Moses punishes Korah and Dathan (Sistine Chapel)
Modern day Korahs and Dathans?
This page lumps together a great many small groups as if they were a single group called 'the fundamentalists'. In fact, the label 'fundamentalist' covers a whole spectrum. At one extreme there are people who, through violence and sexual abuse, bring everyone else into disrepute. At the other extreme there are people who attend regular LDS meetings, live high moral standards, study the gospel in depth, but question whether polygamy should have ended when it did.
Fundamentalists really deserve more space than I can give. They tend to have a deeper knowledge of the gospel than most, and it would require several hundred pages to explore all the important issues. But because of their relatively small numbers, this page has to be a crude approximation. It leans toward those attitudes that get the most publicity, even though individual fundamentalists may disagree on various points.
|The main issues|
The church stopped encouraging polygamy in 1890
In Old Testament times, God gave King David plural wives.
"And I gave thee thy master's house, and thy master's wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if [that had been] too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things." (2 Samuel 12:8)
Some time later, God apparently ended the practice. In the 1840s, God revealed to the church that the practice was once again to be taken up, under certain strict conditions. In 1890, God again ended the practice. That is Gods prerogative. He gives such commands as he will, and we can choose to listen or to ignore him.
Of course, Mormons think for themselves, and not everyone agreed with the announcement in 1890. It took until 1904 to persuade the last of those who supported the prophet to stop the practice. But a small minority would not stop, and since they openly rejected church teachings they could no longer be a part of the church. Some still continue to practice polygamy today. Like many apostates, they bring the church into disrepute. Just the week before this page was first uploaded (in Britain) there was another TV special on some obscure polygamous group in Utah. No longer under the guidance of the true church, it appears to have degenerated into an ugly scene of incest, fornication, and perhaps even child abuse.
This was done through the authorized prophet.
Some "fundamentalists" claim that someone else had been secretly called to be the prophet at that time. But they do not know the scriptures.
Doctrine and Covenants 42:11
"Again I say unto you, that it shall not be given to any one to go forth to preach my gospel, or to build up my church, except he be ordained by some one who has authority, and it is known to the church that he has authority and has been regularly ordained by the heads of the church."
Some people will not listen to new revelation
Every revelation, by definition, is a change. Whenever the prophet announces a major revelation, some people refuse to go accept it, saying "no more changes!" It happened in Jesus day, when he started preaching hard doctrines:
And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. (John 6:65-68)
Notice that the twelve apostles did not leave. This is always the safe path. Go with the majority of the twelve apostles.
It also happened when polygamy was first taught. (The RLDS church does not accept those teachings were valid.)
And it happened again when polygamy ceased to be taught. Those tiny break-offs who refuse to accept the revelations ending polygamy call themselves "fundamentalists."
A fundamentalist site defines fundamentalism thus:
"One group of people we may not be so acquainted with are the Fundamentalists, and yet many of those who attend the same Church meetings and activities as us may fit into that category, and we would not think of them as such. So what is it that makes them different? Simply that they have recognised or received a testimony to the effect that the perfect gospel restored through Joseph Smith cannot be changed, and that all of it is as essential for our salvation now as it was in his day. "
This quotation will be referred to again at the end of this page. The big issue, we agree, is of accepting change, especially regarding polygamy. There are other issues, but this page focuses on changes in general, and changes in polygamy in particular.
Something the "fundamentalists" like to forget is that back in 1830, polygamy was not allowed in the church. Starting polygamy was just as much a change as ending polygamy. How can they accept one change and not the other?
They accept that the law of Moses was brought in and later ended. They accept that God has made commandments and revoked them in past times (see below). Why draw the line now? How can men be so arrogant as to tell the Lord "you are not allowed to make any more changes"? The Lord is sovereign. He cannot be commanded. He will make such changes both commanding and revoking commandments as he sees fit. Section 56 illustrates the principle
Behold, I, the Lord, command; and he that will not obey shall be cut off in mine own due time, after I have commanded and the commandment is broken. Wherefore I, the Lord, command and revoke, as it seemeth me good; and all this to be answered upon the heads of the rebellious, saith the Lord. Wherefore, I revoke the commandment which was given unto my servants Thomas B. Marsh and Ezra Thayre, and give a new commandment unto my servant Thomas . . . For behold, I revoke the commandment which was given unto my servants Selah J. Griffin and Newel Knight . . . I command and men obey not; I revoke and they receive not the blessing. (Doctrine & Covenants 56:3-6; 32)
|Scriptures and quotations (ab)used by fundamentalists|
Doctrine and Covenants 132 and the law of heaven
Section 132 came about as a result of a question regarding Old Testament polygamy. The principles on which it was allowed were explained. These principles were called "the law" or "the law of the priesthood." It is assumed by "fundamentalists" that the law meant polygamy. But they do not read their scriptures. The law was obedience, "the first law of heaven." Section 132 shows how (with illustrations particularly from marriage) obedience is always justified. It also shows how that obedience comes through priesthood channels. "Fundamentalists" break this law by disobeying the prophet.
For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory. (v4)
What is the covenant? It is obedience to priesthood authority, which applies to ALL matters in the church. It is not just limited to marriage!
And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred), are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead. (v7)
Because the original question was about marriage, the Lord goes on to speak about marriage. In verses 15-19 he makes it quite clear that "if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law" and by his authority, they can continue to exaltation. Note that in these verses it is "a" wife, singular. In other words a man can be exalted with just one wife!
The real issue is obedience, not marriage. The important thing is that Abraham accepted whatever he was told. And that is why he was given such great promises.
God commanded Abraham, and Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to wife. And why did she do it? Because this was the law; and from Hagar sprang many people. This, therefore, was fulfilling, among other things, the promises. Was Abraham, therefore, under condemnation? Verily I say unto you, Nay; for I, the Lord, commanded it. Abraham was commanded to offer his son Isaac; nevertheless, it was written: Thou shalt not kill. Abraham, however, did not refuse, and it was accounted unto him for righteousness. (132:34-46)
This is the law! The law of obedience. Polygamy was not the issue, and neither was sacrificing your first born son. If "fundamentalists" believe that this makes polygamy central to the gospel, then they must also accept that killing your first born is central to the gospel.
Section 132 goes on to say how, when polygamy is given as a commandment, it is counted for righteousness. Why? Not because it was polygamy. But because it was obedience.
Quotations used by "fundamentalists"
"Fundamentalists" like to quote early church leaders about Polygamy being "for ever." But they usually give very short quotations from very obscure books, so this is difficult to check. For example, many are from personal diaries written at best, hours after the speech in question, and sometimes years. When you can check a reliable source, you generally find that the quotation is not about polygamy, but about the law of obedience.
Always we must see such quotations in context. If a prophet said "polygamy will be practiced here forever" before 1890, that would be correct. Until God says otherwise, a disciple is wise to live by the last thing he said. If a prophet said "giving up polygamy will be a sign of apostasy" before 1890, that would also be correct. Once the commandment was reversed, then the situation is reversed, and practicing polygamy becomes the sign of apostasy. Similarly, before the garden of Gethsemane, an apostle taking a purse and bag was a sign of apostasy. After the garden of Gethsemane, NOT to have a purse - and even a sword - was a sign of apostasy. (Luke 22:35-36)
What if the prophet said "God will never revoke this"? If so, then the prophet was speaking out of order, and not giving God the glory. God is all-powerful and can choose what to do and when. Sometimes prophets do act or speak out of order, such as when Moses smote the rock of Horeb without giving credit to the almighty. But such cases are minor and rare.
Things said at a particular time are meant for that particular time
The word of God is a living thing. Once it is written down, it can be misinterpreted. Prophets often use words that are fine at the time, but can seem difficult in later years. For a pertinent example, consider Jacob chapter 2 (where Davids sin with Uriah is condemned) and Doctrine and covenants 132 (where Davids polygamy is defended). The current placing of commas, full stops, etc. was not in the original manuscript and seems to say that Davids polygamy was an abomination. One seems to contradict the other!
Joseph Smith at the time did not know enough to make it clearer. So it is with all statements by prophets. As Moroni said when translating the book of Ether, placing words is difficult.
