Revelation, Consensus, and (Waning?) Patience

The need to build consensus among the brethren is often cited as an important reason behind the belated reception of the 1978 revelation extending the blessings of priesthood and the temple to all worthy Church members. Indeed, rule by consensus has become a hallmark of the legacy of President Spencer W. Kimball.

One thing the recent biographies on Presidents Kimball and McKay have revealed is that while the brethren typically (but not always) present a unified front publicly, behind the scenes they are powerful, strong-willed men with strong opinions that do not always align. Given the diversity of belief among the brethren during the decades leading up to the revelation — President Brown thought the priesthood policy could be changed without a revelation, but might well have been alone in this belief; others were famously convinced that the policy was rooted in good and clear doctrine, and some questioned whether a revelation overturning it was even theoretically possible — President Kimball had an uphill task (a task that did not begin with his ascension to the Presidency) if he wanted to build the kind of unified consensus that would prepare the ground for such an earth-shattering revelation. Among others, Presidents Smith (JFSII) and Lee had both rejected Brown’s position outright (his removal from the First Presidency was almost surely, at least in part, a result of differences regarding the question of blacks and the priesthood). Even after the deaths of Smith and Lee, several influential and outspoken Quorum members retained strong opinions about the possibility (or lack thereof) for ever conferring the priesthood upon and extending temple blessings to Mormons of African descent.

Ask even a fairly amateur Mormon historian (like myself), and you’ll likely hear that the two most prominent holdouts on this question even in the years immediately leading up to the revelation were Delbert L. Stapley and Mark E. Petersen. You might also hear Ezra Taft Benson, though it could well be argued that Benson’s lack of sympathy for the “Negro cause” was rooted more in anti-Communism than it was in anything like old-fashioned white-supremacism. In the cases of Stapley and Petersen, it would be difficult to examine the historical record and not see a prominent streak of overtly racist beliefs and sociopolitical positions. Uphill battle indeed…

Here’s where the story gets interesting. I was shocked when a bcc commenter (I forget who — take credit if you remember making the comment) suggested that, in the end, consensus was not a precondition to the reception of the revelation. I double checked the relevant sources and learned that the commenter was indeed correct. Sometimes, it seems, the Lord’s due time includes waiting out the deaths of those individuals whose conviction presents something of a stumbling block on a particular issue, while they continue to be valued servants on a number of other important questions. God is nothing if not patient and long-suffering, and His ways are mysterious. Yet, on the question of the long-awaited priesthood revelation, urgency appears to have trumped patience. You see, neither Elder Petersen nor Elder Stapley ended their respective mortal sojourns before the revelation came. Which is not necessarily to say that they were persuaded to change their positions beforehand either.

Neither was present for the revelation.

Elder Petersen was on assignment in, wait for it, South America. Elder Stapley was in the hospital, fairly close to his death bed. Both were informed after the fact by President Kimball that the revelation had come and would be published. Both agreed to stand by the rest of the Quorum in presenting the revelation to the Church and upholding it.

I’m not sure I know how to think about what this means. Maybe it doesn’t mean anything. Maybe I’m just reeling because I had long nurtured incorrect assumptions about the circumstances leading up to and encompassing the revelation and had my bubble burst. What do you think?

Comments

  1. Interesting thing to notice, with interesting implications.

    Was there anyone else missing that day?

  2. Consensus is important but the Lord doesn’t always await for it. One needn’t look at much history from the 1830′s through 40′s to realize that.

  3. Ugly Mahana says:

    The scriptures talk of “two or three gathered in my name” and “agreeing.” Joseph taught that we should follow the majority of the Twelve (Citation, anyone?). I think that unity of purpose is likely important, but it does not appear that it needs to extend beyond the group that offers up the petition.

  4. Julie M. Smith says:

    That Peterson talk is something else.

  5. Kevin Barney says:

    The emphasis on consensus is both a strength and a weakness. Striving for it, although as you say it was never truly achieved, resulted in about a 20-year delay in changing the policy. Further, the constant public presentation of a united front lulls the general membership into the false impression that church governance at the highest levels is not political, and people can be quite shocked when they learn the reality.

