Now let us briefly acquaint ourselves with four important
aspects of Fundamentalist priesthood:
1. Line of Authority: From 1886 to 1949
2. Presiding Priesthood Office: High Priest Apostle
3. Presiding Leadership Council: The COUNCIL OF FRIENDS
4. "Church" organization: the "PRIESTHOOD"
Chapters four through ten in this book will look at these
components in greater detail.
FUNDAMENTALIST PRIESTHOOD: LINE OF AUTHORITY
While many different beliefs exist, several prominent
polygamist sects claim a line of authority which is shown below:
Since Lorin C. Woolley was excommunicated in 1924,(37) Broadbent in 1929,(38) and Barlow(39) and Musser prior to 1935, the Lorin C. Woolley line would represent a line of authority outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Many Fundamentalists believe that indeed the Keys of the Priesthood left the Church sometime prior to 1929. They also assert that their Priesthood organization, which exists external to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is now the guardian of those priesthood keys.
Understanding the teachings of these last four proposed Fundamentalist prophets, especially Woolley and Musser, is important in order to comprehend the Fundamentalist Priesthood. Lorin C. Woolley was introduced in chapter one.
J. Leslie Broadbent was excommunicated on July 18, 1929 for promoting and practicing plural marriage. Four months prior to his excommunication, Broadbent was supposedly ordained by Lorin C. Woolley and designated Woolley's Second Elder, meaning J. Leslie Broadbent would assume the position in the priesthood purportedly held by Lorin C. Woolley upon Woolley's death. Broadbent was only 44 when Woolley died. He served six-months as Fundamentalist prophet prior to his own unexpected death.(40) He wrote one of the early polygamist tracts entitled Celestial Marriage? which has been widely read and quoted.
John Y. Barlow was supposedly ordained by Lorin C. Woolley shortly after J. Leslie Broadbent in March of 1929. This ordination placed him next to J. Leslie Broadbent in seniority. Barlow was a staunch polygamist, but apparently possessed less of the natural leadership skill that Broadbent or Joseph W. Musser demonstrated. Musser, after the death of J. Leslie Broadbent, recorded in his journal that John Y. Barlow was clearly "at the head no matter where he is."(41) However, that did not deter Musser from being critical of the leadership of John Y. Barlow(42). Likewise, Barlow was at times critical of Musser.(43)
Joseph W. Musser is the most important Fundamentalist leader next to Lorin C. Woolley. He was excommunicated in March of 1921 for practicing plural marriage.(44) He first heard the claims of Lorin Woolley in 1922,(45) but didn't team up with him until 1929 when, in May, Woolley supposedly ordained him a "High Priest Apostle."(46) Musser's contribution to the body of Fundamentalist doctrine is significant. In 1929 he wrote the official version of Lorin C. Woolley's claims to alleged 1886 priesthood ordinations which Woolley later signed.(47) He published it several times. By the 1930's, he was no longer living with any of his three living wives(48) (at their request) and was able to devote a majority of his time to the "work" which he did. In 1935 he began Truth, a monthly periodical, which served as the voice of the polygamist movement for many years. In its pages, Musser compiled historical evidences to support his belief that the Latter-day Saints were still required to practice polygamy. Musser exhibited great fortitude in promoting his ideas. His journal is complete with multiple references to his desire to be a martyr to that cause.(49) Notwithstanding his claims that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was still God's Church, he was at times very critical of its leading authorities.(50)
These four men comprise the line of priesthood authority
espoused by many modern polygamists. An in-depth look at the proposed succession,
the individuals involved and some significant problems will be found in
chapter five .
FUNDAMENTALIST PRIESTHOOD: PRESIDING PRIESTHOOD OFFICE
Many modern polygamists believe that a priesthood office
and council exist outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
which is higher than anything found within it. The highest priesthood office,
they believe, is that of "High Priest Apostle" which is higher than the
Apostleship held by members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.(51)
All of the members of the proposed higher priesthood council that supposedly
exists external to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are
High Priest Apostles. A detailed analysis of the origin and purported
authority of this proposed priesthood office will be found in chapters
six and ten.
FUNDAMENTALIST PRIESTHOOD: LEADERSHIP COUNCIL AND "CHURCH"
Since modern polygamists have used the term priesthood to delineate both their leadership council and their church-like organization, both entities will be discussed together for better understanding. Likewise, a discussion of terminology is useful.
Prior to the 1930's, a reference to "the priesthood" in
a discourse or text would have carried one of two meanings. Bruce R. McConkie
described the most common meaning of the word "priesthood:"
As pertaining to eternity, priesthood is the eternal power and authority of Deity by which all things exist, by which they are created, governed, and controlled...
As pertaining to man's existence
on this earth, priesthood is the power and authority of God delegated to
man on earth to act in all things for the salvation of men.(52)
Joseph F. Smith stated it more succinctly: "The Priesthood in general is the authority given to man to act for God."(53) From this we learn that priesthood is power. This is the most frequent usage found in the scriptures and sermons of priesthood leaders.
A second application of the term has been in reference
to the group of men in the Church who held priesthood authority.(54)
For example, the apostle Peter wrote:
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an
holy nation, a peculiar people... (1 Peter 2:9.)
Brigham Young commonly referred to the priesthood brethren
as simply "the priesthood." For example:
Some of the brightest spirits who dwell in the bosom of the Father are making their appearance among this people, of whom the Lord will make a Royal Priesthood, a peculiar nation that he can own and bless, talk with, and associate with.(55)
Joseph W. Musser, through his lectures and publications,(56)
supplied the Fundamentalist movement with many original ideas on the priesthood.
Possibly the most important teaching he ever developed was the novel concept
of an external Priesthood organization, thus, providing his followers with
a third definition for the term Priesthood:
There are three major organizations, set up in the following order:
(a) Priesthood; the higher order of which being God's immediate authority, and to which all other organizations, priesthoods and callings are subordinate.
(b) The Church; which is the vehicle used by the Priesthood in its spiritual work, both at home and abroad.
He also taught:
...there is a Priesthood organization
greater than that of the Church; and that Priesthood always has, can now
and will continue to function aside from and independent of the Church.(59)
Joseph Musser invented an external priesthood organization which included its own priesthood leadership councils and congregations.(60) A diagram of this organization can be seen in below. The presiding council in the Fundamentalist priesthood is called the Council of Friends.(61) This council has several other names which include: The Council of Friends of God,(62) the Quorum of High Priest Apostles,(63) and the Council of the Presidency.(64) Other less common titles have also been promoted by Musser.(65) By definition, it is to have seven members, but the number has apparently varied between one(66) and 14 or more.(67) The table below lists the men promoted by Joseph W. Musser as having been members of the Council of Friends during the times specified. A detailed analysis of these men will be included in chapters seven through nine. Chapter six discusses the office of High Priest Apostle and the Council of Friends directly.
Musser taught that the Senior member of the Council of
Friends presides over the Priesthood organization and is God's Prophet
and mouthpiece upon the earth,(68) though
he never spoke of his source for these ideas.(69)
The Senior High Priest Apostle is also supposedly the presiding High Priest
the Lord referred to in D&C 107:65-66 and 91:(70)
65. Wherefore, it must needs be that one be appointed of the High Priesthood to preside over the priesthood, and he shall be called President of the High Priesthood of the Church;
66. Or, in other words, the Presiding High Priest over the High Priesthood of the Church.
91. And again, the duty of the President
of the office of the High Priesthood is to preside over the whole church,
and to be like unto Moses.(71)
Despite the several references to the "Church" in these scriptures, Musser somehow believed that the presiding High Priest was not the President of the Church, but was actually a man serving as the head of an external Priesthood organization and Senior member of a Council of Friends. Musser's doctrine asserted that by virtue of his position as the head of the Priesthood, he would also preside over the subordinate Church by directing the First Presidency.(72)
This council of seven priesthood leaders supposedly presides
over a larger group of seventy High Priest Apostles that compose the Sanhedrin
(as Musser described it).(73) Besides the
Sanhedrin which functioned in both civil and ecclesiastical matters during
the times of the New Testament,(74) Musser
also attempted to tie his Sanhedrin to the 70 elders in Moses' council
The body of chosen Priesthood was
anciently known as the Sanhedrin, and comprised seventy-one Elders, -seventy
in the Council proper - whom God had Moses call together.(75)
SOURCES: 1. A Priesthood Issue, pp. 8-9. 2. Joseph W. Musser, Items from a Book of Remembrance of Joseph W. Musser, N.p, N.d., p. 26. 3. Truth 17:171. 4. Supplement pp. 105-106. 5. Truth, 9:189-190. 6. Ibid. 7. A Priesthood Issue, pp. 13-14. 8. Truth 9:190. 9. A Priesthood Issue, p. 12. 10. Ibid., p. 13. 11. Ibid., p. 11. 12. Truth 9:169. 13. A Priesthood Issue, p. 15. 14. Ibid., p. 12. 15. Ibid., p. 25.
