Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Refuting and Correcting BYU’s False Doctrine on the Origin of Man #20 - President Joseph Fielding Smith’s work Church History and Modern Revelation

(by Dennis B. Horne)

             Church History and Modern Revelation is a book or manual written by President Joseph Fielding Smith for use in priesthood quorums for 4 years in the late 1940s. The work began as a four-volume paperback manual subtitled, “Being a Course of Study for the Melchizedek Priesthood Quorums.” It was later reprinted in a (much scarcer) 2-volume hardback set in 1953. It was formally published by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and copyrighted by David O. McKay as Trustee-in-Trust for the Church. The preface, written by President George F. Richards of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said in part: “We are living in momentous times. The Gospel has been restored ‘for the last time.’ It will never again be taken from the earth, but shall be here when our Lord comes to reign as Lord of lords and King of kings. However, the Church today, like the Church in the first centuries of the Christian Era, is constantly in danger. As it was in the first century, so now, we must guard against the introduction of false doctrines, theories and practices into the Church. . . .” (Preface)

            Many evolutionists and liberals take delight in shouting from the rooftops that President Smith’s book Man: His Origin and Destiny was a privately written and published and therefore unofficial work, so they don’t have to believe anything in it that refutes evolution. This in itself is not the wisest course to take, but setting that foolishness aside, it would seem that they either choose to forget or don’t know that President Smith wrote a lot of other books and articles teaching the same doctrines—including this formally reviewed and approved and published manual. It contains the below doctrinal teachings and warnings that engage the issues of evolution and teach the doctrine of the origin of man and the fall and redemption. In Church History and Modern Revelation, President Smith wrote this formally approved doctrine:


            The story of the earth as given by the Lord is an interesting one. It is needless to say that his story does not conform to the story told by the uninspired voices of the "wise and prudent" men of the earth. The story of creation as it is given by revelation to Moses certainly has been greatly misinterpreted and misapplied by those who endeavor to square it with the teachings of the modern educational world. The account of creation is, I repeat, a most interesting and instructive study. First, then, we are taught that when the earth was finished and man was placed upon it, the Lord pronounced everything "good." This being true, then the Lord did not create anything that was bad, or not prepared in its nature to endure forever. Man was placed on the earth and was given dominion over every living creature. Lehi has declared that in that day there was not only absence of evil, but, "Behold had Adam not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the Garden of Eden." In other words Adam was not subject to death when placed in the Garden of Eden. President Joseph F. Smith and Elder Orson Pratt, (Gospel Doctrine, 343-344. JD 1:58.) and other brethren, have said that Adam and Eve were immortal beings. We use the term "immortal" meaning that they could have lived forever in that state in which they were created if they had not fallen. The term "immortal" does not mean that they had passed through a resurrection and thus become immortal, for we are taught that a resurrected being cannot die again. (Alma 11:44-45. D. & C. 63:49. John 11:26.) Moreover, this is not all. Not only would Adam and Eve endure forever under those conditions, but Lehi further says: "And all things which were created must have remained forever, and had no end." (2 Nephi 2:22.) Adam did transgress the law under which he was living and the consequences were that he brought death into the world, and death through him passed upon every creature, including the earth, and the Lord said: Cursed is the ground for thy sake; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return to the ground; for out of it was thou taken, for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. (Gen. 3:18-19.) To Enoch the Lord said: "That by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death.". . . This is the Lord's explanation for the coming of death in the world.

            President Brigham Young has said: "How did Adam and Eve sin? Did they come out in direct opposition to God and to his government? No! But they transgressed a command of the Lord, and through that transgression sin came into the world. The Lord knew they would do this, and he had designed that they should. Then came the curse upon the fruit, upon the vegetables, and upon our mother earth, and it came upon the creeping things, upon the grain in the field, the fish in the sea and upon all things pertaining to this earth, through man's transgression." (Discourses pp. 157-158.) (2:63-64)

            The sixth question is: "What are we to understand by the book which John saw, which was sealed on the back by seven seals?"

            Answer: "We are to understand that it contains the revealed will, mysteries, and works of God; the hidden things of his economy concerning this earth during the seven thousand years of its continuance, or its temporal existence.