  6. Ironically, I believe that while Spencer Kimball was a member of the Twelve, he was once sent on a traveling assignment at the same time that the First Presidency and Apostles were making a decision about a Native American-related church program. Elder Kimball apparently had strong feelings on the issue and was preventing consensus. Sorry for such a vague reference–I read this in an article a couple of years ago, and I’ll try to look it up and post a source later.

    I don’t know if there is any indication that Elder Peterson was intentionally excluded from the revelatory prayer meeting in 1978. I understand that President Kimball was considering a reversal for some time before the revelation was received, and had discussed the matter with his counselors and various apostles in the days before the revelation. I wonder when Peterson’s traveling assignment was made, and by whom?

    By the way, Brad, I have enjoyed your contributions to BCC so far. Your posts, as well as your comments on others’ posts, have resonated especially well with me. For better or for worse, your thought process and attitude towards religious topics seem similar to mine (lucky you . . . )

  7. Clair,
    All others were present.

    Julie,
    Indeed…

    Kevin,
    The lag that can result from striving for consensus seems all the more problematic given the ultimate willingness to go ahead without it. Why couldn’t the holdouts have been pressured into line any earlier?

  8. “Why couldn’t the holdouts have been pressured into line any earlier?”

    They weren’t pressured into it; they accepted Pres. Kimball’s word that he had received a true revelation. That is a HUGE distinction, imo.

    Perhaps Pres. Kimball engineered the absence through another, unannounced revelation; perhaps it was simple inspiration; perhaps it was simply faith that the revelation would come when the “present” body was absent its most vocal critic; we can’t knows for sure, since all we have is the actual announcement of the revelation that officially ended it. Ultimately, they got consensus when and in a manner in which there would be little or no fighting about it – and it appears that it couldn’t have happened earlier or in any other way.

  9. RE: #5–

    Needless to say, the preference for consensus among the 15 diverse apostles results in a very conservative decision-making process.

  10. Nice to hear there’s someone as insane as myself out there, CE. We’re a (perhaps thankfully) rare breed.

    If you dig up a reference for the Kimball/Lamanite story, be sure to post it here. Fascinating…

  11. It’s also worth noting that it wasn’t just conservative holdouts that were allowed to pass on or otherwise marginalized in order to move things forward. President Brown, who had exceptionally strong feelings on the matter, did not live to see its resolution. My sense, although others are much better informed on this question than me, is that Pres Woodruff was not a particularly outspoken partisan in the division that developed in the governing quorums of the Church regarding plural marriage in the 1880s.

    Maybe another lesson to be learned is that the “due time of the Lord” may also be, in part, a euphemism for letting cooler heads prevail.

  12. #11, last paragraph – Excellent.

  13. People, it’s Petersen. I wouldn’t have mentioned it if everyone hadn’t got it wrong.

  14. Wow; didn’t even look closely. Thanks, Bill.

  15. In the chapter on Blacks, Civil Rights and the Priesthood in “David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism”, it becomes pretty clear why the revelation wasn’t recieved until Spencer Kimball, given the unprogressive attitudes of his two predecessors. Allegedly, one of them even intimated that the priesthood would not be extended as long as he was alive. Regardless of the other attitudes in the quorum, it took the right attitude at the top to make the difference.

  16. From Section 107 of the Doctrine and Covenants (see particularly verse 27):

    22 Of the Melchizedek Priesthood, three Presiding High Priests, chosen by the body, appointed and ordained to that office, and upheld by the confidence, faith, and prayer of the church, form a quorum of the Presidency of the Church.
    23 The twelve traveling councilors are called to be the Twelve Apostles, or special witnesses of the name of Christ in all the world—thus differing from other officers in the church in the duties of their calling.
    24 And they form a quorum, equal in authority and power to the three presidents previously mentioned.
    25 The Seventy are also called to preach the gospel, and to be especial witnesses unto the Gentiles and in all the world—thus differing from other officers in the church in the duties of their calling.
    26 And they form a quorum, equal in aauthority to that of the Twelve special witnesses or Apostles just named.
    27 And every decision made by either of these quorums must be by the unanimous voice of the same; that is, every member in each quorum must be agreed to its decisions, in order to make their decisions of the same power or validity one with the other—

  17. I had never thought of this before but 1978′s excision preceding revelation smacks of the revelation to the three (two) witnesses. Or perhaps Im way of base.

  18. Antonio Parr says:

    This is only tangentially related to your thought-provoking post.

    While Latter-Day Saints may not be in a position to apologize for the official pre-1978 Church policy of denying Blacks the Priesthood, we certainly can (and must) apologize for the “extra-canonical” bigotry showed by so many of our brothers and sisters during the years of the Priesthood ban. Latter-Day Saints should have been bright, shining examples of love, encouragement and service to Blacks, when, instead, we were as myopic and discriminatory as the rest of society.

    For shame.

  19. Am I correct in figuring that there are only 3 apostles left where were there the day of the revelation (President Monson, President Packer, Elder Perry)? If so, I hope they’ve all written down their experiences so we can reflect on those (most likely after they’ve gone and someone else has written a book).

  20. #17 Matt M – I don’t mean to threadjack this, but would you care to elaborate that a bit?

  21. Elder Peterson’s talk makes me feel ill. I have heard that kind of drek before that people are born into certain ethinicities based on their worthiness in the preexistence. I am glad president Kimball gave the priesthood to all worthy men. I am sorry that Elder Peterson had such prejudice against non-white folk. I guess even the Elders of the church can make mistakes. They are just people after all and it doesn’t make them any less called of God. Thank goodness for President Kimball.

  22. An interesting point, Brad. In fact, similar circumstances held for the Manifesto; the most opposed individuals were out of town and out of the loop for those discussions, and were put in the situation of either accepting or rejecting the will of the church leadership as a fait accompli. Revelation and strategic action certainly don’t seem mutually exclusive.

  23. Andrew over at Burning Bosom had a post a couple weeks ago with an interesting take on a related issue. A relevant quote that he pointed out from Brigham Young:
    “[God] would be glad to send angels to communicate further to this people, but there is no room to receive it, consequently, He cannot come and dwell with you. There is a further reason: we are not capacitated to throw off in one day all our traditions, and our prepossessed feelings and notions, but have to do it little by little. It is a gradual process, advancing from one step to another; and as we layoff our false traditions and foolish notions, we receive more and more light, and thus we grow in grace; and if we continue so to grow we shall be prepared eventually to receive the Son of Man, and that is what we are after.” (Journal of Discourses 2:309-318).

  24. Last Lemming says:

    I think consensus was achieved in 1978, just not through unanimous mutual revelation. Petersen’s ex post acquiescence seems sincere enough. There is no evidence I am aware of that he attempted to undermine the decision later on. In contrast, the ex post acquiescence of absent quorum members during the Manifesto episode seems less sincere since many did later undermine the decision, making the second manifesto necessary and leading to two excommunications.

    The following Wikipedia link (which cites Quinn) claims that the decision was made in 1969 to lift the ban while Harold B. Lee was out of town, but reversed when he returned and objected.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_B._Lee

    The Lord knew, if the other Quorum members did not, that Lee would eventually become president of the church where he could undermine the decision. So patience was the order of the day.

  25. Kevin Barney says:

    Great quote, zehill, and how ironic that some of Brigham’s thought is among those false traditions and foolish notions we have had to throw off.

  26. Sam Kitterman says:

    Re #21 regarding Elder Petersen and his prejudice against non-whites. Although I agree Petersen and others had made clear their position regarding the Negro race, it is evident Petersen and others based that view upon their interpretation of the scriptures. Given same I find it rather ironic that Petersen would on one hand make such an interpretation and on the other, state he would not seek to understand writings of Brigham Young and others regarding the issue since that would be speculative.
    I believe there is a lesson to be had from same, i.e., the twisting of the scriptures to justify one’s own beliefs not towards their personal relationship but their relationship with others.
    Another lesson to be learned or relearned is that there clearly was a portion of the LDS population whose personal prejudices against the Negro (e.g., the family where the branch told the BP, either they go or we go) were such that the Lord had to wait for them to pass on before the revelation could be received by the Church.
    It is to me akin to the Israelites being kept in the wilderness for 40 years so that the rebellious ones would die off before they were allowed into the promised land.

  27. Sam Kitterman says:

    errata: I meant to say regarding “personal relationship”, one’s personal relationship with God/Christ, and one’s relationship with others. Yet, there should be no distinction given Christ’s teaching as to the Two Great Commandments.

  28. Brad,

    Great post. Having grown up in the 50′s and 60′s, I heard much of the kind of reasoning in the Petersen talk. It’s hard to believe now, but was pretty common back then. What strikes me most is Elder Petersen’s obvious love for the Hope family in Ohio, yet tacit acceptance that they could bed barred from attending church in their own ward.

    We’ve come such a long, long way.

  29. Re #6:

    The 1977 biography of SWK mentions this incident. He was called on an assignment to Great Britain during the summer of 1969. At the end of his assignment

    [Elder Kimball] arranged to be back in Salt Lake City in time for his regular Thursday meetings in the temple. In the meeting President Brown singled him out for praise of his devotion and service. Elder Kimball decided later the compliments were intended to soften the impact of the decision which had been reached while he was away to combine all the Church social services. This meant the end of the separate existence of the Indian Student Placement Program, which had been under his wing since its beginning.

    “Undoubtedly it is right, but it did come as a pretty heavy jolt,” he wrote. It was as though a beloved child had left home after growing from a single cell-one Indian girl, Helen John-to a program involving some four thousand children. High school and college graduates, missionaries, and happily married couples and leaders had come from the program. He now turned prime responsibility for it to someone else. The Church Indian Affairs Committee still had some responsibilities, but the heart of its activities had been cut out and transferred.

    Quinn’s Extensions of Power cites this story in discussing decision-making by the General Authorities (pp. 11-12).

  30. Brad,

    I was the one who brought up that EP was mysteriously in Brazil that day in 1978. I personally think that Kimball felt that it was time for the Lords will to be made known and he took the remaining bretheren and forced the issue in the absence of the two holdouts. EP and ES were then presented with a “done deal” and did not want to publicly challenge a man so beloved as Kimball.

    from a historical perspective consensus on tough issues in the Q12 and FP always takes a long time to develop. Check out the battles over polygamy with Cowley and woodruff JR and the WOW battles between Lund and Grant for some historical perspective.

  31. RE: #29–

    Dang it Justin! I just found that reference on my SWK CD-ROM, and was coming to post it here. That was indeed the story I was referring to in my #6. Thanks for looking.

    Quinn’s Extensions of Power suggests that Elder Kimball was sent on assignment to facilitate unanimous approval:

    The First Presidency wanted to make a major change in the church’s program for Native Americans but knew Apostle Spencer W. Kimball would oppose it. Therefore, the Presidency waited until the summer of 1969 when Kimball was out of the country on assignment in order to obtain the approval from the rest of the Twelve. (p. 11-12)

    However, the passage from Ed Kimball’s bio of his father does not support Quinn’s conclusion (although Quinn may have had another source).

  32. Sorry for stepping in, CE. I agree that Quinn overreads it.

    Speaking of the SWK CD, does the working draft say much about Petersen’s assignment to South America?

  33. Steve Evans says:

    Perhaps I am overgeneralizing here, but isn’t it safe to say that any disagreements between the Twelve today are far, far less vehement, public, and fundamental than in days of yore? Thinking about the Pratt boys, George Q. Cannon, Reed Smoot… those were bona fide strong personalities with conflicts to match. I cannot fathom any fault lines today that would even be a pale reflection of those classic battles.

  34. Justin (#32):

    You’re always welcome to step in. I figured that if I couldn’t find the reference, you or Kevin or Stapley would chime in.

    Ed Kimball’s working draft does not say anything more about Petersen’s assignment than the final biography. The chapter on the actual revelation only makes two specific references to Petersen:

    On May 25, [1978,] Mark E. Petersen called President Kimball’s attention to an article that proposed the priesthood policy had begun with Brigham Young, and he suggested that the president might with to consider this factor.

    This casts Petersen in a favorable light, and suggests that the two had discussed the priesthood ban just two weeks before the revelation.

