One of strangest trends in recent plural marriage publications by cultural Mormons has been to regress back to Fawn Brodie’s portrayal of Joseph Smith’s first plural marriage with Fanny Alger as an adulterous affair. This despite Todd Compton’s seminal treatment and a wide array of evidence in favor of a marriage from both hostile and friendly sources. I don’t wish to recap all this here as it would be a retread of G. L. Smith’s recent FARMS Review (I was thrilled to receive a shout out in the footnotes). Suffice it to say, the distorted version of Joseph Smith as a womanizer has really taking a beating and I have recently uncovered some additional information that will further vindicate the Prophet on that score, but that will have to wait for another post. [Read more…] about The Fanny Alger Marriage
For my home teaching lesson last month, instead of giving a message from the First Presidency, I decided to give a message about the First Presidency. Actually it is more about the Twelve Apostles as a whole (and not just the central three pillars that lead them), Jesus, the restoration of Israel, the temple as a symbol for God’s kingdom, and revelation. These concepts are all intimately intertwined, especially in imagery that presents the Twelve (as delegated by Christ) as foundational rocks or seer stones.
The closest precedent the Old Testament offers to the apostles are the Twelve tribal princes that Moses designated along with 70 elders. These princes were in turn modeled after the Twelve Patriarchs or the sons of Israel that were the founding fathers of each tribe. William Horbury has a book chapter (“The Twelve and the Phylarchs” p. 157-188) available on Google books that explores the concept further. This priestly position fell into obscurity as the nation of Israel went through vast political changes and scattering. The concept of the Seventy fared much better, but that is a different story. Suffice it to say, when Christ restored the office of the Twelve, it began to meet Messianic expectations that Israel would be restored to her former glory. [Read more…] about The Apostolic Foundation
Despite having a priesthood organization that resembles that of the New Testament church, the latter day church sometimes receives criticism for any perceived changes between then and now. For example, biblical fundamentalists contrast instructions in the pastoral letters that deacons should be husbands of one wife to the current LDS practice of ordaining twelve year old boys. I am open to hearing arguments of whether that means at least one one wife, exactly one wife, or at most one wife and what the implications are for widowers, divorcees, polygamists, and celibates. [Read more…] about Deacons then and now
A lot of times our FAIR wiki writers are being purposefully brief by featuring the simplest explanation. There is a hope that those who need more nuance and more possibilities explored will take advantage of the additional resources we point to. I like it when those struggling with an intellectual problem think independently about it. When they find their own solution to a criticism that works for them, I encourage them to stick with what works. Sometimes I will speak up if I see that a particular solution is inadequate and perhaps setting up someone for a future fall from encountering a more advanced criticism. [Read more…] about The Jackson County Temple
It is a thrill to behold Rob Bowman go to work reconstructing leadership structures in New Testament times. This topic has gotten much attention in academic literature, but not many have drawn out the implications for a Church that prides itself as being a restorations of primitive Christianity. Bowman’s posts so far have argued that contemporary Mormon practice deviates from what he finds in early Christianity: 1) Ordination to a priesthood office wasn’t always done by the laying on of hands by one holding the authority to do so and 2) The office of apostle in the sense of being a spokesman for the Lord was not meant to continue as such. Such deviations, he contends, make it impossible for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to make unique truth claims about exclusively having priesthood authority. [Read more…] about Bowman on Ordination
Joseph Smith was subjected to five legal proceedings in New York, being accused of such things as being a religious impostor, con-artist, or treasure seeking fraud. Of these, four of the outcomes are not in dispute with Joseph triumphing against his conspiring enemies.
1826 South Bainbridge, Chenango, NY Joseph is accused of being a disorderly person or vagrant pretending “to discover where lost goods may be found” while in the employ of Josiah Stowell. I will discuss the outcome of this hearing below. [Read more…] about Not Guilty
We here at FAIR Blog are pleased to report on the latest Olivewood Books fireside featuring BYU law professor John Welch. In case you missed it, we have covered past speakers John Sorenson, John Gee, Mark Wright, and Daniel Peterson. If you live in the Utah County area and don’t want to miss out on future events, you may consider bookmarking this informative site and checking often.
Ever the prolific scholar, Welch authored a recent book examining legal cases in the Book of Mormon. Since attending his lecture, I have read the new book, which will inform my recap and commentary. Welch related the story of how Rex E. Lee recruited him to teach at to work at the fledgling BYU law school in 1979. Lee’s pitch was that if Welch taught a designated course he could teach whatever else interested him. Welch half-jokingly suggested Babylonian law as it relates to the scriptures and Lee responded that that was exactly the type of course BYU needed. [Read more…] about John Welch on Book of Mormon Legal Cases
for PART I
Brigham Young’s Indian Policy
The Massacre at Mountain Meadows very clearly portrays the massacre as a locally planned and executed affair. While Brigham Young was not responsible for providing a proximal cause, I think it is fair to analyze how some of his actions and policies may have had unintended and indirect consequences for setting the stage. Perhaps the most unfortunate thing Brigham did was to threaten to shirk in his role as a peacemaker between obnoxious wagon trains and the Native Americans who suffered from such contact.
[Read more…] about Massacre at Mountain Meadows pt. II
Recently FAIR (via Ask the Apologist feature) was queried about whether the Church’s website was knowingly misusing the popular 6% divorce from temple marriage statistic. Its main promoter has been Daniel K. Judd. He gave a BYU devotional in 2006 and defended the 6% figure. A partial transcript of Judd’s comments about his prior (2000) LA Times newspaper interview can be found here. Judd explains that divorce statistics are very dependent on how one collects and calculates the data. My co-blogger, Steven Danderson, pointed out that the high divorce rates that people are most familiar with are calculated (for example by the government) on a yearly basis by dividing the number of recorded divorces by the number of recorded marriages. As will be shown, the research that Judd refers to uses a different counting scheme, which is nevertheless well within the norms of academic journals. I think Judd and the LDS Church can continue to use the figure in good faith.
[Read more…] about Temple Mariage and Civil Divorce