Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » They Had Questions, Too – 1939

They Had Questions, Too – 1939

By: Ardis E. Parshall - April 17, 2009

In 1939, the Millennial Star featured a regular “Gospel Queries” column; many of the questions appear to have been submitted by non-members. Answers were provided by missionary David Sjodahl King (1917- ), son of Senator William H. King (D-Utah), and himself elected a congressman from Utah 1959-63. He served as ambassador to Madagascar 1967-69; LDS mission president to Haiti 1986-89; president of the Washington, D.C. temple 1990-93; and now as stake patriarch.

Q: How many missionaries are there in the British Isles?

A: At the present time there are 148, eleven of them lady missionaries.

Q: Is it true that Joseph Smith’s own mother never joined the Mormon Church?

A: No. Lucy Mack Smith, mother of Joseph Smith, was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a few days after the Church was organized.

Q: Does your church object to the term “Mormon,” which I understand is just a nickname?

A: The term ‘Mormon” has been used to designate the Church and its people since its beginning, and came from the prominent place in Church theology held by the Book of Mormon. The Church does not in any way object to the term “Mormon” so long as it is remembered that it is just a nickname. It can never become the real name of the Church, because the Church of Christ must always bear His name, as a witness that it is His Church.

Q: How much are your missionaries paid for their work in Great Britain?

A: None of the missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are paid any money by the Church. Through money that they have saved themselves, or through the help of their family or other relatives or friends, they maintain themselves in their missionary labours. For as long as the Church asks them to stay – in Britain the usual period is two years – they devote themselves entirely to missionary work. when “called” by the Church they leave their work, or their school, or whatever else they may be doing and willingly give their service to preach the Gospel of Christ. When “released” from this work they go home and re-enter, if possible, into whatever they were doing before. This system of unpaid missionary work is consistent with other work done in the Church. None of the officers, such as elders, priests, bishops, deacons, etc., receive any pay for their services.

Q. How can the Latter-day Saints believe in a universal Christian apostasy in view of the following scripture? “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, … and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” (Matt. 28;19-20)

A: There is no inconsistency between this statement of the Saviour and the actuality of the apostasy. Just before his ascension Jesus gave His disciples these parting words of admonition. Directing them to go out into the world and preach the gospel to all nations, He added the promise that if they did this, He would be with them to the end of the world. That promise was kept. The apostles did go and preach the gospel to all nations, and the Saviour did accompany them, in spirit, to the very end. Ten of the eleven apostles assembled on the mount when that promise was made, died a martyr’s death while fighting for the cause they loved so dearly. But surely this passage cannot be interpreted to mean that the Saviour promised to be with the successors to the apostles regardless of how unworthy they might be. Every blessing given by God to man has at least one condition: he must be worthy to receive it.

Q: Your magazine stated recently that you have 150 missionaries in Great Britain. Why don’t you keep them in America? Are not they just as much needed there?

A: there are many more missionaries in America than here, because there ism ore territory to cover. Every state in the United States has missionaries working within its borders. Missionary labour is carried out even among the non-Mormons in Utah, by means of local organizations.

Q: Is it true that a person has to be a Mormon to live in Salt Lake City?

A: No. It is believed by many that Salt Lake City is the “City of Mormons,” but this is only partly correct. it is true that the city was founded and built up by Mormons, and that it is the present location of the Church Headquarters, but Mormons are not by any means the only religious group there. From the very first they have welcomed in other churches, often giving them land grants on which to build their chapels, and today there are found the buildings of nearly every Christian sect which has a following in America. Only 40 per cent of the people of Salt Lake City are Mormons, and 60 per cent of the State of Utah are Mormons.

Q: What possible good can you do towards the preaching of Christianity by indulging in athletics?

A: The Church believes its message of Christianity restored is important enough to justify the use of any honourable means available to call attention to its work. if, by watching a team of Mormon missionaries play a game, a person comes away feeling that at least Mormons are healthy and good sportsmen, he has seen one of the good results of Mormon teaching. Believing that the “abundant life” of Christianity must consider the physical, as well as the mental and spiritual, Latter-day Saints have definite laws for physical welfare along with the other two. Athletics help to show that the physical laws of Mormonism bring results when applied.

Q: When the Bible says that all men must be baptized, why do you wait until a child is eight years old, with the chance that he may die before that time?

A: The doctrine of infant baptism was unheard of until the third century A.D., and is purely a human innovation. The Saviour taught that baptism was for the remission of sins. (See mark 1:4; Matt. 3:6; Acts 22:16). It was to be administered only to those who had exercised faith and accepted the gospel. There were no exceptions to this rule. When Philip was preaching to the inhabitants of Samaria, it was only after they had expressed a belief in his message that they could be baptized. (Acts 8:12). The situation was identical when the eunuch asked for admission into Christ’s kingdom. (Acts 8:37-39). there is not one instance of baptism in the whole Bible where it is not said, or implied, that the recipient had accepted the gospel and repented of his sins.

