Is there always a Trigger before Revelation? – James Leverich

guestMormon 17 Comments

TriggerI’ve always felt in my own life there needs to be a need before I get divine help or inspiration. For example if I’m having problems with patience with my children or wife at home, I pray that I will have more patience and try to get more understanding for my lack of patience. Patience is the need or trigger. Then when I’m at church and hear a talk about patience for example Elder Robert C Oaks talk on the Power Patience -here is an excerpt from his talk.

“Fortunately, there are seldom-reported but marvellous-to-consider stories of great patience. Recently I attended the funeral of a lifelong friend. His son told a beautiful story of parental patience. When the son was in his youth, his dad owned a motorcycle dealership. One day they received a shipment of shiny new motorcycles, and they lined them all up in the store. The boy did what every boy would like to do, and he climbed up on the closest one. He even started it up. Then, when he figured he had pushed his luck far enough, he jumped off. To his dismay, his dismount knocked the first bike down. Then, like a string of dominoes, they all went down, one after another. His dad heard the commotion and looked out from behind the partition where he was working. Slowly, smiling, he said, “Well, son, we had better fix one up and sell it, so we can pay for the rest of them.”

To me my prayer and the timing of when I heard his talk, is considered Revelation at least to me.

Should we expect prophets or the church to work any differently?

Will we ever receive revelation with out pressure!

For example, If the brethren decided to cut our meeting times from three hours to two hours, wouldn’t they do that because for what ever reason their studies showed that members felt three hours was too long and retention was dwindling world wide. However in the trial retention was much stronger, members were happier, it freed up an hour to do service or be with family. The trigger would be poor retention the revelation or change of policy would be a two-hour block. Fictional example – but we can only hope.

1. Sports boycotts of BYU,
2. Church prohibits black children from being Boy Scout leaders,
3. Spencer W. Kimball denounces racism –
4. Apostle Harold B. Lee blocks policy change in 1969

Four triggers before 1978 Revelation on Priesthood Ban.
Sports boycotts of BYU
African-American athletes protested against racist LDS policies by boycotting several sporting events with Brigham Young University (BYU). In 1968, after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, black members of the UTEP track team approached their coach and expressed their desire not to compete against Brigham Young University (BYU) in an upcoming meet. When the coach disregarded the athletes’ complaint, the athletes boycotted the meet.

Church prohibits black children from being Boy Scout leaders
Since the early part of the 20th century, each LDS ward has organized its own Boy Scouting troop. Although never denied participation in scouting, a policy called for the deacon quorum president (a priesthood office held by 12 and 13 year old boys) to be the troop leader, excluding black children from that role. The NAACP filed a federal lawsuit in 1974 challenging this racist practice, and soon thereafter the LDS church reversed its policy. Today, even non-Mormons can be leaders of an LDS Boy Scout troop.
Spencer W. Kimball denounces racism
Spencer W. Kimball, LDS apostle and future president of the church taught against racism. In 1972, he said: “Intolerance by Church members is despicable. A special problem exists with respect to blacks because they may not now [1972] receive the priesthood. Some members of the Church would justify their own un-Christian discrimination against blacks because of that rule with respect to the priesthood, but while this restriction has been imposed by the Lord, it is not for us to add burdens upon the shoulders of our black brethren.
Racial restriction policy ended in 1978
LDS church president Spencer W. Kimball (president 1973 – 1985) took general conference on the road, holding area and regional conferences all over the world. He also announced many new temples to be built both in the United States and abroad, including one at temple in São Paulo, Brazil. The problem of determining priesthood eligibility in Brazil was thought to be nearly impossible due to the mixing of the races in that country. When the temple was announced, church leaders realized the difficultly of restricting persons with African descent from attending the temple in Brazil.
However, Kimball was aware of the discord a change of this policy would create, even among his own Quorum of the Twelve. Bruce R. McConkie had published in his Mormon Doctrine that African Americans would not receive the priesthood until the millennium. Finally, on June 8, 1978, the First Presidency released to the press an official declaration, now a part of the standard works of the church.
Freemasonry The Trigger before the Temple Endowment

Greg Kearney in his Fair article tells us how he believes Free Masonry was the foundation of the Temple Endowment
Let me get to the crux of my issue here. Everybody wants to know, ‘Okay Greg, did the temple ritual come from Freemasonry?’ And I’m going to answer that with a qualified yes. (Everybody inhale!) I draw a bright line between the temple endowment and the temple ritual.
The endowment is revealed doctrine necessary for the salvation of the Saints. It teaches us God’s relationship to man; our duties and our responsibilities. The endowment has never changed and if you think about it, what the endowment is are commitments to the law of sacrifice, to the law of consecration, to the law of chastity. These things are fixed and these things can be found throughout every dispensation of time. That is the endowment.

