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Gospel Topics Chapter 9 Bringhurst Part 4

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
June 2, 2021 9:00 pm

Gospel Topics Chapter 9 Bringhurst Part 4

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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June 2, 2021 9:00 pm

This week Bill and Eric take a closer look at chapter 9 in the book The LDS Gospel Topics Series: A Scholarly Engagement (Signature Books, 2020), titled “Plural Marriage after 1890.” The entire series along with other articles covering the Gospel Topics Essays, printed between 2013-2015, are located at mrm.org/gospel-topics-essays, where you can get a fuller report.

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.1 examines the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from a biblical perspective view .1 limited 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. Thanks to Adams Road band for that musical introduction welcome to this addition of viewpoint on Mormonism on your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director Mormonism research ministry with me today is Eric Johnson. My colleague at MRM we continue looking at the LDS gospel topics series a scholarly engagement. This was a book that was published in late 2020.

It is edited by Matthew L. Harris and Newell G. Bringhurst this week we been looking at a chapter written by Mr. Bringhurst. Its chapter 9 titled plural marriage after 1890, and of course the document known as the manifesto came out in 1890, and this was a statement by the leadership of the church, signed by fourth Pres. Wilford Woodruff basically promising the government that the church was not teaching polygamy or plural marriage nor permitting any person to enter into its practice.

Now there's a lot of controversy with this statement, even though that promise is in the 1890 manifesto. The reason why the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints had to come up with this essay titled the manifesto in the end of plural marriage is because the manifesto did not end plural marriage, it was still continuing even though the church promised that it would not, and that's the whole purpose of Mr. Bringhurst's critique of this particular essay this essay the manifesto and the end of plural marriage came out on October 25, 2014 there were 1318 original essays that were produced by the church that came out at the end of 2013 to the end of 2015 so the church came out with these original 13 essays to hopefully answer some of the questions that members were having at that particular time, but as we've also brought out in some cases it backfired and caused members to actually be more confused because some of the things that the church was admitting to were things that members had been led to believe. Up till that time were merely lies told by enemies of the church about the church. So when you see your church now admitting to a lot of these things that you were led to believe were not true. You can see why that would cause a lot of confusion and no doubt Eric.

The subject of plural marriage or polygamy is very confusing within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, especially the topic that we been talking about this week having to do with the manifesto and what I mean by that is we were discussing yesterday, you would have faithful Latter Day Saints listen to their profits such as Brigham Young and John Taylor the second and third president of the church saying how important it was to engage in plural marriage and now you have fourth Pres. Wilford Woodruff saying we can no longer continue the practice of plural marriage, though the manifesto didn't specifically say that those that were already involved in this practice would need to get rid of their plural wives. That was more left up to the individuals themselves and as we seen some did do that.

Some did not. Many of those who did not were leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints well in yesterday show. We were discussing some of the things that Mr. Bringhurst thought were positive features of this essay. Today were going to look on page 236 under the subheading weaknesses and or exclusions of this particular essay he writes the gospel topic essays, positive attributes, notwithstanding a number of important topics are not sufficiently explored and/or are excluded from consideration. The essay neglects mention of the Mormon push for Utah statehood is a major factor propelling LDS church leaders toward the 1890 manifesto LDS leaders became almost obsessed with the idea of Utah statehood viewing it as a way to obtain independence from federal control as early as 1882 Wilford Woodruff than an apostle discussed the possibility of yielding principle that is plural marriage for a state government so does this give us the impression that the reason why polygamy was abandoned was, not necessarily because God had changed his mind, but it had more pragmatic reasons.

I mean, that's what I'm getting from this paragraph that Mr. Bringhurst writes it sounds like in order to get something that they wanted they would have to give up something that was until that time considered very precious. I'm still struggling with that conclusion, especially in light of the fact that there were so many statements made before 1890 when this manifesto came out that was basically telling the membership you hold onto this teaching no matter what. I can understand the wanting statehood for the reason of obtaining independence from federal control because as a territory in the United States, you would have the federal government practically hovering over you to make sure everything was done right or as if you were a state in the union.

