of the Mormons and destroy the temple at Nauvoo. They had armed themselves, and with a force of 400 strong, were encamped near Nauvoo."

1848 Col. Thomas L. Kane, Philadelphia, 14 February 1848, to Josiah Quincy, Mayor of Boston, in Littell’s Living Age 16. 199 (Boston 4 March 1848): 470-1

“In our conversation, I had the pleasure of giving to you in full the views I derived from personal observation and experience with regard to the Mormons, during my present journey to the far west. I mentioned to you what I saw of their highly upright and excellent moral character while in the Indian territory…. Emigrating Mormons, to the number of nearly 20,000 are to be found west of the Missouri, from the country of the Platte… to that beyond the notable Bear River Valley across the Rocky Mountains…. They7 composed, originally, the refuse, lame, aged, sick, and pauper members of the church, who were found unable to attempt the great California pilgrimage of 1846. On this account, their friends who started at that date concluded, it seems, an especially treaty or armistice, for their benefit, with the anti-Mormon mob, and left them behind in Illinois under its protection. This treaty covenanted, with the most solemn formalities, that they were in no wise to be molested until another asylum could be prepared for their reception beyond the Rocky Mountains. Just so soon, how ever, as the Mormon host had made a progress of some months upon its travels, and could safely be considered out of the way, the instrument—oaths, seals, and ribbons—was broken by the anti-Mormons without ceremony or excuse, and the cripples who relied upon it, were ordered to take up their beds and walk

1852

History of the Persecutions!! Endured by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in America. Compiled from Public Documents, and Drawn from Authentic Sources. By C. W. Wandell, Minister of the Gospel (Sydney: Albert Mason 1852). 28ff.

1853 Dover Star, Dover, New Hampshire, reprinted in New York Times August 4, 1853, page 6

Correspondent is writing from Nauvoo, Illinois.

“Boynton, who first preached in Maine as a Mormon… has, for twelve years, been an anti-Mormon….”

1853 Best anti-Mormon book title ever...

A book is published by Andrew Balfour Hepburn called:

An Exposition; The Doctrines, Rites and Ceremonies of Latter Day Saints, or Mormons, Exposed; showing from their Own Books, &c., That They are, without Exception, the Most Depraved, Immoral, Blasphemous, and Ridiculous Sect that Ever Polluted this Earth. The Extracts Furnished by Mr. A. B. Hepburn, Anti-Mormon Lecturer (London: Partridge and Oakey… and the Anti-Mormon Tract Depot, 1853).

Note also the "Anti-Mormon Tract Depot."

1854 Gov. Thomas Ford, History of Illinois (Chicago: S.C. Griggs & Co., 1854)

“In the fall of 1845, the anti-Mormons of Lima and Green Plains, held a meeting to devise means for the expulsion of the Mormons from their neighborhood …. The meeting was held, the house was fired at [by their own people], but so as to hurt no one; and the anti-Mormons suddenly breaking up their meeting, rode all over the country spreading the dire alarm, that the Mormons had commenced the work of massacre and death…. On the eleventh of the month twenty-nine houses were burned [by the anti-Mormons]”, Laura A. Cruse, American Republicanism as Shown through Mormon-Federal Conflict, 1846-1890, PhD, Northeast Missouri State University, 1994, page 11, note 9, citing B.H. Roberts, The Rise and Fall of Nauvoo (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965): 346-7)

1855 Editorial, “The Mormons in Utah”, New York Times February 2, 1855, page 4

“In many portions of Great Britain and Ireland, Anti-Mormon societies have been already organized, and this is a step in the right direction….”

1855 Another good anti-Mormon book title...

Mormonism Exploded or the Religion of the Latter-day Saints. Proved to Be a System of Imposture, Blasphemy, and Immorality; with the Autobiography and Portrait of the Author. In Two Parts. Pt. 1. By A. B. Hepburn. Anti-Mormon Lecturer. Edited by Rev. Charles Short, A.M. (London & Swansea: Simpkin, Marshall and Co., 1855)

1855 New York Times, July 14, 1855, page 3

Notices of New Books
[Female Life among the Mormons: A Narrative of many Years Personal Experience, By the Wife of a Mormon Elder, recently from Utah. 1 vol. New York: J. C. Derby.]…. The book is such as might readily have been manufactured—out of newspaper anti-Mormon reports and a very small degree of imagination. It strikes us being the most fiction of the season.

1857 Samuel Hawthornthwaite, Mr. Hawthornthwaite’s adventures among the Mormons (Manchester, England 1857)

“Dedicated to the Manchester Anti-Mormon Committee” (February 1857) (3-4).

1857 Judge W. W. Drummond, March 30, 1857

On his reasons for leaving his post in Utah , in New York Times April 14, 1857, page 2; number 8 reads in part:

“I charge the Mormons, and Gov. Young in particular, with imprisoning five or six young men from Missouri and Iowa, who are now in the Penitentiary of Utah, without those men having violated any criminal law in America; but they were Anti-Mormons, poor, uneducated young men, on their way for California….”

1857 President Buchanan Receives A Proposal for an Anti-Mormon Crusade, 1857

by David A. Williams

The author of the letter which is reproduced herein, Robert Tyler, was a son of John Tyler, tenth president of the United States. The Tyler family's American roots stretched back to the mid-seventeenth century when its first representatives settled in Virginia. President Tyler, first vice-president to succeed to the Presidency following the death of William H. Harrison in 1841, like his father attended William and Mary and sent his son there also. Educated in the classic manner, Robert subsequently studied law under the direction of Professor Beverly Tucker.. He acted as private secretary to his father during his years in the White House, but thereafter his career was dominated by the law and his political interests.

[note: italics are in the original]

Phila: April 27, 1857

My dear sir:

The public mind is becoming greatly excited on the subject of Mormonism. The Popular Idea is rapidly maturing that Mormonism (already felt slightly in our large Northern cities) should be put down and utterly extirpated.

I believe that we can supersede the Negro-Mania with the almost universal excitements of an Anti-Mormon Crusade. Certainly it is a subject which concerns all the Religious Bodies & reaches every man's fireside with a peculiar interest. Should you, with your accustomed grip, seize this question with a strong fearless & resolute hand, the Country I am sure will rally to you with an earnest enthusiasm & the pipings of Abolitionism will hardly be heard amidst the thunders of the storm we shall raise. Were I President I would put down & cast out this hideous imposture, equally at War with Conscience, Reason & Philosophy, at all hazards. I would take the ground that the case was anomalous & altogether exceptional--without the limits of ordinary Constitutional treatment--& that the principles of the Democratic Party in regard to Territories consequently had no application. The eyes & hearts of the Nation may be made to find so much interest in Utah as to forget Kansas.

I see (by telegraph) that Mr. Forney has purchased one fourth of the Pennsylvanian & is coming here as Editor. I am heartily glad of this provided he will come here to serve your cause faithfully & to conduct his Editorial office with strict impartiality to all. In this event he will be most welcome & will succeed--otherwise he will be certain to fail in a manner deplorable to yourself & injurious to the Party. I send an article from the Herald. Pray put not the slightest faith in Bennett, a greater or mischievous knave does not live!

His Excly ever you friend

James Buchanan Ro: Tyler

Philip G. Auchampaugh, Robert Tyler, Southern Rights Champion, (Duluth, Minnesota: 1934), pp. 180-181.

(The Historians Corner Edited by James B. Allen, BYU Studies, vol. 14 (1973-1974), Number 1 - Autumn 1973 104.)

1857 The New York Times, August 21, 1857.”Anti-Mormon Riot In Birmingham” [Cf. Millennial Star 19. 34 (August 22, 1857): 531

“Anti-Mormon Riots”, taken from Birmingham Journal; cf. letter to editor of Birmingham Journal, using the phrase “anti-Mormon riots”, reprinted in MS 19.. 572]

1858 New York Times April 21, 1858, page 8

“An Anti-Mormon mission of workingmen has commenced operations in Liverpool”,

1858 “News of the Day”, New York Times September 4, 1858, page 4

“Our correspondent writes that a printing establishment is on its way to the Territory, for the purpose of establishing a large Anti-Mormon newspaper in Salt Lake City.”

1866 Catherine Waite, The Mormon Prophet and His Harem; or, An Authentic History of Brigham Young (Cambridge, Mass.: Riverside, 1866)

“Anti-Mormon” term used in letter Jan 17, 1859 by “Hon. James M. Crane to Hon. William Smith, published in 1859” : 31:

“’The Mormons and Anti-Mormons began the settlement of Western Utah in the latter part of 1854….;’ 32: “The Christians, or Anti-Mormons…. The Anti-Mormons also organized, and fortified themselves….[3 more uses that page]; 33: ‘The only remedy for this unnatural war, now raging between the Mormons and the Anti-Mormons in Utah… One thing is inevitable,--the Mormons and Anti-Mormons will never, and can never, live together in peace, under one government.’”

1867

Life Among the Mormons, and A March to Their Zion: To which is added a chapter on the Indians of the Plains and Mountains of the West by an Officer of the United States Army [William Elkenah Waters] (New York: Moorhead, Simpson, and Bond 1868). Introduction dated Utah, 1867. “…anti-Mormons…’ (93, 95 note)….

“I will discard the extravagant and unsubstantiated stories which are constantly in mouths of anti-Mormons, who, from prejudice arising from a real or imaginary injury, can see nothing in the lives or characters of individuals holding allegiance to Brigham Young, but to despise and contemn, and are constantly traducing them.” (106)

1872

William Douglas Knox, The anti-Mormon gazette 3rd edition (March 1, 1872). Broadside [Flake 4672]

1873

John Hanson Beadle, The History of Mormonism: Its Rise, Progress, Present Condition and Mysteries. Being an Expose of the Secret Rites and Ceremonies of the Latter-day Saints with a Full and Authentic Account of Polygamy and the Mormon Sect from its Origin to the Present Time. (Toronto: A. H. Hovey and Co., 1873) [Cover Title reads: The Mysteries and Crimes of Mormonism] “…the anti-Mormons’” (82, 87).”

1877 Daily Gazette & Bulletin (Williamsport, Penna.), Saturday, July 14, 1877

[From The Evening Edition Of Yesterday]

“Capt. John Tobin, formerly a resident of California,… undertook to guide a party of three strong outspoken anti-Mormons to California…”

1881

“Anti-Mormon League” London since 1881; Deseret Weekly 40 (1890): 383a-c

1882 Phil. Robinson, Sinners and Saints (1882)

“Whence have the public derived their opinions about Mormonism? From anti-Mormons only. I have ransacked the literature of the subject, and yet I really could not tell anyone where to go for an impartial book about Mormonism later in date than Burton's 'City of the Saints,' published in 1862. * * * But put Burton on one side, and I think I can defy any one to name another book about the Mormons worthy of honest respect.. From that truly awful book, 'The History of the Saints,' published by one Bennett (even an anti-Mormon has styled him 'the greatest rascal that ever came to the West,') in 1842, down to Stenhouse's in 1873, there is not to my knowledge a single Gentile work before the public that is not utterly unreliable from its distortion of facts. Yet it is from these books—for there are no others—that the American public has acquired nearly all its ideas about the people of Utah." 245. [Robinson came to Utah in 1882 as a special correspondent of The New York World, and stayed in Utah some five or six months, making "Mormonism" and the Latter-day Saints a special study].

1882

William Jarman, Anti-Mormon tracts (London: 1882-4). 15 numbers, two pages each. In addition Jarman wrote other works, the titles of which included:

“Anti-Mormon works, by W. Jarman, ex-Mormon priest, from Salt Lake City”, 1884 [Flake 4355, 4362-4362c]

1884 T. DeWitt Talmage, “Mormonism”, in Talmage, The Brooklyn Tabernacle

A Collection of 104 Sermons (New York: Funk and Wagnall, 1884): 53-56. [Also published as ‘Talmadge on Mormonism,’ Salt Lake Tribune (8 October 1880)]

[THIS sermon was preached September 26th, 1880, in Brooklyn Tabernacle, after stopping at Salt Lake City on a trip across the continent.]

…..This summer, as well as on a previous occasion, I had the opportunity of

INSPECTING THIS INIQUITY,

And of asking many questions, and having them answered by Mormons and anti-Mormons. Many of the prominent Gentiles of Salt Lake City called on me and asked me that when I got home I should present the case before the people on this coast. I solemnly promised them, and this morning I fulfil my promise…..

I call the attention of the American Congress to this evil. The hour has come. Let some Senator of the United States at the next meeting of Congress, or some member of the House of Representatives, with eloquent tongue and persistent purpose, and good morals of his own, lift the anti-Mormon standard, and then unroll the tragedy and outrages of that appalling system before the Government and before the people, and that man will gather around him all the sympathies of all the families and all the churches, and all the reformers and all the high-toned men and women of America…..

1885

[John W. White letter to editor of Bristol Western Daly Press; part of the letter was published previously in Millennial Star (December 14, 1885); part of the letter had been suppressed by the Bristol paper; the remainder is published here, and includes:]

“…. The Anti-Mormon Association” of Bristol, of which W.H. Dowling is a member.] (1-3)

1886 Charge of Disturbing the Latter-day Saints

(Nottingham Daily Express, December 18, 1885. Reprinted in Millennial Star 48. 1 (January 4, 1886): 3-4. Article refers to “Anti-Mormon Society”;

“… well known anti-Mormon named Jarman….”; “witness is vice-resident of the Anti-Mormon Society, and was a Wesleyan” (3-4)

1886 Disturbing The Latter-Day Saints, from Nottingham Express, January 15, 1886

Reprinted in Millennial Star 48. 5 (Monday, February 1, 1886): 78-9.