• Does it damage your view of the prophetic mantle?
• Would some argue its bowing to social pressure- not revelation?
• Can you think of other triggers before revelations?

Comments 17

  1. I can think of many other examples of revelation and/or policy changes resulting from a trigger: the Word of Wisdom, end of polygamy, renewed emphasis on WoW and tithing, etc. I agree that personally, I need a trigger to seek guidance and I don’t expect anything more from the church. My question is, is it my duty or right as a church member to create triggers for future revelation. For example, without taking sides on the issue of women holding the priesthood, if I would like the church to seek and hopefully receive revelation on this issue (whatever the outcome) rather than follow a long-standing policy for which I find no clear justification in the standard works, what should I do? How can a member help trigger revelation while staying within the boundaries set by the church?

  2. “The endowment has never changed and if you think about it, what the endowment is are commitments to the law of sacrifice, to the law of consecration, to the law of chastity.”

    You are right that these things have always been with humanity in one form or another. If that is all it is then what is the point of the endowment? Why do we perform the ritual for the dead who may have already lived these laws, as they understood them, during their lives? Why perform the endowment for the dead at all since these laws no longer apply to them? It is pretty easy for a dead person to live the law of chastity. What are the signs and tokens and names for then, and why do they so sacred that they need to be kept hidden from the world? Why did they have to be protected with death oaths? It seems to me that the endowment is a whole lot more than just a commitment to those 3 laws.

  3. Yes…I agree. My grandmother always said necessity is the mother of invention. I propose neccessity is the mother of revelation. If there is no need, then there is No need for revelation.

    Joseph Smith’s vision started with a need he had. The Word of Wisdom started with a need Emma had. Prophets are humans and this is the way humans progress. This is no different that Jesus’s learning and progression, Luke 1:80, “And the child (Jesus) grew, and waxed strong in spirit…” This process does not make the Son of God any less than the Son of God.
    I view the process of growing and learning as divine. It is this progression that is unique to the human race.

  4. In my personal life, more often than not I seek revelation in responce to outside pressures: I have an unmet need of some kind that is pressing, I’m givin an assignement to teach or speak, etc. Even revelations that come after what seems like an entirely internal motivation (mostly, I want to learn), will be effected, neccesarily, by whatever kinds of pressures and enjoyments are going on in my day to day life. Why should the church be any different? Without the tension between the church and the “world” (broadly meant as just ‘everything else’), there would be very little impetus for institutional growth. And since we’re clearly not Zion yet, we need to grow.


  5. I think that looking back at all the changes (or clarifications depending on how you look at it) to church doctrine and temple ceremonies it is pretty clear that it came about because of social or political pressure. When you consider what led up to changes like halting polygamy, lifting the ban on blacks and the priesthood, eliminating certain parts of the temple ceremony that made people feel uncomfortable and changing the introduction of the Book of Mormon from “principal ancestors of Native Americans” to “among the ancestors of Native Americans”, I believe that it would be quite naive to believe that these changes were made by the church leadership completely independent of outside influence.

  6. Zelph,

    Yet LDS leaders for the most part omit reference to triggers when announcing policy changes, including blacks and the priesthood. What I wish for was the same openness Wilford Woodruff gave the Church about publishing the Manifesto in 1890, which comments are printed as explanatory statements in the D and C today. I think we could all use some explanatory comments for Official Declaration 2!

    It’s funny when you think about it, because on a local level, the triggers are quite transparent. Sister Smith moved, necessitating a prayer about whom to call as her replacement, which is why Sister Lee is the new Primary President…

  7. “What I wish for was the same openness Wilford Woodruff gave the Church about publishing the Manifesto in 1890”

    Me, too. Why any leader would think that their charges are better off when their deliberations are kept sealed off entirely from the group they are leading … well, you know, those were different times. (Not that there needs to be complete transpancy, obviously there are times (maybe even frequent times) when it is good to keep things to oneself, or within a deliberating group.) I see tons of evidence of opening up, not only, or even mostly, about controversial subjects so much as just plain being open. I think right off of some of the things said by Elder Holland in interviews lately. Even in conference talks there is much more a feeling of openness, of conversation, along with the ‘declaring doctrine’ kind of speaking. I’m inclined to think these are generational shifts, as much as anything.


