On November 29, 1839, unbidden and unannounced, Joseph Smith Jr. walked into the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue to request an audience with President Martin Van Buren.1 Joseph had journeyed nearly a thousand miles to seek federal redress after failing in local and state courts to regain Mormon property in Missouri.2 Within minutes President Smith was escorted into President Van Buren’s office and within minutes was escorted out. Their brief conversation has become famous in Mormondom. It was a defining moment in Smith’s life and one that underscores the importance of pneumatology (the study of the Holy Spirit).3 A week later, Joseph reported to his brother Hyrum that after their interview, President Van Buren asked him how his church differed from other religions of the day. He simply replied: “We differed in mode of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands.” He explained to Van Buren that “all other considerations were contained in the gift of the Holy Ghost.”4 Joseph’s response to Van Buren calls for a serious analysis of Joseph Smith’s understanding of the Spirit compared to other nineteenth-century religions and their biblical interpretations.
While Joseph Smith’s thoughts on the Holy Ghost appear to fall within the mainstream of the enthusiastic outbursts of the Second Great Awakening (circa 1800–1840), a closer look shows that his restored doctrines made an abrupt and radical departure from the pneumatology of his day. Many historians5 interpret Joseph’s claim to revelation as a creative response to the cultural and religious stimulus of the “Burned-over District” in upstate New York (see table 1).6 But were Joseph’s ideas on the Holy Ghost entirely a product of his environment? Was his doctrine developed in reaction to his culture? Was his biblical interpretation of the Spirit consistent with that of the clerics of his day? Focused research suggests not. Up to this point, academic literature has not compared Joseph Smith’s pneumatology with that of his contemporaries.7
Table 1. Number of Religious Revivals in New England and New York between 1815 and 1818
|RI||CT||PA||NJ||Eastern NY||VT||MA||Burned-over District
or western NY
Source: Whitney Cross, The Burned-Over District: The Social and Intellectual History of Enthusiastic Religion in Western New York, 1800–1850 (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University, 1950), 11–12.
Nineteenth-century American ministers and theologians most frequently discussed the working of the Spirit in regard to the Trinity, revelation, and the depravity of man. Each subject deals with branches of pneumatology: the first two with the Spirit’s work of inspiration and regeneration, and the latter with the Spirit’s identity in the Godhead. Joseph added significantly to the discussion on these three and other subjects, but unfortunately, many miss the nuanced but crucial differences in Joseph’s views on the Holy Spirit and how these views can transform theology. I hope to partially fill this gap by a systematic, documented analysis of the dominant ideas on the Holy Spirit in antebellum America, against which to contrast Joseph’s teachings. First, I will juxtapose Joseph’s writings with statements from several representative sermons and writings from his contemporaries on the Holy Spirit’s role in the Trinity, a closed canon, gifts of the Spirit, and divine election. Then I will compare Joseph Smith’s teachings about the Holy Ghost with those found in the Bible, using analysis of numbers, names, and details.
Joseph Smith’s Pneumatology
Contrasted to Nineteenth-Century Preachers
Trinity versus the Godhead
The majority of American Christians in 1800 believed in the Trinity.8 They passionately defended their ideology of the Trinity from attacks by Deists and Unitarians. One of the most articulate guardians of the Trinity from 1822 to 1878 was the Reformed Christian Charles Hodge (1797–1878).9 He explained that the Spirit “is the same in substance and equal in power and glory . . . to the Father and Son.”10 For fifty-six years he elaborated on his belief in the Trinity from “the citadel of Reformed theology,” the Princeton Seminary.11 He clung to the creedal vocabulary: “When we consider the incomprehensible nature of the Godhead, the mysterious character of the doctrine of the Trinity, the exceeding complexity and difficulty of the problem, . . . [we must refer to] the Church creeds on the subject.”12 Whether or not a person read the creeds, by the early nineteenth century a creedal perspective was so ingrained into assumptions about Christianity that believers found a clear confirmation for the Trinity within the Bible.
Biblical purists like Alexander Campbell denounced the word “Trinity” as “unauthorized and Babylonish phraseology” because the word did not originate in the Bible.13 Yet his dislike was largely semantic, as we find Trinitarian doctrine in his second Article of Faith: “I believe in one God as manifested in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, who are therefore one in power, nature and volition.”14 Other theologians on the fringe of Christianity, like the Unitarian William Channing (1780–1842), went so far as to attack Trinitarian ideology and the divinity of Jesus,15 and Mother Ann Lee (1736–1784) questioned the gender of God. However, no one went so far into new territory to describe the Godhead as Joseph Smith did by the time he was in Nauvoo.16
The Prophet Joseph Smith strongly rejected the traditional philosophy of a Trinity: nowhere in his sermons, personal writings, or history did he mention the word or support its ideology.17 He never debated the traditional questions of filioque; he probably did not know of the debate over the mysterious character and source of the Trinity.18 His break from Trinitarian doctrine, if he ever held such a belief, began in his teens when his First Vision changed his view of the Godhead.19 He joined many other Christians in
believing that Jesus was the literal offspring of God the Father; but he alone taught that both the Father and Son were now resurrected, glorified, separate, and purified “Men of Holiness” with bodies of flesh and bones who were unified in purpose to exalt humanity (D&C 50:27; 130:22; 131:8; Moses 1:39; 6:57; 7:35).20 He then diverged even more dramatically from the mainstream by teaching that the Spirit will someday take on a body as Jesus did.21 According to the notes taken by his scribe, Joseph preached: “The holy ghost is yet a Spiritual body and waiting to take to himself a body, as the Savior did or as god did or the gods before them took bodies.”22 Joseph’s followers, who shared his theology of eternal spirits, accepted this idea as a logical outgrowth of Joseph’s doctrine of eternal progression (D&C 88:15–16; 93:21–26).
