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Monday, July 17, 2006

"My parents were not people of blood" - Remembering Mosiah Hancock and the 1838 Mormon War

"My parents were not people of blood" - so states Mosiah Hancock as he recalls the desperate days of his Mormon family in 1838 in Missouri. Mosiah, then a child, watched his parents blockade their little cabin and stand ready with axes and a rifle to ward off assailants who lurked outside. The parents thought they were doomed, but were ready to make the mob pay dearly before they could harm their children. This poignant scene was one shared in various ways by many other Mormons facing extermination from bloodthirsty mobs stirred up by leading "Christians" and others in the area. As I'll mention below, there was blame to be spread to both sides, but the inhumanity of the extermination efforts against the Mormons in Missouri should never be forgotten.

Mosiah Hancock and his father, Levi Hancock, were two early Latter-day Saints who knew Joseph Smith. Both left us journals that provide much information about their lives and the lives of early Mormons. I have printed copies that I purchased several years ago for background information when I was writing about the 1838 "Mormon War" in Missouri and the issue of the "Danites," the group of secretive Latter-day Saints who were the source of some unfortunate and unnecessary violence during those troubled times. Both journals are available online at BOAP.org's resource, "Early Saints: Journals, Diaries, Biographies and Autobiographies of Some Early Mormons and Others Who Knew Joseph Smith, Jr. and/or His Contemporaries" -- a rich resource for studying the early days of the Church. I took up these journals again when I was about to give my printed copies to some of the Hancock's descendants who just moved into my ward. I'll still give them away, as planned, but had to spend a little more time with the printed text (always more enjoyable than online reading for me). Below is one interesting excerpt from the Mosiah Hancock Journal that adds his witness to some of the privations suffered by the Saints in Missouri. He wrote his journal decades after his childhood expereinces (he was only four years old in 1838, so much of his description may be based on what he understood from his parents and other Latter-day Saints - yet he still was an eye-witness to several terrible things.
I well remember when Brother David Patten and Brother Carter were killed at the battle of Crooked River; and also several of the brethren wounded! Brother Joseph Holbrack was literally hacked to pieces, and he was brought to our home about the first of April. My mother nursed him for about three months. He had to remain in the hay loft all the time until he was able to get out of the state. One evening, old Sam Bogart and two other men came hunting him. He was hid in the hay loft covered with flax. The men were heavily armed, and they searched the premises around before they came up to the house late at night. I would have all who read this to understand that my parents were not people of blood; yet there had been so much murder, rapine, and crimes perpetrated by the mob, that my father did not know how to treat the "Christians" of Missouri. Father got his broad axe and the "women's" axe for mother, and said, "We will set the bench before the fireplace for them to get warm---then if they start any trouble, I will grab the broad axe and you take the other axe and we will sell our lives as dearly as possible. We have Brother Holbreck and the three children to defend!" The axes were placed behind the door, then father stood in the door way, and mother stood with rifle in hand.....the bandits made their approach on the outside. Said Sam Bogart, "I have a search warrant for Joseph Holbreck". Father asked them to come in, but Bogart said he didn't believe Holbreck was there. So they went away.

I cannot attempt to describe my feelings as I stood on the floor in front of the fire while those three dark figures stood outside our door. I felt sure my mother would get one of them even if they killed my father. I shudder to think of those dark times. I wish all to understand that these things did happen in mobocratic Missouri----in that Christian land close to where the so-called Christians held their Christian meetings....right here in the land of the brave and the free! I am a witness of these things, and no one can deny them!

This fall we went over to Far West. I was always glad to see the Prophet and the noble brethren associated with him. What good meetings we had in Far West! I well remember the enjoyment we had at a prayer meeting. One evening I heard Brother Tubbs bear his testimony of the truth of the Gospel, and his daughter Betty also bore her testimony.

