Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » I Have More Questions, 1898
 


I Have More Questions, 1898

By: Ardis E. Parshall - March 23, 2010

Q. Has an Elder the right to call on a Priest to lay hands with him on the sick, the Elder being mouth or leading in prayer? Has a Priest the right to administer to the sick, there being no Elder present?

A. There ought to be no question on this point. A Priest holds the authority of the Aaronic Priesthood, and while that Priesthood does not give him the power to lay hands on baptized believers for the reception of the Holy Ghost, it undoubtedly gives him authority to lay hands on the sick, if it be necessary. Indeed, members of the Church can lay hands on the sick and pray for their recovery, though they have no right, if they rebuke the disease in the name of Jesus, to say they do so by the authority of the Priesthood.

Q. Does a man become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after he has been baptized and confirmed by those having authority, though his heart be not right, or he has not repented?

A. In reply, we may ask, who is to know that his heart is not right, or that he has not repented? if he has not repented of his sins, and continues to practice iniquity, he can soon be dealt with; and his membership in the Church can be tested, either by his repentance or by his severance from the Church. But if his heart be not right, the Lord is his judge, and not man. He is a member of the Church until, by his works and the spirit he manifests, he puts himself in a position to be dealt with.

Q. There are 168 hours in the week. Sunday Schools are held once a week, and the time occupied in teaching the children is about one hour and a half … a very small portion of time for religious teachings. This being the case, … what should be the character of the studies in our Sunday Schools?

A. Of course the smaller children should have teachings adapted to their understanding. the teachers should select the most interesting and instructive subjects which are adapted to the capacity of the little ones, and these should be taught with the utmost simplicity. …

But in all the classes where the children are capable of reading and understanding the Old and New Testaments, the Book of Mormon and the Pearl of Great Price, they should be used to the exclusion of every other book. We cannot impress this too strongly upon the minds of teachers and superintendents. …

We hear of theological classes, and perhaps other classes, studying other works than the word of God, spending the time in the Sunday Schools in discussing questions which are outside of these sacred books to which we refer. We think this practice wrong … In organizing Sunday Schools the object in view was to make the children Latter-day Saints, to fill their minds with knowledge concerning the principles of the Gospel, to make them thoroughly familiar with the word of God. What better training can we give our children than this? …

The boy or the girl who has had opportunity of reading these books and becoming familiar with them is well prepared to preach the Gospel and to teach others its heavenly principles. During the 166-1/2 hours each week which are spent outside the Sunday School, general reading and the study of other subjects can be indulged in; but we must beg our superintendents and teachers to give the children this little space of time – one hour and a half – for the reading and study of the word of God in its purity.

Q. Can a person have a knowledge that God lives without seeing Him?

A. We say, Certainly, Thousands testify, by the revelation which they have received from the Lord, through the Holy Ghost, who is one of the Godhead, that they know that God lives. The Spirit of God bears this testimony to their souls, and they are able to say – the Holy Ghost speaking through them – that God lives. …

Peter knew that Christ was the Son of the Living God, and the Savior said that flesh and blood had not revealed that to him, but His Father in heaven had done so. It required this revelation to constitute the knowledge that Peter had obtained, though he associated daily with the Lord in the flesh.

Q. Can an Elder take the name of Deity in vain and obtain forgiveness therefor by sincere repentance and prayer?

A. It is a most fearful sin for a man who has been taught the principles of righteousness, and who has made covenants with the Lord, to take his name in vain. If the extreme penalty were inflicted, the consequences might be exceedingly serious. There have been men whom we have reason to believe have met with violent deaths because of their profanity – men who knew better, but who broke this command and covenant. yet where there is sincere repentance and prayer unto the Lord, the Lord is merciful and does pardon sin.

Q. We are asked, “Who are the Gentiles, and from what tribe or race have they sprung?”

A. In the sense in which the word “Gentile” is used in the Bible, it appears clear that all are called Gentiles who are not of the House of Israel. The House of Israel is known as the children of the covenant. Their fathers, through faith, prevailed with the Lord and obtained promises from Him, and their descendants profited by those promises so far as to be called the covenant people of the Lord. The Gentiles were not of the seed of those who obtained these promises.

Q. An inquiry has been addressed to us from Arizona respecting the Priesthood that a Superintendent of a Sunday School should hold. Our friend who writes upon this subject is himself a Stake Superintendent of Sunday Schools, and is also one of the presidents of a quorum of Seventies. He says he should regret very much to leave that quorum, if it be necessary that one holding his position should be ordained a High Priest.

