“President Brigham Young Leads the Saints“
This episode addresses the topic of prophetic succession in the Mormon tradition as well as the complex character of Brigham Young. The lesson and discussion cover the following topics:
- The effects of Joseph Smith’s death on the membership
- The various modes of succession that Joseph discussed (unknown to the Church at large) and the confusion that resulted
- Brigham and Emma’s relationship and the departure of Joseph’s family from the followers of Brigham Young
- The wives of Joseph Smith being divided among other leaders, especially Brigham and Heber Kimball
- Systems of succession in the LDS Church and Community of Christ, Seniority vs. Heredity
- The defunct office of Presiding Patriarch (ended in 1979)
- The idea of prophetic “mantle”
- How should we evaluate Brigham Young’s legacy as prophet?
One Time Donation:
Class Member Reading: Doctrine and Covenants 107:22–24; Joshua 1:1–5; 2 Kings 2:8–15; Jacob 1:12, 18–19
Additional Teacher Reading: Exodus 16:12–15
You can access the Assigned Reading Here
- The BCC post on this lesson
- BYU Studies article on the 1844 Succession Crisis
- Religious Studies Center (BYU) article on the Succession Crisis
- Succession in the Presidency, Encyclopedia of Mormonism
- A write up of Richard Bushman’s discussion of the “Routinization of Charisma” in Mormonism
- John Turner’s biography of Brigham Young
- The Mormon Channel’s podcast episode on the Succession
Many thanks to Devin Roth for the beautiful bumper music. Check out his arrangement of hymns and other work at DevinRothMusic!
Thanks to James Estrada of Oak Street Audio for his quality post-production, and especially to Devery Anderson for taking charge of this episode.
I’ve got nothing of substance to convey; just wanted to say thank you for putting this lesson (and others) together. As a Gospel Doctrine teacher, your site is tremendously valuable to me. Please keep up the great work!
Nate S says:
It seems fairly clear that had Hyrum not died, he would have succeeded Joseph as President of the Church. One of the funny twists of history, however, is that we actually do have Hyrum’s lineage much more cemented in the church anyway with Presidents Joseph F., Joseph Fielding, Elders McConkie and Ballard and probably other leaders I don’t know off hand.
I am about to scratch my eyes out after going to Gospel Doctrine on this lesson yesterday! I wish that the manuals had 1/10 of the ACTUAL historical events that characterized the succession. I don’t understand why we are so afraid of our history. It IS messy, and there is definitely a need to keep the Brighamite’s confident that their branch of Mormonism is the right way, but I am just BORED to tears on the approach and using the same, tired “faith-promoting” stories (Brigham’s “transfiguration” for one). I really like this approach taken in the podcast, where it shows that there WAS extreme confusion about succession, instead of the GD manual teaching that God’s way is not confusion, but clearly ordered and since there was an early revelation that the Q12 was equal in authority to the First Presidency, that of course, Brigham was the one chosen by God to become the next prophet.
Anyway, thanks again for your thoughtful and thorough approach to these lessons. I LOVED the inclusion of our brothers/sisters in the Community of Christ, as it brings so much to the discussion. I am re-listening to this again just for my own sanity!!
Had to miss this episode originally, but just wanted to chime in that I thought it was absolutely fantastic! So glad the CoC perspective was brought in. Great Work! If only we could move our ward sunday school classes an inch in this direction….
Another good resource for information on the succession crisis that I found helpful is from “The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power” by D. Michael Quinn, chapters 5 and 6.
Each of you did a wonderful job. Very informative and worth thinking about. I especially liked the part about the mantel that falls on us as followers of Christ & respecting but not idolizing the leaders of the Church. I’m always very interested in the CoC perspective too. So thank you to all!