Joseph Smith: “Ignorance, Superstition and Bigotry” impedes progress and prosperity of the Church

Joseph Smith: “Ignorance, Superstition and Bigotry” impedes progress and prosperity of the Church

Selections of Joseph Smith’s powerful March 20, 1839 letter from Liberty Jail have been canonized in the Doctrine and Covenants. However in reading through the full letter this morning, I was especially struck by one paragraph that comes directly in between two canonized verses.

I strongly wish this section was canonized, because the wisdom within it is just as applicable (if not more so) today, and should definitely be taken into consideration when looking at specific aspects of the history and progress of the Church.

While reading this, keep in mind that ‘The Church’ is constituted of its individual members. You, and I. ‘The Church’ is not limited to its organizational leadership.

Here is the paragraph, found in the original directly between D&C 121:32 and D&C 121:33:

But I beg leave to say unto you, brethren, that ignorance,superstition and bigotry placing itself where it ought not, is oftentimes in the way of the prosperity of this Church; like the torrent of rain from the mountains, that floods the most pure and crystal stream with mire, and dirt, and filthiness, and obscures everything that was clear before, and all rushes along in one general deluge; but time weathers tide; and notwithstanding we are rolled in the mire of the flood for the time being, the next surge peradventure, as time rolls on, may bring us to the fountain as clear as crystal, and as pure as snow; while the filthiness, floodwood and rubbish is left and purged out of the way.

What can we personally do to actively help make sure “Ignorance, Superstition and Bigotry” is not even temporarily impeding, or “damming up” the progress and prosperity of the Church in our own personal realms of stewardship?

It’s incredibly easy to only apply this principle to forces outside the Church. And it is true that those elements certainly do contribute to attacks against us and our doctrines. At times, there are things we can do to help clarify outside misconceptions.

However, those elements, “ignorance, superstition and bigotry” are also substantially at work within the Church as well, from those who would consider themselves otherwise faithful and active members.

This is what concerns me most – the Impediments from within, among those of us who should know better.

What are we personally doing to purge the ‘filthiness, floodwood and rubbish’ out of our own lives, so that we ourselves are not serving as stubborn and perhaps unwitting barriers to the progress and prosperity we could otherwise be seeing in our own lives, and even collectively as a Church?

One thought on “Joseph Smith: “Ignorance, Superstition and Bigotry” impedes progress and prosperity of the Church

  1. Personally, I know when it comes to me, I try to avoid ignorance, and superstition by trying to learn as much as I can about the Church, the scriptures, and their history (as well as secular history) and their actual context.
    In addition to this, to try and remove unintended bigotry in my own thoughts and practices, I also am actively trying to understand other cultural, social, or religious groups on their own terms that I may not initially have had firsthand experience with.
    Also, I have been trying very hard to not use (both in my mind, and in persuasion) proof-text scriptures and historical sound-bites as a tool to reinforce my pre-set conclusions, biases, and and judgement on other individuals’ character, sincerity, or worth.

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