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Would Joseph Smith Recognize A Modern Lds Sacrament Meeting?

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Perhaps here's a more interesting question.

Suppose Joseph Smith were suddenly transported from May of 1844 to present day, and ends up on your doorstep. You tell him that in 2013, there are several different "restorationist branches" that descend from his original 1830 Church of Christ. So you take him to the Sunday services of three of them:

A. The FLDS

B. The Community of Christ

C. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

D. (As a control group: The Jehovah's Witnesses)

Obviously each of these groups would expect the Spirit to tell Joseph which Church was the true church. Setting aside this expectation, I wonder which Joseph would be most impressed with.

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Why does a 21stC church need correlation and mandated/restricted lesson content, when an 1840s one embraced speculation?

I lack the time and energy to take up all of your questions and comments just now, but i will address this one.

The reason, as I see it, is that in the 1840s it was still very much an infant church with a great deal of growing and learning to do, growth that would subsequently come largely through "line-upon-line" revelation, but partly through experience.

Some of that experience entailed suffering the consequences of error when speakers would voice their own undoctrinal opinions and speculations, and such isolated pronouncements sometimes got written down and, over the years, have been used by enemies of the Church of Jesus Christ as weapons with which to castigate the faith of the Saints.

As might be apparent to you from the above, I do not share your disdain for the concept of Church correlation. On the contrary, I think it vitally important to preserve the purity of the word of God so that we don't find ourselves teaching "for doctrine the commandments of men," which is the very thing the Savior decried in his interview with Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove. The Latter-day Saints have a right and a need to feel assured that whatever emanates from the official pulpits, classroom lecterns, publications and websites of the Church has undergone what Elder Oaks characterized as "spiritual quality control."

Moreover, with more than 180 years of history behind it, I'm confident the Church has received enough revelation and lived through enough experience that it is in a better position than ever before to assure such quality control.

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Perhaps here's a more interesting question.

Suppose Joseph Smith were suddenly transported from May of 1844 to present day, and ends up on your doorstep. You tell him that in 2013, there are several different "restorationist branches" that descend from his original 1830 Church of Christ. So you take him to the Sunday services of three of them:

A. The FLDS

B. The Community of Christ

C. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

D. (As a control group: The Jehovah's Witnesses)

Obviously each of these groups would expect the Spirit to tell Joseph which Church was the true church. Setting aside this expectation, I wonder which Joseph would be most impressed with.

Interesting question. All of them have aspects that JS might find impressive.

A. they maintained the principle with all of the persecution they have faced

B. Remained and survived in Zion

C. Has literally spread the Gospel to all the corners of the earth

D. Well I'm sure he'd have something to say about the JWs

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Perhaps here's a more interesting question.

Suppose Joseph Smith were suddenly transported from May of 1844 to present day, and ends up on your doorstep. You tell him that in 2013, there are several different "restorationist branches" that descend from his original 1830 Church of Christ. So you take him to the Sunday services of three of them:

A. The FLDS

B. The Community of Christ

C. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

D. (As a control group: The Jehovah's Witnesses)

Obviously each of these groups would expect the Spirit to tell Joseph which Church was the true church. Setting aside this expectation, I wonder which Joseph would be most impressed with.

No, I would take him to dinner and pick his brain. :)

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As part of my masters degree, I received a Fulbright-Hays grant to spend a semester living/studying on an island which, I was happy to learn, actually had a branch of the Church. Moreover, this branch was supposedly located in the town to which I'd been assigned. I spent my first week there attempting to locate the branch, but no one I spoke to had heard of it, and it did not appear in any phone directory. Finally I rang the mission office to seek information. No one there had any idea where the branch met, and the only contact for the branch president was a PO box. I was nearly 2,200 km away from the mission office, and the mission president had never visited this branch, nor did we have missionaries assigned there. As an 'independent branch' not belonging to any district, however, it fell under the mission, so membership records were checked, and it was discovered that one of the branch's members worked at a business that had a telephone, so I was given that number.

I was so grateful to make contact with this brother (who had himself recently moved to the island for work), and the following Sunday he happily met me where I was staying and escorted me to church. The branch 'chapel' was actually located about an hour away in the mountains above the town, in a tiny village where one of the member families lived. It was a wooden structure on 2-metre-high stilts in the middle of a coconut grove, a good 15-minute walk from the nearest sealed road. I became the 14th member of the branch. Besides the other newcomer, the rest of the branch consisted of two brothers and their respective wives and children. (One had five children; the other had three children.)

The genesis of this branch was to be found in the father of the two brothers (who had then already died). Quite late in his life, he had worked on an island where the Church was established, had met missionaries, and had been converted. When he retired, he returned to his home island and attempted to share the gospel with his adult children. Before passing away, he had baptised two of his sons, and they both eventually baptised their wives, though that had been a long process for both of them. At some point in the past, a previous mission president had travelled there to organise the branch and to call one of the brothers as the branch president. He had been serving in that capacity ever since.

I think it would be difficult to find members anywhere on the planet more divorced from 'Mormonism' as a culture. They had scriptures, hymnals, and some lesson manuals, but that was about it for materials, though I suspect the BP had at least been given a handbook at some point. The inside of the branch chapel was decorated (contrary to policy) with faded and torn images which had been taken from the lesson manuals -- primarily temples and prophets. Not one of these people had ever seen a general conference session, read a copy of the Liahona, attended a fireside, or received any real training. They had never met missionaries. Their only connection to the Church outside the island was occasional letters from the mission president.

As I sat there that Sunday morning waiting for the service to start (the BP was outside filling cups from a water bottle he'd brought from home to use in the sacrament), a mother dog started carrying her pups up the ladder into the chapel. When she got them all up, she lay down on the floor and began to nurse them. No one seemed to notice. We had no music to accompany our singing. The sacrament prayers were read out of a Book of Mormon. I remember thinking as I sat there in silence that I had never seen anything like this. So much of it seemed not just different but wrong somehow.

Then the testimonies began. (It was Fast Sunday.) The branch president of course started us off. He shared a personal experience about losing a chicken in the jungle and then praying to find it again. He shared his witness that God hears and answers prayers. Then he added his witness to many more things. His testimony sounded exactly like mine. Exactly. So did everyone else's -- and all 14 of us stood up to share that morning. The words, the faith and understanding behind the words, and the light and truth generated by the words were all perfectly familiar. These people all knew precisely what I know because they'd experienced precisely what I've experienced. I felt perfectly at home.

Joseph Smith would feel the exact same way if he were to time-travel to the sacrament meeting in my ward this Sunday.

Edited by Hamba Tuhan

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I believe that Joseph would be well pleased with the modern Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I think he may be saddened by some of it's members lack of reverence and respect and enraged by the self appointed critics who try to discredit and defame the Church in these days. But in general if he felt the spirit of the Lord in our meetings then he like the modern prophets would be glad of our progress. As for Joseph running things from the spirit world, no that is what delegation of the mantle of authority is for. But he is still the head of this dispensation, just as Peter was the head of his dispensation. But I do believe when the end comes that Joseph will receive the stewardships or keys and he will be honored as the head of this dispensation. And each dispensation back to father Adam will each give a report to Christ who is and has and always will be the head of this Church. So in a way the question is sort of insulting to anyone who believes in the Lord guiding this Church by revelation today to living prophets.

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As part of my masters degree, I received a Fulbright-Hays grant to spend a semester living/studying on an island which, I was happy to learn, actually had a branch of the Church...

Thanks for taking the time to write up your experience. I love this.

In the end, it's the beauty of the gospel principles, applied to real lives that makes it all work.

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I think Joseph would be disappointed that no one wanted to go out with him for a beer or glass of wine after sacrament meeting.

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Joseph Smith Jr was the apostle Matthew and King Solomon. King David was David Hyrum Smith and Also my son. Soon we will gather in Independence as Osama is the Presidents real name.

