90 years ago today - Dec 31, 1930

Referring to our telephone conversation of yesterday, I think very likely I misapprehended the purpose of your request for a more definite statement of my objections to the discourse of Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, published in the Utah Genealogical Magazine of October, 1930 [discounting Robert's idea of "pre-Adamites"], than what was found in my letter to the First Presidency of December 15, 1930. ... I herewith submit the following explanation of my letter. First, The purpose of my letter meant to secure from the First Presidency a simple statement whether or not the discourse of Elder Smith had been submitted to them, and perhaps to the Twelve, and had been approved by them as representing what was to be considered the attitude of the Church upon that subject. If that were the case I tried to express the thought that that fact ought to have been mentioned in the discourse; because of the apparent air of finality and authority of the pronouncement. It occurred to me that if the discourse was to be regarded as the authoritative attitude of the Church it ought to have been made by someone else tan Elder Smith, or else the announcement made that he was authorized to speak for the Presidency and other authorities of the Church, since hitherto the Church has made no authoritative statement on the subject.

Second, If the dogmatic and apparently final utterance on the subject treated was after all but the expression of Elder Smith's personal views, then such fact ought somewhere to appear in the discourse that the hearers and readers might know what weight to accord the pronouncement made.

Third, I meant to imply by what was said in my letter that if the discourse of Elder Smith was but the expression of his personal views, hen I questioned his competency to speak with such dogmatic finality as he does in the discourse on the subject, (a) either by reason of his general learning or any known special research on the subject involved, and (b) that as an apostle Elder Smith was not competent to make such a positive and apparently not-to-be questioned pronouncement, because an earlier and a more experienced and learned apostle had made a directly opposite statement on the subject, which statement Brigham Young, President of the Church, publically approved, both which statement and approval, were published in the Journal of Discourses.

Fourth, I meant to imply in my letter that in view of all this, Elder Smith was not warranted in making such a positive and dogmatic statement, and that I had the right to know if he spoke by the authority of an agreed upon attitude of the present administration of the Church or not ' hence the questions of my letter to the First Presidency.

Fifth, To all this I add the following: I call in question the accuracy of Elder Smith's position ain reference to the whole doctrine of his discourse, as being contrary to a great volume of well developed and ascertained truth, established by the researches of scientists of highest character, of profoundest learning, and world-wide research. I hold his doctrine contrary at least to the plain implications of the scripture; as tending also to reduce the Church of the New Dispensation to the character of a narrow, bigoted sect, forsaking the God-given world movement idea of it; and as injurious to the continued faith in, and adherence to, the teachings of the Church not by 'a scattered few', but by a very great number of its membership.

Of course I stand ready to maintain the truth of these statements if given the opportunity, and I respectfully ask for permission to do so.

[B. H. Roberts, Letter to Rudger Clawson, as quoted in Minutes of the Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1910-1951, Privately Published, Salt Lake City, Utah 2010]

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