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Tongue-Speech in Book of Mormon (Part 4 of 8)

One of the things that attracted Pentecostal scholar Dr. Chris Thomas to the Book of Mormon were the many episodes of speaking in tongues. It should be noted that the publication of the Book of Mormon predates the modern Pentecostal movement by about 80 years! How did that get into the book?

Chris:  I was really interested in John Turner’s biography.  He talked about how Brigham Young often spoke in tongues, which a lot of people don’t know. I had given a talk to the religious education faculty yesterday [at BYU] and got a couple of questions on speaking in tongues and they said, “Well, what would you say to LDS folk about speaking in tongues,” and I said, “Read the freaking Book of Mormon.” That’s what I would say.

GT:  (Chuckling)

Chris:  I said, I know you’re embarrassed that Pentecostals speak in tongues, and we’re embarrassed that is in the Book of Mormon. So, okay, so there we are.

GT:  (Chuckling)  I love that, because that’s another big thing that you’ve noticed is speaking in tongues is really prevalent. In my first interview with Mark Staker, he believes that speaking in tongues started with a former slave, Black Pete, in 1830-1831. He was baptized in December of 1830 and it soon happened, thereafter. For those of you who didn’t follow that interview, why not, first of all? I know it was earlier. I know the sound is bad, but anyway, but the funny thing about it was Joseph Smith came to Kirtland, and he was like, “Yeah, I’m not too on board with this speaking in tongues thing.”  Then, some missionaries from Kirtland baptize this guy from Vermont. Some of you may have heard of him, Brigham Young. Brigham comes to Kirtland and starts speaking in tongues. He’s a white guy. “Oh, it’s okay now. A white guy’s doing it.” It’s interesting. The thing that blew me away in that interview was, Mark said, that was the first time he’s ever found any speaking in tongues, and it predates the Pentecostal movement by 70-80 years, something like that. I know that’s something that has really attracted your study. Can you tell us more about that?

Chris:  Well, yeah, it’s not uncommon to have people say, this group or that group, tongue speech was present. But, in the cases that I’ve tried to track down, the evidence is all pretty meager. Sometimes it just seems to be one off. Sometimes it seems to be pretty random. I have a Ph.D. student who wrote a book, or has published his thesis called “Toward a Pentecostal Theology of Glossolalia.” He has this extensive appendix that documents the occurrence of people speaking in tongues, from the New Testament forward. The LDS tradition makes it in that in that survey. What’s really interesting to me, is that not only do you have tongues mentioned so often in the Book of Mormon, and you look at Moroni, and the description of what a church service ought to be.  The Book of Mormon makes kind of a theological connection between baptism of fire and spirit on the one hand, and speaking in tongues. Now, as far as I know, and I’m not a church historian, nobody makes that connection like that before 1830. That will become a cardinal doctrine of Pentecostals, when the Pentecostal revival takes place between 1900 and 1906. So, I’m wondering, well, where does that come from? I mean, it’s one thing to say Smith may run hot and cold on tongues, but I mean it’s all over the Book of Mormon, which says something.

GT:  Well, I know Steve Pynakker, he attended a Bickertonite service in Florida. He said, “I felt right at home.”

Chris:  That’s right, and in what I’ve seen, there are a lot of commonalities with Pentecostal worship, which would probably make both groups nervous. Right? But I’d met with a guy, let me see if I can remember his name, back when I was writing the book. So, this would have been pre-2016. I think his name is Richard Lawson, who met with me from the Church of Jesus Christ. We talked about how often the gifts manifest in public worship. I said, “Well, for example, how often in a month, would I hear somebody speaking in tongues?”  He said, “Probably every other Sunday,” which is not insignificant. So, yeah, I mean, there’s a lot of interesting stuff about that. Of course, the Church of Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon is the only thing they accept out of the broader Smith corpus.

GT:  Right.

Chris:  Which makes me wonder if there’s some kind of continuum in that regard.  Is the more you buy in, are you less likely to have those kinds of charismatic manifestations in your worship?

GT:  That’s interesting, because I remember I talked with a guy named Randy Sheldon at the Temple Lot Church. They’re called the Church of Christ.

Chris:  Yes.

GT:  He told me that they do have speaking in tongues in their denomination, as well. He says it’s pretty rare. I think Daniel told me he thought it was pretty rare, too. But he [Randy] had seen it happen. Just coincidentally, they don’t accept the Doctrine and Covenants, either, but they do accept the Book of Commandments.

Why do you think speaking in tongues is no longer practiced in the LDS Church?  Check out our conversation….

While the LDS Church no longer speaks in tongues, other Restoration churches do.

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Chris!

580: Pentecostal View of Book of Mormon Theology

579: Is Book of Mormon a Pacifist Book?

578: Pentecostal Theologian Gives Book of Mormon the Bible Treatment

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Trials of Lee/Forgery

John D. Lee was convicted in the second trial for his role in the Mountain Meadows Massacre.  Will describes what he believes was a deal between prosecutors and the LDS Church.