Trolling, trolling, trolling...

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"Mingling with Gods he can plan for his brethren..."

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As part of my masters degree, I received a Fulbright-Hays grant to spend a semester living/studying on an island which, I was happy to learn, actually had a branch of the Church...

Okay, you have got to write that up for the Ensign!

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@Bernard Gui: I never cared for the words to that hymn, although the tune (stolen from a true Scotsman) is always catchy....

Edited by Questing Beast

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@Bernard Gui: I never cared for the words to that hymn, although the tune (stolen from a true Scotsman) is always catchy....

I, on the other hand, regard the words as inspired and the hymn more needed than ever in this day when Joseph's detractors are fulfilling Moroni's prophecy with a vengeance.

And like you, I love the melody which, like the patriotic song "Scotland the Brave," was adapted from a Scottish folk song.

Sometimes they call on me to lead the music in priesthood meeting. If they do so today, I think I'll choose "Praise to the Man." Thank you for the cue.

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I lack the time and energy to take up all of your questions and comments just now, but i will address this one.

The reason, as I see it, is that in the 1840s it was still very much an infant church with a great deal of growing and learning to do, growth that would subsequently come largely through "line-upon-line" revelation, but partly through experience.

Some of that experience entailed suffering the consequences of error when speakers would voice their own undoctrinal opinions and speculations, and such isolated pronouncements sometimes got written down and, over the years, have been used by enemies of the Church of Jesus Christ as weapons with which to castigate the faith of the Saints.

As might be apparent to you from the above, I do not share your disdain for the concept of Church correlation. On the contrary, I think it vitally important to preserve the purity of the word of God so that we don't find ourselves teaching "for doctrine the commandments of men," which is the very thing the Savior decried in his interview with Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove. The Latter-day Saints have a right and a need to feel assured that whatever emanates from the official pulpits, classroom lecterns, publications and websites of the Church has undergone what Elder Oaks characterized as "spiritual quality control."

Moreover, with more than 180 years of history behind it, I'm confident the Church has received enough revelation and lived through enough experience that it is in a better position than ever before to assure such quality control.

Hi Scott, I'd come to a broadly similar conclusion as I'd said:

...in a 14mn (or 5mn depending on how you count them) global church, a free reign is more likely to lead to 'divergence' (I'll avoid the hot word 'apostacy') than if everyone is living in the same town/valley as in the 1800s

So given there has been correlation, some of which is a required belief to receive a recommend, it would be fair to say there is a level of expected beliefs.

The danger of correlation and eliminating speculation among leaders is it leads to the over-confidence of some members (I know it did me) that we have all the right answers... When we don't.

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I, on the other hand, regard the words as inspired and the hymn more needed than ever in this day when Joseph's detractors are fulfilling Moroni's prophecy with a vengeance.

I'd have to agree with Questing Beast.

While I appreciate the works he produced and the theology he left behind, I'll sing praises to God, not a man.

Besides:

"Praise to his mem’ry, he died as a martyr;"

- A "martyr?" With guns blazing as he did, locked up for the illegal order to destroy a printing press which had accurately exposed his polygamy (even though he denied it in public), shouting a masonic distress cry as he went? Not quite an Abinadi or Stephen...

"Earth must atone for the blood of that man." If the words are inspired, in what way has the earth atoned for his blood? Has it already, or is it one not yet fulfilled? It would be a shame if this song and the blood atonement rhetoric of the day lead to such atrocities as MMM.

Maybe this hymn would be another Joseph would shudder at if he arrived at a 21stC meeting. I'm not sure he revelled in being eulogised. He seems to have preferred to be known as the "rough stone rolling."

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Hi Scott, I'd come to a broadly similar conclusion as I'd said:

So given there has been correlation, some of which is a required belief to receive a recommend, it would be fair to say there is a level of expected beliefs.

