Vol.X No.VII Pg.6
September 1973

Show Us Your Religion

Robert F. Turner

In Doctrinal Discourses (p. 205f) R.L. Whiteside quotes from the April, 1854 issue of Millennial Harbinger; a quote from Rupps History of Denominations in this Country. This is so many quotes removed from the original source that there is little hope for verification —in fact, the very nature of the material suggests a bit of moralizing, perhaps in the account in Rupps history— but there remains a striking lesson in the story. For whatever it is worth:

As a striking instance of the necessity and importance of the proposed reformation, we present the following extract from the Boston Anthology, which with too many of the same kind that might be adduced, furnishes a mournful comment upon the text-- we mean upon the sorrowful subject of our woeful division and corruption. The following reply to the Rev. Mr. Cram, missionary from Massachusetts to the Senecas, was made by the principal chiefs and warriors of the Six Nations, in council assembled at Buffalo Creek, State of New York, in the presence of the agent of the United States for Indian Affairs, in the summer of 1805.

I am come, brethren, said the missionary, to enlighten your minds, and to instruct you how to worship the Great Spirit agreeably to his will; and to preach to you the gospel of his Son, Jesus Christ. There is but one way to serve God, and if you do not embrace the right way, you can not be happy hereafter.

To which they replied: Brother, we understand your religion is written in a Book. You say there is but one way to worship and serve the Great Spirit. If there is but one religion, why do you white people differ so much about it? Why not all agree, as you can all read the book. Brother, we do not understand these things.

We are told your religion was given to your forefathers. We also have a religion which was given to our forefathers. It teaches us to be thankful for all the favors we receive, to love one another, and to be united. We never quarrel about religion. We are told you have been preaching to the white people in this place. Those people are our neighbors; we are acquainted with them. We will wait a little, to see what effect your preaching has upon them. If we find it does them good, makes them honest and less disposed to cheat Indians, we will then consider again what you have said.

We may further water-down this story by calling attention to the fact that the Senecas mentioned only some good features of their religion; overlooking the tribal wars, low estate of their women, and the hopeless promise for eternity; while calling attention to division among those who profess Christianity, but a division which is actually non-Christian.

And we are still faced with the practical application of unity to the faith, or lack of faith, in the world; and the awesome responsibility of all saints to demonstrate Christianity.