Notable Race-Related Changes to Footnotes and Chapter Headings in the Standard Works

February 2, 2011 | 145 comments
By

Marvin Perkins is a Latter-day Saint music producer who is currently the Public Affairs Co-chair for the Genesis Group and who has worked to nurture understanding between African Americans and Latter-day Saints and attack misconceptions (see our 12 Questions series with Brother Perkins from 2009).  This morning, Brother Perkins circulated the following email to his “Blacks in the Scriptures” listserve (which is re-posted here with his permission):

______________________________

Friends,

Many of you have recognized the new LDS.org website.  Some of you have recognized that with the new site also came changes to chapter headings and footnotes in the scriptures.  Not nearly as significant in number as the changes that were made in the 1981 edition of the LDS scriptures, but equally confirming on the messages being conveyed.  Here are a list of the changes that I’m aware of, along with some thoughts and two very compelling short videos below.  I’d love to hear your thoughts as you prayerfully review the changes asking “what would the Lord have me understand about these recent changes?”

1. 1 Nephi 12:23- The footnotes for “dark” have been removed (Jacob 3:3 and Alma 3:7 (6-19)) and replaced with 2 Nephi 26:33
2. 2 Nephi 5- the words in the chapter heading “the Lamanites are cursed, receive a skin of blackness” were changed to “the Lamanites are cut off from the presence of the Lord, are cursed…”
3. 2 Nephi 5:21- The footnotes for “curse” (2 Nephi 1:17 and Alma 3:6 (6-19)) were removed and replaced with “TG Curse”.
4. 2 Nephi 5:21- The word “blackness” has a new footnote which is 2 Ne. 26:33.
5. Alma 3:6- The footnotes for “curse” have been changed from 1 Ne. 2:23 and 2 Ne. 5:21(21-24) to 2 Nephi 5:21; 26:33.
6. Mormon 5- the words in the chapter heading “The Lamanites shall be a dark, filthy and loathsome people” have been replaced by “Because of their unbelief, the Lamanites will be scattered, and the Spirit will cease to strive with them.”
7. Mormon 5:15- The footnotes for “become” no longer reference 1 Ne. 2:23 and Alma 3:19(16-19) but are replaced by 2 Nephi 26:33.
8. Moses 7:8,22- The words “blackness” and “black” both get new footnotes which lead to 2 Nephi 26:33.

From prayerfully studying the scriptures laid out in the Blacks in the Scriptures DVD series and the talk on “How To Reach African Americans” we understand that a curse is a separation from God because of sin, including the loss of the spirit, a diming of the light of Christ within, a separation from His path and ways thereof (see 1 Nephi 2:23 then follow footnote for curse to Job 24:13)

We also understand that the skin being spoken of in reference to “black” or “white” is referring to the state of the spirit and not a literal or physical skin color change.  There are some that are still in the process of gaining a testimony of these gospel principals.  I think that these recent changes should aid in this process.  Notice that the changes in the chapter headings of 2 Nephi 5 and Mormon 5 get the reader so much closer to understanding the “curse”  as a “separation” than does the earlier language.

Secondly, notice all of the redirecting, in addition to new footnotes pointing us to 2 Nephi 26:33.  This is significant because as we’ve studied all of the scriptures laid out in the attached scripture reference guide for “black” and “white”, by the time we get to 2 Nephi 26:33, we understand that Joseph Smith could have easily translated the word “black” as “wicked” meaning the spiritually dark, as well as the word “white” as “righteous”, referring to the state of the spiritually pure and clean.  Well I say he could have easily translated it as such and he actually did.  See Alma 11:44.  You’d think you’re reading the exact same passage, but this time you see the wicked and the righteous, in place of black and white.

So I sincerely hope that this is helpful and that you’ll pass this onto others and engage in productive conversations about these new changes from the Church.

And now for the video.  Now the Lord has told us over and over again that He is no respecter of persons.  He teaches us in 1 Samuel 16:7 that He doesn’t look on the outward appearance as does man.  We see many times in the Book of Mormon where the Nephites, Lamanites and Amlicites had to do specific things to themselves just to be able to distinguish themselves from each other.  They would not have had to do this if there were an actual skin color change.  (See Alma 3:4-6).  We also see in the Book of Mormon times when the Nephites passed themselves off as Lamanites just by telling them that they were Lamanites.  (See Alma 55:1-15) This also could not have happened if there were a literal skin color change.  By the way, anyone ever seen anyone’s skin color change after a baptism?  So this video is riveting.  It starts slow, so please be patient and know that it gets really gripping.  After viewing it, ask yourself if a loving Father in heaven and our Savior Jesus Christ, would create these dynamics seen in these children in a matter of minutes and hours.  I think the scriptural truths will resonate as you view these and confirm the understanding set forth with the newest changes to the scriptures from the Church.

A Class Divided (1 of 4)

A Class Divided (2 of 4)

Day two of the experiment saw those who thought they were better, find out that they were worse and that those with different color eyes were better.  I was amazed at how quickly the high self worth of that group plummeted.  The lower sense of self worth caused them to not apply themselves, believe in themselves or approach their work with undivided thought, instead, partly thinking about their second class status.  Even couched in kind tones, today we find many in the church who utilize labels of separation like your people, our people etc.  We are one.

Tags: , , , , , ,

145 Responses to Notable Race-Related Changes to Footnotes and Chapter Headings in the Standard Works

  1. Julie M. Smith on February 3, 2011 at 10:23 am

    Wow. This is a big deal.

    Also, and I apologize in advance for the tangent, but I think there is a message here on the power of the footnotes and headnotes to influence how we read. I frequently find myself frustrated with the direction in which the notes takes the reader.

  2. Course Correction on February 3, 2011 at 10:33 am

    How times change. I recall a BYU religion prof assuring our class that he could see lightening of skin color on Lamanite converts as they lived the gospel principles.

  3. charlene on February 3, 2011 at 11:18 am

    Thank you and Brother Perkins for the concise listing of these changes and the work required to discover them. 2 Nephi 26:33 was my first favorite scripture when I read it in the 1960s and has been a foundation of my faith ever since. I’m thrilled to see it given more attention.

  4. Bob on February 3, 2011 at 11:38 am

    “We also understand that the skin being spoken of in reference to “black” or “white” is referring to the state of the spirit and not a literal or physical skin color change”.
    I would like to know who the “We’ is in this quote. I find Brother Perkins’ e-mail a step backward in our understanding of ‘curse’ and ‘race’ in Mormonism.

  5. Marc Bohn on February 3, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Bob – Brother Perkins is one of the foremost scholars in the Church on the topic of race and the scriptures and has done a tremendous amount to help put an end to doctrinal folklore. (For more, see the Blacks in the Scriptures DVD set he created with Darius Gray). It is striking how in line these recent footnote/headnote changes by the Church are with Brother Perkins’ reading of the scriptures on these matters.

  6. Bob on February 3, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    #5: Mark,
    Folklore_like folk art and folk music, comes from the botton-up. Doctrine come from the top-down.
    I am glad to see the Church stating different doctrines on race than it did in the past. But Mormons in the past said what they said and believed what they believed.
    IMO, Brother Perkins is just starting new forklore. I have not seen his DVDs. But I read his website. His race science cannot answer why Europeans found dark skin people in New England when they landed. His DVDs seem to deal more with Black Africans than the BoM people (?)

  7. Marc Bohn on February 3, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    Brother Perkins email was to those who have signed up for his newsletters or purchased the DVD set. I interpreted the “we” as encompassing those who have heard his lectures and are familiar with is scriptural interpretations, rather than an attempt to speak for the entire Church. I clearly do not think he is arguing that Mormons haven’t believed some of the folklore perpetuated in the past, whatever its source. Instead, he has tried to showcase alternative, and often more persuasive, interpretations rather than interpretations intended to bolster non-scriptural beliefs (e.g., blacks as the seed of Cain, etc.) Having personally watched the DVD set, I’ve found Brother Perkins to be very persuasive on many points. There may be some claims on which I would challenge him, but that is the nature of scriptural interpretation.

  8. Jacob B. on February 3, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    #1 Julie: I think there is a message here on the power of the footnotes and headnotes to influence how we read. I frequently find myself frustrated with the direction in which the notes takes the reader.

    This is why I almost exclusively read Grant Hardy’s Book of Mormon: Reader’s Edition. Everything arranged in readable paragraphs, Just a few footnotes that relate internally, and short narrative headings that are non-theological.

  9. Suleiman on February 3, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    I’d swap the changes in the footnotes and headings for a clear, unequivocal doctrinal statement from Salt Lake. Racism still sputters on in the church in spite of developments since 1978.

  10. wondering on February 3, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    I agree with Bob. Calling these teachings “folklore” is an attempt to excuse church leaders for what they taught, and to correspondingly blame or even ridicule people (like the religion prof in comment 2) who believed what they were taught.

  11. Ardis E. Parshall on February 3, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Church leaders make assumptions and believe folklore the same as the rest of us, sometimes. That doesn’t bother me a bit — well, the folklore can bother me, but not the fact that somebody, even a leader, believes it, under certain circumstances: The setting apart to a leadership position doesn’t mean someone instantaneously knows all things about all matters and that his previous human deficiencies are magically corrected. When a prophet repeats folklore — a garbled account of the handcart rescue, or a welcome to April conference “on the anniversary of our Savior’s birth” or Moroni having dedicated the Manti Temple site — his comments don’t make those bits of folklore into fact, and his repetitions of folklore don’t make him a false prophet. They’re merely indications of areas where he — like the rest of us — hasn’t yet thought to seek the truth.

    My default position is that when it occurs to a church leader to seek knowledge, whether through revelation or scholarly study (wisdom doesn’t always need to be whispered from God’s mouth to a prophet’s ear to be truth!), then he’ll correct his earlier assumptions and discard the folklore.

    Calling it what it is — folklore — doesn’t excuse, ridicule or blame anybody. It’s the scorn and contempt of some when they label a thing as folklore that does that, not the accurate label.

  12. Leigh Sheppard on February 3, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    I agree with Bob. I am a CES missionary serving in Micronesia. I am not in the least bothered by the changes made to the Book of Mormon, both past and present. However, I am bothered by the statement of Brother Perkins that the “skin” being referred to is the state of the spirit and not a literal skin color change.

    I have yet to hear or read anything from an authorized authority confirming that statement. I have yet to read anything in the Church authorized lesson manuals that confirm that statement. What we do read in the manuals is statements similar to the following from the Pearl of Great Price Institute Manual:

    “It must be noted that the mark that was set upon Cain was not the same thing as the curse that he received. The mark was to distinguish him as the one who had been cursed by the Lord. It was placed upon Cain so that no one finding him would kill him. A parallel that illustrates the difference between a mark and a curse might be the account of the Lord placing a mark and a curse upon the Lamanites and their posterity.” (Institute of Religion Manual PofGP 327, Page 18.)

    I doubt that you’ll find anywhere else in the scriptures that would substantiate “skin” referencing the spirit or the state of the spirit.

  13. kevinf on February 3, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    I applaud these changes. Thanks for pointing them out to us. It’s an important step. As to the folklore issue, Ardis is spot-on, but I can also understand the angst regarding the past statements both by leaders and members, from not all that far in the past. But as this change shows, we do seem to be doing better all the time.

  14. Suleiman on February 3, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    #6 Bob,

    Folklore and opinion can come from the top down as well. Doctrines are found in scripture and are interpreted through unanimous decisons of both the 1st Presidency and the Q. of 12. And I don’t think Perkins’ interpretations of scripture set race understanding back at all.

  15. kevinf on February 3, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Leigh, pardon me for pointing out the obvious,, but the Pearl of Great Price does not say that the mark on Cain had anything to do with skin color. Bro. Perkins thoughts on this issue are in no way invalidated by words in a CES manual. Curse and mark are two different things, as you point out, but any curse isn’t the equal of all other curses, just as Cain’s mark, whatever it was, isn’t likely the same as the Lamanite’s mark.

  16. Ardis E. Parshall on February 3, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Hint to Leigh: Referencing Institute manuals is not going to be persuasive in the slightest to most blog readers. We’ve discussed ad nauseum how long it has been since those manuals were updated. Like Mormon Doctrine (at least until it went out of print a few months ago), most Institute manuals are hopelessly out of date, failing to acknowledge the teachings of recent prophets on almost any subject, arguing social issues that haven’t been of concern to anyone since the ’70s, ignoring social issues that have become of great concern in recent decades, and certainly not incorporating any scholarship on any subject from even the most faithful and accepted Mormon historians, linguists, or others, of the past couple of generations. You might as well try to bolster an interpretation of current church doctrine by use of the Journal of Discourses as by use of the Institute manuals.

  17. Suleiman on February 3, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    CES missionary? I knew they listened to a different drummer at times, but did CES break away and start their own church?

  18. wondering on February 3, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    kevinf is right. It is the BOM, not the PoGP, that mentions skin color.

  19. Mark D. on February 3, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    I believe a CES missionary is someone called to help with the Seminary an Institute programs of the Church. There are (mostly) senior missionaries called to assist in just about every other church function as well, including humanitarian missionaries, welfare missionaries, temple missionaries, and so on. Not so many years ago there were construction missionaries.

  20. Ray on February 3, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    “I doubt that you’ll find anywhere else in the scriptures that would substantiate “skin” referencing the spirit or the state of the spirit.”

    ALL of the references to a black skin in the Book of Mormon and PofGP are from the time before Christ. That is interesting, and I think it says something about the way those words were used back then. Taking that line of thought and looking at the OT for similar references yields the following:

    Lamentations 5:10 says, “Our skin was black like an oven because of the terrible famine.”

    Lamantations 4:8 says, “Their visage is blacker than a coal; they are not known in the streets: their skin cleaveth to their bones; it is withered, it is become like a stick.”

    Job 30:30 says, “My skin is black upon me, and my bones are burned with heat.”

    Yeah, colors don’t always mean what we assume they mean, especially in ancient writings. It’s really easy to take something literally just because we no longer use the words commonly in a particular way.

    I am VERY happy to see the changes that have been made in the actual footnotes and chapter headings by the Church – and to those who say this is only a Brother Perkins thing, the Church has made changes to the footnotes and chapter headings.

  21. Shabang on February 3, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    It’s funny to me that we are taught to pray for ourselves for the understandings of the scriptures and not go by blind faith. IF there is truth there is a witness to truth. I understood the dark state to be a spirituall darkness at the age of 13. I may not have been able to convince anyone else that’s what it meant but that’s the perception and the confirmation I rec’d. A prophet is only a prophet when he speaks the things of God. They are mortal men. They will have the conceptions and thinkings of the times and atmosphere they are in.
    I believe those truly concerned or wanting to recieve that knowledge can ASK OF GOD and recieve the answers. And not just go by the opinions in an article.

  22. Suleiman on February 3, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    Shabang,

    But when as a teacher you try to convince others to consider your views, you better have some evidence to back you up, otherwise you’re just the ward whacko!

  23. Bob on February 3, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    For over 150 Years, the Church and it’s leaders taught Black skins were a curse. The Church, ALL it’s leaders, and the BoM taught Dark skins were a curse. That bell can not be unrung. But the Church can move on with new thinking by it’s leaders, it can (and has)make changes in the BoM.

  24. DavidH on February 3, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Clearly, for generations, Mormons have understood the mark of Cain and of Laman to be a darker skin color. Most Mormons have believed it and still believe it. The change to the footnotes will not change opinions about that.

    That being said, I prefer an understanding that early societies referred to skin color not as literally as it has been understood the last few centuries in western society–a time period infected with black African slavery and arguments attempting to justify it.

  25. Bob on February 3, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    @ DavidH__ Don’t forget 800 years of ‘Moors’ in Europe.

  26. Leigh Sheppard on February 3, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    To clarify, my only disagreement with Bro Perkins is the statement that “We also understand that the skin being spoken of in reference to black or white is referring to the state of the spirit and not a literal or physical skin color change.” That is a rather authoritative sounding interpretation and yet I have never heard that from any other source.

    As a CES instructor, I certainly am not trying to convince others to consider my views. My job is to teach doctrine, avoiding any speculation or any imposition of my own views (or the unsubstantiated views of others) on anyone I teach. The statement above is an interesting statement but it is clearly speculative, and as such I cannot teach it unless I am able to substantiate it.

    The changes in the Book of Mormon headings and references I CAN and WILL teach… because they are official changes. My thanks to Brother Perkins for laying these latest changes out so clearly and concisely. This is an interesting and timely article, and something I can teach. My students can take the changes to whatever conclusion they want. I do not and will not “hide” the fact that there have been changes to the Book of Mormon. The changes are fact. I am sure there will be others as time goes by. I can teach the changing tenets of the church as evidence of continuing revelation.

    Introducing myself as a CES instructor was not an attempt to give an impression of authority, or experience, but rather to indicate that I have to work under the above restrictions. If I cannot substantiate what I am teaching through the scriptures or the words of the prophets, I cannot teach it. I am seeking clarification, not contention.

  27. Oatmeal on February 3, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    Leigh wrote (#26): “If I cannot substantiate what I am teaching through the scriptures or the words of the prophets, I cannot teach it.”

    What if what we are teaching is confirmed by a single member of the Q of 12, does it work then? Or even a President of the Church? Can we teach it as absolute truth then? Probably not.

    J. Reuben Clark taught that: “There have been rare occasions when even the President of the Church in his preaching and teaching has not been ‘moved upon by the Holy Ghost.’ You will recall the Prophet Joseph declared that a prophet is not always a prophet.”

    (From Address given to seminary and institute teachers, at BYU, on July 7, 1954, published in Church News (July 31, 1954): 9-10; reprinted in Dialogue 12 (Summer 1979), 68- 80.)

    I personally would suggest that there is much bouncing around CES manuals that is highly speculative, and it doesn’t matter who said it. Unless the statement matches the scriptural definition and standard for doctrine (see D&C 28:2-5, 13; 68:1-5), it simply isn’t doctrine… even if I agree with it!

    The above post on race never claimed to be doctrine. They are the comments of a scholar. And the facts (the changes to footnotes and headings) do support his conclusions. The facts do not support the conclusions often drawn by those supporting the more traditional interpretations on race.

  28. Brad on February 3, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    “…authorized authority…”

    Only in Mormonism…

  29. Ohme on February 3, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    Leigh:
    We are told that our doctrine is to come from the standard works (http://beta-newsroom.lds.org/article/approaching-mormon-doctrine notice the fourth paragraph). So to clear up doctrine, the scriptures are the number one source. Even Joseph Smith received doctrine from what he learned from the scriptures. Everything taught by Bro. Perkins is right from the scriptures. Go look at his DVD or even get his printable pdf from the blacksinthescriptures.org website to see all the scriptures relating to this subject (http://blacksinthescriptures.com/in-the-news/ scan down till you find the Scripture Reference Guide). Of course, prayer will help to confirm these truths as you search (you know this but it is just a reminder). Also look at the stories in the book of mormon carefully that were mentioned by Bro. Perkins concerning Moroni in Alma 55. You will find that if skin color was changed it is a rather strange story. Also when you look at the references in the Old Testament remember that Nephi took the brass plates into the wilderness to preserve their language and religious teachings. Then remember that the old testament is part of the brass plates. Then when you see in the old testament where they mention skin being black you can recognize from the footnotes that “black” and “blackness” are hebrew idioms for “gloomy” and “dejected”. Enjoy. The scriptures testify of this and so did David o. McKay in 1955 when he said,“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.” (David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism). The lack of a divine doctrine would include a doctrine that skin pigment was changed.

  30. Ohme on February 3, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    Also this was a statement made by Bruce R. McConckie during a CES meeting at BYU in August of 1978.

    “There are statements in our literature by the early Brethren that we have interpreted to mean that the Negroes would not receive the priesthood in mortality. I have said the same things, and people write me letters and say, “You said such and such, and how is it now that we do such and such?” All I can say is that it is time disbelieving people repented and got in line and believed in a living, modern prophet. Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or George Q. Cannon or whoever 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. It doesn’t make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June 1978. It is a new day and a new arrangement, and the Lord has now given the revelation that sheds light out into the world on this subject. As to any slivers of light or any particles of darkness of the past, we forget about them. We now do what meridian Israel did when the Lord said the gospel should go to the Gentiles. We forget all the statements that limited the gospel to the house of Israel, and we start going to the Gentiles.”

  31. mellifera on February 3, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    Yay! A much-needed correction to the folklore. To the haters– I’m fairly confident that if the gentlemen in Salt Lake are going so far as to actually *change the footnotes* to recast the color references as a spiritual metaphor rather than a physical reflection of spiritual status, they’re on board with that.

    Dear Brethren: next project! Time to work on the TG references and “see also’s” for “Mother” and “Father.”

    (The see-also topics for Mother are heavy on the ‘child-rearing duty’ side with nary a nod to godlike potential, whereas the see-also topics for Father are all godlike potential and presiding without a single reference to … you know… actual child-rearing. That’s a pretty blatant case of unintentionally teaching *against* equal partnership. Further, the references under Birth Control in the TG- to which we are referred to for women, but not for men, so according to the TG men have nothing to do with reproduction!?- simply do not reflect our doctrine, which is that it’s between the couple and the Lord.) Phew. Not that I get wound up about that or anything!

  32. John Pack Lambert on February 3, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    I am quite encoraged by these revisions. They are not the first revisions, at least of the Chapter headings, since 1981. I know that the heading that mentioned “coinage” was altered to something like money system so that the false impression that coins were mentioned in the chapter in Alma was removed. That is clearly not as notable from a theological stand-point.

    At the same time since neither footnotes or chapter headings are seen as of equal weight with the scriptures themselves, this is not a direct issue of changing doctrine but is clearly one of a new emphasis. I think that is the best of both worlds. Whenever a word in the Book of Mormon is changed some people act like it proves Jiseph Smith was not a prophet. Of course, Joseph Smith altered some words in it in the 1838 printing, and since Joseph Smith translated it to be read by the people of his day, it is all together acceptable for the Lord to direct a change so that it will better be in-line with the language of people nearly 200 years later. This does not even require direct revelation. The Lord requires us to work things out in our minds, and if a change in language usage is so great that a passage no longer conveys the meaning it did in Joseph’s time, changing it seems justified. For example if Nephi had written “we were all gay once we reached Bountiful after our doleful journey through the wilderness” a change in the passage could easily be justified.

    I was wondering, do people know, have there been many changes of the footnotes and chapter headings since 1981, or are these the first ones other than the minor coinage one?

  33. Sally on February 3, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    I am also happy to see these changes made – they ring true. I am just curious though, if Bro. Perkins has any thoughts as to why the Lamanites and others have a darker skin color.

  34. John Pack Lambert on February 3, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    Bob,
    Exactly what is there to answer about why the Wampanoag and Massachusetts were dark skinned? Anyway, one problem with a simplistic reading of the skin-color references in the Book of Mormon is that people do not think of the Native Americans as having a “skin of blackness”.

    Beyond this, to what extent the Wampanoag and other groups in New england were “Book of Mormon peoples” and to what extent there were any surviving remnants of the Lamanites as an organized people in 1600 is a question the Book of Mormon does not answer. John L. Sorenson has argued that if we take seriously the Lord’s promise that he will punish the people for disobeidience, it does not make sense that they are in full blown apostasy in 400 and yet do not get scattered because of it for another 1100 or more years.

    The reason why Perkins focuses on African-American issues is because there was a priesthood restriction on them more or less from 1850-1978, I say more or less because there are some exemptions to it. On the other hand Native Americans never were under a priesthood restiction, men like Chief Tuba and Sagowitz to their wife in the temple during the 19th century. In fact Brigham Young sent an elder of Mohawk descent to negotiate with the Potawatami a year before the founding of Winter Quarters, and there were Shoshone elders serving full-time missions by the 1920s.

    There are still issues of odd perceptions on the gospel and race related to Native Americans, but at least in my experence they are not nearly as troublesome. Of course the fact that I had a Navajo Deacon’s Quorum advisor, and that I, like many many other Church members have some Native American ancestry (both Cherokee and Wampanoag) makes the issue very different. As does the fact that my sister-in-law and her three children all have Aztec names (although only in the case of the oldest is it a first name, but still).

  35. John Pack Lambert on February 3, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    Suleiman,
    What about President Hinckley’s direct and forceful denunciation of racism in Priesthood meeting? I am still trying to figure out what could be more powerful than the president of the Church calling on all members who suffer from racist feelings to repent.

    There might be more the Church could do on the institutional level, but I would say most of what needs to be done involves local level outreach. I would also say that a much bigger problem is the view on the part of many African-Americans that the Church is racist. Pronouncements of the Church leadership in Salt Lake City will not change this view, it has to be done by educational outreach at the local level.