JD, Vol.9, p.311, Brigham Young:
Should the Lord Almighty send an angel to re-write the Bible, it would in many places be very different from what it now is. And I will even venture to say that if the Book of Mormon were now to be re-written, in many instances it would materially differ from the present translation. According as people are willing to receive the things of God, so the heavens send forth their blessings. If the people are stiff-necked, the Lord can tell them but little.
|The Bible, church
organisation, and early prophets
they all condemn the fundamentalist position
Modern day Korahs and Dathans
It is possible that the Fundamentalists are partly right that polygamy is a higher law. If so, God has seen fit to run the church in a manner to suit a weaker people. God has told us to live a lower law for the time being. "Fundamentalists" are in the same position as Dathan.
Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men: And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown: And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD? (Numbers 16:1-3)
It is well known in the church that the full gospel was had before Moses. Moses brought in "the law of Moses" only because the children of Israel were not able to accept the higher law. Now, Dathan was a prince of Israel, a leader, famous, a man of renown. He knew how the church used to be before Moses started making his changes, before Moses began to do away with some of the higher laws. He complained that the people were already holy, and that Moses was wrong to make such changes.
Note that Korah was a son of Levi. He was of the same tribe as Moses, and no doubt felt his priesthood was of equal authority. In the same way, modern "fundamentalists" claim that their authority is genuine, citing some early leader or other.
Who has the authority?
Changes are to be expected in the true church. All that matters is, "Are these changes authorized?"
Gods house is a house of order. There is an established pattern. Doctrine and Covenants 107:22-32, revealed through the prophet Joseph Smith, makes this clear. The First Presidency presides. The apostles, together, have authority equal to the First Presidency. The Seventy, together, have authority equal to the twelve. Decisions are made by a majority, but they should preferably be unanimous.
"And in case that any decision of these quorums is made in unrighteousness, it may be brought before a general assembly of the several quorums, which constitute the spiritual authorities of the church; otherwise there can be no appeal from their decision." (verse 32)
In the case of the end of polygamy, it was approved by the First Presidency. It was approved by the Twelve. It was approved by the Seventy. It was approved by the body of the church. No appeal was made. It is therefore binding on the whole church, according to the word of God. That is how Joseph Smith revealed it should be. Who are the apostates, who depart from this?
John Taylor on disobeying the order of the church
The "fundamentalists" are guilty of breaking the law of obedience, as set forth in section 132. They have ignored the divinely appointed quorum of the church. They like to quote John Taylor, about alleged secret ordinations. I will quote John Taylor back at them.
JD, Vol.10, p.114 -.119
This people know something of God; and if they do not there is not anybody under the heaven that does. But do we know how to regulate, manage, control and dictate the affairs of the Church and kingdom of God? No--if we are destitute of the principle of revelation; and if we have it, only then according to our Priesthood and calling. God has organized his kingdom and set in order his Priesthood, setting every Quorum in its place and position, and it is for all the Saints to bow and yield obedience to it and be governed by it; if they do not, what better are we than the world?
Joseph F. Smith in 1873: obedience is the first law of heaven
JD, Vol.16, p.247 -248
Obedience is the first law of heaven. Without it the elements could not be controlled. Without it neither the earth nor those who dwell upon it could be controlled. The angels in heaven would not be controlled without it, and in fact without obedience there could be no union or order, and chaos and confusion would prevail.
Remember what the fundamentalists said that there are some who attend sacrament meeting who still believe in polygamy? The same sermon continues:
I am sorry to say that there are some of those who profess to be Latter-day Saints, who meet with the Saints on the Sabbath and partake of the Sacrament, witnessing that they are willing to take upon them the name of Christ, and to follow him through evil as well as good report, and yet in their hearts they oppose the plans and projects of those whom they pretend to uphold and sustain. I know and could call the names of some of these men. Shame on them! I say, in the name of manhood, come out and show your colors! Say you will not be obedient, and cease to be hypocrites, cease lying in the presence of God, and trying to deceive yourselves and your brethren. Tell us what you are, take your stand where you belong, and do not deceive the unwary. You can not deceive those who have the Spirit of God, for they can discern your hearts.