Hello! Shalom! Aloha! Mabuhay!

If this is your first visit to Modern Apocrypha, I have only two recommendations for continuing on with minimal confusion:

1) Please begin with the first introductory post (found HERE) and work your way forward. Almost all the posts on this blog flow chronologically and will make more sense with the background and context of previous ones. Jumping in anywhere might be disorienting.

2) Please read along in the texts posted off to the right. I try not to summarize too much in the commentary and discussion, and being at least somewhat familiar with what we're discussing or I'm commenting on will be most beneficial and edifying for all involved. Plus, going along with the theme of this blog, any hidden truths to be brought to light will be found within the text itself and not necessarily within my ramblings.

Okay, fine, three recommendations:

3) Please read with an open heart, mind, and spirit. See what truths you can find in these works--ones which speak to you. Namaste : )

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Hi all. We're back. Things got busy for a while with school starting back up, teaching seminary again, work, family, and on and on. (Who am I kidding? Things are always busy.) I also have spent a lot of time during the past two months researching the subject of this post and reading up on the next set of apocrypha that we'll cover once/if we get through the Aklatan ; ) (There's a lot of good stuff out there.) And I will get to those who have posted comments in the interim. Anyway, we're almost done with the Book of Visions...

Elisha's unique experience with glossolalia, or speaking in tongues, shouldn't be all that odd or unique. For those that are moved upon by the Holy Ghost, this is a gift from that Spirit and one that will follow those who believe. The speaking in tongues is clearly attested during the Apostolic Church and was prevalent during the first generation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The issue then becomes, why has this gift, in particular, diminished? Or, at least, why do we not see it manifested regularly in our worship? There might be practical reasons for this. Joseph Smith taught that speaking in tongues "was particularly instituted for the preaching of the Gospel to other nations and languages, but it was not given for the government of the Church," and that it must be accompanied by the interpretation of tongues. So, perhaps, because it is now easier to communicate between languages with today's technology, the need for this spiritual means of communication is lessened or is manifested in other ways (e.g., missionaries learning foreign languages easier, translating Church materials more efficiently, etc.).

However, the LDS Church History Blog has documented dozens of first-hand accounts of early Latter-day Saints showing just how integral speaking in tongues was to 19th century Mormon spirituality. The blog's introduction to the topic continues:
Brigham Young would sometimes hold conversations with others in tongues. Perhaps because women could not exercise spirituality tied to priesthood, they readily engaged in the practice of speaking and singing in tongues, as well as interpreting. Patriarchal blessings often promised the gift, sometimes in conjunction with preaching to American Indians (Lamanites). One interpretation of a song in tongues was included in a collection of revelations, and some blessings were given in tongues. After some time, caution was urged. Interpretation was to accompany the gift, and that which was said was not to be taken as doctrine.
The frequency of the gift slowed and eventually those who commonly spoke in tongues died off. Sometimes, manifestations of the gift in the 20th century were regarded with suspicion. Eventually church materials would define the gift of tongues primarily as the ability for missionaries or others to learn languages to preach the gospel.
I was going to post excerpts of many of these stories, and though it would be fun, it would be too long. So I'll just refer you to the LDS Church History Blog, and here's a graph representing the prevalence of speaking in tongues in the Church based on its documentation. (This is not representative of a robust scientific or statistical analysis on the data, and I understand the accompanying sorting issues, selection biases, etc of the dataset. It's just something I threw together to visualize the temporal trend of glossalia, and biases aside, there's something to it.)
(Click to enlarge)
We have never seen an outpouring of the Spirit manifested via the gift of tongues since the Saints were first establishing themselves in Utah, and even then, that paled in comparison to the time of Kirtland and the surrounding period. In our day, this is a good reminder to check ourselves that we're not suppressing but, rather, expressing, exercising, and seeking/coveting earnestly gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:31; D&C 46:8). We need to be sure we're not falling into the trap of unbelief Mormon saw over 1600 years ago:
It is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain.
For no man can be saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have faith in his name; wherefore, if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man, for they are as though there had been no redemption made. (Moroni 7:37-38)
Miracles and gifts of the Spirit happen because of faith and follow those who believe. If we're not seeing these in our own lives, where is our faith? If we're not seeing these in the world around us, things are looking pretty bleak. "Israel, Israel, God is calling..."