  36. John Pack Lambert on February 3, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    The portion of the institute manual that discusses the difference between a mark and a curse never says that the mark was placed on “the skin”. It never uses the word skin. While arguing that the mark and curse are different, it does not say what the mark on either Cain or the Lamanites is.

  37. John Pack Lambert on February 3, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    Mark D.,
    I actually have the impression that there may still be some senior couples who are construction missionaries. In the 1950s and 1960s there were large numbers of young people called as construction missionaries. The movie, “The Other Side of heaven” is accurate in portraying Feki as having been a construction missionary before Elder Groberg’s arrival, and Elder Aoyagi of the 2nd Quorum of the 70 served as a construction missionary for two years, then about a year later left on a full-time mission.

    Where I am at here in Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor we have a CES missionary couple who help to run the Institute of Religion. My impression is that in general their assignments are directly with the Institutes and not much with seminary, at least the six or so couples I know about.

  38. John Pack Lambert on February 3, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    Ohme,
    Thankyou for the Bruce R. McConkie “added light and knowledge” quote. If they do ever put “Mormon Doctrine” back in print, that should be the disclaimer put in the front page.

  39. Ohme on February 3, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    Sally: there is a fantastic video on the blacksinthescripture.org website that help shed some light. You can find it under the “skin colors and curses” section toward the end of the screen where a scientist explains that they have found a direct corrolation of skin color with UV Ray map of the world. Check it out, it’s a good one.

  40. Ohme on February 3, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    The website is actually blacksinthescriptures.org.

  41. Jared T. on February 4, 2011 at 1:12 am

    Thanks for posting that. A number of interesting changes have been noted since the 2006 Doubleday edition. See here, here, and here for additional context and discussion.

  42. Ohme on February 4, 2011 at 1:31 am

    Jared:
    Yeah I went through the scriptures a while back and just looked at the chapter headings and there are tons of new things, many really clarify the scriptures.

  43. Steve Hardy on February 4, 2011 at 2:37 am

    I think that we fail to remember how pervasive the dark-skin as metaphor for God’s disapproval was (or is?). How literally it was apparently believed. Here is a quote from Spencer W. Kimball, General Conference Report, October 1960; Improvement Era, December 1960, pp. 922–923:

    “I saw a striking contrast in the progress of the Indian people today …. The day of the Lamanites is nigh. For years they have been growing delightsome, and they are now becoming white and delightsome, as they were promised. In this picture of the twenty Lamanite missionaries, fifteen of the twenty were as light as Anglos, five were darker but equally delightsome. The children in the home placement program in Utah are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation. At one meeting a father and mother and their sixteen-year-old daughter we represent, the little member girl—sixteen—sitting between the dark father and mother, and it was evident she was several shades lighter than her parents—on the same reservation, in the same hogan, subject to the same sun and wind and weather…. These young members of the Church are changing to whiteness and to delightsomeness. One white elder jokingly said that he and his companion were donating blood regularly to the hospital in the hope that the process might be accelerated.”

    This quote is painful for me because President Kimball was one of my favorites. I take some solace from Ardis Parshall’s comment about church leaders and folklore, above.

    This kind of racism, especially the dark is bad, white is good is still pervasive in our culture. In my opinion, this remnant of institutional racism is reflected in our need for white shirts for Priesthood officiating, and white temples, and white-white-white throughout the temple. I look forward to the day when our new temples are gray or black, or silver, or red, or some other color, and to when we stop using white as a metaphor for holiness. It still suggests to many minds that dark-skinned people are somehow inferior. As Mormons, we can be blind to it, because it is so pervasive.

  44. Bob on February 4, 2011 at 10:13 am

    @ Marc: “Bob – Brother Perkins is one of the foremost scholars in the Church on the topic of race and the scriptures….”. I have been unable to find anything in support of this statement. Can you show me where he went to college, or what makes him any kind of scholar? From what I have found, he is only a spokesperson.
    Dark skin is not a metaphor. Some people have a dark skin__the question is Why? IMO, you either have to answer in a religious way or a science one__you can’t have both.

  45. Fred on February 4, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Steve: The problem is not that white is right or black is gloomy, because according to the scriptures these are references used by God to identify purity and righteousnous and wicked and unrightousness. The problem lies within our ignorance as a current day people referring to each other as black and white. If we as a people would just step back and realize that there are no black people or white people but rahter people with different shades of brown, we could see the world more clearly as Heavenly Father would have us see. If we want to talk about brainwashing this is a clear case of it. We’re going around calling brown – black and beige – white. Think about it. We ridicule those who once believed that the earth was flat in saying how could they be so naive. Well, I think with all of our modern day advancements we are just as naive in referring to one another as something we’re not. Using such references towards one another is one of Satan’s greatest weapons to keep us from seeing each other as one. As long as we use terms such as “black” and “white” (two colors that are on the opposite ends of the color spectrum)how can we ever think as one, which is Satan’s design. How different the world would be if we spoke truth and called each other as we truly are – brothers and sisters having different shades of brown skin tone.

    Behold, this I have given unto you as a parable, and it is even as I am. I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.
    D&C 38:27

    BTW, Such references to race was unheard of prior to the 1700′s. This “black” and “white” name calling was started by a German physiologist by the name of Johann Friedrich Blumenbauch who wanted to break up the one human race into five separate races (simply to justify slavery). Here’s a link to learn more about him:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johann_Friedrich_Blumenbach

    So Steve, white temples, white garments and white representing purity is God’s way. We are the problem in our understanding of such scriptural references and symbolisms. Oh, and as far as such references used to describe the Nephites and the Lamanites, well in looking at all of God’s creations, when He does something He doesn’t do it halfway. If He wanted to separate His children by way of black and white skin tone, caucasians would look as white as a sheet of paper and those of African decent would be black as coal.

    I hope this helps. Take care.

  46. Nathaniel Cannon on February 4, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Shout out to Nina Jablonski who is my department chair at Penn State! Her TED lecture on the evolution of skin color as it relates to climate is posted at the bottom of Perkins page “Skin color and curses” at http://blacksinthescriptures.com/skin-color-and-curses/

    Citing evolutionary biologists from Penn State to bolster a contemporary view of the Book of Mormon?! That’s a triple win in my book!

    Definitely worth a watch. Best line “If only Darwin had NASA!”

  47. Ray on February 4, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    #44 – “Dark skin is not a metaphor.”

    It has been in LOTS of writings, both ancient and modern. It certainly was in the OT times that parallel the Book of Mormon verses. Just because it isn’t anymore (generally, since it still is in some usages) doesn’t mean it wasn’t and can’t be. It’s just one we have chosen to de-emphasize or eliminate due to our current racial sensitivities – for which I am grateful.

    Why must it be addressed religiously or scientifically? When dealing with a record that is seen as a historical abridgment, why can’t it be addressed historically? If the passages that are offensive now, since they tend to be taken literally, are consistent with general usage of the time in which they are believed to have been written (which they are) – and if that usage is metaphorical every but as often as literal in that time (which it is) – then why should the passages themselves be changed? Wouldn’t it be more consistent with history to change the footnotes and chapter headings, instead, to point to a different understanding of their metaphorical usage?

  48. Bob on February 4, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    #45: Ray,
    If you think Dark Skin is only a metaphor, where did the metaphor come from, if there were only dark skinned people in America?
    The BoM is about a fair skin people coming to America. Science says it was a dark skinned people from Asia. Even for science, it would take 25,000 to 50,000 years to made Native Americas not look Asian .

  49. Nathaniel Cannon on February 4, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Bob (#48)

    “…there were only dark skinned people in America… science says it was a dark skinned people from Asia.”

    Not sure where you’re getting your data to support that. Check out Dr Jablonski’s TED talk that is linked to on Perkins’ site (see comments #39 & 46). It explains a bit about how populations can shift from light to dark skin due to a climatic UV gradient. (see for e.g. http://maps.grida.no/go/graphic/skin-colour-map-indigenous-people) Theoretically, if a small migratory population became admixed with a larger, darker population their offspring could quite suddenly become dark skinned.

  50. Bob on February 4, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    #49: So where are the UV Whites in the Western hemisphere? Why are Eskimos and the people at the tip of South America not white?
    There appears to be no UV gradient. I am a Swede myself, I have a UV skin.

  51. Ray on February 4, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    Bob, the population stats in the Book of Mormon make it pretty clear to me that the Lamanites probably intermingled with a larger indigenous group, just as the Nephites intermingled with the Mulekites. There simply isn’t a better explanation for the fact that the Lamanites are said to have outnumbered the Nephites and Mulekites combined – and it wasn’t close.

    It’s certainly plausible that the Nephites brought with them the chosen people ideology from the Old Testament about darker skin, but it’s also likely that they emphasized the darker skin tone that might have accompanied such an intermingling in teaching their children to not mix with those bad, bad Lamanites. That would fit the actual words of the BofM very well – and it would be consistent with what would be expected of a group like that at that time.

  52. Bob on February 4, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    @ Ray: Until the Church agrees as to the population stats in the Book of Mormon and/or the place it happened, I don’t see how I can answer you questions. But the Church does appear to be moving away from large populations and a whole Western hemisphere locations for the BoM.

  53. Nathaniel Cannon on February 4, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    Bob
    UVR exposure is a function of latitude and altitude. Dr. Jablonski’s talk touches on this, and more of her work can be found with a Google Scholar search. The figure at the link (#49) shows global data for UV reflectance (a univariate measure of skin color) in indigenous human populations from data published in:

    Chaplin G. , Geographic Distribution of Environmental Factors Influencing Human Skin Coloration, American Journal of Physical Anthropology 125:292–302, 2004. From the paper:

    “The main finding of this study was that the evolution of skin reflectance could be almost fully modeled as a linear effect of UVR in the autumn alone. …the effect of summer UVR seems to reach a threshold beyond which further adaptation is difficult.”

    The long and short of this is that the global skin color gradient matches the global UVR gradient. I hope that’s helpful to your questions!

  54. Bob on February 5, 2011 at 12:48 am

    @ Nathaniel,
    I have not say I didn’t believe in UVR, only it never shows up in the Western hemisphere. It does relate to ‘skin tones’ in the old would. But, in the Western hemisphere, “skin tones” relates to the movements of peoples and the inter-marriages of groups.
    One has to factor in the time frame needed for UVS to work. This indicate a ‘resent’ (10,000-25,000 years ?) movement of a dark skin people(s) from the old world to the new. Most likely through Alaska and Canada during Ice Ages.

  55. Ohme on February 5, 2011 at 1:06 am

    Bob have you ever seen a baby that came from an African American and a light skinned Caucasian? They get light pretty quickly (most the time). Now take that child and mix them with another Caucasian and the time will cone pretty quickly that you will get a Caucasian looking offspring. It doesn’t take long. There have been many Caucasians who did their geneology only to find out their ancestors are African American.

  56. Bob on February 5, 2011 at 9:03 am

    @ Ohme: If you are asking me what I have seen__ then I diagree. I have not seen many Black and White marriages that end up with White Kids. I have lived 65 years in areas of Black, Brown, White__ and the population is getting darker_not lighter.

  57. Evan on February 5, 2011 at 11:06 am

    I have very much enjoyed reading the comments on this blog. Thank you. I have 3 questions:
    (1) In a dark-skinned community could a mark or curse to distinguish a group be a white skin?
    (2) Why do we call these adjustments changes to the Book of Mormon? Our language is rapidly evolving. These changes seem to me to be making the Book of Mormon translation more accurate for our current language and culture. Checking Webster’s 1836 dictionary is very illuminating. And where do you stand on eliminating “nigger” from Mark Twain’s books?
    (3)Why do we talk so definitively about blacks and whites. We need to remember that we are all mixes of races. I come from 5 generations of LDS priesthood holders but my DNA (tested 3 times) tells me that my paternal line comes from West Central Africa. I am guessing that everyone in this blog his some African, European, Asian, and Native American ancestry.

  58. Ohme on February 5, 2011 at 11:52 am

    Bob:
    If a person doesn’t know something they can’t speak about it. If I have never met any Jewish person or learned about one in a text book, can I tell you about Jewish culture and tradition? If I have never met or talked to a baptist or ever learned about one in a textbook, could I tell you what they believe and how they worship? Don’t we tell people to read the book of mormon to know it’s true? If someone hasn’t spent a good amount of time searching the scripture or spending more than just ten minutes praying about these issues with skin color in the scripture, then they shouldn’t talk about them just in case the knowledge they have are assumptions or passed down traditions that don’t actually reflect truth or doctrine.

