Monday, April 13, 2015

Citation Needed

From Lucas and Woodworth's Working Toward Zion, regarding tithing:

Later the requirement of the initial consecration was dropped. [p. 44]
That's a pretty bold statement to make without a reference. How many other times has "a standing law unto them forever" (D&C 119:4) been dropped?

Earlier in the Lucas and Woodworth paragraph, a different footnote argues against the idea that the law of consecration is forever dropped, and it cites numerous places where it is said the law of tithing has been characterized as a preparatory law for a later resumption of consecration. Only one of those sources is available to me: a Marion G. Romney talk from the October 1975 welfare session of General Conference. (Welfare sessions are like the non-consolidated schedule: seriously old-school.) President Romney said:

The requirement to live the united order at that time was then withdrawn. The lesser law of tithing was revealed, which, with the law of the fast, has prevailed and persisted in the Church until now.
Far be it from me to correct President Romney, but I think he was imprecise with terms, which can lead to confusion. The requirement to live in the United Firm was indeed withdrawn, but that was not the law of consecration. The law of consecration was called by the Lord "my law" (D&C 38:32, see also D&C 42:2). It was given in February 1831. The revelation to begin the United Firm was given in March 1832 (see heading to D&C 78). The United Firm was ended in 1834; the law of consecration has never been ended. (Many of those who argue otherwise have actually covenanted to live the law of consecration.) The law of tithing, far from being a "lesser" law which foresees its eventual replacement, is said to start with a consecration of all surplus property and is called "a standing law unto them forever."

I believe that the law of tithing and the law of the fast are portions of the law of consecration, not replacements for the entire thing. Joseph M. Spencer argues in his book For Zion that "such interpretations are entirely misguided" (Loc. 3897). He quotes Gordon B. Hinckley as saying "the law of sacrifice and the law of consecration were not done away with and are still in effect."

Lucas and Woodworth are making their task more difficult. First they argue that capitalism must be replaced by the law of consecration, then they argue that consecration is a law not currently in effect. They quote Brigham Young noting that "the Lord Almighty has not the least objection in the world to our entering into the Order of Enoch," but they say the necessary law is not in effect. In short, they require renewed revelation and a complete replacement of the prevailing economic order. I contend that Zion requires neither of these things. The required laws are currently in effect and the prevailing economic order is compatible with Zion.

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