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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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*Why Remnant is Attractive (Part 7 of 7)

There are many people who are attracted to the Remnant Movement.  I asked Denver why that was, and if people practiced speaking in tongues like in the early days of the Church.

Denver:  Yes, the answer is yes. But the way in which its manifest itself is not something that we’ve done a lot to publicize, advertise or speak about. Signs generally attract the wrong sort of folk. So while there are abundant things that have and do take place, they’re not spoken openly too much because the wrong kind of people get attracted to that sort of stuff and we’re interested more in substantive, reflective, serious-minded people who are genuinely interested in trying to find and do the will of God.

Check out our conversation, but this episode is for newsletter subscribers only.  Subscribe to our free newsletter at and I will send you a secret link to hear the conclusion!

Denver tells why people find the Remnant Movement attractive.

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Denver!

442: Remnant Movement is not a Church!

441: Ascension of Brigham Young

440: Why Denver Changed on Joseph’s Polygamy

439: Denver’s Outreach to Hebrews/Native Americans

438: Is Trinity in Lectures on Faith/Book of Mormon?

437: New Scriptures in Remnant Movement


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Writing History Without Getting in Trouble (Part 9)

Dr. Daniel Stone is the first person to write about William Bickerton, the first prophet of the Bickertonite Church.  Some LDS Scholars got in trouble for writing true, but unflattering history.  I’ll ask Dr. Daniel Stone how he navigated those tricky waters in his church.

Daniel:  I wrote a proposal to the church and to the church historian and to the Twelve asking that I can write an objective history and I specifically said that. I was approved to do that under the umbrella of the church because I don’t think most of the people in the church actually knew….

I was able to get access to all these documents, which I think as far as I know no one has ever done before. So, it was really fun. I wrote the first five chapters of the book. I gave it to the church historian and the Twelve. They never gave me a clear answer as to yes or no. I will say I can kind of understand because as apostles or as leaders of the church, you as leadership of the church, none of them are historians, right? I am. The object of all has apostles in any one person of the Mormon movement is to promote faith, right? And history can sometimes be like that, so there might be some things. The big issue is the Cadman-Bickerton feud. They flat out said, I actually heard from a couple of them saying that’s the big issue that they were afraid of is the Cadman-Bickerton feud.

But what ended up happening was, is I just asked the general historian, I said, “Can I go independent with this?” He said yes.

GT: Because originally you were going to have it published by the church.

Daniel: Potentially. Yes. That was, that was what I had understood the agreement to be. And what ended up happening was there was some kind of miscommunication. I had a talk with some of the apostles and we basically came to the idea of this is a miscommunication. We never had you sign anything. So it’s not like we can say don’t publish it. And the Bickertonites to their credit are very democratic in a lot of senses. Even though some of the leadership does not support, I’m assuming, what I’m doing, my membership was never in danger. They might not necessarily agree with some of what I’m saying. And they flat out said, some of them had said, “We don’t agree with some of your interpretations. We think you’re speculative.”

My argument nicely is, “You have never read the documentation. I have.” I’m not trying to be like, oh look at me, I know, but I’m just like, no, read the documents for yourself because nobody has ever really done this. And then we can have a discussion, but just to flat out say it’s speculative. I’m like, well all history has that. My argument is, I have all footnotes. People can look at it, people can check my sources. No book is perfect, but I tried really hard.

It really is a great book and I encourage you to buy it!  Check out the rest of our conversation, as well as our previous conversations with Daniel!

I asked Dr. Daniel Stone if he had any trouble with Church leaders in writing his Bickerton biography.
I asked Dr. Daniel Stone if he had any trouble with Church leaders in writing his Bickerton biography.

203: Reuniting the Bickerton Break (Stone)

202: Ousting a Prophet (Stone)

201: False Prophecies Are Possible! (Stone)

200: Civil War Prophecy Leads to Black Ordination (Stone)

199: Biblical Support to Ordain Women (Stone)

198: Bickerton Becomes Prophet (Stone)

197: Sidney’s Church Falls Apart (Stone)

196: Rigdon/Spalding Manuscript Theory (Stone)