    Their is a couple you can search for on the Internet. The man is black and his wife is white. They had twins and one twin came out black and the other came out white. This mom got pregnant with another set of twins. Once again, one came out white and the other was black. You know what, I will make it easier for you. I just found three articles concerning this subject and none of them were the exact one I had in mind but here they are.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/8096540/Twins-born-black-and-white.html
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9438648/ns/dateline_nbc/
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28471626/ns/health-womens_health/

    I have posted these articles to show that a person with dark brown skin can make a child with a person who it light in skin color and come out with a child whose skin matches either parent.

    So that you know several scriptures on this topic and not just a few here is a link for a reference guide:
    http://blacksinthescriptures.com/in-the-news/ (scroll down the page and after the first article you will see a link to the scripture reference guide. Note the chapter headings, footnotes, the section on equality, and especially the footnotes for the priesthood section.

  59. Nathaniel Cannon on February 5, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Bob (#54)
    “I have not say I didn’t believe in UVR, only it never shows up in the Western hemisphere. It does relate to ’skin tones’ in the old would. But, in the Western hemisphere, “skin tones” relates to the movements of peoples and the inter-marriages of groups.”

    I would say in response that UV exposure and population history and genetics all relate to skin reflectivity (color). This applies just as much in the Western as in the Eastern hemisphere. The correlation between UVR exposure and skin reflectivity is a near-perfect linear model in both the Eastern and Western hemispheres; it’s a global phenomenon. We can’t hand-waive away indigenous American coloration as if the same evolutionary and genetic rules don’t apply.

    Evan (#57)
    “(1) In a dark-skinned community could a mark or curse to distinguish a group be a white skin?”

    Here is a photo of Masai youth in Africa in traditional white face painting. (http://www.fotosearch.com/bigcomp.asp?path=IST/IST518/1260288.jpg ) Just do a Google Image search for “Masai face painting.” Different tribes use different patterns and colors, with white and red being predominant. It can be said that these are distinguishing “marks” among culturally distinct, competitive, exclusive groups. Self-imposed coloration can serve to reinforce cultural divides and is common among many indigenous peoples. I don’t know whether one tribe would consider another group’s cultural markings as a “curse”, though white Europeans certainly viewed it as a sign of barbarism and cultural inferiority.

    “(3)Why do we talk so definitively about blacks and whites. We need to remember that we are all mixes of races. I come from 5 generations of LDS priesthood holders but my DNA (tested 3 times) tells me that my paternal line comes from West Central Africa. I am guessing that everyone in this blog his some African, European, Asian, and Native American ancestry.”

    You make a good point here. If you wanted to run with that idea, it has been shown mathematically that we all share a common ancestor about 5-10kya. If we go back a bit farther the entire ancient population is counted among the entire modern population’s ancestry. So all living individuals are all descended from everyone that was alive in all parts of the globe about 10-15 thousand years ago. The notion that we all have African, American, European, and Asian ancestry fits our observations of human population history as well as the mathematical theory of pedigrees.
    (See: Chang, Joseph “Recent common ancestors of all present-day individuals.” Advanced Applied Probability 31:1002-1026, 1999; Hein, Jotun “Pedigrees for all humanity.” Nature 431: 518-519, 2004; Rhode, Douglas, et al. “Modelling the recent common ancestry of all living humans.” Nature 431: 562-566, 2004.)

  60. Bob on February 5, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    @ Ohme,
    I take it, I an the ‘person’ you are talking about(?)
    I do not base my understanding of “skin tone’ on scriptures, as I find them incorrect.
    A Human is unlikely to show their skin tone at birth. This is because the skin tone is based on Genes (5)that will respond to sun light. They will be close to showing their tone in about six months up sun light.

  61. Bob on February 5, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    @ Nathaniel: ” The correlation between UVR exposure and skin reflectivity is a near-perfect linear model in both the Eastern and Western hemispheres”. Show me please.
    I don’t accept the Mathematical Model of “We all came from one guy”. My Granfather came from Sweden. I don’t think he had any commom link to any Aboriginal Australian 15,000 Years ago.

  62. Ohme on February 5, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Bob:
    First of all I am talking to everyone. If you got your toe cut off you are not gonna go to an optometrist. If you get your eyes poked out you are not gonna go to get help from your dentist or from the owner of a grocery store who has never learned about optometry.

    Secondly, You are absolutely right not to “base [your] understanding of ‘skin tone’ on the scriptures” because the scripture do not mention skin tone. That has been the bases for this whole discussion. The scriptures people commonly believe are about skin tone are not, they are hebrew idioms or just plain metaphors for righteousness or spiritual darkness. What you want to take from the scriptures is that our skin colors never derived from a curse, mark, wickedness, or righteousness as is commonly believed in the church from a misunderstanding of scriptural writing from people with a different culture.

  63. Nathaniel Cannon on February 5, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    Bob
    For the UVR correlation globally, as well as in the Americas see the article by Chaplin referenced in #53. Do a Google Image search for “UV global” and you will see the global pattern of surface UV intensity. Page 8 of Chaplin has a beautiful figure of skin color data collected globally, and the American gradient can be seen clearly following a similar pattern as the Eastern Hemisphere. Compare this figure with a figure of global UV intensity and the correlation becomes apparent. A free pdf of the Chaplin paper can be found at:
    http://www.pc.maricopa.edu/Biology/jschampel/Spring2009/100Spring2009/Chapin%202004%20Amer.%20J.%20Phys.%20Anthro.pdf

    As far as the common ancestry question see the short review by Jotun, of the lengthier paper by Chang, both of which I referenced in #59. The review explains: “the mean time back to the universal ancestor is 2,300 years (76 generations, assuming a generation time of a bit less than 30 years) and to the identical ancestors it is 5,000 years (169 generations)” This means that if everyone alive today were to trace their ancestry back 5000 years we would all arrive at exactly the same set of ancestors. This set of ancestors would be 80% of the population at ~3,000 BC. It follows that if you follow the ancestry of that 80% back another few thousand years you eventually saturate the existing population, hence everyone today is related to everyone at that distant point in history. This takes into account the rarity of marriage across populations, cultures and large geographic distances. A free pdf of the two page review by Jotun can be found at:
    http://people.sc.fsu.edu/~pbeerli/bsc5932/Rohde-et-al.pdf

    Check out the papers. The Chaplin one is dense but the figure is worth a look. The Jotun one is easy, as it’s just a science news article of the more detailed work of Chang et al. IMHO everyone in the church who is interested in the topics of universal ancestry should read Chang’s papers. Pedigree ancestry is totally different from genetic ancestry. I hope that is helpful!

  64. Lucienne Jeanne on February 5, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    Just a few words to let readers know that the changes in the footnotes and chapter headings probably date back a few years ago.

    I think so, because as a French speaking person, I use a French triple combination. I have been wondering why the footnotes in the French version were different from the ones in the English 1981 edition.

    The French version I am using was printed in 2009 but bears the mention 1998,2008 par Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All the changes mentioned in Brother Perkins’s letter have been effective in that French edition for some time.
    And as far as the topic of skin color is concerned I do think Brother Perkins and Brother Darius Gray have done a wonderful job.

    Concerning how people understand or interpret the Scriptures and that topic of skin color, we should not forget that everyone of us is influenced by their cultural background and keeps for granted things which are later considered prejudice.
    I would like to quote Isaiah.

    Isaiah 55:8-9 (King James Version)
    8For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
    9For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

  65. Bob on February 5, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    @ Ohme: “… they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto [the Nephites] the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.”
    (Ohme)”The scriptures people commonly believe are about skin tone are not, they are hebrew idioms or just plain metaphors for righteousness…”.
    Hundreds of Aposales and scholars would disagee with that_how did you come to that?
    The Church must move passed the racism in it teachings and writings. IMO, it can only do this by admitting the error.

  66. Bob on February 5, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    @ Nathaniel,
    I read some of your material and see we are talking passed each other. Your UVR global correlation is about today. I am talking about hundreds of years ago. Your studies of UVR global correlations are made today from space.
    If you still think five hundred years ago, the people on the tip of South America were white__ then we just disaree.

  67. Ohme on February 5, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    Have you read and researched the scrIptures under the reference guide? Have you read the quotes that were posted earlier from David O McKay and Bruce R McConkie? Have you ever seen a man recognized as being black? You might notice they are not the color black but rather a darker shade of brown. If a man were to come up to you today and say ” I am gay.” would you think he is homosexual? Or would you think he is happy? It is an interpretation ansighs day of age should be taken into consideration. Have you studied what has been given to you already and prayed about wether or not the scriptures are talking about a literal skin pigment change? If not, there is nothing more I can share with you if you don’t look at or study what has already been given.

  68. Nathaniel Cannon on February 5, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    Bob

    From where do you derive the claim of some significant difference between today’s indigenous skin color measurements and the skin color of those same groups 500 years ago?
    I wouldn’t necessarily call indigenous populations at the extremes of the Americas “white” since that has a lot of cultural baggage, but I would say they are significantly lighter skinned than their equatorial cousins. Based on what we know about how population genetics and evolution works we can safely say that they have been that way for quite a long time. Not only that, but we can safely say that the Asiatic migrants across the Bering land bridge were equally light skinned given their regional origins in north-eastern Asia.

    (To bring this back to the OP, and anyone else still following this thread at this point!)

    Perkins’ arguments seem to favor a fully figurative view of “darkness” and “skin.” I find this to be plausible and in keeping with other meanings of the terms elsewhere in the scriptures as has been highlighted by other posters here. It seems to strengthen the spiritual dimensions of the BoM message, though I don’t find it to be necessary from the standpoint of plausibility of the BoM narrative. In other words one doesn’t need to make the curse out as figurative in order to strengthen the case of the BoM as authentic. Neither do I see any solid evidence that it ought to be interpreted this way. It can be, but should it be?

    I want to suggest one potential consequence of this view, were it to become widely adopted. Viewing the language of the curse of darkness per Perkins may ease the burden of finding a suitable cultural-genetic location for the BoM peoples. Lehi’s band was almost certainly composed of Mid-eastern Semites of medium-dark coloring who landed somewhere on the American continent ca. 600 BC. There are relatively few populations in the Americas that would be that much darker so as to provide for a significant and noticeable change in skin color through genetic admixture with our migrant band. Only a few places come to mind; e.g. the Andean and coastal-Guyanese regions. Literal dark skin is an ethnographic marker tying the BoM geography to the central American and/or Andean region, in my view. If the “curse” was really just all figurative spiritual language they might as well have been in the Great Lakes region, or Baja California, or Alaska as far as relative skin color goes.

  69. Bob on February 5, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    @Ohme,
    Again, I don’t base race my understandings on the Scriptures or Church leaders. I find them incorrect, IMO.
    I have personally met McKay.H.B. Brown, SWK, and Thomas Monson.
    At 17, I was in the Marines and knew Blacks so black they were blue!
    After my Mission, I obtain my degree in Antropology mostly on Native Americans, and in a period (the60s), when race was a major topic for us.
    So you can see,we come from a different view__ the best to you.

  70. Ohme on February 6, 2011 at 4:54 am

    Thank you Bob for sharing that part of your life, seriously. A little about me; I too learned about the Native American people, not because I am an anthropologist but because I grew up on Indian Reservations. I lived and grew up with the Navajo and later on, the Eastern Band of Cherokee. I was able to visit many other reservations growing up as well. I in fact also have some native American blood, the Yaquie. My wife has Seminole blood. My brother is African American, Adopted, two of my brother in laws are black, my wife is mixed with black creole blood, my aunt is Chinese, and I have an uncle who is Samoan. I have met Gordon B Hinckley and got to work with Dallin H Oaks on my mission in the Philippines (I really stood out because of my skin color there). All of these experiences i have had with people of color and church authorities has nothing to do with what the lord tells me and the testimony I receive and knowledge I receive from the lord. You said you don’t base your understanding of this topic on scripture or church leaders, sounds like you are trying not to trust in the arm of flesh. Sounds good, it cuts out a lot if not all the references we have been talking about which have been inspired writings, but I hope the day will come when you will feel comfortable with your findings. I don’t know a lot of the science concerning this subject but I do know what scripture says (basically what it does not say about skin color) and what the church leaders have said. if you ever become interested I invite you to read the scriptures thoroughly concerning this subject and to find out what all the church leaders have said, not just a few, and not just the older leaders, but the current leaders as well. And then pray to God to ask him what the answer is, if you are truly concerned about this topic. He will give you an answer, I know it. But in the end he really is the only one who can give you a sure answer. Good luck. I hope you find what you are looking for.

