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Beliefs of Melvin J. Ballard Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
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August 27, 2021 10:20 am

Beliefs of Melvin J. Ballard Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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Viewpoint on Mormonism
Bill McKeever
Viewpoint on Mormonism
Bill McKeever
Viewpoint on Mormonism
Bill McKeever

Viewpoint on Mormonism, the program that examines the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from a biblical perspective. Viewpoint on Mormonism is sponsored by Mormonism Research Ministry. Since 1979, Mormonism Research Ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect. And now, your host for today's Viewpoint on Mormonism. Welcome to this edition of Viewpoint on Mormonism. I'm your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director of Mormonism Research Ministry.

With me today is Eric Johnson, my colleague at MRM. There was an article in the Church News,, which is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that was highlighting a statement that was given by Mormon Apostle M. Russell Ballard regarding his grandfather, Elder Melvin J. Ballard. The opening paragraph to this article, which was accompanied by a video, says, During a recent visit to New England, President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, spoke of his grandfather, Elder Melvin J. Ballard. Now I know that can get very confusing, and that's one of the reasons why I wanted to read the opening paragraph, but it has to do with some thoughts that M. Russell Ballard had regarding his grandfather.

What does it say regarding the video, Eric? In a Church News video, President Ballard explained that his grandfather, who was an apostle before him, died when President Ballard was only a boy. Since President Ballard's parents were not active members of the Church, he never heard his grandfather give an address, something which had been, quote-unquote, one of the greatest sadnesses of his life. However, President Ballard felt a connection to his grandfather as he visited Boston, where he gave a devotional on October 20, 2019, to 12,000 Latter-day Saints. President Ballard explained that the last trip his grandfather made before he died was also to Boston, so this visit had special meaning to him. Recalling how beloved his grandfather was, President Ballard spoke about what he would have liked to have learned from him, quote, I've often thought that if I had known that this was going to happen to me, this matter of coming along many years later and moving about in his footsteps, I would have wanted to know more about what it meant to be an apostle.

It's been tender for me to be here and know that this was his last stand as a disciple of Jesus Christ. He was so devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ and gave himself so completely in the service of the Master, so I feel obligated to do everything I can to declare and to teach that the Gospel is once again on the earth, end quote. Now, in reading that, I think all of us have had our regrets that we wish we could have asked our grandparents some questions regarding their life and the history in which they live, so I can understand why Mormon Apostle Ballard would have those kind of regrets not being able to do that, especially given the fact that here he is as an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and his grandfather was also an apostle. Though, I don't know, Eric, if you were to give me an opportunity to ask a question of my grandfather, especially in the context of which we're reading, I don't know if the one thing that would come to my mind would be I would have wanted to know more about what it meant to be an apostle. Especially since he is an apostle for many years, and you would think that he would know what being an apostle was like, so unless he's talking about the things that he could have learned as an apostle from his grandfather who he didn't know very well.

Here's what struck me. When I read this article, and we've both watched the video, and it doesn't really add a lot to the article that was in the Church news on October 21st, 2019, but what hit me when I read this was his grandfather lived during some pretty tumultuous times. I mean, his grandfather was born in 1873. That's prior to the Manifesto of 1890. That was a promise, as we've mentioned many times on this show, a promise by the LDS Church signed by Fourth President Wilford Woodruff promising the U.S. government that they would no longer be solemnizing plural marriages. Well, what's fascinating is that Melvin J. Ballard was ordained an apostle by Heber J. Grant.

Heber J. Grant was the seventh president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and he was the last polygamous prophet of the LDS Church. So his grandfather, M. Russell Ballard's grandfather, Melvin, lived during this time. In 1890, his grandfather was a teenager. So you know he must have experienced all the controversy, all the drama, if you will, of the government putting pressure on his beloved Church and on his beloved leader at the time, which would be Wilford Woodruff, the fourth president. So he was there. He must have been very familiar, for instance, with the Reed-Smoot hearings, which called into question Joseph F. Smith, the sixth president of the Church, who was still involved in plural marriages at the time Reed-Smoot was called to serve in the federal government in Washington, D.C. That caused a huge bit of controversy and drama.

So his grandfather should have been very familiar with a lot of this. In fact, Heber J. Grant, being the last polygamous prophet, though he was behind enforcing the 1904 Second Manifesto, and this is when the Church started really meaning business, that if you were practicing polygamy after 1904, you could expect to be excommunicated from the Church.

Well, there wasn't a whole lot for Heber J. Grant when he finally becomes the president, because that would be 1918. By this time, his plural wives, two of them at least, I should say, had passed away.

He was only living with one wife at the time he became president. So to lay down the hammer and really enforcing the 1904 Second Manifesto, I don't think would have come with quite a sacrifice for Heber J. Grant as it would have, let's say, for Joseph F. Smith that preceded him. But I'm thinking of all the things that he could have asked his grandfather, and that was the one thing that he comes up with.

Now, it could have been, he didn't really have a lot of time to think it through, I don't know, but I was thinking, oh my goodness, there are so many things that I could think of what to ask his grandfather, and that's what I want to do with this show and the next few shows. Let's go back and let's look at some of the things that M. Russell Ballard's grandfather, Melvin J. Ballard, believed and taught publicly about his personal views. Now, as you can imagine, Eric, his grandfather was very traditional Mormon, because they were pretty much all traditional during that time. His grandfather died in 1939, so this was still the old-time Mormonism that we've often studied, and at this time they were pretty open about what they believed. But let's look at some of the things that his grandfather believed, and one of the first things that I want to hit is a belief in the Lorenzo Snow couplet.

Let me explain. Lorenzo Snow was the fifth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He had a very concise way of explaining who not only God is, but what we are as His literal offspring and the potential that they believe all humans have. Well, Melvin J. Ballard believed this very strongly, and in a book called Sermons and Missionary Services of Melvin J. Ballard, on page 238, what does he say? We have frequently said that perhaps the greatest thought that has ever been brought forth to the children of men is the Mormon truism.

Interesting, Mormon. Namely, quote, as man is, God once was, and as God is, man may become, end quote. The foundation of that truism is in this revelation, and these words we have just read.

Now let me explain, folks. When he says the truism in this revelation, the reason why he uses that word revelation is because Lorenzo Snow felt that he received that couplet by revelation. He ran it past Joseph Smith, the founder of the LDS Church, and Joseph Smith told them that what was revealed to him was truth. Now the reason why I think it's important to talk about this is because we know that in recent years, Richard Mao, who used to be the president of Fuller Seminary, he argued that as man is, God once was, and as God is, man may become, was not really a functioning truth in the Mormon Church anymore.

And even at that, we have lots of things said in the last few years. In fact, in 2012 and 2013, in Church manuals that were studied by all Latter-day Saints had that very same couplet in it. And I know Dr. Mao tried to sidestep the importance of what that means to Latter-day Saints by saying, oh no, that's more talking about Jesus and not God the Father, which I thought was a pretty bad explanation. And I hope that Richard Mao has seen the error of his ways since then, but I want to bring this point out. In this quotation that is cited in this book commemorating the teachings of Melvin J. Ballard, notice what he says, Eric, we have frequently said that perhaps the grandest thought, the grandest thought that has ever been brought forth to the children of men is the Mormon truism, as man is, God once was, as God is, man may become.

I probably wouldn't use the word thought, I probably would use the word blasphemy, because that is opposite of what the Bible teaches, and you look through, for instance, the 43rd through the 46th chapter of Isaiah, very clearly that God was never once one of us. But the fact that he thought that Ballard's grandfather, Melvin J. Ballard, thought that this was one of the grandest thought, that ought to count for something. Now, it makes you wonder, with M. Russell Ballard having an opportunity, let's say, to ever talk with his grandfather, do you think he ever brought that up?

Do you think they ever talked about that? Now, we don't know, but again, talking about regrets, I know that I certainly have regrets that I never took the time as a young man to talk to my grandfather. Now, my grandfather, quite interestingly, died at the same age as M. Russell Ballard's grandfather, around 66.

My grandfather was born in 1899, and from what I hear from my mom and other stories that I've heard from my aunts and uncles, he had quite an interesting life, and I never even thought of asking him about a lot of these things. Now, again, I was pretty young when he passed away, so I can understand some of the regrets that Mr. Ballard might have by not having the opportunities, let's say, to ask him some of these things, and so that's why I think you've got a relative who goes clear back to Heber J. Grant, the seventh president of the church. Imagine the stories that he could probably tell you about what it was like being a Latter-day Saint growing up during that very tumultuous period, especially the end of the 19th century, when the federal government certainly had turned its attention to his church and was making the church denounce a doctrine that leaders up until that time had said should never be denounced and would always carry on, and that they would die believing this.

And of course, that's not what happened. The church certainly did cave in. But tomorrow, I want to talk about some more of the ideas and the doctrines that M. Russell Ballard's grandfather, Melvin J. Ballard, believed and taught.

Now, remember, he brought him back into the spotlight. Most people probably are not very well aware of what Melvin J. Ballard taught, so this is why we want to dedicate some time to his teachings. Thank you for listening. If you would like more information regarding Mormonism Research Ministry, we encourage you to visit our website at, where you can request our free newsletter, Mormonism Research. We hope you will join us again as we look at another viewpoint on Mormonism.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-12 19:32:00 / 2023-09-12 19:37:12 / 5

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