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Saints: The Standard of Truth Part 20: Elijah Able

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
February 27, 2020 8:10 pm

Saints: The Standard of Truth Part 20: Elijah Able

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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February 27, 2020 8:10 pm

This is the fourth week of a series of articles on the 2018 history manual titled Saints: The Standard of Truth. This episode is on Elijah Able, as the church strangely included a section on this “black” man but didn’t give the whole story.

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Bill McKeever
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Viewpoint on Mormonism
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One member is examining 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 so glad to be with us for this edition of viewpoint on Mormonism. I'm 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 book Saints.

The standard of truth a history book published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Today were going to look at one small segment that is found beginning on page 315 and it only goes to half of the page of 319 and it deals with a man by the name of Elijah able and I'll tell you Eric.

When I read this I was wondering now that's interesting how they just wrote a story about Elijah able between two segments without a whole lot of explanation just to tell a very faith promoting story about Elijah able and experience he had when he was on his mission in New York and it starts off at the bottom of page 315 talking about a dream that he had and he has a stream of this convert that he baptized. He baptized a woman named Eunice and her husband Charles and he is awakened according to the story on page 315 he had a troubling dream.

He saw Eunice Franklin any and that she was wracked with doubt about the book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. Her uncertainty robbed her of sleep she could not eat.

She felt deceived well. The story goes on page 316 to say that Elijah then sets out for New York immediately to go talk to this person that he helped win to Mormonism. Why don't we begin at the top of page 316 Elijah set out for New York.

Immediately he had met Eunice and her husband Charles that spring while preaching in their town. The sermon Elijah had preached to them was rough and not even as a black man born in poverty he had found few opportunities for schooling and this is why I think this story is included Elijah able pops up and is almost as fast is going to go away, but they throw this in here and this is why I think when it says as a black man born in poverty. Well, if you were to go to the endnotes in the book Saints, it would refer you to a gospel topics historical essay titled simply Elijah able and it's built ABL E.

Sometimes it spelt ABE L.

Sometimes it's a bulls. Nonetheless, they use the ABL E spelling. But here's what's fascinating to me when you go look at the gospel topics essays. It gives you a little bit more of a background of who this individual is and to be quite honest, this is one of the times when I think this book does the reader a huge disservice by not giving more information what you know about Elijah able from what you read on these few pages is what that he was unschooled and he was a black man born in poverty and he served a mission and also as we get into this. He also held the Melchizedek priesthood and so on. But look at what the gospel topics essays essay fills in for us. Start with little is known.

Little is known about Abel's early life he was born in Maryland sometime between 1808 and 1812 to Andrew and Delilah William able able had one black great grandparent, apparently on his father's side only stop, either because Elijah able is often times held up to show that Joseph Smith did not have a prejudice towards those of black African heritage. Bill cc Joseph Smith was a very tolerant person. It was Brigham Young that introduce that later on and they always want to excuse Joseph Smith as if he had no type. He had no prejudicial ideas that he did not share those prejudicial ideas of his day.

Certainly the church gives us that idea by writing the gospel topics essay explaining that it was Brigham Young and Lane all of the baggage at his feet, exactly, but notice what it says here in this essay that deal specifically with Elijah able able had one black great grandparent, apparently on his father's side.

Think about this one black great grandparent, not what would that make Elijah able.

If you figured out 18 and that at 1/8 black, but that would that would be the very most speak because it's possible that that one great grandparent wasn't fully black either. So maybe they were 75% black, so he'd even be more diluted.

Now there's one picture that is floating around on the Internet of Elijah able.

I only know of one photograph.

There could be others, but the one that you see most often shows a man who if you did not know if you did not know who the individual was, and you were asked is this man, black or could be white. Could he be. Who knows what race you probably wouldn't know from the photograph and I've read on accounts on Elijah able that he did not have what some would say are black features. This could be why he was able to serve as a missionary and able to speak to a white population who lists be honest, even in the north.

Many held prejudicial views. Also just because they were in the North doesn't mean that they didn't hold those because many people unfortunately did in the United States. During this time. Now that could be why he was able to be ordained. I don't know if Joseph Smith knew this, there could be information out there that I'm not aware but maybe Joseph Smith ordains him not seeing a problem at all. Now there is a drawing of Elijah able that is floating around the Internet that doesn't look anything like the photograph of Elijah able which does show a man with very African features. I don't think that drawing. It comes close to what Elijah able really look like. I don't know who made the drawing.

I don't even know why it's even popular to me, it doesn't reflect what he looked like at all. If you go by this photograph, but apparently Brigham Young must've known because as this gospel topics essays goes on gospel topics essay goes on. It talks about how in 1842 Elijah able moves to Cincinnati, Ohio in 1842 able moved to Cincinnati Ohio where he worked as a carpenter and was active in the local branch of the church in 1847. He married Mary Ann Adams, who was also of mixed race together.

The couple had four children in 1853 the able family migrated to Utah during the next three decades. Abel was active in the Salt Lake City Ward worked in the solid worked on the Salt Lake Temple and served another mission to Ohio in 1852, a year before the Abel's arrived in Utah.

Brigham Young publicly announced a policy of withholding the priesthood from black males. Abel retained his priesthood office and standing but when he applied to Pres. Young for permission to receive his temple endowment and be sealed to Marianne. The request was denied in 1879 a second request from Abel was denied by Pres. John Taylor able remain faithful until his passing on December 25, 1884 melts. It it's interesting to me that this story doesn't become a part of the of the story that talks about Elijah able you would think this is pretty important. This is pretty controversial. If you're going to talk about this man.

Let's told at least enough of the story. So we have a pretty good handle of what's going on at this time in here in this book.

It doesn't mention any of this controversy at all. He just merely talks about Elijah able in this dream that he had in his wanting to go and talk to these converts that he had baptized previously. It's a faith promoting story, but I don't think it tells enough about the individual and when it does describe him as a black man born in poverty.

I think it was. I think it should of been up to the church to tell that story to tell. The controversy surrounding him. So here's a man who was serving the church he goes to Brigham Young he wants to receive his temple endowment and Brigham Young refuses Brigham Young refuses him. Now we need to go into the Because the I think also becomes a bit misleading when it comes to the word endowment. His sermon had thrown a note but like other monarchs are but like other missionaries he had been ordained to the Melchizedek priesthood participated in ordinances in the Kirtland Temple and received the endowment of power. What he lacked in education. He made up for in faith and in the power of the spirit know if that's all you had to go by in your average latter-day St., and you read the phrase endowment of power would you know exactly what that is. What is the endowment of power because it shares the same word as the endowment ceremony which we know came about around 1840 in Nauvoo.

Would you think that Elijah able may have participated in the endowment ceremony and because of that he was endowed with power. I would think. Probably many latter-day Saints would be confused by that and I would think even more non-Latter Day Saints would be confused by that but the fact is Elijah able by what we just read out of the gospel topics essay, he was denied to go through the endowment ceremony denied twice by two different presidents showing that he really wanted to be able to have the same privileges as his as the white brothers and sisters that belong to the church. Now let's explain quickly.

With the endowment of power is because there's a gospel topics essay on this as well for spirit of revelation to Joseph Smith in 1831 commanded early church members to quote Goforth among all nations."

And gather Israel before they were sent forth the Lord promised to endow them with power from on high. The promised endowment encompassed several events in early 1836, including a Pentecost like season surrounding the dedication of the house of the Lord in Kirtland, Ohio.

Although Joseph Smith later introduced a temple ordinance. He also called an endowment, the phrase endowment of power is often associated with the outpouring of spiritual gifts and the restoration of priesthood keys in Kirtland. I think this is what I think in this particular case, because that word endowment can be confusing the book Saints should've explained that and made it very clear that Elijah Abel was not participating in the endowment ceremony that this endowment of power was a completely different type of event. But let's get back to Elijah Abel's requesting of Brigham Young to participate in the endowment ceremony and to be sealed to his wife and he is rejected. Brigham Young dies in August 1877 the third president is John Taylor. He goes to John Taylor now in 1879 as this gospel topics essay explains and he's again refused by John Taylor. Why do you think that would be well. This is probably why this is what John Taylor believed regarding those like Elijah able and after the flood. He said we are told that the curse that it been pronounced upon Cain was continued through Ham's wife, as he had married a wife of that seed and why did it pass through the flood, because it was necessary that the devil should have a representation upon the earth as well. As God that's John Taylor the third president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as spoken on August 28, 1881 yeah bill if you mention the endowment of power.

But when it says in Saints that he participated in ordinances in the Kirtland Temple. I there is a not the same as what Latter Day Saints will practice today. So again I think you're right on this very confusing for anybody who's trying to understand why in the world is a story put here. I think it's put here for the very reason that you said you got a black man who looks like he's being accepted.

He's at well for many Latter Day Saints there thinking that he's participated in temple endowments and that's not true. Thank you for listening. If you would like more information regarding this research ministry.

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