The danger of correlation and eliminating speculation among leaders is it leads to the over-confidence of some members (I know it did me) that we have all the right answers... When we don't.

I see it as doing just the opposite. With the line clearly established between what is and is not doctrine, what has and has not been revealed, and thus what is known and what cannot be known just yet, one may feel freer to speculate, secure in the knowledge that he won't be leading anyone astray with what are his own private theories.

To take a recently discussed example, one may stake out an opinion regarding the Book of Abraham as to whether it was translated from papyri or whether the papyri merely served as a catalyst for the Prophet to revelation. One may do this knowing that the Church does not yet bind anyone to hold to either theory or to any specific theory at all.

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I'd have to agree with Questing Beast.

While I appreciate the works he produced and the theology he left behind, I'll sing praises to God, not a man.

I will feel free to do both when it is appropriate.

While my worship is reserved for God alone, there are many people who live and have lived on the earth who deserve honor and praise, and Joseph is certainly among them.

The idea that God alone deserves praise strikes me as a sectarian notion.

Besides:

"Praise to his mem’ry, he died as a martyr;"

- A "martyr?" With guns blazing as he did, ...

Spare me the stock anti-Mormon canard (pardon the use of what you have chosen as your screen name, but that seems the word that best fits in this instance) that Joseph died in a "gunfight." It is extremely repugnant to me.

Joseph did not have "guns blazing." A friend had left him with a single, pepperbox pistol, notoriously unreliable. It was his only defense against a murderous crowd of mobbers bent on the death of Joseph and his three companions in the jail cell, two of whom were not there on charges but were only there as caring friends, whom he was obviously trying to defend.

Furthermore, the notion that to qualify as a martyr one must passively accept death is altogether wrong-headed. This has been discussed before on this board. The only condition to qualify one as a martyr is that he refuses to renounce his ideals as a condition for being allowed to remain alive. This Joseph did.

... locked up for the illegal order to destroy a printing press ...

It was a libelous press that had been declared by the Nauvoo City Council as a public nuisance. His incarceration was on charge of riot stemming from the declaration of martial law in Nauvoo, an act with the intent of preserving the lives and safety of his people from the violence of mobbers in adjacent towns. The entire proceeding was in line with a plot to get Joseph isolated so the mobs could carry out their intent to kill him.

... which had accurately exposed his polygamy (even though he denied it in public),...

He hardly had other options, commanded by God to institute that teaching among a close and trusted inner circle and faced with the actions of traitors trying to incite mob violence gainst him and his people.

shouting a masonic distress cry as he went?

If it was a masonic distress cry he shouted, what of it? Does that somehow make him dishonorable or deserving of death?

Not quite an Abinadi or Stephen...

Actually, the courage of Joseph compares favorably with both of those martyrs. Abinadi was anything but passive and mute; Stephen wasn't either.

"Earth must atone for the blood of that man." If the words are inspired, in what way has the earth atoned for his blood? Has it already, or is it one not yet fulfilled?

Poetry being what it is, you can apply that any way you think appropriate. I see it as not necessarily being limited to mortality. Those who brutalized and murdered the Saints and their leaders have long since passed on. It's my conviction they are suffering or will yet suffer the consequences of their actions.

Beyond that, there are the prophesied last days when the earth will be cleansed of wickedness at the coming of the Son of Man. I have no doubt Joseph will be among the servants of God, ancient and modern, who will be present when that that coming occurs.

It would be a shame if this song and the blood atonement rhetoric of the day lead to such atrocities as MMM.

The Mountain Meadows Massacre is a shame no matter what the provocation. But I think your attempt to link it to a line in a hymn is a torturous stretch.

Maybe this hymn would be another Joseph would shudder at if he arrived at a 21stC meeting. I'm not sure he revelled in being eulogised. He seems to have preferred to be known as the "rough stone rolling."

Joseph's appreciation for friendship and brotherhood was such that I think he would feel touched at any appropriate (and this one is) expression of love and honor from those he regarded as his people.

