Friday, March 25, 2016

The Name of Jesus Christ, Part 4:
A Tale of Two Carpenters



The worst fear that I have about this people is that they will get rich in this country, forget God and his people, wax fat, and kick themselves out of the Church and go to hell. This people will stand mobbing, robbing, poverty, and all manner of persecution, and be true. But my greater fear for them is that they cannot stand wealth; and yet they have to be tried with riches. 

—Quoted in Brigham Young: The Man and His Work
Preston Nibley, [1936], 128



Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8


At first it may seem this post is about Brigham Young.


But it’s not.


Rather, I intend to use Brigham Young’s life as an illustration of an important principle regarding the name of Jesus Christ. Therefore, I’ll present some facts from President Young’s life that I hope we’ll find instructive.


Before I do so, I’ll reiterate my eternal gratitude for Brigham Young’s success at holding a large body of the church together after Joseph Smith’s death, relocating the Saints to the Great Basin, contributing to the growth of the church, keeping the scriptures in publication, and providing the foundation from which I became aware of the restoration of the gospel. Whatever his failings, they are between him and God. I offer only gratitude for Brigham Young’s life and accomplishments.


And, so with that foundation, let’s look at a brief sketch of Brigham Young’s life. Remember, this outline is in no way complete; we’re merely hitting the highlights.


Beginnings



Brigham was born June 1, 1801, in Whitingham, Vermont, the ninth of eleven children. His mother died when he was young, and Brigham apprenticed to a cabinet maker at age sixteen. After seven years of apprenticeship, he struck out on his own, got married, and built a carpenter shop and mill.

Brigham worked for 16 years as a carpenter and cabinetmaker at a time when the trade didn’t make much money, necessitating daily struggle to provide for his family. Brigham was no exception in the profession, and he spent many years quite poor, earning a subsistence living by his daily work.


His fortunes didn’t improve when he joined the church in 1832. A zealous and devoted convert, Brigham attended every meeting he could, often to the detriment of his labors. He traveled and served missions, leaving his family destitute. His devotion, faith and sacrifice are notable. His economic success is not.


Rise to Power 



Brigham Young was called as one of the original Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1835 and became president of the quorum in 1840, while on a mission in England.

Joseph Smith, and his appointed successor Hyrum Smith, both died June 27, 1844, leaving the LDS church without a president. Various men laid claim to lead the church, culminating in the August 8, 1844 vote in which Brigham prevailed—securing the right of the Quorum of the Twelve to lead the church in the absence of a First Presidency.


As president of the quorum, Brigham consolidated power, subordinating the Seventy, the Nauvoo High Council, and most of the high priests under the authority of the twelve. He presided over the exodus from Nauvoo, famously leading the saints to the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. He then returned to Winter Quarters, Iowa that same year, encountering other companies of traveling saints on his way.


During these travels, he became increasingly alarmed that other apostles felt at liberty to alter Brigham’s instructions as the need arose, so that by the time Brigham arrived in Winter Quarters, he was determined to further consolidate power so his word could never be challenged.


After strenuous campaigning, and over the objections of some of the twelve, Brigham held a vote and got himself elected president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at Winter Quarters in December 1847. His original intent that the twelve be caretakers of the church morphed into an absolute consolidation of power under himself.


Power Unlimited


Brigham Young became not only church president, but also territorial governor before Utah was a territory. Known for his fiery, autocratic rule as governor, Brigham Young consolidated control of both church and state into one man with absolute authority over both. When Utah did become a U.S. territory, Brigham’s appointment to a 4-year term as governor became official.


Though the term was prescribed as 4 years, Brigham insisted he would never relinquish the office of governor unless God commanded it. His refusal to step down resulted in his holding the office for seven years, until the President of the United States actually sent the U. S. Army to Utah to put down the “Mormon Rebellion,” pry Brigham Young from office, and install his successor.