There was a mob of 1600 camped in the vicinity of Far West. Judas Iscariot [George M.] Hinkle came in and reported the state of affairs in the camp of the mobbers. A person destitute of the Spirit of Christ might think there was something sweet about Hinkle. Someone got up and spoke in tongues; and Betty Tubbs spoke, saying that she well realized that the time had come for all to put their trust in God and not on man, `and for every tub to sit on it's own bottom', then she sat down! A few days later, Hinkle formed a brotherhood in a hollow square, and made them cast their arms of defense on the ground. He then delivered the Prophet over to the mob! After they had taken the arms from the brethren, they kept the brethren in the square for three days and two nights without food. The mob became very brave after they had taken the brethren's arms. One of their officers complimented the men on their bravery, and said, "Now you can go and do as you please with their women". Many of them left with the intention of committing rapine. When the terrified women ran out to escape those brutal fiends, it was more than the men in the square could stand! They ran out to protect their loved ones; then the mobbers turned loose and shot down men, women, and children! They shot the children because they said that "Nits Make Lice". I saw C. C. Richardson going from Far West with a white flag of truce. As he and his companions approached the camp, they were fired upon by the mobbers. Luckily, none of the brethren were hit, and a truce was patched up. But the mobbers were not to be trusted. After the brethren had delivered up their arms, father mounted his horse Turk, and rode off to Adam-ondi-Ahman. A party of forty-two of the mobs cavalry started in pursuit of father. A whisper came to him, "Go through the Hale thicket, then turn to the left." This he did, and it brought him in the rear of the gang that was pursuing him. He said to one of the men in the rear, "Where has that fellow gone?" I don't know", was the answer, "but we will soon catch him." Father stopped his horse and pretended to tighten his saddle-girth and then he escaped from his pursuants.

The night before the surrender, mother had run 250 bullets for father's rifle. Father and his brothers, and a few others, did not give up their rifles. There were 16 guns that were not surrendered. The owners taking their 16 guns into the thicket caused more consternation against the mob than all the mobber's guns caused against the Saints. But trouble had started! The nation with "eagle wings" was to make war on the Saints and overcome them. The Saints soon had to start forth to please the State of Missouri. . . .

It is a fact which should be remembered. . . . . the Hancock brothers, Levi, Joseph, and Solomon, with their guns guarded and fed 600 men, women, and children while camped in the woods after they had been driven from their homes. They were waiting for an opportunity to get away. I saw the Prophet marched away; and I saw, oh, the scenes I witnessed! I do not think people would believe them, so I will forbear. The howling fiends, although they wore the uniforms of the U.S., they were not to be trusted! So some of the brethren made three hundred tomahawks for protection.

I can hold it no longer-----and I tell the truth when I say.....I saw a thing in the shape of a man grab an infant from its mother's arms and bash it's brains out against a tree! Two men got hold of me and had it their own way for awhile; but before they commenced, they told me I could pray. I rehearsed a part of a piece spoken by a young Indian, "The sun sets at night and the stars shun the day; but glory remains when twilight fades away. Begin ye tormentors, your threats are in vain; for the son of Alnasmak will never complain." They showed me no mercy! . . I could look upon my body, and I was far above them and was glad; for behold, I saw a personage draped in perfect white who said to me, "Mosiah, you have got to go back to the earth, for you have a work to do!" How I ever came back I can never say!

I saw the fiends tie a young person to a bench---she was scarcely sixteen years of age----and fourteen things in human form performed "that" upon their victim which would cause a hyena to revolt at their fiendish orgies! It continued long after their fainting victim had become unconscious. This with other things too numerous to mention were enough to cause the Saints to pause and consider the dismal surroundings confronting them.

And they, the Saints, having descended from the mighty Abraham, went forth by the spirit of God to deliver their friends--and the mobocrats melted before them as the dew before the sun. Can you wonder then that these loved ones who were devoted to each other and to those enduring ties of love, freedom, and religious liberty--by right of their own, can you wonder then that they could not longer trust their captors, and were determined to sell their lives as dearly as possible? There were some three hundred men and women determined to march forth with spears and battle axes in hand to have their liberty, and to have their Prophet restored to them again. But, the word of the Lord came through the Prophet that the Brethren should have the Saints be patient. The Prophet's Brethren were a few staunch men in the Church known as the Spartan Group. Their words were few; but their works were great; and their faith was far reaching. They were of the old honest stamp, and if anyone could make a home or heaven in hell, they could! They were true to the Prophet of God and to the virtues and graces; and they never wanted to hold the fat position that Hinkle and some of the others tried to get. In fact, they seemed to be content with their lot as honest Saints.

Some people tried to class the Mormons with the Danites. The Danites were of a different stripe, however. The Danites tried to hold an outward friendship for the Prophet, and for the teachings of the Savior, but it was not skin deep. They tried to get a hog's office among the Saints, which proved their love for 'loaves and fishes'. They usually got a few traps that no decent devil would be justly proud of. Oft times they would locate a dwelling in a neighboring town on the prairie or in the woods. There they would let their bottom door swing in for all sorts of low-down characters to meet; where they could always boast of a deck of cards and a candle; and felt themselves safe from official scrutiny. They usually had plenty of horses when needed; and they were quite able to get up and speak in prayer meeting. They were hale fellows, well met with the black-legs and the apostates of the country. They would pay some tithing in order to pave the way for them to get benefits; and they would say, "Hurrah! for Mormonism" when they were around the Saints, and then some black-leg who belonged to the same gang would bawl out, "I'm a Mormon"! They have always been a clog in the Church and a clog in the country wherever they have been.
The 1838 Mormon war was the culmination of years of violence against Latter-day Saints, who had been driven from two states before Missouri and had been driven from two counties within Missouri. In previous attacks from Missouri mobs, the Saints learned that the government of the state had no interest in protecting unpopular victims of violence. The Saints were on their own, and in 1838, it became a literal war of survival against forces bent on the expulsion or extermination of the Mormon settlers. After having tried to deal with their problems through appropriate civil and military channels, the Saints realized that they would have to take military action on their own to survive. Thus, in mid-October, LDS leaders sent their own state-authorized militias in Caldwell and Daviess counties to actively resist mob efforts. Unauthorized and improper events took place, possibly under influence of the Danites, inculding crimes of burning homes of settlers in Daviess County where the Mormons needed to drive out the gathering mobs. Naturally, the use of force by Mormons, even though it weas in the name of self-defense, only further infuriated the mobs and the pro-expulsionist Governor Boggs. The so-called "Mormon War" would culminate in the imprisonment of Mormon leaders, a genuine massacre of Mormon settlers at Haun's Mill, and the issuance of an inhumane extermination order from the Governor of Missouri authorizing the expulsion or extermination of Mormons.

In 1838 the Mormons, having settled in the northwestern part of the state, were now gathering in force and were resolved not to be driven out again. Call it self-defence or stubborn militancy, the Saints were prepared to fight and resist the local mobs who were again bringing fear and violence to the Mormons. They would resist, even if it meant driving the mobs out of the area with force. Thus, in October of 1838, several bands of Mormons associated with local and legitimate militia groups appear to have gone well beyond what legitimate state militias were normally allowed to do - but the Mormons were in a desperate bid for self-preservation. Mormon groups marched across county lines from Caldwell County into Daviess County, a place associated with mob attacks against the Saints. Sadly, some of the Mormon troops burned and plundered homes of some Missourians, most of whom had fled the county. For many, such acts were generally viewed as justified by a desperate need to remove the lethal threat of mobs. Orson Hyde and Thomas Marsh, both Apostles, were offended by the militant actions for defense and broke ties with the Church and wrote affidavits accusing the Church of much evil, though they both later repented of what they had done and returned to the Church. Unfortunately, it is probable that burning and plundering occurred under the influence of Sampson Avard's Danite band, who had been taught by Avard that God wanted the Mormons to have the wealth of the Gentiles and to seek vengeance regardless of the law.

Certainly the Saints made some tragic mistakes and some even committed awful crimes in dealing with their neighbors. They can be said to have brought some persecution upon themselves, but there were plenty of religious bigots more than happy to stir up mob action against the Mormons and drive them out. It's a good reminder of just how tenuous peace and religious liberty can be, and how important it is to maintain cool heads when things get ugly.

38 comments:

Mark Butler said...

The 1839 Mormon War, right?

Proud Daughter of Eve said...

I have to constantly try to not hate Missouri. It's so sad that a land of such promise has instead become so full of hate and drenched in blood. I think there's a need for restitution but I don't know what they could do. Nor am I sure it's fair; most of the people in Missouri now are not even related to the mobs and it's certain that none of those who live there now were personally involved anyway.

Bookslinger said...

I forget where I read it, but much divine retribution did fall on Missouri and the persecutors, especially in counties where the violence occurred.

Ryan said...

I've heard speculation that the Civil War did a pretty good job of punishing Missouri and the Mob, but I wouldn't even try to guess whether it was "enough" retribution.

It seems like repaying violence with violence doesn't really cancel anything out (and yes, I have ancestors with their own horror stories from that time).

In the end it will be up to the Atonement to make a full restitution because no mortal power can heal or undo those kinds of injuries.

Mormanity said...

1838 - sorry about the typo in the title that I've fixed.

The causes of the conflict were much more complex that just religious bigotry and mobsters looking for trouble. The Saints appeared to create an economic and political threat, and some of the things they said must have sounded pretty threatening to outsiders (building up the Kingdom of God, gathering the world to Zion, etc., not to mention the fear of Abolition, etc.). But some ministers did a lot to provide the sparks to set off the powder keg, especially in response to trouble that some Mormons stirred up. I don't think Missouri itself was especially wicked, but at least a few corrupt leaders and ministers will have to answer someday for what they did or allowed to happen.

Bishop Rick said...

You have to remember that the Danites did much to incite the mobs as well. These folks thought they were protecting their families too. That of course does not excuse what happened, but there is plenty of blame on both sides.

I think the Civil war punished Virginia more than any other state, since 70% of all battles were fought there.

I really don't think there was any devine retribution. That kind of thing just doesn't make any sense...Kill innocent people because other innocent people were killed...didn't happen.

Bishop Rick said...

After a more careful reading of the original post, Jeff did a good job of discussing the Danites.

Here is my analogy of that situation:

We are constantly being told that not all muslims are terrorists, that we need to be careful with discriminatory actions and what not.

Well it is true that not all muslims are terrorist, but all terrorists are muslim.

again...
Not all mormons are Danites, but all Danites are mormon.

Disclaimer: These statements are broad strokes as Shawn would put it, and are meant as general statements, not literal statements.

This is probably why the Danites were deemed synonomous with mormons.

Bookslinger said...

Rick,
History, including the Bible, is replete with examples where the innocent suffered along with the wicked in order to punish the wicked.

Noah's flood for example. Think of all the innocent little children who drowned in order to kill off the wicked adults.

The plague sweeping through the camp of Israel in Moses' day, because of the sins of a few.

Tens of thousands of Israelites died because David counted the people available for battle.

Someone did do research on the Missouri and Illinois persecutors. The information is out there, but I don't have the cite handy. "Bad things" did happen to many of the persecutors _individually_, not just to the state of Missouri as a whole.

Aside from the Danites (Joseph Smith called some of them "dough-heads", that's in History of the Church), there were political reasons for the persecution. One was that LDS were going to outnumber all other Missourians if trends continued, and the original settlers didn't want to be outnumbered by a single religious group and having a religious sect end up controlling the state legislature, and eventually the governor's office.

And probably more importantly, the LDS were against slavery, and it was feared that the church members would turn Missouri into a "free state."

Certainly there were religious reasons, and anti-mormon preachers were part of the persecution, but the main reason for the persecution of the saints was political. The mobsters themselves were very irreligious. They couldn't have cared less about other people's private religious beliefs. The fear was that the ultra-religious Mormons were going to take over the politics, and make Missouri a free-state, and prevent those who engaged in riotous living from having a good ol' time, and kick out the corrupt politicians who had been running Missouri.

Anonymous said...

The cruelty and pain/death the Saints suffered in incomprehensible to me. I am sickened by the facts that have been kept. It sure is wonderful that today we are a free accepted religion. And it is wonderful that we are respected by so many other religious leaders.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Walker said...

"Not all muslims but all muslims are terrorists"

Except for Timothy McVeigh, that is :)

Walker said...

Oops, major typo--the problems of not cutting and pasting when in a rush--

"Well it is true that not all muslims are terrorist, but all terrorists are muslim."

See my comment above.

Bishop Rick said...

Bookslinger,

The only "record" of innocent people being killed in the name of the lord is in the scriptures. This is found no where in history.

I don't think Noah's flood is a good example because the story as it is found in the bible is not true. The whole earth was never flooded. Many of the stories in the 5 books of "Moses" were just expanded legends attributed to Moses many 100s of years after his death, by Jewish scribes. They should not be taken literally.

How can anyone believe in a God that kills innocent people? I want no part in that belief systems.

