A recent comment from the Lectures on Faith post stated,
I think some assume that in a vision one can distinguish a spirit from a flesh and bone body. Having never had a vision, I don’t know if that is true. (Perhaps a wheat and tares poll would shed some light.)
Actually, if you take it seriously (which is difficult for me to do, admittedly) there is evidence that in LDS theology a spirit body is visually indistinguishable from a physical body, otherwise the handshake test in d&c 129 would be different.
1 There are two kinds of beings in heaven, namely:Angels, who are resurrected personages, having bodies of flesh and bones—
2 For instance, Jesus said: Handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
3 Secondly: the spirits of just men made perfect, they who are not resurrected, but inherit the same glory.
4 When a messenger comes saying he has a message from God, offer him your hand and request him to shake hands with you.
5 If he be an angel he will do so, and you will feel his hand.
6 If he be the spirit of a just man made perfect he will come in his glory; for that is the only way he can appear—
7 Ask him to shake hands with you, but he will not move, because it is contrary to the order of heaven for a just man to deceive; but he will still deliver his message.
8 If it be the devil as an angel of light, when you ask him to shake hands he will offer you his hand, and you will not feel anything; you may therefore detect him.
9 These are three grand keys whereby you may know whether any administration is from God.
That brings up our poll questions.
Just seems weird to me. When I questioned that directive as a child i was told that these imposters hunger to handle a body and wouldn’t be able to resist the invitation. In which case why wait for the invitation? But perhaps it’s thought the invitation would be necessary in some way… So why would I want to issue one?
Has anyone ever heard of any member using these grand keys???
So we have to assume that the devil is illiterate and can’t read D&C 129 or remember hearing this when it was dictated or talked about by anybody? Sure seems to me he is smart enough to figure out not to fall for this one.
Or maybe now that D&C 129 is “out”, he has learned not to fall for this one. Aussie – maybe that is why we have never heard of this being used. Dang – I should become an apologist! 🙂
There are instances of the devil or his minions being commanded to do things (usually depart hence or come out) and they usually complied if proper authority was wielded. Also put the temple ceremony instruction into context with the handshake, as well as the ministry of angels keys and it makes sense, at least to me.
I think the key phrase is you will feel nothing. Hopefully that is all you will feel; most encounters are described as unpleasant. Anymore it seems the devil gets more mileage out of distraction than direct confrontation.
Having met an angel, once, I couldn’t tell.
They did follow the pattern here and did not seem amused when I was slow on it.
I agree with Justin—it only makes sense when you consider the temple/masonic context.
Superstitious nonsense, reflecting the pervasive, weird mystical thinking of the author(s) at the time this was written.
To paraphrase Dr. Ian Malcolm:
Gee, the lack of humility before prophetic revelation that’s being displayed here, uh… staggers me.
Jeff G: I think it’s unfair to assume that someone’s lack of belief in something that is rather arcane is the result of a lack of humility. Maybe they just don’t believe it. I don’t believe Nixon was a good president or that church leaders today tell the absolute truth about everything. That doesn’t mean I lack humility; it just means I don’t believe it.
It’s no the lack of belief per se that bothers me. It’s the *flippant dismissal* of canonized revelation.
That’s fair enough, I suppose. I don’t mind flippant dismissal, but I don’t like hasty dismissal. Religion/faith is a difficult slog for most of us and I agree with you to the extent that dismissal of confusing/difficult stuff shouldn’t happen in a knee-jerk, unthoughtful way. However, I also think it’s understandable that folks wouldn’t believe in some of the more esoteric aspects of our religion, canonized or not. I mean the whole shaking hands with an angel/spirit/the devil thing is pretty out there, at least IMHO. Since I doubt I’ll ever meet an angel or the devil, I guess passages like D&C 129 just struck me as more odd than central and more archaic than useful. My .02.
Jeff G, finding it weird shouldn’t be taken to mean that I wouldn’t follow said instructions should I find myself in that situation, misgivings notwithstanding…
Answering the second question took me aback. I wouldn’t think an angel of darkness would follow Joseph’s script. But here’s the thing — I can’t think of a situation in which an angel of darkness would appear to anyone who would have read section 129. Such an appearance would require power that I presume most spirits don’t have, and even so, I can’t see how the adversary could forward his cause by one of his angels appearing to a righteous person. Since I can’t fathom those things, I can’t fathom what would govern such a spirit’s behavior either. Perhaps the existence of section 129 prevents its necessity. In my case, should something so miraculous as having an angel pay me a visit, and if I could gather my wits about me, I would ask to shake.
Personally, I think D&C 129 fills more of a role in describing extra-mortal beings and their mindsets than it does in giving us *the* test to sort them apart. Consequently, I don’t think it’s silly.
Wait. The devil’s angels are masons?
