There are 10 thoughts on “Joseph Smith and the Doctrine of Sealing”.

  1. I thought the use of Brian Hales’ statement was mainly a straw man and was unnecessary to the thesis of the article. The ideas about statements in the First Vision regarding “having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof” and the analysis of John the Baptist’s remark about the “sons of Levi offering and offering in righteousness” were interesting to me because I have been building a chronology of the origins of temple doctrine for many years. The first, from the First Vision, was insightful and helpful. With ongoing analysis of the “sons of Levi” passage, I suspect that looking at Aaronic Priesthood boys doing baptisms for the dead may be only an entry level of understanding about the meaning of this prophecy.
    The middle and longest section about the significance of Moroni’s creative interpretation of passages in Malachi offered the least new insight inasmuch as this subject has been discussed repeatedly. Though the analysis of Elijah “revealing” the priesthood rather than restoring it doesn’t seem to be talked about frequently. However, I have to mention that Hyrum Andrus taught this to a graduate class I had from him in 1970. He added the insight that there are two kinds of keys–1) of power and authority, and 2) keys of knowledge. He suggested that Elijah (and others who came to the Kirtland Temple that day) my have been teaching Joseph Smith about further uses of the priesthood in relationship to temple ordinances as well as authorizing him to do so.

    • Speaking of chronology, D&C 84 was revealed in 1832 near the time of the Kirtland temple. “Endowment” at that time had a different meaning than the Nauvoo endowment, a decade later. The “key” (singular) of the mysteries of the kingdom, and the “key” of the knowledge of God, in verses 19 and 21, refers to the Holy Ghost – the power by which Godliness is manifest in our lives. It is the sanctifier, without whom “no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live”. The higher priesthood provides the ordinance of the gift of the Holy Ghost, which is what is being talked about in D&C 84 (also see verse 33). Verse 74 later presses this point – how we enter the “Father’s kingdom.” It says, “Verily I say unto you, they who believe not on your words, and are not baptized in water in my name for the remission of their sins, that they may receive the Holy Ghost (by means of the higher priesthood), shall be damned, and shall not come into my Father’s kingdom, where my Father and I am.”
      This preliminary understanding of the endowment is born out in D&C 38:32, 95:8, as well as 105:33 which says, “Verily I say unto you, it is expedient in me that the first elders in my church should receive their endowment from on high in my house, which I have commanded to be built unto my name in Kirtland.” When the Kirtland temple was dedicated in 1836, the dedicatory prayer (D&C 109) confirms that the “endowment” did not have a Nauvoo meaning. In verse 35 Joseph asks that, “the anointing of thy ministers be sealed upon them with power from on high.” And in verses 36- 37 Joseph asks for the Lord to duplicate the events of Acts 2, the Pentecost rushing of a mighty wind and cloven tongues of fire to pour out upon the saints. It is the “endowed with power from on high” that Christ promised in Luke 24:49. Also noteworthy is how Joseph uses the word “seal” in verse 35, which indicates a less developed understanding of the “sealing power” revealed by the hand of Elijah. In fact, Joseph similarly uses it again in verse 36, “Put upon (endow) thy servants the testimony of the covenant, that when they may go out and proclaim thy word they may seal up the law, and prepare the hearts of thy saints for all the judgments thou art about to send.”
      After the church moved to Illinois these words took on greater meanings, which raises the question – how do we now best dovetail later contexts and understandings into earlier wordings? In D&C 84 the “ordinances” by which the power of godliness is manifest, so that man can see the face of God, was not (at that time) a direct reference to later as yet unrevealed, temple ordinances. And though we now often relate it (D&C 84) to current temple ordinances, the original meaning still stands – which is that by the ordinance of receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost (at the hand of the higher priesthood) man is sanctified (godliness is manifest) and prepared to enter the celestial glory of the Father.
      There are, however, later ordinances which exalt one to a higher degree within the celestial kingdom (such a temple marriage), but these later ordinances do not alter how the process of sanctification is set forth in D&C 84. In fact, when the modern endowment is properly understood it is simply a symbolic iteration of the basic plan of salvation. For instance, lesson one of the temple prep manual is entitled the Temple Presents the Plan of Salvation, which is also how the LDS Guide to the Scriptures defines the gospel – “God’s plan of Salvation,” the first principles of which are faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. To be sure, repentance is given to fallen man in the telestial world, and will not be needed by the glorified man\woman in the celestial. When we sin, we fall and are introduced into the telestial world, where we can repent, then come to the sacrament table and again take His name upon us (notice the terrestrial parallel), thereafter to have the Holy Ghost to be with us, to sanctify and celestialize us, preparing us to enter into the Father’s presence. Yielding (consecrating our will) to the Holy Ghost is how we become “saints through the Atonement” (Mos 3:19), a sacred gift or endowment from God.

  2. “They that come shall burn them up”. I don’t believe that “they” are angels, but rather the elements that, in the Lord’s hands, act as servants… comets, meteorites, etc. I believe that the latter-day destruction will parallel the Nephite destruction. In Mormon’s preface to Samuel the Lamanite’s prophecy concerning the coming Nephite destruction, he refers to cosmic forces when he references the Long Day of Joshua, “yea, and behold, this is so; for surely it is the Earth that moveth and not the sun”. Helaman 12:13. Thus, he is telling us that cosmic forces were involved sufficient to barrel-roll the earth on its axis and lengthen out the day. These forces were also associated with great stones falling from heaven that in our terms are meteorites . A passover of a planet or a planet sized comet across earth’s orbital path would cause all these effects as explained by Joseph Smith, ” then will appear one grand sign of the Son of Man in heaven. But what will the world do? They will call it a planet or a comet, & etc” HC Vol V, p 336 . The electrical effect of such an event will cause “fierce and vivid lightening”, as electric charge arc across approaching planets, which anciently caused burning as witnessed by the Israelites, Greeks, and others.

    • There is quite a bit of extreme extrapolation in this comment. For example, note that nothing in Joseph’s Smith’s statement requires that the sign of the Son of Man actually be a “planet-size comet”–indeed he asserts that anyone thinks that it is a planet or a comet will be completely mistaken.

      • I sometimes think that people forget that in a very real sense, Joseph Smith was much, much closer to, say, Nephi, Isaiah, Daniel, and John than he was to us.
        Technologically and scientifically speaking, Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon and had his visions in the very beginning of the industrial revolution. The railroad and steamboat were the highlight of his era. And I am not actually sure he ever rode on either one of them. There was no electricity; I don’t even think there was coal gas lights. What did Joseph have over Daniel when it came time to describe the period right before Christ comes back? Tanks, planes, modern aircraft carriers; the computers and internet–he had no more knowledge of them than the Apostle John.
        Joseph probably would have described an iPhone as a Urim and Thummin, and his seerstone in a hat bit makes a lot more sense if we ask whether it had a matte or glossy screen, and could it be seen in the sunlight very well like today’s phones. The Liahona sounds an awful lot like a smartphone.
        Astronomically, Joseph and anyone else had no real concept of a comet vs a planet, etc. If he did, it was via God teaching him. Remember, Ben Franklin had just barely proven that lightning was electricity not long before; and probably the closest Joseph ever got to electricity was a lightning strike in his vicinity. This was by our standards a very primitive time…. much, much closer to those ancients than us today.
        It’s interesting that God has not given a public revelation/vision of the 2nd coming and what happens right before it to anyone with a sense of “modern” technology.

        • Very interesting thoughts about what actual events may occur at the time of the Second Coming. Lately I have felt that in today’s world we have this idea of fantastical events that will fulfill prophecy, forgetting that we live in a day that people from the past would view as fantastical due to technology and other advancements. We may very well be surprised that how events actually occur are in ways that we take for granted on a daily basis.

  3. This is a curious article. In volume 3 of Joseph Smith’s Polygamy, I discuss the two types of sealing ordinances, horizontal marriage sealings between a husband and wife and vertical sealings of a child to a parent to gain admission into the chain back to Adam.
    Keith begins by reproducing quotes from Joseph Smith’s Polygamy where I say that we know very little about the sealings of husbands and wives beyond D&C 132 (and a few entries in Clayton’s journal). Then he alleges that more information is available by following allusions, not to marital sealings, but to child-to-parent sealings.
    His ideas about what Joseph knew and when he knew it about children being sealed to parents are intriguing, but the article does not address how this theory might relate to marital sealings. It seems that references to my writings on marriage sealings are a detour from his primary discussion of child-to-parent sealings. I don’t know why I was mentioned at all.

    • I just reread this and don’t want Keith to think I am bothered that he has used my writings to contextualize his observasions. I think his article brings up some good points about child-to-parent sealings.

      • Thank you Brian. However, I have to say that I was not just writing about child to parent sealings. Some more comment may clarify. I acknowledge that we still don’t know a fraction of what Joseph knew about sealings. That lacuna in our understanding reminds us of his statement that we would know more about heaven than has ever been written on the subject if we could gaze into heaven for five minutes. I also appreciate your confirmation with rigorous evidence, that there were no child to parent sealings performed before Joseph died. But we know next to nothing about how they will work and what they will mean in eternity. For example, everyone child to parent sealed will eventually be an adult there. Hence my 6 year old understanding that I became a part of a nuclear LDS family, subject to my parents for eternity when I was sealed to them, cannot be the whole picture. My parents and I will be peers there. Hence Joseph’s D&C 128 analogy of a great chain with welding links may be more apt. If we sin unforgiveably, we will no longer be an interconnected link in that chain. We will have no roots or branches in eternity. But does not that also apply to spousal sealings as well? There are many things about the nature of relationships in eternity that we merely assume. President Eyring confirmed this in the Liahona First Presidency Message for August 2016. He wrote of a time when he “was worried that the choice of others might make it impossible for our family to be together forever.” “A prophet of God” had then counselled him – “You are worrying about the wrong problem. You just live worthy of the celestial kingdom, and the family arrangements will be more wonderful than you can imagine.” Like many latter-day saints whose sealing arrangements have been affected by the choices of others, I take great comfort from President Eyring’s counsel. I also maintain that there is more to his counsel than earthly comfort and encouragement to righteous living. His counsel confirms that we do not know what family relationships will be like there. We assume what we have here is a pattern for the way they will be there, but the pattern we have here may just be an image “seen through a glass darkly”.

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