I think it is very possible that Missourians felt that Mormons were opposed to Slavery, but I am not convinced that they were against it. I have read quotes from early LDS leaders stating that slavery was wrong, however, I have read just as many (if not more) stating that the blacks were slaves due to their cainanite heritage, and that essentially, they were getting what they deserved due to their position in the pre-existence.

Bishop Rick said...

Anonymous,

Do you really believe there is a devil out there that can control people and influence them to do evil?

Satan is just symbolism. He doesn't exist. He doesn't put thoughts in your head, he doesn't tempt you. If you are tempted by something and succumb, that is your own doing. Don't blame the devil. He had nothing to do with it.

Bishop Rick said...

Walker,

TM is exactly why I had a disclaimer after that statement.

I was just using that statement as a possible justification (in the minds of Missourians) to persecute Mormons for deeds performed by Danites.

But I'm sure you knew that. I'm just clearing it up for someone that might not have known that.

Walker said...

Rick:

"The only "record" of innocent people being killed in the name of the lord is in the scriptures. This is found no where in history."

Except for the Crusades, that is :)

"I have read just as many (if not more) stating that the blacks were slaves due to their cainanite heritage, and that essentially, they were getting what they deserved due to their position in the pre-existence."

As long as we note the ambiguity here. Brigham Young, for example, embraced the Cain theory while wholly rejecting the pre-existence theory. Most significant though, Joseph Smith, while he shifted on the issue, ordained on several occasions black brethren to the priesthood: Walker Lewis, Green Flake, Elijah, Able (true Zebedee Coltrin disputed it later, but Joseph F. Smith provided documents to prove Able's Seventy status--even though Joseph F. Smith, inexplicably, disputed that later as well). Pre-Brigham Young, the record is overwhelmingly opposed to slavery. The Kirtland temple was explicity designed for the worship of both black and white, bond and free (as would be the Nauvoo temple years later).

I'm a tad confused as to how you can reconcile your "Satan is just symbolism. He doesn't exist" with 2 Ne. 28:22's rebuke of this philosophy: "I am no devil, for there is none."

It's one thing to take issue with various quotes from Church leaders in random sources. It's quite another to challenge the scriptures.

Mormanity said...

B.R., what basis do you have for denying the existence of beings such as God or Satan? There most certainly is a God.

Bishop Rick said...

Walker,

You got me on the crusades. Nice memory.

The quotes I have heard from early LDS leaders supporting an end to slavery were indeed from Joseph Smith and the quotes that were pro slavery were indeed from Brigham Young and later leaders. So I think we are in agreement there as well. Of course to your point, the pro slavery stand was post Missouri thus debunking my statement. Another good catch.

Now regarding Satan and the scriptures...Just because something is in the scriptures doesn't make it right. Over 3000 errors in the BofM points, at the very least, that mistakes were made, even if most were gramatical. Gramatical errors can change the entire meaning of sentence so they are important as well.

Let's say that all Christian scriptures are in deed inspired of the Lord. We need to remember that in many cases they are just recountings of things thought to be true at the time they were written down. In many cases 100s of years after the actual event. We should not be expected to take every passage to be divine. That is an unrealistic expectation.

Bishop Rick said...

Jeff,

I am glad that you believe there is a God. (Notice I say believe, because you can't possibly know unless you have seen him yourself).

Now, I have never denied the existence of a God. In fact, let me state right now that I do believe in the existence of a God.

Satan, on the other hand, is a whole other matter. Please explain to me how that whole satan concept works. It makes absolutely no sense when you step back and analyze it. Yea, I know...opposition in all things. That concept doesn't make any sense either.

We have to stop taking everything we hear from church leaders as the gospel truth, because in most cases, people are just restating what other people have told them. (emphasis on people as opposed to God).

Think for yourself...I mean really think for yourself, not token thinking when you are already convinced of the outcome. That doesn't count. You have to analyze things with an open mind, with the consideration that something might just be wrong or right (whatever the case may be). Only then can you truly study and research to find out if something is true or not.

If you have your mind made up before you do your research, and the only reason you are doing that research is to prove what you already believe, your research will be biased and flawed.

Jeff, no offense, but I just don't believe that there is (or ever was) a being that can control me or anyone else without my agreement.

