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Article About Blacks, The Priesthood And Continuing Revelation

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I just read this article and thought I'd share it with you all. Revelation and Black Mormons

AFAIK, the author of the article, Paul Flesher, is not a member of the Church.

The part of this article that I enjoyed reading was the part where he talked about continuing revelation and it's role.

In 1969, during Americaâ??s Civil Rights protests, fourteen Black members of Wyomingâ??s football team decided to wear black arm bands during their game against Brigham Young University, protesting what they characterized as racist policies of Mormonism. Wyomingâ??s coach summarily dismissed them from the team.

In 2002, the BYU student body elected Robert Foster as its first black student association president.

What changed to bring about such a radical shift?

Nothing short of a divine revelation. In June of 1978, LDS President Spencer Kimball had a revelation that reversed a revelation by Brigham Young in 1848. The earlier revelation held that Black men of African descent could be admitted to the church should be not admitted to the Mormon priesthood, a position into which nearly all Mormon men enter during their teenage years.

The prophecies and their accompanying controversies are prime examples of how revelation operates in a social situation, both for those who believe and those who do not.

First, for those who believe, divine instructions delivered by prophecy must be obeyed. They cannot go against revelation, even when the beliefs of the surrounding human society change. So when the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s dramatically altered the position of Blacks in American society as a whole, it did not affect the standing of Brigham Youngâ??s prophetic revelation.

Second, prophetic revelation is not necessarily permanent, but lasts only until another revelation concerning the same matter. The biblical prophet Jonah provides a good example, for God sent him to Nineveh to prophesy the cityâ??s destruction. When the Ninevites repented, God sent Jonah with a new revelation saying the city would be spared. President Kimballâ??s revelation functioned similarly; it revealed Godâ??s new will.

Third, prophetic revelation comes not in calm times, but at periods of social conflict and unrest. The prophet Micaiah gave a revelation to the Kings of Judah and Israel at a time of war (1 Kings 22), for example, telling them not to fight or they would be defeated. They fought, and lost their lives.

It seems to me that many Christians are under the belief that no revelation since Christ can override any earlier revelation given since Christ, and I can understand why they come from that position if they believe that the only scripture possible today is the Bible, but Paul, in his article, while not agreeing with the belief of the Church when it comes to modern day revelation, says that there is precedence where God has a prophet give a revelation and then later, He overrides that prophecy with a later prophecy. He uses the example of Jonah and the city of Ninevah. I realize that this revelation has been beaten to death, but at least here, I see a non-Mormon agreeing that the first prophecy, the unconditional destruction of Ninevah and I realize that he didn't use the word "unconditional" in his article, was replaced with the prophecy that the city would be spared.

His other two points are very valid also.

He also said something else that kind of surprised me.

Brigham Youngâ??s revelation in Utah in 1848 can be seen as providing a way for Mormons to remain neutral on the question of slavery; it permitted Utah territory to have both slave-holding converts from the South and free Black converts from the North. Even in 1863 during the height of the Civil War, Young stated that he was neither for nor against slavery. Like most whites he did not believe in inter-racial marriage, but he also thought that Congress should rule â??that negroes should be used like human beings, and not worse than dumb brutes. For the abuse of that race, the whites will be cursed.â? Although these words may have a dogmatic tone to modern ears, they were at the time rather progressive.

He said in so many words that we shouldn't go around judging the actions of people who lived in the past with the standards that we have today.

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What 1848 revelation was he referring to?

I don't know. Good question. That just whizzed right past me.

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In June of 1978, LDS President Spencer Kimball had a revelation that reversed a revelation by Brigham Young in 1848.

According to my understanding, the priesthood ban was not based on an 1848 revelation to Brigham Young, nor would I say that the priesthood ban was "reversed" by OD 2 due to the fact that it was understood from the beginning to have a time limit to it (that is, to last only until the rest of Adam's posterity, including Abel's, had received their priesthood and blessings).

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According to my understanding, the priesthood ban was not based on an 1848 revelation to Brigham Young, nor would I say that the priesthood ban was "reversed" by OD 2 due to the fact that it was understood from the beginning to have a time limit to it (that is, to last only until the rest of Adam's posterity, including Abel's, had received their priesthood and blessings).

