Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Did Joseph Smith Really Have Concerns about the Future of the US Constitution?

A Google news search for "Mormon" today revealed an interesting LDS-related controversy in Idaho. In the Idaho Statesman, "Mormon Church Distances Itself from Idaho Gubernatorial Candidate" offers this report:
The Mormon Church says it doesn’t back Rex Rammell’s candidacy and doesn’t endorse a prophecy Rammell believes in which church founder Joseph Smith supposedly said the U.S. Constitution "will hang ... by a single thread.”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a statement this week after Rammell, a Mormon who is challenging Republican Gov. Butch Otter in the primary election next May, announced a series of meetings for Mormon elders on the so-called “White Horse Prophecy.” The prophecy is said to have been given by Smith and says church elders will save the Constitution.

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is politically neutral and does not endorse or promote any candidate, party or platform,” spokeswoman Kim Farah’s statement said. “Accordingly, we hope that the campaign practices of political candidates would not suggest that their candidacy is supported by or connected to the church.

“The so-called ‘White Horse Prophecy’ is based on accounts that have not been substantiated by historical research and is not embraced as Church doctrine.”
I agree that the Church should not endorse political candidates, and also agree with Kim Farah in recognizing that the "White Horse Prophecy" is highly questionable, as an excellent article from FAIRLDS.org amply documents. At the same time, I think I should remind you that there is abundant evidence that Joseph Smith did express great concern about future threats to the Constitution of the United States. That point is made in the FAIRLDS article. Another good source comes from the “I Have a Question” feature in the June 1976 Ensign, where D. Michael Stewart of the Dept. of History at Brigham Young University, Department of History tackles the question, "What do we know about the purported statement of Joseph Smith that the Constitution would hang by a thread and that the elders would save it?":
The documents show that Joseph Smith did prophesy a number of times that the United States and the Constitution would be imperiled and that the elders would have a hand in saving them. The first known record of the prophecy dates to July 19, 1840, in Nauvoo, when the prophet spoke about the redemption of Zion. Using Doctrine & Covenants 101 as a text, he said, “Even this nation will be on the verge of crumbling to pieces and tumbling to the ground and when the Constitution is on the brink of ruin this people will be the staff upon which the nation shall lean and they shall bear the Constitution away from the very verge of destruction.” (Joseph Smith Papers, LDS Church Historical Archives, Box 1, March 10, 1844.)

There are also other documents in Church History files that show that five different early Saints recorded some remarks by the Prophet Joseph Smith on this same prophecy, perhaps voiced by the Prophet a number of times in a number of ways after 1840. Parley P. Pratt wrote in 1841 that the prophet said, “The government is fallen and needs redeeming. It is guilty of Blood and cannot stand as it now is but will come so near desolation as to hang as it were by a single hair!!!!! Then the servants goes [sic] to the nations of the earth, and gathers the strength of the Lord’s house! A mighty army!!!!!! And this is the redemption of Zion when the saints shall have redeemed that government and reinstated it in all its purity and glory!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” (George A. Smith Papers, Church Archives, Box 7, Folder 5, January 21, 1841.)

James Burgess related that the Prophet, while addressing the Nauvoo Legion several miles east of Nauvoo in May 1843, said that “the time would come when the constitution and government would hang by a brittle thread and would be ready to fall into other hands but this people the latter-day saints will step forth and save it.” (James Burgess Journal, 1818–1904, Church Archives, vol. 1—found among loose sermons.)

Orson Hyde recalled that the Prophet predicted that “the time would come that the Constitution and the country would be in danger of an overthrow and said he, if the constitution be saved at all, it will be by the Elders of this Church. I believe this is about the language as nearly as I can recollect it.” (JD, 6:150.)

In a Pioneer Day celebration in Ogden in 1871, Eliza R. Snow said, “I heard the prophet say, ‘The time will come when the government of these United States will be so nearly overthrown through its corruption, that the Constitution will hang as it were by a single hair, and the Latter-day Saints—the Elders of Israel—will step forward to its rescue and save it.” (Journal History, MSF 143 #28, July 24, 1871.)

Jedediah M. Grant, during the dark days of threatened invasion of Utah by a federal army, referred to the Prophet’s utterance as he addressed a Mormon Battalion gathering in Salt Lake City, February 6, 1855.

“What did the Prophet Joseph say? When the Constitution shall be tottering we shall be the people to save it from the hand of the foe.” (Deseret News Weekly, January 19, 1870.)

On various occasions, Joseph Smith referred to the Constitution, the country, and destiny of the nation; and there is clear evidence that he anticipated future peril. Furthermore, he pronounced the prophecy at various times and places. Perhaps he himself interchanged the simile “on the brink of ruin,” “hang by a brittle thread,” “hang by a single hair,” etc., to describe the anticipated crisis. It is also clear that the redeemers or rescuers of the Constitution were to be either the Saints generally or priesthood officers specifically.

Since no particular time was given for fulfilling this prophecy, members of the Church have often wondered about its timing. The prophecy clearly indicates a single, identifiable episode yet to come. However, it is helpful for us to constantly be on guard against threats to the central elements of the Constitution. It is not wise to sit by and think that the protection of the Constitution is the problem of someone else at some other time.

In support of this view of “constant vigilance,” it is most instructive to note that Church leaders have seen the Constitution imperiled a number of times. Brigham Young, reflecting on the prophecy of 1868, expressed: “It would not be many years before these words come to pass.” (JD, 12:204.) President John Taylor in 1884 declared: “It may be nearer … than some of us think.” (JD, 25:350.) President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., warned in 1942: “Whether it [the Constitution] shall live or die is now in the balance.” (Conference Report, October 1942, p. 58.)

Students of history and the Constitution know that the Constitution has been imperiled a number of times in its history and has been saved a number of times both by vigorous political action and by vocal public opinion.

Thus, rather than simply wait for the one time when the Constitution shall hang by a thread, Latter-day Saints must continually be vigilant. Our commission to save the Constitution is, like salvation, a continuing task, and Church leaders have pointed out the tools available: analysis of constitutional principles, personal study of the history of our nation, reading the Constitution to children at home and in schools, teaching them self-sacrifice—the principle that makes freedom possible—teaching them their obligations as mature citizens, recognizing and resisting ideologies that threaten constitutional principles, and developing loyalty to principle rather than to men or parties.

Politicians and statesmen must grapple with tough questions, painstakingly familiarize themselves with vital issues, and be decisive; but finally, an antidote to abusive government, to corruption, and to constitutional peril lies in private character. Humble people in prayerful homes will contribute immeasurably to a lasting constitutional government. And it should be apparent that consistent efforts in these areas will prepare us both to continually protect the Constitution and to prepare us for possibly a yet future rendezvous with our Constitution’s destiny.
Constant vigilance! That rings true to me, as does the prophecy at various times that the Constitution would be in great peril, as it most surely is today in an era where men in power ignore almost every restraint on what they can decree, spend, or seize. Maybe the Latter-day Saints can do something to help out. For starters, have you written your Congressman recently? Have you sought to understand what that document is and what our Founding Fathers sought to do?

Update, Dec. 31, 2009: One commenter said that Rammel has not been using the questionable White Horse Prophecy, but simply the more attested statement from Joseph Smith about the Constitution one day hanging from a thread or being in peril. If that is correct, then Rammel may have been a victim of media misinformation. To quote Church leaders on future dangers to the Constitution is NOT the same as relying on a lengthy bogus prophecy. Are any of you close enough to Rammel to know the real story here?

67 comments:

umkay said...

Aren't you missing the larger issue at hand?

The Church is now distancing itself from this prophecy because "there is not any supposed historical research to substantiate it"?

If this were the consistent m.o. of the Church, don't you think the Church would have to distance itself from a lot more "doctrine" or dogma that is regularly taught and perpetuated?

In the case at hand:

A. Where was this distancing during the decades that this prophecy has been tacitly acknowleded by HQ and taught in the quorums and over the pulpit across mormondom?

B. Why does the Church now ignore the detailed historical references found in their own records/publications, such as the one that you have indicated?

I'm confused.

Dan said...

it doesn't matter if Joseph Smith had concerns about the future of the US Constitution. Sadly, when you read the remarks as noted by those who heard Joseph, it seems Joseph never made clear remarks about what exactly the problems were, or how exactly the saints were going to "save" the Constitution. This ambiguity is ripe for abuse (which is exactly what you have with Mr. Rammell in Idaho. Because Joseph Smith talked so vaguely about the danger to the Constitution, it leaves open the interpretation to any Tom Dick or Sally to guess what that danger is. Thus, anyone can make up anything and say "look the Constitution is in danger, because Joseph said so." It thus becomes an abuse of the logical fallacy of appealing to authority. How can someone question Mr. Rammell unless one opens himself up to the accusation that he is going against the dear Prophet. If one questions Mr. Rammell, one questions Joseph Smith. That's an awfully abusive position to take by Mr. Rammell, and he ought to be ashamed of himself. Sadly, he is surrounded by fools who let him take on this cult of personality where he may think himself as a protector of the prophet's legacy. True latter day saints should follow the Church's counsel on this and shun Mr. Rammell, not giving him legitimacy. Sadly, the church, and most of its Mountain West members have had a history of letting abusive extremists rule the coop. Just look at how popular a certain Cleon Skousen has been, and how influential he has been within the conservative Mormon movement. His poison was so strong that it even got a prophet.

Anonymous said...

The "prophecy" that Mr. Rammell relies on has been repeatedly denounced by LDS church leaders.

In October 1918 General Conference, President Joseph F. Smith, as LDS prophet, talked about this so-called prophecy and said: "This ridiculous story . . . has been circulated about and printed and sent around as a great revelation by the Prophet Joseph Smith . . . It is simply false, that is all there is to it."

It was also specifically refuted by Elder (later Prophet) Joseph Fielding Smith and Elder Bruce R. McConkie.

An LDS spokeperson, in light of Mr. Rammell's comments released a statement specifically refuted the validity of the so-called prophecy.

Given that Mr. Rammell is relying on a prophecy that an LDS prophet, as prophet, specifically refuted as have LDS general authorities and today's official LDS spokesperson, a pretty credible argument can be made that Mr. Rammell is acted as an apostate.

He deserves the revilement he is getting over this.

DavidH said...

Just an ironic observation. In my opinion, the time the Constitution has most "hung by a thread" was the Civil War, which had more U.S. casualties and deaths than any other in our history, and which could have led to the complete facturing of our nation. The irony is, that at this time of perhaps the greatest crisis of our "nationhood", the Latter-day Saints did not seek to rescue the Constitution and our nationhood, but essentially "sat it out", along with occasional predictions by Mormons that the Civil War would be the end of the U.S. Of course, this was at a time when there was no love lost between the Church/Utah (which had recently been invaded by the U.S.) and the federal government.

Creek said...

It appears to me that Joseph Smith's comments about the Constitution were a prediction, not a prophesy. If they were a prophesy, wouldn't he have ensured they were written in official church records so there was no doubt?

I have attended several Christian seminars and conferences where it was stated that Christians do/will play an important role in safeguarding the American way of life. I don't consider those prophecies, just important truths.

Matthew said...

@ creek,
You mean when large christians get together in groups they talk about how they are the glue that holds the nation together? Crazy! Interestingly that's the same thing that all groups have to say about politics. It's always, 'us against them' when it comes to any group, so you may want to think a little bit more critically about such things.

Matthew said...

I, among others here, had not realized that this was not a real prophecy of the church. It comes up in meetings so often that I had assumed that it was part of the church doctrine.

It's so vague anyways that even if it is considered a prophecy I don't see it doing a whole lot of good and is rather ripe for abuse as we've seen in this case.

My personal opinion is that it had more to do with Joseph's time then our own. It also is not much different then the types of things that any large orginization has to say about the US government. I.E. that the nation is headed to hell in a handbasket, and 'we' are the only ones that can stop it from happening. Coincidentally you'll here the same type of talk in any sort of large group that is politically active. Democrats, republicans, libertarians, Jehovah's witness, atheists, teachers, etc, etc, etc... Every group thinks they are the ones that can see the writing on the wall and those other yahoos, they're clueless or evil. It's in group bias and has been around since the dawn of time (as far as we can tell.)

Bookslinger said...

DavidH:

I think you're wrong about Mormons sitting out the Civil War. Church leaders encouraged many young men to join the Union Army. My understanding is that many did, and sent their wages back home.

Does anyone have any links to any facts/figures about Mormons serving in the Union army?

Anonymous said...

No, the church didn't support enlisting in the Union Army. In fact, Brigham Young and many leaders rejoiced in the chaos caused by the war.

Some context helps. Young saw the war as a form of retribution for the problems with Johnson's Army and the previous events in Missouri and Illinois.

Still, about 400 Mormons fought in the war. Many did not support Brigham. Others were those who didn't go West. Few went East from Utah.

Anonymous said...

Despite such, Brigham Young did allow for the raising of a small force to guard the overland mail route through Utah and later did send a message of loyalty to the Union once the transcontinental telegraph was in place.

He could have rebelled and hurt the Union. But, he did not.

cadams said...

I remember reading that Ezra Taft Benson in the 1960s, as an apostle, explained in COnference that the single thread, exposed but not broken, is the franchise to vote.

Nick Literski said...

Maybe Joseph Smith was worried that one day, the leaders of the LDS church would seek to impose their faith upon the lives of others, and by doing so, would endanger the very foundations of the Constitution.

Anonymous said...

I find it highly ironic that one Mormon, aka Harry Reid, is very involved with causing the Constitution to 'hang by a thread', and other Mormons are now supposed to save it.

Both parties remind me of Gadianton Robbers.

Dan - I'm glad you care about the poor. I trust you're giving a substantial portion of your own income to help them. So do I. The problem comes in when you want to FORCE people to take care of the poor. You have no right to do that. Neither does our government. It's call stealing. And making one group of people work, against their will, to support another group of people is called slavery.

Government is not the appropriate vehicle for charity. Period.

JayleenB

Clark Goble said...

The thing I always find funny is that everyone who appeals to the idea of the saints saving the Constitution tends to have a rather narrow idiosyncratic view of what the Constitution says and means. Often I think they are the ones the Constitution needs saving from!

Likewise I've read folks who hear about this and see it as some Mormon threat to turn the nation into a theocracy which seems to fly against the very idea of the Constitution and saving it. But given some of the right wing wackos (and occasional left wing wacko) who take such odd interpretations of the Constitution this is somewhat unsurprising even if it goes against the typical Mormon understanding.

umkay said...

Anonymous- I'll see your Smith and raise you a Ballard, Clark, Nibley (Charles) and Benson...all quotes in Gen.Conf...all after your 1918 quote.

Simply Google: "ezra taft benson hanging by a thread" Click on the very first link: emp.byui.edu/.../CONSTITUTIONHANGINGBYATHREAD.DOC

Remember, that the newer the leader, the more correct the interpretation, right?

I'm seeing a troubling recent pattern in that every time a long standing doctrine/dogma receives publicity in the outside world, HQ denies/distances.

Wouldn't it be great if HQ would simply come out as definitively on so many other "doctrines" as they have now done so on this one.


p.s. Lindsay, what say you?

p.p.s. I think Rammell is a tool, and is using religion to propel his political chances.

Tony said...

umkay. I personally just see it as the Church trying to separate themselves from this goof called Rammel, and as some of these posts have made clear, the whole "prophecy" deal is not very clear. It is up for interpretation.

Just because certain members seem to believe certain things about it and teach it doesn't make it part of the accepted canon or doctrine of the Church. I have personally not heard it taught in the few wards I've been to, though I wouldn't rule out that it has been.

I'm not about to harp on a little PR thing as a reason to attack the Church. I see it as a bit foolish.

Tony said...

Oh, and I'd like to see just how those conference addresses used such a quote in context before making any definitive judgments as to whether they are being pronounced as doctrine. There has to be unanimity among the First Presidency and the twelve, if I am not mistaken, for something to become doctrine. Surely there has not been unanimity on just what this statement or prediction by Joseph Smith was meant to be or convey in totality.

Dan said...

Jayleen,

No one is forcing anyone to participate being a citizen of this country. You are free to choose to participate or to leave and join another country. When you are a member, a citizen, of this country, you are bound (yes that means FORCED) by the rules, laws, governances, etc. that the citizens of this country set up. That means you are forced to obey the laws of the road, the laws governing crime, the laws governing taxation, etc. Don't cry over being "forced" to participate in something in this country when that's just the very nature of being a citizen of a country. The wonderful thing about a democracy is that we all get to choose representatives who will do what we ask. The weakness of a democracy is that not everyone gets what they want. So if a segment of the citizenship wishes to create a national health care system, according to the rules set forth in the nation-state, all citizens are required to participate at some level. If you don't like it you have two options. Convince enough of the population for your position, or leave. But don't cry about being forced to do something. That's simply the nature of being a citizen. Frankly I tire of having citizens of this country of ours be so selfish and so spoiled that they cry about their freedom while being served all these wonderful services by their government which they are never thankful for. It is such a sad spectacle to see. But I accept that a certain segment of the population, of the citizenship will always act this way. I don't have much of a choice in the matter, but I accept reality. I only wish others would be more accepting of reality around them.

Anonymous said...

The problem, as has been pointed out, is that Joseph Smith was so vague that any yahoo with a grievance can use it to claim the constitution is hanging by a thread. Didn't Timothy McVeigh feel much the same way?

Umkay said...

Tony- I agree that repetition does make doctrine. In fact, my favorite HQ pronouncement is now the May 4, 2007, official declaration that, “not everything a leader says is doctrine.”

