The tribal nature of the gospel


Those people who accept the gospel through faith, repentance, baptism and confirmation are automatically put into a tribe of Israel by the Lord, which tribe they ultimately find out when they receive their patriarchal blessing. In fact, the main purpose of a patriarchal blessing, or the only real unique feature of it, is that it names your tribe. Any other blessing given by any other priesthood holder may contain revelations on your past, present and future (prophecies), but all other blessings are to leave the naming of your tribe alone, as that is the jurisdiction of a patriarch.

Why the importance of being in a tribe?

Old Testament Tribes

From the Old Testament, we don’t know much about the saints who lived before Abraham, whether they were put by the Lord into tribes or not, but we do know that Abraham lived among people who were grouped into tribes or clans (the tribes of the earth.) So, tribes and clans are the norm of the world, unless a State is formed, which always has the tendency to shatter tribal allegiances. (See Book of Mormon Anarchy.)

Concerning church tribes though, we know that from Abraham came Isaac, and from Isaac came Jacob, and from Jacob came the twelve sons of Israel, who became tribes. These tribes were then enslaved by the Egyptians and later freed by Moses, who gave them a tribal law, the law of Moses, whereby they could live in tribal anarchy.

That tribal anarchy lasted only so long, until the tribes demanded that a king be anointed, turning the self-government which they had had into an earthly monarchy, like the nations around them. But, despite the change of affairs, they still remained in tribes, and continued to refer to themselves as part of a tribe, even to this very day. That, in itself, may not be so surprising, as it concerns the descendants of Jacob and their traditional designations, but after the gospel went to the Gentiles, during the times of the New Testament, the New Testament writers continued to stress the tribal nature of the gospel.

New Testament Tribes

There are only two types of tribes mentioned in the New Testament: the tribes of the earth, which, according to Matthew 24: 30, shall mourn when the Second Coming of the Lord occurs, and the twelve tribes of Israel. There is no mention of any other division of the people. Either you are one of the twelve tribes of Israel, or you are one of the tribes of the earth. This is how the text reads. The New Testament writers mentioned both past tribes (Old Testament), present tribes (New Testament) and future tribes (latter-day and last days.)

Some of the references to future tribes (post New Testament) are the following: The twelve apostles of the Lord are to judge the twelve tribes of Israel, according to Matthew 19: 28 and Luke 22: 30; the 144,000 will be chosen among the twelve tribes of Israel according to Revelation 7: 4-8; and the future holy city of Jerusalem will have twelve gates with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel written upon them according to Revelation 21: 12.

Furthermore, the General Epistle of James was written to the twelve tribes scattered abroad. (See James 1: 1.) These twelve tribes were church members, again emphasizing the tribal nature of the gospel and that all who enter it are put, by the Lord, into one of the twelve tribes of Israel.

Book of Mormon Tribes

In the Book of Mormon, there is mention made that the Nephites and Lamanites were of some of the standard tribes of Israel: Lehi and descendants were of Manasseh, Ishmael and descendants were of Ephraim and Mulek and descendants were of Judah. But in addition to these standard tribes of Israel, the Book of Mormon people further divided themselves into seven, more particular tribes: Nephites, Jacobites, Josephites, Zoramites, Lamanites, Lemuelites and Ishmaelites. This makes sense as the law of Moses, which was used by the Nephites, was tribal in nature, meaning that it was written and meant to serve tribes, even the tribes of Israel.

After the Lord’s visit to the American continent, the people all converted to the Lord and 4 Nephi 1: 17 makes mention that there were no more -ites in the land, but this doesn’t mean that they no longer kept track of who was of what tribe, merely that no one was called by the tribal or class distinctions, as they were all one people, even the children of Christ. Evidence that they still kept track of their tribal affiliations is found in 4 Nephi 1: 36-38, when they departed from their oneness and started calling themselves and others according to the tribal designations. This shows that even in times of great oneness, tribal affiliations were important.

The prophet Mormon, quoting the Lord Jesus (in 3 Nephi 30: 2), explained the great mystery, still not comprehended by the Gentile Christians of today, that when a Gentile converts to the Lord via faith, repentance, baptism and the reception of the Holy Ghost, they are numbered among the house of Israel from that point on, meaning that they are no longer part of the “tribes of the earth” but are part of the tribes of Israel. As Israel is composed of twelve tribes, these Gentile converts are placed by the Lord into one of these tribes. This is why the General Epistle of James, written to the twelve tribes of Israel, applies to all members of the church, whether Israelites by birth or Gentile converts.

