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Joseph W. White
"Influence of Sidney Rigdon..."

(University of So. California, 1947)
  • Title Page   Contents   Preface
  • pp. 001-040  Chapters 01-02
  • pp. 041-070  Chapters 03-04
  • pp. 071-105  Chapters 05-06
  • pp. 106-137  Chapters 07-08
  • pp. 138-143  Bibliography

  • Transcriber's Comments

  • Campbell's description (1831)   |   Rigdon & Baptists   |   Rigdon in Ohio   |   Chase's thesis (1931)
    Smith's thesis (1943)   |   McKiernan's Rigdon bio. (1971)   |   Van Wagoner's Rigdon bio. (1994)
    Whitsitt's Rigdon bio. (1891)   |   Ready's thesis on Whitsitt (2001)   |   Knowles' thesis (2000)
    McClellan's Rigdon article (2003)   |   Criddle's essay (2005)   |   J. L. Smith's Rigdon bio. (2006)

    Note: Although this work carries no copyright notice, only limited excerpts are presented here,
    in consideration of the possibility of its future publication by Mr White's heirs.



    A Thesis

    Presented to

    the Faculty of the graduate School of Religion

    University of Southern Californoa
    In Partial Fulfillment

    of the Requirements for the Degree

    Masters of Arts



    Joseph Welles White

    June 1947

    Although this work is not copyrighted, only limited excerpts are presented here, in
    consideration of the possibility of its future publication by Mr White's heirs.

    [ iii - v ]


    vi   PREFACE

    001   CHAPTER I  Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon

    002  Early experience of Smith

    004  Moroni visits Smith

    007  The Beginning of the Church

    010  Summary of the Book of Mormon

    014  Sidney Rigdon converted

    016  The Compiling Genius of Mormonism

    019   CHAPTER II   Sidney Rigdon -- Mormon and Disciple

    022  Early Life of Rigdon

    023  Rigdon the popular preacher

    025  Rigdon influenced by Alexander Campbell

    028  The "Ancient Order of Things"

    029  The emergence of the Disciples

    031  Question regarding Rigdon's conversion

    033  Chronology of Rigdon's known activities

    041   CHAPTER III   Apostasy and Restoration

    041  The great apostasy

    045  Religious unrest in America

    048  The Stonites

    054   CHAPTER IV   The Antecedents of the Disciples

    060  Alexander Campbell becomes the leader

    062  Union with the Baptist[s]

    063  Walter Scott discovers the "Plan of Salvation"

    071   CHAPTER V   The Book of Mormon a Product of its Times

    074  The Spaulding theory

    079  The Honolulu Manuscript

    080  Rigdon's foreknowledge of the Book of Mormon

    083  Crudities in the Book of Mormon

    085  Camp Meeting expressions

    092   CHAPTER VI   The Inspired Translation and the Disciples

    092  Widespread interest in bible revision

    095  Alexander Campbell's revision

    097  Rigdon competes with Campbell

    106   CHAPTER VII   Disciple and Mormon Doctrine Compared

    108  The name of the Church

    111  Names of followers

    112  Creeds

    113  The kingdom of God

    118  The Everlasting Gospel

    120  Faith

    121  Repentance

    123  Obedience

    124  Baptism

    126  The Holy Spirit and the miraculous

    128  Communism

    129  The Millennium

    130  Conclusion

    132   CHAPTER VIII   Summary and Conclusions

    132  Summary

    136  Conclusions


    Although this work is not copyrighted, only limited excerpts are presented here, in
    consideration of the possibility of its future publication by Mr White's heirs.

    [ vi ]

    P R E F A C E

    The literature of Mormonism, pro and con, is vast. 1 There are five noteworthy collections in the United States: United States government collections at Washington; the collection of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin at Madison; the Berrian Collection, New York Public Library; 2 the Emma Hale Memorial Library at Independence, Missouri (historical library of the Reorganized church) and the archives of the Utah Mormons at Salt Lake City.

    Professor I. Woodbridge Riley's The Founder of Mormonism gives a selected list of more than two hundred works. Arbaugh's Revelation in Mormonism offers a later and more selective group of about the same number. George Pepperdine College, while still very young, has assembled in its library a respectable group of Mormoniana and is alert for additional accessions. Because of its accessability the facilities of the latter library, supplemented by loans from eastern collections have served for the preparation of this thesis.

    1 H. H. Bancroft, in his history of Utah lists more than two thousand "authorities," all of which he avers he consulted in the preparation of his work. Most of these sources relate to Mormonism, rather than Utah per se.

    2 This collection is particularly rich in rare early publications of the Church and in first editions. The Library Bulletin of March 1909, is useful as a working bibliography.



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    It is well that the task is pleasant, for it is difficult to winnow the wheat from the chaff -- pro or con.

    In so far as the literature of the Disciples is concerned, the task was to examine the beliefs and practices of this group as they existed prior to and at the time of the genesis of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Happily, the Library of George Pepperdine College is rich in first editions, periodicals, and rare publications of Alexander Campbell, Barton W. Stone, Walter Scott, and the many others who collaborated with, or prepared the way for them.

    The term "Mormon" is used throughout this paper, because it is inoffensive to Mormons and is self-used, while the full title is too cumbersom for constant appearance. More difficulty is faced with regard to the other four involved in this treatment. The term "Campbellite" is obnoxious to the body so denominated. Both "Church of Christ" and "The Restoration Movement" are unsatisfactory as they involve terms occuring in Mormon literature and hence are ambiguous. "Disciples of Christ" appears to be the most practicable expression. As used there, that term applies to Alexander Campbell and his associates during the first half of the nineteenth century.

    Although this work is not copyrighted, only limited excerpts are presented here, in
    consideration of the possibility of its future publication by Mr White's heirs.

    [ 1 ]



    Early in 1830, at the little village of Palmyra, New York, was published a small volume with the unprepossessing title, The Book of Mormon. 1 As early as the fall of 1827 Joseph Smith had announced that in obedience to the direction of an angel, he had dug up a book written upon gold plates, wherein was revealed not only an account of a race which formerly inhabited this continent, but the "fulness of the everlasting gospel" which was to replace the existing beliefs. Nevertheless the "Golden Bible" did not sell well, even at $1.25 a volume. 2 Yet from this

    1 Egbert B. Grandin, publisher of the Wayne Sentinel at Palmyra, was first approached by Joseph Smith, his brother Hyrum, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris and was asked for an estimate of the cost of printing an edition of three thousand copies. Harris, a prosperous farmer, was to be security for the payment. Grandin thought the scheme was fraudulent and attempted to dissuade Harris from backing it. Thurlow Weed, publisher of the Anti-Masonic Inquirer at Manchester, New York, was next sought. After reading a few chapters, he refused to do the work, and likewise tried to discourage Harris. At length, Elihu P. Marshall, another Rochester publisher, made a specific bid. Armed with this, the group returned to Grandin. Pointing out the convenience to them of having the work done at home, and showing that the book would be printed anyway, they gained his assent. A contract was made to print and bind five thousand copies for the sum of $3000, with Harris' farm as security. Pomeroy Tucker, Origin, Rise and Progress of Mormonism (New York: 1867) p. 62f.

    2 Today, first editions bring from forty to fifty dollars.



    in auspicious beginning there sprang one of the two distinctive religions indigenous to America, one which was to be a major item of national interest for several decades, and which today has a large and growing membership. 3 The following story summarizes the origin of the book. 4


    Joseph Smith was born December 23, 1805, at Sharon, Vermont. When he was ten years of age, his parents moved to Palmyra, New York, and four years later, to Manchester, in the same county. Soon afterward, the community became greatly excited over religion. 5 Joseph was strongly affected by the local tumult and leaned favorably toward

    3 According to the United States Government Census of Religious Bodies (1936), the Mormons had a membership of 839,250 and stood eleventh in rank among the religious bodies

    4 This "autobiography" started as a supplement to Volume XIV of the Millennial Star and continued through successive volumes to Volume XXIV. The earlier part was "edited" by Sidney Rigdon. After a temporary defection of Rigdon, Smith continued the story in the form of a diary. The difference between the earlier and later accounts are illuminating.

    5 Part, of course, of the "Second Awakening" which led to the Great Revival of the West and Southwest.



    Methodists, but most of his family being Presbyterians, he was torn by indecision...

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    our doctrines." 24 Opportunaly, Emma received a revelation through Joseph, reassuring her that, "Thou needest not fear, for thy husband shall support thee in the church," promissing that "it shall be given thee, to make a selection of sacred hymns... to be had in my church." but cautioning her to "continue in the spirit of meekness, and beware of pride, Let thy soul delight in thy husband, and the glory which shall come upon him." 25


    Among the small band of converts was one Parley P. Pratt, a tin peddler and lay preacher to rural Ohio congregations, lately associated with the Disciples. On a trip to New York state, he was shown a copy of the Mormon Bible and immediately accepted it. Straightway he received a commission to proclaim the new Gospel, and, together with Cowdery, Peter Whitmer, Jr., and Z. Peterson, traveled directly to Mentor, Ohio, where they stayed a week in the home of Sidney Rigdon. 26 Rigdon had been a powerful Baptist preacher, who after some conversations with Alexander

    24 Joseph Smith and Heman C. Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Lamoni, Iowa: Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1908), p. 117.

    25 D. C. 25:9, 11, 14.

    26 Rigdon had previously converted Pratt to become a Disciple.



    Campbell, turned to the Disciples together with the whole congregation for which he preached.

    In the autobiography of Smith it is related that Rigdon's guests showed him the Book of Mormon, describing it in these words:

    This being the first time he had ever heard of or seen the Book of Mormon, he felt very much prejudiced at the assertion; and replied that, "he had one Bible which he believed was a revelation from God, and with which he pretended to have some acquaintance; but with respect to the book they had presented him, he must say that he had considerable doubt." Upon which they expressed a desire to investigate the subject, and argue the matter; but he replied, "No, young gentlemen, you must not argue with me on the subject; but I will read your book, and see what claim it has upon my faith, and will endeavor to ascertain whether it be a revelation from God or not." After some farther [further] conversation on the subject, they expressed a desire to lay the subject before the people, and requested the privilege of preaching in elder Rigdon's church, to which he readily consented. The appointment was accordingly published, and a large and respectable congregation assemble. Olive Cowdery and Parley P. Pratt severally addressed the meeting. At the conclusion, elder Rigdon arose and stated to the congregation that the information they had that evening received, as of an extraordinary character, and certainly demanded their most serious consideration: and as the apostle advised his brethren "to prove all things, and hold fast that which is good," so he would exhort his brethren to do likewise, and give the matter a careful investigation; and not turn against it, without being fully convinced of its being an imposition, lest they should, possibly resist the truth.