  8. Many people assume the priesthood ban was lifted because of political pressure, but the evidence points to a completely different trigger, imo. The Church was running into MAJOR roadblocks in its attempts to preach and baptize in areas where there were large black populations. How do you expand into the Caribbean Islands and pockets of Brazil and Africa – where pretty large numbers of people had accepted the Gospel but where priesthood leadership would never develop?

    When Pres. Kimball prayed earnestly about the ban, I doubt “political pressure” had much, if anything, to do with the anguish of his heart. I think the growth of the Church was foremost in his mind, heart and prayers.

  9. What is interesting is reading about how David O. McKay prayed about the priesthood ban until he finally got the message that yes it would be lifted and no, not now. That was a long time before the other “triggers.”

    I think many of these things have deeper layers than we appreciate.

  10. I also look at this as the process of “pruning” the bad out of the Church.

    Jacob 5:65-66 –

    “And as they begin to grow ye shall clear away the branches which bring forth bitter fruit, according to the strength of the good and the size thereof; and ye shall not clear away the bad thereof all at once, lest the roots thereof should be too strong for the graft, and the graft thereof shall perish, and I lose the trees of my vineyard.”

    For it grieveth me that I should lose the trees of my vineyard; wherefore ye shall clear away the bad according as the good shall grow, that the root and the top may be equal in strength, until the good shall overcome the bad, and the bad be hewn down and cast into the fire, that they cumber not the ground of my vineyard; and thus will I sweep away the bad out of my vineyard.”

    This didn’t happen “in the world”; it happened “in my vineyard” – meaning that there was “bad” in the vineyard even during the last time that needed to be cut out, and it only could be done according to the strength of the root. Personally, I think the ban would have been lifted earlier if the Church “root” could have handled it earlier.

    I lived in Utah during the 60’s and early 70’s, when the Civil Rights movement was something that was happening “somewhere else” – and it was hard for many members to understand and believe it was as bad as it was. By 1978, this general attitude has changed greatly, and the general membership could rejoice (and I mean truly rejoice) at the lifting of the ban without feeling like it was due to political pressure.

    There is a great thread on BCC about that day:

  11. #2 Bob H

    Thanks for your reply! Your question is a little deep for me- you should email Greg Kearney at

    #10 Stephen M

    “I think many of these things have deeper layers than we appreciate.” I totally agree with you! Did you did you here the screen cast that was given by Darius Gray and Margaret Young at BYU they go through this very complex part of our history in great detail I think you would enjoy it.

    # 9 Ray I think you would also enjoy the screen cast given by Darius Gray and Margaret Young at BYU – warning its excellent but its over 2 hours long! watch the trailer on this if you get a minute it looks good.

  12. An interesting thought that revelation usually requires a trigger (sometimes desperation), but I have a difficult time limiting how God can reveal his will to man. Like the post states, my opinions are also influenced on my experiences, so I have to disagree with the absolute “always”. Years ago, I experienced a puzzling personal spiritual journey which I did not understand the purpose. I pondered on the meaning of the experience for a couple years. Finally, God revealed to me that an answer to a current question was that previous experience. I realized God answered a question that I hadn’t yet posed. Only God can violate causality.

  13. jose, I agree that we might not recognize the “trigger” at the time – and that, often, the trigger simply can be our own need for the revelation – or God’s need to give it. I also have had revelation where I didn’t understand the trigger (my particular need) until after the revelation was received.

    The following post is about just such an experience – where there was a trigger that I couldn’t possibly understand when the revelation was received, since that trigger was a need that my best friends would experience a few months after the revelation was given. Iow, the “practical trigger” was a FUTURE trigger. When I realized that, it was almost indescribable.

  14. It occurs to me reading the various responses to the notion of ‘socially/politically triggered revelation that the more we build into the design, the more there is that can go wrong. The temple endowment, a purely latter-day invention, spawned a whole load of support systems, not least of which is the order of the service itself which needs periodic revision to maintain acceptability to a more enlightened membership. My point in this regard and as true for plural marriage (now consigned to the hereafter), blacks and priesthood (brought back from the hereafter), blood atonement, plurality of gods and the notion of a human, pre-exalted origin for God have all precipitated historical revisions and blatant U-turns in which latter-day prophets find them self in contention with their recent predecessors; a situation not experienced among their old testament colleagues. I am all for progression in the kingdom but have we not inherited a nineteenth century engine with inherent design faults in need of constant modification?

  15. “a situation not experienced among their old testament colleagues.”

    You really think so? That record is FULL of very significant changes over time.

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