Periodicals; Mormons; Religious thought; Philosophy and religion
Independent national quarterly established to express Mormon culture and examine the relevance of religion to secular life. It is edited by Mormons who wish to bring their faith into dialogue with human experience as a whole and to foster artistic and scholarly achievement based on their cultural heritage. The journal encourages a variety of viewpoints; although every effort is made to insure accurate scholarship and responsible judgment, the views expressed are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Mormon Church or of the editors.
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Rees, Robert A.
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64 I Dialogue . . . There was no death in the earth before the fall of Adam. . . . All life in the sea, the air, on the earth, was without death. Animals were not dying. Things were not changing as we find them changing in this mortal existence, for mortality had not come... .81 Shortly after the publication of the speech, these concepts became a bone of contention: Brigham H. Roberts, the long-standing apologist of the Church, directly challenged the legitimacy of the remarks, in a letter to the First Presidency. Both Roberts and Smith were given opportunity to present their positions, both orally and in writing, to the Twelve and the Presidency. Roberts developed his ideas primarily from scripture, from science, and from Apostle Orson Hyde and President Brigham Young. Smith also used scripture, but leaned heavily on the Adam teachings of Orson Pratt, and on paragraph 13 of the 1909 statement of the First Presidency. This last item comprised his major piece of evidence. At last, convinced that continuation of the discussion would be fruitless, the First Presidency issued a seven-page directive to the other general authorities, reviewing in detail the entire discussion as described and then stating: . . . The statement made by Elder Smith that the existence of pre-Adamites is not a doctrine of the Church is true. It is just as true that the statement: "There were not pre-Adamites upon the earth," is not a doctrine of the Church. Neither side of the controversy has been accepted as a doctrine at all. Both parties make the scripture and the statements of men who have been prominent in the affairs of the Church the basis of their contention; neither has produced definite proof in support of his views. . . . Upon the fundamental doctrines of the Church we are all agreed. Our mission is to bear the message of the restored gospel to the people of the world. Leave Geology, Biology, Archaeology and Anthropology, no one of which has to do with the salvation of the souls of mankind, to scientific research, while we magnify our calling in the realm of the Church. . . ,82 In addition to this written directive, the First Presidency called a special meeting of all the general authorities, the day after General Conference closed, to discuss the matter and deliver oral counsel. Apostle James E. Talmage records the following account of the meeting: . . . Involved in this question [Roberts' original query] is that of the beginning of life upon the earth, and as to whether there was death either of animal or plant before the fall of Adam, on which proposition Elder Smith was very pronounced in denial and Elder Roberts equally forceful in the affirmative. As to whether Preadamite races existed upon the earth there has been much discussion among some of our people of late. The decision reached by the First Presidency, and announced to this morning's assembly, was in answer to a specific question that obviously the doctrine of the existence of races of human beings upon the earth prior to the fall of Adam was not a doctrine of the Church; and, further, that the conception embodied in the belief of many to the effect that there were no such Preadamite races, and that there was no death upon the earth prior to Adam's fall is likewise declared to be no doctrine of the Church. I think the decision of the First Presidency is a wise one in the premises. This is one of the many things upon which we cannot preach with assurance and dogmatic assertions on either side are likely to do harm rather than good.83 The two contestants, Roberts and Smith, were thus directed to drop the matter; publication of a major manuscript previously written by Elder Roberts dealing with the subject (among others) was proscribed. But this proscription left the public record with only one side of the story, the speech of Elder Smith, which in many ways is an avowal of the position of the nineteenth century theologians. Not everyone in the governing quorums of the Church was content with such a situation. Nor was the record long in being balanced. On Sunday, August 9, 1931, Apostle Talmage took the stand in the