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Gospel Topics Chapter 9 Bringhurst Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
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May 30, 2021 9:52 pm

Gospel Topics Chapter 9 Bringhurst Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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May 30, 2021 9:52 pm

This week Bill and Eric take a closer look at chapter 9 in the book The LDS Gospel Topics Series: A Scholarly Engagement (Signature Books, 2020), titled “Plural Marriage after 1890.” The entire series along with other articles covering the Gospel Topics Essays, printed between 2013-2015, are located at, where you can get a … Continue reading Gospel Topics Chapter 9 Bringhurst Part 1 →

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Have you ever wondered where you can go in downtown Salt Lake City to browse the largest inventory of books that examine the Mormon religion? Well, the answer is the Utah Lighthouse Bookstore, located at 1358 South on West Temple, just across the street from Smith's Ballpark. Sandra Tanner and her staff will assist you in finding the appropriate resources so you can better understand the faith of your LDS friends and loved ones. The Utah Lighthouse Bookstore also carries dozens of books that Sandra and her husband Gerald have written over the past five decades, including Mormonism, Shadow or Reality.

And if you have questions, there is always someone on the premises who will be happy to speak with you. The Utah Lighthouse Bookstore is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. And on Saturdays, Bill McKeever or Eric Johnson will be there from 1 to 5 p.m. So come check out the Utah Lighthouse Bookstore, located right there at 1358 South on West Temple.

They look forward to seeing you soon! Welcome to this edition of Viewpoint on Mormonism. I'm your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director of Mormonism Research Ministry, and with me today is Eric Johnson, my colleague at MRM. We continue looking at the book The LDS Gospel Topics Series, a scholarly engagement, and we hope that the study of these chapters included in this book are helping you to better understand what were included in the original 13 Gospel Topics essays that the church posted on its official website beginning at the end of 2013 and finishing up at the end of 2015. As I mentioned, there were originally 13 essays written, and this book tackles those 13 original essays. They have different authors, and so today we're going to be looking at chapter 9 titled Plural Marriage After 1890, and this chapter is written by a man by the name of Newell G. Bringhurst.

Now before we begin though, Eric, we've been talking about the backgrounds of the authors in this book. Newell G. Bringhurst, if you read his bio in the back, is certainly a Mormon, there's no doubt about that. I don't really know how serious he is when it comes to his Mormonism, because he has certainly, I think, been quite honest in his appraisal of LDS history, which might put him in a camp with some true believing Mormons, some TBMs, as maybe not being quite as faithful as they think he should be. When he starts off his chapter in the first paragraph, when he says on October 25th, 2014, the Church of Jesus Christ posted on its official website,, the Gospel Topics essay entitled The Manifesto and the End of Plural Marriage, notice how he addresses the name of the church. He calls it the Church of Jesus Christ.

Now, I have to assume that all of these chapters were finished in the can and ready for publication before Russell M. Nelson became the 17th president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And remember, folks, it was Russell M. Nelson that had this big pet peeve with anybody referring to the church by anything other than its proper name. Now, one of the exceptions, according to Nelson, would be that if you didn't want to call it by its long-drawn-out name, you could call it the Church of Jesus Christ.

Now, evangelicals like us certainly balked at that. There's no way we're going to refer to the LDS Church as the Church of Jesus Christ. That's overstepping the bounds by far in our opinion. But it's interesting that Bringhurst calls it that without giving it the entire title.

And that's not even according to the standard. You're normally supposed to call the church by its full name, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And then if you look at what the church asks you to do, what they ask the media to do is now you can call it several different things. You just can't call it Mormon or LDS, but you can call it the Church of Jesus Christ.

He doesn't even get into the whole name of the church. And I think that does show that he does have great sympathy toward his Mormonism by calling the church the Church of Jesus Christ. And as you pointed out, is no longer an official website of the church. So that gives you a good indication, as you pointed out, Bill, that this certainly had to have been written in 2016 or 2017. And I think we should mention this because I'm sure there are some listeners that are wondering, well, why would those that have sympathies to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints use the shorter LDS or even sometimes refer to the people as Mormons when they are not supposed to do that any longer? And I think that's exactly why this was written before that mandate came down.

And we would say that that mandate really didn't come down all that hard until around the middle of 2018. And then, of course, it was codified, you might say, when it was mentioned again by Russell M. Nelson in their general conference. But I would say that, though, we don't really know where Newell Bringhurst would put himself as far as which camp within the many nuances of Mormonism. But I think you're right, Eric, he does show certainly a sympathy or even a respect to the LDS Church when he uses that title, the Church of Jesus Christ, to describe the LDS Church as we understand it.