“A number of witnesses, in sympathy with the anti-Mormon movement, were called for the defense…” (79) [Joseph] Wood … [said] he was a public anti-Mormon lecturer…” (79) [Concluding comment:] “It may be mentioned that [John] Taylor was formerly president of a society called the Nottingham Anti-Mormon Society” (79)

1886 Millennial Star 48 (1886)

Bristol Anti-Mormon Association 3, 266 [400 attack meeting]

Nottingham Anti-Mormon Society 78

reference to “Mr. Hardy, secretary of the anti-Mormon association of Sheffield” 282-3

1886 Editorial: Bristol Anti-Mormons’ Discomfited Millennial Star 48. 19 (May 10, 1886): 296-8

“…. A well known apostate has for a long time been engaged in the disreputable business of establishing anti-‘Mormon’ societies in many of the populous English towns, for the avowed purpose of terrorizing and breaking up our meetings and mobbing and driving our Elders from their midst, in imitation of the lawless riots that have disgraced some of the Southern States of America. Sheffield and Bristol have been the scenes of his greatest success” (296) [NOTE: apostate is William Jarman]

1886

An Epistle of the First Presidency to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, read at the semi-Annual Conference, held at Coalville, Summit County, Utah, October, 1886. Original pamphlet in Church Historian’s Library; also in BYU Library; Messages of the First Presidency 3: 78

“…Juries are thus selected, not only for the trial of cases under the Edmunds law, which permits challenges of ‘Mormons,’ but by the open venire process strong anti-‘Mormons’ are chosen to try ‘Mormons’ accused of offenses not included in the Edmunds act”

1888 Rev. and Prof. Delavan L. Leonard, ” Mormonism Moribund”, The Missionary Review 1.6 (June, 1888): 419-22

[Oberlin, Ohio].

“…These rough delvers for gold, silver and lead regard the peculiar institutions [421] of the region with intensest hatred, and never fail to speak their minds on all occasions with the utmost of freedom and force. And through the impulse borrowed from the mines and from railroads now existing and soon to be built, it looks much as though ere long further additions to the anti-Mormon population by the ten thousand might be made..”

1888 GLASGOW LATTER-DAY SAINTS

In The Scotsman, December 31, 1888; reprinted in Millennial Star 1. 1 (January 7, 1889): 12.

“The persecution of the Church in America, and the publication of Mrs. Stenhouse’s anti-Mormon romance in a British religious weekly, had awakened an intelligent spirit of inquiry, and 1,000 copies of the Book of Mormon had been sold in three months. All the meetings were well attended.” (12)

1889

“The Anti-Mormon Show at Eccles”, Eccles Advertiser, July 27, 1889. Reprinted in Millennial Star 51.33 (August 19, 1889): 517-8. “…. The ‘anti-Mormon’ impostor” (518).

1889

Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of Utah 1540-1886 (San Francisco: The History Company 1889): 466, note 54

“It [Mackay, The Mormons (1851)] is written with marked ability, and in a spirit of exceeding fairness, though taking decidedly an anti-Mormon view.”

1890 Rev. D. L. Leonard, Bellevue, Ohio, “Babylon Is Falling”, The Missionary Review (New York) (April 1890): 266-69

“….But, fortunately, a few years ago, through mining activity, the advent of new railroads, and other causes, a business boom struck the territory, hitherto so forlorn in its business condition and so medieval in its business methods, and in particular into a few of the chief cities a large anti-Mormon element began to pour. As a result, at an election held last spring, Ogden, with a population of 15,000, was lost to the church, and every office was filled with such as know not Joseph Smith and the book of Mormon. “

1899 League for Social Service. Anti-Mormon leaflets (New York, 1899) 7 numbers

[Wm. R. Campbell, Methods of Mormon missionaries; R.G. McNiece, Present aspects of Mormonism; D.J. McMillan, Historical sketch of Mormonism; J.D. Nutting, Articles of Faith of the Latter-day Saints with Mormon explanation; J. Strong, Political aspects of Mormonism; Ten reasons why Christians cannot fellowship with the Mormon Church; Reasons why Brigham H. Roberts should be expelled from the U.S. Congress]

1899

Robert B. Neal, Anti-Mormon tracts (Cincinnati, 1899-1906) 9 numbers. [Flake 5738]

1899 Lamoni Call. The anti-Mormon

Points out fallacies in the arguments used by the Mormon Church. Quotes especially what the church considers authentic publications. Designed for the use of those who may need to contend with Mormon missionaries (Bountiful, Utah, 1899-1902). 4 numbers, totally 110 pages. [Flake 1090]

1900 Lamoni Call. Anti-Mormon queries (Bountiful, Utah, ca. 1900). 4 pages.


1900 The American Anti-Mormon Association. Appeal (Grayson, Kentucky. R. B. Neal). Broadside [appeal for money to continue the activities of the association: Flake 2nd # 60]


1900 Inter-denominational Council of Women for Christian and Patriotic Service. Anti-Mormon work at home and abroad (New York?, n.d.) 2 pages. [Flake 4260]


1905 Richard Wake, Anti-Mormon tracts and leaflets. Issued by the Gentile Bureau of Information, Salt Lake City, Utah (Salt Lake City, ca. 1905) Broadside [Flake 9513a: includes list of anti-Mormon pamphlets published between 1898-1901]


1910 “Mormons”, The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, edited by Samuel Macauley Jackson (New York and London: Funk and Wagnalls Company, 1910): 9-21. [Divided into four sections: “Official (Mormon) Statement; Critical (Non-Mormon) Statement; The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Anti-Mormon Movements” (9)]. [J.R. Van Pelt, Critical approach] “… the majority of anti-Mormon critics have accepted the so-called Spaulding-Rigdon theory of the origin [of the Book of Mormon] (13) [Anti-Mormon section written by Rev. D. J. McMillan, Presbyterian (20). Bibliography divided into two parts “From the Mormon standpoint”. “From the historical, critical, or anti-Mormon point of view” (20-1).


1911 V.S. Peet, editor, “Methodist and Mormon Persecution in England”, Utah Independent (Salt Lake City, 1911). Reprinted in Millennial Star 73. 24 (June 15, 1911): 369-72. “Many of these books and pamphlets [published hundred years ago against the Methodists] correspond with the Anti-Mormon tracts and pamphlets that are being distributed now by the Presbyterian Board of Home Missions, ‘Mormonism Exposed. The Life of a Mormon Girl. Mormonism in the Public Schools. Mission Day Schools among the Mormons and the Devil Fish Map pamphlets are parallel to the pamphlets issued in England by the preachers of that day” (371). [Flake 6730a, 6732]

1911 Rudger Clawson, The anti-‘Mormon’ moving pictures and play 4 pages.. [Flake 2406] [NOTE: Its use is referred to in Millennial Star 74 (1912): 124-5]

1995 R. Douglas Brackenridge, “Presbyterians and Latter-day Saints in Utah: A Century of Conflict and Compromise, 1830-1930”, Journal of Presbyterian History 80.4 (Winter 2002): 205-224, at 211-212; in more detail: Brackenridge, “The Evolution of an Anti-Mormon Story’, Journal of Mormon History 21 (Spring 1995): 80-115]

1980 The Tanners use the term "anti-Mormon" fourteen times in their book; Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Changing World of Mormonism (Chicago, Moody Press: 1980): 38 Contrary to Apostle Widtsoe's statement, anti-Mormon writers have not been afraid to discuss the Doctrine and Covenants. 49, 52 This explanation would also make Joseph Smith irresponsible, to say the least, because he did not put in "the little dots which indicate that one is making deletions" (a failure for which Mormons have faulted anti-Mormon writers). 83 In early Utah the anti-Mormon paper Valley Tan, accused the Mormons of using peep stones to "see cattle beyond mountains twenty or a hundred miles, or even a greater distance off" 126 Because of this similarity anti-Mormon writers have suggested that Joseph Smith borrowed his idea concerning the origin of the Indians from the thinking of his time. 131 Although this is certainly incorrect, some anti-Mormons have gone to the other extreme and tried to make it appear that the Book of Mormon has been completely rewritten. 132 Anti-Mormon writers criticized the grammar of the Book of Mormon stating that God could not make the many grammatical mistakes found in the Book of Mormon. 141 The anti-Mormon writer M. T. Lamb makes some observations concerning the idea of Hebrews writing in Egyptian: 164 Anti-Mormon writers have pointed out that after Joseph Smith's death the Mormon leaders made some very confusing statements concerning the first vision. 166 Dr. Hugh Nibley once criticized anti-Mormon writers for omitting the "all-important" words, "This is my beloved Son," when giving Joseph Smith's story. 209 The anti-Mormon writer Gordon H. Fraser claims that the "skin color" of the Indians converted to Mormonism "has not been altered in the least because of their adherence to the Mormon doctrines" 246 The anti-Mormon writer Joseph H. Jackson charged that Joseph Smith "feigned a revelation to have Mrs. Milligan, his own sister, married to him spiritually" 455 On July 21, 1841, the anti-Mormon paper, Warsaw Signal reported: "How military these people are becoming!" 461 Anti-Mormons accused Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum of mixing politics and revelation. 479 One anti-Mormon writer claimed that the witnesses to the Book of Mormon were drunk at the time they received their vision concerning the plates.

1973 Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows my History. The Life of Joseph Smith the Mormon Prophet. 2nd edition, revised and Enlarged (New York: Alfred A. Knopf 1973) “These sworn testimonies, which were published in 1834 by Eber D. Howe in a vitriolic anti-Mormon book called Mormonism Unvailed, may have been colored by the bias of the man who collected them, but they corroborated and supplemented the court record and Dogberry’s editorials” (17)

1974 Jan Shipps referred to “Nineteenth and early twentieth century anti-Mormon literature, especially that portion of it published in religious periodicals, is shot through with similar charges that the Book of Mormon is made up of wholesale borrowings from other religions” Shipps, “The Prophet Puzzle: Suggestions Leading Toward a More Comprehensive Interpretation of Joseph Smith”, Journal of Mormon History 1 (1974): 3-20 [first article in first issue]

2003 Stephen Prothero, American Jesus.. How the Son of God Became a National Icon (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003): 193 “Soon Mormons and evangelicals were squaring off, in part because it had become difficult to tell them apart. As each group attempted to proselytize the other, evangelicals began to describe Mormonism as a non-Christian ‘cult.’ Southern Baptists led the anti-Mormon offensive, decrying Mormon views of God, Jesus, and salvation as unbiblical and unchristian…. In the summer of 1998, Southern Baptists took their annual convention to Salt Lake City. In addition to handing out anti-Mormon tracts, they distributed videos, including The Mormon Puzzle, which underscored the differences between Mormonism and Christianity.”




Mormonism and apologetics

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Mormonism and education/Church position on reading critical material

Question: Is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a "cult"?

The word "cult" as it is applied to Mormonism is simply a label that implies "religion I don't like" or "religion that I disagree with"

An anti-Mormon protester at Temple Square during the April 2003 LDS General Conference.

Some claim that the Church is "a cult."

Simply put, "cult" is simply a label that implies "religion I don't like" or "religion that I disagree with." When the early Christians were unpopular, uncommon, and powerless, they were labeled a "cult." When they reached prominence and power, they began applying the label in turn to religions with whom they disagreed.

A book-length treatment of these issues has been written, and no cogent response to its arguments has been forthcoming. [7] "Cult" is not a useful term, since it merely expresses the speaker's prejudices, but tells us nothing useful about the religion being considered. It is likely impossible for sectarian critics of the Church to formulate a definition for "cult" that would include the present-day Church of Jesus Christ but not include the first century Christian Church. The usefulness of the label "cult," is therefore questionable—except as a short-hand for bigotry or prejudice.


An anti-Mormon protester at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.
This claim is a good example of anti-Mormon attempts to use loaded language and emotionally charged words to attack.

Webster's Dictionary defines cult as a “great devotion to a person, idea, or thing”

So, because the Jews revere Moses, Lutherans revere Martin Luther, Seventh-day Adventists are devoted to the teachings of Ellen G. White, and Christians reverence Jesus Christ, all these groups could be considered "cults" by this definition.

Alan Gomes, who teaches at BIOLA University’s Talbot school of Theology and applies the label to Mormons, among others, admits that “our English word cult comes from the Latin word cultus, which is a form of the verb colere, meaning ‘to worship or give reverence to a deity.” [8]

Yet, this is not simply what sectarian critics of the Church mean when they call it a "cult." Gomes writes that his "preferred definition" of cult is "a group that deviates doctrinally from a parent or host religion; that is, cults grow out of and deviate from a previously established religion." [9]

But, if Gomes wishes to adopt this definition, would he be content to call Christianity "a Jewish cult"? Christianity certainly grew out of Judaism, and it certainly deviates doctrinally from Judaism. Is Gomes content to label his own faith "a cult"? One suspects not.

The advantage of the term "cult," for critics, is that it has a negative connotation. When the public hears the term "cult," they do not simply think, "religious group devoted to some person or ideal." Nor, usually, do they think, "religion that has deviated from the beliefs of a parent religion." A "cult" implies a fanatical, probably dangerous, religious group—and it is this image which critics seek to exploit. Hence Gomes' desire, for example, to "unmask" cults (who must have something to hide) and the necessity of a chapter on "Keeping People Out of Cults."

If the "cult" is a Jewish cult (i.e. Christianity) then presumably Gomes would not want to keep them out. Thus, "cult" is clearly intended to communicate something additional.

Gomes also insists there are other criteria for being "a cult," such as "den[ying] (either explicitly or implicitly) one or more of the central doctrines of the Christian faith." [10] Gomes considers these to include "the Trinity," yet this creates problems for his definition, since the first century Christians clearly had no doctrine of creedal Trinitarianism as Gomes' present denomination does. By Gomes' definition, he would then be part of a Christian cult, since he's altered the doctrines of the "parent" religion, early Christianity.

Clearly, such linguistic games become rather pointless

It should not surprise us that the Church is so labeled—new religious groups, when considered 'strange' or 'heretical', and still in the minority, have often been labeled as "cults" to keep people away from them, or to justify poor treatment of them. Unsurprisingly, the early Christians had the same experience:

This new Jewish-Christian party in the eyes of the religious leaders of the time was, at the worst, simply regarded as guilty of minuth (cultism), namely, a variety of Jewish heresy, or rather, Jewish sectarianism...early passages in the Talmud still contain hostile references to the minim (cults), among whom were numbered the Jewish Christians... [11]

Pliny, an early Roman leader also said that Christians were a “superstition, a foreign cult,” and this characterization was re-iterated by two more Roman writers, Tacitus, and Suetonius. Tacitus explained the attacks on Christians as being due to their 'cult' status, and also because “of their hatred toward mankind”. Tacitus also said that they were “an enemy to mankind”, and a “deadly superstition”. Suetonius called the Christians a “mischievous superstition” or, in other words, a cult. [12]

Families sometimes worry when a family member shows an interest in the Church. They can be reassured that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints puts a high value on maintaining and strengthening family relationships. The Church will not baptize children or youth under the age of eighteen without their parents' permission.


