Saturday, July 23, 2011

LDS Prophets tag-teamed at BCC about the pre-1978 priesthood restriction

Over at BCC, J. Stapley and Margaret Young are tag-teaming the Prophets about the pre-1978 priesthood restriction (click here and here).

It would be difficult for a person to have followed discussions at LDSBlogs.org for any length of time without already being aware of the evidence being discussed by these two BCC bloggers. However, readers should be aware of this: J. Stapley and Margaret Young do NOT speak for the Church when they accuse a dozen Church Presidents of wrongful conduct regarding the pre-1978 priesthood restriction.

By contrast, President Spencer W. Kimball *did* speak for the Church when he made the following statement about the priesthood restriction in 1974:

"Blacks and the priesthood: I am not sure that there will be a change, although there could be. We are under the dictates of our Heavenly Father, and this is not my policy or the Church’s policy. It is the policy of the Lord who has established it, and I know of no change, although we are subject to revelations of the Lord in case he should ever wish to make a change." (Ensign Feb. 1974, 2.)

President Kimball also said:

"This restriction has been imposed by the Lord." (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.237.)

Question for Margaret Young: Was the restriction imposed by the Lord, as President Kimball taught?

BCC's tag-team should make a more clear distinction between the priesthood restriction itself (from God) and the ideas and teachings that grew up to explain it (from man). President Gordon B. Hinckley made just such a distinction in 1997 when he was interviewed by ABC Television in Australia:

ABCTV: Now up until 1978 I understand Blacks were not allowed to be priests in your Church?

President Hinckley: That is correct. Although we have Black members of the Church. They felt that they would gain more in this Church than any other with which they were acquainted and they were members of the Church. In 1978 we (the president of the Church) received a revelation under which all worthy men would receive all the blessings of the Church available to them as well as to any others. So across the world now we are teaching the Gospel to Blacks, Whites, everyone else who will listen.

ABCTV: So in retrospect was the Church wrong in that?

President Hinckley: No I don’t think it was wrong. It things, various things happened in different periods. There’s a reason for them.

ABCTV: What was the reason for that?

President Hinckley: I don’t know what the reason was.

Question for J. Stapley: Was the Church wrong about the pre-1978 priesthood restriction?

President Gordon B. Hinckley doesn't know the reason for the restriction, but he clearly states, "I don’t think it was wrong."

When discussing this subject, BCC bloggers could at least mention the Church's current official statement:


Blogger FelixAndAva said...

That kind of attitude (not yours, what you're replying to) is why I gave up on BCC and most of the Bloggernacle. I dislike the apparent default assumption that of course the leaders of the Church are wrong, either through ignorance or malice, over doctrines or policies that don't conform to fashionable worldly philosophies. The attitude of superiority and fault-finding is NOT spiritually conducive to me.

I seriously question why some authors even bother to identify as LDS, since they obviously do not believe that this Church is guided and directed by God, and that God's wisdom exceeds that of mortal man. They apparently believe that God must alter His views on gender roles, sexuality, etc., to conform to man-made philosophies, rather than the reverse, and choose to look only at negatives to puff up their pride in their own superiority, rather than have the humility to admit we may not understand certain doctrines, policies, etc., but that God will direct that those things be changed when His infinite knowledge and wisdom dictate.

7/23/2011 11:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I completely agree with you Felix. You took the words right out of my mouth. Sometimes I want to say something like that at FMH, but I have a hard time putting it into words. Plus posting something like that would be pointless as they would ignore what I said and label me an ignorant, brainwashed, macho follower.

7/25/2011 06:09:00 AM  
Blogger Papa D said...

"I seriously question why some authors even bother to identify as LDS, since they obviously do not believe that this Church is guided and directed by God"

What a horrible misrepresentation of J., Margaret and, most egregiously, Darius Gray. Darius has been through stuff I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy and remained faithful in the LDS Church despite it all. To question why he, J. and Margaret "bother to identify as LDS" is unfathomable to me.

I have no need to comment here other than to say that - since my own take on the ban is documented and known to the author of this blog. I simply had to say how terribly disappointed and sad I am in the sentence I just quoted and the paragraph of which it is a part.

7/25/2011 06:22:00 AM  
Blogger FelixAndAva said...

I can't stand reading FMH. Too much hate toward the masculine (and I'm female. My screen name is the names of my cat and bird).

So many Bloggernacle authors rage and sneer at the Authorities of the Church for not agreeing with the fashionable philosophies of the world, to the point that they might as well just come right out and admit "no, I do NOT believe these are Christ's chosen to lead His Church" or "no, I do NOT believe that this is Christ's Church, run by Him in His wisdom", since that's the practical effect of all the contempt for those earthly leaders for being too ignorant/stubborn/outdated/power-hungry to do what these authors in their intellectual pride or their desire to conform to the world think should happen.

I've gotten much more spiritual support from members of other churches (including people who say they're not religious at all) than I, as a believing Church member who trusts in Christ's wisdom and power to run His Church, can find in the Bloggernacle. I'm not willing to claim that I have greater wisdom than our prophets do, so find nothing but contempt among my supposed brothers and sisters in the Gospel.

7/25/2011 07:57:00 AM  
Anonymous kevinf said...

Felix, I know Jonathan Stapley well, and much admire the work of both Margaret Young and Darius Gray. To assume they are anything other than faithful members of the church is plainly wrong and an act of judgment you are not entitled to.

Furthermore, all three are trying their best to help uncover the truth about the history of the priesthood ban. What is clear is that President Kimball sought and received revelation in 1978 to end the ban as a matter of policy, and aligning our practices with doctrine as understood from the scriptures. What is not clear, is that the beginnings of the ban had any revelatory basis. No records exist to indicate that such a revelation came to either Joseph Smith or Brigham Young.

I also would suggest that labeling Stapley, Young, and Gray as not believing in the prophetic office would indicate that you have not really read any of their writings, or viewed Margaret Young and Darius Gray's documentary, Nobody Knows. I likewise don't discount your commitments or testimonies of the church, but some might consider your comments here as not consistent with Christian charity.

7/25/2011 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

kevinf: In word and deed, at least twelve Church Presidents have taught that the pre-1978 priesthood restriction was God's will. President Kimball, with his Counselors and the Twelve, researched the restriction carefully and discussed its history thoroughly prior to "supplicating the Lord for divine guidance." After the revelation, much thought and preparation went into the text which is now canonized as OD–2. Note the emphasis they gave to "promises made by the prophets and presidents of the Church who have preceded us" and note their exultant testimony that "the long-promised day has come." These expressions run contrary to any theory that the revelation was corrective. According to our canon, it was prophecy fulfilled.

President Kimball gave further evidence of this view in a fireside talk to college students the following year. Notice how he quoted the New Testament as evidence that this is a new revelation, further making it clear the revelation was prophecy fulfilled:

-------------- quote --------------
"Those of us today who are sustained by you as prophets, seers, and revelators came to feel in the spring of 1978 much as the early brethren did when the revelation came to the effect 'that the Gentiles should be fellowheirs ... and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel' (Eph. 3:6). This was a thing, Paul said, 'which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto the holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit' (Eph. 3:5)." (New Era, Apr. 1980, 36; ellipsis in the original.)
-------------- end quote --------------

None of this dispensation's 97 apostles and 16 Prophets has taught that "the restriction was not imposed by God but allowed by Him." Any statement that goes beyond what has been taught by God's authorized apostles and prophets may properly be questioned by all Latter-day Saints.

7/25/2011 11:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Left Field said...

“How can any man holding the Melchizedek priesthood arrogantly assume that he is eligible for that priesthood whereas another, who lives a righteous life but whose skin is of a different color, is ineligible?” (Gordon B. Hinckley)

How, indeed?

7/25/2011 12:09:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

How can one arrogantly assume Hinckley was talking about his Prophet predecessors?

7/25/2011 12:34:00 PM  
Anonymous kevinf said...

