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From Word of Wisdom to World Faith (Part 6 of 9)

We’re continuing to discuss some of The 100 Most Important Events of Church History.  We will talk about how observance of the Word of Wisdom has changed.  We will also see who is closer to Joseph Smith’s observance.  Is it the LDS Church or Community of Christ?

Casey:  At any rate, Heber J. Grant is the person that finally, I think, just puts the hammer down. But there’s pressure from Brigham Young all the way up to making the Word of Wisdom more than just a suggestion, making it more of a commandment. Now, in Community of Christ, in the RLDS tradition, as I understand it, that pressure doesn’t exist quite as much. So, their observance of the Word of Wisdom, ironically, is probably closer to what Joseph Smith did, than what we do today. But it does show, like I said, that there’s other people in the Church, besides Joseph Smith that affect the course of the History of the Church.

We will also talk about how the LDS Church has changed from a regional church to a global faith with Dr. Casey Griffiths.  Is the LDS Church exporting American culture instead of the Gospel?

Casey:  But our correlation system makes it so that if you’re an active member of the Church in the United States and an active member of the Church in Thailand, you pretty much have the same understanding what the Word of Wisdom means. That is rare in the religious world. I’ll just say, that a uniformity of belief, the kind of which Latter-day Saints have across the board is rare. It comes at a cost in some senses, too. There are some things that are correlated that maybe don’t need to be, but on the whole, correlation has given us kind of this unified expectation. Church members will often get up and say, “Hey, I went to church in this foreign country, and it was cool to see them studying out of the same manuals as us.”  And yes, that’s great. At the same time, too, there’s some question as to, when we say the church is globalizing, how much do we give? Another facet of my research that we wanted to put into this book was the transition from a regional American religion to a global faith. One of the major questions that the correlation movement had to ask was, “What is the gospel? What’s American culture, and what is the gospel and to what boundary do we cross over the two?”  For instance, I have a friend who works in educational groups in Africa. In Africa, the idea that a husband and wife would kiss in public, in certain parts of Africa, is just taboo. It’s pornographic. They would see it as just terrible.

GT:  Oh, really?

Casey:  He told the story where this local American leader of the Church was worried that the husbands and wives weren’t expressing enough affection. He held a fireside, and he brought his wife up front, and he gave her a big kiss in front of the congregation and said, “I want all of you to do this.”  The entire congregation was just sitting there horrified. “How can we do this?” Well, we’d have to go back to the earlier question of, is kissing your wife in public a facet of the gospel?” It’s really not.

GT:  Right.

Casey:  It’s something that is part of American culture and in America is a good way of expressing your affection and love for your spouse, but it’s not necessarily something that we have to transfer somewhere else. Now, other things like the atonement, repentance, the Book of Mormon, we do have to transfer from cultures, and if they come into conflict, we have to deal with that. But there’s a lot of leeway. Church leaders have been negotiating this boundary for a really long time as to what’s gospel culture and what isn’t gospel culture.

Do we export too much American culture with the Gospel?  Check out our conversation….

Dr Casey Griffiths & I discuss the Word of Wisdom and how the LDS Church has become a world faith.

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Casey.

523: Entry Level Chuch History

522: CSI:  Carthage Jail

521: Swimsuits, Gold Medals, & Blacks

520: Recycling Hofmann Forgeries

519: Mormon Interfaith Council

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Recycling Hofmann Forgeries (Part 2 of 9)

There is a group in South America that claims to have access to the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon.  What proof do they have?  Is this a recycled Hofmann forgery? Dr. Casey Griffiths, author of 50 Relics of the Restoration will tell us more.

Casey:  If you go back and look through the Ensign in the early 1980s, I mean, there’s a lot of mentions of Hofmann forgeries that are in there. Those forgeries in and of themselves have become part of the tableau of the restoration, part of the history of it.  In fact, that Anthon transcript, just in a weird twist, one of the restoration factions in Independence, had a guy contact them from South America, who said that he had the plates, and that the angel had given him the plates, and that he was going to translate the sealed portion. He was trying to raise funds from these people in Independence.

GT:  This is recently?

Casey:  This is recently. This is within the last two or three years. Everybody in Independence is like, “Well, take a picture of the plates and send it to us.” And he was like, “Well I can’t take a picture of the plates, but I can send you a transcript of what’s on the plates.”

GT:  Oh, brother.

Casey:  So, he sent the transcript, and somebody took a look at it and realized, “Well, this is Hofmann’s forgery.”

GT:  Really? I hadn’t heard that.

Casey:  The guy in South America wasn’t aware that Hofmann had made this forgery, and he must have found it on the internet somewhere or something like that. He said it was legitimate proof that he had the plates. Well, a well-informed person in Independence, produced a document basically comparing what Hofmann had produced with what this guy from South America had sent. That sort of really impinged the movement.

GT:  I did not know that, I had not heard that.

Check out our conversation….

A group in South America used a Hofmann forgery to claim they had the sealed portion of Book of Mormon.

 

Don’t miss our previous conversation with Dr Casey Griffiths!

519: Mormon Interfaith Council

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Mormon Interfaith Council (Part 1 of 9)

It seems like most lay members of the Church don’t hear much about the LDS Church working on interfaith councils.  Fewer know about Mormon schismatic groups.  I was surprised to learn that Dr. Casey Griffiths in on an interfaith council with other schismatic groups.  We’ll get acquainted with Casey, talk about his new book 50 Relics of the Restoration, and learn more about some of these groups you may not be familiar with.

Casey:  BYU has several interfaith dialogue teams. I serve on the team that dialogues with Community of Christ and other restoration breakoffs. Typically, our dialogues will involve us and a familiar set of people from Community of Christ, including Lach MacKay. Andrew Bolton is usually there, too. He’s a former apostle. But sometimes we’ll invite in other groups too, like Daniel Stone has become a really good friend. He’s a member of the Church of Jesus Christ–Bickertonite. We found out calling them Bickertonites is kind of as offensive as calling us Brighamites. So we try and keep our terms straight.

GT:  See, I don’t mind being called a Brighamite.

Casey:  I don’t mind it, either. I think it’s kind of fun, to be honest with you. But, we also work with–in the Independence area, for instance, there’s around 30 plus churches that believe in the Book of Mormon. We’ve tried to reach out to the majority of them. I have a really good relationship with the Remnant Church out there that Fred Larson was the head of until he passed away a little while ago.  [There are] a few other groups like the Joint Conference of Restoration Branches and the Conference of Restoration Elders.  There’s a whole alphabet soup out there, and they’re all great people that believe in the restoration of the Book of Mormon, but in kind of varying and different ways. I’ve been to see the the Hedrickites, the Church of the Temple Lot. I’ve even stopped and visited the Cutlerites who, I think have eight members right now.

Check out our conversation….

Dr. Casey Griffiths teaches Church history at BYU and is author of “50 Relics of the Restoration.”  He works with other Mormon schismatic groups on an Interfaith Council.

Don’t miss our other conversations with Lachlan MacKay & Daniel Stone!