Friday, October 30, 2009

September 27, 1886 Revelation to John Taylor

September 27, 1886

My son John: You have asked me concerning the New and Everlasting Covenant and how far it is binding upon my people.

Thus saith the Lord All commandments that I give must be obeyed by those calling themselves by my name unless they are revoked by me or by my authority and how can I revoke an everlasting covenant

For I the Lord am everlasting and my covenants cannot be abrogated nor done away with; but they stand forever.

Have I not given my word in great plainness on this subject?

Yet have not great numbers of my people been negligent in the observance of my law and the keeping of my commandment, and yet have I borne with them these many years and this because of their weakness because of the perilous times. And furthermore it is more pleasing to me that men should use their free agency in regard to these matters.

Nevertheless I the Lord do not change and my word and my covenants and my law do not.

And as I have heretofore said by my servant Joseph all those who would enter into my glory must and shall obey my law

And have I not commanded men that if they were Abraham's seed and would enter into my glory they must do the works of Abraham.

I have not revoked this law nor will I for it is everlasting and those who will enter into my glory must obey the conditions thereof, even so Amen.


From Apostle John W. Taylor's trial before the Quorum of the Twelve:

Taylor: My father received a revelation which, however, was never presented to the Church, and I refer to this not because it was a revelation to my father; I don't think a revelation because it came through him was any greater than one received through any other President of the Church, but because it seems to pertain to this question. The revelation was read by Brother Penrose.

President Lyman: When did you find the revelation?

Taylor: I found it on his desk immediately after his death when I was appointed administrator of his estate.

A. W. Ivins: Do you know how extensively this revelation has been circulated in times past and has guided people in their action in this regard?

Taylor: Brother Joseph W. Robinson came to me and asked for a copy of it upon the suggestion of Brother Cowley and he got it from Brother Badger. Brother Joseph F. Smith, jr., also got a copy, but I don't know how many have got copies from these....

J. F. Smith, jr: It is true I obtained a copy of this revelation from brother Rodney Badger. He let me take the original and I made a copy and filed it in the historian's office. This was but a short time ago.
--John W. Taylor File, February 22 and March 1, 1911, LDS Church Archives.


From a statement by the First Presidency:

It is alleged that on September 26-27, 1886, President Taylor received a revelation from the Lord, the purported text of which is given in publications circulated apparently by or at the instance of this same organization.

As to this pretended revelation it should be said that the archives of the Church contain no such revelation; nor any evidence justifying a belief that any such revelation was ever given. From the personal knowledge of some of us, from the uniform and common recollection of the presiding quorums of the Church, from the absence in the Church Archives of any evidence whatsoever justifying any belief that such a revelation was given, we are justified in affirming that no such revelation exists.
Heber J. Grant
Anthony W. Ivins
J. Reuben Clark, Jr.

--Official Statement, Deseret News, Church Section, June 18, 1933.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Animal Sacrifices in Latter-day Temples

Here's some quotes about animal sacrifice being restored in this dispensation:

When we see a temple built right, there will be a place for the priests to enter and put on their robes, and offer up sacrifices, first for themselves, and then for the people.
--Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball Journal, January 2, 1846, see BYU Studies, Spring 76, Vol. 16 #3, pg. 384.

Under the pulpit in the west end will be a place to offer sacrifices. There will be an altar prepared for that purpose so that when any sacrifices are to be offered they should be offered there.
--Brigham Young, Dec 18, 1857 quoted in Wilford Woodruff's Journal: 1833-1898, Scott Kenney, ed., Midvale UT: Signature 1984, Vol. 5 pg. 140.

I heard the Prophet [Joseph Smith] reply to the question: "Will there ever be any more offering of sheep and heifers and bullocks upon altars, as used to be required of Israel?"
He said: "Yes, there will, for there were never any rites, ordinances or laws in the priesthood of any gospel dispensation on this earth but what will have to be finished and perfected in this the last dispensation of time -- the dispensation of all dispensations."
--They Knew the Prophet, by Hyrum L. & Helen Mae Andrus, SLC: Bookcraft 1974, pg. 62.

