consolidated revelations recorded July 12, 1843
state: “Then shall they be gods, because they have
no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all
power, and the angels are subject unto them.”
Joseph lived and died in stratified antebellum America. The nation was divided over slavery.In that setting a religious idea of subservient angels obeying the commands of a worthy and exaltedman in a stratified afterlife was easy to grasp and accept. We may find it conceptually hard in post-Civil War/post-Civil Rights America,
but Joseph and his contemporaries lived in a differently ordered society. The idea that in the afterlife, mankind would be divided into groups of angels who would be subject to and serving more worthy gods was accepted and comfortable to them. Tounderstand their behavior we need to consider their very different world.Like his predecessor, Br
igham Young was ordained a “King, Priest and Ruler over Israel
Though the date of that ordination is not clear,
remarks by Governor Young clearly indicate he viewed his status to rule over others as God-given and kingly.
This testimony was given by Re
ynolds Cahoon’s son, Bishop Andrew Cahoon, in 1889:
“The King of that Kingdom that was set
up on the earth was the head of the Church. Brigham Young proclaimed himself King here in SaltLake Valley before there was a house built, in 1847.
In a sermon delivered on June 19, 1853, two years into his initial term, Governor Young addressed the saints in the Salt Lake Tabernacle as the church president.
: “We have
got a Territorial Government, and I am and will be Governor, and no power can hinder it, until the
I have discussed the history of this revelation (Section 132) at length in
Passing the Heavenly Gift
, (Mill Creek Press, Salt Lake City, 2011), showing it to be an amalgamation of at least five different revelations beginning in 1829.
D&C 132: 20.
For Latter-day Saints perhaps the difficulty may best be reckoned from Official Declaration 2 announced on June 8, 1978. This extended priesthood and Temple blessings to the descendants of former American slaves.
“Although the exa
ct date of which Brigham Young obtained the theocratic ordination of King, Priest, andRuler over Israel is not presently known, he undoubtedly received it in the same manner that Joseph Smith
did on 11 April 1844 and John Taylor did on 4 February 1885.”
(Quinn, p. 18.) On that same page Quinndiscusses an account of the John Taylor coronation ceremony, as recorded by Franklin D. Richards.
Given his insistence on being elected church president in 1847, over the active opposition of several other Apostles, it is likely he would not have waited long before receiving the kingship rites, as well. His successor, John Taylor, was elected church president in 1880 and received kingship five years later.
See Klaus J. Hansen,
Quest for Empire, The Political Kingdom of God and The Council of Fifty in Mormon History
,(University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 1967), p. 200 in footnote 74.
The dual nature of his status becomes apparent because Governor Young addressed the churchconferences about governmental concerns and the Legislature about religious concerns. The two roles wereentirely conflated.
This is best understood in the context of a Divine appointment as a “king” which allowed
him to move seamlessly in both capacities.