December 12, 2008

Resurrection as an Ordinance?

In a lecture at Calvary Chapel in Chino, California, counter-cultist Kurt Van Gorden noted that Mormon men have the option of resurrecting their wives (or not resurrecting them). Daniel C. Peterson described the exchange:
Naturally, as Rev. Van Gorden explained, this puts LDS women in a "precarious position," for if a wife does not treat her husband well enough, he may be inclined to simply let her "lay in her grave and rot." Now, I really liked this. I immediately announced to my wife that I was never going to eat cooked carrots again. I don't like them, I'm tired of them, and she had better not put them on my plate.1
Some of the more bizarre criticisms of the Church aren't created from whole cloth; perhaps Van Gorden was referring to speculations or statements from past church leaders who said resurrection will be an ordinance of sorts (or at least requiring priesthood keys in order to occur). Bearing in mind that not all statements of General Authorities carry the weight of revelation or scripture,2 Brigham Young tied "keys" to resurrection:
When the angel who holds the keys of the resurrection shall sound his trumpet, then the peculiar fundamental particles that organized our bodies here, if we do honor to them, though they be deposited in the depths of the sea, and though one particle is in the north, another in the south, another in the east, and another in the west, will be brought together again in the twinkling of an eye, and our spirits will take possession of them.3
In 1872 he stated his belief that there are some ordinances the Church does not currently practice, one being resurrection:
It is supposed by this people that we have all the ordinances in our possession for life and salvation, and exaltation, and that we are administering in these ordinances. This is not the case.

We are in possession of all the ordinances that can be administered in the flesh; but there are other ordinances and administrations that must be administered beyond this world. I know you would ask what they are.

I will mention one. We have not, neither can we receive here, the ordinance and the keys of the resurrection. They will be given to those who have passed off this stage of action and have received their bodies again, as many have already done and many more will. They will be ordained, by those who hold the keys of the resurrection, to go forth and resurrect the Saints, just as we receive the ordinance of baptism, then the keys of authority to baptize others for the remission of their sins. This is one of the ordinances we can not receive here, and there are many more."4
Additionally, Wilford Woodruff's journal contains the following:
Who will resurrect Joseph's Body? It will be Peter, James, John, Moroni, or someone who has or will receive the keys of the resurrection. It will probably be one of those who hold the keys of this dispensation and has delivered them to Joseph and you will see Jesus and he will eat peaches and apples with you.5 But the world will not see it or know it for wickedness will increase. Joseph and Jesus will be there. They will walk and talk with them at times and no man mistrusts who they are. Joseph will lead the Armies of Israel whether He is seen or no, whether visible or invisible as seemeth him good.

Joseph has got to receive the keys of the resurrection for you and I. After he is resurrected he will go and resurrect Brother Brigham, Brother Heber, and Brother Carloss, and when that is done then He will say, "now go Brother Brigham and resurrect your wives and children and gather them together. While this is done, the wicked will know nothing of it, though they will be in our midst and they will be struck with fear. This is the way the resurrection will be. All will not be raised at once but will continue in this way until all the righteous are resurrected.

After Joseph comes to us in his resurrected body, He will more fully instruct us concerning the baptism for the dead and the sealing ordinances. He will say, be baptized for this man and that man and that man be sealed to that such a man to such a man, and connect the Priesthood together. I tell you their will not be much of this done until Joseph comes.... Our hearts are already turned to him and his to us.6 
Perhaps there is some speculation in connection with a portion of the temple ceremony before a husband and wife are sealed.7 Hugh Nibley has made connections between ordinances and resurrection in Egyptian ritual, for example.8 The closest contemporary reference I could find dealt not with the resurrection as an ordinance, but with the priesthood keys playing a part in the final judgment as stated in Matthew 19:27-28 (see footnote 3 below). The Encyclopedia of Mormonism makes no mention of it in the Resurrection article but makes an oblique reference to priesthood power directing raising of the dead, which is considered temporal (such as in the raising of Lazarus) contrasted with the eternal resurrection.9

Daniel C. Peterson, "Easier than Research, More Inflammatory than Truth," 2000 FAIR Conference address.
The picture is adapted from Aaron Brown's "I never planned on falling in love with you," Exploding Dog Comics, Sept. 10, 2008.

See FAIRwiki, "Official Church doctrine and statements by Church leaders." The drift of this doctrinal stance has been mentioned by LDS leaders from Joseph Smith ("a prophet is a prophet only when he is acting as such" [History of the Church 5:265]) to the present. Also consider the recent statement from LDS Public Affairs:
Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church...Some doctrines are more important than others and might be considered core doctrines" (Approaching Mormon Doctrine," LDS Newsroom, May 4, 2007).
Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 372. Perhaps these keys involve the concept of judgment found in the New Testament, wherein Christ told the apostles "ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matthew 19:27-28; see also Luke 22:28-30). Brigham and other early leaders taught this principle extended to whomever held the keys over a particular dispensation in which people live. For more, see "Priesthood: the chain that reaches from heaven to earth."

Brigham Young, Aug. 24, 1872, Journal of Discourses 15:137.

See "Priesthood: the chain that reaches from heaven to earth." It appears the concept of priesthood stewardship was part of Woodruff's reasoning as well.

Susan Staker, ed., Waiting for the World's End: The Diaries of Wilford Woodruff, pp.168-169. For a review, see Matt W., "Initial Thoughts on “Waiting for Worlds End: The Diaries of Wilford Woodruff," New Cool Thang, Nov. 10, 2008.

W. John Walsh's statements appear to hint toward that interpretation, but asserts resurrection is the right of Christ:
Now, Latter-day Saints do believe that in some instances, a woman's husband will be given the privilege of performing the resurrection ordinance for and in behalf of the Savior. In cases where a woman does not have a worthy husband, the Savior may allow her father to do so. Likewise, a man's father will be given the privilege of resurrecting him. In such cases, the person performing the resurrection ordinance is simply performing the ordinance for and in behalf of the Savior (Walsh, "Do Husbands Resurrect Their Wives?" All About Mormons.)
The topics of spouse resurrection and the Temple are discussed by Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson in Mormonism 101(Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books). In a chapter on the Temple they state "Historically, Mormon leaders have taught that the husband has the ability to call his wife from the grave by her new name on resurrection day" (McKeever and Johnson, Mormonism 101, 209). In a review by FAIR, Ben McGuire counters the assertion. See McGuire, "Temple," Mormonism 201 (Review of McKeever, Johnson, Mormonism 101), FAIR.

Hugh Nibley, Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment, 2nd ed. For an overview see Bryce Hammond's "The Egyptian Ankh, 'Life! Health! Strength!'" on his Temple Study blog.

Douglas L. Callister, "Resurrection," pp.1222-1223, and Dennis D. Flake, "Raising the Dead," p. 1192, in Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism.


rick said...

Interesting post. Thank you.

rick said...

I think LightPlanet is a project of John Walsh and Russell Anderson. IMO, it is an excellent site that should be better known, although they claim to get 3MM visitors per year.

BHodges said...

The note on Light Planet has been corrected, thanks rick. I was thinking "cracked planet" for some reason.

akuuji said...

I see no reason not to consider the resurrection an ordinance. I think it makes perfect sense to consider the resurrection to be an ordinance just as baptism and reception of the gift of the holy ghost is. They are essential to eternal progression. The gross misunderstanding is to say that if a Mormon man is displeased with his wife he is permitted to leave her to her own to be as the dust of the earth. I think anyone who studies the doctrine of the LDS Church will easily find the teaching that everyone who ever received a body will be resurrected. I don't find it so hard to believe that this will be done in an orderly fashion by those who have been commissioned to do such. After all, we believe in two great resurrections with an incorporated time line for people to be resurrected. I view resurrection as simply a priesthood ordinance that will be received by all eventually. Just as baptism is step toward eternal progression so is the resurrection the difference is simply that everyone who was born on earth already proved faithful to receive such an ordinance and baptism is a step we all must take after we have been born.