But observing the attitudes you harbor about him, I have little wonder you detest this hymn as you do. You are entitled to your opinion, but I feel confident that mine is the prevalent one, considering that "Praise to the Man" was the title track of a CD released a couple of years ago by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and it has been sung in general conference within the last two or three years.

And I'm happy to report that, being asked to lead the singing in priesthood meeting, I did select "Praise to the Man" as our opening song, which we sang lustily and with deep gratitude and appreciation for the sacrifices and deeds rendered by the Prophet of the Restoration.

Edited by Scott Lloyd

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Lustily? I know you admire him and all, but that's going a bit far isn't it?!

Oh wait, it's not:

lust·y  (lst)

adj. lust·i·er, lust·i·est

1. Full of vigor or vitality; robust.

2. Powerful; strong: a lusty cry.

3. Lustful.

4. Merry; joyous

And on reflection, I'm going to hold my hands up and apologise for being overly provocative. I DO think Joseph was a prophet and I'm NOT an anti-mormon. I think him attempting to defend self and friends to be entirely justified (even if most of the rank and file membership don't know about it). I suppose, if they could have, Stephen and Abinidi might have used weapons or distress calls to try to escape death too.

Having said that, I feel uncomfortable with the near elevation to deity that he receives in some church treatments, which is why I'm not overly fond of that song because I feel it contributes to that. While Joseph may one day become a god (even though, to answer your previous point, that seems to be fast becoming one of our 'non-core' doctrines), but he is not mine. As a brother and prophet I appreciate him. But I don't particularly want to sing praises to him while sat in Sunday meeting meant for worship.

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Deleted duplicate

Edited by canard78

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While we may be free to have our own opinions and to share them with people in a informal setting, we can still not stand in sacrament meeting and share thoughts or feeling which are not official teachings of the church. We have been counseled to use the standard works and the words of the modern prophets which are considered authoritative and doctrinal. I don't see this as creedal, but as a safeguard against wolves entering in dressed as sheep. The same with the temple recommend interview. I also see the children memorizing the articles of faith as a way to teach the children the doctrine, and to give them something to say when asked what they believe. This would also be a good goal for a new member of the church.

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I will feel free to do both when it is appropriate.

While my worship is reserved for God alone, there are many people who live and have lived on the earth who deserve honor and praise, and Joseph is certainly among them.

The idea that God alone deserves praise strikes me as a sectarian notion.

[in response to the "guns blazing" canard

Spare me the stock anti-Mormon canard (pardon the use of what you have chosen as your screen name, but that seems the word that best fits in this instance) that Joseph died in a "gunfight." It is extremely repugnant to me.

Joseph did not have "guns blazing." A friend had left him with a single, pepperbox pistol, notoriously unreliable. It was his only defense against a murderous crowd of mobbers bent on the death of Joseph and his three companions in the jail cell, two of whom were not there on charges but were only there as caring friends, whom he was obviously trying to defend.

Furthermore, the notion that to qualify as a martyr one must passively accept death is altogether wrong-headed. This has been discussed before on this board. The only condition to qualify one as a martyr is that he refuses to renounce his ideals as a condition for being allowed to remain alive. This Joseph did.

[in response to the claim that Joseph's death somehow was justified by the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor Press]

It was a libelous press that had been declared by the Nauvoo City Council as a public nuisance. His incarceration was on charge of riot stemming from the declaration of martial law in Nauvoo, an act with the intent of preserving the lives and safety of his people from the violence of mobbers in adjacent towns. The entire proceeding was in line with a plot to get Joseph isolated so the mobs could carry out their intent to kill him.

[in response to criticism of how Joseph instituted plural marriage among the Saints]

He hardly had other options, commanded by God to institute that teaching among a close and trusted inner circle and faced with the actions of traitors trying to incite mob violence gainst him and his people.

[in response to criticism of what Joseph said as he felll from the Carthage Jail window]

If it was a masonic distress cry he shouted, what of it? Does that somehow make him dishonorable or deserving of death?