Closed versus Open Canon
American Protestants held the Bible to be the most sacred document in the world and the centerpiece of their faith. Most viewed it as directly inspired from the Holy Spirit, the source of their authority and endowment of power. Many Christians at that time felt the words of the Bible were entirely God-given and “the only infallible rule of faith and practice.”23 Most Protestant preachers, like Charles Finney, turned to the Bible to separate truth from error.24 Biblical words became the resource for their preaching and the guide to their living. The Bible offered them a link to the covenant. It also provided the potential unity among the sects of Christianity. Campbell spoke for many when he guarded a closed canon: “The Bible alone speaks the words of inspiration. No other book, however high it has been lauded as a mighty work of genius, bears upon its pages the impression of the Mighty One. . . . No other book, ancient or modern, whatever its pretensions may be, hold such sway over the minds of men as the Inspired Volume.”25 In short, the Bible stood alone as the word of God.
Of all the points of contention that accompanied Joseph’s revelations in the 1830s, American Christians were most disturbed by his claim to open the scriptural canon.26 He insisted his revelations came independently from divine sources and should become new scripture, contradicting church ministers of his day.27 Religious Americans saw his threat of new scripture as endangering the Bible’s sanctity, authority, and inerrancy.28 On March 26, 1830—within a week of the Book of Mormon’s publication—the Rochester Daily Advertiser headline read “BLASPHEMY” and then described: “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 both to Christians and moralists.”29 Then and now, Joseph Smith and his new scripture have been seen as merely one more fraud in a long string of fanaticism from the Burned-over District. However, Joseph simply did not follow suit—of the many Christians who started their own denominations in the nineteenth century, no one claimed their revelation to be new scripture more accurate than the Bible.30
Gifts of the Spirit versus Fruits of the Spirit
The Second Great Awakening was riddled with controversy over spiritual gifts. Some congregations denounced all extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, while others experimented with superlative spiritual manifestations at a new level—from healing and prophesying to screaming and barking.31 We find many examples of bizarre behaviors attributed to the Spirit from the period of the early 1800s. Renowned Methodist minister Peter Cartwright wrote:
A new exercise broke out among us, called the jerks, which was overwhelming in its effects upon the bodies and minds of the people. No matter whether they were saints or sinners, they would be taken under a warm song or sermon, and seized with a convulsive jerking all over, which they could not by any possibility avoid, and the more they resisted the more they jerked. If they would not strive against it and pray in good earnest, the jerking would usually abate. I have seen more than five hundred persons jerking at one time in my large congregations. . . . I always looked upon the jerks as a judgment sent from God, first, to bring sinners to repentance; and, secondly, to show professors that God could work with or without means . . . to the glory of his grace and the salvation of the world.32
In addition to those physical manifestations of the Spirit, the Second Great Awakening also boasted of rich visionary manifestations. Some share similarities with Joseph Smith’s visions, like Charles Finney (1792–1875)33 and Orestes Brownson (1803–1876),34 while others, like those fabricated by Lorenzo Dow (1777–1834), were clearly fraudulent. One sham included “Crazy Dow” hiring a trumpet player to hide in the branches of a tree and blow his horn on cue during a Vermont camp meeting to simulate an angelic call. The event appeared as a miracle to the congregation: “Amid howls of fear and screams for mercy the congregation went down.”35 Similar dubious claims of communication from the Spirit fill nineteenth-century religious histories.36 Historian Susan Juster documents over three hundred published sources of unorthodox prophets who circulated their visions in early America.37 Leigh Schmidt observed that “the gift of speaking in tongues” was another common manifestation that “received a burst of attention from the 1830s into the 1850s.”38 However, wary ministers labeled the charismatic or extraordinary gifts of the Spirit as unorthodox or satanic experimentation.39
To safeguard against the bizarre gifts of the Spirit, conservative Christians from that era encouraged the more temperate fruits of the Spirit.40 Even Charles Finney, the most influential revivalist in the nineteenth century, would not claim the charismatic gifts of the Spirit and questioned the literal nature of his own vision of Christ. Rather, he sought serene spiritual manifestations to bless his ministry: “The Lord overshadowed us continually with the cloud of his mercy. Gales of divine influence swept over us from year to year, producing abundantly the fruits of the Spirit—‘love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.’”41 The Methodists, famed as the fastest growing denomination in the eighteenth century,42 “stopped short in not claiming the gift of tongues, of prophecy, and of miracles.”43 Preachers from the Reformed traditions taught that expressing the “fruit of the Spirit” demonstrated who was God’s elect,44 but those who displayed the charismatic gifts of the Spirit were of the devil.45 The Baptists took exception to this Reformed doctrine later in the nineteenth century. By 1876, the North American Review attributed their growth to “a distinctive characteristic of the Baptists,” which was “the energy with which they extolled the gifts of the Spirit.”46 However, the Methodist spokesman, Cartwright, observed that Mormons were known as the miracle workers and associated the gifts of the Spirit with them—not the Baptists.47
In an attempt to restrain fabricated religious experiences, other American preachers educated in Enlightenment ideals emphasized the need for reason. They limited the use of the charismatic or extraordinary gifts (miracles, healing, tongues, and visions) to the biblical apostles.48 At the time of the First Great Awakening, the father of American theology, Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758), spoke against supernatural and miraculous claims.49 A century later, the same school of thought cautioned: “Modern prelates do not claim to possess any one of these [charismatic] gifts. Nor do they pretend to the credentials which authenticated the mission of the Apostles of Christ.”50 Alexander Campbell confined charismatic gifts of the Spirit and revelations to the biblical era: “The Holy Spirit was communicated by the Apostles’ hands; consequently, when the Apostles all died, these gifts were no longer conferred.”51
Most Christians agreed that the gifts of the Spirit evidenced to the New Testament Apostles’ sacred mission; the problem came when Joseph Smith asked them to use the same benchmark to measure his mission and authority:52 “We believe in the gift of the Holy Ghost being enjoyed now, as much as it was in the apostles’ days.”53 He did not share the same restraints on the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit.54 In 1831, shortly after moving to Kirtland, he received a revelation on the subject (D&C 46). From that time forward, the gifts of the Spirit became a favored topic. He bridged the two extremes, accepting the existence of miracles of biblical proportions in the modern day, yet instructing on their proper use and limitations.55
For example, on March 27, 1836, at the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, he “gave [the Saints] instructions in relation to the spirit of prophecy, and called upon the congregation to speak, and not to fear to prophesy. . . . Do not quench the Spirit, for the first one that opens his mouth shall receive the Spirit of prophecy.”56 On other occasions, he preached caution and warned of satanic deception: “Every Spirit or vision or Singing is not of God. The Devil is an orator, &c: he is powerful. . . . The gift of discerning spirits will be given to the presiding Elder, pray for him. that he may have this gift[.] Speak not in the Gift of tongues without understanding it, or without interpretation, The Devil can speak in Tongues.”57 His cousin and close companion, George A. Smith, remembered: “There was no point upon which the Prophet Joseph dwelt more than the discerning of Spirits.”58 Joseph straddled two camps by enthusiastically embracing the gifts of the Spirit but denouncing dramatic displays at revivals as false spirits. At the same time, he diverged from all camps by claiming apostolic authority in connection with these gifts.
