Question: Did John Taylor believe that there was no longer a separation between Church and State?

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Question: Did John Taylor believe that there was no longer a separation between Church and State?

Taylor is pointing out that no one among the Saints has secular solutions to the problems which face them

John Taylor said "We used to have a difference between Church and State, but it is all one now. Thank God, we have no more temporal and spiritual! We have got Church and State together" [1] Was Taylor stating the the Church had taken over secular responsibilities?

Taylor is not gloating that there is no more secular power in Utah territory. Rather, he is pointing out that no one among the Saints has secular solutions to the problems which face them—which might be frightening, but is also a blessing, since they can now trust God and their faith in all matters, not just the purely "religious." Their right to self-government, far from their enemies, means that they can make the decision as they think best.

The historical setting is one in which Johnson's army was en route to menace the Saints. A larger section of Taylor's discourse helps us appreciate his intent:

Now, let me ask how we are going to stand, except we are guided by the revelations of God? And let me further ask how you are going to get the revelations of God, except you live your religion and obey those set over you? Let me further ask, What is the use professing to be the people of God if we do not live our religion and magnify our calling?

I speak of these things merely for argument's sake....

For instance, there is an army coming up here. Can any of you tell what will be the result, except the proper authorities dictate? Do you know what will be the best? But suppose we get through with this, and I suppose that some of you may begin to guess for this year: but can you for next? Is there a man here that can tell how and where to hide his family and his grain? Are there any in this congregation who know anything about it and that give counsel to this people either for present or coming emergencies? This is bringing things to a focus. Now, you wise men, or men of education and literary attainments, or philosophers, speak and display your wisdom. If you cannot, and if we have not any knowledge in this matter, what next? Why, we have got to be dependent upon the authority that is over us; and if we cannot submit, how can we be governed by it?

This principle pervades all, whether in a civil or military capacity or in any other capacity. We used to have a difference between Church and State, but it is all one now. Thank God, we have no more temporal and spiritual! We have got Church and State together, and we used to talk of baptism and repentance, and we used to whip out sectarian priests with their own Bible, and we thought that we were tremendous fellows.

But in what part of the Bible do you find what we are to do this year or the next? This will be part of a new Bible, for when it takes place it will be written, and then that will be a Bible, and then the world will find that we shall have a "Mormon Bible."

Men have been opposed to the Book of Mormon because it was a new Bible. The poor fools did not know that wherever there was a true Church there was revelation, and that wherever there was revelation there was the word of God to man and materials to make Bibles of. (emphasis added)

Taylor's remark that "we have got Church and State together" becomes more understandable when viewed in context. He points out that previously, the Saints would speak of religious subjects, and apply revelation to them, and were delighted that they could "whip out sectarian priests" who denied on-going prophetic revelation. But now, says Taylor, we have moved beyond that point. We are now in a situation in which we will not benefit from revelation only in religious matters. The Saints are alone, unpopular, and soon to be the victims of an approaching army.

Taylor offers to let secular wisdom—wise men, men of education, philosophers, etc.—solve the secular problems that now face the Saints. If they cannot do it (and Taylor and his audience apparently believe that they cannot) then the only other option is to fall back on revelation—but this will not be revelation about what the world would call purely "religious matters," but it will be applied to a temporal emergency.


Notes

  1. ↑ John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 5:266.