Thursday, June 27, 2019

Law of Consecration Per Joseph, Per Church

I got to reading about the difference between the United Firm (an organization) and the United Order (a way of living the law of consecration).  I came upon a contrasting view of the law of consecration.

This is from Steven C Harper: All Things Are the Lord’s: The Law of Consecration in the Doctrine and Covenants The Doctrine and Covenants: Revelations in Context, ed. Andrew H. Hedges, J. Spencer Fluhman, and Alonzo L. Gaskill (Provo and Salt Lake City: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, and Deseret Book, 2008), 212–28. 
President Gordon B. Hinckley taught, that “the law of sacrifice and the law of consecration were not done away with and are still in effect.” [3] No revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants rescind, suspend, or revoke the law of consecration. The Doctrine and Covenants never refers to a higher or a lower law, only the law. Indeed, the revelations do not speak of the laws of God as we do of bills before the legislature, as subject to passage, veto, or amendment. Rather, they speak of the laws of God as eternal. The law, in other words, was revealed to Joseph Smith in February 1831, but the law itself simply has been, is, and ever will be. Consecration is the law of the celestial kingdom, and section 78 teaches that no one will receive an inheritance there who has not obeyed the law (see D&C 78:7).
Steven is an associate professor of Church history and doctrine at Brigham Young University and an editor of The Joseph Smith Papers when this was published.

In contrast, Joseph Smith said this March 6th 1840. (spelling as in original, screen shot from Joseph Smith Papers below)
He said that the Law of consecration could not be kept here, & that it was the will of the Lord that we should desist from trying to keep it, & if persisted in it would produce a perfect abortion, & that he assumed the whole responsibility of not keeping it untill prosposed by himself.



That contradicts later Church leader statements and statements continuing today. 

It's presumed our practices in 2019 are superior and more catered to our needs when in reality it may be that looking at what Joseph taught is far better and more instructive than our presumptions and assumptions.  The group effort law or United Order as seen in D&C completely ended.  Church manuals openly state the early saints failed to live the law.  But then it gets fuzzy in the manuals as to what the current status is.  

This brings up an interesting question of what happens when a modern Church leader contradicts Joseph Smith and in this case contradicts what Joseph taught was the will of the Lord.  The implications of this seem relevant and pertinent.  I honestly wonder if this is a case of Church leaders simply not knowing about many things Joseph has said and taught.  Not everyone has time to research Church history, especially top Church leaders who have a global church to run and who usually had well established careers before being called into leadership positions.  

What appears common is for Church leaders to continue believing and teaching the same things they themselves grew up hearing from the pulpit. True or not.  So they simply repeat the accepted traditions as factual and they get perpetuated generation after generation. 

As new information is discovered or information published as in the Joseph Smith Papers project they seem to get little notice or mention from the Church leaders.  It's second class status at best.  Joseph gets trumped by whatever the current leaders are saying.  I can't help but notice the incredibly unstable foundation that creates.  Especially given that God vouched for Joseph's words and commanded the saints to receive Joseph's words as if from God's mouth.  Instead of doing that, the scripture has been twisted into promoting the Saints receive whoever the current leaders words as if from God's mouth.  Interesting.  

Joseph Smith doesn't seem like the foundation of Mormonism anymore.  Mormonism is different now, very different.  I can't even use the term Mormon now.  Joseph's teachings are rich with meaning and say things that really challenge us but they get comparatively little attention. All attention is directed to the current leaders. 

Today is 175th anniversary of the Martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. I wanted to write and recognize that and renew my own efforts to do as God asked in scripture.  To remember and value, not only to say but to do according to what was given at the beginning of the Restoration so the restoration may continue.

1 comment:

  1. That church leader's comment neglects to remember that the law of Moses had different treatment...it got added and then taken away. He does have a point about some ambiguous connection to the celestial kingdom in the D&C, but doesn't it call consecration the law of the church? There could be a celestial eternal law and principle, but also a temporary version of that law instantiated in a church context that can easily be revoked and not required of a group.

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