Blessings and Cursings
The Official Declaration of 1978
Volume 1 of this Holy Priesthood series contains definitions and history, gifts and powers of the Priesthood–providing an important background for the subsequent five volumes. Volume 2 discusses some of the blessings and cursings which can result from the use or misuse of this Priesthood power.
This volume is divided into two parts: “Blessings and Cursings” and “The Official Declaration of 1978.” The first part lists and elaborates upon “Ten Blessings of the Holy Priesthood.” It presents guidelines to help us determine how well we are qualifying for these Priesthood blessings–both individually and as a church. It also discusses punishments and cursings that can result through abuse and misuse of Priesthood power.
The second half is a review of the Official Declaration issued in 1978, wherein it provided that “all worthy male members of the church may be ordained to the Priesthood without regard for race or color.”
- L. Townshend
What is priesthood? `Tis an order, Both for earth and heaven above,
Organized of men and angels, As a ministry of love;
A society most holy, Living through eternity;
From eternal ages coming, And eternal yet to be.
Ever has this holy order, Through all ages labored on
To secure mankind’s salvation, In the gospel of the Son!
Saints on earth in their probation, Spirits gone beyond the grave,
Resurrected souls in Heaven, All attest its power to save.
For a time this holy priesthood God withdrew from mortal eyes,
Leaving it with those appointed, Ministers in Paradise.
Unto earth God sent these angels, Priesthood gave to chosen men;
Now the order is united, Here on earth with Heaven again.
Not alone the soul’s salvation, Does this order offer now;
Knowledge of our God it brings us, Writes His name upon each brow;
Fills the mind with aspirations; Swells the heart with great desires;
While, to Heaven’s highest glory, In this priesthood, man aspires!
Through this priesthood, powers of Heaven, Delegated here to man,
Worked in miracles of knowledge, Since this aged world began.
By it Enoch built his Zion; Noah was guided o’er the wave;
And the Pyramid was fashioned, Ancient sciences to save.
Ask the martyr: What is priesthood? Hear him tell with dying breath–
“`Tis the power of god’s salvation, Giving victory over death!”
By it he has made his calling, And election doubly sure;
And before he will deny it, Even death he will endure!
Introduction . . . . . . . . 7
1 The Fulness of the Gospel . . . . 10
2 Gifts of the Spirit . . . . . . 20
3 Sanctified by the Spirit . . . . . 30
4 Administering Salvation . . . . . 34
5 Sons of God . . . . . . . 42
6 Patriarchal Order of Marriage . . . . 51
7 Governing All Things . . . . . 58
8 Gaining Eternal Life . . . . . 67
9 Calling and Election . . . . . 73
10 Seeing the Face of God . . . . . 78
Conclusion . . . . . . . . 82
* * * * *
* * *
1 Introduction: A Chosen People . . . . 95
2 “Race Problems–As They Affect . . . 98
the Church” (Mark E. Petersen)
3 “For What Purpose?” (Alvin R. Dyer) . . 120
4 Jacob is the Lord of His Inheritance . . 140
5 The Gradual Evolution: . . . . . 147
Leading up to 1978
6 The 1978 Announcement . . . . . 166
7 Declaration or Revelation? . . . . 170
8 Reactions and Repercussions . . . . 175
9 “Thus Saith the Lord?” . . . . . 180
10 Today’s Revelations: . . . . . 199
11 “Bid Farewell to the Holy Priesthood” . . 203
12 Conclusion: “A New Arrangement” . . . 213
Blessings and Cursings
Eternal existence depends solely upon adopting and carrying out in our lives the principles couched in the term “holy Priesthood,” which alone tend to life and eternal duration and exaltation. (Brigham Young, JD 7:202)
It is impossible to enumerate all the blessings that come from the Holy Priesthood. They are beyond mortal comprehension. Priesthood is like a delicate instrument, but can also be a double-edged sword. It contains power to heal a child or create galaxies. It is vitally important that the Saints–both male and female–study and learn about this tremendous Priesthood power and how it can be used in our lives.
Many speakers and writers discuss the blessings that come from Priesthood, but very few mention the negative effects that can result from the misuse of such a power. For every positive there is a negative, and for every blessing there can be a cursing. There is no greater virtue or vice than that which follows in the wake of the Priesthood. It can make Gods or it can make devils.
In 1981 Elder Bruce R. McConkie listed and briefly discussed “Ten Blessings of the Holy Priesthood.” This is a significant list, and has been used as the basis for the first ten chapters of this book. However, along with each blessing, we will also consider the negative results that can come from the misunderstanding or misuse of these Priesthood powers.
Quoting Elder McConkie:
 “There are ten priesthood blessings that are available to all of us who hold the holy Melchizedek Priesthood.
One: We are members of the only true and living Church upon the face of the whole earth, and we have received the fulness of the everlasting gospel.
Two: We have received the gift of the Holy Ghost, and we are entitled to receive the gifts of the Spirit–those wondrous spiritual endowments which set us apart from the world and raise us above carnal things.
Three: We can be sanctified by the Spirit, have dross and evil burned out of us as though by fire, become clean and spotless, and be fit to dwell with gods and angels.
Four: We can stand in the place and stead of the Lord Jesus Christ in administering salvation to the children of men.
Five: We have power to become the sons of God, to be adopted into the family of the Lord Jesus Christ, to have him as our Father, to be one with him as he is one with his Father.
Six: We can enter into the patriarchal order, the order of eternal marriage, the order which enables the family unit to continue everlastingly in celestial glory.
Seven: We have power to govern all things, both temporal and spiritual, the kingdoms of the world and the elements and storms and powers of the earth.
Eight: We have power, through the priesthood, to gain eternal life, the greatest of all the gifts of God.
 Nine: We have power to make our calling and election sure, so that while we yet dwell in mortality, having overcome the world and been true and faithful in all things, we shall be sealed up unto eternal life and have the unconditional promise of eternal life in the presence of Him whose we are.
Ten: We have the power–and it is our privilege–so to live that, becoming pure in heart, we shall see the face of God while we yet dwell as mortals in a world of sin and sorrow.
These, then, are the ten blessings of the priesthood, the Holy Priesthood, after the order of the Son of God, the priesthood that the saints in ancient days called after Melchizedek.” (Priesthood, “Blessings of the Priesthood,” McConkie, see pp. 30-35.)
 Chapter 1
THE FULNESS OF THE GOSPEL
We are members of the only true and living Church upon the face of the whole earth, and we have received the fulness of the everlasting gospel.
One of the most efficient organizations in the world was the German Army. Another has proved to be the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Members of each of these two organizations have been totally dedicated to their cause–even to the sacrificing of their own lives. The main difference, however, is that one was dedicated to the killing of mankind, and the other to saving them. Too much has been said about Hitler’s army, and not enough about Christ’s church.
How unfortunate that so much knowledge has been poured into the development of weaponry and how little has gone into exercising Priesthood. This clearly depicts our limited understanding of correct values.
I do not suppose there is any event predicted in the word of inspired truth, connected with the work of the last days, upon which so much misunderstanding exists, and which produces so little impression upon the minds of the human family, as the restoration of the Holy Priesthood; yet, at the same time, there is no subject more intimately connected and associated with the happiness, well-being, and eternal destiny of man, than this; as it is the right understanding and full appreciation of this matter that can alone lay a sure  foundation for an eternal exaltation to honour, dignity, and power in the Kingdom of our God. (Thomas Bryceson, 1853, Mill. Star 15:102)
Mankind are more inclined to seek the blessings of the world rather than the blessings of the Priesthood.
The blessing of being “members of the only true and living church,” sounds wonderful, but merely being a member does not assure the same blessings as doing something about it. If you were a member of some lodge (i.e., Elks, Moose, or Masonic), what blessings would you receive if you never attended or participated? Furthermore, what blessing would you be to them? The fact is that you would be more of a detriment to them–a waste of their time, money and effort. Sadly, this is a commentary of most members of the LDS Church.
Jesus described to Peter the blessings that await those who sacrifice and follow Him:
Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?
And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. (Matt. 19:27-29)
Peter was not asking about what blessings they would receive for being members of His Church; he was asking about possible blessings because of the sacrifices made for the gospel’s sake.
 To join the Church and do nothing about it, or to revert to the same inferior lifestyle as before joining, is actually worse than never being a member of the Church at all.
In the early days of the Church, James Covill received some of the most wonderful promises that a man could ask for. (See D & C 39:7-12.) Covill had been a Baptist minister for nearly 40 years, but when he saw the truth of the restored Gospel, he was eager to join the Church. He even made a covenant to do anything the Lord required of him; however, in a short time he lapsed back into this old “former principles and people.” The Lord then gave another revelation to Joseph Smith saying:
Behold, verily I say unto you, that the heart of my servant James Covill was right before me, for he covenanted with me that he would obey my word.
And he received the word with gladness, but straightway Satan tempted him; and the fear of persecution and the cares of the world caused him to reject the word.
Wherefore he broke my covenant, and it remaineth with me to do with him as seemeth me good. Amen. (D & C 40:1-3)
This sad story is certainly not an isolated case. In fact, the vast majority of Church members through the years have eventually lapsed into inactivity. This was illustrated by the Savior in His parable of the sower, which was describing His own Church and Kingdom. Some were led away because of their lack of understanding, or by the wicked, or because of tribulation or persecution, or because they were offended, or because or riches or the cares of the world. (See Matt. 13:18-22) All of these reasons are very common among Latter-day Saints as well.
 It may be safe to say that more Church members have lost their Priesthood because of the above reasons than those excommunicated for their own sin and wickedness. Dr. Hugh Nibley explained:
The only way we can make things easier for ourselves in the world is to go the way of the world. It would be hard to deny that the peace and prosperity of the Church in the past years has been largely the fruit of willingness to go the way the world goes. * * *
Nothing pleases God more than to have his children “seek greater light and knowledge”–it was for that that Adam, Abraham, Enoch, Moses, and Joseph Smith were rewarded with the richest blessings. Nothing displeases him more than to have them “seek for power, and authority, and riches” (3 Nephi 6:15). Through the years the Latter-day Saints have consistently sought NOT for the former but for the latter. It is only right and proper that we should stew in our own juice for a while. * * *
The fact is that the Latter-day Saints Òwill not search knowledge, nor understand great knowledge, when it is given unto them in plainness, even as plain as word can be” (2 Nephi 32:7). They simply are just not interested. How little we know about things. How little we want to know. The information is there, far more abundant than we have been willing to realize, if we will only reach out for it. To wait for a revelation on the subject is foolish until we have exhausted all the resources already placed at our disposal. * * *
There are those in the Church who would identify Zion with “Executive Meadows, the Exclusive Condominium for the Right People.” (“Priesthood,” Nibley, Sunstone, Dec. 1990, p. 11)
Man has a tendency to want the cushion of prosperity and the luxury of ease. He prefers friendship with the world along with its traditions, customs and popularity. There is a  certain delight in personal status. But this is seldom, if ever, the proper direction of the Priesthood.
Material desires and interests create problems in the Church, as the temporal interests of man and spiritual interests of God are not usually compatible.
The battle that often takes place within one’s own self is like conquering an enemy fortress. Wise old Solomon knew this and said, “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.” (Proverbs 16:32)
The battle for truth and the conscience is often more difficult and perplexing than fighting with weapons of war. Martin Luther learned this for himself. He stood firmly in the defense of his soul before the wise prelates, cardinals, bishops, and priests of the Catholic Church. On Luther’s way to the cathedral at Worms, Germany, an old general, the hero of many battles, stepped up to him and said:
Poor monk, poor monk, thou art now going to make a nobler stand than I or any other captains have ever made in the bloodiest of our battles. But if thy cause is just, and thou art sure of it, go forward in God’s name, and fear nothing. God will not forsake thee. (Merle D’Aubigne, as quoted in The Great Controversy, Ellen White, p. 177)
The message of Luther’s plea before the Catholic court is still resounding around the world, whereas many battles fought by generals and captains have faded into the past.
Developing the muscles to wield a sword or march into battle requires much training and practice. But the battle of wits in the conflicts over doctrines and principles requires the  innermost strength of a man–a veritable test of his mind and character. It is this contest that reveals the innermost convictions of a man’s heart and soul.
Paul compared spiritual warfare with mortal combat. He advised the saints to “take unto you the whole armour of God,” which means to be “girt about with truth” and wear the “breastplate of righteousness.” He said to take “the shield of faith,” the “helmet of salvation,” and the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (See Eph. 6:13-17.)
The battle and victory for the Lord is not just attending Sunday School, obeying the Word of Wisdom, and making an occasional trip to the temple. Paul said,
“We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Eph. 6:12)
Merely holding membership in the Church does not constitute a victorious battle against the powers of evil.
Did one receive the same blessings as a member of Christ’s church in 30 A.D. as a person did in 300 A.D.? Probably not, as the Church of Christ made many changes in doctrines, ordinances and government until the church itself had totally changed by 300 A.D. Blessings are predicated upon obedience to eternal principles and laws of the Gospel–not just membership in the church. When those laws and ordinances are changed, so are the corresponding blessings.
According to history, there is always the probability that the Church itself may change direction from its original intent. Thus, it is necessary to continually observe and re-evaluate the direction in which the body of the Church is moving.
 . . . there is an infallible rule given unto us whereby we can demonstrate the truth of this restoration, and prove the fact to the minds of every honest individual who will take the trouble to investigate the same. Says the Saviour, “A tree is known by its fruits.” Now if you wished to be determined in your own mind whether a tree is a plumb or a peach tree, how would you proceed? Would you ask how many persons were present to behold the process of sowing the seed, or how long it had been growing? No; you would proceed to the tree and examine it for yourself, and determine its character by the fruit it bore. Do precisely the same with the Priesthood [or church]. (editorial, 1838, Mill. Star 1:105)
The Church of Jesus Christ was first established in about 30 A.D.; but before the turn of the century, people had changed some of its principles and doctrines. By the year 200 A.D., it was hardly recognizable; and by the middle of the 4th century, it was a different church altogether. The blessings obtainable depended upon when a person was a member, even though the church still maintained the same name.
God’s eternal laws and ordinances are perfect, and obedience to them can lead men to exaltation. However, man can change them and always has, but the corresponding rewards and blessings are changed accordingly. Therefore, there is always danger to the Church. Oscar W. McConkie explained thusly:
Since God is perfect, all his words and all his works are perfect. Hence all revealed law is perfect, and being perfect it cannot be improved, otherwise the perfectness of God would be destroyed. If the law is perfect, man’s full duty is to obey it. But man is imperfect, hence all that he does is imperfect. Therefore, whatever change man makes in divine law is a corruption. If men remove apostles or prophets from  any scene of action upon earth, it is a corruption of the gospel. If man takes out of the church what God put into it, the church becomes man’s and not God’s church. If the perfect Lord gave ordinances of the gospel to be performed by divine authority, and if man changes the ordinances or removes them out of the plan of salvation, it is no longer the Lord’s plan of salvation but is man’s. If it is man’s, it can have no higher authority than man’s, and God is under no obligation to vouch for man, except man follow after him. And man can only follow after God by aid of the Spirit.
If God is perfect, it must be that he continues to hold to the true course. If men have instituted contrary courses to whatever the Lord said or did, it is a corruption. A perfect God could not adopt or proclaim imperfect laws or ordinances, else he would become imperfect. Nor could a perfect Lord give a perfect reward to one who followed an imperfect course. But the agency is man’s. He elects according to what is in him. He has no escape from the course he chooses, except he himself changes his course. (The Holy Ghost, Oscar W. McConkie, p. 268)
The Priesthood is greater than the Church, as it was through the power of the Priesthood that the Church was created. A creator is always greater than his creations. Charles C. Rich once stated, “. . . we understand that the Priesthood is greater than the Temple, and that which is sealed on earth by those holding the keys, is sealed in heaven.” (JD 19:164) Both the Church and the Priesthood should have the same laws and principles, but the laws of the Priesthood are eternal, and the laws of the Church may change from time to time. Men are often caught in the middle of this conflict.
Individuals within the Church may wish to advance in knowledge and spirituality beyond that which is offered to the general membership of the Church. They may want to obey the higher laws of the Priesthood rather than the lesser laws of the  Church. A Priesthood holder may want to obey the higher laws of God while the Church may decide to obey the lesser laws of the land. So no matter how beautiful and efficient the Church organization may be, one has to decide if the Lord is still guiding and instructing it.
It is not intended to introduce here a detail of the peculiar organizations of the Priesthood, but rather to show what gives that organization effect–namely, Divine authority and Divine inspiration.
Mere organization, beautiful and harmonious though it be, could accomplish but little good, if worked by human wisdom alone; . . . (G. C. Ferguson, 1859, Mill. Star 21:485)
The final message concerning membership in the Church is that men should realize that their own Priesthood is more important than any office in the Church. The Church and its offices are merely appendages of the Priesthood. (See D & C 107:5.) Man’s greatest concern should not be what church office he holds but rather the validity of his own Priesthood and his standing before the Lord. Thus, his greatest responsibility is an individual matter, not collective. Regardless of the direction taken by the Church or its members, a man holding the Priesthood should continually strive to obey every one of God’s laws, principles, doctrines, and ordinances that he possibly can while in mortality. Churches are fallible; God’s principles are not. The Prophet Joseph said:
It mattereth not whether the principle is popular or unpopular, I will always maintain a true principle, even if I stand alone in it. (TPJS, p. 332)
Included with his statement about the blessing of belonging to the “true and living Church,” Elder Bruce R. McConkie also stated that “we have received the fulness of the  everlasting gospel.” This, of course, was true at one point, but has the Church continued to sustain that fulness? Is the Church still the same as when the early leaders established it? Or, has it substituted the “precepts of men”, the same as the children of Israel did?
According to Brigham Young, the fulness of the gospel is not complete without plural marriage and the united order. One reported statement by Brigham Young was that, “In Mormon theology celestial or plural marriage and the United Order are companion principles, one being incomplete without the other. * * * The fulness of the Gospel is the United Order and the order of plural marriage.” (quoted in Truth magazine 7:175)
Moses had the same problem with the children of Israel in trying to maintain the fulness of the Gospel:
Moses . . . sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God; but they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; * * *
Therefore, he [God] took Moses out of their midst, and the Holy Priesthood also; and the lesser priesthood continued, . . . (D & C 84:23-26)
Receiving the fulness of the Gospel and the higher Priesthood is one thing, but obeying it is another. How close to beholding the face of God are the people of the church today? Every individual must answer this for himself!
 Chapter 2
GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT
We have received the gift of the Holy Ghost, and we are entitled to receive the gifts of the Spirit–those wondrous spiritual endowments which set us apart from the world and raise us above carnal things.
This second blessing is a composition of four parts: (1) the gift of the Holy Ghost; (2) gifts of the Spirit; (3) set apart from the world; and (4) raised above carnal things.
- The Gift of the Holy Ghost
The gift of the Holy Ghost has been a mystery to many, yet it is one of the most important gifts of the Gospel. The Prophet Joseph Smith spoke often on its significance. For example, the following passages are taken from Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith:
. . . after the testimony of the scriptures on this point; the assurance is given by the Holy Ghost, bearing witness to those who obey Him. . . . (p. 62)
All are to preach the Gospel by the power and influence of the Holy Ghost; and no man can preach the Gospel without the Holy Ghost. (p. 112)
The Holy Ghost . . . is the first Comforter. (p. 150)
No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost, should be translated no man can know that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. (p. 223)
 We believe in it being a comforter and a witness bearer, that it brings things past to our remembrance, leads us into all truth, and shows us of things to come. (p. 243)
We believe in prophecy, in tongues, in visions, and in revelations, in gifts, and in healings; and that these things cannot be enjoyed without the gift of the Holy Ghost. (p. 243)
The Holy Ghost is a personage, and is in the form of a personage. (p. 276)
The Holy Ghost is God’s messenger to administer in all those priesthoods. (p. 323)
No man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelations. The Holy Ghost is a revelator. (p. 328)
I want your prayers and faith that I may have the instruction of Almighty God and the gift of the Holy Ghost, so that I may set forth things that are true and which can be easily comprehended by you, and that the testimony may carry conviction to your hearts and minds of the truth of what I shall say. (p. 342)
In these statements the Prophet has described many keys and blessings that can come from the gift of the Holy Ghost. A crude, poor, and unlettered man may enjoy much of the power and gifts of the Holy Ghost, while another may have all the refinement, education, suave appearance and honors of a great man, yet be destitute of the Holy Ghost.
The following negative effects are evidences of when the Holy Ghost is absent:
- Those who do not obey the gospel do not have the Holy Ghost.
- Those who read their sermons are probably not speaking with the influence and power of it.
- Those who do not preach the fulness of the gospel do not have it.
 4. Those who do not have it cannot bear a true testimony of Jesus Christ.
- Those who do not have it cannot accurately and continuously prophesy of things to come.
- If people do not have visions, revelations, healings, speak in tongues, etc., they do not have it.
- If they do not have the power to write revelations for the Lord, they do not have it.
- If they place their trust in the arm of flesh, they do not have it.
- If they disagree with Joseph Smith’s teachings, they do not have it.
- If they change any of the laws, principles and ordinances of the gospel, they do not have it.
We say that “we believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues and so forth” (7th Article of Faith), but how many members of the Church have experienced or witnessed those gifts? It is obvious that when there is an absence of these gifts, then there is an absence of the Holy Ghost.
The gift of the Holy Ghost is given to men to lead them away from sin and error, but if they do not heed the warnings, they lose it. It is easier to lose that spiritual guide than it is to receive it. Once it has been betrayed, it is very difficult to receive again, as Jacob Gates wrote:
When I first heard the Gospel, I received it and rejoiced in the same, and have ever since, “for it is the power of God unto salvation.” But you cannot be benefited by its power except you obey its precepts. It is not those that say, but those that do, that shall be partakers of its blessings.
Get the Spirit and keep it, that it may be your constant companion. It is often the case that the Saints lose the Spirit through carelessness; hence they should watch as well as pray.
 If the Saints would be careful to watch their own feelings, and would seek to understand the capacity of their own being, they would know when they grieve the Holy Spirit. Its voice would become familiar to them. But when they become insensible and indifferent to its influence, it takes its flight, and they become powerless. Let all the Saints watch and pray, that they may not lose that spiritual companion that leads into all truth.
The Saviour said that “strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it;” and I will say that fewer still are those that are able to walk therein. (Mill. Star, 1860, 22:372)
In his book The Holy Ghost, Oscar W. McConkie made the following observation:
The Father manifests his power through the Holy Ghost, according to his will and according to man’s faith in Christ, whom he prepared for all men, but many harden their hearts against him, therefore have no communion with the Holy Ghost. The righteous commune with the Father and with the Son, according to their faith and desires in God, and his gifts are manifest in them. But the gifts of the Spirit are not poured out upon any except they repent. And none have them on any terms but righteousness, for “there were no gifts from the Lord, and the Holy Ghost did not come upon any, because of their wickedness and unbelief.” (Morm. 1:14)
“A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” That is a law of God. And the same God manifests righteousness in the hearts of those whose desires are unto him, and his law manifests the desires of the heart in all things, even according to man’s will. Whether men know it or not, their desires enable God to bestow his treasures upon them or to withhold them, and enable him to multiply good or evil in them, for “every seed bringeth forth unto its own likeness.” It is well, therefore, if men  “experiment to know if the seed was good.” If it is good, and if men receive a gift of God, so that they “nourish it with great care, that it may get root, that it may grow up, and bring forth fruit unto us,” it is well with them. (The Holy Ghost, McConkie, pp. 118-119)
Those who are not meek and humble will not have communion with the Holy Ghost. Where there is wickedness and unbelief, it is not there either. Even those who disbelieve in some of the principles of the Gospel will lose the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost comes to only those who truly desire to obey the Lord.
The power of the Holy Ghost is different from the gift of the Holy Ghost. The Prophet Joseph explained:
There is a difference between the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Cornelius received the Holy Ghost before he was baptized, which was the convincing power of God unto him of the truth of the gospel, but he could not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until after he was baptized. Had he not taken this sign or ordinance upon him, the Holy Ghost which convinced him of the truth of God, would have left him. Until he obeyed these ordinances and received the gift of the Holy Ghost, by the laying on of hands, according to the order of God, he could not have healed the sick or commanded an evil spirit to come out of a man, and it obey him; for the spirits might say unto him, as they did to the sons of Sceva: “Paul we know and Jesus we know, but who are ye?” (TPJS, p. 199)
The Holy Ghost, as the “convincing power of God,” is also referred to in the Book of Mormon:
And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and  if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. (Moroni 10:4)
After a person is obedient to the “convincing power of the Holy Ghost,” then he is entitled to the “gift” of the Holy Ghost.
- Gifts of the Spirit
Some of the gifts of the Spirit promised to the faithful are listed by both Paul, the Apostle, (see I Cor. chap. 12) and by Mormon (see Mormon 9:24). They were also promised to the faithful members of the Church in our dispensation:
Therefore, as I said unto mine apostles I say unto you again, that every soul who believeth on your words, and is baptized by water for the remission of sins, shall receive the Holy Ghost.
And these signs shall follow them that believe–
In my name they shall do many wonderful works;
In my name they shall cast out devils;
In my name they shall heal the sick;
In my name they shall open the eyes of the blind, and unstop the ears of the deaf;
And the tongue of the dumb shall speak;
And if any man shall administer poison unto them it shall not hurt them;
And the poison of a serpent shall not have power to harm them.
But a commandment I give unto them, that they shall not boast themselves of these things, neither speak them before the world; for these things are given unto you for your profit and for salvation. (D & C 84:64-73)
If these gifts are not abundant in the Church today, what has happened? Did God fail to keep His promise to bestow  these gifts, or did the Latter-day Saints fail to keep their promises to Him? The answer to these questions may rest in the 3rd and 4th parts of this second blessing of Priesthood.
- Set Us Apart from the World
Referring to a literal “setting apart”, the 10th Article of Faith states, “We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes, that Zion will be built upon this (the American) continent, . . .”
The Lord revealed that “ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect; . . . they shall be gathered in unto one place upon the face of this land, . . .” (D & C 29: 7, 8)
Over 20 times in the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord has directed the Saints to gather. The Prophet Joseph said, “One of the most important points in the faith of the Church… is the gathering of Israel” (TPJS, p. 92), and “I prophesy, that that man who tarries after he has an opportunity of going, will be afflicted by the devil” (TPJS, p. 160), and “There is no other way for the Saints to be saved in these last days, (than by the gathering) as the concurrent testimony of all the holy prophets clearly proves, . . . (TPJS, p. 183).
But that doctrine of gathering has been changed in the LDS Church, i.e.:
Bruce R. McConkie: “We are now in a new era of church growth and development. . . . We are becoming a world church. . . . Every nation is the gathering place for its own people.” (Sept. 2, 1972, Church News)
John A. Widstoe: “The time of gathering is past. We now live in the time of scattering.” (Sept. 1952, Truth Mag., p. 103)
 David O. McKay: “It is important that the branches be built up, and members should remain and work toward that end.” (Instructor, Nov. 1963, p. 385)
Matthew Cowley: “I know that in your hearts this day there is a longing to be here at the hub of this great Church. . . and in a sense I am pleased that you do not have that desire fulfilled.” (Conf. Rept., Apr. 1952, p. 102)
Joseph Fldg. Smith: “Our building of foreign temples is to encourage the saints to stay in their own countries.” (Des. News, Oct. 17, 1936, “Church Section”)
The First Presidency: “The policy of the Church is not to entice or encourage people to leave their native lands; but to remain faithful and true in their allegiance to their governments, and be good citizens.” (Mess. of 1st Pres., Clark, 4:165)
Rather than being “set apart from the world,” Church members are told to become a part of it.
- Raise Us Above Carnal Things
The spiritual heighth of Mormonism was reached about 1837. By that time most of the Saints had received personal revelations, had spoken in tongues, had seen visions, had inspired dreams and had witnessed miracles. They had witnessed the appearance of angels, had heard heavenly choirs, and some had even seen the Lord Jesus Christ.
However, in 1837 there began to be an increase in apostasy, rebellion against principles of the Gospel, and seeking after the temporal and carnal things of the world. The Church declined in its spiritual powers, but progressed  temporally and socially with the world. In our day, Eugene Campbell, BYU history professor and author, observed:
Utah is rapidly succumbing to the wave of uniformity that has been growing in the nation. Our system of transportation, communication, our nation-wide T.V., radio, chain stores, packaged food, theater chains, clothing styles, are rapidly ending our uniqueness. We are no longer a peculiar people. (“This Was the Place,” BYU Speeches of the Year, Extension Publications, July 23, 1959, p. 9)
Brigham Young had seen these events in vision, as quoted by Mosiah Hancock:
. . . he [Brigham Young] dreaded the time when the Saints would become popular with the world; for he had seen in sorrow, in a dream, or in dreams, this people clothed in the fashions of Babylon, and drinking in the spirit of Babylon until one could hardly tell a Saint from a black-leg. * * *
Many of this people for the sake of riches and popularity, will sell themselves for that which will canker their souls and lead them down to misery and despair. It would be better for them to dwell in wigwams among the Indians than to dwell with the gentiles and miss the glories which God wishes them to obtain. (Mosiah Hancock Journal, Pioneer Press, pp. 47, 48)
Babylon made its grand entrance into the Utah valleys with the coming of the railroad in the late 1860’s. This became very apparent to Church leaders, and Joseph F. Smith commented:
There was a time when we could walk up and down the streets and tell by the very countenances of men whether they were Latter-day Saints or not; but can you do it now? You cannot, unless you have  greater discernment and more of the Spirit and power of God than I have. Why? Because many are trying as hard as they can to transform themselves into the very shape, character, and spirit of the world. Elders in Israel, young men, mothers and daughters in Israel are conforming to the world’s fashions, until their very countenances indicate its spirit and character. This course is to the shame and disgrace of those who are so unwise. (JD 11:310)
Thus, from the foregoing, it is evident why the great blessings of the Holy Ghost have been lost.
 Chapter 3
SANCTIFIED BY THE SPIRIT
We can be sanctified by the Spirit, have dross and evil burned out of us as though by fire, become clean and spotless, and be fit to dwell with gods and angels.
There are two baptisms mentioned in the scriptures: the baptism of water and the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. When John the Baptist went out to preach baptism to the Jews, he said, “I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” (Luke 3:16)
Joseph Smith also spoke of both these baptisms:
The gospel requires baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, which is the meaning of the word in the original language–namely, to bury or immerse. *** You might as well baptize a bag of sand as a man, if not done in view of the remission of sins and getting of the Holy Ghost. Baptism by water is but half a baptism, and is good for nothing without the other half–that is, the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
The Savior says, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (TPJS, p. 314)
The baptism of water is a common thing, but the baptism of fire is seldom discussed or witnessed. The Holy  Ghost is referred to as the First Comforter. According to Joseph Smith–
There are two Comforters spoken of. One is the Holy Ghost, the same as given on the day of Pentecost, and that all Saints receive after faith, repentance, and baptism. This first Comforter or Holy Ghost has no other effect than pure intelligence. It is more powerful in expanding the mind, enlightening the understanding, and storing the intellect with present knowledge, of a man who is of the literal seed of Abraham, than one that is a Gentile, though it may not have half as much visible effect upon the body; for as the Holy Ghost falls upon one of the literal seed of Abraham, it is calm and serene; and his whole soul and body are only exercised by the pure spirit of intelligence; while the effect of the Holy Ghost upon a Gentile, is to purge out the old blood, and make him actually of the seed of Abraham. That man that has none of the blood of Abraham (naturally) must have a new creation by the Holy Ghost. In such a case, there may be more of a powerful effect upon the body, and visible to the eye, than upon an Israelite, while the Israelite at first might be far before the Gentile in pure intelligence. (TPJS, pp. 149-150)
Both water and fire serve as cleansers: baptism of water has the effect of a washing, while fire will burn off the dross. Both are necessary for a complete baptism. If you build a fire with a few sticks of wood, it will make only a small fire; but if you add large pieces of wood, the fire will be greater. So if a man has greater amounts of dross in his soul, a greater fire will be required to “burn” it out. As Oscar W. McConkie wrote:
The Holy Ghost has power as a consuming fire, that literally burns dross and doubt out of flesh and blood, and leaves men clean from sin. The burning of the Holy Ghost is actual and cleansing, and is accompanied by forgiveness of sins. It has the effect of pure intelligence, and is the world’s most powerful force  “in expanding the mind, enlightening the understanding, and storing the intellects with present knowledge.” If those who are thus “burned” remain clean, Lucifer can no more halt their progress, nor lacerate their conscience, nor victimize them. (The Holy Ghost, O. McConkie, p. 34)
Once a man has become clean, he should try to remain that way so the Holy Ghost can become a revelator to him. If he entangles himself in sin and error, he will become similar to how he was before baptism, and sometimes it is necessary for re-baptism–even several times!