R. Gary,

I'm not trying to play "Trump my GA" here, but I'll counter with just a couple of statements:

David O. McKay, 1954" “There is not now, and there never has been a doctrine in this church that the negroes are under a divine curse. There is no doctrine in the church of any kind pertaining to the negro. We believe that we have a scriptural precedent for withholding the priesthood from the negro. It is a practice, not a doctrine, and the practice someday will be changed.”

Bruce. R. McConkie, 1978:

“Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world. We get our truth and our light line upon line and precept upon precept. ... It doesn’t make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June of this year.”

Jeffrey R. Holland, recent PBS documentary, The Mormons:
“The folklore must never be perpetuated. ... They [early church leaders] were doing the best they knew ... All I can say is, however well intended the explanations were, I think almost all of them were inadequate and/or wrong. ...”

This whole problem comes about due to a lack of any documentation regarding the existence of a revelation establishing the policy. Neither you nor I can prove or disprove this. There is no doubt that the ban ended with revelation, received after President Kimball's exhausting research and prayer in the temple, and the creation of consensus among the First Presidency, the Quorum of 12, and the Quorum of the Seventy in May and June, 1978.

I am reminded of Samuel's warning to Israel when they desired a King instead of judges, contrary to the will of the Lord. The Lord allowed them to suffer under the reign of kings, to preserve their agency. It is not a perfect analogy, but it is the best that I can come come up with in explaining the ban. The scriptural references that are used to support conditional restrictions on priesthood in the Old Testament are not of the same nature as a ban based on race only, and both old and restoration scriptures teach again and again that God is no respecter of persons, and "all are alike unto God...both white and black, bond and free..." (2 Ne 26:33).

For me the burden falls equally on those of us who were church members before 1978, not just our leaders, for not taking the scriptures at face value, as Elder McConkie pointed out in his remarkable talk in 1978.

The problem would seem to be that you are attaching motives of fault finding to J and Margaret, when in fact they both are just trying to help us understand some context so that such things do not get perpetuated in the church that we all love.

I don't think I will convince you, but I am disappointed that you chose to attack these folks with equal if not more negative broad brush strokes than that which you accuse them of.

7/25/2011 12:37:00 PM  
Blogger FelixAndAva said...

So, Kevin, what you're saying is that early Church leaders simply inflicted their own opinions on the Church? And you're saying that this was an error, but that Christ Himself "failed" to step in and correct it? Was it that Christ Himself was "in error" by your 21st century standards of mortal philosophy, or that He failed to communicate with prophets, or that He did not enforce His wishes for His Church?

Must be nice to have special revelations that elude chosen and anointed prophets.

7/25/2011 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger a random John said...

Who was President Hinckley excluding in that quote?

7/25/2011 01:09:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

a random John: I believe President Hinckley was speaking to and about every living person on the face of the earth in his April 2006 general priesthood meeting talk. I do NOT believe he was targeting his Prophet predecessors, none of whom were living at the time.


kevinf: Thank you. I appreciate the tone of your comment. There is, however, one point you have missed. The original post makes a clear distinction between the priesthood restriction and the teachings or doctrines that were offered to explain it. McKay, as you quote him, was talking about the second issue, not the first. That is why we find the same McKay saying the restriction was "not something which originated with man" (Home Memories of President David O. McKay, 227).

The same is true regarding McConkie, Holland, and others who have spoken about the teachings or doctrines that surrounded the restriction. Because we claim to be led by Prophets and current revelation, and because at least a dozen such Prophets upheld the restriction for more than a century, it seems meaningless to argue about its origin, especially now, three decades after OD-2.

I've said nothing about the motives of J and Margaret. I've merely pointed out that their opinions are just that, opinions. What I said was this: J. Stapley and Margaret Young do NOT speak for the Church when they accuse a dozen Church Presidents of wrongful conduct regarding the pre-1978 priesthood restriction.

7/25/2011 01:47:00 PM  
Anonymous kevinf said...