    [On the day of the revelation,] Elder Delbert L. Stapley lay ill in the hospital and Elder Mark E. Petersen was in South America on assignment. Ten of the Twelve were present.

    This gives no further detail about the origin or nature of Petersen’s assignment.

  35. twisting the scripures to justify one’s own beliefs…

    I think Alma calls that “wresting” the scriptures, Sam. Your 40 years in the wilderness analogy seems spot on.

    Steve,
    It’s difficult to imagine right now the specific issues that might precipitate division within the governing quorums (perhaps SSM political work or even the status of gays within the Church). It is not difficult to imagine the strong personalities of several of the brethren clashing (think BKP, DHO, TSM, HBE).

  36. Apostles and Prophets are not puppets. They are inspired men, but that doesn’t mean they agree on everything or they would be the Lord’s puppets. The fact they differ, as this post shows, is testimony to agency.

    I like what Orson Scott Card wrote recently:

    “There are two ways we commonly view our living prophets, and only one of them is right.
    In Mormon folklore — and in the eyes of the outside world — we Mormons consider the prophets as speaking nothing but the word of God. Every decision, every act, every gesture is to be remembered, pored over, studied and obeyed, because the prophet does nothing but what the Lord requires of him.
    This attitude, if it were true, would make the prophet into something of a puppet, wouldn’t it? It wouldn’t matter who was president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, because each would act exactly like any other apostle called to serve in that position.
    But human beings are not interchangeable, no matter how lofty or humble their calling.
    The Lord does not dictate every action of the prophets. They must think things through, try things out, find out what is possible and wrestle with problems”.

  37. Steve (#33):

    Perhaps as the church grew larger and much less centralized, leaders became less prone to air their dirty laundry in public. I would guess the the spread of news media throughout the 20th century (radio, television, later the internet) also gradually caused leaders to be more circumspect in what they said publicly.

    It seems that for a while in the mid-20th century, certain leaders who publicized their non-canonical, non-consensus beliefs were never counterbalanced by other opposing statements by other leaders. (For example, statements on the origin of man, communism, civil rights. The Prince bio of McKay describes the bretheren’s reluctance to publicly correct items from Mormon Doctrine.) All of this may have been done in the spirit of harmony, but the apparent result was that the Apostle who spoke first, loudest, or with most certainty enjoyed a kind of implied assent from the silence of others.

    Nowadays it seems that apostles rarely speak out authoritatively on matters where there is no consensus opinion. Can anyone think of glaring exceptions to this? Leaders have put on an especially unified face to all comments on SSA issues, for example, even though I’m sure that opinions among the bretheren could potentially vary widely on this topic (e.g. nature vs nurture debate).

  38. CE, since BRM I can’t think of anyone.

  39. There are occasional offhand comments that stand out (Elder Nelson’s zinger on evolution a year or two ago comes to mind). Significantly though, even living quorum members that used to loudly take positions on controversial matters (BKP) do so much less often if at all these days.

    We do learn from our mistakes, but our learning curve is sometimes very slow.

  40. Sorry for so many comments. One more:

    The SWK biography gives fantastic detail on the topic of consensus surrounding the priesthood ban reversal. President Kimball first discussed the matter with his counselors two days before the revelation. On the day of the revelation, he discussed it with the whole Quorum of the Twelve before praying (minus Stapley and Petersen, as previously mentioned). This quote is from the working draft of the bio, but I believe it was all included in the final book:

    Once more he asked the Twelve to speak, without concern for seniority . . . Elder McConkie spoke in favor of the change, noting there was no scriptural impediment. President Tanner asked searching questions as Elder McConkie spoke. Then Elder Packer spoke at length, explaining his view that every worthy man should be allowed to hold the priesthood. He quoted scriptures (D&C 129:49; 56:4-5; 58:32) in support of the change. Eight of the ten volunteered their views, all favorable. President Kimball called on the other two, and they also spoke in favor. Discussion continued for two hours. Elder Packer said, a few weeks later, “One objection would have deterred him, would have put him off, so careful was he . . . that it had to be right.” The decision process bonded them in unity. They they sought divine confirmation.

  41. Steve Evans says:

    Don’t apologize, CE — keep ‘em coming!