    27 Millennial Star, Vol XIV, p. 47, italics mine. The account is probably from the [pen] of Rigdon.




    Two days later Rigdon had another visitor, an angel, and on the following Sunday, he and his wife were baptized into the new faith. In the words of a Mormon writer:

    Rigdon's conversion caused a great deal of excitement in that section of the Western Reserve. A hundred years have passed since he became a Mormon; the Mormon Church has enjoyed a healthy growth from that time until the present, and its thouands of missionaries during this long period of time have brought many converts into their church who have far surpassed Rigdon in wealth, training, native ability or strength of Character. But in the writer's opinion, Sidney Rigdon ranks among the most important of all Mormon converts. 28

    To all of which this present writer would readily agree, with further additions. It will be the purpose of this paper to show that far from being a credulous convert to Mormonism, that Rigdon had foreknowledge of the book prior to its publication, if he did not actually have a hand in its composition, and that the theology of early Mormonism was the theology of Rigdon, not Smith. "The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau." 29

    28 Daryl Chase, Sidney Rigdon -- Early Mormon. Unpublished M. A. thesis, University of Chicago, 1931, p. 73.

    29 Gen. 27:22.



    Even if Rigdon had no part in the writing of the Mormon Bible, he had more to do with the organization and doctrines of Mormonism than did Joseph Smith. At the time of Rigdon's conversion, the church had been in existence hardly eight months, and had less than one hundred members. The church was only loosely organized, with much of its theology to be announced as the occasion required. Other than the Book of Mormon, not a solitary book or even a pamphlet had been published.

    With the exception of [a] few weeks, from the second day after he met Smith, until the day of Joseph's death, Rigdon was his official "spokesman." 30 For a period of thirteen years he was this and more. More than twenty-five years later an ex-Mormon elder wrote:

    The compiling genius of Mormonism was Sidney Rigdon. Smith had his boisterous impetuosity, but no foresight. Polygamy was not a result of his policy, but of his passions. Sidney gave point, direction, and apparent consistency to the Mormon system of theology. He invented its forms and many of its arguments. He and Parley Pratt were its leading orators and polemics. Had it not been for the accession of these two men, Smith would have been lost, and his schemes frustrated and abandoned. 31

    30 Since it affects the question of succession, Mormons consider it important that shortly before his death, Smith broke with Rigdon.

    31 John Hyde, Jr. Mormonism, Its Leaders and Designs (New York: W. P. Fetridge & Company, 1857), quoted in Linn, op. cit., p. 59. Linn does not give the page reference and I have failed to find the quotation.



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    [ 19 ]



    The names of Joseph Smith, the "founder," and Brigham Young, the organizer of Mormonism, are known to all -- Mormon and non-Mormon alike. But except for special students, few gentiles 1 are familiar with even the name of one who was a member of the famous First Presidency, 2 who indisputably was the right-hand man of Smith for thirteen years, who on the ticket with Smith, was nominated for vice-president of the United States, and who not only everywhere left his mark upon the theology and organization of Mormonism, but as this paper will attempt to show, was Mormonism's guiding genius. Even among Mormons,

    1 Mormons constantly use this term in reference to all non-Mormons.

    2 The others were Smith and one F. G. Williams, who in 1839 was excommunicated. In 1840, he was restored to fellowship. He made little impress upon the church, apparently be selected to complete the resemblance to the trinity. The History of the Church devotes only about a page to his biography, stating that after his restoration, "he practically dropped out of active life... There has been but little recorded concerning him, and so we will not venture to give particulars." (p. 641f.). He was so unimportant that this official biography errs in giving the dates of his expulsion and rebaptism. Smith said that (he) seeks with all his heart to magnify his presidency in the Church of Christ, but fails in many instances, in consequence of a want of confidence in himself." Ibid. p. 641.



    the later apostasy of Rigdon has largely prevented a recognition of the extent of his influence upon the church. >sup>3

    To this day, no biography of Rigdon has been published. His son wrote a partial biography, which, in manuscript form, reposes in the archives of the church at Salt Lake City. The greater part of this manuscript has been used in the church histories. In 1931, an unpublished thesis gave fuller account of his life than had hitherto been available. 4

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    Added to his own reticence is the fact that these different churches still consider him an apostate. Hence there was little incentive for the historical student to do the careful work of research. Most of the material extant was written by those who abhorred him. The biographer of Rigdon will have a difficult task.


    The name Rigdon is seldom met with today. Apparently few persons of that name came from Europe and the family or families that did emigrate were not prolific. Sidney was the youngest son of William and Nancy Rigdon. His ancestry on the paternal side was English, on the maternal, Scotch and Irish. After the American Revolution, the family settled at Piney Fork, Peter's creek, St. Clair Township, Alleghany County, Pennsylvania. There, on February 19, 1793, was born their third son, the only one known to fame. Little is known of his youth except that he received a "common English education." When Sidney was seventeen his father died. Sidney remained on the farm until he was twenty-six. This farm was located some fifteen miles south of Pittsburgh. While a boy, he was thrown from a horse and with his foot caught in the stirrup was dragged a considerable distance. It is possible that he sustained



    a brain contusion, which perhaps had some effect upon his mental stability.

    At the age of twenty-four he joined the Regular Baptists and a year or two later decided to preach. Accordingly, he left the farm to reside at the home of the Reverend Andrew Clark, a Baptist minister, in Beaver County. During the winter of 1818-19 he was granted a license to preach.

    The following spring. he moved to Warren, Trumbull County, Ohio, to reside with a more noted Baptist preacher, Adamson Bentley. A few months later he was ordained. On June 12, 1820, he married Phoebe Brooks. sister-in-law of Bentley.


    In short order, Rigdon became a very popular preacher. His talents were somewhat above the average of frontier preachers of the time. Rigdon's lack of formal training was no handicap, for others had no more than he. The frontier Baptist preachers of the period had little taste and less opportunity for formal preparation for the ministry. In fact, there was considerable antagonism toward such.

    The process of becoming a preacher was fairly simple. As Sweet describes it:



    When a 'brother' was impressed that God had called him to preach, he made it known to the church and if, after the church had heard the trial sermon, it approved of his 'gifts' a license was then given him to preach in a small territory, as for instance within the bounds of a single church. After further trial, if his 'gifts' proved real. and he gave further evidence if usefulness as a preacher we was then permitted to preach within the bounds of the association. If, on the other hand, his 'gifts' as a preacher did not seem to improve, he was advised to make no further attempts to preach. 9

    The typical Baptist preacher rose up from the community in which he preached. Nearly always he was a farmer, working all week and preaching on Sunday.

    The effects of the Great Revival in the West had not completely subsided and neither preacher nor audience was likely to be calm for long. The meetings were frequently characterized by wildest excitement. This was the effect of the impassioned preaching, earnest exhortation, loud prayers, and energetic singing." 10 Rigdon's preaching was not different in style than the others, but his extraordinary native eloquence soon made his name well known. 11

    9 William Warren Sweet, Religion on the American Frontier: The Baptists (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1931) p. 39.

    10 Catherine C. Cleveland, The Great Revival in the West (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1916) p. 51.

    11 Errett Gates, The Early Relation and Separation of Baptists and Disciples (Chicago: The Christian Century Company 1904) p. 61.




    At this period, Bentley and Rigdon heard with interest of the ideas being advanced by Alexander Campbell. Not waiting for Campbell to come to Ohio, they decided to visit him to see what they might learn. As Campbell himself described the visit:

    In the summer of 1821, while sitting in my portico after dinner, two gentlemen in the costume of clergymen, as then technically called, appeared in my yard, advancing to the house. The elder of them, on approaching me, first introduced himself, saying, 'My name, sir, is Adamson Bentley; this is Elder Sidney Rigdon, both of Warren, Ohio.' On entering my house, and on being introduced to my family, after some refreshment, Elder Bentley said, 'having just read your debate with Mr. John Walker,12 of our state of Ohio, with considerable interest, and having been deputed by the Mahoning Baptist Association last year to ordain some Elders and to set some churches in order, which brought us within little more than a day's ride of you, we concluded to make a special visit, to inquire of you particularly on sundry matters of much interest to us, set forth in the debate, and would be glad, when perfectly at your leisure, to have an opportunity to do so.'...

    After tea, in the evening, we commenced and prolonged our discourse till the next morning... especially the ancient order of things... engaged our attention.

    On parting the next day, Sidney Rigdon, with all apparent candor, said, if he had within the last year

    12 This was one of the several notable debates in which Campbell engaged. Walker, a Presbyterian minister, had challenged the Baptists to procure a champion who would debate with him. Campbell, at that time nominally a Baptist, was the obvious choice. The questions discussed were: the proper subjects of baptism, and the mode of baptism.



    taught and promulgated from the pulpit one error, he had a thousand. At that time he was the great orator of the Mahoning Association, though in authority with the people second always to Adamson Bentley. I found it expedient to caution them not to begin to pull down any thing they had builded until they had reviewed again and again what they had heard; nor even then rashly and without much consideration. Fearing they might undo their influence with the people, I felt constrained to restrain, rather than to urge them on in the work of reformation. 13

    In 1822 Rigdon was called to the pastorate of the Baptist church in Pittsburg, at that period a small city. However, the position carried considerably more prestige than in the village of Warren. His "peculiar style of preaching" included not only an appeal to the "ancient order of things," but also, communism. divine healings, speaking in tongues, visions, revelations, and sundry other items. 14 These latter he may have picked up from a community of Shakers in Warren County. He more than intimated that the doctrines popular with the Baptists were not altogether in harmony with the scriptures.

    These things alarmed the brethren. Accordingly, at the annual meeting of the [Redstone] Association in 1824 he was

    13 Millennial Harbinger, 1848, p. 523.

    14 "Rigdon was a firm believer in revelations and visions. He claimed to have had experiences before he met the prophet. The revelation which is still considered by many to be outstanding, was given jointly to Rigdon and the Prophet. After leaving the Mormon group he still claimed to hear [this] voice and enjoy the visitation of angels." Chase, op. cit., p. 203.



    tried, but withdrew before the termination of the trial. For the next two years he remained in Pittsburg, supporting by manual labor for his wife and three children.

    However, some of the brethren liked his "peculiar preaching," so permission was obtained to hold meeting[s] in the court house. Here though still, like Campbell, a Baptist, he unreservedly proclaimed the doctrines which were "in accordance with the scriptures."

    Alexander Campbell had never been a whole-hearted Baptist, but had joined them as a matter of expediency. Distressed by "diverse and opposite extremes and absurdities" of religionists, he fondly believed that by preaching the "ancient order of things," he could persuade men to abandon their various sects and unite upon the common ground they held. 15

    It was perfectly in harmony with his principles to use his influence toward the appointment of Rigdon to the Pittsburgh church. Under the masterful direction of Campbell, Rigdon, Bentley and Walter Scott, did their work so well that "the majority of the Baptist churches of the Western Reserve 16 were permeated with the new teaching." 17

    15 See Chapters III and IV below, for a more extended discussion.

    16 A tract of about 8,500,000 acres near Lake Erie, reserved by the State of Connecticut at the time of the cession of the Northwest Territory to the United States. It is now the northeastern corner of the state of Ohio.

    17 Gates, op. cit., p. 93.




    The church at Brush Run, Pennsylvania, was the first congregation to accept the "ancient order of things" as a guide for its faith and practice. This body was formed of members of various denominations, who at their union fellowshipped with Baptist churches. The second and third were at Wellsburgh, Pennsylvania [sic - Virginia?], and Pittsburg. The latter was formed by a union of the church presided over by Walt[er] Scott and the Baptist church in charge of Rigdon in 1824.

