Saturday, October 07, 2006

Da Vinci Code not so shocking to LDS

Book's premise not so shocking to LDS
The Da Vinci Code puzzle: Reaction in Salt Lake
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By Peggy Fletcher Stack
The Salt Lake Tribune
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Several of Dan Brown's conspiracy theories have a special resonance
with Mormons.
For one thing, the LDS Church teaches that essential truths of
Christianity were lost over the centuries and needed to be restored by
Mormon founder Joseph Smith. That parallels Brown's claim that the
Roman Catholic Church corrupted some of Jesus' teachings and
practices, especially when it came to women and marriage.
Many Mormons also believe that Jesus was married. After all, they
believe marriage is essential in heaven and even God has a wife,
Heavenly Mother.
In the 19th century, several LDS Church leaders joined many British
clergy in believing that Jesus had children who were brought to
England by Joseph of Arimathea. The Mormon twist? Jesus' progeny were
the ones most likely to join the LDS Church and immigrate to Utah.
Speaking in the Salt Lake Temple to a select group of church
leaders on July 2, 1899, George Q. Cannon of the LDS First Presidency
said, as mentioned in an April 30 Tribune column by Pat Bagley: "There
are those in this audience who are descendants of the old 12 Apostles,
and shall I say it, yes, descendants of the Savior himself. His seed
is represented in this body of men."
But none of these ideas are canonized in LDS scriptures.
The belief that Jesus was married "has never been official [LDS]
Church doctrine," church spokesman Dale Bills said this week. "It is
neither sanctioned nor taught by the church. While it is true that a
few church leaders in the mid-1800s expressed their opinions on the
matter, it was not then, and is not now, [LDS] Church doctrine."
Some fourth- or fifth-generation Mormons accept that Jesus was
married and think all other church members do as well, but there's a
generation of Mormon converts who know nothing of this idea and would
be as offended by the idea as any other Christian, says Richard
Holzapfel, professor of church history and doctrine at Brigham Young
Whether official doctrines or just folk beliefs, these ideas have
had a long history among the Mormon faithful.
In 1909, LDS Apostle James E. Talmage wrote The Great Apostasy, in
which he detailed the ways in which Christianity became entwined with
Greek philosophy and paganism. Talmage pointed to the creation of the
Nicean creed, liturgical calendar and decline of baptism by immersion
and the addition of infant baptism as one more evidence that Smith
needed to bring back pristine Christianity, freed from centuries of
Many Mormons saw the Roman Catholic Church as the primary culprit
in destroying the faith.
That was just rampant anti-Catholicism of the times, said
Holzapfel, one of the authors of the recent What Da Vinci Didn't Know:
An LDS Perspective.
What was lost at the death of Jesus' original apostles was
"priesthood authority," he said. "The basic truths of Christianity
survived and were passed down by Catholics, Eastern Orthodox,
Protestants, Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists and other
It is time for Mormons to stop demonizing the Catholics, Holzapfel
said. "There are times in history when Catholics didn't live up to
their ideals. But I don't see them as the bad guys."

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