Some have taught that everyone must experience this visible and obvious experience in their baptism, but as has already been pointed out, this is not so–unless they are not of the blood of Abraham or a pure Israelite. The Lord expressed this about some of the righteous Lamanites when He said:
And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. and whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not. (3 Nephi 9:20)
That visible effect is not as important as some other evidences of the Holy Ghost. For instance:
And behold, the Holy Spirit of God did come down from heaven, and did enter into their hearts, and they were filled as if with fire, and they could speak forth marvelous words. (Hel. 5:45)
This purifying power and “fire” of the Holy Ghost is far more important to a person than holding some office in the  Church, which is merely a job or calling. Purification by the Holy Spirit can mean salvation or exaltation, keeping in mind that by acting contrary, one can receive sorrow and damnation.
Let’s create a hypothetical situation to help us understand the necessity of the cleansing power of fire. Consider some kind and loving parents in a clean and beautiful home. One day their children come home after playing outside and walking through the mud. Do the parents let them walk into the house that way just because they love them? Or do they make them get cleaned off before entering the home? So it is with God’s children who must get themselves clean “every whit” before they can return home to their Father in Heaven. This, then, is why the baptism of the Holy Ghost is just as important as the baptism of water.
 Chapter 4
We can stand in the place and stead of the Lord Jesus Christ in administering salvation to the children of men.
This blessing consists of two parts: (1) representing the Lord and (2) administering the ordinances of salvation. Both have been evident on the earth for relatively short periods of time. Study of the past 6000+ years provides evidence that it has been a continuous series of failures.
For human beings, who are anything but perfect, to represent the Lord, who is perfect, seems like an impossible requirement. But Jesus said in His first public discourse, “Be ye therefore, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). Brigham Young explained how this can be:
Those who do right, and seek the glory of the Father in heaven, whether their knowledge be little or much, or whether they can do little or much, if they do the very best they know how, they are perfect.
It may appear strange to some of you, and it certainly does to the world, to say it is possible for a man or woman to become perfect on this earth. It is written, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Again, “If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” This is perfectly consistent to the person who understands what perfection is.
 If the first passage I have quoted is not worded to our understanding, we can alter the phraseology of the sentence, and say, “Be ye as perfect as ye can,” for that is all we can do, though it is written, be ye perfect as your Father who is in heaven is perfect. To be as perfect as we possibly can, according to our knowledge, is to be just as perfect as our Father in heaven is. (JD 2:129-130)
The Priesthood is a delegation of authority from the Lord to act in His name and to represent Him. It is similar to the delegation of authority by man. Orson Hyde explained:
What is this Priesthood? What is this power that is conferred upon us in the holy Priesthood? What particular power do you give when you send a man to some other land to transact business in your name? You give him a power of attorney, authorizing him to transact in your name the business that you wish to be performed; and in that letter of appointment would be conveyed all your power, your authority, and ability to transact that business, even as effectually as if you yourself were present to perform it with your own hand.
It is an agency, then, though it may be said that the Priesthood, which is authority from God to act in his name, differs from that authority which is given to man to transact business for his fellows. I am willing to admit that there is a difference so far as the business for which they are delegated is concerned; for one is temporal, the other is spiritual; the one is earthly, the other heavenly. (JD 8:20)
In their jobs, it is often difficult for men and women to correctly represent their companies. Many employees receive the appointment but fail to receive the spirit of their calling, causing serious problems for the parent organization. And to represent a whole state or even a nation would be an even greater individual responsibility, because if you did something wrong, it could ruin your reputation and job, result in a  criminal trial, or even cost you your life. In comparison, Priesthood power is even a greater responsibility, because the bearer is representing One with even more authority and power.
How one uses his Priesthood determines the honor or dishonor that will come to him, as Heber C. Kimball stated:
The Priesthood is a gift from the Almighty, and He has placed a portion of it upon me to honor, and if I honor that calling, that Priesthood will honor me, it will magnify me before God and before the world. I do know that when I take a course to dishonor myself, I degrade myself in the eyes of heaven, and upon earth. When I trifle with the Priesthood, I trifle with the Almighty; . . . (JD 2:157)
For us to best represent the Lord, we should act as much like Him as possible. When we assume His responsibilities, we take on His obligations and His will, and we no longer represent ourselves. In fact, we should not only walk in the authority of that appointment, but in the virtues and goodness of it.
The heavenly authorities of the upper worlds, whose glorious characters shine white, and pure, and free, and innocent, and whose virtues have lifted them up to their high estate, have stooped to attach us to their ranks. They have delegated us to stand and speak for them, to impersonate them, and to establish their order of society among men. Shall we not, then, be true and pure? Since heaven is made by the working of heavenly laws–by the practice of principles that work peace and goodwill within the bosom, they have called us not merely to preach principles, but to let their principles live in us. (editorial, Mill. Star 20:643)
 This Priesthood authority is not a prize or badge or distinction of honor or status–rather it is a burden, a responsibility, a dedication. Hugh Nibley described it well:
What irony. As far as the whole world is concerned, the priesthood is a thing of value which is cruel to withhold from anyone, because it enhances one’s status and dignity among his fellows, whether inside the Church or outside. And yet the one thing that renders that priesthood completely null and void is to treat it as something to aspire to among one’s fellows. Priesthood is strictly an arrangement between the individual priesthood holder and his brethren in the eternal worlds, as personal and private as anything can be. * * *
Is not the priesthood everything? Not on this earth. On this earth it is nothing, and as soon as we try to use it for any kind of status, power, rule, or authority, it automatically cancels out.
To repeat, as we are prone to do for lack of wit, for those who hold the priesthood on this earth, it is, the Prophet Joseph said, “an onerous burden,” not a prize. One cannot give orders to another by the priesthood. One cannot use it to acquire prestige, fame or wealth. Far from impressing one’s fellow men, it is held in derision by them. The moment one tries to make honor or glory or exercise dominion by the priesthood “amen to the priesthood of that man”–it automatically becomes null and void. What good is it then? Over whom does it exercise dominion? Over the spirits and over the elements–but not over one’s fellow-men, who cannot under any circumstances be deprived of their complete free agency.
Though some may find it hard to believe, I find no cause for boasting in my priesthood–nothing is easier than conferring it upon one, but that is only the beginning; for it to be a real power requires a degree of concentration, dedication, and self-discipline which few ever attain to, and for the rest priesthood is not a blessing but a terrible risk. The priesthood is not a badge of office to be worn  as a feather in a cap. (“Priesthood”, Sunstone, Dec. 1990, p. 11)
In his list of Priesthood blessings, Elder Bruce McConkie recognized the blessings that come from “administering salvation to the children of men.” But what if men administer principles and ordinances that do not lead to “salvation”? What happens to the man who thought he was receiving these correctly but actually was not? And what will happen to men who try to change those saving principles and ordinances? How many changes can be made before they no longer provide eternal salvation, or can they even be changed at all?
The Savior taught that “If your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!” (D & C 18:16) Conversely, the question could be asked, “If you should lead many souls away from the kingdom of the Father, how great will be your misery!”
Eternal laws and ordinances of the Priesthood cannot be changed. Popular vote of the members of the Church cannot do it; feelings and impressions of Church leaders cannot do it; government laws or armies cannot do it; reasoning, logic, or sympathies of mankind cannot do it. John Taylor advised:
We must not be governed by sympathies. My sympathies in the case that I related were very strong; but I must not be governed by sympathies–I must be governed by the law of God. * * *
This is the position that we as Priests of the Most High God ought to occupy. We should feel that we are not living for ourselves, but that we are living for God–living to accomplish His purposes. (JD 24:233)
 A man may change his beliefs; the church may change its rules and programs; the government may change its organization; the nations of the earth may change their powers and boundaries; but the eternal laws and ordinances of the Lord do not change.
Some have argued that evolving and progressive conditions require changes in Gospel principles and ordinances. This may sound reasonable and may even serve some beneficial temporal purpose, but this is not the Lord’s desired procedure. Such changes are a key in determining who really has the power and authority to administer salvation.
On many occasions the Prophet Joseph Smith clearly expressed his views on making changes in the saving principles, laws, and ordinances of the gospel, i.e.:
He [God] set the ordinances to be the same forever and ever, . . . (TPJS, p. 168)
Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed. All must be saved on the same principles. (TPJS, p. 308)
Now taking it for granted that the scriptures say what they mean, and mean what they say, we have sufficient grounds to go on and prove from the Bible that the gospel has always been the same; the ordinances to fulfill its requirements, the same, and the officers to officiate, the same; and the signs and fruits resulting from the promises, the same: . . . (TPJS, p. 264)
Therefore, if changes are made in an “unchangeable gospel,” how significant are they? What rewards can men expect when they try to alter the Gospel? The Lord said:
 Who am I that made man, saith the Lord, that will hold him guiltless that obeys not my commandments?
Who am I, saith the Lord, that have promised and have not fulfilled?
I command and men obey not; I revoke and they receive not the blessing.
Then they say in their hearts: This is not the work of the Lord, for his promises are not fulfilled. But wo unto such, for their reward lurketh beneath, and not from above. (D & C 58:30-33)
When men administer in ordinances that have been changed, they no longer operate with heavenly keys and authority, and they forfeit the blessings that would come therefrom.
We need endowments and ordinations, and they can only be administered by those holding the Priesthood, for without these gifts we could not obtain a celestial crown. * * *
The way and manner in which these ordinances have to be performed have been determined in the eternal world, and unless you comply with the requirements and obey the law, you cannot obtain the keys, and without the keys you cannot pass by the angels and the Gods in the eternal worlds. (Charles C. Rich, JD 19:253)
Too often men who are called of God, or think they are called of God, assume a pride and self-assurance that defeats the purposes of God. Indeed they begin to act for themselves, and not for God.
Let us look to our great Master–the Saviour–what did he say upon these matters? He anathematized the Scribes and Pharisees because they loved “the uppermost rooms at feasts, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men Rabbi, Rabbi.” He said to his disciples–“He that is greatest  among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased, and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted!” (editorial, Mill. Star 15:321)
Herein is the danger–both to the false and the chosen representatives of God:
. . . there are so many temptations for Saints, so many things to draw their attention from the work of God, and oftentimes so many things bearing heavily upon them, that they are apt to grow cold in their spirits, and slack in their attendance on the ordinances of the Lord. And when the things that pertain to salvation are neglected, Saints become a prey to every wind that blows, they are unable to detect the wiles of Satan, to resist his temptations to evil, or to discern the vileness of the apostate’s tongue, and the sophistry of his fair and flattering speech. (editorial, Mill. Star 15:325)
 Chapter 5
SONS OF GOD
We have power to become the sons of God, to be adopted into the family of the Lord Jesus Christ, to have him as our Father, to be one with him as he is one with his Father.
The scriptures mention both the “sons of God” and “the sons of men,” and apparently there is a difference, but the distinction is sometimes not very clear. By a careful examination of various scriptures, this can be clarified. For example, Paul the Apostle said there was a difference between a father of the flesh and the Father of the spirits:
For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth (corrects), and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence; shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the father of spirits, and live? (Heb. 12:6-9)
Jesus also clarified this subject: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit.” (John 3:6) And to Nicodemus, He said we must be born “again”. This meant we must do something or have something  in order to deserve that title of a “son of God.” Moroni also indicated that when he wrote:
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen. (Moroni 7:48)
Those few, then, who are the “true followers of Jesus Christ” may become “sons of God.” But to be a true follower or disciple, it requires Christ’s participation.
But verily, verily, I say unto you, that as many as receive me, to them will I give power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on my name. (D & C 11:30)
But to as many as received me, gave I power to become my sons; and even so will I give unto as many as will receive me, power to become my sons. (D & C 39:4)
Not only does this power make a person one of the sons of God, but also enables him “to do many miracles:”
I came unto mine own, and mine own received me not; but unto as many as received me gave I power to do many miracles, and to become the sons of God; and even unto them that believed on my name gave I power to obtain eternal life. (D & C 45:8)
It is now somewhat more clear that those who receive Christ and are born again and become His true followers,  can receive power to become sons of God, and also the power to do many miracles. Not only do they take the name of Jesus Christ, they also have His power.
A broad distinction between the sons of God and the sons of men was described by Dr. Cleon Skousen, when he said that the “sons of God” are those who receive the Priesthood, while the “sons of men” were not worthy of Priesthood:
. . . when Noah was 492, Shem was born. * * * Although Shem was the younger of the two, he was later selected as Noah’s first heir to the Priesthood. Eight years later, when Noah was 500, Ham was born. The scripture specifically states that Japheth and Shem had the same mother. This implies that Ham had a different mother and was therefore only the half-brother of Shem and Japheth.
These three sons were born at a time when apostasy and moral disintegration had engulfed the whole earth. Violence, murder, war, theft, rapine, fraud and graft characterized civilization everywhere. According to the Lord, this society of mankind during the dispensation of Noah was worse than anything before or since–worse than Babylon where they offered human sacrifices, worse than Greece where they subjected young children to degenerate orgies, worse than Sodom, worse than Gomorrah. In fact, the Lord declared: “Among all the workmanship of mine hands there has not been so great wickedness” as that which prevailed in this age of which we are speaking. It was a day when “the power of Satan was upon all the face of the earth.” So successful was Satan that the scripture says the earth seemed veiled with a terrible chain of darkness and Lucifer “looked up and laughed, and his angels rejoiced.”
But in spite of this environment, Noah succeeded in surrounding his three sons with the mantle of the gospel and the scripture says they “hearkened unto the Lord, and gave heed, and they were called  the sons of God.” This title “The sons of God”, is reserved for those who receive the Priesthood; therefore we know that these three sons were all honored with divine callings. Ham’s calling to the Priesthood is specifically mentioned by Abraham, and Shem established the line through which the Priesthood descended to all the post-diluvian patriarchs. All three sons are described as having “walked with God.”
When these three sons matured and married, they each had daughters born unto them. Apparently, no male offspring were born to any of them until after the Flood. These daughters finally grew up and no doubt Japheth, Shem and Ham labored diligently to impress upon their minds the importance of the Lord’s plan for happy living. But no matter how successful they might have been in getting them to accept the basic doctrines, there was one place where they failed completely. None of these men could dissuade their daughters from marrying outside the church. In fact, it may have been that there were no righteous men whom they could have married. In any event, all of these daughters eventually rebelled against the warnings of their parents and the pleadings of Noah and took unto themselves husbands among the wicked.
Immediately the word of the Lord came unto Noah: “The daughters of thy sons have sold themselves; for behold mine anger is kindled against the sons of men for they will not hearken to my voice!” The “sons of men” referred to the wicked of that generation who rejected the gospel and were therefore not worthy of the Priesthood through which they could become the “sons of God.”
All of this occurred right at the time when Noah was doing his utmost to inspire a spirit of repentance among the people. Some time before, when he was 480, Noah had been called on a 120-year mission to preach a message of “repent or perish” to the depraved and licentious inhabitants of the earth. So important was this mission that the Lord had personally laid His hands upon the head of Noah and reaffirmed the Priesthood in him. The scripture says: “And the Lord ordained Noah after his own order, and  commanded him that he should go forth and declare his Gospel unto the children of men, even as it was given unto Enoch.” (The First 2000 Years, pp. 200-202)
Joseph and Sidney narrowed the distinction between the two types of “sons”, as recorded in the 76th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants, showing that being a “son of God” requires more than merely receiving Priesthood:
And again we bear record–for we saw and heard, and this is the testimony of the gospel of Christ concerning them who shall come forth in the resurrection of the just–
They are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial, being buried in the water in his name, and this according to the commandment which he has given–
That by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power;
And who overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true.
They are they who are the church of the Firstborn.
They are they into whose hands the Father has given all things–
They are they who are priests and kings, who have received of his fulness, and of his glory;
And are priests of the Most High, after the order of Melchizedek, which was after the order of Enoch, which was after the order of the Only Begotten Son.
Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God–
Wherefore, all things are theirs, whether life or death, or things present, or things to come, all are theirs and they are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.
And they shall overcome all things. (D & C 76:50-60)
 And in the following chapter of this book, “Patriarchal Order of Marriage,” we will see that “The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy.” (Brigham Young, JD 11:269)
Those faithful few who keep the commandments and are baptized, who receive the Holy Ghost and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, become the “sons of God”; they are promised: to become members of the church of the Firstborn, to receive all things, to overcome all things, to become priests and kings, and to receive a fullness of His glory.
At this point, then, men finally become “adopted into the family” of God the Father and Jesus Christ to become one with them, as the D & C states:
I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was crucified for the sins of the world, even as many as will believe on my name, that they may become the sons of God, even one in me as I am one in the Father, as the Father is one in me, that we may be one. (D & C 35:2)
John Taylor also commented on this grand experience of being one in that great family:
. . . hence this principle is given to men to lead them in the paths of life, to instruct and prepare them for that celestial glory where God the Father dwells, and Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant, and those of the holy Priesthood who have lived before in different ages, who exist now and who will exist throughout the eternities that are to come. It places us in relationship to all these beings, and we feel that we are one with God, one with Jesus, one with the ancient Apostles, Prophets and Patriarchs, one with the men of God that have had the holy Priesthood in the different ages of time, and expect to be one with them in the eternal worlds. (JD 19:78-79)
 The work of the Holy Priesthood extends beyond mortality into the “family” of God. That family will consist only of those “sons of God” who are the prophets, apostles and patriarchs from all ages. Priesthood work continues to exist among them even though there is a veil between mortal and immortal worlds. President John Taylor stated:
We cannot do anything of ourselves, unless aided by the spirit of the Lord. We are in communion with not only the Prophets and Apostles who lived anciently, but with brother Joseph, brother Brigham, brother Heber C. Kimball, brother Geo. A. Smith and others who held the holy Priesthood and have passed away, and are operating with them in behalf of fallen humanity, in behalf of the people who live now on the earth and the myriads of dead who have left us. We are engaged in a work that nothing but the combined action of the Priesthood on the earth and in the heavens can bring about. (JD 19:137)
The Prophet Joseph expressed the same concept:
The spirits of the just are exalted to a greater and more glorious work; hence they are blessed in their departure to the world of spirits. Enveloped in flaming fire, they are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings, and motions, and are often pained therewith. (TPJS, p. 326)
In 1889 Wilford Woodruff was seeking greater understanding regarding some serious difficulties the church was passing through. The subsequent revelation he received described the nearness of the “Heavenly Hosts” to those here in mortality.
I, Jesus Christ, the savior of the world, am in your midst. I am your advocate with the Father. Fear not, little flock, it is your FatherÕs good pleasure to give you the Kingdom. * * *
 Pray always and faint not; exercise faith in the Lord and in the promises of God; be valiant in the testimony of Jesus Christ. The eyes of the Lord and the Heavenly Hosts are watching over you and your acts. Therefore be faithful until I come. (Mess. of 1st Pres., Clark, 3:175-176)
Even before we venture into that spiritual world, the “family” of the faithful few will have occasion to meet together. When the last of all the nations on earth has been destroyed (see D & C 87:6), then there will be a new inauguration, and Jesus Christ will be President and King of the world, beginning His millennial reign on earth. The sons of God will meet together to celebrate His election.
Jesus said, “Marvel not, for the hour cometh that I will drink of the fruit of the vine with you on the earth, and with Moroni,” Elias, John the Baptist, Elijah, Joseph, Jacob, Isaac, Abraham, Michael, Peter, James, John, “and also with all those whom my Father hath given me out of the world. Wherefore, lift up your hearts and rejoice . . . and be faithful until I come, and ye shall be caught up, that where I am ye shall be also.” (See D & C 27:5-18.)
The Prophet Joseph also said:
While in conversation at Judge Adams’ during the evening, I said, Christ and the resurrected Saints will reign over the earth during the thousand years. They will not probably dwell upon the earth, but will visit it when they please, or when it is necessary to govern it. (TPJS, p. 268)
Through Priesthood power, the “sons of God” will become part of the family of God and Christ because they will have proved themselves worthy to dwell in that family kingdom forever and ever!
 Chapter 6
PATRIARCHAL ORDER OF MARRIAGE
We can enter into the patriarchal order, the order of eternal marriage, the order which enables the family unit to continue everlastingly in celestial glory.
What a great blessing to have a “family unit to continue everlastingly!” What sacrifice or service would a man be willing to offer to receive such a blessing? The Lord does place a price on blessings, and this one is no exception.
For a man to just go into a temple and have his wife sealed to him is not enough to assure their eternal marriage. It is only part of that requirement. He is instructed in the ceremony itself to continue in righteousness in order to receive that blessing:
. . . the President, then, proceeds to ask the following question of the man: “Do you, brother (calling him by name), take sister (calling the bride by her name), by the right hand to receive her unto yourself to be your lawful and wedded wife, and you to be her lawful and wedded husband for time and for all eternity, with a covenant and promise, on your part, that you will fulfill all the laws, rites, and ordinances, pertaining to this holy matrimony, in the new and everlasting covenant, doing this in the presence of God, angels, and these witnesses of your own free will and choice? (quoted from The Seer, Orson Pratt, p. 31)
 The President, or officiator, then asks the woman the same question. In the 1800’s to “fulfill all the laws, rites, and ordinances,” pertaining to that new and everlasting covenant, meant to add more wives to the family, as Joseph F. Smith explained:
Some people have supposed that the doctrine of plural marriage was a sort of superfluity, or non-essential to the salvation or exaltation of mankind. In other words, some of the Saints have said, and believe, that a man with one wife, sealed to him by the authority of the Priesthood for time and eternity, will receive an exaltation as great and glorious, if he is faithful, as he possibly could with more than one. I want here to enter my solemn protest against this idea, for I know it is false. There is no blessing promised except upon conditions, and no blessing can be obtained by mankind except by faithful compliance with the conditions, or law, upon which the same is promised. The marriage of one woman to a man for time and eternity by the sealing power, according to the law of God, is a fulfillment of the celestial law of marriage IN PART–and is good so far as it goes–and so far as a man abides these conditions of the law, he will receive his reward therefor, and this reward, or blessing, he could not obtain on any other grounds or conditions. But this is only the beginning of the law, not the whole of it. Therefore, whoever has imagined that he could obtain the fullness of the blessing pertaining to this celestial law, by complying with only a portion of its conditions, has deceived himself. He cannot do it. (Jos. F. Smith, 1878, JD 20:28)
Many other leading Church authorities have made similar statements, only a few of which are included here:
Now, where a man in this Church says, “I don’t want but one wife, I will live my religion with one,” he will perhaps be saved in the celestial kingdom; but  when he gets there he will not find himself in possession of any wife at all. He has had a talent that he has hid up. He will come forward and say, “Here is that which thou gavest me, I have not wasted it, and here is the one talent,” and he will not enjoy it, but it will be taken and given to those who have improved the talents they received, and he will find himself without any wife, and he will remain single forever and ever. (Brigham Young, JD 16:166)
When God sets up any portion of his kingdom upon the earth, it is patterned after his own order in the heavens. When he gives to men a pattern of family organization on the earth, that pattern will be just like his own family organization in the heavens. The family of Abraham was a transcript of a celestial pattern. The likeness was drawn by a master artist, who was perfectly familiar with the celestial pattern. AbrahamÕs family was a fresh organization, designed to effect the perpetuity and increase of God, in an endless succession of families. And every family which God institutes upon the earth, is fashioned like his own original family, in the heavens. . . . This family order of Abraham was spread out before God, and met with his entire and full approbation. And why did God approve of it? Because it is the only order practiced in the celestial heavens, and the only peaceful, united, and prosperous order that will endure, while man-invented orders and devices will utterly deceive and perish with the using. (Letters . . . by Elder Orson Spencer, pp. 192-193)
Monogamy, or restrictions by law to one wife, is no part of the economy of Heaven among men. Such a system was commenced by the founders of the Roman empire. . . . Rome became the mistress of the world, and introduced this order of monogamy wherever her sway was acknowledged. Thus this monogamic order of marriage, so esteemed by modern Christians as a holy sacrament and divine institution, is nothing but a system established by a set of robbers.  * * * Why do we believe in and practice polygamy? Because the Lord introduced it to his servants in a revelation given to Joseph Smith, and the LordÕs servants have always practiced it.” And is that religion popular in heaven? It is the only popular religion there, for this is the religion of Abraham, and, unless we do the works of Abraham, we are not Abraham’s seed and heirs according to promise. (Brigham Young, JD 9:322)
The ordinance of having them [wives] sealed to you by one having the authority of the Holy Priesthood must be attended to in this world. Father Abraham obeyed this law of the patriarchal order of marriage. His wives were sealed to him for time and all eternity, and so were the wives of all the Patriarchs and Prophets that obeyed that law.
I desire to testify as an individual and as a latter-day saint that I know that God has revealed this law unto this people. I know that if we had not obeyed that law we should have been damned; the judgments of God would have rested upon us; the kingdom of God would have stopped right where we were when God revealed that law unto us. Why have we obeyed it? I obeyed it because I want my wife or wives with me after death; I want my wives and children with me in the morning of the resurrection; I want my wives and children organized in the family organization, that I may dwell with them and they with me, throughout all eternity, as well as with Father Abraham and other men who honored and obeyed that law. (Wilford Woodruff, JD 24:243-244)
The only men who become Gods, even Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy. Others attain unto a glory and may even be permitted to come into the presence of the Father and the Son; but they cannot reign as kings in glory, because they had blessings offered unto them, and they refused to accept them. (Brigham Young, JD 11:169)
 From these sermon excerpts on marriage we learn the conditions necessary for a “patriarchal order, the order of eternal marriage,” so the family unit can “continue everlastingly.” To summarize:
- The celestial marriage covenant is only a part of that “holy matrimony.”
- Monogamy can bring only a “portion” of the blessings of celestial marriage.
- A man married to only one wife may arrive in the Celestial Kingdom, but he will there find he has no wife at all.
- The one “talent” will be taken away from those who do not improve on it by adding others.
- The plural marriage of Abraham was patterned after the system of the Celestial Kingdom.
- Plural marriage is the only order of marriage practiced in the Celestial Kingdom.
- Monogamy is no part of heaven.
- Polygamy is the only popular religion in heaven.
- Those who do not obey that law will be damned.
- The only men who become Gods or sons of God are those who enter into polygamy.
Now we come to one of the most powerful editorials in defense of plural marriage ever recorded in Mormon history. It contains as much prophecy as it does doctrine. Some have supposed it was written by C. W. Penrose, Deseret News editor, but its style and flavor are suspiciously that of John Taylor. At the time the editorial was printed in the Deseret News (April 23, 1885), Penrose was in England.
What would be necessary to bring about the result nearest the hearts of the opponents of “Mormonism”, more properly termed the Gospel of the Son of God? Simply to renounce, abrogate or apostatize from  the new and everlasting covenant of marriage in its fulness. Were the Church to do that as an entirety, God would reject the Saints as a body. The authority of the Priesthood would be withdrawn, with its gifts and powers, and there would be no more heavenly recognition of the administrations among the people. The heavens would permanently withdraw themselves, and the Lord would raise up another people of greater valor and stability, for his work must, according to His unalterable decrees, go forward, for the time of the second coming of the Savior is near, even at the doors. Therefore, the Saints have no alternative but to stand by the truth and sustain what the heavens have established and propose to perpetuate. This they will do, come life or death, freedom or imprisonment, and there is, so far as we can observe, no use to attempt to disguise this fact.
As already stated, were the step so much desired on the outside to be taken, there would probably be but little need of any further opposition, because the Church would be shorn of its strength, having surrendered its integrity because of earthly opposition. Its adherents would no longer be distinctive, but would be like the rest of the world, whose hate would turn to affection, because of the love it has for its own. The Saints might have the meager satisfaction of having all men speak well of them, but it would be overshadowed by the miserable reflection that they were subject to the woe and misery consequent upon their getting into that lamentable situation. (Des. News editorial, April 23, 1885)
In brief, he is saying:
- To give up plural marriage would be an apostasy of the fullness of the marriage covenant.
- The authority of the Priesthood would be withdrawn, and its gifts and powers would leave.
- There would be no more revelations.
- The Lord would find another people who would live it.
 5. That work must go on to the Millennium.
- The Church would receive no more persecution, and would be well spoken of by non-members.
- Church members would become like the rest of the world.
- Members would eventually experience the consequences of woe and misery.
Most of that prophetic warning has come to pass. Certainly the patriarchal order of eternal marriage is not generally supported nor practiced in the LDS Church today.
 Chapter 7
GOVERNING ALL THINGS
We have power to govern all things, both temporal and spiritual, the kingdoms of the world and the elements and storms and powers of the earth.
Here Elder Bruce R. McConkie has listed several things over which the Holy Priesthood has power. They will be discussed in the following order in this chapter:
- The elements and storms and powers of the earth
- The kingdoms of the world
- All things, both temporal and spiritual
Since this power actually encompasses “all things” and is as broad as one can conceive, it should certainly be better understood and respected.
- Power over the Elements, Storms, and Powers of the Earth (the performing of miracles)
Herbert Lockyer, author of All the Miracles of the Bible, stated that the Bible is a book of miracles, and whenever God had dealings with man, there were miracles. They were used to convey understanding, knowledge, assistance, and comfort. According to Lockyer:
 The Biblical conception of a miracle is that of some extraordinary work of deity transcending the ordinary powers of nature and wrought in connection with the ends of revelation.
An important aspect of Bible miracles is the fact that they are proper proofs of a divine revelation. They are not only proofs of a revelation but form a revelation in themselves.
Miracles, as an integral part of the Bible, provide evidence that it is God’s divinely inspired Word. Without its miraculous content, we could not accept it as a supernatural book. Miracles are both the official and authoritative seal of God. (All the Miracles of the Bible, pp. 13-14)
The particular purpose of miracles was to convince God’s disciples that He was their God; that He had power to save and protect them; and that He would help them when they were afflicted and needed His help. Many of the healing miracles simply showed His mercy and kindness to His children.
Lockyer explained why Christ performed so many miracles:
Miracles are also the insignia of Christ’s deity–“a constitutive element of the revelation of God in Christ”–and Messiahship (John 2:11; 11:4; Matthew 11:4-6; Acts 2:20; 10:38) In these displays of His inherent power, we have the exercise of His creative, punitive, and healing authority. And all of His miracles were in “accord with His miraculous origin, sinless nature and moral perfection.” They provided God with a method of authenticating Christ’s divine mission. He Himself regarded His miracles as evidence that He was from God. . . . (John 14:24) Later on, as we come to the study of New Testament miracles, we shall see how many of His miracles were the natural expression of His sympathy for a suffering humanity, as well as the confirmations of His divine commission and teachings.