A. In reply, we say there is no necessity for him to be ordained a High Priest. He can act as Stake Superintendent of Sunday Schools with the utmost propriety while holding his present Priesthood.

Q. A correspondent asks the question whether it is not a serious sin for a widow, who has been sealed to her husband for time and eternity, to marry a man in any other place than in a temple of the Lord.

A. This depends upon circumstances. Such a marriage would be for time alone; and it might not be convenient for the couple, even though they were in full fellowship in the Church and able to get a recommend to the House of the Lord, to go to the temple, as it might be a long distance from their place of residence. Being a marriage for time alone, there would be no wrong committed in their being married by an officer in the Church who has the authority to marry.

Q. We are asked the question, “Will the seeing of the sick healed or hearing anyone speak in tongues, and these manifestations alone, give a testimony of the truth of the gospel?”

A. The healing of the sick and the speaking in tongues are two of the gifts which the Lord has promised to those who obey His gospel. Where these gifts exist in the Church, they are, as far as they go, evidences of the true gospel. But while that is so, there have been cases of the sick being healed by those who were not members of the Church of Jesus Christ; and there have been cases in our own church where persons have spoken in tongues under a wrong influence and spirit.

Therefore these signs alone do not give a testimony of the truth of the Gospel; neither are they a testimony that the person or persons who do these things are true servants of God. …

The reliable testimony must come from within – that is, the Saint should have the testimony of the Holy Ghost within. Outward signs and evidences go to corroborate and strengthen the inward testimony.

Q. We have been asked which is the better or most proper way for the children in Sunday School – to sit or stand while the opening prayer is offered?

A. We are of the opinion that it is better for the children to be seated during the opening prayer than that they should be required to stand. This opinion is based on several reasons, among which are:

It is too fatiguing on the little folks comprising the primary, infant and kindergarten classes for them to have to stand during the opening hymn, the succeeding prayer and the second hymn; and, as fatigue induces inattention and restlessness, it is desirable that they be permitted to sit during the prayer.

The officers and department teachers cannot observe the conduct of the pupils as well when they are standing up as when they are sitting down. when standing, the persons of the children in the front rows impede the view, and those in the back seats cannot be so closely watched.

There is also a tendency among the boys when standing at prayers to lounge, to lean on the seats, and when the teachers cannot so well observe what they are doing, to talk and play.

It is also well for the sake of good discipline that a uniform rule be observed in matters of this kind, that children moving from one school to another be not confused by differing practices.

We think that the children should be taught to sit reverentially, with hands folded, heads bowed and eyes shut during prayer; and on the other hand that those who pray should do so with distinct and sufficiently loud voices to be heard by all, and that the prayers should be brief and direct, so that the children can understand and remember them.

Q. The question is asked by a subscriber, “How long was our Lord on the cross, and also how long did he remain after He gave up the ghost?”

A. These questions cannot be answered. None of the four evangelists give exact statements with regard to time. Where they do mention hours they do not always agree. Writers on the life of Christ acknowledge the difficulty and present suggestions, or give their individual ideas. It is one of the points on which the Scriptures are not clear.

Q. A correspondent asks for some forms giving the exact words that should be used in ordaining men to certain offices in the Priesthood.

A. Our answer is, where the Lord has condescended to reveal the exact words to be used in the performance of any ordinance of the Church, these words should be used without change or deviation, but where the Lord has not done so it is improper, not to say impious, for men to trench upon the authority of the Holy Ghost and undertake to write or dictate forms when the Lord Himself has not thought it well so to do. It is the privilege of every man who is called to officiate in the ordinances of the Church to enjoy a portion of the Spirit of the Lord. On that spirit he should rely when called upon to administer as a servant of the lord, and we look with great disfavor on the tendency shown by some to have set forms prepared and used whenever there is an ordinance to be performed. We regard it as a dangerous departure from the Lord’s way, one that is likely to result in grievous errors. if a man holding the holy Priesthood is called upon to officiate in any of the duties of his calling he should be sure that he does that which he intends, and if the Lord has given no exact formula, let him trust to the Spirit of the Lord to fill his heart and inspire his tongue, and if he is doing his duty he will not go far wrong. Our Heavenly Father will not hold him a transgressor for a slip of the tongue or a verbal inaccuracy caused by nervousness or misapprehension; on the other hand every officer should do his very best when ministering in the things of God; carelessness or slovenliness in the handling of holy things or the performance of sacred rites is very displeasing to Him in whose name we are officiating.



