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Lost Tribes: Has Church Modified Its Position?


paulpatter

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Up until circa the middle of the 20th Century, the Church taught that the Lost Tribes were together in a specific location. Statements such as the following were commonplace:

"Where they went and where they are, we do not know. That they are intact we must believe, else how shall the scriptures be fulfilled? There are too many prophecies concerning them and their return in a body for us to ignore this fact" (Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way to Perfection, p. 130).

"The tribes shall come; they are not lost unto the Lord; they shall be brought forth as hath been predicted; and I say unto you there are those now living--aye, some here present--who shall live to read the records of the Lost Tribes of Israel, which shall be made one with the record of the Jews, or the Holy Bible, and the. . .Book of Mormon, even as the Lord has predicted. . . ." (James E. Talmage, Oct. 1916, General Conference).

Bruce R. McConkie (Mormon Doctrine) writes: "They were still a distinct people many hundreds of years later [after being overrun by Assyria]; for the resurrected Lord visited and ministered among them following his ministry on this continent among the Nephites. . . . In due course the Lost Tribes of Israel will return and come to the children of Ephraim to receive their blessings. This great gathering will take place under the direction of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for he holds the keys of 'the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north'" (D&C 110:11).

It seems to me (I may be w-a-y off base) that these days our leaders seldom discuss the Lost Tribes in detail. One theory, which I have heard stake- and ward-level leaders articulate, is that the tribes were simply assimilated into the populations in the north countries. While that may be the case (and actually makes good sense), it does not conform to statements such as those I have quoted above.

What is the Church's position re. the Lost Tribes today?

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How Will the House of Israel Be Gathered?

The Israelites are to be gathered spiritually first and then physically. They are gathered spiritually when they join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This spiritual gathering began during the time of the Prophet Joseph Smith and continues today all over the world. Converts to the Church are Israelites either by blood or adoption. They belong to the family of Abraham and Jacob (see Abraham 2:9

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What is the Church's position re. the Lost Tribes today?

Church leaders and members have believed all sorts of unusual things about peoples' lineages and the last days. Certainly over the last few decades, such talk has become much rarer and normalized.

For example, few LDS today even know that Joseph Smith was a direct descendant of Jesus.

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The Lost Tribes are everywhere, and have always been taught to be everywhere, among all the nations of the earth.

". . .have always been taught to be everywhere, among all the nations of the earth."

Hmmm. . .that isn't what was said of them by at least one early Church leader, Elder George Reynolds: "They determined to go to a country where never men dwelt, that they might be free from all contaminating influences. That country could only be found in the north." Moreover, in my earlier post I quoted Elder McConkie thus: "They were still a distinct people many hundreds of years later, for the resurrected Lord visited and ministered among them. . ." (p. 457 of Mormon Doctrine).

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D&C 133 was composed with the worldview of a unified body, with prophets, coming forth from the North, through the Ice.

26 And they who are in the north countries shall come in remembrance before the Lord; and their prophets shall hear his voice, and shall no longer stay themselves; and they shall smite the rocks, and the ice shall flow down at their presence. 27 And an highway shall be cast up in the midst of the great deep.

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Up until circa the middle of the 20th Century, the Church taught that the Lost Tribes were together in a specific location. Statements such as the following were commonplace:

"Where they went and where they are, we do not know. That they are intact we must believe, else how shall the scriptures be fulfilled? There are too many prophecies concerning them and their return in a body for us to ignore this fact" (Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way to Perfection, p. 130).

"The tribes shall come; they are not lost unto the Lord; they shall be brought forth as hath been predicted; and I say unto you there are those now living--aye, some here present--who shall live to read the records of the Lost Tribes of Israel, which shall be made one with the record of the Jews, or the Holy Bible, and the. . .Book of Mormon, even as the Lord has predicted. . . ." (James E. Talmage, Oct. 1916, General Conference).