The Quorum of the Twelve had been filled, but of the number selected one--Willard Richards--was in England and Joseph was instructing those present of that Quorum how they must proceed to prepare themselves, that they might ordain Willard Richards to the Apostleship when they should reach that country. Joseph told them to go to Kirtland and cleanse and purify a certain room in the temple, that they must kill a lamb and offer a sacrifice unto the Lord which should prepare them to ordain Willard Richard a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Sidney made some remarks, when Joseph spoke with great power and spirit, said he, "I know the law." To a remark made by Heber C. Kimball he said, "It will be the sweetest smelling savor you ever smelled."
--Journal of Wandle Mace, typescript, Harold B. Lee Library, BYU, pg. 32.

D&C 124:39 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.

It will be necessary here to make a few observations on the doctrine set forth in the above quotation [Mal. 3:3], 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.

The offering of sacrifice has ever been connected and forms a part of the duties of the Priesthood. It began with the Priesthood, and will be continued until after the coming of Christ, from generation to generation. We frequently have mention made of the offering of sacrifice by the servants of the Most High in ancient days, prior to the law of Moses; which ordinances will be continued when the Priesthood is restored with all its authority, power and blessings.

Elijah was the last Prophet that held the keys of the Priesthood, and who will, before the last dispensation, restore the authority and deliver the keys of the Priesthood, in order that all the ordinances may be attended to in righteousness. It is true that the Savior had authority and power to bestow this blessing; but the sons of Levi were too prejudiced. "And I will send Elijah the Prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord," etc., etc. Why send Elijah? Because he holds the keys of authority to administer in all the ordinances of the Priesthood; and without the authority is given, the ordinances could not be administered in righteousness.

It is a very prevalent opinion that the sacrifices which were offered were entirely consumed. This was not the case; if you read Leviticus 2:2-3, you will observe that the priests took a part as a memorial and offered it up before the Lord, while the remainder was kept for the maintenance of the priests; so that the offerings and sacrifices are not all consumed upon the altar -- but the blood is sprinkled, and the fat and certain other portions are consumed.

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 powers of the Melchizedek 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.

It may be asked by some, what necessity for sacrifice, since the Great Sacrifice was offered? In answer to which, if repentance, baptism, and faith existed prior to the days of Christ, what necessity for them since that time? The Priesthood has descended in a regular line from father to son, through their succeeding generations. (See Book of Doctrine and Covenants.) (October 5, 1840.) DHC 4:207-212.
--Joseph Smith, TPJS pgs. 172-173.

Immediately after entering the house [Kirtland Temple] in company with several other Elders, I went within the veil and we bowed down before the Lord in the Aaronic [priesthood] stand and offered a morning sacrifice and the Spirit of God rested upon us with joy to our souls... .
--Wilford Woodfuff's Journal, March 23, 1837.

"Well, sister Pratt," says Joe, "as you have refused me, it becomes sin, unless sacrifice is offered:" and turning to me he said, "General, if you are my friend I wish you to procure a lamb, and have it slain, and sprinkle the door posts and the gate with its blood, and take the kidneys and the entrails and offer them upon an altar of twelve stones that have not been touched with a hammer, as a burnt offering, and it will save me and my priesthood. Will you do it?" "I will," I replied. So I procured the lamb from Capt. John T. Barnett, and it was slain by Lieut. Stephen H. Goddard, and I offered the kidneys and entrails in sacrifice for Joe as desired; and Joe said, "all is now safe -- the destroying angel will pass over, without harming any of us."
--John C. Bennett letter to Simeon Francis, editor of the Sangamo Journal, July 5, 1842, (see Wasp Extra, July 27, 1842; Sangamo Journal, July 15, 1842) quoted in Cultures in Conflict by John E. Hallwas and Roger D. Launius, Logan UT: USU Press 1995, pg. 119.

The members of the Church are reminded that the practice of polygamous or plural marriage is not the only law whose suspension has been authorized by the Lord and adopted by the people. The law of animal sacrifice, in force in ancient Israel, has been suspended, but the Prophet Joseph asserted it would be again restored, and such is the effect of the statement made by John the Baptist when restoring the Aaronic priesthood. The law of the United Order has likewise been suspended, to be reestablished in the due time of the Lord. Other laws might be mentioned.
--First Presidency (Heber J. Grant, Anthony W. Ivins, and J. Reuben clark, Jr.), Messages of the First Presidency 5:327

The First Presidency of the Church once assured me in writing, through a member of the Twelve (in 1921 or 1922 as I remember), that they concurred with the Prophet's words on this point, [the continuation of animal sacrifice in the last days 'from generation to generation' TPJS p. 172] but added that in their opinion sacrifice would be on a more limited scale than formerly.
--Sydney B. Sperry, Doctrine and Covenants Compendium, SLC: Bookcraft 1960, pg. 394.

It would have to be on a more limited scale than formerly, because in Ezekiel's vision of the restored temple in Ezekiel, chapters 40-48, the sacrifices are in the morning only, as opposed to morning and evening. In Joseph Smith's journal for April 2, 1843 (see An American Prophet's Record, ed. by Faulring) we find: "...the 144,000 sealed are the priests who are appointed to administer in the daily sacrifice." The Brigham Young quote above about priests offering sacrifices for themselves and the people would refer to the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur sacrifices.

There's also an 1845 quote from Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs (from BYU Studies, Spring 79, V. 19, No. 3, pg. 302) where she describes how an Elder Dunham "spoke of the nations sending up their bullocks for sacrifices or have no rain..." which is an allusion to this Bible passage about life during the millenium:

Zechariah 14:16-21
16 And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.
17 And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain.
18 And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.
19 This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.
20 In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD; and the pots in the LORD's house shall be like the bowls before the altar.
21 Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the LORD of hosts: and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and seethe therein: and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Pre-existence quotes

A guy I know let me borrow a notebook of his that included a collection of quotes relating to the pre-existence and to the idea of "soulmates". I typed up the quotes and here they are:

Acts 17: 26-28
26 And [God] hath made of one blood all nations of men for to
dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before
appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
27 That they should seek the
Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far
from every one of us:
28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being;
as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

All men are the spirit children of the Eternal Father; all dwelt in his presence, awaiting the day of their mortal probation; all have come or will come to earth at an appointed time, in a specified place, to live among a designated people. In all of this there is no chance. A divine providence rules over the nations and governs in the affairs of men. Birth and death and mortal kinship are the Lord's doings. He alone determines where and when and among what people his spirit children shall undergo their mortal probation.
--Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985, pg. 512.

Pre-earth life affects relations here. We have not come into this world accidentally. It is my opinion that there has been an inspiration to bring about certain relations that we are forming here in this life, and most likely they arise because of certain relations that existed in our previous life. (1 June 1895, DW, 50:737.)
--Lorenzo Snow, The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, edited by Clyde J. Williams, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1984, pg. 93.

The Father called all spirits before Him at the creation of man, and organized them. He (Adam) is the head, and was told to multiply. The keys were first given to him, and by him to others. He will have to give an account of his stewardship, and they to him.
--Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976, pg. 158.

It does no violence even to our frail human logic to observe that there cannot be a grand plan of salvation for all mankind unless there is also a plan for each individual. The salvational sum will reflect all its parts.
--Neal A. Maxwell, But for a Small Moment, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1986, pg. 98.

LEGITIMACY OF ETERNAL MARRIAGE.—Why is a woman sealed to a man for time and all eternity? Because there is legitimate power on earth to do it. This power will bind on earth and in heaven. It can loose on earth, and it is loosed in heaven. It can seal on earth, and it is sealed in heaven. There is a legitimate, authorized agent of God upon earth. This sealing power is regulated by him. Hence what is done by that, is done right, and is recorded. When the books are opened, every one will find his proper mate, and have those that belong to him, and every one will be deprived of that which is surreptitiously obtained.—JD, 1:232, April 8, 1853.
--John Taylor, The Gospel Kingdom: Selections from the Writings and Discourses of John Taylor, selected, arranged, and edited, with an introduction by G. Homer Durham, Salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1941, pg. 282.

