Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Buzz Aldren of Mormonism

Below: Joseph working hard on his translation of the Book of Mormon

Inspired by a post and comments at BCC...

Joseph smith: folk magician, successful author, prolific womanizer. Among these impressive achievements he is also revered as a prophet of God by millions of Mormons the world over. Justification for this position - a testimony given by way of the Holy Spirit - will be examined later, as for now a simple thought: In the mainline church Joseph's divine calling is a central tenet, more so than any of his successors. Go to any Mormon testimony meeting (held on the first Sunday of every month) and you'll hear among the eclectic anecdotes that there is a God and that Joseph was his prophet, if the modern equivalent is lucky he'll receive an honorable mention, the others however are rarely ever spoken of in this manner. This is incredibly unfair to Brigham Young. He had almost as many wives as his predecessor and dabbled in polyandry to boot, you don't get much more Mormon than that. Moreover, the fact that there is a mainline church tells us that other branches exist.

During the succession crisis after Joseph Smith's death there were a number of would be prophets in waiting ready to make a power grab. Brigham was successful where others weren't by arguing that the Quorum of the Twelve, a unit within the church of which he happened to be the leader, had received all the keys and authority of God that Joseph had restored and that although no man could replace their dearly departed prophet, that this group should carry on directing the church in his stead. He later changed his mind and decided he was a prophet after all (in the same way Joseph was?) and was sustained by the general membership as such. Other groups who disagreed splintered off formulating their own versions of Joseph's theology/theocracy. Imagine today, we (normal Mormons, that may be a misnomer) could instead be almost as non-existent as the Strangites if things had gone differently; or fundamentalists still practicing polygamy - score! Or progressive enough to allow woman the priesthood - Go reorganites! But we're good old fashioned normal Mormons and it's all thanks to Brigham Young, except he doesn't get any. It's a crime. Sure he gave us the Adam-God theory and Blood Atonement, but even prophets make mistakes sometimes. I propose that we add a new basic proposition to our testimonies: I know that Brigham Young was a prophet. (I think). So shall it be written so shall it be done.

No comments: