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LDS Doctrine and Covenants Notes 25: D&C 121-123

LDS Doctrine and Covenants Notes 25: D&C 121-123

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LDS Doctrine and Covenants Notes 25: D&C 121-123
LDS Doctrine and Covenants Notes 25: D&C 121-123

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Doctrine and Covenants Week 25: D&C 121–123

1) [SLIDE 2] Background: The Mormon War of 1838.1 a) [SLIDE 3] In December 1836 the Missouri legislature created Caldwell and Daviess counties from Ray County. i) Since only Caldwell County was designated as a ―Mormon county,‖ many Missourians assumed that Daviess and other surrounding counties were to be nonMormon. ii) In 1838 as many as 8,000 Mormons migrated to Missouri. (1) The bulk of them took up residence in Caldwell County in settlements along Shoal Creek. (2) However, others went to the Mormon settlements of Adam-ondi-Ahman in Daviess County and De Witt in Carroll County. (a) Mormons soon outnumbered non-Mormons two-to-one in Daviess County and four-to-one in De Witt. iii) Very quickly the same animosities and misunderstandings between Mormons and non-Mormons that occurred in Jackson County began to flare up again.2 b) [SLIDE 4] In addition to Mormon/non-Mormon tensions, there had been a significant number of apostasies and excommunications among the Saints, including some prominent leaders. i) Oliver Cowdery was excommunicated in April 1838,3 along with David Whitmer (another of the Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon and the then-stake president in Missouri), Hiram Page and John Whitmer (two of the Eight Witnesses), and Lyman E. Johnson (a member of the Quorum of the Twelve). (1) Oliver Cowdery and the Whitmers continued to live in and around Far West, where they owned a great deal of property. They were referred to as ―the dissenters.‖ (2) After the fallout and violence at Kirtland, Mormon tolerance for apostates living among them was at an all-time low. ii) [SLIDE 5] On 17 June 1838 Sidney Rigdon, first counselor in the First Presidency, gave his famous ―Salt Sermon‖ at Far West.

The bulk of this section, unless otherwise noted, is condensed from Alma R. Blair, ―Conflict in Missouri,‖ in Historical Atlas of Mormonism, S. Kent Brown, Donald Q. Cannon, and Richard H. Jackson, eds. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994), 46. 2 As noted in lesson 19, pages 4–5 (https://sites.google.com/site/hwsarc/home/dc/week19), these included cultural, religious, economic, and political differences between Mormons of largely New England stock and non-Mormons from Southern, slaveholding traditions. 3 Oliver Cowdery disagreed with Joseph‘s integration of church and state, was unwilling to defer to Church authority in political matters on which he disagreed, and accused Joseph of impropriety in his relationship with Fanny Alger. (Joseph‘s plural marriage to Fanny will be discussed in lesson 28.)
1

© 2013, Mike Parker

http://bit.ly/ldsarc

For personal use only. Not a Church publication.

Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class

Doctrine and Covenants Sections 121–123

Week 25, Page 2

(1) In this sermon he likened the dissenters to the ―salt‖ spoken of by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: ―If the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.‖ (Matthew 5:13.) (2) Two days later 83 Latter-day Saints signed a statement warning the dissenters to depart the area within three days or ―vengeance [will] overtake you sooner or later.‖4 (a) The dissenters and their families interpreted these words as threats, and they quickly left Caldwell County. (3) [SLIDE 6] Sidney Rigdon followed up with a second sermon at the 4 July 1838 Far West Temple groundbreaking ceremony, declaring independence against ―mobocrats‖ and anti-Mormon persecution:
We take God and all the holy angels to witness this day, that we warn all men in the name of Jesus Christ, to come on us no more forever. for from this hour, we will bear it no more, our rights shall no more be trampled on with impunity. The man or the set of men, who attempts it, does it at the expense of their lives. And that mob that comes on us to disturb us; it shall be between us and them a war of extermination; for we will follow them till the last drop of their blood is spilled, or else they will have to exterminate us: for we will carry the seat of war to their own houses, and their own families, and one party or the other shall be utterly destroyed.—Remember it then all MEN. We will never be the agressors, we will infringe on the rights of no people; but shall stand for our own until death. We claim our own rights, and are willing that all others shall enjoy theirs. No man shall be at liberty to come into our streets, to threaten us with mobs, for if he does, he shall attone for it before he leaves the place, neither shall he be at liberty, to villify and slander any of us, for suffer it we will not in this place.5

(a) Rigdon‘s sermon expressed the frustration and resolve of many of the Saints who had suffered persecution in Jackson County and Ohio, but his appeal to vigilantism alarmed local non-Mormons and further stoked anti-Mormon sentiment throughout northwestern Missouri. (i) Brigham Young later referred to this sermon as ―the prime cause of our troubles in Missouri.‖6 iii) About this same time, a group of around 300 Latter-day Saints organized under the direction of Sampson Avard into a paramilitary group called the Danites.7

4 5

Letter to Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, John Whitmer, William W. Phelps, and Lyman E, Johnson; June 1838.

http://www.farwesthistory.com/docco.htm#pg103

Oration Delivered by Mr. S. Rigdon. On the 4th of July, 1838. At Far West, Caldwell County, Missouri. (Far West, Missouri: The [Elders‘] Journal Office, 1838), 12 (http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/cdm/ref/collection/NCMP18201846/id/24476). 6 Remarks by Brigham Young, September 1844. ―Continuation of Elder Rigdon‘s Trial,‖ Times and Seasons 5/18 (1 October 1844), 667 (http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/cdm/ref/collection/NCMP1820-1846/id/8317). 7 For a brief treatment of the Danites, see Encyclopedia of Mormonism (New York, New York: Macmillan, 1992), s.v. ―Danites,‖ 1:356–57 (http://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Danites). For a longer, more comprehensive history see Leland H. Gentry, ―The Danite Band of 1838,‖ BYU Studies 14/4 (Summer 1974), 421–50 (https://byustudies.byu.edu/showTitle.aspx?title=5142). © 2013, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.

Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class

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(1) They were a secret group that operated parallel to, but separate from, the regularly organized militia in Caldwell County. (2) Their name was derived from a prophecy by the prophet Daniel that ―the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess [it] for ever‖ (Daniel 7:18). (3) According to Avard, the original purpose of the band was to drive dissenters from Caldwell County. (a) Once that had been accomplished, the Danites turned their attention to defending the Saints from mobs. (b) Avard, however, went one step further by including retaliation against those who persecuted the Saints, including stealing and plundering from those who stole and plundered from the Saints. (4) It‘s unclear how much knowledge and direction the First Presidency had over the Danites‘ activities, but once Joseph Smith found out the extremes they were going to, he denounced them as a ―secret combination‖8 and Avard was excommunicated.9 (5) Even though the Danite organization began and ended in Missouri, rumors that they were carrying out secret assassinations in Utah became the stuff of legend and dime-store novels. c) [SLIDE 8] Tensions in Missouri lead to violence. i) [8.1] The war began on 6 August 1838, when non-Mormons in Gallatin, the Daviess County seat, attempted to prevent Mormons from voting. (1) [8.2] Joseph Smith went with 150 men from Far West to protect Adam-ondiAhman from rumored attacks. ii) [8.3] On 19 August members of the Carroll County militia took up arms as vigilantes and ordered the Mormons in De Witt to leave the county. (1) [8.4] After several weeks of violence and a lengthy siege, Mormon leaders abandoned the settlement on 11 October and fled to Far West. iii) [8.5] Vigilante militia members from Carroll County then joined others from Clinton, Platte and other counties and attacked LDS settlements in Daviess County. (1) The state militia was called in to restore order, but many in the militia were sympathetic to the non-Mormons. (2) [8.6] Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon led 400 Saints to Daviess County, where they retaliated against non-Mormons. They burned Gallatin and Millport and expelled all non-Mormons from the county.

8 See Joseph Smith‘s comments on Avard‘s activities in History of the Church 3:178–79 (http://byustudies.byu.edu/hc/3/14.html#178). In his letter of 25 March 1838 (portions of which were canonized as D&C 121, 122, and 123; see below), Joseph Smith condemned Sampson Avard and organizations like the Danites: ―And again, I would further suggest the impropriety of the organization of bands or companies, by covenant or oaths, by penalties or secrecies; but let the time past of our experience and sufferings by the wickedness of Doctor Avard suffice and let our covenant be that of the Everlasting Covenant, as is contained in the Holy Writ and the things that God hath revealed unto us. Pure friendship always becomes weakened the very moment you undertake to make it stronger by penal oaths and secrecy.‖ HC 3:303 (http://byustudies.byu.edu/hc/3/21.html#303). 9 Avard‘s excommunication was carried out in absentia by a conference presided over by Brigham Young at Quincy, Illinois, 17 March 1839. HC 3:284 (http://byustudies.byu.edu/hc/3/21.html#284).

© 2013, Mike Parker

http://bit.ly/ldsarc

For personal use only. Not a Church publication.

Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class

Doctrine and Covenants Sections 121–123

Week 25, Page 4

iv) Rumors that Mormons were planning to burn Richmond and Liberty led to the call up of a state militia to patrol Buncombe‘s Strip. (1) [8.7] On 25 October this militia fired on an armed party of Mormons in southern Caldwell County, leading to the Battle of Crooked River. (a) One Missourian and 3 Mormons died, the first casualties in the war.10 v) Acting on incomplete information, Missouri Governor Lilburn W. Boggs mustered 2,500 state militia to put down what he perceived to be a Mormon insurrection against the state. (1) [SLIDE 9] On 27 October Governor Boggs issued Missouri Executive Order 44, the ―Exterminating Order‖ which charged the Mormons with being ―in the attitude of an open and avowed defiance of the laws, and of having made war upon the people of this State.‖ He ordered that ―The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State if necessary, for the public peace….‖11 vi) [SLIDE 10] On 30 October a non-Mormon vigilante band of around 250 men entered eastern Caldwell County and attacked the Mormon settlement of Haun‘s Mill.12 (1) While Mormon women and children scattered into the surrounding woods, Mormon men and boys rallied to the blacksmith shop which they hoped to use as a make-shift defensive fortification. (2) The Missourians shot between the large gaps in the log walls of the shop, killing 18 Latter-day Saints. (3) In all, 31 Mormons died at Haun‘s Mill, and seven wounded. vii) [SLIDE 11] On 31 October the state militia, under command of Major General Samuel D. Lucas, surrounded Far West and demanded the Mormons to surrender their arms and leave the state. (1) Joseph Smith and other Church leaders rode out under a flag of truce and were arrested. (2) Lucas held a drum-head court martial, found Joseph and his associates guilty of treason, [11.1] and ordered Brigadier General Alexander Doniphan to execute the prisoners by firing squad. Doniphan refused.13 d) [11.2] Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and other church leaders were moved to the jail in Independence, and then to Richmond, where they were held for a hearing before Judge Austin King.
10 One of the Mormon casualties was Apostle David W. Patten, who was second in seniority behind quorum president Thomas B. Marsh. Upon viewing Patten‘s body before his funeral, Joseph Smith declared, ― There lies a man that has done just as he said he would—he has laid down his life for his friends.‖ HC 3:175 (http://byustudies.byu.edu/hc/3/13.html#175). 11 A photo image of Boggs‘ order and Governor Christopher Bond‘s rescission of that order on 25 Jun 1976 are available on the Missouri State website (http://www.sos.mo.gov/archives/resources/findingaids/miscMormonRecords.asp?rec=eo ). The full text of Boggs‘ order is available on Wikisource (http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Missouri_Executive_Order_44). 12 See Alma R. Blair, ―The Haun‘s Mill Massacre,‖ BYU Studies 13/1 (Fall 1972), 62–67 (https://byustudies.byu.edu/showtitle.aspx?title=5047); Alexander L. Baugh, ―Joseph Young‘s Affidavit of the Massacre at Haun‘s Mill,‖ BYU Studies 38/1 (1999), 188–202 (https://byustudies.byu.edu/showTitle.aspx?title=6549). 13 Doniphan‘s written reply to Lucas was a terse three sentences: ― It is cold-blooded murder. I will not obey your order. My brigade shall march for Liberty tomorrow morning, at 8 o‘clock; and if you execute these men, I will hold you responsible before an earthly tribunal, so help me God.‖ HC 3:190–91, fn. (http://byustudies.byu.edu/hc/3/14.html#fn-2).

© 2013, Mike Parker

http://bit.ly/ldsarc

For personal use only. Not a Church publication.

Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class

Doctrine and Covenants Sections 121–123

Week 25, Page 5

i) Over 40 witnesses appeared at court and bore false witness against the Prophet. All of the 40–50 witnesses Joseph Smith and his brethren requested for their hearing were arrested, thrown in prison, and prohibited from testifying. ii) The hearing concluded on 29 November, [11.3] and Joseph and his companions were transferred to Liberty Jail in Clay County, pending a grand jury indictment on the charges of murder, arson, theft, rebellion, and treason. e) [11.4] The Saints were forced out of Missouri during the winter of 1838–39. i) Most went due east to Quincy, Illinois; others went north into Iowa. ii) This winter was particularly harsh, and many of the Saints crossed the snowy plains on foot, some of them without shoes or with only rags to wrap their feet. f) [SLIDE 12] Conditions at Liberty Jail. i) Joseph and the other defendants were incarcerated in Liberty Jail from 1 December 1838 until 6 April 1839, just over four months.14 ii) Joseph‘s companions in the jail were Hyrum Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and militia leaders Lyman Wight, Alexander McRae, and Caleb Baldwin. iii) The cell room was actually a dungeon below the jail. The prisoners were lowered through a trap door in the jail floor. (1) The room was 22 square feet and six feet high, which meant that the taller prisoners, like Hyrum Smith, were unable to stand up straight. (2) The food they were offered was scanty, of poor quality, and frequently poisoned. They described it as ―so filthy we could not eat it until we were driven to it by hunger.‖15 (a) At one point the guards tried to feed them human flesh—the amputated limb of an African slave. (3) No bedding was provided, so the prisoners were forced sleep on the stone floor with only a bit of loose straw for comfort. (4) They were constantly cold, and frequently sick and malnourished. g) While imprisoned, Joseph wrote letters to Church leaders, the Saints, and his family. i) [SLIDE 13] His best-known letter was composed between 20 and 25 March 1839. (1) It was addressed ―To the Church of Latter-day Saints at Quincy, Illinois, and scattered abroad, and to Bishop [Edward] Partridge in particular.‖ (2) [SLIDE 14] Portions of this letter, comprising nearly one-third of its content, were extracted and canonized in the Doctrine and Covenants as sections 121, 122, and 123.16

Sidney Rigdon was released on a writ of habeas corpus in February 1839. Leonard J. Arrington, ―Church Leaders in Liberty Jail,‖ BYU Studies 13/1 (Fall 1972), 21 (https://byustudies.byu.edu/showtitle.aspx?title=5044). 16 A transcript of the entire letter, including the uncanonized portions, may be found in HC 3:289–305 (http://byustudies.byu.edu/hc/3/21.html#289). Photo images of the original, handwritten letter, along with an uncorrected transcript, are available on the Joseph Smith Papers Project website (http://josephsmithpapers.org/paperSummary?target=x430).
14 15

© 2013, Mike Parker

http://bit.ly/ldsarc

For personal use only. Not a Church publication.

Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class

Doctrine and Covenants Sections 121–123

Week 25, Page 6

(3) This letter is not a revelation per se, but we affirm that it was written under inspiration. (a) Most of the words are Joseph writing in the first person (e.g., ―We have learned by sad experience….‖ [121:39]). (b) Some portions are written in the voice of the Lord (121:7–25; 122). (4) This letter, written in the darkest, filthiest hell-hole imaginable, is a composition of soaring majesty and sublime wisdom. It represents the very best of Joseph Smith‘s inspired council, written in the most desperate circumstances.17 2) The letter. a) 121:1–6. The context of these first six verses is important. At the beginning of his letter, Joseph details the horrific abuses that the Saints suffered in Missouri in 1838. [SLIDE 15] Here‘s an excerpt:
And again, the cries of orphans and widows would not have ascended up to God against [the inhabitants of Missouri]…. But oh! the unrelenting hand! The inhumanity and murderous disposition of this people! It shocks all nature; it beggars and defies all description; it is a tale of woe; a lamentable tale; yea a sorrowful tale; too much to tell; too much for contemplation; too much for human beings; it cannot be found among the heathens; it cannot be found among the nations where kings and tyrants are enthroned; it cannot be found among the savages of the wilderness; yea, and I think it cannot be found among the wild and ferocious beasts of the forest—that a man should be mangled for sport! women be robbed of all that they have—their last morsel for subsistence, and then be violated to gratify the hellish desires of the mob, and finally left to perish with their helpless offspring clinging around their necks. But this is not all. After a man is dead, he must be dug up from his grave and mangled to pieces, for no other purpose than to gratify their spleen against the religion of God.18

i) It is after this that Joseph cries out in writing, ―O God, where art thou?‖ and pleads with the Lord to show compassion to the Saints and avenge the Saints of the wrongs they have suffered. b) 121:7–10; 122:7–9. The next section of the letter is preceded by a description of the comfort brought to Joseph and his fellow prisoners by letters from Emma Smith, Don Carlos Smith (the Prophet‘s brother), and Bishop Edward Partridge: [SLIDE 16]