In a manifestation to Brigham Young after the Prophet's death, Joseph Smith was reported to have instructed his successor as follows:

"Tell the people to be humble and faithful, and be sure to keep the Spirit of the Lord and it will lead them right. Be careful and not turn away the small still voice; it will teach them what to do and where to go; it will yield the fruits of the kingdom. Tell the brethren to keep their hearts open to conviction, so that when the Holy Ghost comes to them, their hearts will be ready to receive it. They can tell the Spirit of the Lord from all other spirits; it will whisper peace and joy to their souls; it will take malice, hatred, strife and all evil from their hearts; and their whole desire will be to do good, bring forth righteousness and build up the kingdom of God. Tell the brethren if they will follow the spirit of the Lord, they will go right. Be sure to tell the people to keep the spirit of the Lord; and if they will, they will find themselves just as they were organized by our Father in Heaven before they came into the world. Our father in Heaven organized the human family, but they are all disorganized and in great confusion."

Joseph then showed me the pattern, how they were in the beginning. This I cannot describe, but I saw it, and saw where the Priesthood had been taken from the earth and how it must be joined together, so that there would be a perfect chain from Father Adam to his latest posterity. Joseph again said, "Tell the people to be sure to keep the spirit of the Lord and follow it, and it will lead them just right." (72)

72. Journal History, February 23, 1847.

--Hyrum L. Andrus, Doctrinal Commentary on the Pearl of Great Price, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1967, pgs. 122-123.

Deuteronomy 32: 8-9
8 When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.
9 For the Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.

Yet another reason underlying the need to keep the seventh commandment is that unchastity lowers self-esteem, because we are actually sinning against our nature and who we really are (see 1 Corinthians 6:18-20). In my opinion we are also breaching previous promises made in the premortal world before coming here, promises which are imprinted, subtly but indelibly, in one's soul.
--Neal A. Maxwell, Morality, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1992, pg. 25.

Indeed, my experience in various church callings and in my profession as a family therapist has convinced me that God actively intervenes in some destructive lineages, assigning a valiant spirit to break the chain of destructiveness in such families. Although these children may suffer innocently as victims of violence, neglect, and exploitation, through the grace of God some find the strength to “metabolize” the poison within themselves, refusing to pass it on to future generations. Before them were generations of destructive pain; after them the line flows clear and pure. Their children and children’s children will call them blessed.
In suffering innocently that others might not suffer, such persons, in some degree, become as “saviors on Mount Zion” by helping to bring salvation to a lineage.
I have had the privilege of knowing many such individuals people whose backgrounds are full of incredible pain and humiliation. I think of a young woman who was repeatedly abused sexually by her father. When at last she gained the courage to tell her mother, the girl was angrily beaten and rejected by her.
These experiences made the girl bitter and self-doubting. Yet, despite all odds, she has made peace with God and found a trustworthy husband with whom she is raising a righteous family. Moreover, she has dedicated her energies to helping other women with similar backgrounds eliminate the poison from their own lineages.
I think of a young man whose mother died when he was twelve and whose father responded to that loss by locking his son in his room, then drinking and entertaining women in the house. When he would come to let the boy out, he would beat him senseless, sometimes breaking bones and causing concussions.
As might be expected, the young man grew up full of confusion, self-hate, and resentment. Yet the Lord did not leave him so, but provided friends and opportunities for growth. Today, through a series of spiritually healing miracles, this young man is preparing for a temple marriage to a good woman. Together they are committed to bringing children up in righteousness and gentleness and love.
In a former era, the Lord sent a flood to destroy unworthy lineages. In this generation, it is my faith that he has sent numerous choice individuals to help purify them.
--Carlfred Broderick, “I Have a Question,” Ensign, Aug. 1986, pgs. 38–39.

Invocation, or the Eternal Father and Mother
by Eliza R. Snow

O my Father, thou that dwellest
In the high and glorious place,
When shall I regain thy presence,
And again behold thy face?
In thy holy habitation,
Did my spirit once reside?
In my first primeval childhood,
Was I nurtured near thy side?