    Entire associations were permeated by the teachings of those who at first called their work a "reformation," but later referred to it as a "restoration of primitive Christianity." The movement was not confined to Baptosts, for the ranks were swelled by defections from all the denominations. At Deerfield, Ohio, the entire Methodist church came over to the "ancient order of things." 18

    However, Campbell was over-optimistic in his belief that the entire body of Baptists would lead the way toward unity. Divisions arose in local churches and spread to Associations. In 1829, the Beaver Association, of Pennsylvania,

    18 A. S. Hayden, Early History of the Disciples in the Western Reserve (Cincinnati: Chase & Hall, 1875) p. 311 ff.



    adopted a series of resolutions against the Reformers. 19

    Encouraged by this action, other associations withdrew fellowship from churches accepting the errors and corruptions of Campbell and his associates. In many cases the true Baptist churches were in the minority and it became a matter of self-preservation. In April 1830, the majority of the churches of North District Association were excluded by the minority, 20 In September of the same year the Boone's Creek Association eliminated six out of thirteen churches. 21


    The year 1830 marks the turning point in the relations between Baptists and Reformers. In that year ten associations took some sort of action; leading to the exclusion or anathematization of the latter. 22 Although as late as 1831, Thomas Campbell (father of Alexander) was received into many Baptist pulpots, the end was at hand and the Reformers bowed to the inevitable. On a trip to the East

    19 Robert Richardson, Memoirs of Alexander Campbell (Cincinnati: Standard Publishing Company, 1897) II, 322.

    20 Gates, ip cit., p. 93.

    21 Ibid., p. 93.

    22 Ibid., p. 101.



    in 1832, Alexander Campbell "was refused all the Baptist meeting-houses in New York." 23

    Since a separate entity necessitated an indentifying name for the Reformers, various names were suggested and used at times. However, seeking one which bore no sectarian distinction, Campbell and those nearest him, preferred the name "Disciples of Christ." For convenience, this term will henceforth be used here. 24

    Thus when in October, 1830, the Mormon missionaries visited Rigdon at Mentor, Ohio, the latter was preaching for a church of Disciples. However, less than three months previously he had had a passage at arms with Campbell. Rigdon who was "clearly the most fanatical and literal-minded of the Disciples of Christ" 25 argued that a community of goods should be set up as in the early Jerusalem church. Campbell, foreseeing the dangers of such a course, sternly corrected this "error" before a crowded meeting at Austintown, Ohio. On his way home, Rigdon bitterly stated that, "I have done as much in this reformation as Campbell or Scott and yet they get all the honor of it." 26

    23 Richardson, op. cit., II, 392.

    24 Cf. Chapter IV, below, for fuller discussion.

    25 Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1946) p. 94.

    26 Hayden, op. cit., p. 299.



    However, Rigdon did set up a small communistic colony in Kirtland. It was here that the missionaries were permitted to preach, not at Mentor. The few converts that Rigdon drew from the Disciples to the Mormons, were nearly all from the Kirtland group.


    Several points need to be kept in mind relative to the "conversion" of Rigdon to Mormonism. First, Parley P. Pratt, who headed the embassy to Mentor was himself a disciple of Rigdon. Second, Pratt as a Disciple went on a mission to New York state, passed through Palmyra and became an easy convert of Smith's. Third, Pratt and the others started almost immediately on a mission to the "Lamanites" (Indians), but proceeded directly to Mentor to call upon Rigdon. Fourth, Rigdon had prepared the people for something startling which was to happen.

    Rigdon, with pompus pretense, was travailing with expectancy of some great event soon to be revealed to the surprise and astonishment of mankind. Gifted with very fine powers of mind, an imagination, with temperment tinged with madness and bordering upon credulity, he was prepared and preparing others for the voice of some mysterious event soon to come. 27

    27 Ibid., p. 299. Hayden wrote from first-hand knowledge.



    There may be considerable significance in the fact that Partridge had made prior preparations.
    January 19, 1830, another advertisement offers 'my valuable hatter stand for sale' and states that he wished to quit the business, by September 28, 1830, six weeks before the four missionaries appeared, he (i. e. Partridge) had sold it. It is possible and may be probable that he was merely a pilgrim seeking the truth. 28

    Partridge was a prosperous man, with cash in his pockets. Such a man was valuable. He became the first bishop in the church, while as for Rigdon, on December 7, 1830, two days after he arrived in Palmyra [sic - Kingdon?], he was honored by receiving a joint revelation with Smith.

    Behold, verily, verily, I say unto my servant Sidney, I have looked upon thee and thy works. I have heard thy prayers, and prepared thee for a greater work. Thou art blessed, for thou shalt do great things. Behold thou wast sent forth, even as John, to prepare the way before me, and before Elijah (Smith) which should come, and thou knewest it not... Wherefore, watch over him (Smith) that his faith fail not... thou shalt write for him... and thou shalt preach my gospel and call on the holy prophets to prove his words. 29

    Rigdon did tarry about two months, preaching and receiving revelations. His knowledge of the Bible was of immense help to the new cause. Nor was his experience with the Disciples any hindrance.

    28 Eva L. Pancoast, Mormons on Kirtland, unpublished M. A. Thesis, Werstern Reserve University, 1929, p. 22.

    29 Doctrine & Covenants, 35.



    When Rigdon entered the Mormon church he did not even need to discard his 'Campbellite' theology. He could even retain the same phraseology and arguments that he had been accustomed to using. The Mormons were teaching faith, repentance, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. The 'Restoration of the Ancient Gospel' was the message of the first Mormon missionaries and has continued to be the cardinal teaching of all the thousands of Mormon missionaries that have journeyed about the world since that time. By accepting Mormonism Rigdon got rid of the restraining hand of Alexander Campbell; he could move about with greater freedom of speech, for the Mormons did not limit their 'Restoration' ideas to the New Testament as had been the case with Campbell.

    Rigdon was always a great admirer of the Old Testament and the ancient prophecies. 30

    Not only did Rigdon get "rid of the restraining hand of Campbell," but it must have been a happy coincidence for him that the very points in which Mormonism varied from Disciple theology were those which Rigdon had vainly tried to make a part of that theology. 31 Perhaps the Disciples, too, had a large measure of comfort, for since the Mormon teachings were divinely authenticated, Disciples too, had a divine sanction for their beliefs -- as far as they went.


    In any study of the life of Rigdon, consideration must be given to the possibility of his relationship to the Spaulding theory. This interesting hypothesis will be

    30 Chase, op. cit., p. 37-38. Italics mine.

    31 Cf. post, p. 125 f.



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    [ 41 ]




    As the basis for the need for a new revelation, Mormon writers and missionaries lay heavy emphasis upon the "Great Apostasy," the form of baptism was changed from immersion to affusion. 1 This is said to be a distruction of the symbolism of a burial. 2 Also, it is charged that the ordinance was misapplied by being administered to infants. 3 These and other practices,

    ...Through changing the ordinances of the gospel; by misapplying them in some cases, and adding pagan rites to them in others; by dragging into the service of the church the ceremonies employed in heathen temples in the worship of pagan gods;... by changing the form and departing from the spirit of Government in the church as fixed by Jesus... brought to pass the Apostasy... the destruction of the Church of Christ on earth. 4

    Further, it is alleged that this apostasy "is not the first time in the experience of man that the gospel has been taken from among them," that it had been introduced

    1 B. H. Roberts, A New Witness For God (Salt Lake City, Utah: George Q. Cannon & Sons Company, 1895), p. 104-105.

    2 Rom. 6:3-5

    3 Roberts, op. cit., p. 106-107.

    4 Ibid., p. 111-112.



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    The latter part of the eighteenth century was a period of religious unrest in America. After the Revolution, churches suffered not only from apathy and coldness, but a rapod decrease which became alarming...

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    Christianity, and dependance upon the Bible alone, as the sole rule of faith and practice. They did what men do not always do -- the logical thing -- by uniting into one body, known as the Christian Connection. 36

    Stone and Alexander Campbell first met in 1824 and soon became firm friends. After much discussion most of the Christian Connection congregations merged with the Disciples, beginning in 1832. Since this paper is concerned with the doctrines and attitudes of the Disciples at and immediately before the time of Sidney Rigdon's alleged conversion, i. e. the few years prior to November 14, 1830, it is necessary to study other personalities.

    Our attention now will be directed to the group which was the inheritor of these just studied. In the Disciples we will find a synthesis of the O'Kellyites, the Smithites and the Stoneites, plus significant contributions made by Thomas Campbell, Alexander Campbell and Walter Scott. When to the attitudes of the Disciples in 1830 are added the vagaries of Sidney Rigdon, we have an explanation of the origin of practically every Mormon doctrine. We shall find that from countless directions, fingers point to Sidney Rigdon as the real father of Mormonism.

    36 Robert Richardson, Memoirs of Alexander Campbell (Cincinnati: Standard Publishing Company, 1897) II, 198.

    Although this work is not copyrighted, only limited excerpts are presented here, in
    consideration of the possibility of its future publication by Mr White's heirs.

    [ 54 ]



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    However, the reformers saw the danger of their independent position, i. e., becoming another denomination. Their changing attitude on the question of baptism attracted the attention of Baptists. Also the two groups had somewhat similar ideas regarding the authority of the Scriptures.
    Baptists of all parties have, from the beginning, persistently and consistently maintained the absolute supremacy of the canonical Scriptures as a norm of faith and practice. They have insisted on applying the Scripture test positively and negatively to every detail of doctrine and practice. It has never seemed to them sufficient to show that a doctrine or practice, made a matter of faith, is not contradictory of Scripture; it must be distinctly a matter of Scripture precept or example to command their allegiance or secure from them a recognition of its right to exist. 13

    Overtures for union began to issue from both sides. As Campbell described the situation:
    I had no idea of uniting with the Baptists, more than with the Moravians or the mere Independents. I had unfortunately formed a very unfavorable opinion of the Baptist preachers as then introduced to my acquaintance, as narrow, contracted, illiberal, and uneducated men.... They had but one, two, or, at the most, three sermons, and these were either delivered in one uniform style and order, or minced down into one medley by way of variety. 14

    Campbell had greater respect for the Baptist people:

    13 A. H, Newman, A History of the Baptist Churches in the United States (American Church History Series, Vol. II New York: The Christian Literature Co., 1894), p. 1, 2.

    14 Richardson, op. cit., I, 438-39.



    I confess, however, that I was better pleased with the Baptist people than with any other community. They read the Bible, and seemed to care for little else in religion than conversion and Bible doctrine. They often sent for us and pressed us to preach for them,. We visited some of their churches, and, on acquaintance, like the people more and the preachers less. 15

    The upshot of the matter was that since the Redstone Association had "pressed us to join," a willingness to co-operate was expressed, "provided always that we should be allowed to teach and preach whatever we learned from the holy Scriptures, regardless of any creed or formula in Christendom." 16 The union was affected, although it was foredoomed to failure. Baptists and Disciples were alike in many ways, but fundamentally different in others. Eventually disruption came, as briefly sketched in the previous chapter.


