Saturday, December 1, 2018

Conference "...." scriptures Part 3

This is a continuation of the last 2 posts because of what I discovered in my search stemming back from the Elder's Quorum Lesson.  Last post I had been going through last LDS General Conference (Oct 2018) to see how scriptures are used, when, why, and whether in context and whether to teach understanding of scripture or more of method 2 (see previous post) which is to use scripture for some other reason.

The last example in the post was a promise given by President Nelson.  That promise had a scriptural footnote pointing to D&C 121:33.  His talk is here.  He made a promise involving "never before seen blessings".  Which to me merits some thought and pondering about what it is that will cause this pouring out of blessings.  This is the scriptural footnote accompanying the promise. 

How long can rolling waters remain impure? What power shall stay the Heavens? As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints.

That part about rolling waters remaining impure can't be understood from reading D&C 121.  It's only a small part of a bigger phrase from the actual letter but which didn't get included in the cannon version of 121.  That whole section is comprised of pieces of a profound letter from Joseph in Liberty Jail.

Here's more context for vs 33.  See the entire letter here.  Vs 33 from D&C 121 is in orange so you see how it fits in to the larger letter form which it was taken.
           Therefore, we beseech of you, brethren, that you bear with those who do not feel themselves more worthy than yourselves, while we exhort one another to a reformation with one and all, both old and young, teachers and taught, both high and low, rich and poor, bond and free, male and female. Let honesty, and sobriety, and candor, and solemnity, and virtue, and pureness, and meekness, and simplicity, crown our heads in every place, and in fine, become as little children, without malice, guile, or hypocrisy.     
       And now brethren, after your tribulations, if you do these things and exercise fervent prayer and faith in the sight of God, always, he shall give unto you Knowledge by his Holy Spirit, yea, by the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost, that has not been revealed since the world was until now, which our fathers have waited, with anxious expectation, to be revealed in the last times, which their minds were pointed to by the angels, as held in reserve for the fullness of their glory, a time to come, in the which nothing shall be withheld, whether there be one God or many Gods, they shall be manifest. All Thrones and Dominions, Principalities and Powers shall be revealed and set forth upon all who have endured valiantly for the gospel of Jesus Christ. And also, if there be bounds set to the heavens, or to the seas, or to the dry land, or to the sun, moon, or stars; all the times of their revolutions, all their appointed days, months, and years, and all the days of their days, months and years, and all their glories, laws, and set times shall be revealed in the days of the dispensation of the fullness of times, according to that which was ordained in the midst of the council of the Eternal God, of all other Gods, before this world was, that should be reserved unto the finishing and the end thereof, when every man shall enter into his Eternal presence and into his immortal rest.  
        But I beg leave to say unto you, brethren, that ignorance, superstition and bigotry, placing itself where it ought not, is oftentimes in the way of the prosperity of this church, like the torrent of rain from the mountains that floods the most pure and crystal stream with mire and dirt and filthiness, and obscures everything that was clear before, and all hurls along in one general deluge. But time weathers tide, and notwithstanding we are roiled in, for the time being, by the mire of the flood, the next surge, peradventure, as time rolls on, may bring to us the fountain, as clear as crystal and as pure as snow, while all the filthiness, flood wood, and rubbish is left and purged out by the way. How long can rolling waters remain impure? What power shall stay the Heavens? As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from Heaven upon the heads of the latter-day saints.
           What is Boggs or his murderous party but wimbling willows upon the shore to catch the flood wood? As well might we argue that water is not water because the mountain torrents send down mire and riles the crystal stream, although afterwards render it more pure than before, or that fire is not fire because it is of a quenchable nature by pouring on the flood, as to say that our cause is down because renegades, liars, priests, thieves, and murderers, who are all alike tenacious of their crafts and creeds, have poured down from their spiritual wickedness in high places, and from their strongholds of the divine, a flood of dirt, and mire, and filthiness, and vomit upon our heads.            
          No. God forbid. Hell may pour forth its rage like the burning lava of Mount Vesuvius or of Etna, or of the most terrible of the burning mountains, and yet shall Mormonism stand. Water, fire, truth, and God are all the same. Truth is Mormonism. God is the author of it. He is our shield. It is by him we received our birth. It was by his voice that we were called to a dispensation of his gospel in the beginning of the fullness of times. It was by him we received the Book of Mormon, and it is by him that we remain unto this day, and by him we shall remain if it shall be for our glory, and in his Almighty name we are determined to endure tribulation, as good soldiers unto the end. 
Ignorance, superstition, bigotry and all the persecutions are unable to thwart God's work and God's ability to pure down knowledge.  That is if people are faithful to Him. The first two paragraphs above detail out a whole list of things that "if you do these things" and with prayer and faith, God will give knowledge.  Those things are to "crown our heads" Joseph says. So God can pour down knowledge "upon the heads" of the latter-day saints.  Coincidental wording?  I think not.

