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Alien Isolation Collection €? PROPHET

In the Hebrew canon of Scripture, the collection of books called The Prophets includes the books of Joshua, Judges, 1-2 Samuel, and 1-2 Kings (the Former Prophets). However, when we speak of the Prophets we are usually referring to the Latter Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Book of the Twelve (the Minor Prophets). Even though included with the prophets in the Christian canon of the Old Testament, Daniel is often considered devotional literature and not a prophetic book.

Alien Isolation Collection – PROPHET

Perhaps we also ought to establish what we mean by "prophets." Obviously, we are talking about a collection of biblical texts. But how we think about the role of a prophet in Israelite religion and culture may influence how we think about what they have to say about social ethics. There is not enough time to explore this. So, let me just make two statements about prophets.

When Mormonism, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as it came to be officially designated, first emerged on the religious scene in 1830, it was simply one of the many, often short-lived, new religious groups born amidst the spiritual ferment of mid-nineteenth-century America. But by the mid-1840s, Mormonism had established itself as a dynamic and distinctive new religious tradition. The historical significance of Mormonism lies not so much in its size and success in gaining adherents. (By 1845, it had nearly 40,000 believers; by 1870, 120,000. The Mormon TempleSalt Lake City, Utah, ca. 1880-1900Library of CongressToday, with over seven million members in the United States alone, Mormonism is among the fastest growing of the world's religions.) What is most significant historically about Mormonism is that it was not simply another Christian sect or denomination but was the only new religious tradition founded in nineteenth-century America. Equally important is Mormonism's complex and embattled relation to both the society from which it emerged and to the evangelicalism that was such a dominant force in the society.Doctrine and HistoryThe birth of Mormonism centered on one man, Joseph Smith, Jr. (1806-1844) a farmer from theregion of western New York known as the "burned-over district" because of its unrelenting religious enthusiasm. It was launched in 1830 with the publication of the Book of Mormon, the sacred text which became the foundation for new religion. As Smith told the story, seven years earlier the angel Moroni had appeared before him and told him of a book written on gold plates and buried in a hill outside Manchester, New York. Then, on September 22, 1827, after other visitations from Moroni the plates were turned over to Smith. Over the next twenty-four months, Smith and a few trusted associates, using special, ancient, "seer" stones, "translated" the Egyptian hieroglyphics of the plates into English. When they had finished this arduous task, Smith reported, as arranged, he delivered the plates back to the angel.The Book of Mormon was not simply an arresting and powerful spiritual treatise like John Fox's Book of Martyrs, which became the foundational text of Quakerism. Rather, Smith promulgated it as a new, sacred and canonical text, a wholly new dispensation of scriptural truth that God, working through the angel Moroni and his chosen earthly vessel, Joseph Smith, delivered to humankind. As such, for Mormon believers, the Book of Mormon possesses the same canonical standing as the old and new testaments do for Protestants and Catholics. In fact,just as early Christians saw the New Testament, with its narrative of Christ as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophesies, as the completion of God's delivery of scriptural truth, so too did Mormons see the Book of Mormon, with its prediction of a new prophetic figure, as God's third and final dispensation. To believers, in fact, the Book of Mormon built directly on the promises and predictions of the earlier texts: it was the "sealed" book, described in the Book of Isaiah, theappearance of which would signal the coming of the "end-times" predicted in the Book of Revelation. Thus did the Mormons identify themselves as "saints," the new Israelites called out from the Gentiles to usher in the millennium. Finally, the Book of Mormon revealed that on the day it "spoke out of the ground," a prophet, named Joseph like his father, would appear and, with the aid of revelations delivered to him directly from God, establish the Godly kingdom on earththat would prepare the way for Christ's Second Coming. From the beginning, Joseph Smith and his followers provoked ridicule for Mormonism's seemingly magical if not superstitious origins, and opposition as a heresy that dared to claim itself "the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth." Feeling themselves persecuted by their upstate New York neighbors, they organized separate Mormon settlements in Kirtland, Ohio, and in Independence, Missouri. Kirtland