            By the seven thousand years of temporal existence is meant the time of the earth's duration from the fall of Adam to the end of time, which will come after the Millennium and "a little season" which will follow. The earth and all on it were in a spiritual condition before the fall, for mortality had not come bringing temporal conditions. We are now living in the second period of the earth's history, which is referred to as being a telestial condition. In other words, a condition where wickedness and all the vicissitudes of mortality endure. It is the earth and its inhabitants in the fallen state which Adam brought through his transgression. This condition will continue until Christ comes. (2:64)


            In this instruction the Lord sets days against thousand years, as days, in speaking of the creation and the continuance of the earth during its mortal existence. At the close of the sixth thousand years and at the opening of the seventh, since the fall, the earth and all that remain upon its face will be changed from the telestial condition of wickedness to the terrestrial condition of peace and order. This is the day when the earth "will be renewed and receive its paradisical glory," as declared in the tenth Article of Faith. We are now in the great day of restoration of all things, and the renewal of the earth is the bringing of it back to a comparable condition to that which existed before the fall. (2:64)


            There are many in the world who have accepted a theory to the effect that man has descended from lower forms of lie; that animals do not have spirits, and that the "ancestors" of man did not have spirits. According to this theory it was not until the evolutionary development of the creature had reached the point where the Lord could put into it a spirit, that the creature could be called a human being, or man. These people teach that the first human being, having just evolved from some lower form, was also a very low type of savage and from this man has developed the highly organized man of today. Those who believe this doctrine and teach that there is a spirit in man postulate the doctrine that the Lord placed the spirit in this man just as soon as he was sufficiently developed to be human. The Lord has taught us that Adam was the first man on the earth; and that he was a very highly intelligent being, even Michael the Arch-angel, who stands next to Jesus Christ in the holding of authority on this earth. He was entitled to come to earth to stand at the head of the human family because of his intelligence and faithfulness in the spirit existence. Moreover, from this revelation (Sec. 77) we discover that every creature has a spirit, and that it existed in the spirit before it was on the earth; the spirit of every creature is in the form of its temporal, or mortal, body. Since this is true, and all forms of life partook of the effects of Adam's fall, therefore they are entitled to the resurrection and shall live again. "And not one hair, neither mote, shall be lost for it is the workmanship of mine hand," said the Lord. (D. & C. 29:25.) Likewise the earth, which is a living body, must die "in like manner" as to all other mortal things, and then receive the resurrection. (Isa. 51:6.) The fact that the spirit of every animal, every fish, every fowl of the air, is in the likeness of its body, and that also it was created in the spirit in the beginning, is a contradiction of these unscientific theories which man has inflicted upon a fallen world. (2:67-68)


            This earth is filling the measure of its creation. (Sec. 88:18-26.) Today it is passing through its mortal state. The time will come when it shall die and pass away as do all things upon it. Isaiah says: "The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish. . . . The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again." (Ch. 24.) Again he declares: "Lift up your eyes to the heavens and look upon the earth beneath; for the heavens (i.e. the heavens surrounding the earth) shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner." (Ch. 51:6.) Here we have predictions that the earth shall pass away, die, and all its inhabitants shall also die in like manner. This truth was not generally and correctly understood until the Lord made known in revelations to Joseph Smith that this should be the case. When Isaiah said the earth should "fall and not rise again," the interpretation is that it should not be restored to the same mortal or temporal condition. When the earth passes away and is dissolved it will pass through a similar condition which the human body does in death, but like the human body so shall the earth itself be restored in the resurrection and become a celestial body, through the mercy and mission of Jesus Christ. This reference to a new heaven and earth, spoken of in Section 29:22-23, and 77:1-2, is not the same as that spoken of by Isaiah in chapter 65:17. The "new heavens and new earth" referred to in this scripture, and also in Section 101:23-31, had reference to the change which shall come to the earth and all upon it, at the beginning of the Millennial reign, as we declare in the tenth article of the Articles of Faith. This is the renewed earth when it shall receive its paradisiacal glory, or be restored as it was before the fall of man. (See Compendium, art, "Millennial Reign," p. 202.) "The new heaven and new earth" we are discussing in Section 29, is the final change, or resurrection, of the earth, after the "little season" which shall follow the Millennium. When this time comes all things are to be restored by and through the resurrection. One of the important things made known in this revelation is the fact that not only man is redeemed from death to receive immortality and eternal life, but so also shall all the creations of God be blessed, "For all old things shall pass away, and all things shall become new, even the heaven (i.e. the heavens belonging to this earth) and the earth, and all the fulness thereof, both of men and beasts, the fowls of the air, and the fishes of the sea; and not one hair, neither mote, shall be lost, for it is the workmanship of mine hand." (1:132)

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