Blacks in Mormonism: Race and the Priesthood with Marvin Perkins (Part 3)

Todd Noall

Todd Noall

Source Expert

Todd Noall is an author and religious scholar at Mormonism Explained with a focus on the history and theology of religion.

Fact Checked by Kevin Prince

All right, let’s talk about an idiom. Oh, idioms! So, my kids love idioms, and it’s fun because most of the time we’re doing this, we’re in the United States, and we look for someone that is not born in the United States. Is there anyone here that was not born in the US? Okay, just about all of them are girls. Okay, so in that case, why don’t we use a Swedish idiom then? Help me if I say this wrong: “Där ligger en hund begraven.” Can you tell the Americans what that means? I’m sorry, the direct translation would be something like “There’s a dog in it” or “There’s a dog buried.” Okay, yeah, see, we’re turning the tables on the idiom. Basically, an idiom, here’s the dictionary definition of it: the construction or expression of one language whose parts correspond to elements in another language but whose total structure or meaning is not matched in the same way in the second language. Or you can simply say, “That doesn’t mean what I think it means; it means something totally different in another language or culture.” And you’re probably wondering how this corresponds to blacks in Mormonism, but we’ll get there.

Okay, and so this Swedish idiom that I just put forth there, “There’s a dog buried,” some say somebody’s not telling you the whole truth, there’s more to the story. But when you translate that directly in English, us Americans wouldn’t have known what that meant. And so, if you don’t understand idioms and the use of idioms, then there’s no way for you to understand ancient scripture. And as a matter of fact, it was talking about not being able to show DNA proof and not proof of the Book of Mormon, idioms prove that the Book of Mormon is an ancient document, and you’ll see that as we go through this presentation. Now, once you do that, we ask our friends and neighbors, actually pray about it to see if it is truly divine. But we can easily, easily prove that it is an ancient document through idioms.

All right, so with that in mind, we’re going to cover a few things. There are widely accepted views, which I call the doctrine of men or the philosophies of men in the church, and we also have the actual doctrine, which is the scriptures. So a lot of people ask me, and forgive me, all the scholars in the room, “Have you read this book? Have you…” I select the book that I read the most is the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. Those are the books that I read the most simply because I want that iron rod experience. There’s a lot of stuff that’s out there, and it’s absolutely phenomenal and tremendous, but when I want to understand the truth, I want to go straight to the iron rod, which are the scriptures and my knees. All right, and by the way, I have bad knees; that means I pray a lot. Okay, so first of all, let’s talk about what a curse is. So most of us use this word a lot in the church. 

As a matter of fact, when I was investigating the church, people were lovingly telling me that I was cursed, that I could not get into the celestial kingdom, but I should join anyway. They were blessings for me, and I am so confused. I’m looking at them like, you know, where I grew up, this was generally the start of a fight, but you’re saying it so nice, I’m confused. I don’t know what to do with this. And so anyway, I’m amazed that the word is used so frequently, yet so few members even know what an actual curse means. And it is laid out very nicely in both the Webster’s dictionary, where you can see definitions number nine and fourteen talk about an ecclesiastic or censure, which is basically a separation from the church or to excommunicate. But it’s also laid out pretty well in our scriptures as well. In D&C 29:41, this is in reference to Adam, and Elder Bednar talks about when you do scripture studies, look for patterns. We’re going to do a lot of work with patterns today. And so it reads, “Wherefore, I the Lord God caused that he should be cast out from the Garden of Eden from my presence because of his transgression.” Now, a curse is a separation from God, his path, or his ways due to sin. I teach on one of the most sensitive subjects in the church throughout the world, and I have to have the spirit with me. So when I sin, the first thing that happens, there’s a separation between myself and God, caused by me because I chose to do Satan’s work. Okay, there’s only two works in the world: you either do God’s work or you do Satan’s work. There’s no in-between. And so, I’ve lost the use of the spirit, the companionship of the spirit. And how can this distance affect skin color? It doesn’t. 

You just learned something about skin color that should help you to understand that it has nothing to do with cursing. A curse is a separation from God, his path, or his ways due to sin. How do I remove this curse? Absolutely, I repent. I repent, “Lord, I’m really sorry for what I’ve done.” And I demonstrate to him that I really want to do his will, and then I can have the Spirit to be with me again. So, that’s what a curse is. Look for that pattern relative to Adam. We think about his son Cain being cursed with what’s come to be known as the Curse of Cain. Yes, he was separated from God because of his sin, but so was Adam. “Wherefore, I the Lord God caused that he should be cast out from the Garden of Eden from my presence because of his transgression.” Wherein, he became spiritually dead, which is the first death. Even that same death, which is the last death, which is spiritual, should be pronounced upon the wicked when I should say, “Depart ye cursed.” Alright, so with that in mind, let’s go to the Bible, the book that I use for conversion. As a matter of fact, one of the things that pains me to no end is when I hear members talk about the Book of Mormon like it’s the only book of Scripture out there that actually causes others to believe that we don’t believe in the Bible. You’ve got to stop that. The Old Testament is our foundation; the New Testament builds onto our foundation.

“The Book of Mormon builds on that foundation as promised in the Old Testament and in the Book of Isaiah. And so, if we’re only talking about one of the books, we’re basically weakening our position. Now, what else are we doing? Well, the Bible is the greatest tool that we use for conversion and helping other people to understand the truthfulness of the gospel. Simply because it’s the common bond our neighbors don’t have the Book of Mormon, they only have the Bible for the most part. And so, when we show them how well we not only know the Bible but how great a story the Bible tells—the LDS version of the King James Bible—it makes an awful lot of sense. And now they want to know more about the Book of Mormon, so it’s all about how we’re using the tools that are available to us in the scriptures. In my mind, they’re the most powerful.

So, take a look at Jeremiah 21. What we did with the blacks and the Scriptures project is we actually took every word, every mention, every form of the word black in the scriptures, and we compiled them. And then we separated them—these deal with buildings, these deal with animals, these are other objects, these deal with man—and those who dealt with man, we actually really prayerfully went through those very thoroughly, and you’re going to see most of them right here. We found something that we think you will actually love and can use because we’re using it successfully to bring many souls unto Christ.
Jeremiah 8:21, ‘For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt; I am black; astonishment hath taken hold of me.’ Now, before reading this, we would think they were talking about black people, but we know there’s no such thing as black people. We also know there’s no such thing as black skin—we’re all brown. Blumenbach created that whole thing. But look at what you find only in the LDS version of the King James Bible. This may not be in this; I don’t think there is a Swedish version of the LDS Bible or Norwegian, is there? I couldn’t find it. Alright, but in the US version, the American version of this, there’s an idiom, there’s a footnote that says that this is a Hebrew idiom that doesn’t mean what you think it means. It’s talking about the spiritual, emotional, or mental state of this individual, not the skin, not the black Mormons. And it just says that it’s a Hebrew idiom meaning ‘gloomy.’ The same thing in Jeremiah 14:2, ‘To mourneth and the gates thereof languish; they are blackened to the ground.’ Only in the LDS version of the King James Bible will you find another clarifying footnote that tells you that they’re talking about the emotional, spiritual, or mental state of that individual.

By Todd Noall, Source Expert

Todd Noall is an author and religious scholar at Mormonism Explained with a focus on the history and theology of religion.

Fact Checked by Mr. Kevin Prince, Source Expert

Kevin Prince is a religious scholar and host of the Gospel Learning Youtube channel. His channel has garnered over 41,000 subscribers and accumulated over 4.5 million views. Mr. Prince also created the Gospel Learning App, a reliable platform where individuals seeking truth can access trustworthy answers to religious questions from top educators worldwide.

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