06) COMMUNISM: Did Joseph Smith experiment with communal practices through his institution of the law of consecration and the united order? Were the failures to institute the united order due to lack of vision and incorrect principles?
“Warning to Church Members” (Statement published in the Improvement Era, July 1936 by the First Presidency, under date of July 3,1936. Reprinted in “The Messenger Presiding Bishopric Publication, Oct. 1961)
Ezra Taft Benson
“Has it occurred to you that one may interpret doctrine when he or she undertakes to explain certain events in Church history? To suggest, for example, that the Word of Wisdom was an outgrowth of the temperance movement in America and that Joseph Smith selected certain prohibition and dietary features from that movement and presented them to the Lord for confirmation is also to pronounce an explanation contradictory to the one given by Brigham Young 1. To suggest that Joseph Smith received the vision on the three degrees of glory (D&C 76) as he grappled for answers that contemporary philosophers were grappling for is to infer an interpretation contrary to the Prophet’s own. 2
We would hope that if you feel you must write for the scholarly journals, you always defend the faith. Avoid expressions and terminology which offend the Brethren and Church members. I refer to such expressions as “he alleged” when a President of the Church described a revelation or manifestation; or other expressions such as “experimental systems” and “communal life” as they describe sacred revelations dealing with the united order and the law of consecration. A revelation of God is not an experiment. The Lord has already done His research. Revelations from God are not based on the theories or philosophies of men, regardless of their worldly learning.” 3