That is myth, not doctrine. The fact is that priesthood was given to blacks until Utah (around 1848) with no explanation.

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That is myth, not doctrine. The fact is that priesthood was given to blacks until Utah (around 1848) with no explanation.

IIRC, Darius Grey notes that blacks were given the priesthood after 1848, and makes the point that it does not appear that there was ever a time since the Saints moved to Utah - despite the official policy - that there were not at least some black priesthood holders in the Church.

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That is myth...

Not according to the First Presidency, who in their August 17, 1949 statement wrote:

The attitude of the Church with reference to Negroes remains as it has always stood. It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the priesthood at the present time.

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"In June of 1978, LDS President Spencer Kimball had a revelation that reversed a revelation...."

It's a very kind article and there will be complaints from me; however....

1. The 1978 revelation was not only given to President Kimball, but to the entire First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve.

2. The revelation very carefully said it was not reversing anything, but that the time had simply come for all worthy males....

3. The church leaders had made this a matter of prayer for years, yet the Lord specifically refused to address the matter.

When it came, there was a great celebration among black members of the church and among the vast majority of white members. It was something that no one wanted to keep in place.

But though the revelation could have come through President Kimball alone, I find it fascinating that the revelation was experienced by many witnesses. Again, we see that the Lord uses witnesses for every major event in the church. The restoration of the priesthood, the restoration of priesthood keys, the Book of Mormon, the restoration of temples, and yes, even succession in the presidency when Brigham Young spoke to the Latter-day Saints at Council Bluffs. The only revelation that did not have witnesses was that given to halt plural marriage in 1891, and in that our hands were tied. Still, according to Jacob 2 in the Book of Mormon, plural marriage is NOT the norm, but the exception. Thus, the wacko polygamist groups are deceiving themselves.

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Do you refer to my statement above, or the First Presidency statement?

If one interprets the first presidency statement to be saying that blacks haven't had the priesthood since the beginning, the fp statement is incorrect. The church has had black members with the priesthood since its beginning and in almost every period of time.

You might want to check out the links for the history.

If one is interpreting the statement to say that blacks can't have the priesthood at this time, and the Lord has given commandments since the beginning, then it is correct.

What do you think the statement is saying?

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If one interprets the first presidency statement to be saying that blacks haven't had the priesthood since the beginning, the fp statement is incorrect. The church has had black members with the priesthood since its beginning and in almost every period of time.

You might want to check out the links for the history.

If one is interpreting the statement to say that blacks can't have the priesthood at this time, and the Lord has given commandments since the beginning, then it is correct.

What do you think the statement is saying?

I wish you'd be specific about what is abnormal or incorrect about the statement. Just posting a couple of links doesn't allow me to understand which specific items on each page would be directly applicable to your point.

Exceptions to a policy, all two or three of them (!) don't redefine that policy.

Abel, Elijah, the only colored man who is known to have been ordained to the priesthood . . . was ordained an elder March 3, 1836, and a seventy April 4, 1841, an exception having been made in his case with regard to the general rule of the church in relation to colored people.

--Andrew Jenson, L.D.S. Biographical Encyclopedia, vol. 3, 1901â??1936, pg. 577.

Around 26,000 members of the Church at the time of Joseph Smith's death, and all people can point to is one man who was only 1/8 black being ordained an elder as evidence that the priesthood ban did not begin during Joseph Smith's lifetime. Elijah Abel's patriarchal blessing said that the curse was removed from him, so I'd say he doesn't count.

Here's an interesting article:

http://byustudies.byu.edu/shop/pdfsrc/19.3...%20origin"

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The information on the "one' exception is outdated and incorrect.

I do wish you would go over and read the timelines. It would help bring you up to date on some of the information. Elijah Abel was not the ONE exception. I understand that even this information is a bit outdated, and we now know there were others ordained in the 1830s. Several people were ordained under Joseph Smith, and at least one person of color under Brigham Young.

Here is a partial list

1836: In March, Elijah Abel, a black man, is ordained to the office of Elder.

1836: In December, Elijah Abel, is ordained to the office of Seventy.

