Brigham Young is one of the latter-day prophet’s people feel comfortable being critical of. Perhaps it’s because of his unpopular views, or the doctrines he (along with lesser known examples of Joseph Smith) taught that the Church currently disavows. Whatever the reasons, we wanted to share with you what the Lord Himself said about Brigham Young as well as share that Joseph Smith supported, sustained, and included Brigham into his trusted inner circle.
In an 1841 revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord calls Brigham His “servant” saying,
“I give unto you my servantto be a president over the Twelve traveling council;” (D&C 124:127)
Brigham Young was called by the Lord Himself to be the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and was referred to as His “servant.” He was a servant who had proven himself worthy to lead the first Quorum of the Twelve since ancient times.
A few months later, in July of 1841, the Prophet Joseph calls Brigham his “well beloved brother” (see D&C 126:1).
Calling someone their “beloved” is reserved for special individuals in the revelatory record. In the Doctrine and Covenants, it is specifically reserved for John “the Beloved” and Brigham Young. It is a term not lightly thrown around. That alone sheds some light on what the Prophet of the restoration thought of Brother Brigham.
Brigham Young proved to be a faithful friend to the prophet when few others withstood the darts of the adversary. When a close associate proved to be unfaithful to the prophet, Joseph would often form a new body of those who were faithful to him and the Lord. Brigham was always in that inner circle. From the Quorum of the Twelve to the Anointed Quorum to the Council of Fifty, Brigham was always called to serve by the side of Joseph.
Brigham was also set apart by the Prophet to perform the Second Anointing, a sacred ordinance only bestowed to a select group of people who had proven themselves faithful to the Lord. The prophet had recorded in his diary that they held,
“Prayer meeting at Brigham Young’s… George A. Smith and wife Bathsheba W. Bigler received their Second Anointing which was administered by Brigham Young.” (see Joseph Smith’s Quorum of the Anointed 1942-1845, a Documentary History, Signature Books, 2005, pg. 62)
To confer the fullness of the priesthood, the Second Anointing—let alone the authority to perform it—was highly restricted. This preparatory ordinance is necessary to have the Second Comforter, as Baptism is the preparatory ordinance necessary for the First Comforter. The Savior stating that you should have your calling and election made sure. (28 Sept. 1843 & Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg. 151)
Being worthy of the fullness of priesthood was a clearly revealed prerequisite that the Prophet would not have treated lightly. The Lord in several revelations states that only the worthy can be called as Bishops (D&C 68:15), that you must pay a tithe to be considered (D&C 119:5), and that if “we undertake toour , or to gratify our , our vain ambition, or to exercise control or or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness… Amen to the Priesthood or the authority of that man” (D&C 121:47)
In March of 1844, the Prophet Joseph, knowing that something was about to happen, held a special meeting to set apart men who would faithfully carry on his works. Brigham Young was one of those men whom the Prophet gave all the keys to to ensure “the hosts of Satan will not be able to teardown the kingdom” (see Joseph Smith’s Quorum of the Anointed 1942-1845, a Documentary History, Signature Books, 2005, pg. 72, see also Joseph Smith Papers).
The Quorum of the Twelve continued to meet in Brigham Young’s home up until they were sent back east to campaign for Joseph’s bid for the presidency of the United States. (see Joseph Smith’s Quorum of the Anointed 1942-1845, a Documentary History, Signature Books, 2005, pg. 74) These are not the actions of one whom was untrusted by the Lord, nor His servant Joseph Smith.
Finally, in a letter written just days before the prophets martyrdom, Joseph writes to Brigham Young with full faith that Brigham was the man that he could trust to fulfill his works. He urged Brigham and the Twelve to return back to Nauvoo immediately in a last ditch effort to defend the Saints against the growing mobs. Joseph said that Brigham was to,
“Return without delay” and to “as many more good and faithful men as feel disposed to come up with them.” (See Letter to Brigham Young, 17 and 20 June 1844,” p. , The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed December 11, 2022, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/letter-to-brigham-young-17-and-20-june-1844/1)
Joseph knew that Brigham was faithful and could be trusted to bring others of like mind to come to his defense. By questioning Brigham Young’s authority, calling, and mantle, one is actually calling into question the authority, calling, and mantle of Joseph Smith. If we are to be true defenders of the faith and the prophet Joseph, it would be wise to reject the worldly call to accuse Brigham of all manner of evil. We should stand with Joseph—and the Lord Jesus Christ—as a staunch defender of Brigham Young.