 His miracles prove beyond doubt that He had supreme command over nature and also over the soul and body of man. A further evidence of design in Bible miracles is the fact that they confirm the divine nature of Christianity and are evidences of the authority of the Gospel (Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:4. See Exodus 4:1-5). (All the Miracles of the Bible, p. 14)
The Priesthood does have power over the elements of the earth, but this is not a primary function. When such rare occasions do occur, there is some particular purpose for it. For example, when the children of Israel were released from Egyptian captivity and went into the wilderness, the Lord frequently assisted in the deliverance. In his Bible handbook, Henry Halley wrote:
The Miracles of Moses
Aside from Jesus, it has never been given to any man to be agent of so many stupendous manifestations of Divine Power:
The Plagues of Egypt. Waters of Red Sea Dried Up. Water Made Sweet at Marah. Quails Sent in Wilderness of Sin, and at Taberah. Manna Supplied Daily for 40 Years. Water from the Rock at Rephidim, and Meribah. Cataclysmic Scenes at Sinai. God’s Voice from the Mountain. The Ten Commandments Written on Stone with God’s Finger. Moses’ Face Shone. Moses Talked Face to Face with God. Miriam’s Leprosy Sent and Removed. Korah and his Rebels Swallowed by Earth. Punitive Plagues at Taberah, Kadesh, and Peor. Aaron’s Rod Bleeds. People Healed by Brazen Serpent. Balaam’s Ass Speaks. Balaam Utters Amazing Prophecies. Israel Guided 40 Years by a Supernatural Cloud. Clothes Waxed Not Old, and Feet Swelled Not.
Moses could not have delivered Israel out of Egypt and sustained them in the Wilderness 40 years, without the direct miraculous help of God. (Halley’s Bible Handbook, p. 145)
 It is supposed by many that the miracles performed by Moses before Pharaoh were intended to convince him that the God of Moses was the true God. However, the miracles were actually intended to convince the children of Israel:
And the Lord said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might shew these my signs before him:
And that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy sonÕs son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them; that ye may know how that I am the Lord. (Ex. 10:1-2)
God continually told Moses to teach the children of Israel that He was the true God–the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The miracles were evidence of that fact. Halley continues:
An integral part of the Bible record is miracle, for the specific purpose of showing it to be God’s word. Except for miracles, how could we know it to be a revelation of god? No miracle, no evidence of Deity.
While miracles are a very conspicuous feature of the Bible, they are not abundant in all parts of the Bible. Bible miracles, not including prophecies and their fulfillment, are particularly noticeable in Four Great Periods, centuries apart:
At establishment of nation:
Moses and Joshua 1400 BC
At crisis in struggle with idolatry:
Elijah and Elisha 850 BC
At captivity, when idolatry was victorious:
Daniel 600 BC
At introduction of Christianity:
Jesus and the Apostles
(Halley’s Bible Handbook, p. 145)
In addition to those four Biblical periods could be added the miracles in the Book of Mormon and those during the restoration of the Gospel.
 It is interesting to note that many Biblical miracles were dealing with water, such as bringing rain, controlling the waters, dividing them, or drying them up–those involving the Red Sea, Jordan River, Marah, Meribah, Rephidim, Jericho waters, swimming iron, Carmel, stilling of storms, changing water to wine, Bethesda Pool, and walking on water. There were also miracles with fire, oil, food, thunder, hail, earthquakes, and trees. Among the greatest of these miracles were parting the Red Sea, parting of the earth to destroy the false priests of Baal, and causing the sun and moon to hold still so Joshua and his people could avenge themselves upon their enemies, the Amorites.
Too often when great miracles are performed, people lose faith if they are not continued. Thus, it is usually better for people to believe without the display of miracles even though it is said that signs will follow those who believe in the true God.
- The Kingdoms of the World
Another purpose for the miracles of Moses was to convince the Israelites to separate themselves from Egyptian rule. Israel was to become a separate nation–a kingdom under God.
And Moses went up unto God, and the Lord called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel;
Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.
Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:
 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. (Ex. 19:3-6)
The story of the rise and fall of ancient Israel is the main theme of the Old Testament. Seven great nations were destroyed by the Lord to protect that little kingdom. Under King David it reached its greatest power, but then both David and the people began to fail the Lord. By the time of Samuel their nation was a strong theocracy, and they could have eventually ruled all the nations of the earth. But because of weakness and sin, they wanted a government and king like other nations. From then on the nations of Babylon swallowed them up.
- All Things, Both Temporal and Spiritual
Many of these miraculous powers we have mentioned have been regarding inanimate elements of the earth; but others have also involved living things–such as animals, serpents, frogs, flies, locusts, ravens, lions, fish and swine. Miracles extended to healing sickness, broken bones, fevers, blindness, dumbness and even power over death.
In the New Testament, miraculous Priesthood power was frequently manifested by the Savior Himself, but it was not necessarily confined to Him, as His disciples were blessed with this same power.
But whenever or however these miracles were performed, there was always an important reason for them, i.e.:
to prove that the stone, wooden, or man-made gods were false.
 New Testament–
as evidence that Christ was the true Messiah and Son of God.
as evidence that Christ set up the true church and it had God’s approval.
Such great powers of God produced in the eyewitness wonder and astonishment which were easily kept in his mind and memory. Although miracles were more temporal in their demonstration, they were designed to symbolize the spiritual power and promises which God has given to man. They usually represent acts of God’s mercy and kindness and typify His promises for them in eternity, symbolizing the blessings that God has in store for His chosen people.
Power was also given to Christ’s disciples over evil spirits, and after Jesus sent out His missionaries, they marvelled at this great Priesthood power:
And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.
And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.
Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven. (Luke 10:17-20)
Using this power to control elements and evil spirits is the essential purpose–not to command and rule over mankind, as Dr. Hugh Nibley stated:
Repeat of repeat: Over whom does it exercise power, then? Over the spirits and over the elements–never over one’s fellow men, whose free agency is absolute and inalienable.
 Christ commanded the spirits, and they obeyed him; he commanded the elements and they obeyed him, but men he would not command, and rebuked the apostles at Capernaum for suggesting it. (“Priesthood”, Sunstone, Dec. 1990, p. 11)
Thus, Priesthood gives men great power over the elements, the earth, kingdoms and devils–but it does not give him power to rule over the lives of men; but unfortunately, this is often what happens. Men soon begin to “exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men” to gratify pride and vain ambition. (See D & C 121:37.)
If men would seek to use their Priesthood power for the purposes of healing the sick, commanding devils to depart, and exerting power over the elements for the good of others, they would become more righteous and draw closer to God. When they are trying to use this power for their own aggrandizement and vain ambition, they are following that well-worn path of priestcraft. As a result, only a few righteous men have any power in the Priesthood today!
Such miracles and powers of God have been promised to the true Saints and followers of Jesus Christ, for the Savior instructed us to–
Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; . . . (Mark 16:15-17)
Moroni warned that if these gifts and powers were not found with the people, it would be because of their unbelief:
 And I would exhort you, my beloved brethren, that ye remember that he is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and that all these gifts of which I have spoken, which are spiritual, never will be done away, even as long as the world shall stand, only according to the unbelief of the children of men.
And now I speak unto all the ends of the earth–that if the day cometh that the power and gifts of God shall be done away among you, it shall be because of unbelief.
And wo be unto the children of men if this be the case; . . . (Moroni 10:19, 24-25)
The questions now follow: What is the present condition of the LDS Church today? Are these Priesthood powers and gifts evident among current Church leaders and members?
 Chapter 8
GAINING ETERNAL LIFE
We have power, through the priesthood, to gain eternal life, the greatest of all the gifts of God.
Eternal life and everlasting life, according to the definitions by dictionaries and churches of the world, mean the same thing and are used interchangeably. However, in taking a closer look at the use of these two terms in some passages of scripture, we find there is a distinction. Most Christian churches believe that only a few people will be saved and have everlasting life; however, this chapter will show that almost all mankind will be saved and have everlasting life, but only a few will receive eternal life.
The Apostle Paul said, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order. . . .” (1 Cor. 15:22-23) This seems to indicate that all the children of Adam will be saved and receive life everlasting. Again from Paul, “For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” (Rom. 14:11; see also Isa. 45:23; Phil. 2:10-11.) And, John saw “nations of them which are saved.” (Rev. 21:24) But just being saved to an everlasting life is different from an eternal life.
Notice how easy it is to be saved because of the promise that “whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have  everlasting life.” (John 3:16) But then another time Jesus said, “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matt. 7:14) Here He was speaking of eternal life, which would apply to only a few, whereas nations of people will be saved to an everlasting life.
Brigham Young explained further:
All nations are going to share in these blessings; all are incorporated in the redemption of the Saviour. He has tasted death for every man: they are all in his power, and he saves them all, as he says, except the sons of perdition; and the Father has put all the creations upon this earth in his power. The earth itself, and mankind upon it, the brute beasts, the fish of the sea, and the fowls of heaven, the insects, and every creeping thing, with all things pertaining to this earthly ball,–all are in the hands of the Saviour, and he has redeemed them all. (JD 6:297)
Salvation, or being saved, will be the blessing given to all the sons and daughters of God, except those few who reject it. Brigham Young made this very clear:
None will be destroyed except those who receive the oracles of truth and reject them. None are condemned except those who have the privilege of receiving the words of eternal life and refuse to receive them.
From Adam to the least and last of his posterity, none will be condemned and suffer as we were taught in our youth. The Christian world teach that the heathen and everybody else, except a few belonging to the Catholic Church, the Church of England, or some of the orthodox sects of the day, are to be cast into a lake of fire and brimstone. * * *
The Lord will save all, except those who have the privilege of life everlasting and reject it. (JD 8:294)
 There are millions and millions of kingdoms that the people have no conception of. The Christians of the day have no knowledge of God, of godliness, of eternity, of the worlds that are, that have been, and that are coming forth. There are myriads of people pertaining to this earth who will come up and receive a glory according to their capacity. (JD 6:347)
Most religious of the world have the concept that there is just a heaven and a hell–no subdivisions or various places of rewards or punishments. The Apostle Paul, speaking of resurrection, stated that there were at least three glories that he compared to the sun, the moon and the stars. (See 1 Cor. 15:40-42) Two of them he called celestial and terrestrial, with the celestial resurrection being the highest. Brigham Young asked, “Is every man and woman capable of receiving the highest glory of God? No.” (JD 9:104) And also from Brother Brigham:
These words set forth the fact to which Jesus referred when he said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions.” How many I am not prepared to say; but here are three distinctly spoken of: the celestial, the highest; the terrestrial, the next below it; and the telestial, the third. If we were to take the pains to read what the Lord has said to his people in the latter days, we should find that he has made provision for all the inhabitants of the earth; every creature who desires, and who strives in the least, to overcome evil and subdue iniquity within himself or herself, and to live worthy of a glory, will possess one. We who have received the fulness of the gospel of the Son of God, or the Kingdom of heaven that has come to earth, are in possession of those laws, ordinances, commandments and revelations that will prepare us, by strict obedience, to inherit the celestial kingdom, to go into the presence of the Father and the Son. (JD 14:148)
 Since every person is different, everyone’s rewards and punishments will be different.
Are all spirits endowed alike? No, not by any means. Will all be equal in the celestial kingdom? No. Some spirits are more noble than others; some are capable of receiving more than others. There is the same variety in the spirit world that you behold here, yet they are of the same parentage, of one Father, one God. (JD 4:268-269)
John saw that God is fair and rewards every man according to his works on earth:
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. (Rev. 20:12-13)
The Celestial Kingdom itself is divided into three major areas:
In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; and in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage]; and if he does not, he cannot obtain it. He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase. (D & C 131:1-4)
The highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom is where God and Christ dwell. Those who inherit that glory will not only be with them, but will be like them. This is exaltation or eternal life–to receive a fullness of all blessings and enjoy the same glory and power as the Gods.
 The major distinction between everlasting life and eternal life is that multitudes will experience the first and come forth in the resurrection to become angels or servants of God, but only a few will experience the second and become Gods themselves. Joseph Smith explained:
Gods have an ascendancy over the angels, who are ministering servants. In the resurrection, some are raised to be angels, others are raised to become Gods. (TPJS, p. 312)
Many will be–
. . . appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory. (D & C 132:16)
. . . shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.
Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye abide my law ye cannot attain to this glory.
For strait is the gate, and narrow the way that leadeth unto the exaltation and continuation of the lives, and few there be that find it, because ye receive me not in the world neither do ye know me.
But if ye receive me in the world, then shall ye know me, and shall receive your exaltation; that where I am ye shall be also.
 This is eternal lives–to know the only wise and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent. (D & C 132:19-24)
Brigham Young explained further:
After men have got their exaltations and their crowns–have become gods, even the sons of God–are made kings of kings and lords of lords, they have the power then of propagating their species in spirit. Power is then given to them to organize the elements, and then commence the organization of tabernacles. (JD 6:275)
This Priesthood power then enables one to have more than everlasting life–it provides the opportunity for the blessing of eternal life!
 Chapter 9
CALLING AND ELECTION
We have power to make our calling and election sure, so that while we yet dwell in mortality, having overcome the world and been true and faithful in all things, we shall be sealed up unto eternal life and have the unconditional promise of eternal life in the presence of Him whose we are.
The Apostle Peter, in talking to those “that have obtained like precious faith with us,” instructed:
“Brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure, for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.” (2 Peter 1:10)
And in this dispensation, the Prophet Joseph instructed the saints:
Now for the secret and grand key. Though they might hear the voice of God and know that Jesus was the Son of God, this would be no evidence that their election and calling was made sure, that they had part with Christ, and were joint heirs with Him. They then would want that more sure word of prophecy, that they were sealed in the heavens and had the promise of eternal life in the kingdom of God. Then, having this promise sealed unto them, it was an anchor to the soul, sure and steadfast. (TPJS, p. 298)
 Receiving one’s calling and election is to have the more sure word of prophecy and the promise that he would be a joint heir with Jesus Christ. Eternal life is guaranteed.
Finally the Lord will say to you, “You shall never fall; your salvation is sealed unto you; and you are sealed up unto eternal life and salvation, through your integrity.” (Brigham Young, JD 4:372)
This important promise and confirmation comes from the Savior Himself.
B.H. Roberts, president of the Quorum of Seventies for many years, is an example of someone who has had this experience. In his own words–
Well, I am very discouraged with the Church, the officials and the way things are going, and they know it because I have told them. But I want to say this to you–I have gone into Centerville Canyon, and I’ve fasted many days by a little stream of water. After many days, when I was so discouraged and felt like I just couldn’t go another day, I started out of that canyon. The Savior appeared to me, and He laid His hands upon my head, and He said, “Brother Roberts, thou shalt have a part and a lot in my kingdom.” * * *
Every man in this Church who does not receive this confirmation, has not obtained anything in this kingdom whatsoever: he must obtain this. It is one of the most necessary things in the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ! (Interview by Carl Jentzsch, recorded in Reminiscences of John W. Woolley and Lorin C. Woolley, Vol. 1, Rhea Kunz, p. 6)
Other valiant and faithful individuals have also received this promise, such as Brigham Young:
I had the promise, years ago, that I never should apostatize and bring an evil upon this people. God  revealed that through Joseph, long before he died; and if I am not doing right, you may calculate that the Lord is going to take me home. He will not send me to hell, but he will take me home to himself. “I will take you up here, Brigham, and give you a few lessons.” I am going where He is, for I have that promise, and so have many others. I am telling you these things for your comfort. (Brigham Young, July 28, 1861, JD 9:142)
So after one’s calling and election is made sure, the Lord would take him “home to Himself” before He would allow the person to fall. Heber C. Kimball received a revelation from the Lord giving him a similar promise:
. . . thy name is written in heaven, no more to be blotted out for ever, because of these things; and this spirit and blessing shall rest down upon thy posterity for ever and ever; for they shall be called after thy name, for thou shalt have many more sons and daughters, for thy seed shall be as numerous as the sands upon the sea shore; . . . (Life of Heber C. Kimball, Orson F. Whitney, p. 241)
What determines who receives the promise of their calling and election made sure? Some think that if they belong to the true church and “follow the brethren”, or support some religious group, or hold an important church office, that such will give them that guaranteed promise of eternal life. But Brigham Young explained that much more is required:
When the will, passions, and feelings of a person are perfectly submissive to God and His requirements, that person is sanctified. It is for my will to be swallowed up in the will of God, that will lead me into all good, and crown me ultimately with immortality and eternal lives. (JD 2:123)
And Bruce R. McConkie also elaborated:
 The elect of God comprise a very select group, an inner circle of faithful members of the Church. . . . They are the portion of church members who are striving with all their hearts to keep the fulness of the gospel law in this life so that they can become inheritors of the fulness of gospel rewards in the life to come. (Mormon Doctrine, p. 217)
Those who are called and those who are elected fall into two different categories. According to the oft-quoted scripture:
There are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men. (D & C 121:34-35)
Those who are chosen are those who obey the following guidelines reiterated by the Prophet Joseph:
No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the Priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness, and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile. * * *
Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly, then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God, and the doctrine of the Priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven. (TPJS, p. 142)
. . . then let him continue to humble himself before god, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt be exalted. When the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that the man is determined to serve Him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and his election made sure. (TPJS, p. 149)
 Oh! I beseech you to go forward, go forward and make your calling and your election sure; and if any man preach any other Gospel than that which I have preached, he shall be cursed; and some of you who now hear me shall see it, and know that I testify the truth concerning them. (TPJS, pp. 366-367)
How few men and women ever acquire all these qualities and attributes and go on to make sure their calling and election. But those who receive such an ordinance, do so through the power and blessings of the Priesthood.
 Chapter 10
SEEING THE FACE OF GOD
We have the power–and it is our privilege–so to live that, becoming pure in heart, we shall see the face of God while we yet dwell as mortals in a world of sin and sorrow.
In Christ’s first public sermon He said, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” (Matt. 5:8) It seemed to be a promise almost unattainable by man, but it was accomplished anciently on special occasions.
We know that Adam talked with his God and knew Him (Gen. 2 and 3). Noah “walked with God” (Gen. 6:9). The Lord “appeared unto Abram” (Gen. 12:7) and to Isaac (Gen. 26:24) and to Jacob (Gen. 32:30). Later when Moses was called to lead Israel, “Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel: and they saw the God of Israel” (Ex. 24:9) Later it was said that, “The Lord appeared to Solomon the second time” (1 Kings 9:2). Other prophets such as Isaiah said they “saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne. …” (Isa 6:1)
From the Book of Mormon we read that the brother of Jared, “saw Jesus; and he did minister unto him” (Ether 3:20). Nephi also bore testimony that he “saw my Redeemer,” (2 Nephi 11:2). Mormon was only 15 years old when he said, “I was visited of the Lord” (Mormon 1:15); and Moroni said, “I  have seen Jesus, and that he hath talked with me face to face” (Ether 12:39).
When a multitude of the Nephites were gathered around the temple in the land Bountiful, marveling at the signs they had witnessed concerning the death of Jesus Christ, the resurrected Savior appeared to them:
And it came to pass, as they understood they cast their eyes up again towards heaven; and behold, they saw a Man descending out of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe; and he came down and stood in the midst of them; and the eyes of the whole multitude were turned upon him, and they durst not open their mouths, even one to another, and wist not what it meant, for they thought it was an angel that had appeared unto them.
And it came to pass that he stretched forth his hand and spake unto the people, saying:
Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world. * * *
And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto them saying:
Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.
And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come. (3 Nephi 11:8-10, 13-15)
After His resurrection, Christ also appeared to all His Apostles and to several women. (See Matt. 28, Mark 16, Luke  24, and John 20.) Stephen the Apostle bore witness to the Jews that he–
. . . being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. (Acts 7:56)
Paul also bore testimony of the appearance of the Lord. (Acts 22) And John the Revelator bore the same testimony. (See Rev. 21.) The Lord had said to him:
Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. (Rev. 3:20)
And John the Beloved recorded:
He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself unto him.
And we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (John 14:21, 23)
With the restoration of the Gospel came the same promises to men in our time, since the Lord is the same and His promises are the same. To the Prophet Joseph Smith, He said:
. . . the scriptures shall be given, even as they are in mine own bosom, to the salvation of mine own elect; for they will hear my voice, and shall see me, and shall not be asleep, and shall abide the day of my coming. . . . (D & C 35:20-21)
 Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were taken in vision and later recalled, “We saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit, before us” (D & C 110:2), and declared that He spoke to them saying:
For behold, I have accepted this house, and my name shall be here, and I will manifest myself to my people in mercy in this House.
Yea, I will appear unto my servants, and speak unto them with mine own voice, if my people will keep my commandments, and do not pollute this holy house. (D & C 110:7-8)
Joseph and Sidney Rigdon had a similar experience and recorded:
And we beheld the glory of the Son, on the right hand of the Father, and received of his fulness; And saw the holy angels, and them who are sanctified before his throne, . . . (D & C 76:20-21)
Lorenzo Snow’s grand-daughter related a marvelous experience her grandfather had when he saw the Savior:
Grandpa told me what a glorious personage the Savior is and described his hands, feet, countenance, and beautiful white robes, all of which were of such a glory of whiteness and brightness that he could hardly gaze upon Him. (Des. News, Apr. 2, 1938)
The Apostle John W. Taylor also testified:
I know our Savior lives because I have seen Him face to face! (Family Kingdom, Samuel W. Taylor, p. 121)
Many other testimonies have been given by those who have seen the Savior, which, according to Joseph Smith, is actually a basic Gospel principle:
 It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God, and to know that we may converse with him face to face as one man converses with another. (TPJS, p. 235)
Brigham Young encouraged the Saints:
I wish that every man would live so that he could have communion with angels–so that Jesus would come to visit him. I wish I could see this people in such a position; but there is too much sin in our midst: our traditions cling to us so strongly, that we cannot yet break through into that liberty; . . . (JD 5:258)
Apostle Orson Pratt admonished the Priesthood holders:
Those holding that Priesthood have the privilege not only of receiving the ministration of angels, but to have the heavens opened to them, and to behold the face of God. (JD 7:310)
For members of the LDS Church, this should be their greatest desire–“to see the face of God” while yet in mortality. Nothing should interfere with this great Priesthood blessing!
These ten blessings should be indelibly imprinted on the mind of each Latter-day Saint. So, to review–the following Priesthood blessings are available to those who live worthy of them:
- to receive the fullness of the Gospel
- to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost
- to be sanctified
- to stand in the place of the Lord in administrations
- to be sons of God
- to enter the patriarchal law of marriage
- to have power over the elements and kingdoms of the earth
- to gain eternal life
- to make sure one’s calling and election
- to see the face of God while in mortality
These blessings are the greatest gifts that God can give to man–but they are conditional on our beliefs and actions. Just being a member of the LDS Church or holding the Priesthood is not enough to secure them. Blessings are like rewards–they must be earned.
Unfortunately, over the years, Church members are hearing less and less about these Priesthood blessings, and they are being referred to as part of the past.
 Blessings and gifts of the gospel accompany each other. When Saints enjoy the gifts of the spirit, blessings soon follow. So we ask, “Why have the gifts, powers and promises of the Gospel seem to have disappeared within the Church?” Has God failed to fulfill the promises He made? Or, have we failed to obey the promises we made to Him? The answer is obvious, as God never fails in His promises.
When we do not enjoy the gifts of the Gospel, we do not receive many of the blessings of it either. Mormon warned:
. . . the reason why He [God] ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way and know not the God in whom they should trust. (Mormon 9:20)
Another reason Priesthood gifts and miracles cease is because great promises are made and not kept; and when covenants are broken, then blessings turn to cursings. There are 30 blessings promised to the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 28:1-14. But over 100 cursings are promised in Deuteronomy 28:15-68, if the people fail to keep God’s laws. Thus, the opportunity for great blessings can instead become great cursings. Priesthood is a two-edged sword that cuts both ways. It happened anciently, and it can happen today.
Men called to represent the Lord often misrepresent Him; honor can easily be turned to dishonor, and Priesthood can be turned into priestcraft. Those powers that can bring the greatest joy can also bring the deepest sorrow.
The man who is called to act for the Lord must act like the Lord. If a man in ancient Israel deviated from the straight and narrow path, he was often destroyed by wild animals, enemies, swords, or even stoned by his own people. In this  dispensation, we have been given all the powers and blessings of any other time, and we are faced with the same terrible hazards. Even though our responsibilities have been neglected, forsaken, sinned against, and changed, the Lord has been more merciful toward us than in Biblical days. We deserve the same terrible fate, but apparently the Lord is postponing it for a future time.
Priesthood can be the means of saving a man or destroying him; it makes Gods or devils. As the directions for a cake recipe must be carefully followed for desired results, so also must the principles, laws and commandments of God be obeyed to receive His blessings. Priesthood laws must be obeyed to achieve Godhood.
Such obedience to the laws and principles of the Priesthood is not easy, nor does it always follow the reasoning or logic of man. For instance, “. . . when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.” However, when “Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, . . . Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.” (Ex. 17:11, 12-13)
What does such peculiar conduct have to do with winning a war? What does such a sign or ritual have to do with common sense or logic? Not much, but when God gives man instructions or rules, he should not question the reason why, even if they seem strange and unnatural. The scriptures are filled with such incomprehensible directives, ordinances and laws that God gives us to test our obedience. But the moment we question Him or His laws and resort to our own logic and reasoning, at that point we invite danger and disaster.
The Prophet Joseph explained:
 . . . we cannot expect to know all [the commandments] or more than we now know unless we comply with or keep those we have already received. * * * Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire. * * *
He [God] never will institute an ordinance or give a commandment to His people that is not calculated in its nature to promote that happiness which He has designed, and which will not end in the greatest amount of good and glory to those who become the recipients of his law and ordinances. (TPJS, pp. 256-257)
Joseph Smith also explained how easy it was for men holding the Priesthood to slip into apostasy because of disobedience. Wilford Woodruff marked it in his journal:
He [Joseph] then remarked that any man, any elder in this Church and kingdom–who pursued a course whereby he would ignore or in other words refuse to obey any known law or commandment or duty–whenever a man did this, neglected any duty God required at his hand in attending meetings, filling missions, or obeying counsel, he laid a foundation to lead him to apostasy and this was the reason those men had fallen. They had misused the priesthood sealed upon their heads. They had neglected to magnify their callings as apostles, as elders. They had used that priesthood to attempt to build themselves up and to perform some other work besides the building up of the kingdom of God. (JD 21:190)
Hence, if a man uses his Priesthood for any other purpose than for what it was intended, the heavens withdraw themselves and the powers and gifts of the Priesthood will depart. Even such simple things as speaking only by intellect and learning rather than by the Holy Spirit can start that erosion of Priesthood power. The Millennial Star editor wrote:
 All the learning and eloquence it is possible for a man to acquire, combine with the first order of intellect and natural gifts and qualifications, unaccompanied by the guiding and directing influence and assistance of the Holy Spirit, will not qualify a man to preach the Gospel effectively. * * * The power, assistance, and blessing of the Holy Spirit are not sought, and do not accompany it. Such men do no good by attempting to preach the Gospel. They dishonor the Priesthood which has been conferred upon them for the purpose of building up the kingdom of God, and do injury rather than good to the cause. (Mill. Star 21:526)
The editor of the Deseret News cautioned about the same thing:
Hence the folly of sermons written beforehand; and unless the written beforehand sermons are by revelation, or prophecy, all men the world over, may know when they hear a sermon read from the pulpit, that God has no hand in that matter; and the preacher is not sent of God; and is not God’s servant. (Des. News, Sept. 4, 1852)
It is just such apparently simple things–as depending on our own learning and wisdom–that start men down the path to darkness and despair. Other temptations that draw men away from the dictates of the Holy Spirit are–
- Setting their hearts upon the things of this world
- Aspiring to the honors of men
- Not living by the principles of righteousness
- Seeking to cover up their sins
- Trying to gratify their pride and vain ambition
- Attempting to exercise control, dominion, or compulsion over others
- Exercising any unrighteousness
(See D & C 121:35-39.)
 As men stumble and sin, inspiration and revelation ar blotted out–leaving man in a very dangerous position. It then becomes easier to be deceived and harder to repent. They begin to love darkness more than light, and take delight in wickedness.
For those who hold the Priesthood of God, the temptations are greater, and he has more to lose. The Prophet Joseph said, “The moment we revolt at anything which comes from God, the devil takes power.” (TPJS, p. 181)
Priesthood laws can be abused, misused, opposed or forsaken by people, but in reality the laws themselves do not change. He who mistreats these laws will lose his own power, with only a shadow remaining–like a burned-out building where only the charred walls are left standing. The rest is dark and worthless dross, and thus it is, “amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.” (D & C 121:37)
When such a condition occurs among the leaders of the church, then the whole church is affected. We should learn from the past that–
When divine revelation ceased, divine authority was no longer bestowed, and men not called of God usurped positions in the decaying church, and the power and gifts belonging thereto soon faded away. Offices and ordinances were changed, new ceremonies were instituted, priestcraft prevailed and the results are seen in distracted modern Christendom. (Mill. Star 70:57)
These weaknesses found their way into the Church during the days of Joseph Smith, and have existed ever since. John Taylor commented on this apathy and worldliness amongst Church officers during his presidency:
 How is it with our various quorums and authorities, and how is it with many of the bishops? They do not care much about things whichever way they go. They have time to attend to their merchandizing and trading and business operations and pleasures, but they have not time to attend to the cause of God nor the interests of the flock, over whom He has placed them, but if they cannot find time, God will find a people that will find time to attend to His affairs. * * *
Why, all the heavens are waiting for our operations; the Gods in the eternal worlds and the fathers of the departed spirits–the holy priesthood behind the vail, are all waiting for our operations, to see what we will do. And we are found slumbering and careless and indifferent, willing that anybody should perform the work of the Lord, if we will be left out. I tell you, in the name of God, that He will give you your wish; He will leave you out, unless you speedily repent. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. * * *
A very few men, comparatively, have done this work, and the great majority have done next to nothing. (JD 20:22)
Wherever Priesthood is found, priestcraft is not far away. These two opposites exist together, and in the conflict, priestcraft usually wins.
Priestcraft simulates Priesthood for the purpose of destroying. Apparently it has its origin in the ambition or ignorance of man. * * * The struggle between them has been a long one, and, in the course of it, Priesthood has frequently been driven from the earth, and priestcraft remained to gloat over its short-lived triumph. (George Osmond, Contributor 10:255)
The editor of the Millennial Star stated that–
 Men have turned away from themselves the power of the Holy Priesthood of the Son of God, because they sought to pervert its offices, or do away with some of them. (Mill. Star 15:326)
Even slight changes in Priesthood result in priestcraft, which is an indication of apostasy within Christ’s church.
The foregoing embodies but a few of the many evidences that could be cited in demonstration of the fact that during the period immediately following the apostolic ministry–the period covered by the persecutions of the Christians by the heathen nations,–the Church was undergoing internal deterioration, and was in a state of increasing perversion. Among the more detailed or specific cause of this ever widening departure from the spirit of the gospel of Christ, this rapidly growing apostasy, the following may be considered as important examples:
(1) The corrupting of the simple principles of the gospel by the admixture of the so-called philosophic systems of the times.
(2) Unauthorized additions to the ceremonies of the Church, and the introduction of vital changes in essential ordinances.
(3) Unauthorized changes in Church organization and government.