Question: Does the Church violate the Biblical command against "graven images" by displays sculptures of Christ?

Exodus 20:3-4 does not mean that one cannot have pictures, statues, or images of earthly or heavenly things in one's home or in church

It is claimed that the Church violates the Biblical command against "graven images" because it displays sculptures of Christ, statues of the angel Moroni on the spires of our temples, or paintings showing scriptural scenes, within temples, chapels, visitors' centers, and publications. (See Exodus 20:3-4.)

Since

  1. God is the revelator of the verses in question, and
  2. God is God, and
  3. Moses was there and heard firsthand,

one should side with God and Moses and say that Exodus 20:3 does not mean that one cannot have pictures, statues, or images of earthly or heavenly things in one's home or in church.

Instead one should stick with the unambiguous interpretation of this principle that is given in Exodus 34:17, "Thou shalt make thee no molten gods." We are commanded not to worship images, or anything else besides God, and members of the Church do not.

It is ironic that those who accuse the LDS of not being Christians then complain that the Saints use images of Christ to remind them of their worship of him.

The prohibition in Exodus 20 is not the production of graven images per se but the bowing down and serving of such images

The prohibition in Exodus 20: (see also Deuteronomy 5:) is not the production of graven images per se but the bowing down and serving of such images. We should remember that God later commanded the construction of the seraphim and cherubim for the ark (Exodus 25:17-22, Exodus 37:8-9) and temple of Solomon (1 Kings 6:23-35, 1 Kings 8:6-7), and the veneration given to the Ark of the Covenant, as well as the brass serpent (Numbers 21:6-9).

In similar fashion, Latter-day Saints do not bow down and serve/worship images of Moroni and images of past and present leaders.

One of the facts that must be reconciled with any interpretation of Exodus 20:3-4 is that the Bible states that God explicitly commanded that the Israelites make images and include them in their holiest places of worship. The text explicitly says that these images were revealed to Moses while he was on the mount (Exodus 25:40 and Exodus 26:30), meaning that they were given at the same time as the Ten Commandments and are part of the environment in which Exodus 20 must be interpreted.

For example:

  • Exodus 25:18-20: God commands that gold Cherubim be made to cover the mercy seat in the tabernacle. (Exodus 37:7-9 says that Moses made the image.)
  • Exodus 25:33: God commands that the tabernacle bowls be almond-shaped with flowers. (Exodus 37:19 says that Moses made the image.)
  • Exodus 26:1: God commands that Cherubim be fashioned on the Tabernacle curtains. (Exodus 36:8 says that Moses made the image.)
  • Exodus 28:33: God commands that pomegranates be sewn onto the hem of the high priest's robe. (Exodus 39:24-26 says that Moses made the image.)

And finally:

And Moses did look upon all the work, and, behold, they had done it as the LORD had commanded, even so had they done it: and Moses blessed them. (Exodus 39:43).

Furthermore, we have not even mentioned all the images that were used during the construction of Solomon's Temple, such as the oxen holding up the brass sea (see 1 Kings 7:25) or the lions, oxen, and cherubim on the base (see 1 Kings 7:29).

Those people who reject all images of things on earth or in heaven have an interpretation of Exodus 20:3-4 that doesn't agree with God's interpretation of those verses or with Moses' interpretation of those verses.


Mormon belief in the deification of Man

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Joseph Smith's King Follett discourse on the nature of God

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Mormonism and Church discipline

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Purpose of Church discipline

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The "Strengthening Church Members Committee"

Summary: The Strengthening Church Members Committee has been described as a "clipping service" which kept track of public statements by Church members who openly criticized the Church in the media. Although a "clipping service" probably made sense back in 1985, in the internet-rich world of 2013 it seems somewhat anachronistic. Critics of the Church have accused the committee of spying on members in order to move forward with Church discipline.

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Church discipline of scholars

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Does the Church excommunicate scholars who publish historical information?

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Mormonism and Church discipline: Issues and Individuals

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Sons of Perdition

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Eventual fate of the "Sons of Perdition"

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Question: Will sons of perdition be resurrected?

Scripture and subsequent Latter-day Saint teaching indicates that all mortals will be resurrected, without exception

There are multiple citations from Church leaders indicating that sons of perdition born into mortality will be resurrected, since "there is a time appointed that all shall come forth from the dead" (Alma 40:4), and "this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God, to be judged according to their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil. Now, behold, I have spoken unto you concerning the death of the mortal body, and also concerning the resurrection of the mortal body. I say unto you that this mortal body is raised to an immortal body, that is from death, even from the first death unto life, that they can die no more; their spirits uniting with their bodies, never to be divided; thus the whole becoming spiritual and immortal, that they can no more see corruption" (Alma 11:44-45.

Statements by Church leaders have reflected this scriptural foundation

George Q. Cannon

A careful reading of these verses [DC 76:38-39], however, and especially of the preceding paragraphs, will show that the Lord does not, in this language, exclude even the sons of perdition from the resurrection. It is plain that the intention is to refer to them explicitly as the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power: "for all the rest shall be brought forth by the resurrection of the dead, through the triumph and the glory of the Lamb." This excluded class are the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power, and "the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord after the sufferings of his wrath."[13]

I was given to understand, while I and others of the brethren were in exile, that because of this passage [DC 76:32-39], contained in this revelation, some of the Elders had conceived the idea, and were teaching it, that the sons of perdition would not be resurrected; and inquiry was made of us concerning it. The doctrine as taught, was, that a certain class of spirits that had received tabernacles upon the earth, would not be resurrected; and to sustain this view [p.379] the paragraphs just read were quoted: "For all the rest shall be brought forth by the resurrection of the dead, through the triumph and the glory of the Lamb, who was slain, who was in the bosom of the Father before the worlds were made." Because of this language some have inferred that all the rest would be resurrected, and the sons of perdition would not be resurrected. If you will read the context carefully you will see this is not the meaning. "And the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power; Yea, verily, the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord, * * * For all the rest shall be brought forth," etc. That is, they will be redeemed and brought forth, but they will not be brought forth in the manner that we will be resurrected; they will not receive that redemption which the rest of the children of men will receive. God in this glorious revelation through His servant, Joseph, taught this to us: that there will be a time when every human being, except the sons of perdition, will partake of the salvation of our God. And even, it is said concerning them of the telestial glory, that they are heirs of salvation. But the sons of perdition are not heirs of salvation; they will not receive redemption, they having committed the unpardonable sin, from which they never can be redeemed, so far, at least, as God has taught us in His revelations. Now if you will turn to the 29th section of the Doctrine and Covenants, you will find how plain the Lord has made this matter, so plain as to leave no doubt about it....[14]

Charles W. Penrose

[S]ome of our brethren entertain the notion that the sons of perdition will not be resurrected. But the Lord has told us, as you will read in section twenty-nine of the book of D&C, that "then shall all the dead awake, for their graves shall be opened and they shall come forth, yea, even all." Very emphatic are the words in that section, verse twenty-six. The same doctrine is to be found in the Book of Mormon. But there is a passage in section eighty-eight, of the book of D&C which will make the matter very clear to those who desire to understand it.[15]

Anthon H. Lund

Perhaps the sons of perdition are the last class. All will be resurrected. Jesus died for us all. He became the Redeemer, He bought us for a price, and His death brought the privilege of resurrection unto every soul, whether he be a sinner or not. All will receive a share in the resurrection--not in the first resurrection, but they will be resurrected, and will be brought before the bar of our Heavenly Father.[16]

John A. Widtsoe

They who will be judged to be sons of perdition will arise from the grave with their bodies.[17]

Joseph F. Smith

'Whether the sons of perdition will be privileged to retain their bodies after the resurrection, or whether they will be resurrected or not?' First, yes. They will doubtless be resurrected. Second, yes. They will without doubt retain their bodies. First see DC 29:26,27. This means all the dead shall be raised from the dead. Again see Alma 11:43,44, Revelation 20:11-15, 1 Corinthians 15:21-23. Second, Mosiah 16:11, DC 29:27-28, Alma 11:45, Alma 34:34. . . .[18]

Joseph Fielding Smith

Question: "Will those who in this life become sons of perdition receive their bodies in the resurrection? If so, will they have to pass through death again? If they do not, and their bodies and spirits are again united never to be divided, will they have ascendancy, or jurisdiction, over Satan and those who rebelled with him and who have no bodies of flesh and bones?"

Answer: The matter of the resurrection being universal has been discussed in former articles appearing in The Improvement Era. Therefore it is sufficient to say here that the resurrection will be universal and every soul born into this world must receive his body and spirit reunited inseparably in the resurrection.[19]


Can women be "Sons of Perdition"?

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The "burning in the bosom" in Mormonism as a method of determining truth

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Question: Is a "burning in the bosom" simply a subjective, emotion-based, unreliable way to practice self-deception?

It is a fundamental misunderstanding or misstatement to say that the Latter-day Saint revelatory experience is exclusively or primarily “emotional”

It is claimed by some that the Latter-day Saint appeal to "revelation" or a "burning in the bosom" is subjective, emotion-based, and thus ineffective, unreliable and susceptible to self-deception.

It is a fundamental misunderstanding or misstatement to say that the LDS revelatory experience is exclusively or primarily “emotional.” The united witness of mind and heart is key in LDS doctrine. Even the body is involved in many instances, hence the use of language exactly like “burning in the bosom.” The LDS concept of human experience is not one where we are carved up into separate, rigid compartments labeled emotional, intellectual, and physical. The LDS approach to human experience is holistic and involves all of our faculties operating simultaneously and inextricably. According to LDS scripture, “the spirit and the body are the soul of man.” D&C 88:15 We are greater than the mere sum of our inner and outer parts. Ordinarily, it’s not possible, nor is it desirable, to reject and shut down any one of our faculties . All of them combine to provide useful and valid ways of coming to know ourselves, the world, and God. All are involved in true spiritual experience.

A Latter-day Saint “spiritual” experience has intellectual content as well as emotional elements of peace or joy

Accordingly, a Latter-day Saint “spiritual” experience has intellectual content as well as physical phenomena which can include elements of peace or joy. In the early days of the Church, Oliver Cowdery received the following revelation through Joseph Smith:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things. Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God? (D&C 6:22–23).

Notice the information is spoken to the “mind,” and the feeling of peace accompanies the intellectual gift. Further, the solution for later doubts or concerns is not reliance on “a feeling” alone but an admonition to recall specific information communicated earlier.

This matches the revelatory pattern later explained to Oliver Cowdery when he attempted to participate in the translation process of the Book of Mormon:

Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me. But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong… (D&C 9:7–9).

Again, the united witness of intellect and heart are essential. If either does not agree, then revelation has not yet confirmed the matter under consideration. Anyone who relies exclusively on any one faculty – either feeling or reasoning or physical sensation – does not properly understand the LDS approach to spiritual witness.

Talk of “feelings” does not mean simply experiencing an “emotion”

To be sure, many Church members will talk about how they “felt” when they prayed or had other experiences with God. However, it is to fundamentally misunderstand these experiences to assume (as critics often do) that talk of “feeling” means simply—or only, or primarily— experiencing an “emotion.” What's lacking from these descriptions is vocabulary. The problem with them is more semantic than it is substantial. The LDS member is stymied, in a sense, because there is no good, available word for what happens during a spiritual experience. These experiences are ineffable. By definition, they defy description. Since few of us have the poetic and metaphorical powers of prophets like Isaiah and John, we are left to try our best to convey what we've experienced in words laden with secular connotations which critics can misinterpret if they so choose.

LDS scholar,Hugh Nibley, hazarded a guess at what this process of willful misinterpretation might look like:

He cannot conceive how anyone could possibly acquire knowledge by any method other than his. He cannot believe that any man has experienced anything which he has not experienced. . . . ‘I have never seen a vision,' says the [skeptic], ‘therefore, Joseph Smith never had one. I have seen dreams [or had emotionally moving experiences], therefore, I will allow him that.'”[20]

Early Christians experienced similar feelings to a "burning in the bosom"

Justin Martyr wrote in his book Dialogue with Trypho, of his conversion that he was a philosopher until he met an old man who introduced him to the Hebrew Prophets when “a flame enkindled his heart” and he found “this philosophy (Christianity) alone to be sure and profitable.” [21]

The Shepard of Hermas, which was once considered scripture, reads “There are two angels with a man-one of righteousness, and the other of iniquity...The angel of righteousness is gentle and modest, meek and peaceful. When he ascends into your heart, he speaks to you of righteousness, purity, chastity, contentment, and every other righteous deed and glorious virtue. When all of these things come into your heart, know that the angel of righteousness is with you” [22]


Dallin H. Oaks (1997): "Surely, the word “burning” in this scripture signifies a feeling of comfort and serenity. That is the witness many receive. That is the way revelation works"

Dallin H. Oaks:

What does a “burning in the bosom” mean? Does it need to be a feeling of caloric heat, like the burning produced by combustion? If that is the meaning, I have never had a burning in the bosom. Surely, the word “burning” in this scripture signifies a feeling of comfort and serenity. That is the witness many receive. That is the way revelation works.[23]


Question: Why do critics of Mormonism who belong to other religions discount spiritual experiences?

Sectarian Critics and the Biblical Roots of Burning Feelings

Sectarian critics also belittle appeals to spiritual experiences, comparing them to "warm fuzzies," or merely something "felt by simply watching a Hollywood movie." However, it is strange that sectarian critics fault appeals to a "burning in the bosom" within the LDS community when the roots of the idiom are found in the Bible itself.

Following Jesus' resurrection, He walked with two disciples on the road to Emmaus. They did not recognize Jesus, but listened to Him as "he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself" (Luke 24:27).

After breaking bread with them, Jesus was revealed to the disciples, and vanished from their sight.