    One other significant contribution to Disciple theology remains to be told. Walter Scott, who has previously been mentioned, reached the same general view as Campbell, but by a different process. A schoolteacher, Scott had pondered over his Bible until, step by step, he came to conclusions similar to Campbell's. When his minister (at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) drowned, Scott leaped

    15 Ibid., I, 440.

    16 Ibid., I, 440-1.



    at the opportunity to preach in the pulpit now vacant, and under the limited restrictions of the time was permitted to do so, 17

    Soon after Scott's arrival at Pittsburg, he met Alexander Campbell and the two became firm friends. Campbell had a great respect for Scott's opinion. The latter, though sometimes eccentric in his methods, was a powerful preacher. To illustrate his power, it is related that Campbell was in the audience on an occasion when Scott was at his best. The former was usually very calm, self-controlled and characterized by logical thinking. Yet, Campbell became such an enthusiastic listener that "his eyes flashed, his face glowed, and at last he shouted 'Glory to God in the highest,' an astounding thing for him to do. 18

    Calvinistic views were still prominent in the minds of the Disciples. Baptism was largely looked upon as a command, but as a command to be obeyed by those who were already converted. In a debate with McCalla, 19 Campbell had referred to baptism as a pledge of parson, but this

    17 Jennings, op. cit., p. 99f.

    18 Ibid., 105-6.

    19 Debate on Christian Baptism (Buffalo [Va.] Campbell & Sala, 1824), xii, 429 pp. McCalla was a Presbyterian.



    was hardly more than a theoretical [view]. Scott, after considerable study of the Scriptures, came to the conclusion that baptism must precede parson. Being of an analytical turn of mind, he became engrossed in the consecutive order of the various items in the gospel. He placed them thus: 1. faith; 2. repentance; 3. baptism; 4. remission of sins; 5. Holy spirit. 20

    These steps became known as "the first principles of the gospel," and are so denominated today, not only by Disciples but by the Mormons. The matter seemed almost like a new revelation to Scott. He boldly decided to preach on this basis. Before a large audience, he developed his theme around the query, "What shall we do?" 21 Just as he was closing the lengthy sermon, a stranger came into the audience, and when Scott closed by quoting the words of Peter and inviting the auditors to come forward and be baptized for the remission of sins, to everyone's surprise, the stranger responded. Scott was as startled as anyone in the audience. 22

    However, he took the candidate's confession and then baptized him. Still puzzled, he wrote to the individual,

    20 Richardson, op. cit., II, 208.

    21 Acts, 2:37.

    22 Richardson, op. cit., II, 210-17.



    asking him to explain his reasons for presenting himself for baptism. Among other things the reply stated:

    I had read the second chapter of Acts, when I expressed myself to my wife as follows: Oh this is the gospel; this is the thing we wish -- the remission of our sins! Oh that I could hear the gospel in these same words as Peter preached it! I hope I shall some day hear it, and the first man I meet who will preach the gospel thus, with him will I go.' So, my brother, on the day you saw me come into the meeting-house my heart was open to receive the word of God, and when you cried, 'The Scripture shall no longer be a sealed book. God means what he says. Is there any man present who will take God at his word and be baptized for the remission of sins?' -- at that moment my feelings were such that I could have cried out, 'Glory to God! I have found the man whom I have long sought for.' So I entered the kingdom when I readily laid hold of the hope set before me. 23

    Richardson refers to this letter as the satisfactory solution to an enigma. The "practical" restoration of the design of baptism" was due not solely to the efforts of the preacher. It demonstrated the power of God. The preacher experimentally -- almost unwittingly -- broadcast the seed which happened to fall upon good soil which God alone had prepared. 24

    Scott was working upon virgin soil -- at least in modern times. The formula he had found ran counter to

    23 ibid., II, 214.

    24 ibid., II, 214-15.



    preaching among the denominations. 25 It also was in advance of the teaching of the Disciples. Alexander Campbell himself afterwards said:
    We can sympathize with those who have this doctrine in their own creeds unregarded and unheeded in its import and ultility; for we exhibited it fully in our debate with Mr. McCalla in 1823, without feeling its great importance and without beginning to practice upon its tendencies for some time afterwards. 26

    However, when the reports reached Campbell, he feared that Scott had been rashly presumptious. After a concultation, it was decided that his father would visit the Western Reserve and examine the state of affairs. Thomas Campbell went and remained for some time, but,

    25 It still does. I believe that the Disciples and Mormons are the only major Protestant groups which teach that faith is the simple belief of testimony, without a direct operation of the Holy Spirit; and, that water baptism precedes salvation. Most evangelical bodies believe that "feeling is an evidence of pardon." Methodists teach that salvation is "by faith only;" Baptists, that baprism is a church ordinance to be applied to those already saved, etc., etc.

    26 Richardson, op. cit. II 217. John Wesley had declared that "Baptism adminstered to real penitents, is both a means and a seal of pardon. For did God ordinarily in the primitive Church bestow this (parson) on any, unless through this means," Notes upon the New Testament (New York: G. & P. P. Sandford, 1841), p. 340. Similar citations could be made from Calvin, the Westminster Confession, the Thirty-nine Articles, etc. However, these are largely theoretical and inoperative from a pratical point of view.



    ... saw at once that what he and his son Alexander had plainly taught was now reduced to practice; that the simple primitive method of administering the gospel was really restored. 27

    It did not take long for Scott's discovery to be generally accepted by the Disciples. It was, and is, considered the most significant contribution made to the Restoration movement, after those made by the two Campbells. Alexander Campbell freely admitted the debt. The following, from his pen is typical of subsequent teachings:

    In the natural order of the evangelical economy, the items stand thus; -- 1. Faith; 2. Reformation; 3. Immersion; 4. Remission of sins; 5. Holy Spirit; and 6. Eternal Life. 28

    Parallels in Mormon literature can be selected almost at random, e.g., in reference to the events recorded in the second chapter of Acts, Orson Pratt sets forth that:

    It will be perceived that the great congregation of sinners to whom the apostles addressed themselves, were required --

    First, -- To believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God,

    Secondly, -- To repent of their sins,

    And, thirdly, -- To be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ and they were promised that, after attending to these things, they should receive, first, A REMISSION OF THEIR SINS, and secondly, THE GIFT OF THE HOLY GHOST. 29
    27 Richardson, op. cit. II 219.

    28 Campbell, Christian Baptist, VI:3 (October 6, 1828), p. 486.

    29 Orson Pratt, A Series of Pamphlets Liverpool [Eng.]: H. James, 1851), No. 3, p. 2.



    If the last two are numbered 4 and 5, they become identical with Campbell's list. Number 6, of course is inferred. Both Disciples and Mormons refer to these steps as, "The first principles of the gospel" or "The plan of salvation." Each group emphasizes and defines the terms as identically as is possible, until the fifth step is reached. The Mormon divergence there is exactly the position that Rigdon preached, even after he was united with the Disciples.

    The parallelism continues straight down the line of early Mormon doctrines. This fact is demonstrable. It also can be demonstrated that where Mormon doctrine did deviate that the deviations were those which constantly kept Rigdon "in hot water" while he was with the Disciples. The similarit[ies] apply to nomenclature and terminology in a way that is truly remarkable, [as] if some of the samples had been recorded on golden plates buried in the hill Cumorah for fourteen centuries.

    True, every religious body calling itself Christian has many points of similarity with every other such body, and perhaps an overwhelming number when compared to some other group with which it has a known historical connection. But there are no two bodies known to this writer, which have such extraordinary likeness -- and just as striking



    differences -- yet have no historical kinship.

    Furthermore, Scott had developed his outline of "the first principles" in the fall of 1827, at Lisbon, Ohio. 30 He and Rigdon had been intimate since their first meeting in 18[23]. For a few months they had labored together, when their churches in Pittsburgh united. In 1827, Rigdon was preaching for two congregations, at Mentor, Ohio, about 45 miles from Lisbon, and at Mantua, Ohio, only 30 miles from Lisbon.

    On the other hand, Joseph Smith admittedly did not commence to translate the Book of Mormon until April 12, 1828. 31 It is indisputable that from that date until the Book of Mormon appeared in print in 1830, no other one than the Disciples was preaching "first principles." 30 At this period the Disciples had not spread beyond Virginia, western Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Kentucky. None of their ministers had preached in western New York. There

    30 His first convert was baptized November 18, 1827. Richardson, op. cit., II, 214.

    31 Joseph Smith and Heman C. Smith, History of the Church Lamoni, Iowa: The Reorganized Church, L.D.S., 1903), p. 23.

    Although this work is not copyrighted, only limited excerpts are presented here, in
    consideration of the possibility of its future publication by Mr White's heirs.

    [ 71 ]



    The attitude of the American public toward the Book of Mormon has been curiously diverse. Probably no other religious body has been as persistently active in its missionary endeavors, as the Mormons have for more than a century. Their ambassadors have proclaimed that their sacred book is equal in value to the Bible, indeed superior. 1

    During the nineteenth century it attracted several hundred thousand immigrants to America. Today the Mormons stand numerically several positions above such a well-known group as Christian Scientists, for example. 2 Yet as Mrs. Brodie notes:

    Scholars of American literary history have remained persistently uninterested in the Book of Mormon. Their indifference is the more surprising since the book is one of the earliest examples of frontier fiction, the first long Yankee narrative that owes nothing to English literary fashions. Except for the borrowings from the

    1 "We believe the Bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God." The Articles of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, article 8.

    2 According to the U. S. Census report for 1936, Mormons rank eleventh, Christian Scientists eighteenth.



    King James Bible. Its sources are absolutely American. 3

    The populace at large has been almost as unconcerned. Probably most Americans have heard of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. In the last century considerable excitement was felt over Mormonism, but that was altogether due to the Mormon practice of polygamy. Rare is the gentile who has read the Book of Mormon. As a matter of fact, it is claimed that most Mormons are not too familiar with its contents:

    Of the hundreds of thousands of witnesses to whom God has revealed the truth of the Book of Mormon, he (Orson Pratt) knows full well that comparatively few indeed have ever read that book, know little or nothing intelligently of its contents, and take little interest in it. 4

    As has already been stated, the public reception of the first edition of the Book of Mormon was disappointing. 5 Practically every public reference to it was hostile. About March 26, 1830 the Palmyra bookstore put the book on sale. On April 2, the Rochester Daily Advertiser printed this unflattering review:

    3 Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1946), p. 67.

    4 T. B. H. Stenhouse, The Rocky Mountain Saints (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1873), p. 553. Stenhouse was for twenty-five years a Mormon elder and missionary.

    5 Cf. ante, p. 1.




    The Book of Mormon has been placed in our hands. A viler imposition was never practiced. It is an evidence of fraud, blasphemy and credulity shocking to the Christians and moralists. The author and proprietor is Joseph Smith, Jr., a fellow who, by some hocus pocus acquired such an influence over a farmer of Wayne county that the latter mortgaged his farm for $3,000, which he paid for printing and binding five thousand copies of this blasphemous work. 6

    Perhaps the "author and proprietor" was not greatly surprised by this review, and others like it, for the Book of Mormon predicts that,
    ...many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible and there cannot be any more Bible. 7

    Anticipating disbelief of its claims, the first edition of the Book of Mormon, and every edition thereafter, contains "The Testimony of Three Witnesses" and "The Testimony of Eight Witnesses." The first three witnesses (Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris) testified that, Angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon.

    The eight had to be content with the[ir] being shown only by the "Author and Propiertor" of this work" who,

    6 Brodie, op. cit., p. 82.

    7 2 Nephi 29:3.