For a wise and glorious purpose
Thou hast placed me here on earth,
And withheld the recollection
Of my former friends and birth.
Yet ofttimes a secret something
Whispered, "You're a stranger here."
And I felt that I had wandered
From a more exalted sphere.

I had learned to call thee Father,
Through thy Spirit from on high;
But until the key of knowledge
Was restored, I knew not why.
In the heavens are parents single?
No; the thought makes reason stare!
Truth is reason, truth eternal
Tells me I've a mother there.

When I leave this frail existence,
When I lay this mortal by,
Father, Mother, may I meet you
In your royal courts on high?
Then, at length, when I've completed
All you sent me forth to do,
With your mutual approbation
Let me come and dwell with you.
--Eliza R. Snow, Poems, Religious, Historical, and Political, Liverpool: F.D. Richards, 1856, Vol. 1, pgs. 1-2.

With regard to our position before we came here, I will say that we dwelt with the Father and with the Son, as expressed in the hymn, "O My Father," that has been sung here. That hymn is a revelation, though it was given unto us by a woman-Sister Eliza R. Snow. There are a great many sisters who have the spirit of revelation. There is no reason why they should not be inspired as well as men.
--Wilford Woodruff, Millennial Star, April 9, 1894, 56:229, also Brian H. Stuy, ed., Collected Discourses, 5 vols., Burbank, Calif., and Woodland Hills, Ut.: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987-1992, Vol. 3, pg. 410.

Abraham 3:22-23
22 Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;
23 And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.

Birth into mortality is not a matter of chance occurrence or of uncalculated purpose. All is in accordance with a plan. Those who are in a lower division in the pre-mortal estate are born into this life under circumstances that best suit the opportunity to rise above that division, where the normal condition of their place has that encumbrance fitted to their own worthiness. Those who were in the less valiant division will be similarly born into mortality for the same intent of purpose. Those who were the noble ones, such as Abraham and such as all those who were born in the covenant of the patriarchal order, an order which was in the beginning and will be in the end, are consequently born into such a lineage of birth as will preserve their place which they had accepted in pre-mortality and are assigned to in mortality by foreordination.
--Alvin R. Dyer, The Meaning of Truth, rev. ed. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1973, pgs. 33-34.

It was during this period that Harold and Fern decided on marriage. The affinity they seemed to have had from the moment of their first acquaintance had ripened into a fast friendship, and that, in time, had developed into an enduring love. Neither of them, apparently, could identify a moment in time when it had become clear to them that they wanted to be man and wife. Indeed, it seemed in retrospect that their union had been foreordained.
--Francis M. Gibbons, Harold B. Lee: Man of Vision, Prophet of God, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1993, pg. 80.

What did we agree to before we came here? If to anything, I suppose the very same things we agreed to since we did come here, that are legitimate and proper. The husband agreed to be a faithful servant of God, to do his duty to all that were placed under his charge. The wife, on her part, covenants that she will be a faithful and devoted wife, and will obey her husband in the Lord in all things. If this were so, it is all right; for it is just as we are taught on the earth.
But the question is, Did we subscribe to any such doctrine as this on the start? I will not say that we did; yet I have had such thoughts, and they whisper strongly in my heart.
--Orson Hyde, October 6, 1859, Journal of Discourses, 26 vols., London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886, Vol. 7, pg. 315.

This young couple, both in their early thirties, he an attorney and she a schoolteacher, were still honeymooning, and their deep, newly found love for each other was most evident. When I said, "I want to talk to the two of you about your husband becoming a bishop," she said, "Some nights ago I had a dream indicating Randy would be a bishop. I just hoped it wouldn't come too soon." She continued with, "Even though we are newlyweds [and incidentally, they told me the reason they had waited until their thirties to marry was because they had spent a long time finding each other], if you are impressed to call Randy to be a bishop, he will be a good one, and I will help him."
--Marvin J. Ashton, Be of Good Cheer, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987, pgs. 23-24.

I was a boy when my people gathered with the Saints of God. I was very curious to know the Prophet Joseph, having heard a great deal about him. I happened to be in a large crowd of people where the Prophet was, and I selected him out of that large body of people. There were no means of recognition that I know of which would suggest him to me as the Prophet; but I recognized him as though I had always known him. I am satisfied that I had known him and been familiar with him. There are instances which all of us doubtless have known, which have proved to us that there has been a spiritual acquaintance existing between us. We frequently say, "How familiar that person's face is to me." In this way kindred spirits are brought together. We are drawn together by this knowledge and this acquaintanceship, which, I have no doubt, was formed anterior to our birth in this state of existence.
--George Q. Cannon, Brian H. Stuy, ed., Collected Discourses, 5 vols., Burbank, Calif., and Woodland Hills, Ut.: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987-1992, Vol. 1, pg. 235.

With her acceptance of his marriage proposal he became firmly convinced of his earlier feelings that she had been divinely designated to become his wife. In 1963, a quarter of a century after their marriage, he told his son Douglas, "Your Aunt Jessie always belonged to me. I know that the Lord intended it. And the Lord sent her to me when I needed a wife and needed help and somebody in the family to help us and take care of us, and the Lord had raised her up and sent her to me. And oh, how grateful I am, for she has been just as true and faithful as anybody could possibly be, and we all love her!"
--Joseph Fielding Smith, Jr., and John J. Stewart, The Life of Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1972, pg. 256.

I have had visions and revelations instructing me how to organize this people so that they can live like the family of heaven, but I cannot do it while so much selfishness and wickedness reign in the Elders of Israel. Many would make of the greatest blessings a curse to them, as they do now the plurality of wives—the abuse of that principle will send thousands to hell. There are many great and glorious privileges for the people, which they are not prepared to receive. How long it will be before they are prepared to enjoy the blessings God has in store for them, I know not—it has not been revealed to me. I know the Lord wants to pour blessings upon this people, but where he to do so in their present ignorance, they would not know what to do with them. They can receive only a very little and that must be administered to them with great care.
--Brigham Young, April 6, 1862, Journal of Discourses, 26 vols., London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886, Vol. 9, pgs. 269-270.

Life simply does not make sense without a knowledge of the premortal existence. Reason dictates and the Holy Spirit whispers to our spirits that we have always lived. Truly, as Eliza R. Snow affirmed, we feel in this life as though we have “wandered from a more exalted sphere” (“O My Father,” Hymns, no. 292). We do not know how long we spent in our first estate. By mortal reckoning it may have been of near infinite duration. During this period, Jehovah, under the direction of the Father, created worlds without number; this presupposes an extended period of time. We would imagine that, during this existence, the same sociality which exists among us here existed among us there. Our circle of friends and associates undoubtedly included many with whom we share association here. The natural kinship that we feel with and for some is obviously rooted there. Thus we have some degree of recollection upon the reunion with such spirits in this estate though the reason therefore may not be apparent to us. (See Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, pp. 12–13, 311.)
--Joseph Fielding McConkie, Joseph Smith: The Choice Seer, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996, pg. 105.

There are premortal principles that affect mortality. From those passages of scripture [Acts 17:26, Deuteronomy 32:8, Acts 10:34-35] we learn these basic principles: First, all men on earth are of one blood—we stem from common ancestors, Adam and Eve; second, God, our Father, in his omniscient wisdom, determined premortally the nation in which we were to live; third, nationalities are apparently circumscribed in relation to the House of Israel; fourth, our Father does not favor one people over another, but accepts all those of every nation who fear him and work righteousness. (79-01, p. 33)
--Howard W. Hunter, The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, edited by Clyde J. Williams, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997, 12.

(Letter written to Elder O. F. Whitney who was a missionary in England.) I heartily endorse your sentiments respecting congeniality of spirits. Our knowledge of persons and things before we came here, combined with the divinity awakened within our souls through obedience to the gospel, powerfully affects, in my opinion, all our likes and dislikes, and guides our preferences in the course of this life, provided we give careful heed to the admonitions of the Spirit.
--Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine: Selections from the Sermons and Writings of Joseph F. Smith, compiled by John A. Widtsoe, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939, pg. 12.