Many joined in the fray by assailing the “diabolical Mormons,” who claimed to practice the gifts of the Spirit.59 Peter Cartwright (1785–1872) recollected a conversation held in Springfield, Illinois, where Joseph invited him to experience the gifts of the Spirit: “If you will go with me to Nauvoo, I will show you many living witnesses that will testify that they were, by the saints, cured of blindness, lameness, deafness, dumbness, and all the diseases that human flesh is heir to; and I will show you . . . that we have the gift of tongues, . . . and that the saints can drink any deadly poison and it will not hurt them.”60 Unfortunately, all we know about this conversation is from Cartwright’s perspective; Joseph did not document the meeting in any of his journals. Cartwright ended by denouncing him: “‘Yes,’ said I, ‘Uncle Joe; but my Bible tells me, ‘the bloody and deceitful man shall not live out half his days;’ and I expect the Lord will send the devil after you some of these days, and take you out of the way.’”61 As with others, Cartwright felt justified in exposing a false prophet. Whether this meeting occurred (his account bears some marks of accuracy as well as some of caricature), we know that Joseph encouraged the Saints to seek the gifts of the Spirit from the very first day the Church was organized.62
A close look at Joseph’s ideas on the gifts of the Spirit shows an expansive view by asserting apostolic priesthood authority, discerning between true and false gifts, and a commission to exercise all the gifts of the Spirit (see table 2).63 Joseph asked his fellow Americans to judge him from the New Testament model; most of them invoked a traditional interpretation of that same New Testament and judged him to be far outside the norm.
Table 2. Comparing Four Passages on Gifts of the Spirit
|1 Corinthians 12:1–11||Moroni 10:7–18||D&C 46:8–31||7th Article of Faith|
|Testify of Jesus||Know Jesus is the Son||Revelation|
|Believe others’ testimony|
|Faith||Faith||Faith to be healed|
|Healing||Healing||Faith to heal||Healings|
|Interpretation of Tongues||Interpretation of Tongues||Interpretation of Tongues||Interpretation of Tongues|
|Discerning of spirits||Discerning of spirits|
|Behold angels and ministering spirits||Visions|
|All the gifts|
Election versus Sealing by the Holy Spirit of Promise
The Westminster Confession established the Reformed Protestant definition of the Spirit’s “election” as predestination: “All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, He is pleased, in his appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death . . . this effectual call is of God’s free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man, who is altogether passive therein, until being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit.”64 Reformed Christians felt the doctrine of election supported God’s omnipotence by asserting that mortals “are absolutely dependent on a divine Person, who gives or withholds his influence as He will.”65 Rooted in the doctrine of the depravity of man as taught from the time of Augustine, and reemphasized by Calvin, election entailed that God—independent of human behavior—saves only certain mortals.66
America’s growing democratic values of self-initiation and egalitarianism, however, challenged this old-school theology to the degree that by the mid-eighteenth century, election was losing favor in the new country. Charles Finney denounced the doctrine of predisposed election as hindering Christians from actively searching for and receiving God’s blessings: “It is altogether voluntary, and therefore . . . the Spirit’s influences are those of teaching, persuading, convicting, and, of course, a moral influence . . . as opposed to physical.”67 Arminian theology also rejected the doctrine of election,68 and Methodists voted to allow all sinners the right to Jesus’s saving grace. Restorationists, like the Disciples of Christ, joined the Arminian camp, although they disagreed with the Methodists’ timing of the Spirit’s grace.69 Thus, the theological pendulum swung from one extreme to the other on the spectrum of the Spirit’s regeneration,70 from an unconditional grace to a nonbinding, influential grace.
Joseph Smith’s doctrine concerning election rested in the middle of this theological schism. Unlike those Calvinists who believed in an unconditional election, there was nothing very unconditional about Joseph’s perspective. Likewise, Joseph differed with Wesley and the Methodists, believing that one’s election depended upon entering into ordinances that are sealed by the Holy Spirit, as well as one’s choices.71 “The doctrin [of election] that the Prysbeterians & Methodist have quarreled so much about once in grace always in grace, or falling away from grace I will say a word about, they are both wrong, truth takes a road between them both. . . . The doctrin of the scriptures & the spirit of Elijah would show them both fals” [sic].72
Joseph became intrigued with the concept of the Holy Spirit of Promise sometime after receiving a revelation that described the righteous, “who overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true” (D&C 76:53). Within the next decade, he received six other revelations that dealt with this unique doctrine, and he elaborated on it in at least six sermons.73 The Doctrine and Covenants describes the Holy Spirit of Promise as performing two levels of sealings—one temporary, the other permanent.74 Temporarily, it ratifies authorized ordinances performed on purified disciples, but the sealing can be removed if the recipients break their covenants. Latter-day Saints understand that the temporary seal of baptism or any other ordinance is binding on earth and in heaven only if they maintain a pure and repentant heart. Permanently, after one overcomes all the trials in life needed to prove willful obedience to God, the Holy Spirit of Promise ensures exaltation in the highest heaven.75 Joseph endorsed Philippians 2:12, that only when you worked “out your own salvation with fear and trembling” could the Holy Spirit seal God’s elect.76 Further, when Joseph spoke of “the Holy Spirit of Promise,” he often referred to a special Melchizedek Priesthood blessing that eternally sealed ordinances and covenants. In this sense, the Holy Spirit of Promise authoritatively guaranteed, or made sure, one’s calling and election.77 Even then, the binding power of the Spirit could be resisted by those who knowingly and openly rebelled against God:
According to the scriptures if a man has receive[d] the good word of God & tasted of the powers of the world to come if they shall fall away it is impossible to renew them again, seeing they have Crucified the son of God afresh & put him to an open – shame, so their [sic] is a possibility of falling away you could not be renewed again, & the power of Elijah Cannot seal against this sin, for this is a reserve made in the seals & power of the priesthood.78
Although Ephesians 1:13 cites the Holy Spirit of Promise, no one in antebellum America used the biblical phrase in quite the same way Joseph did.79 He expanded the doctrines of the Spirit and explored uncharted territory. Historians have often regarded Joseph as merely a product of his environment. After all, Joseph directly commented on Calvinist and Arminian theologies and used terminology from the King James Version, the same biblical vocabulary used by his peers. This man-of-his-times conclusion is problematic when delving deeper into the innovative ways Joseph defined biblical words and phrases—especially in pneumatological matters. Rather than categorizing Joseph Smith with his contemporaries of the nineteenth century, one best understands the prophet’s pneumatology when it is compared to the Bible.
Joseph Smith’s Teachings and Sacred Writings Compared with the Bible
Notwithstanding his unconventional ideas about the Spirit, Joseph Smith asserted that he taught in strict accord with the teachings of the Bible.80 In January 1836, when a visitor asked him how his teachings differed from other Christian denominations, Joseph answered: “We believe the Bible, and they do not.”81 He complained that other ministers construed the Bible through philosophical and traditional interpretations, not as the apostolic church intended.82 Yet Joseph never asserted that his doctrines or scripture were products of the Bible. Harmony and source are different things. Joseph maintained that the Spirit of the Lord taught him through his translations, personal revelations, and Bible study. This latter practice kept Joseph’s pneumatology in accord with biblical vocabulary while building on what the Bible offers through multiplying pneumatological concepts, terms, and details, as well as multiplying the sheer number of such occurrences in scripture.
Difference in Numbers
One way to examine the differences between the sacred writings that came through Joseph and the Bible is by simple word-counting. Even though the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants together are under half the size of the Bible (374,233 words compared to 790,868 KJV words), Joseph’s two texts have 217 more references to the Spirit. The total word ratio of pneumatological words is especially apparent in the Doctrine and Covenants, where it mentions the Spirit 63 percent or 1.6 times more often than in the New Testament, and seventeen times more often than in the Old Testament. The data in table 3 substantiates this prominence.83
Table 3. Word Ratio of Spirit, Holy Ghost, Comforter, and Baptism of Fire
|Total||Number of references per 1,000 words|
|Book of Mormon
|Book of Mormon, D&C
374,233 total words
|KJV New Testament
|KJV Old Testament
790,868 total words
Mormonism’s sacred texts cite the Spirit 3.5 times more often per one thousand words than the Bible. In the Old Testament, only half of the books include a reference to ruach as the Spirit of God (with Isaiah as the most prolific); in the New Testament, twenty-four of the twenty-nine books include either pneuma, parakleto, or theopneustos. Every book in the Book of Mormon and 77 of the 134 sections of the Doctrine and Covenants attributed as revelations to Joseph have references to the Spirit.
Difference in Names
In addition, the sacred writings to Joseph use a wider variety of descriptive names for the Spirit. In contrast to the Bible’s prevailing shorter references like Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit, the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants use longer titles that often convey additional doctrinal meaning. They demonstrate this most dramatically in three-to-five-word titles describing the Spirit (see table 4).
