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May 30, 2020 3:10 pm
When one examines the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from a biblical perspective view .1 Mormonism 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. Why did fourth president Wilford Woodruff sign the manifesto in 1890.
Welcome to this additional viewpoint on Mormonism. I'm your host Bill McKeever Felder director Mormonism research ministry and with me today is Eric Johnson.
My colleague at M. R. M. We continue going through books that were given away as Christmas gifts by the first presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints between the years 1981 and 2017.
Today were going to focus on a book that was given away as a gift in 1997 a book that was published in 1946 and compiled by a 70 by the name of G.
Homer Durham, the book is titled the discourses of Wilford Woodruff. We've examined some of the statements that are in this book earlier in the series, but today we want to focus on one particular aspect of Mormon history that change the course of the LDS movement and that has to do with the manifesto before we get into that. We want to read a quote that is found in this book the discourses of Wilford Woodruff, beginning on page 212 and it's a quote that we have cited before on the show but it's important to remind ourselves of what Wilford Woodruff said, I say to Israel, the Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of this church to lead you astray. It is not in the program. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that the Lord would remove me out of my place and so he will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty. God bless you now that becomes important because that statement is found at the end of official declaration, one following the doctrine and covenants, which is of course a part of Mormon scripture. There is a section that's titled excerpts from three addresses by Pres. Wilford Woodruff regarding the manifesto and the first quote that is listed is this one that Eric just read where God will not allow the president of the church to lead the membership astray. That was fascinating about this is the manifesto itself was certainly leading the federal government astray because we know now looking back, that even though the manifesto was a promise to the federal government that the LDS church would no longer engage in solemnized using plural marriages.
They most certainly did continue that they found ways that they felt they could get around it and they did, making it necessary for the church to come out with another manifesto in 1904. Let's go back to the original intent of what Wilford Woodruff is saying here that the Lord will never permit him or any other man who stands as president of this church to lead you astray in order to understand this fully. We need to go back a few years. We have to go back to 1869. It was December 12 and it's recorded in the Journal of discourses, volume 13, page 166 Wilford Woodruff gives a speech and this is what he says in this talk on December 12, 1869. If we were to do away with polygamy, it would only be one feather in the bird one ordinance in the church and kingdom do away with that, then we must do away with prophets and apostles, with Revelation and the gifts and graces of the gospel, and finally give up our religion altogether and turn sectarians and do as the world does, then all would be right. We just can't do that for God has commanded us to build up his kingdom and the bear are testimony to the nations of the earth and we are going to do it, life, or come death. He has told us to do. Thus, and we shall obey him in days to come. As we have in days past. This statement by Wilford Woodruff is not uncommon with a lot of other statements that leaders in the LDS church were making prior to 1890. As we talked about on this show. The church was facing a lot of serious pressure from the federal government when it came to the topic of plural marriage there were certain bills that were passed in the House and Senate that were meant to punish the LDS church for this practice.
The bravado that we are seeing on the part of Wilford Woodruff in this statement that Eric read is not uncommon. A lot of other leaders said something very similar, but what I want to point out is where Wilford Woodruff says when it comes to giving up this doctrine. He says we just can't do that for God has commanded us to build up his kingdom and to bear are testimony to the nations of the earth and we are going to do it come life or come death.
Brigham Young said three years previously did excitation and journal discourses, volume 11, page 269. The only men who become gods, even the sons of God are those who enter into polygamy.
So we need to understand even though we live in the 21st century what this meant to the latter-day St. leaders of the 19th century it was do or die. Did you want to go into the celestial kingdom than you had to do what Joseph Smith had done and Mary polygamist late, of course, at the time. He says this in 1869 the Edmonds Tucker act had not become effective.