R. Gary, I suspect that I may have unintentionally lumped you and FelixAndAva together, for which I apologize. His (or her) tone is much more strident that yours. On rereading, your original post takes issue with their opinions, but is based on the premise that the ban must have originated with God, as otherwise our prophets could not have defended or perpetuated the ban. That leans toward prophetic infallibility, which I think we both would agree is questionable. My point is that for such a significant policy, there is no documentary evidence for a revelation establishing a ban, and contradictory statements by both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. It is not beyond a reasonable stretch of the imagination for later prophets to have assumed such a revelation took place, as it was taught by their predecessors. Again, the lack of documentary evidence leaves us both with opinions, backed by various quotes, and no resolution.

FelixAndAva, I still have issues with your comments. Please note that you are the one who applied such terms as "ignorance" and "malice" to these former prophets, not J. Stapley or Margaret Young. You are also the one who questioned the commitment and testimony of Stapley and Young as well, without knowing anything other than that you disagree with their well-researched scholarly opinions. Margaret Young is one of the best informed faithful member of the church, along with Darius Gray, regarding the history concerning the ban as church policy.

Joseph Smith made bad investment decisions; Brigham Young often made scathing public remarks about certain groups or members of the church that was undeserved in attempts to motivate others. Both of them I still revere as prophets, along with other prophets and general authorities who have on occasions made statements about topics that later turned out to be incorrect. I don't need or choose to enumerate them here. None of this disqualifies them as the prophets God has chosen, and if you had read other works by J. Stapley and Margaret Young, you would be more aware of the depth and sincerity of their testimonies. Some bloggernacle voices may "rage and sneer" as you say, but none of the ones identified here qualify for your scorn.

All of us are doing our best to understand and live the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which includes understanding our history. One could conclude, after reading this post and comments, that the rage, sneering, ignorance and malice exhibited did not originate with Stapley, Young, and Gray, but rather with your own actions. I'm doubting that I'll be able to affect your thinking on this issue, so I'll gracefully retire from this discussion, and leave you to your ranting.

7/25/2011 04:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Left Field said...

“How can ANY man holding the Melchizedek priesthood arrogantly assume that he is eligible for that priesthood whereas another, who lives a righteous life but whose skin is of a different color, is ineligible?” (emphasis added)

7/25/2011 06:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I'll gracefully retire from this discussion, and leave you to your ranting."

I don't think "gracefully" means what you think it means.

7/25/2011 08:30:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

kevinf: The Prophet is fallible, but God is not. And God expects us to receive the fallible Prophet's words just as if He, the infallible God, had spoken it: "For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith." (D&C 21:5; emphasis added.)

I agree that your theory about prophets assuming things is not beyond a reasonable stretch of the imagination. But when Spencer Kimball states in public and with assurance that "it is the policy of the Lord who has established it," then I think it does go beyond a reasonable stretch of the imagination to attribute such a statement to mere assumptions on Kimball's part.

Nevertheless, I respect your point of view and would simply suggest that you don't attribute it to any LDS apostle or prophet for none of them has put forth such a theory.


Left Field: Here is some helpful context for your Hinckley quote (I recommend a careful reading of the entire talk):

-------------- quote --------------
"Racial strife still lifts its ugly head. I am advised that even right here AMONG US there is some of this. I cannot understand how it can be. It seemed to me that we all rejoiced in the 1978 revelation given President Kimball. I was there in the temple at the time that that happened. There was no doubt in my mind or in the minds of my associates that what was revealed was the mind and the will of the Lord.

"Now I am told that racial slurs and denigrating remarks are sometimes heard AMONG US. I remind you that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church of Christ. How can any man holding the Melchizedek Priesthood arrogantly assume that he is eligible for the priesthood whereas another who lives a righteous life but whose skin is of a different color is ineligible?" (Emphasis added.)
-------------- end quote --------------

Hinckley said simply that OD-2 is the mind and will of the Lord and no man is eligible for the priesthood who doubts it. He was NOT targeting his Prophet predecessors, he was speaking about problems "AMONG US."

7/25/2011 11:56:00 PM  

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