The whole question, then, turns on the point of whether the Lord regards children as sinful. Latter-day Saints take the view that heaven-sent children are sinless and have no need to repent. A child needs no initiation into the fold of Christ because he has never strayed therefrom. Well did the Saviour say, “Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” Who is man to say that a new-born babe is laden with sin, when our Lord tells us that “of such is the kingdom of God”? how horrible it would be to contemplate a God who would refuse to hundreds of millions of little children entrance into His kingdom merely because they had not been baptized, through no fault of their own.

Latter-day Saints have in addition to the bible the following statement from the Book of Mormon, “Wherefore, little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin; wherefore the curse of Adam is taken from them in me, that it hath no power over them … wherefore I know that it is solemn mockery before God, that ye should baptize little children.” (Moroni 8:8-9).

Q: Why don’t the Latter-day Saints kneel when partaking of the sacrament?

A: When the Saviour instituted the sacrament, there was no record made of the disciples kneeling to receive it. Although the Bible gives several instances of devout worshippers praying on bended knees (Luke 22:41, Acts 29:36), in no instance was their genuflexion associated with partaking of the sacrament. latter-day Saints feel that praying on bended knees has a humbling effect, and that it is quite proper, but that it should be done in quiet and solitude. “When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret.” When worshipping in public, the Latter-day Saints try to avoid a physical exhibition of their piety.

Q: Is it true that Salt Lake City has a wall around it?

A: The only wall of any importance in Salt Lake City is the one which surrounds Temple square. It is twelve feet high and three feet thick, being made of adobe and plaster. Brigham Young had the unemployed men in the city build it to keep them busy. There are four spacious gates built into the wall through which pass hundreds of thousands of tourists every year. The Temple and Tabernacle, the public museum and assembly hall, as well as the magnificent floral display, make Temple Square one of the major attractions of Western America.

Q: Was the manifesto, which discontinued the practice of plural marriage, a revelation from God?

A: The manifesto, issued in 1890 and adopted by the Church in conference assembled, was not a revelation but was a statement drawn up by the leaders of the Church, based upon a revelation from God given to President Wilford Woodruff. The church has not repudiated the principle of plural marriage but, in obedience to a divine commandment, has suspended its operation.

Q: Has science found any physical evidence for a universal flood?

A: Yes. In Devonshire they have found vast areas of buried fish, scales in place, fins extended as in life, disclosing that they were killed simultaneously in enormous masses and suddenly buried by a great upheaval. In Siberia mammoths have been found buried as deep as 100 feet beneath the frozen earth’s surface. When the animals were examined, unchewed and undigested food was found inside them. The only reasonable explanation for this phenomenon is that these animals were suddenly overwhelmed and buried by a mighty upheaval of the earth’s surface. This would agree perfectly with Genesis 7:11, “The same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.”

Q: Upon whom does the Church place the responsibility of doing genealogical work?

A: The Prophet Joseph Smith left no room for doubt upon this important matter. In a sermon delivered at the funeral of Elder King Follett he said: “The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead.” The First Presidency of the Church has repeatedly warned the Saints that each individual member from the highest to the lowest will be held accountable for the salvation of his kindred dead.


Due to the release of Elder King, who has returned to America, it has been found necessary to temporarily discontinue the feature “Gospel queries” which has been in the STAR for the past several months. The “Queries” have been very popular with readers, and it is hoped that they can be started again in the near future.

– 31 August 1939



  1. Only 40 per cent of the people of Salt Lake City are Mormons, and 60 per cent of the State of Utah are Mormons

    And this was in 1939! I always thought that it was a more recent phenomenon to have more non-lds people in Salt Lake City. My day is complete – I’ve learned something new. :)

    Comment by iguacufalls — April 17, 2009 @ 9:56 am

  2. I’ve had occasion to kneel with the congregation of another church when attending their service as a guest, and I have to say that the effect of kneeling as a group was very profound and humbling. And I’ve been around plenty of Catholics as they individually genuflected when facing the tabernacle, and with apparent sincere intent.

    However, having said that, I thought that David King’s simple statement about our kneeling was just so superb:

    When worshipping in public, the Latter-day Saints try to avoid a physical exhibition of their piety.

    Me likey.

    Comment by Hunter — April 17, 2009 @ 11:48 am

  3. When worshipping in public, the Latter-day Saints try to avoid a physical exhibition of their piety.

    While the norm is to avoid kneeling during the administration of the sacrament, I had an older woman I baptized in Brazil who would kneel during the sacrament prayers. The first time I witnessed her kneel, I was about to correct her, but felt restrained by the Spirit not to do so. This sweet sister’s demonstration of reverence and respect is now a cherished memory and one that brings tears to my eyes when I remember her simple faith.

    Comment by Brian Duffin — April 17, 2009 @ 12:31 pm

  4. I really enjoy these posts!

    Another “kneeling during the sacrament” question. Br. King should have just referred the questioner to Ardis’ Keepa post a week or so ago. :-)

    The questions about missionary service were interesting as well. It should be remembered that at the time we were still dealing with the Great Depression. From the research I have done, many potential missionaries took advantage of New Deal programs like the CCC to earn money for missions. It really was a tough time for the Church anyway. There were few buildings built. Two temples were announce during the 1930s (Idaho Fall and LA) but those had to wait. Tithe donations fell and the number of missionaries in the field dropped considerably. Given that background I sure that it made Br. King’s comments about the Church’s lay ministry all the more significant.