Now we know that Wilford Woodruff is the president of the church and this is really like his claim to fame. It's probably his claim to infamy when you talk to some of the more fundamentalist Mormons who feel that Wilford Woodruff had betrayed the truth that Joseph Smith and Brigham Young had certainly taught while they were presidents of the church, but in this book that was given away as a Christmas gift. There is on page 213 this subtitle, it says unimportant discourse on the manifesto as revelation dated November 1, 1891. Not to give you a little bit of a background of what he is going to ask of the members. He admits that there were people who were not feeling very good about the manifesto, he says, for instance, on page 214 the Lord has told me by revelation that there are many members of the church throughout Zion who were sorely tried in their hearts because of that manifesto and also because of the testimony of the presidency of this church and the apostles before the master in Chancery. This is why he's going to pose a question to his listeners on page 215 what is he say there Eric. The question is this, which is the wisest course for the Latter Day Saints to pursue to continue to attempt to practice plural marriage with the laws of the nation against it and the opposition of 60 millions of people and at the cost of the confiscation and loss of all the temples and the stopping of all the ordinances therein both for the living and the dead, and the imprisonment of the first presidency and 12 and the heads of families in the church and the confiscation of personal property of the people, all of which of themselves would stop the practice. That's the first part of the question. If we were to continue on the course of teaching plural marriage. This would be the consequence confiscation and loss of all the temples and the stopping of all the ordinances there in both for the living and the dead, and the imprisonment of the first presidency and 12 and heads of families in the church as well as confiscation of other property. He sounds like a very pragmatic leader, knowing that the government is going to do some business and he can't do anything to stop it so pragmatically he's going to have to give vent. So here's the second half of this question that he poses on page 215 of the discourses of Wilford Woodruff he says or after doing and suffering what we have through our adherence to this principle to cease the practice and submit to the law and through doing so leave the prophets, apostles and fathers at home so that they can instruct the people and attended the duties of the church and also leave the temples in the hands of the saints so that they can attend to the ordinances of the gospel, both for the living and the dead. Now this is the two-part question and he's putting this before members who obviously, many of whom had problems with this course correction. You might say that the church was taking it's either go along with what the government is telling us to do or were going to lose all of our temples were not going to be able to practice the ordinances for the living and the dead.
And let's look at the consequences of both and he saying that the second half, succumbing to the pressures of the federal government would be much more beneficial to the church so this is where he goes on in the To say that the Lord showed him by vision and revelation exactly what would take place if we did not stop this practice. The practice of plural marriage. I want you to notice something. The manifesto is not the revelation. The manifesto is basically a public statement talking about. I assume this particular vision and revelation that Wilford Woodruff had regarding what would happen to the church if they did not go along with what the federal government was demanding of them. He said that if they did not all ordinances would be stopped throughout the land of Zion confusion would reign throughout Israel and many would be made prisoners.
This trouble would have come upon the whole church and we should have been compelled to stop the practice.
At this point, he again raises the question to his listeners. Now the question is whether it should be stopped.
In this manner or in the way the Lord has manifested to us and leave our prophets and apostles and fathers freemen and the temples in the hands of the people so that the dead may be redeemed.
A large number have already been delivered from the prison house in the spirit world.
By this, people, and shall the work go on. Or stop. This is the question I lay before the Latter Day Saints you have to judge for yourselves. I want you to answer it for yourselves, I shall not answer it, but I say to you that that is exactly the condition we as a people would have been in had we not taken the course. We have, it becomes very clear that Wilford Woodruff's decision to sign the manifesto and make this promise a shallow is the promise was to the government was important. Otherwise, a main practice of Mormonism would also suffer as well and I think, wouldn't you agree Eric that Wilford Woodruff saw the problem if you didn't give up the one in order to save the other you were going to lose both.
And you're right on that bill. The idea that he's getting pressure.
This is November 1891, a year that sleep gone past and he still apparently is having critics to say why did you ever get rid of this.
Now we know they continued privately to practice polygamy all the way until 1904. As you said at the beginning of the show, but I think what he's trying to do publicly is say hey listen I had no choice what you want me to do. We would've lost everything or this way we least keep everything and then wink wink were still able to practice is underground and in light of this decision made by Wilford Woodruff. I think it's fair to ask. Did he not lead people astray when he made his comments on December 12, 1869, when he insisted that they were not going to get rid of polygamy, regardless of the pressure from the government. Let me say that again. He said we just can't do that for God has commanded us to build up his kingdom and to bear our testimony to the nations of the earth and we're going to do it come life or come death. He has told us to do.
Thus, and we shall obey him in days to come. As we have in days past, it sounds to me Eric that that didn't happen and they did not obey God as they understood his directive in 1869.
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