You were given a little bit of leash to do what you wanted to do. Maybe they thought by being a state federal government wouldn't be hovering over them as much as they felt it was doing at that time, let us be honest, this was not a spiritual decision. It was a pragmatic decision. As you pointed out, with the government taking away property threatening to take away the temples. I don't know if Wilford Woodruff thought that he had any option but to follow through and come up with what was called the manifesto saying that they were no longer going to practice. Although they continued to practice polygamy for years after Mr. Bringhurst goes on page 237. To say that misleading is the essay statement quoting, though not all church members were expected to enter plural marriage. Those who did so believe they would be blessed for their participation along with its assertion that quote church members viewed plural marriage is a commandment from God and imperative that help quote raise up a righteous posterity unto the Lord."

Both of these statements refer to the 1843 revelation to church founder Joseph Smith that ultimately was canonized as section 132 in the doctrine and covenants, and as you mentioned, I believe yesterday Eric section 132 in the doctrine and covenants is still in the doctrine and covenants, and it basically commands that someone is supposed to practice plural marriage, but he goes on to say that this all-important revelation is nowhere mentioned let alone discussed in the essay, which is mystifying given that the church utilize section 132 as the is italicized as the primary scriptural proof text not only sanctifying plural marriage, but commanding its practice in the word commanding is also in italics. Doesn't that seem to be a bit of a conundrum for many Latter Day Saints because if you read section 132 as it was understood when it was inserted into the doctrine and covenants.

It's not really saying what most Latter Day Saints think it's saying today because they had to redefine what celestial marriage really is in the early years when polygamy was going full speed ahead celestial marriage was tied into plural marriage will they had to change that definition later on because since you're not practicing plural marriage anymore and you're not going to get rid of section 132 you're going to have to change the definition of that term. So when it basically became was marriage for eternity, which of course has to be performed in a temple.

What when the essay said that plural marriage as a commandment from God and imperative that helped raise up a righteous posterity unto the Lord, we have to understand that the leader certainly felt that this was a divine obligation to be able to be polygamous. I'm just gonna read a quote from first presidency member George q. Cannon. This is in 1879 in the Journal of discourses, volume 20, page 276. It plural marriage being divine as a Latter Day Saints say it is so no power on earth can suppress it unless you crush and destroy this entire people. I think it's interesting that the Mormon leaders are willing to give up so easily really win if God really was wanting polygamy to be going on for as long as Brigham Young and John Taylor said it was supposed to go on only why not fight. I think you raise a good point. It's difficult for us to fully understand what was going on in the mind of Wilford Woodruff during this time, although I agree with you totally. I think his decision was based more on pragmatics, he knew exactly what was going to happen if they did not relinquish this teaching, there would be no way for instance that Utah would ever become a state in the union. It was just not going to happen. Plus, he ran the risk of not only being arrested himself because other leaders had already been arrested. Up until this time, but the church would be dissolved. There would be no Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as we know it today because the government was going to dissolve it and take over its property, as it already had begun doing Woodruff knew this and so he really was between the proverbial rock and a hard place. He had to go along with that which makes you wonder though all the bravado up until 1890 how God is going to bless us for standing firm. It's almost like God put them in harm's way and then just stepped back and said oh well I guess I change my mind. I mean how would an average member understand this except for the fact that what we were discussing yesterday that it's not up to the membership to question these decisions at all. You do what you are told and sadly that's pretty much a position that the church has today at the top.

At 238 adding on to what you just said Bill it says the revelation characterize adherence the plural marriage as essential for full salvation or exultation in the hereafter enabling male practitioners to achieve ultimate godhood in conjunction with their wives and rule over new worlds of their own creation. And that's citing from D&C section 132 verses 119 to 120.

It just seems interesting. God puts in polygamy at the second half of the 19th century and he seemed to be shortsighted because it only last for a few decades and then all of a sudden God doesn't require this anymore for exultation and that leaders are so easily giving up on this. Just because the government is saying that they're not supposed to do that. I think he's making a good point here. We just read what he says in the Mr. Bringhurst says, also ignored in the gospel topics essay is the declining importance that the church assigned to doctrine and covenants 132 in particular to those portions dealing with plural marriage in the wake of the 1890 manifesto.

He goes on to state the doctrinal status of polygamy was further downgraded with the addition of the following to the introduction quote plurality of wives acceptable only when commanded by the Lord." None of this change in status of the revelation is treated in the church's essay. I think he raises a good point, it probably should have been addressed, perhaps not taking up a lot of space in the essay, but at least it should have been brought up. Thank you for listening you would like more information we guarding this research ministry. We encourage you to visit our website www.mrm.org you can request our free newsletter Mormonism research. We hope you join us again as we look at another viewpoint is


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