Table 4. Three-to-Five-Word Phrases Related to the Holy Spirit
|Titles or Descriptions||Old Testament||New Testament||Book of Mormon||Doctrine & Covenants|
|Baptism of (by) fire
Baptize(d) with fire
|Filled with the Spirit
Filled him with the Spirit
|Gift of the Holy Ghost||2||3||6|
|His Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit of God
|Holy Spirit of Promise||1||7|
|Power of the Holy Ghost||1||25||5|
|Spirit and in Truth||2||2|
|Spirit and my Word||1|
|Spirit and Power
Spirit and Power of God
|Spirit of Christ||2||2||1|
|Spirit of Glory||1|
|Spirit of God
Spirit of our God
Spirit of the living God
|Spirit of Grace||1||1|
|Spirit of His mouth||1|
|Spirit of His Son||1|
|Spirit of Holiness||1|
|Spirit of Jesus Christ||1||1|
|Spirit of the Lord
Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent
|Spirit of Prophecy
Spirit of Prophecy and Revelation
|Spirit of Revelation||9||2|
|Spirit of your Father||1|
|Spirit of Truth
Spirit of the Truth
|Sword of the Spirit||1|
|Voice of the Spirit||2||5|
The Book of Mormon uses these longer titles to identify the Spirit three times more often than the New or Old Testaments. The most common title, “Spirit of the Lord,” is found twenty-six times in the KJV Old Testament, five times in the KJV New Testament, and forty times in the Book of Mormon. When length of books and word ratio is taken into account, these numbers are even more significant—the Book of Mormon uses “Spirit of the Lord” 4.5 times more per one hundred words than the New Testament and 3.75 times more than the Old Testament. If this were a unique finding it would be less significant, but most comparisons in table 4 show a similar prominence in the Book of Mormon. Most of the phrases that define the Spirit in Joseph’s texts use biblical vocabulary, but a few titles are unique. These variations pointedly divulge the theological inclinations within texts of the Restoration.
Spirit of revelation. As a case in point, the nonbiblical phrase “the Spirit of revelation” refers to one of Joseph’s most beloved topics. The phrase is found nine times in the Book of Mormon and twice in the Doctrine and Covenants.84 The same phrase appears ten times in Joseph’s sermons and personal writings together with four more occurrences of the “spirit of prophecy and revelation.”85 Of all the workings of the Spirit, it seems revelation of divine messages was paramount for Joseph in his role as a prophet.
Voice of the Spirit. Another characteristic phrase that is unique to Joseph’s translations and revelations is “the voice of the Spirit.” Seven times in the Church’s sacred writings and nine times in the official History of the Church, divine inspiration is described as “the voice of the Spirit.”86 This phrase applies generally: “Every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto God” (D&C 84:47); and applies specifically to Jospeh: “It shall be manifest unto my servant, by the voice of the Spirit, those that are chosen; and they shall be sanctified” (D&C 105:36). It may describe an audible voice at times, but it also identifies an inner communication: “Make proposals for peace unto those who have smitten you, according to the voice of the Spirit which is in you, and all things shall work together for your good” (D&C 105:40).87 Whereas other religions of his day often considered spiritual experiences as a mystical connection to the numinous workings of God, Joseph saw encounters with the Spirit more as a clear dialogic revelation, where specific answers were given in response to specific questions.
Spirit and power. Mormonism’s sacred writings emphatically associate the Spirit with power. They use the phrase “power of the Holy Ghost” thirty times, compared to a single appearance in the Bible.88 Correspondingly, 1 Nephi includes the unique expression “Spirit and power of God” to describe the strong interaction between God’s Spirit and his prophets: “That we may preserve unto them the words which have been spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets, which have been delivered unto them by the Spirit and power of God, since the world began, even down unto this present time” (1 Ne. 3:20).
Even though “Spirit and power of God” is not a biblical expression, the Bible associates the “Spirit” or “Holy Ghost” with “power” ten times. Looking for the same pattern in the Book of Mormon, a book one-third the length of the Bible, we find fifty-seven connections.89 The Doctrine and Covenants continues with thirty-five uses (or twenty-six times the concentration in the Bible). To Joseph, the Holy Spirit represented power as the source of all “the words which have been spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets, which have been delivered unto them by the Spirit and power of God, since the world began, even down unto this present time” (1 Ne. 3:20). Such numerical prominence is evidence of its theological importance to Joseph.
Spirit of prophecy. The majority of the titles for the Spirit, however, are biblical, such as “spirit of prophecy.” The Bible mentions this phrase once in Revelation 19:10, in contrast to eighteen occurrences in the Book of Mormon, two in the Doctrine and Covenants, and twenty-three in the History of the Church.90 Four of the latter occurred on January 1, 1843, when the Illinois State Legislature asked Joseph to define a prophet: “If any person should ask me if I were a prophet, I should not deny it, as that would give me the lie; for, according to John, the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy; therefore if I profess to be a witness or teacher, and have not the spirit of prophecy, which is the testimony of Jesus, I must be a false witness; but if I be a true teacher and witness, I must possess the spirit of prophecy, and that constitutes a prophet; and any man who . . . denies the spirit of prophecy, is a liar.”91 Joseph claimed the spirit of prophecy for himself and for anyone else who testified of Christ with the Spirit.
Filled with the Spirit. The Book of Mormon also favors the phrase “filled with the Spirit” with seven references, while the other books cite it only once each. In the Old Testament and the Doctrine and Covenants, it describes those chosen by God (Ex. 28:3; D&C 27:7), and in Ephesians it is juxtaposed with being drunk (Eph. 5:18). The Book of Mormon describes “filled with the Spirit,” when a recipient “began to prophesy” (1 Ne. 5:17; 2 Ne. 25:4) or “came forth . . . rejoicing” (Mosiah 18:14). Ammon, who was “filled with the Spirit of God, . . . perceived the thoughts of the king” (Alma 18:16). Elsewhere, the Spirit works so powerfully on those called to repent that they experience physical symptoms: “My father did speak . . . with power, being filled with the Spirit, until their frames did shake before him” (1 Ne. 2:14). An entire group received a simultaneous outpouring of the Spirit, described in 3 Nephi 20:9: “Behold, they were filled with the Spirit; and they did cry out with one voice, and gave glory to Jesus.”
