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Saints Mormon Reformation Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
November 8, 2020 8:43 pm

Saints Mormon Reformation Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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November 8, 2020 8:43 pm

This is the second week of a series on the LDS Church history book “Saints: On Unhallowed Ground.” This week we dedicate ourselves to the Mormon Reformation.

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In their own words, a collection of Mormon quotations compiled by Mormonism Research Ministries Bill McKeever is a valuable resource when wanting to know what Mormon leaders have said on a given topic. Pick up your copy at the Utah Lighthouse Bookstore or In 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. This book is published in 17 in the book Saints, No Unhollowed Hand, and I might mention that Saints is the second in a series of books dealing with Mormon history.

This one deals with the years 1846 to 1893. This was published in 2020, and as I've expressed my dismay about this book in past broadcast, I still want to express my dismay when I look at this chapter. I feel that the church, in order to dumb down their history, have done their members a great disservice because of the way they leave out a lot of pertinent information that would easily fill in the gaps if they would just include a few more quotations from what these people were actually saying instead of just kind of surmising what they said. And here's my complaint, Eric. Many times, and we're going to see it in chapter 17, they'll make a statement, and then you'll see a footnote or an endnote number, and you go back hoping that the endnote is going to give you some kind of a quotation that clarifies what you just read, when merely, in most cases, it just gives you the title of some obscure reference that you'll probably have a very difficult time finding, even on the internet.

And so it doesn't really help you. And this chapter is full of that kind of stuff. And so I really think that the Mormon Church has done, as I said, their members a disservice. I think the documentary history of the church was a much better volume of historical facts than these volumes are ever going to produce. And if volume one and volume two are kind of a hint as to what we're going to eventually see in volume three and volume four, I'm only going to continue to be disappointed. We were talking off-air about how many Latter-day Saints are possibly reading these volumes.

This is number two of four, of course. And this is made for a layperson, but I'm going to suggest to you, Bill, that most Latter-day Saints have nothing to do with this book, because history is not a big thing for most people anyway. And they've made this as simple as they could, and giving them the information that they want them to know, and yes, including some facts that are true, but not always telling you the whole story. So I'm not sure, even if a Latter-day Saint does go through all of this, they're really going to understand the true history of the LDS church, in this case, the latter half of the 19th century. Now, I have commended the book at points when I feel like they are being much more transparent, and that's the word we've used whenever we look at these books.

Yes, they are a little bit more transparent, but I think much of the time, if anything, they're being more translucent. In other words, that the clarity is not enough. It doesn't really help you, and you have to do a lot more digging to find out, what is this book really trying to say to me? Who's going to do that?

Most people will not do that. Endnotes are supposed to help you, but I don't think in many cases these endnotes help, even the fact that they give initials for certain books, but they don't tell you what these initials mean. For instance, it'll say something like JSP. Now, you and I know that stands for Joseph Smith Papers. How many Latter-day Saints know that? So they'll read JSP, and they'll wonder, what in the Mormon heck is a JSP? They may not even know. There's initials in the back. I don't even know what they are. And they don't give you a guide.

At least I haven't found it yet, and I've scoured the pages trying to find some helps on this. Well, let's look at chapter 17. The title is The Folks Are Reforming, and it's going to talk about what came to be known as the Mormon Reformation that really had its beginning in the latter part of 1856 into the year 1857, and this is how it starts off in this chapter. While the winter of 1856 and 1857 brought snow and ice to the Salt Lake Valley, Joseph F. Smith was laboring on the big island of Hawaii. Now, of course, Joseph F. Smith is going to become the sixth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but that's who he is. This is who it's talking about.

Like George Q. Cannon, he had learned the Hawaiian language quickly and had become a leader in the mission. Now, almost three years after receiving his call, he was 18 years old and eager to continue serving the Lord. He says, Why is that even in there?

Because it's really not all that relative to what we're going to read later on, but my opinion is, is they have to throw this story in here because why? It shows the loyalty that past members had to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Here is a man who was serving a mission, suffering on the big island of Hawaii, but he feels like after three years he hasn't really done enough.

He doesn't feel as though he's actually done his mission, he tells his sister. Wow, that's dedication. In other words, it's faith promoting. But really, what does all this have to do with the Reformation?

