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Saints: The Standard of Truth, Part 10, The Word of Wisdom

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
February 13, 2020 8:18 pm

Saints: The Standard of Truth, Part 10, The Word of Wisdom

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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February 13, 2020 8:18 pm

What about the Word of Wisdom? Bill and Eric take a closer look at how this doctrine is portrayed by the book Saints and see how the church did. We wish you a Happy Valentine’s day…and don’t forget to get the wife some flowers!

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Point is to examine the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints viewpoint when 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 on your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director Mormonism research ministry with me today is Eric Johnson. My colleague at MRM we continue our look at the book saints, published in 2018 and today were going to be examining the story of the school of the prophets and the eventual coming forth of the word of wisdom or the Mormon health code that's currently found in section 89 of the doctrine and covenants on page 166 of saints. It says on January 22, 1833 Joseph and the saints in Kirtland.

This would be Kirtland, Ohio, where the church was headquartered opened the school of the prophets in the Whitney's store that this would be K. Whitney, who was a convert to the Mormon movement that on page 167 goes on to say this. While the school of the prophets was in session.

Emma watch the students arrive and make their way up the stairs to the small, tightly packed room where they met some men came to the school freshly washed and neatly dressed out of respect for the sacred nature of the school.

Some also skip breakfast so they could come to the meeting. Fasting after class got out and the men left for the day.

Emma and some young women hired to help would clean the school room since the men smoke pipes and chewed tobacco during their lessons.

The room was hazy in the floorboards were covered in tobacco spit when they left, Emma would scrub with all her might. But tobacco stains remained on the floor. She complained to Joseph about the mess. Joseph did not normally use tobacco, but he did not mind if the other men did. Emma's complaints, however, caused him to question if tobacco use was right in God's eyes. That's interesting that last phrase you just read there about Joseph Smith asking if tobacco was right in God's eyes. The story that I've often heard is that it had more to do with Emma's complaint about the mess that was left by those who were chewing tobacco and apparently missing the spittoon and getting that stuff all over the floor. I can understand why Emma was pretty upset by that but here's what I find fascinating.

They're going to try and make it sound like Joseph Smith is going to come up with this new idea about the use of tobacco and other things that are mentioned in the word of wisdom as being unhealthy that we know today that smoking is unhealthy, but wasn't really all that unknown in the days of Joseph Smith, Mel Richard bushman in his book rough Stone rolling. He mentions that this was a common idea that was going on during that time is what he writes on page 212 the word of wisdom as the revelation was later called came at a time when temperance and food reforms were flourishing in the United States in 1835 Sylvester Graham lectured in New York and Philadelphia against tobacco, tea, coffee and alcohol advocating a diet based on whole grains, Graham presented his teachings as science. Joseph linked his version of reform to the doctrines of exultation giving dietary counsel.

A scriptural basis. Now that he says came about in 1835. I'm sure that this idea wasn't new to 1835. These kind of thoughts were going on as early as 1833 when the word of wisdom came about, but what I want to bring out is, it seems that the filth being caused by the tobacco juice is probably more of a reason for Smith to come up with this revelation than the health aspect and you call it a revelation. Is that really a revelation if it's just meant to keep things clean in the upstairs room where these guys were meeting. It sounds like it's more meant to have a harmonious marriage rather than anything else at this point, but Eric I want you to look at what Linda King Newell in the lean to pits Avery said in their book Mormon enigma Emma Hale Smith because it mentions something very similar to what we find on page 167 of the book, saints, and this is found on page 47 of Mormon enigma, a book that we highly recommend, and this is what they wrote. Temperance societies work to abolish ardent spirits and also condemned the use of alcohol, tobacco, and eating up too much meat. Without question this larger social movement affected the Mormons.

Thus, Emma face almost daily with having to clean so filthy a floor as was left by the men chewing tobacco spoke to Joseph about the matter.

David Witmer's account supports Brigham Young's description quote some of the men were excessive chewers of the filthy weed and their disgusting slobbering and spitting because Mrs. Smith to make the ironical remark that it would be a good thing if a revelation could be had declaring the use of tobacco SN and commanding its depression." Emma had support among the women.

Witmer further reports quote the matter was taken up and joked about one of the brethren suggested that the revelation should also provide for a total abstinence from tea and coffee drinking intending this as a counter dig at the sisters Joseph made the issue. The subject of prayer and the word of wisdom was a result that was interesting about that statement is that's very similar to what Mormon historian Marvin Hill speaks of in Sunstone magazine. This was in the March 1985 edition on page 58 where he said again citing David Witmer who was one of the three witnesses to the authenticity of the book of Mormon. According to David Witmer.

Emma was disgusted at the spitting of tobacco juice by the elders in a school in Kirtland, which was held above her kitchen. She said it would be a good thing if a revelation could be had declaring the use of tobacco was sin. The elders counted against Emma and the ladies by suggesting that the revelation should also provide for abstinence from the use of tea and coffee because Emma was known to have her tea parties and coffee clutches as they were called at that time so it sounds like it's more of a sanitation issue rather than a health issue at this point let's go on as to what it says on page 167.

