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“The Other Mormons” – Intro to James Strang (Part 1 of 6)

Bill Shepard is an amazing Mormon historian, and a former president of the John Whitmer Historical Association.  He is also a Strangite.  In our first conversation with Bill, we will get acquainted with him, and learn more about these other Mormons, & James Strang, a prophet many of you may not have heard of.

GT  0:46  Welcome to Gospel Tangents. I’m excited to have an amazing historian and I’m going to start this a little bit differently. But, first of all, could you tell us who you are?

Bill  0:55  Bill Shepard, I’m a life-long Strangite. Maybe more importantly, I’m a historian.

GT  1:03  Yes. You were the president of the John Whitmer Historical Association.

Bill  1:07  In 2008, yes. We had John Whitmer [Conference] at Voree, Wisconsin or Burlington, Wisconsin. We had a nice turnout of people, including Mike Quinn and Roger Launius.

GT  1:19  So, you’ve been doing this for a long time. You’ve got a really awesome book. Do you want to show the camera? Your book was published in 1977![1]

Bill  1:30  This was basically intended to get out the positive things about James J. Strang and his teachings. It basically [tells] why the other Mormons sects are not correct. So if I would redo it, I would redo it a lot more professionally at this point in time. But it does have the positive things showing James J. Strang’s teachings. I think they’re quite significant.

GT  2:08  Well, let’s do a few things here. I don’t normally do this but tell me the name of your church because I think a lot of my listeners will be very surprised to hear the name of your church.

Bill  2:20  It’s actually the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite). We had to put the appendage on. We couldn’t use the term Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for obvious reasons.

GT  2:37  In fact, I think the only difference between your church name and my church name is I have a lowercase d, and you’ve got a capital D with no hyphen.

Bill  2:46  Right.

GT  2:47  We have a hyphen, lowercase. So that’s pretty funny. So would you call yourself a Mormon?

Bill  2:53  Oh, very definitely. We are asked many times, just like the LDS Church or Utah Mormons are asked, “Are you Christians?” [We have the] same problem, same identification, same basic goals. Strangites accept Joseph Smith certainly. They break, of course, with the transition to the Twelve Apostles into Brigham Young. So there was a critical period there when Joseph Smith died in that the Brighamite church did not have a prophet. Now the Strangites claimed that an angel had appeared to [James J. Strang] at the time that Joseph Smith was martyred and ordained him to be a prophet. It’s interesting to think that in this early period, the Strangites had a song by John Hardy. It wasn’t theirs, but it was “A Church Without a Prophet is not a church for me.”

GT  4:10  Oh, wow.

Bill  4:12  Of course, at that point in time until the 27th of December, 1847 the Brighamite church reorganized with Brigham Young as a prophet as their head.

[1] The book is called “James J. Strang:  Teachings of a Mormon Prophet.”  It is out of print and can be hard to find at a reasonable price.

We will learn more about Strangite beliefs.  Check out our conversation…

Historian Bill Shepard is former president of John Whitmer Historical Association and a Strangite.

Dont Miss our other conversations about Strangites with John Hamer, Michael Quinn, and Steve Shields!

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

188: Translation by Joseph Smith & James Strang (Quinn)

118:  Mormon Followers of the Prophet James Strang (MacKay & Hamer)

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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

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Scriptures of Christ’s Church (Part 2 of 8)

Christ’s Church was organized in 1978.  In our next conversation with Apostle David Patrick and Seventy Benjamin Shaffer, we will learn more about their basic beliefs and find out that they have an even larger canon of scripture than the mainstream LDS Church.

GT:  So you guys believe in the Book of Mormon. It sounds like you believe in the Doctrine and Covenants.

Benjamin:  Yeah. So when it comes to the canon of Scripture, we actually have a very expansive body of Scripture that we draw from. While it’s true that we don’t actually publish our own editions, that’s a lot of work.

GT:  And a lot of money.

Benjamin:  And a lot of money. We generally, of course, use the ones printed by the LDS Church. But then on top of that, we use a lot of other materials. We’ve used the Book of Jasher, for example, or the otherMidrash. I’ve put together a little booklet for people to insert in their scriptures called the Addendum to the Doctrine & Covenants, which has eight of the uncanonized revelations, or that weren’t canonized, I guess in the mainstream LDS church, but that we also accept and use and then there’s a whole other body…

GT:  John Taylor’s revelation, is that’s one of them.?

Benjamin:  That’s one of them, John Taylor’s 1886 revelation is, of course, one of the ones that I guess was controversial for the mainstreamers, but we accept that as a revelation. It’s well established historically, at the very least.

For those of you interested in these 8 revelations, they are posted at the Church of Christ website.  We’ll also talk about claims of priesthood authority for their church.  Check out our conversation….

Christ’s Church has a larger canon of scripture than the mainstream LDS Church.

Don’t miss our previous conversation with David & Benjamin!

381: Intro to Christ’s Church