Brigham Young: Prophet of God

This post is about Brigham Young. We all know the legacy of Brigham Young. We all know that he played a major role in keeping the church together after the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith. We all know that he persuaded many of the members that the keys of the Priesthood were with the Twelve Apostles instead of Sidney Rigdon and others who were making such claims. We all know the story of how he lead the single greatest emigration in the history of United States across the Great Plains into the Salt Lake Valley. We all know how he was one of the key instruments in taking a desert and turning it into a magnificent city to be the headquarters of the Kingdom of God. However, as great as this American Moses was, and still is, there are currently attempts to erase and discredit him and his legacy and teachings.

Brigham Young is being attacked on several accounts both inside and outside the church. So-called “social justice warriors” attack him because they see him as this male super-dictator who only delights in the abuse and oppression of women. They see him as a man solely motivated by money and sex. The idea that he could be a prophet of God is so foolish to them that they don’t give it a passing thought. Faithful church members even brush him aside like he is that one crazy uncle who only gets out during the holidays. The list goes on and on.

Since the man, who was willing to stand by the Prophet Joseph Smith through both thick and thin, is being figuratively stoned by church members and non-church members alike, it’s about time somebody stood up to defend him. This is the mission of Defending Brigham.

It is my understanding and belief that Brigham Young was a prophet of God who held the keys of the Priesthood and acted as President of the Church and Kingdom of God while on the earth. It is also our understanding and belief that he did not err in his calling, teachings, or course of action. As it was said of Joseph, so it can be said of Brigham:

“He has… gathered many thousands of the Latter-day Saints, founded a great city, and left a fame and name that cannot be slain. He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood. … [He] lived for glory; [he] died for glory; and glory is [his] eternal reward. From age to age shall [his] [name] go down to posterity as [a] [gem] for the sanctified. [1]

This article is intended mainly for those members of the Church who revere Brigham Young as a prophet of God (if not in deed, at least in word). Those who don’t see him as prophet of God have other things to work on before this article really applies to them. Now, before you go on to claim that you believe Brigham Young is prophet of God, let’s take some time to figure out a little bit of who Brigham Young actually was.

Noble and Great One

We are all aware, or should be aware, of the vision recorded by Joseph F. Smith in the 138th section of the Doctrine and Covenants. In this vision, Joseph F. Smith saw some of the “noble and great ones who were chosen in the beginning to be rulers in the Church of God.” He says that some of these choice spirits, among others, were: Noah, Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Elijah, several of the Nephite prophets, and Joseph Smith. That is a super-star list of prophets if you ask me. Yet, what I did not mention is that within this grand army of God’s most elect men that have ever lived, Joseph F. Smith also saw the man known as Brigham Young. Yes, Brigham Young was put on the same scale as Nephi, Joseph Smith, Elijah, Moses, etc. Now, what would you think if I told you that some of these men’s teachings were merely their opinions or speculations? How would you feel if I tried to brush off or bury what these guys taught?

Loyalty to Joseph Smith

Not only was Brigham Young a noble and great one, but he was a devout follower of and very loyal to the Prophet Joseph Smith. When several of the church authorities had a meeting in the Kirtland Temple to plot how to replace Joseph Smith as President of the Church, who stood up and rebuked these men – some who had been called as Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ and some who had seen and felt the golden plates? Who stood up to them? Brigham Young. [2] Out of the original Twelve Apostles, who was one of the two that Joseph Smith said had never “lifted their heel against me”? Brigham Young. [3] Who took a cruel reprimand from the Prophet Joseph Smith for something he didn’t do and afterwards simply and sincerely asked, “Joseph, what do you want me to do?” Brigham Young. [4]

Spirit of Revelation

Brigham Young was very much in tune with the spirit of revelation. Wilford Woodruff testified of this fact in a discourse he delivered in the Tabernacle in December 1869.

