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Sunday, May 15, 2005

No death before the fall now accepted by Church members

The voice of the Church since First Presidency publication of Joseph Fielding Smith's book Selections from Answers to Gospel Questions has been clear and unified and continuous. The creation was paradisiacal. There was no mortality. Death for all forms of life began when Adam fell.

Today's post titled "No Death Before the Fall taught in True to the Faith" is the companion to a previous post titled "No death before the fall taught in Gospel Principles manual." Both of these posts reinforce what I've discussed in some detail at ndbf.net, especially the section titled "The 1972 First Presidency Publication" which concludes with this paragraph:

Publication of the book Selections from Answers to Gospel Questions was enough to resolve the question of death before the fall. It was not necessary that a special announcement be made. An official pronouncement by the First Presidency might have been more satisfactory to some Church members but the fact remains that President Smith quietly settled the question and the majority of Church members have quietly accepted his decision.

How many Church members, experienced or new, would argue against the doctrine of no death before the fall if it were taught in Sunday School or any other Church meeting out of the Gospel Principles manual? And how many Church members, experienced or new, would stand up and argue against the doctrine of no death before the fall if it were taught in sacrament meeting out of True to the Faith?

In support of my statement that "the majority of Church members have quietly accepted his decision," I've also quoted five entries here from the LDS Bible Dictionary which clearly show that the doctrine of no death before the fall is now accepted by the Church (see Death, Fall of Adam, Flesh, Paradise, and Restitution; Restoration). Millions of Mormons carry the LDS Bible to Church with them every Sunday. How many of these Church members would stand up in Church and argue against the doctrine of no death before the fall if it were taught in Church out of the Bible Dictionary?

In support of my statement that "the majority of Church members have quietly accepted his decision", I've also quoted a paragraph here which was written by President Harold B. Lee and which clearly teaches the doctrine of no death before the fall.

"Besides the Fall having had to do with Adam and Eve, causing a change to come over them, that change affected all human nature, all of the natural creations, all of the creation of animals, plants—all kinds of life were changed. The earth itself became subject to death.... How it took place no one can explain, and anyone who would attempt to make an explanation would be going far beyond anything the Lord has told us. But a change was wrought over the whole face of the creation, which up to that time had not been subject to death. From that time henceforth all in nature was in a state of gradual dissolution until mortal death was to come, after which there would be required a restoration in a resurrected state." (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 2000, p. 20.)

Millions of Mormons carried Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee with them every Sunday for an entire year. How many of these Church members would stand up in Church and argue against the doctrine of no death before the fall if it were taught in Church out of Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee?

Aaronic Priesthood manual

The doctrine of no death before the fall is also taught by the Church in its Aaronic Priesthood Manual 3 (34822). There is no ambiguity in this paragraph.

"Physical death, known also as temporal death, was introduced into the world as a consequence of the Fall. As a result of the Fall, all people and all forms of life upon the earth must suffer a physical death, a separation of spirit and body" (Chapter six, "The Fall of Adam," Aaronic Priesthood Manual 3, 19; italics added).

Criticizing one of the Prophets

I feel it is wrong to openly criticize the Church's tenth Prophet regarding death before the fall when his successors haven't—when, in fact, on the subject of death before the fall his point of view has been carried forward, as the above sources clearly demonstrate.

Other Church published sources likewise affirm this doctrine. The voice of the Church since First Presidency publication of Joseph Fielding Smith's book Selections from Answers to Gospel Questions has been clear and unified and continuous. The creation was paradisiacal. There was no mortality. Death for all forms of life began when Adam fell.

8 Comments:

Blogger jeff g said...

Even though Answers to Gospel Questions was published by the 1st presidency, I don't think I could find anybody willing to accept that as a source of official church doctrine.

5/17/2005 05:09:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Jeffrey: It's true that not everything published by the First Presidency is considered "official doctrine" but it almost always comes very close. And I, along with millions of fellow Latter-day Saints, am reticent to criticize the First Presidency.

As I've stated here, I am willing to consider various sides of many questions, but always "without looking for flaws in the Church or its leaders" (Gordon B. Hinckley, "True to the Faith," Ensign, June 1996, 6). For me, therefore, finding fault with a First Presidency publication like Selections from Answers to Gospel Questions is not an option.

5/17/2005 08:02:00 PM  
Blogger jeff g said...

I understand and sympathize with your position. There is, I'm sure you will agree, a difference between disagreeing with an authority and criticizing him.

I personally see other stages which also exist in the middle somewhere. I criticize statements made by BRM and BKP. In this I am not trying to criticize them as people or authorities. I have no doubt that they possess the priesthood which gives them the authority to declare what church doctrine is and is not.

