Monday, July 18, 2011

Why “utterly destroy” people and cities?

One thing that has always stood out to me in the Old Testament is the Lord's insistence that the Israelites "utterly destroy" the nations that they conquer, which oftentimes included slaughtering all of the people, their animals, and ultimately burning their cities to the ground. Images of Geghis Khan come to mind.

This seemingly vicious practice stems from the Lord's instruction to the Israelites when encountering the many nations inhabiting the promised land. The Lord commands that they were to "smite them, and utterly destroy them" (Deut. 7:1-2). Compliant with this command, on one occasion Joshua and the Israelite army "utterly destroyed" Jericho and its inhabitants: "And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword" (Josh. 6:21). Later, other cities, such as Makkedeh, Libnah, Laschish, Eglon, Hebron, and Debir, were "utterly destroyed . . . ., and all the souls that were therein" (Josh. 10:28, 32, 35, 37, 39). Sounds pretty brutal, right?

In Hebrew, the lexical root for "utterly destroyed," as translated in the KJV, is h-r-m, or herem. The word herem is most often translated as "accursed," and means to be devoted or set apart. This accords with Joshua's instruction to the Israelite armey prior to attacking Jericho: "[T]he city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein . . . . And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing" (Josh. 6:17-18). Consequently, through its "utter destruction," a city and its people were symbolically being set apart for or otherwise devoted to God. The precious metals found in the cities, however, were not destroyed but were instead purified and placed in "the treasury of the Lord" (Josh. 6:19, 24).

The Israelite's were fighting their king's war, and as such the spoils of the battle rightfully belonged to Jehovah. Therefore, Jehovah sometimes required that his people devote everything to him by "utterly destroying" entire cities and populations. This is not unlike ritual killing and Israelite animal sacrifice, where the burnt offering is entirely consumed, or devoted to God, on the sacrificial altar. Likewise, after overrunning a city and killing all of its inhabitants, burning the city with fire made it a large sacrificial offering devoted to the Lord.

One of the more well-known stories applying herem is recounted in 1 Samuel 15, where Saul is instructed to "utterly destroy" the Amalekites, including all of their people and animals (1 Sam. 15:3). Contrary to Samuel's instructions received from the Lord, Saul returned with Agag the Amalekite king and "the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly" (1 Sam. 15:9). Agag was apparently a trophy of Saul's victory over the Amalekites, and it was Saul's intent to sacrifice the captured livestock to the Lord as a burnt offering. This, however, is not the intent of herem, so Samuel was required to finish the job by "hew[ing] Agag in pieces before the Lord"(1Sam. 15:33).

Although a seemingly vicious act, the requirement of the Lord that the Israelites "utterly destroy" cities and their inhabitants was actually a form of worship and proved one's devotion to Jehovah.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Difference between a Prophet and "a Prophet"

In my last post, I explained how I recently had the opportunity to sit down with a pair of Jehovah’s Witness missionaries at my home. It’s been four weeks since they last visited and subsequently left a DVD about the history of their Church and the life of Charles Taze Russell, the founder and first leader of their church. I was honestly looking forward to discussing the DVD with them and furthering our discussion about priesthood authority. But it now is beginning to look like I inherited a free Jehovah’s Witness DVD.

One thing that I didn’t include in my last post is that I also discussed with these missionaries the importance of prophets and their role in God’s plan. The Jehovah’s Witnesses generally do not regard Charles Russell as a prophet, per se, but more as a man inspired by God. I fully agree with their assessment and believe many individuals throughout history have been inspired of God to do many wonderful things. For instantce, Reformers like Luther, Wesley, and Tyndale were certainly inspired of God to do what they did. But I don’t believe they were prophets in the strictest sense of the word (e.g., someone called by God to lead his people). They were, nevertheless, prophets in a more loose interpretation of the word (e.g., someone inspired of God). The Bible provides a vivid example of the differences between a prophet and “a prophet,” and the following is how I explained this to my missionary friends.

During the exodus, Moses became extremely frustrated with the Israelites and their constant murmuring. The complaining was also a source of frustration for the Lord (Num. 11:10-15) who allowed Moses to call 70 Israelite elders upon whom an increased portion of the Spirit was given so that they prophesied and served as a sign of God’s power to assist Moses (Num. 11:24-30).

Of these 70 elders, Eldad (Hebrew: “God is/has love”) and Medad (Hebrew: “God’s loving arms reaching out”) proceeded to prophesy not just in the Tabernacle, but also in the Camp of Israel. Upon hearing this, Joshua protested saying, “My lord Moses, forbid them” (Num. 11:28). Moses responded with one of my favorite scriptures, “Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!” (Num. 11:29). In other words, Moses understood that all members of the Church can be prophets simply by receipt of the gift of prophecy.

This principle is also taught in Revelation 19:10, where the angel of the Lord declares that “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Commenting on this verse, Joseph Smith stated that “[i]f any person should ask me if I were a prophet, I should not deny it, as that would give me the lie; for, according to John, the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy; therefore, if I profess to be a witness or teacher, and have not the spirit of prophecy, which is the testimony of Jesus, I must be a false witness; but if I be a true teacher and witness, I must possess the spirit of prophecy, and that constitutes a prophet; and any man who says he is a teacher or a preacher of righteousness, and denies the spirit of prophecy, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.269). Accordingly, anyone who can testify that they know Jesus to be the Christ is technically a prophet since the spirit of prophecy is made manifest through a valid testimony of the Savior.

And yet, having a testimony of Christ does not by itself qualify an individual to speak on behalf of the Lord, as was the case with Moses in the prophetic office. This distinction was apparently not fully understood by Moses’ older siblings, Miriam and Aaron, who exhibited pride and jealousy in view of Moses’ unique calling: “Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us?"(Num. 12:2). The Lord responded by explaining the difference between a prophet and “a prophet.”

He called Moses, Aaron, and Miriam to the tabernacle and proceeded to describe the first category of prophet: “If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream” (Num. 12:6). In other words, the first type of prophet is provided with direct revelation from the Lord through his Spirit. This is the same type described in Revelation 19:10, and the type which most true followers of the Christ qualify as.

The Lord continued, however, by explaining that Moses was not this type of prophet: “My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold” (Num. 12:7-8). The category of prophet that Moses belonged to included one on one interaction with the Lord himself, where the individual is able to behold and speak with the Lord on a personal basis. This is the Lord’s spokesperson through whom timely instruction is given to the Lord’s people. Through this direct interaction with the Lord, this type of prophet receives all the keys necessary for the salvation and exaltation of God’s children.

I’m not sure if this distinction between prophets sunk in with the Jehovah’s Witness missionaries, but it gave me the opportunity to testify that Joseph Smith was a prophet in the strict sense of the word, someone called of God to lead His people today, and that his successor today is Thomas S. Monson. The Spirit was present during our conversation and I trust they felt it also. Maybe that’s why they haven’t been back to see me in a month...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Priesthood of All Believers

For the last 9 months I taught early morning seminary and couldn’t find much spare time to add additional posts here. During the upcoming summer break, and an influx of significantly more time, I hope to post more regularly now on topics of interest.

A few months ago a couple of Jehovah’s Witness missionaries knocked on our door and my wife accepted their literature but asked that they return when I was home to present their message. I always make it a point to be gracious to missionaries of other faiths since my own mission taught me how disappointing tracting and proselytizing can be at times.

The missionaries returned the following Saturday and we enjoyed a two hour conversation about their church. Our discussion was interesting, to say the least, and we agreed on several points of doctrine. I eventually asked about priesthood authority in their church and was surprised to learn that neither of them really knew much about it or hadn’t given it much thought. I took this opportunity to share a brief history of the LDS church and its authoritative foundations, along with my testimony of a living prophet. I even pointed to a picture of the First Presidency I have on my wall in my office to show them who I was talking about.

They eventually returned the following Saturday with a DVD documentary about Charles Russell, the “Joseph Smith” of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, that they said may help answer my authority question. It did…sort of. I concluded that the Jehovah’s Witnesses, like many modern Protestant churches, believe somewhat in the priesthood of all believers. In preparation for their next visit, I studied priesthood authority again and decided to post a few of my notes here for reference. Many of my thoughts are derived from John Tvedtnes’ article entitled, “Is There a ‘Priesthood of All Believers’?” I recommend his short article for further reference.

