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Questions from the Grass Roots, 1948 (9)

By: Ardis E. Parshall - November 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. In III Nephi 11:25 we read, “having authority given me of Jesus Christ,” etc. This expression is given there in connection with the wording of the baptismal ceremony. Why do we use the expression, “having been commissioned of Jesus Christ”? – S.R., Ogden, Utah.

A. Either form is effective. The reason for the general use of the latter expression is that it was given by revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith in Section 20 of the doctrine and Covenants, Verse 73, and reads, “The person who is called of God and has the authority from Jesus Christ to baptize, shall go down into the water with the person who has presented himself or herself for baptism and shall say, calling him or her by name: Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. then shall he immerse him or her in the water and come forth again, out of the water.”

Q. Is there a revelation telling the definite landing place of Lehi and his family on this, the promised land? – H.S.A., Salt Lake City.

A. No. Efforts to identify the spot on which they landed in America are purely speculative.

Q. What is the meaning or the significance of the Nephites praying to Jesus as mentioned in III Nephi 19:18 when all instructions given to other people are to pray to the Father in His name? – N.L., Idaho Falls, Ida.

A. The fact that these people prayed to Jesus momentarily did not set a new pattern. If you will read the other instructions the Savior gave to the Nephites you will see that He gave them instruction to pray to the Father just as He did everyone else. For instance, in III Nephi 18:19 we read the instructions of Jesus with regard to prayer and in them He says, “Therefore ye must always pray unto the Father in my name and whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name which is right believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you.” This is representative of the instructions He gave to the Nephites as well as all other people.

Q. Do you believe that our Latter-day Saint boys who were killed in the war died because for some reason they did not merit the protection of heaven? – R.L.C., Salt Lake.

A. No. Many righteous boys were killed during the war. To help you understand the situation, may we refer you to the 60th chapter of Alma beginning with the 12th verse? The people in that day had a similar situation,. Many of their fine young men were killed in the war. The prophet said, “Do ye suppose that because so many of your brethren have been killed it is because of their wickedness? I say unto you that if ye have supposed this ye have supposed in vain; for I say unto you there are many who have fallen by the sword; … fore the Lord suffereth the righteous to be slain that his justice and judgment may come upon the wicked; therefore ye need not suppose that the righteous are lost because they are slain; but behold they do enter into the rest of the Lord their God.”

Q. If a person is physically incapacitated, should he be denied the right to hold the priesthood? – R.V.D., Richfield.

A. Physical defect ordinarily should not bar a person from receiving the priesthood provided he is mentally alert, capable of being instructed, and able to understand the duties and responsibilities that pertain to the priesthood. An individual who is unable to walk around would naturally be unable to perform priesthood assignments; but it is possible that he could be brought to the meeting house to attend quorum meetings and receive the instructions and lessons that are given. Those suffering with physical handicaps or infirmities should receive every possible encouragement and be given such opportunities for training and development as their conditions permit. Persons who are mentally deficient should not be ordained to the priesthood. The same rule applies here as in the case of baptisms of mentally deficient persons, and we do not baptize any person who is lacking his mental equipment.

Q. I have been told that Mary Magdalene was a woman of bad character. Is this true? – Mrs. R.L., Tooele.

A. The view that Mary Magdalene was an adulteress as some have taught is wholly groundless. Mary Magdalene was a devoted follower of the Lord. (Luke 8:1-3.) She was also at the cross at the time of the crucifixion as you will note from the story of the crucifixion appearing in Matthew, Mark, and John. She was also at the sepulcher on the third day 9mark 16:1). She was evidently a resident of a place called Magdala on the southwestern coast of the sea of Galilee. She was afflicted with seven demons which Jesus expelled (Math 16:9, Luke 8:2).

Q. How are new wards named? – P.W.M., Salt Lake.

A. It is customary for presiding authorities of the stake to submit a name for the new ward to the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve, and they indicate whether such names are acceptable. Generally speaking, the presiding authorities prefer the numbering system. This has not been a binding rule, however, but it is preferred. Of names used the presiding brethren like those which designate location.

Q. Should women’s hats be left on or taken off during our sacrament meetings? – N.R., Ogden.

A. No specific instructions have been given that women should remove their hats during Church services. Common courtesy would of course suggest that hats should be removed in Church, especially in Sacrament meetings. Ushers, however, should refrain from asking any woman to remove her hat.

Q. Are persons required to attend service in the ward in which they live, or may they go to some neighboring ward? – P.L., Reno.

A. It is the policy of the Church that all persons shall be members of record of the ward in which their residence is located, and affiliate themselves with that ward in all Church activities. Any who may wish to attend meetings or take part in the activities of a ward other than the ward in which they reside should be encouraged to conform with the established order of the Church and the benefits of the compliance to this procedure should be explained to them. however, the application of this rule should not be made so rigid that it will result in members becoming inactive. The aim should be to keep everyone happy and contented. Whether exceptions in this policy should be made is left to the discretion of the local ward bishoprics and stake presidencies.

Q. Was John H. Koyle, operator of the Dream Mine, excommunicated from the Church solely through the action of the Palmyra Stake presidency, or did that action have the approval of the General Authorities of the Church? – M.R.L., Spanish Fork.

A. The action taken by the stake presidency and high council of Palmyra Stake was in accordance with the attitude and policies of the General Authorities of the Church and with their knowledge and approval. The excommunication to which you refer was based entirely upon insubordination and refusal to acknowledge the established order and authority of the Church. His working of the Dream Mine as a mine, had nothing whatever to do with his excommunication,. Mr. Koyle was in effect operating as a ward of the Church, holding testimony and other meetings, not only without the consent of the local authorities, but contrary to their counsel and direction, and refused to desist when requested so to do. he placed himself and those associated with him in an attitude of rebellion towards the established order of the Church.

So far as the Dream Mine is concerned, and since its operation has been referred to by some of his associates in connection with these excommunication proceedings, it should be noted that statements were issued by the First Presidency in the days of Joseph F. Smith and reiterated in the days of the presidency of George Albert Smith in which the brethren spoke as follows: “No person has the right to induce his fellow members of the Church to engage in speculation or take stock in ventures of any kind on the specious claim of divine revelation or vision or dream, especially when it is in opposition to the voice of recognized authority, local or general. The Lord’s Church is a house of order. It is not governed by individual gifts or manifestations, but by the order and power of the Holy Priesthood as sustained by the voice and vote of the Church in its appointed conferences. The history of the Church records many pretended revelations by imposters or zealots who believe in the manifestations they sought to lead persons to accept, and in every instance, disappointment, sorrow and disaster have resulted therefrom. Financial loss and sometimes utter ruin have followed. We feel it our duty to warn the Latter-day Saints against mining schemes which have now arrant for success beyond the professed spiritual manifestations of their projectors and the influence gained on the excited minds of their victims. We caution the Saints against investing money or property in stock which brings no profit to anyone but those who issue and trade in them.” Meetings held at the Dream Mine under the direction of Mr. Koyle are held without the permission or approval of the General or local authorities of the Church. Latter-day Saints in good standing should be cautious concerning them.



4 Comments »

  1. Something touched a nerve in the dream mine question.

    Regarding ward boundaries,

    the application of this rule should not be made so rigid that it will result in members becoming inactive. The aim should be to keep everyone happy and contented.

    I know personally of several individuals who would participate much more in Church if leaders still followed this philosophy.

    Comment by Clark — November 22, 2010 @ 12:27 pm

  2. Yes, as far as I know, you have to submit for First Presidency approval to get your records put into a ward whose boundaries you do not reside in. Not that I’ve known anyone who has actually gone to the trouble…

    Comment by Aaron Brooks — November 22, 2010 @ 3:28 pm

  3. In many cases local leaders don’t seek General Authority permission and prefer to let things work themselves out.

    The bit about praying to Jesus was a total dodge.

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 22, 2010 @ 4:08 pm

  4. Any idea why anyone would have the idea that physical handicaps disqualified someone from holding the priesthood? I can usually understand where somebody is coming from, but this one puzzles me completely.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — November 22, 2010 @ 4:12 pm

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