Mormon Doctrine on Shaking Hands with Spirits
Subject: How often do you find section 129 to be convenient and useful? Shaking hands with the devil:
Date: Oct 27 01:25 2004
Author: Carl

SECTION 129 Doctrine and Covenants [One of 4 Mormon books of scripture]
Instructions given by Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Nauvoo, Illinois, February 9, 1843, making known three grand keys by which the correct nature of ministering angels and spirits may be distinguished. HC 5: 267.

1—3, There are both resurrected and spirit bodies in heaven; 4—9, Keys are given whereby messengers from beyond the veil may be identified.

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.

I remember hearing this as a kid and getting pretty nervous. My hell, I hope I don't have to use this. I won't be able to remember which is which. Plus, if a heavenly messenger comes, I want to hide, not do the handshake test to determine what actions to take.

It's hilarious if you think about it. They still really believe this stuff. Amazing

Subject: Now can you see why it is so important to have living prophets???
Date: Oct 27 02:18
Author: Beaujolais Joe

Where would we be without revelations such as this in these latter days?

Often, as a young tyke, chills would go up my back when this revelation was discussed in Family Home Evening (and yes, it was discussed). Although I did not know whether I would have the nerve to actually stand and demand a shake from a messenger from the beyond if so confronted, I was comforted to know that I could use this technique to get some straight answers.

One thing I couldn't quite figure out was why the demon types would go along with these rules. But my TBM mom explained that there are some rules that even they cannot break, no matter how sneaky and devious they may be.

When I got older and had occasion to think about this marvelous revelation from time to time, I found myself mildly surprised that I had never been in a situation where this great knowledge could be applied in practice. I figured that such encounters with entities from the beyond must not be too unusual. Otherwise, why would god's living prophet bother to set forth these practical guidelines in a book intended to be read by millions of members of the one and only true church?

I do suspect a couple of characters at the local Burger King may not be of this world. One of these days, I may just put them to the test.... "Hey Burger King guy, are you willing to shake my hand?" Hmmmn....

Subject: Here's what I wrote about this a while back.
Date: Oct 27 10:22
Author: Stray Mutt

Oh, but you must understand the early Saints were all claiming visions, visitations and revelations. Many of them had their own peep stones and such. One of Joseph Smith's big struggles was establishing himself as the sole conduit of "divine inspiration." It was one of the things that caused friction in the early church. The church was once rather democratic. Members would exhibit what they claimed were gifts of the Spirit and Smith would say sure, yeah, those are signs of the new dispensation that testify of the truthfulness of my calling blah blah blah. But then that started to work against his plans for running the show. So he started clamping down, producing "revelations" that essentially discounted anything that didn't come from him.

So I don't think D&C 129 is nonsense, it's one of several carefully calculated moves on Smith's part. It lets members flatter themselves that they might be visited by angels, but it sets them up so they will think any experience they have is of the devil, because no matter what they see, they're not going to be feeling any hands -- and Smith knew it. And if they're being visited by the devil, then it means either they're really special people involved in a really special work that the devil wants to thwart, or that their hearts are not in the right place (aligned with JS) and they've opened themselves to the temptations of the great deceiver. JS understood human behavior very well and knew how to exploit it.

Subject: Along these lines, wasn't there also a big incident of "battling peepstones"?
Date: Oct 27 10:49
Author: Lester Latte

IIRC, there was another prominent guy in the church who was claiming to see things in a magic rock and JS didn't take kindly to the competition and got a revelation essentially saying that the other guy's revelations were from the devil.

This is pretty ironic, when you consider that JS, after the Canada copyright fiasco, had to admit that even he couldn't always discern whether a revelation was coming from the devil, from his own imagination or from god.

Subject: You should assume JS had a plan to use this trick to get some message out
Date: Oct 27 14:41
Author: Fancher Party

I have a similar but different take on this and would appreciate any thoughts from the really hardcore exmo historians out there.

I suspect that this is just an unsophisticated idea that JS came up with to convince gullible members (which must have included most of the early saints) of whatever secret personal revelation JS wanted to lay on them. He was a con man after all.

After someone had read the revelation and was excited about the possibility of seeing an angel, all JS would have to do is send an unknown (to the recipient) accomplice to this person. The accomplice would have to act serious and “other worldly” or, if the gullible person was really dense, outright declare he was a messenger. When the person challenged the accomplice to shake his hand it wouldn’t be much of a trick to either solemnly reach out and shake his hand, or solemnly refuse. One way the gullible person would think the accomplice was an angel, the other way he would think he was a man made perfect. Either is fine.

After the gullible person found the “messenger” to respond as he had be told to expect, he would be ready to accept whatever suggestion came next, whether it be to go on a mission, give his property to the church, assassinate a church enemy or (with women) give your celestial virtue up to JS or whoever else was suggested.

The date of the revelation may give some clues to what conman Smith had in mind - Feb 9, 1843. This was during a time when he was busy collecting plural wives under cover of secrecy for him and his close inner circle and would need to both recruit wives and other men to become part of the secret club. This was a viable way to say hey, this revelation is straight from God to just you and a select few.

In further evidence that this may likely have been just a mechanism to spread his secret polygamy doctrine, the date of the revelation is fairly close to the time that D&C 132 came out re plural marriage (although not to the general membership quite yet) - July 12, 1843. Perhaps after a few months of the first approach JS had found that the recruiting one person at a time with the necessity of an accomplice unknown to the recruited was taking too long or was unnecessary. After a critical mass of people had accepted the “principle” it wouldn’t be as difficult for more gullible believers to think this wasn’t really as strange as might have been thought if JS just laid it on them earlier and said don’t tell anyone about this plural wife thing, just you and I and this other guy know.

Doesn’t this seem plausible?

If anyone is familiar with any other schemes by JS about this time or any early diaries that describe visitations by messengers about this time, I would love to hear about it.

Subject: I like it.
Date: Oct 27 18:15
Author: Stray Mutt

It might even help things along to have the intended recipient fast a day or two, then have a few glasses of sacramental wine.

Subject: About as useful as the Aaronic PH's promise of "ministering of angels". 

Subject: Then there's the temple movie
Date: Oct 27 11:29
Author: Gunshy

Peter, James, and John; long before they were ever born (i.e. they were spirits, and didn't have physical hands) appear to Adam and tell him they are messengers of God...

...and then shake hands with him.

I guess JS forgot about Section 129 when he wrote that scene.

Subject: Some rules apply to the Devil no matter how evil he may or may not be.
Date: Oct 27 16:08
Author: Devil's Advocate

So he can't confuse you with these rules.

And don't forget that The Devil is your brother, so be nice regardless.

/Devil's Advocate

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