As with earlier entries in this series, these questions and answers come from the pages of the Juvenile Instructor. Some were taken from articles explicitly signed The Editor — meaning George Q. Cannon — while others appeared in unsigned editorial columns presumably written or at least approved by GQC.
Can an Elder officiate in another ward as an Elder in performing any of the ordinances which belong to the office of an Elder when he has been disfellowshipped in his own ward and his case is on appeal to the High Council?
It would be a very improper thing for a man in that position to officiate in any of the ordinances of the Melchisedek Priesthood, because he is not in good standing, and it is too sacred a matter for any man to act in the Priesthood unless he is fully authorized to do so. It would not be reasonable to expect that the Lord would bless anyone in acting in the Priesthood while in that condition.
Which is proper in fasting: To refrain from eating and drinking, or from eating only?
The rule that has generally been observed in the Church in fasting is to deny one’s self of all nourishment, whether in the shape of food or drink, the object being to humble one’s self before the Lord, and this can be better done when the stomach is entirely empty than when it is partially filled with water, which of itself contains much nourishment.
If a member of the Church should commit suicide because of unrequited love, or other exciting cause, would it be proper for the authorities of the ward to have a public funeral service in such a case as a mark of respect to the family, who may be faithful members of the Church?
Every member of the Church should be made to understand that it is a dreadful sin to take one’s own life. It is self-murder, and, therefore, anyone committing this crime should not expect a public and honorable funeral. There is a wide distinction between the condition of one who dies a natural death and one who dies by his own hand. No one should be led to believe that if he commits this sinful act he will still receive the same respect and honor at his burial from the Priesthood and people of God that others do who die as faithful members of the Church. No encouragement of this kind should be given to anyone who has an inclination to commit suicide. For this reason a person who commits suicide should be buried privately and without ostentation, and certainly the funeral services should be conducted without the authorities of the Church lending their presence to the funeral. All should be taught that it is a sin of great magnitude to take the life which the Creator has given to them.
[Although I’m generally posting the historic Q&A “as is,” leaving commentary to you-all, this one is painful enough that I am prompted to refer concerned readers to Elder M. Russell Ballard’s 1987 Ensign article, “Suicide: Some Things We Know, and Some We Do Not”, and to say that anyone whose life has been touched by the suicide of a friend or loved one understands that this brief 1893 answer is not all that can or should be said.]
Can a Bishop make a decision that will be binding without hearing both sides?
A bishop before making a decision should have his counselors with him, and then they should by all means have both parties represented, or a decision will not be binding. The Prophet Joseph in giving instruction to the High Council on one occasion said he wished his words recorded, and although they were for the High Councils, they are equally applicable for bishops:
“That the council should try no case without both parties being present, or having had an opportunity to be present; neither should they hear one party’s complaint before his case is brought up for trial; neither should they suffer the character of anyone to be exposed before the High Council without the person being present and ready to defend him or herself; that the minds of the Counselors may not be prejudiced for or against anyone whose case they may possibly have to act upon.”
We hear occasionally of some of the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who are of the opinion that mankind have more probations than one on the earth, and that some men who have lived in this dispensation have figured prominently in other dispensations, and borne names in those dispensations which are well known to us now.
That a belief in reincarnation should prevail among the Latter-day Saints seems strange; for there is nothing in the gospel, as taught in the Bible, in the Book of Mormon, in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, or in the teachings of inspired men, that furnishes the least foundation for such a conception. It is true that pre-existence is taught; but the pre-existence in which we believe is confined to our first estate. We are taught that our present life is our second estate, and this is a probation given unto us in which to gain experience and to be tried and purified, to prepare us for our next estate. The teachings of men who have had a deep understanding concerning the purpose of our Great Creator in placing us here in this condition of existence, show that this is the grand opportunity which is given to man – an opportunity which he must not fail to avail himself of, as it is the only opportunity that he will have on the earth, his earthly existence is confined to one appearance in the flesh.
When a child comes forth it possesses a tabernacle. That tabernacle is the house of its spirit, intimately associated with the spirit; separated, it is true, for a time by death, but designed to be re-united in the great hereafter. The Savior says that His disciples looked upon the long absence of their spirits from their bodies to be a bondage. (See Section 45, Doctrine and Covenants.) We are taught that all holy beings look forward with joyful anticipation to the time when their bodies and spirits will be re-united in the resurrection. They do not look forward to reincarnation, or to another birth as a baby, but to the union of their spirits and their bodies – the bodies that they possessed and in which they had passed through all the trials and temptations and vicissitudes incident to a mortal career.
This is the doctrine taught in the gospel; and the doctrine of reincarnation is utterly foreign to every principle which God has revealed in the last days to His Church.
Since the revelation of the gospel to the world through the Prophet Joseph Smith, there has been a great disposition manifested by many people to investigate the oriental religions, and to appropriate from them strange ideas, entirely foreign to those that have been believed in by the people of Christendom. An itching for something new seems to have been the incentive in many instances to adopt strange views and to announce beliefs that are antagonistic to Christianity. Prompted by this feeling numbers have adopted Buddhism and other forms of oriental belief. In this way Satan seeks to divert the children of men from the truth; for although his power is not visible to mortal eyes, yet he exercises it to a wonderful extent, and the children of men are led hither and thither by his influence and the agencies through which he operates. When Latter-day Saints do not escape these false doctrines, how much less likely to resist error are those who do not know the truth as revealed in these days from heaven?
The Latter-day Saints should be warned on these points, and not be carried about by “every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive,” but cling to the simple and plain truth, as God has revealed it and as he teaches it unto those who will receive it; not seeking to dive into mysteries and to adopt strange and startling ideas, but confining themselves to that which God has written cultivating within themselves continually His Holy Spirit, that through it they may be led into all truth.