This biblical phrase is reiterated four times in Joseph’s handwritten personal journal and five more times in his History of the Church.92 The first entry from 1836 offers a feel for the connection between gifts of the Spirit and being “filled with the Spirit”: “President Zebedee Coltrin, one of the Seven, saw a vision of the Lord’s host. And others were filled with the Spirit, and spake with tongues and prophesied. This was a time of rejoicing long to be remembered. Praise the Lord.”93
Spirit and Baptism. The Bible associates the Spirit with the baptism of fire only twice. Both are used by John the Baptist foretelling the Lord’s mission to “baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire” (Luke 3:16; Matt. 3:11). If we look for similar links between baptism and fire in Joseph’s two main books of revelation, we find a total of sixteen references.94 If we look for any connection of the Spirit to baptism, we find thirteen verses in the New Testament, twenty-five in the Book of Mormon, and fifteen in the Doctrine and Covenants (see table 5).95 Overall, numerically speaking, Joseph’s sacred writings not only have greater pneumatological emphasis than the Bible but also give emphasis to certain associations, such as the Spirit’s role in religious ordinances.
Table 5. Baptism Coupled with the Holy Spirit
|Book of Mormon||Doctrine and Covenants||New Testament|
|1 Ne. 11:27 Holy Ghost, baptized||D&C 19:31 Holy Ghost, baptism by fire||Matt. 3:11 Holy Ghost,
Baptize with fire (2X)
|2 Ne. 31:8 Holy Ghost, baptized||D&C 20:37 Spirit, baptize, baptism (2X)||Matt. 3:16 Spirit of God, baptized|
|2 Ne. 31:12 Holy Ghost, baptized||D&C 20:41 Holy Ghost, baptized, baptism of fire||Mark 1:8 Holy Ghost, baptize(d) (2X)|
|2 Ne. 31:13 Holy Ghost (2X), baptism (2X) of fire||D&C 20:73 Holy Ghost, baptism, baptize (2X)||Mark 1:10 Spirit, dove,|
|2 Ne. 31:14 Holy Ghost,
baptism (2X) of fire
|D&C 33:11 Holy Ghost,
baptized (2X), baptism of fire
|Luke 3:16 Holy Ghost,
baptized with fire (2X)
|2 Ne. 31:17 Holy Ghost, baptism||D&C 35:5 Holy Ghost, baptize||John 1:33 Holy Ghost, baptized, baptizeth, Spirit|
|Mosiah 18:10 Spirit, baptized||D&C 35:6 Holy Ghost, baptize||Acts 1:5 Holy Ghost, baptized (2X)|
|Mosiah 18:13 Spirit, baptize||D&C 39:6 Holy Ghost, baptism (2X) of fire, Comforter||Acts 2:38 Holy Ghost, baptized|
|Alma 7:14 Spirit, baptized||D&C 39:10 Spirit, baptized||Acts 8:16-17 Holy Ghost, baptized|
|Alma 8:10 Spirit, baptized||D&C 39:23 Holy Ghost, baptize||Acts 10:47 Holy Ghost, baptized|
|3 Ne. 9:20 Holy Ghost, baptized, baptize with fire||D&C 55:1 Spirit, baptized||Acts 11:16 Holy Ghost, baptized (2X)|
|3 Ne. 11:25 Holy Ghost, baptize||D&C 68:25 Holy Ghost, baptism||Acts 19:5-6 Holy Ghost, baptized|
|3 Ne. 11:27 Holy Ghost, baptize||D&C 84:27 Holy Ghost, baptism||1 Cor. 12:13 Spirit (2X), baptized|
|3 Ne. 12:1 Holy Ghost, baptize, baptize(d) (5X) with fire||D&C 84:64 Holy Ghost, baptized|
|3 Ne. 12:2 Holy Ghost, baptized with fire||D&C 84:74 Holy Ghost, baptized|
|3 Ne. 18:11 Spirit, baptized|
|3 Ne. 19:13 Holy Ghost (2X), baptized with fire|
|3 Ne. 26:17 Holy Ghost, baptize(d) (2X)|
|3 Ne. 27:20 Holy Ghost, baptized|
|3 Ne. 28:18 Holy Ghost, baptized|
|3 Ne. 30:2 Holy Ghost, baptized|
|4 Ne. 1:1 Holy Ghost, baptized|
|Morm. 7:10 Holy Ghost, baptized with fire|
|Ether 12:14 Holy Ghost, baptized with fire|
|Moro. 6:4 Holy Ghost, baptism|
Difference in Detail
More than numbers and names, the contents of Joseph’s writings show greater doctrinal detail of the Spirit’s work than the Bible discloses. Three examples are illustrative.96
Born Again. The first of Joseph’s revelations to mention the Spirit is dated March 1829 and came just before he began the intense process of translating the Book of Mormon. The historical context presents Martin Harris asking Joseph to pray for him. Joseph’s answer encouraged his friend to seek for the promises of God’s Spirit. His instruction resembles the Gospel of John, where Jesus explained the workings of the Spirit to Nicodemus. The Bible states that one must be born again, but the Doctrine and Covenants goes on to explain the role of the Spirit in the process of rebirth:
Behold, whosoever believeth on my words, them will I visit with the manifestation of my Spirit; and they shall be born of me, even of water and of the Spirit. (D&C 5:16)
Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. . . . Ye must be born again, . . . so is every one that is born of the Spirit. (John 3:5–8)
Even though both verses focus on the same promise of the Spirit, only one discloses that belief is the operative principle involved. For his own purposes, Jesus gives an abstruse explanation that leaves Nicodemus confused, whereas Joseph’s revelation helps the reader see the connection between applied faith in the words of God and a resultant manifestation of the Spirit.
