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

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Treasure in Heaven: The John Tanner Story, and a Perspective We Need Today

In the BYU TV programming between LDS General Conference sessions today, we had the pleasure of seeing the T.C. Christensen film, Treasure in Heaven, the powerful story of just how much good can be found in critics out to expose the Church. At least that's what a good Baptist and fellow Christian, John Tanner, was out to do when he went to hear some Mormon missionaries shortly after the founding of the Church. He sought to serve God by applying his good knowledge of the Bible to expose the Mormons preaching in his area. Instead, this prospective anti-Mormon would be touched by the power of the Spirit and he sensed that he needed to look into the Book of Mormon with a sincere desire to know if it came from God. He ended up gaining a spiritual witness of its truthfulness and would also have a miraculous cure to his diseased leg that was threatening his life. From then on, he served God in the Restored Church with all his heart--and with all his substantial material posessions. This wealthy and respected citizen was moved by the Lord to go to Kirtland just in time to make crucial large donations that allowed the Church to keep the land for the Temple. He would give more, even all he had, and do so gladly. There is much we can learn from his life and from his perspective that transcended the temporary material things that can choke our faith and love for God. What a man and what a legacy.

You may wish to read the Ensign's story about John Tanner.


Here is an excerpt from Leonard J. Arrington's article, "The John Tanner Family":
It was the middle of December in 1834 when John Tanner, a recent convert to the Church in Lake George, New York, “received an impression by dream or vision of the night, that he … must go immediately to the Church” in Kirtland. He disposed of his property—several flourishing farms, a hotel, and orchards—loaded his numerous family and several neighbors into wagons on Christmas morning, and traversed the five hundred mile distance to arrive in Kirtland on a Sunday, January 1835.

He had indeed been needed. A mortgage on the temple site was falling due and, according to some accounts, the impoverished Prophet Joseph and some of the brethren had been praying for assistance.

John Tanner did not hesitate. He loaned the Prophet two thousand dollars and took his note, loaned the temple committee thirteen thousand dollars, signed a note for thirty thousand dollars with the Prophet and others for goods purchased in New York, and made “liberal donations” toward the building of the temple.

There is no evidence that any of these loans were repaid. Later, when he moved with his family to Missouri to build up Zion there, they had a “borrowed team and one old broken down stage horse, and an old turn pike cart, a cag [keg] of powder, and $7.50 in cash,” according to his son, Nathan. (George S. Tanner, John Tanner and His Family, Salt Lake City: John Tanner Family Association, 1974, pp. 74–77. Subsequent references, unless otherwise noted, will be from this volume.)

It was the beginning of generations of Tanner service to the Church, service not only to the Church as a whole but also at ward and stake levels wherever they lived.

23 comments:

Rich said...

This was our gift to my wifes family, the DVD. John Tanner is her family and we named our only boy after him. It was nice addition along with the personal writings I have of Joseph F Townsend who is my family.

Elder Ika said...

What a great example we have from the John Tanner story.

Faith said...

Wow, after watching this, I think my faith can no more be called faith.

I'm now really thankful that I can partake and enjoy the fruit of their hard labor and unwavering faith---the kingdom of God on earth.

Jared said...

He's my grandpa (back a number of generations of course) so when this film came out a couple years ago it was nice to have some of the stories we told within our family be dramatized for others to enjoy too. There are many people like John Tanner who made great sacrifices (and still do) for the church. It's always incredible to see the effect that one person or a small group of people can have on the lives of thousands and millions of people.

Openminded said...

Are these the same Tanner's who are related to Jerald and Sandra Tanner?

Openminded said...

Upon further research, it turns out that this John Tanner is the great-great-grandfather of Jerald Tanner.

I owe not joining Mormonism early on due to their research back when I was an Evvie. I don't care for them now, but wow.

I became a lot more accepting of a lot of different people (homosexuals, people of different faiths, people I thought were going to Hell) when I changed my own position on faith while exploring Mormonism (and eventually, because of my then-anti-Mormonism, the bible. Couldn't just argue things and not know my own position on Christianity).

Talk about the butterfly effect (or God's hand? I'm not sure anymore, I'll have to revisit my beliefs on God after reading this. Thank you, Jeff). I'm glad that whatever happened to John's leg was healed.

Quantumleap42 said...

