Sunday, May 22, 2011

Constitution hang by a thread? LDSLiving says "myth," Latter-day Prophets say "prophecy."

The May/June 2011 issue of LDSLiving correctly identifies the white horse prophecy as a Mormon myth, a revelation that simply cannot be traced back to the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Sadly, in debunking the white horse prophecy, LDSLiving wrongfully implicates "the Constitution will hang by a thread" prophecy by implying that President Joseph Fielding Smith denounced them both.

According to LDSLiving, 1918 was the "year when President Joseph Fielding Smith denounced the fabled ‘White Horse Prophecy’ (commonly known as ‘the Constitution will hang by a thread’ prophecy) in general conference" (see below).

In truth, Joseph Fielding Smith did not denounce or even mention the "Constitution will hang by a thread" prophecy in general conference in 1918 and has actually declared its truthfulness:

"The statement has been made that the Prophet said the time would come when this Constitution would hang as by a thread, and this is true." (Doctrines of Salvation, 3:326.)

President Joseph F. Smith, who also condemned the white horse prophecy in 1918, said this about the "Constitution will hang by a thread" prophecy:

"Joseph Smith, the prophet,... predicted that the time would come, when the Constitution of our country would hang as it were by a thread, and that the Latter-day Saints, above all other people in the world, would come to the rescue of that great and glorious palladium of our liberty." (Gospel Doctrine, 403.)

Source of "Constitution will hang by a thread" prophecy

Summarizing more than 40 years of research, LDS scholar Don L. Penrod recently said:

"The so-called white horse prophecy is ... often erroneously cited as the earliest and most reliable source of two statements: that the United States Constitution will hang by a thread and that Joseph Smith prophesied that the Latter-day Saints would settle in the Rocky Mountains. In fact, these statements have reliable sources that predate the writing of the white horse prophecy [and] those other sources should be cited rather than the white horse prophecy." (Don L. Penrod, "Edwin Rushton as the Source of the White Horse Prophecy," BYU Studies, volume 49, no. 3, 2010, 75-131; emphasis added.)

Prophets confirm the "Constitution will hang by a thread" prophecy

While Ezra Taft Benson was 13th Church President, a book was published that contains 487 statements about the U.S. Constitution made by him and the 12 Prophets who preceeded him. Donald Q. Cannon, the book's editor, wrote in its introduction:

"The idea that the Constitution would one day hang by a thread, first put forth by Joseph Smith, is one of the most interesting and controversial subjects related to LDS teachings about the U.S. Constitution....

"Our study shows that eight modern prophets have made statements about the Constitution's hanging by a thread, and that all eight of them quoted Joseph Smith as well as adding ideas of their own. However, Joseph Smith and the other twelve prophets of this dispensation have all said that at some time in the future the Constitution would be in jeopardy, and it would be rescued by the Elders of Israel." (Latter-day Prophets and the United States Constitution, Donald Q. Cannon, ed., Provo, BYU Religious Studies Center, 1991, xii-xiii.)

The Prophet Joseph Smith said the Constitution will hang by a thread

The white horse prophecy is a ridiculous lot of trash, as President Joseph F. Smith said. On the other hand, the Prophet Joseph's "Constitution will hang by a thread" prophecy has been reliably corroborated for more than 150 years by Church Presidents and other members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve.

The white horse prophecy is not the source for Joseph Smith's "Constitution will hang by a thread" prophecy. And contrary to what some might think after reading the LDSLiving article, the "Constitution will hang by a thread" prophecy is not a myth.


Blogger Tim said...

So the question is, what part of the Constitution is or will hang by a thread? My guess is the religious freedom part. The Supreme Court decision, Employment Division v. Smith, for example, further restricted religious practices (so basically, you can believe whatever you want, but your right to practice can be restricted fairly easily). The church has actually become involved in cases like Employment Division. Unfortunately, the church (among other groups) was unable to convince the conservatives on the Supreme Court that religious practices (and not just beliefs) should be protected. The prophecy has yet to be fulfilled.

5/22/2011 07:53:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Tim: I enjoyed your comment and I agree with you. Regarding which part of the Constitution is or will be hanging by a thread, Ezra Taft Benson said it this way:

-------------- quote --------------
"Unfortunately, we as a nation have apostatized in various degrees from different Constitutional principles as proclaimed by the inspired founders. We are fast approaching that moment prophesied by Joseph Smith when he said: ‘Even this nation will be on the very verge of crumbling to pieces and tumbling to the ground, and when the Constitution is upon the brink of ruin, this people will be the staff upon which the nation shall lean, and they shall bear the Constitution away from the very verge of destruction’ (19 July 1840, Church Historian’s Office).

"Brethren, if we had done our homework and were faithful, we could step forward at this time and help save this country. The fact that most of us are unprepared to do it is an indictment we will have to bear. The longer we wait, the heavier the chains, the deeper the blood, the more the persecution, and the less we can carry out our God-given mandate and world-wide mission."
-------------- end quote --------------

5/23/2011 03:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

R Gary,

With all due fairness teh article I found on LDSliving said this --

"President Joseph F. Smith, who spoke after his son at that conference, re-emphasized his son’s remarks by calling the content of the prophecy “trash.” He said, “It is simply false. That is all there is to it.” The Church, in 2010, once again re-emphasized this position with two separate official statements. To be fair, several reliable sources (including Brigham Young) did report hearing the Prophet say something about the Constitution hanging by a thread. “It’s unfortunate that that piece has to be always connected with the White Horse Prophecy—as if that’s where that comes from,” says Mike Hunter. “But actually, it doesn’t come from that; the White Horse Prophecy took that, and a lot of other things, and blended them together.”

I am not sure if we are readingt the same article but it appears to me that the article doesn't say J. Smith was refuting anything but the white horse prophecy.

That said, In our day a lot of this has stemmed from politicval leaders like Rex Rammel from Idaho that tried using this so called "white horse prophecy" to his davantage in a predominatly LDS area to further his political cause, which, of the course, the church came out and made statements against him and his political agenda using the so called white horse prophecy. What was interesting here is that Rex used the white horse prophecy as the banner for "the constituition hanging by a thread" bit. Of course the church said nothing of the "constitution hanging by a thread" but instead ststed that the white horse prophecy is not church historical doctrine. Taking the two together though, many unknowing members used the statement by the church to mean that the "constitution hanging by a thread" was not church doctrine.

Where does the church stand at this moment? It's hard tyo say. Yes, statements were made about the constitution in years gone by. Have they said anything about this statement in today's generation? Not really. Wheter it still holds true or not, for one reason or another, the current presidency of the LDS church has made no statements regarding this in the rising generation that I am aware of.

Rob Osborn

5/23/2011 06:55:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Rob: Good to hear from you again. It seems you didn't read this post very carefully. It isn't about whether the Constitution will hang by a thread. That's not the issue here. It may or it may not. Read the original post again. It is about something else:

 - - -> Did the Prophet Joseph say it would?

That is the question addressed here. According to the BYU Religious Studies Center, and according to BYU Studies (both quoted in the original post), the white horse prophecy is completely irrelevant when discussing this question. Eight modern prophets have certified that Joseph Smith said it. And as of 1991, all Latter-day Prophets were in agreement that "at some time in the future the Constitution would be in jeopardy."

Unless and until a living prophet sends forth a message to the saints that it was all a mistake, LDSLiving has no business discrediting a legitimate prophecy made by a Prophet of God by associating it with a piece of trash fabricated by a man.

The article debunks nine myths. Each begins with a heading. The myth in question is introduced in bold type with the words:

    The White Horse Prophecy.

Now go back and read the first paragraph after those words and explain to me why you can't see how the prophecy called "the constitution will hang by a thread" wasn't being debunked by whatever sources were used to debunk the white horse prophecy.

The last page of the actual magazine was used as a teaser for the article itself. It uses graphics and numbers to spark interest in myths debunked by the article. In my original post, I photographically reproduced the white horse portion of that last page and transcribed the words as an introduction to the photo. Explain to me how that teaser says Joseph Fielding Smith debunked one but not the other.

It is true that in late 2009, Idaho gubernatorial candidate Rex Rammell invited only Mormon elders to a meeting to discuss the white horse prophecy. He caused quite a stir. The Church's answer is here. The Church statement carefully avoided the "Constitution by a thread" prophecy.

Rob, suppose someone called you a liar and then added, "To be fair, several reliable sources did report hearing you tell the truth on occasion." Do the words "to be fair" in that situation mean you weren't really called a liar? Of course not. LDSLiving essentially called eight modern prophets liars by discrediting the Prophet's "Constitution by a thread" prophecy.

5/23/2011 07:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

R Gary,

I guess I did not read the article in that light. I saw the article as only debunking the white horse prophecy. I went and read it again and saw nothing about it discrediting "the constitution will hang by a thread". I read the whole bit and it specifically states that the white horse prophecy takes actual statements and blends them together and imbelishes them.

Personally I have had my own personal campaigns against the doomsayers. I don't know exactly what past prophets have meant or said about the constitution as it may or may not pertain to our day, but I do know that we have made great strides in making our constitution stronger in our generations than what it was in Joseph Smith's day. Think about it-

In Joseph's day somehow it was alright to own slaves, women had no rights, religious groups such as the mormons had no protective rights.

But look now where we are at today- women have full equal rights, we have a black president, there are no slaves whatsoever, etc. Speaking of our religious freedom, mormons aren't chased around anymore from state to state, we can freely worship what we want how we ant and when we want.

Now of course I am not saying that this prophecy hasn't passed, i am merely stating that looking at past prophets claims about this constitution hanging by a thread bit and not seeing it as being relevent in our present day. I know the church stands firmly against te white horse prophecy. Yet I also know that the church views that most members associate the white horse prophecy directly with the statement of the constitution hanging by a thread. So why has the church remained silent on that issue? To me it makes the statement that the "constitution hanging by a thread" bit is not relevent to our day or not part of our official doctrine we must proclaim to the world.

