Your Monday poll #8

[poll=86]

Comments

  1. Ugly Mahana says:

    Before I can vote, I need an explanation. How should second-generation (or third-generation, etc.) adoptees be considered? Are they adopted in their own right, or are they considered literal descendants?

  2. It just doesn't matter says:

    I would have liked to see a third option…

    3. Lineage, tribe, races, mi casa, tu casa, ethnicity, they just don’t matter.

  3. Ugly Mahana,
    No idea.

    Ijdm,
    Well yes…but once upon a time such things really did matter. Don’t make me spell out the tension behind the poll!

  4. It just doesn't matter says:

    Agreed, but my point is that to capture more fully what Mormons think about lineage now, you’ll need more than two choices.
    That said, I like the poll, thanks.

  5. Growing up, I would have said that my Mexican heritage qualifies me to be a literal descendant. Now I’m leaning towards adoption.

  6. Maybe what this post needs as an adjunct post is an explanation of these two ideas. I don’t think anyone has ever made a satisfactory explanation of these things to me. My understanding is that I can either have real Israelite blood in me OR that I can be a Gentile and that upon baptism and receipt of the Holy Ghost, I am adopted and that blood is replaced with real Israelite blood (which should really do a number on those DNA tests).

    Remind me, who taught the actual “blood replacement”-adoption theory? JS?

    BTW, I answered adoption. I think the literal descendant theory is based on a past concern with blood and spiritual lineages that we don’t talk about much anyone and is not especially important to the Church’s growth or theology to an observable extent.

  7. Depends on whether or not you think the “one drop” rule applies in this case.

  8. Under most circumstances I would say the lines are adopted. However, because my mother is Lebanese and I was told I come from the tribe of Judah, I think I’ve got a good shot at being a literal descendant. Oy, the chutzpah this goy has…

  9. If you are born-in-the-covenant, does that make you “natural Israel” even if you parents are by adoption?

  10. I think the blood replacement thing was Orson Pratt, wasn’t it?

  11. I wanted to say, “both.” I think I have a few drops of the literal blood of Israel, and that the tribes were scattered around the globe. But since you added the words “in a meaningful way,” I voted for adoption.

  12. What does it mean to be a “literal descendant” but not in a “meaningful way?”

  13. Ronan,

    What is the “(in a meaningful way)” note getting at?

  14. Kevin Barney says:

    I think I went through something like the following metamorphosis:

    1. Lines are literal.

    2. No, wait, British Israelism is a crock, so lines must be adopted.

    3. No, wait, population genetics suggests that if the founders of the tribes had descendants that survive to today, then we are all literally descended from each of such tribes. So the lines are literal again. But since everyone is descended from all of the tribes, how is this meaningful? (The old paradox that if everyone is special, no one is.) I guess we’re back to adoption again.

    4. But wait, what is the significance of these lines anyway? Under the influence of Mauss et al., the lines thing now strikes me as a quaint Mormon folk belief, and I’m more into universalism these days. Which means I end up with ijdm and option #3.

  15. I understand the regular rank and file worry about such things. I of course decent from Jesus, so our family doesn’t really sweat the small potato issues like Ephraim or Gad. How do I know this you ask? Grandfather Heber said so.

    Nothing like a little racism to get a Monday on track.

  16. I’m really surprised that that high of a percentage so far believe they’re wholly adopted. I’d just like to refer everyone to a 1991 Ensign article, “Of the House of Israel” at http://www.lds.org/portal/site/LDSOrg/menuitem.b12f9d18fae655bb69095bd3e44916a0/?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=b27e66ce3a47b010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&hideNav=1

    To make a few brief quotations, consider the following:

    “Under all the circumstances it is very possible that the majority, almost without exception, of those who come into the Church in this dispensation have the blood of two or more of the tribes of Israel as well as the blood of the Gentiles.”

    “The great majority of those who become members of the Church are literal descendants of Abraham through Ephraim, son of Joseph. Those who are not literal descendants of Abraham and Israel must become such, and when they are baptized and confirmed they are grafted into the tree and are entitled to all the rights and privileges as heirs.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56, 3:246.)

    “The clear teaching of the prophets is that few persons not of the blood of Abraham have become members of the Church in this dispensation; the terms “adopted into the house of Israel” or “assigned to a tribe of Israel” pertain only to those relatively few members.”

    Remember that the house of Israel has been broken and scattered throughout the earth numerous times, and their bloodlines have likely been assimilated into many local populations. For one example, consider the Kaifeng Jews — they have lived in Kaifeng, China for several centuries, seem entirely ethnically Chinese, and yet they have Jewish roots.

  17. So, some of us think it is literal in a meaningful way and some of us think it is meaningful just in a symbolic/adoption way.

    Is it important to persuade either side of their folly? In other words, do we cause more damage then good if we try to convince a literalist to join the symbolic crowd?

    I wager that the literalist has a much more forceful and meaningful impact on his life from this teaching that could bring about much good.

    Thoughts?

  18. Actually, I think it is both in our family’s case. By patriarchal blessing, we are of Ephraim, but on both sides of the family, we go back to Jewish roots.

    In my wife’s case, a maternal great grandfather was Jewish, and joined the church while working as a freight wagon driver. On my side, we go back through Danish Lutherans to a German ancestor, with a jewish/germanic spelling of our family name, and many Jewish folks living in the US with either the name Volkmann or Folkmann.

    So I guess I would say, “both”, if the choice were given.

  19. What Kevin said.

    Oddly enough, i had a discussion along thes elines with an emeritus church patriarch last night. It was his firm belief that birthright and tribe were very important. Was the common in the church prior to 78 or something? I really didn’t understand the salvific implications of any of it. Also he said that you have to be a lit. descendent of ephraim to be church president, and that you can tell the difference in Patriachal Blessings because lit . descendents say “you are of the blood and loins” of whatever tribe.

    Sometimes, it amazes me how different the church seems from the former generation.

  20. When I first heard the theory of blood transformation upon adoption, it reminded me of Catholic transubstantiation.

    This post also made me think about something Seventy John M. Madsen told us in stake conference last Saturday: Patriarchs recently descended upon Russia and after performing blessings around the various districts, they discovered they found every single tribe. Adoptees? Are the Russian bride sites full of ladies of the Lost Tribes?

  21. Aaron Brown says:

    My assigned lineage is like my appendix … a vestigial trait of early Mormonism.

    Aaron B

  22. Aaron Brown says:

    I should have said that differently:

    My assigned lineage is like my appendix: One is a vestigial trait of evolutionary history; the other is a vestigial trait of early Mormonism.

  23. Steve Evans says:

    AB, I preferred it when your appendix was a trait of early Mormonism. The Kinderhook Intestine!

  24. Why not just phrase the questions:

    I believe I am a star-bellied sneetch
    I believe I am a plain-bellied sneetch

    :-)

  25. Steve & Aaron, # 23, is that what I was looking at in Facsimile # 2?

  26. The doctrine regarding the House of Israel and all of its attending blessings and responsibilities is a core doctrine of the LDS Church and is taught repeatedly in current Church curriculum.

    God made a covenant with Abraham that all of his literal blood descendants (or his seed) would have the opportunity to hear and obtain the blessings of the gospel. Some of his literal bloodline is born into the Church, some of it is born into the Church AND under the covenant (defined as being born to sealed parents), and some of it is not born into the Church at all. Those born into the Church but not “under the covenant” become covenant members through temple ordinances. Those who are not born into the Church but who later convert and are baptized and confirmed into the Church are not considered “adopted” into the House of Israel because they are literal blood descendents through one tribe or another.

    Those who join the Church who are not from the literal bloodlines of one of the 12 tribes, often referred to as “gentiles”, become “adopted” into the family of Abraham through baptism, confirmation and faithfully obeying the commandments and principles of the gospel just as those literal descent are expected to.

    The blessings promised to all faithful members of the House of Israel are the same whether they are literal members or not.

  27. #26, absolutely correct. God is no respecter of persons, and if one man elevates his blood lineage above adoption or his tribe above another, it is to his condemnation. It is Ephraim’s responsibility to lead the work in the latter-days, but I think that Jesus was very clear when he said that lineage wouldn’t save the pharisees, as God could raise sons of Abraham from the rocks.

    #18 — A common error in the church is to equate Jews with the tribe of Judah. In the Bible it speaks of the 10 tribes of the north which were carried away, and in popular Mormon culture it is my experience that most people believe the two left behind were Judah and Benjamin. While Judah was most prominent in the south, there were definitely members of the other tribes living there who intermarried with them over the years. A few examples of non-Judah and non-Benjamin people living in Judah after the 10 tribes were lost:

    Lehi and Ishmael’s family, from Manasseh and Ephraim respectively.
    Zacharias, father of John the Baptist, was a Levite (since he served in the temple) — and here’s an example of inter-tribal family relations, because John was related to Jesus, who was clearly of the tribe of Judah.
    Anna was of the tribe of Asher (Luke 2:36).

    So, while Judah may have been the dominant tribe originally, things likely became rather mixed as people fled south from the invading Assyrians and Babylonians. Perhaps the “10 tribes” was more of a symbolic thing, suggesting the vast majority of the Israelites were taken away?

  28. Aaron Brown says:

    Tosh — What are the blessings attendant to being of the tribe of Ephraim, and how do they differ from the blessings attendant to being of the tribe of Zebulun? Just wondering.

    Aaron B

  29. StillConfused says:

    Ummm. What does it mean to be a literal descendant of the House of Israel?

  30. Tosh is largely correct.

    This is still a signifigant teaching. Go ask a PAT.

    The gathering of Isreal and the promises made to Abraham are a big theme in the standard works of the church, the current curriculum etc.

    When asked if I am a “literalist” or a “Universalist” I say yes. I still believe in “believing blood” and in the ability of any individual without the blood of isreal to be adopted in.

  31. Parley P. Pratt mentioned that no matter what one’s lineage is, all must accept the gospel to qualify for salvation in the House 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. Those who are not of this lineage, whether they are Gentiles, Edomites or Ishmaelites, or of whatever nation, have a right to remission of sins and the Gift of the Holy Spirit, through their ministry, on conditions of faith, repentance, and baptism, in the name of Jesus Christ. Through this Gospel they are adopted into the same family, and are counted for the seed of Abraham …

    No matter whether we are descended from Melchizedeck, from Edom, from Ishmael, or whether we be Jews or Gentiles. On the principles of Gospel adoption, the blessing is broad enough to gather all good, penitent, obedient people under its wings, and to extend to all nations the principles of salvation.(JD 1:264)

    Nephi explained God’s position thusly:

    Behold, the Lord esteemeth all flesh in one; he that is righteous is favored of God (1 Nephi 17:35).

  32. Ashui,

    No error on my part. While the evidence of direct Israelite ancestry from practicing Jews is involved on both sides of my family, the declaration of lineage is through Ephraim. Could be literally through a remnant of Ephraim, or could could be adoption into Ephraim from Benjamin, Levi, Judah, et al.

  33. …or from non et al.

  34. aarrgh, “none et al.” Can’t even do bad puns without mistyping.

  35. #32, I’ve never heard of adoption from one tribe into another, only from Gentile lineage to the House of Israel. I guess you could be right about that possibility — I’ve never thought of this, so I’m genuinely curious — does anyone have info on this type of adoption?

  36. Aaron B.

    As far as I know all of the righteous members of each tribe receive the same blessings. The original covenant between Israel and God mapped out areas of land “inheritance” etc, and Jacob’s final blessings upon his sons contained different statements that you would have to look up.

    The birthright blessing of leadership and Priesthood authority were given to Joseph through his sons Ephraim and Manasseh but only partnered with the obligation and responsibility to do missionary work, prepare for the gathering of all the tribes, and serve as proxies for those who were unable to complete their ordinances when they lived.

    No blessing ever has, or will ever be, given based simply on lineage. All blessings and/or consequences are determined by the exercised agency of each one of us individually.

  37. It just doesn't matter says:

    Asui (17),
    Thanks for the pointer to the Ensign article.

    It’s a reminder that while the Mormon attitude towards lineage has significantly changed in the last few decades (and as Mauss shows, primarily since WW II and the internationalization of the church), there are a few adherents to the old viewpoints.
    I haven’t read “All Abraham’s Children” for years, but I think Mauss pointed out there that BYU religion professors Joseph Fielding McConkie and Daniel Ludlow were the two main writers within Mormonism promoting the importance of lineage.

  38. 21, 24, rock on!

  39. 26: The doctrine regarding the House of Israel and all of its attending blessings and responsibilities is a core doctrine of the LDS Church…

    Is not.

  40. Is so.

  41. Most of us would probably agree that being of the House of Israel in the Mormon sense essentially amounts to being the covenant people of the Lord. Counting patriarchal blessings, it is interesting that the restored gospel has us join in a ritual way in all the basic forms of human social organization. To name a few: The individual, the married couple, the family, “the tribe of _____”, the nation (the house of Israel). These are all sacred versions of the secular. For we moderns, being part of a tribe (even a sacred one) is of course foreign to most of us. The closest to the tribal in my experience would be scout camp.

  42. Ashui,

    I don’t know either about adoption from one tribe or another, just that the patriarch who pronounced my lineage know of the Jewish ancestry, but the declaration was Ephraim. Could be adoption, could be an Ephraimaic remnant, could be nothing at all.

    I’ve got a good friend of Hawaiian/Japanese/Filipino ethnic background, declared tribe of Manasseh, and he’s pretty confident that it’s not adoption.