Hey Jared, he's my grandpa too (great-great-great-great grandpa)! What a coincidence ;-)

I'll always remember what Truman G. Madsen said about John Tanner in his lecture series on the prophet Joseph Smith. He said that John Tanner was perhaps one of the best examples of living the law of consecration, and of receiving blessings for living it. At the time that so many people in the Church were having a hard time living the law of consecration, John Tanner lived it, as was blessed and so are many of his descendants today still blessed because of what he did.

Fatherly Uncle Jim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fatherly Uncle Jim said...

I'm also a descendant of John Tanner. He was an amazing man.

Cindy said...

How wonderful that this man was healed...I hope it was through his belief in Christ, and that his subsequent consecration was also to Christ and not simply to the church.

Faith said...

Hi Cindy,

Tanner was healed definitely through his belief in Christ, and that his subsequent consecration was also to Christ, no question about that, his faith was clearly in Christ.

I also would like to point out that he was healed by/through the power of priesthood which belongs to Christ, which is Christ's authority. And the LDS church is Christ's church. Tanner served the church because of his faith in Christ.

Amy said...

I thought the point about the healing was made nicely in the movie, but a biography of John Tanner by his children further clarifies the point that Cindy was asking about:

"In the fore part of September, 1832, father Tanner was called upon by two Elders from the Latter-day Saints, Simeon and Jared Carter....Jared Carter asked him on the 16th day of September, if he thought his leg could be healed, and he answered, "the Lord can heal it," and Jared stood up and laid his right hand upon father Tanner's shoulder and commanded him in the name of the Lord to "arise and walk;" he then arose but dare not put his afflicted foot to the floor, when Jared told him to put his foot to the floor, in the name of the Lord, and he did so, and was instantly healed, and the next day he walked without crutches or help a quarter of a mile to Lake George and was baptized by Simeon Carter, and walked back home, praising the Lord."

I cannot speak for him, of course, but I do not imagine he would have drawn much of a distinction between serving Jesus Christ and serving in the Church of Jesus Christ.

Thanks for the post, Jeff.

--From a Jarvis cousin who is also a fourth great grandchild of John Tanner.

Quantumleap42 said...

Wow Amy, you are a Jarvis and a Tanner! So am I, what a coincidence ;-) We should compare genealogy, I hear mine goes all the way back to Adam ;-)

Michelle said...

My hubby is also a Tanner. This is a video our children love to watch.

Cindy said...

Faith, I think we need to e careful about declaring any church as the only one that holds the power of priesthood healing. Many other churches claim the same...see below as one example.

A team of Cleveland faith healers has achieved an astonishing rate of success in treating thousands of seriously ill people, NewsChannel5 reported.

Many are calling these healings, miracles. It's a phenomenon that's even impressing Cleveland doctors.

As Ted Henry reported, this word-of-mouth Catholic ministry has escaped public attention until now.

Henry said what makes the services so remarkable is that many who come, people often near death, leave reporting that they've been healed.

And numbered among those who claim to have experienced partial or complete healings are a number of doctors, including one of the most famous doctors in Cleveland's history, Dr. Ted Castele, who visited the healers last summer.

"I was kind of afraid of what might happen. And I stood there, and then I felt this strange sensation. I don't know what it was, I can't describe it," said Castele.

Castele was NewsChannel5's medical reporter for 25 years. Last year, he suffered from great physical pain that his own doctors couldn't relieve, until he visited a Cleveland faith healing team.

And then there's oral surgeon Michael Hudec who has seen with his own eyes physical healings initiated by faith.

"It's witnessed. I mean this is just not something that is a fluke. These are witnessed miracles that have happened, that I've seen personally, over the last 11 years of my life, and I consider myself to be one of those miracles," Hudec said.

The core of the healing team includes a priest, a nun and a lay couple, and what they did for Jill Mierau was astonishing, Henry reported. With fourth stage cancer of the breasts, bones and lungs, Mierau was given only two months to live.

"My doctor finally said 'you (are) too sick, and there is nothing else I can offer you,'" Mierau said.

Today, she's off oxygen, she's back to living a full life. After seeing the faith healers, Mierau made a remarkable recovery. And one of the healers, Dr. Issam Nemeh, offered her hope with just one sentence.

NathanS said...

Cindy, Faith, all, it is beautiful that many people can heal. Jesus told various people that their faith had healed them. Furthermore, when the twelve New Testament apostles were healing in the name of Jesus, they met others doing the same and rebuked them. They probably believed authority was required for a proper healing, or for speaking in the name of the Lord, and were confident that such authority had not been given.

Jesus told his apostles to leave them alone - essentially, "If they are not against us, they are for us."

