There are 10 thoughts on “Now That We Have the Words of Joseph Smith, How Shall We Begin to Understand Them? Illustrations of Selected Challenges within the 21 May 1843 Discourse on 2 Peter 1”.

  1. Pingback: KnoWhy OTL05A — Why Was Joseph Smith Initially Prohibited from Publishing His Bible Translation? | The Interpreter Foundation

  2. Jeff wrote: “Consistent with Barker’s observations, many observers have documented a worldwide trend toward a religious mindset that prizes emotion and entertainment as major staples of worship.”
    My response: About 6 years ago my wife and I were visiting the LDS members in various cities in Angola. We arranged for a devotional to be held in the city of Benguela, and the members were asked to invite their non-member friends. When we arrived, one of the members sadly reported to us that his friends would not be coming. He had told them of the devotional and they asked him if any miracles would be performed. They were sadly disappointed when they discovered the nature of the meeting and promptly declined the invitation. In Africa (at least the part that I know) “miracle services” are a staple of Christian worship.

    • Thank you for sharing this, Loren.
      8 Verily, I say unto you, there are those among you who seek signs, and there have been such even from the beginning;
      9 But, behold, faith cometh not by signs, but signs follow those that believe.
      10 Yea, signs come by faith, not by the will of men, nor as they please, but by the will of God. (D&C 63:8-10)

  3. A small quibble:
    In regards to reference #65, why assume Elder Bednar is correct? Why are you so sure that Joseph never taught that? Even if he didn’t, the apostle Orson Whitney taught (1929?) that it was a true principle. How can an apostle correct an apostle, and how do you know which apostle is correct? Who do we believe if an apostle in 2050 corrects the 2014 article?

    • Hi, Bro. DeLange. Thanks for the comment. Here are my personal thoughts on the excellent question you raise, which I’m sure others will also wonder about.
      My short answer to your question is that, in my opinion, sustaining Elder Bender’s clarifying discussion of the issue is not just based on an assumption that he is correct: Although Elder Whitney’s statement has been quoted frequently in the past by other General Authorities (and some similar statements have been made independently by President Brigham Young, Elder Joseph Fielding Smith (as an apostle), and President Lorenzo Snow), Elder Bednar gives two very good reasons to revise common beliefs in that regard that do not merely rely on his apostolic authority:
      1. An additional, more complete source for what the Prophet said is now available to us, a source that was not available to Elder Whitney (who appealed to Joseph Smith as the source of his teachings). To quote Elder Bednar: “the most complete account of the Prophet’s sermon was not available to Church historians at the time they compiled an amalgamated version of his teachings from the notes of Willard Richards and William Clayton. In the more complete set of notes recorded by Howard and Martha Coray, Joseph Smith is sown to have qualified his statement to make the promised blessings conditional upon the obedience of the children: ‘When a father and mother of a family have [been sealed], their children *who have not transgressed* are secured by the seal wherewith the Parents have been sealed. And this is the Oath of God unto our Father Abraham and this doctrine shall stand forever’ [see Joseph Smith, The Words of Joseph Smith, comp. Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook (1980), 241; emphasis added. See also page 300].” (See p. 30 of Elder Bednar’s article)
      2. To quote Elder Bednar: “This clarification is more consistent doctrinally. Except for the additional information contained in the Coray records, the concept of unconditional salvation for disobedient children would contradict many foundational teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, including the second article of faith that ‘men will be punished for their own sins’ (Articles of Faith 1:2).” (See p. 30 of Elder Bednar’s article). Others of the apostles who have affirmed similar views include Elder Joseph Fielding Smith (Doctrines of Salvation 2:75, 91), Elder James E. Faust (Ensign, May 2003, p. 62), Elder Charles W. Penrose (Conference Report, October 1914, p. 42), and President Spencer W. Kimball (Teachings 1982, p. 335). See also Matthew B. Brown, Plan of Salvation, pp. 245-250.
      A third reason that Elder Bednar does not mention, but that I would add personally is that when we understand the context of Joseph Smith’s statement as published in the History of the Church (i.e., “when a seal is put upon the father and mother, it secures their posterity, so that they cannot be lost, but will be saved by virtue of the covenant of their father and mother”), we learn that the Prophet’s intended meaning was different than its common interpretation because the “seal … put upon the father and mother” he was referring to was not the marriage sealing but rather the “sealing [of] the blessing [of] the everlasting covenant, thereby making their calling and election sure” (J. Smith, Jr., Teachings, 13 August 1843, p. 321). Prior to the marriage sealing of Benjamin F. Johnson to his wife, the Prophet Joseph Smith explained the difference between these two kinds of seals (From William Clayton’s Journal, 20 October 1843, cited in J. B. Allen, No Toil, p. 408): “… there were two seals in the Priesthood. The first was that which was placed upon a man and a woman when they made the [marriage] covenant and the other was the seal which allotted to them their particular mansion.” So, it seems that however we interpret the promise Joseph Smith made to faithful parents concerning their children, his remarks appear to be intended for those who have not merely been sealed for eternity as husband and wife through the ordinances of the temple, but would also have to qualify, through their faithfulness, for additional sealing blessings.
      In summary, there are three good reasons, besides the fact that Elder Bednar is a living apostle, to put confidence in the clarifications he puts forth in his Ensign article. In considering these teachings, the central truth taught by Elder Bednar should always be kept in mind: “Though many subsequent Church leaders have differed in their emphasis on various aspects of the statements by Joseph Smith, Orson F. Whitney, and others, they agree on the fact that parents who honor temple covenants are in a position to exert great spiritual influence over time on their children. Faithful members of the Church can find comfort in knowing that they can lay claim to the promises of divine guidance and power, through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost and the privileges of the priesthood, in their efforts to help family members receive the blessings of salvation and exaltation” (p. 31).