Briefly, the priesthood of all believers is the concept that all true believers in Christ are inherently authorized to baptize and perform other saving ordinances. This idea first surfaced during the Reformation when Reformers, such as Martin Luther, realized that they had cut themselves off from the priesthood lineage of the Catholic Church and needed to provide an explanation that would authorize them in their ecclesiastical acts.

Proponents of the priesthood of all believers cite to 1 Peter 2:9, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” Peter, however, was referring to Exodus 19:5-6 where the Lord told the Israelites through Moses that if they would “obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation." Of the Israelites present at that time, only the Levites were chosen to receive the priesthood. Moreover, none of the Israelites in Moses’ day acknowledged Christ as Savior, so it appears even they would not have met the criteria set forth by Martin Luther to receive the priesthood of all believers.

In advancing his claim of priesthood for all believers, Luther wrote, "in fact, we are all consecrated priests through Baptism, as St. Peter in 1 Peter 2 says." Peter, however, says nothing about baptism to become a priest and in fact doesn’t mention baptism in the passage in question.

In contrast, the Bible teaches that baptism is not enough to receive priesthood authority. This was made evident in the story of Simon the Sorcerer who attempted to purchase the “power” to “lay hands” on people from Peter and John after witnessing the Holy Ghost bestowed on several in Samaria. See Acts 8:5-20. Although Simon believed and had already been baptized (Acts 8:13), this did not provide him with any priesthood authority, nor was he able to purchase the priesthood from Peter or John.

In John 15:16, Christ told his apostles, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you." Their ordination did not stem from their baptism but because they had chosen to follow Christ. See Luke 6:13; Mark 3:13-15. The chosen 12 received "power" from Christ that the other disciples of Christ did not have, and he later bestowed that same priesthood power on seventy others, as discussed in Luke 10.

In ordaining high priests, Hebrews 5:4 declares, "And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron." And how was Aaron ordained? The Lord told Moses to "anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office." See Exodus 30:30; see also Exodus 28:41; 40:13; Numbers 3:3. In other words, there was a specific ceremonial ordination that took place which included the anointing and consecration of Aaron to his calling. Later, certain Levites were ordained to the priesthood by the laying on of hands. See Numbers 8:10-11.

Today many Christians feel duly authorized to preach the gospel and baptize people stemming from Christ’s commission found in Matthew 28:19. They fail to realize, however, that Christ was speaking only to his ordained apostles at the time. See Matt. 28:16 and Mark 16:14-16.

Priesthood authority does not come from knowledge of the Bible, a degree in theology bestowed by some man-made university, or even an apparent call from God in some vision or dream or while contemplating the Bible. In Matthew 7:21-24 Christ said that “[n]ot every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” When all is said and done, “many” will have claimed to acted in the Lord’s name, using his authority, but the Savior declared that he would cast out those whom he did not know, or those whom he did not authorize to act.

It’s been a few weeks since the Jehovah’s Witness missionaries last visited me, and I’m beginning to wonder if they intend on not returning. If they do return, however, I plan on sharing with them a few of these notes and hope to have the opportunity to share my testimony of priesthood authority with them.

Friday, November 5, 2010

It is Truly Better to Give than to Receive

With all the shocking news stories we read every day, it's refreshing to read an article that touches us. It's refreshing to know that there still are good and decent people throughout the world.

The elderly couple pictured above is Canadian natives Allen and Violet Large. They recently won over $11M in the lottery of Nova Scotia back in July of this year and then went about giving every penny of it away. You can read the full article here.

The husband, Allen, stated that "the money that we won was nothing. We have each other." Such a statement is telling of the type of people they are. We need more people like that today.

The Savior taught his apostles that "freely ye have received, freely give" (Matt 10:8). Truly, "[i]t is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35). It seems that so many of us today are money-driven, and just trying to get ahead. May we all live each day like the Allen and Violet Large, and focus on what really matters.

Friday, October 8, 2010

"[B]ecause of iniquity, the love of many shall wax cold"

One of the more understated prophesies of the last days is that the love towards our brothers and sisters will drastically diminish in the last days. See JSM 1:10, 30; Matt. 24:12; D&C 45:27. In a most poignant example of this, a fourth teenager from Mentor High School in Mentor, Ohio has recently committed suicide as a result of peer bullying in the school. Wouldn't you think that after the third student suicide that was related to bullying occurred, the school would step in and do something? The article can be found here.

If it weren't enough that Sladjana Vidovic was brought to the pitiful state of self-immolation by the acts of her peers, as the mourning family watched a few of the girls who had tormented Sladjana for months walked up to her casket — and laughed. Sladjana was laid in her casket wearing a pink dress that she planned to wear to the prom, and the scoffing girls were apparently mocking the way their deceased schoolmate was dressed and looked.

Wow! Talk about cold-hearted.

As indicated by the Savior in the scriptures cited above, it is because iniquity abounds in the last days that the love of man is quenched. Today there are innumerable sources of iniquity in our world, some that are becoming increasingly accessible, such as pornography in all its forms. I believe that with the influx of a tidal wave of pornography since the late 1990's, we have steadily become more desensitized and cold to the human emotion. Is it any wonder that Alma urged his son Shiblon to “bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love" (Alma 38:12)? This counsel applies equally to all of us. The more our society indulges in iniquity, in any form, and accepts it as normal, the colder we become.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Apparently Mormons Know Religion

A survey recently conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life concluded, among other things, that Mormons generally know the tenets of their own faith and those of other faiths better than most Christian denominations. The participants were asked 32 questions varying in difficulty and including questions such as whether they could name the Islamic holy book, the first book of the Bible, or indicate what century the Mormon religion was founded. Here's a link to the Pew Forum survey, which includes more information.

Interestingly enough, it was the atheists and agnostics that scored the highest in the survey with an average of 21 correct answers. Jews and Mormons followed with around 20 accurate responses, Protestants averaged 16 correct answers, and Catholics followed with a score of about 15. Mormons scored the highest on general questions about Christianity, with an average of about 8 correct answers out of 12.

How do you explain these results? Why do you think atheists and agnostics tested better than actual believers? Why do members of the LDS Church test better than other Christian denominations? Although I tend to agree with Dave Banack's conclusion that our Sunday School Gospel Doctrine manuals need a major overhaul, they have arguably helped our members become more knowledgable and served a valuable purpose.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Scientific Study Explains Parting of Red Sea (sort of)

A new study released by Our Amazing Planet attempts to explain the parting of the Red Sea as a natural phenomenon caused, at least in part, by strong winds. Briefly, the study concluded that a strong east wind of around 65mph, blowing overnight, could have swept water off a bend where an ancient river is believed to have merged with a coastal lagoon along the Mediterranean Sea.

Whether this wind explanation is what actually happened or not, I don't care. In fact, like other "miracles" or seemingly impossible stories in the scriptures, if your testimony is rooted in their undeniable occurrence, then I believe your testimony may be ill-placed. For instance, what if conclusive scientific evidence emerges someday that incontestably proves that the flood could not have been a universal occurrence as attested in the Biblical account, but was only reported locally as Noah observed. Would that shake your testimony?

Unlike some Christian denominations, the LDS Church welcomes the advent of scientific advances. In the Encyclopedia of Mormonism under "Science and Religion," we are taught that "[b]ecause of belief in the ultimate compatibility of all truth and in the eternal character of human knowledge, Latter-day Saints tend to take a more positive approach to science than do some people in other religious traditions who also claim a strong foundation in scripture.” Someday all truth will be made known and I believe we will all be surprised at how interrelated science and religion really are.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Pray Always, lest ye be Disfellowshipped?

And a commandment I give unto them—that he that observeth not his prayers before the Lord in the season thereof, let him be had in remembrance before the judge of my people” (D&C 68:33) (emphasis added).