I have observed a tendency to have the same attitude that those former apostles had among some of us that have the Lord's latter-day apostles but I suspect Jesus still has the attitude he had back then.

Note that although the New Testament recounts Jesus defending others who healed in his name, there is no biblical account of him defending baptisms performed by individuals not known to the apostles as authorized by Christ. LDS theology regards required ordinances as requiring a priesthood-authoritative performance but a faith healing need not require a priesthood-authoritative performance. Healing need not indicate the posession of a priesthood order of God.

While not required for a righteously derived faith healing, priesthood authority can be useful to healing in several ways. For one example, it has the potential to amplify faith.

Too often we find each other being swayed into one error or another by a false dichotomy that either a faith healing is not legitimately of the Lord or the healer has has priesthood authority relative to the kingdom of Christ. I know of no scriptural basis for either alternative excluding the other. Judas the betrayer aparently had the godly power to heal even while being, or shortly before becoming, sort of a child of the devil - and as Christ's apostle he had priesthood authority relative to the kingdom of Christ. Not everything related to this properly fits into a single, simple dichotomy.

NathanS said...

P.S. I see that my mentioning of Judas sort of made mud of my immediately prior point. Judas is perhaps an example of the usefulness of authoritative priesthood for amplfying faith but nonsequiter to my explaination of a false dichotomy (although his example illustrates the potential of a different false dichotomy).

At any rate, healings by faith faith in Christ are happening - sometimes aided by priesthood authority and sometimes independent of it. Regardless of the means by which sufficient faith is gathered, let us rejoice it.

NathanS said...

PPS

I'd like to have said it differently:

"sometimes aided by priesthood authority and sometimes independent of immediate priesthood authority."

I believe all healings are aided by the examples and experiences gained by the priesthood authority of the New Testament era. By authorizing the apostles, Jesus boosted their faith and the faith of those that knew of that authorization. That boosted faith empowered miracles that are used to boost the faith of many in our day, even the faith of many who lack the order of the priesthood to which the New Testament apostles were ordained.

Faith said...

Cindy,

I believe that because of the faith in Christ, people were healed.In the new testament and in our days.

It was recorded in the new testament that Jesus could not heal the people in his how hometown because of the unbelief of the people.

Even Jesus himself could not heal those that do not have faith in him.

And those who have faith in Christ deserve to be healed by Christ.

Obviously, it's not all about priesthood power, it's more about faith.

When I said,

"Tanner was healed by/through the power of priesthood which belongs to Christ, which is Christ's authority. And the LDS church is Christ's church. Tanner served the church because of his faith in Christ."

I mean Christ healed Tanner because of his faith in Him.

And I believe and know The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Saint is Christ's church, and has His full gospel.

And I believe that whosoever believe in Christ is Christ's people regardless of which church they believe or belong to.

If I declare something, I declare what I believe.

Feel free to believe otherwise. I do not intend to force anyone into believing what I believe. But I declare what I believe. :)

Cindy said...

It seems that we all agree with what Christ taught about healing...that it requires only two things, faith in Christ by the one desiring to be healed, and faith in Christ by the healer. Even if it is inconsistent, like that of Judas. How wonderful a Lord we have...generous and demanding at same time...if we only admit our need to be healed to Him and believe that He is the Healer, He responds with such overwhelming love! Let's declare that!

Faith said...

Hi Nathan,

I totally agree and share the same belief with you on this,

"I believe all healings are aided by the examples and experiences gained by the priesthood authority of the New Testament era."

And thanks for pointing out the following point, I did not really pay attention to the differences between them.

"Note that although the New Testament recounts Jesus defending others who healed in his name, there is no biblical account of him defending baptisms performed by individuals not known to the apostles as authorized by Christ. LDS theology regards required ordinances as requiring a priesthood-authoritative performance but a faith healing need not require a priesthood-authoritative performance. Healing need not indicate the posession of a priesthood order of God."

Faith said...

Hi Cindy,

I love what said,

"if we only admit our need to be healed to Him and believe that He is the Healer, He responds with such overwhelming love! Let's declare that!"

I just want to share another thought.

I think the result of a healing depends more on the faith of the receiving end, because we know the original healing source is Christ.

If the receiving end had great faith, our Lord would not withhold His blessing to that person because the healer that represent Him had not enough faith in Him.

And yes, let's declare the overwhelming love of Christ! :)

NathanS said...

@Faith:

Thank You for your comments! I'm glad if I can return a favor once in a while.
;-)