However, with this particular admittedly inconsequential “doctrine”, my experience is that it has been taught and discussed every time the US-Constitution or Founding-of-the-US comes up. It seems that HQ would have known that the masses still viewed this as something to espouse. See the quotes in the Google search I provided; it seems to pervade the collective mindset, from the top down.

I suppose I am still stinging from Hinckley’s “I don’t know that we teach that” moment regarding a core tenet of Mormon doctrine.

I should be conditioned to the "he was speaking as a man" syndrome, however, since McConkie’s “…forget everything I said…we were wrong” moment regarding Blacks and the Priesthood.

We also now have FAIR’s John Gee saying that the Book of Abraham is not core to Mormon doctrine.

The great thing really to come of all this is that, with the exception of a few core tenets/doctrine/ordinances, I can believe what I deem “fit”. As long, of course, as I don’t teach or promote it. See September Six.

It seems though that HQ backpedaling and distancing is occurring more frequently.

Always interesting.

p.s. What say you re: the new Gospel Principles definition of an Apostle: now changed to “a special witness of the name of Jesus Christ” ?

Umkay said...

Check that-- reptition does not make doctrine.

Anonymous said...

Considering what has just happened in Congress with Health Care being pushed through Christmas Eve by bribing certain states; Nebraska comes to mind as one lop-sided deal, we are in the process of losing our country!!!

Check out NWO, Agenda 21, Wildlands Project, and then look at some you-tube Tea Party videos of 9/12 March on Washington D.C., and you will see we are in a Second Revolution.

Rex was hoping to wake up his LDS brethren. Obviously they still wish to be the silent majority, and don't believe in fighting for our inalienable rights.

Time to look past the small issues, and look at the big picture. Does Rex believe in the Constitution of the United States? Does he support State's Rights? Smaller government? Lower taxes? Will he refuse to accept the "chains" of stimulus money?

If so he's a patriot! Freedom for 2010!

Nate said...

Elder William R. Bradford used this exact phrase "Constitution will hang by a thread" when addressing missionaries in the Canada Vancouver Mission, March, 2003.

Anonymous said...

The sad truth is that this bit of folklore has even been accepted by some of the General Authorities.

Still, the most statement was by President Joseph F. Smith (while serving as prophet) in General Conference who said it simply wasn't true.

Matthew said...

See, now this is what I love about the gospel and the way that revelation is set up. Everything is clear and concise and you never have to worry about getting conflicting stories from the general authorities!

Oh, wait...

Greg said...

While the so-called "White Horse Prophecy" is much disputed, Joseph Smith did in fact declare that "Even this Nation will be on the very verge of crumbling to pieces and tumbling to the ground and when the constitution is upon the brink of ruin this people will be the Staff upon which the Nation shall lean and they shall bear . . . the constitution away from the very verge of destruction" (see Constitution to Hang by a Thread for additional information and context).

Concerning the idea that the Elders of Israel will have a hand in saving the constitution from the "verge of destruction", in Rex E. Lee's January 15, 1991 devotional address at BYU he stated the following: "A final area of constitutional interest unique to Latter-day Saints finds its source in the well-known 'hanging by a thread' statements by the Prophet Joseph Smith. Similar statements have been reiterated by no fewer than six of his successors, including the current prophet. In a forthcoming book to be published by the Religious Studies Center, Professor Donald Cannon lists over forty instances in which these seven presidents have either used the 'thread' metaphor or something like it. But in none of those quotations cited by Professor Cannon has any Church leader ever been very specific as to the metaphor's meaning.

Unfortunately, some members of the Church have been all too ready to offer their own explanations. The only thing consistent about these explanations is that in each instance, it was the Church member's own unresolved, often very private, grievance that supplied evidence that the thread was beginning to fray, sometimes beyond repair" (see The Constitution and the Restoration).

Jarad & Jewels said...

Interesting discussion. I appreciate all of your input and remain wholly undecided. The vague prophecy could be interpreted a number of ways, but I like to think that we all need to do our part to support the constitution by electing good people to congress. Also, if the congress does represent us, the people, then we (as a nation) need to live the principles we want to see upheld. Unfortunately, there really are way too many US citizens (not to mention illegals) who don't have any core beliefs. People who are ok with gay marriage, abortion, porn, drug use, etc. It's not at all perfect, but the state of the government may actually represent the state of the people as a whole. That's where Latter-Day Saints need to rise up and take a stand for principles of righteousness. That's how I believe we will work to save the constitution and the nation.

Mitch said...

Supporting gay marriage does not mean one is against the Constitution. Being against gay marriage does not mean one is also against the Constitution. We live in a country where we have a Constitution that is changing over time. That can and is a good thing.

Matthew said...

@ mitch,
you beat me to it. I grow so tired of people claiming the constitution protects thing x(insert whatever absurd, generalized, phobic comment here) and that people with an alternate opinion on such subject are trying to undermine the constitution. It reminds me a whole lot of this article http://www.theonion.com/content/news/area_man_passionate_defender_of Keep in mind that this is a satirical article (some folks are not familiar with the Onion and assume it to be a real newspaper. That satire pretty much sums up all my frustrations and feelings on the subject. Hopefully I haven't crossed any lines by linking it. If so then the OP is free to delete it.

Dan said...

Jarad,

"Unfortunately, there really are way too many US citizens (not to mention illegals) who don't have any core beliefs"

What the hell does that mean? Who doesn't have core beliefs? What are core beliefs? Seriously, talk about condescending!

Matthew said...

I think 'not having core beliefs' means having a different opinion then oneself. This goes along great with the 'illegals' part that was in there. Because obviously anything that is different then me is scary and dangerous!

Ben Tanner said...

Here is my take:

We have statements about the constitution and nation in great peril.

I haven't seen anything about the "White Horse".

Perhaps the church is doing to things:
1. Distance from this jerk trying to use this for his campaign.
2. Distance from statements that are involve some "white horse"?

