There are 6 thoughts on ““Being of that Lineage”: Generational Curses and Inheritance in the Book of Abraham”.

  1. Amazing article, John. Thank you. John Reynolds’ point may be better said as: Some of the 9 LDS Church Presidents between Pres Young and Pres Kimball authoritatively stated God instituted the Priesthood ban and therefore only God could remove it. The official 1949 Church statement said: “It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization . . . .” The 1969 official statement said: Our living prophet, President David O. McKay, has said, “The seeming discrimination by the Church toward the Negro is not something which originated with man; but goes back into the beginning with God…. “Revelation assures us that this plan antedates man’s mortal existence, extending back to man’s pre-existent state.” President McKay has also said, “Sometime in God’s eternal plan, the Negro will be given the right to hold the priesthood.” Until God reveals His will in this matter, to him whom we sustain as a prophet, we are bound by that same will. Priesthood, when it is conferred on any man comes as a blessing from God, not of men.” Pres McKay petitioned God to remove the ban and said God told him it was not yet time. In 1974, Pres Kimball stated: “I am not sure that there will be a change, although there could be. We are under the dictates of our Heavenly Father, and this is not my policy or the Church’s policy. It is the policy of the Lord who has established it, and I know of no change, although we are subject to revelations of the Lord in case he should ever wish to make a change.” (Kimball, Spencer Kimball and the revelation on priesthood, https://byustudies.byu.edu/article/spencer-w-kimball-and-the-revelation-on-priesthood/#footnote-216-backlink; David Mitchell, “President Spencer W. Kimball Ordained Twelfth President of Church,” Ensign 4 (February 1974): 6.) Official declaration 2 says God heard our prayers and the “long-promised day has come when [every faithful man may receive the Priesthood].”
    To now say the Priesthood, God’s sacred authority, and the profound Priesthood power available through temple ordinances and covenants were withheld from a particular race (lineage) for 156 years and through 9 prophets because of man’s erroneous racist beliefs seems to undermine the very foundation upon which the Church is established, i.e., revelation since multiple prophets declared it was due to revelation. Are we to say they were wrong?
    While we do not know the reason(s), do we trust the repeated authoritative statements from our Prophets and church Presidents regarding the source of the policy? Thanks again for a wonderful, insightful article that finally seems to make sense of the verses in Abraham 1.

  2. Great article. You address what is probably the single most thorny theological issue raised in scripture: the issue of race/ethnicity/priesthood. I hope your solution for this constellation of problems is widely adopted. As I read the article, you make two critically important and related points.

    First, in the eternities (which is what ultimately matters) priesthood is inherently familial. It is a power that seals us all into the kind of eternal community that is signified by a prayer circle or the arcing circle of sealed couples we see reflected in the facing mirrors when we kneel at the sealing altars of the temple. Familial priesthood is the priesthood paradigm. Ecclesiastical priesthood–including all offices in the Church–are temporary and atypical manifestations of priesthood that disappear after this life. So it is unsurprising that scriptures emphasized the connection between lineage and priesthood. That emphasis was consistent with the ultimate nature and purpose of priesthood.

    Second, with the possible exception of lineal descendants of Aaron, through time all of us have lost our connection to lineage priesthood because one of our ancestors broke the seal that makes us a member of the divine community. As you note, we cannot inherit our place in the community from ancestors who are not members of it. So everyone (or almost everyone) is cursed at some point in their ancestral line. And all of us have the power to make ourselves and our descendants accursed, even if we are born in the covenant. We break the seal if we are unfaithful to the familial priesthood legacy we have inherited when born in the covenant.

    I think those two principles provide a theological framework that puts all of us equally in or out of the kingdom based on our individual choices and degree of faithful participation in temple ordinances. If we keep those principles in mind, we can read most of the troubling passages in scripture as reflecting the importance of familial priesthood or as political rhetoric, used illegitimately by people in power to delegitimize territorial and governance claims of disfavored rival peoples, e.g., Canaanites. The bottom line: thanks again for providing a framework within which each of us can understand that all of us have been severed at some point from the divine community and that all of us may be grafted in again along with all of our faithful descendants if we participate in temple ordinances that seal us into the community of the redeemed, into the family of our Heavenly Mother and Father, who are the terminus of the line of sealings effectuated in the temple.

  3. Dear Brother Thompson,
    Excellent article and a well made argument. I was more interested in the explanations to what happened with Ham as it relates to his Egyptian posterity, but I really enjoyed the discussion of inheritance couched in the framework of covenants. Especially since I am reading Dr Mulhestein’s book Let God Prevail.

    I note a typo where you reference Alma 41, seems like there’s an extra -.

  4. You mention a potential “high priest” (kohen gadol) at the Jewish temples of Elephantine and Leontopolis, Egypt, but in each case these would merely be chief priests from the lineage of Aaron within the Tribe of Levi, and even the D&C defines them as lineal Aaronic priests only. Aaronide Kohanim within the Tribe of Levi continue to serve the Jewish community today.

    How would they differ, if at all, in authority, from Moses’ father-in-law Jethro, the Priest of Midian (kohen), or from the High Priest of Re at Heliopolis, Egypt (kohen), who was the grandfather of Ephraim & Manasseh (Gen 41)? Indeed, how would the lineage of Ephraim & Manasseh be affected by their mother being the daughter of an idolatrous priest? If, as you emphasize, all the Egyptians hail from Egyptus (Zeptah, Daughter of Ptah), where does that leave generic Egyptian priesthood? Even if, as you suggest, the Canaanite Hyksos were in charge in the Delta during the time when a Pharaoh arose who didn’t know Joseph?

    Just a few of the questions which I wish you had clarified in this article.

  5. All LDS prophets including Spencer Kimball insisted that the practice of denying the Priesthood was the correct one. Spencer Kimball said he would maintain the practice unless the Lord declared otherwise. The Lord evidently knows how to optimise the chances for his children to inherit the best degree of salvation and acts accordingly to give us the most suitable earthly experiences for that end. If that means no chance of hearing the Gospel in this life, as is true for most of the people who have come to earth in the past, then that is part of the plan. We may not know exactly why these things are so, but we need to trust the Lord’s decisions as to when his children hear the plan or have the chance to receive the priesthood

    • I think you are mischaracterizing Pres. Kimball and others by claiming they “insisted that the practice of denying the Priesthood was the correct one.” They certainly felt it required divine direction to change the policy, but I think historical sources demonstrate that they struggled to understand its purpose and existence, as we still do today.

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