In our next conversation with Dr. Daniel Stone, we will discuss the similarities and differences between Bickertonite and Brighamite priesthood. I was surprised to learn that they have been ordaining women since the 1860s!
Daniel: This is because of Joseph Smith Civil War prophecy, he’s really seeing it. This is the approaching of the end times. Jesus Christ is coming back. This is the beginning of the apocalypse and eventually according to Joseph Smith’s Civil War prophecy, it’s going to encompass the whole earth, right? So, he has to ordain a Quorum of Twelve to kind of institute that fervent missionary effort to kind of bring people in because of the approaching calamities. And in 1863, a year after, they ordain a deaconess.
And what’s interesting is because you kind of see as they’re ordaining deaconesses, they’re also saying, well we need to have midwives in the church too. That’s really important. So, you’re starting to see a real emphasis on women ministering to the church because they really believe the end times are coming. It’s going to get more and more serious and worse. So, midwives back then were much more trusted than doctors. So, they’re kind of thinking pragmatically, okay, well if we’re in destruction and there’s no help for anything, we want to have midwives to help care for the wounded or people that are sick or people who are giving birth. Obviously, they were very trusted. So, they’re trying to ordain deaconesses as a holy office, but calling or wanting to have midwives in the church to train them for the hopes of helping to minister to the church as well.
It turns out they ordain women because of a biblical precedent!
William Bickerton is very much a Christian primitivist or a Christian restorationist like Joseph Smith. He’s trying to look at the scriptures literally. So, they get the idea from deaconess because of Phoebe and some of the others that are mentioned, you know, where they use that Greek word Diakonia I believe it is, where basically means deaconess. So, they are a member of the ministry. So, they’re looking at the scriptures and they’re really scrutinizing, and they see prophetesses in the scriptures. You know, even in the New Testament there were prophetesses. So, he’s looking at this thing. Women can have this power of the Holy Ghost to move. And if they see that women were, you know, even though brief, brief mentions of it in the New Testament
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