Bruce R. McConkie (Mormon Doctrine) writes: "They were still a distinct people many hundreds of years later [after being overrun by Assyria]; for the resurrected Lord visited and ministered among them following his ministry on this continent among the Nephites. . . . In due course the Lost Tribes of Israel will return and come to the children of Ephraim to receive their blessings. This great gathering will take place under the direction of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for he holds the keys of 'the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north'" (D&C 110:11).

It seems to me (I may be w-a-y off base) that these days our leaders seldom discuss the Lost Tribes in detail. One theory, which I have heard stake- and ward-level leaders articulate, is that the tribes were simply assimilated into the populations in the north countries. While that may be the case (and actually makes good sense), it does not conform to statements such as those I have quoted above.

What is the Church's position re. the Lost Tribes today?

What's your definition of place?

I don't see that these quotes defend a position that the lost tribes are necessarily "together in a specific location" or that they are even necessarily congregated together in specific locations.

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". . .have always been taught to be everywhere, among all the nations of the earth."

Hmmm. . .that isn't what was said of them by at least one early Church leader, Elder George Reynolds: "They determined to go to a country where never men dwelt, that they might be free from all contaminating influences. That country could only be found in the north." Moreover, in my earlier post I quoted Elder McConkie thus: "They were still a distinct people many hundreds of years later, for the resurrected Lord visited and ministered among them. . ." (p. 457 of Mormon Doctrine).

"Mormon Doctrine" isn't actually mormon doctrine. The book comes with a nice little disclaimer which is very informational. And Elder Reynolds, like many other general authorities, may certainly have had his personal opinions and deductions on the subject, but they were not generally accepted by the membership of the Church, and they were never accepted as doctrine by the first presidency and 12 apostles. Some of these ideas have drifted into Mormon folklore, like so many other superstitions, and we need to be careful not to confuse them with doctrine, or, for that matter, with truths that are of actual import to our salvation.

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What's your definition of place?

My definition is contextual. It is based on statements by many Church leaders and documented in 3 Ne. 16:1-4 and 17:4 that the resurrected Lord visited and ministered to the Lost Tribes in the same manner as he visited and ministered to the Nephites on this continent. In order for the Lord to do that, they had to be in a specific place, just as the Nephites were. Recall that they were gathered in the land Bountiful.

: I don't see that these quotes defend a position that the lost tribes are necessarily "together in a specific location" or that they are even necessarily congregated together in specific locations.

So, what did Joseph Fielding Smith mean when he said (cited in my previous post): ". . .they are intact [emphasis added] we must believe, else how shall the scriptures be fulfilled? There are too many prophecies concerning them and their return in a body [emphasis added] for us to ignore this fact."

How do you interpret President Smith's words?

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"Mormon Doctrine" isn't actually mormon doctrine. The book comes with a nice little disclaimer which is very informational. And Elder Reynolds, like many other general authorities, may certainly have had his personal opinions and deductions on the subject, but they were not generally accepted by the membership of the Church, and they were never accepted as doctrine by the first presidency and 12 apostles. Some of these ideas have drifted into Mormon folklore, like so many other superstitions, and we need to be careful not to confuse them with doctrine, or, for that matter, with truths that are of actual import to our salvation.

Please see Post #9 and the quotation by President Joseph Fielding Smith.

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They aren't 'President' Smith's words; they're Elder Smith's words...published 39 years before he was called to preside over the Church, and then not even with the Church's imprimatur.

Actually, they aren't "Elder" Smith's words; they're Apostle Smith's words. By the time The Way to Pefection was published, JFS had been a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for 21 years.

I don't know about you, but I tend to think his words as preserved in Perfection count for something.

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Actually, they aren't "Elder" Smith's words; they're Apostle Smith's words. By the time The Way to Pefection was published, JFS had been a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for 21 years.

I don't know about you, but I tend to think his words as preserved in Perfection count for something.