22 Comments »

  1. Lots of really interesting stuff here!

    The answers about testimony, and the wording for priesthood ordinances, seemed thoughtful and insightful.

    But I laughed at the leading question . . .

    “There are 168 hours in the week. Sunday Schools are held once a week, and the time occupied in teaching the children is about one hour and a half … a very small portion of time for religious teachings. This being the case, … what should be the character of the studies in our Sunday Schools?”

    . . . and my jaw dropped at the one about the men who “have met with violent deaths because of their profanity.” Oh my!

    Comment by Hunter — March 23, 2010 @ 9:32 am

  2. He, he! The JI carried stories and editorials in this period featuring the violent deaths of men who no doubt would have lived long and happy lives, according to the editor, had they not taken the Lord’s name in vain. GQC sincerely believed that, and heavily preached it for a while. If there were others who taught the same idea, or if there is scriptural basis for it, I do not know.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 23, 2010 @ 10:02 am

  3. It is too fatiguing on the little folks comprising the primary, infant and kindergarten classes for them to have to stand during the opening hymn, the succeeding prayer and the second hymn; and, as fatigue induces inattention and restlessness, it is desirable that they be permitted to sit during the prayer.

    I didn’t know that the children did so much standing in Sunday School. The practice provides an interesting contrast to the modern practice of having children stand up in Primary to shake off their restlessness and fatigue.

    Comment by Justin — March 23, 2010 @ 10:08 am

  4. Interesting question about the Gentiles. In the German Book of Mormon, the word for Gentiles is “Andern,” which means, simply, “the others.”

    Having the word mean “a different group of people than the ones we’re talking about right now” has made more sense to me than to suppose that a single tribe or race is meant in every instance of the word in the scriptures.

    Comment by Researcher — March 23, 2010 @ 10:09 am

  5. I chuckled about the question regarding the president of the Sunday School, and regretting having to leave his current quorum if he has to be ordained a high priest. That is still so true. I’ve seen men fight like mad to avoid being made a high priest and have to leave the elders quorum. A good friend of mine didn’t mind being called as a counselor in the bishopric, but being fairly young, hated the idea that after being released, he’d be a high priest for the rest of his life.

    Comment by kevinf — March 23, 2010 @ 10:12 am

  6. I wonder if it was the practice of the “older people” to stand for the opening song, prayer, and subsequent song, or if the children were the only ones involved at the time.

    Indeed, members of the Church can lay hands on the sick and pray for their recovery, though they have no right, if they rebuke the disease in the name of Jesus, to say they do so by the authority of the Priesthood.

    I have read several early accounts where the mother in the home, absent a husband, laid hands on a sick child and blessed that child to be healed. In some cases, the wife stood in with her husband as he gave the blessing.I don’t see either of those things happening today.

    Comment by Maurine — March 23, 2010 @ 10:18 am

  7. kevinf – Really? I’d give anything to leave my EQ. The HP group throws better parties.

    (But I’m sure I’ll be one of those 60yos who they have to throw out of EQ.)

    Comment by queuno — March 23, 2010 @ 10:21 am

  8. Interesting that a priest could assist in the blessing of the sick, according to the first answer. I’m speaking from possibly-faulty memory here, but current practice doesn’t allow that, yes?

    Comment by David B — March 23, 2010 @ 11:06 am

  9. His statement isn’t entirely clear, David B., but I think even in 1898 GQC was grouping priests together with all other “members of the church” who could lay hands on the sick and pray for them *without* claiming the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood for their statements during such prayers.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 23, 2010 @ 11:23 am

  10. This must also have been from a time when the teachers did not sit with their students in Primary.

    The officers and department teachers cannot observe the conduct of the pupils as well when they are standing up as when they are sitting down…and those in the back seats cannot be so closely watched.

    When my wife was in primary, she remembers one 4 year old boy trying to attach his clip-on tie to his lower eyelid. He was one who needed to be closely watched.

    Comment by kevinf — March 23, 2010 @ 11:49 am

  11. Seventies? Are there still quorums of seventies? I thought they were all made elders or high priests in the eighties.