Notwithstanding Musser's assertion, it is doubtful that
any connection between the New Testament Sanhedrin and Moses' Seventy Elders
ever existed.(76) Regardless, Fundamentalist
prophets fail to suggest that any attempt was ever made to organize the
Sanhedrin, with its complement of seventy members, in this dispensation.(77)
THE PRIESTHOOD "CHURCH"
Today, large numbers of individuals proclaim membership in several different Priesthood organizations which function like churches. In spite of the fact that these organizations hold Sunday services, proclaim the gospel and partake of the Sacrament in their meetings, none of these groups profess to be a formal "Church" in the sense that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a Church.(78) Modern polygamists believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only legitimate "church" on the face of the earth. Since most modern polygamists are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they unite for Sabbath services as congregations that are a part of their external Priesthood organization. The exact pattern that these congregations are to follow has not been specified by Fundamentalist prophets in their literature. Generally, they are presided over by their Priesthood leaders, but not necessarily as an LDS ward is directed by its Bishop. During their Sunday meetings, individuals from the congregation are often selected by a priesthood leader to conduct the meeting and to designate others from the audience to give a extemporaneous talk (as they feel they are guided by the spirit). Prepared sermons are not encouraged. Other aspects of the groups may resemble LDS services, but the congregations are careful not to consider themselves a part of the Church, for they are members of the Priesthood.
Several Fundamentalist groups promote United Orders and the Law of Consecration. These too are supposedly overseen by a Council of Friends.
The figure below compares some of the basic differences
between the Fundamentalists and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints. The following chapters will examine these differences more closely.
38. Joseph Leslie Broadbent, Celestial Marriage? / In the Case of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Vs. Joseph Leslie Broadbent, Salt Lake City, Utah: n.p., n.d. (1927), second section, p. 7.
39. Some Fundamentalist writers suggest the keys went from J. Leslie Broadbent directly to Joseph W. Musser (Robert R. Openshaw, The Notes, Pinesdale, Montana: Bitterroot Publishing Company, 1980, pp. 394-395). However, Musser's comments in his journal suggest that if this actually occurred, Musser was unaware of it. (Photocopy of originals of Joseph W. Musser's journals obtained by J. Max Anderson by permission of Musser's daughter who had them in her possession.) See the entry June 13, 1935 where Musser clearly acknowledged John Y. Barlow as the head after the death of J. Leslie Broadbent. More on this later.
46. Joseph W. Musser, ed. Truth, 21 Vols. Salt Lake City, Utah: Truth Publishing Company, 1935-1956, 20:28. See also a publication entitled The Journal of Joseph W. Musser, n.p., n.d. (which is an autobiography and not his journal) p. 11.
47. Joseph W. Musser and J. Leslie Broadbent (collaborator), Supplement to the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage, n.p., July, 1934 (hereafter abbreviated Supplement) pp. 56-62. Journal of Joseph W. Musser, September 22, 1929. It was specifically published in several books and separately in 1934 (see entry for July 26, 1934).
(June 25, 1933) - Asked the Lord
to visit his vengeance upon those of the Church leaders who have repudiated
the revelations of Joseph Smith...
(April 8, 1934) - Met with John
Y. Israel, Edmund, and I.W. Barlow, J.L. Broadbent and Louis Kelsch, at
home of Edmund and joined with the Barlow's in invoking the penalties contained
in the 98th Sec. of D&C Verse 41 to 44.
(November 22, 1934) - Witnessed to God the fourth trespass committed upon the Apostolic order of the Priesthood by church officials, as commanded to do D&C 98:41-48 in accordance with the law of retribution. The four offenses are: Dis-fellowshipment from the Church of John W. Woolley, Joseph L. Broadbent and Louis A. Kelsch, the latter action being taken last evening, for upholding the patriarchal order of marriage either in spirit or fact.
It is now up to the Lord to act, we are relieved from all action, for the Lord said: "thou shalt not forgive him, but shalt bring these testimonies before the Lord, and they shall not be blotted out until he repents and reward thee four fold in all things wherewith he has trespassed against thee;" etc.
The leaders of the Church have much
to answer for.
(April 11, 1935) - Learnt through
Bro. Petty, that his wife in consultation with John M. Whittaker, learned
that the Church had appointed Committees to get evidence on all the brethren
so as to pounce upon them when the time comes, and rush them "Over the
road." Let them come, -damn them -- and God will damn them to an eternal
destruction, if they persist in their wicked designs.
Earlier in Musser's life, but after his excommunication
in 1921, he was much less critical of the Church Leaders. The harshness
of his condemnation seemed to grow over his years of formal estrangement,
possibly due to the maturing of the spirit of apostasy within him. The
Prophet Joseph Smith taught:
I will give you one of the keys of the mysteries of the kingdom. It is an eternal principle that has existed with God from all Eternity that that man who rises up to condemn others, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly that that man is in the high road to apostasy and if he does not repent will apostatize as God lives. (Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, The Words of Joseph Smith, Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, 1980, p. 413.)