Here's the connection in the next paragraph. Here we have the first mention of this Reformation. The moral Reformation, Jedediah Grant had started the previous fall, was still underway. Now, Jedediah Grant is a member of the First Presidency under Brigham Young at the time. The question that comes to my mind as I'm reading this, in this moral Reformation that they attribute to Grant, and that's not fair, because, folks, even though Jedediah Grant is given credit for starting this moral Reformation, we know Brigham Young certainly gave it a lot of fuel in the Reformation. He was also responsible for saying a lot of things during this time period to egg on the membership to live righteously and do what they are told to do. But here's the point. If they were not supposed to celebrate Christmas at this particular time, during this Reformation, when you think people are being told to get closer to God, and this is a means of doing it, how come Mormons do celebrate Christmas with large dances and parties today? You would think if that was the norm and that's what you're supposed to do to show your devotion to your Lord, to your God, it should still carry on to this time. But it doesn't seem to be that way.

And we need to take another issue into account. The Mormons have their own Reformation, and this chapter is going to talk about it, between 1856 and 1857. Christianity also had a Reformation, back in the 1500s, during the time of men like Martin Luther and John Calvin and people like that.

But here's the difference. This Reformation is supposed to be a call to work, work, work, work, work. The Christian Reformation was a call telling people you don't have to work, work, work, work, work, that you are justified by your faith in what Christ did. That's not what's going to be taught in this Reformation of 1856 and 1857.

So even though they may use the same word, the definition of that word is very different in their proper context, and that needs to be kept in mind. The point here is Joseph Fielding Smith is going to learn that there's a movement going on back home that's supposed to get the Saints back on track, doing what they are supposed to be doing, if they hope to get the best their religion has to offer. In the next paragraph, it quotes John Smith, we have forgotten ourselves and gone to sleep, laid aside our religion and gone to amuse ourselves with temporal things. And this was not just a view that John Smith held, it was also others within the church as well.

Now, it goes on in the next paragraph on page 242, where it talks about what the First Presidency had instructed bishops to do. Does that sound like somewhat of a contradiction, though? Because Latter-day Saints today look at the sacrament as a means of getting re-forgiven. And here the leaders are taking away that means of being re-forgiven because they're not doing what they're supposed to be doing.

It just sounds like a contradiction to me. I don't know if many Latter-day Saints would look at it that way. But then it goes on to say at the bottom of the page, to encourage righteousness, church leaders admonish the Saints to confess their sins publicly at ward meetings. In a letter to Joseph, Mercy wrote about Alan Huntington, one of the young men who had helped carry handcart immigrants across the Sweetwater River. Alan had always been a wild young man, but shortly after the handcart rescue, he stood up in the Sugarhouse Ward, acknowledged his past sins, and spoke about how the rescue had changed his heart. Now, when it talks about Mercy, it says in the previous paragraph that Mercy Thompson is Joseph F. Smith's aunt.

That's how she is introduced into this. But there's something interesting regarding these confessions that not only we find this man Alan Huntington giving in a ward setting, but other Latter-day Saints were compelled to also confess sins. Now, there's an interesting quote from Thomas Alexander that explains what went on during this time period.

What did Alexander write? And he wrote this in Dialogue, A Journal of Mormon Thought, volume 25, number 2, page 36, in an article that was titled Wilford Woodruff and the Mormon Reformation of 1855 to 1857. He wrote, "...the sermons on repentance and blood atonement seem to have led members to confess to sins they had not committed, and may also have incited a few fanatics more orthodox than the general authorities to murder descendants." Now Bill, if you're looking at the Saints' book, it sure looks like the people who are confessing are people who deserved to confess and needed to do so, but according to this historian, he said that people are confessing to sins they haven't even committed.

That's not pointed out in the book. It sounds very similar to what we read when we look at the history of the Spanish Inquisition. There were members of the Roman Catholic Church that were arrested and hauled in to be questioned and asked what sins they have committed, and in order to prevent being tortured physically, they would confess to things that they didn't even do. But the phrase blood atonement comes up, and tomorrow we're going to look at blood atonement and what role it played in this so-called Mormon Reformation. For more information, you can request our free newsletter, Mormonism Researched. We hope you will join us again as we look at another viewpoint on Mormonism.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-29 09:46:48 / 2024-01-29 09:51:40 / 5

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