Interestingly, they did not say to each other, "We should have known it was Jesus because of his scriptural teaching." Rather, their explanations went beyond their intellectual faculties. They said:

Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?(Luke 24:32)

Likewise, a reference to a "burning" in the heart can be found in Psalms 39:3:

My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue. Psalms 39:3

The Lord's counsel to Oliver Cowdery makes perfect sense in this context:

But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. D&C 9:8

It seems unlikely that sectarian critics who generally work to uphold the Bible to the best of their understandings would dismiss Jesus' disciples' witness because it was described in words with an LDS ring to them such as “burn” and “heart.” Surely sectarians wouldn’t argue the disciples in Luke 24 must have been emotionally manipulated or that they were experiencing some kind of social effervescence simply because they referred to their feelings when speaking to each other about being in the presence of a holy being. The disciples in Luke 24 were not new to the gospel. They knew what it felt like to experience Christ and they recognized the feeling even when they weren’t expecting it. Human nature remains the same in contemporary times and it stands to reason that even now people experienced in spiritual witnesses can know the difference between spiritual sensations and the emotional rush of a Hollywood film.

Ultimately, as the Bible instructs us, we trust in the Lord to reveal the truth:

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)


Question: Can a person "feel the spirit" while watching movies?

The Spirit testifies of all true principles, regardless of the source

Why would I "feel the spirit" when watching fictional movies? Some of these movies are even violent and R-rated, such as Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List.

The Spirit testifies of all truth. The Spirit can testify of true principles taught or portrayed in fiction as well as in real life such as the importance of sacrifice, the importance of family, or of humility. For example, why would one feel so compelled by the story of Les Miserables? After all, the movie portrays prostitutes, thieves, and blasphemers. However, the message is of the importance of mercy over justice, of self-sacrifice, and of forgiveness. Why wouldn't the Holy Ghost tell us these are true principles? The same can be said of many movies, including animated films such as The Lion King.

Also, one should not equate the witness of the spirit with emotion. Just because an experience generates a pleasant emotional response does not mean that you are "feeling the spirit." Just because one can "feel the spirit" regarding religious matters does not mean that one is unable to feel good or inspired about anything else. No Latter-day Saint will say that they felt the spirit "confirm the truth" of a movie. Important here is to understand the different factors that play into spiritual epistemology. It involves all of our faculties (See Alma 32:27). Spiritual epistemology is a complex interaction between and evaluation of the thoughts of your mind, the feelings of your heart, the physical health of your body, the light of Christ (which can increase by doing good and decrease and be diminished by doing what is wrong), the outside influence of the Holy Ghost, and everything that God has deemed good in the world. One can feel a more passive influence of the Holy Ghost which is like an abiding peace that comes when one is doing what is right or in the presence of something good since we seek after all good things (A of F 1:13) and all good things come from God (Moroni 7:12), or it can be more dynamic as when we are seeking revelation in which we will receive both inspiration or revelation in our mind and a phenomenon (not just a feeling or emotion) in our heart.

The movies Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List are very accurate and profound dramas that depict certain important historical events: In this case, the D-day invasion and the Holocaust. They are, out of necessity, R-rated and violent movies, nevertheless they are still deeply moving and, at their most beautiful moments, can move our hearts and minds to God as they teach simple but profound truths. We are moved by these portrayals because we empathize with the sacrifice and suffering of those depicted. Just because we seek "confirmation of the spirit" in religious matters in order to receive confirmation of their truthfulness does not require us to be "dead in feeling" to the rest of life. We should understand how the spirit works, including how it interacts with everything mentioned above, and do our best to evaluate it.


Dr. Wendy Ulrich (2005): "How do the goosebumps and tearfulness I experience when someone speaks in a testimony meeting differ from the goosebumps and tearfulness I experience when the 4:00 parade begins at Disneyland?"

Dr. Wendy Ulrich (a licensed psychologist with over 25 years of experience):

People from many religious traditions have “spiritual” experiences–feelings, insights, premonitions, and encounters which they are left to their own conclusions to decipher. It is not unusual for people to conclude from such experiences that God is their God, that He is nearby, or that something associated with that experience is God’s will. Often in the Church we encourage people to look for such feelings and experiences as evidence of God’s hand, or of the truthfulness of the Church’s message. Yet people from many religious backgrounds can have such experiences. How do the goosebumps and tearfulness I experience when someone speaks in a testimony meeting differ from the goosebumps and tearfulness I experience when the 4:00 parade begins at Disneyland? Critics may conclude that there is no real difference, that feelings are not trustworthy or related to the spirit, and that Church members are being misled by missionaries who teach them that such experiences are the Holy Ghost testifying to them of truth. I have seen this argument used to discredit “spiritual” experiences as nothing more than subjectively produced emotions with no supernatural significance. In many cases I might agree. Because I feel certain emotions in response to a film–even a Church film–may say more about the credibility of the actors’ performance or the director’s talent than the presence of God or the historical accuracy of the message, for example.[24] —(Click here to continue)


Question: Can someone feel the spirit when listening to stories of apostasy?

The Spirit only testifies of things that come from God, and should not be confused with emotion

One critic of the Church, who believes that the "spirit" is simply an emotional manifestation, poses the question: "Why did I feel the Spirit as I listened to the stories of apostates sharing how they discovered for themselves that Mormonism is not true?" [25]

The Spirit does not confirm apostasy. This is simply an attempt to diminish the experience of those who have truly had the Spirit testify of Christ.

A more accurate way to phrase this would be: "Why did I feel good as I listened to the stories of apostates sharing how they discovered for themselves that Mormonism is not true?" After all, ex-Mormons have already concluded that the "Spirit" is unreliable and inconsistent. The answer, of course, is that the stories that the ex-Mormon is hearing support the conclusion that they have already formed.

This is simply an attempt to demonstrate that the feelings of the "spirit" are meaningless

Ex-Mormons sometimes attempt to equate the experiences of believers who "feel the spirit" during testimony meeting with how they feel when hearing the stories of those who have left the Church, thereby proving that "feeling the spirit" is meaningless. However, while the spirit communicates with us through feelings, such as love, joy, or peace, (Gal. 5:22-23), the mere fact one experiences such feelings does not mean that person is "feeling the spirit." Correctly identifying when such feelings represent the presence of the Holy Ghost can take practice and depends upon study, prayer and experience.


"Recognizing the Voice of the Spirit" (Podcast): "How can I come to know that spiritual experience is not just a product of chemical processes in the brain?"

"FAIR Questions 2: Recognizing the Voice of the Spirit":

How do I find a way to not only discern the Spirit from emotion, but how can I become convinced that the Spirit is actually real? How can I come to know that spiritual experience is not just a product of chemical processes in the brain? I mean, I’ve prayed about the truth of the Book of Mormon and the gospel and I have gotten answers to my prayers, but how can I come to know whether or not this is from God, and not just either a part of my subconscious or a delusion.[26] —(Click here to continue)


Question: Will our manifestation of truth from the Holy Ghost be a "spectacular" witness?

Why should members expect to receive a spectacular revelation? Even if one saw an angel, one would be susceptible to later concluding that it was an illusion or mistake

Once critical website claims: " Sounds like if you don't get any real answer from the Holy Ghost that you should just keep on following the church and do everything you're suppose to do such as paying 10% of all your income to an organization that you do not know is true or not, and maybe you will slowly gain one and that may take many years or even a lifetime. It is suspicious when the leaders tell their members that the way to gain a testimony is to follow the leaders and some time in the future you may get a testimony but don't expect anything spectacular." [27]

∗       ∗       ∗

As 1 Kings 19:11-12 says:

"And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice"

Preach My Gospel: How Do I Recognize and Understand the Spirit?

How Do I Recognize and Understand the Spirit?

Why should members expect to receive a spectacular revelation? Even if one saw an angel, one would be susceptible to later concluding that it was an illusion or mistake.

True spiritual conversion is a process

However, true spiritual conversion is a process, Alma 32:33 states:

"And now, behold, because ye have tried the experiment, and planted the seed, and it swelleth and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, ye must needs know that the seed is good"

Critics ignore that if members experience something really spectacular, then faith wouldn't be necessary, just like the brother of Jared didn't have faith following his miraculous visionary experiences described in Ether 3:19-20:

"And because of the knowledge of this man he could not be kept from beholding within the veil; and he saw the finger of Jesus, which, when he saw, he fell with fear; for he knew that it was the finger of the Lord; and he had faith no longer, for he knew, nothing doubting. Wherefore, having this perfect knowledge of God, he could not be kept from within the veil; therefore he saw Jesus; and he did minister unto him"

The gospel is intended to promote faith and personal growth--receiving really spectacular experiences is like skipping steps.

"And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith." (Ether 12:6)

Having a impressive experience is something unusual and special, and should not be shared frequently,

Having a impressive experience is something unusual and special, and should not be shared frequently, unless the Spirit dictates.

Preach My Gospel states:

"Revelation and spiritual experiences are sacred. They should be kept private and discussed only inappropriate situations." [28]:99

President Boyd K. Packer said:

“I have learned that strong, impressive spiritual experiences do not come to us very frequently. And when they do, they are generally for our own edification, instruction, or correction. Unless we are called by proper authority to do so, they do not position us to counsel or to correct others.

“I have come to believe also that it is not wise to continually talk of unusual spiritual experiences. They are to be guarded with care and shared only when the Spirit itself prompts you to use them to the blessing of others."[29]

Foundation of testimony

President Ezra Taft Benson observed:

“Just as the arch crumbles if the keystone is removed, so does all the Church stand or fall with the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. The enemies of the Church understand this clearly. This is why they go to such great lengths to try to disprove the Book of Mormon, for if it can be discredited, the Prophet Joseph Smith goes with it. So does our claim to priesthood keys, and revelation, and the restored Church. But in like manner, if the Book of Mormon be true—and millions have now testified that they have the witness of the Spirit that it is indeed true—then one must accept the claims of the Restoration and all that accompanies it.”[30]

Preach My Gospel continues:

"Rely on the promise in Moroni 10:3–5. Every person who sincerely reads and prays about this book can know with certainty of its truthfulness by the power of the Holy Ghost."[31]:111

For a detailed response, see: Moroni's promise in the Book of Mormon


Question: How can you know if an answer to prayer, a personal revelation, is true?

Understand how the spirit works and seek something unique to you and recognizable.

Some people have wondered how they can truly know that they are feeling the spirit and that their personal revelation and testimony really is born of a unique interaction with God through his Spirit. Since this applies to so many of the decisions we make and the lifestyle we live it is a good and normal question. The first thing that we should do with regard to all revelation is to understand how the Spirit works by reading the scriptures and getting an idea as to how the spirit has worked with others. We should compare our feelings to the pneumatology and principles of living taught by the scriptures and by modern-day prophets and apostles (for a fuller treatment of pneumatology, see Oscar McConkie’s The Holy Ghost: A Study of the Holy Ghost, According to the Standard Works of the Church). It stands to reason that if we want to be led by Christ’s spirit and follow him, then we will try and measure our lives against what he has revealed through his servants so that we aren’t deceived (JS Matthew 1:37). This means we interrogate and weigh the words of the standard works (since they are our standard of truth) and we take into consideration what has been taught by the living prophets and apostles in trying to make good decisions and bring ourselves in tune with the spirit’s whisperings. Through the scriptures, Christ has given us important indicators for recognizing the Spirit (for one example, see D&C 11:12, 13).

As taught in Preach My Gospel:

As you pray for inspiration, you should also confirm your feelings. For example, compare your decisions with the scriptures and the teachings of the living prophets. Be certain that the feelings are consistent with the assignment you have; for example, you will not receive revelation to tell a local bishop how he should perform in his calling. Discuss your decisions and conclusions with your companion, your district leader, or your mission president when appropriate.

President Howard W. Hunter offered this counsel: “Let me offer a word of caution. … I think if we are not careful … , we may begin to try to counterfeit the true influence of the Spirit of the Lord by unworthy and manipulative means. I get concerned when it appears that strong emotion or free-flowing tears are equated with the presence of the Spirit. Certainly the Spirit of the Lord can bring strong emotional feelings, including tears, but that outward manifestation ought not to be confused with the presence of the Spirit itself” (The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, 184). The Spirit of the Lord always edifies.
[32]

Once we recognize how the Spirit may work, the best thing we can do is to seek a unique interaction with it—something that we can know is apart from normal thoughts and emotions—and trust in that to lead us to do good.

In order to continue to know with greater assurance that something is true, we should continue to endure in faith. We’re promised blessings for doing so.

Regarding the foundational witness for our testimony, Alma has taught us in the Book of Mormon that even after we have tasted of the fruit of faith, that we should continue to try and water the seed so that it will continue to grow. As it grows more and more, the greater assurance we can have that it is good and true (See Alma 32; D&C 50:24). This is how we should treat our own witness. The more we continue in light, we are promised that the light will grow and that as we believe, the signs will follow us (See D&C 63:9).

Regarding specifically impressions to do something, how can you know if an answer is true?

Personal revelation is a principle we grow into. If you want to know how to receive it and follow it, then you must work at it by trial and error sometimes. If you feel the promptings of the spirit to do something, then do it, and see what happens. We can do a lot to know if something truly comes from the spirit (see above for that), but debating an impression’s validity in a sort of theoretical way, won't ever provide you with an answer.

Regarding its manifestation in our mind, Joseph Smith talks of "pure intelligence" flowing into you:

A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; (i.e.) those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God,will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus.[33]

However, as Boyd K. Packer points out, revelation does not "flow without effort" on the part of the person desiring it.

To one who thought that revelation would flow without effort, the Lord said:

“You have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.

“But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.” [34]

This burning in the bosom is not purely a physical sensation. It is more like a warm light shining within your being.

Describing the promptings from the Holy Ghost to one who has not had them is very difficult. Such promptings are personal and strictly private![35]

Ultimately, it is a choice to believe in the reality of the spirit, understand the epistemology, work to be worthy to feel the spirit’s influences, and follow those influences courageously

Lehi gives his children this counsel at his death, teaching us an important principle.

2 Nephi 2: 27-28

27 Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.

28 And now, my sons, I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit

It’s natural to feel reticent at times to believe in the Spirit—if it is real and actually working in our lives. It is ultimately our choice to believe in it and follow its influence to eternal life.

Personal revelation can differ between two people

Latter-day Saints don't believe that differences in the phenomena experiences while feeling the spirit should always be the same. What it means is that 1) We are all working at understanding and following the spirit and 2) that we are all receiving personal answers to our prayers from a loving Heavenly Father, and others are receiving personal answers to theirs. Personal revelation is beautiful precisely because these differences can exist. It deepens our understanding and love of the fact that we are all unique children of our Heavenly Father.

Some may have “spectacular” experiences while others only hear a still small voice.

Boyd K. Packer:

We do not seek for spectacular experiences. President Spencer W. Kimball spoke of the many who "have no ear for spiritual messages … when they come in common dress. … Expecting the spectacular, one may not be fully alerted to the constant flow of revealed communication."[36]

Why does it differ in nature sometimes? One reason may be that perhaps the spirit witnesses to us in a way we can understand. It speaks to us “in our own language” so that we can come to understanding (D&C 1:24). For the intellectual, the spirit may manifest itself more often as clear thoughts and bring inspiration to the mind. For the more emotionally oriented, feelings of comfort, peace, and the phenomenon described in the scriptures.


Question: Why might someone not be able to see their spiritual impressions come to successful, obvious, and/or beautiful fruition?

There are a variety of ways to view these situations

It is sometimes wondered how one might respond to a situation in which an impression to do or believe something doesn’t come to fruition—whether that be in an immediate, obvious, or good way. This article will offer a number of things to consider when in this type of a situation. They are not things we have to constantly be worrying about when trying to receive inspiration nor are they set possibilities. These are simply a number of things to consider when faced with this type of a situation.

Consider that the impression is brought to fruition without you immediately recognizing the benefit

The first thing we can always consider is that the impression has brought fruit but that it won’t be immediately obvious to us how those experiences benefit us or the life of someone else right now or in the future.

Dallin H. Oaks: "[A person may have] a strong desire to be led by the Spirit of the Lord but . . . unwisely extends that desire to the point of wanting to be led in all things."

Dallin H. Oaks teaches that we can be led by false revelation if we extend our desire to pray about unnecessary things:

[A person may have] a strong desire to be led by the Spirit of the Lord but . . . unwisely extends that desire to the point of wanting to be led in all things. A desire to be led by the Lord is a strength, but it needs to be accompanied by an understanding that our Heavenly Father leaves many decisions for our personal choices. Personal decision making is one of the sources of the growth we are meant to experience in mortality. Persons who try to shift all decision making to the Lord and plead for revelation in every choice will soon find circumstances in which they pray for guidance and don't receive it. For example, this is likely to occur in those numerous circumstances in which the choices are trivial or either choice is acceptable. We should study things out in our minds, using the reasoning powers our Creator has placed within us. Then we should pray for guidance and act upon it if we receive it. If we do not receive guidance, we should act upon our best judgment. Persons who persist in seeking revelatory guidance on subjects on which the Lord has not chosen to direct us may concoct an answer out of their own fantasy or bias, or they may even receive an answer through the medium of "false revelation"[37]

One might want to consider how Mormon theology views “bad things” happening to good people

It may be useful to see how Mormon theology views bad things happening to good people. Perhaps these situations might be viewed as “bad things” since we don’t see the fruit of our effort. In Latter-day Saint theology, a bad thing may happen because:

  1. It brings about a greater good as when Joseph was sold into Egypt. Sometimes the greater good is not immediately forthcoming or obvious to us. Sometimes the effect that we have on people or on ourselves after following an impression can be enough to help strengthen their relationship with God or come closer to finding meaning through the restored Gospel.
  2. To chasten the disobedient because of his love for them as taught in Helaman 15. We have to be faithful to receive blessings. When we are humble we are more likely to turn to him.
  3. An Abrahamic test of faith. The prophet Joseph Smith is canonized saying “ But nevertheless, deep water is what I am wont to swim in. It all has become second nature to me, and I feel like Paul, to glory in tribulation;” (D&C 127:2) Obviously the Lord isn’t going to spare us any test of faith in life (D&C 136.31). He will actively test it to prepare us for greater things. Trying to learn how to receive and follow inspiration and trust in God is not an exception.

Sometimes people receive impressions, but aren’t able to interpret them correctly

It is important to know that A) It is possible to confuse emotion for a spiritual impression. We should take time when trying to receive inspiration to ponder what we are feeling and seek to counsel long with the Lord if wanting to receive an answer to prayer B) Some people do receive an impression, but don’t interpret them correctly. Oftentimes we are receiving inspiration from the Spirit to confirm a thought but perhaps we aren’t still enough to capture its still small voice and we may get distracted from what it is trying to communicate to us.

It is important to be still and focus so that we can carefully discern what exactly the spirit is prompting us to do and/or believe. Oftentimes we haven’t studied an issue out in our minds thoroughly as is often required of us when trying to seek inspiration. When we don’t, we may not get what we’re looking for (D&C 9:7-9)

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland: “There are times when the only way to get from A to C is by way of B."

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gives us one useful framework to view these types of situations in this Mormon Message.

Revelation takes time to master. We should understand how the Spirit functions and continue to test our knowledge. Eventually we are promised to see fruits for our efforts—even miracles

Revelation takes time to master. The best we can do is understand how the Spirit works by reading the scriptures and following the impression we receive as best as we can discern them. We are promised that as we are humble, the Lord will lead us by the hand and give us answers to our prayers (D&C 112:10) and that signs will follow the believers (D&C 63.9)

A key to understanding when something is authentic is its effect on you. It should feel like it didn’t come from you or was willed by you or as Joseph Smith says, like “pure intelligence" flowing into you:

A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; (i.e.) those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus.


However, as Boyd K. Packer points out, revelation does not "flow without effort" on the part of the person desiring it:

To one who thought that revelation would always flow without effort (although sometimes the revelation is spontaneous), the Lord said:

“You have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me. “But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.” This burning in the bosom is not purely a physical sensation. It is more like a warm light shining within your being.

Describing the promptings from the Holy Ghost to one who has not had them is very difficult. Such promptings are personal and strictly private!

D&C 50:24

The fruit of our impressions will become clearer to us as we continue in God. As expressed in D&C 50:24:

24 That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.

As we remain humble and allow things to play out, God will allow us to understand what he means to teach us. As we grow into the principle of revelation, we will be better prepared to understand the Lord’s design and method for shaping our lives.


Question: What is the elevation emotion and what do critics claim about it as it regards the Spirit?

The elevation emotion is one of transcendence.

The elevation emotion is an emotion that researchers have been investigating seemingly since the year 2000. Jonathan Haidt, a neuroscientist seems to be the first to work on this with his interest in human transcendence [38]. It is defined as the:

emotion elicited by witnessing virtuous acts of remarkable moral goodness[39]

The nature of the “emotion” is described as:

a distinct feeling of warmth and expansion that is accompanied by appreciation and affection for the individual whose exceptional conduct is being observed. [40]

Critics claim that this is what Latter-day Saints are really feeling when they say that they are “feeling the Spirit”

Critics claim that since this is so close to the “burning in the bosom” that Latter-day Saints describe, that this is what is really happening to them, with their bodies producing this emotion whenever something good and virtuous is witnessed. This is also used to describe experiences in other religions.

Elevation has not had a unique physiological profile established

From the Wikipedia article addressing elevation:

However, researchers are working to identify the specific physiological mechanisms underlying the warm, open sensation in the chest elicited by elevation. Video clips that induce elevation have been found to cause a decrease in vagal parasympathetic impact on the heart. However, further investigation is necessary in order to determine whether elevation has a unique physiological profile.

Vagal refers to the brain and parasympathetic to the automatic nervous system that governs the automatic processes of our body such as digestion. So it is still in question as to if it has some sort of impact on this but it remains possible. At present, we may still believe that these experiences are the result of an outside influence.

The elevation emotion likely doesn’t explain everything

To say that this is the “Spirit” doesn’t explain everything.

  1. As has been explained elsewhere, just because something sounds similar to the Spirit does not mean that it is. For many of us, it does not match the nature of the phenomenon that accompanied our witness. For some it does. Since we don't have evidence of any unique physiological profile, we may still believe that this is an outside influence. It should be remembered that the Spirit is not simply an emotion.
  2. The elevation emotion does not account for the times that we may have willed a “yes” to prayers and received a “no” or “not yet”. It does not explain the people who have prayed about the Book of Mormon for years and not received a witness of its truthfulness.
  3. Elevation emotion does not account for the miraculous experiences or sudden jolts of "pure intelligence" we have received for anything between big events to even trivial matters.
  4. Elevation does not account for revelation including the scriptures--their complexity, depth, coherence, and beauty.

Elevation may sound like it has the answer to the question of if revelation is authentic or not. However, it simply has not been shown conclusively to be such.



Question: Does the statement in 1 Corinthians 15:50 that flesh and blood cannot enter the kingdom of heaven mean that resurrected beings cannot enter heaven?

To intepret 1 Corinthians to mean that no flesh and blood can enter into heaven discards the beliefs of several founding fathers of modern day Christianity

Critics attempt to use 1 Corinthians 15:50 to demonstrate that a resurrected being with a physical body cannot enter into heaven, therefore excluding a God with a body as well as resurrected mortals.

To intepret 1 Corinthians to mean that no flesh and blood can enter into heaven discards the beliefs of several founding fathers of modern day Christianity. They correctly taught the true meaning of the word 'flesh' as not being literal, otherwise, Christ Himself would not be allowed into heaven.

While Latter-day Saints do not base their theology on tradition or the early Fathers, that early Christians agree with modern-day revelation is another witness of its accuracy.

The early Christians interpreted this scripture to mean something very different than our critics do

In 207 A.D., Tertullian taught: “‘Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God’. He means the works of the flesh and blood, which, deprive men of the kingdom of God.” [41]

Novation noted in A.D. 235that “When it is written that ‘flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God’, it is not the substance of the flesh that is condemned...but only the guilt of the flesh.” [42]

Photius quoted Methodius in A.D. 290 as saying “‘Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.’..By ‘flesh’, he did not mean the flesh itself, but the irrational impulse towards the immoral pleasures of the should.” [43]

The great father Origen also taught a deeper, alternate meaning for the word 'flesh' in A.D. 225:

At the time of the flood, when all persons had corrupted their way before God, it is recorded that God spoke in this manner, concerning undeserving men and sinners: ‘My Spirit will not abide with those men forever, because they are flesh.’ By this it is clearly shown that the Spirit of God is taken away from all who are unworthy. [44]

Tertullian also taught that Christ has a body of flesh and bone, yet dwells in the heavens. “Jesus is still sitting there at the right hand of the Father. He is man, yet also God. He is the last Adam; yet, He is also the primary Word. He is flesh and blood, yet purer than ours, and he will ‘descend in like manner as He ascended into heaven.’ That is, He will be the same both in substance and in form.” [45]

Tertullian could have partially been basing this belief off of Luke 24:39 when Christ admonishes the Apostles to touch Him. He said "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have."


Question: Is the Mormon doctrine of "agency" or "free will" false, since all human choices are predetermined by the laws of physics?

We know from the scriptures that God can exactly predict the future, but we also know from the scriptures that we have our moral agency to decide our future

Science demonstrates that all interactions of matter--including all events in the human brain--are sufficiently caused by previous events. If we know enough about the laws that govern these interactions and the current state of the universe, we would be able to exactly predict any future event. Does this mean that the doctrine of "agency" or "free will" is false, since all human choices are predetermined by the laws of physics?

We know from the scriptures that God can exactly predict the future, but we also know from the scriptures that we have our moral agency to decide our future. There must be a solution to this problem, but there is as yet no generally-accepted solution.

The Spirit and the Body

Everything we think and feel is probably correlated with some physical changes in the brain. And, really, this shouldn't surprise the LDS, since they do not believe that "mind"/"spirit" and "body" are two totally separate and utterly un-similar things (See Cartesian fallacy):

There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes;

We cannot see it; but when our bodies are purified we shall see that it is all matter. (D&C 131:7-8)

Thus, in LDS theology there is no spirit/matter dichotomy. Spirit is matter, though less easily detected by mortal eyes. If a spiritual experience or a "thought" from our spirit/mind is to have an effect upon a mortal being, it's not surprising to find detectable physical changes in the gross "non-spiritual" matter which we can study. You won't detect the actor (the 'spirit matter'), necessarily, but you might expect to see the effect of the action (on the 'body matter').

Newtonian Determinism

A question that is likely to create an argument in any LDS Sunday School class anywhere in the world is, "Does God perfectly know the future?" Half the class will insist that he does, because the scriptures are clear:

O how great the holiness of our God! For he knoweth all things, and there is not anything save he knows it. 2 Nephi 9:20

The other half will insist that this is not possible, since this would destroy the free agency of man, which is also clear:

Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves—to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life. 2 Nephi 10:23

But God’s knowledge is not really the question anyway. The real question relative to free will involves the nature of physical and spiritual law — is it deterministic or indeterministic?

The Universe is said to be "deterministic" if, given the state of the Universe at one point in time, there is only one state possible at a later point in time. The Newtonian world view was deterministic. It concluded that, given the present positions, velocities, and other properties of every bit of matter, field, and (we would add) spirit, the future values for these variables are completely specified. Thus, the orbits of the planets, the weather, the rise and fall of nations, or the outcome of every love affair is already determined, based on the current state of the universe. It is hard to see how free agency can exist in such an environment.

Quantum Uncertainty

The alternative to a deterministic Universe is a Universe in which, given the state of the Universe at one point in time, more that one state is possible at a later point in time. We call such a Universe "indeterministic." Since the early 20th century, it has been clear that the fundamental laws of the Universe are quantum mechanical in nature. In quantum mechanics, the present state of the Universe may precisely determine a probability distribution, but, ultimately, the future state of the Universe will involve a random selection from among the allowed possibilities. The future is always partially uncertain. This is the majority view of the interpretation of quantum theory, but it is not the only view. As the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy states,

The scientific evidence for quantum mechanics is sometimes said to show that determinism is false. Quantum theory is indeed very well confirmed. However, there is nothing approaching a consensus on how to interpret it, on what it shows us with respect to how things are in the world. Indeterministic as well as deterministic interpretations have been developed, but it is far from clear whether any of the existing interpretations is correct. [46]

But does quantum mechanics do anything to help the situation relative to free agency? We must remember that quantum mechanics is partly deterministic — the determination of the probabilities for each possible outcome — and partly indeterministic — the final random selection of one state out of all the possibilities. Since the ultimate selection process is random, it is no different than the process of flipping a coin. The quantum world view, with each decision slave to the outcome of a coin toss, seems less conducive to free will than does the deterministic world view.

