Mormon Inquiry

Mormon Inquiry

Dickens on the Mormons

In the Saturday afternoon session of the recent LDS General Conference, Elder Quentin L. Cook, one of the newer members of the Quorum of the Twelve, related a fascinating vignette concerning Charles Dickens as part of his address (“Our Father’s Plan—Big Enough For All His Children“). Here is the vignette in its entirety.

In 1863 Charles Dickens, the English novelist, went on board the passenger ship Amazon, which was bound for New York. His purpose was to report on the Latter-day Saint converts who were emigrating to build up the Church in the American West. There had been thousands of converts who had already emigrated [from England to America], and much had been written, particularly in the British media, about them and their beliefs. Most of what was written was unfavorable.


“I went on board their ship,” wrote Dickens, “to bear testimony against them if they deserved it, as I fully believed they would; to my great astonishment they did not deserve it.”

After observing and mingling with the converts, Dickens was impressed with them and described these English converts, most of whom were laborers, as being “in their degree, the pick and flower of England.”

The balance of Elder Cook’s talk was about stumbling blocks to faith. The two he reviewed were the “doctrine that revelation still exists” and the difficulty in reconciling a loving God with “the incorrect doctrine that most of mankind would be doomed to eternal hell.” Most people have an easier time with the LDS idea that only a relatively small percentage of people will go to hell (“outer darkness,” in LDS terminology). It was a nice talk, although I’m guessing some people are dealing with rather more substantial stumbling blocks.


One last item. I’ve seen some blog chatter on this talk suggesting the following statement by Elder Cook — “My principal concern is for the honorable people of the earth who are open to religious faith but have been discouraged or confused by incorrect doctrine” — slighted nonbelievers or those not open to religious faith. I don’t really read it that way. He simply narrowed his discussion to stumbling blocks for believers. I’m sure he could give a different talk (next Conference?) discussing stumbling blocks for nonbelievers. I’m guessing the list would be longer.

Previous posts on this topic:

Comments read comments(2)
post a comment

posted April 24, 2009 at 11:51 am

“It was a nice talk, although I’m guessing some people are dealing with rather more substantial stumbling blocks.”
That sentence comes across quite arrogant… I thoroughly enjoyed Elder Cook’s talk. The stumbling blocks he mentioned have been substantial for many. Read any of the prominent athiests – these themes are found throughout their writing.

report abuse


posted April 24, 2009 at 5:46 pm

Elder Cook’s use of the word “honorable” is a reference to the word in D&C 76 describing the degrees of glory.
Verse 75 of that section, referring to those in the terrestrial kingdom, says “These are they who are honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men.” These “honorable” men are the ones that will inherit the terrestrial kingom and will not receive all of the glory of God in the celestial kingdom.

report abuse

Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Mormon Inquiry. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Most Recent Mormon Story on Beliefnet Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent ...

posted 2:21:45pm Aug. 27, 2012 | read full post »

The meanings of Zion
This is the third post on Richard L. Bushman's Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2008). [See Part 1 and Part 2.] In Chapter Three, Bushman reviews the several meanings of the term "Zion" in LDS doctrine and thinking. The Mormon ...

posted 11:00:37pm Jul. 29, 2009 | read full post »

A statistical portrait of Mormons
The Pew Forum recently issued a detailed summary of survey information about Mormons gathered as part of a much larger survey of religious life in the United States. It is a very readable summary, noting that Mormons comprise 1.7% of adults in ...

posted 12:33:08pm Jul. 29, 2009 | read full post »

July 24th: Pioneer Day in Utah
July 24th is a state holiday in Utah, designated Pioneer Day. It commemorates the entry of the first wagon train of Mormons into the Salt Lake Valley in the summer of 1847. They came down Emigration Canyon, somewhat north of the present I-80 ...

posted 5:38:50pm Jul. 23, 2009 | read full post »

Finding heretics in strange places
A very interesting post at Mormon Matters, reviewing a 1989 book titled "Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up?" The book was written by an attorney who grew up a Jehovah's Witness, then became an Evangelical Christian. That lasted until he ...

posted 6:27:09pm Jul. 22, 2009 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.