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Evidence Brigham Young Was A Prophet


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While he used it as a rhetorical allusion to impress upon the minds of his listeners the seriousness of certain sins, it is not clear that Brigham "taught," as such, or advocated the practice of blood atonement.

And yet until recently Utah still used/uses firing squads, I had believed primarily because of the doctrine of blood atonement?

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/19/us/19death.html?_r=0

 

http://www.sltrib.com/faith/ci_15126927

Edited by mfbukowski
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I recommend that you dig some more into what Spencer meant by that.  What Brigham taught regarding Adam and God was true.  What some people thought he was teaching (but wasn't teaching) regarding Adam and God is their own theory about what he was teaching and their theory about what Brigham was teaching (but wasn't teaching) is what Spencer was condemning as false doctrine, because it is false, and is not what Brigham was teaching.

 

As with anything else, the best way to know what is true is through revelation from God.

 

The theory that he was denouncing was the teaching that Adam is the father of our spirits.  Do you believe that?

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I am more convinced that a great many saying everyone is taking BY out of context have not read any substantial scholarly biographies of him, or spent time reading his actual full sermons, papers, etc. They really, really want those statements to be out of context.

Arrington and Turner bios are, together, a great and reliable combo for placing him and his teachings in context. Context doesn't always make things more agreeable, but it does make them more understandable.

I don't agree with a lot of BY's assertions, but I won't judge him. He definitely kept the Church alive and thriving in nearly impossible circumstances. I believe that was his key mission and priority in life. And he did it.

Edited by David T
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I am more and more becoming convinced that Brigham Young is being maligned by those who disagree with their own misinterpretations of what Brigham said when they really haven't got a clue.

 

Are you accusing the church of maligning Brigham Young for disagreeing with what he has said?  Because I am not disagreeing with anything that the church has not already disavowed.

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I am getting the impression more and more that many things Brigham Young said or did have had to be repudiated by the Church, and more recent prophets have disavowed some of his teachings such as the Adam-God doctrine and his views on race. I also get the impression that he was a prime mover of the priesthood ban. It seems like Brother Brigham is more of a liability and an embarrassment then a prophet sometimes, at least the way he is brought up in conversation. I don't say that to be rude, just that I no longer know what to make of a man who I really looked up to when I was a boy (settled the Salt Lake valley, led the saints etc.) Now it feels like I don't know if he was a prophet or not. I was wondering what evidence we have that he had prophetic ability (I know of the mantle of JS, and seeing the Salt Lake valley in vision) so i would like some more info on this.

 

He is a fantastic prophet.  While it is true that the Journal of Discourses, from which many in and outside the Church like to judge him on, is not considered a doctrinal work of the Church, many of his statements are officially published.  We have an entire official manual dedicated to his teachings.

 

In addition, in the recent statement on Race and the Priesthood, did the Church ever say that BY was racist or bigoted?  No.  Did they ever specifically identify anything he said that was racist or bigoted?  No.  The fact of the matter is that BY referenced 2 Nephi 26:33 on at least several occasion and that is clear evidence that he believed them.  Sure, I can see why some think he was a racist, but the fact of the matter is that BY as a racist is presentism.

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On the one hand I do agree that there was alot going on, but on the other hand it seems like he made some pretty big goofs with the Adam God doctrine and his race statements/priesthood ban. It seems like we have to whitewash Brother Brigham more then anybody else in church history. Because of this, I have had doubts about him as of late. It's almost like SWK had to almost do a 180 on many things Brigham said.

 

Did we whitewash Peter? Saul? How about all the OT prophets? There is no need to whitewash anyone for being human; what is absolutely necessary is to study the work of the whole man rather than focus on those areas of weakness. I wonder how the Savior will judge each of us? 

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I would highly recommend Arrington's Brigham Young:  American Moses to gain a deeper insight into the man.

 

One place to get it...

 

http://bookstore.fairlds.org/product.php?id_product=1377

nice redirect to the bookstore... me likes your approach

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Joseph was like Moses. A seer, visionary, and lawgiver. Brigham is like Joshua, more of a practical leader, not to much on revealing doctrine but huge on loyalty and obedience. They were needed for different things I think.

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nice redirect to the bookstore... me likes your approach

It is a good little bookstore with great selection for its size, more people need to be aware of it just to learn about books that are out there even if they don't buy them from FairMormon.
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This is an interesting thread - The fact is, Brigham Young did teach officially that Adam was our Heavenly Father, the father of our spirits and bodies.  The second fact is that Spencer W. Kimball denounced this officially as false doctrine and heresy.

People can wiggle and reinterpret and debate these two facts all they want but they stand.

 

The final fact is they were both equally God's prophet and they disagreed on this doctrine.  Now personally I don't see why I have to believe BY was wrong and SWK was right.  I don't see why I have to assume BY was right and SKW was wrong.  It should be up to me to study and determine which I believe is correct and I should have agency within my religion and within the church to believe either way.

 

And I don't like it when people are dismissive of either prophets teaching as "speculation" or "just their opinion".  They were prophets and we should weight both their teachings with appropriate importance.

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This is an interesting thread - The fact is, Brigham Young did teach officially that Adam was our Heavenly Father, the father of our spirits and bodies.  The second fact is that Spencer W. Kimball denounced this officially as false doctrine and heresy.

People can wiggle and reinterpret and debate these two facts all they want but they stand.

 

The final fact is they were both equally God's prophet and they disagreed on this doctrine.  Now personally I don't see why I have to believe BY was wrong and SWK was right.  I don't see why I have to assume BY was right and SKW was wrong.  It should be up to me to study and determine which I believe is correct and I should have agency within my religion and within the church to believe either way.

 

And I don't like it when people are dismissive of either prophets teaching as "speculation" or "just their opinion".  They were prophets and we should weight both their teachings with appropriate importance.

 

And what are we supposed to do when we read Brigham Young clearly teaching the Adam and Heavenly Father? Are we supposed to accept that Brigham taught this Adam-God theory even with the context that he also taught the exact opposite? Or do we conclude that perhaps Brigham didn't actually teach the Adam-God theory and that people misinterpret the one text we have suggesting this by completely ignoring the body of his teachings about both Adam and God?

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BY was the prophet for the longest time, during a very transitional and difficult period where even the survival of the Church was in doubt.  He also did not grow up in the faith but carried over, imo, many cultural and doctrinal ideas from his previous beliefs.  Unless one would believe that for some reason God would school him on every detail of his beliefs, I don't see how one can avoid taking into account what he was before he was a prophet as well as what he did as a prophet and then compare the growth of the man and what he accomplished in his life compared to most everyone else born into the same circumstances he had been.

 

I think Cal has made an excellent point, and it basically is what the church is saying in it's article on the Priesthood.

 

Brigham Young was one of the most loyal followers of Joseph. During the Kirtland upheaval Brigham Young vocally supported the prophet while others were finding fault. Brigham Young was close to Joseph toward the end and it was with Brigham that Joseph shared his plans to go west. Brigham Young was being groomed to take over the duties of the Prophet, much as Elisha was groomed by Elijah.

 

What is most disturbing to me in this day isn't that BY is being faulted but that there are some fundies out there who basically worship every word he spoke and use his teachings, particularly the more controversial ones, to condemn modern prophets and apostles as being false because they don't use the same type of strong language or they supposedly contradict him. Brigham Young must be rolling in his grave to hear his words used to condemn the modern leaders and lead people out of the church. 

Edited by Deborah
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And what are we supposed to do when we read Brigham Young clearly teaching the Adam and Heavenly Father? Are we supposed to accept that Brigham taught this Adam-God theory even with the context that he also taught the exact opposite? Or do we conclude that perhaps Brigham didn't actually teach the Adam-God theory and that people misinterpret the one text we have suggesting this by completely ignoring the body of his teachings about both Adam and God?

If you think there is only one single out of context passage expressing this view, you're not very familiar with the actual topic under discussion, or BY's history.

Check out this paper from FAIR as a primer -http://www.fairmormon.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/2009_Brigham_Youngs_Teachings_On_Adam.pdf

Edited by David T
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And what are we supposed to do when we read Brigham Young clearly teaching the Adam and Heavenly Father? Are we supposed to accept that Brigham taught this Adam-God theory even with the context that he also taught the exact opposite? Or do we conclude that perhaps Brigham didn't actually teach the Adam-God theory and that people misinterpret the one text we have suggesting this by completely ignoring the body of his teachings about both Adam and God?

 

And by one you mean well over 15 discourses teaching Adam God + the addition of it to the Endowment ceremony.

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I am getting the impression more and more that many things Brigham Young said or did have had to be repudiated by the Church, and more recent prophets have disavowed some of his teachings such as the Adam-God doctrine and his views on race. I also get the impression that he was a prime mover of the priesthood ban. It seems like Brother Brigham is more of a liability and an embarrassment then a prophet sometimes, at least the way he is brought up in conversation. I don't say that to be rude, just that I no longer know what to make of a man who I really looked up to when I was a boy (settled the Salt Lake valley, led the saints etc.) Now it feels like I don't know if he was a prophet or not. I was wondering what evidence we have that he had prophetic ability (I know of the mantle of JS, and seeing the Salt Lake valley in vision) so i would like some more info on this.

One more thing; after the death of Joseph, were it not for Brigham the Church would have splintered in so many directions it would be footnote in history. There is not a single Prophet from the beginning of time who did not make mistakes.
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And what are we supposed to do when we read Brigham Young clearly teaching the Adam and Heavenly Father? Are we supposed to accept that Brigham taught this Adam-God theory even with the context that he also taught the exact opposite? Or do we conclude that perhaps Brigham didn't actually teach the Adam-God theory and that people misinterpret the one text we have suggesting this by completely ignoring the body of his teachings about both Adam and God?

 

You obviously haven't done enough research into BY's Adam-God teachings. He never contradicted himself and there are hundreds of explicit Adam-God teachings by Brigham and other Anointed Prophets. Get over it, it was taught and it's been abandoned. Too bad.

 

But for the topic at hand... There is a lot of evidence he was and is a prophet of God.

 

I could give you revelation as fast as a man could run, I am in the midst of revelation. Do you want more revelation written? Wait till you obey what is already written. (EBY 35; Millennial Star 12 [15 September 1850]: 273-76)
 
I was anxious to learn from Joseph and the spirit of God. The spirit of revelation that was given to me has revealed to me many things which have been done. (EBY 235; Deseret News, 6/6/1877)
 
Some have had fears that we had not power to get revelations since the death of Joseph. But I want this subject from this time forth to be forever set at rest. I want this Church to understand from this day henceforth and forever that an apostle is the highest office of authority that there is in the Church and kingdom of God on the earth. From whom did Joseph receive his authority? Just such men as sit around me here (pointing to the Twelve Apostles that sat with him). Peter, James and John were apostles and there was no noise about their being seers and revelators though those gifts were among them. Joseph Smith gave unto me and to my brethren, the Twelve, all the priesthood keys, powers, and authority which he had and those are powers which belong to the apostleship. ... Could we ordain men to authority greater than we hold ourselves? No. (BY, WWJ, 8/14/1847)
 
The power of God was upon President Young who is made by the power of God a great, good and glorious man and a father indeed to the Church and Kingdom of God. (WWJ 8/21-23/1851)
 
The people want revelation. This is revelation. If you wanted revelation written, I could write revelations every day about building a temple, digging gold, going to England. I profess to be an Apostle. Every Apostle will have to be a revelator and have revelations if there are thousands, but then if they do their duty and live up to their calling, if not they will have to be removed. But a man that is not an Apostle has not power to stand at the head of the Kingdom of God, hold the keys of the Priesthood and build up and lead the Church of God. The highest authority on the earth is an Apostle. (BY, WWJ, 4/7/1852)
 
Every man in this room who has a particle of the spirit of God, knows that President Young is a Prophet of God and that God sustains him and he has the Holy Spirit and his doctrines are true, and that he is qualified to lead the people, and he has explained everything so plainly this evening that a child can understand it, and yet it is no evidence to you. Nothing can make an impression upon you; no argument can reach your understanding. (WW to OP, WWJ, 1/27/1860)
 
I got a revelation that God accepted our offering [at Zion's Camp]. I had the same thing revealed to me twice and that we should not go into Jackson County. ... I will now tell you all and you may write it down that all my preaching by the Holy Ghost is revelation. I told Brother Joseph that he had given us revelation enough to last us 20 years. When that time is out, I can give as good revelation as there is in the Doctrine and Covenants. (BY, WWJ, 1/27/1860)
 
January 31, 1861: You know when you have a vision, you can see as well all over your body as out of your eyes. When Joseph had a revelation, he had the eyes of the Lord. He saw as the Lord sees. How did I know what was going on in Washington? I have known what was going on there all the time, and I know what is going on in other people's houses. I know it by the spirit of God; it is revealed to me. (BY, WWJ)
 
June 1, 1873: At prayer circle, President said: I have asked the Lord what kind of a temple we should build and the answer of the Lord was that He did not make two things alike, and we need not make two temples alike, so we need not look for two temples alike. (WWJ)
 
After the death of Joseph Smith, when it seemed as if every trouble and calamity had come upon the Saints, Brigham Young, who was President of the Twelve, then the presiding Quorum of the Church, sought the Lord to know what they should do, and where they should lead the people for safety; and while they were fasting and praying daily on this subject, President Young had a vision of Joseph Smith, who showed him the mountain that we now call Ensign Peak, immediately north of Salt Lake City, and there was an ensign fell upon that peak, and Joseph said, "Build under the point where the colors fall and you will prosper and have peace." The Pioneers had no pilot or guide; none among them had ever been in the country or knew anything about it. However, they traveled under the direction of President Young until they reached this valley. (George A. Smith, JD 13:85)
 
Pres. B. Young said that the saying of the Prophets would never be verified unless the House of the Lord be reared in the Tops of the Mountains & the Proud Banner of Liberty wave over the valleys that are within the Mountains & I [b.Y.] know where the spot is & I know how to make this Flag. Jos[eph] sent the colours and said where the colours settled there would be the spot. (recorded in John D. Lee Diary, Jan. 13, 1846)
 
Brs H C Kimball and N.K. Whitney was at my house we washed an anointed and Praid had a good time. I inquaired of the Lord whether we should stay and finish the templ. the ansure was we should. (BY diary, BY House, 1/24/1845)
 
In my doctrinal teachings I have taught many things not written in any book, ancient or modern, and yet, notwithstanding the many things I have told the people. I have never looked into the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or the Doctrine and Covenants, or any of our church works to see whether they agreed with them or not. When I have spoken by the power of God and the Holy Ghost, it is truth, it is scripture, and I have no fears but that it will agree with all that has been revealed in every particular. (EBY 235; Deseret News, 6/6/1877)
 
August 27, 1860: A certain revelation was read to President Young, given to him May 28, 1847, on Platt River in the pioneer camp. He said, record it and lay it away, but not to publish it. I felt then as I do now, when I felt to accuse any of the brethren of anything which they do not acknowledge, I feel that I had rather be mistaken in my judgment than to have them guilty of evil. (WWJ)

 

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You obviously haven't done enough research into BY's Adam-God teachings. He never contradicted himself

Well, he did contradict himself, but no more than JS did as he worked out the implications of the developing expansive web pf theological ideas. The Brown article from FAIR I linked to earlier does a good general job of laying out the progression of thought as it was chronologically presented in his teachings of record.

 

Joseph and Brigham often presented their in-progress thoughts to audiences, before they're 'fully cooked'. We are able to see a consistency in the direction of the baking progress across their lives - if we're willing to take the effort to read the sources, and let them speak for themselves.

Edited by David T
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I want to thank everyone for their responses. I feel though that the more I read about stuff like the Adam God theory, the more discouraged I feel. It just seems so out of whack to me that Brigham Young would say something that had to be totally reversed by SWK. I am an active LDS person, and I know that prophets are not infallible, but it seems like things like Adam God are so far out there that sometimes I don't know if I can know which prophets to trust.

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I view the lives and teachings of modern prophets the same way I view the scriptural record - as all participants in the Great Drama that we are to use as catalysts for having personal encounters with God. I truly feel asking such questions are things God wants us to do. He wants us to, when reading the scriptures or hearing a prophet speak, not first think, "Why did God have those words there?", but "Why did the writer/speaker believe God wanted those words there?" - I truly believe that the process of learning about receiving personal revelation is one of the most important things God wants us to learn. As I wrote here, I think I've learned a lot about God by contemplating and studying the life of Brigham Young as a whole - not simply in taking the sum total of the text of all of his sermons or affirmations. I feel the same way about President Kimball, and Thomas Monson. 

 

Sometimes I think, "What can I learn from God having called X as his prophet" is a more beneficial and broader (and more meaningful) question to me  than "What can I learn from what this prophet is saying" - even though the former questions necessarily includes grasping with the latter.

Edited by David T
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Are you still going to dismiss his teachings as rhetorical allusions?

 

I think I just did that very thing. I'll probably go on doing it.

 

My point was that it was taught as doctrine and not as "rhetorical allusions."  I cut off the rest because it doesn't alter that fact, and I didn't need it to make my point.  

 

 

 

In fact, the rest of the entry does violence to your point. I can see why you would be loath to include it.

 

But if you're going to use a particular document to support your point, it is not intellectually honest to take a portion of that document out of context while ignoring the bulk of it which tends to contradict the point you are trying to make. Moreover, it is potentially embarrassing, depending on how easily others can look up your source and read the quoted material in context.

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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I wonder if God stands by his prophet when the prophet takes initiative...

I mean if a prophet declares something, does God ever say: "Well that's not what I would do but lets see how this plays out since it won't upset my applecart"(ignoring His "all knowing-ness")

I wonder if the institution of the ban, being racist or not, was BY making a declaration, and God let it stand...and since God gave a "not yet" answer in response to lifting the ban meant that it served a purpose, even if we don't know what it is.

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