(The Great Apostasy, Talmage, pp. 91-92)
Brigham Young noted:
Those who are the greatest in authority are under the greatest restrictions. . . and the penalties of that law are proportionately greater; therefore they are under the greater obligation to maintain the virtue of the law and the institutions of God. . . . (Mill. Star 14:596)
It can be said that their temptations and the influences of the world are also greater. Failing to obey the laws of the  Priesthood and sinning “costs ten thousand times more than it is worth,” said Wilford Woodruff. (JD 21:318) Heber C. Kimball learned that,–
When I trifle with the Priesthood, I trifle with the Almighty. . . and that Priesthood will leave me, and I will fall, . . . and I forfeit everything that I had attained while I held that Priesthood. (JD 2:157)
When men lose their Priesthood blessings, it is a curse to them:
He [God] would pour out blessings on His people, but if they are not able to receive them, alas! they would prove curses. He has given us laws, and with every law given there are conditions. (David McKenzie, 1873, JD 16:225)
And from the Prophet Joseph:
It signifies, then, that the ordinances must be kept in the very way God has appointed; otherwise their Priesthood will prove a cursing instead of a blessing. (TPJS, p. 169)
But every man and woman in the Church–from the highest in position to the least–has his trials and temptations:
It is a truth that error should exist, right that there should be wrong, and good that there is evil. God forbid that any Saint should “sin, that grace may abound.” But we do not regret that sin has come into the world, nor that the whole human race have felt its effects. It is a truth that God’s economy comprehends a Devil; and though God did not make him such, and though we have no desire to help to make devils, we have not the remotest wish that the Devil had not existed. Bad officers also have their purpose as well as good officers. The former are not only  examples for the latter, but they enhance their value. Even the black-hearted traitor makes the true man more precious, and the useless man makes the useful one relatively more useful. God tries men–the bad as well as the good–the unworthy as well as the worthy steward–the unprofitable as well as the profitable labourer. The world has its period of probation, its day of trial. The kingdom has also its period of probation, its day of trial. Were it not so, how could the great balance of accounts be struck? Were it not so, how could every man’s work be tried as by fire? (editorial, Mill. Star 20:601-602)
Others have also warned the Saints about what was happening, i.e., Jacob Gates:
Some have actually forgotten that they live in the last dispensation, and have gone to sleep. * * * Do you remember the covenants that you have made with God and his servants? If so, I would ask, Have you kept them? If not, you have weakened the thread of your exaltation. If the Saints only knew the effect that their conduct would have on their character, they would walk as careful as though they were walking on edge-tools. You should always remember that a thing once done cannot be undone. The transgression of a known law, although you may repent of it, you never can forget. It will sting you for a thousand years to come. This may be very cutting to the feelings of some; nevertheless it is true.
Ponder well the path of your feet, and watch yourselves in the future, and apply yourselves to wisdom. Your covenants should be as sacred now as at the moment you made them. A deviation from these principles will leave you powerless. (Mill. Star 22:372)
Paul the Apostle warned members of the Church that–
. . . though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. (Gal. 1:8)
 But different doctrines were soon preached and the people were cursed.
Then in the latter days, the same warning was issued by Joseph Smith:
. . . if any man preach any other Gospel than that which I have preached, he shall be cursed; and some of you who now hear me shall see it, and know that I testify the truth concerning them. (TPJS, pp. 366-367)
And they did. If an angel from heaven shall be accursed for preaching any other gospel, it signifies that we should be even more wary of any man who does it.
If we don’t accept the true Gospel and live by the eternal principles and ordinances of the Priesthood, we will forfeit the potential blessings and they become cursings. How much better to hear–
Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou has been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. (Matt. 25:21)
 Part 2
The Official Declaration
They exceeded the bounds of their Priesthood, and in doing so they committed sin. (George Q. Cannon, JD 24:274)
 Chapter 1
A Chosen People
In the Pre-existence, God determined which spirits were to be born in which nations–based largely upon individual actions in that pre-mortal sphere. Nations were separated by location, language, race and culture. Some of these differences are more visibly noticeable than others. For example, one of these nations or people, called Israelites, were selected to be religiously different, as indicated in the scriptures; for God said:
I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God. (Ex. 6:7)
Ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people. (Ex. 19:5)
Ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. (Ex. 19:6)
To make thee high above all nations, . . . an holy people unto the Lord. (Deut. 26:19)
The Lord hath chosen Jacob for himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure. (Psalms 26:19)
Thus, the people of Israelite descent were selected for a special mission from God: to bear the burden, responsibility, and blessing of the Holy Priesthood. Among that nation of  people, certain individuals were singled out and foreordained for a particular mission within that Priesthood:
. . . the word of the Lord came unto me, (Jeremiah) saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. (Jer. 1:4-5)
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 are one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born. (Abr. 3:23)
Every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand Council of heaven before this world was. (TPJS, p. 365)
Abraham received his call in the Pre-existence and had the right to the Priesthood. When he came into mortality, he said, “I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers. It was conferred upon me from the fathers,” and “I sought for mine appointment unto the Priesthood according to the appointment of God unto the fathers concerning the seed.” (Abr. 1:2,3,4) Thus, by seed, or lineage, he had the right to that Priesthood, but it still had to be conferred by someone in that lineage: “Which Abraham received the priesthood from Melchizedek, who received it through the lineage of his fathers, even till Noah.” (D & C 84:14)
The Priesthood is given to those with a special mission. It is critical to distinguish between those who have this right to Priesthood and those who do not. To try to give Priesthood to those who are outside that rightful lineage, or to the  unworthy, or to use it wrongfully, are all considered serious sins that will have serious consequences.
To better understand the historical background of those entitled to this holy power, the following two sermons are reproduced here in their entirety because of the skillful and thorough review of this subject by the two speakers: Mark E. Petersen (1954) and Alvin R. Dyer (1961).
 Chapter 2
“RACE PROBLEMS–As They Affect the Church
The first of the two sermons to be included here is one given by Mark E. Petersen at the Convention of Teachers of Religion at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, on August 27, 1954. In the author’s opinion, this has to be one of Elder Petersen’s best efforts:
Race Problems–As They Affect the Church
The discussion on civil rights, especially over the last 20 years, has drawn some very sharp lines. It has blinded the thinking of some of our own people, I believe. They have allowed their political affiliations to color their thinking to some extent, and then, of course, they have been persuaded by some of the arguments that have been put forth.
It is a good thing to understand exactly what the Negro has in mind on this subject. I’ll be talking about other races besides Negroes, of course, but it is the Negro question which pinpoints it, so I would like to talk first of all about the Negro and his civil rights. We who teach in the Church certainly must have our feet on the ground and not be led astray by the philosophies of men on this subject any more than on any other subject.
I would like to begin by quoting from an interview conducted by the United States News with Adam Clayton  Powell, Jr., a very prominent Negro leader, and a member of the Congress of the United States. The United States News published this interview in its September 5, 1952, issue. That was before the Supreme Court decision, as you recall. Congressman Powell was asked a number of questions, and he answered them. The first question:
“Q. The question of civil rights in connection with segregation, Congressman Powell, opens up the often-mentioned subject of social equality, and I was wondering: What is the viewpoint of the leaders of the Negroes in this country today on the broad subject of social equality?
“A. Of course, social equality is something that covers so many different things that it would have to be defined more closely.
“Q. Well, would you say that, in principle, the desire is for social equality?
“A. No. I would say that there is a demand for social equality in all public places. Any place that is operating publicly, regardless of what its nature may be, should not have the right to refuse anyone. For a club or a private institution, that may be another question. “Q. But it would include hotels, restaurants, and, of course, all forms of transportation?
“A. That’s right.
“Q. Would that mean the ending of segregation on the railroads in the South?
“A. Yes, that would.
“Q. What is the status of that controversy? Is segregation on railroads now forbidden by law?
“A. No, it is not forbidden by law. But, under Supreme Court rulings in the past years, there is no longer any segregation allowed in dining cars, no longer any allowed on busses in interstate transportation–
“Q. What about Pullmans?
“A. This is an optional thing which the Pullman company  itself has been instituting. Nevertheless, now and then, you will meet an individual Pullman conductor who interprets it on his own terms of bigotry. That, however, is rapidly changing. The only place still left is the so-called `Jim Crow’ car, and even that has been abolished on through trains leaving Northern cities.
“Q. What is the basic reason for the opposition to the ending of segregation?
“A. I think it is just inherited public opinion of days past when the Negro was not as mature and educated and advanced as he is today–and neither was the white man. I think a private poll would produce tremendous statistics supporting the fact that the vast majority of people in the South are changing, but they are afraid of having their views become public.
“Q. Is there any similar point of view in the North where there are now large numbers of Negroes? Is any opposition manifest there to non-segregation?
“A. Yes, indeed. I think that the problem is one that is sort of leveling off and is no longer a strictly sectional problem.” * * *
I will now skip some. Let us now go into the matter of intermarriage with the Negroes. I continue to read from this interview:
“Q. Do you think many of the people who oppose discontinuing segregation are afraid [that] breaking down of the social lines may lead to intermarriage?
“A. That is the great bugaboo used to scare them, when the truth is that when two people are in love–black, white, Jew, Gentile, Protestant, Catholic–no one can stop them.
“Q. What is the attitude of the Negro leaders toward the intermarriage question? Do they feel that it is a probability over a long period of time?
“A. Yes, they do, but not as any conscious thing to go out and campaign for.
 “Q. They think that, ultimately, intermarriage will be commonplace in this country?
“A. Personally, I do.
“Q. How far away would you say that is?
“A. Well, that is hard to say. I never thought India would be free in my lifetime, but today India is free. I didn’t think that Africa would have a black Prime Minister, but they do today in the Gold Coast.
“Q. Do you think there is much intermarriage today between whites and Negroes in this country?
“A. No, very little. But it is the idea of the old sore thumb–it stands out so when it does happen.
“Q. Do you think that the presence of a good many Negro troops in Europe where there’s been intermarriage has affected the problem?
“A. No, I don’t, because I have just come back from an official five-month trip through Europe and the Near East, and there is no problem over there.
“Q. You mean intermarriage is accepted?
“A. Yes. They don’t understand our fears here in America.
“Q. Do you think there is much intermarriage in Europe?
“A. Oh, yes, a great deal.
“Q. Could you say in what countries it is more frequent? Is there a country that you could name?
“A. I don’t think I could say. I saw it all through Scandinavia. I saw it all through the Benelux countries and in Italy.
“Q. But isn’t it a small minority?
“A. No. In comparison with the number of Negroes there, it was large.
“Q. In comparison with the number of intermarriages in the United States, would you say that it was an equal or a greater number or a lesser number?
“A. On a percentage basis there is no comparison. It is more prevalent abroad. In fact, the rare thing in Europe and  England is to find a couple that is not an inter-racial marriage. I saw very few marriages of two Negro people.
“Q. It was mostly Negro and white?
“A. That’s right.
“Q. What is the attitude of the Negro in the United States on the subject of intermarriage? Is it discussed frequently in the press?
“A. Yes, but on an objective basis. In fact, an increasingly large number of Negro leaders are marrying whites of extremely stable and respected families.
“Q. Is there much more fraternizing in the Northern cities between Negroes and whites, especially in the large Negro centers like Harlem, than there used to be?
“A. Yes, much more.
“Q. Is there any tendency among the Negroes to reject that, or are they welcoming it?
“A. They are very definitely welcoming it. An increasing number of fine leaders on both sides are marrying.
“Q. Is there in New York City a greater number of inter-racial marriages than there has been?
“A. Yes, but interestingly, the largest number of inter-racial marriages occur in Milwaukee and Los Angeles.
“Q. To what do you attribute that?
“A. I can’t figure it out. Milwaukee has always been a very liberal city. Los Angeles, however, I can’t figure out at all.
“Q. What is the argument that is used by Negro leaders in answer to the point that is sometimes made that, if intermarriages continue in the next 25 or 30 years, then the races will be adulterated somewhat as they are in Cuba and Brazil?
“A. I have heard that argument, but it doesn’t amount to any argument at all from my standpoint, because if we are fighting for integration, well, then, there it is. I mean, you can’t fight against segregation and want separation. We must be consistent.
 “Q. I’m not sure that is clear–
“A. The Negro leaders are fighting against segregations. Therefore, they can’t have a position on one hand against segregation and on the other hand against inter-racial marriage.
“Q. What I meant was, do you believe that the quality of the white race would be reduced by intermarriages?
“A. No, anthropologists like Boas of Columbia and the late Malinowsky of Yale and Hooton of Harvard, especially, have shown that such a thing would be a benefit. That is a scientific fact.
“Q. They contend that it would not change the quality of one race or the other?
“A. That is correct–either not change it or actually improve the stock of both groups.
I think I have read enough to give you an idea of what the Negro is after. He is not just seeking the opportunity of sitting down in a cafe where white people eat. He isn’t just trying to ride on the same streetcar or the same Pullman car with white people. It isn’t that he just desires to go to the same theater as the white people. From this, and other interviews I have read, it appears that the Negro seeks absorption with the white race. He will not be satisfied until he achieves it by intermarriage. That is his objective and we must face it. We must not allow our feeling to carry us away, nor must we feel so sorry for Negroes that we will open our arms and embrace them with everything we have. Remember the little statement that we used to say about sin, “First we pity, then endure, then embrace.”
How different is the Chinese attitude on intermarriage! Sister Belle S. Spafford, president of the Relief Society, has been attending the conference of the International Council of Women in Europe. I asked her what she learned there about  inter-racial marriages as affecting other races than the Negroes. She said there was one outstanding figure in the conference who expressed herself most emphatically on this subject. She was the Chinese representative, Matilda Ng. She is chairman of the Chinese Council and heads the moral welfare section of the I.C.W. and this is what she said:
“In Hong Kong there are two and one-half million people living in very crowded conditions. The population has more than doubled during the past five years bringing many serious social problems. The presence of so many men in the armed services has also created social problems extremely difficult to handle. A large number of illegitimate children have been born to Chinese girls, fathered by men of other races who are in the armed services. Neither the Chinese nor the Whites will accept these children.
“The Chinese are bitterly opposed to Eurasian marriages or to marriages between Chinese and persons of any other race, even under the most favorable circumstances, and children born out of wedlock to Chinese mothers with white fathers are in an extremely unfortunate position. The Chinese mothers themselves are in a very difficult position. They have strong maternal instincts and traditions and because of this, most of them make a determined effort to keep their children, frequently turning to prostitution to support them.”
What should be our attitude as Latter-day Saints toward Negro and other dark races? Does the Lord give us any guidance? Is there any Church policy on this matter? Is segregation in and of itself a wrong principle? Are we as individuals against segregation as a matter or principle? Just where should we stand?
Before going into this, there are a few fundamentals that I would like to mention on which, of course, we must all be agreed:
- God is the creator. “All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.”
 2. The purpose in His creation of this earth was to provide a habitation for His children.
- God is just. He is fair. He is no respecter of persons.
- We must accept the fact of pre-existence, and that in our pre-existence we had free agency. We could be lazy there, or we could be industrious. We could be obedient or careless. We could choose to follow Christ or to follow Lucifer.
- The gospel is eternal. It is as eternal as God, and He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His course is one eternal round.
- The Lord has a definite method of dealing with both sinners and Saints, based on the way we personally live. We shall be judged in accordance with our own acts. We shall be punished for our own sins and not for Adam’s transgression, nor for anybody else’s transgression.
I like a quotation from Ezekiel very much. It is found in the 18th chapter beginning with the fourth verse:
“Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.
“But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right, and hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, neither hath defiled his neighbor’s wife, neither hath come near to a menstruous woman,
“And hath not oppressed any, but hath restored to the debtor his pledge, hath spoiled none by violence, hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment;
“He that hath not given forth upon usury, neither hath taken any increase, that hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity, hath executed true judgment between man and man,
“Hath walked in my statutes, and hath kept my judgments, to deal truly; he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord God.
 “And if he beget a son that is a robber, a shedder of blood, and that doeth the like to any one of these things,
“And that doeth not any of those duties, but even hath eaten upon the m ountains, and defiled his neighbour’s wife,
“Hath oppressed the poor and needy, hath spoiled by violence, hath not restored the pledge, and hath lifted up his eyes to the idols, hath committed abomination.
“Hath given forth upon usury, and hath taken increase; shall he then live? He shall not live: he hath done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him.
“Now, lo, if he beget a son, that seeth all his father’s sins which he hath done, and considereth, and doeth not such like,
“That hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, neither hath defiled his neighbour’s wife,
“Neither hath oppressed any, hath not withholden the pledge, neither hath spoiled by violence, but hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment,
“That hath taken off his hand from the poor, that hath not received usury nor increase, hath executed my judgments, hath walked in my statutes; he shall not die for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live.
“As for his father, because he cruelly oppressed, spoiled his brother by violence, and did that which is not good among his people, lo, even he shall die in his iniquity.
“Yet say ye, Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live.
“The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.”
 I think that is a marvelous statement of policy on the part of the Lord–a great announcement of doctrine.
Now I would like to come to the Ten Commandments for a moment:
“I am the Lord thy God which hath brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the House of bondage. Thou shalt have no other Gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image or any likeness of anything that is in the heaven above or that is in the earth beneath or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow thyself down to them or serve them, for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.”
I draw your attention to the fact that many people in reading this scripture stop before the sentence stops. They think in terms of visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation–period, and they forget that the Lord goes on and says, “of them that hate me, and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.”
This scripture clearly indicates that He shows mercy to those who love Him and keep His commandments, but visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children of them “that hate me.” In other words, we reap what we sow. The souls that sinneth shall die. We will be punished for our own sins but not for anybody else’s. We must accept that as a policy together with the thought that God is just to everybody, and that the gospel is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
- Since the gospel is eternal and God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and since He is dealing with the same group of spirits, meaning you and me and the rest of us on earth, both in the pre-existent state as well as here, is there any reason why the Lord’s method of dealing with sinners and saints in the pre-existence should be different from His method of dealing with them here?
 8. For sins we commit here we will be given places in the eternal world, in the Celestial, Terrestrial, and the Telestial kingdoms, and as one star differeth from another in glory, so also is the resurrection of the dead. There will be wide variations of classifications in the hereafter, all based on our performance here in this life.
- Is there any reason to think that the same principles of rewards and punishments did not apply to us and our deeds in the pre-existent world as will apply hereafter? Is there reason then why the type of birth we receive in this life is not a reflection of our worthiness or lack of it in the pre-existent life? We must accept the justice of God. He is fair to all. He is not a respecter of persons. He will mete to us according to what we deserve.
With that in mind, can we account in any other way for the birth of some of the children of God in darkest Africa, or in flood-ridden China, or among the starving hordes of India, while some of the rest of us are born here in the United States? We cannot escape the conclusion that because of performance in our pre-existence, some of us are born as Chinese, some as Japanese, some as Indians, some as Negroes, some as Americans, some as Latter-day Saints. These are rewards and punishments, fully in harmony with His established policy in dealing with sinners and saints, rewarding all according to their deeds.
I would like to read to you now from The Way to Perfection, by President Joseph Fielding Smith. I believe the chapters in this book, there are three of them primarily, provide the best statement of our inter-racial position that I know anything about, and I certainly highly recommend them to you. I will begin to read under a section, “Pre-assignment to nation or tribe:”
“Our place among the tribes and nations evidently was assigned to us by the Lord. That there was an assignment of  this kind before earth life began is a declaration of the scriptures. Certain spirits were chosen to come through the lineage of Abraham, and this choice was made in the beginning. Other selections were also made and the nations determined upon by the councils in the heavens. When Paul was speaking on Mars Hill, he said to the Athenians, `Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious, for as I passed by and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, “To the unknown God.” Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth dwelleth not in temples made with hands, neither is worshipped with men’s hands as though he needed anything. Seeing He giveth to all life and breath and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men, for to dwell on the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed and the bounds of their habitation.'”
If the Lord appointed unto the nations the bounds of their habitation, then there must have been a selection of spirits to form these nations. And I think we must recognize that. In greater clearness, Moses has declared the same thing. President Smith quotes from Deuteronomy next:
“Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations. Ask thy Father and He will show Thee, thy Elders, and they will tell thee 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, for the Lord’s portion is His people. Jacob is the lot of His inheritance.” That is Deut. 32.
“If bounds were set according to the number of the children of Israel, and they were the Lord’s portion–that is those with whom He made covenant, when the Lord divided the sons of Adam, it must have been done before this earth life began, for in these days of old when this division was made, the nation of Israel had not been brought into existence on the earth.
 “Is it not a reasonable belief that the Lord would select the choice spirits to come to the better grades of nations? Is it not reasonable to believe that less worthy spirits would come through less favored lineage? Does this not account in very large part for the various grades of color and degrees of intelligence we find in the earth? Is not the Lord doing the best that can be done in accordance with the laws of justice and mercy for the people of the earth? In His mercy He has a salvation with some degree of exaltation even for the heathen and for those who die without law. However, we must not be unmindful of the fact that these worldly conditions have also been brought about in large degree by rebellion and disregard of the laws of God in this life. Retrogression has come upon mankind because they have rejected the counsels and commandments of the Almighty. Advancement has come largely because man has been willing to walk, in part at least, in the light of divine inspiration.”
Now, I have always been interested in Jeremiah’s own statement, that is quoting the Lord, of course, for the Lord tells Jeremiah that before He formed him in the belly, He knew him and chose Him to be a prophet unto the nations. Why was Jeremiah chosen before he was born? Because along with all of the rest of us, in the pre-existent life, he had his free agency. He had the right to go with Lucifer if he wanted to. He had the right to be lazy or industrious or he had the right to study the gospel and come with full allegiance to the banner of the Savior. Because he came with full allegiance to the banner of the Savior and was loyal, and because he developed himself both in faith and otherwise in the pre-existent life, he came to a point of development where the Lord was glad to have him as one of His leaders, and so He chose him for one of His prophets even before he came into the world.
You remember the vision of Abraham when he was shown the spirits of certain great ones, and the Lord told him,  “Abraham, thou art one of them.” Why were these spirits chosen above anybody else? Is the Lord a respecter of persons? Again it was a reward based upon performance in the pre-existent life, and people who came in the lineage of Abraham received their blessing because of their performance in the pre-existent life. People who had not performed well enough in the pre-existent life obviously were given some other birth. I think this statement of Brother Smith’s here is wonderful.
Another paragraph in the next chapter, under “Traits developed in the World of Spirits,” says:
“In the parable of the talents, the Lord makes use of this very significant expression. `For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country who called his own servants and delivered unto them his goods, and unto one he gave five talents, to another two and to another one. To every man according to his several ability.’ Without doubt, these characteristics were born with us; in other words, we developed certain traits of character in the world of spirits before this earth life began. In that life, some were more diligent in the performance of duty, some were more obedient and more faithful in keeping the commandments. Some were more intellectual and others manifested stronger traits of leadership than others. Some showed greater faith and willingness to serve the Lord, and from among these the leaders were chosen. Because of this condition, the Lord said to Abraham, `These I will make my leaders 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.’ There must be leaders, presiding officers, and those who are worthy and able to take command.
“During the ages in which we dwelt in the pre-mortal state, we not only developed our various characteristics and showed our worthiness and ability, or the lack of it, but we  were also where such progress could be observed. It is reasonable to believe that there was a Church organization there. The heavenly beings were living in a perfectly arranged society. Every person knew his place. Priesthood, without any question, had been conferred and the leaders were chosen to officiate. Ordinances pertaining to that pre-existence were required and the love of God prevailed. Under such conditions it was natural for our Father to discern and choose those who were most worthy and evaluate the talents of each individual. He knew not only what each of us could do, but also what each of us would do when put to the test and when responsibility was given us. Then, when the time came for our habitation on mortal earth, all things were prepared and the servants of the Lord chosen and ordained to their respective missions.”
And then he goes on and shows how some were appointed to greater missions than others. I would like to recommend chapters 7 and 8 and chapters 15 and 16–four chapters in this very wonderful book.
Now let’s talk segregation again for a few moments. Was segregation a wrong principle? When the Lord chose the nations to which the spirits were to come, determining that some would be Japanese and some would be Chinese and some Negroes and some Americans, He engaged in an act of segregation. When he permitted the banishment of Hagar and Ishmael, again He indulged in segregation. In the case of Jacob and Esau, He engaged in segregation. When He preserved His people Israel in Egypt for 400 years, He engaged in an act of segregation, and when He brought them up out of Egypt and gave them their own land, He engaged in an act of segregation. We speak of the miracle of the preservation of the Jews as a separate people over all these years. It was nothing more nor less than an act of segregation. I’m sure the Lord had His hand in it because the Jews still have a great mission to perform. In placing a curse on Laman and Lemuel, He engaged in  segregation. When He placed the mark upon Cain, He engaged in segregation. When he told Enoch not to preach the gospel to the descendants of Cain who were black, the Lord engaged in segregation. When He cursed the descendants of Cain as to the Priesthood, He engaged in segregation. When He forbade inter-marriages, as He does in Deuteronomy 7th chapter, He established segregation.
You remember when the Israelites were about to come into Palestine and there were evil nations there, the Lord was anxious to preserve His own people by an act of segregation. He commanded His people Israel, “Neither shalt thou make marriages with them. Thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.” It was a law for the preservation of Israel and it certainly was an act of segregation.
Who placed the Negroes originally in darkest Africa? Was it some man, or was it God? And when He placed them there, He segregated them. Who placed the Chinese in China? The Lord did. It was an act of segregation. When He placed only some of His chosen people in the tribe of Judah, the royal tribe, wasn’t that an act of segregation? And when He gave the birthright only to Ephraim, wasn’t that an act of segregation?
The Lord segregated the people both as to blood and place of residence. At least in the cases of the Lamanites and the Negroes, we have the definite word of the Lord Himself that He placed a dark skin upon them as a curse–as a punishment and as a sign to all others. He forbade intermarriage with them under threat of extension of the curse. (2 Nephi 5:21) And He certainly segregated the descendants of Cain when He cursed the Negro as to the Priesthood, and drew an absolute line. You may even say He dropped an Iron Curtain there. The Negro was cursed as to the Priesthood, and therefore, was cursed as to the blessings of the Priesthood. Certainly God made a segregation there.
 And do you remember in Section 76 where the Lord is talking about the Terrestrial Kingdom and those who shall go there? He mentions those who were without law. I presume He means that all during mortality the people referred to were not permitted to have the law of the gospel and He assigned them directly to the Terrestrial Kingdom. Isn’t that segregation?
Let’s look at it another way. In the world to come, some of us will go to the celestial glory, some to the terrestrial, others to the telestial, and we are told that as one star differeth from another star in glory, so also is resurrection of the dead. So there will be a wide variation there. But isn’t that segregation? And you remember that He, himself, said with respect to some of them: “Where God and Christ dwell, they cannot come, worlds without end.” That is segregation.
So, do the Latter-day Saints believe in segregation as a principle?
Let us consider the great mercy of God for a moment. A Chinese, born in China with a dark skin, and with all the handicaps of that race seems to have little opportunity. But think of the mercy of God to Chinese people who are willing to accept the gospel. In spite of whatever they might have done in the pre-existence to justify being born over there as Chinamen, if they now, in this life, accept the gospel and live it the rest of their lives, they can have the Priesthood, go to the temple and receive endowments and sealings, and that means they can have exaltation. Isn’t the mercy of God marvelous?
Think of the Negro, cursed as to the Priesthood. Are we prejudiced against him? Unjustly, sometimes we are accused of having such a prejudice. But what does the mercy of God have for him? This Negro, who, in the pre-existence lived the type of life which justified the Lord in sending him to the earth in the lineage of Cain with a black skin, and possibly being born in darkest Africa–if that Negro is willing when he hears the gospel to accept it, he may have many of the blessings of the gospel. In spite of all he did in the pre-existent life, the Lord is  willing, if the Negro accepts the gospel with real, sincere faith, and is really converted, to give him the blessings of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. If that Negro is faithful all his days, he can and will enter the celestial kingdom. He will go there as a servant, but he will get a celestial resurrection. He will get a place in the celestial glory. He will not go then with even the honorable men of the earth to the terrestrial glory, nor with the ones spoken of as being without law.
In the great mercy of God, He allows all men to rise above themselves. Isn’t this a great testimony to the principle of repentance, that if a man does the best he can to rise above conditions and if he is faithful and devoted, the Lord recognizes him and lifts him up? I think that is one of the great evidences of the mercy of God.
Some years ago, back in 1936 to be exact, I became acquainted with a Negro family in Cincinnati, Ohio. I was back there for three months in connection with a newspaper assignment. I went to Church there and became acquainted with the family of a Negro man named Len Hope. Accidentally he had found some of our tracts when he lived down in Mississippi. He read them and became interested. He wrote to the mission headquarters for a Book of Mormon, and by his own study, converted himself. Later he met the Elders and joined the Church. Then he joined the army in the first World War. When he came back, having carried a Book of Mormon with him all through the war and studied it carefully, he converted his Negro sweetheart whom he married and she was baptized. Then they moved up to Cincinnati to escape the “Jim Crow” law.
Up in Cincinnati, some of the members of the Church became extremely prejudiced against this Negro family. They met in a group, decided what to do and went to the Branch President, and said that either the Hope family must leave or they would all leave. The Branch President ruled that Brother Hope and his family could not come to Church meetings. It  broke their hearts. But, the missionaries went out to the Hope home and there conducted Sunday School every Sunday, and served them the Sacrament.
I had the privilege of visiting with the Hope family. I was in their home. I saw how their song book had been literally worn out and likewise their Doctrine and Covenants and Book of Mormon. As soon as I got to my hotel that Sunday afternoon, I wrote home to my wife and had her send them a supply of books.
They were very faithful people. Brother Hope died just a little while ago. He was a man who was as thoroughly converted to the Gospel as anyone I know. He was a full tithe payer all through the depression. He earned the most meager kind of living, but he never failed to pay his tithing. The Branch President showed me the tithing records, and all through the depression Brother Hope paid $1.50 a week. It was a full tithing. Sometimes Brother Hope didn’t even have that, so he went into the hills and picked berries and sold them on the streets of Cincinnati to get enough money to pay that $1.50 tithing.
And then Brother Hope told me, as a testimony, that in the Negro area of Cincinnati where he lived, during the depression he didn’t know of one man who had a job. But he said, “I had a job. I paid my tithing and during that whole depression, I didn’t lose one day’s work. Sometimes I didn’t make much money on that day, and I did have to go out into the hills and get berries, but I always had an income.”
Brother Hope asked me if it would be possible for him to have baptisms for the dead done in the temple on behalf of members of his family who had passed on. I went to President Smith and he said, “Yes, you get their records and we will take them over to the temple and have the baptisms done for them.” I did, and we performed vicarious baptisms for these Negroes. Only the baptisms and confirmations–nothing else, but we did that much. Again I thought of the great mercy of  almighty God, and how He is willing to lift people up if they do their part.
Well, what about the removal of the curse? We know what the Lord has said in the Book of Mormon in regard to the Lamanites–they shall become a white and delightsome people. I know of no scripture having to do with the removal of the curse from the Negro. I think that we should not speculate too much about that. As long as the scriptures are silent on the subject, we should not try to determine on our own what the ultimate end of the Negro is going to be. I don’t think we have a right to do that, do you? It is speculation.
We do have a few suggestions from the early brethren as to their own views, but I assume that these are their own private ideas–I don’t know whether I am wrong in that, President Smith, but that has been my assumption–that when the brethren spoke about the removal of the curse from the Negro, they were expressing their own views. But there is no scripture on it, and therefore, I don’t think any of us, as teachers of the gospel, should speculate on it.
You remember that Brigham Young has said, “Cain conversed with his God every day, and knew all about the plan of creating this earth, for his father told him. But for the want of humility and through jealousy and an anxiety to possess the kingdom and to have the whole of it under his own control, and not allow anybody else the right to say one word, what did he do? He killed his brother. Then the Lord put a mark on him. When all of the other children of Adam have had the privilege of receiving the Priesthood and of coming into the kingdom of God, and of being redeemed from the four quarters of the earth, and have received the resurrection from the dead, then it will be time enough to remove the curse from his posterity. He deprived his brother the privilege of pursuing his journey through life, and of extending his kingdom by multiplying upon the earth, and because he did this, he is the last to share the joys of the kingdom of God.”
 President Woodruff added, “The Lord said, `I will not kill Cain, but I will put a mark upon him, and that mark will be seen upon every face of every Negro upon the face of the earth. And it is the decree of God that mark shall remain upon the seed of Cain, until the seed of Abel shall be redeemed, and Cain shall not receive the Priesthood. But the day will come when all that race will be redeemed and possess all the blessings which we now have.”
I couldn’t add to that because I don’t know anything more than that, and I will leave it there. We should not go into the mysteries of what is going to happen to the Negro in the eternities far off, because the Lord has been silent on that subject.
Now what is our policy in regard to inter-marriage? As to the Negro, of course, there is only one possible answer. We must not inter-marry with the Negro. Why? If I were to marry a Negro woman and have children by her, my children would all be cursed as to the Priesthood. Do I want my children cursed as to the Priesthood? If there is one drop of Negro blood in my children, as I have read to you, they receive the curse. There isn’t any argument, therefore, as to inter-marriage with the Negro, is there? There are 50 million Negroes in the United States. If they were to achieve complete absorption with the white race, think what that would do. With 50 million Negroes inter-married with us, where would the Priesthood be? Who could hold it, in all America? Think what that would do to the work of the Church!
Now we are generous with the Negro. We are willing that the Negro have the highest kind of education. I would be willing to let every Negro drive a Cadillac if they could afford it. I would be willing that they have all the advantages they can get out of life in the world. But let them enjoy these things among themselves. I think the Lord segregated the Negro and who is man to change that segregation?  It reminds me of the scripture on marriage, “What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” Only here we have the reverse of the thing–what God hath separated, let not man bring together again.
What is our advice with respect to intermarriage with Chinese, Japanese, Hawaiians and so on? I will tell you what advice I give personally. If a boy or girl comes to me claiming to be in love with a Chinese or Japanese or a Hawaiian or a person of any other dark race, I do my best to talk them out of it. I tell them that I think the Hawaiians should marry Hawaiians, the Japanese ought to marry the Japanese, and the Chinese ought to marry Chinese, and the Caucasians should marry Caucasians, just exactly as I tell them that Latter-day Saints ought to marry Latter-day Saints. and I’m glad to quote the 7th chapter of Deuteronomy to them on that. I teach against inter-marriage of all kinds.
(A copy of this speech is in the LDS Church Historian’s Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.)
 Chapter 3
“FOR WHAT PURPOSE?”
The second sermon was given by President Alvin R. Dyer at a missionary conference in Oslo, Norway, March 18, 1961. Fortunately, one of the missionaries had a tape recorder and later reproduced this interesting and in-depth analysis of those who are heirs of the Celestial Kingdom. But through the years the speech has been down-played, and repercussions against Dyer resulted from it.
For What Purpose?
We have talked a great deal about missionary work today and heard the testimonies of those who have spoken. I want to talk to you now about something that does not pertain to missionary work. What I say is not to be given to your investigators, but is to strengthen your own testimony.
In the Korean War, there was a reported happening concerning American prisoners. I don’t know that it brought disgrace upon our country, but it tends to prove the fact that so many of the soldiers of the American Army there at that time didn’t have the concept of liberty and freedom representative of our own beloved country. This was such a shock to our leaders that a program was instituted throughout the country, which still carries on, to better prepare our young people to meet the future, both physically and mentally. I myself felt disillusioned at the things that took place.
 Always in my life, I have thought that a “Yankee” or an American was just about the greatest of everything in the world. I have always been a kind of hero-worshipper anyway, and a great football player or someone like that has been more or less my ideal. Anything American was the best. I still feel that way, despite the feelings of this particular report.
There was an episode that took place in the Korean War that was very hard for me to understand. I am sure that it was much harder for those who were in it, who were called upon to endure the privations of that war. After the war was over, the information concerning the behavior of our soldiers who had been captured by the Koreans (Communist Koreans) revealed the fact that they behaved most ashamedly and almost with cowardice. In the interrogations that were made of our young people taken prisoner, there were less than 5% of them that were reactionary to the point that they wanted to escape, to fight to live. I know that the life of a prisoner is not a very easy life. But the official records revealed that 38% of the American soldiers that were taken prisoners by the Koreans, who died in prison camps, did not die of starvation or from any punishment. They simply quit and laid down and died because they did not have the moral stability to fight, or the will to live. They did not have any inward reason of why they were there.
When this became known to our government leaders, they called into conference a committee of men and established in America what they called the Youth Physical Fitness Program. Ezra Taft Benson and Marion D. Hanks and several others from the Church were called upon and are still serving on it. I was glad to see that President Kennedy has reinstated this program among our young people.
You might say, “What has this to do with us? It doesn’t have a great deal to do with us here except that I would feel rather embarrassed, as a leader of the Church, if any of our missionaries did not know why they were in the missionfield. If you were asked the question as to why you were here and  what you are doing in the missionfield, and all you could say is, “I am here preaching the gospel because I have been sent here. I know the Gospel is true and I have a testimony of it.” If this is all you could say, you don’t have the full meaning for the purpose of missionary work.
I have always felt that if there could be placed into the hearts and minds of anybody, the reasons for doing things and the purpose behind them, we wouldn’t have to worry about what that person would do. If you young men and women know why you are here and why the Lord is so anxious for us to preach the Gospel today, and then would ask yourselves a number of questions connected with that, such as: Why is it that you were born today instead of 2,000 years ago? Why is it that you are sitting in this room today and were, for some reason, not born in the day of Moses or in the day when Christ was upon the earth? Or do you think the time of your birth is just something haphazard–that it just happened that way–that nobody had anything to do with it? Ask yourself another question. Why is it that you are white and are not colored? Have you ever asked yourself that question? Who had anything to do with you being born into the Church? Why is it that you were born into the Church and not born a Chinese, a Hindu, or a Negro? Is God such an unjust person that He would make you white and free and make a Negro cursed under the cursing of Cain, that he could not hold the Priesthood of God? Who do you think decided this and what is the reason behind it? Then maybe you could ask yourselves another question. Why is it that you were kept in the Spirit World until the last dispensation to come forth among the children of men? Was there any reason for this and who decided it?
When you begin to get the answers to these questions, then perhaps you will begin to understand why the Gospel of Jesus Christ is being preached in the world today in this last period of time, and the plan of salvation is taking its effect upon so many people. I think that every missionary ought to  know the answers to these questions. When he does know the answers, he stands before the Lord without excuse to go forth and labor with all his might, mind and strength.
There isn’t anyone in this room who should have the notion that his life is of any great duration. This life is merely a pinpoint or speck on the eternity of man’s existence. It is over so fast that it is merely a short hour in the plan of the gospel according to the Lord’s reckoning of time. The whole plan of life, its whole period, comes and goes within just a few short hours of the Lord’s time.
I want to talk to you just briefly about this, not with any information that you would convey to your investigators, but that you, yourselves, may have a better understanding of what we are doing in the missionfield today, and why it is that we come to you with encouragement to work with all your might to get the people into the Church and why we set goals. It isn’t for the purpose of a goal, for that is just a kind of game between us to become physically motivated to go out and do our best and work as a team and as a mission. The real purpose behind this is more far-reaching than that.
Divisions of Mankind
I will read to you from the Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price, “And the Lord said unto me,” speaking to Abraham. “These two facts do exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they” (indication that in the pre-existence there are three divisions of spirits). I repeat, “These two facts do exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they; I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all.”
This statement of Abraham’s is directly connected with the degrees of glory because we teach that when people die, all  shall be resurrected who are born in this life–sons of perdition also. They are then, after the period of the Spirit World, assigned into one of the three degrees of glory–the Celestial, the Terrestrial and the Telestial. Others who are spun off out of this light go into outer darkness because there is no light in them. They can no longer repent, and because they can no longer repent of what they have done, they become Sons of Perdition and are not worthy to go into a degree of glory. The consequence of this is that they shall go with Lucifer and the unembodied spirits who were never permitted to take upon themselves a body of flesh and bone.
You recall the scripture that missionaries often use in Corinthians when Paul is speaking of the three divisions of people. We often use that scripture as a resurrection scripture, but we do not apply it properly. If you will read it carefully, it says, “Such are they in the resurrection,” or similar to the way it will be in the final judgment. Paul is calling to the attention of those who listened to him that there are three degrees of people who are in preparation on the earth while they live here. Now let’s suppose, to make this more plain, that the earth would end at this instant; that there would be no mortal person upon the earth; that life would cease and that judgment was in progress. Obviously, the people who had been living on the earth would be assigned to one of these three places. Therefore, the people who are living upon the earth today are the embryos of these three kingdoms. The true meaning of the parable of the talents refers to this matter.
The suggestion here by Abraham is that all who are born into this life are born into three degrees or divisions. There were three divisions of mankind in the pre-existence, and when we were born into this life, we were born into one of three divisions of people. There is an imposed judgment placed upon everyone who leaves the spirit world just the same as there will be when they leave this life and go into one of the three places prepared in the life to come following this one. When they left  the Spirit World, they had already been judged by what they had done in the Spirit World and in their previous existence. From that judgment is determined how they shall be born in this life. When you understand that, you know that God is not unjust to cause a righteous spirit to be born as a cursed member of the Black race or to be born as one of the other people on the earth who have been cursed. Everything is in order. The procreation of man is orderly and is in accordance with the plan of life and salvation.
In keeping with this thought, we learn that when Noah went to the ark, we have the three divisions as, here again, he took with him his three sons–one to represent the chosen lineage, the second representing the lineage of adoption, and the third representing the cursed lineage. Thereafter, when man began to be born again into this life, they were born through one of three sons of Noah, either through the lineage of Shem, Japeth, or Ham. Those who had been cursed in the pre-existence were born through the lineage of Ham.
I suppose you have heard someone say, “Why is a Negro a Negro?” And you have heard this answer, “Well, they must have been neutral in the pre-existence or they must have straddled the fence.” This is the most common saying–“They were neither hot nor cold, so the Lord made them Negroes.” This, of course, is not true. The reason that spirits are born into Negro bodies is because those spirits rejected the Priesthood of God in the Pre-existence. This is the reason why you have Negroes upon the earth, as a result of a curse placed upon them.
Still, you will observe that when Cain was influenced by the power of Lucifer to follow him and to fall down and worship him in the beginning of earth life existence, the Lord came to him and said, “Cain, if you will abide the law–if you will keep the commandments, you too can be acceptable unto Me.” But Cain rejected the counsel of God. He rejected again  the Priesthood as his forbearers had done in the pre-existence. Therefore, the curse of the pre-existence was made institute through the loins of Cain. Consequently, we see the beginning of the race of men and women into which would be born those in the pre-existence who had rejected the Priesthood of God.
There was another division of spirits in the pre-existence who did not reject the Priesthood, but they did not fully accept the plan of salvation that was advanced by the Christ. They, therefore, in accordance to the plan of the gospel, became those of the lineage of adoption, meaning, they who were, during the probation of the earth, to receive further opportunity to accept fully the Gospel and in doing so would be numbered with the chosen of God.
I want to read to you a very important scripture in the Old Testament. We talk about studying books and reading manuscripts to prepare ourselves to teach the Gospel, but there are very few missionaries who really study the Old Testament. The 10th chapter of Genesis, according to my information, has had many volumes written about it–just this one chapter. This chapter is so important because the whole plan and purpose of life was understood by the ancient people of Israel, and they knew and understood the plan of salvation as given in the Old Testament to us by Moses. I want to read something to you and make an explanation. “And Ham, the father of Canaan,” (this is the 9th chapter of Genesis) “saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brethren without. and Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness.” Now, this is a Jewish story of a Hebrew story, told in legend form, of paternal respect that merely implies the fact that Ham reinstated the curse of the pre-existence when he rejected the Priesthood of Noah, and in consequence of that, he preserved the curse in the earth. Therefore, the Negroes to be born thereafter were to be born through the loins of Ham.
 All of this is according to a well worked out plan of peopling the earth, that these millions and billions of spirits awaiting birth in the pre-existence would be born through valiant channels or races of people. consequently the cursed were to be born through Ham. We cannot accept the story referred to literally. In order to understand this, one should read the Pearl of Great Price very carefully. because in the early days when the Egyptian government was established under its first rulers, the Pharaohs set up a system that was established like the Priesthood of God. It was exactly like the Patriarchal Order, though they knew they could not have the birthright or the Priesthood, still they thought to capitalize on the form, or the order of the administration. The Pearl of Great Price tells us specifically that they knew that they could not hold the Priesthood, yet they used the same type of organization. Gradually, the sons of Pharaoh began to denounce that concept and assumed unto themselves that they were the princes and not the descendants of Shem.
There is a great deal more to this subject than that, but I wanted to point this out to you–all of this that we talk about with people is not just merely a little message that we proclaim to them, but all that we are doing is part of a great plan that was inaugurated under the direction of the Christ in the pre-existence.
Listen to the story of what Noah said to his other two sons: “And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his young son had done unto him. And he said, `Cursed be Canaan, A servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.’ And he said, `Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.'” Who is Shem? Shem is what is known as the father of the Shemitics or the Semitics. He became the progenitor of the children of Israel through the loins of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and then the twelve princes of Israel. Therefore, Shem became the father, or the progenitor of those who were to be born into this life who were the noblest  of the intelligences, who Abraham speaks of here when he said, “Not withstanding that these two spirits are intelligent and one is more intelligent than the other–there are still other spirits or another division that is more intelligent than both of them.” Subsequent to this he had said unto Abraham, “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; 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.” This is true with everyone who fits into that particular category of the descendants of Shem through Israel, who became the literal sons and daughters of Israel. This is a part of the plan of salvation the world does not know anything about. The Christian churches never mention it. They never teach it because they know nothing about it.
Noah made another promise at this time and he said, “God shall enlarge Japheth, (who was the eldest son) and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem.” In these days, the tent was the place of dwelling; therefore, “God shall enlarge Japheth and he shall dwell in the house of Shem.” What then is the house of Shem? So far as the covenant is concerned, it is the House of Israel. Therefore, the descendants of Japheth shall be enlarged, and they shall be permitted to dwell in the House of Israel. Therefore, we call the descendants of Japheth the children of adoption. Now, who are the descendants of Japheth? The descendants of Japheth are in all of Europe. They are in America; they are in Japan and Korea; they are in India and all of these people can be traced to Japheth as their progenitor.
For example, we have here the generations of Shem, as the Lord gives it to us in Chapter 10 of the book of Genesis.  These ancient prophets were careful to preserve these generations, and these genealogies, knowing their full meaning, which the world doesn’t understand, but concerning which we have come to know by revelation from the Lord.]
“Now these are in the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham and Japheth; and unto them were sons born after the flood, the sons of Japheth: Gomer” (they are the French), “and Magog” (they are the Slavs), “Madai” (they are Hindu, Koreans, Indians, Japanese and Philippines). We know who the people are who migrated eastward through India, into the area of the Tungusian and then into Korea and Japan. This is the reason today why we are having such tremendous success among the Koreans and the Japanese, because it is the day the gospel is to be preached to them. Continuing the Biblical account, “Tubal” (of Greece and Italy and of Turkey), “and of Meshech” (the Heschecites, the Moscevites, the Russians), “and of Tiras” (the Siberians). These then are the descendants of Japheth.
The day was to come, according to Noah, that these people and their descendants would come in and dwell in the tent, or the house, of them or the House of Israel. You have to know that and understand it to know what the Lord is doing today in preaching the gospel to the Gentiles because this is the day of the Gentile. We are preaching the gospel to the Gentile. Only one portion of the House of Israel is being called and they are the children of Ephraim. (Note: See author’s book, The Meaning of Truth, in which is given more complete information.)
Everyone of you here, I assume, has had a patriarchal blessing. Is there anyone here who is not of the lineage of Joseph? You see what I mean? They are principally the only ones of the House of Israel that are being called at this time, the lineage of Joseph, through Ephraim, and there is a reason for that.
 Jesus Proclaims the Day of the Gentile
I want to mention again the teachings of Christ unto the Nephites. You will find this in the 21st chapter of Third Nephi; the sign of the Father’s work, the glorious destiny of the repentant Gentiles, the condemnation predicted for the impenitent and the coming of the New Jerusalem, or the City of Zion. the Lord Himself, speaking unto the Nephites said this: “And verily I say unto you, I give unto you a sign, that ye may know the time when these things shall be about to take place–that I shall gather in, from their long dispersion, my people, O house of Israel, and shall be the day of the Gentiles. Read that entire chapter. I won’t take the time to do it, but among other things He says in that day, “For my sake shall the Father work a work, which shall be a great and a marvelous work among them; and there shall be among them those who will not believe it, although a man shall declare it unto them.” (The Prophet Joseph Smith) “But behold, the life of my servant shall be in my hand; therefore, they shall not hurt him, although he shall be marred because of them. Yet I will heal him, for I will show unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the Devil.”
The Prophet Joseph Smith suffered martyrdom, but he was not harmed, and he said to his brethren in Carthage prison, just before he was shot, “Fear not, brethren. They may take away our lives and destroy the body, but they cannot destroy the spirit,” or words to that effect. This is what the Lord is saying here. If you will read the rest of the chapter, you will read how the gospel is taken to the Gentiles. The Lord said in verse 22, “But behold, if the Gentiles will repent,” meaning who? the French, the German, the Norwegian, the Swedish, the Finlander, the people of Denmark, and the people all over the countries of Europe and elsewhere as I have mentioned–“if they will repent and hearken unto my words, and harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among  them, and they shall come in unto the covenant and be numbered among this, the remnant of Jacob, unto whom I have given this land for their inheritance.” This is the 13th chapter of 1st Nephi in the Book of Mormon, where the Lord makes plain that the day will come when the Gentiles will receive the Gospel and will come in and be numbered among the children of Israel.
I read just one of these additional scriptures, although there are others found in 1st Nephi. There is still another in the 14th chapter starting with the first verse: “And it shall come to pass that, if the Gentiles–” (Let me explain now again who the Gentiles are. In the eyes of the Jew, everyone who is not a Jew is a Gentile. But correctly speaking, and as it is stated in the 10th chapter of Genesis, the Gentiles are the descendants of the house of Japheth, the eldest son of Noah. the cursed people are the descendants of Ham. The chosen people are the descendants of Shem–the three sons of Noah. Through these lineages the spirits that compare with their station in the pre-existence are born into this life. This is why you have colored people, why you have dark people, and why you have white people. The Lord is speaking of the Gentiles.) “And it shall come to pass, if the Gentiles,” the descendants of Japheth, “shall hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day, that He shall manifest himself unto them in word and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks.”
In other words, where they have resisted the Church, resisted conversion, the Lord will remove the stumbling blocks which they had encountered in the pre-existence. “And if they harden not their hearts against the Lamb of God, they shall be numbered among the seed of thy Father; yea, they shall be a blessed people.” You see, this is his promise that was made anciently by Noah when he blessed Japheth. Why? Because he did not rebel against the Priesthood that Noah held, like Ham did, and also neither did Shem.
 We have a fulfillment of this scripture. When the Kirtland Temple was finished, there were a number of ancient prophets that made their appearance in the Temple. The Christ was the first to come and receive the Temple, and gave instructions to Joseph Smith, many of which we have never been privileged to know about. Following this, there appeared unto them, Moses, and then came Elias and then came Elijah, each of them committing the keys for their specific work. Let me call your attention to the key of Elias. In the first place, who is Elias? Elias is Noah. Here we have the same one who gave the covenant unto Japheth anciently, that he would be blessed and that he would come in and dwell in the House of Shem. He thus returned to the earth to give the key unto the Prophet Joseph Smith, to fulfill the promise made to Abraham, that through the loins of Abraham, or the chosen seed, all of the children of the earth would be blessed. Soon after 1836, the Lord gave the revelation to send missionaries to commence work among the Gentiles in England, and later in 1850 in France and then in northern Italy and then these other countries. This was not done, however, until Noah returned the “key”.
You see, it was the return of Elias that provided the way for the gospel of Jesus Christ to be preached unto the Gentiles. Don’t you see that what we are doing is a great deal more important than just filling a two and one-half year period as a missionary and then going home? We are working out the plan which the Father laid in the beginning as to what would transpire in this period of time.
What has actually happened? The Lord is preparing men and women today to become heirs of the Celestial Kingdom This is the only work that is being done. The work for the Terrestrial Kingdom has not even started yet. It will begin not until the work for the Celestial Kingdom is finished. When all who are to go into the Celestial Kingdom have been received and have been designated for that Kingdom, then the work will  start for those who are to go into the Terrestrial Kingdom, and the Terrestrial Kingdom will continue until all have made covenant and have received the promise to go into the Kingdom. All of those things will be done in their proper order for each Kingdom of Glory.
Why is the work being done for the Celestial Kingdom first? Why is it that in our Patriarchal Blessing it says that you shall come forth in the morning of the First Resurrection? Because only those who come forth in the morning of the first Resurrection will go into the Celestial Kingdom. Those who come forth in the evening of the First Resurrection will go into the Terrestrial Kingdom and this will be the end of the First Resurrection. The Second Resurrection will be for those who go to the Telestial Kingdom, and those who eventually will be Sons of Perdition. all of this is in accordance with a well worked-out, orderly plan of procreation and of judgment until the final work of this life that the Lord has intended for man is over.
There is another thing that you must know for yourselves, to understand the whole plan. The day of this life, so far as the plan of life is concerned, is from the day you were born until the end of your period in the Spirit World. For this reason then, we can function and carry on the program that the Lord has intended in the Spirit World, so that they in the Spirit World can be preached to, and have work done for them here upon the earth, and that work will be binding in the worlds that are to come.
Now I want to go back again to the statement of Abraham and to emphasize here the importance of what we are doing. “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; and God saw these souls that they were good, and He stood in the midst of them and said, “These I will make my rulers.” All right, what did the Lord mean by that? I call your attention  now, to your temple endowments. All of you have been through the temple, I assume. You were given a new name, and you were promised that some day you would be called up to be a king and a priest, or a queen and a priestess. This is not for this life. It is for the next life, for the Lord is preparing today, the rulers that will be the administrators of these degrees of glory after the period of the Spirit World. The consequence of this is that the Celestial Kingdom must be peopled first because it becomes the kingdom of administration. This, too, is part of the plan.
The Terrestrial Kingdom will receive its administration through the Christ and the Priesthood, and there will be a system of government established upon that kingdom. The Telestial Kingdom will receive its administration through the ministering angels of the Celestial Kingdom, and they will have their form of government, but, nevertheless, they will exist and live under a government. They will be controlled by laws and regulations of advancement and development and growth–all in accordance with the plan of the Lord in accordance with that degree–the same in the Terrestrial and Celestial Kingdoms.
Now, let us suppose that we were a board of directors here today and we were going to establish a vast corporation that would hire millions of men and women. Would we go out and hire all these men right at the outset, or would we first build an administrative building and hire our executives or administrators, and then place them over to control and govern? It is the same in the plan of life. The Celestial Kingdom must be founded first because it becomes the kingdom of administration. The Lord has revealed these things to us. They are very plain, and what we are striving for today is to find those whom the Lord wants to make his rulers.
You like to think, I know, and I do, too, that the gospel is going to be received by everyone, but it isn’t. I call to your attention the statements of Christ when He said, “Straight is  the way and narrow the gate and few there be that find it.” There won’t be many, comparatively speaking, but those the Lord has chosen in the pre-existence. If they are worthy and prove their worthiness in this lifetime of probation, then they will receive the endowment. When they receive the endowment, they are promised that they will be leaders. We call them kings and priests, but the correct word in our terminology would be administrator, leader, or executive who will have power to govern and control the millions and millions of people who will go into these other degrees of glory.
Now you see how the plan opens up, and there is purpose and meaning as to what we are doing. I have often said this. It is a frightening thought but it is undoubtedly true, that only those who are worthy of leadership will enter the Celestial Kingdom because that is the Kingdom of administration. Others who are less valiant, who do not have the qualities of leadership and direction, will necessarily be assigned to the Terrestrial or Telestial kingdoms.
I don’t know whether the knowledge or the revelation of these things will have an effect upon you as a missionary, but I know that it has an effect upon me, because if I am to fulfill my destiny and my purpose here in this life, as has been given to me and proven to me by my pre-existent identity, then I would do everything in my power to measure up to my fore-ordination. Because if we could this day, by some miraculous means, be permitted to see who we were, I wouldn’t be President Dyer, or you wouldn’t be Elder Smith or Brown or President Gundersen. Oh, no; you would be someone else, and the day will come when you will know who you are. It will be found that you are a person of nobility, by virtue of your pre-existent position. You may not fully know that now, but you would have been born into one of these other channels of birth, and you would not have been born in this day and age because the Lord has withheld the choice spirits of the pre-existence to come forth in this the last dispensation.
 The reason for this is obvious. Why? Because Christ will establish His kingdom in this dispensation. He came into the world in the meridian of time and was rejected. When He comes the next time, He will not be rejected. Why? Because in the world will be just that many righteous spirits planted or born who supported and sustained Him and who accepted Him in the pre-existence. This is why today we are to preach the gospel to the people by conviction and testimony. They do not need to have long teaching. These people today who are accepting the gospel know about it because they have been selected to know. That is why they recognize our message when they feel the charge and the impact of testimony and spirit. Then it all unfolds to them and many of our converts will be greater than we are because of the place which they held in the pre-existence.
This is not like any other day in the history of the world. The Lord is preparing now to complete His work. The Lord now is preparing to establish His Kingdom–the Kingdom that will govern the earth for 1,000 years before we go into the judgment period that leads unto the establishment of the degrees of glory. In consequence of this, He has wisely chosen the ones that are to come into the world in this day and age. It is a battle. He fought the power of Lucifer in the pre-existence. He had to use his best spirits to defend Him, and here again He will have to do the same thing, and He knows that. Now, what does this mean so far as the probation of life is concerned?
In the wisdom of our Heavenly Father, He has made this life a probation, which means that a person who is born in a lower division can accelerate through this life to a higher division. For example, if a colored person, being born into the lowest division, will receive and accept the gospel, he can be elevated to the Celestial division or to the Terrestrial division. That is the purpose of a probation. That is why the Lord set the plan of the Gospel, so that those who had not merited it in  the pre-existence, may merit it here through this life or probation. Don’t you see the purpose of the probation, the planning of the Gospel, to provide even this last opportunity in this life while men are taking upon themselves the element of body, to have another chance to improve their status over what they had done in the pre-existence.
Now I want to read to you from the Book of Mormon on that. This scripture will have new meaning to you, I am sure, as you understand the things that I have spoken. The prophet Alma understood this very plainly, and I want you to pay particular attention to what he says. This is found in the 24th chapter beginning with the 31st verse. I am sure that you have read it, but let’s read it now for this concept. “Yea, I would that ye would come forth and harden not your hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation.” (What is the time and the day? –from the beginning of earth to the end of the Spirit World. That is the time and the day of your salvation.) “And therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately will the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you.” Don’t you see?
All a man has to do is repent and open his heart to the Lord and immediately the plan will be made known to him. That doesn’t say the missionary will make it known to him–the power of the Holy Ghost will bring it to his remembrance. He already knows it, because he stood in the councils of heaven and supported and sustained this plan. He recognizes Christ. He recognizes the prophets, etc. “For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God.”
If life did not extend beyond the grave, then why did Christ go to the Spirit World? Why do we send our missionaries to the Spirit World, undoubtedly where Elder Wheat went? Isn’t it something that he was driving along the highway doing missionary work in this life, and in the twinkling of an eye he was doing missionary work in the Spirit World? He had changed from life to death, but still a  missionary. Death came upon him and he never knew what happened. I just know as well as I know anything that he is preaching the gospel there.
Many of the people of the world, like the descendants of Meshech who are living in Russia, live and die without hearing the Gospel and go to the Spirit World. We do not have access to them so missionaries teach them in the Spirit World, because their government won’t let us do it here. Then their descendants hear of it and they themselves wield great influence. In this way, the gospel is preached unto all nations, kindreds, and tongues.
Continuing from the Book of Mormon, “Now behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.” Now listen closely, “and now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end.” What is the end? The end of the Spirit World is this life, “For after this day of life,” or from birth until the end of the Spirit World, “which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.” Do you see how planned this is? If we do not improve ourselves from one division to another, born into the world in a lower division, improving ourselves to one of the higher, then we can do nothing about it.
“If we do not improve our time and our place in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.” It is just as plain and simple as anything can be simple.
I wanted to talk to you about this today because I want you to know the reason why you are preaching the gospel. There is a purpose behind it and, knowing this as you do and knowing of your nobility, what kind of missionary are you going to be from this day to the end of your mission? I know  what kind you want to be. There is a purpose behind your work. There will be no more wasted time because there it is–impressed upon you–the necessity of continuing your nobility, that you may prove your place–that you may be a ruler and a king and a queen and a priestess, as you were promised in the temple of God, if you are faithful in fulfilling your obligations.
I have always thought and have proven the point many times that if you will place into the mind of a boy or a girl, firmly, that they are noble persons born of a noble heritage in the pre-existence, they will never stoop or bend to anything that is sordid. They just won’t do it. You don’t need the preachings and the harassments as often given to young people. All you need to do is to accept these truths as your ideology, and what you do from now on will be the important thing in your life. I have made known to you today something that you may not have known before, but you know now, because the Spirit bears record. I bear record of the truthfulness of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Chapter 4
“JACOB IS THE LOT OF HIS INHERITANCE”
The gospel is being taken to all nations, people and races. Although it is a net that gathers all kinds, only a few are chosen. Salvation is offered to all, but a very limited number will receive exaltation. The world is being led to the wide gate, but only the very righteous find the narrow gate and are able to tread upon that straight and narrow path to eternal life.
Looking back in history, it is noted that the Holy Priesthood, with its highest ordinances, has only occasionally been given to mankind on the earth, and relatively few in each dispensation have accepted the fullness of Priesthood blessings.
The average man thinks that Priesthood powers and ordinances are a civil right rather than a selective right, but it is God not man that makes that distinction. Through the years, this has given rise to much opposition and criticism of the LDS Church and its scriptures. Opponents to this Priesthood restriction have arisen both from within and without the Church.
One such “scholar” by the name of Dee Jay Nelson, a Mormon who claimed to know more than Joseph Smith about Egyptian writings, disclaimed the translation of the Pearl of  Great Price. One of the reasons was probably because of the passage in it clearly forbidding Blacks from having the Priesthood. In Abraham in states that Pharaoh was a descendant of Ham, a “race which preserved the curse in the land;” he was “a righteous man, . . . and judged his people wisely and justly all his days” and was blessed “with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom” but was “cursed as pertaining to the Priesthood. Now, Pharaoh being of that lineage by which he could not have the right of Priesthood.” (Abraham 1:24, 26-27)
Dee Jay and other anti-Mormons have tried to discredit the Pearl of Great Price as scripture in order to nullify this doctrine of special rights to the Priesthood. But Mr. Nelson’s claims in this area have been proved invalid.
Another hostile critic was Fawn Brody, an ex-Mormon who viciously centered her venom against Joseph Smith. She wrote: “The Book of Abraham was the most unfortunate thing Joseph ever wrote.” (No Man Knows My History, p. 174) Her main thrust against the book was because of “the unfortunate anti-Negro sentiments in Joseph’s book of Abraham.” (Ibid., p. 365)
The Prophet Joseph’s personal views regarding the Black man were to–
Break off the shackles from the poor black man, and hire him to labor like other human beings, for an hour of virtuous liberty on earth is worth a whole eternity of bondage. (Times and Seasons 5:532, May 15, 1844)
Joseph also said there was a divine restriction of Priesthood for the Black man, which was not a doctrine of Joseph Smith, Abraham, Enoch or anyone else. It came by revelation from God, who has His own reasons for it.
 Any doctrine established by the Lord cannot and should not be changed by man, as the Prophet Joseph once stated:
If there is one word of the Lord that supports the doctrine of baptism for the dead, it is enough to establish it as a true doctrine. (TPJS, p. 201)
Certainly, therefore, the Pearl of Great Price reference in Abraham 1:26-27 is enough to establish the racial restriction of Priesthood as a true doctrine. However, there are always those worldly, sophisticated censors who attempt to change such doctrines, and regrettably they make substantial inroads.
The LDS Church maintained the doctrine of restricting the Black race from the Priesthood for several decades and through many presidents, as John L. Lund stated: “The Church leaders from the earliest times up to and including the present have never changed their position concerning the Negro.” (The Church and the Negro, Lund, 1967, p. 111) But in 1978 we witnessed a radical change in this Church doctrine.
A fairly large segment of our society–usually among the politicians, the businessmen, and the intellectuals–have written and spoken extensively trying to persuade the public that “we are all alike.” They think we should live, think and work from the same mold. They would like to see all customs, traditions, racial colors, and even religions blended into one.
But with the universal gift of free agency, we should maintain and protect our individual right to obey or disobey the commandments of God. He will bless those who repent and keep His commandments, as Nephi expressed:
Behold, hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden. * * *
 . . . and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile. (2 Nephi 26:28, 33)
God’s blessings and cursings have come upon all people fairly according to their obedience to His commandments. In the pre-mortal world, we each had the same opportunity to serve Him, and we each proved to be unique–thus receiving different characteristics and rights and callings in mortality. It was at that time people became different and the doctrine of Priesthood restriction originated.
Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee. 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. For the Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. He found him in a desert land and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. (Deut. 32:7-10)
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. (I Peter 2:9)
It is evident, then, that the Lord has separated Israel and designated them to be “an holy nation” favored with a “royal Priesthood”. Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and Parley Pratt (among many others) spoke very clearly on the subject of a pure lineage and a royal Priesthood:
You will never see a man called to preside in the Priesthood of God on the Earth, who is not purely of the  blood of Abraham. You may set every man down to be a pure descendant of Abraham who holds a position in this Kingdom, and holds the keys of, and officiates in the ordinances of the Holy Priesthood. Either God has not called him, or he is a pure offspring of faithful Abraham. (Brigham Young, Tchgs. of Pres. B.Y., comp. by Collier, 1853, p. 191)
Righteous and holy men and their sons, all who honor their calling, will bear off the kingdom and become a royal Priesthood. (Heber C. Kimball, 1856 JD 4:142)
The Father waited until the meridian of time–that is, till the time was half up, before he came on the earth and begat in the flesh the Son of God, who was to be our Saviour. Was every woman qualified to raise that child? No. You will find that Mary was of the Royal Priesthood, which is after the order of God; and he was particular who raised that child, that it might be trained according to His dictation. Should not we be cautious? I tell you we ought, and not fool and play with the things of God as a cat would with a mouse. (Heber C. Kimball, 1857, JD 6:125)
The word of the Lord, through our Prophet and founder, to the chosen instruments of the modern Priesthood, was this–“Ye are lawful heirs according to the flesh, and your lives have been hid with Christ in God.” That is to say, they have been held in reserve during the reign of Mystic Babel, to be born in due time, as successors to the Apostles and Prophets of old, being their children, of the same royal line. they have come forth, at length, as heirs to the keys of power, knowledge, glory, and blessing, to minister to all the nations of the Gentiles, and afterwards to restore the tribes of Israel. They are of the royal blood of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and have a right to claim the ordination and endowments of the Priesthood, inasmuch as they repent, and obey the Lord God of their fathers. (Parley P. Pratt, 1853, JD 1:262)
 It is evident then that all nations are NOT alike unto God pertaining to the rights of the Priesthood. Nevertheless, BYU Professor Eugene England wrote an article promoting the idea that both Negroes and women should have been given the Priesthood. It was entitled “Are All Alike Unto God? — Prejudice Against Blacks and Women in Popular Mormon Theology”. (Sunstone, April 1990, pp. 16-25) His approach, like that of many others, was based on belittling those who oppose those ideas, using such terms as “prejudice” and “racism” over 30 times in an attempt to cast aspersions on those who take an opposing view.
But anyone that can read can surely see that the Bible is one of the most “racist” books in the world. God has shown extreme prejudice or favoritism. In Deuteronomy, for example, Moses reminded Israel of their choice status before the Lord when he said, “Did ever people hear the voice of God . . . as thou hast heard, and live?” (Deut. 4:33) Or has God ever” taken him a nation from the midst of another nation” . . . “by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a stretched out arm” the way He did for Israel? (Ibid. 4:34) He reminded them that they had been selected “to drive out nations from before thee greater and mightier than thou art, to bring thee in, to give thee their land for an inheritance. . . .” (Ibid., 4:38) The Israelites were even told:
For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. (Deut. 7:6)
Carrying this segregation even further, it has been recorded that God favors certain tribes among all the tribes of Israel, and He wants these chosen people, His elect, to be separated from the rest of the world and gathered together:
 And ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect; . . . that they shall be gathered in unto one place upon the face of this land. . . . (D & C 29:7-8)
Many serious racial conflicts began to cause a change in the general attitude towards the Negro in America. In most cases it was justified as something should have been done years and years before. Blacks are certainly entitled to civil rights and should be treated as fairly as any other human beings. The only restriction the Mormons supported was pertaining to the Priesthood.
As American citizens took up the chant for civil rights, they began to intercede into religious rights; at that point, civil rights began to be civil wrongs.
This “equal rights” influence made converts even among some in the Mormon Church. Because of these attitudes and politics, the ban on Priesthood for the Blacks began to be questioned and threatened. The segregation doctrine of the Bible and Priesthood restrictions were beginning to be undermined, and this influence was strongly felt by the presidency of the Church.
It is very interesting to see how the position of the LDS Church on this Priesthood restriction issue has evolved over the years, reminding one of the stanza by Alexander Pope:
Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.
John Bartlett, p. 317)
 Chapter 5
THE GRADUAL EVOLUTION:
Leading up to 1978
This chapter contains primarily a collection of quotations from the early 1900’s up to 1978–painting a vivid picture of the evolution taken by the LDS Church regarding the Blacks and the Priesthood.
But first, by way of introduction, let’s determine where and when this doctrine of restricting the Negro from holding the Priesthood began in this dispensation. Some have thought it originated with Brigham Young. But in reality it started with Joseph Smith, as related by Zebedee Coltrin, a close friend of Joseph Smith, and recorded in the diaries of L. John Nuttall, secretary to President Wilford Woodruff:
Sat., May 31st, 1879. At the house of Prest A.O. Smoot. Provo City. Utah County Utah–5 p.m. President John Taylor, Elders Brigham Young, A.O. Smoot, Zebedee Coltrin, and L. John Nuttall met, and the subject of ordaining Negroes to the Priesthood was presented. Prest. Taylor said, some parties have said to me that Zebedee Coltrin had talked to the Prophet Joseph Smith on this subject, and they said that he (Coltrin) thought it was not right for them to have the Priesthood, whereupon Joseph Smith said to him that Peter on a certain occasion had a vision wherein he saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descended unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth, wherein all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and  creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter! Kill and eat. But Peter said, Not so Lord, for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean; and the voice spake unto him again the second time, “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” And that the Prophet Joseph then said to Bro. Coltrin as the angel said to Peter, “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” (speaking of the Gentiles). Prest. Taylor asked Bro. Coltrin, Did the Prophet Joseph Smith ever make such a statement to you? Bro. C., No sir, he never said anything of the kind in his life to me.
Pres. T., What did he say? Bro. C., The spring that we went up in Zion’s Camp in 1834 Bro. Joseph sent Bro. J.P. Green and me out south to gather up means to assist in gathering out the Saints from Jackson County, Mo. On our return home we got in conversation about the Negro having a right to the Priesthood–and I took the side he had no right–Bro. Green argued that he had. The subject got so warm between us that he said he would report me to Bro. Joseph when we got home for preaching false doctrine, which doctrine that I advocated was that the Negro could not hold the Priesthood. All right, said I–I hope you will.
And when we got home to Kirtland, we both went in to Bro. Joseph’s office together to make our returns and Bro. Green was as good as his word, and reported to Bro. Joseph that I had said that the Negro could not hold the Priesthood. Bro. Joseph kind of dropt his head and rested it on his hand for a minute, and then said, Bro. Zebedee is right, for the Spirit of the Lord saith the Negro has no right nor cannot hold the Priesthood. He made no reference to scripture at all–but such was his decision. I don’t recollect ever having any conversation with him afterwards, but I have heard him say in public, that no person having the least particle of Negro blood can hold the Priesthood.
Bro. Coltrin further said, Bro. Abel was ordained a Seventy because he had labored on the Temple, (It must have been into the 2nd Quorum), and when the  Prophet Joseph learned of his lineage, he was dropped from the quorum and another was put in his place. I was one of the first Seven Presidents of the Quorum of Seventies at the time he was dropped. * * *
In the washing and anointing of Bro. Abel at Kirtland, I anointed him, and while I had my hands upon his head, I never had such unpleasant feelings in my life–and I said I never would again anoint another person who had Negro blood in him, unless I was commanded by the Prophet to do so. Prest. A. O. Smoot said, W. W. Patten, Warren Parrish and Thomas B. Marsh were laboring in the Southern States in 1835 & 1836–there were Negroes who made application for baptism, and the question arose with them whether Negroes were entitled to hold the Priesthood, and by those brethren it was decided they would not confer the Priesthood until they had consulted the Prophet Joseph–and subsequently they communicated with him and his decision as I understood, was they were not entitled to the Priesthood, nor yet to be baptized without the consent of their masters.
In after years when I became acquainted with Joseph myself in Far West about the year 1838, I received from Joseph substantially the same instructions. It was on my application to him what should be done with the Negro in the South as I was preaching to them? He said I could baptize them by the consent of their masters, but not to confer the Priesthood upon them. These two statements were duly signed by each of these brethren.
Church leaders maintained this same position for over 130 years before yielding to pressure from both outside and inside the LDS Church:
“No one known to have in his veins Negro blood, (it matters not how remote a degree) can either have the priesthood in any degree or the blessings of the temple of God,  no matter how otherwise worthy he may be.” (First Presidency statement, 1907, “George F. Richards Record of Decisions by the Council of the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles,” in the G.A.S. papers)
“The question arises from time to time in regard to the Negro race and the Priesthood. . . . It is true that the Negro race is barred from holding the Priesthood, and this has always been the case. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught this doctrine. . . .” (Improvement Era 27:564, Joseph Fldg. Smith)
“Millions of souls have come into this world cursed with a black skin and have been denied the privilege of Priesthood and the fulness of the blessings of the Gospel. These are the descendants of Cain.” (The Way to Perfection, Joseph Fldg. Smith, p. 101)
“From the days of the Prophet Joseph even until now, it has been the doctrine of the Church, never questioned by any of the Church leaders, that the Negroes are not entitled to the full blessings of the Gospel.
“We are not unmindful of the fact that there is a growing tendency, particularly among some educators, as it manifests itself in this area, toward the breaking down of race barriers, but it does not have the sanction of the Church and is contrary to Church doctrine.” (Letter by First Presidency as quoted in Mormonism and the Negro, John Stewart, p. 47)
“Now we are generous with the Negro. We are willing that the Negro have the highest kind of education. I would be willing to let every Negro drive a Cadillac if they could afford it. I would be willing that they have all the advantages they can get out of life in the world. But let them enjoy these things among themselves. I think the Lord segregated the Negro and who is man to change that segregation? It reminds me of the scripture on marriage, “What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” Only here we have the reverse of the thing–what God hath separated, let not man bring together again.” (“Race Problems–As They Affect the Church,” Mark E. Petersen, BYU Speech, August 27, 1954)
On March 8, 1960, Sterling McMurrin gave a speech at the Trinity Church in Salt Lake City stating:
“I feel very keenly the situation in which the Mormon people find themselves, entertaining a religious doctrine of racial discrimination, which certainly is unworthy of a Church and unworthy of a religion and, I believe myself, unworthy of what is in many respects the praiseworthy and great tradition of the Mormon Church. I frankly deplore the entertainment of such a doctrine and the attitudes that may accompany it in my Church.
“I really believe, if I don’t die in the very near future, I will live to see the time when this doctrine is dissolved. I have discussed this with some of the leading officials of the Mormon Church, and I find very often there is far more of a liberal attitude in the matter than many people would suspect. . . .” (“Mormon Doctrine and the Negro”, speech by S. McMurrin)
 By this time the government was trying harder to break down the “segregation” barriers in our nation, i.e., the army battalions that were all Black were broken up; anyone who still believed in marrying within their own race was called “racist”. This new term was adopted as a slanderous and derogatory description of anyone who still believed in the natural order and distinction among races and colors. However, the Church still tried to hold its position regarding their religious doctrines.
“Negroes may be admitted to Mormon membership but not to the priesthood. Thus, in effect, they are accorded only second-class status theologically–a situation that Mormon “modernists” are trying to correct.” (Readers Digest, May 1962, p. 120)
“There is no doubt that in the campaign of George Romney, enemies will play up the Negro question to the very limit.” (Joseph Fldg. Smith, Des. News, July 14, 1962)
“One of the highest officers of the Church said today that the possibility of removing this religious disability against Negroes has been under serious consideration.
“`We are in the midst of a survey looking toward the possibility of admitting the Negro,’ said Hugh B. Brown, one of the two counselors serving President David O. McKay in the First Presidency of the Mormon Church.
“Mr. Brown, a 79-year-old former attorney, said he believed that if the change were made, it would be a doctrinal revision for Mormonism of a magnitude matching the abandonment of polygamy in 1890.” (N.Y. Times, June 7, 1963)
 “This discrimination against Negroes was being given new and timely thought last week–timely particularly because Michigan Gov. George Romney, a Mormon and a potential 1964 presidential candidate, could be embarrassed by his church’s stand. `The whole problem of the Negro is being considered by the leaders of the Church,’ said Hugh Brown, one of the two counselors to Pres. David. O. McKay.” (Newsweek, June 17, 1963, p. 60)
“If the pressure continues to increase on the Negro question, the leaders of the Mormon Church will probably have another revelation which will allow the Negro to hold the priesthood.” (See “Will There Be a Revelation Regarding the Negro?”, Gerald and Sandra Tanner, Salt Lake City Messenger, March 1963)
“During recent months, both in Salt Lake City and across the nation, considerable interest has been expressed on the matter of civil rights. We would like it to be known that there is in this Church no doctrine, belief, or practice, that is intended to deny the enjoyment of full civil rights by any person regardless of race, color, or creed.
“We say again, as we have said many times before, that we believe that all men are the children of the same God, and that it is a moral evil for any person or group of persons to deny any human being the right to gainful employment, to full educational opportunity, and to every privilege of citizenship, just as it is a moral evil to deny him the right to worship according to the dictates of his own conscience.
“. . . We call upon all men, everywhere, both within and outside the church, to commit themselves to the establishment of full civil equality for all of God’s children. . . .” (Hugh B. Brown, Des. News, Oct. 6, 1963)
 “The pending `civil rights’ legislation is, I am convinced, about 10 per cent civil rights and 90 per cent a further extension of socialistic federal controls.” Elder Benson said. “It is part of the pattern for the Communist take-over of America.” (Des. News, Dec. 14, 1963)
Many letters were received by Church leaders requesting a revelation to change the long-standing Negro doctrine, adding to the constant pressure they were under. For example, Donald French, Jr., wrote the following:
Sir, as an Elder in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it has long seemed incredible to me that a church with so much forward vision in social welfare and higher education can be so backward in its outlook on a segment of the human race that is also supposed to be among our brothers. . .
The revelation that the Church is talking about with respect to the Negro and the Priesthood should have been sought 50 years ago–not now when we are forced into looking for one. Even if a revelation should come now, we have compromised our position because it looks as if we have been forced into seeking it, which will be true. (Time, Nov. 1, 1963)
“The Mormons abandoned polygamy in 1890. Soon they may abandon another historic policy also frowned upon by many of their fellow Christians–the exclusion of Negroes from positions of authority within the Church. Mormon leaders concede that they have been discussing the Negro question in their highest councils.” (Nat’l. Inquirer, June 17, 1963)
“Time is running out on the Mormon Church to exert any influence or leadership on the greatest moral struggle of our time–civil rights.” (Chicago Sun-Times, S. M. McMurrin, Apr. 5, 1965)
 Speaking to the NAACP, McMurrin emphasized:
“Some (Mormons) go so far as to hold that the present and past social and economic predicament of the Negroes is a just reward, or punishment, for their pre-earth sins. It is difficult to understand how people who are otherwise typically intelligent and moral can believe and defend such crude immoral nonsense. . . .” (“The Negroes Among the Mormons,” p. 7)
Though he claims superior knowledge on the subject, Sterling McMurrin has failed to give any other reason for racial inequality in mortality. If God is just and fair, and His children are “all alike” unto Him, why is there such an unfair and unequal distribution of talent, intelligence, and genetic heritage? If there is no basis for the pre-mortal life account, what answer do these critics give? So far there has been no satisfactory explanation given on their part.
In March 1965, 250 people demonstrated in front of the Church offices demanding a statement on civil rights. The NAACP was also behind this demand for a statement.
By July, the Salt Lake and Ogden branches of the NAACP were touring the embassies of South America, Asia and Africa to encourage them to “refuse visas to missionaries and representatives of the Church. . . until the doctrine of non-white inferiority is changed. . . .” (S.L. Tribune, July 2, 1965) The Nigerian government had already prohibited visas for any LDS missionaries. This situation became more serious when the Church hierarchy discovered that some of the Nigeria branch leaders were practicing plural marriage. (See Time, June 18, 1965, p. 56.)
About this time some of the liberal element of the LDS Church increased their efforts to be heard over this Negro issue. Wallace Turner stated:
A ferment is working in the Mormon community over the Negro question, particularly among the intellectual element. The mistreatment of Negroes by the LDS Church is the reason given by many intellectuals who candidly admit that they have become silent, concealed apostates. Even among many who cling tenaciously to their belief, there is a swelling opinion that the Church is dead wrong on this issue.” (The Mormon Establishment, Wallace Turner, 1966, p. 246)
Charges of discrimination increased in frequency and intensity:
“The deeply rooted Mormon attitude apparently discriminating against Negroes because of their race is becoming a burning issue in that church–and beyond the church. . . . the increasing heat of racial pressure in the country has brought it into focus as one of the few uncracked fortresses of discrimination.” (Ibid., p. 246)
When Elder George Romney entered the political arena, he found the Negro Priesthood ban a critical stumbling block. He tried to clear himself by saying, “I have fought in my private life to eliminate social injustice and racial discrimination.” (S. L. Tribune, May 4, 1967)
But that was the wrong time for the Church to claim a revelation, according to Hugh B. Brown. Life magazine quoted him regarding the political candidacy of Romney:
 It would require a revelation through the present Prophet, David O. McKay, to open the priesthood to the few Negro Mormons who presently exist, and First Counselor Brown warns, “I think it would be detrimental to him for the Church to come out with a revelation right now. It would have a reverse effect”–i.e., that of appearing to revise God’s word to assist a possible candidacy. (Life, May 5, 1967)
Another Mormon in politics, Interior Secretary Stewart Udall, wrote regarding the LDS stand on the Negro/ Priesthood issue: “This issue must be resolved . . . . It must be resolved because we are wrong, and it is past the time when we should have seen the right.” (“Letters to the Editor”, Stewart L. Udall, Wash. D.C., Dialogue, Summer 1967, p. 6)
Members of the Church were distressed. If they believed the Negro should have the Priesthood, then they were in conflict with all the prophets of the past. If they defended the ban for Negroes to hold the Priesthood, then they had all the civil right activists and the public blast of racism and discrimination charges against them.
The Church was drawing fire from every direction: “The increasing heat of racial pressures in the country has brought it (the Church) into focus as one of the few uncracked fortresses of discrimination.” (Los Angeles Times, Aug. 27, 1967)
“The Church is either true or it isn’t. If it changes its stand on the strength of the `great stream of modern religious and social thought,’ it will be proven untrue. If that happens, the more serious members would do well to join the Cub Scouts. It’s cheaper and there is less work and less criticism. * * *
“If the Church is true, it will hold to its beliefs in spite of its members. If it is false, more power to the easy-way-out philosophers who claim to know the `imperious truths of the  contemporary world.'” (“Letters to the Editor,” Paul C. Richards, Provo, Utah, Dialogue, Autumn 1967, p. 6)
“Just when it was becoming almost respectable to be a Mormon, another skeleton is dragged out of our ecclesiastical closet for all the world to see.” (“Mormonism and the Negro…” Armand L. Mauss, Dialogue, Winter 1967, quoted in Neither White Nor Black, Bush & Mauss, 1984, p. 9)
A boycott was placed against the Brigham Young University. Hugh B. Brown said the athletes apparently were unclear on the Church’s doctrine denying Negroes the priesthood. He is quoted:
At the present time we do not give Negroes the Priesthood. Priesthood, in our view, is leadership. There is not enough leadership among Negroes to warrant establishing him as a member of leadership. (Ariz. Daily Star, Apr. 14, 1968)
The student senate at the University of Arizona soon asked both the school and Western Athletic Conference to break ties with Brigham Young University.
In San Jose, California, the State’s Black athletes voted to turn in their scholarships in protest against the “racist philosophy” of BYU. (See S.L. Tribune, Dec. 3, 1968.)
Stanford University in California announced that it would schedule “no new athletic or other competitions with Brigham Young University because of alleged racial discrimination by the Mormon Church.” (S. L. Tribune, Nov. 13, 1969)
 Stanford was a member of other conferences who also began an attack on the Church by boycotting Tabernacle Choir record albums and travel to Utah, and put pressure on the Government to abolish the tax-exempt status of the LDS Church. Also, “the Church of the Black Cross . . . is calling for: boycott of Mormon goods, such as record albums of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.” (See Denver Post, Nov. 15, 1969)
As such pressure increased, so did the fear among Church leaders that such negative publicity would result in financial losses and membership decreases–both very serious consequences.
Also in November, 250 Arizona State University students, mostly Blacks, marched under torchlight with black armbands and carried placards of “Racist Policies at B.Y.U.” (S.L. Tribune, Nov. 30, 1969)
Hugh B. Brown again went public with the statement that “the Church is not prejudiced in any way but this one, but I think that will change.” (S.L. Tribune, Dec. 25, 1969)
Finally the Church came out with a long overdue official statement reiterating the Mormon position and getting to the very crux of these issues which separate the civil from the religious. It is plain enough that it should be understood by all Americans. This document was sent to all Stake Presidents, Mission Presidents, and Bishops:
In view of confusion that has arisen, it was decided at a meeting of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve to restate the position of the Church with regard to the Negro both in society and in  the Church. . . we believe the Negro, as well as those of other races, should have his full Constitutional privileges. . . . Each citizen must have equal opportunities and protection under the law with reference to civil rights. However, matters of faith, conscience and theology are not within the purview of the civil law. The first amendment to the Constitution specifically provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” * * *
But we believe that this work is directed by God and that the conferring of the Priesthood must await His revelation. To do otherwise would be to deny the very premise on which the Church is established. . . . The question of bestowing or withholding Priesthood in the Church is a matter of religion and not a matter of Constitutional right. (Dec. 15, 1969; reprinted in the Church News, Jan. 10, 1970)
In an effort to soften the blow of this strong statement, the Church embraced the Blacks in an area where it was permissible. Just two weeks later it was reported, “The Mormon Tabernacle Choir took in two Negro women as second sopranos, and reportedly, is about to welcome a Negro tenor.” (New York Times, Jan. 25, 1970)
Protests continued against the Church. In Tucson, Arizona, over 3,000 students participated in a two-hour demonstration to get their school administration to sever relations with BYU. The continued protests and clamors against the Church and its institutions created a spirit of depression on the BYU campus. “As much as the Cougars would like to ignore them, the protests have grown in intensity to the point where they have almost transcended all else.” (Sports Illustrated, Jan. 26, 1970, p. 38)
 When BYU sent student gymnasts to Seattle, some Blacks walked out on the floor and poured oil and catsup and broke eggs on the mat. (See S.L. Tribune, Feb. 1, 1970.)
Discrimination charges were about to be filed against the LDS Church in the case of a 12-year-old Black Boy Scout who was denied Senior Patrol leadership in his Scout troop.
Troop policy is that in order for a Scout to become a patrol leader, he must be a Deacon’s Quorum President in the LDS Church. Since the boy cannot hold the Priesthood, he cannot become a patrol leader. (S.L. Tribune, July 18, 1974)
Just before Boy Scout officials were to appear in Federal Court on charges of discrimination, the Church issued a timely policy change for the Scout program.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie tried to quell the unrest among the Mormons and encouraged them to be less concerned about this issue:
Am I valiant if I am deeply concerned about the ChurchÕs stand on who can or who cannot receive the Priesthood and think it is time for a new revelation on this doctrine. . . .” (“Be Valiant in the Fight of Faith”, Ensign, Nov. 1974, p. 35)
Douglas Wallace, an LDS Church member in Portland, Oregon, decided to help polarize the issue. In a motel swimming pool, he baptized Larry Lester, a Black man, and then ordained him a priest in the Aaronic Priesthood of the Church. Wallace had held a news conference before  the baptism in which he said he “has long been bothered by the Mormon Church’s bias against Blacks, and he feels the time has come to challenge it.” (S.L. Tribune, Apr. 3, 1976) Douglas Wallace was later excommunicated.
Because of that action, Wallace made a stir in the next Salt Lake General Conference and was ushered out of the Tabernacle. A court order was subsequently issued barring him from further attendance. During a police surveillance of Wallace, an officer was permanently paralyzed in an accidental shooting. After an intensive investigation, it was disclosed that several policemen had been tailing Wallace when the accident occurred. Wallace accused the LDS Church of being behind the surveillance, but the Church issued a public denial of any participation in the matter. Nevertheless, it is a matter of legal and public record, that there was indeed a “stakeout” where Doug Wallace was staying:
Salt Lake City police officers admitted Thursday that the accidental wounding of an undercover officer occurred during surveillance of Mormon dissident Douglas A. Wallace. . . . Reports released Thursday by both the county sheriff’s office and the county attorney show that six officers were on stakeout around the John W. Fitzgerald home. . . where Mr. Wallace was staying. (S.L. Tribune, Apr. 8, 1977)
Regarding this incident, the wounded officer, David Olson, wrote to the Tribune:
I would also like to thank Spencer W. Kimball for his incorrect press release concerning the police involvement combined with the LDS Church’s efforts to restrict Douglas A. Wallace from the temple grounds, specifically the Tabernacle, on April 3, 1977.
 His denial of these actions is wrong. Any man who can take such actions and still call himself a prophet deserves more than I to be confined to this wheelchair. (S.L. Tribune, Jan. 18, 1978)
In the fall of 1977 Byron Marchant began a series of objections by printing brochures which appealed for a public demonstration. Marchant was fired as chapel janitor and excommunicated. He then proceeded to organize a massive demonstration for the October Conference in 1978.
Meanwhile, on the South American front–many people in Brazil with Negroid blood were joining the Church, being ordained Elders, and “qualifying” to eventually go through the new temple. Said the Church newspaper:
A major problem the Church has faced with its policy regarding Blacks was in Brazil, where the Church is building a temple. Many people there are mixed racially, and it is often impossible to determine whether church members have Black ancestry. (Des. News, June 10, 1978)
- Reuben Clark had previously said:
“It is very difficult if not impossible to tell who has Negro blood and who has not.” He said that if we are baptizing Brazilians, we are almost certainly baptizing people of Negro blood, and that if the Priesthood is conferred upon them, which no doubt it is, we are facing a very serious problem. (“Mormonism’s Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview,” Lester Bush, Jr., Dialogue 8:1, Spring 1973, p. 41)
And another source had stated:
 A different thing is going on in South America where Mormon missionaries are pushing ahead full throttle. There the former careful selection to keep out “white Negroes” has been allowed to slide a little. . . . “There is no question but that in Brazil they have been ordaining priests who are part Negro,” said one careful observer.” (The Mormon Establishment, Wallace Turner, 1966, p. 261)
The question arises–If so many people in Brazil are of mixed blood, why should a temple be built there? Why should the Church build its largest temple in Washington D.C. where nearly 80% of the people in that area are of Negro origin?
As mentioned, a special demonstration against the Church was being planned for the October Conference in 1978. It was to be an organized march through Temple Square by “every person” concerned over “Utah Racism.”
Added to this pressure were lawsuits Òagainst Church President Spencer W. Kimball.” (S.L. Tribune, June 10, 1978)
. . . the last three years have also seen repeated attempts by church dissidents to subpoena Mormon leaders into court proceedings, with the central issue often related to the church’s belief about blacks. (S.L. Tribune, June 10, 1978)
Reliable reports have surfaced that a couple of weeks prior to the 1978 announcement, President Jimmy Carter called and talked to President Kimball for about 30 minutes. This would not have been just an informal visit, but rather concerning something of a serious nature that would require that much time. The whole country was in a turmoil over civil rights, and the U.S. Government was cracking down on all public companies, organizations and churches to insist that they obey the Civil Rights Act. Those who refused were  threatened with lawsuits, and were losing their tax-exempt status for non-compliance.
Could this have been the crux of the Carter-Kimball phone conversation, which was conveniently followed by the June 9th announcement? If the Church were to lose their tax exempt status, it would eventually cost them millions of dollars.
* * *
In summary, then, the Church was receiving pressure on many different fronts leading up to the 1978 announcement:
Civil Rights legislation
Tax exemption losses
Political careers jeopardized
Scouts, women and police trouble
National news media defamation
Internal conflicts on doctrine
Mormon scholar criticism
From both within and without, the Church was being attacked by forces not dissimilar to those during the era of 1890. Church authorities were being brought to their knees, literally and figuratively. Amidst this violent storm of adversity, the President of the Church sought for a means of relief–some way to resolve the problems that were plaguing him and the Church. It was obvious that something would have to be done to solve this major problem. The Church had conceded to political pressure in the 1890’s over plural marriage, United Order, and their political kingdom. Unfortunately, concession once again seemed to be their best option.
 Chapter 6
THE 1978 ANNOUNCEMENT
On June 9, 1978, a news release by the First Presidency of the LDS Church was published:
(copy of news article here)
 DESERET NEWS
FRIDAY, JUNE 9, 1978
The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today released the following statement:
As we have witnessed the expansion of the work of the Lord over the earth, we have been grateful that people of many nations have responded to the message of the restored gospel, and have joined the church in ever-increasing numbers. This, is turn, has inspired us with a desire to extend to every worthy member of the church all of the privileges and blessings which the gospel affords.
Aware of the promises made by the prophets and presidents of the church who have preceded us that at some time, in God’s eternal plan, all of our brethren who are worthy may receive the priesthood, and witnessing the faithfulness of those from whom the priesthood has been withheld, we have pleaded long and earnestly in behalf of these, our faithful brethren, spending many hours in the upper room of the Temple supplicating the Lord for divine guidance.
He has heard our prayers, and by revelation has confirmed that the long-promised day has come when every faithful, worthy man in the church may receive the holy priesthood, with power to exercise its divine authority, and enjoy with his loved ones every blessing that flows therefrom, including the blessings of the temple. Accordingly, all worthy male members of the church may be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or color. Priesthood leaders are instructed to follow the policy of carefully interviewing all candidates for ordination to either the Aaronic or Melchizedek Priesthood to insure that they meet the established standards for worthiness.
We declare with soberness that the Lord has now made known his will for the blessings of all his children throughout the earth who will hearken to the voice of his authorized servants, and prepare themselves to receive every blessing of the gospel.
(sig) Spencer W. Kimball
(sig) N. Elden Tanner
(sig) Marion G. Romney
the First Presidency
 This was perhaps one of the greatest Priesthood changes that had taken place since the days of Cain. That which God had formerly forbidden to Cain and his descendants had now been allowed.
