Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » I Have Even More Questions, 1930

I Have Even More Questions, 1930

By: Ardis E. Parshall - June 21, 2012

Questions answered, presumably, by Apostle John A. Widtsoe in the Millennial Star

Question: Was the “Fall” of our first parents a part of the Plan of Salvation?

Yes. Lehi declares that “Adam fell that man might be” (2 Nephi 2:25). Moses says in his story of the “Fall”: “And in that day Adam blessed God … saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God. And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.” (Pearl of Great Price, The Book of Moses 5:10, 11.)

Question: If the “Fall”: was necessary, why did the Lord command Adam and Eve not to partake of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?

The first and most important command of the Lord to Adam and Eve was “to multiply and replenish the earth.” That was the purpose of creation. The second “command” was in the nature of a warning, as a careful reading of Genesis 2:17 will reveal, that if in obedience to the first command they should partake, as a necessary precedent, of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they, though heavenly beings, would become subject to the ills and trials of life on earth, with eventual death. This is made very clear in the Book of Moses, 3:17, as revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith. “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee.” The consequences, both minor and major, of obeying the greater law were fully explained, so that our first parents could exercise their right of choice intelligently. A price must be paid for all gifts, otherwise they are savourless. Our first parents accepted temporary death that they might win eternal life in association with their celestialized bodies.

Question: Why did the Lord inflict punishment upon Adam and Eve because they broke a minor law to obey a greater one?

The reply is found in the answer to the preceding question. The punishment that followed the eating of the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:16, 17( was the natural effect of a cause. However, as fully recognized by humanity, the effects of the “Fall,” such as the obligation to work and to overcome difficulties, are among the greatest blessings of man. they enable him to exercise his manhood and to climb upward. the real evils of earth are brought about by man’s own ignorance or unwillingness to use his knowledge.

Question: What was the nature of the “sin” of Adam and Eve?

Definite information on this subject is not in our possession. It is very likely, however, that the partaking of the fruits of earth, the incorporating of earthly materials into spiritual bodies, was the act that brought our first parents under temporal laws, and subjected them to the vicissitudes of earth, culminating in death.

Question: Do Cherubim and Seraphim have wings?

Little is know about the beings known under the above names beyond the fact that they are creatures in the service of the Lord. Genesis states that the Lord, after driving Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, “placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword.”

Israel, while in the wilderness, was directed to make a “mercy seat” above the ark, between “two cherubims of gold” which were to “stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings.” there are frequent references in the Old Testament to these winged cherubims.

Seraphims are mentioned by Isaiah. “I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.”

These references would at first imply that cherubim and seraphim really did have wings. Yet it is improbable that the beings who dwell in the presence of the Lord and serve as His messengers, are not, as man, made in the image of God.

An indirect answer to the above question was given by the Prophet Joseph Smith. In explaining a part of the Revelation of John, he says that the four beasts spoken of in chapter four of Revelation “are figurative expressions.” later on, he further explains that the eyes and wings of the beasts are also symbolical. “Their eyes are a representation of light and knowledge, that is, they are full of knowledge; and their wings are a representation of power, to move, to act, etc.” (Doctrine and Covenants, Section 77.)

Undoubtedly, the golden cherubim of the mercy seat, and the seraphim seen in vision by Isaiah were, similarly, figurative of certain heavenly beings. Their wings were symbolical of their power to move and act as in the case of the four beasts of the book of Revelation. such symbolical representations in scripture and painting of human or divine qualities have always been commonly used for the easier comprehension of the mind. this now can be adopted, safely, until further light is received. The messengers of heaven are like unto their Master.

And a stray question from 1931 –

What was the highest proportion of members of the Church who at any time practiced plural marriage?

Plural marriage was forbidden in 1890. Any member who contracts such a marriage does so without the sanction of the Church and is excommunicated from the Church.

Before 1890, there were never more than two per cent., that is two in one hundred of the Church membership, who had entered into plural marriage. The proportion must have been somewhat lower.

This is made clear from information kindly supplied by Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, Church Historian.



  1. Studies today point to the percentage of people in polygamy more like 25 to 30 percent.

    Comment by Maurine Ward — June 21, 2012 @ 10:46 pm

  2. Yeah, when they try to hit the lowest possible percentage like this, they count only percent of adult men as a fraction of all members, deliberately overlooking the obvious fact that for each man involved in polygamy there were, by definition, at least two women involved — among other problematic accounting tricks.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — June 22, 2012 @ 12:34 am

  3. It totally blows my mind that nobody knows the percentage of members who participated in plural marriage beyond some hazy “between 2 and 35 percent” (the upper and lower bounds i’ve ever seen), given the records that exist. Yeah, they’re scattered all over the place, but nobody’s put them together? There’s a really important doctoral dissertation just waiting to be written by a demography student, i’m thinking.

    Comment by David B — June 22, 2012 @ 12:51 am

  4. Kathy Daynes’ study of plural marriage in Manti for a specified period is a model for those studies, David. She didn’t just count heads but made an effort to look at each marriage and extended family to be sure she understood the dynamics.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — June 22, 2012 @ 1:17 am

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