I'm sorry if this is upsetting to you, but even apostles disagree on points of non-essential doctrine such as the location of the lost tribe. For example, Joseph Fielding Smith was well-known for being staunchly opposed to the theory of evolution, while Elder James E. Talmage and others supported it (see http://www.mormonfortress.com/evolution.pdf for a very interesting synopsis of the subject). The issue of what is accepted as doctrine and what should be considered as mere opinion is very important in Mormon theology, and the subject of many discussions on this board.

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Church leaders and members have believed all sorts of unusual things about peoples' lineages and the last days. Certainly over the last few decades, such talk has become much rarer and normalized.

For example, few LDS today even know that Joseph Smith was a direct descendant of Jesus.

Nonsense, JS never made that claim, even in a book with "beautiful color plates.... a must have..."

However, I seem to remember that he did identify someone else with that descendancy.

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They absolutely do count for something. That doesn't necessarily make them, though, what 'the Church taught.'

Nor does it necessarily make them what the Church didn't teach. Joseph Fielding Smith was a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles from 1910 to 1972. He holds the record among LDS Presidents for having served the longest in the Quorum of the Twelve--62 years! If he wasn't qualified to write what he wrote in Perfection, I am at a loss to explain who was.

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I'm sorry if this is upsetting to you, but even apostles disagree on points of non-essential doctrine such as the location of the lost tribe. For example, Joseph Fielding Smith was well-known for being staunchly opposed to the theory of evolution, while Elder James E. Talmage and others supported it (see http://www.mormonfor...m/evolution.pdf for a very interesting synopsis of the subject). The issue of what is accepted as doctrine and what should be considered as mere opinion is very important in Mormon theology, and the subject of many discussions on this board.

At the risk of derailing the thread, I must ask, do you consider the theory of evolution a matter involving "non-essential doctrine"?

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For example, Joseph Fielding Smith was well-known for being staunchly opposed to the theory of evolution, while Elder James E. Talmage and others supported it (see http://www.mormonfortress.com/evolution.pdf for a very interesting synopsis of the subject).

That explains why the Church has softened its stance on the issue, and comments both supporting and contradicting evolution can be found from a myriad of modern apostles on the Church website.

Or not.

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At the risk of derailing the thread, I must ask, do you consider the theory of evolution a matter involving "non-essential doctrine"?

Of course I do. How this meatsuit got here has no bearing at all on realizing the future we've been promised.

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My definition is contextual. It is based on statements by many Church leaders and documented in 3 Ne. 16:1-4 and 17:4 that the resurrected Lord visited and ministered to the Lost Tribes in the same manner as he visited and ministered to the Nephites on this continent. In order for the Lord to do that, they had to be in a specific place, just as the Nephites were. Recall that they were gathered in the land Bountiful.

So, what did Joseph Fielding Smith mean when he said (cited in my previous post): ". . .they are intact [emphasis added] we must believe, else how shall the scriptures be fulfilled? There are too many prophecies concerning them and their return in a body [emphasis added] for us to ignore this fact."

How do you interpret President Smith's words?

From dictionary.com

in

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The underlying assumption to the question hinges on change being evidence of current falsehood. Section one of the D&C dispells such a fundamentalist worry:

24 Behold, I am God and have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding.

25 And inasmuch as they erred it might be made known;

26 And inasmuch as they sought wisdom they might be instructed;

In other words, things ain't perfect. When we goof, we should still be moving closer to the truth. That's the goal, anyway.

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I don't know why it can't be a combination of both and so both thoughts are true. The tribes were scattered throughout the earth and are being gathered even now. On the other hand Christ told the Nephites when he visited them that he still had other sheep to visit as we read in 3 Nephi 16:1 "And verily, verily, I say unto you that I have other sheep, which are not of this land, neither of the land of Jerusalem, neither in any parts of that land round about whither I have been to minister." This seems to imply that there may be other groups which are gathered together into one.

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