The great Jaredite prophet Ether, whose people had no affiliation whatsoever with the bloodline of the house of Israel, Israel residing in the Old World and the Jaredites residing in the New World, nevertheless thought it important to prophesy to the Jaredites (some of which prophecies are recorded in Ether 13) all about the house of Israel and their cities of Jerusalem, and especially the New Jerusalem which would be built up by the remnant of the seed of Joseph, who are of the house of Israel, upon this (the American) continent, and which would come down out of heaven. All of the Jaredites, from the time of Jared and his brother down to the time of Ether, were all part of Jareditish tribes, meaning part of the tribes of the earth, but those Jaredites who came unto Christ and converted renounced their wordly “citizenship” and became numbered among one of the tribes of the house of Israel, whether they lived before the time of Israel (Jacob) or afterward, it mattered not.

The principle, then, is that tribal affiliations naturally exist on this planet (when States do not exist to break them up) and these tribes and tribal affiliations are worldly, or the tribes of the earth. But the Lord, using the same natural order of tribes, chose for himself an earthly family to represent the tribal affiliations of his people, even the house of Israel. As the tribes of the earth have their own laws, so the Lord’s tribes (the twelve tribes of Israel) have their own laws, given to them by the Lord, their tribal Chief (or King.) Just as the lower law of Moses, given by the Lord, was tribal in nature, so the more excellent law of Christ, given by the same Lord, is tribal in nature.

Tribes in the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is engaged in gathering the tribes of Israel. This is what missionary work is all about. Everyone who comes unto Christ, whether of the direct bloodline of Israel (Jacob) or not (a Gentile), is automatically numbered among the house of Israel. The keys to this gathering were delivered by Moses to Joseph and Oliver (D&C 110: 11) and are used by each successive prophet to direct the missionary work.

So, the scriptures taken as a whole, emphasize the tribal nature of the gospel. We, the people of the Lord, are not just numbered by the Lord among the house of Israel, we are numbered among one of the tribes of the house of Israel. All of this is in anticipation of the coming of “the kingdom of heaven” (D&C 65: 6) , meaning the system of government that exists in heaven, which is tribal anarchy.

Next Anarchism/Anarchy article: Is Molly right?

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11 Comments

  1. You are adding things to 4 Nephi that are not there.

    When the scriptures say “there were no more -ites” that is what they are intended to mean. There were no more tribal distinctions at all. To say that they were still important and kept track of conflicts with the passage. Either there were no more -ites or there were -ites. If they kept track, then there were still -ites.
    When there began to be a falling away from the gospel of Jesus Christ we have all the believers being designated as “Nephites” regardless of blood, kinship or linage. It has only to do with their belief.

    To say that tribal distinction still mattered when all were counted is children of Christ is an assumption based on how they lived when there was wickedness in the land.

  2. So, you think the text (of 4 Nephi 1: 36-38) means that the people started to call each other Nephites, Jacobites, Josephites, Zoramites, Lamanites, Lemuelites and Ishmaelites solely according to one’s belief or non-belief in Christ without regard to “blood, kinship or lineage”? I’m curious, as Mormon indicated that the believers were called Nephites, Jacobites, Josephites and Zoramites, what was the variable that made one a Jacobite believer and not a Josephite believer, if not blood, kinship or lineage? Likewise, among the unbelievers, what made a Lamanite a Lamanite, a Lemuelite a Lemuelite and an Ishmaelite an Ishmaelite? Why 7 distinctions if all we are doing is splitting the people into two categories: believer and unbeliever?

    Also, as Mormon says 4 of these tribal designations were “true believers in Christ,” why would true believers in Christ take upon themselves a tribal designation instead of continue to call themselves the children of Christ or the children of God?

  3. Good question. Thanks for pointing out that the Lamanites called the believers by 4 different tribal names. I had not caught that in my reading.

    The Lamanites (who were wicked) called the Nephites by 4 different tribal names. It does not state the the Nephites (children of Christ) made those distinctions themselves. Again, the wicked are the ones making the tribal distinctions. The wicked could very well have been making those distinctions based on blood, where they lived or whatever made sense to them.

    So, are you saying that there really were still -ites when the text says there weren’t? Because I beleive that keeping track of who was what tribe in any fashion would mean there were still -ites.

  4. The text only says, “There arose a people who were called the Nephites.” The text doesn’t say who was doing the “calling,” the Lamanites or the Nephites themselves.

    The text doesn’t say that “the Lamanites called the Nephites by 4 different tribal names.” What the text does say is that “among [the Nephites] there were those who were called by the Lamanites—Jacobites, and Josephites, and Zoramites.” That’s 3 tribal designations called by the Lamanites, not 4.

    The text also doesn’t say that the Jacobites, Josephites and Zoramites did not call themselves Jacobites, Josephites and Zoramites. In other words, just because the text says that the Lamanites were calling them Jacobites, Josephites and Zoramites does not preclude that the Jacobites, Josephites and Zoramites did not also call themselves by the same designation.

