Question: Does the 1845 Proclamation say some would live to see Second Coming

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Question: Does the 1845 Proclamation by the Twelve indicate some would live to see the Second Coming?

It is claimed that the following passage was a false prophecy:

A great, a glorious, and a mighty work is yet to be achieved, in spreading the truth and kingdom among the Gentiles-in restoring, organizing, instructing and establishing the Jews-in gathering, instructing, relieving, civilizing, educating and administering salvation to the remnant of Israel on this continent; in building Jerusalem in Palestine; and the cities, stakes, temples, and sanctuaries of Zion in America; and in gathering the Gentiles into the same covenant and organization-instructing them in all things for their sanctification and preparation; that the whole Church of the Saints, both Gentile, Jew and Israel, may be prepared as a bride, for the coming of the Lord. And now, O ye kings, rulers, presidents, governors, judges, legislators, nobles, lords, and rich men of the earth; will you leave us, to struggle alone, and to toil unaided in so great a work? Or will you share in the labors, toils, sacrifices, honors and blessings of the same? Have you not the same interest in it that we have? Is it not sent forth to renovate the world-to enlighten the nations-to cover the earth with light, knowledge, truth, union, peace and love? And thus usher in the great millennium, or sabbath of rest, so long expected and sought for by all good men? We bear testimony that it is. And the fulfillment of our words will establish their truth, to millions yet unborn: while there are those now living upon the earth who will live to see the consummation.</ref>

It is unclear what "consummation" is referring to

Were the authors referencing the gathering of Israel? Or some of the many preparatory activities of the second coming? Or the second coming itself? The "work yet to be achieved" (from the 1st paragraph) like "gathering, instructing, relieving, civilizing, educating and administering salvation to the remnant of Israel on this continent; in building Jerusalem in Palestine; and the cities, stakes, temples, and sanctuaries of Zion in America; and in gathering the Gentiles into the same covenant"...these happened within the lifespan of some human beings born in 1845. If this is talking about Israel being re-established in 1948, it is right at the very edge of the maximum human lifespan time frame (103 years) and would be a well timed prophecy.

The 3 Nephites

To be very technical, remember there were those on the earth in 1845 which will be alive at the Second Coming, like the "3 Nephites", as well as others with the same blessing.

Revelations not always clear cut

Also, revelations are not always as clear cut as we expect them to be.

"I do not even believe that there is a single revelation, among the many God has given to the Church, that is perfect in its fulness. The revelations of God contain correct doctrine and principle, so far as they go; but it is impossible for the poor, weak, low, grovelling, sinful inhabitants of the earth to receive a revelation from the Almighty in all its perfections. He has to speak to us in a manner to meet the extent of our capacities".[1]

Revelations are communicated to prophets as ideas, and concepts. Human beings have to interpret them and verbalize these to us imperfectly. And sometimes prophets use flowery language they are used to already saying, and are imprecise in their choice of words. There were probably a handful of new revelation concepts upon which the whole Declaration was based, and most of the words were elaborations.

Also, church doctrine is not based on one sentence from one person or document at one given time, it has to be repeated by subsequent prophets.

“. . .it should be remembered that not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. It is commonly understood in the Church that a statement made by one leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, not meant to be official or binding for the whole Church.” (Elder Christofferson)[2]

No other prophets have said that the second coming was definitely going to happen within X years. In fact Joseph Smith said the opposite.

I also prophesy, in the name of the Lord, that Christ will not come in forty years; and if God ever spoke by my mouth, He will not come in that length of time. Brethren, when you go home, write this down, that it may be remembered. Jesus Christ never did reveal to any man the precise time that He would come. Go and read the scriptures, and you cannot find anything that specifies the exact hour He would come; and all that say so are false teachers.[3]

Notes

  1. Brigham Young, "The Kingdom Of God," (8 July 1855) Journal of Discourses 2:314.
  2. D. Todd Christofferson, "The Doctrine of Christ," April 2012 General Conference, Sunday Morning Session (1 Apr 2012)
  3. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 6:254. Volume 6 link