Satan doesn't rob banks or kill innocent people or perform any other evil acts. People do those things of their own free will. It is time we stop blaming worldly evil on a non-existant being and start putting the blame where it belongs...on us.

Bishop Rick said...

Please note that in my last post, second to last paragraph, I do not mean to imply that satan must have my agreement before controlling anyone. that should have read "...my or anyone elses..."

Someone on this board would have reamed me for that statement without this correction.

Walker said...

Preciate the kudos. Nice sentiments

Might I say, however, while this is not a straight-across parallel, your comment ("I have never denied the existence of a God. In fact, let me state right now that I do believe in the existence of a God") sounds eerily like Alma 30:52. But that would implicate that you share characteristics with this individual in scripture.

Must be mistranslated.

Because "mistakes were made," that gives us the right to discount any scripture we want? (check the 1830 edition which, while still imperfect, has only an average of about three errors per page--see if 2 Ne. 28 is the same there :) Does scripture even exist? Joseph Smith remarked: "Take away the BOM and the revelations and where is our religion? We have none." Then again, Joseph MUST have been misquoted--such words indicate orthodoxy after all.

"We should not be expected to take every passage to be divine. That is an unrealistic expectation."

And who determines this? You? Me? ("let ME explain the whole satan concept to you"). Why should I trust you or me or anyone for that matter in knowing ANYTHING about the divine unless make a direct claim to authority, like the Brethren? Do you dare make such a claim?

Why don't we all just make our own religion? It would a lot easier and heap loads more fun than believing in that cursed "orthodoxy."

To paraphrase: "We also believe the Book of Mormon to be the Word of God, as far as we deem it correct according to our worldview." Or as I've noted elsewhere: "As an athiest, I like this god. It is good to seem every morning when I shave."

Following your philosophy, we might as call ourselves hippies dressed in business suits. BOM...no BOM...Satan, no Satan...whatever you like!

If that's what you really believe, no worries. Just don't claim to be an "active LDS," sapping any real meaning out the term. Even if you do have two callings.

Bishop Rick said...

Walker,

Believe me, the resemblance of my statement to Alma 30:52 was mere coincedence.

All I am trying to say is that just because it is written in a book deemed to be scripture, doesn't make it true (or untrue). Have an open mind when considering these things. Don't take what other Men (and women) have said, to be the last word. I'm not saying these things are not true. I always try to preface with "I believe...".

This has absolutely no bearing on whether I attend church meetings, pay tithing, accept callings, etc. If you were to talk to anyone in my ward, they would tell you that I am an active LDS. That has nothing to do with what I believe personally.

I also make no claim to the divine just as no man on this earth can.

Regarding the "As an atheist, I like this God..." statement, that was not me.

So my philosophy would have everyone wearing beads preaching no worries. What would your philosophy have everyone doing? Getting in line, following prophet, because once the prophet speaks, the thinking has been done? That is a VERY dangerous path to take.

Now, I really don't think that is what you mean, no more than am to mean for hippies to dominate the religious scene.

Look we know there are things in the scriptures that are just not true, or at least should not be taken literally (such as the creation story or Noah's flood, or domesticated farm animals on the american continent). Just don't believe everything you hear or read, and don't just practice that on me.

Walker said...

"Getting in line, following prophet, because once the prophet speaks, the thinking has been done? That is a VERY dangerous path to take."

Here's a dandy of a letter from George Albert Smith addressing the "when our leaders speak, the thinking is done" issue. Basically: it's false doctrine as refuted by the individual stereotypically believed to be the enforcer of orthodoxy.

http://content.lib.utah.edu/cdm4/document.php?CISOROOT=/dialogue&CISOPTR=16763&REC=11

I do, however, think a false dilemma is being set forth here. Either one has an open mind and doesn't accept scriptural account or has a closed mind and does. WHat about having an open mind, weighing all evidence, and coming down on the side of orthodoxy?

Chesterton did say once that defending orthodoxy these days has the exhiliration of a vice.

Anonymous said...

Bishop Rick,

Read Moses 4: 4 again carefully:

"And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice." (Moses 4: 4; emphasis added)

When one is not careful to hearken to the voice of God, then Satan takes power. There's an adage, which I believe to be in harmony with the revealed Word of God, that goes "God is votin' fer me, and the devil is votin' again' me. But it's my vote that counts."

