I’m in Nauvoo, Illinois this week. This little history-packed town has some pretty interesting spiritual dynamics going on. As a Christian who challenges the claims of Mormonism, the Restorationists in town see me somewhat as an ally. The Restorationists split from the Community of Christ Church (formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). They believe that the LDS Church went very, very wrong when the leadership of the Church was put into the hands of Brigham Young and the Saints followed him out to the Salt Lake Valley.
The Restorationists think that Joseph Smith never practiced polygamy; he never taught men could become Gods; he never taught a plurality of Gods, etc. The Restorationists believe all the controversial aspects of Mormonism attributed to Joseph Smith were actually instituted by Brigham Young after Joseph’s death. Brigham claimed Joseph taught or did these things, then added them to the history of the Church surreptitiously in order to get members to accept Brigham’s own radical ideas.
One Restorationist loaned me a DVD lecture titled “The Carthage Conspiracy.” In this lecture the unnamed teacher explained that it was because of Joseph Smith’s effort to stamp out polygamy (which was secretly being practiced by Church apostles) that Joseph was killed at Carthage.
According to the theory put forth by this gentleman, the apostles wanted to destroy Joseph so that he could not put an end to their plural marriages. Disagreeing with the official story that Joseph was murdered by a mob, this conspiracy theory states that on June 27, 1844 in Carthage Jail, John Taylor murdered Hyrum Smith, whereupon Joseph shot John Taylor three times, after which Willard Richards finally murdered Joseph and threw him out the window. It’s quite a story.
While the Restorationists like my sympathetic ear when it comes to their frustration over the LDS rewriting of history, they want to convince me that the Restorationist rewrite of history is the truth. The Mormons don’t like the Restorationists’ faith. The Restorationists don’t like the Mormons’ faith. And the Community of Christ rattles around Nauvoo as well. It reminds me a bit of this:
The [Mormons] were most decided against the [Restorationists] and [Community of Christ], and used all the powers of both reason and sophistry to prove their errors, or, at least, to make the people think they were in error. On the other hand, the [Restorationists] and [Community of Christ] in their turn were equally zealous in endeavoring to establish their own tenets and disprove all others. In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? (Joseph Smith–History 1:9-10)
I did not know that you were in town this week. I would love to get together with you and anyone else from MRM who happen to be here before you leave.You can call Nauvoo Baptist Church or e-mail me at [email protected]. Hopefully we can get together.
I have to admit, I get perverse pleasure when reading about all of these branches of Mormonism. The reason for this is the “apostasy” conspiracy the Utah LDS has as the bedrock principle for the establishment of the LDS faith. The various Mormon groups accuse each other of being apostates and, in addition the Utah church had its own “reformation” from about 1890-1905. And (here’s where it becomes real delicious) they all get revelations and have prophets and get bosom burnings. I believe the Community of Christ has a more traditional view of the nature of God…..and they were headed by Joseph Smith’s son…..and Joseph Smith’s wife was a member. Utah Mormonism is a particular flavor or a Mormon denomination. The FLDS more clearly reflects the post Joseph Smith era until the reformation.
This is the bottom line, once Utah Mormons start asking questions, the house of cards comes tmbling down. The only thing the church can do is intimidate the those who question. It’s a closed shop that doesn’t tolerate inquisitive people. For Mormons, the Community of Christ I would think, is a better choice.
This story just shows me, once people start making up mythologies to justify and explain what they believe there is no end. Others learn from this, and then adjust history to suit their own purposes. They have learned by example. Those who are arguing for these created histories are almost never the ones who made them up – they’re just convinced by a persuasive argument, or by a need to have some justification for what they believe.
I loved the use of JS words against the very thing he created at the end of Sharon’s piece – because it fits so perfectly.
I find the Restorationists’ theory interesting, but beside the point. 🙂 I was thinking about it this morning and realized that either way Satan is getting what he wants because all these arguments serve to focus our attention on a man, Joe Smith, instead of on Jesus. Just my $.02
Excuse me??!!! But, didn’t Joseph receive a revelation in the Grove that was meant to remove all confusion as to which church/sect to join?
I guess its time to raise up a new prophet to remove any present-day confusion, and re-restore the gospel AGAIN !!!!!
Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father, except by me.”