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Questions from the Grass Roots, 1948 (6)

By: Ardis E. Parshall - October 22, 2010

The source of these questions and answers can be found in the first installment of this series. It bears repeating for newcomers that the person(s) answering these questions is/are not identified, and that the answers given here are not necessarily current teaching. The chief value of these columns today is in seeing what issues were on the minds of ordinary Church members 60 years ago, and in noting what has changed since then, or what issues we consider modern concerns were being discussed that long ago.

Q. Are the servicemen’s editions of the Book of Mormon and the Principles of the Gospel available for use in scout and other groups? – E.L.H., Coma, Calif.

A. No. They are reserved for our Church members serving in the military.

Q. Who is the presiding officer in a seventies’ quorum, the senior president? Or can the quorum of its own volition choose the man to be their presiding officer? – J.M.P., Ogden.

A. The seven presidents of a seventies’ quorum are all equal in authority, but we recognize the principle of seniority in a council of seven presidents. The president who has been a member of the council for the longest period of time is regarded as the senior in the group and therefore takes the initiative in directing affairs. However, the various members of the council usually take turns conducting meetings, just as a bishop and his counselors may take turns conducting sacrament or other meetings. Such a procedure is usually decided upon among the members of the council itself with the knowledge and consent of all seven men.

Q. If the president of the Church attends a sacrament meeting in a ward, is he the presiding officer, or does the bishop preside? What about a stake president visiting in one of the wards? – J.M.P., Ogden.

A. No matter in what meeting of the Church the president appears, he, of course, is the highest ranking officer of the Church present, and therefore is the presiding officer. It would be the duty of the bishop or other presiding officer to conduct the program under his direction. In the case of the stake president, he would be the presiding officer in a meeting held within his stake if no general authority were present, and the ward officer would serve as the conducting officer only.

Q. Since so much has been said about the relative merits of white and whole wheat bread, we wonder if dark bread should be used in the sacrament. – R.C., Montana.

A. It is recommended that if possible, white bread should be used.

Q. Where does the Church get its authority to ordain deacons at the age of 12, teachers at the age of 15, and priests at the age of 17. – A.L.S., Ark. City, Kan.

A. No revelation was given on this point. The decision for such ordinations came from the presiding authorities of the Church, who, acting as the legal representatives of the Lord on earth, established this practice as a policy within the government of the Church, a thing they were fully entitled to do. The General Authorities establish many of the policies of the Church, but always in harmony with revelations of the Lord.

Q. Will Christ come to earth again before or after the space of a hundred years? – B.M., Midvale.

A. The time of the coming of the Lord has not been revealed, not even to the angels in heaven.

Q. If a married couple gets to the point where each person gets tired of the other, is it not wise to have a divorce? – H.L.F., Logan, Utah.

A. Read Section 42 of the Doctrine & Covenants, beginning with verse 22. It says, “Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart and shalt cleave unto her and none else.” That is given as a commandment. Does it not indicate that we should learn to love our wife or husband, in case our love has cooled off? Put this commandment on the same basis as the law of tithing, the law of the Sabbath, the law against adultery, against theft, lying, etc., for it is just as much a commandment of the Lord as any of the others. is failure to love one’s wife any more excusable than violation of other laws of God? Usually, cooling affections result from interest in other persons. It may be that is the reason the Lord said: ‘Thou shalt cleave unto her (your wife) and none else. And he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her shall deny the faith,” etc.

Q. How long after one becomes a member of the Church can he be ordained an elder in the Melchizedek priesthood? – I.H., L.A., Calif.

A. There is no set time. It depends entirely upon a person’s worthiness, the degree of his conversion and his sincerity. This matter is in the hands of the bishop of the ward and the president of the stake, both of whom must be acquainted with the facts and make the necessary recommendations.

Q. A blessing I received says “as you observe the laws of life so shall your strength be renewed from time to time.” What are the laws of life? – E.B.A., St. David, Ariz.

A. Probably the context of the blessing itself will give you the key. It could mean several things, the laws of health, the laws of virtue, etc. Jesus is referred to as the Life and the Way. You might interpret the expression to be His laws, for they cover both laws of health and general conduct.

Q. What keys are conferred on a man when he is ordained to the Melchizedek priesthood? – W.H., Santaquin.

A. No one is ordained in the Church today unless he is ordained to some specific office. A man may be ordained in the Melchizedek Priesthood to the office of elder, seventy or high priest, bishop, apostle, or patriarch. Keys pertain to presidency. If, for instance, he is ordained a bishop, he has conferred upon his head the keys of his calling as a bishop, or, if he is a stake president, or a quorum president, he has the keys of that calling conferred upon him. If he is ordained an elder, he receives the authority of an elder; if he is ordained a high priest, he receives that particular authority. See also “Gospel Doctrine” by Pres. Joseph F. Smith, regarding that subject. See the index under “Keys of the Priesthood.”

Q. Is it proper to use religious songs in a public song-fest? – B.A., Layton.

A. It would depend entirely upon the circumstances, and the sponsorship. Under some circumstances religious songs would be perfectly appropriate. However, it should be remembered that sacred things should not be held up to ridicule, nor should they be brought into circumstances or situations which would invite ridicule.

Q. Is it a violation of any rule of respect for persons to remain seated during songs in a meeting when most of the congregation stands? – E.B.C., Payette, Ida.

A. If the congregation is asked by those in charge of a meeting to arise for the singing of songs, it would be expected normally that all would arise. However, there are some people who, because of physical disability, cannot comfortably get up and sit down at random, and these people should have the liberty to remain seated.

Q. Recently you said something about Jesus being the Jehovah of the Old Testament. Can you tell me anything more about Bible references on this subject? – GHC, Salt Lake.

A. Bible scholars say that the name Jehovah was used back even in the days of Adam. The word Lord is used in some of the translations in place of what appeared as Jehovah in the original. In the American revision of 1881-1885, for instance, in the 18th chapter of Genesis, we find the following: “And Jehovah appeared unto him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day.” All through this translation, and likewise in others, the name Jehovah appears in the days of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We understand that the Hebrew revisions or copies of the ancient scriptures, contain the name Jehovah. That is as far as we can go back in the original language of the Old Testament. The fact is that all of these translations or revisions of the Bible are imperfect and carry the interpretations of the translators who, without exception, were uninspired. However, you will be interested in the manner in which the Prophet Joseph Smith, in his revised version of the scriptures, recorded one of the Lord’s interviews with Moses: “And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the Lord; and I appeared unto Abraham, to Isaac and unto Jacob, I am the Lord God Almighty; the Lord Jehovah. And was not my name known unto them?”



19 Comments »

  1. Some great ones in here:

    – The order of presidency of a quorum of the Seventy (I know this was back when Seventies quorums were more local, and I wonder if the same answer would be given today?)

    – The distinctive recommendation for white bread. I’ve been in some sacrament meeting where odd bread choices had been made (Swiss roll anyone? Getting frosting all over your fingers is a bit distracting).

    – The one on divorce…was he (or she!) expecting a different answer?

    – My favorite is the last one. He never answered the question! It’s an interesting exposition on the name “Jehovah” in the Bible, but he never showed a connection that identifies Jehovah as Jesus.

    Comment by Dane — October 22, 2010 @ 8:53 am

  2. We had very strongly flavored dark rye with caraway seeds a few weeks ago, the most, uh, “novel’ choice I can remember.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — October 22, 2010 @ 9:03 am

  3. With our awareness of the variety of food allergies today, I suppose that white bread (or better yet, a gluten-free alternative) is the most practical choice.

    Comment by Dane — October 22, 2010 @ 10:32 am

  4. the translators who, without exception, were uninspired.

    Not only is this condescending, but it’s at odds with the current Bible Dictionary witch praises Wycliffe, Tynsdale, and Luther.

    I also found the white bread response intriguing because no rationale given, and it stands at odds with D&C 27:2 “…it mattereth not what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink when ye partake of the sacrament…” When I in a college ward, I heard (after the fact) that they’d spiked a few cups with Sprite, then watched the congregation to see who got those cups. Maybe it would have gone down better with Ardis’ pumpernickel bread. Better yet, “it should be remembered that sacred things should not be held up to ridicule.”

    Comment by Clark — October 22, 2010 @ 10:38 am

  5. On reading the first question, I reached upto the shelf above the desk and pulled down my two little brown editions of the Book of Mormon and Principles of the Gospel. I had received them in late 1950 after they had been chasing me over much of Korea. The B of M is beat up as when I got home, my younger brother had just gotten home from his mission and had been drafted and was headed to basic training. I gave him the B of M and he soon carried it to Korea. The book had two tours of Korean duty. It is always handy for a msimilar tour with a soldier boy grandson, one of which just finished airborne training at Ft. Benning and the other is the cadet commander of ROTC at the U of U.

    Comment by CurtA — October 22, 2010 @ 11:05 am

  6. Ah, white bread.

    Glad that’s not official policy (and that nobody out in the hinterlands ever attempts to enforce it as such).

    Comment by Mark B. — October 22, 2010 @ 11:28 am

  7. I remember in the 1980s some people being adamant about white bread. We have a fairly wide diversity in breads now in my ward at least.

    I have a Blue miniature Gospel Principles that I think dates to 1948. I’ll have to double check though.

    Comment by J. Stapley — October 22, 2010 @ 12:03 pm

  8. …1951, my bad.

    Comment by J. Stapley — October 22, 2010 @ 12:06 pm

  9. I also think the “white bread” issue came up for me the last time 15 to 20 years ago. We normally see about equal portions of white vs nice brown whole wheat. Dark Rye would be interesting sometime, or perhaps chocolate cake.

    Turns out the comment “without exception, were uninspired” is itself, uninspired, as Clark pointed out.

    And some things never change. I think we still struggle with the concept of priesthood keys in general. When I served on the high council, the lack of “keys” associated with that calling meant I had responsibilities, but absolutely no authority. That was, in some ways, oddly reassuring.

    Comment by kevinf — October 22, 2010 @ 12:27 pm

  10. In my old ward in California, the sacrament bread was usually homemade sourdough bread, baked weekly by one of the sisters in the ward.

    Comment by Zefram — October 22, 2010 @ 12:31 pm

  11. We had a mission president here in NYC in the mid-1990s who was adamant about white bread. I guess that is 15 years ago now, isn’t it?

    At least he had the decency to say “Now, you’ll never hear this from the brethren in Salt Lake, but . . .” before suggesting what he thought should be done.

    Comment by Mark B. — October 22, 2010 @ 12:44 pm

  12. It is recommended that if possible, white bread should be used.

    That’s a prophetic statement, because lots of people don’t like wheat bread nowadays. ;-)

    Comment by Tod Robbins — October 22, 2010 @ 1:49 pm

  13. I wish we’d get white bread every week. I’d prefer to think about the Savior instead of what the flavor of the week is… (I know what you’re all thinking, that I ought to be better at controlling my thoughts.)

    I also appreciated this response to the priesthood ordinantion ages:

    The decision for such ordinations came from the presiding authorities of the Church, who, acting as the legal representatives of the Lord on earth, established this practice as a policy within the government of the Church, a thing they were fully entitled to do. The General Authorities establish many of the policies of the Church, but always in harmony with revelations of the Lord

    Reinforces that not every administrative decision is the result of direct revelation on that subject.

    Comment by Paul — October 22, 2010 @ 2:21 pm

  14. A man may be ordained in the Melchizedek Priesthood to the office of elder, seventy or high priest, bishop, apostle, or patriarch

    The office of Bishop is the highest office in the Aaronic Pristhood, but the Bishop is also ordained as a High Priest in the Melchizedek Priesthood, if he isn’t one already.

    Comment by Talon — October 22, 2010 @ 3:34 pm

  15. Also: “It doesn’t matter if you’re black of white [bread]“

    Comment by Tod Robbins — October 22, 2010 @ 5:18 pm

  16. I think all of this current year’s issues of ‘The Friend’ have the same paragraph included, beginning, “Jehovah is Heavenly Father’s oldest son. . .” and continuing to explain that Jehovah helped to create the world so that people could return to Heavenly Father, that he usually represents Heavenly Father. And then explaining that Heavenly Father is the father of our spirits who loves and watches over us and that we worship and pray to Him. No Biblical references are given but it is always on a page with an Old Testament story.

    Comment by Rachelle — October 22, 2010 @ 6:21 pm

  17. When I was checking current Friends to see whether they published fiction, I noticed several references to Jehovah. It took me by surprise in a kids’ magazine for some reason. I wonder why the emphasis on the name?

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — October 22, 2010 @ 6:46 pm

  18. Ardis, my recollection is that is the name you’ll see especially used during “Old Testament” years, and also wherever the discussion treats pre-mortal life and the creation.

    And yes, the policy in the Friend has been no fiction for maybe a decade or so now… a few General Primary Presidents ago (it must have been about 1999-2003 b/c I was in the stake primary presidency then and was in SL for a pre-Conference open house and heard it) there was an emphasis on teaching children only true stories, and the editorial policy w/the Friend was changed to match.

    As an author of one of those “based on a true story” stories (one published, a second one bought but bumped for Pres. Faust’s obituary), I know that mine were based on real life adventures of my boys. The one that was published probably sounds idealized, but it is not really. People that know my family laughed when they read it because they recognized the characters right away, right down to the smart-mouthed kid. (Age 8 in the story, but missionary now.) I admit that the second (unpublished) one is a hair more idealized, but only because an event that did happen a little later was moved up into “the same day.”

    But Enough of the Derail. (Just feeding the fire for historians of 40 years hence, to know what was happening in the 1990s-2000s).

    Comment by Coffinberry — October 23, 2010 @ 8:58 am

  19. (Just feeding the fire for historians of 40 years hence, to know what was happening in the 1990s-2000s).

    Along those lines, an older woman sitting across the table from me the other day was flipping through old Children’s Friends and I asked what she was looking for. She was hunting a photograph of herself and several other kids, taken in, I think she said, Baltimore, when they posed as “crippled children” being treated at Primary Children’s Hospital. She showed it to me when she found it — there was absolutely nothing about the picture, or its caption or the surrounding context, that identified it as having been staged. So now I have to be suspicious of all those pictures I post here — which are real? which are only “based on a true image”? and are “based on a true story” tales more true than staged photographs?

    The fires burn!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — October 23, 2010 @ 10:35 am

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