October 12, 2007

Is Not This Universalism?

Part 2 of "The Great Gospel Sermon" 
Brigham Young  
August 8, 1852

A fundamental teaching of the Church of Jesus Christ regards prophets. God will send us prophets, apostles, teachers, etc. for the "perfecting of the saints." Since the followers of Christendom don't seem to be perfect yet, it follows that God will send prophets, and this has been part of the message of the Restoration since the beginning. But while we tell people we believe in prophets are we sure they understand what we mean? What is a prophet?

It's a strange thing when you start talking to any random man on the street and ask the question. Usually the answer [if you can get an answer, that is] entails something about predicting the future. Many have come to think of a prophet as someone who foretells, predicts, sees the future. This is fine, many prophets have "foretold" of things to come, often things conditioned on circumstances. "If this happens, then this will happen." Foretelling the future is only one role of a prophet, however, and it becomes us to let people know what we mean when we say we believe God calls prophets today.

Basically, a prophet is one who speaks with the tongue of angels, that is, one who speaks by the power of the Holy Ghost (see 1 Samuel 10:10; 1 Peter 1:21; 2 Nephi 32:3; D&C 20:26). In other words, God communicates to man through the Holy Ghost by giving him or her ideas, impressions, sometimes a direct voice, the instruction by angels, or even occasionally, instruction by God in person. This instruction is then communicated to others, and is "prophecy," making the communicator a "prophet." We can listen to the words of the prophet, think about them, pray about them, and receive confirmation of their truth by inspiration of the Holy Ghost. This way, we aren't to blindly follow a prophet, but to receive our own "prophecy" that what the prophet told us is right, correct, or "true."

Additionally, the very testimony of Jesus Christ is the spirit of prophecy, thus whatever testifies of Him or of His teachings, when directed by the Holy Ghost, is prophecy, making the one speaking a prophet. All true prophets testify "more or [please note: sometimes] less" of the Christ (see Revelation 19:10; Mosiah 13:33). With this in mind, Moses' words make sense:

...would God that all the LORD’s people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them! (Numbers 11:29).
Moses wanted everyone to know for themselves, to have the spirit of prophecy, to communicate and learn from God, rather than merely expecting Moses to do it for them so they could just do whatever he said. (Often they wouldn't even do that, though.) Brigham Young longed for the same thing: that all Latter-day Saints would be prophets:
Is [being a prophet] the privilege of every person? It is. Permit me to remark here-this very people called Latter-day Saints have got to be brought to the spot where they will be trained (if they have not been there already,) where they will humble themselves, work righteousness, glorify God, and keep His commandments. If they have not got undivided feelings, they will be chastised until they have them; not only until every one of them shall see for themselves, and prophesy for themselves, have visions to themselves, but be made acquainted with all the principles and laws necessary for them to know, so as to supersede the necessity of anybody teaching them.
In other words, the Latter-day Saints are learning to be prophets unto themselves. Meanwhile, a living prophet and apostles help guide the saints until they are perfected in prophecy, as Paul told the Ephesians:

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13).
Having the spirit of prophecy, as Brigham said we could, will unite everyone. As we strive to become prophets ourselves, we are also commanded to invite others to do likewise. This is missionary work, the sum and substance of which is to teach people of Christ and to encourage them to receive the Holy Ghost that they, too, will become prophets. (There's that unity thing again; God is concerned with the whole family.)