Any man who has traveled with President Young knows he is a prophet of God. He has foretold a great many things that have come to pass. All the Saints who are well acquainted with him know that he is governed and controlled by the power of God and the revelations of Jesus Christ. [5]

More evidence of this comes from the fact that while he was on a mission in England, he came to the knowledge of the fact that 1) God was once a man and that we can one day be like him and 2) the doctrine of plural marriage originated with God. He had received personal revelation from the Lord telling him these things. Oh, yeah, you know what else? His mission to England was before Joseph Smith had even taught him these doctrines. [6]

Prophesied to Lead the Church

Joseph Smith prophesied, on at least two separate occasions, that Brigham Young would lead the church. The first time Joseph Smith ever saw Brigham Young was when he (Joseph) and Levi Hancock were chopping wood. Joseph said to Levi,

“There is the greatest man that ever lived to teach redemption to the world and will yet lead this people.” [7]

Another time, during a meeting, Joseph called upon Brigham to say a prayer. Brigham did. In the “pure Adamic language.” Then, once again, Joseph remarked,

“The time will come when brother Brigham Young will preside over this Church.” [8]

Both of these statements, however, were not in the presence of Brigham Young. So what did Joseph say in Brigham’s presence? Although not a prophesy, he told Brigham that if he were to die, Brigham was the only man who could lead the Kingdom.

“If I am moved out of the way you are the only man living on this earth who can counsel and direct the affairs of the Kingdom of God on the earth.” [9]

Manifestations of Prophetic Calling

With the recent passing of President Monson, it was time to re-organize the First Presidency with a new President of the Church. No special manifestations during events like this have happened (that we know of) since the death of Wilford Woodruff and subsequent calling of Lorenzo Snow. Many people know about the transfiguration of Brigham Young. However, even that is being attacked. A great article on ldsanswers.org documenting the reality of this manifestation can be read here.

There was another lesser-known manifestation that occurred during the winter of 1847-48 that adds more credence to the prophetic calling of Brigham Young. The Twelve Apostles met in the cabin of Orson Hyde in Hyde Park, Iowa. Orson Hyde relates:

“We were in prayer and council, communing together; and what took place on that occasion? The voice of God came from on high, and spake to the Council. Every latent feeling was aroused, and every heart melted. What did it say unto us? “Let my servant Brigham step forth and receive the full power of the presiding Priesthood in my Church and kingdom.” This was the voice of the Almighty unto us at Council Bluffs, before I removed to what was called Kanesville. It has been said by some that Brigham was appointed by the people, and not by the voice of God. I do not know that this testimony has often, if ever, been given to the masses of the people before; but I am one that was present, and there are others here that were also present on that occasion, and did hear and feel the voice from heaven, and we were filled with the power of God.” [10]

Promise To Never Fall Away

Brigham Young, on at least 3 different occasions, recalled that the Lord had given the Prophet Joseph Smith a revelation promising that he (Brigham Young) could not fall away. Brigham had “passed the ordeal” or “bounds” – as he called it. He had reached “a certain point” in his life when God would “take him out of the world” rather than let him depart from the faith. He would not be allowed to apostatize from the gospel. He could not stray from the truth. He wasn’t able to bring evil upon the people. If there was “any danger of [Brigham] doing this,” the Lord would take him home to Himself. [11]

This item is of significant importance. If Brigham Young was really given this promise, then many of his more controversial teachings that he promoted and taught as gospel truth, but are now said to be theories and speculations, need to be reconsidered. If he wasn’t allowed to apostatize from the gospel, depart from the faith, bring evil upon the people, or stray from the truth, then his teachings about God, priesthood, marriage, etc. are either in harmony with gospel truth or God went back on His promise. Why would God allow him to teach falsehoods for 25+ years when already having promised him that he would not be allowed to stray from the truth?

Conclusion

It is evident from the events we have documented here and the numerous others that we haven’t documented that Brigham Young was 1) one of the noble and great ones during the council in heaven, 2) was very loyal to Joseph Smith, 3) gained his knowledge from the spirit of revelation, 4) was prophesied to lead the church, 5) had divine manifestations accompany his prophetic calling, and 6) was promised that he could not fall away.

It is also evident from the blogosphere, Sunday School, and certain essays that these 6 items are not fully comprehended by those inside and outside the church. I have just scratched the surface of the life, teachings, attributes, and character of Brigham Young. Those who sincerely and earnestly study this man will come to the same knowledge that I have, namely, that Brigham Young is a Prophet of God.