It’s well-known historical fact that Joseph Smith, his family, and contemporaries were immersed in magic and superstition. This was common in 19th century rural settings. Smith and his family practiced witchcraft, incantations, necromancy and animal sacrifice. They used magic circles, occult symbols, parchments, talismans, peep stones, divining rods and the like. There’s a certain cross pollination from Freemasonry, of course. It’s not surprising, given the environment Joseph Smith grew up in, that magical elements and occult elements from Freemasonry were incorporated in Mormon rituals and writings. Though aspects of Mormonism like D&C 129 seem strange to us now, Mormonism is just a product of the rural 19th century culture that gave rise to it.
Regarding Happy Hubby’s point:
“So we have to assume that the devil is illiterate and can’t read D&C 129 or remember hearing this when it was dictated or talked about by anybody? Sure seems to me he is smart enough to figure out not to fall for this one.”
I do hope there’s a backup method of discerning evil spirits that perhaps hasn’t been released into the canon to keep it away from the devils. Perhaps it’s passed along only by word of mouth, although I’m not sure that that will necessarily keep it away from the demons. They’re lurking everywhere! It’s like antibiotic resistant bacteria that develop when antibiotics get used too much: when a discernment method is used too much on demons, they get resistant to it (i.e., figure it out) and then you’re stuck. Perhaps Church leaders could fund some BYU researchers studying new methods of demon discernment.
That’s why Catholic priests go around the congregation during Mass sprinkling everybody with holy water. They are listening for the sizzle. Now, the smart thing would be to tattoo a cross on your palm. Bam! Automatic demon detector.
Regarding the *flippant dismissal* of canonized revelation.
Canonizing it doesn’t make it true.
Anon (can you pick a moniker that’s more original? Way too many people call themselves anon.)
“It’s well-known historical fact that…Smith and his family practiced witchcraft, incantations, necromancy and animal sacrifice.”
If that’s a well-known fact, then I suppose you can find a reference. I have seen nothing about witchcraft, incantations, and animal sacrifice. He was accused of necromancy in the anti-mormon trash “Mormonism Unvailed” but Dan Vogel writes “The insinuation was that Joseph Smith communed with the spirits of the dead, which was different than seeing angels.” Of course this is a salacious, ridiculous charge. (I blogged about Vogel’s scholarly edition of Mormonism Unvailed.)
I also talked about peepstones, divining rods, and occult symbols in my post on Monday Joseph’s Seer Stones. While that part of what you said is generally true, don’t oversell your case.
If I were Satan, I would appear to Mormons holding a prop in my right hand to discourage the person from shaking hands. A drawn or flaming sword might be an effective choice of prop to use for this trick.
On a related note, the third book in Orson Scott Card’s Alvin Maker series has an interesting exploration of the uncertainty of the source of angelic visits. Both the hero and the villain think they are on a quest from God. Both of them have significant parallels to Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, but the parallels for the villain are more obscure and relate to early practices, teachings, and revelations that aren’t talked about much in church. Having the villain acting doing things that the early church did allowed me to think through the morality of some aspects of early church history in a fictional context.
It is likely that a righteous spirit who appears to someone would be recognized without needing to shake hands. It would be a relative or close friend in many cases and they could be easily recognized by their message/manner. At this point in the world’s history, there will be few unborn spirits who appear to mortals.
Are you serious? Do Mormons actually believe this and think like this? Do you mention this stuff to potential converts? Yikes!
What I think is interesting is that Joseph had to give guidelines for angelic visits and speaking in tongues, because so many people were experiencing spiritual manifestations. Today, people don’t even believe in angels (according to the poll).
There are still people who believe, who see and experience, but what concerns me is that they are being pushed from the mainstream. (No thanks to the troll on this thread! > : (
I always had the same thought as Happy Hubby – why would any evil spirit follow the protocol if it means he or she is outing herself? I always figured the section was along the lines of seer stones and other elements of the early church that feel foreign. When I hear people in church or family stories of relatives seeing spirits, I never hear about handshake tests. Haven’t had any personal experience.
Too many people posting as Anonymous. I think we need an ordinal system or something (so we have an Anon 1, Anon 2, Anon 3, etc.) to distinguish them all.
“I’ll see you anon.”
“It is likely that a righteous spirit who appears to someone would be recognized without needing to shake hands.”
el oso, Joseph had lots of angelic visitors he didn’t know: Moroni, Moses, Elijah, etc. These weren’t easily recognized because we have no idea what they even look like. It’s the reason we have D&C 129 in the first place.
Wait. He was talking to dead people? Isn’t that necromancy? Were they familiar spirits? Isn’t that witchcraft? Joseph Smith! You naughty, naughty boy!
anon, you’re new here. If you’re going to be a troll, I ask you to find another blog.
I think we need an ordinal system too: Troll 1, Troll 2, Troll 497…….
Did somebody say . . Troll 2?