Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Mormon Opposition of Brigham Young

Brigham Young was the second Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Following the untimely death of Joseph Smith, Jun., there was a leadership vacuum which ultimately ended up in the formation of several churches all claiming rightful succession.  Brigham Young led the most prominent of those, and it is through his succession that the LDS Church has its link to the message of the Restoration proclaimed by Joseph Smith, Jun.

Despite his integral place in their history, it seems to me that modern Mormonism opposes Brigham Young in at least 4 major areas of doctrinal understanding:

  1. The practice of polygamy being required for exaltation
    • Young said, “The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy. Others attain unto a glory and may even be permitted to come into the presence of the Father and the Son; but they cannot reign as kings in glory, because they had blessings offered unto them, and they refused to accept them.” JoD 11/41
    • Modern Mormonism says, “The Bible and the Book of Mormon teach that the marriage of one man to one woman is God’s standard, except at specific periods when He has declared otherwise.”
  2. Blood Atonement
    • Young said, “It is true that the blood of the Son of God was shed for sins through the fall and those committed by men, yet men can commit sins which it can never remit.. ..they must be atoned for by the blood of the man.” JoD 4/10
    • Modern Mormonism says, “[Jesus’] Atonement is infinite—without an end. It was also infinite in that all humankind would be saved from never-ending death. It was infinite in terms of His immense suffering. It was infinite in time, putting an end to the preceding prototype of animal sacrifice. It was infinite in scope—it was to be done once for all. And the mercy of the Atonement extends not only to an infinite number of people, but also to an infinite number of worlds created by Him.”
  3. Race and the Priesthood
    • Young said, “How long is that race to endure the dreadful curse that is upon them? That curse will remain upon them, and they never can hold the Priesthood or share in it until all the other descendants of Adam have received the promises and enjoyed the blessings of the Priesthood and the keys thereof. Until the last ones of the residue of Adam's children are brought up to that favorable position, the children of Cain cannot receive the first ordinances of the Priesthood. They were the first that were cursed, and they will be the last from whom the curse will be removed. When the residue of the family of Adam come up and receive their blessings, then the curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will receive blessings in like proportion.” JoD 7/45
    • Modern Mormonism, (blatantly throwing Young under the proverbial bus throughout the article), says, “Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse”
  4. The Adam/ God doctrine         
    • Young said, “When our father Adam came into the garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organize this world. He is Michael, the Archangel, the Ancient of Days! about whom holy men have written and spoken—He is our Father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do.” JoD 1/8
    • Modern Mormonism says, “We warn you against the dissemination of doctrines which are not according to the scriptures and which are alleged to have been taught by some of the General Authorities of past generations. Such, for instance, is the Adam-God theory. We denounce that theory and hope that everyone will be cautioned against this and other kinds of false doctrine.” 
This leads me to ask 2 main questions:
  1. How much false teaching does it take before one is simply deemed a false prophet? It is difficult to find a discourse given by Brigham Young that does not address at least one of these issues. How bad does it have to get before he is completely disavowed? If it were someone else and not Brigham Young, would the standard be different?
  2. If the Mormon Church continues to separate themselves from Brigham Young’s teachings, doesn’t that call into question the legitimacy of his (already very controversial) succession to Joseph Smith? If not, why not? To question the legitimacy of Brigham Young is to question the legitimacy of the LDS Church as a whole - so why is the modern incarnation of Mormonism doing all the questioning?  It seems to me that they are sawing off the branch that they’re standing on.  Without Young, there is no LDS Church.
Please take a moment to pray for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Thank you.