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“Forever Families” a Hurtful Doctrine?

Many LDS members find comfort in the idea that Families can be together forever.  But does it have a darker side?  What happens when a family member leaves the Church?  In our next conversation with Christ’s Church apostle David Patrick and Seventy Benjamin Shaffer, we’ll find out that both were former members of the LDS Church.  Have they been cut off from their families?

Benjamin:  Right. So we believe that families are forever. But I view this statement that families can be together forever as essentially one of the most vile and apostate teachings that has ever been perpetrated upon the Latter-day Saints.

GT:  You just offended all of my LDS listeners. {chuckling}

Benjamin:  I’m so sorry. Let me explain the difference…So families are forever is what I believe. The Doctrine and Covenants makes it clear that the same sociality which exists amongst us here will exist amongst us hereafter, which basically means that if you’re viewing the sealing ceremonies, if you’re viewing these concepts of the eternity of families as an eternity of association, then I think we’ve got a really big problem. Because essentially, what they’re then saying is, is that if you don’t follow our rules, if you don’t make it to the temple, then you’re not promised an eternity of association with your loved ones. That would mean, you’d have to have some kind of enforcement method where people can’t be with their families anymore. This is kind of what I would call the geographic view of the Three Degrees Of Glory, like they’re separated so fundamentally by geography, that people in one Kingdom can’t visit the people in another. If that’s the view that you take, then God’s a monster by that kind of reasoning. Essentially, what you’re saying is, is that the single mother who didn’t pay her tithing and didn’t get sealed to her child, or the single mother, therefore, who isn’t sealed to the Father, and therefore, dies without having those opportunities–you’re saying that you’re going to tear these children from their mother’s arms. This is worse than the slave auction block. We’re not just talking about separation for life. There’s a separation for eternity. It’s just absolutely heinous.

David:  Benjamin, do you think the most Latter-day Saints are not going to be as maybe literal about the word can be together forever, and you may be a little bit more literal than they are?

Benjamin:  Perhaps, but I think that the thing is, is that when you have your whole family, everybody’s in good standing with the church. It’s true. You don’t really think about it that way. But the moment anybody leaves the church, the moment someone apostasizes, people do start to panic. I’ve seen it over and over again.

David:  Yeah.

Benjamin:  If somebody starts leaving the church, they say, “Well, but does that mean I won’t be with you in eternity?” It’s like one of the first things that a lot of LDS people immediately go to when somebody, even if somebody just drinks a beer or something, is “Oh my goodness, you’re putting our eternal family at jeopardy”. That’s why I think it’s a really invidious doctrine. It’s not that your average LDS family when everyone’s in good standing is even thinking about it. They’re all just feeling happy. They’re going to be together forever. It’s all good. But yeah, when someone leaves, I think it is fairly universal for people immediately to go to that more terrifying understanding of,  “Wait, does this mean then that we are separated?” I think that’s why it’s dangerous.

Have you thought of it that way before?  Are forever families a two-edged sword that both provides comfort and pain?  David & Benjamin talk about the impact on their families.  Check out our conversation….

“Forever Families” is a comfort for the LDS, until a family members leaves. Then it is hurtful.

Don’t miss our previous conversations!

386: Why Polygamists are Threatening to LDS Church

385: God in a Box or Pyramid?

384: Documentary Hypothesis & Adam-God

383: Intro to Adam-God Theory

382: Scriptures of Christ’s Church

381: Intro to Christ’s Church

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Temple Endowment in Lost Pages (Part 6 of 12)

It has been generally accepted that the LDS endowment ceremonies are based on Masonic ceremonies Joseph learned in the 1840s.  However, historian Don Bradley says there are clues to masonry in the Book of Mormon’s lost pages that are also related to the LDS temple endowment ceremonies.

Don:  This [non-Mormon] Fayette Lapham guy, he’s not just confabulating. He’s remembering what Joseph, Sr. told him and the narrative that he gives has everything to do with temples.  It’s Nauvoo endowment stuff. The thing is, Lapham was never a Mormon, was never a Latter-day Saint.  He wouldn’t come through the temple. At this time, neither would Joseph, Sr.  Joseph, Sr. never goes through the Nauvoo Temple.  He dies before the endowment is instituted. So why is there Nauvoo endowment material in the lost pages of the Book of Mormon narrative translated in 1828? Joseph Smith doesn’t become a Freemason until 1842. That’s 14 years later. I had been absolutely convinced that Joseph didn’t know anything about the Nauvoo endowment until he becomes a Freemason in March 1842.

GT:  Yeah, that’s the traditional story.

Don:  I thought, “[Joseph became] Freemason in mid-March 1842. In early May like five weeks later, [we have the] endowment.”  You sort of connect the dots. Sure, that’s causation. This is what I was thinking. I’m not saying they’re unrelated, but Joseph has much of the structure and content of the Nauvoo endowment in his mind, as he’s bringing forth the Book of Mormon in 1828, because so much of it’s already there.  In my mind, this was interweaving with the different narratives about the First Vision that I had, different pieces of evidence about what was in it. I was looking at parallel narratives in Latter-day Saints scripture.  Abraham, Enoch, Moses, how did they become seers? The brother of Jared is the big one. So the brother of Jared, I’d never read this narrative this way. We don’t read it this way. But think about this.  I just told the narrative from Joseph Smith, Sr. of how the Nephites got the interpreters.  How did the Jaredites get the interpreters? Ether 3 says, “The Brother of Jared,” whose name, by the way is withheld from us, right? It’s secret. It’s esoteric. There’s sort of like an idea of secret, sacred names.

GT:  Mahonri Moriancumer.

Don:  Later that’s revealed, but it’s deliberately withheld. So we call this guy “the brother of Jared” in the narrative. The brother of Jared goes up on a mountaintop while he’s on an exodus, kind of like Sinai, right? Joseph Smith in Nauvoo says anciently mountaintops were temples.  When God’s people didn’t have the means to build the temple, like in the days of Moses and the Exodus, he says, God accepted mountaintops as the place to give people keys, to give the endowment.  Joseph says this explicitly in a Nauvoo sermon and I quote the exact sermon in my book, in chapter 14 about Mosiah the First.  So the brother of Jared is on a mountaintop. That should cue temple. He talks with the Lord through the veil. It doesn’t mean a cloth veil, of course, like in the temple, it means the veil that that cloth veil represents. But he hasn’t dialogue with the Lord through what it calls the veil.  I don’t know that sounds kind of familiar to me.

Check out our conversation….

Historian Don Bradley believes that there are parallels to the LDS Temple endowment ceremony that were in the Lost 116 Pages of Book of Mormon.

Don’t miss our other conversations with Don!

358: Laban Killed During Passover

357: More than 116 Pages Lost?

356: How Much of BoM is Missing?

355: Re-Writing Oliver’s Words: Dirty, Nasty, Filthy Scrape?

354: Dating Fanny Alger

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Does Mormonism Have Racist Theology? (Part 5 of 5)

As we conclude our discussion of black Mormon pioneer Jane Manning James, we will talk about this question: what role does race play in LDS Theology?  Many black church members have been told they will be white in the resurrection.  Is our theology an example of white supremacy?  Dr. Quincy Newell will answer these questions.

Quincy:  [Jane] was well respected in the community, in part because of her relationship to Joseph Smith. She was one of the last people alive, who had known him in person, and so she was sought out for her memories of the Prophet. And Joseph F. Smith spoke at her funeral. She was she was celebrated and lauded as an upstanding member of the community, well-respected and to be missed. But, at the same time, one account of the funeral said that Joseph F. Smith talked about how she would receive all of her wishes in heaven, and that she would have a white and glorified body. And that’s not an exact quote, but he did say she would be white.

And, there’s a really interesting aspect to imagining that scene. If you think about Joseph F. Smith standing in front of a congregation that includes a lot of black faces, and talking about how Jane, this respected black woman in the community is going to be white in heaven, that’s all kinds of problematic.

GT:  And I know a lot of people are going to have a hard time with that. Because they’re like, “Well, that’s not racist.”

Quincy:  No, but that’s racist.

GT:  Oh, I know it is. I know I’m going to get comments on that. But anyway, even as late as 1978, I remember President Kimball, who we all laud for this wonderful [revelation], talked about Indians who would become a white and delightsome people. And I know he said that with the best of intentions. And it’s hard, I think, especially for really Orthodox people to say that’s a racist statement. But it’s a racist statement. And so it’s hard because I know a lot of black people, Indians, whatever nationality, have had to deal with this. I hate to call it white supremacy.

Quincy:  It’s white supremacy.

GT:  But that’s what it is.

Quincy:  Yeah, it is.

GT:  And so what can we say to people to get them to understand that that really is racist theology?

Quincy:  Not being an LDS theologian, that is a challenging question for me to answer. So I think there are Mormon theologians who are far more able to address this question than I. But I guess I would start with the idea that the Bible says we are all made in God’s image. I was raised as a Protestant. And so, I think of God as beyond gender, beyond race, not having either one of those characteristics. I know for Mormons, that’s different. But I think that you have to start with the question of, why is the default image of God, an old white guy? Right?

Check out our conversation….

When we say that black people will become white in heaven, is that a form of racist theology?

Don’t miss out other conversations with Dr. Quincy Newell!

316: Jane’s Pioneer Travels to Utah

315:  Jane’s One-Of-A Kind Sealing to Joseph Smith

314: 19th Century Sexual Politics

313: Was Jane a Slave?