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Site Version July 2013


Questions raised about James J. Strang

On an Internet roundtable message board 

 

I am responding to the bulletin board discussion on James Strang. I am a full-time professional historian with an expertise in rare Mormon documents (see my home page at http://www.Mormonism.com), and a focus on the Mormon succession and minor Mormon churches. In fact, I have concluded that the letter of appointment allegedly written by Joseph Smith just before he died, is authentic and genuine in all of its physical properties. Indeed, the letter is apparently in the hand of Joseph himself, and has a genuine Nauvoo postmark. The historical context, grammar, style, and content of the letter fit accurately into the life of Joseph Smith and the greater Nauvoo Mormon scene. I have chosen to extract the relevant questions from previous postings, and respond to them below.

"Live with respect and appreciation for those not of our faith. There is so great a need for civility and mutual respect among those of differing beliefs and philosophies. We must not be partisans of any doctrine of ethnic superiority. We can and must be respectful toward those with whose teachings we do not agree. We must be willing to defend the rights of others who may become the victims of bigotry."—Gordon B. Hinckley, General Conference, April 1995

Someone posted: "If my facts are correct, at one time more members of the Church had followed James Strang rather than Brigham Young. Since James Strang was murdered like Joseph Smith, it kind of nullified the revelation from Joseph Smith."

The most liberal claim is that one third of the church followed James Strang, out of about 30,000 Latter Day Saints active in 1844. There are assertions in the Times and Seasons of 200,000 converts between 1830 and 1846, but only a fraction of that (2,000) were in the wagons following Brigham Young across Iowa in 1846.

Someone posted: "The quotations by the Lord do not sound at all like the Lord in the many other revelations we have in the Book of Mormon, Bible, Doctrine & Covenants or Pearl of great Price where the Lord is speaking, so for me that is strong evidence."

Someone posted: "The translation is not very long, nor is it original. It mainly looks like excerpts of the Old Testament with some embellishments."

Notice the contrast in these two critical statements about what James Strang presented as scripture. Though these statements were both made by Mormons, this is similar to anti-Mormon claims about the Book of Mormon. Some say that the Book of Mormon is too different from the Bible, and others say that the Book of Mormon is too similar.

Someone posted: "It doesn’t sound like Joseph Smith Jr.’s style of revelation to me."

This is very important, and very subjective. His wife, Emma Hale Smith, was convinced; and John Whitmer, one of the scribes of the Book of Mormon and the first historian of the church; and James Whitehead, his last clerk. So, even if these scribes were wrong, it did "sound" like his "style."

Someone posted: "First, the letter does not in fact to me sound like the language of the Prophet from 1844. If you care, study the Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, complied by Dean Jessee, or the Papers of Joseph, two volumes, compiled by the same author."

Actually, it was the typescripts in these volumes that aided me in my own line-by-line analysis of the style of the letter. There are remarkable, nearly exact, parallels in private letters written by Joseph Smith, to which no forger would have had access in 1844.

Someone posted: "This is a statement from Joseph F. Smith in Messages of the First Presidency. ‘In 1858, I had the privilege of traveling through California with Charles Wesley Wandell, a former member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter_day Saints, and at that time also a member of the Church. He told me himself, in the presence of witnesses, that he wrote the document himself on which the organization of J. J. Strang was founded, and he was never so surprised as when he found that J. J. Strang accepted his vagaries for a revelation from God, and he had only laughed at it and repented of it ever since.’"

What Wandell had created, was not the letter of appointment in 1844, but a spurious revelation in 1846. The quote from Joseph F. Smith is just typically flawed Utah Mormon history, and in this case hearsay through him. This event was contemporarily recorded, and transcribed into the original "Journal History" compiled by Willard Richards, never published, but available at the historical department of the church in Salt Lake City.

On 6 March 1846, "Charles W. Wandell wrote a revelation purporting to come from the Lord through James J. Strang to see what effect it would have on the Strangites. . . . Brother Wandell . . . came out and acknowledged that he was the author of the article, that the Lord had nothing to do with it, and that Strang never saw it." Then, on 11 March 1846, Brigham Young was with Willard Richards and "retired to the Historian’s office and heard read revelation purporting to be received by James J. Strang, but which was written by Charles W. Wandell, 6 March 1846 . . . This event afforded much merriment to Wandell and his friends."