  71. Alison Moore Smith on February 6, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    Very interesting stuff! Glad to learn about these changes.

    I hope you all watch the linked videos. (The are four others, all worth watching (some repeats).) They are so powerful. What a really concrete way to teach kids how to treat others. Love this teacher. Wonder how many schools would allow this activity now.

    On being in the minority:

    If we argued with you [about being mistreated for our differences] you would use the mere argument as the reason for us being lesser…you couldn’t win.

    I see lots of situations such applies to, in the church and out of the church.

    There is a bullying course that travels to secondary schools. (I really wish I could remember what it’s called.) That takes all the kids into a gym and puts them on one side of the room, then has them cross the line depending on the kinds of experiences they have had. From the documentary I saw about it years ago, it brought the students in the schools of different races, classes, etc., together by seeing how they were similar in IMPORTANT ways and how skin color, chosen activities, etc., were not significant.

  72. Matt Evans on February 7, 2011 at 1:35 am

    This is a slight tangent, but this thread brought to mind a question about race that I’ve never seen addressed: does anyone know of any statements by apostles about the status of race in the resurrection?

    All of the possible solutions I can think of are problematic:

    1) race persists and there will be a permanent visual distinction between peoples, and some people’s skin and features will always be more physically similar to God and Jesus (which, given church art, means Norwegian) than will others;

    2) races will be “cured” in the resurrection to look like God and Jesus, so the Norwegians (or Hebrews or whatever), would be resurrected in their earthly state, the rest of us would be cured of our impurities and made into divine Norwegians; or

    3) contrary to what’s taught in church manuals, none of us will retain our earthly physical appearance, and in the resurrection we will all appear similar, with no differences in what we now perceive as earthly racial features.

  73. Bob on February 7, 2011 at 9:51 am

    @ Matt,
    I already have a Norwegian body, so maybe I am bias.
    I think science would say Jesus looked more like Ahadinejad than how we envision him today. Those that saw him his resurrected body_ recogized him as that short Arab. Now we just have to deal with those nail holes.

  74. Julie M. Smith on February 7, 2011 at 10:41 am

    Matt, one more option:

    In our perfected state, we would no longer attach any more meaning to how similar someone’s skin tone was to Jesus’ than we would to how similar their toenails were, so we could all retain our respective races and toenail shapes and no one would give it a second thought.

  75. Bob on February 7, 2011 at 11:02 am

    @ Julie,
    I have many skin tones: Blond Swede, first summer day at beach_painful red, last summer day at the beach_ dark coffee brown.

  76. Ohme on February 7, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Just a thought, because I haven’t seen a resurrected being. Our skin pigment is there to protect our bodies from certain UV levels , right?So would a person with a perfect body need skin protection in there skin that blocks UV rays? Now when you turn off the lights what color is a black man in a dark room? What color is a Norwegian man in a dark room? What color is a native American in that same room that has no light? They don’t have a color any more. Because you don’t see colors in the dark. Color is a result of reflects of light. Now certain body features are said to have been effected by climate or elevation and vitamins and minerals have a great effect on the body, the mortal body. Just from some experiences of the prophets, a resurrected being (One who now has a perfected body) is usually described as light. As in the color of light. It is described as something extremely white. If they could recognize the whiteness I am sure they would have related it. So not sure what parts of race we will keep or if we will be the race of God.

    Also, Christ left the holes in his hands and feet so that those who he appeared to could recognize him. He could easily get rid of them but that would hide their importance for now.

  77. John C. on February 7, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    All I’m saying is that church art is not the place to go for historical accuracy and angels seem to be really, really shiny so positing about eternal skin color seems premature.

  78. Suleiman on February 7, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    You silly people, ALL resurrected people are black, just like God.

  79. Matt Evans on February 7, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    Bob, I’ve been meaning to write a post about Jesus earthly appearance for a long time, referencing this article: http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/health/forensics/1282186

    Julie, yes, none of my options would be problematic *in heaven*, they are only problematic to us imperfect mortals who may not like the idea that some of us do and will look less like God than do and will others. It’s the same problem as gender without the solace of a Heavenly Mother.

  80. Ray on February 7, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    “It’s the same problem as gender without the solace of a Heavenly Mother.”

    Well said, Matt.

  81. Cameron Nielsen on February 8, 2011 at 2:58 am

    No big deal. We will look the same, but will likely have differently colored complexion and brightness of countenance. It is contrary to the rational nature of the resurrection for me to totally get a different face or body. Everything in its proper order, as we were/are/could be in our mortal prime. If I have a my big European nose, I will have still have that nose. Those with African features will have African features still.

    At worst, Blacks not getting the Priesthood for a while was God allowing leaders to figure some things out, or refusing to force a truth upon them that their hearts weren’t open to accept. At best, it was God having his own reasons, which would be fruitless to speculate on when we have enough to worry about between repenting, trying to be a good disciple of Christ, and strengthening our families.

  82. Fred on February 8, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    @ Cameron

    “At worst, Blacks not getting the Priesthood for a while was God allowing leaders to figure some things out, or refusing to force a truth upon them that their hearts weren’t open to accept.”

    Is this an official position of the church? Did an angel of God come and tell you this? Did you read this in the scriptures?

    This is the main problem with members dealing with the Priesthood issues pertaining to blacks in that they make statements such as yours without validation from the the church, the scriptures or the Holy Spirit. We have to be very careful when we make such statements on behalf of what we think God intentions were. Instead, we must do that which we were commanded to do according to D&C 18:3-4 which is to “rely upon the things which are written; For in them are all things written concerning the foundation of my church, my gospel, and my rock.”

    And according to that which is written as it pertains to the Priesthood the Lord tells Joseph Smith in D&C 36:4-5:
    “And now this calling and commandment give I unto you concercerning all men-
    That as many as shall come before my servants Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith, Jun., embracing this calling and commandment, shall be ordained and sent forth to preach the everlasting gospel among the nations-”

    When I read “all men” I take it literally and nowhere in the D&C does it say that the Priesthood should be restricted at any time from any man who desires to know the Lord. As a matter of fact, there are several scriptures throughout D&C where the Lord is commanding that the priesthood be given to all men.

    Therefore, I’m sure your intention were well meant in your post, however, that statement supports false doctrine and we should take it upon ourselves as members to study the scriptures and seek out the Lord in how we should answer such questions that reflect His Holy work.

    Please take this in kindness and if you should have words defending your position I do welcome them, however, I kindly ask that your arguments be based on scripture and not the countless other references that we Mormons tend to rely upon regarding this issue. Thank you.

  83. Ray on February 8, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    #81 – Obviously, Cameron, you aren’t black – and you weren’t a faithful black member prior to 1978. I won’t go further, but there is so much more that could be said.

  84. DKL on February 8, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    Julie M Smith: I think there is a message here on the power of the footnotes and headnotes to influence how we read. I frequently find myself frustrated with the direction in which the notes takes the reader.

    This hits the nail on the head. Too many Mormons are far too anxious to make consequential inferences about the Eternal Order of things based on otherwise inconsequential and trivial evidence. Also, Many members suffer from the misconception that the more difficult a beliefs is for others to swallow, the more righteous they are for believing it. These two things combined have made racism in the LDS church an unbelievably persistent problem. Only in Mormonism do people believe that they’re more righteous because they don’t eschew the racist presuppositions of LDS leaders who were educated in the 19th and early 20th century.

  85. Clark on February 9, 2011 at 2:12 am

    Only in Mormonism do people believe that they’re more righteous because they don’t eschew the racist presuppositions of LDS leaders who were educated in the 19th and early 20th century.

    Only because everyone else does it for figures a few thousand years earlier…

  86. Krissie Ireland on February 9, 2011 at 10:08 am

    Wow, I must be a simpleton because I just don’t get this! Seriously, I’m not being sarcastic or ironic, I really don’t get it. I’ve read all the comments and still don’t get this whole thing!

    “We also understand that the skin being spoken of in reference to “black” or “white” is referring to the state of the spirit and not a literal or physical skin color change”.

    If that’s the case, that it is NOT referring to a literal or physical skin colour then where was the justification for refusing to give Black men the Priesthood? Because that was certainly about a literal physical skin colour, wasn’t it? Were Black men, women and children allowed in the Temples before 1978?

    All this has taught me is that some LDS Scholars/members are super clever and can make anything mean anything. It just seems to be an exercise in covering up an unpalatable truth – that racism prevailed for far too long.

    I love God so much and I know that he loves everybody and the whole of creation – when a sparrow falls he knows about it – so why would something as insignificant as skin colour matter to Him? It wouldn’t, because all are equal in Christ… He loves every one of us!

    I may not be the smartest card in the deck but I know the difference between right and wrong. Racism is and always has been wrong – whenever and wherever it occurred. LDS leaders have made racist comments and upheld racist policies, I don’t think anybody can argue with that. The thing to do is apologise, and to keep apologising because the legacy lives on…

    The church has a history of exclusion and that needs to be addressed; making changes to footnotes etc is good but it isn’t enough.

    Love, Krissie

  87. DKL on February 9, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Clark: Only because everyone else does it for figures a few thousand years earlier…

    Everyone else refuses to eschew the racist presuppositions of primitive Christians? That’s just plain wrong. There does remain some remnant of anti-Semetism in Europe, where they’ve never really come to terms with their culturally ingrained hatred of Jews, but this cannot be tied to any belief of religious leaders, modern or primitive. And there’s not a hint of bias against black Africans in the Old Testament or New Testament.

  88. Clark on February 9, 2011 at 11:31 am

    DKL, you honestly don’t think anti-semitism in Europe is tied to the teachings of religious leaders over the past 2000 years? Honestly?

  89. Ben S on February 9, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Krissie, I don’t think anyone connected the Book of Mormon to the priesthood ban.(Book of Abraham, yes. Book of Mormon, no.)

  90. Evan on February 9, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Krissie – Thank you for the reality check and for calling it like it is. We often don’t recognize how well ingrained racism and other biases are in our language and culture. After all, isn’t English and the American Culture the only true language and culture?

    I found an interesting example of language bias in Russian. My Russian friends tell me that their word for German (?????) originally meant “stupid”. How can we use Russian without insulting Germans? And how about “Mongoloid” in English.

    Our perfect and loving God has to communicate with us through our imperfect languages. The Book of Mormon came from God but it came through an imperfect channel – the English language and the American culture of 1830. The Book tells us that God judges us on our actions, not on our skin color. It does not say that “black is bad” and “white is good”.

    Thank goodness for a Prophet who in 1978 went to the Lord because he felt that the Church might be off-base in its treatment of blacks. I had been praying for that revelation for a number of years and cried when it was announced.

  91. kevinr on February 9, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    I agree with #86, Krissie, but I would take it even one step further and ask why many Mormons continue to believe that “the Lord will never allow the prophets to lead us astray.” In the case of racism and the Priesthood Ban (yes, Ben S #89, there was a connection made by both the general membership of the Church and the general authorities to the skin color verbiages in the Book of Mormon and the Priesthood Ban-it’s not a hard connection for anyone who was trying to justify the Priesthood Ban), we were led astray by the prophets and now some footnote changes are the way we fix being led astray? Too little, too late, in my opinion.

  92. kevinr on February 9, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    #90 Evan, I appreciate your humility and prayers back in 1978. I have a slightly different perspective, having taken a more literal interpretation of apostle Bruce R. McConkie when he said it’ll be the millenium before blacks have the priesthood. Thus, when the announcement was made, I cried, too, but I cried out of fear that the second coming was imminent. I feel like a fool on both accounts, accepting the Priesthood Ban for years before 1978 as the will of the Lord and then foolish for believing the apostle spouting off in his typically bombastic way about the second coming. And, worst of all, some old high priest in our ward quoted from Mormon Doctrine a few weeks ago about a race-related issue and a gospel doctrine teacher quoted several times from Mortal Messiah, and I couldn’t stomach the tone of the quotes at all. Why does Mormonism stress so much the 14 fundamentals of “following the prophet” over following our conscience? Why do we continue this?

  93. Ben S on February 9, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Kevin R, then why weren’t American Indians excluded from the priesthood? Have any clear citations connecting the Priesthood ban to the BoM for me?

  94. DKL on February 9, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Clark: DKL, you honestly don’t think anti-semitism in Europe is tied to the teachings of religious leaders over the past 2000 years? Honestly?

