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Making a Case for Melchizedek Priesthood in 1831 (Part 4 of 9)

There has been a discrepancy as to when the Melchizedek Priesthood was restored.  Was it in June of 1829, 1830, or 1831?  Historian Dan weighs in on the controversy and makes a case for later than the official Church story.

GT: Okay, so it sounds to me like you’re making a pretty strong case for the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood being 1831, which really wasn’t known about until 1835. Is that what you’re saying?

Dan   Yeah, 1835.  Alma Chapter 13 talks about the high priesthood and associates the high priesthood with Melchizedek.  So in June 1831, it’s the high priesthood that is given to elders, and for time it was the elders with more authority. It wasn’t a separate office at first.  It takes several months before it becomes the high priest office, but it was elders that had the high priesthood. So, that high priesthood, of course, because Alma is going to be associated with Melchizedek, and that’s why it says for the first time.  The eldership wasn’t associated with Melchizedek. So in the church you had, for a while, elders.  Elders were the charismatic leaders of the church, and the teachers, priests and deacons. were under elders.

GT:  Yeah. So from what I understand, I spoke with Greg Prince about a year and a half ago, one of the things he said was when the church was very first organized, you had elders, priests and teachers. Those are the only three authorized.

Dan:  Right, deacon came a little later.

GT:  Deacon and Bishop came when Sidney Rigdon was baptized, and he said the Bible has Bishop and Deacon and so those were added later, both to the Aaronic priesthood, but it sounds like..

Dan:  There’s no Aaronic, yet.

GT:  So it was just the priesthood. Okay. I’m trying to remember because Quinn also delves into this and it sounded like elders were kind of like, “We’re not sure if they’re Aaronic or Melchizedek,” because it was kind of confusing.

Dan:  Elders and then the High Priests were separate.  Not until the expansion of D & C 107 were elders included in the High Priesthood and formed two layers.

Dan will also weigh in on Michael Marquardt’s claim that the Church was restored in Manchester, rather than Fayette.  Check out our conversation….

Historian Dan Vogel thinks the restoration of Melchizedek Priesthood dates to 1831.

Don’t miss our other episodes with Dan!

289 – Methodist Visions

288 – Why “Pious Fraud” Ticks off Everyone

287 – Dan Vogel Was a McConkie Mormon!


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Methodist Visions (Part 3 of 9)

The number of prophets who have claimed to have seen God is very small:  Moses, and Joseph Smith.  The First Vision is known as one of the most unique visions in all of religion. But it turns out that accounts of Methodist visions were common in Joseph’s day.  Is it true that Joseph’s First Vision may not have been as unique as we thought?  Historian Dan tackles that question. He believes something happened to Joseph Smith in 1820 or 21, but doesn’t think it was a vision.  Was Joseph’s experience similar to Methodist visions?

Dan:  People at the revival, especially Methodist ones, would get religious enthusiasm, as they called it. They would get all excited and some people would have heavenly visions. Some people would see Jesus.  Forget about the revivals, a lot of ministers at the time, when they wrote their autobiographies would write about their conversion story, and it would include seeing Jesus or some experience with deity, a born-again type experience.  This is what I would suggest that Joseph Smith really had–we’ll eventually get to that, and that the story evolved over time.

Dan:  The 1832 account has Joseph Smith concluding that all the churches are false, at the age of 12, like his parents. Lucy, and Joseph Smith, Sr. had both made the same conclusion, that all of the churches were false. But it wasn’t tied to they [the churches] didn’t have authority. They were just corrupted by the traditions of men. No one’s thinking of, “Oh, they don’t have priesthood authority, because Christians didn’t think that way.” Catholics did [think that way], but Protestants didn’t think of, “Oh, we have authority and the Catholics don’t,” or whatever. Protestants got their authority to baptize because the Bible commanded that you be baptized, and that is the authority, the commandment coming from the Bible. Whereas Joseph Smith said, “No, it has to come from revelation.” So, when the angel commands to baptize or you got a revelation through the stone to baptize, that is a new revelation, and that is the new authority. So he has current authority, current revelation. That is the original concept of authority, before there were any stories of angelic ordinations. But, in the 1832 account, Joseph Smith has already concluded there’s no church. So when he goes to pray, he’s not asking which church is true. He’s asking, “How am I going to be saved? There’s no true church. They’re all apostate, and what am I to do?” Jesus appears and basically, confirms his belief that there the world liest under sin and all that, and says that those who believe on my name shall be saved. So it’s very close to a revival experience. You have faith in Jesus and you’re saved.

GT : Almost a born again kind of experience?

Dan:  That’s what I say. What I say is, if you take Jesus out of it, it would be born again experience. So, why does he have to see Jesus?

GT:  You think he basically in 1820 or ‘21, did have a born again experience?

Dan:  Yes.

Check out our conversation…. and don’t miss our previous conversations with Dan!

Dan Vogel thinks Joseph had a born-again experience in 1820 or ’21, but it was common for many Methodist visions at that time.

288 – Why “Pious Fraud” Ticks off Everyone

287 – Dan Vogel Was a McConkie Mormon!

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Why “Pious Fraud” Ticks Off Everyone (Part 2 of 9)

In Joseph Smith’s History, it says his name will be known for good and evil, and that is certainly the case. Historian Dan Vogel believes Joseph was a pious fraud. What does that mean exactly? And how does it anger both critics of the Church, as well as supporters?

Dan:  I’m trying to find, as a non-believer now, the most charitable view of Joseph Smith a non-believer can have. So if you’re not going to believe Joseph Smith’s revelations, and that he had actual contact with God–this is the same question you have with any religious tradition. How do you view Joseph Smith and be a non-believer? Do you just think, “Oh, he’s just lying, and the whole thing’s a fraud, and he’s just a con man trying to get money?” [This is] what a lot of extreme critics of Joseph Smith say, “He’s trying to get power, money, sex.”

And I say, “I don’t believe that.” I believe that he used deception. If you don’t believe the Book of Mormon is actual history, but it could be inspired by Joseph Smith’s definition of what is inspired, then you have to believe that he used a little deception to sell that revelation that he had a revelation. It’s inspired, but he has to sell it to other people, to make it as hard for them to reject his revelation as possible, right?

Because he learned how to do that as a treasure digger, and he’s using this skill to build confidence to make people believe his revelations. So I see Joseph Smith as an inspired pseudepigraphist, like the Assumption of Moses, the Ascension of Isaiah, the Book of Enoch, these are pseudepigraphic works, written by anonymous people trying to smuggle new doctrines into the Christian tradition, by writing in the name of the dead Prophet. These are writings that are supposedly lost and rediscovered. So I believe Joseph was doing a similar thing with the Book of Mormon. He’s writing pseudepigrapha. But he believes he’s inspired. He knows there’s no Lehi and Nephi and all that stuff. But he believes that this is the method of teaching true doctrine. Like he said, “You can get closer to God through the Book of Mormon than any other book.” He really believes that, and he’s trying to correct false doctrine. He’s combating the deists, the non-believers in his day. He’s trying to shore up the Bible, which is being criticized by deists and skeptics of his day, because [of] problems that they see in the Bible or incompleteness and their sectarian strife over what the Bible says. He’s trying to calm that down. He’s trying to make people believe that otherwise may not believe. But he’s also trying to garner for himself power to found a new Jerusalem government.

Just a reminder.  I know that this is a controversial topic.  I am trying to approach this from an academic point of view, rather than embrace polemics.  Comments that are too critical of Joseph Smith, or bear testimony/quote scripture will not be approved.  Please keep the emotions in check as you comment, but I hope you will check out our conversation…. and don’t forget to check out our previous conversation!

Joseph Smith’s name is known for good and evil.