    Comment by Jerry — March 23, 2010 @ 12:18 pm

  12. Sorry about #11 I didn’t read close enough to see the date. I thought these were some odd questions.

    Comment by Jerry — March 23, 2010 @ 12:24 pm

  13. Gotcha! :) You’re right, Jerry, they’re odd questions if seen from today’s perspective, which makes them fun to read, I think. And thanks for mentioning why that particular question was odd — there could easily be readers who don’t know that there were EVER local seventies quorums, if they’ve grown up in the era where seventies are only general/area authorities.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 23, 2010 @ 12:52 pm

  14. The seventies in the eighties? That’s worth a joke or two. But I should restrain myself, since Hartley did, in his very interesting article about the history of that quorum a century before the events that Jerry mentions. (He called it “The Seventies in the 1880s: Revelations and Reorganizing.” Reading that article about a year ago was somehow the first time that I realized that the church had “thus saith the Lord” revelations that weren’t in the Doctrine and Covenants. I tried to add a link to the Hartley article here, but it isn’t working right for some reason.)

    Here’s another try at adding the link: Hartley article on the Seventies.

    Comment by Researcher — March 23, 2010 @ 1:30 pm

  15. But, to answer Jerry’s question: there are a few stray seventies lurking about. Men who were ordained seventies before all the stake seventies quorums were shut down, but who haven’t had occasion to be ordained high priests.

    About standing to sing: there are some traditions within Christianity where the congregations always stand to sing, and they would think our sitting while singing unusual.

    Comment by Mark B. — March 23, 2010 @ 1:32 pm

  16. Wikipedia just told me that it was 1986 that the local quorums of seventies in the stakes were discontinued. I recall the organization of our stake seventies quorum in November or December, 1985 (don’t ask, and I won’t tell why), but couldn’t remember the date that they ceased to exist.

    Comment by Mark B. — March 23, 2010 @ 1:40 pm

  17. Mark,

    I had the privilege of ordaining a fellow in our ward as a high priest a few months back who was one of those odd remaining seventies. He’d gone inactive back in the early 80′s, and just started coming out to church about a year and a half ago, so the 1986 directive had never caught up with him till now. I suspect there are still a few more out there.

    Comment by kevinf — March 23, 2010 @ 3:52 pm

  18. About standing to sing: there are some traditions within Christianity where the congregations always stand to sing, and they would think our sitting while singing unusual.

    Don’t most other denominations stand to sing? All the other churches I have attended, do. When my mum attended Sacrament (for special occasions) I used to grab her coat to stop her standing to sing hymns, because she always forgot :-)

    Comment by Anne (U.K) — March 23, 2010 @ 4:27 pm

  19. When I was an elders quorum president, one of my counselors was a seventy.

    I’d say that even if you’ve been ordained a HP subsequently, you’re still a seventy. It’s kind of gone back and forth over the years whether a seventy is thought of as a “higher” or “lower” office than a high priest, and often it was stated that neither was “higher,” they just had different responsibilities.

    However, various policies have suggested different relationships between the two offices. Until the early ’60s, you weren’t elegible to be a member of the First Council of the Seventy if you had ever been ordained a high priest. Then for awhile, only seventies (never ordained high priests) could be called to the First Council of the 70, but they made you a high priest as soon as you were called. Then I think sometime in the early 1970s, you could be a member of the First Council/First Quorum if you were a high priest even if you had never been ordained a seventy. Even some elders were called into the First Quorum, but were ordained high priests (but not seventies) when called. I think now they ordain all general and area seventies to the office of seventy even if they are already high priests.

    Back when they had local seventies quorums, high priests were generally thought of as “higher.” Now gradually, seventies have come to be thought of as a “higher” office, and the changes in the policies at the general level reflect that change, in terms of whether or not the responsibilities of a seventy are included in the office of high priest or vice versa.

    Comment by Left Field — March 23, 2010 @ 4:44 pm

  20. I just now got a chance to read through the post and subsequent comments. I just love this stuff.

    To follow up on a couple of comments, at this time all members of the church were authorized to anoint and lay hands on the sick for healing.

    I’m friends with an individual that is one of those stray seventies in that lives in the area.

    Comment by J. Stapley — March 23, 2010 @ 7:02 pm

  21. I thought you must be busy or out of town, J., because these Questions posts usually lure you into the open for a few minutes. Glad to see you!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 23, 2010 @ 8:11 pm

  22. Busted! I flew home this afternoon.

    Comment by J. Stapley — March 23, 2010 @ 8:32 pm

Leave a comment

RSS feed for comments on this post.
TrackBack URI