Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Questions from the Grass Roots, 1948 (16)

Questions from the Grass Roots, 1948 (16)

By: Ardis E. Parshall - May 03, 2011

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. Why is it that only two in a family have the blood of Ephraim? – E.N., Phoenix.

A. It is not true that only two in a family have the blood of Ephraim. You have been misinformed on this subject. The greater number of Latter-day Saints of the Caucasian race are of Ephraim, not only whole families, but also generation after generation. You may have misunderstood the scripture which refers to some of those who accept the Gospel in the world, “one of a city and two of a family.” It would not be correct to suppose from this scripture that only two of a family are of the blood of Ephraim.

Q. Will any people who have joined the Church be placed in the terrestrial kingdom? – A.P., Springdale, Utah.

A. We suggest you read the description of the three degrees of glory given in Section 76 of the D. & C. Note particularly that among those mentioned as being assigned to the terrestrial kingdom are those who “are not valiant in the testimony of Jesus” (verse 79). Membership in the Church is no guarantee of celestial glory. We must obey the commandments and be faithful to the very end in order to assure ourselves of this blessing.

Q. From my genealogical study I have learned that descendants of Israel settled in England, and later came to America. Why then does the Book of Mormon refer to those who settled America, as being Gentiles? – C.C.W., Salt Lake City.

A. Israelites who centuries ago moved into the European countries intermarried with the Gentile nations, and therefore were lost as to their separate identity by name. They were rightfully called Gentiles because of their mixture with the Gentile nations. They are to be distinguished from the pure blooded descendants of Israel such as the Nephites and Lamanites, who are referred to in the Book of Mormon.

Q. Jeremiah 16:16 speaks of the hunters and fishers of men. Inasmuch as fishers of men are first mentioned, and then hunters of men afterward, are we to understand that we have had the fishers of men already, in the form of our missionaries, and that the call of the hunters is yet to come? – R.C.W., Bergen, Norway.

A. We do not read any such distinction into the scripture you mention. The fishers and hunters of men undoubtedly refer in a general way to the missionaries sent out by the Church, and none of them are segregated from any others, being called either fishers or hunters. The prophet most likely was merely speaking in a general descriptive way.

Q. If a mother of a child by a previous marriage were to remarry, would it be possible for her to have her child sealed to her and the second husband? – V.T., Idaho.

A. Yes, under certain circumstances. We suggest you contact the president of the temple in the district where you live. He will gladly discuss the matter with you.

Q. Is there or is there not a definite and specific number of spirits assigned to come to this earth before the final end of mortal existence here? – M.H., Nephi.

A. There is no revelation on this subject.

Q. A man in our stake is teaching that Satan will sometime be permitted to repent and come under the saving influences of the Gospel. Is this true? – H.V., Ogden.

A. There is nothing in the scripture to indicate that this will be the case. We suggest you read D. & C. 76:25-38.

Q. If a priest has memorized the sacramental prayers, is there any reason why he should have to read them, and not say them from memory? – R.D., Salt Lake City.

A. No. But the prayer should be said correctly.

Q. If a couple has adopted infants, under the law of the land, is it possible for them to have these adopted children sealed to them for eternity? – H.D.S., Salt Lake City.

A. Yes.

Q. Is there any place in scripture to prove the idea that Shem and Melchizedek are the same person? – W.M., Springville.

A. No.

Q. Where is the Ark of the Covenant that Moses carried through the wilderness? – R.J., Idaho.

A. We do not know.

Q. If we attend all the Church services on Sunday, is it wrong for us to take a little auto ride in the afternoon, or take our lunch to a nearby canyon, between meetings? – Mrs. F.F., Spanish Fork.

A. The Church has not set down any list of “thou shalt nots” as pertaining to the observance of the Sabbath day. The general principles with reference to this law are given us in the scripture. We are told that the day should be kept holy, and so when we attempt to determine what we should or should not do, we should ask ourselves whether what we do is in harmony with the spirit of the law and the day. Read D. & C. 59:7-15.

Q. When performing a baptism, is it permissible to add additional words to the prayer given in D. & C. 20:73, or must that wording be used? – S.C.W., Ogden.

A. The new Melchizedek priesthood handbook on page 86 points out that there are only three prayers in the ordinary procedure of the Church, the exact wording of which is given by revelation; they are the two sacramental prayers and the prayer to be used performing baptisms. The prayers as given should always be used.

Q. If a couple has been married, and then divorced; and afterward remarry, are they guilty of adultery? – D.S., Honolulu.

A. There is no sin in legal matrimony.

Q. Is the practice of washing of feet, such as the Savior instituted in his day, a part of our procedure today? – B.P.W., Ogden.

A. Both washings and anointings have been made a part of the modern Gospel dispensation.

Q. What proportion of the present population of the American Indians is believed to be descendants of the Book of Mormon peoples? – S.L.C., Salt Lake City.

A. Likely all of them.

Q. In the event a newly sustained president of the Church does not choose for counselors the same two men who served with the former president, into what positions do these two released counselors go? – J.I.P., Salt Lake City.

A. If the counselors happened to be apostles with places of seniority in the Twelve, they would resume their former positions in the Twelve. In case the counselors were merely high priests, and not apostles, they would simply be released and would go back into the quorum of high priests. Counselors in the First Presidency are not necessarily apostles, and may be chosen from the Church at large if the president so desires. Sidney Rigdon, Frederick G. Williams, Hyrum Smith, William Sow, in the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith, were not ordained apostles, nor were John W. Winder and Charles W. Nibley, formerly the presiding bishop of the Church. President J. Reuben Clark Jr. was chosen as a counselor by President Grant, and served for some time, without being ordained to the apostleship. However, subsequently, President Clark was chosen, sustained and ordained as an apostle, and given a place of seniority in the Twelve. Upon the death of President Grant, both Presidents Clark and McKay, the two counselors, took their own places of seniority in the Council of Twelve, and remained there until chosen to be counselors to President George Albert Smith.



  1. Great. Israelite Brits again. And you’re sure King Arthur didn’t have the priesthood?

    Comment by Grant — May 3, 2011 @ 6:41 am

  2. Good one, Grant.

    My dad has been blogging recently about the problem of royal genealogies. For April Fools he traced his genealogy back to Adam.

    (Lest mentioning royal genealogies seems like a random tangent, I will mention that it is the genealogies that tie various early American families back to Charlemagne and British royalty that also tend to make amazing ahistorical leaps from European royalty back to the families of Biblical times. (“Documentation? What’s documentation?”) In the genealogy world, saying that your family has been traced back to Charlemagne or Adam is tantamount to admitting that you know little about the actual art and practice of genealogy and the correct use of sources.)

    Comment by Researcher — May 3, 2011 @ 7:22 am

  3. I read the first question about asking why siblings might have different lineages declared in their patriarchal blessings. Doesn’t that happen?

    The Savior said

    “whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery” (Matt 5:32)

    I usually choose to overlook that as there is so much divorce in my family, and my personal beliefs align with what the answerer said. Still, I’m not certain my position is well-founded when there seems to be such a clear statement from Christ…

    Comment by HokieKate — May 3, 2011 @ 8:21 am

  4. Obviously the persons who asked and answered

    Q. Where is the Ark of the Covenant that Moses carried through the wilderness? – R.J., Idaho.

    A. We do not know.

    did not have the benefit of knowing Indiana Jones’ exploits.

    Tee Hee.

    Comment by Coffinberry — May 3, 2011 @ 9:33 am

  5. Don’t you wonder sometimes what was going on in some people’s lives that some questions would even occur to them??

    Researcher, another dead giveaway, I think, is “I have a copy of my family coat of arms.”

    HokieKate, I think it probably does happen that siblings are declared of different lineages sometimes, although I’m not sure why I think that or how reliable the thought is — patriarchal blessings aren’t usually/shouldn’t be publicly available in large enough numbers to do a valid study, and so much of what we hear about what’s in other people’s blessings is bunk. I’m not sure how we’d know, unless it occurred in your own family so you could see the actual blessings for verification.

    As for the divorce/adultery matter, the Biblical statement is so brief, and without real context, that I’d want to hear from modern prophets on the subject. I mean, what we do in the church isn’t really drawn from the Bible, is it? We don’t do X and avoid Y because that’s what the Bible says; we do X and avoid Y because modern prophecy tells us so, and we look to the Bible for support for those teachings, and generally ignore the rest. Bald way to put it, but accurate, I think.