 

References

[1] D&C 135:3 & 6

[2] “History of Brigham Young,” Deseret News, 10 Feb. 1858, p. 386.

[3] History of the Church 5:412

[4] The Prophet Joseph Smith, Truman G. Madsen, pg 87-88

[5] JD 13:165

[6] The Complete Discourses of Brigham Young 4:2383 & Minutes of the Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1835-1893, pg 196

[7] Diary of Charles Lowell Walker, 13 May 1876

[8] Millennial Star Vol 25, pg 439

[9] The Complete Discourses of Brigham Young 4:2381

[10] JD 8:233-234

[11] JD 12:103, JD 9:142 & Minutes of the Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1835-1893, pg 196

21 thoughts on “Brigham Young: Prophet of God”

    1. Madeline Theobald

      Thank you for this article. I have never questioned Brigham Young being a Prophet, have read many of his teachings, and your article has added to my testimony of this great man. We are so blessed to have the opportunity to learn of all the leaders that we have had in this dispensation, and really why should we question any of them! I’m grateful to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and to be able to sustain each Prophet as they are called. I have lived under the guidance of prophets since 1959 and loved them all.

  1. I agree with everything that you said. However you did not address any issue whatsoever that comes up as opposition to Brigham Young. It would be nice to have a transparent discussion about those things as well. There’s nothing I’ve ever heard about Brigham Young that tears me from supporting him so why avoid that discussion?

    1. Defending Brigham

      One group Utah Women Unite pushes for the monuments to him in This is the Place park, etc to be taken down just like Confederate leaders’ statues are being taken down in the south.

      Certain essays imply heavily that he was a racist man and that is what affected his teachings. As such, members are influenced to believe this too.

      Even in teaching manuals of him, his words are very hand-picked.

      The comment below…

  2. I don’t think Brigham Young was a prophet anywhere near the same level as Joseph Smith, but he certainly was the one the Lord wanted to lead the church. Of that I have no doubt.

    I’m not sure if every single one of Brigham Young’s statements on doctrine are completely correct. For example I believe that there is truth in his Adam God teachings, but I’m not convinced BY understood it perfectly.

    What impresses me most about BY was his willingness to boldly speak his mind on any and every subject.

    I also see a great prophetic warning from him that the church would be in big trouble one day for joining hands with the wicked and becoming popular in the eyes of the world and that the leaders of the church would one day lead the saints to the brink of hell.

  3. “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” (Matt. 7:15-16). Brigham Young had about the same assets as any Latter-day Saint when fleeing Nauvoo; 33 years later he died one of the wealthiest men in the west. What happened during that time should be compared with all other scriptural “Prophets, Seers, and Revelators”. King Noah (Book of Mormon) appears as the only similarity; all others came from obscurity and were either killed or departed into obscurity. The modern LDS Church is truly the “fruit” of Brigham Young.

    1. Abraham was very wealthy too, as was Lehi. They were both prophets.

      Brigham Young had a very large family to provide for and was a territorial governor and head of the church’s industries in addition to being the President of the church.

      Joseph Smith lived in the Nauvoo mansion house were he entertained new comers and visitors to Nauvoo. Brigham Young used the Lion House for a similar purpose.

      Brigham Young intermingled his assets with those of the church. Church property was often in his name.

      John Taylor and the 12 had to separate the two when he died.

      I would be careful throwing a blanket statement on his wealth. If he was wrong in obtaining the wealth he did, God will be the judge.

      1. Agreed … God will be the Judge … and the witnesses are plenty (e.g. Jane Manning James, John Doyle Lee, and Joseph Smith, Jr.).

        1. I don’t think God needs any witnesses to judge us. He is all knowing after all.

          Be that as it may, I’m not really sure what you expect from those three witnesses.

          Jane Manning James was a servant of Joseph Smith. She was also from the Canaanite race which was to serve the posterity of Shem and Japeth. That’s not PC today, but Brigham Young has the scriptures on his side on that one.

          Joseph Smith was dead before Brigham Young led the church.

          John D. Lee was a murderer. He did believe Brigham was leading the saints astray, but would hardly have had the spirit to discern that.

          1. “Brigham Young has the scriptures on his side on that one.”

            Judah bore children with a Canaanite woman … making Jesus the Christ, a probable descendant of both races. (ref. Genesis 39: 1-5). If you don’t believe that, LDS member Darius Gray has much more credibility than I to point out the scriptural facts. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlSAEuIIYVY]. The leaders of the LDS Church today admit the priesthood ban was a result of past leaders acting on their own understanding and not true doctrine. So, does God give a pass to persons that have the scriptures before them, but interpret and act on them incorrectly?

          2. “The leaders of the LDS Church today admit the priesthood ban was a result of past leaders acting on their own understanding and not true doctrine.”

            Not true doctrine, huh? Can you point out where they say this?

  4. “Joseph Smith was dead before Brigham Young lead the church.”

    Only God, Joseph, and Brigham know the truth of whether or not the additions to the Endowment of the ‘Oath of Vengeance’, ‘Blood Atonement’, and ‘Adam-God’ doctrines maintained the ‘purity’ of what God, through Joseph, was newly establishing when Joseph’s life ended. Since all three of these ‘doctrines’ were removed from the Endowment after Brigham Young’s death, one has to question whose ‘doctrines’ they were to begin with.

    1. The idea that Christ was likely decended from a Canaanite is nonsense. Genesis mentions Judah having 3 sons by a Canaanite woman. Two of them were slain by the Lord without posterity aparently. We are not told what happened to the third illegitimate son.

      Christ is descended from Juda’s son Pharas, who he had through his daughter-in-law Tamar, who is not identified as a Canaanite.

      Also there are more individuals who might know whether or not the endowment stayed pure under Brigham Young. How about Wilford Woodruff, John Taylor, Heber C. Kimball, and many dozens if not hundreds of witnesses from both Nauvoo and Utah?

    2. The inference you make is dishonest. Those things were changed after John Taylor’s death, Wilford Woodruff’s death and Lorenzo Snow’s death etc

  5. Brigham Young was personally schooled and tutored by Joseph Smith. He was the man destined to be the Senior Apostle and therefore the President of the Church at the time that Joseph Smith was martyred. Joseph Smith said that only two men remained completely faithful to him and never lifted the heel against him – Brigham Young and Heber C Kimball. They passed every test. That test also included understanding, accepting and then teaching the doctrines revealed to Joseph. I don’t believe that Brigham Young taught anything which hadn’t been taught to him by Joseph Smith.

  6. Abraham 4:1 states that the Gods created or organised the earth. Genesis 1:1 also says the same thing even though the word for Gods, Elohim, has been translated in the KJV as singular God.

    In the temple we are still taught today, February 2018, that the earth was created by two beings, Michael and Jehovah. Michael and Jehovah were both exalted beings, Gods, before the creation of this planet.

    The Nauvoo Expositor accused Joseph Smith of a number of things, one of which was that God, our Heavenly Father, fell with his creations. Adam fell that men might be. There is no other way.

  7. Joseph Smith’s published revelations were a small drop in the bucket of what was revealed to him, and what he knew personally. The things given to the church as a whole are what God considered the church as a whole to be worthy of. They learned that hell has an end and some important bits about heaven itself. Joseph taught them how God became God.
    However, some among them would not receive new knowledge from God and rebelled at new truths. They didn’t want a prophet in its fullest manifestation.
    We should feel concerned that we, as a church, have not proven worthy to be taught new things that shake our understanding, nor take lightly those prophets who taught such. When we are as worthy as the early saints, new things that surprise will come frequently again.

    1. Personally, I am shocked and shaken at what the prophets teach when I am humble enough to really listen. So much of what they say can be taken at different levels as the Lords were. It never ceases to amaze me how many things they said I assumed meant so and so only to realize later that I was so very wrong. They actually meant thus and thus and what they were actually saying was paradigm shattering and intense.

  8. We have a problem in our society that many think that society knows everything all the time. We judge things in the past by our current scope of ( mis)understanding. There’s little room for patience, humility or forgiveness in learning. The future will always determine if we understood correctly or not.

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