Godspell and A Line of Demarcation

Jan 29
Line of demarcation

I returned home from church today trying to find a quote someone had shared in Sunday School. He’d said it was from Orson F. Whitney and when I couldn’t find it, I contacted him and he misspoke and it was from George Albert Smith.

However, this did let me discover something I thought I would share.


I stumbled onto the 1914 book, “Gospel Themes,” by Elder Orson F. Whitney of the Council of the Twelve Apostles.

The first paragraph of chapter 1 reads:

The Gospel Defined. – The English word ‘Gospel’ comes from the Anglo-Saxon ‘Godspell,’ or God-story—the story of God. It derives its significance from that great central idea of the Christian faith—the coming of God as the Son of God to redeem and save mankind. The joyful intelligence of the advent of the world’s Redeemer, proclaimed by the angels to the shepherds on the Judean hills (Luke 2:10), furnishes another name for the gospel – ‘good tidings,’ or, as it is otherwise rendered, ‘glad tidings of great joy.'”

You can check this as I did using the new etymology link in Scripture Notes. Do a search for the word “gospel,” double-click the word in any of the verses, and click the “E” icon.

Etymology dictionary

Lazy? ;) OK, here’s a link: https://www.etymonline.com/search?q=gospel

That’s pretty cool. I had no idea, but some of you probably knew this.

Lines of Demarcation

On a completely different subject, here is the quote by President George Albert Smith that has to do with a line of demarcation (LOD). An LOD is basically a boundary line separating two pieces of territory.


I think I would like to repeat something I have told many times as a guide to some of these younger men. It was an expression of advice of my grandfather for whom I was named. He said: “There is a line of demarcation well defined between the Lord’s territory and the devil’s territory. If you will remain on the Lord’s side of the line, the adversary cannot come there to tempt you. You are perfectly safe as long as you stay on the Lord’s side of the line. But,” he said, “if you cross onto the devil’s side of the line, you are in his territory, and you are in his power, and he will work on you to get you just as far from that line as he possibly can, knowing that he can only succeed in destroying you by keeping you away from the place where there is safety.”

All safety, all righteousness, all happiness are on the Lord’s side of the line. If you are keeping the commandments of God by observing the Sabbath day, you are on the Lord’s side of the line. If you attend to your secret prayers and your family prayers, you are on the Lord’s side of the line. If you are grateful for food and express that gratitude to God, you are on the Lord’s side of the line. If you love your neighbor as yourself, you are on the Lord’s side of the line. If you are honest in your dealing with your fellow men, you are on the Lord’s side of the line. If you observe the Word of Wisdom, you are on the Lord’s side of the line. And so I might go on through the Ten Commandments and the other commandments that God has given for our guidance and say again, all that enriches our lives and makes us happy and prepares us for eternal joy is on the Lord’s side of the line. Finding fault with the things that God has given to us for our guidance is not on the Lord’s side of the line. Setting one’s self up as a receiver of dreams and visions to guide the human family is not on the Lord’s side of the line; and when men, as they have sometimes done in order to win their success along some line or another, have come to an individual or individuals and said, “I have had this dream and this is what the Lord wants us to do,” you may know that they are not on the Lord’s side of the line. The dreams and visions and revelations of God to the children of men have always come through his regularly appointed servant. You may have dreams and manifestations for your own comfort and for your own satisfaction, but you will not have them for the Church unless God appoints you to take the place that he gave to his prophets of old and in our day, and unless you have been divinely commissioned to do the thing he wants you to do.

-George Albert Smith, Conference Report, October 1945, pp. 115-120

Here’s the hard thing about being on the wrong side of the line of demarcation. When we get into the devil’s territory, we lose interest in leaving, because we begin to lack the capacity to understand why we are in danger.

D&C 93:39. And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers.

We lose light and truth and it just makes sense that we continue in that “comfort zone” where the devil can continue to “carefully” lead us down to hell without shaking us up too much.

The only safety is in rapid repentance as soon as we recognize we have sinned so we can get back into the light. That is what it is to have a contrite heart.

And when we’re in the light, it makes just as much sense to stay there and avoid the other side of the line, but this time with a knowledge that it’s a danger zone.


(Featured image by zhan1999 @ 123rf.com)


About the Author

Oak Norton - Just trying to share a love of the scriptures with others.