The phrase “had in remembrance” is similarly used in D&C 68:30, where we are taught that the “idler shall be had in remembrance before the Lord,” or in other words, will be judged of the Lord. The "judge of my people" refers to the bishop or other duly appointed Judge in Israel. However, I'm not exactly sure what "the season" refers to, nor could I locate any commentary on it. Nonetheless, we are continually commanded to pray always, so "the season" appears to connote our regular course of prayer.

Consequently, according to this scripture, if we don’t continue to pray we can potentially be brought before our Ward Bishop or Branch President to answer for ourselves and explain why we haven’t kept up on our prayers. Notice that this is a direct "commandment" from the Lord, and the Lord follows this commandment up by declaring that "[t]hese sayings are true and faithful; wherefore, transgress them not, neither take therefrom" (D&C 68:34).

Joseph Fielding Smith briefly commented on D&C 68:33 in the October 1918 General Conference: “[W]e ought to be a praying people, and if there are in Zion those who do not observe their prayers in the season thereof, they are amenable to the law of the Church and may be brought before the judge, or in other words, the bishop, and he can try them for their fellowship, because the Lord himself has declared it in these words which I have read unto you” (Conference Report, October 1918, 57).

I wonder if any Bishop or Branch President has ever used this scripture in dealing with a member of their congregation. It seems like something that would likely have been brought up by the early Saints.

Does anyone know anything more about this scripture, or have any commentary that could shed some light on it?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Reflections on Pioneer Day - July 24

I'll admit it, I like our modern conveniences. I like having the Internet, HD DVR service, a car with a turbo installed on it, air conditioning, and the list goes on and on. I've often wondered if it would be hard for me to live as the pioneers did. I think I could have done it but, again, I love our modern conveniences.

That said, I have profound respect for those that have passed on before us that have given us a great heritage. I am in awe at the distances people traveled by foot just to hear a living Prophet's voice, to unite themselves with fellow believers, or to flee religious persecution. Most of all, I'm grateful that there were so many righteous souls placed at the appropriate time and location so that they would be instrumental in laying the foundation of our faith.

Truly, the prophetic words of Joseph Smith have now come to fruition:

"The blessings of the Most High will rest upon our tabernacles, and our name will be handed down to future ages; our children will rise up and call us blessed; and generations yet unborn will dwell with peculiar delight upon the scenes that we have passed through, the privations that we have endured; the untiring zeal that we have manifested; the all but insurmountable difficulties that we have overcome in laying the foundation of a work that brought about the glory and blessing which they will realize; a work that God and angels have contemplated with delight for generations past; that fired the souls of the ancient patriarchs and prophets; a work that is destined to bring about the destruction of the powers of darkness, the renovation of the earth, the glory of God, and the salvation of the human family" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.232) (emphasis added).

Happy Pioneer Day from Houston, TX!!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Shaking the Dust from your Feet

On my mission, I fortunately picked up the Spanish language fairly quickly. In fact, within about 2 months in the field I was fairly conversational and had acquired an accent that made some inquire as to whether I was Ecuadorian. Other missionaries can pass through the entirety of their mission without really grasping a foreign language; and such was the case with one of my companions. Even though I was only in the field about 2 months, and my companion had less than 3 months left on his mission, I clearly had a better understanding of the Spanish language. I honestly felt bad and knew it had to be tough for him to be a senior companion and have his junior companion lead discussions.

On one occasion we were engaged in a discussion with a large family. After each time my companion spoke, the family looked to me and asked me to interpret what he had just said. This clearly offended my companion who at one point refused to let me explain what he had just taught and insisted that it was clear enough. He became so infuriated that as we left the family’s home he actually began to dust off his shoes a short distance down the street as a testimony against the inhabitants of the home. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that he likely didn’t understand how that ordinance worked.

The following is a summary of dusting one's feet as a testimony against others, as I understand it.

There are two priesthood ordinances involving the feet; one involving the washing of the feet as described in John 13 and D&C 88:139, and the other involving shaking off the dust from the feet. The former being an ordinance of blessing, the latter an ordinance of cursing. As an ordinance, consequently, neither is to be performed except through the Lord’s duly appointed and authorized servants.