As governor, Brigham was the de-facto king of the “kingdom,” using gospel loyalty to exert absolute dictatorial control over the legislature—a fact he freely admitted:

I am accused by our honorable judges who have left this Territory last fall of entering into the Legislative Hall and there dictating them. That is an objection that will be raised and will be presented to President Fillmore; that I entered into the Halls of Legislature and there dictate them. I do dictate and I never expect to see the day while I am Governor amongst this people that I don’t do it, and I want it published abroad for it is what I believe in, and it is what you believe in. ...I want these Gentlemen to realize, to be fully sensible of, is simply this; that when they meet here in a legislative capacity, not to forget that they are Elders in Israel, Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, that they are Saints of the Most High God, and I hope and pray that a feeling to the contrary of this may never arise in the bosom of anyone of these men. (Complete Discourses of Brigham Young, Vol. 1, p. 476-7)
During his tenure as governor, Brigham Young introduced the controversial teaching of blood atonement, paving the way for, among other atrocities, the Mountain Meadows Massacre. To put it succinctly, Brigham taught that it was not only allowed, but actually required, to kill those who committed certain sins. He instituted a program of “Home Teaching” to remind the membership, by inquisitorial questions, that their conduct was being watched by the church and that unfaithfulness to the kingdom could result in dire consequences.

Brigham Young’s power extended even to control over life and death—a fact he used to intimidate his enemies. In a church conference, while complaining of a non-Mormon federal judge appointed in Utah, he said, “It is true, as it is said in the Report of these officers, if I had crooked my little finger, he would have been used up, but I did not bend it.” He went on to caution “apostates, or men who never have made any profession of religion, had better be careful how they come here, lest I should bend my little finger.” He made it clear he could have his enemies dispatched with the smallest of gestures.


Unlike the Book of Mormon prophets, Brigham refused to step down from his church office, and kept it until death, thus setting the president-for-life pattern that persists in the LDS church to this day—resulting in very elderly men bearing the heavy burdens of church government in their declining years.


Money



Brigham Young accumulated fabulous wealth during his tenure as church president. His extensive holdings included many houses, lands, factories, mining, farming, manufacturing, railroad, banking, and retail interests. His wealth allowed him to establish a private school for his children and the Lion House for his wives, and live like a king with servants, body guards, and assistants.

According to historian Leonard J. Arrington:

Brigham Young and other church authorities, when need required it, drew on the tithing resources of the church, and at a later date repaid part or all of the obligation in money, property, or services. No interest seems to have been paid for the use of these funds.... This ability to draw, almost at will, on church as well as his own funds, was a great advantage to Brigham Young and was certainly one of the reasons for his worldly success. (The Settlement of the Brigham Young Estate, 1877-1879, Reprinted from the Pacific Historical Review, vol. 21, no. 1, Feb. 1952, p.7-8)
Brigham didn’t have any problem with taking or borrowing tithing funds for personal uses. This created considerable difficulty after his death, as the church and Brigham’s many heirs tried to sort out who owned what. Though Brigham attempted at times to repay his debts to the tithing office by simply writing out a bill for “services rendered,” it was finally determined after his death that he owed the church over a million dollars, with the rest of his estate being divided among his heirs. Not satisfied, some of the heirs sued the church and gained additional concessions.

The best estimates place the value of Young’s estate at the time of his death around $1.6 million. Depending on the method used to calculate the value of the estate today, it comes in between $34 million and $3.2 billion in 2014 dollars. Regardless of how it’s calculated, it’s safe to say Brigham Young died an extremely wealthy man.


Sex 


Brigham Young took his first plural wife in 1842, when he was 41 years old. She was 20.


When he was 42, he married 3 more women, including a 19- and 15-year-old.


When he was 43, he added 15 more wives, 3 of whom were teenagers. That’s an average of more than one marriage per month, though the average is misleading. In actuality he married 2 in one day, then a week later married on 3 consecutive days, with the rest sprinkled throughout the year (including another double-header.)



When he was 44, Brigham Young added 21 more wives, 2 of whom were teenagers. Taken on the average, that would be nearly 2 new wives per month. But again, averages don’t tell the story. In actuality, he married 20 women during a single one-month period, with the record being 5 weddings for Brigham in a single day—February 3, 1846—which, I would imagine, complicated the wedding night considerably. Being that their ages were 55, 42, 41, 36, and 18, I suppose we can only speculate who the lucky girl was.

When he was 45, he married only one additional wife. She was 16.


In his 60’s, Brigham Young married 5 more wives, 3 of whom were in their early 20’s.