56. The periodical Truth, and books, Priesthood Items, Salt Lake City, Utah: Truth Publishing Company, 1934; New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage, Salt Lake City, Utah: Truth Publishing Co., 1934; A Priesthood Issue, and Supplement (Supplement to a New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage).
57. The "Kingdom" referred to is primarily composed of the Council of Fifty which was a political organization organized by Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, Illinois in 1843. See Encyclopedia of Mormonism, pp. 326-327.
60. Members of the fundamentalist
PRIESTHOOD organization who are not members of the leadership elite somehow
become integrated as part of a subordinate congregation. Their exact individual
status has never been defined in fundamentalist literature, but they acknowledge
they are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Fundamentalists believe people were baptized members of this purported
PRIESTHOOD organization as early as 1829:
Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were endowed with the Priesthood -- the Aaronic and then the Melchizedek.
This was all done before the Church
was organized. The Priesthood first functioned in Joseph Smith and Oliver
Cowdery and, later in others. The "Gospel of the Kingdom" was preached,
converts were baptized and the "Gift of the Holy Ghost" bestowed, still
no church organization, according to the laws of the land, was in existence.
(A Priesthood Issue, p. 5.) [Emphasis added.]
Some fundamentalist authors erroneously teach that baptisms prior to the formal organization of the Church in April of 1830 must have been baptism in to the organization of the PRIESTHOOD, since they also declare that there was no Church of any kind in existence at that time. However, multiple problems with this interpretation exist for while there was no church according to the laws of the State of New York, there most certainly was a church in the eyes of the Lord (see D&C 10:67-69).
65. A few of the other proposed titles include: "Presidency of the Priesthood" (A Priesthood Issue, p. 18), "Presidency of the Council of High Priesthood" and "Presidency of the High Priesthood" (Supplement, p. 106), and "Council of the Church before the Presidency of the High Priesthood" (Ibid. p. 107).
66. The only time this council (if it existed before 1930) may have contained one member was after the death of John W. Woolley on December 13, 1928 which left only Lorin C. Woolley as a council member. Musser wrote that "upon him as a thin thread the Priesthood rested, with the Keys from late in 1928 to Feb or March 1929..." (Journal of Joseph W. Musser, September 30, 1934.) Lorin C. Woolley supposedly ordained Joseph Leslie Broadbent and John Y. Barlow in March and Joseph W. Musser in May of 1929.
Perhaps it may make some of you
stumble, were I to ask you a question -- Does a man's being a Prophet in
this Church prove that he shall be the President of it? I answer, no! A
man may be a Prophet, Seer and Revelator, and it may have nothing to do
with his being the President of the Church. Suffice it to say, that Joseph
was the President of the Church, as long as he lived; the people chose
to have it so... (Brigham Young in JD 1:133 quoted in A Priesthood Issue
It is true that the members of the
Church can choose someone other than the Prophet and President of the Priesthood
to be the President of the Church. God will force no one to sustain and
follow His prophets. However, as soon as a people choose to be lead by
someone other than the prophet, they will lose their standing before the
Lord and cease to be God's people. The new individuals following the Prophet
would be God's Church and He would guide them through that prophet. Parley
P. Pratt taught concerning the selection of Brigham Young as President
of the Church:
Had we undertaken President-making
in this Church simply by our uninspired notions, Brigham Young held more
keys than all our votes put together; and had we voted against him, we
would have voted ourselves out of the kingdom of God. He and those that
stood by him would have held the keys of the Priesthood, as they have and
do, and would have built up the kingdom, while those who opposed them would
have been like salt that had lost its savor. It was not in our power to
manufacture this Presidency, but only to uphold and cleave to it; and blessed
are we, inasmuch as we have done this thing. (JD 5:200.)
The idea that God's prophet could possibly exist outside God's Church in a so-called PRIESTHOOD organization is innovative but untrue. It is significant that no monogamist or polygamist taught such a thing prior to 1930's.
77. Supplement, p. 111. Lorin C. Woolley taught of "The Grand Council of the Kingdom" which was supposedly fully organized at Adam-ondi-Ahman during the 1830's. Woolley also taught that this council contained fifty men (not seventy) and included non-members. No historical evidence has been found to associate Musser's teaching of the "Sanhedrin" to Lorin C. Woolley.
78. The Church of the United Apostolic Brethren, established by the Allred Group in South Salt Lake City, Utah does not consider itself a "church" to replace The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints even though it carries the title. It regards itself as the PRIESTHOOD organization described by Musser and believes that its leadership would be directing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints if the Church were not "out of order." See chapter ten.