  43. In general, I believe that I am literally descended from every people of the earth, including the Isrealites. A human mutt. Genealogy has not yet been compliled to completely confirm my theory, but the evidence is definitely leaning that-a-way. When filling out any forms I always opt for “Other: human” for race/ethnic background questions. At some point it gets silly to list them all.

    Jami

  44. After reading the comments and looking at the poll results I wanted to make the following observation.

    I think that this issue is one of the places where the bloggernaccle and the “mainstream TR holders” have a disconnect.

    FWIW

  45. These are all sacred versions of the secular. plvmetz

    Or has the secular world just unable to completely eradicate the sacred principles of individual, the couple, the family? The restored gospel does not originate these ideals, they were also a part of the ancient gospel-which is the gospel of God the Father and Jesus Christ.

  46. bbell,
    I am not so sure. I don’t think the typical TR thinks their lineage has anything at all to do with their personal or communal salvation.

  47. This issue of sacred lineage is tricky in two ways.

    First, we are only a half step removed from people who think that there is such a thing as unclean blood. Seriously, in a religion where transfusions are allowed, how big of a deal is “believing blood”?

    Second, go read some Mo fundy stuff. Their raison de etre is ALL about preserving the sacred bloodlines.

  48. bbell,

    There you go again. Describe for me exactly what the “mainstream TR holders” are like, and then what the average ‘naccler is all about.

    Just curious. I can’t wait to find out about my pending apostasy. :)

  49. #46,

    I am not talking about PERSONAL worthiness being based on lineage.

    I am talking about the Gathering of Isreal and the promises made to Abraham. The promises made to Abraham concerned his seed. In other words his lineage. Then the modern gathering of Isreal both literally his seed and adopted per modern revelation and modern prophets.

    10 We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.

    The current curriculum is pretty clear about this as a core doctrine of the church.

  50. bbell,
    No it’s not, unless I misunderstand what you mean by the current curriculum. I have never been taught in church (as a mainstream, lifelong active member on both coasts, in between, and in at least one foreign country) that church members are in any way literal decendents of Israel. I have nothing against those who are literal decendants, and would have no problem if I were (it turns out I probably have a Jewish ancestor in the 16th century or so in Amsterdam, which is relatively cool), but I doubt that I am a literal decendant in any meaningful way.

    My wife is the daughter of a convert, and likely has less Israelite blood than I do. The promises to us, post-Jesus and post-Peter’s vision, are no different than the promises to literal Israel, because the blessing have come to the gentiles (of which I, clearly, am one. If you don’t believe me, ask the Orthodox associate down the hall).

  51. Mark,

    One doesn’t have to have “believing blood” to become a part of the HOI. And getting a transfusion doesn’t change one’s blood type or DNA.

    That the “Mo fundies” teach distorted doctrine doesn’t mean that there are not true doctrines related to the covenant between God and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

  52. bbell,

    That lineage is about being an heir to the promises made to Abraham, through which “all the world will be blessed”. As you said, either through adoption, or as a literal descendant, makes no difference. The sense I get here is that a specific lineage, or whether or not we are adopted or literal, is pretty much a non-issue. Being an heir to the promises of Abraham, now that is a big deal, and I don’t think that most of us here are thinking that’s not important.

    I equate some of this as being similar to all of the early settlers in Utah who wanted to be sealed to high ranking brethren in the church, sensing that there was something special in their bloodline or heritage, when in fact, we are all “partakers of the heavenly gift”. IE, God is no respecter of persons.

    So what is the issue, again?

  53. Tosh (45), I think you were right about my comment.

    I am sitting here wondering what the closest modern equivalent to belonging to a tribe of Israel. It is not boy scout camp. It is not being a fan of an NCAA football team. It is being a donating alumn of a university? Is it like being a member of a professional society? Or is it like always being in the young men’s program or being 30 years in a Sunday school presidency (the tribe of YM people or SS people)? Is it like being a Leo or Aquarius? Some of these are not so sacred, but may give ideas of the kinds of meanings we find in belonging to “our” tribe.

  54. Sam,

    The Church doctrine promises the same blessings to everyone regardless of race. You must remember that by the time Jesus and Peter lived on earth, the 12 tribes had LONG been scattered and there were members of the HOI living in the Americas and writing their own history. It almost certain that the members of Christ’s original Church (who were still by definition of culture “Jews”)would have considered these blood relatives “gentiles” simply because they lived somewhere else.

    Jews are both a religious group and a cultural group. My dh’s family is of historic and religious background-Fiddler on the Roof people seriously, and his patriarchal blessing declared him from the tribe of Judah even though his family lives nowhere near Jerusalem and never has.

    I’m not sure how deeply the actual curriculum of the Church delves into the ‘literal’ part of the HOI issue, but most LDS people who have received their patriarchal blessings believe their declared lineage to be literal and not figurative. Two different patriarchs explained this in depth to my daughters prior to their own blessings and I’m sure your local patriarch would be thrilled to sit down and discuss it with you any time.

  55. Some would argue, I suspect, that being of the tribe of Ephraim is something special, but again, as I look at it, we become of the lineage of Abraham and Israel through the ordinances of the church. That qualifies us to apply for the blessings of Israel, but at least as far as I can see, I would be at no disadvantage if I were of the tribe of Dan vs. Ephraim, as long as I obtained the ordinances, and lived up to my covenants.

  56. plvmetz,

    If you dig into the history of astrology you’ll find some amazing similarities between the ‘signs’ and the promises and things that applied to the 12 sons of Jacob. The world has threads of truth strung through it and has from as far back as our history records it.

    I’m not sure that there is a solid comparison to being a member of a “tribe” because ultimately, the blessings or “perks” of belonging to the HOI are eternal and continue after death whereas the benefits or unifying ties of a professional, or sport, or college institution do not.

  57. Tosh,

    I would gather from your statement that there is something in being of a tribe or lineage in the same way we would feel an affinity for our literal ancestors of the past few generations. I might be of the literal lineage of Folkman, but I am also a descendant of Hunters, Smeaths, Browns, Kings, Jeppesons, etc. My kids can add Smith, Campbell, Garrett, Lyons, and others of my wife’s heritage.

    There is an affinity there, family pride if you like, but my children’s potential is neither limited nor enhanced by any of those heritages. Ultimately, we are of the House of Israel, either by adoption, or by direct descent.

  58. Maybe I have fundamentally confused my personal up-bringing with what the rest of the church teaches, but I was under the impression that it was pretty standard doctrine that each of the tribes has a different role to perform in the last-days…

    Not that any of the roles bring special salvific powers, but that their each destined to have a different set of duties to perform.

    On LDS.org it says that, “Many Latter-day Saints are of the tribe of Ephraim, the tribe given the primary responsibility to lead the latter-day work of the Lord.”

    It also says, “It does not matter if a person’s lineage in the house of Israel is through bloodlines or by adoption. Church members are counted as a descendant of Abraham and an heir to all the promises and blessings contained in the Abrahamic covenant (see Abrahamic Covenant).”

    I don’t think that I’ve ever heard anybody bring up the importance of being literal or not in a discussion except they’ve also said something like, “It doesn’t really matter if you’re a literal descendant or an adopted descendant.”

  59. #54 – I don’t believe “most members” believe their lineage is literal. I have a *very* large, rural Utah extended family, and I don’t know of a single relative who believes the lineage is literal. I know some people whose declared lineage is Judah, and all of them have obvious Jewish lineage – but I also know some with obvious Jewish heritage whose declared lineage is not Judah.

    None of the patriarchs who performed any of the blessings in my immediately families (my siblings and my children) taught that lineage is literal; more than one of them stressed adoption. Believing in both covers all bases for me, so that’s what I do.

    I agree with kevinf. This is a non-starter for me. I really don’t care – not at all – as long as I am promised the covenants of Abraham’s seed. It’s much like arguing over whether or not one is as much a Mormon through adult conversion and baptism as one is through BIC, 8-year-old baptism. I don’t care.

  60. Tosh (54),
    You may be right that “most” LDS believe the declaration in their patriarchal blessing to be their literal ancestry. On the other hand, you may not be. I certainly don’t have enough data points to evaluate.

    My own impression is that most don’t believe that to be a literal declaration of descent. Rather, I would posit that most LDS would assume that it is the conferring of certain blessing and, perhaps, a symbolic adoption into a tribal lineage.

    I may be totally wrong, of course, because my sample size is miniscule, but because of a number of people with a declared lineage different than their parents’, I think you either have to get to where I am or deal with a really confusing puzzle.

  61. Okay, that “get to where I am” sounds really snooty and condescending; it sounded a lot better when I rushed off this reply. Sorry. I mean, it takes a lot of mental stretching to come to a solid conclusion either way. I don’t, personally, find the ultimate conclusion of whether I’m a literal, figurative, or literally adopted member of the house of Israel important enough to worry about.

  62. kevin,

    I agree that being of the HOI is where the key focus is because all members of the HOI receive the blessings promised by the Lord…or should we say all righteous members…no matter what their ancestral line might be. As with everything else related to eternal blessings, it is the degree of personal obedience to the Lord that determines us worthy to obtain them or not.

    I think the thread simply indicates that if only given those two responses to choose from, the majority of those who responded would define themselves as adopted members of the HOI rather than literal descendants. If the poll contained another response such as “I’m not sure” the results might not contrast so much.

  63. Sam,

    No offense taken at all.

    You’re right in that issues like this can produce confusion and while I agree on the fact that adoption vs literal really makes no difference in the end, I personally like puzzles. Even as a kid I would push and question, dig and ponder on and go back for more. I don’t like unanswered questions and I usually probe until I’m convinced that a solid answer(s)doesn’t exist. The best insights and personal revelations I’ve been given always seem to come when I’m tracking down something else, so no search is ever completely futile or unrewarded.

  64. ed johnson says:

    I believe that every single living person with *any* European, Asian, or African ancestry at all, is literally descended from Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all of his sons.

    Does anyone here think that makes me out of harmony with what the church teaches?

  65. Dark Chocolate says:

    This is slightly tangential, but inspired by the sentiment of some people observed at the end of 59. I was baptized at age 8, but I was not technically “born in the covenant” (I don’t think), since I was sealed to my parents that same year. I once had a religion professor ask students whether they were born in the covenant during introductions, and I just thought, What does it matter? So, an honest question: is there any doctrinal foundation for any sort of moral superiority if your parents were married in the temple before they had you?

    As to the House of Israel thing, is it just me, or is there a strong correlation (not necessarily one-to-one causation) between being of Western European descent and being of the tribe of Ephraim? If so, why should that be?

  66. Since everyone alive is a literal descendant of anyone who left descendants from as recently as 3000 years ago, then I am. The “in a meaningful way” part almost got me, but then I realized that my particular drop of blood is meaningful because I recognize it as such. Others, who also have it, don’t.

  67. Ugly Mahana says:

    Tatiana, well stated.

    I finally selected ‘literal descendant’ for very similar reasons.

  68. Basically what I have gathered through years in the church is that the line of Ephraim is to prepare the way for the second coming, that most members of the church are literal descendants because through fore-ordination, they are the ones that generally respond to the gospel when they hear it preached and are baptized. Anybody else been taught this?

  69. Dark Chocolate (mmmmmmm my favorite!)

    As to the House of Israel thing, is it just me, or is there a strong correlation (not necessarily one-to-one causation) between being of Western European descent and being of the tribe of Ephraim? If so, why should that be?

    Probably for the same reason that if one claimed to be of the tribe of “Young” there would be a strong possibility that they were of Central Utah descent. *grin* It would all depend on where large populations of a specific tribe were taken/settled and began to populate.

    As far as doctrinal foundation regarding those who are born under the covenant being superior to others in some way, no. But I think that children born to righteous parents who have been sealed and teach their children the sacred nature and privilege of “the covenant” from their infancy probably grow up more familiar with the spirit and its influence. An example of what I mean might be someone who is raised in a bilingual home can more easily speak and understand a second language than someone who learns another one later in life.

  70. #64-Are you talking about Abraham or Noah? *G*

    I’m not sure which prophet/apostle said it, and it may have been more than one, but the basic idea was that all of us are a “mixture” of various lines, but that our lineage is declared by the one most dominant in us.

    Jacob’s sons were combinations of half and whole brothers. Depending on how they married and/or intermarried their bloodlines could be of infinite varieties. Most of the tribes were conquered and taken captive and then their bloodlines were further diluted as they mixed with people of other cultures etc.

    So while you and I might both be able to trace our ancestry back to Jacob, we probably would not take the exact same route to get there and your “line” probably looks very different from mine.

  71. #65 – “is there any doctrinal foundation for any sort of moral superiority if your parents were married in the temple before they had you?” No.

    #68 – “Anybody else been taught this?” Not me. I also have not heard it taught that way.

    #69 – “I think that children born to righteous parents who have been sealed and teach their children the sacred nature and privilege of “the covenant” from their infancy probably grow up more familiar with the spirit and its influence.”

    Perhaps, as a generalization and heavily dependent on how you define “righteous,” but there are plenty of converts I know who are every bit as familiar with the spirit and its influence as *many* I know who were BIC.

  72. Sally,

    I think it is possible to have gathered that from the teachings of the Church.

    According to the scriptures and teachings of some of the prophets of the Church indicate that the House of Israel and those who would be born into it were known in the pre-existence.

    Ephraim holds the birthright and because of that would be the first to hear and accept the restored gospel. They are also “responsible to bear the priesthood, take the message of the restored gospel to the world, and raise an ensign to gather scattered Israel”.

