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Splinter Group Bickertonites Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
September 25, 2020 6:42 pm

Splinter Group Bickertonites Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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September 25, 2020 6:42 pm

This is a 3-part series featuring our final splinter group, the Church of Jesus Christ, also known as the Bickertonites. To read more about this group, visit


Reason 101 for teams is a valuable resource for anyone wanting a simplified view of the Mormon religion from a Christian perspective.

Mormonism 101 for teens is available at the Utah lighthouse bookstore in Salt Lake City or .1 is man-made examines the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from a biblical perspective view .1 Mormonism is sponsored by Mormonism research ministry since 1979 Mormonism research ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect.

And now, your host for today's viewpoint on Mormonism so glad to be with us for this edition of viewpoint on Mormonism on your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director Mormonism research ministry and with me today is Eric Johnson my colleague MRM we continue looking at some of the smaller groups that claim Joseph Smith is in many respects, you might say, the founder of their movement. If nothing else, their church organization. They feel more closely represents the church of Jesus Christ as it was laid down by Jesus himself. Today were going to be looking at a group called the church of Jesus Christ that Eric that can get really confusing very quickly.

But this is known as the church of Jesus Christ, known also as the Bickerton Heights. It's a group that may be a lot of our listeners have never heard of before but it's spinning on the East Coast.

It actually is.

After the community of Christ group based in Independence, Missouri. It is the second largest splinter group you talked about the name of the church, the name of this church happens to be the church of Jesus Christ, and they have registered that it is a registered name is very important if you're a follower of Joseph Smith that you have Jesus Christ in the title of the church and this church happens to have the title of the church of Jesus Christ in their website had the name of Jesus Christ in their web URL before the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints decided to change their URL from and of course that happened in 2018 after Russell M. Nelson became the 17th president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, but the Bickerton Heights and we want to get into a little bit of the history of how they came to be known as the Bickerton nights, he goes back to William Bickerton was born in 1815 and died in 1905.

This church was officially founded in 1862, but really it's history starts well before 1862. It goes back to Sidney Rigdon. Now Sidney Rigdon was you could say Joseph Smith's right hand man in the early years of the church of Christ because that's what the church was known as when it was founded in 1830 by Joseph Smith Junior, Sidney Rigdon honestly felt that after Joseph Smith was killed at Carthage jail that he was the rightful successor to Joseph Smith.

Well, Brigham Young wasn't going to have any of that in the way the story goes that Sidney Rigdon makes his case as to why he should be the successor.

But then afterwords Brigham Young makes his case, why he should be the successor in the story goes that when those who were listening to Brigham Young make his case. There was like the spiritual mantle of Joseph Smith that fell down on Brigham shoulders and so they felt that Brigham Young should become the second president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints had Sidney Rigdon become the president of this church you have to wonder what would've been the end result with the LDS church because what he had moved them over to Utah.

We don't know what he would've done.

But it's just interesting to think that he was a much different kind of leader he was very I would say straightforward.

I mean, he gave talks and sermons that really riled up a lot of people. Perhaps he would've riled up the people continually there in Illinois after Joseph Smith died in 1844.

Maybe he would've had to leave but maybe they would've ended up in the Salt Lake Valley. This group does feel that Sidney Rigdon was robbed by Brigham Young you have an email from a member of this church and this individual who wrote this email gives their opinion as to what they think Brigham Young did in order to prevent Sidney Rigdon from becoming what this individual feels should have been the rightful heir of Joseph Smith.

Now this email says when Jesse Smith was assassinated.

City Rigdon should have been the president of the church until the next election. However, Brigham Young usurped unlawful influence to manipulate the quorum of 12 to elect him as president. This creative schism in the church now according to your paper that is on our website it and where can a person find this paper I is set of Christ.

Bickerton nights and so there's hyphens between Church of Christ Becker tonight so let's talk about William Bickerton how he happens to come into the picture here now after Brigham Young becomes the second president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Sidney Rigdon leaves Illinois and he heads back to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. While he is in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania he starts a new church but he does succeed in taking some of the followers of the church. He just left to join his new church in Pittsburgh of man by the name of William Bickerton. He's an English immigrant to the United States.

He leaves the Methodist Church and he follows Sidney Rigdon. He becomes baptized in Sidney Rigdon's new church and becomes an evangelist in this church which is known as the church of Christ and then in parentheses. You see Rigdon night.

Now this could be very confusing for someone is not very familiar with all these movements because there's a lot of heights in this we talked about some of them in this series we talked about the offending sites. There's also the strange nights now we have the Bickerton nights the Rigdon nights and some would say that if you belong to the early Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints after Joseph Smith died, you would ability. Brigham light.

