Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » I Have a Question, 1903

I Have a Question, 1903

By: Ardis E. Parshall - September 07, 2011

These questions were propounded to the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association in 1903. It is unclear who provided the answers.

Q. Is there anything wrong in members of the Church joining secret societies? A number of our young men are joining, because they say it protects their families.

A. This question has often been answered in the affirmative and with good reasons. … No members of the Church should be led away by men who under any pretext seek to induce them to become members of any organization, secret, social, or otherwise, outside the control of the Church. On the eighth of last August, in reply to an inquiry from Organizer W.S. Montgomery, of the Fraternal Brotherhood, President Joseph F. Smith said that “the policy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is and always has been against its members allying themselves with any of the secret or fraternal orders.”

Q. Is it proper to raffle property for the benefit of missionaries?

A. No; raffling is a game of chance, and hence leads to gambling; for that reason, if for no other, it should not be encouraged among the young men of the Church. President Young declared raffling to be a modified name of gambling; said that “as Latter-day Saints we cannot afford to sacrifice moral principles to financial gain,” and advised the sisters through the Woman’s Exponent not to raffle. President Lorenzo Snow endorsed and approved of these sentiments; President Joseph F. Smith has also expressed his unqualified disapproval of raffling; the general Sunday School Board have declared against it; and finally the state law makes it unlawful to raffle with dice; and if it is unlawful with dice, in principle, is it not just as injurious with any other device? With all these objections, sh9ould it not be clear to anyone that raffling horses, quilts, bicycles and other property is not sanctioned by the moral law nor approved by the general Church authorities. But it continues just the same, and if you do not believe in it, you should refuse to patronize it, so helping the cause.

Now, how shall we aid the missionary who wishes to sell a horse, or what not? Let everybody give a dollar, and let the donors decide, by vote, to what worthy man, not of their number, the horse shall be given. No chance about that – it is pure decision, and it helps the people who wish to buy chances solely for the benefit of the missionary, to discourage the gambling propensities of their natures. However, here is an additional thought: The element of chance enters very largely into everything we undertake, and it should be remembered that the spirit in which we do things decides very largely whether we are gambling or are entering into legitimate business enterprises.

Q. What is the Gospel?

A. In a general way, the gospel is the plan of salvation promulgated by Jesus Christ for the redemption of mankind. it is also “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” (Rom. 1:16.) The plan may be called the law, – the commandments of God; the power, – the Spirit of God. Salvation is obtained by combining in one’s life and practice the plan and the power – the word and the spirit.

Q. In case he who should hold the office of General Patriarch in the Church is not worthy, who has the authority to choose another?

A. The Lord, through the President of the Church, would reveal the name in such a case, and then the name of the person so nominated would be presented to the Church for reception and approval.

And, again, the duty of the President of the office of the High Priesthood is to preside over the whole Church, and to be like unto Moses. Behold, here is wisdom; yea, to be a seer, a revelator, a translator, and a prophet, having all the gifts of God which he bestows upon the Church. (Doc. & Cov. section 107: 91, 92.)

No person is to be ordained to any office in this Church, where there is a regularly organized branch of the same, without the vote of that Church. (Ibid. section 20: 65.)

And all things shall be done by common consent in the Church, by much prayer and faith. (Ibid. section 26: 2.)

Q. In order to bring about a new dispensation, is it necessary for the gospel to be taken from the earth? If so, at what time between Adam and Noah was it taken away?

A. In order that a new dispensation may be rendered necessary, it is not essential that all the priesthood and authority of the old dispensation be taken from the earth. Each dispensation is characterized by its own peculiar powers and labors; and a new one is sometimes rendered necessary when the old one has long since accomplished its work, and new labors are called for. This may be the case, even if some of the authority and principles of the old dispensation still remain on earth. For example, the priesthood held by Adam is traced without interruption down to Noah (Doc. & Cov. section 107: 40-54); and doubtless the principles of faith, and of repentance, and the ordinances of baptism and the bestowing the Holy Ghost were preached and practised during the entire time. But a partial departure from the principles and duties of the Adamic dispensation, and the necessity of a special labor, rendered a new dispensation essential. The keys of this dispensation, and the performance of its distinctive duties, were entrusted to Noah. The Noachian dispensation included the preaching previous to the flood, and the renewal of the covenant; and the repeopling of the earth, and other essential labors after the flood.

The authority of the Melchizedek priesthood is also traced uninterruptedly from Noah to Abraham, and also from Esaias, who lived in the time of Abraham, to Moses (Doc. & Cov. section 874: 6-17.) Yet during this period three dispensations – the Noachian, the Abrahamic and the Mosaic – were instituted; each being rendered necessary by special conditions, and the need of particular labors. Hence, it is not necessary that all the powers of one dispensation be removed from the earth before another is instituted.

Q. Was the Melchizedek priesthood taken from the earth with Moses? If so, what priesthood did Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah and Isaiah hold; and how was this priesthood conferred upon these men?