    The concept of “believing blood” was taught by Joseph Smith and others and basically states that those who were born outside of the Church but foreordained to become members of the HOI do respond positively when hearing the gospel message.

  73. SB-Sneetch says:

    Words and phrases that need to be completely dropped from our lexicon and theology, IMHO:

    “Believing blood”
    “royal blood”
    “blood transformation upon adoption”
    “One drop” (when used for hypodescent)
    “Birthright” (right to priesthood, right to …)
    “blood lineage as meaning anything” (one of the major advances of the New Testament, as I read it, was its universal expansion of the gospel from its OT-focus as a tribe-focused religion.)

  74. #73 – I couldn’t agree more.

    Worrying about stuff like blood lines as literal sounds way too much like the classification of pure bloods vs. mud bloods in Harry Potter. It was creepy and repulsive there; it is, at the very least, useless in this day and age – especially when there is a rich alternative like adoption available. I can understand completely the draw of and need for such an ideology in the first days of the Restoration, and it doesn’t bother me a bit that it was taught then, but when two equally uplifting options are available – one of which carries enormous potential for abuse and one of which does not – I always prefer the one with the same salvific message but without the hint of prejudice and discrimination.

  75. Ray, your #74 comment reminds me of Sterling McMurrin’s statement about Mormon theologians that “the best of them find ways to bring salvation and heaven to more, not fewer, people” (rough approximation of the quote, I don’t have the actual text handy).

  76. Ray and Sneech,

    I agree that the message of the gospel is the same to all mankind and that even this issue can be tainted with prejudice and discrimination just like anything else.

    But I question the removal of the words and terms that are familiar with the Abrahamic covenant if only for one specific reason…there are cultures and peoples in the world that have been waiting for the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies for thousands of years who do not realize that some of them have already begun to come to fruition.

    I draw your attention to chapter 5 of (The Book of)Mormon where he prophecies that his record was written “unto the remnant of the house of Jacob” as well as to the “Gentiles who have care for the House of Israel”. It is to be taken to the “unbelieving of the Jews” “to convince all Israel that Jesus is the Christ”, but in particular the people of Judah.

    The promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are sacred to the Jewish people still today and they will only be convinced when they realize that God is indeed fulfilling the ancient covenant He made to this “house”. Part of the prophecy was that “Ephraim” would be part of the fulfillment of the covenant, would be responsible for initiating the gathering and would “crown” Judah and the other returning tribes with power and glory.

    If we remove the ancient references to this sacred and long awaited event and promise from our lexicon and our theology, how long would it be before the members of the LDS Church stop believing in the event itself? And how would the Jews be able to recognize the restoration and fulfillment of all that was promised to them?

  77. P.S. Sorry to post again, but something SB-sneetch said prompted me to clarify “just in case”.

    The Abrahamic Covenant is often confused as (or mistakenly paired with) Moses and the “Mosaic Law”, and so those who know that Christ fulfilled the “old law” and introduced a new one in the New Testament sometimes also believe it did away with the covenant made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob…which it did not.

    The Abrahamic Covenant concerns ordination to the Melchizedek Priesthood and the covenant of exaltation or eternal marriage. God promised Abraham that the right to this priesthood and covenant would continue through his mortal posterity (his literal seed),that the hands of his seed would “bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations” and that “in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”

    The “right” to the authority of the higher priesthood was part of the “birthright” blessing given to Isaac by his father, who in turn gave it to Jacob who ordained Joseph. Joseph Smith was a literal descendant of Joseph of Egypt and thus a “right”ful heir to the authority. Adoption into the HOI is only possible through the authorized use of the Melchizedek priesthood because only it can things that are bound on earth continue to be bound in heaven.

    It might just be me, but I feel strongly that every member should come to an understanding of the depth and significance of the doctrine and teachings related to this topic.

  78. Tosh,

    You are paraphrasing Abraham 2: 9-11.

    As far as I am concerned you are correct. Literal seed of the body is the correct word. Ephraim holds the birthright and thru E all mankind is blessed. Many PAT blessing use phrases like “thru the loins of Joseph” etc. when declaring lineage.

    If you ask an LDS PAT about this issue he will tell you something similar to what Tosh has posted. That is the reality. I have noticed that this core doctrine is getting less “play” these days as the church internationalizes.

    I agree 100% with you last paragraph. The gathering of Isreal both Judah and Joseph is a large part of the preparation for the 2nd coming and was forseen by the OT Prophets.

  79. Tosh, I never once said I think the lineage doctrine should be de-emphasized or eliminated. Not once. I only said that there are two possible ways to assert that lineage – through literal blood or through adoption – and that either of them fulfills the powerful message of inheriting the Abrahamic Covenant.

    In a nutshell, I just don’t think it makes an ounce of difference which is correct for any given person. By this time, just about anyone probably can lay claim to at least a drop of Israelite blood in their actual heritage, but not everyone can claim that such blood is the primary source of their literal, physical lineage. So we are left with two options: 1) a desire to be literal in order to distinguish us from others (for whatever reason) or 2) or a desire to share lineage with chosen people through an adoptive process that can bring a sense of unification and solidarity. The overall principle of promise of *family* blessing is so important that I prefer the one that unites the family and not the one that might divide the family.

  80. bbell,

    Thanks for adding the reference that I neglected to!

  81. I never once said I think the lineage doctrine should be de-emphasized or eliminated. Not once.

    I never once said that you said that. Not once.

    My response is specifically directed to the wisdom of “the removal of the words and terms that are familiar with the Abrahamic covenant” and “the ancient references to this sacred and long awaited event and promise from our lexicon and our theology”.

  82. I never once said I think the lineage doctrine should be de-emphasized or eliminated. Not once.

    Ok, I’ll say it. I think the lineage doctrine should be eliminated.

  83. Tosh,

    #76 was addressed to me, so I thought you were addressing something you thought I had said. I also couldn’t recall any particular comment to that point that fit your concern – although it might have been extrapolated from something. I just couldn’t find the source for what you addressed in #76.

    Sterling,

    If you mean by “the lineage doctrine should be eliminated” that all language of lineage, including adoption into the House of Israel, should be eliminated, we will have to disagree. I think there is powerful symbolism in that doctrine that I would hate to see disappear. (I would not be opposed to a couple of alternative iterations, but I really dont’ want to try to articulate them here.) If, however, you mean all language of literal descent should be eliminated, I would not argue with that.

  84. bbell (78),
    I think you overgeneralize. If you ask certain patriarchs, they’ll tell you that lineage is literal, etc., etc. But others wouldn’t. I have no idea how the numbers would weigh on either side, but I would be surprised if patriarchs of the Church all saw their calling in the same way.