    It is not tied directly to the hateful teachings of the New Testament, for the simple reason that anit-Semitism is not correlated in Europe to belief in the New Testament. So, no: You don’t have these Europeans attempting to justify their hatred of Judaism by quoting Jesus’s or John the Baptist’s hateful screeds against Jews, not any more than you have that occurring in the USA, which has been a bastion of freedom for Jews when compared to the Jew-hating history of Europe.

  95. Bob on February 9, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    @ Krissie,
    IMO, the Priesthood Ban claimed to be more about a cursed people than just a black people. Both were wrong and wrong thinking.

  96. Bob on February 9, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    I think (???) European Christian disliked Jews because of ‘Usury’. That is Christians could not make a “profit” without it being seen as a sin (Usury). Therfore profits were passed though Jewish bankers, etc. to make them sinless.
    I know this is a very short statement__take it for what you want__I am open to being corrested.

  97. Christopher on February 9, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Have any clear citations connecting the Priesthood ban to the BoM for me?

    “The Lord segregated the people both as to blood and place of residence. At least in the cases of the Lamanites and the Negro we have the definite word of the Lord Himself that he placed a dark skin upon them as a curse — as a punishment and as a sign to all others. He forbade intermarriage with them under threat of extension of the curse. And He certainly segregated the descendants of Cain when He cursed the Negro as to the Priesthood, and drew an absolute line. You may even say He dropped an Iron curtain there…” -Mark Peterson, 1954

    “The whole house of Israel was chosen as a peculiar people, one set apart from all other nations (Ex. 19:5-6; Deut. 7:6; 14:2); and they were forbidden to marry outside their own caste. (Ex. 34:10-17; Deut. 7:1-5.) In effect the Lamanites belonged to one caste and the Nephites to another, and a mark was put upon the Lamanites to keep the Nephites from intermixing with and marrying them. (Alma 3:6-11.)” -Bruce McConkie, Mormons Doctrine

  98. Christopher on February 9, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    Mormon Doctrine, not Mormons Doctrine. My bad.

  99. kevinr on February 9, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Thanks, Christopher, for finding some clear citations. I’ll see if I can find some more linking the actual priesthood ban to the Book fo Mormon (which we now interpret to be non-doctrinal, only a “policy” or folkloric mythical something-or-other according Elder Holland).

  100. Ben S on February 9, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Certainly the BoM talks about black as a curse. But it doesn’t connect it to priesthood, as Krissie does quite directly.

    “If that’s the case, that it is NOT referring [in the Book of Mormon] to a literal or physical skin colour then where was the justification for refusing to give Black men the Priesthood?”

    The post-hoc justification of the Priesthood ban, historically speaking, came primarily from the Book of Abraham and Genesis, because it was seen to be speaking about those of African descent. Whatever the BoM has to say about color and curses (or castes) has little to do with African descent (and therefore the priesthood ban), but native American descent.

    I’m also of the opinion that we very easily mischaracterize this “cursing” language. We’re very familiar with blessing, but not so much with cursing, even though it was part-and-parcel of covenants just as much as blessing was, and this applies directly to Laman, Lemuel and their descendants in Lehi’s language in 2 Nephi 4.

  101. Evan on February 9, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    God said to Adam that “cursed is the ground for thy sake” (Gen. 3:17). Evidently at least some cursings are for our good and come from a loving God. Was the Lamanite mark/curse for their good?

  102. Clark on February 9, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    You don’t have these Europeans attempting to justify their hatred of Judaism by quoting Jesus’s or John the Baptist’s hateful screeds against Jews, not any more than you have that occurring in the USA, which has been a bastion of freedom for Jews when compared to the Jew-hating history of Europe.

    Ah, I see what you’re saying. My point is that the tradition arose out of the Catholic leadership teaching that the Jews killed Jesus. That said, anti-semities frequently do appeal to the NT.

  103. Ohme on February 9, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Christopher, the priesthood ban was done away with in 1978. Bruce R McConkie in August of 1978 himself said to forget everything that has been said in the past concerning this subject. Elder Holland in 2006 said all of the explanations were inadequate and/or all wrong. Your first quote is 1954. Which is about 24 years before new light and knowledge was given to the apostles and prophet. Also you quoted Mormon Doctrine which is not a book about Mormon doctrine. It is an interpretation of the scriptures and is Bruce R McConkie’s doctrine. Learn about the history of that book and you will see it has not been approved by the church and that their are over a thousand things that general authorities found wrong with the doctrine. The scriptures truly do contain all the answers and when the prophets are acting under inspiration they can give us the word of God.

    The Nephites were separated from the Lamanites because the Lamanites sought to kill them. The priesthood ban was set on scriptures that gave no details to its own mention of a priesthood ban. It was never said how long the ban would last. But we do know that God places curses on people for up to 3 to 4 generations EXCEPT if they repent. This is repeated several times in the scriptures.

  104. Christopher on February 9, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    Certainly the BoM talks about black as a curse. But it doesn’t connect it to priesthood, as Krissie does quite directly.

    Right. But both leaders and laypeople have used the Book of Mormon’s linking of skin color and curses as justification (in the form of precedent) for the priesthood ban, which the quotes by Peterson and McConkie demonstrate (and which I read kevinr’s comment as referring to).

  105. Christopher on February 9, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Ohme,

    I’m afraid you’ve misunderstood my purpose in posting those quotes.

  106. Ray on February 9, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    If anyone is interested, I wrote about this in a purely speculative manner – relative to the Book of Mormon – back in 2007. It is entitled, “Reflections from a Mixed-Race Family” and the link is:

    http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2007/09/reflections-from-mixed-race-family.html

    The part that deals directly with the Book of Mormon and skin color begins with the following:

    “Allow me to share my perspective – using the BofM issue of skin color as the example.”

  107. Aaron B on February 9, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    To return to an issue raised in the first few comments, I want to mostly agree with those who’ve taken issue with the word “folklore”. While I understand Ardis’ point, let’s at least acknowledge the fact that the “folk” in “folklore” can serve to obfuscate the origins of the ideas we’re dismissing as folklore. Mormon folklore rarely arises out of the ideas of common LDS folk. It usually comes directly from the LDS leadership. We should coin a new term: “leaderlore”, or better yet, “prophetlore”.

  108. Bob on February 9, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    @ Ray: Am I reading you right? You believe skin color in the BoM comes from the kind or amount of clothing used?
    As far as Bruce R. McConkie__HE never forgot a word he said. He went on printing his book and making the same wrong statements about race until he died.

  109. Ray on February 9, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    Bob, no, you aren’t.

    I said that one group could be slightly darker and one slightly lighter after generations of that type of difference, especially when you add intermingling with those of differing genetic ancestry. The first is stated explicitly in the Book of Mormon itself; the second is at the very least implied strongly by the population stats, imo.

    Seriously, in the context of what I actually wrote, what’s so strange about people seeing a difference (slight or major) and using it to distinguish themselves from the enemy?

  110. Bob on February 9, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    @ Ray: There is no generational evolutionary changes due to the clothing you wear.
    “What’s so strange about people seeing a difference (slight or major) and using it to distinguish themselves from the enemy”? It’s not strange__it’s racism .

  111. Ray on February 9, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    “There is no generational evolutionary changes due to the clothing you wear.”

    Good heavens, Bob. Stop over-simplifying and distorting what I said.

    “It’s not strange__it’s racism.”

    Which is EXACTLY what my post and my comments say. *sigh*

  112. Ray on February 10, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    For anyone who questions Brother Perkins’ scholarship relative to the Book of Mormon, consider the following:

    The word “black” appears in the Book of Mormon exactly TWICE: 1) in reference to hair color; 2) in reference to God’s grace extending to all (“black and white”). It is NEVER used in the Book of Mormon to denote skin color. That’s important, because it gets mis-stated all the time.

    The Book of Mormon uses the word “dark” 16 times – and only three of them refer to skin tone. “Darkness” is used 80 times, and only one of them refers to skin tone.

    Now look at three specific examples of how “darkness” is used in relation to the Lamanites (emphasis mine):

    2 Nephi 30:6 – “And then shall they rejoice; for they shall know that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God; and their **scales of darkness** shall begin to fall from their EYES; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a pure and a delightsome people.”

    fascinating wording

    Alma 26:3 – “for our brethren, the Lamanites, were **IN darkness,** yea, even in the darkest abyss, but behold, how many of them are brought to behold the marvelous light of God!”

    Alma 26:15 – “Yea, they were **encircled about with everlasting darkness** and destruction; but behold, he has brought them into his everlasting light,”

    Of 96 total usages, “dark” and “darkness” refer to a spiritual condition 92 times. The 4 times “dark” and “darkness” are used to reference skin tone (not necessarily a racial distinction), there are three possible meanings: 1) nothing more than “more tan”; 2) an actual change in degree of “darkness” wrought by inter-marriage with a darker skinned people; 3) a darkening of skin tone caused directly and proactively by God.

    The first two seem much more likely, given the rest of the references.

  113. John A. Tvedtnes on February 11, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    I have read the piece entitled “Notable Race-Related Changes to Footnotes and Chapter Headings in the Standard Works” and note that the changes agree in all respects with what I argued in my 2003 paper, “The Charge of ‘Racism’ in the Book of Mormon,” FARMS Review 15/2 (2003). Originally presented as a paper to the 2003 FAIR conference, a slightly different version was posted on the FAIR web site, June 2004, and on the Black LDS web site. French version, “L’accusation de ‘racism’ dans le Livre de Mormon,” posted on the Idumea web site. A video of the original presentation has been posted on the web on YouTube, in 5 parts. I now wonder if my paper played a role in influencing the changes to the headings and notes.

  114. Joe on February 11, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    Tvedtnes, here are two fantastic article that might gives some answers and are excellent for study. Enjoy!

    http://lds.org/ensign/1989/05/beware-of-pride?lang=eng

    http://lds.org/general-conference/2010/10/pride-and-the-priesthood?lang=eng#1

  115. Oatmeal on February 12, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Joe,

    Are you John’s Bishop or has the mantle of a “Judge in Israel” descended upon you from on high? But you are right that the Brethren would NEVER read and ponder scholarly papers… or would they?

  116. Oatmeal on February 12, 2011 at 11:25 am

    I guess I now have to repent for judging Joe for judging John…

  117. John A. Tvedtnes on February 13, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    I love the two talks on pride. I confess to not having enough humility, which is the thing I most admire in other people.

    As for GAs relying on scholarship, I know from personal experience that some of them do learn from scholars. Two examples: I once gave my “Elijah and the Baal Cult” fireside to the high priests in Neal A. Maxwell’s ward. Afterward, Elder M. came to me and said, “John, I will never again understand the Elijah story as I have in the past, nor will I ever tell it in the same way as I have in the past.” Of course, he was a scholar.

    In 1978, Howard W. Hunter was one of the people on the BYU Mediterranean cruise where I gave evening lectures. One morning, he came to me on deck and told me that it was my fault that he had not slept the night before. He had a touch of flu and had missed two of my lectures, but had someone tape them for him. He then sat up all night long listening to the tapes over and over again. These men were definitely wary of pride and had the humility I have long sought and still hope to gain as I age.

    I could tell more such stories, but this is sufficient name-dropping to feed my ego and pride for today. 8-}

  118. Joe on February 13, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    John- That is right, it is sufficient to feed ego and pride. It is also good that you are aware of such dangerous waters. The problem is, unless you have changed your stance, is that your work tries to show that the Lamanite’s skin color, or skin pigment, actually changed. Have your lectures changed to the new light and knowledge that is found in the scriptures? This is an honest question.

  119. johnrpack on February 13, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    >Fred: When I read “all men” I take it literally and nowhere in the D&C does it say that the Priesthood should be restricted at any time from any man who desires to know the Lord. As a matter of fact, there are several scriptures throughout D&C where the Lord is commanding that the priesthood be given to all men.

    While the scriptures establish eternal doctrines and give us spiritual guidance, unlike Protestants, our scriptures do not have authority. As a result, church policy is not set by individual members or trained ministers scouring the scriptures for new interpretations. Church policy is set by the prophet and those he gives smaller parts of that stewardship.

    It is the living prophet who holds all of the keys who guides and directs us. This is one way you can know for certain that New Testament practices of having all property in common and Old Testament practices (killing everything in Canaan, animal sacrifice, etc.) no longer apply to you.

    >Krissie: If that’s the case, that it is NOT referring to a literal or physical skin colour then where was the justification for refusing to give Black men the Priesthood?

