|Mark E. Petersen|
|Spencer W. Kimball|
Last week the Church announced a batch of changes it has recently made to its canon of holy writ - the four "Standard Works" (read this article in the Salt Lake Tribune). Among the recent edits are "tweaks" to the portions of the scriptures that address race. Part of Peggy Fletcher Stack's article reads:
So, as an external observer, I find my self confused by the mixed arguments made by the Church regarding its policies towards negroes and the priesthood. The Church's two contrasting explanations can be summed up by the following:
1. Blacks were denied priesthood throughout and since Bible times. Joseph Smith eventually came to understand this proscription and retracted the ordination of Elijah Abel (a negro) after having given him the priesthood in error. Negroes remained ineligible to receive priesthood until 1978, when God deemed them finally worthy (lifting the "Curse of Cain"), and He directed Spencer Kimball to start ordaining them, admitting them to the temples, and sealing them to white people.
2. Blacks have been worthy to hold priesthood since the days of their first ancestor. Joseph Smith ordained them rightfully. Joseph Smith's successors INEXPLICABLY suspended the ordination of negroes, - - - - and, no matter how hard we look, we cannot find a single treatise in the "records" of the Church to help us understand why blacks were refused priesthood. So, when we woke up in the 1970's, we realized what a silly oversight this was, and we hurried and corrected it (especially in light of the huge international outcry against our doctrines).
Aren't you just as confused as I am? Do you get the impression that the Church's doctrines have a half-life of about 20 years, and depend wholly on the prevailing tide of fashion and public sentiment?