Emma was not alone in her concerns. Reformers in the United States and other countries throughout the world that smoking and chewing tobacco as well as drinking alcohol were filthy habit, but some doctors believe tobacco could cure a host of ailments. Similar claims were made about drinking alcohol in hot drinks like coffee and tea which people drink liberally when Joseph took the matter to the Lord. He received a revelation, a word of wisdom for the benefit of the saints in these last days in it. The Lord cautioned his people against consuming alcohol, declaring that distilled liquor was for washing their bodies while wine was for occasions like the sacrament. He also warned them against tobacco and hot drinks only stop, either because if you look at the word of wisdom. If it does say that but noticed there very careful in the wording here in it. The Lord cautioned his people against consuming alcohol. He didn't command them to stop drinking alcohol and that's an important thing that we can't overlook.

If you look at section 89, at the very beginning. It makes it very clear that this is not a commandment. In verse two it says to be sent greeting not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom showing forth the order and will of God and the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days till what's interesting is you have not a commandment, then in the 1830s and yet today you can't go to the temple. If you say that you are not abiding by the word of wisdom. And that's a question that I've often asked Latter Day Saints. Why is it that in this revelation that we are led to assume came from God himself. How can that be overridden by some earthly man later on in the 20th century because we know that in the 20th century. This, as you mentioned became a requirement in order to get entrance into a Mormon temple you had to keep the word of wisdom. So today it is in fact a commandment, whereas in section 89 it's specifically telling us that it's not by commandment. And that's what the book says on saints. Page 168, it said the revelation had been declared not as a commandment, but as a caution. Many people would find it hard to give up using these powerful substances, and Joseph did not insist on strict conformity. He continued to drink alcohol occasionally and he and Emma sometimes drank coffee and tea bill that's a pretty big admission right there.

That is a big admission. I wonder how many Latter Day Saints reading that portion on page 168 would probably stop in the jaw would drop, never realizing that Joseph and Emma both were violating some of the particulars of the word of wisdom, here's something that I want to bring up though Eric because it's not uncommon sometimes for Mormon apologists to try to excuse this distance of time between 1833 when the word of wisdom is first given and then later on in the 20th century, when it ultimately becomes a commandment I've heard one argument being that, well, it would've been too difficult for the saints to all of a sudden give up these habits just because God gave a revelation on it and so Joseph Smith, or maybe even the Lord himself was trying to be a little merciful upon the saints by not commanding them to have to stop this so abruptly. Let me just respond to that. The reason why I think that argument is silly is because when you join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. You are told that if you want to get into the temple, you have to give up all this that is mentioned in section 89 you can no longer partake in alcoholic beverages. If you smoke you have to stop if you chew, you have to stop, you have to eat meat sparingly although I don't know if there's a whole lot of Mormons in the United States that follow that admonition. But still, you are expected to stop this now. It could be argued, yeah, but you can even get a temple recommend for at least a year or why couldn't the Lord of done that in 1833 made a commandment in 1834. Why does he wait until the 20th century to make this a commandment over the years there's been a lot of confusion as to what exactly it means to obey the word of wisdom and for instance you had a lot of people years ago who used to not drink caffeinated soft drinks because that was against the word of wisdom and then a few years ago the church came out and said that never was the case, but I find this interesting.

In Richard bushman's book, Joseph Smith. Rough Stone rolling on page 213.

He admits that they didn't even know how to do it. Back in that day the saints differed over how rigorously to apply the word of wisdom some more inclined to make exact compliance a requirement of membership. Others were more relaxed Joseph drink tea and a glass of wine from time to time.

It was left to a later generation of saints to turn the principal with the promise into a measuring rod of obedience.

Now that said bill but then we have a quote from April 7, 1838 Joseph Smith in the book teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 117 this is what Joseph Smith said now official member in this church is worthy to hold an office after having the word of wisdom properly taught him and he the official member neglecting to comply with and obey it.

Bill here we have Richard bushman, we have the writers of the saints both saying that Joseph Smith continued to drink and coffee and tea was also consumed and yet he says you can't hold office if, after having instructed to you. You disobeyed it, but Joseph Smith disobeyed it. Why is he allowed to pass on this.

They can't go condemning the founder of their movement, they have to put Joseph Smith on a virtuous pedestal and they still do that today. Although I will admit this volume. Saints does tend to bring out more and more of Joseph Smith's blemishes than what you would probably read in any other historical book, so they are trying to be a little bit more honest in showing Joseph Smith to be a mere human like the rest of us. I guess you could say thank you for listening you would like more information regarding his research ministry. We encourage you to visit our website at www.mrm.org you can request a free newsletter research. We hope you join us again as we look at another viewpoint is


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