Monday, August 8, 2011

Samuel Burgess on the Utah Saints

S. A. Burgess was a member of the RLDS Church Historian's Office in the first half of the twentieth century. Likely sometime in the 1920s, Burgess authored a pamphlet titled The Early History of Nauvoo. In the pamphlet, he offered an overview of (R)LDS history that included the following remarks:

The assassination of Joseph and Hyrum Smith at Carthage on June 27, 1844, followed by the repeal of the charter of the city of Nauvoo on January 13, 1845, led to the decline of the city. For a few years every effort was made to continue to erect substantial edifices, but the continued unrest in the city led to the agreement of many to withdraw from Nauvoo. A large part of these scattered throughout the neighboring States. A few thousand, however, under the leadership of Brigham Young and other members of the Twelve, proceeded in 1846 across Iowa to Kanesville or Council Bluffs, and thence to Utah....

This faction led by Brigham Young was only a small percentage of the original church, perhaps five or ten per cent at the most. After their arrival at Salt Lake City, all who went there were rebaptized. New doctrines were introduced, such as Adam God and blood atonement, and in 1852 a purported revelation was presented to the church by Brigham Young, favoring plural marriage. These doctrines of Adam God, blood atonement, and polygamy, were never tenets of the original church during the lifetime of Joseph Smith but were a departure from the early faith and doctrine....

From the first, the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has denounced polygamy and the other doctrines added by the church of Utah. They have also emphasized, and still do, that the original church never accepted nor had anything to do with these doctrines. The Reorganized Church was held the lawful successor or the continuation of the original church by Judge L. S. Sherman in the Kirtland Temple Suit, in the Court of Common Pleas, Lake County, Ohio, in 1880.

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