Gordon B. Hinckley described:
So it was on that memorable June 1, 1978. We left that meeting subdued and reverent and joyful. Not one of us who was present on that occasion was ever quite the same after that. Nor has the Church been quite the same. (Ensign, Oct. 1988, p. 70)
Some national delayed the printing of their editions in order to include the full story. In New York City, Time and Newsweek stopped their presses for their weekend editions. The Church announcement was front-page news in the New York Times.
Joan Kleinman, a spokesman for the Church, said that from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. the phones never stopped ringing on their 17 incoming lines. Even the President of the United States took notice and sent the following telegram:
I welcomed today your announcement as president and prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that henceforth all worthy men in your church without regard for race or color may have conferred upon them the priesthood in your church.
I commend you for your compassionate prayer-fulness and courage in receiving a new doctrine.
This announcement brings a healing spirit to the world and reminds all men and women that they are truly brothers and sisters. (Jimmy Carter)
At Brigham Young University a survey was taken among the students as to their response to the new announcement.  About 39% did not think it would ever happen; 40% expected it during the Millennium or after Christ’s return; 14% compared it to the death of a President; the rest compared it to some other catastrophe like war, the Teton Dam break, or the death of a family member. (See Daily Universe, June 22, 1978)
The announcement created an influx of Blacks into Utah, and many mixed marriages have resulted. On the other hand, hundreds of Church members no longer wanted to be connected to the Church and asked for their names to be taken off the records.
Such an explosive and unprecedented announcement requires thorough investigation into the events that surrounded it–to determine its truthfulness and validity, its human or heavenly origin.
 Chapter 7
DECLARATION OR REVELATION?
At the 148th Semiannual Conference (October 1978), Church members were asked to “accept this revelation as the word and will of the Lord.” However, the only document presented for vote was the letter of the announcement by the first Presidency dated June 8, 1978. (See Ensign, Nov. 1978, p. 16.) At no time has there been presented to the Church membership a “Thus saith the Lord” revelation. In President Kimball’s own words, he admitted:
I spent a good deal of time in the temple alone, praying for guidance, and there was a gradual and general development of the whole program, in connection with the Apostles. (Interview with Richard Ostling (staff writer), Time, Aug. 7, 1978, p. 55)
When President Tanner presented the “revelation” to the Church in General Conference, he said:
President Kimball has asked that I advise the conference that after he had received this revelation, which came to him after extended meditation and prayer in the sacred rooms of the holy temple, he presented it to his counselors, who accepted it and approved it. It was then presented to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who unanimously approved it, and was subsequently presented to all other General Authorities, who likewise approved it unanimously. (Conf. Rept., Sept. 30, 1978, p. 22)
 The question may here be asked: If there was indeed a revelation given, would it need the mutual consent of all the Apostles? In actuality, the Twelve should be a “Traveling Presiding High Council” to “regulate all the affairs of the same in all nations.” (D & C 107:33) They should have nothing to do with regulating the affairs of the Church at headquarters. Their work and duties should be restricted to foreign missions:
President Joseph Smith stated that the Twelve will have no right to go into Zion, or any of the stakes, and there undertake to regulate the affairs thereof, where there is a standing high council; but it is their duty to go abroad and regulate all matters relative to the different branches of the Church. (TPJS, p. 74)
This, however, contradicted a statement made by Bruce R. McConkie, who previously was President Kimball’s chief defender of the doctrine:
Then President Kimball suggested that we unite in formal prayer and said, modestly, that if it was agreeable with the rest of us he would act as voice. It was during this prayer that the revelation came. * * * And when President Kimball finished his prayer, the Lord gave a revelation by the power of the Holy Ghost. (Priesthood, McConkie, p. 128, 133)
However, there were no visions, manifestations, or words given. They merely agreed that it was by the power of the Holy Ghost. In a later sermon, President Kimball said they had felt “inspired.”
Two days after this announcement, a Negro was ordained to the Priesthood:
In a simple and brief ceremony Sunday morning, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints broke nearly a century and a half practice by ordaining a  black member into its priesthood. (Des. News, June 12, 1978)
In less than two weeks after the announcement, Joseph Freemen, a Black, went through the temple in a mixed marriage ceremony. Elder Thomas Monson of the Twelve conducted the sealing ordinances. In a little over three months three Blacks received calls as missionaries. In less than five months a Black man was ordained as a Stake President.
Thus, within five months, Negroes had been ordained to both the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods, administering to the Sacrament, baptizing, teaching classes, receiving their endowments, marrying in the temples, being called on missions, and placed in high Church offices.
Why the extreme rush to put the Negro into these positions and appointments without proceeding through the same step by step gradations that had previously been required of the Israelites? Men should be advanced to the Priesthood according to their faithfulness and accomplishments in each of the offices of the Church to prove their worthiness for Priesthood advancement. Why did the Negro receive preferential treatment?
These favors were given to the Negro even before the members of the Church had the right and privilege of voting on it at the following October General Conference. The hierarchy of the Church acted without the common consent of the Church, which is a violation of the commandments of the Lord, who said, “all things must be done in order, and by common consent in the Church, by the prayer of faith.” (D & C 28:13; see also 26:2.) The right of common consent in God’s Church prevents dictatorship so that unwanted decrees cannot be hoisted upon its members without their approval. Even the ancient church of God followed this procedure. Why  did this new edict overturn the established order of procedure as outlined by the Lord?
The announcement of this “revelation” was given to the public news media before it was published in any Church publication or before it was announced to members of the Church. The haste and manner by which it was proclaimed to the world, rather than to the members, has the essence of satisfying public clamor rather than the needs of the Church. The revelations of the Lord have always been for the benefit of Church members, not to meet the demands of society or for gentile approbation. Was this announcement possibly generated to satisfy Civil Rights groups and appease the wrath of those bringing lawsuits upon President Kimball and the Church, rather than for some spiritual merits achieved by the Negroes?
Those who would try to pressure the Prophet to give the Negroes the Priesthood do not understand the plan of God nor the order of heaven. Revelation is the expressed will of God to man. Revelation is not man’s will expressed to God. (The Church and the Negro, Lund, 1967, p. 109)
But President Kimball admitted:
We have pleaded long and earnestly in behalf of these, our faithful brethren, spending many hours in the upper room of the temple supplicating the Lord for divine guidance. (Des. News, June 9, 1978)
And later he recalled for a reporter that, “This matter had been on my mind all these years,” and he had spent “months of searching and pleading with the Lord that preceded this revelation.” (Church News, Jan. 6, 1979) One is reminded that in the past, pleading “long and earnestly” to the Lord for something we want, rather than praying for His will to be  done, usually leads to the Lord’s allowing such a thing to occur, i.e. Joseph Smith and the 116 pages of the Book of Mormon (see DHC 1:221), and also Balaam’s finally responding to Balak’s request to come to the plains of Moab and curse the children of Israel, which the Lord instructed Balaam not to do. (See Numbers chap. 22.)
 Chapter 8
REACTIONS AND REPERCUSSIONS
The reaction to the “Worthy Male Members” announcement was actually an over-reaction for those who believed and welcomed it. For example, on one of the “Take Two” talk show programs, the entire presidency of the Genesis Group (for Blacks) were ordained to the Priesthood. And, as previously mentioned, the media gave the news prime coverage.
There was no apparent rush of Blacks to get into the LDS Church, but many whites rushed to get out. The Church issued the Manifesto in an effort to end trouble with the Government and its laws, but now the civil rights laws gave them another reason for compromise. The question arises as to what the next compromise might be? Because of the ERA, could it have something to do with equal rights for women?
Allowing the house of Cain to receive the rights of the Priesthood will, for the sake of consistency, require a change in the Articles of Faith, one of which states that we believe in the “literal gathering of Israel” and the “restoration of the Ten Tribes”. (10th Article of Faith) The Gospel was intended for Israel, but now the Church was including the “tribe” of Cain. The Gospel call was to be directed to the “elect” of Israel, for the Lord said, “Ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect. . . .” (D & C 29:7) But this new “revelation” now included the gathering of the “unelect”.
 Response to the 1978 announcement was immediate and varying–ranging from acceptance to shock, joy to sorrow, belief to disbelief. The NAACP sent a telegram to the LDS Church with their “congratulations”, and the president of their group, James E. Dooley, felt “good about what happened.” Rabbi Abner Bergman was “delighted”, and Bishop Otis Charles, Episcopal diocese of Utah, wanted to “share the joy.”
Most Church apostates and its bitterest foes hailed and acclaimed this “revelation” as a major step toward the LDS Church’s being like the rest of the world. Jerald and Sandra Tanner, whose anti-Mormon works are unequalled in volume and effectiveness, accepted the official announcement as an objective of their labors:
Since we have probably printed more material critical of the Mormon anti-black doctrine than any other publisher, the new revelation comes as a great victory and a vindication of our work. (Salt Lake City Messenger, July 1978, No. 39)
Most of those who disagreed with the announcement were not necessarily prejudiced against the Negro, but doubted the validity of the revelation, as the following “Letter to the Editor” describes:
OUT OF ORDER
Editor, Tribune: Recently the First Presidency of the Mormon Church announced the priesthood for the black race. There remain two questions to be answered by the church leaders.
First, was this change of doctrine really a revelation from the Lord, or did the church leaders act on their own? Why don’t they publish that revelation and let the Lord speak in his own words? All we saw was a statement of the First Presidency, and that is not how a revelation looks.
 When God speaks, the revelation starts with the words: “Thus saith the Lord. . .” It seems when the Lord decides to change a doctrine of such great importance, He will talk Himself to the people of His church. If such a revelation cannot be presented to the members, it is obvious that the First Presidency acted on its own, most likely under fear of public pressure to avoid problems of serious consequences and to maintain peace and popularity with the world.
Brigham Young declared that the curse of the black race had its origin in the pre-existence, where those spirits sided with Lucifer and joined Jesus only after the battle in heaven was almost over. For this reason, those spirits are born into this life as descendants of Cain with a black skin and are deprived of obtaining the priesthood until a set date.
Brigham Young defined when this will take place: “When all of the other children of Adam have had the privilege of receiving the priesthood and of coming into the kingdom of God and of being redeemed from the four quarters of the earth, and have received the resurrection from the dead, then it will be time enough to remove the curse from his posterity.” Thus, the statement of the First Presidency seems to be 1,000 years premature. Brother Brigham places the time to the end of the millennium, at the end of the second resurrection, which is a few years ahead yet. The year 2978 would be more proper than 1978.
Is Spencer W. Kimball greater than Brigham Young? Who is right? If Spencer W. Kimball is right, then Brigham was teaching false doctrine.
Historians know that the last revelation to the church was received by President Wilford Woodruff on November 24, 1889. While the present-day Doctrine and Covenants consists of 136 sections, earlier editions had 139 sections in it. In 1924, the last three sections were published for the last time. Have they been returned to the Lord as unacceptable?
John Taylor received ten revelations during his presidency that were suppressed by the church authorities because their content did not please them too well. No wonder that the Lord ceased to speak to His church  until the time the house of God will be set in order. (See D & C. 85:6-7)
(S.L. Tribune, 6/24/78)
A few weeks later, a full page advertisement was printed in the Salt Lake Tribune under the title, “LDS Soon to Repudiate a Portion of Their Pearl of Great Price?” Part of this article reads:
It appears that a portion of The Pearl of Great Price, one of the four standard works of the Mormon Church, is about to be repudiated or “dissolved.” Will Latter-day Saints remain true to their former revelations, or will they yield to the pressures of this crucial day?
To show the acute vulnerability of this hitherto canonical book, we begin by quoting from a letter which David O. McKay wrote on November 3, 1947: “I know of no scriptural basis for denying the priesthood to Negroes other than one verse in the Book of Abraham (1:26); however, I believe, as you suggest, that the real reason dates back to our pre-existent life.” (See McKay, Home Memories of President David O. McKay, pp. 226-231; cited in Stewart and Berrett, Mormonism and the Negro. . . , 4th ed., 1978, p. 84)
This seems to be the unanimous view of former L.D.S. Church Presidents.
Obviously, then, enemies of Mormonism have been concentrating upon efforts to discredit the book and, inevitably, the Prophet Joseph Smith. Have they succeeded? We are sad and troubled to observe how the Church collectively has reacted to the pressures. How will individual members respond? (Written by “Concerned Latter-day Saints”, Joseph Jensen, Chairman; S.L. Tribune, Sun., July 23, 1978)
With the 1978 announcement, there seems to be a strong contradiction to prior statements made by Joseph  Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Joseph F. Smith, Lorenzo Snow, Joseph Fldg. Smith, Heber J. Grant, David O. McKay, Harold B. Lee, to name a few. Bruce R. McConkie noted this contradiction and said:
There are statements in our literature by the early brethren that we have interpreted to mean that the Negroes would not receive the priesthood in mortality. I have said the same things, and people write me letters and say, “You said such and such, and how is it now that we do such and such?” And all I can say to that is that it is time disbelieving people repented and got in line and believed in a living, modern prophet. (“The New Revelation on Priesthood,” McConkie, Priesthood, pp. 131-132)
Shortly after June 9, typed copies and printed materials were swarming all through some Utah communities, some depicting a supposed revelation with Spencer Kimball’s name on it. This was, however, later proved to be a hoax.
Another was a story of a great spiritual manifestation which was an “outpouring of the Spirit, comparable to that felt on the day of Pentecost,” when the “Kirtland Temple was dedicated.” Other statements purported that the “Savior appeared;” and another account indicated that early-day leaders of the Church, “including Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, and many others” appeared to the Council of Twelve. However, all of these claims have eventually been reduced as speculations, hoaxes, or the machinations of many modern Mormons who merely wished that such occurrences had actually happened.
 Chapter 9
“THUS SAITH THE LORD?”
The scriptures record many incidents of revelation being given by the Lord to His prophets–through His voice, visions, or personal manifestations. When did the Lord ever speak to those prophets in the form of an “Official Declaration”? Where is a “Thus Saith the Lord” revelation dated June 9, 1978? It seems as though a “revelation” of such major significance would be presented to the Church in written form, using the Lord’s own words.
The Prophet Joseph Smith warned us:
If anything should have been suggested by us, or any names mentioned, except by commandment or Thus Saith the Lord, we do not consider it binding…. (TPJS, p. 136)
If such an announcement is to be thrust upon the millions of members of the LDS Church as official doctrine, they are certainly entitled to read it. If it is a revelation, then it should be published, voted upon, and added to the standard works of the Church as scripture. If the Lord should reveal something to you, which is of a personal nature, then you have the right to keep it secret, and probably should. But when a revelation comes through the president of the Church for its members, then they are entitled to have it.
 On June 17, 1933, the First Presidency, under President Heber J. Grant, issued the following statement:
It is alleged that on September 26, 1886, President John Taylor received a revelation from the purported text of which is given in publications. . . .
As to this pretended revelation, it should be said that the archives of the Church contain no such revelation; the archives contain no record of any 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. (Way of the Master, Mark E. Petersen, p. 58)
This author called up the Church Archives Dept. to inquire about obtaining a copy of this latest 1978 “revelation,” but they informed him that they do not have any copy of it, nor do they know the whereabouts of that revelation. By the same standard, then, are we justified in saying that since “the archives of the Church contain no record of any such revelation nor any evidence justifying a belief that any such revelation was ever given”, that we are also “justified in affirming that no such revelation exists?”
Someone in the Church deserves the national “Salesman of the Year” award for perpetrating a “revelation” that no one has ever seen. The laws of both the state and nation forbid anyone selling something that does not exist. How could so many members of the Church, who are supposed to have the Holy Ghost, vote to accept a revelation that they have never even seen? How could they accept a revelation that has never been read, published, nor added to the archives of the Church?  How then can Church members have the assurance that it came from God? Is an “Official Declaration” a real revelation?
This 1978 announcement merely adds fuel to the fires of anti-Mormons, such as Jerald and Sandra Tanner, who expressed their views:
We seriously doubt that President Kimball will put forth a written revelation on the bestowal of priesthood on blacks. We doubt, in fact, that any such document exists. What probably happened was that the leaders of the Church finally realized that they could no longer retain the anti-Black doctrine without doing irreparable damage to the Church. Under these circumstances, they were impressed with the fact that the doctrine had to be changed and this impression was referred to as a revelation from God.
Be this as it may, we feel that it is wrong to attribute such a revelation to God. It makes it appear that God has been a real racist for thousands of years, and that the Mormon leaders by “pleading long and earnestly in behalf of these, our faithful brethren, spending many hours in the upper room of the temple” have finally persuaded God to give Blacks the priesthood. * * * When their backs are to the wall, the Mormon leaders are forced to change their position.” (Salt Lake City Messenger, July 1978, p. 7; The Changing World of Mormonism, J. & S. Tanner, p. 328)
The last written revelation to the Church was given in 1889. During the previous decade there were about a dozen such revelations, but in the November 1889 one it stated:
Thus saith the Lord . . . Let not my servants who are called to the Presidency of my Church deny my word or my law, which concerns the salvation of the children of men. . . . Place not yourselves in jeopardy to your enemies by promise. (Revelations 1880-1890, Pioneer Press, pp. 63-64)
 However, this “revelation” is another “promise” to those who oppose the Church and its doctrines. It is bad enough to capitulate and compromise principles, but to forfeit the laws of the Priesthood is to forfeit the powers of Priesthood.
In a scholarly work by Duane Crowther, he concluded from available facts that this announcement was a policy change rather than a new revelation:
The two most notable examples of policy change being presented to the Church through the process of common consent are the Manifesto (issued October 6, 1890, which publicly terminated the practice of plural marriage within the Church) and the announcement concerning the Priesthood (accepted in General Conference, September 30, 1978, which allowed men of all races to be able to receive the priesthood). (Thus Saith the Lord, Crowther, p. 249)
This 1978 “Official Declaration” was quickly added to a new edition of the Doctrine and Covenants. However, there were many revelations given in the past which were never added to the D & C. For instance, many revelations during the 1880’s have come to light, some of which were published by the Church in such books as My Kingdom Shall Roll Forth, a Gospel Doctrine textbook. These were “Thus Saith the Lord” revelations, not “Official Declarations”, yet they were never added to the Doctrine and Covenants. But, the “Official Declaration” of 1978 was included.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie admitted the fact that this announcement did not come directly from the Lord:
There have been revelations given in various ways on other occasions. The Father and the Son appeared in the Sacred Grove. Moroni, an angel from heaven, came relative to the Book of Mormon and the plates and relative to instructing the Prophet in the affairs  that were destined to occur in this dispensation. There have been visions, notably the vision of the degrees of glory. There may be an infinite number of ways that God can ordain that revelations come. * * *
Latter-day Saints have a complex: many of them desire to magnify and build upon what has occurred, and they delight to think of miraculous things. And maybe some of them would like to believe that the Lord himself was there, or that the Prophet Joseph Smith came to deliver the revelation, which was one of the possibilities. Well, these things did not happen. The stories that go around to the contrary are not factual or realistic or true. * * *
In their day the Lord came personally to answer their petition; in our day he sent his Spirit to deliver the message. * * *
The Lord could have sent messengers from the other side to deliver it, but He did not. (See “The New Revelation on Priesthood,” McConkie, Priesthood, pp. 126-137.)
Elder McConkie is admitting that no vision, no voice, and no spiritual manifestation (as previously given to prophets) occurred in June 1978. Why not? Why was the means of communication changed on this occasion? If it was a revelation of such “great significance” and one “that affects this sphere of activity and the sphere that is to come,” why didn’t the Lord give a revelation with just as much power as He had done previously? What was wrong with sending a messenger to deliver it in order to give greater impact and significance to such an important message?
Elder McConkie said it was determined by “the feeling and the joy and the rejoicing” that comprised the “revelation,” and explained:
When we were alone by ourselves in that sacred place where we meet weekly to wait upon the Lord, to seek guidance from His Spirit, and to transact the  affairs of His earthly kingdom, President Kimball brought up the matter of the possible conferral of the priesthood upon those of all races. This was a subject that the group of us had discussed at length on numerous occasions in the preceding weeks and months. The President restated the problem involved, reminded us of our prior discussions, and said he had spent many days alone in this upper room pleading with the Lord for an answer to our prayers. (Ibid., p. 127)
To carnal people who do not understand the operating of the Holy Spirit of God upon the souls of man, this may sound like gibberish or jargon or uncertainty or ambiguity; but to those who are enlightened by the power of the Spirit and who have themselves felt its power, it will have a ring of veracity and truth, and they will know of its verity. I cannot describe in words what happened; I can only say that it happened and that it can be known and understood only by the feeling that can come into the heart of man. (Ibid., p. 136)
For how long, and how many times, has the Church presidency appealed to the Lord for a change on this issue? The very fact that the Lord has warned us not to “ask for that which you ought not” (D & C 8:10) because “if ye ask anything that is not expedient for you, it shall turn unto your condemnation” (D & C 88:65), should be remembered. When Joseph Smith continually pleaded with the Lord for permission to give the 116 pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript to Martin Harris, the Lord finally consented. The Lord finally gave him permission, not because it was right but because of Joseph’s persistence. Perhaps such a situation has again occurred.
Fifteen years prior to the 1978 announcement, Hugh B. Brown told the news media that the First Presidency was seeking for possible ways to change this ban on the Negroes  and that they were considering abandoning this doctrine in the Church. The New York Times published the account in the following article:
Salt Lake City, June 3–The top leadership of the Mormon Church is seriously considering abandonment of its historic policy of discrimination against Negroes. * * *
One of the highest officers of the Church said today that the possibility of removing this religious disability against Negroes has been under serious consideration.
“We are in the midst of a survey looking toward the possibility of admitting Negroes,” said Hugh B. Brown, one of the two counselors serving President David O. McKay in the first Presidency of the Mormon Church. (N.Y. Times, June 7, 1963)
The Prophet Joseph Smith warned the Church that we should “never inquire at the hand of God for special revelation only in case of there being no previous revelation to suit the case.” (TPJS, p. 22)
Noting that the “confused world of today needs revelation,” President Spencer W. Kimball of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, declared Sunday. “But mankind must have free agency, and if people are heedless of the Lord’s word, they are left floundering in darkness when they could have the noonday sun,” he said. (Des. News, Apr. 4, 1977)
In support of the premise that the 1978 “Official Declaration” was not a “Thus saith the Lord” revelation, is an interview Apostle LeGrand Richards had with Wesley P. Walters and Chris Vlachos. This interview was taped and later published, with most of it included here:
Walters: On this revelation of the priesthood to the Negro, I’ve heard all kinds of stories: I’ve heard that Christ appeared  to the apostles; I’ve heard that Joseph Smith appeared; and then I heard another story that Spencer Kimball had had a concern about this for some time, and simply shared it with the apostles, and they decided that this was the right time to move in that direction. Are any of those stories true, or are they all?
Richards: Well, the last one is pretty true, and I might tell you what provoked it in a way. Down in Brazil, there is so much Negro blood in the population there that it’s hard to get leaders that don’t have Negro blood in them. We just built a temple down there. It’s going to be dedicated in October. All those people with Negro blood in them have been raising the money to build that temple. If we don’t change, then they can’t even use it. Well, Brother Kimball worried about it, and he prayed a lot about it. He asked each one of us of the Twelve if we would pray–and we did–that the Lord would give him the inspiration to know what the will of the Lord was. Then he invited each one of us in his office–individually, because you know when you are in a group, you can’t always express everything that’s in your heart. You’re part of the group, see–so he interviewed each one of us, personally, to see how we felt about it, and he asked us to pray about it. Then he asked each one of us to hand in all the references we had, for or against that proposal. See, he was thinking favorably toward giving the colored people the priesthood. Then we had a meeting where we meet every week in the temple, and we discussed it as a group together, and then we prayed about it in our prayer circle, and then we held another prayer circle after the close of that meeting, and he (President Kimball) led in the prayer; praying that the Lord would give us the inspiration that we needed to do the thing that would be pleasing to Him and for the blessing of His children.
And then the next Thursday–we meet every Thursday–the Presidency came with this little document written out to make the announcement–to see how we’d  feel about it–and present it in written form. Well, some of the members of the Twelve suggested a few changes in the announcement, and then in our meeting there we all voted in favor of it–the Twelve and the Presidency. One member of the Twelve, Mark Petersen, was down in South America, but Brother Benson, our President, had arranged to know where he could be reached by phone, and right while we were in that meeting in the temple, Brother Kimball talked with Brother Petersen, and read him this article, and he (Petersen) approved of it.
Walters: What was the date? Would that have been the first of June, or something?
Richards: That was the first Thursday, I think, in May. (June?) At least that’s about when it was. And then after we all voted in favor of it, we called another meeting for the next morning, Friday morning, at seven o’clock, of all the other General Authorities–that includes the Seventies’ Quorum and the Patriarch and the Presiding Bishopric, and it was presented to them, and they all had an opportunity to express themselves, and there were a few of the brethren that were out presiding then in the missions, and so the Twelve were appointed to interview each one of them. I had to interview Brother Lee and read him the article, and asked him his feelings. He was thrilled, because he labored down there in Brazil, and he knew what it would mean for those people. So every member of the General Authorities to a man approved it before the announcement went out.
We had a letter from our colored man up in Ogden; it read like this: he was a member of the Church, and he said, “If the Lord is willing to let me have my wife and children in this life, why wouldn’t He be willing to let me have them in the next life?” That makes sense, doesn’t it? You know the Lord gave a revelation to the Prophet Joseph where He said that, “There is a law irrevocably decreed in the heavens before the foundations of the earth were laid, upon which all blessings are  predicated, and no blessing can be obtained except by obedience to the law upon which it is predicated.” (D & C 130:20) Well, all that means in that if you want wheat, you’ve got to plant wheat, doesn’t it? If you want corn, you’ve got to plant corn. Well, if I plant wheat and get a harvest, and the colored man plants wheat and takes as good care of it, why isn’t he as much entitled to the harvest as I am? You see? So we figured the same for spiritual blessings. If the colored man lives as good as I do, serves the Lord, and so forth, why isn’t he a much entitled to the blessings as I am? You see that? It’s been a united decision; there’s been no adverse comment by anyone, other than in California.
Walters: Intermarriage–is that in view, too?
Richards: Well no. We’ve never [recommended it] before this decision was reached. We’ve always recommended that people live within their own race. The Japanese ought to marry Japanese; the Chinese ought to marry Chinese; the Hawaiians ought to marry Hawaiians; and the colored people ought to marry coloreds.
Walters: And that would still be your position on that?
Richards: That is still our position. but, they are entitled to the temple blessings–the sealing of their wives to them. It’s all conditioned on their living. Now if they live right, and they’re devoted, and they’re good clean living, why shouldn’t they get the blessings?
Walters: Now when Pres. Kimball read this little announcement [in the staff meetings with the other General Authorities], was that the same thing that was released to the press?
Walters: There wasn’t a special document as a “revelation”, that he had and wrote down?
Richards: We discussed it in our meeting. What else should we say besides that announcement? We decided that that was sufficient; that no more needed to be said.
 Walters: Was that the letter you sent out to the various wards?
Richards: And to the Church; and to the newspapers, yes.
Walters: Will that become a part of “scripture”?
Richards: Yes, I’ve already thought in my own mind of suggesting we add it to the Pearl of Great Price (the fourth book of LDS “scriptures”) just like those last two revelations that we’ve just added.
Walters: At that point, is there a special reason why you add it to the Pearl of Great Price, rather than to the Doctrine and Covenants? Is it just more convenient to put it in there, instead of adding another number, or something?
Richards: I don’t know that we’ve even discussed the reason which book it should go in; but the Pearl of Great Price was written and assembled later than the Doctrine and Covenants was. My grandfather (Franklin D. Richards) was the one that organized the Pearl of Great Price. When we discussed it in our meeting, we didn’t discuss whether it should go in the Doctrine and Covenants, or the Pearl of Great Price; we just discussed how it would be to have those two revelations in the Pearl of Great Price.
Walters: Will this affect your theological thinking about the Negro being less valiant in the previous existence? How does this relate? Have you thought that through?
Richards: Some time ago, the Brethren decided that we should never say that. We don’t know just what the reason was. Paul said, “The Lord hath before appointed the bounds of the habitations of all men for to dwell upon the face of the earth,” (a paraphrase of Acts 17:26). He determined that before we were born. He who knows why they were born with black skin or white and so forth. We’ll just have to wait.
Walters: Is there a tendency to feel that people are born with a black skin because of some previous situation, or do we consider that black skin is no sign anymore of anything inferior in any sense of the word?
 Richards: Well, we don’t want to get that into doctrine. Think of it as you will. Paul said, “Now we see in part and we know in part; we see through a glass darkly. When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away; then we will see as we are seen, and know as we are known.” (a paraphrase of I Cor. 13:12) Now the Church’s attitude today is to prefer to leave it until we know. The Lord has never indicated that black skin came because of being less faithful. Now, the Indian; we know why he was changed, don’t we? The Book of Mormon tells us that. He has a dark skin, but he has a promise that through faithfulness, that they shall again become a white and delightsome people. So we haven’t anything like that on the colored thing.
Walters: Now, will this new revelation–has it brought any new insights or new ways of looking at the Book of Abraham? I think traditionally it is thought of the curse of Cain, coming through Canaanites and on the black-skinned people, and therefore denying the priesthood?
Richards: We considered that with all the “for’s” and the “against’s”, and decided that with all of that, if they lived their lives, and did the work, that they were entitled to their blessings.
Walters: But you haven’t come up with any new understanding of the Book of Abraham? I just wondered whether there would be a shift in that direction. Is the recent revelation–(Richards: What?) –Is the recent revelation in harmony with what the past prophets have taught, of when the Negro would receive the priesthood?
Richards: Well, they have held out the thought that they would ultimately get the priesthood, but they never determined the time for it. When this situation that we face down there in Brazil–Brother Kimball worried a lot about it–how the people are so faithful and devoted. The president of the Relief Society of the stake is a colored woman down there in one of the stakes. If they do the work, why it seems like that the  justice of the Lord would approve of giving them the blessing. Now it’s all conditional upon the life that they live, isn’t it?
Walters: Well, I thank you for clarifying that for me, because you know, out in the streets out there, there must be at least five, ten different stories about the way this happened.
Richards: Well, I’ve told you exactly what happened.
Walters: Right. Well, thank you so much. I appreciate it.
Richards: If you quote me, you will be telling the truth.
Walters: OK, well fine. You don’t mind if we quote you then?
(The interview continued for ten more minutes, but nothing more was said with respect to the 1978 Negro revelation.)
(Published by Bob White, Box 31883, Phoenix, AZ 85046)
Included on the next few pages are copies of four interesting letters between Chris Vlachos and Elder LeGrand Richards, that followed their personal interview.
358 West 170 North
Orem, Utah 84057
11 September 1978
Elder LeGrand Richards
LDS Church Office Bldg.
47 E. South Temple St.
Salt Lake City, UT 84111
Dear Elder Richards,
I wanted to write and thank you for our visits of August 16th and a week or so ago. Wesley Walters and I appreciated your kindness in spending so much time with us, and for explaining your experiences with regard to the recent revelation authorizing you to give the LDS Priesthood to Negroes. Since I did not take any notes at our first meeting, I wanted to write and verify a few important points which you made before I forget them.
One of the most interesting items which you mentioned was that the whole situation was basically provoked by the Brazilian temple–that is, the Mormon church has had great difficulty obtaining Priesthood leadership among its South American membership; and now with this new temple, a large proportion of those who have contributed money and work to built it would not be able to use it unless the Church changed its stand with regard to giving the Priesthood to Blacks. I believe that you also mentioned President Kimball as having called each of the Twelve Apostles individually into his office to hear their personal feelings with regard to this issue. While President Kimball was basically in favor of giving the Priesthood to Blacks, didn’t be ask each of you to prepare some references for and against the proposal as found in the scriptures?
