Both Sides of the Veil: The Mormon Necromancy of President Russell M. Nelson

Posted: October 28, 2018 in Fred Anson, Mormon Studies, Necromancy
salt-lake-city-temple-terrestrial-room_EDITED

The veil in the Terrestrial Room of the Salt Lake City Temple.

necromancy
(nɛkrəmænsi)
Necromancy is magic that some people believe brings a dead person back to this world so that you can talk to them.
— Collins English English Dictionary

by Fred W. Anson
For those who are unfamiliar with the Mormonese term, “both sides of the veil”, it is a reference to the living and the dead on their respective sides of the veil of mortality. As Mormon Apostle, Neil L. Andersen explains:

One of the most magnificent doctrines of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is that every man, woman, and child who has ever lived on the earth—every person who has breathed the air of this world—will have the opportunity to clearly understand and to accept or reject the life, teachings, and ordinances of the Savior. How amazing! No one will be set aside or coerced; no one will be forgotten!

To bring the ordinances of the gospel to every living soul is not an assignment for the faint of heart. This work is advancing on both sides of the veil and will continue through the 1,000 years of the Millennium. The Lord has invited each of us to be a part of it, and He has given us the tools and the ability to assist Him in “hastening His work of salvation.”
(Neil L. Andersen, “Sharing the Temple Challenge: Full Talk”, Family Discovery Day at RootsTech, February 2015) 

Out of this doctrine, a system of Mormon Necromancy has sprung up that promotes the belief that communication with the dead (especially in LdS Temples where the veil is said to “be thin”) is not only a normal, positive thing but something to be desired and hoped for. Mormons describe these encounters as “sacred” even though the Bible explicitly denounces such communication with the dead as an abomination:

There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord
(Deuteronomy 18:10-12, ESV, bolding added for emphasis. Also, see Leviticus 19:31; Leviticus 20:6; Leviticus 20:27, and;  Isaiah 8:19)

To overcome this problem many Mormons claim that they’re not really engaging in necromancy since it’s the dead who are approaching the living to communicate with them rather than vice versa. It is claimed that these encounters are akin to the type of angelic visitation that we see in the Bible. As “The Encyclopedia of Mormon” essay on Angels explains, “Another kind of angel may be an individual who completed his mortal existence but whose labors continue in the spirit world while he awaits the resurrection of the body.” However, Evangelical Theologians, Ken Boa and Rob Bowman have explained the disparity between what the LdS Church teachings and what the Bible actually says like this:

Mormonism teaches that all human beings existed as male and female spirit children of God in heaven before coming to the earth. This key element of their doctrinal system, as unobjectionable as it may seem to many in our culture, is at odds with the biblical view of humanity.

Perhaps even more common today is the notion that human beings become angels after they die. In popular angel mythology, human beings die and then come back to the earth as angels, either to help those they left behind or others in similar difficulties. According to the Bible, angels are a class of beings who existed before any humans had ever died. We know this because some of those angelic beings rebelled against God, and their leader, the Devil, tempted Eve (Gen. 3).

Moreover, the Bible makes it clear that departed human spirits, unlike angels, are generally not permitted to visit or communicate with human beings. In Jesus’ parable of Lazarus and the rich man, for example, the rich man’s request for someone to visit his brothers and warn them of the judgment to come was turned down (Luke 16:19 – 31). The Old Testament forbids communication with the dead (Lev. 19:31; Deut. 18:11; Isa. 8:19).”
(Kenneth D. Boa and Rob M. Bowman, “Sense and Nonsense about Angels and Demons” (Kindle Locations 611-622). Zondervan. Kindle Edition)

Furthermore, in response to the Mormon claim that no pursuit or conjuring of the dead occurs in Mormonism, I would ask the reader to consider the fact that while no overt or direct conjuring occurs, the fact remains that all of the elements are still there:

1) A sacred space is set up where it’s understood that the living can and will have encounters with the dead: Mormon Temples.

2) A sacred ritual is practiced that facilitates such encounters as a byproduct, or if you prefer, “side effect”: Proxy Baptism in Mormon Temples.

3) Practitioners are told by their leaders to expect such encounters as a result of said practice: “The veil is thin between those who hold the priesthood and divine messengers on the other side of the veil.” (David O. McKay, Conference Report, April 1948, p.172; also click here for more variations on this theme from Mormon leaders) 

4) Practitioners report such encounters.
(In addition to the examples from President Nelson below, you see find more here

How does that not, in fact, meet the criteria for pursuing communication with the dead – that is, necromantic “conjuring”?

Given all that, let it never be said that we don’t live in interesting times since no Mormon Leader in recent history has done more to teach, promote, and publicly practice Mormon Necromancy than current LdS President Russell M. Nelson. What follows are examples of Mr. Nelson publicly speaking about this unusual and unique form of necromancy as if it’s the most natural and normal thing in the world. All sources are Latter-day Saint publications – up to and including official, correlated sources.