We could be wrong on that, but this is our assumption. And he continues in that first paragraph of his chapter, and he writes, Now, maybe we should bring it up at this point. If you were to go to the official website of the LDS Church,, you would find that if you typed in the search box, the Gospel Topics essays, and you got to the page that has these essays, there are not 13 essays there, there's actually 12. The first essay is kind of like an overview of why the other essays exist. And then you have 11 other essays. You will not find this essay, Plural Marriage After 1890, nor will you find the other two that we've covered already.

Basically, what I'm saying is you will not find three essays dealing with this. And that's what makes it a little bit confusing, because all three of them are on their official website, but they are not listed under the Gospel Topics essays page. There are other Gospel Topics, and I know this gets confusing for people who have probably not spent as much time as we have looking for these articles.

They're all there. But if you were to type in Gospel Topics essays, and you went to the page that I was referring to, you're going to find 12 articles, not 13. And one of those articles has nothing to do with any of these topics. And the question then is, why did they take the three essays and make them into one?

Plural Marriage in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I'm going to suggest that these articles, these three that they wrote, probably cause more consternation with Latter-day Saints than perhaps any of the others. And my thinking is, Bill, perhaps they watered it down by just taking little bits and pieces from these three, turning them into one, and then moving these three original Gospel Topics essays into the Gospel Topics. And there are well over 100 articles. They get lost with all of the different articles that are found under the section called Gospel Topics. At the bottom of page 231, Mr. Bringhurst has a subheading that says, Overview. It says, The Manifesto and the End of Plural Marriage provides a detailed overview consisting of six and a half pages of text, along with three and a half pages of footnotes.

Now, here's where my pet peeve comes in, Eric. When you look at these essays on the official church website, whereas before all the endnotes, the footnotes, were all listed in one big group at the end of the article, which is pretty customary. Well, I guess somebody thought that they would be cute by making it look more artistic. When you click on the endnote, a window comes out from the side that only contains that particular endnote or footnote. The problem is when you go to print out the article, none of those footnotes slash endnotes show up. And I could not figure out how you could even go back and cut and paste all of those notes so that you would have them readily there while you read this essay. You couldn't do it in a hard copy.

You have to do it electronically or you have to do it digitally on the website itself, which I find to be very frustrating. Why in the world would they do that? Why would they make it more difficult to be able to read these notes that you and I find are so important to fully understand what the author is trying to get across? It's almost like, OK, we're going to be transparent, but here we're not going to be transparent because why? You don't want us to read the notes? Well, they're there. Why wouldn't you make it to where when you print out the article, the notes are there as well?

But for some reason, that's not to be. And that's just one of my pet peeves when it comes to the official website and these Gospel Topics essays. On page 232, he continues and writes, the essay is divided into four sections. The first, Anti-Polygamy Laws and Civil Disobedience, describes a series of laws passed by the federal government to force the Latter-day Saints to relinquish plural marriage commencing with the 1862 Moral Antibigamy Act and culminating in the 1880s with enactment of the stringent 1882 Edmonds Act and 1887 Edmonds Tucker Act.

Now, I don't expect these chapters to go into all the necessary details so that you understand what all these words mean and who are all these people. We've talked about the 1862 Moral Act when we were looking at another essay on polygamy, but let's just recap. This is not spelled M-O-R-A-L. It's a man's name, Justin Smith Morrill. He was a politician from the state of Vermont. This bill was passed in 1862, and as we mentioned before, though it was to come out against the practice of plural marriage, Abraham Lincoln, the president at the time, because he was kind of distracted with a civil war going on, chose not to do anything about this Morrill Act as long as Brigham Young didn't cause any problems and didn't choose sides, you might say, with the South.

So that didn't really have a huge impact other than it was sitting there. When it talks about the 1880s with the enactment of the stringent 1882 Edmonds Act and then later on with the Edmonds Tucker Act, Edmonds and Tucker, that's Senator George F. Edmonds. He was also from Vermont, as was Morrill.

And then we have John Randolph Tucker, who was a congressman from the state of Virginia, so that's where these names come from. The Edmonds Tucker Act of 1887 would certainly play a huge role in bringing down the practice of plural marriage, because church officials had maintained that plural marriage was a religious principle protected under the U.S. Constitution, according to Mr. Bringhurst. Accordingly, he says, LDS officials, quote, mounted a vigorous legal defense all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, end quote, resulting in the landmark Reynolds versus United States in 1879, a decision in which the high court ruled against the church. As Mr. Bringhurst says, the LDS church faced a dilemma, and we're going to talk about that dilemma in tomorrow's show. Thank you for listening. If you would like more information regarding Mormonism Research Ministry, we encourage you to visit our website at, where you can request our free newsletter, Mormonism Researched. We hope you will join us again as we look at another viewpoint on Mormonism.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-11 22:49:33 / 2023-11-11 22:54:45 / 5

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