Someone posted: "I think he created the thing to build for himself a religious career."

This is an inconsistent statement for a Mormon to make about James Strang, because an anti-Mormon can make the same statement about Joseph Smith.

Someone posted: "When the president dies, the First Presidency is dissolved."

There is no scripture that states that, but only tradition.

Someone posted: "When the First Presidency is dissolved, the Quorum of the Twelve become the head."

There is no scripture that states that, but only tradition.

Someone posted: "Shortly before his death, Joseph gave all the keys of the priesthood to the Twelve. For James Strang to rise up and be leader independent of the Twelve would be out of order, since the Twelve held all the keys."

Someone posted: "The Quorum of the Twelve hold all the keys of the priesthood, jointly."

That is not an accurate statement of early Mormon belief, for the D&C and contemporary Joseph Smith documents do not indicate that the Twelve held "all" the keys—not even "jointly." In Mormon scripture, the various keys held by Jesus Christ, by the presidents of the church, by the bishop over the whole church, and by the patriarch over the whole church, were all described as different from those said to be held by the quorum of the twelve.

KEY OF DAVID

Isaiah 22:22

22 And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.

Revelation 3:7

7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;

KEYS OF HELL AND DEATH

Revelation 1:18

18 I [am] he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

KEYS OF SALVATION

D&C 78:16

16 Who hath appointed Michael your prince, and established his feet, and set him upon high, and given unto him the keys of salvation under the counsel and direction of the Holy One, who is without beginning of days or end of life.

KEYS GIVEN TO PETER ALONE AS PRESIDENT

Matthew 16: 18-19

18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

KEYS GIVEN TO PETER, JAMES, AND JOHN ALONE AS PRESIDENCY

D&C 7:7

7 And I will make thee to minister for him and for thy brother James; and unto you three I will give this power and the keys of this ministry until I come.

KEYS GIVEN TO JOSEPH AND OLIVER ALONE AS PRESIDENCY

D&C 27: 12-13

12 And also with Peter, and James, and John, whom I have sent unto you, by whom I have ordained you and confirmed you to be apostles, and especial witnesses of my name, and bear the keys of your ministry and of the same things which I revealed unto them;

13 Unto whom I have committed the keys of my kingdom, and a dispensation of the gospel for the last times; and for the fulness of times, in the which I will gather together in one all things, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth;

KEYS TO BOOK OF MORMON GIVEN TO JOSEPH ALONE

D&C 27:5

5 Behold, this is wisdom in me; wherefore, marvel not, for the hour cometh that I will drink of the fruit of the vine with you on the earth, and with Moroni, whom I have sent unto you to reveal the Book of Mormon, containing the fulness of my everlasting gospel, to whom I have committed the keys of the record of the stick of Ephraim;

KEYS OF ELIAS, ELIJAH, AND MOSES

D&C 27: 6, 9; 110:11

6 And also with Elias, to whom I have committed the keys of bringing to pass the restoration of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began, concerning the last days;

9 And also Elijah, unto whom I have committed the keys of the power of turning the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers, that the whole earth may not be smitten with a curse;

11 After this vision closed, the heavens were again opened unto us; and Moses appeared before us, and committed unto us the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north.

KEYS OF FIRST PRESIDENCY

D&C 28:7; 64:5; 81:2; 84:19; 90: 3-4; 112:15

7 For I have given him the keys of the mysteries, and the revelations which are sealed, until I shall appoint unto them another [not Twelve] in his stead.

5 And the keys of the mysteries of the kingdom shall not be taken from my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., through the means I have appointed, while he liveth, inasmuch as he obeyeth mine ordinances.

2 Unto whom I have given the keys of the kingdom, which belong always unto the Presidency of the High Priesthood:

19 And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.

3 Verily I say unto you, the keys of this kingdom shall never be taken from you, while thou art in the world, neither in the world to come;

4 Nevertheless, through you shall the oracles be given to another [not Twelve], yea, even unto the church.

15 Exalt not yourselves; rebel not against my servant Joseph; for verily I say unto you, I am with him, and my hand shall be over him; and the keys which I have given unto him, and also to youward, shall not be taken from him till I come.

D&C 28: 2, 7; 43: 3-6

2 But, behold, verily, verily, I say unto thee, no one shall be appointed to receive commandments and revelations in this church excepting my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., for he receiveth them even as Moses.

7 For I have given him the keys of the mysteries, and the revelations which are sealed, until I shall appoint unto them another [not Twelve] in his stead.

3 And this ye shall know assuredly—that there is none other appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelations until he be taken, if he abide in me.

4 But verily, verily, I say unto you, that none else shall be appointed unto this gift except it be through him; for if it be taken from him he shall not have power except to appoint another [not Twelve] in his stead.

5 And this shall be a law unto you, that ye receive not the teachings of any [Twelve] that shall come before you as revelations or commandments;

6 And this I give unto you that you may not be deceived, that you may know they [Twelve] are not of me.

KEYS OF BISHOP

D&C 68: 17-18; 107: 16, 70

17 For the firstborn holds the right of the presidency over this priesthood, and the keys or authority of the same.

18 No man has a legal right to this office, to hold the keys of this priesthood, except he be a literal descendant and the firstborn of Aaron.

70 For unless he is a literal descendant of Aaron he cannot hold the keys of that priesthood.

KEYS OF PATRIARCH

D&C 124:92

92 That from henceforth he shall hold the keys of the patriarchal blessings upon the heads of all my people,

KEYS OF TWELVE

D&C 107:35; 124:128

35 The Twelve being sent out, holding the keys, to open the door by the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and first unto the Gentiles and then unto the Jews.

128 Which Twelve hold the keys to open up the authority of my kingdom upon the four corners of the earth, and after that to send my word to every creature.

Someone posted: "Many of the supporters of Brigham were close and trusted associates with Joseph."

Many of the supporters of James Strang were close and trusted associates with Joseph.

Someone posted: "‘There are a number of questionable facets about this alleged letter from the Prophet. Only the signature of the letter appeared to be in Joseph Smith’s handwriting.’"

The signature and the entire letter are in the same hand, based on my personal examination of the letter at Yale University.

Someone posted: "‘Furthermore, the register that would have shown what letters came from Nauvoo to the local post office mysteriously disappeared before it could be proven whether or not the letter had passed through the post office.’"

The register was in the control of Brigham’s supporters in Nauvoo, when James Strang was in Wisconsin—if evidence deliberately disappeared, then it was their responsibility.

Someone posted: "‘Rather than take his claim of authority to the center of the Church in Nauvoo, Strang went to Florence, Michigan, where on August 5 he read the letter to an assembled group of members and requested their sustaining vote in his behalf.’"

Smith had purportedly mailed the "Letter of Appointment" to James Strang on 19 June 1844, and on 20 June summoned Young to return from Boston. At Burlington, Wisconsin, Strang received his letter from Smith on 9 July, the same day that the news of Smith’s assassination reached Young in Boston. Young took fifteen days to decide that he was needed immediately in Nauvoo, and Strang took seventeen days to decide to intercept Young along the way. What Strang did not anticipate was Young’s traveling purse, for although he was a carpenter turned unpaid missionary, Young (and those of the Twelve that accompanied him) raced back to Nauvoo in the luxury of speedy trains, steam boat, and stagecoaches. The route of the Twelve went from Boston to Albany, Troy, Schenectady, and Buffalo, N.Y. by train; Fairport, Cleveland, and Sandusky, Ohio by steam boat; Detroit, Mackinac, Milwaukee, Racine, and Chicago by steam boat; Galena by stage coach; seven miles down the Galena River and then down the Mississippi to Nauvoo. Strang, however, set out on foot, stopping nearly every night with scattered Mormons on the route. By the time Strang had gone three hundred miles from Burlington, Wisconsin, through Chicago, La Porte, Indiana, and into Florence, Michigan, Young and his companions were within a day of Nauvoo, and about to complete their 1,973 mile journey in less than fourteen days, or about 140 miles per day. Strang had traveled ten days, or thirty miles of walking per day. Defending his priesthood after the Florence conference slowed him down from his destination of Buffalo, N.Y., and he ended his search at Sandusky, Ohio. At Sandusky, he likely learned that the Twelve had already passed through both ports, Buffalo and Sandusky. The route of Strang home took him through the port of Southport, Wisconsin. More than one month behind Young, Strang left Sandusky about 30 August. He probably never knew that the Twelve had landed briefly in his home county of Racine, Wisconsin and that his whole journey might have been averted.

Someone posted: "‘When asked if he had been ordained as Joseph’s successor, Strang replied that he had not and that it was not necessary. Significantly, he did not mention his alleged "anointing" by the angel on June 27. It was only several months later that he made this claim known, after being informed that a revelation from the Lord outlined the necessity of one’s being properly ordained. (See D&C 42:11.)’"

Thus, even critics affirm that the basic foundational argument of James Strang’s claim was firm within "several months," while those of Joseph’s first vision were still unclear several years after the church was founded. But, like with Joseph in New York, it was only the enemies of James who asserted that he did not fully report his vision. Joseph did not give full details in every description; James was consistent in maintaining that he had been ordained by angels, in every available source.

Someone posted: "‘The president of the church, who is also the president of the council, is appointed BY REVELATION, and acknowledged, in his administration, by the voice of the church; . . .’ (1835 D&C 5:6). The Lord uses the word ‘president’ and ‘revelation’ here, and I do not believe this is the way Brigham Young took office. I believe he used the D&C that states that the quorum of the 12 has equal authority of the First Presidency, and therefore, it could run the church just fine."

You are referring to D&C 107:24, which states of the Twelve: "And they form a quorum, equal in authority and power to the three presidents previously mentioned." This is the most often used scripture to justify the succession of Brigham Young. But the challenge here is to identify the three presidents "previously mentioned." D&C 107:22 said previously: "Of the Melchizedek Priesthood, three Presiding High Priests, chosen by the body, appointed and ordained to that office, and upheld by the confidence, faith, and prayer of the church, form a quorum of the Presidency of the Church." Are those three presidents, the same as the First Presidency? No. How do I know? Because it says they are "chosen BY THE BODY," whereas the president of the church is "appointed BY REVELATION." Then who were those three presidents? They were the presidents of the high priests’ quorum, which were conveniently eliminated by Brigham Young so that the twelve would appear to have been equal to the first presidency. D&C 107 was all about quorums of priesthood, including high priests, the twelve, the seventy, elders, priests, teachers, and deacons; else the high priests are conspicuously absent. In Nauvoo, the president of the high priests’ quorum was Don Carlos Smith, until he died, and he was succeeded by George Miller, who had been the bishop over the whole church; ironically, George Miller (equal to the twelve) sustained James Strang.

D&C 124: 20-21, 133-136

20 And again, verily I say unto you, my servant George Miller is without guile; he may be trusted because of the integrity of his heart; and for the love which he has to my testimony I, the Lord, love him.

21 I therefore say unto you, I seal upon his head the office of a bishopric, like unto my servant Edward Partridge, that he may receive the consecrations of mine house, that he may administer blessings upon the heads of the poor of my people, saith the Lord. Let no man despise my servant George, for he shall honor me.

133 And again, I give unto you Don C. Smith to be a president over a quorum of high priests;

136 I give unto him Amasa Lyman and Noah Packard for counselors, that they may preside over the quorum of high priests of my church, saith the Lord.

Someone posted: "My reading of the letter has most of the text relating directly to the organization of a stake in Voree. There are some statements that COULD be construed as referring to the entire body of the Church but they could also be construed as referring to the local saints. I see nowhere a statement saying ‘You are to lead the entire Church after I am gone.’"

The authority of the letter is implicit. Joseph said that James would "plant a stake of Zion" in Wisconsin, something that in those days only the first presidency could do, as Joseph had said during the crisis at Far West, Missouri. Also, that James would strengthen other "stakes," plural, suggesting that his jurisdiction went beyond the Wisconsin stake. Further, James was to "lead" the church if Joseph died, implying succession. Finally, the letter said that "God shall reveal to thee his will concerning" the church, but the D&C said that only the first presidency could get revelations for the whole church. Those four implications suggest that James was being appointed to the first presidency to succeed Joseph.

Someone posted: "‘The title of ‘President of the Church’ was attached to Brigham Young several years before the First Presidency was officially reorganized. In a letter dated December 5, 1844, Brigham Young signed himself as ‘Pres’t of the Church of L.D.S.’ He was publicly sustained to that position on 7 April 1845, and by 1846 rank_and_file Mormons were referring to Brigham Young as President of the Church.’ (‘The Mormon Succession Crisis,’ pp. 216, 218.)"

All that this demonstrated was that Brigham Young was a usurper, for instead of being elected, then sustained, and then signing his name—he signed his name, then was sustained, and finally was elected. In contrast, James Strang was appointed by revelation, then ordained, then sustained, and then signed his name.

Someone posted: "In other words, Brigham Young would have needed to have a "revelation" from God that he was to be the next President. I do not believe he ever claimed to have received a revelation."

Someone posted: "‘A number of meetings were held to discuss the matter, culminating with a five_hour meeting on December 5, 1847. President Young said he had ‘been stirred up to do this by the spirit of the Lord,’ and the apostles voted to sustain his desire to form a separate First Presidency. In a later private meeting of the apostles, the voice of the Lord ratified the action by declaring: ‘Let my servant Brigham step forth and receive the full power of the presiding Priesthood in my Church and kingdom.’ (Journal of Discourses, 8:234.)’"

First of all, the revelation was supposed to come through Joseph:

D&C 28:7; 43:4

7 For I have given him the keys of the mysteries, and the revelations which are sealed, until I shall appoint unto them another in his stead.

4 But verily, verily, I say unto you, that none else shall be appointed unto this gift except it be through him; for if it be taken from him he shall not have power except to appoint another in his stead.

Secondly, Brigham Young only made that claim after a large portion of the church was persuaded by James Strang, and he needed something with which to compete. Still, he denied even having the office, in the same Journal of Discourses that you cited:

Journal of Discourses, 5:177

I do not profess to be a Prophet. I never called myself so; but I actually believe I am, because people are all the time telling me that I am.

Journal of Discourses, 6:320

A person was mentioned to_day who did not believe that Brigham Young was a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator. I wish to ask every member of this whole community, if they ever heard him profess to be a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, as Joseph Smith was? . . . Who ordained me to be First President of this Church on earth? I answer, It is the choice of this people, and that is sufficient.

Journal of Discourses, 13:166

It has been remarked sometimes, by certain individuals, that President Young has said in public that he was not a prophet nor the son of a prophet.

Times and Seasons, 5:618

You are now without a prophet present with you in the flesh to guide you; but you are not without apostles . . .

Someone posted: "Here is more text from the Journal of Discourses reference above. The speaker was Orson Hyde: ‘In the month of February, 1848 . . . We were in prayer and council, communing together; and what took place on that occasion? The voice of God came from on high, and spake to the Council. . . . What did it say unto us? ‘Let my servant Brigham step forth and receive the full power of the presiding Priesthood in my Church and kingdom.’’"

This, of course, completely contradicts the claim that Brigham Young already had the "full power of the presiding Priesthood," or in other words, "all" the keys.

Someone posted: "I’m proceeding on the assumption that James Strang was telling the truth about his experience (although false angels and revelations), and I am gathering the evidence to see if my view is valid or not."

The difficulty with this hypothesis, is, of course, that James Strang could not merely have been deceived by false angels, or any other deception, because there were three types of support: [1] Physical evidence (paper letter with ink signature and postmark, and metallic plates underneath an oak tree), [2] spiritual evidence (ordination by angels, and revelations), and [3] witnesses (contextual witnesses in Nauvoo, eyewitnesses in Wisconsin, and spiritual testimonials).

Someone posted: "Joseph gave a specific inspired statement that the saints would go to the Rocky Mountains."

Someone posted: "You don’t dispute the relevance of the Rocky Mountain prophecy. You say that a variety of other sites were considered by Joseph, or were being investigated. That was for the short term. It still does not dispute the fact that the Prophet said that in the future he saw the saints established in the Rocky Mountains. Perhaps you consider Michigan to be in the Rocky Mountains, but I live there and do not. And the Strang site fails to mention this."

This is a statement falsely attributed to Joseph Smith: "I prophesied that the Saints would . . . be driven to the Rocky Mountains. . . [and] become a mighty people in the midst of the Rocky Mountains." But this is posthumously added in the margin of the manuscript history of the church, in an unknown hand. In other words, Brigham Young or his followers created the prophecy after they arrived there in the Rocky Mountains in 1847, and failed to make it to their stated destination in Oregon or California. In fact, Strang’s arrival in Nauvoo in 1844 was in the midst of Smith’s search for new sites to which communities of Mormons could gather. Strang provided counsel to Joseph and Hyrum on the original expedition of twenty_five explorers to the West. Meanwhile, Lyman Wight and George Miller were up in another region of Wisconsin, but encouraging Joseph to settle in Texas. Independently, Orson Hyde was reporting from Washington, D.C., also urging the Texas choice or Oregon. Joseph asked Parley P. Pratt to search out a location northeast of Nauvoo, and Pratt suggested the Illinois cities of Peoria, Norway, or Chicago. Voree, Wisconsin, is just north of Chicago.

Someone posted: "No apostles joined with Strang to my information."

Apostles John E. Page and William Smith, and former apostle William E. McLellin, all sustained James Strang. Apostle Lyman Wight may also have supported him. George Adams was a special apostle in Nauvoo, an assistant to the first presidency, and became the counselor to James; as did the president of the Nauvoo stake. James was also sustained by the president of the high priests’ quorum, several presidents of seventy, the elders’ quorum president in Nauvoo, the area presidents in Wisconsin, the patriarch of the church, and many other general authorities; plus the mother, wife, sisters, and brother of Joseph Smith; and every living Book of Mormon witness except one.

Someone posted: "They cite William McLellin as one who joined their group, as one of the prominent members, and say that he would have known Joseph Smith Jr.’s style."

William E. McLellin did know Joseph Smith personally. He left the church, just as every Book of Mormon witness left the church. He was welcomed to repentance by James Strang, just as W. W. Phelps joined Brigham Young.

Someone posted: "Strang’s group never prospered. The Church did, grew, and is manifestly the organization directed by the Lord."

D&C 45:28_30 says: "And when the times of the Gentiles is come in, a light shall break forth among them that sit in darkness, and it shall be the fulness of my gospel; But they receive it not; for they perceive not the light, and they turn their hearts from me because of the precepts of men. And in that generation shall the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."

2 Nephi 28:32 says: "Wo be unto the Gentiles, saith the Lord God of Hosts! For notwithstanding I shall lengthen out my arm unto them from day to day, they WILL deny me . . ."

2 Nephi 28:21 prophesies astoundingly about the 1847 hymn of William Clayton when he led the Mormons from Nauvoo: "All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell."

2 Nephi 28:13_14: "They rob the poor because of their fine sanctuaries; they rob the poor because of their fine clothing; and they persecute the meek and the poor in heart, because in their pride they are puffed up. They wear stiff necks and high heads; yea, and because of pride, and wickedness, and abominations, and whoredoms, THEY HAVE ALL GONE ASTRAY SAVE IT BE A FEW, WHO ARE THE HUMBLE FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST."

Regarding size, consider the following scripture (3 Nephi 14: 13_15):

13 Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, which leadeth to destruction, and many there be who go in thereat;

14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

According to Mormon scriptures, then, false prophets will have "many" and true prophets will have "few."

Someone posted: "Strang never followed Joseph’s pattern at all, and to say that he did is unfounded. When did Strang ever have the Urim and Thummin? No evidence to prove that. Moroni took it back, and Joseph never had it after that."

There is no more "evidence to prove" that Joseph ever had it either—for excepting circumstantial evidence, we rely on our faith; and just as easily as Moroni could take it from Joseph, he could give it to James.

Someone posted: "Again, Strang could not have had the Urim and Thummin. Moroni had it. It would have included the writings of Isaiah. Why weren’t those in Strang’s translation? Where is the genealogy of Lehi in Strang’s translation? Why would the Lord reveal the Brass Plates to Strang and not Joseph? If the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon was not revealed to Joseph, why reveal the Brass Plates to Strang?"

James did not translate the entire brass plates, but only selected items from them. Everyone agrees that Joseph did not translate them; but if you believe Joseph to be a prophet, then you must believe that a successor will translate them, for 1 Nephi 5: 17-18 says, "And now when my father saw all these things, he was filled with the Spirit, and began to prophesy concerning his seed—That these plates of brass should go forth unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people who were of his seed."

