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
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
Editor’s Note: Michael Keller is the brother of FAIR blog regular David Keller. Michael recently completed a Master’s degree in History at Memphis University. He wrote the following review of an article that helps document some of the tensions that contributed to the atmosphere for the Mountain Meadows Massacre.
Thomas G. Alexander. “Carpetbaggers, Reprobates, and Liars: Federal Judges and the Utah War (1857-58).” The Historian 70 (Summer 2008): 209-38.
[Read more…] about Article Review: Alexander on Buchanan’s Blunder
My reader’s copy of this long awaited book arrived Monday (the 28th) and by Tuesday morning I finished it just in time to arrive at Bushman’s apologetic seminar 45 minutes late after pulling an all-nighter. I have been busy helping two different sets of relatives move, so I haven’t got this review completed as fast as I would like and now I am informed that Amazon is shipping the book. Nevertheless, I will still have to release my review in installments. Those who are just now getting their copies would be well served by checking out Kramer and Stapley’s review as well.
[Read more…] about Massacre at Mountain Meadows Pt. I
In my explorations, the first person to actually use the term pious fraud in conjunction with Mormonism was Mark Twain in Roughing It. Surprisingly, the reference was not to Joseph Smith, but to Brigham Young allegedly dressing up as Joseph Smith. This is Twain’s take on the narratives about assuming the prophetic mantle. More recently, Dan Vogel’s biography is essentially a book length defense of an earlier 1996 essay championing the pious fraud model as the most plausible solution framed by Jan Shipps in “The Prophet Puzzle:”
What we have in Mormon historiography is two Josephs: the one who started out digging for money and when he was unsuccessful, turned to propheteering, and the one who had visions and dreamed dreams, restored the church, and revealed the will of the Lord to a sinful world.
This week New York Times blogger Timothy Egan made a sophomoric attempt to connect the modern FLDS church’s practice of polygamy to that of early Mormon leaders Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. Excerpt:
[Mitt Romney’s] faith was founded in 1830 by Joseph Smith Jr., an itinerant treasure-seeker from upstate New York who used a set of magic glasses to translate a lost scripture from God. His personality was infectious, the religion very approachable.
It would have been just another Christian faith had not Smith let his libido lead him into trouble. Before he died at the hands of a mob, he married at least 33 women and girls; the youngest was 14, and was told she had to become Smith’s bedmate or risk eternal damnation.
Smith was fortunate to find a religious cover for his desire. His polygamy “revelation” was put into The Doctrine and Covenants, one of three sacred texts of Mormonism. It’s still there – the word of God. And that’s why, to the people in the compound at Eldorado, [Texas,] the real heretics are in Salt Lake City.
As his biographer, Fawn Brodie, wrote, Joseph Smith “could not rest until he had redefined the nature of sin and erected a stupendous theological edifice to support his new theories on marriage.”
It is hard for me to imagine more factual errors and loaded language that could be squeezed into four short paragraphs.
I offer up this quote for your collective consideration:
“Because of their Masonic characters the ceremonies of the temple are sacred and not for the public.”
October 15, 1911; Messages of First Presidency, 4: 250.
Prior to assuming the mantle of a prophet, the young Joseph Smith developed a reputation as a village seer, one who was sought after to locate stray animals or optimal locations to dig for well water or treasure [1-2]. In October of 1825, Josiah Stowell (1770-1844) visited his son Simpson in Palmyra [3-4] and upon learning of Joseph’s abilities, pressured Joseph to join him on a treasure searching expedition. A short while later a company was formed and a profit-sharing pact was signed on November 1st . Among those mentioned in the pact were Josiah, Calvin, Elijah, and Isaiah Stowell. William R. Hines added that another Stowell, Asa, contributed financially to the venture .
I gave a short talk recently, and it was suggested that I post it up here for others to read. I borrowed some of the information in the talk from a past president’s message I gave in the FAIR Journal. But, I still hope you find it valuable. Here it is: