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. What does it mean to seal one’s testimony with one’s blood? This expression is used in connection with the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Just what does it mean? – R.L.W., Heber City.
A. On pages 477 and 478 of “A New Witness for God” by B.H. Roberts we have the following which will help you:
“The highest evidence of sincerity which a man can give his fellow men – the highest proof that he has spoken the truth in any given case – is that he perseveres in it unto death and seals his testimony with his blood. … So important did such a testimony become in the mission of Paul that he said ‘Where a testimony is there must also of necessity be the death of the testator, for a testimony is of force after men are dead; otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth’ (Hebrews 9:6-17.( In the light of this principle and when the importance of the great testimony which he bore to the world is taken into account, it is not to be wondered at that Joseph Smith was called upon to affix the broad seal of martyrdom to his work. Something of incompleteness in his work would likely have been complained of had this been lacking. But now, not so; his character of prophet was rounded out to complete fulness by his falling a martyr under the murderous fire of the mob at Carthage in the state of Illinois.”
Q. Just who were the Magi of ancient times. – L.O.M., Ogden.
A. The Magi of ancient times were a priestly caste, a tribe of the land of Medea who held an important place even after the Medes were conquered by the Persians. they were fire worshipers and also worshiped the earth, water and air. Generally they wore white robes. They attempted to claim for themselves mediatorship between God and man. They also claimed the gift of prophecy. The Greek word magoi is the plural of the word Magus. There are two references to Magus in the Acts of the Apostles. See chapters 13:6 and 8:9.
Q. In our Sunday school class we are studying the Book of Mormon. We noticed that the small plates were passed on from father to son. But Nephi, son of Lehi, passed the records to his brother Jacob and it went down his line. Why were the records passed that way? – A.B.A., Oak City.
A. The Book of Mormon record itself is all the information in existence on the subject about which you ask. We have nothing to add to it.
Q. Are the Lamanites descendants of Manasseh?
A. Yes. You will read in Alma, tenth chapter, third verse: “Aminadi was a descendant of Nephi who was the son of Lehi who came out of the land of Jerusalem who was a descendant of Manasseh who was a son of Joseph who was sold into Egypt by the hands of his brethren.”
Lamanites are descendants of Ephraim also. Ishmael, we understand, was of Ephraim so the descendants of Lehi were of both tribes. Then also there was evidently Jewish blood, after the Mulekites joined the Nephites.
Q. Some people teach that the sacrament should be taken with the right hand. Yet I know the Church preaches against making a great ceremony of the sacrament. Is there a prescribed manner in which the sacrament should be taken? – E.P.H., Rolla, Mo.
A. The Churches does endeavor to avoid ceremonializing the sacrament. We endeavor to make it a simple ordinance of the gospel. There are no hard and fast rules with respect to which hand you shall use to take the sacrament; however, it has been customary for years to take the sacrament with the right hand.
Q. Does the Church believe in the legend of Atlantis Capetas, the island that Plato says existed in the Atlantic Ocean? If so, when do you suppose it was sunk? – M.H.V., Morgan, Utah.
A. The Church has nothing to say about this legend or any other legend. It deals with established truth and not with speculation.
Q. Is there any connection between the Basques of Spain and the Jaredites? – M.C., Morgan.
A. Coriantumr was the last Jaredite survivor. He was found by the people of Zarahemla as is recorded in the book of Omni, verse 21, “and he dwelt among them for nine moons.” Inasmuch as he was the last survivor and all the others were killed in the battles, how could any of the Jaredites have any connection with a modern race? If you will think it over, you can answer the question yourself.
Q. Are the books which have been copyrighted by the presidents of the Church considered as scriptures?
A. No. The only books we accept as scriptures are the standard works of the Church: The bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. However, the books which are published by the Church are good for explanations of doctrines and guidance for the membership of the Church. We might refer you to Section 21 of the Doctrine and Covenants which has reference to utterances of the president of the church. You might note rather carefully what it says there in verses four to six.
Q. Are the lost Ten Tribes of Israel a separate and distinct people or are they scattered among the northern countries of Europe? – Mrs. W.P., Beaver, Utah.
A. We suggest you read the discussion of this subject in the book “The Way to Perfection” by Elder Joseph Fielding Smith. Elder Smith goes into the subject in detail and quotes and scriptures which are available pertaining to this matter.
Q. How soon may a new convert marry in the temple, or is there any Church law in regard to this matter? – J.E.D., Salt Lake.
A. Recommends to the temple are given entirely on a basis of worthiness and sincerity of conversion. Their issuance is in the hands of the bishop of the ward in which the convert lives. The general rule, however, is that converts are asked to wait at least a year.
Q. If a man holding the Melchizedek Priesthood is excommunicated from the Church, does he have to be given the Priesthood again when he rejoins the Church? – B.A., Robin, Idaho.
A. Yes. When a person is excommunicated, he loses everything pertaining to Church membership. If he comes back into the Church, his blessings must be restored in the proper way.
Q. I believe that when a person dies, he can see what is going on with his family. Is this true? – B.R., Richfield.
A. The Lord has given no revelation on this subject. However, the Prophet Joseph remarked at one time that they did see us and “sometimes were pained at our actions.”
Q. We have been hearing very frequently of late that the millennium has already begun. Is this true? – C.S., Holden, Utah.
A. No. The millennium has not yet started. It will be ushered in by the second coming of Christ which event has not yet taken place.