    It seems there is always alarm about ratio of LDS and “Gentiles” in SLC. From what I’ve seen, the ratio between the two has been roughly the same for a long, long time. Br. King’s comments from 1939 confirms this view.

    Comment by Steve C. — April 17, 2009 @ 1:26 pm

  5. this was the line which stood out to me:

    The church has not repudiated the principle of plural marriage but, in obedience to a divine commandment, has suspended its operation.

    Comment by Anne (UK) — April 17, 2009 @ 1:39 pm

  6. The answer regarding the universal flood brings a smile to the face.

    Comment by Martin Willey — April 17, 2009 @ 1:44 pm

  7. I think Leonard Arrington said something about a wall around Salt Lake in the 1850’s. More like an earth dike, built obstensibly for protection from Indians, but really to provide employment. It wasn’t finished and was torn down after the indian torubles ended.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — April 17, 2009 @ 2:57 pm

  8. I like how straightforward and blunt the answers are.


    There is no inconsistency between this statement of the Saviour and the actuality of the apostasy.

    The Church believes its message of Christianity restored is important enough to justify the use of any honourable means available to call attention to its work.

    The doctrine of infant baptism was unheard of until the third century A.D., and is purely a human innovation.

    I laugh a little when I first read them, but I also appreciate greatly the last few years and the return to blunt assessments of core doctrines being presented in General Conference.

    Comment by Ray — April 17, 2009 @ 3:01 pm

  9. The polygamy thing was interesting to me too. Particularly the part about how the Manifesto was not a “revelation” but merely based on one. And the pointed remark that the practice has not been discontinued.

    Comment by Seth R. — April 17, 2009 @ 6:27 pm

  10. “Principle,” I should say, not “practice.”

    Comment by Seth R. — April 17, 2009 @ 6:27 pm

  11. The publication date caught my eye. Besides being 15 years to the day before my entrance onto the scene, it was the day before the Germans invaded Poland, starting World War II in Europe. The British declared war on Germany three days later.

    Comment by Mark B. — April 17, 2009 @ 10:10 pm

  12. I noticed that too, Mark (obviously not the bit about your birthday(!), I meant about the lead up to declaration of war). Made me wonder if anyone actually read this, back then.

    Comment by Anne (UK) — April 18, 2009 @ 2:14 am

  13. King discussed his final days in Europe in an interview published in the Winter 2004 Dialogue (132-33).

    Comment by Justin — April 18, 2009 @ 7:41 am

  14. David S. King died this week (6 May 2009). Paul Rolly’s obituary from the Salt Lake Tribune of 8 May:

    Before Wayne Owens crossed Utah’s cultural divide by serving alternatively as a liberal Democratic representative and an ambassador for the LDS Church, there was David S. King.

    A three-term congressman from Utah, ambassador to two African countries and a top official of the World Bank, King died Wednesday in Washington, D.C., area where he had lived most of his life. He was 91.

    King grew up in Washington as the son of former Utah Sen. William H. King, who began serving the first of his four terms in 1917, the year David King was born.

    After serving an LDS Church mission, King attended and graduated from Georgetown University Law School, then clerked for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

    In 1943, he returned to Utah where he practiced law and taught commercial law at Stevens-Henager Business College.

    He ran for Congress in 1958 and in a stunning upset, defeated incumbent Republican William A. Dawson, joining newly elected Sen. Ted Moss in a tide that began to swing the solidly Republican state of Utah toward Democrats.

    King won a second term, but left Congress after he unsuccessfully challenged Sen. Wallace Bennett in 1962.

    After a two-year hiatus, King won another term in Congress in 1964.

    In 1967, he was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson as ambassador to the Malagasy Republic (now known as Madagascar) and later as ambassador to Mauritius.

    “I think I enjoyed my tenure as an ambassador even more than being a member of Congress,” he said in a 1984 interview with The Associated Press .

    He was replaced as ambassador to both countries when Republican Richard Nixon came to power in 1969, but in 1977, he was appointed to the World Bank by Democratic president Jimmy Carter.

    After that tenure he remained active in legal and consulting work in the Washington, D.C., area and in the 1980s he began working as an assistant to David Kennedy, the LDS Church’s ambassador-at-large, to establish the church’s foothold in Africa.

    “I was the only one to give a speech in the native Malagasay Language,” he told the AP, when he was one of several ambassadors speaking at an event in Malagasy. “People are still talking about that because that’s something ambassadors just don’t do. We as Americans are usually too arrogant to learn the other guy’s language and we insist they do business on our terms.”

    Besides his work as an ambassador for the LDS Church, he served as an LDS mission president in Haiti and as president of the LDS Temple in Washington, D.C.

    He is survived by his wife, Rosalie and five children. A son, David Jr., preceded him in death.

    The funeral will be held today in the Kensington LDS Ward in Kensington, Md.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — May 9, 2009 @ 8:30 am

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