I believe in God. I believe in the reality of Satan. I believe in the holy scriptures. I believe God enlightens and empowers those who are obedient. I believe the devil can only darken and ensnare those who are disobedient to the voice of God. I might even say I know of these things. I believe one can know of these things just as well as one can know anything else.

I believe that everyone will "reap their rewards according to their works, whether they were good or whether they were bad, to reap eternal happiness or eternal misery, according to the spirit which they listed to obey, whether it be a good spirit or a bad one.
"For every man receiveth wages of him whom he listeth to obey, and this according to the words of the spirit of prophecy; therefore let it be according to the truth." (Alma 3: 26-27)

adamite said...

As a temple going member, I firmly believe what I am taught in the temple ceremonies. I also firmly believe in what Joseph Smith has taught us about God and Satan and all things divine. He has had intimate conversations with God, Christ, and Moroni, a lot more than he was able and allowed to write down. He has made mistakes and God reprimanded him for it in various ways. But the prophets has told us to seek the Holy Spirit in all things and this includes anything that the prophets have told us, in scripture and in modern revelations. We are to discover the truth for ourselves. We are to seek the Spirit for guidance and He will reveal to us what we need to know in our lives when we are ready. Read James 1:5.

Bishop Rick said...

Walker,

If with truly having an open mind, one weighs all the evidence and comes down on the side of orthodoxy, then good for him. He can feel good about his conclusions.

I couldn't open your link, but I agree, that the "...when a prophet speaks..." doctrine is false. I also mentioned that I didn't think you believed it either.

anonymous,

"I believe the devil can only darken and ensnare those who are disobedient to the voice of God."

So are you saying that if someone hasn't heard the voice of God (thus not being able to hearken unto it) that they cannot be influenced by the devil? How do you explain the evil that comes from these people? If it is not from the devil, where is it from, and why can't all evil come from that same place?

"I believe God enlightens and empowers those who are obedient"

Again, what about people that have never heard God's word and have not had the opportunity to obey? Can they not be enlightened or empowered either?

I don't mean to make light of your beliefs, but this just doesn't seem fair to me. I'm sticking up for the underdog here.

I do like your adage though.

Bishop Rick said...

adamite,

I agree with your approach. I have just come to slightly different conclusions.

You do realize that much of the temple ceremony is figurative don't you?

adamite said...

I believe that the information in the temple was inspired by the Lord. He would not have any information that would be misleading or confusing. The truth is plain and simple. If satan was only an idea why would he say that he has done this work in other worlds? Sounds like he's a real entity just an idea. God won't lead us into confusion about what He means. If Satan was only an idea then God and Christ and everything else would be just an idea.

Bishop Rick said...

Adamite,

I think many atheists and exmos would agree with you.

Anonymous said...

Bishop Rick,

I believe what the scriptures teach, that "good and evil have come before all men; he that knoweth not good from evil is blameless; but he that knoweth good and evil, to him it is given according to his desires, whether he desireth good or evil, life or death, joy or remorse of conscience." (Alma 29: 5)

I believe "the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil" (Moro. 7: 16) and that the "word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
"And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit.
"And every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto God, even the Father." (D&C 84: 45-47)

I believe "that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers." (D&C 93: 39; emphasis added)

I believe that there are many all throughout the world "who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it—
Therefore, that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven—
These should then be attended to with great earnestness." (D&C 123: 12-13)

Furthermore I believe that "All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God;
"Also all that shall die henceforth without a knowledge of it, who would have received it with all their hearts, shall be heirs of that kingdom;
"For I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts." (D&C 137: 7-9)

In short, I don't believe God gives anyone a bum deal. How it is all going to work out I'm not sure, because of my own ignorance and because all of God's "judgments are not given unto men" (D&C 29: 30). I have faith that God is able to do His own work (2 Ne. 27: 20-21) in bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of His children. (Moses 1: 39)

I say with Nephi: "I know that [God] loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things." (1 Ne. 11: 17)

Bishop Rick said...

Anonymous,

You added emphasis to "tradition of their fathers". What point did you mean for us to get? I don't want to mis-interpret.

