Saturday, December 22, 2012

Their inspiration is not from the source they suppose

In 1993, Howard W. Hunter was President of the Quorum of the Twelve. On Feb 7th of that year, he spoke to a fireside in the BYU Marriott Center. His talk was halted for about 10 minutes when a 27-year-old California man walked onto the stand threatening to detonate a bomb. The man believed that God wanted him to take over the LDS Church as its new Prophet and release the entire First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve.

In the October 2010 general conference, Elder Dallin H. Oaks explained very clearly why we can be sure the actions of President Hunter's 1993 attacker were not directed by God:

"Unlike the personal line, in which our Heavenly Father communicates with us directly through the Holy Ghost, the priesthood line of communication has the additional and necessary intermediaries of our Savior, Jesus Christ; His Church; and His appointed leaders....

"We cannot communicate reliably through the direct, personal line if we are disobedient to or out of harmony with the priesthood line.... Unfortunately, it is common for persons who are violating God’s commandments or disobedient to the counsel of their priesthood leaders to declare that God has revealed to them that they are excused from obeying some commandment or from following some counsel. Such persons may be receiving revelation or inspiration, but it is not from the source they suppose." (Ensign, Nov. 2010.)

I am certain that God did not tell President Hunter's 1993 attacker to release the First Presidency and Twelve and install himself as Prophet.

I am equally certain that God has not told anyone that NDBF teachings such as the following are erroneous. Individuals making such a claim would be out of harmony with God's appointed leaders of today and, therefore, it would be clear that their inspiration is not from the source they suppose.

1. Gospel Principles

The Church's basic manual for investigators and new members is Gospel Principles. Here's what Gospel Principles says about NDBF — No Death Before the Fall:

Chapter 6: "When Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden,... there was no death" (p.28). "Their part in our Father's plan was to bring mortality into the world" (p.27).

Chapter 38 corroborates: "Adam and Eve were married by God before there was any death in the world" (p.219).

Gospel Principles was originally published in 1978. The current edition was published in 2009. There are many differences between the 1978 and 2009 editions, but the NDBF teachings did not change.

2. LDS Bible Dictionary

In 1979, the Scriptures Publication Committee (Thomas S. Monson, Boyd K. Packer, and Bruce R. McConkie), under the direction of the First Presidency, placed NDBF teachings in the LDS Bible Dictionary:

Death: "There was no death on this earth for any forms of life before the fall of Adam.  Indeed, death entered the world as a direct result of the fall. (2 Ne. 2:22; Moses 6:48)."

Fall of Adam: "Before the fall,... there was no sin, no death, and no children among any of the earthly creations.  With the eating of the 'forbidden fruit,' Adam and Eve became mortal, sin entered,... and death became a part of life.  Adam became the  ' first flesh '  upon the earth, meaning that he and Eve were the first to become mortal.  After Adam fell, the whole creation fell and became mortal.  Adam's fall brought both physical and spiritual death into the world upon all mankind."

Flesh: "All things" were created "in a non-mortal condition" and became "mortal through the fall of Adam."

Paradise and Restitution, restoration: The word "paradise" has two meanings in scripture, one of which is "the glorified millennial state of the earth" referred to in the tenth Article of Faith. Regarding the two words "restitution" and "restoration," the Dictionary says these terms "denote a return of something once present, but which has been taken away or lost.  It involves, for example, the renewal of the earth to its paradisiacal glory as it was before the fall of Adam."

Scripture adds that after earth's paradisiacal glory is restored, there will again be "no death." (D&C 101:29.)

3. Guide to the Scriptures

Every printed copy of the LDS Bible has bound in with it the LDS Bible Dictionary (English) or Guide to the Scriptures (non-English); and all electronic editions of the LDS Scriptures have them both.

Death, Physical: "The Fall brought mortality and death to the earth (2 Ne. 2:22; Moses 6:48)."

4. Teachings of Presidents of the Church

Teachings of Presidents of the Church is a collection of gospel reference books established by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. NDBF teachings are found in the Harold B. Lee and Wilford Woodruff manuals.