      • I have a relative who does not want to keep the commandments but insists that no loving God would separate her from her parents. She is half right: they will always be able to visit her, but she will not be able to visit them.
        To inherit the Telestial or Terrestrial Kingdom is to be saved, and Christ will save all but the most rebellious of his Father’s children. But worlds without end, those in lower kingdoms cannot enter, or even visit, a higher kingdom.
        I believe, however, that visits in the other direction are possible, and indeed necessary. Thus faithful parents and children who are sealed and inherit the celestial kingdom will visit their rebellious children or parents in the lesser kingdoms, to “happify” them. (Poetic version of D&C 76: v. 62 https://goo.gl/klWR7r)
        Indeed, the Celestial Kingdom is a Urim and Thummim that reveals to its inhabitants everything that is going on with loved ones in lower kingdoms, so that they can react to their needs. (D&C 130:9 https://goo.gl/KMvLoI).
        When visiting their loved ones, however, they will need to dim down their glory so as not to burn them up. That’s one of the great blessings of having a celestial body.
        On the very day of his resurrection to Celestial glory, Jesus illustrated this principle by returning to his footstool to walk with his discouraged disciples to Emmaus. He appeared to them to be just an ordinary mortal. Likewise, when he appeared to the Nephites, he appeared at first without glory. But within a remarkably short time, he equipped them to participate fully in his glory. (Compare 3 Nephi 11 https://goo.gl/uZEGdv with 3 Nephi 19 https://goo.gl/uuvyeY; see John W. Welch, Sermon at the Temple http://goo.gl/lO6qB7).
        During his ministry of the Restoration, Moroni appeared with or without glory, according to the circumstances and needs of those he was visiting. (Daniel Peterson: Mary Whitmer, 12th witness: http://goo.gl/QOALcY)
        Finally, D&C 129 (https://goo.gl/9Gv8WG) teaches that the spirits of just men made perfect cannot appear without their glory but implies that resurrected beings can do so.

        • Thank you, Tracy. Excellent comment. As you probably are aware, a more precise statement of the doctrine you discuss is given in D&C 76:86-88:
          86 These are they who receive not of his fulness in the eternal world, but of the Holy Spirit through the ministration of the terrestrial;
          87 And the terrestrial through the ministration of the celestial.
          88 And also the telestial receive it of the administering of angels who are appointed to minister for them, or who are appointed to be ministering spirits for them; for they shall be heirs of salvation.
          Does this imply that the “angels [or ministering spirits] who are appointed to minister” to those in the telestial world are appointed from those living in a terrestrial state (cf. translated beings)? Could this be why Jesus Christ “could not go personally” to the wicked (= telestial?) in the spirit world “because of their rebellion and transgression” (D&C 138:37)? These are some questions that come to my mind.
          Regarding “worlds without end,” the only explicit statement on the subject is D&C 76:112, which applies the phrase only to those in the telestial kingdom.

      • Jeff
        Thanks for a great article. Elder Bednar’s article in the Ensign was refreshing and even comforting, otherwise God would be “a partial God, and also a changeable God, and a respecter to persons; for how many [people] have died without [being sealed to righteous parents]!” The teaching attributed to Joseph never felt right – more like predestination. Thanks for both you and brother DeLange for commenting on it.

    • I appreciate Bro. DeLange’s comment and Bro. Bradshaw’s honesty in admitting that the doctrine of securing your children’s salvation by your own righteousness has been taught by General Authorities for years. (It is clear to me that that is what was taught. Please read their statements and the talks and articles that have been based upon these teachings.) The list of names provided by Bro. Bradshaw of church leaders who have taught this, including Presidents of the Church, can be multiplied with a google search. This previous doctrine brought comfort and hope to thousands of Latter day Saints for many years. This clarification by Elder Bednar changes dramatically the impact of these statements and, let’s be honest, disappointment to so many faithful parents who have exercised faith and hope upon this “doctrine”.

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