Brigham returned to the theme that the "Gospel sermon" continues before and after an elder gets up to preach. It started in the beginning and will continue to the end:
There is only one Gospel sermon, recollect, brethren and sisters, and the time that is required to preach it is from the day of the fall, or from the day when Adam and his wife Eve came here upon this planet, and from that time until Jesus Christ has subdued the last enemy, which is death, and put all things under his feet, and wound up all things pertaining to this earth.
Then the Gospel will have been preached, and brought up and presented, and the effects thereof, to the Father. With regard to doctrine, rules, customs, and many sacraments, they are meted out to the inhabitants of the earth severally as they stand in need, according to their situations and what is required of them.[1]
This is a large and long sermon, and missionaries tend to think once they've mentioned the gospel to someone who subsequently rejects it, they are going off to damnation. Brigham corrects this view:
I will tell you a practice of the Latter-day Saint Elders generally. For instance, I get up here, and preach the fulness of the Gospel, perhaps to individuals who never heard it before in their lives, and I close by saying, you that believe this which I have told you, shall be saved; and if you do not, you shall be damned. I leave the subject there.
"But," says one, "don't the Bible say so? You ought to explain yourself."
"I only said what the Savior taught-he says, go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature; he that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; and he that believeth not, shall be damned. Don't I say the same?"
"You leave it there, don't you? "
"Yes; the Apostle left it there, and so do I."
I wish to explain it a little more, according to the plain, simple, English language. The sum of this practice is this: when I preach a gospel sermon, and they don't believe what I say, I straightway seal their damnation.
Brethren, do you believe in such a thing as that? I do not; yet there are many of the Elders just so absurd.
Ah, so there is hope! This calls to mind Lehi's explanation:
And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh; wherefore, their state became a state of probation, and their time was lengthened, according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men (2 Nephi 2:21).
Brigham, Lehi and others have stressed that just being a baptized member of the Church is not going to save anyone; salvation is through Christ by being born again. Truly we believe baptism is a necessary step, but it isn't always the thing that is or must be done first, before someone comes close to Christ.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught this concept after reading the parable of the laborers in the vineyard where those who joined in the work late in the day received the same wage as those who labored all day long. He explained:
We do not obtain our heavenly reward by punching a time clock. What is essential is that our labors in the workplace of the Lord have caused us to become something. For some of us, this requires a longer time than for others. What is important in the end is what we have become by our labors.
Many who come in the eleventh hour have been refined and prepared by the Lord in ways other than formal employment in the vineyard. These workers are like the prepared dry mix to which it is only necessary to "add water"--the perfecting ordinance of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. With that addition--even in the eleventh hour--these workers are in the same state of development and qualified to receive the same reward as those who have labored long in the vineyard.
This parable teaches us that we should never give up hope and loving associations with family members and friends whose fine qualities evidence their progress toward what a loving Father would have them become. Similarly, the power of the Atonement and the principle of repentance show that we should never give up on loved ones who now seem to be making many wrong choices (Dallin H. Oaks, "The Challenge To Become," General Conference, Oct. 2000).
With this in mind we shouldn't just give up on people or assume they'll be damned because they don't accept the gospel "right now." Such impatience with others is wrong, according to Brigham, who told of one well-meaning, but impatient missionary:
I recollect, in England, sending an Elder to Bristol, to open a door there, and see if anybody would believe. He had a little more than thirty miles to walk; he starts off one morning, and arrives at Bristol; he preached the Gospel to them, and sealed them all up to damnation, and was back next morning. He was just as good a man, too, as we had. It was want of knowledge caused him to do so.
I go and preach to the people, and tell them at the end of every sermon, "he that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; and he that believeth not, shall be damned." I continue preaching there day after day, week after week, and month after month, and yet nobody believes my testimony, that I know of, and I don't see any signs of it.
"What shall I do in this case, if I am sent to preach there?" you may inquire.
You must continue to preach there, until those who sent you shall tell you to leave that field of labour; and if the people don't manifest by their works, that they believe, as long as they come to hear me, I will continue to plead with them, until they bend their dispositions to the Gospel. Why?
Because I must be patient with them, as the Lord is patient with me; as the Lord is merciful to me, I will be merciful to others; as He continues to be merciful to me, consequently I must continue in long-suffering to be merciful to others-patiently waiting, with all diligence, until the people will believe, and until they are prepared to become heirs to a celestial kingdom, or angels to the devil.
Some people have reached the point of being ready for baptism when the missionaries run into them. These "golden investigators" seemed few and far between, but the result of their joining the Church was great joy. Other people take their time; the "eternal investigator," as we called them. Conversion cannot be forced or coerced. Brigham Young was, at one time, an "eternal investigator:"

When the book of Mormon was first printed, it came to my hands in two or three weeks afterwards. Did I believe, on the first intimation of it?
The man that brought it to me, told me the same things; says he, "This is the Gospel of salvation; a revelation the Lord has brought forth for the redemption of Israel; it is the Gospel; and according to Jesus Christ, and his Apostles, you must be baptized for the remission of sins, or you will be damned."
"Hold on," says I. The mantle of my traditions was over me, to that degree, and my prepossessed feelings so interwoven with my nature, it was almost impossible for me to see at all; though I had beheld, all my life, that the traditions of the people was all the religion they had, I had got a mantle for myself. Says I, "Wait a little while; what is the doctrine of the book, and of the revelations the Lord has given? Let me apply my heart to them;" and after I had done this, I considered it to be my right to know for myself, as much as any man on earth. I examined the matter studiously for two years before I made up my mind to receive that book. I knew it was true, as well as I knew that I could see with my eyes, or feel by the touch of my fingers, or be sensible of the demonstration of any sense. Had not this been the case, I never would have embraced it to this day; it would have all been without form or comeliness to me. I wished time sufficient to prove all things for myself.
So we are to be missionaries, keeping in mind some people may reject us or be disinterested, all the while recognizing it is God who is in charge of His sheep, and they answer only to Him:

