Questions asked and answered by the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association in 1903 —
Q. Has a local patriarch the right to give blessings outside of his own district?
A. He may have the right, but it might not be proper. No person should act in any of the offices of the priesthood without a calling. When any person is about to act in any capacity in the priesthood, let him ask: Am I called to do this by proper authority, local or general? If he can say yes to that question, then he has the right to perform any of the ordinances that the priesthood which he holds, and the office which he occupies, entitle him to perform, otherwise it might be highly improper for him to act. If a local patriarch is visiting friends or relatives outside of his stake, and is asked for a blessing, he is at liberty to give it; but it would be improper for him to travel outside of his stake to solicit patronage as a patriarch.
Q. Who are lay members of the Church?
A. Those may be considered lay members of the Church who are not ordained to the priesthood, and children of Latter-day Saint parentage who are under eight years of age.
Q. In [a YMMIA manual] we find the statement: Jacob and his family had been providentially sent down to Egypt, to escape destruction at the hands of the hostile peoples who surrounded them in Canaan. Where can we find authority to support the statement of “hostility’; and threatened destruction?
A. As to actual hostilities on the part of the Canaanites towards the Hebrews, the Bible history is full of instances. From the time of the “battle of the kings,” referred to in Genesis 14, down to the close of the conflict between King David and the scattered Canaanite tribes, this “hostility” is clearly shown. There is no doubt as to the existence of a deadly hostility. Regarding the threatened destruction of the Hebrews, it need only be said, that at the time of going down into Egypt, the Hebrews numbered only seventy souls. It seems reasonable that so small a family, surrounded by powerful, hostile tribes, would be in imminent danger of extinction. It seems providential that they were taken into Egypt, where they were surrounded for a long time by a friendly populace, there they could develop into a powerful nation, capable of returning at a later time to conquer the land of Canaan. The statement in the Manual is based upon the above facts and inferences.
Q. What is the first duty a man should attend to, where his duties in the Church conflict? For example, where a general quorum meeting conflicts with one called by the president of a stake, or bishop of a ward.
A. There should be no need of conflict. It is well known that a president of a stake has jurisdiction over every member of his stake; as a bishop, under the president, has over his ward. Members of general quorums must take other days and hours for special quorum meetings than such hours as are already set aside for regular or special stake or ward meetings. The first duty of Seventies, as well as members of all other quorums, and of auxiliary organizations, is to honor their membership in the Church, as they can not magnify their priesthood unless they are good members.
On the other hand, presidents of stakes and ward bishops will find it to their advantage, and to the advancement of their work, to encourage the workers of every organization and quorum, and the work of each should be so distributed among members that one man shall not have too many duties. The best results accrue where many men are called, and where each man has his given duty to perform. The harmful practice of loading one man with too much to do, with too many offices, is thus avoided.
In this connection, a word of caution is not amiss to those who have the selection of officers, or men for position. It is very important that men fitted for the place should be chosen. It is not best, for instance, to select a young man whose sole desire is to work in the Sunday school, to preside over the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association; nor to select a good leader to be a follower, nor a follower to be a leader. Good judgment should be exercised and a knowledge of men displayed, if the best results are to be attained.
Q. Does an elder, by virtue of his priesthood, have the authority to baptize whenever and whomsoever he may wish, or must he act under the direction of some presiding authority?
A. He must act under presiding authority. While he has authority to baptize, always, it would be improper for him to exercise such authority, in an organized ward or branch of the Church, without being called by proper presiding authority to act in his office and priesthood. If he is abroad, the presiding authority of the Church has called him; but even then, he is subject to the presiding authority of the mission in which he labors. There is quite as much need to properly recognize one’s calling in the Church, as one’s authority, for without the calling, the authority to baptize and perform many other labors, lies dormant. Men may have different callings, but the same priesthood and authority. A member of a quorum has just as much priesthood or authority as his president, but his calling is different, and it would not be right for him to act in quorum capacity without a call from his presiding brother.
Q. Where two writers, in as many Church works, hold to different opinions on a question, as is sometimes the case, how am I to know which is correct, or which is the view held by the Church?
A. The revelations of God are the standards of correctness. When a difference appears in writers, the enquirer must reach the truth by examination from that standpoint. If it can not be reached by the word of the Lord in the standard Church works: the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price, the enquirer must wait until it shall please the Father to give more light on the subject by revelation.
Q. Explain Rev. 14:6, 7. Who was this angel who should restore the gospel? Was it John or Moroni? If the latter, how did he restore it?
A. It appears that the inquirer is of the opinion that this angel who was to “fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth,” was John the Baptist; his reason, as he gives it, being that John restored the Aaronic priesthood by ordaining Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, and conferring upon them the keys of that authority. also, that as he was the forerunner of Christ, so he was the restorer of the gospel in the Fulness of Times. But this view is not held by the Church, it being generally understood that the angel Moroni fulfilled the mission of the Revelator when he came from heaven to earth to reveal the truths of the Book of Mormon. He visited the prophet three times in one night (September 21, 1823), showed him where the plates were hidden, and instructed him in the prophecies relating to the latter-days. He finally delivered the plates to the prophet, and guided him in their translation, at last receiving the treasure to himself, to be kept until it shall please God to bring forth the sealed and yet untranslated portions for the benefit of mankind.
The revelations bear out the idea that it was Moroni and not John who restored the gospel, and that it was restored through the Book of Mormon which Moroni revealed:
For the hour cometh that I will drink of the fruit of the vine with you on the earth, and with Moroni, whom I have sent unto you to reveal the Book of Mormon, containing the fullness of my everlasting gospel. – Doc. & Cov., sec. 27: 5.
And again, what do we hear? Glad tidings from Cumorah! Moroni, an angel from heaven, declaring the fulfillment of the prophets – the book to be revealed. – Sec. 128: 20.
That the authorities understand this angel to be the one referred to, is evidenced by their having permitted the placing of the figure of Moroni on the highest tower of the Salt lake temple, with a golden trumpet, in the attitude of proclaiming the gospel to all nations. John the Baptist held the authority of the Aaronic Priesthood which he conferred upon the prophet, but Moroni declared the gospel to him, and was the angel referred to by John the Revelator.
Q. Is hope a root of faith, or is faith first?
A. Hope and faith are closely related feelings. As feelings, but not considered in a broader sense, it is difficult to determine which of the two is first developed in the human mind. It seems, however, that even in this view, hope may be regarded as of first development, for the reason that hope is a general feeling, while faith is more specific, and depends more for its development upon experience, observation and reason. In other words, it would seem that, in the first place, a greater development of the mind is necessary to the production of a specific faith, than of hope. Hope, therefore, may be regarded as one of the roots of faith.
But faith [as understood in the Church] is not merely general feeling experienced by the human mind. It is a specific faith in God and in the laws he has revealed. Surely the development of this faith must follow the rise of a general feeling of hope. Again, this faith is not merely a feeling, – it is also a principle of power, and a spring of action. As such, it is doubtless developed in the mind after faith, as a general feeling, has been established there; and, hence, a still longer time after the development of hope.