Just a thought. Maybe there is some ambiguous statement by an early church leader about a white horse... if so, I guess we better all abandon faith and go to worship Dawkins. (Just Kidding)

The point is, none of this matters.

Umkay said...

Here is a link to info on the White Horse prophecy:

http://www.reliefmine.com/articles/prophecy/94-the-white-horse-prophecy

Just Facts Please said...

Check facts. Rex Rammell made no mention of "White Horse Prophecy" in his statements. He quoted what he believed to be a prophecy of Jospeh Smith. The media called it "White Horse Prophecy". Let's put the blame where the blame lies.

Mormanity said...

If Rammel IS NOT using the White Horse Prophecy but just the well-substantiated statements about the Constitution one day hanging by a thread, then that changes things a great deal. Honestly, I was really puzzled about why he or anyone else would use that strange, bizarre, and unofficial document, when it's primary value for a modern politician would be just that single sentence about hanging by a thread, a sentence that has much more credibility than the White Horse Prophecy itself. So if the MEDIA have put words in Rammels mouth and are distorting his message by linking it to a repudiated, bogus prophecy, then shame on them. Anyone here close enough to Rammel to know?

A real problem for our day is that the credibility of major media sources is hanging by a thread, or maybe the thread has snapped.

Anonymous said...

There's some confusion here.

The key issue is the validity of the "hang by a thread" and the "elders of the church saving the Constitution" concepts.

Have those been repeated repeatedly in the church? Sure.

But, are they supported by historical evidence that Joseph Smith prophesied that? No.

That is the point of folklore . . it has been stated over and over --- often by high church officials. But, it has never been officially accepted. And, President Joseph F. Smith -- in General Conference as prophet --- said it is false.

Understand that has been reiterated over and over again. But, repetition does not make something valid. The only revelations from Joseph Smith that are deemed authoritative are the ones in the scriptures.

Anonymous said...

Also remember that the church pr spokesman just last week publicly and directly refuted the statement --- presumably with the First Presidency's approval.

Tony said...

Umkay said "I suppose I am still stinging from Hinckley’s “I don’t know that we teach that” moment regarding a core tenet of Mormon doctrine."

http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2009/12/pres-hinckleys-interview-with-mike.html

Also, is John Gee really one to speak for the whole Church?

An apostle is an especial witness of Christ. I don't see the conflict there. I've had evangelicals try to say that everyone is an apostle if they are a Christian. Not so. It is a clear office within the priesthood, as are elders, seventies, etc. Just look in the Bible.

Matthew said...

Anonymous' statement seems correct to me. If you guys can show where there has been an official revelation (not a statement by a general authority to what Joseph said in the White Horse phrophecy regarding the constitution and the elders having to support it) has happened and been seen as official doctrine of the church then please state it.

As it stands, it seems that the church PR was coming out against even the idea that God has decreed that the constitution will hang by a thread and that the elder's will be called upon to save it.

Also, isn't it possible (as was stated earlier) that the 'prophecy' was in regards to the growing tension of the civil war? I mean Joseph and the early saints were pretty positive that they would see the second coming of Christ in their lifetimes (as have nearly every generation of saints since then, including our own. As well as nearly every religion that believes in an apocalyptic event believes that it will happen in THEIR lifetime. Lolz.) So wouldn't Joseph have been confused by a prophecy that dealt with things 100's of years in the future?

I see the draw of such an idea. It's the same reason kids love the idea of being a super hero. It means 'we' (the church) are the super awesome people that will save the world from destruction. So it appeals not only to the human desire for power, but also to the desire to be right, and be the only people that really 'get it'.

Umkay said...

Tony-

I appreciate your tone and response w/further info leads.

To clarify, I am a TBM who has been pulled into the world of apologists/critics as a way to answer a friend's departure. However, I am compelled to be objective in my research.

1. I'm disappointed that Hinckley did not take the opportunity to boldy state our view of God the Father. I'm sure he did not want to get into it in depth, but I think his answer was weak and a bit misleading, given the pillar that this doctrine is to the Mormon viewpoint. This doctrine is the foundation of my religious paradigm, and has been put forth as such officially by countless leaders from JS to the present.

Check out this link that has some interesting back and forth with HQ regarding the quote:

http://www.irr.org/MIT/hinckley.html

2. Gee us simply a part of the growing wave of innoculation and backpedaling that HQ is overtly (Holland's "Spaulding/Smith"; HQ press releases) and tacitly (FAIR and other apologists) allowing. I find it ludicrous that FAIR, which is closely watched and "approved" by HQ, would let out something so incendiary as a possible discounting the BoA, with all its key doctrinal clarifications.

3. I think you missed my point: I'm fine with the position/office of Apostle. The change is from "special witness of Jesus Christ" to "special witness of the NAME of Jesus Christ". Why on earth would this change be warranted?

Umkay said...

Matthew, Anonymous- Are you saying that unless a doctrine or teaching is formally canonized, then it is not part of Mormon teaching or belief system?

That is a pretty high hurdle, which I'm afraid a large part of what is taught at all levels in Mormondom would not pass.

Matthew said...

@ umkay,
No not really. I'm just speaking regarding this particular idea of the constitution hanging by a thread since that seems what we're discussing, is it not?
I'm just advocating that things taught as 'part of the gospel' be canonical. The issue with this particular idea is that it is often spoken of as if it were official doctrine and as of yet I have not seen a compelling reason to say that it is. Perhaps I'm missing something important though.

Just Facts Please said...

I have spoken with Rammell since this story broke in the media and since his press conference. I watched the interview and read the press release. I know first hand that he did not reference "White Horse Prophecy" at all. All references to White Horse Prophecy were injected by the media which then fueled the blogs. The media spun this entire story out of context. - No surprise!

Rammell merely added widely recognizable quotes from Joseph Smith and Brigham Young as thought provoking quotes that he thought would resonate with people who shared his faith-based principles, much like is commonly done with proverbs and other faith-based quotes that resonate with our daily lives and scene on all kinds of products and cards.

