Primary sources/Reed C. Durham on 1974 talk
Reed C. Durham letter issued after his 1974 talk “Is There No Help for the Widow’s Son?”
Reed C. Durham wrote and circulated this letter after an address given at a Mormon History Association meeting on 20 April 1974.
To Whom It May Concern:
On Saturday, April 20, 1974, at the Mormon History Association Annual Meeting at Nauvoo, Illinois, I delivered the Presidential Address entitled, “Is There No Help for the Widow’s Son?” At that time I was gravely concerned that the presentation of my findings and conclusions, as a result of long months of research, would not be properly interpreted; and that regardless of what I attempted to say, misunderstandings would occur. My concerns were justified. I have been informed of instances where even my own colleagues in the Mormon History Association, and also some close friends within the Church misinterpreted what I said, and more important to me, in some cases even questioned my faith in Joseph Smith and the Church.
Of course, I assume the full responsibility for creating those questions, concerns, and misunderstandings. It was because I was not skillful enough, erudite enough, nor perhaps prayerful enough to make my personal position and feelings clearly known.
Therefore, regardless of what I said, or what interpretations were placed upon what I said, let it be known at this time, that:
- 1. I know that Joseph Smith was/is indeed a true prophet of God – the one called under direction of Jesus Christ to usher in this dispensation of the fullness of times.
- 2. I know further that Temple Work, with all its ramifications including Eternal Marriage and the Endowment ceremony is divinely inspired.
- 3. Because of the personal witness I have received by the Spirit (which has been complemented and supported by continual study and experience), the prime criterion or standard of judgment I am committed to employ as an explanation of any aspect of the Church – either of Joseph Smith and/or the Temple ceremonies – is that of divine revelation.
Had I delivered my address in Nauvoo, making sure that my knowledge and conviction of the above three statements was clearly reflected in the subject matter of my address, I am confident that fewer misunderstandings would have been occasioned; and my address would have more clearly approximated my honest feelings. I am deeply sorry that such was not the case.
Reed C. Durham, Jr.