1844: Walker Lewis, a black man, is ordained to the office of Elder.

1846: William McCary, a black man, is ordained to the office of Elder.

1900: Enoch Abel, the son of Elijah Abel, is ordained to the office of Elder.

1935: Elijah Abel, grandson of Elijah Abel, is ordained to the office of Elder.

1958: All black Melanesians (Fijians) are given the priesthood (blacks in the Philippines even earlier)

That is the problem with many of the discussions on blacks and the priesthood. Information is frequently quoted from the 1930's through 1960's during a time when lots of assertions were made but very little facts were actually researched.

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Who, pray tell, are the "several people" who were "ordained under Joseph Smith"?

Walker Lewis may have been ordained after the death of Joseph Smith. The exact date of his ordination is not known.

edit: I'm also wondering what, specifically, is abnormal or incorrect in the First Presidency statement of Aug. 17, 1949?

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If you want to become really informed on this, you might want to read this book that is online. Some of the information is pre-1978, but there is better historical information there:

http://www.signaturebookslibrary.org/neith...eithertitle.htm

Yeah, I own the book and read it nearly 20 years ago when I bought it (and a couple of times since). I had bought and read Taggart's booklet a little before that because I served my mission in an area where there were many black people and wanted to understand the history of the ban better. I didn't understand the subject very well back then, but I now disagree with a number of ideas in those books.

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This issue, for me, is just another example of the LDS church cheapening the concept of divine revelation. Why can't the Mormon church just admit that they, like virtually every other white person/organization back then, were blatantly racist, and aren't now? Why must their enlightenment regarding the equality in all things of the black man be just that? Why must it have been the result of some guy's "revelation?"

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This issue, for me, is just another example of the LDS church cheapening the concept of divine revelation. Why can't the Mormon church just admit that they, like virtually every other white person/organization back then, were blatantly racist, and aren't now? Why must their enlightenment regarding the equality in all things of the black man be just that? Why must it have been the result of some guy's "revelation?"

Oh, I don't know, probably because institutionally, the church does not know why for certain blacks were denied the priesthood, and when it was reversed the revelation didn't say anything to explain it then, either.

When Peter received the revelation that the gospel was now to be preached to the gentiles:

9

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This issue, for me, is just another example of the LDS church cheapening the concept of divine revelation. Why can't the Mormon church just admit that they, like virtually every other white person/organization back then, were blatantly racist, and aren't now? Why must their enlightenment regarding the equality in all things of the black man be just that? Why must it have been the result of some guy's "revelation?"

Wow, you totally don't take into account that many Church leaders and members anxiously awaited the day when blacks could receive the priesthood.

But though the revelation could have come through President Kimball alone, I find it fascinating that the revelation was experienced by many witnesses.

Also interesting that Elder McConkie was one of those present because we all know that with his strict and outspoken orthodoxy he could've easily spoken out against the change if he felt that it was wrong to extend the priesthood to all worthy males. Yet he went around the Church talking about how wonderful it was that the revelation had been given and all the good that would come from it. He even stated in the first edition of Mormon Doctrine (yes, I have my grandfather's copy) that many Negros lived higher standards of righteousness than their white counterparts and that such a situation would be taken into account at the day of judgment. The exact wording makes it clear he didn't feel in the slightest that merely being white gave you special favor in the eyes of the Lord. Reading racism into a situation where there is none is a futile effort.

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So is it really true that blacks had been ordained all along, I mean right up to 1978? Maybe exceptions were made to the ban, or maybe it wasn't thought of as an absolute rule until later.

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Many rules have had exceptions made in Church history.

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Who, pray tell, are the "several people" who were "ordained under Joseph Smith"?

Walker Lewis may have been ordained after the death of Joseph Smith. The exact date of his ordination is not known.

edit: I'm also wondering what, specifically, is abnormal or incorrect in the First Presidency statement of Aug. 17, 1949?

As I said before, it depends on how you read it. If you read it to say that blacks could not hold the priesthood since the beginning, then it is incorrect.

