A dramatic depiction.
A dramatic depiction.
This should be straight-forward, see title above. The dates provided are for convenience, but don’t represent absolutes. For example, while 1890 is used as a marker for the end of polygamy, the practice continue for around 20 more years in secret. Likewise, arguments over succession did not end (and have not) with the RLDS church. The dates chosen simply represent (as I see them) significant milestones. History as we know is very complex.
3 Nephi 16:10
And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them.
“I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” (HC, 4:461)
I’d assume that includes the ‘Teachings of the Presidents of the Church’ manual series and the Ensign periodical, no?
Have you seen this great video we should all fawn over called ‘Mormonism and Me’?
The Old Testament ends on a cryptic note. Nephi/Moroni adapted the prophecy with some changes:
1. The fathers as biological, direct ancestors.
The prophecy requires that the fathers have received promises (from God, I presume). For a traditional lds reading to be correct, it means that just about every one of our immediate ancestors received promises from God. Perhaps they received these promises prior to the foundation of the world. Or have received them after death, promising deliverance from their captivity.
In this reading, our hearts turn with pity to our damned fathers. In a letter, Joseph Smith seemed to interpret the prophesy this way and suggested baptism for the dead as a the mechanism to accomplish of turning our hearts:
“…the earth will be smitten with a curse unless there is a welding link of some kind or other between the fathers and the children, upon some subject or other–and behold what is that subject? It is the baptism for the dead. For we without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect. Neither can they nor we be made perfect without those who have died in the gospel also; for it is necessary in the ushering in of the dispensation of the fulness of times, which dispensation is now beginning to usher in, that a whole and complete and perfect union, and welding together of dispensations, and keys, and powers, and glories should take place, and be revealed from the days of Adam even to the present time.” (D&C 128:18).
There are additional quotes from Joseph Smith that give credibility to the tradition lds interpretation.
2. The fathers as the patriarchs of scriptures.
This is an interpretation championed recently by a certain someone. If we were looking for fathers that received promises from God, then the scriptures seem to point to individuals such as Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Lehi, and Nephi. We have a clear record that promises were made to these fathers.
One of the intentions of the Book of Mormon “is to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever” (Title Page). There is adequate evidence that covenants and promises of the Lord are synonymous.
There is also evidence that Joseph Smith taught this:
“Now for Elijah: the spirit, power, and calling of Elijah is that ye have power to hold the keys of the revelations, ordinances, oracles, powers, and endowments of the fulness of the Melchizedek Priesthood and of the Kingdom of God on the Earth; and to receive, obtain, and perform all the ordinances belonging to the Kingdom of God, even unto the sealing of the hearts of the fathers unto the children and the hearts of the children unto the fathers, even those who are in heaven . . .
“I wish you to understand this subject for it is important and if you will receive it this is the spirit of Elijah: that we redeem our dead and connect ourselves with our fathers which are in heaven . . .
“The doctrine or sealing power of Elijah is as follows: if you have power to seal on earth and in heaven, then we should be crafty. The first thing you do – go and seal on earth your sons and daughters unto yourself, and yourself unto your fathers in eternal glory.” (10 March 1844, Wilford Woodruff journal).
Joseph Smith doesn’t discount our dead “fathers” as unimportant, but emphasizes that the fathers we need a connection to are in heaven and in eternal glory. This comes two years (1844) after the earlier letter (D&C 128; 1842) and may reflect added light on the subject. Light which, unfortunately, seems lost in lds discourse. If the fathers are in heaven currently, it is likely that they were the saints raised with Christ in the resurrection (Matthew 27:52).
3. The fathers as the Jews.
This may seem like a less likely interpretation, but I think it is worth exploring. In 1833, the following prophecy was given. It has been left unfulfilled, so it will be interesting to see how it will play out, considering the church no longer has a School of the Prophets (besides BYU, of course).
An idol, a pleasant image –
It’s comforting to believe that every decision
comes straight from the top brass. It deflects
the potential for throwing stones at old men
with brittle bones. To me, however, I find
no comfort knowing that the average member
of the neo-catholic church still believes that
every decision is made, every manual is written,
every memo is penned, every policy is enacted,
every housing project vetted by fifteen men.
The amount of work we ascribe to fifteen men
is simply impossible, for an organization this
large and complex. Even if they are prophets all,
we still practice idolatry by believing a fantasy
where they have total control over all things
that come out of the mormon church. It’d be
stupid to hold President Obama responsible for
every word on his teleprompter, every piece of
legislation passed in congress, every action of
his cabinet, every choice of carpet in federal
buildings. But that is the sort of idolatry fantasy
mormons engage in. You can’t criticize anything
when they believe quite literally everything
originates from their omnipresent “brethren.”