The Gospel of Jesus Christ, must be preached to all nations for a witness and a testimony; for a sign that the day has come, the set time for the Lord to redeem Zion, and gather Israel, preparatory to the coming of the Son of Man. When this Gospel is preached to the people, some will believe, and some will not know whether to believe it, or not. This is the situation of the world; go forth among the people; go among your own neighbors, and you may see it because the Lord has touched your understanding with the spirit of truth, it looks to you as though all the world will believe it, if they can only hear your testimony; you go and preach to them, but, to your astonishment, they seem perfectly uninterested; some go to sleep, and others are dreaming of their farms and possessions.
True enough; then won't all these disinterested folks be damned? Brigham says not so fast:
He is compassionate to all the works of His hands, the plan of His redemption, and salvation, and mercy, is stretched out over all; and His plans are to gather up, and bring together, and save all the inhabitants of the earth, with the exception of those who have received the Holy Ghost, and sinned against it. With this exception, all the world besides shall be saved. Is not this Universalism? It borders very close upon it (Brigham Young, JD 3:80-97).
Of what does this "salvation" consist? Is it the same for everyone across the board? In the rest of the discourse Brigham addresses these questions, which will be included in the blog tomorrow.  

The concept of God meting to every man that which will benefit him to the utmost was discussed here in a post called "The Spirit of Christ is Given to Every Man." Also, I am looking more into the nature of ritual in the process of conversion. The difference between "magic" through knowledge or spells and "power" through priesthood and ordinance. I hope to blog more on that subject in the future.

October 10, 2007

Truth, Prejudice, and the "Terrible Questions"

Part 1 of "The Great Gospel Sermon"  
Brigham Young  
August 8, 1852

After reading Section 76 to the congregation, Brigham said the section often led him to ponder the condition of the world, generally:

My mind rests upon this subject, upon this portion of the Gospel of salvation; and has done so, more or less, for a great many years. The circumstances that surround me, almost daily; things that I see and hear, cause my mind to reflect upon the situation of mankind; create in me an anxiety to find out-to learn why things are as they are; why it is that the Lord should build a globe like this earthly ball, and set it in motion-then people it with intelligent beings, and afterwards cast a vail over the whole, and hide Himself from His creation-conceal from them the wisdom, the glory, the truth, the excellency, the true principles of His character, and His design in forming the earth.
Brigham Young is essentially talking about what Hugh Nibley called the "terrible questions... the most fundamental and baffling questions of our existence."[1] Hugh B. Brown called them the questions of "whence, why, and whither," explaining they have "persisted through the ages."[2] These are the questions guaranteed to turn off most conversations with people who either believe they already know, or believe they never will. We believe there is an inherent "upward pull" beckoning us to come back home, beckoning us to become better. This is often called the "Light of Christ," and is given to all God's children. Along with this light, however, is placed a "vail," making us forget our former time as children of God. The concept of the vail left Brigham wondering:
Why cast this vail over them, and leave them in total darkness-leave them to be carried away with erroneous doctrines, and exposed to every species of wickedness that would render them obnoxious to the presence of God, who placed them upon the face of this earth. My daily experience and observation cause me to inquire into these things.
And yet, we hear one crying on the right hand, this is the law of God, this is the right way; another upon the left, saying the same; another in the front; and another in the rear; and to every point of the compass, hundreds and thousands of them, and all differing one from another.
Indeed, this mass of confusion led the Prophet Joseph, among others, to seek revelation from God as to who was right and who was wrong regarding these "terrible questions." Perhaps most remarkably, some religionists tend to avoid answering these questions as well, or answer with the statement that God knows, and that's good enough. Brigham conceded the people throughout the world, generally speaking, can be sincere in their preachings, even if they were wrong. The trouble was prejudice based on education or traditions handed down through generations:
They do the best they can, I admit. See the inhabitants of the earth, how they differ in their prejudices, and in their religion. What is the religion of the day? What are all the civil laws and governments of the day?
They are merely traditions, without a single exception. Do the people realize this-that it is the force of their education that makes right and wrong, with them?
It is not the line which the Lord has drawn out; it is not the law which the Lord has given them; it is not the righteousness which is according to the character of Him who has created all things, and by His own law governs and controls all things; but by the prejudice of education-the prepossessed feeling that is begotten in the hearts of the children of men, by surrounding objects; they being creatures of circumstances, who are governed and controlled by them more or less. When they, thus, are led to differ one from another, it begets in them different feelings; it causes them to differ in principle, object, and pursuit; in their customs, religion, laws, and domestic affairs, in all human life; and yet every one, of every nation there is under heaven, considers that they are the best people; that they are the most righteous; have the most intelligent and best of men for their priests and rulers, and are the nearest to the very thing the Lord Almighty requires of them. There is no nation upon this earth that does not entertain these sentiments.
Brigham continued by warning the saints that they can fall into the same trap, believing that because they have "the truth," they are all set. He continues in this discourse by talking about ethnocentrism, the tendency we have to read our own cultural views into religion and God, rather than learning from God.
Suppose a query arising in the minds of the different sects of the human family-"Do not the Latter-day Saints think they are the best people under the whole heavens, like ourselves?"
Yes, exactly; I take that to myself. The Latter-day Saints have the same feelings as the rest of the people; they think also, that they have more wisdom and knowledge, and are the nearest right of any people upon the face of the earth.
Brigham doesn't necessarily see this attitude as a virtue; it tends to stifle thought, and subdue a desire to continue seeking for further light and knowledge. It can also breed prejudice. Brigham used the local Indians as an example, telling the saints they needed to avoid prejudice toward their Native family:

