Sunday, January 17, 2016

Thoughtful Questions on Official Declaration 1

Listed below is an excerpt of an address offered by President Wilford Woodruff, which was given following the release of Official Declaration 1.  It is included in the 1981 copy of the Doctrine and Covenants, held in LDS Scriptures:

"The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty."
A few questions I would pose to the thoughtful reader:

1. What does "lead you astray" mean?  To lead one away from some one, some thing, or some belief or doctrine?
2. What would it look like for one to be "removed out of their place"?

  • Would it resemble being murdered with a gun, knife, or other weapon?
  • Would it resemble poisoning? 
  • Would it resemble being imprisoned? 
  • Would it resemble crucifixion? 
  • Would it resemble bleeding from every pore? 
  • Would it resemble being falsely accused or persecuted?  
  • Would it resemble being voted out? 
  • Would it resemble division, strife, or envy? 
  • Would it resemble death of natural causes? 
(photo source)

3. Does the fact that Christ, Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, and the early apostles who walked and talked with Christ were murdered through weapons, crucifixion, persecution, and other means of early, untimely death were leading us astray?  Did God remove them, their "oracles", and their duty, because of their inaccuracy of teachings?  Or is this simply a new doctrine, unlike any doctrine previously taught in the scriptures, that untimely death means that one is teaching incorrect principles?  

Here are the first lines of Official Declaration – 1:

To Whom It May Concern: 

Press dispatches having been sent for political purposes, from Salt Lake City, which have been widely published, to the effect that the Utah Commission, in their recent report to the Secretary of the Interior, allege that plural marriages are still being solemnized and that forty or more such marriages have been contracted in Utah since last June or during the past year, also that in public discourses the leaders of the Church have taught, encouraged and urged the continuance of the practice of polygamy–

I, therefore, as President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, do hereby, in the most solemn manner, declare that these charges are false.  We are not teaching polygamy or plural marriage, nor permitting any person to enter into its practice, and I deny that either forty or any other number of plural marriages have during that period been solemnized in our Temples or in any other place in the Territory.

One case has been reported, in which the parties allege that the marriage was performed in the Endowment House, in Salt Lake city, in the Spring of 1889, but I have not been able to learn who performed the ceremony; whatever was done in this matter was without my knowledge.  In consequence of this alleged occurrence the Endowment House was, by my instructions, taken down without delay.  

Inasmuch as laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which laws have been pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort, I hereby declare my intention to submit to those laws, and to use my influence with the members of the Church over which I preside to have them do likewise.  

There is nothing in my teachings to the Church or in those of my associates, during the time specified, which can be reasonably construed to inculcate or encourage polygamy; and when any Elder of the Church has used language which appeared to convey any such teaching, he has been promptly reproved.  And I now publicly declare that my advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land.  

-Wilford Woodruff
President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

4. The yellow highlighted words stood out to me as words pertaining to legalese or public release/policy statements.  If this were to be regarded as a revelation from God, where is the reference to Him revealing the change?  All previous revelations contained some sort of directive, indicating that the Lord had given instruction.  This contains no such thing, nor any reference whatsoever to Jesus Christ or Father in Heaven.  Where is the Lord's voice in the matter?  

5. Why was this recorded in our scriptures as an Official Declaration, rather than a revelation?  What implications does this have for our current declarations, proclamations, and policy changes?  Is this acceptable to speak for the Lord without referring to Him?  Or is this inferring His name without declaring it, in essence implying it vain, without the power of His name included?

These are just some questions to consider.  It seems that there are a lot of things coming down the pipe that model this sort of transaction.  It would be wise to consider what is revelation and what is personal persuasion and opinion.    

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