Keeping With Tradition
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has posted March 1, 2013, the new edition of its version of the Scriptures, which include The Holy Bible, The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants and The Pearl of Great Price. This 2013 Edition of the scripture library is said by the church to clear up historical errors, punctuation, and scriptural references. The church reveals that the new edition of scriptures is available digitally after nearly eight years of work and that hard copies of the scriptures were first available in August of 2013. "Online and mobile versions of the new edition are available now at scriptures.lds.org. Annotations that readers have made in their Gospel Library accounts will automatically transfer to the new digital scriptures" (LDS.org, para. 4).
Latter-day Saints believe in continuing revelation. The church teaches that God continues to choose prophets with whom He speaks giving direction to the church and world. One of the Articles of Faith, not to be misconstrued as a comprehensive listing of church teachings but a basic introduction, states
We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God. Article # 13
Having a basic tenet that God continues to speak to an authorized prophet makes it normal among this group of Christians to accept changes to scripture, even if only in punctuation, because of a culture of change that exists when it comes to what God expects depending on the needs of the times.
Most Christians adhere to the idea that God has revealed all in The Holy Bible, and will not reveal any more authorized texts. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is founded on the principle of new holy texts being revealed. The first president and leader of The Church of Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, Jr., introduced The Book of Mormon as a companion volume of scripture to The Holy Bible in 1830. Since introducing that volume of scriptures to the world, The Church of Jesus Christ has continued to revise and update its version of the scriptures as the need for clarification arises. It is an old process of the Church of Jesus Christ from its very genesis.
- Race and the Priesthood
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints embraces the universal human family. God created many diverse races & ethnicities & esteems them all equally
Quote from Race and the Priesthood
...the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.
Application to Controversy
The updated scriptures offer an acknowledgment by the church organization officially of past racists teachings and disavowals of the origin of institutionalized racism practiced by the church sometime after its organization to 1978. After the church moved into the Great Basin in Utah, a policy was instituted that disallowed members of African ancestry from being conferred the authority referred to as the priesthood. Black members of the church received ordinations to this authority during Joseph Smith, Jr.'s presidency, but were banned during Brigham Young's leadership.
The leaders of the church, regardless of social pressure from the outside, would not stop this practice among its members without a direct revelation from God they received in June of 1978. The church acknowledges that it is unaware of any doctrine upon which the ban was founded and so noted in the new edition of scriptures in the introduction to Official Declaration 2.
In part, the heading reads
The revelation came to Church President Spencer W. Kimball and was affirmed to other Church leaders in the Salt Lake Temple on June 1, 1978. The revelation removed all restrictions with regard to race that once applied to the priesthood. (see Official Declaration 2)
This clarification comes some forty years following the revelation and under criticism that the church should further acknowledge that the practice of banning those of Black African descent was racist and not of divine origin. Whether the church will one day do so is not forthcoming.
By providing no explanation for the practice, the unsupported ideas and traditional explanations behind the practice still have fodder among members of the church though many notions have been repudiated by the very same leaders of the church who provided them, namely Elder Bruce R. McConkie, a deceased apostle of the church. McConkie unofficially provided detailed explanations about a variety of topics in his 1958 work entitled Mormon Doctrine, which helped to educate almost two generations of LDS Christians before it was put out of print in 2010.
What do You think?
Did you know that LDS Christians believed in continuing revelation from God?
With the new clarification and acknowledgement, the scriptural updates provide, the church now has more tools to move forward with its thousands of new missionaries sharing its teachings across the globe.
Jesus Christ taught the value of the scriptures to his disciples. He said that “whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived.” Joseph Smith was inspired by the Holy Bible to turn to his Father in prayer, leading to the opening of the heavens and the restoration of the gospel in the latter-days...
...We can be part of this heritage by making sacrifices to study the word of God and share what we learn with others. As we do this, we honor those who sacrificed to bring us the scriptures. (Heritage, Study, and Blessings).
© 2013 Rodric Anthony Johnson