What Is Free Agency?

The existence or non-existence of free will has deeply troubled Mormon and non-Mormon philosophers for centuries, and the problem shows no sign of resolving itself.

One Mormon philosopher, Blake Ostler,[47] has suggested that there is a third possibility between determinism and indeterminism. This is the "creative synthesis" suggested by philosopher and theologian Charles Hartshorne. In this view, the moment of decision itself creates a new entity that did not exist in the previous moment, one that is affected by the decision process and that contributes to the outcome of the decision process in a deterministic but unpredictable way. This, it is suggested, is what we call "free will."

On the other hand, a Mormon physicist, Ronald Hellings,[48] has argued that Hartshorne’s description of "creative synthesis" sounds suspiciously like a simple non-linear process, a completely deterministic thing that engineers and scientists encounter and solve all the time. In Hellings’ view, free agency should be thought of as the name for the deterministic causes that arise inside an individual’s uncreated intelligence. Determinism is required, according to Hellings, in order to allow those causes to truly make the decision and not have it stolen away at the last moment by a random flip of an electron in someone's brain.


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Question: During the millennium, will there be a secular government in addition to Christ's reign?

From Gospel Principles: "Jesus Christ will not only lead the Church during the Millennium, but he will also be in charge of the political government"

During the millennium, will there be a secular government in addition to Christ's reign? It seems that I had heard that there will be a "government headquarters" in a different location to the "church headquarters". Do we know where they will be located?

The following quote is from Gospel Principles, which is the class manual used in the Church's Gospel Essentials class for investigators and new members:

Jesus Christ will not only lead the Church during the Millennium, but he will also be in charge of the political government. This government will be based on principles of righteousness and will preserve the basic rights and freedoms of all people. Mortals, both members of the Church and nonmembers, will hold government positions (see Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses 2:310). They will receive help from resurrected beings. At this time there will be two capitals in the world, one in Jerusalem, the other in America (see Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation 3:66-72). "For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isaiah 2:3)."


Further reading and additional sources responding to these claims

Question: Did Joseph Smith believe that the lost Ten Tribes were living under the polar ice cap?

The consensus of Church teachings seems to be that the ten tribes are scattered among all peoples

The consensus of Church teachings seems to be that the ten tribes are scattered among all peoples. Missionary work is the means by which the ten tribes are "found," and they are gathered to Israel by joining the Church. Despite a late, second-hand discussion of remarks by Joseph Smith, this view has never been common, or endorsed by current Church leaders.

A late, second-hand account attributed to Joseph Smith states that he believed that the ten tribes were at the "north pole," but this was not a revelation

Those who ask this question have often encountered a remark attributed to Joseph Smith. The original source for the claim seems to be in the autobiography of Benjamin F. Johnson, an early Church member who knew Joseph Smith:

I can now see, as President George A. Smith afterwards said, that I was then really "the bosom friend and companion of the Prophet Joseph." I was as welcome at the Mansion as at my own house, and on one occasion when at a full table of his family and chosen friends, he placed me at his right hand and introduced me as his "friend, Brother B. F. Johnson, at whose house he sat at a better table than his own." Sometimes when at my house I asked him questions relating to past, present and future; some of his answers were taken by Brother William Clayton, who was then present with him, and are now recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants; the one as to what the Lord told him in relation to seeing his face at 85 years of age; also the one as to the earth becoming as a sea of glass, molten with fire. [D&C 130: 9, 14-17] Other questions were asked when Brother Clayton was not present, one of which I will relate: I asked where the nine and a half tribes of Israel were. "Well," said he, "you remember the old caldron or potash kettle you used to boil maple sap in for sugar, don't you?" I said yes. "Well," said he, "they are in the north pole in a concave just the shape of that kettle. And John the Revelator is with them, preparing them for their return." Many other things of a public or private nature I might here record, but will only note one or two, those pertaining to our own family.[49]

The problem with this source is that it is late and second hand; that is, it was not written by Joseph himself, but by someone who heard him say it, and it was written long after the conversation supposedly took place. Sources like these tend to be less than reliable because they are obscured by time and the writer's own personal bias.

We also note that the comment was made as part of a conversation with others, and not as part of a revelation. If Johnson's memory was accurate, there's nothing to distinguish Joseph's comment from idle speculation.

Other Church leaders have not seen this second-hand remark as revelatory

Mark E. Peterson wrote:

...the Ten Tribes are lost. We do not have any indication in the revelations as to their whereabouts.[50]

Joseph Fielding Smith wrote:

The promise is made that they shall return, but to this day they are lost to the world. As they journeyed to the north many of their number straggled and fell behind and mingled with the peoples in the lands through which they passed, but the main body continued on their journey and were hidden by the hand of the Lord.[51]

Bruce R. McConkie wrote:

The Lost Tribes are not lost unto the Lord. In their northward journeyings they were led by prophets and inspired leaders. They had their Moses and their Lehi, were guided by the spirit of revelation, kept the law of Moses, and carried with them the statutes and judgments which the Lord had given them in age past. They were still a distinct people many hundreds of years later, for the resurrected Lord visited and ministered among them following his ministry on this continent among the Nephites. (3 Nephi 16:1-4; 3 Nephi 17:4.) Obviously he taught them in the same way and gave them the same truths which he gave his followers in Jerusalem and on the American continent; and obviously they recorded his teachings, thus creating volumes of scripture comparable to the Bible and Book of Mormon. (2 Nephi 29:12-14.)[52]

The lost ten tribes are likely scattered among the nations of the earth

While some have seen the ten tribes together in a discrete location, Elder McConkie wrote later in life:

There is something mysterious and fascinating about believing the Ten Tribes are behind an iceberg somewhere in the land of the north, or that they are on some distant planet that will one day join itself with the earth, or that the tribe of Dan is in Denmark, the tribe of Reuben in Russia, and so forth. A common cliché asserts: "If we knew where the Lost Tribes were, they would not be lost." True it is that they are lost from the knowledge of the world; they are not seen and recognized as the kingdom they once were; but in general terms, their whereabouts is known. They are scattered in all the nations of the earth, primarily in the nations north of the lands of their first inheritance (italics added).[53]

Russell M. Nelson taught:

Here on earth, missionary work is crucial to the gathering of Israel. The gospel was to be taken first to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Consequently, servants of the Lord have gone forth proclaiming the Restoration. In many nations our missionaries have searched for those of scattered Israel; they have hunted for them “out of the holes of the rocks”; and they have fished for them as in ancient days.

The choice to come unto Christ is not a matter of physical location; it is a matter of individual commitment. People can be “brought to the knowledge of the Lord” without leaving their homelands. True, in the early days of the Church, conversion often meant emigration as well. But now the gathering takes place in each nation. The Lord has decreed the establishment of Zion in each realm where He has given His Saints their birth and nationality. Scripture foretells that the people “shall be gathered home to the lands of their inheritance, and shall be established in all their lands of promise.” “Every nation is the gathering place for its own people.” The place of gathering for Brazilian Saints is in Brazil; the place of gathering for Nigerian Saints is in Nigeria; the place of gathering for Korean Saints is in Korea; and so forth. Zion is “the pure in heart.” Zion is wherever righteous Saints are. Publications, communications, and congregations are now such that nearly all members have access to the doctrines, keys, ordinances, and blessings of the gospel, regardless of their location.

Spiritual security will always depend upon how one lives, not where one lives. Saints in every land have equal claim upon the blessings of the Lord.[54]


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FAIR Book of Mormon Video Clips

See also:

Question: Do Mormons believe that there is there progression between the three degrees of glory?

There is no official pronouncement on this question. Some leaders of the Church have, however, expressed deep skepticism about this idea

Elder Bruce. R. McConkie made it one of his "Seven Deadly Heresies," concluding:

They neither progress from one kingdom to another, nor does a lower kingdom ever get where a higher kingdom once was. Whatever eternal progression there is, it is within a sphere. (Full text here).

A major scriptural argument against this idea comes from the Doctrine and Covenants, speaking of the telestial kingdom:

But behold, and lo, we saw the glory and the inhabitants of the telestial world, that they were as innumerable as the stars in the firmament of heaven, or as the sand upon the seashore;...And they shall be servants of the Most High; but where God and Christ dwell they cannot come, worlds without end. (D&C 76:109–112).

This seems to suggest that for telestial residents, at least, there can be no advancement to terrestrial or celestial.

There is a further reference to the eternal state of those who do not reach a full celestial glory:

Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory. For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever. (D&C 132:16–17).

This scripture again seems to state that there can be no further progression for those who have not accepted all the necessary ordinances and covenants.

Quotes from other Church leaders on the subject of progression between kingdoms

1952: Joseph L Anderson, Secretary of the First Presidency

The brethren direct me to say that the Church has never announced a definite doctrine upon this point. Some of the brethren have held the view that it was possible in the course of progression to advance from one glory to another, invoking the principle of eternal progression; others of the brethren have taken the opposite view. But as stated, the Church has never announced a definite doctrine on this point.

Sincerely your brother, Joseph L Anderson, Secretary of the First Presidency” </ref>Joseph L. Anderson, Secretary to the First Presidency in a 1952 letter; and again in 1965.</ref>

1995: Boyd K. Packer:

Some years ago I was in Washington, D.C., with President Harold B. Lee. Early one morning he called me to come into his hotel room. He was sitting in his robe reading Gospel Doctrine, by President Joseph F. Smith, and he said, “Listen to this!” “Jesus had not finished his work when his body was slain, neither did he finish it after his resurrection from the dead; although he had accomplished the purpose for which he then came to the earth, he had not fulfilled all his work. And when will he? Not until he has redeemed and saved every son and daughter of our father Adam that have been or ever will be born upon this earth to the end of time, except the sons of perdition. That is his mission. We will not finish our work until we have saved ourselves, and then not until we shall have saved all depending upon us; for we are to become saviors upon Mount Zion, as well as Christ. We are called to this mission.” “There is never a time,” the Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “when the spirit is too old to approach God. All are within the reach of pardoning mercy, who have not committed the unpardonable sin. </ref>The Brilliant Morning of Forgiveness,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 18.</ref>

1855: Brigham Young

None would inherit this earth when it became celestial and translated into the presence of God but those who would be crowned as Gods — all others would have to inherit another kingdom — they would eventually have the privilege of proving themselves worthy and advancing to a celestial kingdom but it would be a slow process [progress?]. [55]

1910: Joseph F. Smith:

Once a person enters these glories there will be eternal progress in the line of each of these particular glories, but the privilege of passing from one to another (though this may be possible for especially gifted and faithful characters) is not provided for. [56]

1960: J. Reuben Clark

I am not a strict constructionalist, believing that we seal our eternal progress by what we do here. It is my belief that God will save all of His children that he can: and while, if we live unrighteously here, we shall not go to the other side in the same status, so to speak, as those who lived righteously; nevertheless, the unrighteous will have their chance, and in the eons of the eternities that are to follow, they, too, may climb to the destinies to which they who are righteous and serve God, have climbed to those eternities that are to come. [57]

1899: James E. Talmage:

It is reasonable to believe, in the absence of direct revelation by which alone absolute knowledge of the matter could be acquired, that, in accordance with God’s plan of eternal progression, advancement from grade to grade within any kingdom, and from kingdom to kingdom, will be provided for. But if the recipients of a lower glory be enabled to advance, surely the intelligences of higher rank will not be stopped in their progress; and thus we may conclude, that degrees and grades will ever characterize the kingdoms of our God. Eternity is progressive; perfection is relative; the essential feature of God’s living purpose is its associated power of eternal increase. [58]


The Church does not take an official position on this issue

This is one of many issues about which the Church has no official position. As President J. Reuben Clark taught under assignment from the First Presidency:

Here we must have in mind—must know—that only the President of the Church, the Presiding High Priest, is sustained as Prophet, Seer, and Revelator for the Church, and he alone has the right to receive revelations for the Church, either new or amendatory, or to give authoritative interpretations of scriptures that shall be binding on the Church....
When any man, except the President of the Church, undertakes to proclaim one unsettled doctrine, as among two or more doctrines in dispute, as the settled doctrine of the Church, we may know that he is not "moved upon by the Holy Ghost," unless he is acting under the direction and by the authority of the President.
Of these things we may have a confident assurance without chance for doubt or quibbling.[59]

Harold B. Lee was emphatic that only one person can speak for the Church:

All over the Church you're being asked this: "What does the Church think about this or that?" Have you ever heard anybody ask that question? "What does the Church think about the civil rights legislation?" "What do they think about the war?" "What do they think about drinking Coca-Cola or Sanka coffee?" Did you ever hear that? "What do they think about the Democratic Party or ticket or the Republican ticket?" Did you ever hear that? "How should we vote in this forthcoming election?" Now, with most all of those questions, if you answer them, you're going to be in trouble. Most all of them. Now, it's the smart man that will say, "There's only one man in this church that speaks for the Church, and I'm not that one man."
I think nothing could get you into deep water quicker than to answer people on these things, when they say, "What does the Church think?" and you want to be smart, so you try to answer what the Church's policy is. Well, you're not the one to make the policies for the Church. You just remember what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians. He said, "For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2). Well now, as teachers of our youth, you're not supposed to know anything except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. On that subject you're expected to be an expert. You're expected to know your subject. You're expected to have a testimony. And in that you'll have great strength. If the President of the Church has not declared the position of the Church, then you shouldn't go shopping for the answer.[60]

This was recently reiterated by the First Presidency (who now approves all statements published on the Church's official website):

Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church. With divine inspiration, the First Presidency...and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles...counsel together to establish doctrine that is consistently proclaimed in official Church publications. This doctrine resides in the four “standard works” of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price), official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith. Isolated statements are often taken out of context, leaving their original meaning distorted.[61]

In response to a letter "received at the office of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" in 1912, Charles W. Penrose of the First Presidency wrote:

Question 14: Do you believe that the President of the Church, when speaking to the Church in his official capacity is infallible?
Answer: We do not believe in the infallibility of man. When God reveals anything it is truth, and truth is infallible. No President of the Church has claimed infallibility.[62]


Question: Are Latter-day Saint prophets not really "prophets" because they don't foretell unknown events?

Prophets have many roles, only one of which is to prophesy future events: The key issue is the possession of divine authority, in that they give whatever message(s) God wishes communicated to His children

Some critics say that Latter-day Saint prophets aren't really "prophets" because they don't prophesy by foretelling unknown events. They commonly issue challenges such as, "If Gordon B. Hinckley is a prophet, tell me one event that he's prophesied." Do LDS prophets "prophesy"?

Prophets have many roles, only one of which is to prophesy future events. Most modern LDS prophets have been forthtellers rather than foretellers. The key issue is the possession of divine authority, in that they give whatever message(s) God wishes communicated to His children.

The LDS Bible Dictionary has a good response to this:

The work of a Hebrew prophet was to act as God's messenger and make known God's will. The message was usually prefaced with the words "Thus saith Jehovah." He taught men about God's character, showing the full meaning of his dealings with Israel in the past.... It was also the prophet's duty to denounce sin and foretell its punishment, and to redress, so far as he could, both public and private wrongs. He was to be, above all, a preacher of righteousness. When the people had fallen away from a true faith in Jehovah, the prophets had to try to restore that faith and remove false views about the character of God and the nature of the Divine requirement. In certain cases prophets predicted future events, e.g., there are the very important prophecies announcing the coming of Messiah's kingdom; but as a rule prophet was a forthteller rather than a foreteller.[63]

The Anchor Bible Dictionary treats prophesy as "inspired speech at the initiative of a divine power"[64] and includes the following:

  • Predictions or apparent predictions
  • Eschatology or apocalyptic
  • Social or religious criticism
  • Commissioned messages from deities

Furthermore, according to the Bible, the key role of "prophecy" is to testify of Christ, for "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (Revelation 19:10).

Clearly, foretelling future events is only one calling of a prophet; many Biblical and modern prophets have carried out their calling by focusing on other roles. For example, Elijah is considered one of the great prophets of the Old Testament, and yet he didn't prophesy about the future. In a similar way, President Gordon B. Hinckley has made numerous social criticisms on topics such as the ills of pornography, the importance of the role of the family and the need for self reliance. In doing so, he has evoked warnings of previous prophets while not necessarily making a direct declaration of some pending event. At the same time, he has acted as a commissioned messenger for God with statements such as the Proclamation on the Family,[65] published in 1995 over the names of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and read by President Hinckley to the sisters of the Church in a General Relief Society talk.

One example of LDS prophets "forthtelling" is Family Home Evening. In 1915 President Joseph F. Smith and his counselors in the First Presidency began a Churchwide effort to strengthen the family. They called on parents in the Church to gather their children once each week for a "Home Evening." Families were to take time to pray and sing together, read the scriptures, teach the gospel to one another, and participate in other activities that would build family unity.

The stated purpose of Family Home Evening was to strengthen families, which may have seemed curious at that time, when families were strong by today's standards. We now live in an age when about half of all marriages end in divorce, and the need for Family Home Evening is readily apparent. LDS prophets implemented a solution that addressed the future weaking of the institution of marriage, something infinitely more valuable than simply prophecying its demise.


Question: Why do Mormons follow the practice of most Christians by resting and worshiping on Sunday?

The Latter-day Saint practice of observing the day of rest and worship on Sunday is consistent with the earliest Christian practice of which we have record

The Old Testament commands men to rest on the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week. Why do Mormons then follow the practice of most Christians by resting and worshiping on Sunday?

Latter-day Saints do not base their worship practices on an analysis of early Christian history, or on the comments of scholars in Biblical commentaries, though these sources can confirm Church teachings. Rather, the Saints follow the guidance of a living prophet. However, it seems clear that the Latter-day Saint practice of observing the day of rest and worship on Sunday—like most of the Christian world—is consistent with the earliest Christian practice of which we have record.

Interestingly, however, the most important aspect of Sabbath worship for the LDS seems to be the worship, and not the day on which it is held. Most LDS worship occurs on Sunday. General Authorities, who must often travel on conference assignments on Sunday, fast and receive the sacrament weekly on Thursdays. Church branches in Israel worship on Saturday. Branches in Muslim countries, such as Egypt, meet on Friday, the Muslim holy day.[66] Wrote one account of the Church in Israel:

Jerusalem is home to three major religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. None of the three shares the same day of worship. Islam recognizes Friday as a holy day, Judaism celebrates the Sabbath on Saturday, while Christianity generally adheres to a Sunday day of worship. These differences posed significant challenges in the lives of the Saints living in the Holy Land, and David Galbraith posed questions regarding this matter to President Lee during the Prophet's visit to Jerusalem [in September 1972].

Following President Lee's visit, branch president David Galbraith wrote a letter to the First Presidency wherein he outlined four major concerns and formally recommended that the day of worship for Latter-day Saints in the Holy Land be changed. The four concerns were as follows: First, for the Jews, public transportation ceases on Saturday, stores and places of entertainment are closed, and in Jerusalem the streets are full of families going to and from their synagogues. Second, Sunday, on the other hand, is a normal working day. Those attending the universities have classes, many of the children have school, and, in fact, everyone except those in the diplomatic corps have other obligations on that day. Third, the members were scattered throughout the country, and the majority relied on public transportation. It would be impossible to hold late afternoon or evening services on Sunday. Fourth, the members of the Church had been holding their meetings on the Jewish Sabbath rather than Sunday for some time with at least the tacit approval of the mission.

Two months after President Harold B. Lee's visit to the Holy Land, he authorized President David Galbraith to conduct worship services in Israel on the Jewish Sabbath (Saturday). This authorization is dated November 20, 1972. This decision in Israel served as a precedent to include Friday observance as a day of worship in countries of primarily Islamic populations, such as Egypt and Jordan.[67]

Early Christians chose a new Sabbath day, partly to separate themselves from their Jewish roots

Clearly, the Lord is far more concerned that His people worship Him regularly, and that they set aside a day to dedicate to him. He does not wish us to contend about a matter as trivial as the day dedicated to his worship.(See: 3 Nephi 11:29-30, Colossians 2:16.)

Early Christians chose a new Sabbath day, partly to separate themselves from their Jewish roots, and to make clear that the Christian covenant of grace was a new covenant or testament from the Mosaic law.

The modern Church, guided by prophets and apostles, does not seek contention with others over the "proper" day of worship; rather, they invite all to worship and come unto Christ. This tends to be done on the day which accords best with the practices and patterns of the culture in which they find themselves.

We believe the Lord's day (Revelation 1:10) to be the first day of the week.

This understanding is not unique to the Latter-day Saints; in fact, it has its origins early in the Christian century.

Old Testament law and practice was substantially changed in the early Christian church

There is no question that the Old Testament refers to the Sabbath being on the seventh day — but, it is important to remember that the Old Testament law and practice was substantially changed in the early Christian church.

As Hebrews 7:12 says

For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

The Mosaic law was fulfilled and so worship was altered, and this included the Sabbath as well.

To be consistent, advocates of the Old Testament Sabbath should also keep the seventh month of every year, and the seventh year as Sabbaths also. And in the seventh year, the fields which you farmed would have to be left to the poor and to the beasts of the field. You would also have to release all debts owed to you in this selfsame year. Other requirements that would still be in force would include the preparation of all food the evening before the Sabbath, and you wouldn't be able to kindle a fire on the Sabbath (Exodus 35:3). And those breaking the Sabbath would have to be put to death (Exodus 31:14-17)! This view of Sabbath worship is not the same as that spoken of in the New Testament.

The Acts of the Apostles tells us

And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight (Acts 20:7).

Thus, in the earliest days of Christian worship, a group of Christ's followers gathered together in a house (where Church meetings were held in those days) on Sunday, where bread was broken (a term used for the sacrament or communion (1 Corinthians 11:24), while a Church leader teaches of Christ. This sounds like a Church meeting held on the Sabbath.

Early Christian authors on the Christian Sabbath

Other Christian authors not found in the Bible support this view of Acts.

Ignatius (died A.D. 98–117) was taught by John the Apostle, and he understood what the Lord's day meant in John's Book of Revelation. He said

if, then, those who walked in ancient customs came to a new hope, no longer sabbathing, but living by the Lord's day, on which we came to life through Him and through his death....

Ignatius makes a distinction between "sabbathing" (i.e. observing the Jewish Sabbath on Saturday) and the "Lord's day" (the first day of the week). He continues:

let every friend of Christ keep the Lord’s Day as a festival, the resurrection-day, the queen and chief of all the days [of the week]. Looking forward to this, the prophet declared, “To the end, for the eighth day,” on which our life both sprang up again, and the victory over death was obtained in Christ, whom the children of perdition, the enemies of the Saviour, deny, “whose god is their belly, who mind earthly things,” (Philippians 3:18-19) who are “lovers of pleasure, and not lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof,” (2 Timothy 3:4). These make merchandise for Christ, corrupting His word, and giving up Jesus to sale; they are corrupters of women, and covetous of other men's possessions, swallowing up wealth insatiably; from whom may ye be delivered by the mercy of God through our Lord Jesus Christ![68]

Here he gives a little more detail on the Lord's day. It is the "eighth day," or the first day of the week, and can be understood in Justin Martyr's (A.D. 100–165) teachings as such:

The command of circumcision, again, bidding [them] always circumcise the children on the eighth day, was a type of the true circumcision, by which we are circumcised from deceit and iniquity through Him who rose from the dead on the first day after the Sabbath, [namely through] our Lord Jesus Christ. For the first day after the Sabbath, remaining the first of all the days , is called, however, the eighth, according to the number of all the days of the cycle, and [yet] remains the first.[69]

Justin also wrote:

the day of the sun is the day on which we all gather in a common meeting, because it is the first day, the day on which God, changing darkness and matter, created the world; and it is the day on which Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead for He was crucified on the day before that of “kronos” (Greek counter part of the Roman god Saturn which is where Saturday gets its name); and on the day after that of “kronos”, which is the day of the sun (Sunday), He appeared to His Apostles and disciples, and taught them these things which we have also submitted to you for your consideration.

He also taught

and on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together in to one place, and the memoirs of the Apostles or the writings of the Prophets are read as long as time permits; then when the reader has ceased, the President verbally instructs and exhorts to imitation of these good things....[70]

Here, Justin points out that Christians worshiped on Sunday. He also says:

But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration.[71]

The Epistle of Barnabas, which purports to have been written by Barnabas, Paul's missionary companion, reads,

Lastly he says to them, I cannot stand your new moons and your Sabbaths. Consider what he means by it: the Sabbaths, he says, that you now keep are not acceptable to me, but only those which I have made, when resting from all things I shall begin the eighth day, that is, the beginning of the other world." Wherefore, also, we keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead. And when He had manifested Himself, He ascended into the heavens.[72]

In the Didache, which was written around A.D. 140, it says

on the Lord's day of the Lord gather together, break bread and give thanks, after confessing your transgressions so that your sacrifice may be pure.[73]

Again, we see that the Christians are told, on the Lords day (Sunday) they are to gather together and meet for the celebration of the Lord's supper (LDS readers would call this the "sacrament.")

The redundancy of “the Lord's day of the Lord” in Greek indicates that the term “Lord's day” had already become a common usage for Sunday, so much so that it is now used as a distinct term apart from its root meaning.[74]

Augustine (A.D. 354–430) says:

"the Apostles decreed that Sunday must be kept holy" and "every lover of Christ celebrates the Lords day, consecrated to the resurrection of Christ, as the queen and chief of all days." [75]

Biblical Commentators

Various Biblical commentators also agree that the Sabbath as observed by the early Christians was Sunday:

Dr. Adam Clark, in his Commentary treating Revelation 1:10, says:

'The Lord's day' the first day of the week, observed as the Christian Sabbath, because on it Jesus Christ rose from the dead: therefore it was called the Lords day; and has taken place of the Jewish Sabbath, throughout the Christian world.[76]

Dr. Thomas Scott, in his Commentary dealing with this same verse, says:

This was 'on the Lord's day' which can be meant of no other, than the day on which the Lord Jesus arose from the dead, even "the first day of the week": and it is conclusive proof, that the first day was set apart, and kept holy, by the primitive Christians, in commemoration of the great event: for on what other account could it have been thus mentioned!"[77]

In the Jameson, Fausett, and Brown's Commentary on this same passage, they write:

...on the Lords day--Though forcibly detained from Church communion with the brethren in the sanctuary on the Lord's day, the weekly commemoration of the resurrection, John was holding spiritual communion with them. This is the earliest mention of the term 'the Lord's day!' But the consecration of the day to worship, almsgiving, and the Lord's supper, is implied, Acts 20:7;1 Corinthians 16:2, cf. John 20:19-26. The name corresponds to 'the Lord's supper,' 1 Corinthians 11:20. Ignatius seems to allude to 'the Lord's day' (ad. Magnes, 9) and Irenaeus in the Quaest. ad Orthod. (in Justin Martyr). Justin Martyr Apology 2:98 &c. 'On Sunday we hold our joint meeting; for the first day is that on which God, having removed darkness and chaos, made the world, and Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead. On the day before Saturday they crucified Him, and on the day after Saturday, which is Sunday, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, he taught these things.' To the Lord's day Pliny doubtless refers (Ex 97, B10), 'The Christians on a fixed day before dawn meet and sing a hymn to Christ as God.'"[78]

Non-Christian authors

The Roman historians, Suetonius and Pliny, who lived and wrote in the first centuries of the Christian era, during the bloody martyr ages, are good witnesses in this problem. As they were neither Christians nor Jews, but heathens, and not concerned in the controversy in any respect, their incidental historic testimony is compelling.

They report that Christians charged with violating Roman law through their worship were asked: "Dominicum servaste?" — "Hast thou kept the Lord's day?" The Christian responded: "Christianus sum" — "I am a Christian." "Intermittere non possum" — "I can not omit it." This response doomed the Christian to martyrdom.[79]

To understanding the above exchange, it is important to note that the Jewish Sabbath was never was called "the Lord's day," but simply "the Sabbath day." If the early Christians had kept the seventh day, they would have been asked: "Sabbaticum servaste?" — "Hast thou kept the Sabbath day?" But this question never was asked by their persecutors. It is historically untenable to deny that the Lord's day was kept from the Apostolic age onward.