  42. So, sometimes focusing on consensus means working primarily with those among whom consensus is most possible.

  43. Fascinating stuff, everyone. #40 especially – thanks, CE.

  44. So I have to ask, based on the comments above, what does “consensus” in the Q12 mean? Is it consensus only among those present for the discussion? It appears that is exactly the meaning that Brad is using in the original post, as well as in many of the comments. But if we take seriously D&C 107, as JWL pointed out in #16, then it would seem that consensus must involve all members, not just those present. Or do I misconstrue what is meant by “every member in each quorum” (v. 12)? It seems that “every member” shouldn’t be limited by geographical location.

    Certainly JS did not seek consensus when announcing revelations. In fact, on more than one occasion he publicly railed against or excommunicated a member of the Q12 who disagreed. It seems that for him consensus and unanimity meant “agree with me or leave.” Why has consensus building become such an important part of the present Church? Is it due to the increased power that came to the Q12 upon JS’s death and the subsequent succession crisis? Or is it (beware, heresy ahead) that subsequent presidents/prophets don’t receive revelation in the same manner that JS felt revelation was given to him and therefore don’t feel comfortable with presenting a revelation and saying “take it or leave it”?

    In that light, how were Petersen and Stapley given a vote on the priesthood revelation? After the fact? If that’s the case, then it certainly would seem that there was some sort of “take it or leave it” attitude by SWK. And if that’s the case, why didn’t he take that attitude earlier in his presidency and change the practice in 73 or 74?

  45. Sam (#26)

    I must take issue with your analogy with the 40 year of Israelite wondering. The 40 years of wandering in the wilderness was a punishment. The lord punished that specific generation of Israel for their rebelliousness by decreeing that they would not be allowed to enter the promised land.

    Who was being punished by withholding the priesthood to all worthy male members? Certainly not those that were so bigoted the LORD had to wait for them to die to give the revelation? IMO, that’s like saying God wouldn’t let Israel into the promised land because the Egyptians were worshiping idols.

    Remember, blessings weren’t being withheld from those with “personal prejudices against the Negro” — they held the priesthood and were eligible for all the blessings that come with the same. It was our black brethren who were have their opportunity for blessings denied.

  46. Kari, what one person calls a “punishment” another person might call a “withholding of blessings”. There is a huge difference, and I see both cases in the latter sense. I think all of us (Black AND White) were denied incredible blessings because of our inability to comprehend and follow the Gospel more fully – just as happened with the elimination of the United Order. I don’t see that as a “punishment” but rather a natural result of our collective weakness.

    If anything, the Lord allowed one people to be “punished” by another people, which has happened countless times throughout history. Unfortunately, that’s the Dark Side of agency.

  47. Kari, the verse states that “And every decision made by either of these quorums must be by the unanimous voice of the same.” I tend to think that this is a legal usage of the word quorum. The quorum can’t meet unless a majority of it’s members are present – now that typically means seven. The decisions of the quorum are made in such meetings and the resolutions of such meetings are made unanimously. Such resolutions, regardless of how many weren’t there to vote, are still binding.

  48. My last paragraph should have said “punished unjustly”. I don’t want any misunderstanding of my intended meaning.

  49. J-

    Yes, but then the verse (should be 27 not 12) goes on to state, in terms that I interpret as a clarification of “unanimous voice”, “that is, every member in each quorum must be agreed to its decisions, in order to make their decisions of the same power or validity one with the other—”

    But then I actually went to the source (and not JWL’s comment) and verse 28 states “A majority may form a quorum when circumstances render it impossible to be otherwise—”

    So I must eat some crow.

    But let me ask this — in today’s world with modern communications, is it ever “impossible to be otherwise”?

  50. Unfortunately the Doctrine and Covenants are not clear on the validity of teleconferencing in the formation of a quorum.

  51. Steve Evans says:

    LOL

  52. Ray,

    I appreciate your comments. I was specifically disagreeing with the statement that blacks being withheld the priesthood is somehow similar to the 40 years of Israel’s wandering. I still don’t agree that is a good analogy.

    I think that there is very little real life difference (and very little semantic difference) between “punishment” and “withholding blessings” if there is a choice by a sentient being to give or withhold those blessings.

    It is equally valid to state that the Lord withheld the blessings of the promised land as it is to state that he punished the ancient Israelites. Just as I withhold my children’s allowances when they behave in a way that they have been warned will result in their allowance being withheld. If I take an active part in the withholding of blessings I am punishing. If it takes an active part of God to give or withhold blessings, then withholding blessings is punishment. It’s just that we often don’t fully realize when God is withholding blessings. It’s not like He tells me every day “if you had been kinder to your spouse I would have blessed you with clearer intellect at work tomorrow.” If we had such specifics, we would all be better at getting our allowances. :)

    And if we get or miss blessings without a volitional act of God, what need do we have for Him?

    Lastly, I don’t believe that God was withholding blessings from, or punishing, blacks. They suffered because of the bigotry of whites, and the bigotry of Church leaders. It’s unfortunate that they exercised their agency thus. This type of suffering is neither punishment or withholding blessings, it’s the consequence of others’ actions.

    Ok, I’ve hijacked this thread. I’ll stop now.

  53. IIRC, Leonard Arrington included an account of the 1978 revelation in his Adventures of a Church Historian. Does anyone recall whether it explains Petersen’s absence?

  54. I recall a Faust quote recently to the effect that today’s quorum was more unified than any that had preceded it. As I recall he even offered a theory for why.

  55. JimD (#53)–

    Just looked up a couple pages of Arrington’s book on Amazon.com’s “search inside” feature. Arrington didn’t give any detail on Petersen’s absence. He merely included a footnote naming the then-current Quorum of the Twelve, and then noting that “Absent from the June 1, 8, and 9 meetings was Mark E. Petersen, who was visiting in Brazil.” (See footnote 2 on page 184). Arrington does not mention Stapley’s absence.

  56. #52 – Kari, I said that the blessings that would have accompanied a lack of bigotry and full participation in the Priesthood were withheld from Blacks AND Whites. I mean that *our* (White) inability to accept the will of God in this matter kept blessings from being available to all of us (Black and White). *We* (White) kept those blessings from being given; in a very real way, *we* (not God) withheld those blessings from our Black brothers and sisters.

    Full racial equality is part of our modern-day vision of Zion (or at least it should be), so I think the analogy of Israel being denied entrance into their Promised Land is a fairly good analogy for us being denied entrance into our own modern “Promised Land” until our own generations were prepared to enter it.

  57. Iow, Kari, I think we agree on this. :-)

  58. Ray, (#57)

    Yes, I do think we agree. And I agree in the way you present the analogy. In re-reading Sam’s initial comment I can see that I misinterpreted his comments, and that he was saying what you are saying. I had interpreted his comment as likening blacks to the ancient Israelites.

    I guess I shouldn’t be doing this at work, between appointments. More time is needed to really read and understand. Thanks for your patience.

  59. While watching “Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons” last Saturday, the thought came to me that we went from the extended presidency of DOM through the short tenures of Presidents Smith (served 2 years, died at age 94) and Lee (served 18 months, died at age 74 to everyone’s great surprise), opponents to the change, to the extended presidency of SWK.
    .
    I admit that my mind drifted to Pres. Woodruff’s words included after Official Declaration – 1, The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty. (Sixty-first Semiannual General Conference of the Church, Monday, October 6, 1890, Salt Lake City, Utah. Reported in Deseret Evening News, October 11, 1890, p. 2.)

  60. Sam Kitterman says:

    Thanks, Kari, for your thoughts especially as noted in #58. I should have been clearer. Ray just provided the clarification and what I meant by my comments.
    The example of the white membership telling their BP either them or the Negro family out was to me very telling as to who was truly in the wrong. And why the Lord may well have had to delay correcting the doctrine (I being of the belief the Priesthood ban was more a result of human action rather than divine revelation)…
    In fact, all of this brought back an incident I witnessed during my mission in So. Germany. We had two branches in this particular city, one American and the other German. I recall the German BP asking the American BP one evening about Negros and that he had been told they “have a funny odor”. Given our instructions from the mission president not to get involved in local ward “politics” I walked away rather than wait to see what the American BP responded with…..
    And that was but four years from the revelation…..

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