Another thing which stands out in my mind was the prayer that President Kimball offered in the special prayer circle with the Apostles and First Presidency on June 1st: Didn’t you say he prayed essentially that God would give you all the inspiration necessary to do what was pleasing to the Lord and what was best for the blessing of His children?
 In addition to these details, I have tried to sequentialize what you told us about the revelations. The Twelve and First Presidency had a special prayer circle in the Salt Lake Temple on June 1st, where President Kimball prayed for guidance and inspiration in regard to Negroes. Then, one week later on June 8th, you all met again and the First Presidency presented the letter released on June 9th to all Church leaders to the Twelve in order to hear their reactions. A few members of the Twelve offered suggestions for a few changes in the document. Afterwards, all twelve Apostles voted in favor of the announcement. When we asked you if there was a written revelation, you said that the only written document was the June 9th letter–that it was considered to be sufficient. The next morning, all other general authorities met and voted in favor of the announcement. Then it was released to the press. I feel fairly certain as to the accuracy of these events, but just wanted to double-verify it with you.
I recall Wesley asking if the Mormons still believe that Negroes were less valiant in the pre-mortal existence–this being a reason for their black skin. Didn’t you say that the Brethren decided that the real reasons are still unknown? I do remember you saying that the Book of Abraham curse doctrine was considered with the pros and cons, and that you all decided that if Negroes live good lives, they are entitled to their blessings. I assume that this means no new interpretation of the Book of Abraham account?
When we talked about intermarriage, I got the feeling that the Mormon Church will not encourage them, but if they occur, the Church will support them. Is my perception accurate?
I guess that’s about it. We did talk about other things, but these stick out more in my mind as the important parts. When you reply, please let me know if this accurately represents what you told Wesley and I. I really appreciate your personal concern in answering all our questions.
Very truly yours,
 THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS
The Council of the Twelve
47 East South Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150
September 12, 1978
358 West 170 North
Orem, Utah 84057
This will acknowledge receipt of your letter of September 11th and I don’t quite understand the purpose of your letter. The explanation I gave to you when you were here in my office I did not intend for public use. I thought it would be for your own information. I don’t think there is anything more I need to add to what I told you at that time.
It wouldn’t please me if you were using the information I gave you when you were here in my office for public purposes. I gave it to you for your own information, and that is where I would like to see it remain.
With all good wishes, I remain,
Most sincerely yours,
 358 West 170 North
Orem, Utah 84057
15 September 1978
Elder LeGrand Richards
LDS Church Office Bldg.
47 E. South Temple St.
Salt Lake City, UT 84111
Dear Elder Richards,
Thank you for your reply of 12 September. I am writing you again because your response left me very puzzled. After you told Wesley Walters and I the incidents surrounding the recent Negro revelation, we ask you if we could quote what you had said, and you said something to the effect that “Yes, you can quote me, for I have told you exactly what happened.” Having been given that permission, I have told many people since our conversation of your personal story. Now you say that it was not intended for public transmission. Of course, I have no intention of publishing any of those events, but having received permission to share the story, I am writing you again to verify the main points. I will continue to share what you told us, and only wish to be sure that what I say is correctly representing what you said.
The basic points of the story as I remember them are:
- That the whole situation was provoked by the Brazilian temple affair. Apparently, most of the South American members would not have been able to use the temple due to their Negro ancestry.
- President Kimball personally interviewed each of the Twelve Apostles on the Negro question, and asked you all to prepare references for and against giving Blacks the Priesthood.
- President Kimball’s prayer offered at the June 1st prayer circle was that God would inspire you all to do what was pleasing to Him and what would be best for His children.
- The letter sent to all Church officials was first presented to the Twelve Apostles by the First Presidency, and voted upon (affirmatively). This occurred one week after President Kimball’s prayer for guidance.
 Elder LeGrand Richards
15 September 1978, p. 2
- The official letter mentioned in point #4 was the only written document involved in the policy change. No written revelation or account of inspiration was otherwise produced.
- No new interpretation of the Book of Abraham “curse” upon the descendants of Cain will be offered by the Mormon Church. You said that we still do not know why Blacks were cursed, and that the lack of valiancy in the pre-mortal existence is not a doctrine. The general feeling of the Brethren is that if Negroes live righteous lives, they are entitled to the same blessings as other members of the Church.
- With reference to intermarriage, the Church does not encourage them, but if they occur, the Church will support them and allow temple sealings to take place.
As I mentioned in the first paragraph, you originally told us that we could quote you as having related these facts. This we will continue to do, but I truly wish to have your verification of the above seven points so that we do not mis-quote you.
Thank you once again for your personal concern with this matter.
 THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS
The Council of the Twelve
47 East South Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150
September 19, 1978
358 West 170 North
Orem, Utah 84057
Dear Mr. Vlachos:
This will acknowledge receipt of your letter of September 15th.
The reason I replied to your last letter as I did was because some time ago I received a letter from someone down in your area, complaining about what you were saying. I don’t remember just who the letter was from but I didn’t feel that my interview with you was something that you would want to be publicizing all over. I don’t have any objections to your telling it to a friend, as you have stated in your letter now of the 15th, I see nothing wrong in your statements reviewing our interview.
I send my best regards.
 Chapter 10
The title of this brief chapter comes from a quote by Hugh B. Brown, first counselor in the First Presidency, when he explained the nature of receiving present-day revelation in the Church:
Hugh B. Brown, a high-ranking member of the Mormon hierarchy for 22 years up to his death in 1975, says in just-published memoirs that many church decisions called “revelations” were actually decisions first “thrashed out” thoroughly by the top authorities.
Those decisions “are no less revelatory, but it is simplistic to think that it comes as a bolt out of the blue,” said the memoirs’ editor, Edwin B. Firmage, a grandson of Brown and a law professor at the University of Utah.
The decision-making procedure, Brown explained, generally worked like this:
“[An idea] is submitted to the First Presidency and Twelve, thrashed out, discussed and rediscussed until it seems right. then, kneeling together in a circle in the temple, they seek divine guidance and the president says, `I feel to say this is the will of the Lord.’ That becomes a revelation. It is usually not thought necessary to publish or proclaim it as such, but this is the way it happens.” (by John Dart, L.A. Times writer, as quoted in the S.L. Tribune, Sun., Dec. 4, 1988, B-15)
 The 1978 announcement is apparently supported on the premise that it came as a result of a good “feeling.” Since many things can give someone a “good feeling,” such a revelation or feeling must be tested to know by which source it came. There must be certainty in such a matter, for it is easy to be convinced by emotions, intentions, reason, or other such persuasive influences that are really not revelations from God.
Men may receive personal inspiration by similar feelings (See D & C 9:8; 11:13), but the Church cannot and should not be governed only by such individual feelings. Nevertheless, according to Elder Hugh B. Brown, this is how the Church is now governed.
What a strange evolution–that the Church was established by visions, the appearance of angels, the visitations of the Savior, and written revelations, and now revelations have evolved to the status of being “thrashed out, discussed and rediscussed until it seems right.”
It is interesting to compare this with how Wilford Woodruff received a revelation in 1889 when he asked the Lord about making a compromise with the gentiles. Abraham Cannon recorded:
Propositions had been made for the Church to make some concessions to the courts in regard to its principles. Both of Pres. Woodruff’s counselors refused to advise him as to the course he should pursue, and he therefore laid the matter before the Lord. The answer came quick and strong. The word of the Lord was for us not to yield one particle of that which He had revealed and established. (Jrnl. of Abraham Cannon, Dec. 19, 1889)
Unfortunately, in spite of the “quick and strong” answer he received from the Lord, President Woodruff signed the  Manifesto several months later–which is probably one of the reasons there are no revelations received by Church leaders now since they were not heeded then.
In October 1844 Brigham Young explained who is entitled to revelation for the Church and the conditions upon which it might cease:
This church has been led by revelation, and unless we forsake the Lord entirely, so that the priesthood is taken from us, it will be led by revelation all the time. The question arises with some who has the right to revelation? I will not ascend any higher than a priest, and ask the priest what is your right? You have the right to receive the administration of angels. If an angel was to come to you and tell you what the Lord was going to do in this day, you would say you had a revelation. The president of the priests has a right to the Urim and Thummim, which gives revelation. He has the right of receiving visits from angels. (DHC 7:285)
The words “unless we forsake the Lord entirely, so that the Priesthood is taken from us,” indicate the possibility of such a situation occurring. There is no positive guarantee that leaders and people will always remain true to the Lord and His commandments.
The fact that even a Priest can have revelations from a Urim and Thummim and receive direction from angels, is an indication that we are far beneath our potential. As far as we know, none of the past few Church presidents has used a Urim and Thummim, been visited by angels, nor received any written revelations for members of the Church in over a century.
A true prophet, seer, and revelator is a mouthpiece for God. He does not stumble or wander around for years trying to  get answers from the Lord on a critical issue. Furthermore, he does not present the “word of the Lord” to the people as a result of some “feeling,” “group decision,” or “vote.”
If the Church leaders have doubts and the heavens are dark to them, it is undoubtedly because they have failed somewhere in keeping the commandments, laws, principles and ordinances of the Lord.
Revelations can come from three sources: the Lord, the devil, and from mortal man; most revelations come from man himself. Many will say, “Have we not prophesied and done many wonderful works in thy name?” but they will be cast out because they really did not know the Lord. These deceivers will not only be the ones who say, “Lord, Lord,” but those who have falsely said, “Thus saith the Lord.”
 Chapter 11
“BID FAREWELL TO THE HOLY PRIESTHOOD.”
Brigham Young gets the credit for the words in this chapter title–when he described what would happen when “this people [become] in full fellowship with the world:”
There is nothing that would so soon weaken my hope and discourage me as to see this people in full fellowship with the world, and receive no more persecution from them because they are one with them. In such an event, we might bid farewell to the Holy Priesthood with all its blessings, privileges, and aids to exaltations, principalities and powers in the eternities of the Gods. (JD 10:32)
This era in the world’s history has been described by the prophets as being the same as the days of Noah and of Sodom and Gomorrah. It is a time when the laws, the commandments and the work of God have been rejected or shunned by nearly everyone on earth. It is a day when the laws of the Priesthood have less honor among men than ever before. Yet, it is in this time that President Kimball decided to extend the Priesthood beyond all former bounds and restrictions. When he was in Honolulu, he said his “revelation came at this time because conditions and people have changed. It’s a different world than it was 20 or 25 years ago. The world is ready for it.” (Des. News, June 13, 1978) It is a different world, but it is worse! The world is ready for destruction rather than for God’s  Priesthood! If the world is getting better, then all the prophets have erred in their prophetic descriptions of our generation!
Many Saints can’t understand why the present-day Church leaders contradict former prophets and apostles, and why they often contradict even themselves. They say something at one time and then a few years later reverse those views. Elder Bruce R. McConkie tried to explain the reason for this:
. . . people write me letters and say, “You said such and such, and how is it now that we do such and such?” And all I can say to that is that it is time disbelieving people repented and got in line and believed in a living, modern prophet. Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whosoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. (“The New Revelation on Priesthood,” Priesthood, p. 132)
But what kind of a church is it that revises its teachings and “eternal, unchangeable” doctrines every few years?
Since the Church’s change in their stand on the Blacks and the Priesthood, opponents of the announcement have frequently quoted Brigham Young’s 1852 address to the Utah Legislature, to show the danger of taking such a direction. This is probably one of Brigham Young’s discourses that Elder McConkie was telling us to forget. The entire text of President Young’s remarks is included here because of its importance in obtaining an understanding of the whole Black slavery issue:
“I arise to make a few remarks. The items before the House I do not understand.
“The principle of slavery I understand, at least I have self confidence enough, and confidence enough in God to believe I  do. I believe still further that a great many others understand it as I do. A great portion of this community have been instructed, and have applied their minds to it, and as far as they have, they agreed precisely in the principles of slavery.
“My remarks in the first place will be upon the cause of the introduction of slavery. Long ago mama Eve, our good old mother Eve, partook of forbidden fruit and this made a slave of her. Adam hated very much to have her taken out of the Garden of Eden, and now our old daddy says I believe I will eat of the fruit and become a slave, too. This was the first introduction of slavery upon this Earth; and there has not been a son or daughter of Adam from that day to this but what were slaves in the true sense of the word.
“That slavery will continue, until there is a people raised up upon the face of the Earth who will contend for righteous principles; who will not only believe in, but operate with every power and faculty given to them to help to establish the Kingdom of God, to overcome the Devil, and drive him from the Earth; then will this curse be removed. This was the starting point of slavery.
“Again after Adam and Eve had partook (sic) of the curse, we find they had two sons, Cain and Abel, but which was the oldest I cannot positively say; but this I know, Cain was given more to evil practices than Abel, but whether he was the oldest or not, matters not to me. Adam was commanded to sacrifice, and offer up his offerings to God, that placed him into the Garden of Eden. Through the faith and obedience of Abel to his Heavenly Father, Cain became jealous of him and he laid a plan to obtain all his flocks; for through his perfect obedience to Father, he obtained more blessings than Cain, consequently he took it into his heart to put Abel [out] of this mortal existence. After the deed was done, the Lord enquired for Abel, and made Cain own what he had done with him.
“Now, says the Grandfather, I will not destroy the seed of Michael and his wife, and Cain I will not kill you, nor suffer  anyone else to kill you, but I will put a mark upon you. What is that mark? You will see it on the countenance of every African you ever did see upon the face of the Earth, or ever will see. Now I tell you what I know: when the mark was put upon Cain, Abel’s children was (sic) in all probability young; the Lord told Cain that he should not receive the blessings of the Priesthood nor his seed, until the last of the posterity of Abel had received the Priesthood, until the redemption of the Earth.
“If there never was a Prophet or Apostle of Jesus Christ [that] spoke it before, I tell you, this people, that are commonly called Negroes are the children of old Cain. I know they are. I know that they cannot bear rule in the Priesthood, for the curse on them was to remain upon them, until the residue of the posterity of Michael and his wife receive the blessings [which] the seed of Cain would have received had they not been cursed; and [for this reason the Negro race cannot] hold the Keys of the Priesthood until the times of the restitution shall come, and the curse be wiped off from the Earth, and from Michael’s seed. Then Cain’s seed will be had in remembrance and the time come when that curse should be wiped off.
“Now then, in the Kingdom of God on the Earth, a man who has the African blood in him cannot hold one jot nor tittle of Priesthood. Why? Because they are the true eternal principles the Lord Almighty has ordained, and who can help it–men cannot, the angels cannot, and all the powers of Earth and Hell cannot take it off, but thus saith the Eternal, “I am, what I am, I take if off at My pleasure,” and not one particle of power can that posterity of Cain have, until the time comes the [Lord] says He will have it taken away. That time will come when they will have the privilege of all we have the privilege of, and more.
“In the Kingdom of God on the Earth, the Africans cannot hold one particle of power in government. The subjects,  the rightful servants of the residue of the children of Adam, and the residue of the children through the benign influence of the Spirit of the Lord have the privilege of seeing to the posterity of Cain; inasmuch as it is the Lord’s will they should receive the spirit of God by baptism, and that is the end of their privilege; and there is not power on Earth to give them any more power.
“You talk of the dark skin, I never saw a white man on Earth. I have seen persons whose hair came pretty nigh being white, but to talk about white skins, it is something entirely unknown, though some skins are fairer than others; look at the black eye and the jet black hair we often see upon men and women who are called white; there is no such thing as white folks. We are the children of Adam, who receive the blessings and that is enough for us if we are not quite white.
“But let me tell you further. Let my seed mingle with the seed of Cain, [and] that brings the curse upon me, and upon my generations, [after me–should we do this] we will reap the same rewards with Cain.
“In the Priesthood I will tell you what it will do. Were the children of God to mingle their seed with the seed of Cain, it would not only bring the curse of being deprived of the power of the Priesthood upon them[selves], but they entail it upon their children after them, and they cannot get rid of it. If a man in an unguarded moment should commit such a transgression, if he would walk up and say cut off my head, and kill man, woman and child, it would do a great deal towards atoning for the sin. Would this be to curse them? No, it would be a blessing to them–it would do them good, that they might be saved with their brethren. A many would shudder should they hear us talk about killing folk, but it is one of the greatest blessings to some to kill them, although the true principles of it are not understood.
“I will add one thing more. It is not in the power of a man on the face of the Earth to take more life than he can give,  that is a proper son of Adam. How many times I have heard it said, and how many times has it been reiterated in my ears, and in yours, that to take a life is to take what you cannot give; this is perfect nonsense. What do I do by taking a man’s head off after he is condemned by the law? I put an end to the existence of the mortal tabernacle; but the life still remains. The body and the spirit is (sic) only separated. This is all that can be done by any mortal man upon the face of the Earth.
“Can I give that life? I can; I can make as good tabernacles as any other man; if you do not believe it, go and look at my children; therefore that saying is nonsense. We form the tabernacle for the eternal spirit or life that comes from God. We can only put an end to the existence of that tabernacle, and this is the principle of sacrifice.
“What was the cause of the ancients drawing up hundreds and thousands of Bullocks and Heifers, and Lambs and Doves, and almost every other creature around them, of which they took the best and the fattest, and offered them up as sacrifices unto the Lord? Was it not for the remission of the sins of the people? We read also in the New Testament that a man was sacrificed for the sins of the people. If he had not shed that blood which was given to him in the organization of his body or tabernacle, you and I could have had no remission of sins. It is the greatest blessing that could come to some men to shed their blood on the ground, and let it come up before the Lord as an atonement. You nor I cannot take any more life than we can give.
“Again to the subject before us, as to the [Negro] men bearing rule–not one of the children of old Cain have one particle of right to bear rule in government affairs from first to last; they have no business there; this privilege was taken from them by their own transgressions, and I cannot help it; and should you or I bear rule, we ought to do it with dignity and honour before God.
 “I am as much opposed to the principle of slavery as any man in the present acceptation or usage of the term–it is abused. I am opposed to abusing that which God has decreed, to take a blessing and make a curse of it. It is a great blessing to the seed of Adam to have the seed of Cain for servants, but those they serve should use them with all the heart and feeling, as they would use their own children and their compassion should reach over them, and round about them, and treat them as kindly, and with that humane feeling necessary to be shown to mortal beings of the human species. Under these circumstances their blessings in life are greater in proportion than those who have to provide the bread and dinner for them.
“We know there is a portion of inhabitants of the Earth who dwell in Asia that are Negroes and said to be Jews. The blood of Judah has not only mingled almost with all nations, but also with the blood of Cain, and they have mingled their seed together; these Negro Jews may keep up all the outer ordinances of the Jewish religion; they may have their sacrifices, and they may perform all the religious ceremonies any people on Earth could perform, but let me tell you, that the day they consented to mingle their seed with Canaan, the Priesthood was taken away from Judah, and that portion of Judah’s seed will never get any rule or blessings of the Priesthood until Cain gets it. Let this Church which is called the Kingdom of God on the Earth; we will summons the First Presidency, the Twelve, the High Council, the Bishopric, and all the Elders of Israel, suppose we summons them to appear here, and here declare that it is right to mingle our seed with the black race of Cain, that they shall come in with us and be partakers with us of all the blessings God has given to us. On that very day and hour we should do so, the Priesthood is taken from this Church and Kingdom and God leaves us to our fate. The moment we consent to mingle with the seed of Cain, the  Church must go to destruction–we should receive the curse which has been placed upon the seed of Cain, and never more be numbered with the children of Adam who are heirs to the Priesthood until that curse be removed. Therefore, I will not consent for one moment to have an African dictate [to] me or my brethren with regard to Church or State Government. I may vary in my views from others and they may think I am foolish in the things I have spoken, and think that they know more than I do, but I know I know more than they do. If the Africans cannot bear rule in the Church of God, what business have they to bear rule in the State and government affairs of this Territory or any other?
“I[n] the government affairs of State and Territory and kingdoms by right God should govern, He should rule over nations and control kings. If we suffer the Devil to rule over us, we shall not accomplish any good. I want the Lord to rule, and be our governor and dictate, and we are the boys to execute. I shall not consent for a moment to give way to a gentile spirit of contention, which is the cause of angry difference to the alienation of every good feeling. It is for you and I to take a course, to bind our feelings together in an everlasting bond of union–inasmuch as we love the Lord, which we ought to do more than ourselves. Consequently I will not consent for a moment to have the children of Cain rule me nor my brethren. No, it is not right. But say some, is there anything of this kind in the Constitution the United States has given us? If you will allow me the privilege [of] telling right out, it is none of their damned business what we do or say here. What we do, it is for them to sanction, and then for us to say what we like about it. It is written right out in the Constitution, “that every free white male inhabitant above the age of 21 years,” and etc. My mind is the same today as when we were passing over that Constitution; any light upon the subject is the same; my judgment is the same, only a little more so.
 “Perhaps I have said enough upon this subject. I have given you the true principles and doctrine. No man can vote for me or my brethren in this Territory who has not the privilege of acting in Church affairs. Every man and woman and child in this Territory are citizens; to say the contrary is all nonsense to me. The Indians are citizens, the Africans are citizens, and the Jews that come from Asia, that are almost entirely of the blood of Cain. It is our duty to take care of them, and administer to them in all the acts of humanity and kindness. They shall have the right of citizenship, but shall not have the right to dictate in Church and State matters. The abolitionists of the East have cursed them and their whole argument was calculated to darken counsel, as it was here yesterday.
“As for our bills passing here, we may lay the foundation for what? For men to come here from Africa or elsewhere; by hundreds of thousands. When these men come here from the islands, are they going to hold offices in government? No. It is for men who understand the knowledge of government affairs to hold such offices, and on the other, make provisions for them to plow and to reap, and enjoy all that human beings can enjoy, and we protect them in it. Do we know how to ameliorate the condition of these people? We do. Suppose that five thousand of them come from the Pacific Islands, and ten or fifteen thousand from Japan, or from China; not one soul of them would know how to vote for a government officer. They, therefore, ought not in the first thing have anything to do in government affairs.
“What the Gentiles are doing, we are consenting to do. What we are trying to do today is to make the Negro equal with us in all our privileges. My voice shall be against [it] all the day long. I shall not consent for one moment. I will call them [to] counsel. I say I will not consent for lone moment for you to lay a plan to bring a curse upon this people. I[t] shall not be while I am here.” (Brigham Young Address to the Joint Session of the Legislature, Feb. 5, 1852, Ms D 1234, Box 48,  Folder 3, LDS Historical Dept.; also quoted in Teachings of Brigham Young, Collier, 3:41-48)
Thus, it is very evident that the 1978 Church announcement is totally contrary to the concepts and doctrines emphatically taught by Brigham Young–not only in the foregoing speech but on many other occasions as well.
 Chapter 12
CONCLUSION: “A NEW ARRANGEMENT”
Negroes in this life are denied the priesthood; under no circumstances can they hold this delegation of authority from the Almighty. . . . but this inequality is not of man’s origin. It is the Lord’s doings. (Mormon Doctrine, McConkie, 1966 p. 527)
These words sound as if they came from the lips of Brigham Young; and indeed that was the general position of all LDS Church leaders until the mid-1900’s. But after 1978 the Church position changed, as Bruce R. McConkie explained:
It doesn’t make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June 1978. It is a new day and a new arrangement, and the Lord has now given the revelation that sheds light out into the world on this subject. As to any slivers of light or any particles of darkness of the past, we forget about them. (Priesthood, p. 132)
Elder McConkie is admitting here that the Church has taken on a “new arrangement” rather than following the old eternal, unchangeable and everlasting gospel that had been restored. It is evident the Holy Priesthood is in jeopardy!
In referring to the Nephites, Elder McConkie said that, “In their day, the Lord came personally to answer their  petition; in our day He sent His Spirit to deliver the message.” (Priesthood, p. 126) However, it is mainly the failures and sins of the people that prevent them from receiving revelation from God.
Furthermore, McConkie says that the subject of giving the Priesthood to the Negro–
. . .was a subject that the group of us had discussed at length on numerous occasions in the preceding weeks and months. The President restated the problems involved, reminded us of our prior discussions, and said he had spent many days alone in this upper room pleading with the Lord for an answer to our prayers,” and that “he expressed the hope that we might receive a clear answer one way or the other. . . .” (Ibid., p. 127)
Why have Church leaders “pleaded long and earnestly”, spending many hours, days and years trying to get an answer to this issue? Why should they need to make surveys to solve the problem? Why did it take 16 years to come up with “feeling inspired?” Could the real answer be that they failed to heed previous instructions from the Lord?
A genuine prophet, seer and revelator does not need to spend years “making a survey” to see if a doctrine should be changed; nor does he have to plead for years for an answer from the Lord; neither does he need all the apostles to help him with the hope that they could all get an answer.
Scripture had already been established for Priesthood restriction from the Black race in the Pearl of Great Price. (See Abraham 1:27.) These writings “became a standard work of the Church by action of the first Presidency and the General Conference in Salt Lake City on October 10, 1880.” (Introductory note to Pearl of Great Price) There was no need for a new revelation from the Lord to change that doctrine because,  as the Prophet Joseph explained, “we never inquire at the hand of God for special revelation only in case of there being no previous revelation to suit the case. . . .” (TPJS, p. 22)
Great danger exists in asking the Lord for permission to change principles and doctrines of the Gospel. President John Taylor warned that a tremendous burden of transgression rests upon those who bear the Priesthood and fail to keep the laws of the Priesthood:
“Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Let me quote a little further. “Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name cast our devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? and then I will profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Or in other words, you are not my sheep, I have never approved of your actions. Why does this scripture refer to? Is it the unbelieving Gentiles? I think not; I donÕt think they can cast out many devils, at least I never heard of their having done so, I have never heard of their having prophesied or done any wonderful thing in His name. No, it does not mean them at all; it refers to those who once held the Priesthood, and instead of honoring it, tampered with it, losing its power and efficiency and also the Holy Spirit by treating lightly the things of God and violating their covenants with him. Although they once enjoyed the power to work miracles by virtue of their Priesthood, they no longer possess it; but as “the dog is turned to his own vomit again, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire,” so have they turned to error and wrong doing; and to such men the Savior will thus address himself. (JD 20:162-63)
However, the Lord allows men their free agency. If they persistently and continually ask for the word of the Lord to do  something which He has already forbidden, He will eventually allow them to try to do it. For instance, the Prophet Joseph made a similar mistake with the first 116 pages of the translated Book of Mormon. In Joseph’s own words:
Some time after Mr. Harris had begun to write for me, he began to importune me to give him liberty to carry the writings home and show them; and desired of me that I would inquire of the Lord, through the Urim and Thummim, if he might not do so. I did inquire, and the answer was that he must not. However, he was not satisfied with this answer, and desired that I should inquire again. I did so, and the answer was as before. Still he could not be contented, but insisted that I should inquire once more. After much solicitation I again inquired of the Lord, and permission was granted. (DHC 1:21)
It is interesting to note that Joseph petitioned the Lord three times before he got the answer he wanted. When the manuscript was gone, Martin came to Joseph with the bad news:
“Yes, it is gone,” replied Martin, “and I know not where.”
“Oh, my God!” said Joseph, clinching his hands. “All is lost! all is lost!” What shall I do? I have sinned–it is I who tempted the wrath of God. I should have been satisfied with the first answer which I received from the Lord; for he told me that it was not safe to let the writing go out of my possession.” (History of Joseph Smith, Lucy Mark Smith, p. 13)
There are some important lessons that can be learned from this experience:
(1) Joseph was seeking for a different answer to something that had already been established by the Lord.
(2) He kept asking until he got the answer he wanted.
 (3) Joseph recognized that he had “sinned” by the procedure he had used.
(4) He should have been “satisfied” with his first answer.
(5) As punishment, Joseph went into darkness for a considerable time afterwards.
The circumstances surrounding the Official Declaration of 1978 are similar to those pertaining to an incident in the life of Samson. He was given a special power and was told never to reveal the secret of its source. His strength, of course, was in the length of his hair. The revealing of that secret does not seem to be a very significant or serious matter, but, as the story goes, it proved to be fatal for Samson.
Delilah, Samson’s gentile “girlfriend”, wanted to know the secret, and so did the Philistines. Eventually he yielded to her charming ways and “when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death; that he told her. . . .” (Judges 16:16) Samson confided the secret to her without realizing how serious the consequences would be.
Delilah was not at fault for wanting to know the secret; nor were the Philistines to be blamed for wanting to know the source of Samson’s power. Samson alone must bear the burden for disobeying the Lord and receive the punishment that was to come. At first it seems he did not even know that he had “become weak, like any other man,” for “he wist not that the Lord was departed from him.” (Judges 16:20) Eventually his mistake cost him all that he had–including his life.
The gentile U.S. government cannot be blamed for wanting the Church to give Priesthood to the Black man; the Blacks themselves cannot be faulted for wanting the  Priesthood and advancement in the Church. The full responsibility for disobedience to scripture and words of the prophets rests solely on those who reversed the original doctrine. Even if the gentiles had “vexed unto death” these modern Israelites, they–like Samson–had been given instructions not to do a particular thing, which they went ahead and did anyway.
Also, those who sustain and support this action must receive the same punishment. They–also like Samson–will “become weak like any other man,” and the gifts and powers of the Priesthood will depart, and they “wist not that the Lord had departed from them.”
Another powerful testament against disobedience came to Saul when Samuel said to him:
Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee. . . . (1 Sam. 15:22-23)
Saul tried to explain his mistake: “I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and thy words; because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.” (Ibid. v. 24)
When Samuel began to leave, Saul grabbed “the skirt of his mantle,” and it rent, and Samuel proclaimed, “The Lord hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou.” (Ibid., v. 28)
 Because of disobedience will the Holy Priesthood be “rent” from the modern Israelites and be given to a “neighbour” who is better and more obedient.
There were times when no one but the Israelites held the Priesthood, and another time when only one tribe of the Israelites possessed it. There were also years when they held only a part of it, and even later when none of them were allowed to have it. Sometimes hundreds of years passed before the Holy Priesthood was permitted among men on the earth. The Lord is very particular and protective of His Priesthood, and when men try to misuse its powers and blessings, then the Priesthood is withdrawn from them.
The manner in which the Priesthood should be used is controlled by God’s laws. They may seem strange and contrary to our traditions and customs, and may even seem wrong; but whatever the Lord commands, the people should obey.
In ancient times the Lord used the Philistines and other gentile nations to reprove the Israelites for their disobedience and rebellion. In some circumstances when Israel had sinned too greatly, the Lord used the intermixing of the Black race as a means of taking away their Priesthood. Could the circumstances surrounding the 1978 Declaration be a similar process?
It is impossible to realize the impact this action in June of 1978 will have on this generation. Elder McConkie only partially understood when he said:
In my judgment this was done by the Lord in this way because it was a revelation of such tremendous significance and import; one that would reverse the whole direction of the Church, procedurally and  administratively; one that would affect the living and the dead; one that would affect the total relationship that we have with the world; one, I say, of such significance that the Lord wanted independent witnesses who could bear record that the thing had happened. (Priesthood, p. 134)
If the Gospel had been restored in its fullness and set in the true course by the Lord, then this revelation certainly “would reverse the whole direction of the church.” Isn’t it obvious, then, which direction it is now heading?
* * *
The dust had not settled from the Negro/Priesthood issue when a related subject, the Women/Priesthood controversy, stirred it up again. Like the Official Declarations of both 1890 and 1978, voices were clamoring for another declaration to allow women to receive the Priesthood. A few outspoken Mormons began to take this up as a civil rights issue, or a doctrinal inequality that needed to be corrected. Behind it all was the image they thought should be portrayed to the world. This subject will be discussed in Volume 3 of this Holy Priesthood series.
As Armand Mauss was quoted earlier, “Another skeleton is dragged out of our ecclesiastical closet for all the world to see.” And there will always be “another skeleton” until Mormonism conforms to the world’s standards and becomes like other religions. However, the price of conformity is high and requires sacrificing the powers and blessings of the Holy Priesthood!