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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Benson's conspiracy above communism is an acceptable point of view for Mormons

What the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches in general conference is an acceptable point of view for Mormons until a more recent Prophet says otherwise.

Speaking as Prophet in the Oct 1988 general conference, President Ezra Taft Benson authoritatively warned:

"A secret combination that seeks to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries is increasing its evil influence and control over America and the entire world." (Ensign, Nov 1988, p.86.)

Notice he identified "a secret combination" (singular), not "secret combinations" (plural).

It had long since become apparent to Benson that much of communism was influenced and controlled from the outside — by a group of elite non-communists. In short, Benson believed communism was under the influence of a conspiracy above communism.

In 1988 he warned that this conspiracy was increasing its influence and control over the entire world, including America.

Some people will say outright that Benson was wrong. Others simply disregard his previous ministry and pretend he was talking about street gangs, drug cartels, or some such. Fine. Benson's view is NOT binding on Mormons anyway. It clearly is NOT the official position of the Church.

However, Benson's point of view on this is perfectly acceptable among Latter-day Saints until a successor Prophet authoritatively says it isn't.

29 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gary,

Interesting post.

I suspect the biggest question is that if the world is secretly governed by a dark conspiracy, why haven't other modern prophets focused on it?

As far as I can tell, neither President Monson or President Hinckley has mentioned a single word on the topic.

Is it now gone or is something that they think is of little importance today?

12/15/2010 06:04:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Your comment sidesteps my point: Until a successor Prophet authoritatively says it isn't, Benson's interpretation is an acceptable point of view for Mormons. You don't have to agree and neither does anyone else.

12/15/2010 06:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gary,

I understand it may be acceptable. I'm just questioning whether it is relevant today.

For the sake of discussion, assume Joseph F. Smith said something in 1905. Does that still mean that point is one to be concerned about today if no authority has voiced anything on the same topic in the past 100+ years?

Or, does it mean that it was important but might not be anymore?

12/15/2010 06:24:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Regarding "it may be acceptable," what Benson taught as Prophet *is* acceptable until a successor says otherwise. As for its relevance, if he was just a nut, it wasn't relevant then and isn't now. If, on the other hand, he was speaking as a true prophet, its importance has only increased.

12/15/2010 06:57:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Ezra Taft Benson wasn't just pulling this out of thin air. He was interpreting the eighth chapter of Ether in the Book of Mormon. So tell me, which verses in the Book of Mormon become unimportant simply because they aren't quoted by a given Prophet?

12/15/2010 07:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Stan said...

This is why I believe there are inhabitants on the moon awaiting missionaries to teach them. Not one prophet has countered Brigham Young's assertion.

12/15/2010 08:04:00 PM  
OpenID heavenlybanner said...

All one has to do is read the Book of Mormon to understand that one specific secret combination seeks to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries. These secret combinations were successful in overthrowing both the Nephite and Jaredite civilizations and are a type of the secret combinations that would exist in the latter days. So Yes, I agree that it not only is an acceptable point of view but vital for Latter-day Saints to understand.

12/15/2010 09:00:00 PM  
OpenID heavenlybanner said...

All one has to do is read the Book of Mormon to understand the threat of Secret Combinations. Both the Jaredite and the Nephite civilizations were destroyed due to their influence. And the Lord (yes, the Lord is the "editor" of the Book of Mormon) includes these secret combinations in the Book of Mormon to warn us and to serve as a type of what would happen in the latter days.

So yes, I agree that not only is belief in a secret combination which seeks to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries an acceptable belief but a vital belief if we are to escape its effects. Disbelieve at your own peril.

12/15/2010 09:05:00 PM  
Blogger DavidH said...

Gary, I completely agree with you.

12/15/2010 09:12:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

HeavenlyBanner, thanks for your comments. You are probably aware (though some may not be) that in 1972, Ezra Taft Benson had his personal endorsement printed on the back cover of the book None Dare Call It Conspiracy by Gary Allen. This book tells how a group of people from the top social and economic levels of this and other countries formed a conspiracy to overthrow the freedom of all nations and rule the world.

Then, in the April 1972 general conference, Ezra Taft Benson taught:

"Joseph Smith said that the Book of Mormon was the 'keystone of our religion' and the 'most correct' book on earth. This most correct book on earth states that the downfall of two great American civilizations came as a result of secret conspiracies whose desire was to overthrow the freedom of the people. 'And they have caused the destruction of this people of whom I am now speaking,' says Moroni, 'and also the destruction of the people of Nephi.' (Ether 8:21.)

"Now undoubtedly Moroni could have pointed out many factors that led to the destruction of the people, but notice how he singled out the secret combinations, just as the Church today could point out many threats to peace, prosperity and the spread of God's work, but it has singled out as the greatest threat the Godless conspiracy. There is no conspiracy theory in the Book of Mormon—it is a conspiracy fact."

12/15/2010 10:02:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

DavidH, thanks.

12/15/2010 10:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am being somewhat optimistic and believe at this point that there is no grand conspiracy that will take over our country. On a daily basis I talk with family and friends who believe in such conspiracy theories. Around here the worst one is the "tent city" conspiracy following in with a close second is the United Nations to take away American's guns.

The one thing I find of most interest in all of this is that dates come and go and no change. Promised conspiracies never pan out. I have been told my whole life about the reality of all these conspiracies and have always been told they are right around the corner. I am now approaching middle age and soon into retirement and still no promised conspiracies have yet to pan out.

I have never given Bensons warnings of this "conspiracy" much weight due to that fact that I have yet to see any real credible evidence or witness of these events. People always stae that it is happening and I ask them- "ok, give me a for instance". And so they grudgingly do come up with some obscure idea that in the end turns out to be some rumor put out by some extreme right wing group.

What people in general fail to realize is that we are a Christian nation- Zion if you will, and that the great conspiracy that was prophesied has already failed, and that was some 60 years ago!

I may be wrong but I doubt it!

Rob Osborn.

12/15/2010 10:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Dave C. said...

A very interesting topic, however I think that we should take a bold step and venture beyond speculation. I will start the bidding by proposing a legitimate organization that may fit the bill:

The federal reserve.

Any other ideas?

12/16/2010 10:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Fed doesn't work very well.

First, the governors are appointed by the President and approved by the Senate.

Second, its meetings are "secret" but they publish detailed minutes a month or so afterwards.

Third, they are subject to congressional oversight (next chair of the subcommittee is Ron Paul -- a huge critic).

If they are a secret society, they are doing a poor job of the secret part.

I nominate the John Birch Society. It is a secret society and according to Robert Welch's Blue Book, infiltrates local community organizations in order to manipulate them --- targets in the path have been the PTA, community clubs, political groups, etc. The membership is secret and it is organized in to local cells (Welch uses that term in The Blue Book).

12/17/2010 08:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Federal Reserve? Where are your references? I don't buy it.

Rob Osborn

12/17/2010 09:04:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

This discussion is about Benson's point of view being acceptable to Mormons. When comments move too far in the direction of mocking him, they won't be published.

12/17/2010 09:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Paul V said...

Hi Gary,
I think I disagree with you on many things, but I try to take the time to see what you are saying. And I think about it.

In the case of this post, I totally agree. I believe that it is acceptable (and even necessary) for each person to form their own opinion as they consider what the evidence is and what others have said.

12/17/2010 11:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Dave C. said...

Gary,

Who is mocking Benson?

12/17/2010 11:51:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

.

Dave C. — Ezra Taft Benson always defended the John Birch Society, and said he felt a deep indignation when people attacked the Birch Society unfairly (like our anonymous friend did a few comments ago). Benson believed such attacks to be "dishonest, immoral and crass hypocrisy." Benson was clearly NOT talking about the John Birch Society in his Oct 1988 general conference talk. In view of this, Dave, can you think of a better word? I can't.

Paul V, in view of your comment, do you agree that Benson's point of view on this is acceptable to Mormons?

Rob Osborn, please understand that I have no problem with your point of view on this. Of course I do have a problem with insolent Mormons who mock Ezra Taft Benson's well considered conclusions.

12/17/2010 01:05:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Steve, how do you feel about James E. Faust? One year after President Benson's secret combination warning, Elder Faust said in general conference that Ezra Taft Benson was "in every respect entitled to our sustaining action."

12/17/2010 07:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Paul V. said...

Gary,

I can only speak for myself, but yes, it is acceptable to me if someone believes this. I am an accepting kind of guy, so I would also think it is acceptable to not adopt this point of view. By your method, the actual state of things is ambiguous. I tend to be cautious, so I would say that since it hasn't been mentioned since, one does not know if the situation has changed, if that danger has passed, how to identify it, etc. Your method only allows taking authority statements and waiting to see if they have been countermanded by new statements, so it is hard by this method to be in a situation to know more or if you should do something. By this method, sources not from church authorities don't count. I think the more critical comments are people pointing out situations where the method fails. They are criticizing the method more than the particular statement.

On a more serious note, the nations that promote freedom of political and religious speech, freedom of religion, and rule of law have not grown stronger in the past 10 years, while those nations opposed to these ideals have grown stronger. It is always worth taking these liberties and good governance very seriously, whatever one's take on a wide variety of things.

12/18/2010 10:54:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

.

Paul V., for two years in the 1960s, I served as a missionary among the Lutheran Protestants in Germany where I gained a deep respect for the dogged determination of the German people, especially the great Protestant Reformer Martin Luther (1483–1546) who said this:

-------------- quote --------------
"If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing him. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point." (Weimar Ausgabe Briefwechsel 3, 81f; italics added.)
-------------- end quote --------------

It isn't hard for me to know what to do. I always follow the living First Presidency and Twelve. And when I can, I prove my loyalty where the battle rages, specifically when Mormons unfairly attack their own apostles and prophets.

12/18/2010 01:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Aaron said...

The fact that no president and prophet other than ETB voiced such views speaks volumes. Elder Benson's views may appeal to some Mormons, but thankfully not all.

12/20/2010 06:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the conspiracy really does exist, but only in the imaginations of the minds of ETB followers.

12/20/2010 09:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gary --

What is your take on the fact that the John Birch Society is a secret society?

12/20/2010 09:22:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Here is how Ezra Taft Benson answered that question: "The society had been publicly charged with being a secret, fascist, subversive, Un-American, anti-Semitic organization. We have not found any of these accusations to be supported by the evidence."

12/20/2010 09:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Ray said...

I suppose Pres. Benson's conspiracy views could be acceptable, but for some of us they are anti-American. They show no faith in our institutions or our people or our democratic traditions. If we are true to our country and its founding principles, we do not need to accept conspiracy theories. That, to me, is an acceptable point of view for any American, Mormon or otherwise.

1/04/2011 06:46:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Ray: you may view prophetic warnings as you please. But it's difficult for me to imagine a sizable group of Mormons who believe the Book of Mormon is anti-American. Yet one of the most urgent, heart-stirring appeals made by Moroni as he closed the Book of Mormon was addressed to the gentile nations of the last days. Moroni foresaw the rise of a great world-wide secret combination among the gentiles which "seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries." (Ether 8:25.)

Ezra Taft Benson was fully authorized to interpret the Book of Mormon for our day. And for more than thirty years, the modern prophet Benson echoed the ancient prophet Moroni's warning that "each gentile nation of the last days [must] purge itself of this gigantic criminal conspiracy which would seek to rule the world." (Era, Dec. 1961, p.953.)

In my opinion, Ezra Taft Benson was not anti-American any more than Jonah was anti-Nineveh.

1/05/2011 08:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe some people should give Ezra Taft Benson a prophet of God and former secretary of Agriculture a second look. I dont think he spoke only looking for a topic, he was there.

3/27/2011 04:41:00 PM  

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