Wednesday, March 16, 2016

David Whitmer Mormonism

I occasionally remark that I am a "David Whitmer" Mormon?  And what does that mean?  My reason for saying it is explained best in this passage from David Whitmer's An Address to All Believers in Christ.
Based on some thoughts of a friend of mine, I'd like to practice here a new level (for me) of commentary on what I am sharing.  I want to disclaim some parts that maybe are a product of Whitmer's time and culture:
  • the part about the absolute incorrectness of polygamy
  • some things that might imply inordinate reliance on the written word
  • priesthood, leadership, and audience are presumed to be or shorthanded as "brethren" (male)
I considered snipping at least the polygamy sentiment from the quote, but I left everything in for authenticity and to get to the last two sentences.
It is all a mistake about the church being organized on April 6, 1830, as I will show. We were as fully organized—spiritually—before April 6th as we were on that day. The reason why we met on that day was this; the world had been telling us that we were not a regularly organized church, and we had no right to officiate in the ordinance of marriage, hold church property, etc., and that we should organize according to the laws of the land. On this account we met at my father's house in Fayette, N.Y., on April 6, 1830, to attend to this matter of organizing according to the laws of the land; you can see this from Sec. 17 Doctrine and Covenants: the church was organized on April 6th "agreeable to the laws of our country."
It says after this, "by the will and commandments of God;" but this revelation came through Bro. Joseph as "mouthpiece." Now brethren, how can it be that the church was any more organized—spiritually—on April 6th, than it was before that time? There were six elders and about seventy members before April 6th, and the same number of elders and members after that day. We attended to our business of organizing, according to the laws of the land, the church acknowledging us six elders as their ministers; besides, a few who had recently been baptized and not confirmed were confirmed on that day; some blessings were pronounced, and we partook of the Lord's supper.
I do not consider that the church was any more organized or established in the eyes of God on that day than it was previous to that day. I consider that on that day the first error was introduced into the Church of Christ, and that error was Brother Joseph being ordained as "Prophet Seer and Revelator" to the church.
The Holy Ghost was with us in more power during the eight months previous to April 6, 1830, than ever at any time thereafter. Almost everyone who was baptized received the Holy Ghost in power, some prophesying, some speaking in tongues, the heavens were opened to some, and all the signs which Christ promised should follow the believers were with us abundantly. We were an humble happy people, and loved each other as brethren should love.
Just before April 6, 1830, some of the brethren began to think that the church should have a leader, just like the children of Israel wanting a king. Brother Joseph finally inquired of the Lord about it. He must have had a desire himself to be their leader, which desire in any form is not of God, for Christ said "If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all." "He that would be great, let him be your servant." "For he that is least among you all, the same shall be great." A true and humble follower of Christ will never have any desire to lead or be first, or to seek the praise of men or brethren. Desiring any prominence whatever is not humility, but it is pride; it is seeking praise of mortals instead of the praise of God. Joseph received a revelation that he should be the leader; that he should be ordained by Oliver Cowdery as "Prophet Seer and Revelator" to the church, and that the church should receive his words as if from God's own mouth. Satan surely rejoiced on that day, for he then saw that in page 33 time he could overthrow them. Remember, "Some revelations are of God; some revelations are of man, and some revelations are of the devil." God allowed them to be answered according to their erring desires. They were like the children of Israel wanting a king, and God gave them a king, but it was to their final destruction. He gave the church a leader, but it proved their destruction and final landing of the majority of them in the Salt Lake valley in polygamy, believing that their leader had received a revelation from God to practice this abomination. This was the first error that crept into the church. None of us detected it then. We had all confidence in Brother Joseph, thinking that as God had given him so great a gift as to translate the Book of Mormon, that everything he would do must be right. That is what I thought about it. You see how we trusted too much in man instead of going to God in humility, and to his written word, to see if we were proceeding rightly. It grieves me much to think that I was not more careful, and did not rely upon the teachings of Christ in the written word. But we were then young in years, and all of us were mere babes in Christ. Brother Joseph and myself were only twenty-five years of age.

No comments: