Sunday, August 02, 2009

D&C 129: Ask him to shake hands with you

Interesting selection from the Doctrine and Covenants, a work believed by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be a part of the scriptural canon. I wasn't aware that you could discern good from evil personages using a handshake:
Instructions given by Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Nauvoo, Illinois, February 9, 1843, making known three grand keys by which the correct nature of ministering angels and spirits may be distinguished.

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.
I know that Mormons will defend this by asserting their belief in ongoing public revelation, which historic Christianity rejects. Nevertheless, I post this as a contrast. This teaching's assertions are widely different from our belief in the incorporeal nature of angelic beings and the inability of human beings to become angels after reaching some level of spiritual and resurrected exaltation (the theology of the old favorite "It's a Wonderful Life" aside!). The notion appears to have a number of things confused.

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