The prophet and coffee

Public forum to discuss questions about Mormon history and doctrine.
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Re: The prophet and coffee

Post by nibbler » 08 Jun 2022, 07:24

From the article there doesn't appear to be any one clear decision or revelation on the matter. It didn't occur in a vacuum, it was more of a lengthy debate that spanned a few decades where the practices of the church followed any number of things:
  • The opinions of the sitting president of the church
  • Wider political considerations
  • Acceptance among Protestant/Evangelicals that were also pushing for temperance during that same time period.

    Though unstated in the article, I'd add that there might have been an element of "keeping up with the Joneses." If the wider Protestant groups are moving towards temperance, it wouldn't look right if the true church was more lenient. Some parts of the article read like the church tended to follow wider societal trends rather than taking a leading position.

    They didn't want wider Christianity to gang up on them. They wanted to be seated among other Christian groups, not set up as a rival to them. I suppose that much hasn't changed.
The article leads off with the following:
At a meeting on May 5,1898, the First Presidency and Twelve discussed the Word of Wisdom. One member read from the twelfth volume of the Journal of Discourses a statement by Brigham Young that seemed to support the notion that the Word of Wisdom was a commandment of God.
Which is interesting. They had the actual revelation that says it wasn't a commandment but they go to the JoD to build the case that it was. Of course this could have been an instance where a leader with a strong opinion cherry picked from an authoritative source to support an argument they wanted to make. People do that all the time.

I suppose a church of continued revelation is also meant to work that way.

One thing that struck me was the difference of opinions shared by church leaders 100 years ago. We don't really get that now. These days there's more of a united front, at least in public view. We really only get a small glimpse of the differences of opinion once a member of the Q12 becomes "unleashed" as president of the church and begin to enact their differences.

The article suggests that the ban on coffee was very much a matter over caffeine, as caffeine was central to the debate over Coca-Cola. I don't think they would have said that was the official reason, but some of the debate appeared to center around whether a substance was a stimulant.

It was difficult to parse out, but the focus appeared to be on alcohol and tobacco at the time the WoW was made a requirement for a TR. I say hard to parse because I'm left to guess that coffee and tea were implied. That's the danger of leaving it at saying "Word of Wisdom." There's a loss of precision. Was the first temple requirement a prohibition on just alcohol and tobacco or was the introduction of the requirement just as restrictive then as it is today?


From the Dialogue article:
Meanwhile, the Church continued its campaign against tobacco use. An article in the Improvement Era, March, 1923, argued that tobacco users naturally linked themselves with evil persons such as profaners, criminals, vagrants and prostitutes.
From Luke 5:30
But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners?
You can’t run from all your problems, but it will help you lose weight.

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Re: The prophet and coffee

Post by Minyan Man » 08 Jun 2022, 08:48

I remember my first few years in the church. I so wanted to be accepted & fit in.
As a result, I learned that there were things I "must" do to fit in & be accepted in return.
They included:
- WoW (100%)
- Dress code. (Always conservative)
- Full tithe payer. (Of course.)
- Temple worship. (Yes)
- Callings. (As many as I could get.)
- 100% Home Teaching. (Goes without saying.)

You can see where I'm going with this. Church was always first. Everything else was second. Including Jesus Christ.
On top of everything, I wanted to be accepted.

Very little in my life, at the time, was focused on Jesus Christ.
Since coming out of "inactivity", I'm trying to focus more on Christ & less on the rest of it.
WoW plays little on my spiritual life today. Except, I don't drink alcohol, use drugs or smoke.
I wouldn't use them without the church. No one in a leadership position needs to be asking "the questions".

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Re: The prophet and coffee

Post by PazamaManX » 08 Jun 2022, 11:35

Thanks for sharing that nibbler, that answered a lot of questions and then some for me. It does bring to mind the question of how much of our doctrine and policy is revelation and how much is "revelation".
Minyan Man wrote:
08 Jun 2022, 08:48
Since coming out of "inactivity", I'm trying to focus more on Christ & less on the rest of it.
WoW plays little on my spiritual life today. Except, I don't drink alcohol, use drugs or smoke.
I wouldn't use them without the church. No one in a leadership position needs to be asking "the questions".
This IMO is the way to go. Remain focused on Christ and let everything else come second.

Before taking up coffee drinking, I did put a lot of thought and some prayer into it. I never felt any answer indicating a no. Being someone who is not a morning person and finds it hard to get moving in the morning, a cup with breakfast has helped immensely with that. And I find myself no more spiritually damaged than before. If our interest is really on following Christ and bringing others to Him, it does seem silly to make dietary restrictions one of the pillars of what makes a good saint (or disciple. Or someone who is on the covenant path. Whatever you call such a person these days.)
"Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness, even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear." ~ Thomas Jefferson

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Re: The prophet and coffee

Post by Old-Timer » 14 Jun 2022, 19:45

Just a short vent:

Our insistence on not using all of the things we accept culturally as being part of the Word of Wisdom as a condition of baptism is one of my strongest pet peeves - especially since those things won't get someone excommunicated.

If someone can remain a member while doing something, it shouldn't be a requirement to become a member. Removing the Word of Wisdom baptism requirement alone, I think, would keep a lot of people in the Church and increase baptisms, as well - and it just makes sense, imho.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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