Harold B. Lee: "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." (p.20.)

Wilford Woodruff: "We acknowledge that through Adam all have died, that death through the fall must pass upon the whole human family, also upon the beasts of the field, the fishes of the sea and the fowls of the air and all the works of God, as far as this earth is concerned." (p.81.)

5. Boyd K. Packer in official settings

In the April 1988 General Conference, Boyd K. Packer said "the condition of mortality" (death) did not "exist" until after the fall:

"The creation of their bodies in the image of God, as a separate creation, was crucial to the plan. Their subsequent fall was essential if the condition of mortality was to exist and the plan proceed." (Ensign, May 1988, 70.)

If mortality (death) didn't exist without the fall, then it clearly didn't exist before the fall.

In the October 1988 General Conference, Boyd K. Packer said the Fall marks the point in time after which "all living things" have experienced "mortal death":

"Since death is ever present with us, a knowledge of how essential it is to the plan of salvation is of immense, practical value. Every one of us should know how and why it came to be in the beginning.

"Mortal death came into the world at the Fall....

"It was as though a clock were set and a time given. Thereafter, all living things moved inexorably toward mortal death." (Ensign, Nov. 1988, 18.)

Again in 2008, Boyd K. Packer emphasized that the Fall was "essential if the condition of mortality was to exist." If the condition of mortality could not exist without the Fall, then it clearly did not exist before the Fall.

"Adam and Eve ventured forth to multiply and replenish the earth as they had been commanded to do. The creation of their bodies in the image of God, as a separate creation, was crucial to the plan. Their subsequent Fall was essential if the condition of mortality was to exist and the plan to proceed." (Ensign, Mar 2008, pp.16-17.)

6. Russell M. Nelson in official settings

In his April 2000 general conference talk, Russell M. Nelson plainly taught NDBF.

"The creation of a paradisiacal planet came from God.  Mortality and death came into the world through the Fall of Adam....  Eventually,  ' the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.'  (A of F 1:10.) At the Second Coming of the Lord, the earth will be changed once again.  It will be returned to its paradisiacal state and be made new."  (Ensign, May 2000, p.84.)

In the April 2001 general conference, and again in March 2002, Russell M. Nelson encouraged careful study of the LDS Bible Dictionary entry for "Fall of Adam" (see #2 above).

7. Book of Mormon Student Manual

The current edition of the Book of Mormon Student Manual, Religion 121-122, was published by the Church in 2009. It teaches NDBF as follows:

“It is not possible to believe in Christ and his atoning sacrifice, in the true and full sense required to gain salvation, without at the same time believing and accepting the true doctrine of the fall. If there had been no fall, there would have been no need for a Redeemer or Savior. And it is not possible to believe in the fall, out of which immortality and eternal life come, without at the same time believing and accepting the true doctrine of the creation: If there had been no creation of all things in a deathless or immortal state, there could have been no fall, and hence no atonement and no salvation. The Father’s eternal plan called for the creation, for the fall, and for the atonement, all woven together into one united whole.” (p.50.)

“Then comes the Fall; Adam falls; mortality and procreation and death commence. Fallen man is mortal; he has mortal flesh; he is ‘the first flesh upon the earth.’ And the effects of his fall pass upon all created things. They fall in that they too become mortal. Death enters the world; mortality reigns; procreation commences; and the Lord’s great and eternal purposes roll onward.”

“Mortality and procreation and death all had their beginnings with the Fall....

“...An infinite Creator, in the primeval day, made the earth and man and all forms of life in such a state that they could fall. This fall involved a change of status. All things were so created that they could fall or change....

“...In the primeval and Edenic day all forms of life lived in a higher state than now prevails.... Death and procreation had yet to enter the world.” (pp.53-54.)

8. Preach My Gospel

The missionary guide, Preach My Gospel, sets forth doctrines that LDS missionaries are expected to study and teach. Twenty eight times, missionaries are directed by Preach My Gospel to read and become familiar with ideas found in the LDS Bible Dictionary. The Scripture Study section on page 52 asks missionaries to study the LDS Bible Dictionary entry for "Death" (see #2 above).

9. True to the Faith

The entry for "Death, Physical" in the First Presidency's doctrinal guidebook, True to the Faith, teaches that "the Fall of Adam brought physical death into the world (see Moses 6:48)."


The First Presidency and Twelve are responsible for the doctrine that represents the Church. They authorize what is published in the name of the Church and NDBF teachings are not published by accident or without proper approval.

"All Church materials are approved at many levels before anything is ever published, beginning at the department management level, to the auxiliary presidencies, the Correlation Department, and the General Authorities, including the First Presidency of the Church.

"Nothing the Church publishes is done so without going through all these levels of approval."

"The Church spends an enormous amount of time and resources to ensure that the doctrine is kept pure and undiluted." (Correspondence dated March 12, 2012 from Church Curriculum.)

The above sample of NDBF teachings is large enough to demonstrate how consistent and persistent NDBF is in official Church media. In the scriptures and in the scripture study helps, in the teachings of living apostles in Church magazines, and in current curriculum materials, in all of these the Church teaches NDBF.


Blogger DavidH said...

Gary, how would no death in the garden work? Does that mean that no cells or bacteria or viruses ever die? No plants die? We know Adam and Eve ate fruits and presumably vegetables. Does NDBF that mean no carrots or potatoes, because that means the end of the plant's life? Or no eating leafy vegetables, because that means the end of the life of the cells that constitute the leaves? If nothing ever died, why wouldn't the garden become overridden by rabbits and hamsters or insects (or any other animals)? Or does NDBF also mean no reproduction by any life form? Does NDBF preclude the formation of any fossils before the Fall? So that any fossils of anything that is older than 6000 years either was transplanted from somewhere else or the science is wrong to date any fossil before the Fall (i.e., because the plant or animal must die before it can form a fossel). Would any kind of cellular constituents of the human body "die"? I.e., dead skins cells? The same questions (other than , by the way, I suppose apply to describing heaven or the millennium.

12/26/2012 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

DavidH: For nearly eight years now, my point on this blog has been that the Church does teach NDBF. That I myself happen to believe NDBF is secondary, it is the Church's teaching, not mine.

That said, I have some thoughts about "describing heaven or the millennium." Just how do we describe heaven? Does the grave mark the end of our existence? Or does another sphere of existence wait for us beyond the grave? It turns out that the language of our world is inadequate to describe our past or future worlds. The science of this world simply does not comprehend paradisiacal glory, whether before the Fall or during the Millennium. Faith necessarily supersedes both our vocabulary and our science. Evidence in the rocks below is inferior to the witness of the heavens above.

12/26/2012 04:58:00 PM  
Blogger DavidH said...

I apologize for using the conditional tense in describing NDBF. Given that the Church teaches it, the question becomes what necessarily follows from the revealed truth of NDBF. That is my question. I gather from your comment that one thing it means is that fossils that appear to be from a time period before the Fall (say older than 4000 B.C.) are not reliable as evidence of death of a plant or animal before that time (because the fossils conflict with revealed truth). It also follows that evolution could not have operated before the Fall, but I don't think NBDF precludes evolution from operating after the Fall. Does the NBDF mean that the earth could not have been formed over billions of years (i.e., that the 7 days of creation were longer than 7 days, or even 7000 years)? Or is that a separate question? Other questions, does NBDF, combined with revealed knowledge that there there was no reproduction of humans before the Fall, mean that there was no reproduction of other living things before the Fall? The other question about NBDF is to which living things did it apply and, in some cases (say an amoeba that splits in two), what does it mean to "die"? It may well be that there are no answers. But I am trying to grasp what NDBF means, and what it doesn't mean. What scientific theories become unreliable because of it, and which do not.

12/26/2012 10:04:00 PM  

<< Home