Here are two sources on Walker Lewis:

1844 or earlier Walker Lewis, a Black member and barber in Lowell, MA ordained an Elder either by William Smith (a younger brother of Joseph Smith Jr.)--reported by William L. Appleby in a letter to Brigham Young dated June 2, 1847 and in his "Journal History" dated 19 May 1847--both in LDS Archives) or (according to Jane Elizabeth James in a letter dated 7 Feb 1890 to Joseph F. Smith) "Parley P. Pratt ordained Him and Elder" (reported by Wolfinger in _A Test of Faith_, p. 149).

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As I said before, it depends on how you read it. If you read it to say that blacks could not hold the priesthood since the beginning, then it is incorrect.

The statement says that "the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization" was that blacks were "not entitled to the priesthood". That's a true statement.

Zebedee Coltrin reported that in 1834 Joseph Smith said "the Spirit of the Lord saith the Negro has no right to the Priesthood." (L. John Nuttall Journal, May 31, 1879)

The same Joseph Smith also, according to Elijah Abel himself, said that "he was entitled to the priesthood"(Minutes of the Council of the Twelve, June 4, 1879).

Elijah Abel's patriarchal blessing mentions him being "equal to thy brethren...because of the covenants of thy fathers."

This exception does not falsify the First Presidency statement.

Here are two sources on Walker Lewis:

1844 or earlier Walker Lewis, a Black member and barber in Lowell, MA ordained an Elder either by William Smith (a younger brother of Joseph Smith Jr.)--reported by William L. Appleby in a letter to Brigham Young dated June 2, 1847 and in his "Journal History" dated 19 May 1847--both in LDS Archives) or (according to Jane Elizabeth James in a letter dated 7 Feb 1890 to Joseph F. Smith) "Parley P. Pratt ordained Him and Elder" (reported by Wolfinger in _A Test of Faith_, p. 149).

:P It's not known for sure if Walker Lewis was ordained in 1844 or earlier, or what month he was ordained in 1844. It could have been after the June 27, 1844 death of Joseph Smith.

How does one ordination become "several"?

What evidence is there that, as claimed by the Genesis Group on his grave marker, by blacklds.org, etc., Joseph Smith is the one who ordained Elijah Abel an elder?

Do both of these pictures of Elijah Abel look like the same man to you?

abelijue9.jpg

elijahd4.jpg

The guy in the top one could pass for white! Hmmmmm.....

edit:The bottom one appears to be a sketch by Caroline Wogan Durieux (1896-1989) titled "He Believes Everything" made during a WPA project in the 1930's and later published in a 1945 book called Gumbo Ya-Ya - A Collection of Louisiana Folk Tales by Lyle Saxon, found on the page facing pg. 151.

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Oh, I don't know, probably because institutionally, the church does not know why for certain blacks were denied the priesthood, and when it was reversed the revelation didn't say anything to explain it then, either.

When Peter received the revelation that the gospel was now to be preached to the gentiles:

Now, this revelation that Peter received simply said the time had come to preach to the gentiles, but it didn't bother to explain why it had been forbidden before. Maybe the Jews were just bigots; or maybe not. But I think God keeps his own counsel on many things he does not bother to run by us in justification. It's his universe, after all. He can do as he pleases, and you can argue with him all you want, it won't matter. Maybe he will explain himself to you in a coming day and satisfy your curiosity.

Hope so. And when He does I hope He is sure to explain that whole "White and Delightsome" business.

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The guy in the top one could pass for white! Hmmmmm.....

Probably not considering how it appears the photo is faded and therefore the skin colour is lighter than it really was.

Plus the edges of the facial features are faded out, blending in more so the larger nose and lips aren't as noticeable. Add to that a different hairstyle....and don't forget the photo doesn't show the texture of the hair either.

If you look from feature to feature closely (long face, high forehead, high cheekbones, wide and full mouth, wide and flat nose--notice the shading is very faint in the photo in this area likely due to the flater nature of the nose, it is obviously the same man...probably the drawing was done from the photo, it's just that the details are more apparent due to the higher contrast.

His photo is one of the few of that time period where he actually looks happy that I've seen with that slight smile on his face, I must say it's a pleasant change from the usual stone face poses that people chose in order to be able to hold the position long enough.

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