  85. Ray, Stirling,

    You realize of course that you would need to “strike” passages in the BOM, D&C, OT and NT in order to accomplish this. We would also need to go to church archives and “strike” many tens of thousands of PAT blessing that claim that the blessee is “thru the loins of Joseph”

    Wow that is pretty radical response to this teaching

    Usually in the naccle we complain about things like white shirts and facial hair. Not eliminating important scripture based doctrine like the Abrahamic Covenant and the Gathering of Isreal for PC reasons

  86. bbell, I am going to try to say this as clearly as possible, since I obviously failed with my earlier comments.

    1) I LOVE the doctrine of being adopted into the House of Israel. “I think there is powerful symbolism in that doctrine that I would hate to see disappear.”

    2) I have no problem with a doctrine of literal descent if it doesn’t lead to weird permutations like some of the things that have been mentioned in this thread (e.g., If you are BIC, there is something special about you that those who convert don’t share.). However, “when two equally uplifting options are available – one of which carries enormous potential for abuse and one of which does not – I always prefer the one with the same salvific message but without the hint of prejudice and discrimination.” My point is that I don’t want to argue about whether I’m adopted or literal. To me, that is a stupid debate. Who cares? I certainly don’t. The point, imo, is not how I got there, but rather that I got there.

    3) I did not mean to imply that I would expunge existing records of statements regarding literal descent. In looking back at my comment, I can see how that appears to be what I said. Mea culpa. I meant that I wouldn’t argue against eliminating such language of literal descent from our modern discussion of our own lineage. *In our own day and age*, I just don’t think it serves any purpose that the adoptive language doesn’t fill better.

    Sometimes I love this manner of communication; sometimes I hate it.

  87. I don’t know about eliminating white shirts and facial hair, but as you point out, if one were to eliminate an emphasis on the importance or relevance of lineage/blood. it may call for reinterpeting (as metaphorical, mistaken, etc.) previous texts prepared by people operating under different assumptions.

  88. Just something to chew on:

    In all dispensations, the “Chosen People” have had to face a time when the promises of their fathers were extended beyond those familial ties and given to others that previously had been denied a place at the table of the chosen patriarch. That necessitated moving past the former paradigm of restricted family access to a new paradigm that focused on a broader family. Doing so in the early Church caused great disputations (from the “House of Judah” to uncircumcised Gentiles). This tension was evident even earlier in Jesus’ ministry, when He told the Jews that God could raise up children of Abraham from the rocks – that it wasn’t their literal lineage that would save them.

    Ultimately, the most unifying familial designation available to us is summed up in a simple Primary song: “I am a child of God.” Again, just to chew on: If we were to begin a modern focus on either the “House of Abraham,” instead of the House of Israel, the familial tension that currently exists between Mormonism and Islam would disappear doctrinally. If we were to begin a modern focus on simply the “House of the Living God,” the familial tension that currently exists between Mormonism and Hinduism or Buddhism or any other -ism would disappear doctrinally.

    Again, I absolutely LOVE the doctrine of familial adoption. I really do. I think it is incredibly powerful and uplifting. I also will not advocate for a change in the way we express that adoption. I am totally serious when I say that there might be an actual power that has been given by God to the House of Israel; there might be an actual power in the recorded birthright descent that is important to the gathering of a people who are adopted into that lineage. There might be a valid reason to keep the current focus on the House of Israel. If the prophets never change our focus in this regard, I will not complain or be disappointed. I will accept it completely. I simply am open to a different adoptive phraseology if it ever comes time to “adopt” it. It wouldn’t shake my testimony in the slightest, but I think it would be *much* harder for some members to accept than a simple wording change in the introduction to the Book of Mormon.

  89. Ray,

    I addressed post #76 to “Ray and Sneech”

    I did this because in post #73, sneech posted a list of “words and phrases that need to be completely dropped from our lexicon and theology”. You began your reply to him in post #74 by saying “#73-I couldn’t agree more”.

    Because the only way to read that is that you agree with what Sneech said, I addressed my post regarding the removal of such references to both of you.

  90. tosh, I understand. Thanks for the clarification. I don’t want to continue this, since I hope #86 answered the concern.

  91. Ray,

    I can’t speak for bbell, but I understand what you are saying and I agree with you that every member of the House of Israel, whether literal or adopted, has the exact same opportunity to earn the exact same blessings. I also agree that neither blood lineage nor adoption alone “saves” anyone. The only thing that saves in the fullest sense of the word (meaning exaltation)is the willing acceptance of and obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Celestial Kingdom.

    Even in a pre-mortal environment without the philosophies and weaknesses of human understanding as an excuse, our agency allowed (and required) each of us to agree with or disagree with, to accept or reject, to obey or disobey-each and every divine principle we were taught there-just as we are allowed and required to do here. The scriptures and revelations indicate that we were not of one mind there anymore than we are here, so while I wholeheartedly salute the noble desire to unify the human family and wish myself that it could be-God has indicated that such a thing is never going to happen because the entire human family simply will not choose to be united under the same laws.

    That is hard doctrine for anyone to accept that loves their human brothers and sisters even a fraction as much as God the Father and Christ love them. It is hard for anyone who has been enlightened to ‘the truth’ by the Holy Ghost and blessed in even a small way by God to believe that even one other soul could freely and with full understanding choose anything less. But they will.

    The truth is that the purpose of mortality is to see if we will be obedient to the commandments of God, not to see if the commandments of God need modification. We aren’t here to please the human race or defer to the political correctness of our day, we are here to please God and be obedient to everlasting correctness. To obtain a fullness of joy, once must submit to the laws that produce that fullness. To eliminate doctrine or principles we don’t agree with (as Stirling suggests)is to also eliminate the rewards and blessings that accompanied that doctrine.

  92. tosh, I understand and agree with almost all of what you are saying. My only serious issue with #91 is the implication that anyone who takes a position similar to mine is “defer(ing) to the political correctness of our day.” Frankly, that isn’t part of my construct at all. My willingness to accept a broader language of adoption, if articulated by the Brethren, is more a result of how I read our scriptures, especially the New Testament, than the influence of our day.

    Of course, I am living in our day, and I probably wouldn’t feel this way if we were having this conversation face-to-face in 1867 – so we are right back at the starting point of this discussion. :-)

  93. Ray,

    I didn’t mean to infer specifically that you (or anyone else) IS choosing political correctness over God, sorry. I was attempting to contrast that while sometimes both are in agreement with each other, when the two diverge, members of the Church have covenanted to follow God no matter how offensive that might be to “the world”. It is not possible to serve both “God and mammon”, and the scriptures provide overwhelming evidence that there will always be those who attempt to do so…with disastrous results.

    Ultimately, since roughly 1843 members of the restored gospel, have had the chance to become participants of “the new and everlasting covenant”, something that many belonging to the literal bloodline of Israel never had the opportunity to accept during mortality. We differ significantly from past generations of ‘Chosen People’ because we have been taught from its revelation that the privilege was not ours alone and that its blessings come with the obligation to share it with the world.