    The prophet established the policy. No other justification is needed. That decision is not recorded in our scriptures. Those who attempted to justify and extrapolate it from the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, and Pearl of Great Price were arguing from their own biases and prejudices.

    The closest thing we have in the scriptures is D&C 134:12 (this is the church’s position on government where it’s made clear that the church will not teach/baptize slaves against the will of their masters nor try to stir them up to insurrection). But, to be clear, this is a separate policy from the later one which denied the priesthood to those of African descent until 1978.

  120. johnrpack on February 13, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    >Evan: Thank goodness for a Prophet who in 1978 went to the Lord because he felt that the Church might be off-base in its treatment of blacks.

    At least two other prophets (John Taylor and David O. McKay) took the issue of the blacks and the priesthood before the Lord and were told that it was not time to change the policy.

    If one believes the church is true (as I do), then one can only conclude that the policy was the correct one for the time during which it existed. We can invent all sorts of reasons, but the Lord has not explained His reason to us – so such reasoning is pure speculation. However, several possible reasons come to mind, so I speculate that it could have been any one or more of the following:

    1) Missouri was a slave state that viewed members suspiciously, believing that non-slave owners would try to politically force the issue there. The policies mean that no mobster in Missouri has any legitimate gripe whatsoever. Keep in mind that it was legal to kill a Mormon in Missouri until 1976.

    2) The Civil War (and with it the death, misery, and chastening of D&C 87) centered on the issue of slavery. The church policies kept the church and the Utah Territory neutral during this war – which was a critical period establishing the church. It’s good thing the federal government’s attention was elsewhere until the late 1800s.

    3) The gospel has rolled out to different nations, tongues, and peoples at different times. Before Peter’s revelation, the gospel had been limited to the Tribes of Israel. Before the fall of communism, the gospel wasn’t preached in the USSR and its satellites. It’s still not preached outside of Hong Kong in communist China or in most of the Arab nations. In fact, there are African nations where the gospel is still not preached. The policy could have been one designed mostly to focus the church’s efforts where they would most effectively establish the foundation of the church.

    4) The church policies kept the church neutral with respect to all Civil War fallout (Jim Crow laws, segregation, and Civil Rights movement). In fact, the outside pressure on the church to change its policy had all-but-disappeared before the revelation came in 1978 – I know because I lived through it. In 1978 there were no boycotts, no picket lines, no media attention, no rallies, no riots, etc. Of course, anxiously engaged church members were able to join the national movements to give the vote to all races, women, and to bring about equal treatment for all.

    5) The church policies kept church members loyal to the United States government during a time when it was very prejudiced and treated blacks wrongly. That loyalty is what has made it possible for the church to send missionaries to lands dominated by governments who needed guarantees of the same loyalty.

    6) Sadly, the wickedness of the people can also be a reason. Two of my grandmothers were both very racist – and their generation was less racist than those who preceded them. Ancient Israel wandered in Sinai for 40 years while the population was purged of idol worshippers and the less diligent. Ditto for the church’s near-isolation in Utah and Idaho.

    But the important thing is to realize that the policy was not motivated by superiority/inferiority of races or by misinterpreted scriptures (no matter how some members represented it even if that representation was in chapter headings and footnotes).

  121. johnrpack on February 13, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    >Bob: It’s not strange__it’s racism .

    I’d be wary of accusing the Lord or His anointed.

    We can be thankful for the 1978 revelation. But we can also be certain that it was given precisely when the Lord wanted it to be.

    I was in seminary in early 1978. The curriculum has been exhausted and the four classes decided to meet together for the last three days to answer questions the students had asked. The first two days were on the blacks and the priesthood. It was fascinating. The teacher concluded that there was “no fundamental reason why the blacks couldn’t hold the priesthood.” But, even more fascinating, he ended with this statement: “I don’t know why the current policy is the way that it is, but as I prayed about it last night the Lord told me that the issue would be resolved before any of you serve missions.” Less than a month later, that prophecy was fulfilled.

    I served my mission in the Dominican Republic – a nation whose citizens would be considered black by most Americans. The gospel arrived on the island when two families decided to move there. Both were concerned about the effect the policy would have on missionary work. They arrived on the island, met each other for the first time in the airport, and discussed the morning’s news – on June 6, 1978.

    We don’t always understand why the Lord does what He does. The stone that is rolling forth was cut out without hands. We can discover the truth and how we should act right now. That doesn’t give us the right to judge the past or to pretend we’re superior to those who went before. Instead, let’s live up to today’s standard and prepare the way for an even higher standard tomorrow – rather than worrying that we’re not being held to tomorrow’s higher standard today.

  122. Ray on February 13, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    “If one believes the church is true (as I do), then one can only conclude that the policy was the correct one for the time during which it existed.”

    john, there is a difference between “correct” and “inevitable”. Your conclusion is NOT the only conclusion members who believe the church is true and sustain its Prophets and apostles can reach.

  123. Openminded on February 14, 2011 at 1:58 am

    This is…impressive, in a sense.

    From the BlackLDS.org article Perkins wrote: “We also understand that the skin being spoken of in reference to “black” or “white” is referring to the state of the spirit and not a literal or physical skin color change.”

    You can change the headings all you want to reflect your own interpretation, but there are some grand leaps of faith to not take verses such as these to mean something metaphorical:
    “wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.”

    “And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites”

    and “I fear that unless ye shall repent of your sins that their skins will be whiter than yours, when ye shall be brought with them before the throne of God” (2 Nephi 5:21, 3 Nephi 2:14-15, and Jacob 3:8 respectively).

    Also, the article throws this into the mix: “by the time we get to 2 Nephi 26:33, we understand that Joseph Smith could have easily translated the word “black” as “wicked” meaning the spiritually dark, as well as the word “white” as “righteous”, referring to the state of the spiritually pure and clean. Well I say he could have easily translated it as such and he actually did. See Alma 11:44. You’d think you’re reading the exact same passage, but this time you see the wicked and the righteous, in place of black and white.”

    Notice the confirmation bias? Check out the two verses. It’s obvious that 1) whoever wrote Alma 11:44 and 2 Nephi 26:33 weren’t trying to say the exact same thing as the other–they were both going along the dichotomy of one thing and its opposite (and I have a hard time seeing how this concept wasn’t copied from Galatians 3:28). 2) why does wicked and righteous (from Alma) pertain to black and white (respectively, and from Nephi)? For one, it’s obvious the two verses aren’t meant to interpret each other. But even if that’s not obvious to you, then why can’t wicked and righteous pertain to Jew and Gentile instead of black and white?

    I get the feeling that Brother Perkins is very sincere in his approach, but it’s so riddled with trying to prove his side that it doesn’t add up sometimes.

  124. Openminded on February 14, 2011 at 2:00 am

    “but there are some grand leaps of faith to not take verses such as these to mean something metaphorical: ”

    meant to leave out the “not” in this phrase.

  125. johnrpack on February 14, 2011 at 9:56 am

    >Ray: there is a difference between “correct” and “inevitable”.

    I agree. I didn’t mean to give any impression that “correct” should be read as “excellent” or “the way it ought to be.” Inevitable probably gives the right sense to an unfortunate, but correct, policy.

  126. John A. Tvedtnes on February 14, 2011 at 10:34 am

    Why have you guys not carefully read my article. I demonstrated that skin color was not a curse, that it was usually not even intended. You seem to have understood the opposite of what I wrote.

  127. Ray on February 14, 2011 at 11:26 am

    #126 – Who are “you guys”? My comment was directed to “johnrpack”.

    Having said that, I didn’t read your links because, frankly, I don’t have the time in this setting. I have a few minutes to read and catch up on comments, leave one of my own and get back to the rest of my life. Your description sounded like it would be a lengthy work, and I just didn’t want to spend the time I figured it would take to read it.

    Nothing personal. Just an issue of time.

    I agree that skin color is not a curse, fwiw.

  128. BHodges on February 14, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    John Tvedtnes, thanks for the comments. I was particularly interested in your anecdotes regarding Elder Maxwell and Hunter.

  129. Fred on February 14, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    @johnrpack

    “While the scriptures establish eternal doctrines and give us spiritual guidance, unlike Protestants, our scriptures do not have authority.”

    Wow! I’m speechless by your post. I don’t know how to even respond to that. Am I to understand that you are saying that the scriptures are secondary to the words of the Lord’s servants. If that’s what you’re implying, well I would no more spend time arguing with you in explaining the error in this sentiment than I would argue with a person who still believes that the world is flat. I sustain the prophets and all the other leaders of the church, but if their teachings has or should ever conflict with that which is written, my alligence will always be to that which is written. So good luck with your thinking.

    And to those who have read this person’s post who may not be members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, please know that his thinking is an isolated one and he does not speak as an authority of the church, although he tries to comes across as one. Thank you.

  130. Ardis E. Parshall on February 14, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    To those who have read Fred’s comment who may not be members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please know that we believe in continuing revelation, and that yes, indeed, a living prophet supersedes a dead one, and most Latter-day Saints know that.

    “Wilford Woodruff, the fourth President of the Church, reported: “I will refer to a certain meeting I attended in the town of Kirtland in my early days. At that meeting some remarks were made … with regard to the living oracles and with regard to the written word of God. … A leading man in the Church got up and talked upon the subject, and said: ‘You have got the word of God before you here in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants; you have the written word of God, and you who give revelations should give revelations according to those books, as what is written in those books is the word of God. We should confine ourselves to them.’

    “When he concluded, Brother Joseph turned to Brother Brigham Young and said, ‘Brother Brigham, I want you to take the stand and tell us your views with regard to the living oracles and the written word of God.’ Brother Brigham took the stand, and he took the Bible, and laid it down; he took the Book of Mormon, and laid it down; and he took the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and laid it down before him, and he said: ‘There is the written word of God to us, concerning the work of God from the beginning of the world, almost, to our day. And now,’ said he, ‘when compared with the [living] oracles those books are nothing to me; those books do not convey the word of God direct to us now, as do the words of a Prophet or a man bearing the Holy Priesthood in our day and generation. I would rather have the living oracles than all the writing in the books.’ That was the course he pursued. When he was through, Brother Joseph said to the congregation: ‘Brother Brigham has told you the word of the Lord, and he has told you the truth.’ ” (Wilford Woodruff, in Conference Report, Oct. 1897, pp. 22–23)

    See Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, chapter 16.

  131. Ohme on February 15, 2011 at 12:31 am

    The following is a link to the Church’s newsroom where church doctrine is established.

    http://newsroom.lds.org/article/approaching-mormon-doctrine

    Here are a few comments from the link.
    “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. With divine inspiration, the First Presidency (the prophet and his two counselors) and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the second-highest governing body of the Church) counsel together to establish doctrine that is consistently proclaimed in official Church publications. This doctrine resides in the four “standard works” of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price), official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith. Isolated statements are often taken out of context, leaving their original meaning distorted.”

    Notice our scripture do not contain every word or even every revelation from a single prophet. The lord set up his scriptures to have his doctrines in order. Also there is this:
    “Because different times present different challenges, modern-day prophets receive revelation relevant to the circumstances of their day. This follows the biblical pattern (Amos 3:7), in which God communicated messages and warnings to His people through prophets in order to secure their well-being. ”

    If you have ever read when Brigham Young started the Mormon ban you will notice he never claims that God specifically told him that, he didn’t counsel with the twelve, it was his opinion that he closed as testimony. Yet the scripture that he says is the one he used for the ban does not ever specify how long that priesthood ban would last. Also not every black person is from Ham. Just a thought, who was Joseph of Egypt’s wife? She was an egyptian, supposedly from the race with the priesthood ban. So why didn’t Ephraim and Manasseh have the priesthood withheld from them? They didn’t because our scriptures repeat several times that a curse will follow people unless they repent.

    The link also says this,
    “Because different times present different challenges, modern-day prophets receive revelation relevant to the circumstances of their day. This follows the biblical pattern (Amos 3:7), in which God communicated messages and warnings to His people through prophets in order to secure their well-being.”

    People now-a-days might need messages that reflect their current challenges but that does not mean doctrine has changed.

    The following is from the same link and is a helper to recognize doctrine:
    “Individual members are encouraged to independently strive to receive their own spiritual confirmation of the truthfulness of Church doctrine. Moreover, the Church exhorts all people to approach the gospel not only intellectually but with the intellect and the spirit, a process in which reason and faith work together.”
    Doctrine comes from God, not man. A man might be given authority to speak God’s doctrine. If you want to know if certain words spoken by someone claiming to be speaking the word of God you can ask that same God if those are his words and not just the thoughts or opinions of one man. “By their fruits ye shall know them.”

