Five fascinating facts about the Council of Fifty

The Council of Fifty was a secret organization founded by the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1844. The previously inaccessible records — or minutes — kept by the group remained a source of much speculation until they were made public in 2016. A new book titled “The Council of Fifty: What the Records Reveal about Mormon History” contains 15 essays about various topics of interest from the minutes of the council.

Among the many insights shared in the book are five fascinating facts about the Council of Fifty minutes. Continue reading “Five fascinating facts about the Council of Fifty”

Five questions and answers about Parley P. Pratt

The life of Parley P. Pratt is inextricably linked with the early history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Terryl L. Givens and Matthew J. Grow shed additional light on Pratt’s life and his influence on the early history of the LDS Church in their new biography, “Parley P. Pratt: The Apostle Paul of Mormonism.” The contents of the book, along with a recent lecture by the authors at Benchmark Books in Salt Lake City, provide answers to many questions about Pratt, including the following:

 

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10 questions and answers about Joseph Smith and seer stones

While working on a review of a book about Joseph Smith and seer stones, my daughter came home from church and told me they had talked about seer stones in Sunday School. “The teacher said we should believe Joseph Smith was a prophet,” she said, “even though he made mistakes like using seer stones.”

The comment provided a good opportunity to discuss how seer stones were not a mistake, but rather a common tool of the age in which Joseph Smith lived – though he certainly came to use seer stones in ways previously unheard of.

It also gave us more time to talk about how new thoughts can appear threatening and we should be patient with those who are trying to reconcile historical truths with religious beliefs.

Seer stone, Photo Source: josephsmithpapers.org

The following 10-question Q&A was originally published in the Deseret News on Feb. 26, 2017. Continue reading “10 questions and answers about Joseph Smith and seer stones”

The Council of Fifty minutes on perfect revelation

The Council of Fifty minutes include a fascinating quote on “perfect revelation,” or whether a revelation requires perfect wording to be the word of God.

The Council of Fifty was an exclusive organization founded by Joseph Smith in 1844. The minutes of the council were published by the Church Historians Press in 2016 as part of the Joseph Smith Papers Project. The minutes include a wide variety of topics ranging from spiritual teachings to discussions about Indians to desires to form a new government.

The context for the quote is a series of discussions within the Council of Fifty about drafting a new constitution. The committee was somewhat paralyzed by fear of making a mistake and thus had difficulty getting started. One of the viewpoints shared was that of Brigham Young, who commented on Joseph Smith’s prophetic authority.

Included in his commentary is a fascinating quote about the word-for-word perfection of revelation. Continue reading “The Council of Fifty minutes on perfect revelation”

Nicholas J. Frederick comments on Joseph Smith’s seer stones

In early 2017, I published a short Q&A for the Deseret News on Joseph Smith and seer stones. The article was intended for a general audience and based upon a book by Michael Hubbard Mackay and Nicholas J. FederickJoseph Smith’s Seer Stones.

Seer stone, Photo Source: josephsmithpapers.org

The book is rather short, but not necessary entirely conducive to concise and understandable descriptions of common questions about the topic. In an effort to secure quotes about popular questions that could easily fit within the narrative tone of the article, I contacted the authors for an interview.

Frederick consulted with Mackay and responded to the three questions I posed on November 05, 2016.

Continue reading “Nicholas J. Frederick comments on Joseph Smith’s seer stones”