Suppose you call upon the aborigines of our country, here, these wild Indians; we call them savages; we call them heathens. Let yourselves be divested of prejudice; let it be entirely forgotten and out of the question, together with all your education, and former notions of things, your religious tenets, et cetera, and let your minds be in open vision before the Almighty, seeing things as they are, you will find that that very people know just as much about the Lord as anybody else; like the rest of mankind, they step into a train of ideas and ordinances, peculiar to the prejudices of their education.
Again, recognizing ethnocentrism, Brigham said there were truths to be found outside the Church, and pieces of it could be found in varying cultures. Surely such cultural influences help maintain social order, and teach valuable lessons. But still, the cultural views should not be confused as the ultimate answers to the "terrible questions;" those must be revealed, as Brigham said "in open vision before the Almighty." This is one of the lessons learned in the Temple; that religion is revealed from God and His messengers, not just from scholars, trends, schools, etc. Thus it becomes us, as Latter-day Saints, not to feel we have "arrived" at Truth, and then await that great Millennial day. It should also keep Saints open to developments within the Church, rather than "fly[ing] to pieces like glass as soon as anything comes that is contrary to their traditions: they cannot stand the fire at all."[3] As Hugh B. Brown stated:
Have you seen people who have arrived, who have done all they are going to do, who are just going to heaven immediately when they die? There are going to be a lot of surprised people... Complacency is a grave danger in the Church as well as in the world. We need to be aroused to the fact that there is much yet to do in the matter of gaining our salvation.[4]
Truly, we believe in all that God revealed in the past, that he reveals truths to prophets today, and that he may yet reveal "many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God."[5] This goes to show revelation can be expected anytime, even today when the Church seems largely doctrinally set. President Brown quoted an "ancient prayer" in response to the tendency towards prejudice; a hindrance to finding the answers to the "terrible questions:"
From the cowardice that shrinks from new truth, From the laziness that is content with half truth, From the arrogance that thinks it knows all the truth, O God of truth, deliver us.[6]
Likewise, Brigham pleaded with the saints to seek God's help in discerning new revelation, or in interpreting old. He said our cultural biases can sometimes make revelations seem distasteful, but that God will assist us to know truth.
Conscience is nothing else but the result of the education and traditions of the inhabitants of the earth. These are interwoven with their feelings, and are like a cloak that perfectly envelops them, in the capacity of societies, neighborhoods, people, or individuals; they frame that kind of government and religion, and pursue that course collectively or individually, that seemeth good to themselves.
Brigham explained revelation can overrule rationalization based on culture, or what the Book of Mormon might call: the "traditions of the fathers."[7] What God commands might not automatically fit in with our immediate sense of "right and wrong." For example, Nephi equivocated over killing Laban, and felt remorse. This, indeed, is where some true revelations being misinterpreted, or false revelations thought of as true, can lead people to do terrible things in the name of religion. That the possibility exists must be conceded. Nonetheless, God's ways are not man's ways (see Isaiah 55:8):
That which you once considered, perhaps, to be a non-essential in religion, you now consider to be very essential. That which you once esteemed to be unbecoming in society, has become so interwoven in your feelings, by being accustomed to it, that it ultimately appears quite rational to you (JD 3:80-96).
Oh, say, what is truth? It is things as they are, were, and are to come (see D&C 93:24). In other words, it is the answers to the "terrible questions." The answers to these questions are found in the restored gospel, and begin with the actual Fatherhood of God. Hugh B. Brown:
To have faith in a personal God, who can be referred to as "Father," gives man a sense of dignity and holds before him an ideal towards which to strive. Continuing in that faith one gets progressive answers to the disturbing questions of source, purpose, and destiny...
Surely, an open-minded and courageous study of Him and His divine plan with respect to our salvation will be the most interesting and permanently rewarding of all ventures into the vast realms which invite man's questing spirit.[8]
Now that we've come to understand more about the "terrible questions," Brigham will tell us more about the role of revelation, and the importance of missionary work.