was the seat of the prophet where in l836 the Mormons built and consecrated an elaborate temple. In both places, they isolatedthemselves from their neighbors, and, much as other nineteenth-century religious communitarian groups like the Shakers or the Amish, set up cohesive, economically self-sufficient and largely self-governing communities, setting themselves up not simply as a group of worshipers but as a people apart. Neither Ohio nor Missouri provided adequate refuge against the hostility of neighbors suspicious of Mormon belief and fearful of Mormonism's growing numbers and economic prosperity and power. In 1833 their Missouri neighbors attacked the settlement, forcing the Mormons to abandon Independence. Opposition also intensified back in Ohio and by early l838 most of the Kirtland Mormons, led by the prophet, had departed for Missouri, where they joined forces with their Independence coreligionists who had resettled in a county organized especially for them. Still, the tension between the Mormons and their Gentile neighbors escalated into armed conflict, and the saints were forced to flee once again.In the spring of 1839, nearly 15,000 Mormons crossed into Illinois, where they purchased the town of Commerce, which they renamed Nauvoo. Granted a charter that made Nauvoo virtually an independent municipality with its own court system and militia, the Mormon settlement by l844 had become the largest city in the state. In Nauvoo, Smith completed the process of organizational and doctrinal consolidation begun in Kirtland. What had begun as an effort to recover the clarity and simplicity of early Christianity and the pure and authoritative forms of the apostolic church, developed into a more doctrinally complex and more elaborate and hierarchical religious structure. With the consecration of the temple in Kirtland, Smith turned away from the example of the early church and embraced more ancient Hebraic models of organization. In addition to deacons, elders, priests and bishops, he instituted a "First Presidency," composed of Smith as president and two counselors, a high counsel, a special Quorum of Seventy, a Council of Twelve Apostles, and a patriarch, the first of which Smith ordained his own father. Finally, revelation granted the Lord's "servant, Joseph Smith, jun.," the sole authority for receiving "commandments and revelations" from God. In addition to this revelation securing the ultimate authority of the prophet (and president), Smith announced the key revelation concerning "celestial marriage" under which saints' marriages were "sealed" for eternity. This doctrine became the basis for the revelation (disclosed to a chosen few saints in l843) for the practice of "plural marriages," under which select and worthy Mormon men couldtake multiple wives. Growing Mormon power alarmed their initially welcoming Illinois neighbors. In addition totheir economic power, Mormons voted as a block in accordance with revelation announced fromthe pulpit. In 1844, Smith, who had revealed a plan for organizing the kingdom of God on earthwith himself as king, declared his candidacy for president of the United States. In June, JosephSmith and his brother Hyrum were arrested, dragged from jail, and murdered by a group ofmilitia called out to protect the state against a feared Mormon uprising. After Smith's murder,the Mormons regrouped and under the leadership of Brigham Young, selected as Smith'ssuccessor as prophet and president, undertook the "great trek" westward to the Utah Territory,where they established a virtual Mormon kingdom, centered in Great Salt Lake City, which theycalled the State of Deseret. In Utah, under the long leadership of Young (1847-1877), buildingon the precepts of plural marriage and patriarchal, prophetic governance promulgated by JosephSmith, the Mormons established a unique, cohesive, economically self-sufficient, and thrivingsociety. Indeed, at the time of Young's death in l877, the Utah Mormons, augmented byconverts from England and elsewhere in Europe, numbered close to 150,000. The Great BasinKingdom endured largely intact into the 1880s. But then, due to mounting hostility that centeredon the practice of polygamy (which the U.S. Congress declared illegal by the Edmunds Act of l882), the Mormons relinquished their most controversial doctrine. After the arrest of a numberof Mormon leaders, the president of the church, Wilford Woodruff, in exchange for grantingUtah statehood, agreed to halt plural marriage and dissolve the separate Mormon political party.Religious and Social SourcesThroughout the nineteenth century and most of the twentieth, Mormonism has been viewed as anaberrant, bizarre, isolated, and largely self-contained religious movement cut off from themainstream of American society. But what this picture obscures is the extent to whichMormonism, for all its distinctiveness, was not only rooted in many of the broader ideas thatcharacterized early nineteenth-century evangel


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