Baptism of Fire and the Gift of the Holy Ghost. The baptism of fire is described in Matthew and Luke as a momentous gift that Jesus offers, but they do not explain why it is significant. When the Book of Mormon prophet Nephi discusses this topic in his final testimony, he answers that question: baptism by fire is a spiritual cleansing and allows worthy initiates to enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit, including the manifestations of the gifts of the Spirit. Accordingly, the ordinance of baptism is a sign of obedience and one’s desire to take on “the name of Christ”—meaning that one fully embraces the gospel, repents, and covenants with God to act as a disciple of Christ. Nephi also explains that the agent of cleansing one from sin through the baptism of fire is the Holy Ghost itself. The two baptisms work together: after “repentance and baptism by water . . . then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost” (2 Ne. 31:17).
On April 6, 1830, at the organization of the Church of Christ, Joseph expanded his teachings on the gift of the Holy Ghost to include the condition that the gift can be administered only by a higher priesthood authority (see D&C 20:68). The key reagent for the baptism of fire is the apostolic authority, which he received through “the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost” from the Apostles Peter, James, and John.97 Joseph taught the imperative need for baptism both by water and fire in an extemporaneous sermon on July 9, 1843, in Nauvoo, Illinois:
So far we are agreed with other Christian denominations [as] they all preach faith and repentance. The gospel requires baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, which is the meaning of the word in the original language—namely, to bury or immerse. We ask the sects, Do you believe this? They answer, No. I believe in being converted. I believe in this tenaciously. So did the apostle Peter and the disciples of Jesus. But I further believe in the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. Evidence by Peter’s preaching on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:38. You might as well baptize a bag of sand as a man, if not done in view of the remission of sins and getting of the Holy Ghost. Baptism by water is but half a baptism, and is good for nothing without the other half—that is, the baptism of the Holy Ghost.98
Joseph defended the Bible on the subject of baptism and likewise used it as his support, such as with Peter’s words on the day of Pentecost: “Be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). Yet in many ways, Joseph clarified and even transcended the Bible, giving a fuller vision of pneumatology’s connection to baptism, authority, and sanctification.
Strait Gate. Joseph’s texts and the Bible both use the phrase “the strait gate.” This familiar imagery from the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 7:13–14; also in Luke 13:24, Ps. 24:7–10; 118:19–20; and Jer. 7:2) symbolizes the prescribed way to enter into the Lord’s presence. Distinct from the accounts in the Bible, 2 Nephi 31–32 includes the inspiration of the Spirit as a necessary guide to bring one through the strait gate and onto the narrow path:
The gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost. And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive. . . . Again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do. (2 Ne. 31:17–18; 32:5)
The passage from Nephi uses words similar to those found in the Gospels, but Nephi identifies the key position of the Holy Ghost as the member of the Godhead that cleanses, bears witness, and guides believers through “the gate” that leads to life.
Joseph Smith’s pneumatology is the only one of its kind during the Second Great Awakening. He charted a new course in the study of the Spirit, including alternate views on the nature of the Trinity and divine election, as well as a different definition of scripture and the scriptural canon. He taught of the history and future of the Holy Spirit as a personage, along with a broader pneumatological consideration concerning the premortal spirit existence of all humankind. He spoke of the history of those spirits who rebelled from God and who seek to deceive through counterfeit gifts and signs, as well as specific ways to discern and detect such false spirits. He tied apostolic keys to the practice of all the gifts of the Spirit, insisted on a higher priesthood performing the ordinance of laying on of hands to confer the gift of the Holy Ghost, and taught of a multifunctional Holy Spirit of Promise that sealed the righteous to exaltation. These doctrines did not arise from Joseph’s environment. Certainly his frontier mannerisms, work ethic, and religious curiosity developed from his society; but his unique perspective on the Holy Spirit indicates that his pneumatology was not a conglomeration from his upbringing or of contemporaries’ thinking. Joseph never viewed himself as building another Protestant church. In his own words, he claimed, “I never built upon any other man’s ground.”99 Joseph truly differed in his teachings on the gift of the Holy Ghost, just as he told President Martin Van Buren in 1839.
About the Author
1. Dean C. Jessee, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1984), 453. While in Washington, DC, Joseph Smith also dined with Judge Stephen A. Douglas and Henry Clay, according to Joseph Smith Jr., History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ed. B. H. Roberts, 2d ed., rev., 7 vols. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1971), 5:393 (hereafter cited as History of the Church).
2. In the 1830s, Mormons fled from their enemies in New York, Ohio, and Missouri. On October 27, 1838, Governor Lilburn W. Boggs of Missouri issued an extermination order. The timing correlated directly to the federal government policy allowing immigrants to secure first property land status and ownership of their improved frontier lands. During the winter of 1838–39, Missouri troops and mobs drove Mormons off their properties, “more than 10,000 acres in Caldwell County alone.” Arnold K. Garr and Clark V. Johnson, eds., Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint Church History: Missouri (Provo, Utah: Department of Church History and Doctrine, Brigham Young University, 1994), 203–4; see Jeffrey N. Walker, “Mormon Land Rights in Caldwell and Daviess Counties and the Mormon Conflict of 1838: New Findings and New Understandings,” BYU Studies 47, no. 1 (2008): 4–55. Without success in the state courts, Joseph Smith sought federal assistance to regain the lost properties and monies. He and Elias Higbee traveled to Washington, DC, to personally deliver the LDS petitions of redress. Sydney Rigdon began the trip, but became ill and had to stop. Porter Rockwell and Robert Foster stayed with Rigdon in Columbus, Ohio. Jessee, Personal Writings, 448, 453.
3. Pneumatology is the study of the Holy Spirit and comes from the Greek pneuma: air, breath, wind, or spirit.
4. History of the Church, 4:42. According to the editors of the History of the Church, Smith wrote to his brother Hyrum from Washington, DC, on December 5, 1839. Jessee does not include this letter in his collection.