It is a significant fact that the day of Pentecost, upon which day the apostles received their spiritual endowment by the outpouring of the Holy Ghost, “that year fell on the first day of the week”—that is, Sunday.[80]


Question: Is it true that Mormon missionaries are not allowed to swim because Satan has dominion over the waters?

The connection between missionary policy and the reference to the "destroyer" riding the face of the waters in D&C 61 is a persistent Mormon urban legend

I know I was told in the MTC that missionaries were not to ever swim because Satan had dominion over the waters. So what is the actual Church doctrine on this subject?

The connection between missionary policy and the reference to the "destroyer" riding the face of the waters in D&C 61 is a persistent Mormon urban legend. One must consider that LDS missionaries frequently travel by water to reach remote islands. Before the advent of modern air travel, all overseas missionaries were required to travel by ship to Europe, Asia, and other foreign lands. Missionaries, of course, bathe and perform baptisms in water.

The Church has a general policy prohibiting full-time missionaries from swimming. This is simply a safety precaution to prevent drowning or other water related accidents. There are a number of other mission rules that vary depending upon the mission. For example, some missions prohibit missionaries from playing basketball. Rock climbing is usually a prohibited activity. Mission rules are designed to keep missionaries safe by preventing them from participating in high-risk physical activities.

Background of the revelation

The introduction to D&C section 61 provides background:

On their return trip to Kirtland the Prophet and ten elders had traveled down the Missouri River in canoes. On the third day of the journey many dangers were experienced. Elder William W. Phelps, in daylight vision, saw the destroyer riding in power upon the face of the waters.

The following revelation was then received:

DC 61:13-19

13 And now, behold, for your good I gave unto you a commandment concerning these things; and I, the Lord, will reason with you as with men in days of old.

14 Behold, I, the Lord, in the beginning blessed the waters; but in the last days, by the mouth of my servant John, I cursed the waters.

15 Wherefore, the days will come that no flesh shall be safe upon the waters.

16 And it shall be said in days to come that none is able to go up to the land of Zion upon the waters, but he that is upright in heart.

17 And, as I, the Lord, in the beginning cursed the land, even so in the last days have I blessed it, in its time, for the use of my saints, that they may partake the fatness thereof.

18 And now I give unto you a commandment that what I say unto one I say unto all, that you shall forewarn your brethren concerning these waters, that they come not in journeying upon them, lest their faith fail and they are caught in snares;

19 I, the Lord, have decreed, and the destroyer rideth upon the face thereof, and I revoke not the decree.

What waters is the Lord referring to?

Note that the Lord specifies these waters. Joseph Fielding Smith provides some additional clarification:

These brethren while encamped at McIlwaine's Bend on the Missouri, beheld the power of the destroyer as he rode upon the storm. One of that number saw him in all his fearful majesty, and the Lord revealed to the entire group something of the power of this evil personage. It may seem strange to us, but it is the fact that Satan exercises dominion and has some control over the elements . . . Paul speaks of Satan as the "prince of the power of the air. " (Eph.2:2) The Lord revealed to these brethren some of the power of the adversary of mankind and how he rides upon the storm, as a means of affording them protection. They were commanded to use judgment as they traveled upon these waters, and the saints coming to Zion were instructed to travel by land on their way up to Zion. Moreover, notwithstanding the great power of Satan upon the waters, the Lord still held command and he could protect his people whether on land or by water as they journeyed.[81]

B.H. Roberts indicates that this refers specifically to the waters of western Missouri:

After three days upon the river they reached McIlwaine's Bend where they camped for the night, and here an important revelation was given relative to their own movements and also in relation to the "destroyer" that should ride upon those western waters, and the danger thereafter of journeying upon them. Shortly after landing, and before night fell upon the scene, William W. Phelps beheld in open vision the "destroyer" in his most horrible power ride upon the face of the waters. "Others," continues the Prophet in his narrative, "heard the noise but saw not the vision." "Behold there are many dangers upon the waters," said the revelation, "and more especially hereafter; for I, the Lord, have declared in mine anger, many destructions upon the waters; yea, and especially upon these waters [i. e. of western Missouri]. * * * And now, behold, for your good, I give unto you a commandment concerning these things." Then follows instructions to the saints who shall hereafter journey to the land of Zion, not to go upon the river, but by land, "pitching their tents by the way."[82]


Calculation of tithing

Summary: I've been told that the Church expects or teaches its members to tithe on gross income. What can you tell me about how tithing it taught in the Church?

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Notes

  1. Boyd K. Packer, "A Defense and a Refuge," Ensign (November 2006), 85–88.
  2. Daniel C. Peterson, "Editor's Introduction," FARMS Review 15/2 (2003): ix–lxii. off-site
  3. For an extensive analysis of the term "anti-Mormon," and critics' attempts to discourage its use, see Louis Midgley, "The Signature Books Saga," FARMS Review 16/1 (2004): 361–406. off-site
  4. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, s.v. "anti-". Retrieved 9 December 2006, from Dictionary.com website.
  5. Louis Midgley, "The Signature Books Saga," FARMS Review 16/1 (2004): 361–406. off-site
  6. Jerald and Sandra Tanner, The Changing World of Mormonism (Moody Press, 1979), 38, 49, 83, 126, 131, 132, 141, 164, 166, 209, 246, 455, 461 and 479.( Index of claims )
  7. Daniel C. Peterson and Stephen D. Ricks, Offenders for a Word: How Anti-Mormons Play Word Games to Attack the Latter-day Saints (Provo, Utah: FARMS (reprint edition), 1992), 1. ISBN 0934893357. off-site
  8. Alan W. Gomes, Unmasking the Cults (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1995), 7. (italics added)
  9. Ibid.
  10. Ibid., 10.
  11. Herbert Danbys, "The Jew and Christianity," p. 8.
  12. Robert Louis Wilken, The Christians as the Romans Saw Them (Yale University Press; 2nd edition, 2003), 22, 49–50, 66. ISBN 0300098391.
  13. George Q. Cannon, "The Resurrection As Affecting the Sons of Perdition," The Juvenile Instructor {{{vol}}}/{{{num}}} (15 February 1900): 123.
  14. George Q. Cannon, "Union, Fate of Sons of Perdition," in Brian H. Stuy (editor), Collected Discourses: Delivered by Wilford Woodruff, his two counselors, the twelve apostles, and others, 1868–1898, 5 vols., (Woodland Hills, Utah: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987–1989), 1:378–379. [Discourse given on 6 October 1889.]
  15. Charles W. Penrose, Conference Report (Octrober 1911), 51–52.
  16. Anthon H. Lund, Conference Report (April 1904), 8.
  17. John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations: Aids to Faith in a Modern Day, arranged by G. Homer Durham (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1960), 213. GL direct link
  18. Joseph F. Smith, From Prophet to Son: Advice of Joseph F. Smith to his missionary sons (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co., 1981), 68. ISBN 0877478856.
  19. Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 5 vols., (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1957–1966), 2:169. ISBN 1573454400. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  20. Hugh W. Nibley, The World and the Prophets, 3rd edition, (Vol. 3 of Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), edited by John W. Welch, Gary P. Gillum, and Don E. Norton (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company; Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1987), 31.
  21. Dialogue with Trypho 8, Ante-Nicene Fathers 1:198
  22. Shepard of Hermas, Ante-Nicene Fathers 2:24
  23. "Teaching and Learning by the Spirit," Ensign (March 1997) 14.
  24. Dr. Wendy Ulrich, "'Believest thou…?': Faith, Cognitive Dissonance, and the Psychology of Religious Experience," Proceedings of the 2005 FAIR Conference (2005).
  25. Jeremy Runnells, Letter to a CES Director (2013)
  26. "FAIR Questions 2: Recognizing the Voice of the Spirit," FairMormon Blog (28 August 2011).
  27. Website: MormonThink, Article: "Testimony & Spiritual Witnesses," URL: mormonthink.com (Last accessed: 4 Jun. 2011) FAIR review
  28. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service (Salt Lake City, UT: Intellectual Reserve, Inc., 2004).
  29. Boyd K. Packer, "[https://www.lds.org/ensign/1983/01/the-candle-of-the-lord?lang=eng The Candle of the Lord," Ensign (January 1983), 53.
  30. Ezra Taft Benson, A Witness and a Warning: A Modern-Day Prophet Testifies of the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Co., 1988), 15-16.
  31. Preach My Gospel.
  32. "How Do I Recognize and Understand the Spirit?," Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service (2004)
  33. Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith," 151.
  34. D&C 9:7–8
  35. Boyd K. Packer, "Personal Revelation: The Gift, the Test, and the Promise," Ensign (November 1994).
  36. Boyd K. Packer, "Personal Revelation: The Gift, the Test, and the Promise," Ensign (November 1994).
  37. Dallin H. Oaks, "Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall," Ensign (Oct. 1994), 13–14.
  38. Haidt, Jonathan (7 March 2000). "The Positive Emotion of Elevation". Prevention & Treatment. 3 (1)
  39. Aquino, Karl; Brent McFerran; Marjorie Laven (April 2011). "Moral identity and the experience of moral elevation in response to acts of uncommon goodness". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 100 (4): 703–718
  40. Ibid
  41. Ante-Nicene Fathers 3:451, Tertullian 207 AD, W
  42. Ante-Nicene Fathers 5:620, Novation 235 AD, W
  43. Ante-Nicene Fathers 6:374, Methodius, as quoted by Photius, 290 AD, E
  44. Ante-Nicene Fathers 4:254, Origen, 225 AD, E
  45. Ante-Nicene Fathers 3:584, Tertullian, 197 AD, W
  46. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on-line at plato.stanford.edu (revised 17 August 2004, last accessed 23 October 2006).
  47. Blake Ostler, "The Mormon Concept of God," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought (Summer 1983), 73.
  48. Ronald Hellings, "Determinism and Free Agency," a talk presented at Sunstone Symposium West, Los Angeles, California, 1988 (unpublished).
  49. Benjamin F. Johnson, My Life's Review (Independence,Missouri: Zion's Printing and Publishing Co., 1947); reprinted (Heber City, Utah: Archive Publishers, 2001), 109. ISBN 1930679580. off-site text
  50. Mark E. Peterson, Joseph of Egypt (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co., 1981), 84.
  51. Joseph Fielding Smith, Restoration of All Things (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co., 1945), 131–132.
  52. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd edition, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 457. GL direct link
  53. Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985), 520. ISBN 0877478724. ISBN 978-0877478720. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  54. Russell M. Nelson, "The Gathering of Scattered Israel," Ensign (November 2006), 79–82. (internal footnotes removed; italics in original)
  55. Brigham Young, in Wilford Woodruff Journal, 5 Aug 1855
  56. Joseph F. Smith, Improvement Era 14:87 [November 1910]
  57. J. Reuben Clark, Church News, 23 April 1960, p. 3.
  58. James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith [1899 edition] pp. 420-421.
  59. J. Reuben Clark, Jr., "Church Leaders and the Scriptures," [original title "When Are the Writings or Sermons of Church Leaders Entitled to the Claim of Scripture?"] Immortality and Eternal Life: Reflections from the Writings and Messages of President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., Vol, 2, (1969-70): 221; address to Seminary and Institute Teachers, BYU (7 July 1954); reproduced in Church News (31 July 1954); also reprinted in Dialogue 12/2 (Summer 1979): 68–81.
  60. Harold B. Lee, Teachings of Harold B. Lee (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1996), 445. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  61. LDS Newsroom, "Approaching Mormon Doctrine," lds.org (4 May 2007)
  62. Charles W. Penrose, "Peculiar Questions Briefly Answered," Improvement Era 15 no. 11 (September 1912).
  63. Bible Dictionary (LDS English edition of the Holy Scriptures), s.v. "prophet," 754, (emphasis added), (italics in original).
  64. David Noel Freedman, ed., (6 vols) The Anchor Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 477, s.v. "prophecy". ISBN 038542583X.
  65. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The Family: A Proclamation to the World (First read by Gordon B. Hinckley as part of his message at the General Relief Society Meeting held 23 September 1995, in Salt Lake City, Utah.)
  66. Personal communication from those who have lived in Israel and Egypt, FAIR e-mail list.
  67. LaMar C. Berrett and Blair G. Van Dyke, Holy Lands: A History of the Latter-day Saints in the Near East (American Fork, Utah: Covenant Communications, 2005), 372–373.
  68. Irenaeus, "Ignatius to the Magnesians," in Ante-Nicene Fathers, edited by Philip Schaff (Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886)1:63. ANF ToC off-site This volume
  69. Justin Martyr, "Dialogue with Trypho," in Chapter 41 Ante-Nicene Fathers, edited by Philip Schaff (Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886)1:215. ANF ToC off-site This volume
  70. Justin Martyr, "First Apology," in Chapter 67 Ante-Nicene Fathers, edited by Philip Schaff (Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886)1:186. ANF ToC off-site This volume
  71. Justin Martyr, "First Apology," in Chapter 67 Ante-Nicene Fathers, edited by Philip Schaff (Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886)1:186. ANF ToC off-site This volume
  72. Attributed to Barnabas, "Epistle of Barnabas," in Chapter 15 Ante-Nicene Fathers, edited by Philip Schaff (Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886)1:147. ANF ToC off-site This volume
  73. [citation needed]
  74. William A. Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Volume 1, (Liturgical Press, 1970), 5.
  75. [citation needed]
  76. [citation needed]
  77. [citation needed]
  78. [citation needed]
  79. John Farrar, A Biblical and Theological Dictionary: Illustrative of the Old and New Testaments (London, 2nd Edition, 1852), 551.
  80. "Lord's day," in Smith's Bible Dictionary (Hackett and Abbott’s edition) 2:1677. See also First Name Bramhall, "Discourse on the Sabbath and the Lords day," in Need Title (Oxford edition, YEAR?) vol. 5:51—“and when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in place.” It is very possible that all the believers were in "one place" was because they were worshipping together.[citation needed]Note need for more info on these references
  81. Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Co., 1947), 1:207.
  82. Brigham H. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1965), 1:262. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)