Someone posted: "Strang did not follow the pattern of priesthood and church organization laid down by Joseph in the restoration of the gospel. He did not follow the apostolic succession. I say he never saw any angels. He was never sustained by the Church, by common consent. His movement is stagnant, insignificant. He has not brought forth any developing facet of the kingdom. No progress."

Actually, James Strang followed the priesthood structure from Nauvoo more closely than did Brigham Young. James had a president of the high priests’ quorum for example, and a quorum of twelve, seventies, bishops, patriarchs, etc. In contrast, Brigham Young once had thirty-three quorums of seventy, instead of seven; and thirteen members of the quorum of twelve; and eliminated the president of the high priests’ quorum, and for three years taught that there would not be a new first presidency; now even the presiding patriarch has been eliminated.

James Strang was sustained in his office by a general conference. Of course, not all of the members were there; but they were not all there either when Brigham Young was sustained a year and a half later in the tiny log tabernacle at the edge of Iowa.

James brought forth new translations and revelations and visions and prophecies. It is Brigham Young and his successors who brought forth nothing but folklore and tradition, with a stagnant Doctrine and Covenants and no new scriptures.

Someone posted: "And excuse my lack of information, but what did Strang claim to translate? What angels visited him, since the priesthood was already restored, there was no need for a second restoration through Strang."

This sounds familiar to 2 Nephi 29:3, "And because my words shall hiss forth—many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible." James was visited by numerous angels, just as was Joseph, and translated multiple records.

Someone posted: "Strang did not set up his movement in Voree, Wisconsin, but instead went to Beaver Island, Michigan."

James did plant a stake of Zion in Voree, as commanded. He established a second stake in Michigan. This was just as Joseph Smith did, setting up stakes in Kirtland, Missouri, and Nauvoo, successively, and then losing each to persecution and apostasy.

Someone posted: "With so few members it is not hard to know how many you have. In 1984 they were reported to have 200 members. Doesn’t sound like the stone cut without hands that would fill the earth, does it? After nearly 150 years of existence, only 200 members. So insignificant, that it is not much worth mentioning."

I have already shown that the Mormon scriptures prophesied that the church would be small. The D&C says that the "gospel" would fill the whole earth, not that the church would fill the whole earth.

D&C 65:2

2 The keys of the kingdom of God are committed unto man on the earth, and from thence shall the gospel roll forth unto the ends of the earth, as the stone which is cut out of the mountain without hands shall roll forth, until it has filled the whole earth.

Someone posted: "Incidentally, the Strangite church no longer owns the original properties in Voree, which were lost to Theron Drew, a former leader who was excommunicated from their group and later sued in court to get the house and property back. Since the Voree property is central to their claims of authority, the Strangite, Drew group claims to be the real Strangite group."

This is not current, and was never accurate. Theron Drew has been dead since 1978, and the Drew branch does not really exist anymore. In the 1950s, there were two branches in the area, and they had a non-doctrinal argument which resulted in the branches disputing the ownership of non-real estate property. In a separate incident, Theron Drew sold his own personal home to non-members, and sued to recover it when they breached a contract with him. Neither had anything to do with the Hill of Promise which has been held in trust for the church since shortly after funds were gathered to repurchase it about 1891. That is no different than going back to purchase the Nauvoo temple site, or not having the temple site in Jackson County, Missouri.

Someone posted: "If you are interested, you might like to know that a similar claim was made by Alexandre Caffiaux. In 1963 . . ."

Caffiaux claimed that he was a successor to James Strang, but he had no credibility. That does not affect the claims of James Strang, anymore than any late offshoot would affect the claims of Joseph Smith.

Someone posted: "The Strang letter has been severely criticized by historians and scholars as being a fraud and deception."

Which historians are they, and where are the results of their scientific studies? Edward Eberstadt and Dale Morgan looked at the letter in 1950, and made some brief observations about a couple of characteristics, including a conclusion that the postmark was authentic. Without actually making a handwriting comparison, they noted a couple of specific attributes of Joseph Smith’s handwriting and Mormon documents in general, but they were demonstrably mistaken in their assumptions about the handwriting of those other unseen documents.

Someone posted: "It is particularly ludicrous that he would lead the church, since he had only been a member for a few months. Think about it. He was baptized in February, and the Prophet was killed in June of 1844."

