Mormons: Pentecostals Gone Bad!

Posted: September 9, 2012 in Charismata, Fred Anson, Mormon Studies, Pentecostalism, Theology, Tongues Speaking

by Fred W. Anson
(Second Edition to original June 2009 edition published on “Concerned Christians”)
Tongues speaking, vision seeing, holy rolling Mormons? For many the fact that primitive Mormonism was as Pentecostal as their local Foursquare or Assemblies of God Church may come as a shock but it’s a historical fact.

And could there be any greater evidence of the Pentecostalism of early Mormonism than the Dedication of the Kirtland Temple? Maybe, but it’s pretty hard to top – especially since we have such a rich trove of first hand reports to choose from.  A few of these accounts follow this brief introduction.

And since this author comes from a Pentecostal/Charismatic tradition I think it important to note that I’m not saying that these experiences would be considered legitimate by Christians of any ilk either then or now. Thankfully, the test for orthodoxy then, as it is now, rests on Biblical authority as well as reasonable empiricism and common sense (well, at least for the most part on the last one). Consider, for example, this empirical commentary from a modern Mormon Studies Scholar who suggests that something more than a move of the Spirit was a factor in Early Mormon practice of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit (aka “Charismata”):

Oh, there was prophesying, testifying, speaking in tongues, blessing and cursing, visions, angels, appearances by all kinds of characters including Elijah, Jesus, Adam, and Abraham.

But the Mormon church conveniently never discusses the fact that everyone arrived fasted – starving and thirsty. And how did they break the fast? With the Lord’s Supper, of course: bread and wine. Lots of wine.[1]

Yet despite any challenges to the causality, legitimacy or orthodoxy of any particular charismatic expression  Early Mormonism was unquestionably rooted in the burgeoning Pentecostalism of it’s day. Further, you can still see evidences and echoes of that legacy in the modern LdS Church – though today it’s only a shadow-like (actually more like a zombie-like, that is, animated but dead) aberration of what it once was.

 First Hand Accounts of the Dedication of the Kirtland Temple:
Joseph Smith, Jr.
“Brother George A. Smith arose and began to prophesy, when a noise was heard like the sound of a rushing mighty wind, which filled the Temple, and all the congregation simultaneously arose, being moved upon by an invisible power; many began to speak in tongues and prophesy; others saw glorious visions; and I beheld the Temple was filled with angels, which fact I declared to the congregation. The people of the neighborhood came running together (hearing an unusual sound within, and seeing a bright light like a pillar of fire resting upon the Temple), and were astonished at what was taking place.”[2]

Oliver Cowdery
“Sunday, the 27th attended on the dedication of the Lord’s house. For the particulars of this great event see my account written by myself, and printed in the March No. of The Messenger and Advocate, signed C. In the evening I met with the officers of the church in the Lord’s house. The Spirit was poured out–I saw the glory of God, like a great cloud, come down and rest upon the house, and fill the same like a mighty rushing wind. I also saw cloven tongues, like as of fire rest upon many, (for there were 316 present,) while they spake with other tongues and prophesied.”[3]

Heber C. Kimball
“During the ceremonies of the dedication, an angel appeared and sat near President Joseph Smith, Sen., and Frederick G. Williams, so that they had a fair view of his person. He was a very tall personage, black eyes, white hair, and stoop shouldered; his garment was whole, extending to near his ankles; on his feet he had sandals. He was sent as a messenger to accept of the dedication…While these things were being attended to the beloved disciple John was seen in our midst by the Prophet Joseph, Oliver Cowdery and others.”[4]

George A. Smith
“There were great manifestations of power, such as speaking in tongues, seeing visions, administration of angels. Many individuals bore testimony that they saw angels, and David Whitmer bore testimony that he saw three angels passing up the south aisle, and there came a shock on the house like the sound of a mighty rushing wind, and almost every man in the house arose, and hundreds of them were speaking in tongues, prophecying or declaring visions, almost with one voice.”[5]

Eliza R. Snow
“One striking feature of the ceremonies, was the grand shout of hosanna, which was given by the whole assembly, in standing position, with uplifted hands. The form of the shout is as follows: ‘Hosanna-hosanna-hosanna-to God and the Lamb-amen-amen, and amen.’ The foregoing was deliberately and emphatically pronounced, and three times repeated, and with such power as seemed almost sufficient to raise the roof from the building.

A singular incident in connection with this shout may be discredited by some, but it is verily true. A notice had been circulated that children in arms would not be admitted at the dedication of the temple. A sister who had come a long distance with her babe, six weeks old, having, on her arrival, heard of the above requisition, went to the patriarch Joseph Smith, Sr., in great distress, saying that she knew no one with whom she could leave her infant; and to be deprived of the privilege of attending the dedication seemed more than she could endure. The ever generous and kind-hearted father volunteered to take the responsibility on himself, and told her to take her child, at the same time giving the mother a promise that her babe should make no disturbance; and the promise was verified. But when the congregation shouted hosanna, that babe joined in the shout. As marvelous as that incident may appear to many, it is not more so than other occurrences on that occasion

The ceremonies of that dedication may be rehearsed, but no mortal language can describe the heavenly manifestations of that memorable day. Angels appeared to some, while a sense of divine presence was realized by all present, and each heart was filled with ‘joy inexpressible and full of glory.'”[6]

Benjamin Brown
“There the Spirit of the Lord, as on the day of Pentecost, was profusely poured out. Hundreds of Elders spoke in tongues. We had a most glorious and never-to-be-forgotten time. Angels were seen by numbers present. It was also at this time that Elijah the Prophet appeared, and conferred upon Joseph the keys of turning the hearts of the fathers to the children, previous to the re-institution of the ordinance of baptism for the dead.”[7]

Truman Angell
“When about midway during the prayer, there was a glorious sensation passed through the house [Kirtland Temple]; and we, having our heads bowed in prayer, felt a sensation very elevating to the soul. At the close of the prayer, F. [Frederick] G. Williams being in the upper east stand- -Joseph being in the speaking stand next below–rose and testified that midway during the prayer an holy angel came and seated himself in the stand. When the afternoon meeting assembled, Joseph, feeling very much elated, arose the first thing and said the personage who had appeared in the morning was the Angel Peter come to accept the dedication.”[8]

NOTES
[1] Shamdango, “Alcohol & Mormon Temples: Getting Crunk in the House of the Lord”; (http://www.whymormons.net/2008/04/alcohol-mormon-temples.html ; retrieved 2009-06; link now dead but full text follows in Appendix A)
[2] Joseph Smith, “History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”, 7 vols., introduction and notes by B. H. Roberts (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1932-1951), Volume 2, p.428.
[3] Leonard J. Arrington, “Oliver Cowdery’s Kirtland Ohio ‘Sketch Book,'” BYU Studies, Volume 12, (Summer 1972), 426.
[4] Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. (London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot, 1854-1886), Volume 9, p.376
[5] Ibid, Volume 11, p.10.
[6] Edward W. Tullidge, “The Women of Mormondom” (New York: Tullidge & Crandall, 1877), p.95
[7] Benjamin Brown, “Testimony for the Truth,” Gems for the Young Folks (Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor Office, 1881), p.65
[8] Truman Angell, Autobiography, Our Pioneer Heritage, Writings of Early Latter-day Saints, p.198.

APPENDIX A:
Alcohol & Mormon Temples: Getting Crunk in the House of the Lord

by “Shamdango” (author’s pen name)
To “get crunk”: (verb) The act of getting crazy drunk.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is quick to tell fascinating tales of spiritual manifestations about its temples.

Some fantastic tales are the remarkable events that transpired in 1836 before and during the dedication of the Kirtland temple.

Oh, there was prophesying, testifying, speaking in tongues, blessing and cursing, visions, angels, appearances by all kinds of characters including Elijah, Jesus, Adam, and Abraham.

But the Mormon church conveniently never discusses the fact that everyone arrived fasted – starving and thirsty. And how did they break the fast? With the Lord’s Supper, of course: bread and wine. Lots of wine.

Speaking of the endowment event, William Harris gives us this account: “In the evening, they met for the endowment. The fast was then broken by eating light wheat bread, and drinking as much wine as they saw proper. Smith knew well how to infuse the spirit which they expected to receive; so he encouraged the brethren to drink freely, telling them that the wine was consecrated, and would not make them drunk…..they began to prophecy, pronounce blessings upon their friends, and curses on their enemies. If I should be so unhappy as to go to the regions of the damned, I would never expect to hear language more awful, or more becoming the infernal pit, than was uttered that night.”

Some years later, a brother Milo Andress “spoke of blessings and power of God manifested in the Kirtland Temple. Said he once asked the Prophet why he (Milo) did not feel the power that was spoken of as the power that was felt on the day of the Pentecost?….when we had fasted for 24 hours and partaken of the Lord’s supper, namely a piece of bread as big as your double fist and a half pint of wine in the Temple. I was there and saw the Holy Ghost descend upon the heads of those present like cloven tongues of fire.” – Diary of Charles L. Walker 1855-1902, excerpts typed 1969, page 35.

Mrs. Alfred Morley made this comment: “I have heard many Mormons who attended the dedication, or endowment of the Temple say that very many became drunk….The Mormon leaders would stand up to prophesy and were so drunk they said they could not get it out and would call for another drink. Over a barrel of liquor was used at the service.”

Isaac Aldrich stated: “My brother, Hazen Aldrich, who as president of the Seventies, told me when the Temple was dedicated a barrel of wine was used and they had a drunken pow-wow.”

