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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Temples & Mormonism – 1961

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Temples, 1961.” You can view other years here.

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TEMPLES, 1961.

1961:  Feb.:  Salvation of those who died without law.

“Question:  In the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 76, verse 72 there is a statement that those who die without law receive their place in the terrestrial kingdom.  If this is true, how can there be hope in doing ordinance work for those who died without ever hearing about Christianity?  If this applies only to the heathen nations, as some conclude, how can the Hawaiians, Japanese, Chinese, and others who never had a semblance of Christianity have work done for them?

Alma said: ‘Yea, and I know that good and evil have come before all men; he that knoweth not good from evil is blameless; but he that knoweth good and evil, to him it is given according to his desires, whether he desireth good or evil, life or death, joy or remorse of conscience.  (Alma 29:5)

If the word of the Lord is law, then who are those who are spoken of in the Doctrine and Covenants?

Answer:  We may be sure that the Lord will deal righteously with all of his children, and that every soul will receive a just reward.  The great object of this mortal life is that the spirits of men may obtain tabernacles of flesh and bones, for without these tabernacles the spirits of men could not rise to exaltation, neither could they be perfect without the union of flesh and bones with the eternal spirit.  It was for this purpose that Adam and Eve were placed upon this earth and given the commandment to multiply.  After Adam was driven out of the Garden of Eden he was commanded to teach his children the full plan of salvation.  In course of time they rebelled against God and were destroyed in the flood.  Then the Lord commenced again with Noah and his family, and the same commandments were renewed.  Like the antediluvians the descendants of Noah also rebelled and idolatry came into existence, and the worship of many imaginary gods prevailed.  Eventually mankind was scattered over all the earth, and without divine commandments the knowledge of the gospel was lost, and depravity and wickedness prevailed.  Some of these peoples sank into a condition not much better than the beast.  As one generation followed another they became more depraved, and many lost all semblance of right and wrong, truth and righteousness.

We read in the book of Abraham that the Lord revealed that in the world of spirits some of the intelligences were greater than others, and these he made his rulers.  Contrariwise there were those who were less intelligent and evidently less fit for the exaltation offered to the faithful, yet these also were entitled to salvation from death and the torment of the damned.  The Lord therefore had a place for these, thus showing his great mercy for all.

We learn from the word of the Lord to Moses that the Lord selected a place for the children of Israel, even before they were born, thus he indicated the number of spirits who were assigned to become the descendants of Jacob.  (Deut. 32:8-9)  We may well believe that the Lord also parceled out the surface of the earth for all other peoples.  Some of these places were evidently designed for inhabitants who had lost interest in or touch with the plan of salvation.  We may well believe that the Lord did not permit the more progressive and more worthy spirits to come to the families of the ungodly and the less progressive peoples of the earth.  It was the privilege of this less progressive class, however, to come to the earth, and it was essential for them to receive the blessings of mortality.  On this topic, however, there is very little revealed, but we may feel certain that it was essential that the more progressive and intelligent spirits were not sent to the tribes among the degraded heathen.  These people naturally sank under such circumstances into a condition of ignorance and spiritual darkness.  Children born under such circumstances could not be exalted, yet the Lord in his mercy had decreed to them to do the very best that could be done.  Not having knowledge of the things of God, they were to be judged without law and assigned to a place after the resurrection that would be suited to them without the fulness promised to the faithful.

President Brigham Young, by revelation, received a clear view of this truth and has spoken of those who are without law and understanding in the following words:

When God revealed to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon that there was a place prepared for all, according to the light they had received and their rejection of evil and practice of good it was a great trial to many, and some apostatized because God was not going to send to everlasting punishment heathens and infants, but had a place of salvation in due time for all, and would bless the honest and virtuous and truthful, whether they belonged to any church or not.  It was a new doctrine to this generation, and many stumbled at it.  (JD 16:42)

Again he said:

These words set forth the fact to which Jesus referred when he said, ‘In my Father’s house are many mansions.’  How many I am not prepared to say; but there are three distinctly spoken of: the celestial, the highest; the terrestrial, the next below it; and the telestial, the third.  If we were to take the pains to read what the Lord has said to his people in the latter days we should find that he has made provision for all the inhabitants of the earth: every creature who desires, and who strives in the least, to overcome evil and subdue iniquity within himself or herself, and to live worthy of a glory, will possess one.  We who have received the fulness of the gospel of the Son of God, or the kingdom of heaven, that has come to earth, are in possession of those laws, ordinances, commandments, and revelations, that will prepare us, by strict obedience, to inherit the celestial kingdom, to go into the presence of the Father and the Son.  (JD 14:148)

There are millions and millions of kingdoms that the people have no conception of.  The Christians of this day have no knowledge of God, or godliness, or eternity, of the worlds that are, and that have been, and that are coming forth.  There are myriads of people pertaining to this earth who will come and receive a glory according to their capacity.  (JD 6:347)

Some are not capable of the same exaltation as are others, arising from the difference of the conduct and capacities of people.  There is also a difference in the spirit world.  It is the design, the wish, the will, and mind of the Lord that the inhabitants of the earth should be exalted to thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and poweres, according to their capacities.  In their exaltation, one may be capable of presiding over more than five, another over only two, and another over but one.  They must all first be subject to sin and to the calamities of mortal flesh, in order to prove themselves worthy; then the Gospel is ready to take hold of them and bring them up, enlighten their understandings, and make them one in the Lord Jesus, their faith, prayers, hopes, affections, and all their desires may ever be concentrated in one.  (JD 6:97)

President John Taylor has added this enlightening thought:

There are heathen nations enveloped in idolatry; and if millions of people come into the world in these places surrounded with idolatry and superstition, it would be unjust for them to be punished for what they did not know, hence, if they have no law, they will be judged without law; and God in his own wisdom will regulate their affairs, for it is their misfortune, not their individual offense, that has placed them in their present position.  If, however, we could trace their history, we should find, as with the Israelites, so with them.  Their present darkness and misery originated in a departure from God; and as their fathers did not desire to retain God in their knowledge, he gave them up to the present darkness, confusion, and wretchedness.  See Paul’s remark on this subject in Romans 1:21-28.  For naturally the conduct of fathers has a great influence over children, as well as in a family capacity.  Hence the Jews will be blessed as a nation, in consequence of the promises made to Abraham, for as I have said before, these are eternal principles; man is an eternal being, and all his actions have a relevancy to eternity.  The actions of the fathers have a bearing and influence on their children, both as families and nations, in time and in eternity.  (Government of God, p. 52)

The great work of the Lord is to save not destroy: therefore it is only the wilfully rebellious who have forsaken the truth who will eventually be cast out with the devil and his angels.  (D&C 76:31-38)

All those who have lived upon the earth who have been subject to law and order and have had knowledge of good and evil and some understanding of the divine truth, although they have been steeped in the traditions of men, will be judged by the knowledge which they have.  Among these there are many who were and are not Christians, but they were subject to law and order and had some divine understanding of justice and equity.  These are worthy, on repentance, of salvation in the kingdom of God.  It is for these that we do work in the temples that they may learn to live according to the laws of God and receive the blessings of his kingdom.”  (Joseph Fielding Smith, “Your Question,” IE 64(2):80-81, Feb., 1961)

18 Dec.:  Policy on clearance of divorces.

“It has been the policy in the past to require all divorced persons to be cleared by the First Presidency before they could be issued a recommend to the temple.  Hereafter it will not be necessary to submit such cases to the First Presidency for clearance except in those instances where the person seeking a temple recommend has had more than one divorce since baptism or has been divorced from a husband or wife to whom he or she has been sealed in the temple even though the sealing has been cancelled.

Applications for divorce clearance of those persons who have had more than one divorce since baptism or who are divorced from one to whom they have been sealed in the temple, should be made on the forms provided for this purpose.  A supply is being sent herewith to stake and mission presidents.  We call your attention to the instructions printed on each form and request that you follow these instructions specifically.

In all cases where there has been a divorce in the life of the person seeking a recommend to the temple, and clearance by the First Presidency is no longer required, the stake president, bishop, or mission president should conduct a thorough, searching interview to determine not only the applicant’s present worthiness, but also whether or not there was any infidelity or serious transgression in connection with the divorce.”  (First Presidency Circular Letter, 18 Dec., 1961.  First Presidency Notebook)