Hey Mormons, Help a Guy Out

As part of a long commissioned piece that I am currently writing, I use a joke. Would any Mormon Jeremy Lott’s Diary readers please let me know if the highlighted part in the first sentence is correct. Bonus: If you read all the way to the end of the joke, I may have improved the punchline. Here it is:

There’s an old joke about the flood and the true believer that gets recycled endlessly in sermons from Protestant, Catholic and Mormon pulpits. Heavy, pounding rains have busted a local levy and water starts pouring into a Midwestern town. The evacuation order goes out. Almost everybody gets out of town to avoid being swallowed up by the flood.

One pious man decides not to get out of town because he has had a revelation: “the Lord will save me.” The waters keep rising and he climbs onto the roof of his garage to temporary safety. A guy in a rowboat who was late to get the evacuation order comes by and says, “Come on in. I’ll row us to safety.” The believer says, “No, that’s OK. You go on. The Lord will save me.”

The waters keep rising. Our pious homeowner climbs onto the roof of his house, because the garage is now completely submerged. One of the last people out of town comes by on a motorboat. He says, “Jump in and I’ll get us out of here.” The religious man is tempted but says, “Thanks, friend, but the Lord will see me through this.”

The waters continue to rise like Noah’s rain shower. Finally, the man gets up to the tip of his roof. Only his head and shoulders protrude from the waters. A rescue helicopter comes by and somehow manages to spot him. Over the loudspeaker, one of the guys in the chopper tells him they’ll throw a rope down with a harness. He’ll need to hook himself in and they’ll yank him up. He yells back, “No that’s OK! Go ahead! The Lord will save me!” Frustrated, they move on, looking for someone else to pull out of the drink.

The guy drowns. He goes to heaven. Once Saint Peter let’s him through the pearly gates, he says to God, “I was so sure you were going to save me from that flood. Why did you let me drown?” God says, “I sent you a rowboat, a motorboat, and a helicopter. What were you waiting for, the parting of the Red Sea?”

  • Trent

    The spelling and terminology is correct, though I haven’t heard that particular joke in an LDS Church sermon. I’m sure it has been said somewhere, just never at the congregation I happened to be attending. So “Recycled endlessly” might be an exaggeration, but otherwise it seems to be correct.

  • http://www.allaboutmormons.com JDD

    Hey Jeremy. I’ve never actually heard this joke told from a Mormon pulpit, but it is definitely the kind of joke that could be told. Mormons do believe that God can work through other people to answer our prayers.

    The Mormon view of heaven doesn’t include St. Peter waiting at pearly gates either, but we’re familiar enough with the idea that we do sometimes use it in jokes.

    Not sure if this is what you’re looking for. Hope this info helps.

  • Joel

    Yes, I’m a Mormon and have heard the same joke a few times from our pulpit. They probably don’t mention St Peter and the pearly gates though.

  • Jared

    I have heard the joke from LDs pulpits.

    And as for JDD’s comment that “The Mormon view of heaven doesn’t include St. Peter waiting at pearly gates,” that is correct. But it does hold that Joseph Smith will decide who gets in to Heaven. So you may want that in your joke.

    • R.C.

      Jared:

      Whoa, wait, what?! Joseph Smith deciding who gets into Heaven? This is news to me; although I admit to not being as familiar with the LDS versions of “the four last things” as I could be. And why Smith as opposed to some other person who, in the LDS opinion, would qualify for “prophet” status?

      Please verify and explain.

      • Peter Marlow

        Yes, Joseph Smith will be among those who sit in judgment of the world, along with all those saints who have followed Jesus. Traditional Christians should not be surprised. The Bible tells us this:

        “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?” (1 Corinthians 6:2)

        “And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Matthew 19:28)

        • JSperry

          The meme of St. Peter at the pearly gates actually stems from the scriptures cited by Peter Marlow. I have heard Jewish friends repeat this joke replacing Peter with Moses. It shouldn’t be surprising to learn that Mormons believe that Joseph Smith will be there as a witness when Christ pleads each of our cases before God. Don’t other religions belief that their clergy testify of God’s laws ?

  • Bruce

    Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (for ease of use, sometimes shortened to the LDS Church–and members are frequently called Mormons) believe that Jesus Christ will be the judge of who gets into heaven. The joke with the pearly gates and St. Peter is just fine for a joke. We all get it and no offense is taken.

  • Jared

    Brigham Young was the second “prophet of the restoration.” He is believed by Mormons to have held THE authority to speak for God on this planet for the time he was “prophet” of the LDS church.

    His “Journal of Discourses” records his prophecies.

    This is found on p.289 of his Journal of Discourses, Volume 7:

    “…no man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith. From the day that the Priesthood was taken from the earth to the winding-up scene of all things, every man and woman must have the certificate of Joseph Smith, junior, as a passport to their entrance into the mansion where God and Christ are—I with you and you with me. I cannot go there without his consent. He holds the keys of that kingdom for the last dispensation—the keys to rule in the spirit-world; and he rules there triumphantly, for he gained full power and a glorious victory over the power of Satan while he was yet in the flesh, and was a martyr to his religion and to the name of Christ, which gives him a most perfect victory in the spirit-world. He reigns there as supreme a being in his sphere, capacity, and calling, as God does in heaven. Many will exclaim—”Oh, that is very disagreeable! It is preposterous! We cannot bear the thought!” But it is true.”

    A link is here:

    http://www.utlm.org/onlineresources/sermons_talks_interviews/jofdvol7p282_291smithholdskeystoheaven.htm

    The pertinent section, including context, is in red.

    Either Brigham Young was not a prophet, or Joseph Smith gets to decide who enters Heaven.

    • Joel

      Because Joseph Smith is at the head of our dispensation he will have a say as to who gets in to the celestial kingdom but his is not the final say. The judgment of Jesus is the only one that will decide who gets exaltation. Other prophets were at the head of other dispensations and they will have a say about the people living at those times. There was the Adamic dispensation; the dispensation of Enoch; the dispensation of Noah; then Abraham; then Moses and of the prophets who were associated with that dispensation; and the dispensation of John the Baptist, followed by Jesus Christ and then His apostles, to finnaly end up to the present-day Dispensation of the Fullness of Times, whose head is Joseph Smith.
      Because Joseph Smith is the head of this dispensation and holds the keys to it, it is his responsibility and mission to see that all the children of men are saved, that can be, through the redemption.
      Jesus himself taught His apostles:
      “Ye [the apostles] are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Luke 22:28-30; see also Matthew 19:28.)
      Since Joseph Smith was also called as an apostle and prophet (see D&C 21:1) would he not also perhaps play a role in the final judgment the same as Peter, James, John, and others?

      • Jared

        Joel,

        What do you mean Joseph Smith’s judgement “is not the final say.” Do you have something to back up that statement?

        Seems to me Brigham Young was pretty clear. If Joseph Smith doesn’t give consent, no one enters Heaven: “no man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith.”

        Am I missing something?

        • Mark Harmon

          @Jared: Brigham Young said many things that are not considered to be “doctrine”. What role, if any, Joseph Smith or any other prophet, ancient or modern, will have in the final judgement is not clear or, in my opinion, important. We do know that the Book of Mormon clearly teaches that, “. . . The keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there . . .” That is doctrine.
          @Jeremy Lott: Put me in the camp that says there is no problem with your proposed usage.

        • Joel cannon

          My wife has a blog with a log answer
          http://classicmomscorner.blogspot.com/2012/01/journal-of-discourses-mormon-doctrine.html
          Short answer…”that’s not an official source of doctrine nor claimed as revelation.”

          • Jared

            Joel,

            Your wife’s blog is classic Mormon dismissal of facts. She seems to reason “Ignore all the things Brgham Young or any of our prophets may have said in the past that turned out wrong. Listen to TODAY’s prophets.”