Stephen H. Hart gave this information: “Mr McWhithey, who was a Mormon…said he attended a service which lasted from 10 AM until 4 PM, and there was another service in the evening. The Lord’s Supper was celebrated and they passed the wine in pails several times to the audience, and each person drank as much as he chose from a cup. He said it was mixed liquor and he believed the Mormon leaders intended to get the audience under the influence of the mixed liquor, so they would believe it was the Lord’s doings….When the liquor was repassed, Mr McWhithey told them he had endowment enough, and said he wanted to get out of the Temple, which was densely crowded.”

“The great heavenly ‘visitation,’ which was alleged to have taken place in the temple at Kirtland, was a grand fizzle. The elders were assembled on the appointed day, which was promised would be a veritable day of Pentecost, but there was no visitation. No Peter, James and John; no Moses and Elias, put in an appearance. ‘I was in my seat on that occasion,’ says Mr. Whitmer, ‘and I know that the story sensationally circulated, and which is now on the records of the Utah Mormons as an actual happening, was nothing but a trumped up yarn…”

High Priest David Whitmer, one of the Three Witnesses, The Des Moines Daily News, Oct. 16, 1886;

The statement by Mormon Apostle George A. Smith would also lead a person to believe that wine was used to excess: “… after the people had fasted all day, they sent out and got wine and bread…. they ate and drank…. some of the High Counsel of Missouri stepped into the stand, and, as righteous Noah did when he awoke from his wine, commenced to curse their enemies (Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, p.216).

Yes, wine was pouring that day and everyone was “drunk” with the spirit, from having drunk too many spirits.

It seems that the majority of the time, you can hardly find Joseph Smith having any of his historical visions and visitations without having the Lord’s Supper somewhere around the event – lots of wine.

It wasn’t until July 5, 1906 that the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles officially abandoned the practice of drinking wine in their weekly temple sacrament meetings.

The early initiatory ordinances also included bathing naked in strong perfumed “spirits” (e.g. whiskey) You can learn more about that here.

It’s apparent that the early saints were much more liberal with the wine at Joseph Smith’s request. Have you ever noticed that the outpouring of the spiritual manifestations and pentecostal gifts seemed to fade once Joseph Smith was gone?

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Comments
  1. fredwanson says:

    DISCUSSION THREAD ON THIS ARTICLE REPOSTED FROM FACEBOOK WITH DON PRIEST’S PERMISSION:
    Don Priest Being a Pentecostal, I can honestly say that I know many Pentecostals that have erred where the Biblical text is concerned. That’s why it is imperative as Paul said in I Corinthians, that prophecy be judged. That doesn’t happen much any more. There are many voices in the spirit, but only One Holy Spirit. Paul said, if any man calls Jesus accursed, he is not speaking by the Holy Spirit. I would say that Mormon theology on Jesus the Christ about sums up that statement. Thanks for the article though. It helps to be reminded that we need to stand strong on the written Word of God while following the Spirit of God. Blessings!

    Fred W. Anson Not much to add Don but, “Yep!” I can’t pick up a copy of Charisma magazine any more without getting nauseous.

    Particularly troubling (and I think that Bob Betts may well remember this too) was the Charismatic guy who posted on the old Concerned Christians discussion board and essentially chewed us out for opposing Mormonism because some big name Pentecostal Prophetess that he followed had given several prophetic utterances from “the Lord” that Mormons were our brothers and sisters in Christ.

    Even more troubling is the former Liberty University Professor, Lynn Ridenhour who after receiving the Baptism in the Holy Spirit received a “revelation” that the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. Mr. Ridenhour – an ordained Baptist minister who has transitioned through both the LdS Church and the Community of Christ (aka “RLDS Church”) without being baptized into either – is now running a “bridge ministry” that he hopes will unite Pentecostal/Charismatic Christians with those in the LDS Movement.

    Personally, I consider Mr. Ridenhour and Richard J. Muow (whose book I reviewed and whose Mormon Studies behavior Mike Thomas critiqued on Beggar’s Bread) the two most dangerous Evangelicals of our day in regard to taking a Biblically appropriate approach to Mormonism.

    I always warns others about them – as I have just done.

    Don Priest That’s VERY unfortunate. So sorry that there are false prophets out there claiming they are Christian prophets. (sounds familiar…) But there are the right ones too. It’s easy to “throw the baby out with the bathwater”, just remember that not all of us are “off”. Keep spreading the Gospel my brother!

    Fred W. Anson Oh yes, Don I understand that. Remember I too am a Charismatic and I haven’t abandoned the TRUE Biblical restoration that started with the Reformation and continued with Cane Ridge as well as The Welsh, Billy Graham and Azusa Street Revivals.

    To name only a few . . .

    Don Priest Thanks

    Like

  2. […] While I was preparing the prior Beggar Bread article, “Mormons: Pentecostals Gone Bad!”  I was fortunate enough to find an email address for the webmaster of the now (and I hope […]

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