All told, Brigham Young had 55 wives, 9 of whom were teenagers on their wedding day, and 20 of whom were in their 20’s. Twenty-nine of the 55 wives were young enough to be his daughters or grand daughters when they married him. He didn’t earn the moniker, “Breed’em Young” for nothing.


In fairness, not all of Brigham’s marriages were conjugal, though it’s nearly impossible to determine with certainty which were and which were not. As far as historical records can determine, Brigham had 56-59 children by sixteen women, though it’s impossible to know for sure. According to the New York Times: “It is doubtful if Young knew, when he died, how many children he had, or where they all lived.” Nor could he account for all his wives, as he was divorced from ten.


The Carpenter’s Plight



Courtesy of Bare Record of Truth Blog
Brigham Young, carpenter and cabinetmaker, reached a pinnacle few man have surmounted in the history of the world. He conquered the trifecta of the natural man—with unlimited access to power, money and sex, virtually unchallenged by any foe but death.

Though despots, rulers, kings and popes have ever lusted for such circumstances as Brigham enjoyed, few have matched the magnitude of his attainments.


Men have amassed fortunes, no doubt. The lust for wealth is the most easily indulged.


Men have amassed power, even over life and death. But such power has generally come at the expense of security, with ambitious underlings seeking to overthrow the ruler. Those who maintain power through murder generally lose power in the same way.


And men have amassed harems, though seldom has such sexual promiscuity been socially acceptable and religiously encouraged as a sign of holiness. Few men can brag from the pulpit about their sexual virility with younger women as a point of religious approval.


No, Brigham’s achievement is almost without equal in the history of the world. He held membership in a very exclusive club indeed.


How Did He Get There?


And so we come to the most troubling question: How did the penniless, no-account cabinetmaker ascend and conquer the peak of all worldly lusts? What changed the trajectory of Brigham Young’s life from daily struggle, hard labor, and poverty, to wealth, power, luxury and indulgence?


Unfortunately, you and I know the answer.


Identity theft.


Brigham borrowed someone else’s name, and by doing so, gained obedience, money, power, and women. By convincing others of his unique standing and authority, as Christ’s true and only authorized representative, he could demand practically anything, upon threat of eternal damnation. Brigham held the keys, you see. You would be wise to submit to him.


“Nice soul you got there. It would be a real shame if something happened to it…” You get the drift.



The pinnacle of religious control always involves claims of keys. Heres the Papal seal of the Roman Catholic Church. Note the crossed keys, representing the Popes keys of the kingdom, and godlike ability to offer salvation or inflict damnation. Do you also notice the gold and silver, the silk and scarlet, the fine-twined linen? 
And I also saw gold, and silver, and silks, and scarlets, and fine-twined linen, and all manner of precious clothing; and I saw many harlots. (2 Nephi 13:7)
It seems the keys of the kingdom also fit the locks of the treasury, the brothel, and the halls of power. 

It is said that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. I don’t blame Brigham. Really, I don’t. I would have done much worse than he did. Again, the point is not to bash Brigham Young, but rather to evaluate the effects of claiming Christ’s name as a means of controlling others. Christ never intended His name to be used as a means of control. Said he,

No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge...D&C 121:41-42)
When you can convince others that you speak for the Lord, that you cannot lead them astray, and that they must obey you or be damned, there’s truly no limit to what you can gain—all in the name of Jesus Christ.

The Other Carpenter


The title of this piece refers to two carpenters. One is Brigham Young, who ascended from humble beginnings to conquer the world. The other is the carpenter whose name Brigham borrowed.


Also from humble beginnings, this second carpenter descended below all things to conquer sin and death. He died penniless, nearly friendless, and seemingly powerless. Yet, He was the mightiest of all. He lived what he taught.



But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

—Matthew 23:11-12


PS: Literally, moments after I finished this post, I received an email ad for the following book by the wife of the current president of the Quorum of the Twelve. Given the discussion of keys in this post, and the prosperity gospel in the last post, this book may be very pertinent to the discussion. This author is the same person who taught "prosperity tithing" in January. 


So I went to Deseret Book’s website to check the book out. In an extremely ironic combination of topic and computer algorithm, the following illustration appeared directly below the book.


Almost 3 days later, it's still there. Someone needs to alert the good folks at Deseret Book.

Update 14 April, 2016: Nineteen days later, and the Jesus statue is still on sale at Deseret Book, with its head still covered by a sale medallion. Seriously, people?



25 comments:

  1. Thank you for the post.

    I enjoy them all but this is the first time I have felt to comment.

    I too would have failed so much worse than Brigham Young, but the comparison is very instructive for me.

    When I read "Also from humble beginnings, this second carpenter descended below all things to conquer sin and death. He died penniless, nearly friendless, and seemingly powerless. Yet, He was the mightiest of all. He lived what he taught.", I was immediately filled with joy and thanksgiving for Him.

    What infinite mercy and grace He has extended. How sweet and how kind are His invitations.

    All glory, praise and honor rightfully belong to Him our Lord Jesus Christ.

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  2. Great post, Adrian. So glad you take the time to write these. I appreciate all the effort that must go into it and I learn so much. You have no idea.

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  3. Thank you. This is my actual first reading of your blog which is remarkable since you are listed as the #3 Mormon troublemaker behind only Denver Snuffer and Joseph Smith, Jr. I had heard of the other two. http://4c9aaie8nf22wxdk63a2acfl6q.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/files/2016/03/Mormon_Trouble_2016-03-09.pdf

    I am sorry to note you have been cast out of our synagogues and wish you well as you keep the faith with us. The Lord is awakening us and softening our hard hearts.

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  4. This seems like another one of your "bless his heart" posts. You begin by saying you have nothing but gratitude for Brigham Young and then proceed to speak nothing but ill of him. Does this make you feel less guilty for your post?

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    1. Anonymous,

      As you well know, I’ve spoken nothing but facts about Brigham, including the fact that I feel a great deal of gratitude for him. These facts are important and instructive, and I certainly don’t feel guilty for teaching truth (despite your presumptive language.)

      Since you are clearly uncomfortable with this truth, you can respond in a variety of ways. For example, you could:

      1. Dispute the veracity of the facts.
      2. Contradict my conclusions.
      3. Consider the lessons we might learn about the use of Christ’s name and authority to control others.
      4. Consider the implications of the teaching that our leaders are infallible.
      5. Present a well-researched contrary argument.
      6. Attack me for pointing out uncomfortable truths.

      Unfortunately, you’ve gone right to number 6. Shoot the messenger. I normally wouldn’t bother posting such a comment because it contributes nothing to the discussion, and reflects poorly on you. But I decided to go ahead and post it anyway, because there’s a lot to learn here.

      You have, in fact, demonstrated the same response given to Abinadi, Alma at Ammonihah, and Samuel the Lamanite. I could make a much longer list, but this is sufficient to make the point. There’s a reason true messengers are most often rejected, attacked, and eve killed, and you’ve demonstrated it by your comment. Please consider your heart and your need to anonymously attack me for teaching truth. Then consider a better response.

      Of course, the best response for you, me, and any of us, when confronted with truth we find uncomfortable, is to repent and come unto Christ. I hope you’ll take this path. Your soul is precious.

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  5. Hi Adrian,
    I agree with your premise and conclusion.

    I will say that I think Brigham has enough dirt on him that we ought to avoid painting with a broad brush. It reveals more about us than it does him. I don't think there is any merit in focusing on the age of his wives. People do the same for Joseph Smith. The fact is that within the age of consent law and understanding of the time, the only deviancy in his behavior was the plural aspect of his marriages, not the age of his brides. Those who take issue with this believe that their societally-implanted ideas of right and wrong are superior to what everyone else throughout history believed. Historically, a child's transition to adulthood (regardless of gender) corresponded with physical changes--not arbitrary ideas of what it means to be "old enough." The shift of what we consider to be adulthood has occurred for reasons that most who advocate it don't realize. Society's current views on the topic are not the result of some moral upgrade from thousands of years of previous prevailing point of view, but the result of intentional manipulation for nefarious financial and other means.