            But see, here is the problem. Today’s LDS prophets are tomorrows prophets of yesterday. So what the reasoning really holds is, we’ll take credit for anything they say tat turns out to be true. But we will dismiss as “He was just speaking as a man” anything that turns put wrong.

            I have never found a single prophecy by a Mormon prophet that turned out to be completely true. Not one.

  • Paul

    Personally, I think Brigham had some off days, just as other prophets have through the ages. Prophets might be prophets, but they are also human. The role of Joseph, the original twelve, the New World twelve, or any other prophet in the future judgement is another of those things we’re going to have to wait to understand. Until I hear the topic discussed by the current prophet I’m content to know that the Lord will be our Judge.

    Not sure I’ve ever heard the joke from an LDS pulpit, but it is funny while teaching an important lesson.

    • JSperry

      I find it funny that critics of the LDS Church think that Mormons believe every word that drops from the lips of a prophet are scriptural revelation. We are keenly aware that our prophets are for the most part just faithful men and are susceptible to human weaknesses, but were chosen by Christ to lead His church at a particular time because each has different strengths and weaknesses. Brigham Young was needed at a time when Mormons were forced to flee from their homes and scrape out an existence in a high mountain desert. I think it takes a certain level of “fortitude” to that. But, I believe that attribute may have its drawbacks under other circumstances or when taken out of context. Biblically, we know that other prophets had their fallacies. Moses was not allowed to enter the promised land on account of not properly attributing the power to bring forth water out of the rock to God. Jonah was swallowed by a whale for his cowardice. Peter denied Christ three times in one night. What makes a prophet a prophet is his willingness to humble himself before God, repent of their sins, declare God’s message regardless of personal consequences, and always heed the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

  • mapman

    Jared, as they say, Brigham Young said a lot of things. It is extremely obvious that the current doctrine is that Jesus will judge as that idea is all over the place in the scriptures and current manuals. Since you are copying quotes from UTLM, I’m going to guess that you’re an evangelical. Don’t assume that everyone has the same assumptions about prophets that you do. Mormons don’t believe everything their prophets say (it would be impossible anyways since they sometimes contradict each other).

  • jb3883

    I’ve heard the joke in my LDS congregation.

    The question for me as to who stands at the gates of Heaven is answered in the Book of Mormon at 2 Nephi 9:41

    41 O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name.

    There you have it: “The keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there.”

  • jb3883

    By the way, where in the Bible does it say that Peter is the gatekeeper? I’ve read the entire Bible and never found it anywhere.

  • Jared

    LOL. I am hardly an “evangelical,” Mapman. And the quote was not from UTLM, it was from Brigham Young. UTLM is a site that has Brigham Young’s Journal of Discourses readily available. I could have just as well cited the volume itself.

    I am fascinated by the notion that Mormon prophets “have off days.” So what other prophecies from Mormon prophets are the result of “off days?” Maybe Joseph Smith saying people about six feet tall live on the Moon and dress like Quakers? Maybe Joseph Fielding Smith saying man will never fly in space? Maybe Spencer Kimball saying the skin of Native Amercians gets lighter as they get more virtuous?

    These men were not “prophets.” Nor is Thomas Monson.

  • Jettboy

    Yes, every Mormon I know would say those sayings are Prophets who are having a day off. Joseph Smith once said, “A prophet is only a prophet when acting as such,” or in other words when they speak with the authority of the holy ghost. If they speak and its not with the power of the holy ghost, then they can say things that are wrong. You ask, how can they tell if they are speaking with the holy ghost. The answer is, that is for each of us to decide. Not an easy task, but its up to us as individuals and not some non-existent decoder ring.
    I have heard that joke too, but it usually ends with God or Jesus and not St. Peter (and certainly NOT Joseph Smith) saying the punch line.

