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Theo-Democracy in Deseret (Part 6 of 8)

Following Joseph Smith’s death, Brigham Young tried to implement theo-democracy in the Territory of Deseret, which is now known as Utah.  In our next conversation with Dr. Derek Sainsbury, we’ll talk about how successful Brigham Young was in implementing Joseph’s view of government.

Derek:  When the Civil War breaks out, they see that as a natural–Section 87, the revelation about the Civil War, a civil war starting. They see that as fulfillment of that [revelation] obviously, but also of the rejection of political salvation that Joseph Smith offered them in in 1844. While we don’t join the Confederacy, we don’t really join the Union, we kind of sit on the sidelines, hoping, for some, not all, but hoping for some that it all falls apart. In fact, the Council of Fifty that Brigham Young–Brigham Young continues this Council of Fifty, this Governing Council, political Council, he continues that they kind of lead the theo-democracy in the Deseret era.

Then after theo-democracy is established, they [Council of Fifty] kind of go away. They stopped meeting because they have the structure set up. It’s inherent now in the actual system they have.  But during the Civil War, he brings it back.  He brings the council back and they create their own legislature, which is the exact same people. After every single legislature session during the Civil War, they do a second one with the legislature of Deseret, and they do the exact same thing. It’s like a shadow government, if you will. In the public speeches that Brigham Young and other leaders of the church give, they start to talk again. They start to bring back and talk more about this idea of the Kingdom of God, which meant a lot different than it means now.  It meant the political Kingdom of God is coming back and they saw in the fulfillment of the Civil War that this might happen, and we need to be ready to govern ourselves when the country collapses, and then spread that government. You hear during the Civil War, in a lot of the discourses that are given by the leaders of the church, that idea.  They even start to talk about, “Hey, this government is here. It’s been here. It’s just waiting for the right time.”  Then, of course, the Civil War doesn’t lead to the collapse of United States, and we have to go back to trying to get along with the United States.

Derek:  When reconstruction is done, then the Republicans turn to us, the other twin relic of barbarism, polygamy.  That’s when the real difficult relationship with the federal government begins through the 1870s and the 1880s, leading up to the Manifesto and the creation of the State of Utah and all that other stuff, which really is all trying to destroy the theo-democracy.  Plural marriage is great for them to attack. Polygamy is great for them to attack because it’s sensational, it’s great.  But what the really trying to do, because it’s seen as un-American, is break up the relationship between church and state.

GT:  Yeah, because when the bishop is also the judge, the federal government has to pull in “Gentile” judges. Because they’re trying to break this theo-democracy.

Derek :  Yeah, and it takes them a long time. Because one, they planted theo-democracy really well, and they’d given all kinds of powers when they created them to the probate judges and to others where they could basically put them in their own courts, if people were accused. So, it took a lot of different amendments and legislation from the US Congress to finally kind of break down all of the theo-democracy.

Check out our conversation….

Brigham Young was much more effective at establishing theo-democracy in Deseret than Joseph Smith.

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Dr. Sainsbury.

422:  Anti-Slavery Missionaries in the South

421: Bobby Kennedy-Joseph Smith

420:  Electioneer Missionaries

419:  Mormons: The Original Swing Voters!

418:  Views of General Joseph Smith

 

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Documentary Hypotheses & Adam-God (Part 4 of 8)

The Adam-God doctrine identifies Elohim and Jehovah as separate beings.  However, the Documentary Hypothesis states that these two names were used interchangeably for the same god in the Old Testament.  I asked 2 members of Christ’s Church how they dealt with that issue with regards to the Documentary Hypothesis.  Apostle David Patrick and Seventy Benjamin Shaffer share how they deal with this issue.

GT:  As I understand the Documentary Hypothesis, the idea is the first five books of Moses were written by four different authors.

Benjamin: Right.

GT:  The J author refers to God as Yahweh; E [author refers to] Elohim because this is the point that I want to make here. I might be getting this backwards. In the Northern Kingdom, they referred to God as Elohim and then in the Southern Kingdom they referred to God as Jehovah.[1] And then the editors according to the Documentary Hypothesis combined them all. Really Jehovah and Elohim are really two names for the same for the one and only God. And if you go to the Hebrew, they basically alternate behind between Jehovah and Elohim as the same person. And so Mormons are heretical, because we say that Jehovah and Elohim are two different people but historically, especially in the in the five books of Moses (I hope I’m getting this right) the Southern Kingdom referred to Jehovah, the Northern Kingdom referred to Elohim but they’re really the same person. So how would you respond to that issue?

