hand shake based reality

Doctrine and Covenants Joseph Smith

Another fun tidbit from my conference conversations is worth noting here as well. I don’t remember how this one came up, but some how we got on the topic of things Mormon prophets had taught. The ever-mos in the group, in an effort to outdo one another, started dropping some of the more esoteric teachings (e.g., Adam-God, men on the moon, Kolob, etc.). One person mentioned D&C 129:

1 THERE are two kinds of beings in heaven, namely: Angels, who are resurrected personages, having bodies of flesh and bones

2 For instance, Jesus said: Handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.

3 Secondly: the spirits of just men made perfect, they who are not resurrected, but inherit the same glory.

4 When a messenger comes saying he has a message from God, offer him your hand and request him to shake hands with you.

5 If he be an angel he will do so, and you will feel his hand.

6 If he be the spirit of a just man made perfect he will come in his glory; for that is the only way he can appear

7 Ask him to shake hands with you, but he will not move, because it is contrary to the order of heaven for a just man to deceive; but he will still deliver his message.

8 If it be the devil as an angel of light, when you ask him to shake hands he will offer you his hand, and you will not feel anything; you may therefore detect him.

9 These are three grand keys whereby you may know whether any administration is from God.

The same never-mo colleague, upon hearing about D&C 129, quipped, “Mormons believe in hand-shake-based-reality?”

I couldn’t help but post about Mormons’ “hand-shake-based reality.” He perfectly characterized it: deriving “reality” from a hand shake. Odd when an outsider says it, isn’t it?

9 thoughts on “hand shake based reality

  1. I think there are a lot of things in Mormon theology that make sense in their context — or at least make more sense than the theologies Mormonism competes with — but this isn’t one of them.

    It says right there in the scripture how to catch out a devil. That kind of gives away the trick, doesn’t it? I mean, do devils not know how to read?

    Or do they not talk with each other?
    Frank: How’d you get caught, Bob?
    Bob: The guy asked to shake my hand, and then he figured out I’m a devil because he couldn’t feel it.
    Frank: Sneaky bastard. I’ll have to remember that one.

    I guess that doesn’t happen. Devils aren’t all on the same page. It’s their lack of Correlation that does them in.

  2. I think what’s funnier about that is that they believe the supreme evil against mankind is just that stupid, that after thousands of years they haven’t figure out how to pretend.

  3. I know right? A devil can’t just say, “Sorry, I’m a spirit” (that would even be “true”) or “Sorry, I haven’t been resurrected yet” (also “true,” though misleading)? Instead they always try to shake hands?

    Also, I’ve heard and read a few Mormon “I met an angel” stories, and in none of them did the person ever try to shake hands anyway. Mostly they just freaked out. “Holy shit! It’s an angel!” Trying to shake hands was pretty much the last thing on their minds.

  4. kuri: dude. nailed it.

    From now on I’m going to ask to shake hands with everyone I come in contact with. You just never know when dat dastardly devil is going to try to get in my business.

  5. That passage is amazingly hilarious, but here’s how I’ve always interpreted it:

    At the time, the church didn’t have the rigid hierarchy that it does today, and lots of people were claiming all sorts of revelations. JS hadn’t consolidated his power as much as people today assume, and, in fact, he had often to accept “revelations” from other important early leaders. But one thing that JS could do in response to someone else’s revelation was to have his own counter-revelation (eg. “So-and-so’s revelation of such-and-such a date was actually from the Devil!).

    My guess is that this passage was tied up in discrediting some person or revelation that JS didn’t like.

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