    ...has shewn unto us the plates of which hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated, we did handle with our hands; and we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which ha[s] the appearance of ancient work, and of curious workmanship. 8

    Thomas Ford, Governor of Illinois, was intimately acquainted with some of these men after they left the church. He gives the following plausible description of how the testimony was secured:

    ... He (Joseph Smith) assembled them in a room, and produced a box, which he said contained the precious treasure. The lid was opened; the witnesses peeped into it, but making no discovery, for the box was empty, they said, 'Brother Joseph, we do not see the plates.' The prophet answered them, 'O ye of little faith! how long will God bear with this wicked and perverse generation? Down on your knees, brethren, every one and for a holy and living faith which cometh down from heaven.' The disciples dropped to their knees, and began to pray in the fervency of their spirit, supplicating God for more than two hours with fanatical earnestness; at the end of which time, looking again into the box, they were now persuaded that they saw the plates. 9


    The first serious expose of the Book of Mormon came from the pen of Alexander Campbell, in the Millennial

    8 Of the eight witnesses, four were of the Whitmer family, two were brothers of Smith, one was his father, and the eighth was Hiram Page, a son-in-law of Peter Whitmer, Sr.

    9 Thomas Ford, History of Illinois (Chicago: 1854). p. 257. Quoted in Brodie, op. cit., p. 79, 80.



    Harbinger, February 7, 1831. This was reprinted as a pamphlet in 1832. However, in 1834, E. D. Howe published a book called Mormonism Unvailed (sic), in which he presented a theory of the origin of the Book of Mormon which has been a bulwark of non-Mormon writers since that time. Based upon numerous affidavits, the theory follows. 10

    According to Howe, the real author of the Book of Mormon was Solomon Spaulding, a Dartmouth graduate who later became a Congregational (or Presbyterian) minister. Losing his faith, he quit the ministry and entered secular pursuits. Like many others, he became greatly interested in Indian mounds. Around the year 1812, he started writing "Manuscript Story -- Conneaut Creek."

    The account purports to have been written by one Fabius, emperor Constantine's secretary. The boat upon which he had started for England, was blown by a great storm to the coast of America. There is a tedious account of the experiences of the group among the Indians.

    According to his neighbors, Spaulding never completed this story. Instead, he began a new story, written in the

    10 The story is so important that an account can be found in almost every book discussing Mormonism at any length. An excellent
    critical summary can be found in George B. Arbaugh, Revelation in Mormonism (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press), x, 221 pp.



    "scripture style" in order to increase its ancient flavor. The origin of the Indians was explained. For their names, peculiar names from the Bible were sought out. The manuscript was buried for centuries, until it was found under a stone which was raised by "a lever."11 Because of the method of its discovery, it is called the Manuscript Found.

    Spaulding was proud of his work and frequently read parts of it to his friends. Thinking that the story would restore his financial stability, he went to Pittsburgh to find a publisher. Robert Patterson, of the printing firm of Patterson and Hopkins, thought he might publish the book.12 However, due to financial difficulties, Spaulding moved to Amity, Pennsylvania, leaving the manuscript at the printing office. When he returned, the manuscript was gone, suspicion for its loss being directed toward Sidney Rigdon. Soon after this, Spaulding died, but told his physician he believed Rigdon was guilty of the theft. 13

    The effect of the latter statement is worth recounting. The physician, Dr. Cephus Dodd, bought a copy of the Book

    11 Cf. ante, p. 7.

    12 Patterson was a minister.

    13 Charles A. Shook, The True Origin of the Book of Mormon (Cincinnati: The Standard Publishing Company, 1914), p. 119.



    of Mormon read it, then inscribed on a fly-leaf the following:

    This work, I am convinced by facts related to me by my deceased patient, Solomon Spaulding, has been made from writings of Spaulding, probably by Sidney Rigdon. who was suspicioned by Spaulding with (sic) purloining his manuscript from the publishing-house to which he had taken it; and I am prepared to testify that Spaulding told me his work was entitled, "The Manuscript Found in the Wilds of Mormon; or Unearthed Records of the Nephites." From his description of its contents, I fully believe that the Book of Mormon is mainly and wickedly copied from it.
      June 6, 1831                   Cephas Dodd.14

    The reason Rigdon became a suspect was as follows: He was born on a farm located not more than fifteen miles 15 from Pittsburgh and lived there until he was twenty-six years old (1818-19).16 It is claimed that Rigdon spent considerable time in the printing office of Patterson and

    14 Ibid.,
    p. 120. Since the usual Mormon comment upon unfavorable statements is to deny their validity on the grounds of ignorance, failing memory, or venom; it might be noted that Dodd was a physician and presumably intelligent; was in a position to know the facts stated; wrote the statement little more than a year after the publication of the book; and presumably had no animus.

    15 Arbaugh says it was about nine miles. Cf. op. cit., p. 9.

    16 Cf. ante, p. 23. Yet, even as careful a writer as Brodie states that "there is no evidence that Rigdon ever lived in Pittsburgh until 1822, when he became pastor of the First Baptist Church." Cf. Brodie, op. cit.,p. 428.



    Hopkins.17 The Reverend John Winter, M. D., a member of Rigdon's congregation in Pittsburgh, testified as follows:

    In 1822 or 3, Rigdon took out of his desk in his study a large MS, stating that it was a Bible romance purporting to be a history of the American Indians. That it was written by one Spaulding a Presbyterian preacher whose health had failed and who had taken it to the printers to see if it would pay to publish it. And that he (Rigdon) had borrowed it from the printer as a curiosity. 18

    The Spaulding story has been told at considerable length by numerous writers, Mormon and non-Mormon. Howe, Braden, Linn, Arbaugh, and others cite a mass of supporting affidavits. Mormon writers dispute the evidence on one ground or another, but largely ignore it. Brodie, who denies the story, says that the period was "an era of affidavits." 19

    Rigdon hotly denied the whole account, stating in part:

    If I were to say that I ever heard of the Reverend Solomon Spaulding and his hopeful wife, until Dr. P. Hurlbut wrote his lie about me, I should be a liar

    17 op. cit., p. 117-18.

    18 Braden-Kelley Debate (Lamoni, Iowa: The Herald Publishing House, 1913), p. 42. The debate was held Feb. 12 - March 8, 1884

    19 Op. cit., p. 419-433. Yet she cites a number of other affidavits from the same book, relating to Joseph Smith's early life, saying that, these "affidavits can hardly be dismissed by the objective student, particularly since they throw considerable light on the writing of the Book of Mormon." Op. cit., p. 410.



    like unto themselves. Why was not the testimony of Mr. Patterson obtained to give force to this shameful tale of lies? The only reason is, that he was not a fit tool for them to work with.... 20


    In 1884, a Mr. N. [sic] L. Rice, who had bought Howe's printing establishment, and who subsequently moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, accidentally discovered a manuscript in his possession. The manuscript is now in the library of Oberlin College, Ohio. Both of the Mormon churches have copied and published it under the title, Manuscript Found. The contents of the manuscript are unlike the Book of Mormon. Mormon writers point out this fact and uniformly refer to the Spaulding theory as being now finally "exploded" and "disproved."

    However, careful non-Mormon writers continue to accept the Spaulding theory, pointing out facts relative to the Honolulu manuscript which Mormon writers completely ignore.21 Only three major non-Mormon writers, Bays,

    20 Boston Recorder [sic], May 27, 1839, quoted in Brodie, op. cit., p. 427-8.

    21 The best source for this point is the thorough discussion found in Shook, op. cit., p. 65-77.



    Riley and Prince, reject the theory.22 Bays was an ex-Mormon, and Riley and Prince, both of them psychologists, were interested in a theory based upon a psychological study of Joseph Smith.


    Whether or not the Spaulding theory is correct, there is one other piece of evidence connecting Rigdon with the Book of Mormon, which is impressive. Walter Scott, on January 22, 1841, at which time he was the editor of the Evangelist, stated in that publication that Rigdon, "had possessed himself of our analysis of the gospel and the plea for obedience raised thereupon,"23 and appended a letter from Adamson Bentley,24 relating in part:

    You request that I should give you all the information I am in possession of respecting Mormonism. I know that Sidney Rigdon told me there was a book
    22 Chase lists six such, adding Bancroft, Stenhouse and Werner. Cf. Daryl Chase, Sidney Rigdon -- Early Mormon (Unpublished M.A, Thesis, University of Chicago, 1931), p. 178. Bancroft was decidedly pro-Mormon. A Mormon church official declared that: "We furnished Mr. Bancroft with his material." Cf. Linn, op. cit., p. viii. Stenhouse was an apostate Mormon. Werner wrote a biography of Brigham Young, in which he gives only brief attention to the Spaulding theory. He assumes that the Honolulu Manuscript is identical with the Manuscript Found.

    23 I. e., Scott's statement of "first principles," Cf., ante, p. 64-5.

    24 Rigdon's brother-in-law, who with Rigdon visited Campbell. Cf., ante, p. 25.



    coming out (the manuscript of which had been found engraved on gold plates) as much as two years before the Mormon book made its appearance in this country or had been heard of by me.

    Alexander Campbell published this in full, together with his own comment, remarking among other things:

    The conversation alluded to in brother Bentley's letter of 1841, was in my presence as well as in his, and my recollection of it led me some two or three years ago to interrogate brother Bentley touching his recollections of it, which accord with mine in every particular, except the year in which it occurred -- he placing it in the summer of 1827 -- I, in the summer of 1826 -- Rigdon at the time observing that in the plates dug up in New York there was an account not only of the Aborigines of this country but also it was stated that the Christian religion had been preached in this country during the first century just as we were preaching it on the Western Reserve. Now as the Book of Mormon was being manufactured (fabricated) at that time, for the copy-right was taken out in June, 1829, two years according to Elder Bentley, and three years according to me, after said conversation (and certainly it was not less than two years... 25

    Coming from a man of the acknowledged integrity and probity of Campbell -- not to speak of Scott26 and Bentley -- such testimony would need strong evidence in order to be refuted. So far as this writer is aware, no one has even attempted to disprove it. Mormon writers are silent concerning it, 27

    25 M. H., 1844, p. 38-9. Italics mine.

    26 Cf., ante, p. 49.

    27 Even such a careful, conscientious writer as Brodie omits any reference to it. Yet Mormon writers are familiar with several other citations from the Millennial Harbinger. It is possible that early references have been repeated, without taking the trouble to check the files of the magazine for additional material bearing on Mormonism.



    There is other evidence that Rigdon had foreknowledge of the Book of Mormon. Darwin Atwater, of whom Hayden says,

    ...the uniformity of his life, his undeviating devotion, his high and consistent manliness and superiority of judgment, gave him an undisputed pre-eminence in the church... 28

    In a letter to Hayden had this to say of Rigdon:

    ...Soon after this the great Mormon defection came on us. Sidney Rigdon preached for us, and notwithstanding his extravagantly wild freaks, he was held in high repute by many. For a few months before his professed conversion to Mormonism. it was noticed that his wild, extravagant propensities had been more marked. That he knew before of the coming of the Book of Mormon is to me certain, from what he said the first of his visits at my father's some years before. He gave a wonderful description of the mounds and other antiquities found in some parts of America, and said that they must have been made by the Aborigines. He said there was a book to be published containing an account of those things. He spoke of these in his eloquent, enthusiastic style, as being a thing most extraordinary. Though a youth then, I took him to task for expending so much enthusiasm on such a subject, instead of things of the gospel. In all my intercourse with him afterward he never spoke of antiquities, or of the wonderful book that should give account of them, till the Book of Mormon really was published. He must have thought I was not the man to reveal that to. 29

    Dr. Storm Rosa, one of the leading physicians of Ohio, in a letter to the Reverend John Hall of As[h]tabula, in 1841 wrote:

    In the early part of the year 1830 I was in company with Sidney Rigdon, and rode with him on horseback

    28 A. S. Hayden, Early History of the Disciples in the Western Reserve (Cincinnati: Chase & Hall, 1875), p. 243.

    29 Ibid., p. 239-40.



    for a few miles.... He remarked to me that it was time for a new religion to spring up; that mankind were all right and ready for it. 30

    Whether or not the Honolulu manuscript is the Manuscript Found; whether or not Rigdon "borrowed" Spaulding's manuscript from Patterson's office; however he may have communicated with Joseph Smith; it seems quite clear that Rigdon had foreknowledge of the Book of Mormon. If he had such advance information, it is incredible that the theology of the Book of Mormon -- and of early Mormonism -- is not predominantly the theology of Sidney Rigdon.


    Aside from Rigdon's influence, the Book of Mormon is filled with evidences that it was a product of the time of its publication, in spite of its "ancient" language. It abounds in localisms and the theological controversies of the early nineteenth century, not to speak of gross blunders. Some of the latter have been corrected in later editions, but any edition of the book supplies ample material for the purpose of dating it. The Golden Bible is a reflection of contemporary culture. The first serious review of the book declares that it contains:

    30 Gleanings by the Way, p. 315. Quoted in Linn, op. cit., p. 66.



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    90 - 91

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    Although this work is not copyrighted, only limited excerpts are presented here, in
    consideration of the possibility of its future publication by Mr White's heirs.

    [ 92 ]



    So much attention has been centered upon the Book of Mormon that most students have almost completely overlooked another Mormon production which is extremely significant, namely, the so-called, Inspired Translation. While it bears the name of Joseph Smith as its revelator, no one disputes that Sidney Rigdon had an important role in its production. Failure to examine this volume would be inexcusable in any attempt to uncover the part that Rigdon played in laying the foundations of Mormon theology


    The nineteenth century was a period in which there was a tremendous interest in the revision of the English Bible. A number of useful tentative revisions appeared during the century, culminating in the English Revision of 1881, and the American Standard Version of 1901. There are many reasons why this era was a climatic one for Bible revision.

    An excellent basis for discussion is provided by Sir Frederick Kenyon, to whom we owe so



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    At the close of Kenyon's fourth period, considerable material for the formation of an apparatus criticus, was available for scholars. While Codex Vaticamus still lay unknown in the Vatican Library, and Tischendorf had not yet rescued Cidex Sinaiticus from a waste-paper basket, the noble Codex Alexanderinus was available for all.

    Even the ordinary, backwoods preacher was beginning to get fragmentary conceptions of the need for revision. Of the more alert and scholarly individuals, more were contributing in a small or large way toward the total effort. Among this number was Alexander Campbell.

    Campbell utilized the Four Gospels by Dr. George Campbell, first published in Edinburg in 1778; the Acts and Revelation from Dr. Philip Doddridge's New Testament, published in London in 1765; and the Epistles of Dr. James McKnight originally published in London in 1795. He revised all these and published the whole in 1826....

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    Accompanying notes, which are placed in the appendix, show a high quality of scholarship. Considering the limited apparatus critici available to Campbell, his version was first rate work, and is still sold today under the title, "Living Oracles" ...

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    There can be no doubt that Rigdon was jealous of Campbell. His complaint after he failed in his attempt to fasten communism upon the Disciples, that, "I have done as much in this reformation as Campbell or Scott and yet they get all the honor of it," has already been quoted. 8

    In the sketch of Rigdon in Smith's autobiography, referring to Rigdon and Campbell, it is mentioned that:

    ... After they had separated from the different churches these gentlemen were on terms of the greatest friendship, and frequently met together to discuss the subject of religion, being yet undetermined respecting the principles of the doctrine of Christ, or what course to pursue. However, from this connection sprung up a new church in the world, known by the name of 'Campbellites;' they call themselves 'Disciples.' The reason why they were called Campbellites was in consequence of Mr. Campbell's publishing the periodical above mentioned, and it being the means through which they communicated their sentiments to the world. Other than this, Mr. Campbell was no more the originator of that sect than Elder Rigdon. 9

    Rigdon apparently never lost his animus, for in an article in the Messenger and Advocate (Kirtland) of [Jan.], 1837, he said:

    One thing has been done by the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. It has puked the Campbellites
    8 Cf. Ante., p. 30.

    9 Joseph Smith and Heman C. Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Lamoni, Iowa: Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1908), p. 132.



    effectually, no emetic could do half so well.... The Book of Mormon, then, has revealed the secrets of Campbellism, and unfolded the end of the system. 10

    Mormons had early hinted at the limitations of the Bible; they believed it, "as far as it is translated correctly." 11 But the Book of Mormon declared that:

    ... Because I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished ...

    Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written. 12

    One of the most common of all Mormon statements follows:

    For behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away; and all this have they done that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord; that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men. Wherefore, thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God; and after these plain and precious things were taken away it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles. 13
    10 William A. Linn, The Story of the Mormons (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1907), p. 62.

    11 Articles of Faith, article 6.

    12 2 Nephi 29:9, 10.

    13 1 Nephi 13:26-29. This was written at a time when [much] was being said relative to the varient readings of the great manuscripts of the New Testament and the need for a new translation. It is evident that the writer did not understand the nature of the differences, nor, in view of the multiplicity of manuscripts, the impossibility of secretly "taking away" parts of the Bible.



    The preface to the Inspired Version states that:

    As concerning the manner of translation and correction, it is evident, from the manuscripts and the testimony of those who were conversant with the facts, that it was done by direct revelation from God.

    It was begun in June, 1830, and was finished July 2, 1833...

    The manuscripts, at his (Smith's) death, in 1844, were left in the hands of his widow, where they remained until the spring of 1866, when they were delivered to... a Committee

    As has been stated, immediately after Rigdon first came to the home of Smith, they received a joint revelation, dated December, 1830, in which Rigdon was told:

    And a commandment I give unto thee -- that thou shalt write for him; and the scriptures shall be given, even as they are in mine own bosom, to the salvation of mine own elect. 14

    The task of translation was begun at once, although at first it was done secretly. The manuscript is all in the handwriting of Rigdon. 15 The first edition was published by the Reorganized Church, in 1867. 16 In its catalog

    14 D. C. 35:20.

    15 Linn, op. cit. p. 69.

    16 The Holy Scriptures translated and corrected by the spirit of Revelation by Joseph Smith, Jr., the Seer (Plano, Illinois): Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1867. I have compared two copies in my possession, the first edition and 1936 edition, but have found no evidence of change other than on the title page. Here, "the Seer" is dropped, as well as the word, "translated."



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    ... Part of the Old Testament changes occur in Genesis, Isaiah and some of the Psalms. In the New Testament the revisions are found chiefly in the Gospels and the Apocalypse. There are two purposeful corrections; in the fifteenth [sic - fiftieth?] chapter of Genesis, and the twenty-ninth chapter of Isaiah. In the former, twelve verses are added to the end of the chapter, so that Joseph before his death predicts that, "a choice seer will I raise up out of the fruit



    of thy loins," who would be greatly blessed, "and his name shall be called Joseph, and it shall be after the name of his father." 21

    In the same way, the twenty-ninth chapter of Isaiah is explained as follows:

    11 And it shall come to pass, that the Lord God shall bring forth unto you the words of a book; and they shall be the words of them which have slumbered.

    12 And behold, the book shall be sealed; and in the book shall be a revelation from God, from the beginning of the world to the ending thereof.

    13 Wherefore because of the things which are sealed up, the things which are sealed shall not be delivered in the day of the wickedness and abominations of the people. Wherefore, the book shall be kept from them.

    14 But the book shall be delivered unto a man, and he shall deliver the words of the book, which are the words of those who have slumbered in the dust; and he shall deliver these words unto another, but the words that are sealed he shall not deliver, neither shall he deliver the book.

    Is it possible that in verse fourteen there is a not too thinly veiled hint of the relationship of Rigdon and Smith in the production of the Book of Mormon? A linking of this verse with verse four of the celebrated joint revelation is suggestive. 22

    Alexander Campbell, the champion of the immersionists, was having gigantic debates over the question of baptism. Not to be outdone, Rigdon has Adam hearing the gospel and in obedience to it, being baptized. In this version

    21 Genesis 50:27, 33.

    22 Cf. Ante., p. 32.



    there is no necessity for arguments over the meaning of baptism, for: came to pass, when the Lord had spoken with Adam our father, that Adam cried unto the Lord, and he was caught away by the Spirit of the Lord, and was carried down into the water, and was laid under the water, and was brought forth out of the water; and thus he was baptized. 23

    Even the lowliest reader, in reading this passage should have no doubts regarding the mode of baptism, All of this was, of course, as good Baptist doctrine as it was Disciple, but the distinctive doctrine of the Disciples was made plainer, and Walter Scott's terminology is antedated by some thousands of years. Enoch preaches as follows:

    And now, behold, I say unto you, This is the plan of salvation unto all men, through the blood of mine Only Begotten, who shall come in the meridian of time. 24

    It is needless to cite other passages from the Inspired Version, for the foregoing should be sufficient to indicate that this version has the same background as the Book of Mormon. Both show evidence of an ambition to originate a new religion which, while embodying the characteristic principles of the rapidly growing Disciples, would add other features that seemed desirable to Rigdon.

    23 Genesis 6:67

    24 Genesis 6:65


    Evidently Rigdon intended that he should be Aaron to Smith's Moses. In later years he said:

    For the existence of that church there had to be a revelater, one who received the word of the Lord; a spokesman, one inspired of God to expound all revelation, so that the church might all be of one faith. Without these two men the Church of Latter-Day Saints could not exist. 25

    Smith was to receive revelation; Rigdon was to be the leader. For a while this distribution of affairs worked. Revelations sustained it. As late as October, 1833, Sidney was told that:

    I will ordain you unto this calling, even to be a spokesman unto my servant Josepj... And I will give unto thee power to be mighty in expounding all scriptures, that thou mayest be a spokesman unto him, and he shall be a revelator unto thee. 26

    On January 19, 1841, after there had been trouble between the two men, there came this revelation:

    And again, verily I say unto you, if my servant Sidney will serve me and be counselor unto my servant Joseph... and if he wil... remain with my people, behold, I, the Lord your God, will heal him that he shall be healed; and I shall lift up his voice again on the mountain, and be a spokesman before my face. 27

    But it was too late. Sidney had not taken the measure of his man. Joseph was no longer a shallow youth,

    25 Personal letter, date May 25, 1873, now in the New York Public Library. Cf. Linn op. cit., p. 320. [entire text: We know nothing about the people called Mormons now. The Lord notified us that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints were going to be destroyed, and for us to leave. We did so, and the Smiths were killed a few days after we started. Since that, I have had no connection with any of the people who staid and built up to themselves churches; and chose to themselves leaders such as they chose, and then framed their own religion. -- The Church of Latter-Day Saints had three books that they acknowledged as Canonical, the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Commandments. For the existence of that church there had to be a revelater, one who received the word of the Lord; a spokesman, one inspired of God to expound all revelation, so that the church might all be of one faith. Without these two men the Church of Latter-Day Saints could not exist. This order ceased to exist being overcome by the violence of armed men, by whom houses were beaten down by cannon which the assailants had furnished themselves with. -- Thus ended the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and it never can move again till the Lord inspires men and women to believe it. All the societies and assemblies of men collected together since then is not the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, nor never can there be such a church till the Lord moves it by his own power, as he did the first. -- Should you fall in with one who was of the Church {of} Christ, though now of advanced age, you will find one deep {read} in the revelations of heaven. But many of them are dead, and many of them have turned away, so there are few left. -- I have a manuscript paper in my possession, written with my own hands while in my 80th. year, but I am to poor to do anything with it; and therefore it must remain where it {is}. During the great fight of affliction I have had, I have lost all my property, but I struggle along in poverty to which I am consigned. I have finished all I feel necessary to write. -- Respectfully, -- SIDNEY RIGDON.]

