Abstract of Parry, Donald W. “Key to Detecting False Spirits.”

Parry, Donald W.  “Key to Detecting False Spirits.”  In Angels Agents of Light, Love, and Power, 188-96.  Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2013. [Mormon/Priesthood/Ritual/Liturgy/Worship]

This chapter begins with a discussion of the deceptive nature of Satan, especially his ability to appear to some people as an angel of light.  The deceit of Satan led Joseph Smith to teach the Church in a 1 April 1842 discourse the necessity of having the “keys” to detect false manifestations, especially those where beings appeared to mortals.  Parry extracts some of the pertinent statements from this sermon as a lead in to a consideration of three of  the Prophet’s teachings about the keys for detecting false spirits and how they are used.  The most prominent key is found in D&C 129.  There it is explained that the one who receives the visitation may “try” or test the visitor by offering to shake hands.  One of three things will happen depending upon the nature of the visitor.  Satan and his ministers may be detected in this way because they are bound by law to respond in certain ways.  Parry does not get into the subtitles of these keys nor how they are related to Mormon temple rituals such as may be found in Alonzo L. Gaskill, “Doctrine and Covenants 129:8 and the Reality of Satan’s Physicality.”  Religious Educator 8, no. 1 (2007): 31-54.  He does view the experience of the Twelve in the upper room with Jesus following the resurrection as following this pattern.  Nor does Parry does pick up on Steven Harper’s insight that these keys derive from the Aaronic Priesthood which holds the keys of the ministering of angels spoken of in D&C 13 and that Adam may have taught them to Joseph Smith when he appeared on the banks of the Susquehanna River to detect the devil.  (D&C 128:20.) [See, Steven C. Harper, Making Sense of the Doctrine & Covenants: A Guided Tour through Modern Revelations, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2008), p. 58.]

A second key regards Joseph’s explanation to a church member who claimed to be visited by an angel with sandy colored hair that the color of the hair was an indication he was not sent by God, however, Parry does not elaborate further.  There is an inexplicable redundancy in this part of the discussion as Parry tells the story of the member’s question and Joseph’s answer, then reproduces the story again from theTeachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith.  The final section of this chapter is devoted to Joseph Smith’s teachings that when a dove attends a visitation it is a sign that the angel is from God.

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