In other words, you are being associated with the person you claim to be following at that particular time. In this case, the church of Christ, which sells pretty generic, and as I mentioned, that was the original name of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints before they change it to the church of the Latter Day Saints William Bickerton is enamored with the Church of Christ Rigdon night group and so he joins this group. She's never met Joseph Smith. He never met Brigham Young, but within a couple of years. This new group that Sidney Rigdon starts and ends up dissolving it last for probably not even two years and now all of a sudden the church that Rigdon starts no longer exist.

So what happens this man name William Bickerton who I would say at this point is probably really, and nobody in the grand scheme of things, but he eventually becomes a member of the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Elizabeth Pennsylvania. Now he becomes what was known at that time as a Mormon, but then in 1852. Something happens. What happens in 1852 while in March 1852, he had become an elder, but he leaves the church because what happened was second LDS Pres. Brigham Young sent representatives to Bickerton since he is now Latter Day Saints and told him he had to teach plural marriage bill, the thing about plural marriage. A lot of people don't understand. It was a pretty important doctrine for Brigham Young to say hey. Quit teaching what you're teaching and become polygamist and he said no I'm not going to be ends up leaving the Mormon church.

What you said is absolutely true because it was in 1852 when the Mormons went public with the doctrine of plural marriage. Brigham Young gave that honor quote" to Orson Pratt and he announced it in a in a special session of conference.

So now the Mormons are public on the teaching of plural marriage whereas before it was basically done secretly so the Mormons feel confident enough being in Utah in the territory of desert rat as they called it to go ahead and speak about this openly.

It does not go along very well with all members. You can understand that in Bickerton was one of those. As you mentioned, Eric, who refused to go along with teaching plural marriage and so he leaves.

Then in green oak Pennsylvania in July 1862 William Bickerton starts his own church and what is he do like many of the other splinter groups.

He claims that he is the rightful successor to Joseph Smith and he felt that the followers of Joseph Smith had become disorganized so he thought that what he was doing was divine on this is 10 years after he's left the LDS church but here we go another splinter group were talking dozens of splinter groups take place soon after the death of Jesse Smith and this is just another one in 1875. He convinces several dozen families to move to Kansas out of all places, and they found the Zion Valley colony. It later became the town of St. John Kansas.

That town is still there today.

Although there is no church that represents the Bickerton nights today.

Now Bickerton claim to have a vision that put him on the highest mountain of the earth where he was told that quote if I did not preach the gospel. I would fall into a dreadful chasm below.

I moved with fear having the Holy Spirit with me. Now it's interesting that all these groups teach all these different things, but they all have the Holy Spirit that's with them. This should raise a question.

Does the Holy Spirit confirm the truth claims of groups that contradict each other. I would argue that's not how the Holy Spirit operates the Holy Spirit testifies of truth, yes, but if you have two opposing views. You can't claim that the Holy Spirit is going to support both views that would be against the nature of the Holy Spirit will then in 1880, just a few years after he moved to Kansas.

Bickerton is ousted due to a charge of adultery and he's replaced by a guy named William Cadman Bickerton said he was innocent, but he did get disfellowshipped, but he was never excommunicated and later in 1902. Bickerton was reinstated to the church and he remained a faithful member until his death three years later in another church split takes place in 1914, when William Cadman, who was Bickerton successor said the church should be led by a first presidency and the quorum of 12 apostles and others were saying there should be no first presidency and so the leader of the schism was an apostle named James Caldwell who disagreed with the first vision of Joseph Smith. Even though he taught that Smith was a true prophet.


He denies the first vision, but says Smith was a true prophet, and in fact had been inspired to translate the book of Mormon Caldwell ends at beginning a new church. Here we go again. The primitive Church of Jesus Christ Bickerton night and his followers became known as Cadman nights and that church was dissolved by the 1970s, though it's fascinating about what you just said Eric is that this man James Caldwell. He didn't believe Lori disagreed with the first vision of Joseph Smith. Is he saying that he didn't believe it ever happened. Or did he disagree with some of the details regarding that first vision such as all the churches are wrong.

Their creeds are an abomination in their professors are corrupt. It seems odd to me that you could dismiss the first vision, which is become an intricate part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It wasn't in the early years. No one even knew about the first vision in the early years of this movement but it has become a significant part of LDS history.

This man does not believe this first vision, but he does believe that Joseph Smith is a true prophet because he according to James Caldwell. He was inspired to translate the book of Mormon. It would seem to me that you would have to have both and that's certainly what the LDS church believes today. You have to have both the first vision and Joseph Smith ability to translate the book of Mormon and that what is really the proof of his calling. Thank you for listening. If you would like more information regarding his research ministry. We encourage you to visit our website at you can request a free newsletter Mormonism research. We hope you join us again as we look at another viewpoint is

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