Many in my own ward have brought this up in class and I have challenged them to show just where our constitution is hanging by a thread. Many cite people like Glen Beck as making statements surrounding Obama' presidency. So I ask- ok what exactly is Obama doing to cause our constitution to hang by a thread? No one can ever answer. They insist our rights are being taken away and yet offer no proof to where or how it is being taken away. Many cite it is a conspiracy and again I ask ok, what are they doing? Again, no one can answer with any proof showing how or where our constitution is eroding.

I see our constitution getting stronger and stronger. Again, I am not suggesting that the "constitution hanging by a thread" was not a prophecy at one point, I just believe it is not relevent in our day as it may have been back in Joseph's day when they endured many persecutions because the constitution may have very well been at that point been hanging as if it were- by a thread.

I do find it interesting also, speaking of politics, that the church was against the women rights movement 30 years ago and now the church embraces the womens role as being equal in both the home and workplace.

Rob Osborn.

5/24/2011 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Rob: I respect your views and am happy to have your opinion regarding those matters you addressed in your comment. I will say only that I disagree with several points you've made. But here's what I want you to remember about my post:

1.  LDSLiving correctly identifies the white horse prophecy as a myth.

2.  LDSLiving wrongfully implicates "the Constitution will hang by a thread" prophecy by implying that President Joseph Fielding Smith denounced them both.

3.  In the May/June issue of its magazine, LDSLiving states that 1918 was the "year when President Joseph Fielding Smith denounced the fabled ‘White Horse Prophecy’ (commonly known as ‘the Constitution will hang by a thread’ prophecy) in general conference." This is a quote from LDSLiving.

4.  Contrary to the statement of LDSLiving quoted in the previous paragraph, during his 60-year ministry Joseph Fielding Smith published multiple times his assurance that Joseph Smith did in fact make the "Constitution by a thead" prophecy. Without this information, LDSLiving readers are being misled.

5.  It is erroneous to cite the white horse prophecy as a legetimate source for Joseph Smith's "Constitution by a thread" prophecy. When discussing the latter, we should use reliable sources and not the white horse prophecy.

6.  Presidents of the Church for more than 150 years have affirmed the veracity of Joseph Smith's prophecy about the Constitution hanging by a thread. Thus its relevance has been brought forward by Church Presidents from Joseph's day to ours.

Thanks again for your comment.

5/24/2011 12:32:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Rob Osborn asks: "I am interested about when was the last time this phrase ‘constitution hanging by a thread’ was used by a living prophet in our day."

R. Gary answers: I don't know. But for those of us who are at least 17 years old, "a living prophet in our day" testified in general conference that Joseph Smith said the Constitution would be on "the brink of ruin." And please don't nitpick about the difference between hanging by a thread and being on the brink of ruin.

5/24/2011 01:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Keith said...

Rob, I appreciate your comments, but be careful not to discount the threats to religious liberty posed today. Having personally worked at both the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty (click here) and the International Center for Law & Religion Studies (click here), I’ve seen that our religious liberty, though not fully impacted, is anything but secure. And don’t forget Elder Oaks recent statements (click here) and (click here). I apologize for detracting from the “white horse” discussion. I just thought it was important to emphasize the potential fulfillment of the “constitution by a thread” prophecy in the escalating threats to our religious liberty.

5/24/2011 07:46:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Keith: Your comment makes a valid point and the digression is not entirely unwelcome. Nevertheless, please allow me to emphasize (again) that the "hang by a thread" prophecy is NOT a myth. It seems based on your comment, you would agree with me on that point.

5/24/2011 08:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Keith said...

R. Gary,

I completely agree. The JFS discredited "white-horse prophecy" is separate and distinct from (although often mistakenly intertwined with) the "hanging by a thread" statement. The "Constitution hanging by a thread" prophecy is not a myth, and it will see fulfillment (in seemingly multiple non-Huntsman related possibilities) the same as with all other prophetic statements from the Prophet Joseph. Although there are no first-hand accounts of his making this statement, there is enough verification from many other latter-day prophets and apostles that I think there is no reason to doubt its veracity, in addition to the confirmations of the Spirit in discerning truth.

5/25/2011 07:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In response to Rob Osborn's question: "I am interested about when was the last time this phrase ‘constitution hanging by a thread’ was used by a living prophet in our day."

I don't know if it was the last time, but L. Tom Perry, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve since 1974 (and so considered a prophet) quotes Brigham Young quoting Joseph Smith in this talk, "God’s Hand in the Founding of America" in July, 1976:

First from Brigham Young, second president of the Church: “Will the Constitution be destroyed? No: it will be held inviolate by this people; and, as Joseph Smith said, ‘The time will come when the destiny of this nation will hang upon a single thread. At that critical juncture, this people will step forth and save it from the threatened destruction.’ It will be so.” (Journal of Discourses, 7:15.)


8/26/2011 11:13:00 AM  

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