Boggs murderous party? Hell pouring forth it's rage?  It's no match for God. God can still give knowledge.  The context helps make vs 33 from 121 more clear about that rolling water stuff as well as what it is cannot prevent God from pouring down knowledge and what the people need to do and be in order for the knowledge to come.  There's some stuff on/in our head we need to get right.

So who decided which parts of this longer letter would and wouldn't become part of D&C 121 (and 122, 123)?

The 1876 edition of the D&C first contained portions from this letter from Joseph in Liberty Jail.  Orson Pratt chose which parts got included.  Under President Brigham Young (Historian’s Office Journal (January15, 1875),70).  Then in 1880 during an October General Conference of the Church sections 121, 122, and 123 as we have them were canonized. ( Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual (Religion 324–325) (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1981),296; RobertJ.)

Here’s a bit of interesting logic from the BYU Religious Studies site about D&C 121 in context:

"While portions of Doctrine and Covenants 121–23 are taken from a much broader literary context, the sections as they read in the scriptures do not omit truths. The literary background gained from a study of the noncanonical text is meant to emphasize, not detract from, the weight and clarity of the canon."

"The sections as they read do not omit truths." says the article.  Well of course text doesn't omit text which the text includes.  That's self evident.  This statement tries to assure us all truth is contained in those sections.  Compared to what? Compared to the original letter I guess.  Too bad Joseph didn't just condense it down himself.  Too bad Joseph added all that other stuff that apparently didn't contain "truths".  That religeous studies statement starts to look a bit uninformed.  But rest assured, no truths are omitted.  Wink wink.  Except of course for that part about the things we need to do/be for God to pour down knowledge.  

But back to the letter from Joseph and its very interesting presence in the promise by President Nelson last General Conference. The last paragraph quoted above from Joseph's letter has a part in green that's interesting.  I'll repeat here.  This is from page 15 of the letter. 

Hell may pour forth its rage like the burning lava of Mount Vesuvius or of Etna, or of the most terrible of the burning mountains, and yet shall Mormonism stand. Water, fire, truth, and God are all the same. Truth is Mormonism. God is the author of it. He is our shield. It is by him we received our birth. It was by his voice that we were called to a dispensation of his gospel in the beginning of the fullness of times. 

Joseph says Mormonism shall stand and God is the author of it.  President Nelson says God will pour down blessings and His power if we STOP using terms like Mormon.  So which is it?  It cannot be both.  If Truth is Mormonism then being "Mormon" doesn't appear problematic in the least.  The actual context of the scriptural footnote used by President Nelson contains something curiously at odds with the talk.

Continued next post.... 

2 comments:

  1. The letter also references the "many Gods" which will be revealed in the last days. Maybe the issue is that Joseph's God, the author of Truth/Mormonism, is simply a different God than the one President Nelson serves.

    In all seriousness though, the irony of President Nelson referencing that "Mormonism"-heavy letter as offering blessings somehow tied to not using nicknames is deeply satisfying. Good catch.

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  2. Thus, living prophets are more important than dead prophets.. Joseph must have got it wrong.. Good thing that President Nelson has come forth to set us straight so we are no longer giving victories for Satan for using the term Mormon.

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