Will:  Anyway, Sumner Howard, or a member of his team, his assistant goes before Judge Borman, and says, “Judge, I have eaten dirt, and I have rolled around in the dirt, but I’m going to get the job done.” Borman is, of course, a little puzzled by this. But the job at this time is to convict John D. Lee. Howard, in his letter following Lee’s execution, explains “I knew that the only way I would be able to get a conviction was to come to a deal with the Mormons.”  That’s exactly what happens. Essentially, the first thing Borman does is drop the indictment against William Dame. The Church/Brigham Young has put his own attorneys on the defense of William Dame. So, once Dame is essentially turned out of jail, the focus shifts to the next likely candidate who is John D. Lee.

Do you think there was a deal to convict John D. Lee?  We’ll also talk about a forgery connected to the Massacre and why Bagley included it in his book, Blood of the Prophets.

GT  1:42:58  All right, so I want to ask you one more question, and then we can move on to your other book The Whites Want Everything, if we can talk about that, if that’s okay. I was a little bit surprised. I’ve talked with George Throckmorton and Steve Mayfield. George is a big forensic expert. In the appendix to your book, “Blood of the Prophets,” you have included what people have referred to as the Dead Lee Scroll.

Will:  I invented that.

GT:  (Chuckling)  That’s right. I forgot about that. So, there was a plate of lead with like a confession from John D. Lee found in Lee’s Ferry, I believe. You can give us more information on that. George says it’s a forgery, and I was surprised that you had put it in the appendix to your book.  Why did you do that?

Will:  Because it was breaking news. It had just happened. They actually found that Dead Lee Scroll as the Olympics were coming up, also as “Blood of the Prophets” was about to be released. You couldn’t have planned any promo campaign for a book any better than that. At first I thought, “Well, this got to be a forgery.”  Then when I read the text I thought, “It matches up. It’s what Lee feels like.”  He is sick at that time, according to his journal. So I put it in the book. Now, Rick Turley and I went to Page, Arizona, and we went into a National Park Service museum, or maybe, it was either a park service or a BLM Museum.  Rick Turley and I go, along with all the Utah Westerners, we go into the museum at Page, Arizona, that has the Dead Lee Scroll. I’d never seen it. I think Rick had already seen it. But they pull it out, and on the spot, Rick and I have a debate over whether this is an authentic document, wherever it came from, or a forgery. Rick is really on. He’s convinced this is a forgery.

We’ve got some photos of Lee’s Ferry and the Dead Lee Scroll in the video, so be sure to check out our conversation on Youtube….

Will Bagley discusses the Trials of John D. Lee, and the Dead Lee Scroll.

Don’t miss our other conversations with Will!

449: MMM Cover Up (Bagley)

448: John D. Lee’s Role in Massacre

447: Bagley Critiques Turley

446: Buchanan & George Smith’s Role in MMM

445: Handcart Disasters & Mormon Reformation

444: Will Bagleyon Juanita Brooks


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Bagley Critiques Turley (Part 4 of 9)

Following Will Bagley’s 2002 release of Blood of the Prophets, Richard Turley published Massacre at Mountain Meadows in 2008, as well as some collected legal records in 2017. I asked historian Will Bagley his impression of Turley’s work, and was surprised by his reaction.

GT:  Should we get your opinion of that book [Massacre at Mountain Meadows]? I’m curious.

Will:  It’s just part of the cover up. It’s just part of the standard story. I went into Bill Slaughter’s office at Church archives. You can look at and you can see all of the old church archives. It was after Blood of the Prophets had come out, and they were saying that they were going to have their book out next year. But I said to Bill, “I think you can throw enough dirt in the air about whether Brigham Young ordered the massacre or not, but you can’t avoid the cover up”.

Will:  The cover up is too damn well-documented, in the most impeccable Mormon sources, as Juanita Brooks said. Bill looks off in the distance and he goes, “We got our story, and we’re sticking to it”, which is the best summary of what the Church’s Mountain Meadows books are going to be about. They got their story, which was cooked up for H. H. Bancroft in the 1870s, and they’re sticking to it. [laughs]

GT:  The story is Brigham Young wasn’t involved.

Will:  [The story is] he would have been horrified at the whole idea. Absolutely, and then he didn’t know about it for 20 years, and when he did know about it, he excommunicated people. No, no, no, simply not true.

But, the thing about the massacre at Mountain Meadows is, when does [Turley’s book] stop? The day after the massacre. It has a coda in which they convict John D. Lee and put all the blame on him. But it’s an act of historical deception, to not address the entire story.

GT:  Well, that’s what part two is supposed to be coming out, which hopefully is next year?

Check out our conversation….

I asked Will Bagley to critique Richard Turley’s books on Mountain Meadows Massacre.

Don’t miss our other conversations with Will!

446: Buchanan & George Smith’s Role in MMM (Bagley)

445: Handcart Disasters & Mormon Reformation (Bagley)

444: Will Bagleyon Juanita Brooks

Here is our earlier conversation with Richard Turley!

269: What Did Brigham Know, & When Did He Know It? (Turley)

268: Federal Investigation into MMM (Turley)

267: Was John D. Lee Most Guilty? (Turley)

266: Richard Turley on Saints… & Sinners (Turley)