BHodges said...

Thanks for the thoughts, akuuji.

BHodges said...

“Did he [Adam] resurrect himself, ” you inquire. I want to throw out a few hints upon the ressurection as it seems to come within the circuit of my remarks whether it ought to come within the circuit of my remarks or not. I beleive we have already accknowleged the truth established that no person can officiate in any office he has not entered into been subject to himself and legally apointed to fill. That no person in this kingdom can officiate in any office ordinance he himself has not obeyed; consequently no being who has not been ressurrected possesses the keys of the power or ressurrection. That you have been told often. Adam therefore was resurrected by some one who had been resurrected. (Brigham Young, October 8, 1854 discourse). I need to find this discourse. Placing it here for future reference.

BHodges said...

Evidently from the same sermon I need to track down:

"How are you going to get your resurrection? You will get it by the President of the resurrection pertaining to this generation, and that is Joseph Smith Jun. Hear it all ye ends of the earth; if ever you enter into the kingdom of God it is because Joseph Smith let you go there. This will apply to Jews and Gentiles, to the bond, and the free; to friends and foes; no man or woman in this generation will get a resurrection and be crowned, without Joseph Smith saying so. The man who was martyred in Carthage Jail, State of Illinois, holds the keys of life and death to this generation. He is the President of the resurrection in this dispensation, ..." (October 8, 1854. Eugene E. Campbell ed., The Essential Brigham Young, p 99?)

Rocket said...

Thanks for the post, I really enjoyed the article, I always love to hear what Daniel has to say! I need some help, do you know of any good lds books on apologetics for someone who doesn't have much of a background in it? Thanks!

BHodges said...

Michael Ash's Shaken Faith Syndrome is probably the best primer I've read in regards to LDS apologetics.

AwakenU said...

It must be an ordinance. Everything points to that great event. The Sacrament is a foreshadowing of it along with Baptism and sealing. The term "seal" is only used twice outside the temple, 1) to seal an anointing of oil in a blessing, 2) when a Patriarch seals a blessings. All other uses of "seal" are used in the temple in saving ordinances. Sealing points to a promise based on expectations of faithfulness, but assures the blessing will exactly and fully be meted out upon righteousness. Resurrection is guaranteed to all and is consummated quickly just like baptism and sacrament, but the second half of baptism may come gradually by fire whereas the realization of re-membering Christ before you in the tokens of the sacrament also may not occur immediately by after a tried and tested lifetime of experience or intense experience. One holding keys and Priesthood Authority will call you forth from the grave and reunite the body and spirit in an immortal manner. Of course, this will be the ultimate realization that all Priesthood powers come under the direction of Jesus Christ and in His name, and resurrection will be a very real link to Christ. He will direct all this work through dispensation heads, he being the firstfruits of resurrection, and then conducting the resurrections from Adam to His time. A righteous and sealed High Priest will undoubtedly have the right and power and directed authority to raise a spouse and call her to him, as the temple endowment alludes, when man is put under covenant with God, and the wife is put under covenant with her husband, legally and lawfully wedded and sealed. Righteousness will be the key function that facilitates this power. If a husband is not up to the snuff, then there will be a stand-in, certainly first among the patriarchal lineage where the great chain of Family is bonded, sealed, and unbroken through faithfulness. The next step of resurrection follows judgment when an andowment of glory is bestowed upon one according to works which should have sanctified the individual to full Exaltated Glory where there must be a spouse for continuation of the seed forever. So we can see that with every ordinance, there is a physical token and sign with a potential and hoped realization of promises associated with the covenant entered into. From a typological analysis, we must assume that Resurrection is an ordinance that leads to the realization of a divine transformative blessing.

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