I stood before God's mighty throne;
The time had come to leave my home;
My pilgrimage before me lay;
This was the long-expected day.

For ages past I'd walked by sight;
Now faith must be my guiding light;
To find the Truth, the Light, the Way,
I must be housed in mortal clay.

Before I left, my Father spoke;
"Go now, my son, bear well thy yoke;
I send thee forth to keep my law,
To worship me with reverent awe.

"Thy first concern in that new sphere;
Find her whom thou hast chosen here;
These children shall I send to thee;
Choice shall thy chosen family be."

And so I came as Adam's son,
To seek all that may be won,
By those who love and serve their God,
And bow beneath his gospel rod.

To me has come that law divine,
By which I may my name enshrine,
In realms of life and light and love,
In those eternal courts above.

And God be praised, she here is found
Who in celestial garments gowned,
By me shall stand as ages roll,
To comfort, guide, and cheer my soul.

To us have come those spirits dear,
Whom we must lead and guide and rear,
And teach to love and serve the Lord,
And sing as one each gospel chord.

Our home is one where joy abounds,
Where God is served and praise resounds;
Where gospel light in splendor shines,
And each of us its truth enshrines.

--Bruce R. McConkie, poem in the prefatory pages of Joseph Fielding McConkie, Sons and Daughters of God, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1994.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Look at the Parable of the Mustard Seed

I was recently digging through some old papers and found a couple of papers I wrote for a college class in the early 90's. If I had written them now they probably would have turned out a bit differently. On this one the professor wrote "Most impressive. This is the most thorough interpretation I've ever read of the parable. You never let go until you've explored the limits. Thank You. I always learn something from your responses. A " I was surprised that he wrote that because I didn't think the paper was quite that praiseworthy. Here it is:

A Look at the Parable of the Mustard Seed
as told by Jesus Christ
The parable of the Mustard Seed is one of only six out of the forty-one in the synoptic gospels that are included in all three. It is found in Matt. 13:31-32, Mk. 4:30-32, and Luke 13:18-19. This parable is short enough to quote in full rather than summarize and I shall now quote the version found in Matthew:
"Another parable he put before them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and saved in his field; it is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches."(1)
The Parable of the Mustard Seed is one of several (like the parables of the Tares, the Seed Growing Secretly, the Net and the Leaven) which seem to focus on growth. Each begins with "the Kingdom of God is like" or "It is as if". A mustard seed when planted, naturally grows up into a large plant. Even though it is one of the smallest seeds, it slowly but surely grows to become "the greatest of shrubs... so that the birds... come and make nests in its branches".
In telling this parable, Jesus probably was concerned with encouraging and reassuring his small company of followers. He wanted to let them know that the movement that they were involved in, even though it had very humble and small beginnings, could yet grow and transform all of society. Perhaps Jesus told this parable because he sensed some doubt and discouragement among his disciples.
Joachim Jeremias wrote his paraphrase of what Jesus' message in this parable was: "with the same compelling certainty that causes a tall shrub to grow out of a minute grain of mustard-seed...will God's miraculous power cause my small band to swell into the mighty host of the people of God in the Messianic Age".(2)
According to Albert Schweitzer, it was Jesus' view that God is preparing a secret like one experiences in nature. The parables, he says, are signs of the secret. As the harvest follows sowing the seed, without any apparent explanation, so will the Kingdom of God come in power as a consequence of peoples' "moral renewal": "Repentance and moral renewal in prospect of the Kingdom of God are like a pressure which is exerted in order to compel its appearance. This movement had begun with the days of the Baptist."(3)
The Mormon scriptorian and Apostle Bruce R McConkie believed that the parable of the Mustard Seed applied to the establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the spring of 1830 as well as to the "former-day" church of Jesus Christ being established by Jesus and his apostles. McConkie held this view because he believed that the church that Jesus established went into apostacy before fully fulfilling this parable. He wrote: "Among sectarians this parable is falsely assumed to teach that Christianity, with its small and insignificant beginning, has now grown into a great tree whose members comprise a third of the human race. The evident falsity of this interpretation is seen from the fact that the original, pure Christianity practiced by the primitive saints never did more than sprout its head above ground; within a relatively short time the original plant was trodden down, destroyed, and replaced by those noxious and thorny plants which make up the present churches of so-called Christendom. It is only in this final age that the true gospel message is to roll forth until the knowledge of God covers the earth as the waters cover the sea."(4)
Joseph Smith, who established the LDS Church, held this same view; after quoting the parable of the Mustard Seed, he wrote: "Now we can discover plainly that this figure is given to represent the Church as it shall come forth in the last days. Behold, the Kingdom of Heaven is likened unto it. Now, what is like unto it? Let us take the Book of Mormon, which a man [the ancient prophet Moroni] took and hid in his field [the hill Cumorah in upstate NY], securing it by his faith, to spring up in the last days, or in due time; let us behold it coming forth out of the ground, which is indeed accounted the least of all seeds; but behold it branching forth, yea, even towering with lofty branches and God-like majesty, until it, like the mustard seed, becomes the greatest of all herbs. And it is truth, and it has sprouted and come forth out of the earth, and righteousness begins to look down from heaven, and God is sending down His powers, gifts, and angels to lodge in the branches thereof. The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a mustard seed. Behold, then, is not this the Kingdom of Heaven that is raising its head in the last days in the majesty of its God, even the Church of the Latter-day Saints...?"(5)
I believe that the Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of God is an "invisible" group of believers within the "visible" church, as St. Augustine held. Even though it is not now a political organization, it will be one day. Jesus said when he was before Pilate "My kingdom is not of this world..."(John 18:36) and yet in Daniel chapter 2 it talks about a stone cut out without hands smiting an image on the feet, which broke it and the image became "like the chaff of the summer threshing floors... and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth". (Dan. 2:35) Verse 44 of Daniel 2 says "And in the days of these kings (6) shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever". Also in the Revelation of St. John, Chap. 11, verse 15 it says "...there were great voices in heaven, saying, the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever."
In the spring of 1844, shortly before his martyrdom, Joseph Smith began administering Mormon temple ordinances in which worthy recipients are anointed to be kings and priests or queens and priestesses in the Kingdom of God. He then established the Kingdom as an actual organization and was anointed "King over Israel". The Kingdom was to be primarily a spiritual, theocratic/patriarchal organization of a portion of LDS Church members who had been faithful and received the temple ordinances. He expected to be protected in doing this by the U.S. Government, the same way that Native American tribes are allowed to continue their tribal governments within the U.S., but he also ran for U.S. President in 1844 just in case he wasn't. In doing this, he upset many powerful people and was finally, on June 27, 1844, shot by a group of assassins with blackened faces.
Joseph Smith's successor, Brigham Young, was also anointed "King over Israel" and went on to wield power over both church and state in Utah Territory as the prophet and president of the LDS Church and Governor of the territory. This authority has continued with each successor until the present day, and is now held by Ezra Taft Benson, former Secretary of Agriculture in Dwight Eisenhower's cabinet. In my opinion, the Parable of the Mustard Seed will finally be fulfilled when the Kingdom of God fills the whole earth and Christ comes to reign personally here.
1. Matt. 13:31-32, King James Version, LDS Church, Salt Lake City, 1979.
2. Jeremias, Joachim, The Parables of Jesus, 6th ed., NY: Scribners 1963, pg. 149.
3. Schweitzer, Albert, The Mystery of the Kingdom of God, NY: Schocken 1964, pg. 112.
4. McConkie, Bruce R., Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, Vol. 1, Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft 1965, pg. 298.
5. Smith, Joseph, Messenger and Advocate, Dec. 1835, Kirtland, OH: LDS Church 1835, pg. 227.
6. 10 toes of image = 10 kingdoms = 1. Italy est. 496; 2. France est. 752; 3. England est. 803; 4. Belgium est. 806; 5. Holland est. 922; 6. Portugal est. 1138; 7. Prussia est. 1139; 8. Austria est. 1159; 9. Spain est. 1179; 10. Greece est. 1829.