    • Jared

      I see. So good Mormons pick and choose which pronouncements of their prophets are credible.

      Can you point to a few you have chosen to ignore because you thought the prophet was “speaking as a man”?

      And more, how do reconcile that view with the June 28, 2008 statement from the First Presidency that stated “When the prophet speaks, the debate is over”? http://blog.mrm.org/2008/08/when-the-prophet-speaks-the-debate-is-over/

  • Wade

    In the LDS Church, we do not believe that our leaders are infallible:

    http://en.fairmormon.org/Mormonism_and_doctrine/Prophets_are_not_infallible

  • Wade

    Joseph Smith will sit in judgement of those in this dispensation, just as the Apostles will sit in judgement of the House of Israel:

    http://en.fairmormon.org/Joseph_Smith/Status_in_LDS_belief

    Note that information at FAIR is also not Church doctrine, but the reasoned opinion of LDS scholars. The Journal of Discourses is not accepted as official LDS doctrine. According to an official statement from the LDS Church, “This doctrine resides in the four “standard works” of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price), official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith.”

    • Jared

      So Wade, if the words of President and Prophet Brigham Young aren’t doctrine, how does he differ from anyone with an opinion?

  • Fern

    I’ve heard the joke but I can’t remember where, probably not over the pulpit. It may or may not have had St. Peter as the gatekeeper, but it certainly didn’t reference Joseph Smith (I would have noticed that.) It may have said “the Lord….”

    Not everything a prophet says is the word of the Lord from what I have ever been taught in my 64 years of life as a Mormon. Even in the Bible, when King David asks the prophet Nathan if he can build a temple to the Lord, Nathan says, “Sure, sounds good to me”* at first, then, after going home to pray about it comes back with a totally opposite answer, “The Lord said you wouldn’t have a palace yourself if He hadn’t put you there, so don’t worry about the necessity for God to dwell in a tent, and anyway, your son Solomon will be allowed to build the house of the Lord.”* *[translations mine.] In practice, the prophet usually makes himself quite clear when he is speaking “as a prophet.”

    Brigham Young’s Journal of Discourses makes it quite clear that he was a very talkative man.

  • Jared

    “I say now, when they [his discourses] are copied and approved by me they are as good Scripture as is couched in this Bible . . . ” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 264; see also p. 95).

    Brigham Young said he had never given any counsel that was wrong.
    “I am here to answer. I shall be on hand to answer when I am called upon, for all the counsel and for all the instruction that I have given to this people. If there is an Elder here, or any member of this Church, called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who can bring up the first idea, the first sentence that I have delivered to the people as counsel that is wrong, I really wish they would do it; but they cannot do it, for the simple reason that I have never given counsel that is wrong; this is the reason.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 16, p. 161).
    All this discussion that suggested Brigham Young “said a lot of things,” but not as a prophet seems so counter to what he, the “prophet” himself, declared:

    “I know just as well what to teach this people and just what to say to them and what to do in order to bring them into the celestial kingdom…I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call Scripture. Let me have the privilege of correcting a sermon, and it is as good Scripture as they deserve. The people have the oracles of God continually.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 95).

    “I say now, when they [his discourses] are copied and approved by me they are as good Scripture as is couched in this Bible . . . ” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 264; see also p. 95).

    “I am here to answer. I shall be on hand to answer when I am called upon, for all the counsel and for all the instruction that I have given to this people. If there is an Elder here, or any member of this Church, called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who can bring up the first idea, the first sentence that I have delivered to the people as counsel that is wrong, I really wish they would do it; but they cannot do it, for the simple reason that I have never given counsel that is wrong; this is the reason.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 16, p. 161).

    So I am guessing the Mormon faithful will say “Yeah, but he was speaking as a man when he said all that.” But what your prophet said was that ALL his counsel was as good as scripture, and that he never gives counsel that is wrong.

    So I guess what I am curious about is, how can the man be a prophet if he says things like THAT that are that wrong?


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