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Female Priesthood, Cutlerite Endowment, & House of Aaron (Part 6 of 8)

The LDS Church recently made changes to their temple endowment ceremony.  Rumor has it that the Cutlerite endowment has changed very little since the death of Joseph Smith.  We’ll continue our discussion about Cutlerite temple practices with Steve Shields. It appears they believe women hold priesthood in their temple ordinances!

Steve: So, that building is, in all intents and purposes, it’s a temple and it would resemble the Kirtland Temple model except Kirtland had no font. But, the upstairs room for the priesthood on the second floor, they weren’t necessarily doing rituals there, but they did some washings and anointings upstairs on the third floor in the attic level. And so, on the second floor of the Cutlerite buildings in Minnesota and Independence, that’s dedicated as a holy place. They call it the upper room work. They don’t use the term endowment. They do know what that means because we’ve talked about it with them. But, I do know. They’ve told me this, that women are ordained as high priestesses in the celestial church, not in the outer church, not in the public church. They have no priesthood in the public church.

GT: Oh, so women have a temple priesthood, but not an Ecclesiastical priesthood.

Steve: Exactly. Yeah, that’s right. That’s the extent of my knowledge about that. A few years ago when…

GT:  That’s interesting, Michael Quinn, in my current interview, just kind of said the LDS have the same thing. Jonathan Stapley said, “Well, we don’t want to call it priesthood.” But Quinn wasn’t nearly as careful on that.

Steve: Yeah. Well, I’m in the Quinn camp on that issue.

We’ll also discuss a break off from the RLDS Church called the House of Aaron.

Steve:  The House of Aaron is based at Eskdale, Utah. And they used to be called the Aaronic Order or the Order of Aaron. Morris Glendening was the founder, promoter of that. In the recent 10 or 12 years, they’ve been having lots of conversation with Fred Larsen and the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. John Conrad, who is the leader of the House of Aaron, his father was Bob Conrad, who was the chief high priest successor to Morris Glendening as chief high priest. John has gone out to Independence many times with folks their church. They’ve shifted a lot since Glendening’s times in the ’40’s. They always said they were not Mormons and yet all of their members had been Mormons.

Have you heard of the House of Aaron before?  Check out our conversation….

Steve Shields says Cutlerites have female priesthood, and we talk about House of Aaron in Eskdale, Utah
Steve Shields says Cutlerites have female priesthood, and we talk about House of Aaron in Eskdale, Utah

Don’t forget out other conversations with Steve!

238: Fundamentalists and Cutlerites (Shields)

227: Conspiracy Theories:  William Smith, Samuel Smith, James Strang(Shields)

226: Sidney’s Unsung Role in Restoration (Shields)

225: Steve’s Shields Own Divergent Path

224: Who Owns the Temple Lot? (Shields)

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Fundamentalists and Cutlerites (Part 5 of 8)

In this episode, Steve Shields and I discuss some of the larger and smaller Mormon groups: fundamentalists and Cutlerites. Many of these fundamentalists practice polygamy.

Steve:  The FLDS has 8,000 to 10,000. The Apostolic United Brethren and has 8,000 to 10,000, somewhere in that range. Those are the two largest organized groups, organized structural institutions. I’ve heard numbers of 50 or 60,000 fundamentalist Mormons all told. There’s either some smaller, like the Centennial Park–I don’t want to call them a group because the Centennial Park priesthood affiliation, maybe as a way to talk about those. You’ve got Naylor and Nielsen. You’ve got the guy up in British Columbia, Winston Blackmore. He’s actually incorporated as the Church of Jesus Christ (Original Doctrine). That’s their corporate filing in Canada. He’s got 500 or so. Nielson and Naylor and Blackmore have been kind of doing some, they’ve not merged per se, but some cross affiliation because Nielsen and Naylor’s problem with the Jeffs family was very similar with Winston’s. So frankly, in all of the fundamentalist Mormons, there’s very little doctrinal difference, if any at all. It has to do with priesthood authority. Who has the legitimate line?

GT: I talked with Anne Wilde and one things that she said was really the largest group are what she would call independent or unaffiliated.

Steve: That’s right. Most of them are unaffiliated but they do fellowship with each other. You’ve got a large following: Fred Collier, Tom Green and others who believe in what they called the patriarchal order. Every father is a patriarch over his own family and has full authority to ordain his children, the male children.

We’ll also discuss the only other Mormon group that has an endowment ceremony in the temple.  They are sometimes referred to as the Cutlerites, named after Alpheus Cutler.

Steve: Alpheus Cutler’s church has always been small, and they do not proselytize. They don’t believe in that. Alpheus Cutler is said to have been given a revelation that in the last days there will only be two and from that small branch, God will redeem Zion. So, they don’t worry too much about that. They’re getting older.

GT: They’re the ones who still have a temple ceremony. Is that right?

Steve: Yes, they do. The upper room work is conducted in their building in Independence. I’ll say on a regular basis. That doesn’t mean every day or every week necessarily. I don’t know any more about it than that. Nobody does except them and I respect that. I’m very curious, of course.

How big are they?  Check out our conversation….

Steve Shields discusses Mormon polygamists and Cutlerites, the only other Mormon group with a temple endowment ceremony.
Steve Shields discusses Mormon polygamists and Cutlerites, the only other Mormon group with a temple endowment ceremony.

Check out our other conversations with Steve!

227: Conspiracy Theories:  William Smith, Samuel Smith, James Strang(Shields)

226: Sidney’s Unsung Role in Restoration (Shields)

225: Steve’s Shields Own Divergent Path

224: Who Owns the Temple Lot? (Shields)

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Was Adam Clarke Source of JST? (Part 5 of 5)

A few months ago, Dr. Thomas Wayment made headlines in the Mormon community when he came out with news that the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible relied heavily on Adam Clarke’s Bible Commentary.

Thom:  A student assistant of mine, Haley Wilson-Lemmon, was working for me about four years ago now. And I’ve worked on the JST my whole career. It’s been interesting because it makes a claim to originality, at least modern Mormons claim that. And so, I’ve been probing it throughout my career. And, I had begun to think that Joseph Smith used a variety of sources, but I hadn’t nailed it down. And so, I said to Haley, I think you should take Buck’s Theological Dictionary. I think you should take Thomas Scott’s Notes and I think you should take Adam Clarke and start comparing it to a series of test passages in the JST and just see what crops up because I’m suspecting there’s influence, but I don’t know.

And she comes back, and we look at the column of Adam Clarke and it’s overwhelming. There are some strong parallels. And so, over the course of about 12-14 months, Haley compared every single JST to all of these and we have a massive amount of data, and sure enough it. It’s very clear. It’s conclusive that Joseph Smith used Adam Clarke. And when I say use, I want to stick by that term. This isn’t him simply saying, “Okay, here’s three sentences in Clarke. I’m going to copy it out and call that inspiration.” It’s not that. He has words that come from Clarke that now come into kind of an expanded sentence that Joseph has created. Clarke will recommend flipping the order of verses and Joseph will do that. Weird words like unicorn in Isaiah, Joseph will go to [Clarke] to realize that’s not unicorn. And so, he’ll add [Clarke]’s statement about it or he’ll say, this is re’em.

What implications does that have for Latter-day Saints of faith?

Thom:  That’s really been how the conversation has kind of taken life, which in some ways is unfortunate. In some ways it is a good moment for pause. What I see as a scholar is it’s confronted a narrative about the JST that people have, that the JST is a moment of absolute revelation. No other influences happened that he was giving us the Bible as it was originally. And if you had that view, it’s going to be a hard thing. And, yet as a historian, it’s unfortunate. Joseph never made that claim. He never tells us that the Lord commanded him to start it. There is no revelation that currently exists where he is directed or says he was directed to go translate the Bible. We find him recording a commandment to work on Matthew but not Genesis. And so, in this sense, he never canonized it.

He never, if you will, said, “This is the original Bible.” And during this time, he has another statement that we refer to as a revelation. “Seek ye out learning from the best books.” And for heaven’s sakes, that’s what he’s doing it. It’s really a practical process. I suspect that there are other sources. I suspect it’s not just Clarke and in the coming years, I’ll play that hand a little more broadly. But this is him working on the Bible. For the Latter-day Saint who feels confronted by this, we know he studied Hebrew after this. He’s trying to engage both his role as prophet, so he owns the text in one sense, but he continually feels like, “I need some training.” And Clarke is a really good resource of the day and a modern scholar wouldn’t feel that and I don’t feel that, but of the day it’s very good and I think he comes to trust Clarke. I think later he says, “Well, maybe I could learn Hebrew. And he does some work in Hebrew in Kirtland 1835 period. And I think again, like he went with the Book of Mormon, he went to Luther Bradish, he goes to Charles Anthon and others to say, “Can you help me?” Or, “Can you translate this?” He has a scholarly component in every one of his translations and that to me seems pretty normal. But, maybe to the modern believer it might confront a narrative of faith that they had that was an absolute point.

Check out our conversation….  If you’re interested in a transcript of this conversation, click the Yellow Subscribe button on our website at GospelTangents.com, or you can pick up a book at our Amazon page!

Dr. Thomas Wayment says Joseph Smith relied on Adam Clarke's Bible Commentary for many of JST changes.
Dr. Thomas Wayment says Joseph Smith relied on Adam Clarke’s Bible Commentary for many of JST changes.

Check out our other conversations with Dr. Wayment!

236: Fixing Known Biblical Errors (Wayment)

232: Juvenile Jesus a Jerk? Apocryphal Stories Say Yes (Wayment)

230: Christmas Legends: Herod, Wise Men, the Star (Wayment)

228: Separating Fact and Fiction on Birth of Christ (Wayment)