The Mormon Necromancy of President Russell M. Nelson
“We invite all of God’s children on both sides of the veil to come unto their Savior, to receive the blessings of the holy temple and qualify for eternal life, so that they can have enduring joy now and forever,”
(President Russell M. Nelson, “50,000 Come to MLB Stadium to Hear President Nelson Share Vital Message to Those “on Both Sides of the Veil”’, LDS Living, September 16, 2018)

“Our message to the world is simple and sincere: we invite all of God’s children on both sides of the veil to come unto their Savior, receive the blessings of the holy temple, have enduring joy, and qualify for eternal life.”
(President Russell M. Nelson, “Let Us All Press On”, April 2018 General Conference) 

“This “precious gift” President Nelson shared was one his grandfather Andrew Clarence Nelson, or A.C. Nelson, shared with his family through his journal.

Through this entry, President Nelson and his family were able to learn of a visitor from the spirit world his grandfather received 27 years before President Joseph F. Smith’s 1918 vision of the redemption of the dead and gain important answers to what life after death is really like:

“When my Grandfather A. C. Nelson was a young husband and father, just 27 years old, his father died. Then, about three months later, his father, now deceased, came to visit him. The date of that visit was the night of April 6, 1891. Grandfather Nelson was so impressed by his father’s visit that he wrote the experience in his own journal for his family and his friends. And thanks to your encouragement, I took his journal entry and created this document and made copies of this document for every member of the family.

Listen to my grandfather’s words about that sacred experience:

“I was in bed when Father entered the room. He came and sat on the side of the bed. He said, ‘Well, my son, as I had a few spare minutes I received permission to come and see you for a few minutes. I am feeling well, my son, and have had very much to do since I died.'”

“What have you been doing since you died, Father?”

“I’ve been traveling together with Apostle Erastus Snow ever since I died. That is, since three days after I died. I received my commission to preach the gospel. You cannot imagine, my son, how many spirits there are in the spirit world that have not yet received the gospel. But many are receiving it, and a great work is being accomplished. Many are anxiously looking forth to their friends who are still living to administer for them in the temples. I’ve been very busy preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

“‘Father, can you see us at all times, and do you know what we’re doing?”

“Oh, no, my son. I have something else to do. I cannot go when and where I please. There is just as much and much more order here in the spirit world than in the other world. I have been assigned work to do, and it must be performed.”

“We intend to go to the temple and get sealed to you, Father, as soon as we can.”

“That, my son, is partly what I came to see you about. We will yet make a family and live throughout eternity.”

“‘Father, is it natural to die?”

“‘It is just as natural to die as it is to be born, or for you to pass out of that door.’ And here he pointed at the door. ‘When I told the folks that I could not last long, it turned dark and I could not see anything for a few minutes. Then the first thing I could see was a number of spirits in the spirit world. The paper you gave me, my son, is dated wrong. But it makes no particular difference. Correct records are kept here.”

“‘Father, is the gospel as taught by this Church true?’

“‘My son, do you see that picture?’ Pointing to a picture of the First Presidency of the Church hanging on the wall.“

“Yes, I see it.”

“‘Just as sure as you see that picture, just as sure is the gospel true. The gospel of Jesus Christ has within it the power of saving every man and woman that will obey it, and in no other way can they ever obtain salvation in the kingdom of God. My son, always cling to the gospel. Be humble, be prayerful, be submissive to the priesthood, be true, be faithful to the covenants you have made with God. Never do anything that would displease God. Oh, what a blessing is the gospel. My son, be a good boy.’”
(Katie Lambert, “The Questions President Nelson’s Grandfather Asked a Visitor from the Spirit World + the Surprising Answers”, LDS Living website, Jun. 19, 2017; see video below for the actual address)

(What follows is set up for the necromancy story that follows it in the next citation)
“Throughout my life, I have been blessed by such women. My departed wife, Dantzel, was such a woman. I will always be grateful for the life-changing influence she had on me in all aspects of my life, including my pioneering efforts in open-heart surgery.

Fifty-eight years ago I was asked to operate upon a little girl, gravely ill from congenital heart disease. Her older brother had previously died of a similar condition. Her parents pleaded for help. I was not optimistic about the outcome but vowed to do all in my power to save her life. Despite my best efforts, the child died. Later, the same parents brought another daughter to me, then just 16 months old, also born with a malformed heart. Again, at their request, I performed an operation. This child also died. This third heartbreaking loss in one family literally undid me.
I went home grief stricken. I threw myself upon our living room floor and cried all night long. Dantzel stayed by my side, listening as I repeatedly declared that I would never perform another heart operation. Then, around 5:00 in the morning, Dantzel looked at me and lovingly asked, ‘Are you finished crying? Then get dressed. Go back to the lab. Go to work! You need to learn more. If you quit now, others will have to painfully learn what you already know.’” (Apostolic Quorum President Russell M. Nelson, “A Plea to My Sisters”, General Conference, October 2015; also see “President Nelson Shares the Miraculous Night When Two Girls Visited Him from Beyond the Veil”, LDS Living)

“Six months ago in the October 2015 general conference, I spoke to the sisters of the Church about their divine role as women of God. Now I wish to speak to you brethren about your divine role as men of God. As I travel the world, I marvel at the strength and sheer goodness of the men and boys of this Church. There is simply no way to number the hearts you’ve healed and the lives you’ve lifted. Thank you!