This verse confuses me:

"Also all that shall die henceforth without a knowledge of it, who would have received it with all their hearts, shall be heirs of that kingdom; "For I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts." (D&C 137: 7-9)

If this is true, then why do we need to come to earth at all if God already knows the desires of our hearts?

Walker said...

A classic theological dillema, Rick--One that Mormons are certainly not alone in grappling with. Luther did it in "Freedom of a Christian," Calvin in "Institutes of a Christian." Anyone who believes that mankind has free will and that God knows everything must deal with this issue.

Not presuming to be the final word on the matter, I would suggest that our experience here is just that--OUR experience. A test? Perhaps, but that title is misleading. As a play gone unperformed is hardly a play at all (simply inkblots that claim to represent dialogue), so is experience the central element to mortality.

But maybe you've "heard it all before." If so, while these explanations may not be satisfying, it is not because they have been tried and left wanting, but because they (generally) have been found difficult and left untried (Chesterton--I kinda like his stuff, if you've noticed :)

Walker said...

Pardon...Calvin in "The Institutes of the Christian Religion" (the similarity in names crossed my wires)

Nathan said...

It's a slippery slope, the path that leads to hell.

I think it's completely foolish to believe there is not a Satan. I don't believe for one second that all the mistakes I've made were "just because".

Anonymous said...

One must remember this - the greatest trick Satan ever pulled was convincing the world he never exsisted.... Dangerous thoughts to think him as an idea.

Anonymous said...

I am a sixth generation descendent of a Missouri family from Livingston County who was on the "other side" of the conflict. My father married a Mormon girl and then joined the Church. My ancestor was a judge appointed by Gov. Lilburn W. Boggs, was a good Methodist (anti-slavery) and had a camp-meeting site on his farm at Spring Hill. From all records he was a good and amiable man. He was, however, apparently deceived by the popular outlook toward Mormons and indications are that at least some of his sons rode in the Hauns Mill raid. One of his sons, my direct ancestor, was captured and held by "Mormons" and warned to stay out of Daviess County. Following is a copy of his affidavit:

[Affidavit of Thomas J. Martin]

I, Thomas J. Martin, after being duly sworn do testify upon oath that whereas I was returning from meeting on the 21st day of Oct 1838 in Livingston County, I was intercepted and taken prisoner by the body of people called Mormons, which presented their guns and told me that I had one of two things told. That was, to relate to them all that I knew concerning the [blank] their munitions, &c, or to be laid on the sod and let birds eat me. They also took me about 12 miles during which time I saw them rummage the house of Mr. White. I also saw them take 4 others, and they had some others that had been taken before, some of which [they] took to Adam on deamon, and I have not [heard] from them since. During the time I was a prisoner they told me that they did not intend to let any man stay in Davies County that was not friendly to them. And they were doing the same to redress the injury received in Jackson County.

Thomas J. Martin

The above was sworn to and subscribed before me this 22nd day of October 1838.
Adam Black J.P.
------------------

Whether those taking prisoners were authorized by the Church or not is mute at this point. They did, however, cause a lot of harm to the image of the Church.

I don't think the Lord "curses" people so much as they curse themselves. Even down to my grandfather, the family was adamantly anti-Mormon. It was several years after my parents were married that my grandfather would speak to the Mormon daughter-in-law. It is the customs and false traditions of the fathers that often keeps otherwise good people from the truth.

We have been able to give these ancestors the opportunity of accepting the gospel through family history and temple work.

Blackmarch said...

"How can anyone believe in a God that kills innocent people? I want no part in that belief systems."

How can someone not? As soon as a person comes into physical being they are marked for death. None will escape it, doesn't matter if you're innocent or not, young or old, rich or poor, healthy or ill.

NathanS said...

Jeff, thanks for the post.

Blackmarch,
"How could anybody not?"

I totally agree with you. Consider those who have had "near-death" experiences. Many would prefer death to life but know that it is not for them to "play God" and take their own lives. They only wish God would. And they are not the only ones who feel that way.

People miss half the boat when they think longevity of mortal life counts more than quality of mortal and immortal life. Then the half boat they do catch sinks. Instead of a mercifull God who loves His children enough to kill some of them for their own infinite protection, they want a God that has their limits of understanding or their limits on love. I am grateful that we have a greater God than the one they imagine. Thanks for your comment.