A. In considering this question, the distinction between the priesthood and its keys should be carefully drawn. Priesthood is authority in general, but this generic term does not necessarily include the call to preside over a dispensation, bestowing the priesthood on one’s fellows, and organizing the work of God in its various ramifications. This calling and power is exercised by virtue of the keys of the priesthood. The keys of the Melchizedek priesthood were held and exercised by Moses, but they were taken from the earth with him, because of the unworthiness of the Israelites. (Doc. & Cov. section 84: 19-25; Psalm 81: 11, 12.) So far as we know, the keys of this high priesthood were not held in their fulness by any one between Moses and Messiah; but it does not follow that the general authority and power of the Melchizedek priesthood was not held by individuals who lived during that interval. it would seem impossible for the great works performed by Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Samuel, and others of the prophets to have been done with lesser power than that priesthood; but these men could have held this power and authority without possessing and exercising its keys int heir fulness; indeed, we think that this was the case, and that these men held by special appointment, the power and authority of the Melchizedek priesthood without exercising a fulness of its keys. The Prophet Joseph Smith says: “All the prophets held the Melchizedek priesthood, and were ordained by God himself.”

Q. Did Eliza R. Snow testify in what is known as the “Temple Lot Suit” that she was sealed to the Prophet Joseph after he was dead, and not while he was living?

A. She did not so testify. Anyone pretending to have such testimony may be truly set down as an impostor.

Q. Into what languages has the Book of Mormon been translated and printed?

A. It is well known that the Book of Mormon was translated into the English language from the plates of gold, by the prophet Joseph Smith, by the gift and power of God, through the Urim and Thummim. The first American edition from such translation was printed in Palmyra, New York, in 1830. From the English it has been translated into fourteen other languages, but in ten only of these has it been printed: viz., in Danish, in 1851; Welsh, French, German and Italian, in 1852; Hawaiian, 1855; Swedish, in 1878; Spanish, 1886; Maori, in 1889; and the Dutch in 1890.l The translations in Hindostanee, modern Jewish, Turkish and Samoan, have not yet been printed. The first Utah edition bears the date of 1871.



  1. I would definitely list the BSA Order of the Arrow as a secret society.

    Comment by kevinf — September 7, 2011 @ 9:48 am

  2. I think that if the missionary’s horse needs to be sold, let all the men pay their dollar and give forth their lots and on whichever person the lot falls, let him be numbered with all the other horse-owners (who of course do not constitute a fraternal order).

    Comment by Mark B. — September 7, 2011 @ 10:29 am

  3. Yeah, but OA is connected to the Church, so it’s OK. It’s the same loophole exploited by the Danites :-)

    The “protects our families” line makes me wonder if they weren’t referring to the Odd Fellows, who offered a primitive type of insurance for members.

    These answers have a strain of “McKonkie Mormonism” (which happens to be the flavor I grew up with). Face cards, raffles, the Elks lodge; all diabolical.

    The list of BoM languages is intriguing (Hawaiian, Welsh and Hindostani?) as is the answers about dispensations and priesthood.

    And within a few years after this was printed, the patriarch question would no longer be hypothetical.

    Comment by The Other Clark — September 7, 2011 @ 10:33 am

  4. Other Clark

    It makes sense that this would sound a lot like “McConkie Mormonism.” As you know, Joseph F Smith was prophet in 1903 and McConkie was a very big fan of Joseph F. Smith (his grandfather in law) and quoted him frequently. In fact, if I am remembering correctly, in Mo Doc his section on “card playing” (since you mention it) was a direct quote of JFS (or JFS II)

    Comment by andrew h — September 7, 2011 @ 10:52 am

  5. The OA is only an appendage to the BSA and is, therefore, only a lesser “authorized by the Church” program tangentially. I guess the same goes for Woodbadge except my bishop made me go. (and it really was worth it!)

    Comment by Grant — September 7, 2011 @ 11:22 am

  6. At the end of the 19th and in the early 20th century, fraternal organizations were very popular precisely because of the insurance benefits. This was a constant discussion by church leaders, and Beneficial Life, was established to compete with these services.

    McConkie was very much after this and represents more of an affinity with Joseph Fielding Smith than to Joseph F. Smith.

    Comment by J. Stapley — September 7, 2011 @ 1:15 pm

  7. I just remembered this post on oath-bound organizations, which is better than I thought it would be in retrospect.

    Comment by J. Stapley — September 7, 2011 @ 1:21 pm

  8. After following the links, I am stunned that my offhand remark about the OA actually has some history behind it. I opted out of the OA as a scout. It smacked of elitism and celebrated, in my mind, hazing (or bullying) as part of the ordeal, and I declined the nomination. All of the noble purposes seemed to be lost to the 14 year old boys who ran the program then.

    Sorry, didn’t mean to take a negative tone to all of this, but my BSA experience was not a halcyon moment in my youth. When I served as Scoutmaster, I tried to take a kinder, gentler approach than what I was exposed to.

    Comment by kevinf — September 7, 2011 @ 3:29 pm

  9. Kevinf-
    I think we’re hijacking slightly. I never was in the OA nor liked it ignoring my own tap-out. I have been dealing with some Scouting issues including hazing on my blog. I have a follower who is trying to provoke more. Still thinking . . .

    Comment by Grant — September 7, 2011 @ 5:37 pm

Leave a comment

RSS feed for comments on this post.
TrackBack URI