    So perhaps in the end we can agree that the doctrine related to the House of Israel is important to understand and preserve because the fulfillment of the covenants God made with them is of significant historical and spiritual value as it applies to the future gathering of that people. AND that the doctrine and covenant related to “modern day Israel” esteems all of its members as having equal opportunity for exaltation under a “new and everlasting” title that will someday apply to all who belong to the family of Zion. What do you say? :-)

  94. tosh, I’m smiling. Maybe it’s just the exchange of evil emoticons that wipes away our differences and helps us reach an acceptable compromise – or the Spirit – or fatigue – or just general civility. Whatever it is, it’s all good.

  95. SB (#73),

    I agree that phrases including the term “blood” should be dropped because they imply that genetics have something to do with propensity to accept the gospel. That is an unwarranted conclusion. The scriptures do not teach any such thing.

    The scriptures, including the modern scriptures (for better or worse) do teach that there some sort of spiritual significance to lineage. The most explicit scripture I know of on the topic is D&C 86:9-10:

    Therefore, thus saith the Lord unto you, with whom the priesthood hath continued through the lineage of your fathers—For ye are lawful heirs, according to the flesh, and have been hid from the world with Christ in God—
    Therefore your life and the priesthood have remained, and must needs remain through you and your lineage until the restoration of all things spoken by the mouths of all the holy prophets since the world began. (D&C 86:9-10, emphasis added)

    Joseph Smith and his successors took this idea very seriously – so seriously that family history and temple work became one of the three missions of the Church.

    If this principle were discarded, the doctrinal basis of family history work and the responsibility to perform temple ordinances for one’s own ancestors would be eliminated. Why should anyone feel any obligation to do temple work for his or her great great grandmother if their eternal relationship is inconsequential or non-existent? That is a pretty hefty change.

    In addition, if child to parent sealings are not transitive in some sense, it begs the question of why there should be child to parent sealings at all.

  96. Why does it matter says:

    Tosh, after all you’ve written, I’m still left wondering, “so of what value is this belief in a literal lineage that ties one to the House of Israel?”

    One needs no connection to the HOI to be have the atonement fully apply.

    One needs no connection to the HOI to receive all temple blessings.

    One needs no connection to the HOI to receive the priesthood (this was made clear in the New Testament, though we Mormons took a little detour until 1978).

    What’s left? I can’t think of any reason to care about being a member of the HOI.

  97. And here I thought Ray and I had wrapped it up neatly…

    Why,

    Whether you agree with me or not, literal or adopted, anyone who becomes a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, becomes part of the “covenant people”… “the elect of God”, the people Paul says “God hath from the beginning chosen”. “The name Israel is used to denote the man Jacob, his descendants, and the true believers in Christ regardless of their lineage or geographic location” (bible dictionary)

    Deuteronomy 32 explains that “Israel” was known in the pre-existence and that when the nations were divided, the bounds of the people were set according to the number of of the children of Israel. It also says that the Lord’s inheritance is Jacob…who He renamed Israel.

    Under election in the Guide to the Scriptures (because I have no desire to post pages of references)it states that those who would be the seed of Abraham and the HOI were chosen pre-mortally to become the covenant people. There are hundreds of references to this topic/idea between scriptures, teachings of the prophets and various books by general authorities and Jewish scholars.

    To bring it all together here for you would take hours, but in effect the result is that either literal seed or graphed in by adoption, only those who belong to elect of God (as in the re-united HOI gathered to the two capitals of Zion who have repented and been baptised) will have the atonement fully apply to them (all others will suffer for their own sins before the final judgement). Only those who who qualify to be married by the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood (which is the fulfillment of the covenant made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) will receive all temple blessings. No one between New Testament times and 1830 received the Melchizedek Priesthood keys until they were restored through a literal descendant of the HOI- Joseph Smith. And every Priesthood holder since then can literally trace his authority back to Joseph Smith, which means each one has a distinct “connection” to the HOI. The Lord says that he will bring the stick of Joseph and the stick of Judah together and make them “one” in His hands (records of the HOI) and that He will also bring the nations of Judah and Ephraim together as one nation and “the heathen will know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them evermore”. (Ezekiel 37)

    You may see no reason to care about being a member of the HOI while some may see every reason to care. The Lord doesn’t distinguish between the ancient HOI and the modern day one, He views them as two dispensations of the same ancient family. More ancient than some people realize.

    And with that…I’ll bow out with Ray.

  98. Tosh, I posit that you and I represent distinct eras of Mormonism.
    You feel at home with the writings of McConkie (your BD quote was likely written by him), and the teachings of Joseph Fielding Smith with respect to the importance of lineage and the interpretation of Old Testament texts and early Mormon preachings/assumptions with regards to tribes, lineage, being “chosen,” and the covenant.

    I don’t. And, with regards to a statement by an early Mormon (or BRM, or JFS, or a patriarch today) that a church member was a “pure” Ephraimite or of “royal blood,” I would interpret the statement metaphorically, or if I have my literal hat on, consider it to be inaccurate. I sense you would assume the statement is literally, factually correct.
    It’s my perception that the lineage focus had its day within the church, and is now (as of 1978)rapidly on its way out. I understand you have a different perception. Let’s revisit this here, on this blog, in 2028 and reevaluate.

  99. Stirling,

    I understand your point of view because I’ve been there, but I came to a point in my life where my desire for truth exceeded my desire to be comfortable, and made it a point to never allow my own personal affinity for a person (or a doctrine, or my own opinion) to interfere with the Holy Ghost’s power to witness truth to me.

    BRM had an unpopular delivery and a no-nonsense style, but I’ve never been taught that the truth is only delivered through the warm and fuzzy. He received full approval from presiding Church authorities to re-publish “Mormon Doctrine” in 1966 after specific changes were made, and nothing he was asked to remove was doctrinal. It still bears the same title and is still in print through an LDS publisher and sold in LDS owned stores. If neither the Lord nor the Prophet had a problem calling him as an apostle 6 years later, then I have no problem calling him one regardless of his personality.

    You and I may not agree on things, but we are both living in the same era of Mormonism. In this era it would be foolish (or at least sound paranoid) to think after the Mormon Doctrine episode that BRM was given sole control (and he wasn’t) over the chapter headings, BD and scripture guides of the official canon of the LDS Church or that somehow his incorrect descriptions somehow managed to slip past the First Presidency and remain unnoticed and uncorrected for 37+ years.

    In the era since 1978 I am not aware of any changes to the doctrine that God only reveals His mind and will for the Church through his servants, the prophets, who hold all of the Priesthood keys. And, the teachings of all 4 of the “modern” prophets from 1978 until now still contain the verbatim usage of the following phrases: “royal priesthood” “noble lineage””covenant people” and “chosen generation” regardless of perception, but of course literal or metaphorical application is up to each of us to decide.