    26 D. C. 100:9-11.

    27 D. C. 124:103-104.



    but a man -- a handsome, magnetic man. Perhaps he began to believe that he was inspired. At any rate he believed in himself. He knew his strength; he was the Prophet.

    Although this work is not copyrighted, only limited excerpts are presented here, in
    consideration of the possibility of its future publication by Mr White's heirs.

    [ 106 ]



    Thus far, sufficient facts have been established to demonstrate that both the Book of Mormon and the Inspired Translation are products of nineteenth century culture. Striking resemblances between the Disciples of Christ and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints have been pointed out. The background for the "current reformation" and for the task of Bible translation have been shown.

    However, similarities may be superficial. Surface likenesses do not necessarily indicate kinship, or they may merely be a part of the intricate overlapping of beliefs, which makes the American religious pattern such a confusing one.

    It is the purpose of this chapter to show conclusively that the Mormon resemblance to the Disciples is significant of a relationship that is historical and not merely contemporary. Furthermore, that the agreements are not isolated counterparts, but deliberate imitations.

    To accomplish this aim, a systematic -- though necessarily brief -- examination will be made of every important doctrine, practice or attitude of the two groups. In each case the position of the Disciples will be exhibited, followed by a statement of the Mormon attitude



    It will be found in every instance that the Mormon attitude is either "a resonably exact facsimile" of the Disciples, a competitive elaboration, or a negation idendical with s previously exhibited attitude of Sidney Rigdon. 1

    Within recent years many of the doctrines of Mormonism have developed greatly; new ones have come into being. Obviously those areas lie outside the province of this paper. Neither are we concerned with such doctrines as polygamy, which came about not as a doctrine to be believed, but a practice to be justified. 2 Eliminating these

    1 "Rigdon was a thorough Bible scholar, a man of fine education, and a powerful orator. He soon worked himself deep into Brother Joseph's affections, and had more influence over him than any other man living. He was Brother Joseph's private counsellor, and his most intimate friend and brother for some time after they met. Brother Joseph rejoiced, believing that the Lord had sent to him this great and mighty man Sydney Rigdon, to help him in the work. Poor Brother Joseph! He was mistaken about this, and likewise all of the brethren were mistaken; for we thought at that time just as Brother Joseph did about it. But alas! in a few years we found out different. Sydney Rigdon was the cause of almost all the errors which were introduced while he was in the church." David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ (Richmond, Missouri: Elder David Whitmer, 1887), p. 35.

    2 The Utah Mormons are realistic regarding polygamy. Brigham Young once frankly stated: "I myself sealed dozens of women to Joseph." Cf. Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1946), p. 334. The Reorganized church persists in denying patent facts. David Whitmer, who certainly knew Smith well, wrote: "Had you been with him as much as I was, and knew him as I knew him, you would also know that he could fall into error and transgression: but with all his weaknesses, I always did love him." op. cit., p. 43.



    extraneous matters, the origin of Mormon theology can be explained only via Sidney Rigdon.


    One of the first problems which concerned the Disciples was the name they were to wear. Very early, the Campbellites and others insisted upon "a pure speech." i.e., "calling Bible things by Bible names." They rejected such names as "Lutheran," on the ground that honor was paid to a human being rather than to Christ. "Baptist," "Episcoplaian," and the like, were undesireable because they called attention to some distinctive belief or type of organization. All sectarian names were divisive while the body of Christ should be united.

    Protestant bodies [sic - parties?] are all founded upon Protestant peculiarities. Indeed, there is but one radical and distinctive idea in any one of them. That is, their centre of attraction and of radiation. They baptize themselves at the layer of that idea, and assume the name of it, whatever it may be, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, or Methodist, &c. &c. They build on what is peculiar, and thus, in effect, undervalue that which is common to them all. And yet, themselves being judges, that which is common is much more valuable than that which is peculiar. The sub-basis of all parties is the tenet which is their cognomen. 3

    Hence the necessity for a strictly scriptural name for the church, as an organization, to wear. Nicknames

    3 Alexander Campbell, Christian Baptism (Bethany, [Va]: Alexander Campbell, 1851), p. 17. [cf. The Christian Baptist, various issues, 1823-30]



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    The Mormons have followed the same pattern of thought. However, the matter of choosing a name was simplified for them, in that a revelation was received, not only naming the church, but giving the exact date of its inauguration:

    The rise of the Church of Christ in these last days, being one thousand eight hundred and thirty years since the coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in the flesh... 7

    At a conference of elders, May 3, 1834, the name of the church was changed to "The Church of the latter-day saints." Rigdon made the motion. 8 The intent was to avoid the nickname Mormon, since the name "Christian" was not specofic enough [for] the gentiles. The new name conformed to Rigdon's view of an imminent millennium. 9

    In Rigdon's zeal over their being saints of the pre-millennial era, he completely forgot the name of Christ. The Lord noted the defect, so that on April 26, 1838, another revelation was received...

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    As has been seen, the Disciples had consistently opposed the use of creeds...



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    Attention has been called several times to the insistence by the Disciples upon a return to the "ancient order of things." The Christian Baptist and the Millennial Harbinger contain frequent reference to the "Everlasting Gospel," based upon Revelation 14:6,7, as follows:

    And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel...

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    VI.  FAITH

    Walter Scott's analysis of "First Principles" or the "Plan of Salvation" has already been discussed...



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    The position accorded by Campbell to repentance, in the scheme of redemption, is unique. Not only in his definition of it, but also in the relationship it sustains to faith, did he differ radically from the theologians of his time...



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    Talmage notes the warning of Jesus that, "Not every one that sayeth unto me, Lord, L53 Immediately afterward the same author quotes James 2:14-18. 54


    The Disciples were not alone in their exphasis upon immersion -- the Baptist[s] agreed upon that point. However, Campbell engaged in several debates that attracted great public interest. He became the champion of the immersionists.

    Rigdon was eloquent and emotional, but he was not a logician. He could not equal Campbell's skill in debate, but he had another expedient. 55 Campbell had to resort to Greek lexicons to prove that baptize meant "immerse;" to church histories to show apostolic practice. Rigdon could write a sacred book, revise the Bible, receive

    53 Matt. 7:21. A favorite passage with Disciples.

    54 Op. cit., p. 111-112.

    55 "Rigdon, who always caught and proclaimed the last word that fell from the lips of Scott or Campbell, seized these views, and with the wildness of his extravagant nature, heralded them every-where."A. S. Hayden, Early History of the Disciples in the Western Reserve (Cincinnati: Chase & Hall, 1875), p. 186.



    revelation, that would divinely explain baptism. Accordingly Jesus personally taught the Nephites to, "immerse them in the water, and come forth again out of the water." Jesus then settled the matter with finality by adding:

    And there shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been. 56

    The teaching of the Disciples regarding the connection of baptism with remission of sins has already been presented. 57 Mormons hold the same beliefs and offer the same proof texts. But here again, if one accepts their scriptures, "disputations" will cease. "The elders of the church are commissioned to preach the remission of sins as obtainable through the means of authorized baptism. 58 The Disciples were handicapped by scriptures from which "many plain and precious things" had been removed, but the Mormons could receive a revelation to "preach repentance and remission of sins by way of baptism." 59 That was plain enough.

    The Disciples had emphasized the importance of baptism, until they had been accused of "water salvation." Rigdon could out do that.

    56 3 Nephi 11:26, 28. Cf. D. C. 20:72-75; 76:51; 128:12.

    57 Cf., ante p. 63f.

    58 Talmage, op. cit., p. 126.

    59 B. C. 55:2



    Compliance with the ordinance (of baptism) has been shown to be essential to salvation, and this condition applies to all mankind. Nowhere in scripture is a distinction made in this regard between the living and the dead.... In the course of the world's history there have been long periods of spiritual darkness, when the gospel was not preached upon the earth; when there was no authorized representative of the Lord officiating in the saving ordinances of the kingdom....

    As baptism is essential to the salvation of the living, it is likewise indispensable to the redemption of the dead. 60

    The doctrine of baptism for the dead was first taught at Kirtland, Ohio -- Rigdon's home -- after the saints moved there.


    The Disciples stood against the entire Protestant world in their attitude toward the work of the Holy Spirit in conversion. They denied that there is "some invisible, indescribable energy exerted upon the minds of men in order to make them Christians; and that, too, independent of, or prior to, the word believed." 61

    With regard to miracles, their beliefs were more orthodox. They were convinced that inspiration and the miraculous ceased with the close of the New Testament canon.

    60 Talmage, op. cit., p. 148f.

    61 C. B. 1:49, March 1824. [context of quote: "I am told that I have not yet hit upon the point in question; that the Christian experience of which the populars speak, is, "the inward experience of grace upon the heart." What is the meaning of this grace upon the heart, said I? I know that the glad tidings is sometimes called the grace of God. Thus says Paul, "the grace of God that brings salvation, has appeared to all men, teaching us," &c. Here the gospel is called " the grace of God appearing to all men." Again, says Paul, he who seeks to be justified by the law, is fallen from grace; or has renounced the gospel. Indeed, nothing is so worthy of the name "grace of God" as the gospel. Now if this gospel, which is sometimes called "the word of God," "the spirit," "the grace," and "the truth," dwell in a man, that is, be believed sincerely, like a fruitful vine it yields in his heart and in his life the heavenly cluster of love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, fidelity, meekness, temperance. These are the fruits of the Spirit. Like precious ointment it diffuses in his heart heavenly odors, and the sweetness of its perfume exhales in his life, in the work of faith, the labor of love, and the patience of hope. This, said I, is just what I contend for. If you call this "christian experience," I never denied it; yea, I have always taught it. But I cannot approve of the name, since it is altogether an ambiguous name. -- My friend replied, "This is not precisely the popular use of the phrase. It denotes, amongst most of the populars, a certain mental experience to becoming a christian, an exercise of mind, a process through which a person must pass before he can esteem himself a true christian; and until we know from his recital of it that he has been the subject of it, we cannot esteem him a christian." -- Then it is some invisible, indescribable energy exerted upon the minds of men in order to make them christians; and that, too, independent of, or prior to, the word believed. I read in the New Testament of many who were the subjects of energies and diverse gifts of the Holy Spirit, but it was "after they had believed." The gifts of the Holy Spirit by which the gospel was confirmed, by which it was demonstrated to be of God, were conferred on the Jews and Samaritans after they had believed. Even the apostles themselves did not receive those powers and gifts of the Holy Spirit until they became disciples of Christ. On the Gentiles was poured out the Holy Spirit, or his gifts, while they heard Peter preaching the glad tidings, which they believed; for they came to hear Peter in such circumstances as to dispose them to believe every word he said. The age of those gifts has passed away, and now the influence of the. Holy Spirit is only felt in and by the word believed..."]



    In the words of Campbell, the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit was "confined to the apostolic age, and to only a portion of the saints that lived in that age." 62

    Rigdon had never been one with the Disciples on this point. Richardson says that:

    Rigdon had been for some time diligently engaged in endeavoring, by obscure hints and glowing millennial theories, to excite the imaginations of his hearers, and in seeking by fanciful interpretations of Scripture to prepare the minds of the churches of Northern Ohio for something extraordinary in the near future. He sought especially in private to convince certain influential persons that, along with the primitive gospel, supernatural gifts and miracles ought to be restored, and that, as at the beginning, all things should be held in common. From his want of personal influence, however, he failed in disseminating his views, except to a very limited extent. In Mentor, where he resided, he was quite unsuccessful, but was more fortunate in Kirtland, the adjoining town, where a flourishing church became much disturbed and unsettled by his plausible theories and brilliant declamations. 63

    Immediately after Rigdon's conversion, the Kirtland church, a large part of which was transfered to Mormonism, became wildly excited:

    Scenes of the most wild, frantic and horrible fanaticism ensued. They pretended that the power of miracles was about to be given to all those who embraced the new faith, and commenced communicating the Holy Spirit... young men might be seen running over the
    62 ibid., p. 125. [context of quote: "While his distributions, as the Spirit of Wisdom and of Power, were confined to the apostolic age, and to only a portion of the saints that lived in that age, his influences, as the Spirit of all Goodness, were felt and realized by all the primitive saints, and are now felt by all the subjects of the new reign, or by all the citizens of that new kingdom which the God of Heaven set up in the reign of the Cesars. The citizens of this kingdom, which commenced on the literal Mount Zion, and which will extend to all nations, tribes, and tongues, have ever experienced, and will, to the end of time experience, the influences of this Spirit, as the Spirit of all goodness, righteousness, and truth. The full development of these influences requires us to take a brief view of the Old Covenant and the New, or of the Letter and the Spirit. -- Whatever illuminations were enjoyed by, and whatever prospective views were communicated to, the ancient saints and Jewish prophets, respecting, the christian age, one thing is certain, that the Old, or Sinaitic Covenant, was a covenant of letter, and not a covenant of spirit. It is equally certain and obvious that the Jewish church, with all its privileges, had but the shadows of good things to come; that their condition was as different from ours as flesh and spirit; and their rank as unlike ours, as that of servants and sons..." The Christian Baptist, II:7 (February 7, 1825)]

    63 Robert Richardson, Memoirs of Alexander Campbell (Cincinnati: Standard Publishing Company, 1897), II p. 345-46.



    fields and hills in pursuit, as they said, of the balls of fire, lights, &c., which they saw moving through the atmosphere. 64

    Rigdon was in Palmyra with Smith at the height of this disturbance, but the prophet soon received a revelation that Kirtland was to be the Promised Land of the Saints. The Mormons remained in Kirtland until 1838. Miracles, speaking in tongues and similar manifestations were a conspicuous feature of the early years of Mormonism.


    Kirtland also became the center of the Mormon communistic experiments. Rigdon had become bitter toward the Disciples when he was defeated in his attempt to require a community of goods, in imitation of the early Jerusalem church. 65 It is unquestionable that he was responsible for its introduction among the Mormons.

    If it had ever occurred to Joseph Smith to turn his church into a communistic society, he betrayed no such intention until after meeting Rigdon. The latter had not only studied the New Testament; he had absorbed much of the recent national excitement over Robert Owen's New Harmony. 66
    64 Mormonism Unvailed, p. 104-105. Quoted in Hayden, op. cit., p. 213.

    65 Cf., Acts, 4:32f.

    66 Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1946), p. 105. Campbell debated with Owen in April, 1829.




    It might be supposed, from the name Millennial Harbinger, which was bestowed upon the successor to the Christian Baptist, that Campbell had some peculiar views regarding a millennial period. However, this was not the fact. Campbell explained:

    We have often rather jeeringly been asked, "Wherein consists the millennial characteristics of the Harbinger?" -- the questicts imagining that a millennial harbinger must be always discussing or preaching millenniary affairs.

    Far from having any such intention, Campbell stated that, "We have not committed ourselves to any of the theories of the presemt day on the nature and coming of the Millennium."

    He held to no such honor, for he reasoned that,

    All the Millennium we could scripturally expect was not merely the restoration of the Jerusalem church in all its moral and religious characters, but the extension of it through all nations and languages for one thousand years. 67

    Rigdon, on the other hand, had visionary theories of the Millennium. Hayden, in speaking of a book of superlative interpretations of these matters, says that: "Rigdon... seized these views, and with the wildness of his extravagant nature, heralded them everywhere." 68

    67 M. H., 11:561-562, December, 1840.

    68 Hayden, op. cit., p. 186.



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    In the above presentations of the beliefs of the Disciples and Mormons, it would be easy to distort the meanings of the respective theologies, due to the necessarily fragmentary character of the quotations. For an understanding study of either, of course, reference should be made to works in



    which a more comprehensive treatment is possible. Otherwise, connotations may be suggested which are at variance with the tenets of the respective groups. The quotations have been used, not for the purpose of giving a complete picture of the theologies, but merely to point out significant parallels and to suggest the sources of these agreements.

    Although this work is not copyrighted, only limited excerpts are presented here, in
    consideration of the possibility of its future publication by Mr White's heirs.

    [ 132 ]




    Early in 1830, at Palmyra, New York, was published a book called the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith, Jr., its "author and proprietor" claimed that it was a translation of inscriptions upon some gold plates, which in obedience to the command of the angel "Moroni," he had found in a box buried in the hill Cumorah. The plates, he declared, contained an account of a race which formerly inhabited the American continent, together with the "fulness of the everlasting gospel."

    Smith, with a few others, organized the "Church of Christ," which declared that it was the only body having authority to administer the ordinances of the gospel. 1 The first important convert to the new church was Sidney Rigdon of Mentor, Ohio

    1 Cf. the celebrated statement of Orson Pratt: "The nature of the message in the book of Mormon is such, that if true, no one can possibly be saved and [reject] it. Therefore, every soul in all the world is equally interested in ascertaining its truth or falsity." Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon (Liverpool, (Eng.): R. James, 1851, p. 1.



    Rigdon had been a popular orator among the Baptists. After a long conversation with Alexander Campbell, he began preaching the "ancient order of things." These teachings spread rapidly, but dissension arose, and the Disciples were compelled to withdraw from the Baptist associations. Rigdon was noted among the Disciples as being ambitious and a brilliant orator, but inclined to be erratic and excitable. 2

    Rigdon was suspected of having "borrowed" the manuscript of one Solomon Spaulding, adding a religious element to it, and through Smith, who had gained some local notoriety as a "seer," foisting it upon the public.

    Mormonism, as manifested in the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Inspired Translation,

    2 "Captivating as a public speaker by his fluency and his exuberant fancy, he had depended upon these superficial endowments for popularity and success. In private he had been found petulant, unreliable and ungovernable in his passions, and his wayward temper, his extravagant stories and his habit of self-assertion had prevented him from attaining influence as a religious teacher among the disciples. He was ambitious of distinction, without the energy and industry necessary to secure it, and jealous of the reputation of others, without the ability to compete with them. Floating upon the tide of popular excitement, he was disposed to catch at anything which, without demanding labor, might serve for his advancement, and was naturally led to seek in deception the success which he found denied to indolence." Robert Richardson, Memoirs of Alexander Campbell (Cincinnati: Standard Publishing Company, 1897), p. 344.



    and, the practices of the church, had remarkable similarities to the Disciples.

    Both Disciples and Mormons held that a great apostasy had circulated in the Roman Catholic Church. However, they agreed that the Reformation had not gone far enough, that it was necessary to duplicate the doctrines, organization, and life of the New Testament church. A Disciple slogan was" "In things essential, unity: in things non-essential, liberty." The Mormons insisted upon a facsimile of everything recorded.

    The Campbells, Barton W. Stone, Walter Scott, and others brought about a synthesis of what they were convinced was the primitive New Testament pattern of faith and worship. Most of the fundamentals of the synthesis, were repeated in Mormonism. Where the Mormons differed from the Disciples, the divergences were known favorites of belief with Rigdon.

    The Book of Mormon in its anti-Masonry, its camp meeting expressions and its backwoods crudities, shows itself to be a product of its times. Furthermore, Walter Scott, with whom Rigdon was closely associated, had but recently discovered:

    ...relations which the truths of reveation bore to each other that had for a long time, in a great measure, been lost sight of, and in consequence of which confusion and darkness had usurped the place of order and light. 3

    3 William Baxter, Life of Elder Walter Scott Cincinnati: Bosworth, Chase & Hall, 1874), p. 42.



    These principles -- the "Plan of Salvation" -- were immediately embedded in Mormonism, where they became basic to Mormon theology.

    Rigdon not only had expressed bitter jealousy of Campbell and Scott when defeated regarding communism, but had described the contents of the Book of Mormon two or three years before its publication. Furthermore, the Inspired translation seems to indicate a desire to eclipse Campbell's translation, which passed through three editions within two years of its first publication.

    A comparison of the fundamental doctrines of Mormons and Disciples, shows that with regard to: 1) The name of the Church; 2) The name of followers; 3) Creeds; 4) The Kingdom of God; 5) The Everlasting Gospel; 6) The Plan of Salvation; 7) Faith; 8) Repentance; 9) Obedience; 10) Mode of baptism; and, 11) Purpose of baptism; the identities were too great to be coincidental. In the items of: 1) The Holy Spirit; 2) The miraculous; 3) Communism; and 4) The Millennium; the Mormons varied from the Disciples, in just the ways that Rigdon varied.

    4 Hayden discloses that he left the meeting, "chafed and chagrined, and never met with the Disciples in a general meeting afterward." A. S. Hayden, Early History of the Disciples in the Western Reserve (Cincinnati: Chase & Hall, 1875, p. 299.




    Today few, if any, of the Disciples of Christ, Christian churches, or Churches of Christ, would admit that the theology of the Campbells and their associates has any value other than the expression of the beliefs of earnest, devout individuals. But these groups would freely admit the debt their thinking owes to these same individuals. Mormonism largely has the same debt, but denies its existence. Rigdon's own statement that, "The Book of Mormon has revealed the secrets of Cambellism and unfolded the end of the system," is significant. 5

    The likenesses and differences between the Methodist Church and the Church of England are clear, but they can be explained upon historical grounds. The likenesses and differences between Disciples and Mormons are just as striking, and cannot be accounted for upon the grounds of accident or special revelation.

    In defense against the Rigdon origin of Mormon theology, Mormon writers tend to concentrate upon the weaknesses, of the Spaulding theory, while largely ignoring its strong points. Practically without exception, they

    5 W. A. Linn, The Story of the Mormons (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1902), p. 62.



    completely ignore Rigdon's foreknowledge of the Book of Mormon, a fact which seems incontrovertible.

    Without any necessary dependence upon the Spaulding theory, it seems logical to conclude that the parallelism between the Disciples and Mormonism can be explained only in the light of a transferance from the former to the latter, through the mediumship of Sidney Rigdon.

    Although this work is not copyrighted, only limited excerpts are presented here, in
    consideration of the possibility of its future publication by Mr White's heirs.

    [ 138 ]


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    Transcriber's Comments

    Joseph W. White's
    "The Influence of Sidney Rigdon..."

    (under construction)

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