  132. Ohme on February 15, 2011 at 1:08 am

    Let us also dissect the quote given by Ardis that is a second hand account of what Brigham Young said.

    “There is the written word of God to us, concerning the work of God from the beginning of the world, almost, to our day.” This statement was made concerning the scripture and is part of our doctrine and is counted by members as truth.

    “And now, when compared with the [living] oracles those books are nothing to me;” This statement is Brigham Youngs direct opinion and does not necessarily state doctrine.

    “… those books do not convey the word of God direct to us now…” This statement is also true. For example, The Doctrine and Covenants contains many revelations Joseph Smith received while giving blessings or praying directly concerning one of the men during living during his time. So those words were directed to that group of people or individuals, but as the scriptures also say, they were written and organized for our day. So also they might not be directed directly to us, they were written for our benefit.

    “…as do the words of a Prophet or a man bearing the Holy Priesthood in our day and generation.” A modern Prophet can give us direct counsel for our day. Today we have computers, so modern day prophets can tell us concerning the dangers dealing with computer activities. Our scriptures do not talk about computers but can againgive us direction and doctrine so we can choose the right.

    “I would rather have the living oracles than all the writing in the books.” Once again this is brother Brighams opinion. It is however a blessing from the lord that we do have direction for our time and day. Remember though, that all the holy prophets taught from scripture. Even Jesus Christ himself taught from scripture. Remember also the words of ancient prophets:
    “2Do ye not remember that I said unto you that after ye had received the Holy Ghost ye could speak with the tongue of angels? And now, how could ye speak with the tongue of angels save it were by the Holy Ghost?
    3Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.” -2 Nephi 32:2-3

    The living prophet is truly important and vital to people of their day. Prophets will speak the word of God for the people of their day and they will speak from scripture as well, if not they would have already gotten rid of the standard works. Both are important. If all the scriptures in the world were destroyed the living prophet could give us all the words of God necessary, but the scriptures haven’t been destroyed so it is important to study them as do the living prophets.

  133. John A. Tvedtnes on February 15, 2011 at 9:23 am

    Ray, thank you for straightening me out on the addressee of your comments.

  134. Joe on February 15, 2011 at 10:55 am

    I too think brother Perkins comments are well intended. This I think. But I know what he states is true. I know because I was willing to accept his invitation and study the scriptures he presented and prayed and received a witness of these truths from the Lord.

    I have to say that as I read some of the very well articulated statements in opposition to these truths he’s presented, it sounds like I’m reading the writings of the Scribes and the Pharisees. I invite you all to go and read the for Gospels and see if you don’t see the same.

    Regardless of where you are with bother Perkins’ statements (statements of fact to those who have accepted the invitation and received direct personal answers and witness from the Lord) the changes in the 1981 edition of the scriptures and the most recent ones both confirm what he’s said. And he, Perkins, did not write or change any of the scriptures.

    I have to say that I’m amazed at the lengths some of you who profess to know Christ have and go through to support inequality and assign it to Him, Christ. Please look at one simple fact. With your explanations that support inequality, we turn away and lose many who would be members. With all the brother Perkins has shared through his works, we baptize and reactivate many. We don’t lose members for teaching equality.

  135. Joe on February 15, 2011 at 11:02 am

    … By their fruits ye shall know them.

  136. Ardis E. Parshall on February 15, 2011 at 11:12 am

    What in &#$@ are you referring to here, Ohme??

    If you have ever read when Brigham Young started the Mormon ban you will notice he never claims that God specifically told him that, he didn’t counsel with the twelve, it was his opinion that he closed as testimony.

  137. Ohme on February 15, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    Correction-If you have ever read Brigham Young’s statements concerning the priesthood ban you will notice he never claims that God specifically told him that, he didn’t counsel with the twelve, it was his opinion that he closed as testimony.

  138. Lucienne Jeanne on February 15, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    I have read most of what has been said in this discussion about the question of Blacks.
    It is not only a priesthood issue.
    If you follow the link below, you will find the story of several faithful Black Latter-day Saints, among which Len Hope’s story.Len Hope was a black convert to the Church who lived in Alabama. After his baptism and white Southerners’ persecution, he and his wife Mary moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. I am posting an excerpt of this text right after the link. After the link, I have copied a paragraph I would like us to think about.
    http://www.fairlds.org/FAIR_Conferences/2003_Black_Latter-day_Saints.html

    “He married Mary Hope, sadly they experienced what was common in the time when they moved to Cincinnati, just by Kentucky and when they went to Church the white members made it known that they did not want a black family present.
    Soon after that, apparently the report that we got from Mark E. Petersen was that the white members told the branch president that they would quit coming if there were a black man present and so that’s why we have Elder Hanks with Br. and Sis. Hope. The Hopes went once every three months to Church to pay their tithes and offerings. Every month on Fast Sunday, the missionaries, which included Marion D. Hanks, went to the Hope’s home and gave them the sacrament and held a testimony meeting with them. ‘There was music; ribs and homemade ice cream,’ Elder Hanks told us, ‘and great spirit, great testimony.’”

    In my opinion, excluding a faithful family from sacrament meetings was a complete violation of the Savior’s teachings as reported in the Book of Mormon. The passage from 3rd Nephi 18 I am quoting deals with accepting people who have not been baptized yet in “synagogues and places of worship”, but I think it can all the more be applied to faithful members.

    “22And behold, ye shall a meet together oft; and ye shall not forbid any man from coming unto you when ye shall meet together, but suffer them that they may come unto you and forbid them not; …
    24Therefore, hold up your alight that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the blight which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do. Behold ye see that I have prayed unto the Father, and ye all have witnessed.
    25And ye see that I have commanded that a none of you should go away, but rather have commanded that ye should come unto me, that ye might b feel and see; even so shall ye do unto the world; and whosoever breaketh this commandment suffereth himself to be led into temptation”.

    It seems to me that had the heart of the matter really been on giving the Priesthood to black men, such mistreatments would have never occurred.
    Fortunately, the Priesthood ban is no longer in effect, but it has probably allowed people to distort the Lord’s doctrine. Trying to cover all kinds of misdeeds by complicated explanations does not turn what is false into truth.
    Hasn’t the Lord told the Pharisees: “Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.” Matthew 15: 6

  139. John A. Tvedtnes on February 15, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Lucienne,

    Perhaps we should add that it was the Hope family who took care of Elder (missionary) Hanks during a period of illness. Elder Hanks was jubilant when the 1978 revelation was announced.

  140. Ardis E. Parshall on February 15, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    I’m still at a loss, Ohme. Could you please point me toward Brigham Young’s statements regarding priesthood and race?

  141. Krissie Ireland on February 15, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    When I first joined the Church one of the things that truly shocked me were expressions of hate by the members. Hateful comments were made about ethnic minorities, victims of HIV and Aids, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and transgendered people, women, and victims of the Holocaust. Some people held to American Supremacist ideals. And what all these individuals had in common was that they all felt justified in their position by either an interpretation of scripture or the words of church authorities. I knew that these people were wrong. I didn’t have much ‘gospel knowledge’, I couldn’t quote scripture or the prophets and apostles like they could but that didn’t matter. I asked God in my anguish and received confirmation. What I learned is that all men are weak and fallible. I don’t care what title someone has – they can be wrong. There is a wider history of exclusion within the church that I believe stems from the exclusion of black people from ‘full’ membership. When individuals (whoever they may be) take the scriptures and use them to justify hate, it says a lot about that individual, but nothing about God.

    I totally agree with Lucienne Jeanne (138) when she writes:

    “Fortunately, the Priesthood ban is no longer in effect, but it has probably allowed people to distort the Lord’s doctrine. Trying to cover all kinds of misdeeds by complicated explanations does not turn what is false into truth.”

    Which is why when people say things like, “When the Prophet speaks the debate is over,” I know I’m only Mormon-ish because I can’t agree with it – history, searching, pondering and praying has taught me that.

  142. johnrpack on February 16, 2011 at 12:12 am

    I’m about 10 postings behind, but I’ll post this now and catch up later…

    The scriptures are the testimony of the ancient apostles and prophets. Truth, doctrine, and inspiration are available to any who will search them and understand than by the Holy Spirit. The scriptures are very important to us – which is why those with authority continue to testify of the scriptures’ truth.

    However, authority is not in the printed text. Think of it this way. You may learn the importance of service and charity in the scriptures. But it’s the Elders’ Quorum President who tells us a specific service that’s needed this coming weekend.

    For Fred, I offer the following comparison of authority in the Mormon church vs. Protestant faiths: Suppose you were reading in the New Testament and understood that deacons were adult men. In a Protestant church, you could take the verses where you learned this information to the pastor and demand that he stop using young men as deacons. If he refused, you’d have precedent to found your own church or find one whose practices matched your interpretation of the scriptures. Now suppose you took the same information to your bishop and demanded a change. You’d expect no change. Why? The authority to guide and direct the church is not in the verses, but instead resides with those who hold the priesthood keys.

    Suppose you read in the New Testament that two people who refused to live with all their property in common were killed. You go to your bishop and demand that Brother Pack be struck down because he’s refused to share his truck with you. How will that turn out? Again, private interpretations do not hold sway. Only the prophet can tell us when to begin living the complete doctrine of consecration.

    By the same token, the prophet has the authority to create or eliminate policies with respect to who should or shouldn’t be ordained to the priesthood.

    >Ohme: People now-a-days might need messages that reflect their current challenges but that does not mean doctrine has changed.

    True. But sometimes a practice or policy which is not doctrine is regarded by some saints as being doctrine. This was the case with the policy being addressed here. Some doctrines are not current practice (e.g., consecration, plural marriage). Some scripture is not doctrine (e.g., Paul suggests widowers remain unmarried). Some scripture shows a spiritual pattern (e.g., callings of missionaries in the D&C) but is not identical instruction to readers. We can tell which is which by relying on the living prophet and apostles and by asking for the Holy Spirit as we read.

    But let’s make no mistake – without a living prophet and apostles (and a witness of them from the Holy Spirit), our interpretation of the scriptures would be no more sure than that of our protestant friends.

  143. Ohme on February 16, 2011 at 12:18 am

    Thank you for Clarifying johnrpack. It sounds like most of us are on the same page. We just aren’t always as clear as we want to be. :-)

  144. johnrpack on February 17, 2011 at 12:11 am

    >Lucienne: Fortunately, the Priesthood ban is no longer in effect, but it has probably allowed people to distort the Lord’s doctrine.

    True. But, for some reason, there are people who tend to exaggerate the importance of everything, and there’s not much we can do about it except to realize that they need the gospel’s blessings too.

    My 75-year-old father has worn a white bow-tie in the temple since he was 19. The tie, of course, is not an official part of the temple robes at all (since it is not used with jump-suits). A few years ago some member accosted him for wearing the wrong type of tie. So now he wears a boring white tie like everyone else. Too bad — a little less diversity to bring a smile to the rest of us. But it’s typically of those who cement themselves in one mind-set and cannot conceive that anything could possible be different.

    This story reminds me of a dream my father had in his mid-20s. In the dream, he met God. He remembers the pure love he felt and the desire he had to be reunited with God ever since. In the dream, God was a short, fat, black man. My father tells me the dream was God’s way of letting him know that his prejudices were wrong and that physical appearance does not determine God’s love. So even two decades before the preisthood policy changed, God was working with the members of the church to prepare them.

    My father, like me, was overjoyed in 1978 when the revelation was announced.

    I hope, BTW, that we’ll all be just as overjoyed when the law of consecration is put back into full force.

  145. Restored Gospel Evidences on March 5, 2011 at 3:01 am

    The references to dark & white skins in the book of Mormon, could be best understood, as to their ancient meanings, if we take into account the temple types in the Book of Mormon & ancient Jewish & early Christian robes & garments, (many ancient garments were made out of animals skins), & ritualistic color symbolisms. White being symbolic of pure, clean, spotless robes or skins, in judgment settings. Clothed in purity, having their skins cleaned by Christ’s atonement. Dark skins, or spots on skins, or garments to the point where they’re black, were symbolic of those in judgment settings, having so many sins on them, that their animal skin, or cloth garments were blackened to pitch black. It’s not racial skin color traditionally believed, but it’s ancient ritualistic garment color symbolism. See on You Tube, Restored Apologetics, Black & White Garment Color Symbolism in Religions -http://www.youtube.com/user/RESTOREDAPOLOGETICS#g/c/679293A6FD84EFF0