    Further evidence of motive is provided in the age distribution of wives (again, same with Joseph Smith). The fact is that if sex with young women was the objective, why ever marry anyone past 25, let alone marry many over 25? Both Young and Smith had several wives that were significantly older than them. In the case of Young, the average age of wives at time of marriage was around 28 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Brigham_Young%27s_wives).

    I think there is plenty to focus on to make your point without weakening it by bringing in irrelevant items that involve more controversial issues/doctrines.

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    1. Rob, I respectfully disagree. The point of this post is to point at what can be gained in this world by claiming the authority of Jesus Christ. The younger the person, the more they are often influenced by others, especially authority figures. When there is a large age difference between spouses, it is more likely that some influence other than love (money, power, etc) is the main factor behind it. Obviously, this is not a hard and fast rule, but merely a correlation.

      In addition, mentioning the ages of the spouses also factors into the arguments that some still hold to, that polygamy was somehow spiritual in nature. Clearly Brother Brigham here was active in his marriages in every way. You could say some of his marriages were intended to care for widows or older women without a spouse, but no such argument holds when you are talking about women under the age of 20.

      Obviously not all of his marriages were entered into for the purpose of sexual gratification, but it is safe to say, and relevant to the topic, that many of his marriages to much younger women would not have occurred if it were not for his position of power, and sex would have likely been a huge motivating factor.

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    2. Regardless of the legal age for marriage, the median age for first marriage for a female in 19th century America hovered around 22 years old. The point in noting the ages is two-fold.

      First, though of legal age, a non-trivial number of these women were very young for marriage, even given the cultural expectations and traditions of the day. You’re correct—it’s not relevant that we consider them young for marriage today. But it is relevant that they would have been considered young for marriage in their own day. Puberty may have earned the moniker of “woman” but it didn’t imply preparedness for marriage in the 19th century.

      And second, they were particularly young to be marrying a man in his 40’s. As has been noted, this necessarily produced an unequal relationship, though, given Brigham’s position, power, and number of existing wives, the relationship was already quite unequally yoked.

      It’s clear that this number of marriages could not have produced the type of love, unity, and bond required to be in the image of God. Brigham had more wives than there were weeks in the year. There’s just not a great way to spin this. It was a harem.

      As for Joseph Smith’s wives, we’ll have to agree to disagree. We both know where the other stands on the issue. I don’t believe Joseph Smith practiced sexual polygamy, and there is no evidence he ever had relations with any woman but Emma. Clearly, Joseph was performing sealings, but I believe calling those ordinances “marriages” is a later innovation, used by Brigham and others to justify exactly the sort of behavior I’ve highlighted in this post.

      But I’ll say, I always appreciate hearing from you, Rob, and I appreciate your latest book as well. I have a great deal of respect for you. Thank you for your insights.

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  6. I agree with what you say here, though I will point out that most historians believe Joseph Smith achieved the same trifecta of the natural man, though perhaps without as much riches.

    As for me, I do not believe Joseph was pursuing money, power or sex, but I do recognize that most have put together basically the same arguments against him as you have laid out for Mr. Young.

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    1. Joseph died bankrupt. With one wife. Having told the most powerful militia in the state to stand down and surrender their arms, rather than come to his defense.

      Though some accuse Joseph of Brigham-esque excesses, there really is no comparison.

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    2. I appreciate you bringing up these points that will help me argue my side in the future with those around me who insist on Smith being a horrible person.

      I feel confident about arguing against the whole notion of Smith as a polygamist at this point, but I have seen many claim Smith left something like $1 million in assets to Emma when he died.

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  7. As I read a few of the above comments, I wonder if the point of the article has been missed. For me, this back and forth about Brigham and Joseph’s marriage behavior is irrelevant in lieu of what I believe the intended message is about.

    One point for me is, just how easily one can get caught up in following the wrong “Carpenter.” Also, this message ties in so well with the previous post (Part 3 - Gospel of Giving and Getting.) In other words... Brigham got caught up in the Prosperity Theology and the Entitlement Attitude by misusing those “Keys,” of which we are presently reminded about on a regular basis.


    Keys of authority or entitlement can be hidden in all kinds of different expression beside Prophet... President, CEO, Doctor, Professor, Senator, Congressman, Supervisor, Mom or Dad etc. As a public or follower, have we not snapped up the “Hype” and looked for those titles as a barometer for making purchases, or taking advice and counsel and then, at times, found ourselves in a mess?

    More importantly, do we often use comparable tactics to get gain, or to set ourselves above others, or use similar methods as a way to adversely control?

    This message certainly has given me pause to examine where I personally stand in these issues. By what criteria do I use to follow others and how do I use my title or authority keys of Teacher, Mom and Nana.

    Thanks Adrian for another reminder to be like and follow the flawless “Carpenter”.

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  8. Oh, and let's add Abraham to the list. He was a confirmed polygamist, leader of the religious community, died a rich man, and - unlike Brigiham - some traditions have him actually having shed the blood of man in the sacrifice of Isaac.

    Upon what relevant and publicly demonstrable facts can Brigham be justly condemned - or, if you like, "damned with faint praise" - whilst leaving Abraham unscathed?

    For if we have respect of persons - bringing people upon unequal grounds - we stand convicted before the law as transgressors (James 2:9).

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    1. The nature of Abraham's polygamy was fundamentally different than Brigham's. Abraham had to be goaded into it, if you will, by his wife and the Lord assented to the practice, while the purpose was to produce an heir for the heirless Abraham, who had a covenant from God continent on him reproducing. Later, after his wife died, he would take one more wife and live as a monogamist.

      Abraham's wealth came through years of hard work and, eventually, a conquest that the Lord directed him in. As far as we know, there was no aspect of debt involved in Abraham's getting wealth.

      And Abraham, though honored, lived and died as a sojourner in a strange land. His power came entirely through the decency and power of his life and example, not by claims to religious authority.

      These facts, and many others, can be cited in the defense of Abraham in this regard.

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    2. If the trifecta is enough to convict, Abraham is guilty. As would be Joseph, probably Moses, and most of the patriarchs.

      Even your "defense" of Abraham here, Matthew, consists of arguments from ignorance, special pleading, begging the question, and sheer assertion. And it would take a lot to show that these precise "defenses" could not be applied towards Brigham.

      The standard of judgement Adrian proposes - hitting the trifecta - cannot be consistently applied without catching the innocent, such as Abraham. It is therefore unjust.

      Maybe - just maybe - appearances are insufficient to judge by. But, then, Jesus said as much (John 7:24).

      This is becoming a problem in the so-called "Remnant" community - even if I were to agree with the assessment of Brigham, I recognize Adrian's case is unjust. Just like the author of a recent book which shall not be named starts with the conclusions and deploys rhetoric, not dialectic, to conform the evidence to them.

      It's like people are starting out with the judgements and then any argument which appears to support them is therefore good. That's not how truth works. Like in math, you can get the "right" answer through completely trash processes which have nothing to do with truth. And your teacher would be right to mark you wrong, even though you got the answer "right," since your answer is unjustified by the rules of the game being played.

      Remember - the same standards we judge by will be those by which we shall be judged. For that reason, it matters by which standard we judge.

      And it may be wisest to "judge not" (3 Nephi 14:1).

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    3. Hi Log,

      I think it’s foolhardy to even attempt a comparison between Abraham and Brigham for several reasons.

      First, we know almost nothing of Abraham, and what little we do know is equivocal. For example, people (you included) continually assert he was a polygamist, when the scriptural record only mentions one wife, Sarah, one concubine—given by Sarai under the law as a surrogate mother for Abraham’s posterity—and Keturah, who Abraham married after Sarah died. I see no evidence of polygamy, nor any evidence of a marriage to Hagar.

      Aside from marriage, we know little about Abraham’s wealth—specifically whether he obtained it by using the tithes of others, or by exercise control over others by virtue of his position as Christ’s representative, president of an organization, threat of damnation, or political governor.

      Abraham’s power appears to have come from his righteous influence, rather than control, dominion, and compulsion. The incident with Lot and dividing the land is instructive.

      What we do know, is that the Lord appeared to Abraham and spoke to him face to face—an event which Brigham repeatedly denied having experienced. We do know he was ordained by Melchizedek, and renewed the covenant in a time of utter apostasy. Abraham had a covenant with God. There is no comparison to Brigham.