    Now, let me ask you. How would the Lamanites know to call the Jacobites, Josephites and Zoramites among the Nephites Jacobites, Josephites and Zoramites, save it was that the Jacobites, Josephites and Zoramites had already publicly announced or published their lineages? Do you really think that the Lamanites went and did genealogical research of these Nephite-called people so that they could break them further down into Jacobites, Josephites and Zoramites? Or do you think it is more reasonable to assume that everyone in that society kept their lineages and genealogies even through this non-ite period?

    Again, the text says that “they who rejected the gospel were called Lamanites, and Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites”. The text doesn’t say who is doing the calling. Was it the Lamanites, Lemuelites and Ishmaelites calling themselves Lamanites, Lemuelites and Ishmaelites, or was it the Nephites calling them these designations? Mormon doesn’t say.

    Keeping track of genealogy and tribal affiliation is part and parcel of the gospel of Jesus Christ, wouldn’t you say? The text says, “There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God.” The key phrase is that they were one, meaning that they were united. Here in America we have this happen all of the time, though to a lesser degree than these ancient people. Immigrants come here and assimilate, obtain citizenship and then call themselves Americans, dropping their former national designations (the -ites). Yet, they still keep track of their roots.

  5. One of the greatest blessings we have is to know where we came from, why we are here and where we are going. Although we have all come from Heavenly parents our ancestral line is of paramount importance. There is a blood line that we have descended from which makes distinctions largely in our behaviour. We should not base on comments on predjudice. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Check out the history of the peoples and relate their histories to how they behave. Titles given are related to behaviour and not to demeening them. Behaviour over time speaks for itself. For example, two family members, although is some respects are equal, one may not be a Christian. One is a believerite, and the other a non-believerite. The names distinguish their differences in beliefs and behaviour.

  6. so this is something ive never heard before i don’t no how but me and my companion got to talking one night and eventually we got to talking about patriarchal blessings and he told me that when he was given his blessing he was not given a tribe, and then when he got his printed blessing it came with a disclaimer about how he is received into the house of Israel by adoption and it referred him to Romans 8, 9, 10, 11. its something that bothers him because we cant figure it out. i don’t really understand it ive read the chapters and i just become more confused. he is African, so i don’t know how that plays into the whole scheme of things…mabey… but if someone could give us the reasoning or just more information on the subject that would be much appreciated.

  7. elder …:

    To quote the OP:

    The principle, then, is that tribal affiliations naturally exist on this planet (when States do not exist to break them up) and these tribes and tribal affiliations are worldly, or the tribes of the earth. But the Lord, using the same natural order of tribes, chose for himself an earthly family to represent the tribal affiliations of his people, even the house of Israel. As the tribes of the earth have their own laws, so the Lord’s tribes (the twelve tribes of Israel) have their own laws, given to them by the Lord, their tribal Chief (or King.) Just as the lower law of Moses, given by the Lord, was tribal in nature, so the more excellent law of Christ, given by the same Lord, is tribal in nature.

    Because the Lord chose for Himself one earthly family to represent the tribal affiliations of His family in heaven [the family of Abraham/Isaac/Jacob] — there is a chance that some humans will be born into this family and that some will be born outside of this family.

    Given the thousands of years that have passed since the tribes of Israel were chosen, it is common for many people who join the church to be descended from these men and not even know it. However, it is still possible to not claim descent from them. This latter group is clearly where the patriarch was indicating that your companion falls.

    I discussed a part of Romans 9 on The Will of God and Faith post. In the section I discuss, Paul talks about God choosing family members of the other without much regard to what they have done — but just as a matter of His own choice. This is because the Lord’s tribes would only be represented by one earthly tribe — so this necessitated the Lord choosing one over the other.

    However, as Paul writes — they are not all Israel who are of Israel — meaning that though God has “chosen” a person by virtue of his/her literal descent, He has no power to justify a person where there is no faith.

    You may also want to read this post on the difference between belonging to a tribe of Israel and being counted among a tribe of Israel — as I think it also applies to your companion’s situation.

  8. Or it could always be a case of disbelief in the mind of the “Patriarch” stemming from racist ideas he has ascribed to. Since the cohen marker which supposedly denotes literal blood of israel is very very prevalent in much of Africa but particularly in the east. One way to test it would be to have another “patriarch” deliver another blessing to him somehow. But that would be very complicated I am sure.

  9. he is from the south Africa and yeah there is alot of racism in the church between the Afrikaners who were around during the apartheid era and the priesthood ban so that last one is a possibility i have limited time now but i will print and read the things in your reply on monday Justin. so thanks a bunch it helps

  10. Jesus was not crucified. He did not die.

  11. Infereder — do go on…


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