Shaking off the dust from the feet is an action of disapproval and condemnation. To Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, the Lord commanded that “in whatsoever place ye shall enter, and they receive you not in my name, ye shall leave a cursing instead of a blessing, by casting off the dust of your feet against them as a testimony, and cleansing your feet by the wayside” (D&C 24:15). However, not just anyone can undertake this ordinance, and the authority to do so has not been given to missionaries generally. Elder McConkie stated that “[n]o curse should ever be decreed except by direct revelation from the Lord commanding such to be done” (Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 2:123). This is probably because testifying against anyone is a frightening responsibility which mortals cannot fully comprehend without the guidance of the Spirit.

Elder James E. Talmadge summarized this ordinance as follows:

To ceremonially shake the dust from one's feet as a testimony against another was understood by the Jews to symbolize a cessation of fellowship and a renunciation of all responsibility for consequences that might follow. It became an ordinance of accusation and testimony by the Lord's instructions to His apostles as cited in the text [of the New Testament]. In the current dispensation, the Lord has similarly directed His authorized servants to so testify against those who wilfully and maliciously oppose the truth when authoritatively presented. The responsibility of testifying before the Lord by this accusing symbol is so great that the means may be employed only under unusual and extreme conditions, as the Spirit of the Lord may direct” (Elder James E. Talmadge, Jesus the Christ, p.345)(emphasis added).

Interestingly, the Lord cautions those performing this ordinance that it should not to be done in the presence of those they are testifying against “lest thou provoke them, but in secret: and wash thy feet, as a testimony against them in the day of judgment” (D&C 60:15). The Prophet’s brother, Samuel Smith, performed this ordinance at least once while preaching the gospel, as reported by the Prophet’s mother:

On the 30th of June, Samuel started on the mission to which he had been set apart by Joseph, and in traveling 25 miles, which was his first day’s journey, he stopped at a number of places in order to sell his books, but was turned out of doors as soon as he declared his principles. When evening came on, he was faint and almost discouraged, but coming to an inn, which was surrounded with every appearance of plenty, he called to see if the landlord would buy one of his books. On going in, Samuel inquired of him, if he did not wish to purchase a history of the origin of the Indians.

‘I do not know,’ replied the host; ‘how did you get hold of it?’ ‘It was translated,’ rejoined Samuel, ‘by my brother, from some gold plates that he found buried in the earth.’ ‘You liar!’ cried the landlord. ‘Get out of my house-you shan’t stay one minute with your books.

Samuel was sick at heart, for this was the 5th time he had been turned out of doors that day. He left the house and traveled a short distance and washed his feet in a small brook, as a testimony against the man. He then proceeded five miles further on his journey, and seeing an apple tree a short distance from the road, he concluded to pass the night under it; and here he lay all night upon the cold, damp ground. In the morning, he arose from his comfortless bed, and observing a small cottage at no great distance, he drew near, hoping to get a little refreshment…. He…proceeded to Bloomington, which was 8 miles further.

Here he stopped at the house of John P. Greene, who was a Methodist preacher and was at that time about starting on a preaching mission. He, like the others, did not wish to make a purchase of what he considered at that time to be a nonsensical fable; however, he said that he would take a subscription paper, and if he found anyone on his route who was disposed to purchase, he would take his name, and in two weeks Samuel might call again and he would let him know what the prospect was of selling. After making this arrangement, Samuel left one of his books with him, and returned home. At the time appointed, Samuel started again for the Reverend John P. Greene’s, in order to learn the success which this gentleman had met with in finding sale for the Book of Mormon. This time, Mr. Smith and myself accompanied him, and it was our intention to have passed near the tavern where Samuel was so abusively treated a fortnight previous, but just before we came to the house, a sign of smallpox intercepted us. We turned aside, and meeting a citizen of the place, we inquired of him, to what extent this disease prevailed. He answered that the tavern keeper and two of his family had died with it not long since, but he did not know that anyone else had caught the disease, and that it was brought into the neighborhood by a traveler who stopped at the tavern overnight” (Lucy Mack Smith, History of Joseph Smith, pp.225-226) (emphasis added).