    There has never been an era when the doctrine or practices of the Kingdom of God has pleased everyone, and sadly there never will be. I look forward to touching base with you in 20 years.

  100. Tosh, your statements that BRM “received full approval from presiding Church authorities to re-publish “Mormon Doctrine” in 1966,” and “nothing he was asked to remove was doctrinal,” sound like you’ve been reading Joseph McConkie’s biography of his father, which has a chapter that deals with the banning of the book. Joseph make’s those claims, but they’re not accurate. The substantial portions of the book that were removed are available for anyone to read, and the McKay diary notes show that what McConkie was asked (by the unanimous vote of the FP and twelve) was to never publish the book again, even if it was revised.
    Yes, 6 years later, I think when his father-in-law was in the First Presidency, he later got approval by asking Mckay alone for approval. (see Prince’s book on McKay as one place that tells MoDo story).

    IMNSHO, if the foundation of your argument needs to be supported by what BRM had to say about lineage, or by Mormon Doctrine , shouldn’t that be an indicator there is reason to rethink the matter?

  101. Again, there are plenty of references from prophets, and I didn’t use any quotes from BRM or MoDo to support the argument. I only brought him up in response to Stirling.

    Has anything that remained included in Mormon Doctrine ever been declared as false doctrine by any prophet or apostle since it’s reprinting? What about the headings or explanations in the LDS version of the scriptures that he was involved with-any statements that they are not viewed as accurate by church officials?

    If not, then what is the foundation of your argument exactly?

  102. Tosh, we can both agree that BRM was a dedicated church member and leader, and was important in many areas of service. But, I don’t think it does him any service to try and hold out his writings, some written 50 years ago (and some of that was merely repeating what Joseph Fielding Smith wrote a generation (or two!) earlier), as without error.
    The church doesn’t have a practice of commenting on the teachings of privately authored books, but as is well known now, “Mormon Doctrine” received a lot of negative commentary from the twelve and First Presidency. In answer to your question for specific problems the book has now, we could look at its teachings on the atonement. In fact, President Kimball assigned him to write a letter that included this statement:

    “We do not believe that it is necessary for men in this day to shed their own blood to receive a remission of sins. This is said with a full awareness of what I and others have written and said on this subject in times past. … There simply is no such thing among us as a doctrine of blood atonement that grants a remission of sins or confers any other benefit upon a person because his own blood is shed for sins.” (quoted in Gardner, “Mormonism and Capital Punishment,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 12:1 (1979), 16-19).

    Several other prominent example of clear errors in the book’s current version have to do with its negative teachings on people with African ancestry (that blacks are physically and spiritually inferior to an original white race, caste systems and racial segregation originate in the gospel, behavior in pre-existence explains why people are born into a specific race or caste, marriage between Negroes and any other group is condemned by God, etc.)

    I’m not sure of the value of reminding ourselves of the book’s problems (other than to point out to Deseret Book that it shouldn’t be reprinted, I guess). Perhaps its better to focus on his strong points.

  103. As far as I know (and I’ll admit I tend to not spend significant amounts of time researching the “gospel according to” anyone, which includes BRM) while the first presidency had many complaints about the original book, from what I’ve read (and not just his son’s book either)the majority of their concerns had to do with how things were phrased or how others would feel about certain things, not that anything he specifically said was completely false.

    Now I do realize that he wasn’t gifted in the art of delicate speech, or tact and in many cases his enthusiasm and intelligence worked against him and how the things he said were understood. But at the same time, many of the things he taught make perfect sense if you actually peel back the bias or bigotry that hovers over them.

    For example, while I do not agree in any way with the idea that any race is “physically or spiritually inferior” to any other race, the scriptures are very clear that repeatedly God HAS segregated one race or people from another, has forbidden intermarriage between specific groups of people, and has blessed or cursed groups of people as a whole. We are not told specifically in revealed scripture WHY God divided His children in the pre-existence into groups, but there is consistent evidence that He DID divide them. We are divided by race, dispensations, geography, culture, religion, politics and any number of things in mortality, and upon death certain spirits are separated from others. After the final judgment the children of earth will be divided again into a variety of glories.

    After decades of study and research and prayer, I personally have come to the conclusion there is only ONE way that every single one of us is ever going to be able to say (as the scriptures say we will) that the judgments of God are eternally fair and just…and that is by seeing and accepting that every blessing and every negative consequence experienced by each and every one of us is the result of our own actions.

    I believe God to be what He says He is…perfect. Perfectly fair, just, loving, and obligated by eternal law to reward obedience with blessings and to see that consequences are exacted for disobedience. Eternal laws permit no imbalance between justice and mercy-every choice has a consequence either good or bad. God allowed Christ to pay the price for our sins so that we wouldn’t have to-but part of the deal is that we have to accept His terms. There were those that refused to accept His terms pre-mortality, there are those who refuse to accept them mortally, and there will be those that refuse to accept them post-mortally. Those are just facts.

    God is perfectly loving and values us all equally, but God is also perfectly submissive to eternal laws that do not permit arbitrary blessings(or favoritism)or arbitrary punishments. That means that if certain circumstances (I’m not saying ALL…just some)among the human race are punishments-then they by law are the just and fair consequences that resulted from the exercise of free agency. If certain circumstances among the human race are blessings-then they too are the just and fair consequences of exercised free will. Any other hypothesis eventually unravels with the conclusion that God has to be a respecter of persons in some way or another.

    If this really is “how things were, how they are, and how they will be”, then even though BRM went past the mark in his wording and personal opinion, he did speak the truth, and hundreds of religious writers as well as many of the prophets and GA’s agree with and have taught the same thing. Does this conclusion include the right to be prejudiced or bigoted about any of it? NO! Does the atonement apply no matter when it is accepted? YES! Is it a tremendous sin to even think in terms of superior vs inferior? Absolutely!

    I’m sorry that this post is so long, and even then it cannot do the topic justice, but it is my absolute testimony that our eternal status will be based on the choices we made during BOTH estates. We are just as responsible for what we did or did not do in the pre-mortal world as we are with what we do or do not do here. I believe that each one of us is loved equally, and that we are all given equal opportunity (in one realm or another) to obtain the same blessings and the same exaltation. But nothing in past, present or future of the Plan of Salvation will ever result in all of God’s children deciding to be equally righteousness.

  104. One point of clarity…I do not automatically view the negative consequences that we experience in life at the hands of someone ELSE as ‘punishments’. (That is a whole different vein of this discussion)

    I tried to be clear that I view some conditions (but not all) in mortality as the result of our own pre-mortal choices, but just in case-I wanted to state that I do not view the horrible experiences endured by innocent victims as “some” of their own choice related consequences.

    Thanks

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