      As for Joseph Smith, Brigham refused to compare himself to him, and therefore I don't think we should either. As you point out, the question of Joseph's alleged multiple wives is very much subject to debate. One thing is clear though: there is no proof Joseph had sexual relations with anyone other than Emma.

      Again, in your attempt to broaden the net to catch Joseph and Abraham, you’re completely missing the point—that using the name of Christ to control others can gratify to all the desires of the natural man, and transform a forgettable life into a historical accomplishment.

      It's akin to comparing a successful businessman to a bank robber--because after all, they both have money, right? Misses the point entirely.

      We have actual and exhaustive records of Brigham’s life and works. We know how he gained his power, wealth and harem. We do not have the same of the patriarchs, or even of Joseph Smith. Painting with too broad a brush misses the point entirely. This post is not about judging Brigham Young, or about wealth, power or sex, by themselves. It is about how Christ’s name is used to obtain those things.

      Abraham and Joseph Smith both testified of knowing the Lord and meeting him face to face. Brigham testified the opposite. That alone ought to cause us much hesitation in assuming any spiritual equivalence between the former two and Brigham.

      Log, I know you’re both intelligent and tenacious. I also know from experience you will not stop pressing an argument, no matter what counter argument is presented.

      You’ve presented your thoughts, I’ve presented mine, and I’m going to end it at that. There’s no point in contending about Abraham, Joseph Smith, or Brigham Young. You are free to believe what you like about them, as am I. I'll reiterate, I feel nothing but sincere gratitude for Brigham. His errors are between him and the Lord.

      I hope to receive what Abraham and Joseph Smith received—that is, a covenant with God. I have no use for what Brigham received as a result of his ministry.

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    4. I'll add that the hebrew word translated as "wife" in Genesis 16:3 is variously translated as woman, female, wife, concubine, or even harlot. It is questionable whether there was a marriage in place between Abraham and Hagar, or merely an arrangement to bear children, as was Sarah's right to arrange.

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  9. And the number of wives Joseph had is a matter of dispute, to put it mildly.

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  10. Log, your question got me thinking. Adrian, your response (much better than what I would have written) is about where I landed after thinking about Log's question for a day.

    We are not to condemn, but we do need to evaluate. I think Adrian does a good job of walking that line. So, thank you both. Good question. Good response.

    Just one story... If you remember the FARMS video, "Faith of an Observer." Nibley tells a story about Abraham - and chokes up in the telling (I'll leave it to you to watch, if you don't know to what I'm referring). Contrast that with Brigham (I know, all sorts of logical fallacies in this - not the point I'm making).

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  11. I like your generosity towards Brigham, Adrian, for so shall you be judged. We tend to flatter ourselves that we would have recognized the other carpenter and would have been quick to follow him but I'm not so sure, and for the reasons you point out: he was telestially ordinary, unassuming and ran with the wrong crowd. I testify that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.

    Your post reminds me of a variant of the old Primary chant, "Follow the Prophet" which didn't make it into the Primary song book, perhaps because it includes some of the details about him that you mention:

    I don’t claim to be a prophet, so said Brigham Young,
    I’m just a Yankee guesser, on a lower rung.
    Brigham fathered many, was a mogul fine.
    He built a dandy mansion, serving beer and wine.
    Follow the prophet, follow the prophet, follow the prophet, don't go astray.
    Follow the prophet, follow the prophet, follow the prophet, he knows the way!

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    1. HAHAHA You've got a real knack for writing primary songs, Patty!

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  12. Having read all 4 entries, I found much of what you present to be accurate, knowledgeable and in some measure helpful.
    However, what I was hoping to read was commentary on how Dallin Oaks' and Co. have replaced the idea that the calling of Apostle is a calling to be a special witness Jesus Christ himself, with the idea that the calling is rather to be "a special witness of the name of Jesus Christ" (Whatever that means).
    Could I impose upon you to perhaps address that idea in a part 5?

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  13. 7 ¶And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul;

    8 And I gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.

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  14. Excellent presentation of thought on a man of the flesh. Perhaps there could be a part 2 someday, for you were so very soft and kind in the face of all the evidence littered around the man. His demise is worth noting, killed by a disgruntled wife. It didn't take an arny to penetrate his false sense of security.

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