This is actually important contextual evidence in favor of the appointment, because that was the method of Joseph Smith. Consider how fast people like William Marks, George Miller, John C. Bennett, George Adams, and William Law each rose to important positions in Nauvoo. Joseph did not pick the person who had been around the longest, he picked the person best suited for the position, presumably by revelation. From a spiritual standpoint about the speediness, James Strang had been a member longer than Joseph had been before Joseph became a prophet.

Someone posted: "You claim 13,000 followed [Strang to Voree], but I want some documentation. Is that to much to ask?"

I have a list of nearly 2,500 heads of household, which are documented to have followed Strang. Estimating an average family size of 5.5 persons, there would have been 13,000 members represented.

Someone posted: "If the President of the United States died right now, and the Governor of Minnesota claimed to have a letter from Clinton appointing him successor, wouldn’t the Congress, Senate, Vice President, and the Speaker of the House laugh at him?"

This is good rhetoric. However, what if the constitution said (1) that the current president appoints his own successor before he dies, (2) that it is done by revelation, and (3) that the revelation has to be in writing? That is what the constitution of the church (the Doctrine and Covenants) specified.  Anyway, an apostle is a traveling ambassador, not the vice president.

Someone posted: "A Revelation concerning James J. Strang given through President Brigham Young to Reuben Miller on January 30, 1846, at Nauvoo, Illinois."

Brigham Young was not authorized to receive revelations for the church, as he said he was not appointed by Joseph Smith, and he was not even elected until 1847.

D&C 28: 2, 7; 43: 3-6

2 But, behold, verily, verily, I say unto thee, no one shall be appointed to receive commandments and revelations in this church excepting my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., for he receiveth them even as Moses.

7 For I have given him the keys of the mysteries, and the revelations which are sealed, until I shall appoint unto them another in his stead.

3 And this ye shall know assuredly—that there is none other appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelations until he be taken, if he abide in me.

4 But verily, verily, I say unto you, that none else shall be appointed unto this gift except it be through him; for if it be taken from him he shall not have power except to appoint another in his stead.

5 And this shall be a law unto you, that ye receive not the teachings of any that shall come before you as revelations or commandments;

6 And this I give unto you that you may not be deceived, that you may know they are not of me.

Someone posted: "A Revelation given through Apostle Orson Hyde at Nauvoo, Illinois, in April 1846."

Orson Hyde was not authorized to receive revelations for the church, as he said he was not appointed by Joseph Smith.

D&C 28: 2, 7; 43: 3-6

2 But, behold, verily, verily, I say unto thee, no one shall be appointed to receive commandments and revelations in this church excepting my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., for he receiveth them even as Moses.

7 For I have given him the keys of the mysteries, and the revelations which are sealed, until I shall appoint unto them another in his stead.

3 And this ye shall know assuredly—that there is none other appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelations until he be taken, if he abide in me.

4 But verily, verily, I say unto you, that none else shall be appointed unto this gift except it be through him; for if it be taken from him he shall not have power except to appoint another in his stead.

5 And this shall be a law unto you, that ye receive not the teachings of any that shall come before you as revelations or commandments;

6 And this I give unto you that you may not be deceived, that you may know they are not of me.
 


Continuing Faith

For baptism for the remission
of sins, it is necessary only to have
faith toward God, and to repent of all sin.

To receive baptism by immersion, contact:

 

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
Mormon Road and Hwy. 11
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(800) 862-5667


 

 

One example of our
concise priesthood lineage

Prophet Joseph Smith, 1829

Ebenezer Page, 1830
(Early Mormon in N.Y., Missouri, brother of John E. Page,
Later an Apostle at Voree, Wis., and Beaver Island)


Elder Wingfield Watson, 1858
(Lived on Beaver Island)

Elder Joseph H. Hickey, 1907
(Son of L.D. Hickey who lived at Palmyra, N.Y., Nauvoo, Ill.,
Voree, Wis., and was an apostle on Beaver Island)


Elder Steve Barany, 1953
(Son-in-law of Joseph H. Hickey, died in 2010 at 95)

Others

 

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© 1996-2013 Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  All Rights Reserved.
The First Presidents of this Church were Joseph Smith Jr. 1830-1844, and James J. Strang 1844-1856.
The First Presidency was at Voree, Wisconsin 1844-1850, and St. James (Beaver Island), Michigan 1850-1856.

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