Rammell is highly concerned, as he should be, about our state and country and our eroding liberties and freedom guaranteed to us by the Constitution and the assault on God and family in the public square that brings with it moral degradation and lack of personal responsibility. He is willing to stand up and do something about it, something I don't see anyone else doing.

Rammell wants to do everything in his power to save our Constitution and preserve our freedom and is just trying to wake up the citizens of this state to stand up and defend their liberty before it is too late. This includes members of his faith. He isn't trying to scare anyone, they are already scared. He is trying to provide solutions. He has been speaking to all kinds of groups across the state for a long time. This is the first time he specifically invited members of his church to listen to his talk. It's very sad that he can talk to anyone else but those of his own faith.

But on a positive note, I have spoken with many LDS across Idaho this past week and many tell me that what he is saying is resonating with them, they just aren't likely to verbalize it out of fear of reprisal such as what happened to Rammell.

For the record. The Mormon Church PR statement stated they do not endorse any candidate or issue. They did not specifically state they oppose Rammell. I hope the public realizes that any church receiving 501(c)3 status (non-profit) cannot endorse any candidate or political party or they will lose their tax exempt status and have to pay a huge sum in taxes. So it is crucial that the Church does not endorse a candidate.

Liberty is Leaving said...

For those who don't believe that our Constitution is hanging by a thread... Senator Lieberman's office has stated in response to being asked how they can vote in favor of unconstitutional legislation, they respond... "The Constitution is a negative document so they don't have to obey it". --- Yikes! And this is a U.S. Senator who took an oath of office to defend the Constitution. This man should be facing treason charges. --- so again, I point out, the Constitution is hanging by a thread whether the public wants to believe it or not. It's time to wake up folks! Glenn Beck has been telling you the same thing for months!

Anonymous said...

Umkay,

What key doctrines that are found in the Book of Abraham do you (or rather the "critics") think that the Church is leaving behind? Here is a brief summary:

- A portion of Abraham's life
- Pre-mortal life
- Creation story

Doctrinally, it is not nearly as intense as portions of the New Testament or portions of the Doctrine and Covenants. Here is a link to the Church News article about the FAIR conference:

http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/57738/The-Book-of-Abraham-The-larger-issue.html

There are a lot of books in the Old Testament that could fall into the same category as Gee's statement. His statement does not disqualify the Book of Abraham as scripture regardless of any spin people want to put on it.

Matthew said...

@ Anonymous 10:37 1/1/10

Can you really read the article you linked and not get a sense that John Gee is running away from a battle that he sees as hopeless? You can look at the Book of Abraham and say, "well it's not that important doctrinally so let's stop arguing about it.
It's still included in the standard works and regardless of what John Gee has to say about it, members will continue to see it in the same light as any other scripture. The reason it's such a battle ground is because it's one of the few translations from Joseph that is more verifiable then others.
This statement in particular bugs me the most. "Third, how the Book of Abraham was translated is unimportant. The Church does not stand or fall on the Book of Abraham." While this is basically true it seems an attempt to ignore some very real criticism. If Joseph did not translate the book the way he said he did then I think it's a big issue and sends up some red flags in my mind. Now just because he didn't actually translate the book of Abraham in the way he may have said he did, does not mean that he is lying about all the other translations he did. It still is very much a concern though.

Anonymous said...

Here is what Rammell is actually saying in Idaho: http://www.localnews8.com/Global/story.asp?s=11725769

John Jackson said...

Thanks for the link to the John Gee story. Gee reiterated his belief in the Pearl of Great Price, saying it is true. The article does indicate he does not believe all arguments against the book are worth defending. "It is simply better to let go of a bad argument," he says, and he indicates we don't know all things about the history of the Pearl of Great Price, but only God does.

The critics do now have good evidence to stand on in claiming the document Joseph translated from was no more than the Book of the Breathings. But, as Gee may have been alluding to, arguments showing the Pearl of Great Price is authentic are often ignored by the critics. These include documents coming forth since the Pearl of Great Price substantiating things in the Pearl of Great Price.

Matthew said...

@ John Jackson

John is correct in saying that the gospel does not hinge on the book of Abraham, but one can't ignore that this feels suspiciously like he is jumping ship because it was currently sinking.

It's no big deal as this is generally the tactic anyone tends to take when their beliefs are being criticized.

There are plenty of other texts that are much harder to refute and unsurprisingly the church and apologists will tend to cling more tenaciously to those ones since they don't run the risk of having them be shown to be false. This is why generally the doctrines that are the most vague tend to stand the test of time.

Matthew said...

@just facts please

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/12/mormon_prophecy.php

So, looking at that invitation it seems pretty clear that Rammel is in the wrong on this one and the Church was correct in calling him out for it. You don't have a special 'LDS elders only' meeting to talk about how the constitution hangs by a thread and then turn around and say you aren't trying to take advantage of the religious bias of a lot of Idaho citizens.

Every political party things the other guys are out to destroy and trample the constitution. Politics has turned into the same crazed idiocy that you see at a sporting event with about the same amount of rational discourse.

John J. said...

The blogs referring to the Civil War interest me, as I have studied some on that.

The Saints at the time of the Civil War might have seen that war more as fulfilling Joseph's prophecies the government would fall, period (a la the prophecy of a potsherd not being left) than of any prophecy suggesting the Saints would rise up to save the Constitution.

But, I did find this quote, from Brigham Young, given after South Carolina seceded. Perhaps of interest to those who blogged sbove on the Civil War, Brigham will twice say members of the church yet to be born must be involved in this saving of our Constitution.

"If our present happy form of government is sustained, which I believe it will be, it will be done by the people I am now looking upon, in connection with their brethren and their offspring. The present Constitution, with a few alterations of a trifling nature, is just as good as we want and if it is sustained on this land of Joseph, it will be done by us and our posterity."

Anonymous said...

Matthew,

The majority of the papyrus scroll is gone. The translation process was stated as being done through the Urim and Thummim.

I am pretty sure that you meant something other than "only vague doctrines remain," possibly only vague prophecies remain?

Matthew said...

@ anonymous 11:52

Sorry, that may have been a bit confusing. I have a bad habit of mixing together several different thoughts into one mish mash.

Two points. The vaguest prophecies tend to fade away with time and not be clinged to very tenaciously.

The second point is that the vaguest (less direct) doctrines seem to become the most fundamental parts of the gospel. Perhaps I'm seeing things that are not really there but it seems to me that this is the case.

In any matter I'm probably getting way off course on the point of the thread.

Ryan said...

Umkay: The change is from "special witness of Jesus Christ" to "special witness of the NAME of Jesus Christ". Why on earth would this change be warranted?

Perhaps because the latter is the correct definition?

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. -- D&C 107:23

Matthew said...

@ Ryan,
Perhaps a better question is why was it previously worded as "special witness of Jesus Christ" when the scriptural definition "special witness of the name of Jesus Christ" was already there. I don't think it's presumptuous to say that the name, "speical witness of Christ" carries a very different connotation then "special witness of the name of Jesus Christ". That's like me saying I was a special witness to a murder and then when people assume that I mean that I witnessed a murder with my own eyes I say, "I mean I'm a special witness to the idea of murder." Does that make sense? It does seem a significant and interesting change to me. If it never was a big deal and was just a word difference then why not use the scirptural quote exactly in the first place? Especially when it could have such a large implication.

Ryan said...

@matthew: Perhaps a better question is why was it previously worded as "special witness of Jesus Christ" when the scriptural definition "special witness of the name of Jesus Christ" was already there.

That's an entirely different question, with the very likely but apparently too mundane answer of "typo."

The original question came off as pretty disingenuous (and off-topic), because umkay spins a case for conspiracy to backpedal to support his claim that the Church does this a lot.

If it's not intentional spinning, it's an emabarrassing lapse since the new edition (and almost certainly the old one also) cite D&C 107 as the "official" definition.

I've done a fair bit of writing (and reviewing others' writing) and I find dropped words *all* the time, even important ones (you know, like the subject of the sentence).

========

As far as "large implications" go, what other support is there for the claim that being an eyewitness is both necessary and sufficient to be an apostle, other than this one sentence in the GP manual and folk doctrine?

Sufficient: We have a huge number of sources teaching that the eyes are not the sure witness anyway (D&C 8, Jews crucify their God, Nephites turn away after all the signs of Christ's birth, Laman and Lemuel, doubting Thomas, just to name a few).

Necessary: We can only guess whether Saul/Paul saw Christ on the road to Damascus; the NT only says he saw a light and heard a voice (and IMO it's unlikely he saw Christ or God in his then-sinful state). The other NT apostles didn't seem to all have a complete a knowledge (at first), either. They saw the man Jesus, sure, but why was Peter the only one who exclaimed "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" and not all present? Why did they not believe Mary when she told them of the resurrection? Doubting Thomas comes to mind again, also.

Is every modern apostle qualified for and worthy of the call when it comes? I believe they are. Have most modern apostles met Christ before their call comes? Very likely not, given how surprised they always seem to be when the call comes (and what of the first twelve called by Joseph?). Have most apostles met Christ before they died? Probably, but we have no way to know, and I don't know that it matters.

And now, as pertaining to this perfect atonement, wrought by the shedding of the blood of God—I testify that it took place in Gethsemane and at Golgotha, and as pertaining to Jesus Christ, I testify that he is the Son of the Living God and was crucified for the sins of the world. He is our Lord, our God, and our King. This I know of myself independent of any other person.

I am one of his witnesses, and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears.

But I shall not know any better then than I know now that he is God’s Almighty Son, that he is our Savior and Redeemer, and that salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way.

- Bruce R. McConkie, General Conference, April 1985.

Matthew said...

@ ryan,
I'm sorry but I do find it a little hard to believe that there was an accidental typo being used in such a prevalent title. I'm not making it up when I say that even from a younger age I had paid attention to the way that was worded. During my mission I took this to mean that our prophets and apostles spoke to God as men speak to one another. The name 'special witness of the NAME of Jesus Christ' does feel like it is significant when it is used as an official title.

If you think that the majority of the members don't see it as important whether their prophets literally speak with God or just figuratively do so then I think you've not met most of them.

It personally bugs me when people go into the whole, "whether you can see something with your eyes or not isn't going to make a difference." It makes a huge difference! Nobody on the face of the planet is going to trust me if I say, "hey give me all the money in your wallet and I'll give you this huge diamond I have, but you can't see it first. It wouldn't strengthen your belief that the diamond is real."

This is totally off the subject I know, but I really do think it would make a very big difference for the majority of members of the church if they were told, "well, the prophets and apostles don't actually talk to Jesus face to face most of the time if ever." I would totally expect based on the way the church speaks of prophets, that they are people that are supposed to be able to communicate with God in a fairly miraculous form.

Do I lack faith? Sure. I most definitely do. These sorts of vague generalities don't help anything though.

Umkay said...

Ryan- I'm aware of D&C 107 and find it more likely that 107 has the typo-addition of the word "name".

I'm not conspiratorial, but do have a desire to know the "why" of things.

At present, it looks like the new Gospel Essentials manual on the whole has some important modifications that must have been made for a reason. These changes, though not changing the "subjects" wholly, do change the light on the "subjects", in such a way that something seems afoot.

See- http://www.mrm.org/gospel-principles

With the topic at hand, I think perhaps the Q15 at HQ are weary of getting asked if they have seen Jesus Christ.

Remember that Joseph Smith was quite adamant about the urgency of receiving one's calling and election, which ostensibly consisted of visitation from Christ himself.

I do think the use of the word "name" between witness and Jesus Christ can be a meaningful difference.

Always interesting.

Umkay said...

Anonymous-

My struggle with the apparent potential backpedaling on BoA is that it is an important "independent" data point on core Mormon doctrines and thinking, such as those you listed...intelligences, war in heaven, purpose of mortality, Savior called before the world was, cosmology, and so forth.

We have such relatively few canonized docs to use, I would not want to lose this one.

It is just a bit shocking that the powers that be could so cavalierly even peripherally reference the possiblity of doing away with the BoA, if the "scientific" proof against it gets too great. Of course Mormon doctrine survives without BoA, but the BoA speaks to Joseph's prophetic calling and work. If this goes away, what is next?

Having said this, I personally don't care if Joseph got some things wrong (which I'm convinced he did); I think he got enough things right to be "worthwhile".

Anonymous said...

and . . .

Cleon Skoussen's 'poison' was?

poison?

John Jackson said...

Having read that link to the Church News article on John Gee and the Book of Abraham, I did not find, even peripherally, anyone suggesting the book be done away with. Gee affirmed the book is true.

Critics currently have a strong argument tieing the Book of Abraham to the Book of Breathings, or whatever it is called. But that does not dismiss all the evidence in favor of the Book of Abraham. Those evidences cannot be tossed out the window, and they assert the book is authentic.

I ran across a nice scripture in Deuteronomy, which might have something to offer in this:

"If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,
"And the sign or wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;
"Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your hear and with all your soul." (Deuteronomy 13:1-3)

I find that saying, if we find some sign or wonder going against God's church, and we face the question of whether it means God's church is wrong, and that we should go after other churches, following other beliefs, and serving them, then we should know God is proving us, whether we will be faithful, and we should not turn from the church.

No, I do not believe it is saying that if evidence against the church, or Book of Abraham, is so strong that to deny it would be like denying the sun in the sky, then we should not abandon it.

I am not against reason.

But, I also belief in faith. And, I know there will be things to try our faith, signs and wonders. I take the Book of Breathings / Book of Abraham connection to be just that.

May your faith be strong without having to go back and review the evidence in favor of the Book of Abraham. But, if you do need such a lift, seek them out. I haven't looked, lately, anyway, but I think they are on Jeff Lindsay's website.

John J. said...

. . . But the Book of Abraham is not why I came back to this thread. I ran across an article at Meridian Magazine's website, written by Stephen M. Studdert, author of America in Danger, discussing our economic throes

The elders of Zion rising up to save the Constitution, the country? I do not know how that will come about. But, I can see it is good for members of the church to support things they think will make the nation better, maybe even saving it. Elder Studdert's expressing his concerns, and offering thoughts on what we should be doing different is a good act of citizenship. Who knows but what enough of such effort might cumulatively qualify as rising up to save the country. Whether it does or doesn't, it is good to try to save our nation with such efforts as his.

Anonymous said...

Harry Reid took millions of OUR money and used it as bribes to pressure other Senators into voting for a bill that Americans overwhelmingly do not want, but that will give him and his gang control over 1/6 of the US economy and make Americans increasingly dependent on governmentt. Do any of you see that as fraud? One could.

The boys and ladies from the Rockies in Nevada could do America a favor by throwing him out of office ASAP.

Nauvoo Commuter said...

In recently reading through church history, I have sought some understanding of the church's political neutrality stance.
In Missouri, Sydney Rigdon wrote a condemnation of the Democrats, as they had been the ones persecuting the saints. His article was one of the things that got them kicked out of the state. They became identified with the Whigs, but after some of those who saved them in Quincy were Democrats, they seem to have adopted the policy of "voting for the man, not the party." So the saints would support whoever supported their right to existence.
Then both parties courted them, and feared them because of their numbers. Both parties became angry that they could not gain loyalty, and yada, yada, we were running across the continent to avoid being killed.
So the church never supports anyone. Most politicians disappoint us at some time. The Lord's plan is much bigger than any political stance. In fact, most church members are unconcerned about daily happenings in Congress in the U.S., now that the church is a worldwide church. That doesn't mean we should not be concerned when Congress seeks to steal or lie or defame. But in the great plan, things usually work themselves out. Short-term trends are usually not the "Constitution hanging by a thread."

loquaciousmomma said...

In a speech Boyd K. Packer gave to the BYU J. Reuben Clark Law Society Devotional on Saturday, February 28, 2004 he said:

"The present major political debate centers on values and morals and the Constitution.
There occurs from time to time reference to the Constitution hanging by a thread. President
Brigham Young said:
The general Constitution of our country is good, and a wholesome government could
be framed upon it; for it was dictated by the invisible operations of the Almighty. . . .
Will the Constitution be destroyed? No. It will be held inviolate by this people; and
as Joseph Smith said “the time will come when the destiny of this nation will hang upon a
single thread, and at this critical juncture, this people will step forth and save it from the
threatened destruction.” It will be so.23


I do not know when that day will come or how it will come to pass. I feel sure that when it
does come to pass, among those who will step forward from among this people will be men who
hold the Holy Priesthood and who carry as credentials a bachelor or doctor of law degree. And
women, also, of honor. And there will be judges as well.
Others from the world outside the Church will come, as Colonel Thomas Kane did, and bring
with them their knowledge of the law to protect this people.
We may one day stand alone, but we will not change or lower our standards or change our
course."

This was an affirmation of the Constitution hanging by a thread prophecy to me. Since this is a very different prophecy than the white horse prophecy, there is no discrepancy.

I would like to say that all of the confusion and controversy around the church fit right in with the things foretold of this day. Satan will try to confuse us and mislead us. It is our responsibility to watch the happenings in our country and world and pray about them to know the implications and how we might make a difference.

Our nation is threatened on many sides. The worst danger, however is the attitudes of ordinary Americans toward their constitution and their government. We need to awaken a love of liberty and the constitution in our people along with a rebirth of virtue if we are to save our great land.

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Shaun Q said...

I'd imagine that this (pseudo?)-prophesy will be fulfilled by a Mormon Jack Bauer... fighting terrorism while he reads the Book of Mormon on his Sprint Palm Pre.