[in response to criticism of Joseph vis-a-vis other so-called "genuine" martyrs in the scriptures]

Actually, the courage of Joseph compares favorably with both of those martyrs. Abinadi was anything but passive and mute; Stephen wasn't either.

[in response to criticism of W.W. Phelps' "Praise to the Man"]

Poetry being what it is, you can apply that any way you think appropriate. I see it as not necessarily being limited to mortality. Those who brutalized and murdered the Saints and their leaders have long since passed on. It's my conviction they are suffering or will yet suffer the consequences of their actions.

Beyond that, there are the prophesied last days when the earth will be cleansed of wickedness at the coming of the Son of Man. I have no doubt Joseph will be among the servants of God, ancient and modern, who will be present when that that coming occurs.

The Mountain Meadows Massacre is a shame no matter what the provocation. But I think your attempt to link it to a line in a hymn is a torturous stretch.

Joseph's appreciation for friendship and brotherhood was such that I think he would feel touched at any appropriate (and this one is) expression of love and honor from those he regarded as his people.

But observing the attitudes you harbor about him, it is small wonder you detest this hymn as you do. You are entitled to your opinion, but I feel confident that mine is the prevalent one, considering that "Praise to the Man" was the title track of a CD released a couple of years ago by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and it has been sung in general conference within the last two or three years.

And I'm happy to report that, being asked to lead the singing in priesthood meeting, I did select "Praise to the Man" as our opening song, which we sang lustily and with deep gratitude and appreciation for the sacrifices and deeds rendered by the Prophet of the Restoration.

Thank you, Scott. I was about to jump to Joseph's defense against Canard's criticism, but I don't think I could have said it any better than you did. :)

Edited by Kenngo1969

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I think him attempting to defend self and friends to be entirely justified (even if most of the rank and file membership don't know about it).

They might be expected to know about it if they have been paying attention. I refer you to this archived thread, wherein the presence of the pistol in Carthage Jail is noted in Church curriculum materials and the very pistol itself is displayed at the Church History Museum, the Church's flagship museum at Church headquarters in Salt Lake City.

Having said that, I feel uncomfortable with the near elevation to deity that he receives in some church treatments, which is why I'm not overly fond of that song because I feel it contributes to that. While Joseph may one day become a god (even though, to answer your previous point, that seems to be fast becoming one of our 'non-core' doctrines), but he is not mine. As a brother and prophet I appreciate him. But I don't particularly want to sing praises to him while sat in Sunday meeting meant for worship.

The hymn text states that Joseph "communed with Jehovah," and that "Jesus anointed that prophet and seer." Very true, that. I deny that it elevates Joseph to deity, although the promise has been given not just for Joseph but for all of us that if we come unto Christ and remain true and faithful, we will, as the apostle Paul puts it, be joint-heirs with Christ of all that the Father has, including His divinity.

Hymns have, as one of their purposes, to instruct (see the First Presidency message in the current hymnbook). This one does that as pertaining to the action of Jesus Christ in calling and anointing a prophet to bring forth the latter-day Restoration. Therefore, I see it as an apt use of worship-service time.

Edited by Scott Lloyd

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So, if JS were to attend a modern meeting would he recognize it or would he be aghast?

I don't know, I'd have to wait for him to update his Twitter feed to find out.

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Okay, I thought about this question again yesterday in Sacrament Meeting, and based on my understanding of what church meetings were like in Joseph Smith's time (informal, often outdoors etc.), I suspect he would be fascinated by a modern LDS meeting block, but he certainly wouldn't "recognize" it. At the very least, he would probably be really interested to see the young boys administering the sacrament.

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I suppose, if they could have, Stephen and Abinidi might have used weapons or distress calls to try to escape death too.

Stephen and Abinadi were alone so perhaps they would have, but possibly might not have; Joseph otoh was not alone and I think one errs if one does not take that into account when examining his actions.

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