More from this long discourse to come tomorrow, including discussion on: -Necessity and nature of prophets, The responsibility and proper methods of preaching the gospel, The gospel being preached from the beginning, Universalism  


[1] "Abraham's Temple Drama" from The Temple in Time and Eternity by Hugh W. Nibley pp. 1–42.  

[2] Hugh B. Brown, The Abundant Life, pg. 276. 
[3] Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg. 331. I recently discussed this concept with a girl who has left the church due to, among other things, changes to the LDS Temple endowment. My explanation was that if I were to view the endowment as a sort of secret recipe, or a set magic spell, I would be more concerned with changes to the endowment. Conversely, if I view God as a being who will adapt revelation to assist His children make internal changes, the external ways in which these changes are made can fluctuate as He deems necessary without making me worry about said changes.  

[4] Hugh B. Brown, The Abundant Life, pg. 167-169.  

[5] Pearl of Great Price, Articles of Faith, v.9  

[6] Hugh B. Brown, The Abundant Life, pg. 276. 

[7] "Traditions of fathers" appears multiple times in the Book of Mormon, and while generally applied to the "foolish" traditions, the concept also applied to apostate Nephites, who had forsaken the true religion. (Compare the mocking of Korihor in Alma 30:16 with the pleading of Alma in Alma 9:8)  

[8] Hugh B. Brown, The Abundant Life, pg. 277, 280

October 9, 2007

An Interview with John Taylor on Theocracy

John Taylor July 8, 1855 The Bowery I am joined today by Elder John Taylor, who has agreed (by already giving the discourse) to publish his views on the nature of the Kingdom of God, the U.S. Constitution, and a Theocratic government of God. Elder Taylor, could you briefly tell me why God would have the "right," so-to-speak, of governing the entire world? Surely God commands the Church's ecclesiastical government, but what about civil government?

If God made this earth, and all things that pertain unto it, and if all were created for His honor and glory, He has the right to govern and control them by His own laws; and He has a right to enforce that government, and show Himself able to control the works of His hands, and it is the duty of all men to render obedience to His requirements. The government of heaven would not have been separated from the government of men, or in other words, there would not have been two kinds, one called ecclesiastical, and the other a civil government; but inasmuch as they have rebelled, and become corrupt and wicked, governments have been introduced of a different character; and the Lord has, in some measure, sanctioned those governments, so far as there were good principles existing among them.
Did the Lord have a hand in the organization of the United States government?

Yes, the Lord had a hand in framing its Constitution.

Why didn't the Lord, at that time, introduce a perfect government; a theocracy?

It was simply because the people were not prepared for it-- they were too corrupt; and although they had more integrity, more virtue, more honesty, and more sympathy and feeling for that which is just and upright and good, than any other portion of the inhabitants of the earth, and probably more than a great many now have, yet they were far from being prepared for the government of God, which is a government of union... [C]onsequently the Lord inspired them to introduce a government that He knew would be just suited to their capacity, and hence it was that He inspired Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, and others to introduce those measures which they did, and to carry them out, and they were such as were just suited to the conditions and circumstances of the people; hence the government of the United States we, as a people, venerate and defend.

Why do we venerate and defend it?

We do it because God had His hand in the organization of it; He controlled it so far as He could do so without interfering with the agency of man. We have seen plainly and clearly that had it not been for the organization of this government, as has wisely and justly been said, where would have been the liberty of the Latter-day Saints? This government, then, was organized to suit the people and the circumstances in which they were placed, until they were prepared to receive a more perfect one.

But will the government of the United States continue forever?

No, it is not sufficiently perfect; and, notwithstanding it has been sanctioned by the Lord at a time when it was suited to the circumstances of the people, yet the day will come, (I will say it on my own responsibility and not that of this people,) the day will come when the United States government, and all others, will be uprooted, and the kingdoms of this world will be united in one, and the kingdom of our God will govern the whole earth, and bear universal sway; and no power beneath the heavens can prevent this taking place, if the Bible be true, and we know it to be true. The Lord will govern all things that He has made and created, for it is entered upon the records of heaven that all nations shall bow to His authority; and, consequently, we respect the government of the United States, because it has good principles in it, and not that we think it will endure for ever.

Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess, as the record says (Mosiah 27:31).

That being said, is it right, is it lawful for another government to be set up within the United States of a Theocratic nature?
Yes, perfectly so! Does not the Constitution of our country guarantee to all religious societies the right of forming any ecclesiastical government they like? Certainly it does, and every intelligent man knows this to be the fact. The nucleus of such a government is formed, and its laws have emanated from the throne of God, and it is perfect, having come from a pure fountain.
Does this make us independent of the laws of the United States?
No, this new government does not come in contact with the government of the United States. In keeping our covenants, and observing our religious laws and ceremonies, or the laws that God has given to the children of men, we are not required to violate the principles of right that are contained in the Constitution and laws of the United States.
Are you saying this Theocracy will be moved forward at the instance of men in the Church?

[T]he Prophet Daniel has told us, that the kingdom of God should be cut out of the mountains without hands; in other words, when the kingdom of God should be taken from the mountains, it should be taken by the power of the Almighty, and not by human hands; it should be organized by the Lord, and governed by His laws. God, who interests Himself in the affairs of men, was to speak from the heavens, and inspire His servants to give laws and revelations to His people, informing them that His kingdom was to be taken from the mountains in His own due time, and that it should increase until it should become a great mountain and fill the whole earth.
When it fills the whole earth will it be to the exclusion of so-called "non-Mormons?" Do you feel like excluding all "outsiders?"

No, God does not design it; He never intended that this people should live exclusively by themselves. We need not think that we can get into any place where we will not be associated with the Gentiles; for the Lord intends that we shall be among them all through this mortal state, and even in the Millenium [Millennium] we find that there will be two classes of beings upon the earth. And if there are corrupt individuals found, they will be visited with punishment according to the deeds they are guilty of.[1]

Thank you, Elder Taylor. Footnotes: [1] Each word herein is a verbatim quote of John Taylor. Taken from Journal of Discourses 3:370-375. [2] The Church still receives criticism on the teaching that the stone cut without hands will fill the earth. Parley P. Pratt related a funny anecdote on the subject:
You know the prophecy of Daniel about the kingdom and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heavens being given to the Saints of the Most High God to possess it forever and forever; you have read it and no doubt understand it. Well, a mock court under the administration of Austin A. King, since governor of Missouri, while Joseph Smith and others were taken by a mob and were made subject to this inquisition, and to a mock trial, and while undergoing this mock trial the question was put to a witness, "Do these people, these 'Mormons' believe in this verse in the Prophet Daniel?" and at the same time quoting it. "Yes," said the witness. "Put that down," said the judge, "it is a strong point for treason." "But," says one of the lawyers in defence, "Judge, you had better put the Bible down for treason." That was a very suitable reply; but mind you the text does not say that the Latter-day Saints would possess the kingdom, but it says that the Saints of the Most High, and of course that includes the Latter-day as well as all the former-day Saints from Adam down to the end of time. Well, then, when the former-day Saints reinforce the Latter-day Saints, and all the powers of heaven are in the midst of Zion, and all the people from Adam and from Jesus Christ, and from the least and last Latter-day Saint all combine their faith and their works, and there powers, and their gifts, I would leave it to any intelligent person in Christendom whether or no they will be able to do this (Journal of Discourses 3:312).