HOWEVER, no man has ever claimed infallibility without being wrong in this claim (ironic isn't it?). I fully agree with BRM's statment that the Lord allows false doctrine to be taught within His church. Hence the need for modern day revelation. The teachings of the church clearly contradict SOME of the teachings of the 19th century church. Which church was perfect? My answer is neither. We are all trying our best to figure things out given the limited knowledge each of us possesses.

5/17/2005 11:38:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Jeffrey: In addition to BRM and BKP, you criticize statements made by Joseph Fielding Smith, as an Apostle, as President of the Twelve, and as Counselor in the First Presidency. But you don't stop there, you also criticize statements made by Joseph Fielding Smith as Tenth President of the Church. And that is where I see a problem because, as President of the Church, he held and was the only man on earth who was authorized to exercise in their fullness all priesthood keys, and he was fully authorized to proclaim doctrine.

You say "no man has ever claimed infallibility without being wrong in this claim." Let's consider your statement for a moment.

For many years, the reason published in the Doctrine and Covenants for including the Manifesto was this statement presented by Lorenzo Snow in general conference:

"I move that, recognizing Wilford Woodruff as ... the only man on the earth at the present time who holds the keys ... we consider him fully authorized by virtue of his position to issue the Manifesto ... and that as a Church in General Conference assembled, we accept his declaration concerning plural marriages as authoritative and binding" (Official Declaration—1; emphasis added).

Notice the absence of any reference to "revelation." This was the status of the Manifesto for more than 90 years. Twenty four years ago, excerpts from three addresses by President Wilford Woodruff regarding the Manifesto were added. Let's discuss the first paragraph of the "excerpts" in terms of infallibility, shall we. And remember, this is what millions of Mormons carry to Church every Sunday.

5/18/2005 08:10:00 PM  
Blogger jeff g said...

It's true. The pres. is the only one who has the keys to make policy changes (this includes official church doctrine) for the entire church. But I have just as much a right to receive revelation about things which have nothing to do with church policy as he does. (BTW, was your comment cut off?) Therefore, the church no longer practices polygamy. (What about the numerous statements by previous prophets which said that if we ever stopped polygamy we would lose the priesthood? Are we going to sustain them as well?) However, no pres. has ever declared an official revelation for the church regarding evolution. In fact, David O. Mc Kay claimed to have believed in it, and consequently death before the fall. Maybe that why he almost never spoke about the fall of Adam.

BTW, doesn't the scipture say that 'Thou', meaning Adam and Eve, 'shalt surely die.' Surely we cannot ignore this in our interpretation of Lehi. When we apply gospel prinicples we really shouldn't be over zealous in our desires to apply some statements and truths to anything other than men. The BoM says that every living thing will be resurrected. Surely this refers mostly to humans and maybe animals as well as some plants, but surely somethings, such as bacteria, viruses and the like, will not be. We simply cannot believe that every cell which as ever been living will be resurrected. Thus we correctly qualify the BoM statement.

5/19/2005 11:36:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Jeffrey: If you truly believe that "The pres. is the only one who has the keys to make policy changes (this includes official church doctrine) for the entire church," then you and I aren't as far apart on all of this as it would appear. For I would never take from you the right to receive personal revelation and hold personal opinions—even opinions that conflict with Church doctrine.

The point of my web site and the point of this blog is not to convert every Mormon to a certain way of thinking about death before the fall. My point is to make clear that you are disagreeing with the Church and its leaders if you don't accept the doctrine of no death before the fall.

Anyone and everyone is perfectly at liberty to disagree, as long as it is acknowledged that that is what he or she is doing.

5/19/2005 10:46:00 PM  
Blogger jeff g said...

If this is the case then preach on! I am fully aware that I completely disagree with the interpration which you give to the statement, which is also the interpretation BRM, JFS2 and many others have given it.

There is another purpose which I see your blog serving. As you have noticed, many people has applauded you for your efforts. Many people want to see a good defense of what they see as the Mormon position and the only one a good member can hold. (I'm not describing you right now, not intentionally anyways.) If you can show not only that the church believes in NDBF (again I feel that there really should be qualifiers in that), then I think you will have really helped out a number of people who could really use such.

I do think that your efforts point in the wrong direction, but as you can tell, I'm not too concerned with uniformity of belief. I think that diversity of opinion is not only tolerable, but wonderful (this also fits very well with my views of cultural evolution). This is how we raise new questions and learn. Church history tells us that rarely are new revelations received without the question coming up before hand. Thus, if anything, your blog will encourage more revelation, and that is a good thing.

5/20/2005 12:07:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Jeffrey: I think your own above comment is quite complementary in some ways and I just want to say, "Thank you."

5/20/2005 04:41:00 PM  

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