Benjamin: Textual criticism is a big rabbit hole to go down, a big gospel tangent.

GT:  Sure.

Benjamin:  And it is complicated, but I do have a couple things that I could say to that. First of all, we do believe in this unity of godliness. Jehovah is in Elohim as in El, right? These are different titles as David [Patrick] is explaining. Right? You can use those titles. Sometimes you can use those titles somewhat interchangeably. This is actually another evidence for the Adam-God Doctrine. If Michael is a title of God with God right in the name right there then you could call any of them by any of those titles without being incorrect.[2]

[1] I got it backwards.  Southern Kingdom called God “Elohim” while Northern Kingdom called God “Jehovah” according to Documentary Hypothesis.

[2] It should be noted that El means “god” in Hebrew.  Therefore the name Michael could be written as Micha-El, which includes El (God) as part of Michael’s name.

Benjamin talks further about how the Documentary Hypothesis might support the idea that Laban was helping put together the Torah under King Josiah.  What do you think of his explanation?  We’ll also talk about how Christ’s Church deals with evangelicals who like to ambush Mormons at places like the Manti Pageant over the Adam-God doctrine.  Check out our conversation….

Mormons believe Elohim & Jehovah are 2 different beings, while the Documentary Hypothesis says Elohim & Jehovah are 2 names for the same god.
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Intro to Adam-God Doctrine (Part 3 of 8)

The Adam-God Doctrine is probably my most requested topic here at Gospel Tangents.  I admit I am not an expert on this topic, so I sat down with 2 members of Christ’s Church to learn more about this early Mormon doctrine.  David Patrick is an apostle and Benjamin Shaffer is a Seventy.  Think of this as your Adam-God 101 episode.

GT:  I believe that it was Bruce R. McConkie that called Adam-God doctrine, “a heresy.” And I also believe that even back to Orson Pratt [it was disputed.] Orson and Brigham had a big dispute over [Adam-God doctrine], and Brigham supported it and Orson did not. I do want to preface that before because I want to I want to make sure people understand that.

David:  Joseph Smith introduces this idea, wow! We can become gods. And so that means there’s a plurality of gods. But we only have one God that we have to deal with on this earth.

GT:  So the question from a Christian point of view is now your polytheistic. Right?

David:  Right.

Benjamin:  More or less. I’m not gonna shy away too much from that idea. I mean, okay, maybe we’re a little bit polytheistic. But we view our monotheism, I guess, as looking at the oneness of God, the unity of God.

GT:  And so the Adam-God doctrine is basically this. Adam was once a man just like us. He made his calling and election sure. He gained his exaltation. And then he became a god. And now it was time to people on earth. So he had spiritual children in his spirit world. And now it was time to people the earth but none of his spirit children had bodies. So he and his wife or wives came down to the earth to people it. Now he had to answer to his God. And his God was his connection in the priesthood. And he told him, “Of the garden, thou may eat of all these fruits but not of this tree.” And so there were still rules of the universe to follow. And once those rules were transgressed, then change would occur. And this is what Brigham Young had placed in the temple ordinance so people could understand the mysteries of godliness; how Adam came to be; how the children came to be. Because he said basically, once they partook of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, then their bodies were changed. It became more temporal. And they were now able to have children. And then those children are now the human race. It’s kind of that simple. But there’s much more to it than that.

GT:  So let me make sure I’m understanding that. This is my rudimentary understanding of the Adam-God doctrine. What we’re saying is the Adam is God. Is that a correct statement?

Benjamin:  Yes. But I think that doctrinally, why this is important is a fairly foundational idea. Are we the children of God? And this lecture at the veil for example, was this explanatory portion of the endowment. So that people would understand the meaning of the ceremony itself.

Now I admit there is a lot of doctrine people would find agreement in what was said, but there is also a disagreement as to whether Adam is God.  What are your thoughts about this topic?

Of course, we’ve only scratched the surface, and I’ve left a lot of our conversation out, so be sure to check out our conversation!

David Patrick & Benjamin Shaffer of Christ’s Church discuss their beliefs about the Adam-God Doctrine, which is definitely very different that the Trinity.

Don’t miss our previous conversations with David and Benjamin to learn more about their church, which is called Christ’s Church.

382: Scriptures of Christ’s Church

381: Intro to Christ’s Church