Category: From the Desk Co-posts

Documents and Dialogic Revelations

Joseph Smith began his ministry with a wealth of visions and revelations. Many among these were what have been called dialogic revelations–answers given by God to Joseph Smith in response to questions or specific situations. Written documents phrased as God speaking through Joseph Smith have been treated with particular weight, both by early Latter Day Saints and their spiritual heirs today. For those of us in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, however, most of his successors to the presidency of the Church have not used the same method of giving voice to the will of God. With John Taylor being the major exception, most Church leaders since the death of Joseph Smith have expressed what they believed that God wants to be done through sermons, instructions and policy making, or through group decisions made in the Quorum of the Twelve and First Presidency. As the second president of the Church, Brigham Young set this trend: he very rarely dictated revelations, with what is now Section 136 in the Doctrine and Covenants being the main exception.  In a recent BYU Studies publication, Christopher Blythe (a Research Associate at the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship and a former historian/documentary editor for the Joseph Smith Papers project) shared a document that records a revelation given by Brigham Young much later in his ministry (see here). Brigham Young shared this revelation during a discourse given in St. George during…

Temples, Sacrifices, and Revelations

Temples hold a central place in Latter-day Saint history. The narrative of building the Kirtland and Nauvoo Temples and the impact it had on our theology is a dominant theme of the early Church. Even going beyond that, however, much of the history that followed has temples looming in the background, even though it would be decades before another temple was completed in Utah Territory. In one of the recent Kurt Manwaring 10 questions interviews, Richard Bennett discusses some of his thoughts on the subject and his recent publication Temples Rising: A Heritage of Sacrifice. This is only a summary with some commentary here, but I suggest reading the full interview. Richard E. Bennett is a professor of Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University. He has been deeply involved with Mormon studies journals as a former president of the Mormon History Association, a former Associate Editor of the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies and a current member of the editorial board for BYU Studies. Bennett is the author of several historical works, including The Nauvoo Legion in Illinois: A History of the Mormon Militia, 1841–1846, We’ll Find the Place: The Mormon Exodus, 1846-1848, Mormons at the Missouri: 1846-1852, and Temples Rising: A Heritage of Sacrifice. Bennett’s attention was turned to temples by his studies of the Latter-day Saint exodus: While researching and writing my two books on the exodus … I learned that temples and temple covenants played…