17 Church historian Leonard Arrington has written, ―The Missouri imprisonment of Joseph Smith and his associates, unjust and insufferable as it was, is particularly important for the Church because of the opportunity it offered the Prophet for personal evaluation and organizational planning…[as well as] time for prayer and contemplation.‖ Arrington, 22–23. LDS author Kevin Barney commented, ―But something happened as a result of [Joseph‘s] suffering. It was only in arrest and betrayal and shame and spitting and suffering beyond measure that he got his prophetic mojo back.‖ Barney, ―How Joseph Got His Groove Back,‖ By Common Consent, 27 April 2009 (http://bycommonconsent.com/2009/04/27/how-joseph-got-hisgroove-back). 18 HC 3:290–91 (http://byustudies.byu.edu/hc/3/21.html#290).

© 2013, Mike Parker

http://bit.ly/ldsarc

For personal use only. Not a Church publication.

Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class

Doctrine and Covenants Sections 121–123

Week 25, Page 7

We had been a long time without information; and when we read those letters they were to our souls as the gentle air is refreshing, but our joy was mingled with grief, because of the sufferings of the poor and much injured Saints. And we need not say to you that the floodgates of our hearts were lifted and our eyes were a fountain of tears, but those who have not been enclosed in the walls of prison without cause or provocation, can have but little idea how sweet the voice of a friend is; one token of friendship from any source whatever awakens and calls into action every sympathetic feeling; it brings up in an instant everything that is passed; it seizes the present with the avidity of lightning; it grasps after the future with the fierceness of a tiger; it moves the mind backward and forward, from one thing to another, until finally all enmity, malice and hatred, and past differences, misunderstandings and mismanagements are slain victorious at the feet of hope; and when the heart is sufficiently contrite, then the voice of inspiration steals along and whispers, [D&C 121:7–25].19

i) [SLIDE 17] 121:7–8. ―Thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment. And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high.‖
It is interesting to contrast the experiences of Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon in Liberty Jail in regard to enduring it well. They both were imprisoned and accused falsely for the sake of their religion; however, although Sidney was released months before the Prophet, he was clearly a broken man. He complained at the time that he had suffered more than the other Saints, more than even Jesus Christ himself. He was never again a strength to the kingdom and, in fact, did many things to obstruct its progress from that time on. Joseph Smith, on the other hand, when he left prison in Missouri, went to Nauvoo, led the Saints in building a great city there, and continued to serve faithfully as the Lord’s anointed prophet until his death….20

ii) 121:9–10. ―Thy friends do stand by thee…[they] do not contend against thee, neither charge thee with transgression, as they did Job.‖ (1) Job was innocent of all wrongdoing, and yet his wife and friends accused him of having caused his own misfortunes.21 Joseph‘s friends and family, however, stood by him during this difficult time. iii) 122:7. ―All these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.‖

HC 3:293 (http://byustudies.byu.edu/hc/3/21.html#293). Stephen E. Robinson and H. Dean Garrett, A Commentary on the Doctrine and Covenants (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2005), 4:153. 21 See Job 4:7–8, 17; 8:6, 20; 22:5, 23.
19 20

© 2013, Mike Parker

http://bit.ly/ldsarc

For personal use only. Not a Church publication.

Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class

Doctrine and Covenants Sections 121–123

Week 25, Page 8

(1) [SLIDE 18] Elder Dallin H. Oaks:
The revelations…show that we should even give thanks for our afflictions because they turn our hearts to God and give us opportunities to prepare for what God would have us become. The Lord taught the prophet Moroni, “I give unto men weakness that they may be humble,” and then promised that “if they humble themselves…and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27). In the midst of the persecutions the Latterday Saints were suffering in Missouri, the Lord gave a similar teaching and promise: “Verily I say unto you my friends, fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks;…and all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good” (D&C 98:1, 3).22

iv) 122:8–9. ―The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?‖ (1) Perspective is critical at these important junctures in life: When we think that we are being unjustly afflicted, we need to remember that many have had worse, and One has suffered more than all—and it is to Him that we can go for comfort. (2) Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught that ―we should not complain about our own life‘s not being a rose garden when we remember who wore the crown of thorns!23 c) [SLIDE 19] 121:16–22. Speaking through Joseph, the Lord then turns his attention to those apostates who turned against Joseph and joined or helped the mobs and the state militia. He declares that those who accuse the Lord‘s appointed leaders of transgression are transgressors themselves. i) ―Lift up the heel‖ is a is Biblical idiom24 that may have something to do with tripping someone who is walking next to you. Whatever its exact meaning, it clearly speaks of betrayal by a close associate. ii) Those who betray the Church and its leaders are cut off from the blessings of the temple (:19), the bounties of the earth (:20), and the right to or blessing of the priesthood for themselves and their posterity (:21).25 (1) Whatever disagreements we may have from time to time with a Church leader, or concerns about a Church policy, it is not worth cutting ourselves off from the ordinances of exaltation. The leaders of the Church hold the keys of the kingdom and the ordinances, and unlock the door to our salvation. d) [SLIDE 20] 121:26–28. Knowledge reserved for the last days. i) We often look for evidence of Mormon doctrines in the Bible, but some of them cannot be found there (at least in their fullness), not because they were lost or taken out, but because they were never revealed in the first place. ii) 124:41. ―Things which have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world.‖

22 23 24 25

Dallin H. Oaks, ―Give Thanks in All Things,‖ General Conference, April 2003 (http://www.lds.org/generalNeal A. Maxwell, ―‗Overcome…Even As I Also Overcame,‘‖ General Conference, April 1987 (http://www.lds.org/general-

conference/2003/04/give-thanks-in-all-things).

conference/1987/04/overcome-even-as-i-also-overcame).

See Psalm 41:9 (quoted in John 13:18). I don‘t take that last warning to mean that the children of apostates are guilty of or responsible for their parents‘ sins, but rather that they will suffer the consequences of their parents‘ unrighteous decisions. © 2013, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.

Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class

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Week 25, Page 9

iii) 128:18b. ―Things which never have been revealed from the days of Adam even unto the present time.‖ iv) 121:28b. For example, is there one God or are there many gods? (1) This was partly addressed by Joseph Smith in his 1844 King Follett Discourse,26 but much remains to be revealed on this subject. v) 121:33. ―As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river…as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints.‖ vi) [SLIDE 21] The promise is also given that there will be great discoveries about the nature of the universe (121:30–31); this has at least partly come to pass with the development of modern astronomy and physics. (1) The Hubble Space Telescope and other modern observational facilities have unlocked many of the universe‘s mysteries and shown us how much more we have to learn. These advances in science are made possible by the light of Christ, which is given to all mankind. e) 121:34–46. Principles of priesthood government 27 i) 121:34–36. ―Many are called but few are chosen‖ (cf. 95:5–6). (1) 121:34. There is a probationary period between being called or invited into the kingdom, and actually being selected to enter and receive its blessings. (a) While some are chosen in this life by being ―sealed up unto eternal life‖ (68:12; 131:5), most will not experience this until the final judgment. (2) 121:35. According to an earlier revelation, those who are not chosen are so because they ―have sinned a very grievous sin, in that they are walking in darkness at noon-day‖ (95:5–6). This, I take it, is synonymous with rebellion— actively fighting against the truth—and does not apply to those whose hearts are right but who commit sins simply through weakness.28 (3) 121:36. A man may have priesthood authority, but have no power in the priesthood because he does not exercise his priesthood righteously. That is how the rights and powers of the priesthood are ―inseparably connected.‖ ii) 121:37–38. Keys to loss of priesthood power. (1) We undertake to cover our sins. ―By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them‖ (58:43). The opposite of confessing and forsaking is hiding (covering) our sins and continuing to practice them in secret.

The definitive text of the King Follett Discourse is President Howard W. Hunter referred to 28 See Mosiah 3:12; 15:26; 16:5; 3 Nephi 6:18; 4 Nephi 1:38; Mormon 1:16.
26 27

© 2013, Mike Parker

http://bit.ly/ldsarc

For personal use only. Not a Church publication.

Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class

Doctrine and Covenants Sections 121–123

Week 25, Page 10

(2) We undertake to…gratify our pride, our vain ambition. True priesthood is about service, while pride is about being the most important, the one on top. Pride is the first sin, committed by Lucifer in the premortal council (D&C 29:36; Moses 4:1). President Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught, ―Pride is a switch that turns off priesthood power. Humility is a switch that turns it on.‖29 (3) We undertake…to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness. The Lord‘s way is agency and choice; Satan‘s plan is compulsion and power. Joseph Smith explained, ―I teach them [the Saints] correct principles, and they govern themselves.‖30 We violate this principle when we try to force our wives, our children, or those whom we serve in the capacity of a Church calling to ―do it my way.‖ iii) 121:39–40. Sadly, the compulsion and control warned about in 121:37 are part of ―the nature and disposition of almost all men‖ who have even a little authority. As the 19th-century British historian Sir John Dalberg-Acton is famous for remarking, ―Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.‖31 iv) 121:41–46. Keys to increasing priesthood power. (1) 121:41. Persuasion. Seeking to influence, rather than force. (2) 121:41. Long-suffering, or patience. (3) 121:41. Gentleness and meekness, rather than anger. (4) 121:41. Love unfeigned, meaning love that is real, sincere, not pretended. (5) 121:42. Kindness. (6) 121:42. Pure knowledge. Knowledge is a gift of the Spirit (46:18), and can only come when we have the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. (7) 121:42. Without hypocrisy, and without guile. Guile means ―cunning, duplicity, deceit‖ in a bad sense.32 (8) 121:43. The phrase reproving betimes with sharpness is not well understood today. [SLIDE 23] Let‘s define these terms: 33 (a) Reproving: To seek to correct, especially by mild rebuke. (b) Betimes: At an appropriate time, early, and before it was too late. (c) Sharpness: Acuteness of intellect; quickness of understanding, sense, or perception.

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conference/2010/10/pride-and-the-priesthood).

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, ―Pride and the Priesthood,‖ General Conference, October 2010 (http://www.lds.org/general-

According to John Taylor, ―The Organization of the Church,‖ The Latter-Day Saints’ Millennial Star 13/22 (15 November 1851), 339 (http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/cdm/ref/collection/MStar/id/2302). 31 Acton, letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton, April 5, 1887. Published in Historical Essays and Studies, J. N. Figgis and R. V. Laurence, eds. (London: Macmillan, 1907), 504 (http://books.google.com/books?id=vN8rAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA504). Joseph Smith made this observation first; Lord Acton simply put it more succinctly. 32 Noah Webster, American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828 ed., s.v. ―Guile‖ (http://archive.org/stream/americandictiona01websrich#page/858). 33 Kent P. Jackson and Robert D. Hunt, ―Reprove, Betimes, and Sharpness in the Vocabulary of Joseph Smith,‖ The Religious Educator 6/2 (2005), 97–104 (https://ojs.lib.byu.edu/spc/index.php/RelEd/article/view/2075/1981). © 2013, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.

Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class

Doctrine and Covenants Sections 121–123

Week 25, Page 11

(d) Reproving betimes with sharpness means to correct at an appropriate, early occasion, and the reproof must come with plainness and discernment—and only when the Holy Ghost so instructs, followed by an increase of love. (9) 121:45. Be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith. Charity is the pure love of Christ (Moroni 7:47), and ―except men shall have charity they cannot inherit that place which [the Lord] hast prepared in the mansions of [the] Father‖ (Ether 12:34). (10) 121:45. Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly. Virtue is moral goodness or excellence.34 To garnish is to adorn or decorate.35 Moral goodness should decorate or enhance our daily thoughts. (11) 121:45b–46. Following these keys will entitle us to be confident, not fearful, to stand before God; to grow in understanding of the nature and power of the priesthood; to have the Holy Spirit with us at all times; and to qualify to become like God is. 3) [SLIDE 24] There is no class next week! In two weeks: a) D&C 124–126, 2, 127–128.

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Webster, s.v. ―Virtue,‖ def. 3 (http://archive.org/stream/americandictiona02websrich#page/n887). Webster, s.v. ―Garnish,‖ def. 1 (http://archive.org/stream/americandictiona01websrich#page/812). http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.

© 2013, Mike Parker

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