    I have quite a few letters from the First Presidency letterbooks from early in the 20th century where people ask questions like this, and the answer is very consistent: There is no sin in honorable marriage. (Usually a brother or friend is asking because of concern for a previously endowed woman who marries a non-member; the answer is always the same: There is no sin in honorable marriage.)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — May 3, 2011 @ 9:37 am

  6. Coffinberry, we believe in continuing revelation, don’t we?! 🙂

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — May 3, 2011 @ 9:38 am

  7. Lots of fun stuff here. Re#2 and the Geneologies to Adam, John Hamer’s post on the topic at BCC is a good read.

    I know of siblings from different tribes, and have heard it explained that it’s proportionate to bloodlines (e.g. 90% Ephraim=9 of 10 kids from Ephraim.) However, I suspect that the “We do not know” answer is both more succinct and more correct.

    I think that many of these topics would have received a different answer had they been asked in 1888 instead of 1948, specifically the baptism prayer and Shem=Melchezedek questions. …But it’s the evolution of the “correct” answers that makes these posts worth reading, right?

    Comment by Clark — May 3, 2011 @ 9:50 am

  8. I think so, Clark — the question about the ancestry of the American Indians is a good example of that evolution.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — May 3, 2011 @ 10:00 am

  9. I did a double take on the question about sealing children in the second marriage and revisited some of the older handbooks. I think the answer is assuming the first marriage was not in the temple.

    In the nineteenth century there were several different prayers in use for various baptisms, so the question isn’t coming out of nowhere.

    And a nice dodge on the feet washing question.

    Comment by J. Stapley — May 3, 2011 @ 10:55 am

  10. Most of these questions are coming from somewhere.
    Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, mentions that Shem and Melchesidek are the same. Comment 3 provides basis for the marriage question, and #9 on the baptismal prayers.

    And yes, the question of what proportion of American Indians have Lamanite blood is especially valid today.

    Comment by Clark — May 3, 2011 @ 11:03 am

  11. “I think it probably does happen that siblings are declared of different lineages sometimes, although I’m not sure why I think that or how reliable the thought is — patriarchal blessings aren’t usually/shouldn’t be publicly available in large enough numbers to do a valid study, and so much of what we hear about what’s in other people’s blessings is bunk. I’m not sure how we’d know, unless it occurred in your own family so you could see the actual blessings for verification”

    I had a companion on my mission whose family was Jewish (he, his mother and one sister had converted to Mormonism) and he and his sister were from differing tribes.

    Forgive my ignorance, and maybe Ardis has posted something on the British Israelite thought some time before I started reading her blog, I have heard that recently, is it not true?

    Comment by Cliff — May 3, 2011 @ 11:49 am

  12. Cliff, we do teach that the blood of Israel is to be found everywhere, including Britain.

    “British Israelism” is a variant that is not taught by the Church (there are, however, talks by some general authorities in the early/mid-20th century — Anthony W. Ivins, for instance — that leave no doubt that some did teach it at one time). British Israelism as the term is usually used today is the notion that the Lost Ten Tribes migrated to Britain, and/or that Jesus Christ had a wife and daughter who came to Britain after the crucifixion and set up a kingdom there, and/or that the British royal family has a divine right to rule because they are direct descendants and legal heirs of King David. (All the “and/or’s” are because various people who subscribe to the theory of British Israelism have differing ideas about the details.)

    The main problem with British Israelism, IMO — aside from the fact that there is nothing but legend to support any of it — is that in the 21st century, the chief proponents of British Israelism are white supremacists (they usually label it “Christian Identity”). It’s hard to advance any theory of British Israelism even as a pleasant fantasy akin to leprechauns and Santa Claus, without people assuming that you accept the whole white supremacist philosophy. Even worse is the risk that in researching and promoting the idea, people might unwittingly adopt some of the tenets and rationalizations for white supremacy without realizing the implications of what they’re saying.


    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — May 3, 2011 @ 12:10 pm

  13. Thanks Ardis for that information on the British/Israelite issue. I guess when there is no definitive answers for specific questions, some Mormons like to make up ones that promote their own view points. Or is it all people like to do that!?

    Comment by Cliff — May 3, 2011 @ 12:22 pm

  14. Stirling had a nice write-up on British Israelism at BCC a while back:

    Comment by J. Stapley — May 3, 2011 @ 2:07 pm

  15. Thanks, J. Interesting read.

    Comment by Cliff — May 3, 2011 @ 5:24 pm

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