In my last conference message, I related my devastating experience many years ago when, as a heart surgeon, I was not able to save the lives of two little sisters. With permission of their father, I would like to say more about that family.

Congenital heart disease afflicted three children born to Ruth and Jimmy Hatfield. Their first son, Jimmy Jr., died without a definitive diagnosis. I entered the picture when the parents sought help for their two daughters, Laural Ann and her younger sister, Gay Lynn. I was heartbroken when both girls died following their operations.1 Understandably, Ruth and Jimmy were spiritually shattered.

Over time, I learned that they harbored lingering resentment toward me and the Church. For almost six decades, I have been haunted by this situation and have grieved for the Hatfields. I tried several times to establish contact with them, without success.

Then one night last May, I was awakened by those two little girls from the other side of the veil. Though I did not see or hear them with my physical senses, I felt their presence. Spiritually, I heard their pleadings. Their message was brief and clear: “Brother Nelson, we are not sealed to anyone! Can you help us?” Soon thereafter, I learned that their mother had passed away, but their father and younger brother were still alive.

Emboldened by the pleadings of Laural Ann and Gay Lynn, I tried again to contact their father, who I learned was living with his son Shawn. This time they were willing to meet with me.

In June, I literally knelt in front of Jimmy, now 88 years old, and had a heart-to-heart talk with him. I spoke of his daughters’ pleadings and told him I would be honored to perform sealing ordinances for his family. I also explained that it would take time and much effort on his and Shawn’s part to be ready and worthy to enter the temple, as neither of them had ever been endowed.

The Spirit of the Lord was palpable throughout that meeting. And when Jimmy and Shawn each accepted my offer, I was overjoyed! They worked diligently with their stake president, bishop, home teachers, and ward mission leader, as well as with young missionaries and a senior missionary couple. And then, not long ago, in the Payson Utah Temple, I had the profound privilege of sealing Ruth to Jimmy and their four children to them. Wendy and I wept as we participated in that sublime experience. Many hearts were healed that day!”
(Apostolic Quorum President Russell M. Nelson, “The Price of Priesthood Power”, April 2016 General Conference; also see “The Dream President Nelson Had That United a Family on Both Sides of the Veil”, LDS Living, Aug. 20, 2018; “President Nelson Shares the Miraculous Night When Two Girls Visited Him from Beyond the Veil”, LDS Living, and; Russell M. Nelson Facebook Page, May 4, 2016)

“In 1844, Joseph Smith asked, “What is this office and work of Elijah?” The Prophet promptly answered his own question: “It is one of the greatest and most important subjects that God has revealed. …
‘This is the spirit of Elijah, that we redeem our dead, and connect ourselves with our fathers which are in heaven. … This is the power of Elijah and the keys of the kingdom of Jehovah.’

Some among us still have neither perceived the Spirit of Elijah nor its power. Yet, we are bound by this warning:
‘These are principles in relation to the dead and the living that cannot be lightly passed over. … For their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation … they without us cannot be made perfect—neither can we without our dead be made perfect.’

Joseph Smith’s responsibility was to “lay the foundation” for this great work. Important details were to be revealed later. At April conference 1894, President Wilford Woodruff announced this revelation: “We want the Latter-day Saints from this time to trace their genealogies as far as they can, and to be sealed to their fathers and mothers. Have children sealed to their parents, and run this chain through as far as you can get it. … This is the will of the Lord to his people.”. . .

No mortal mind could have conceived this divine work. It is evidence of the restoration of the gospel in its fulness and is sparked by the Spirit of Elijah. “Let us, therefore, as a church and a people … offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness; and let us present in his holy temple … a book containing the records of our dead … worthy of all acceptation.”41 Then we shall bless and be blessed as saviors upon mount Zion, I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”
(Apostle Russell M. Nelson, “The Spirit of Elijah”, Fall General Conference 1994; tight ellipses in original, loose ellipses mine)

Russell M Nelson Both Sides of the Veil

Both sides of the veil: LdS President Russell M. Nelson and a playful “Dia de los Muertos” take on a figure in popular culture that he is often compared to due to their similar appearance, Mr. Burns of The Simpsons fame.

Also recommended: Fred W. Anson, “Let The Dead Bury The Dead: A Biblical Response to Mormon Communion With the Dead Teachings”

Comments
  1. Bill Covington says:

    Excellent points made in this piece. I never paid attention to the Biblical references to communicating with dead and the above essay has caused me to look at scriptures in the bible I have either ignored or overlooked. Thank you to the author.

    Like

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