5. Susan Juster, Doomsayers: Anglo-American Prophecy in the Age of Revolution (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003), 260–70; Sydney Ahlstrom, A Religious History of the American People, 2d ed. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2004); E. Brooks Holifield, Theology in America: Christian Thought from the Age of the Puritans to the Civil War (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2003); Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet (New York: Knopf, 1971); Richard Hughes, “Two Restoration Traditions: Mormons and Churches of Christ in the Nineteenth Century,” in The Stone-Campbell Movement: An International Religious Tradition, ed. Michael W. Casey and Douglas A. Foster (Knoxville, Tenn.: University Press, 2002), 348–63; Nathan Hatch, “The Christian Movement and the Demand for a Theology of the People” in Casey and Foster, Stone-Campbell Movement, 138; Henry F. May, The Enlightenment in America (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1976); Claude Welch, Protestant Thought in the Nineteenth Century: 1799–1870 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1972); and Whitney Cross, The Burned-Over District: The Social and Intellectual History of Enthusiastic Religion in Western New York, 1800–1850 (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University, 1950), 57.
6. Upstate New York received its nickname “the Burned-over District” from the outpouring of itinerant preachers and religious revivals that burned through the developing towns in the early nineteenth century. For example, in 1824 nearly one-fourth of the nation’s Presbyterian ministers served in the Burned-over District. More than anywhere else in the new nation, the newly opened settlements in upstate New York kindled a fire of the Spirit to new levels of enthusiasm. Whitney Cross demonstrated this extreme religious fervor by comparing 1815 to 1818 revivals held in six states with those in the Burned-over District. The numbers in table 1 are even more remarkable when looking at the sparse population in the developing area. Cross, Burned-Over District, 11–12.
7. This research is the focus of my dissertation: Lynne Hilton Wilson, “Joseph Smith’s Doctrine of the Holy Spirit Contrasted with Cartwright, Campbell, Hodge, and Finney” (PhD diss., Marquette University, 2010).
8. The Reformed tradition (Calvinist, Presbyterian, Congregationalist, Dutch Reformed, and so forth) was the largest American religious tradition in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and early nineteenth centuries. But by 1860 the most prominent churches in America were (1) Methodist, (2) Baptist, (3) Roman Catholic, and (4) Presbyterian. Mark Noll published the following list of early American churches to demonstrate the religious growth in early America. A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2001), 166.
Church Growth in Early USA
|Number of Churches||Multiple of Growth|
|Denomination||1770||1790||1860||1770 to 1860|
|Total other churches||2,481||4,696||~52,500||21.2|
|Population / 1,000||2,148||3,929||31,513||14.7|
9. Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 3 vols. (New York City: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1871), 1:528.
10. Hodge, Systematic Theology, 1:528–29. Hodge based his definition on the Protestant creed The Westminster Confession 2.3: “In the unity of the Godhead there be three Persons of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. The Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father, the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.” Again in 9.1: “The Holy Spirit, the third Person in the Trinity, proceeding from the Father and the Son, of the same substance and equal in power and glory, is, together with the Father and the Son.”
11. Glenn A. Hewitt, Regeneration and Morality: A Study of Charles Finney, Charles Hodge, John W. Nevin, and Horace Bushnell (Brooklyn, N.Y.: Carlson, 1991), 53. Hodge devoted the entire sixth chapter of his Systematic Theology to the Trinity. Holifield emphasized the profound influence Hodge played in nineteenth-century theology by reporting an 1879 survey of American colleges and universities that showed “students often learned more the theology of . . . Charles Hodge than about Plato and Kant. The older theologies proved even more tenacious in churches and seminaries. . . . Old School Presbyterian theology, only slightly revised, retained a hold at Princeton Seminary until the early 1920s and . . . a traditional Calvinist theology continued to prevail even after that in many other Reformed seminaries, colleges, and churches, especially in the South and Midwest.” Holifield, Theology in America, 508.
12. Hodge, Systematic Theology, 1:478; see also 1:38, 40, 67–68, 457, 477, 524–28, 533; 2:244, and so forth.
13. Alexander Campbell, The Christian Baptist: Seven Volumes in One, 2d ed. (Cincinnati: D. S. Burnet, 1835), 159; see also 50, 82, 505.
14. Robert Richardson, Memoirs of Alexander Campbell: A View of Origin, Progress, and Principles of the Religious Reformation Which He Advocated, 2 vols. (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1870), 2:616.
15. Channing spoke out against most Puritan doctrines from his powerful position as a key player in establishing the Harvard Divinity School in 1816. He and many Boston Unitarians rejected the Trinity and the Godhead. For them, Jesus was not both man and God, nor did Jesus perform a vicarious atonement. A century earlier, Emmanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772), a visionary of the Enlightenment, also rejected the Trinity. Terryl L. Givens, By the Hand of Mormon: The American Scripture That Launched a New World Religion (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), 73–77.
16. Compare Joseph’s teachings with William Channing, Memoir of William Ellery Channing, with Extracts from His Correspondence, 3 vols. (Cambridge, Ma.: Crosby and Nichols, 1851), 1:386. “We preach precisely as if no such doctrine as the Trinity had ever been known. . . . I might adopt much of the Trinitarian language . . . [but] the usurpation which demands such concessions is wrong” (2:379–80).
17. Oliver Cowdery included a muddled reference to the Trinity in the Lectures on Faith 5.2. James Allen and Glen Leonard explained that in 1921, “to further lessen confusion over the nature of the Godhead, the ‘Lectures on Faith’ were eliminated from the Doctrine and Covenants.” James B. Allen and Glen M. Leonard, The Story of the Latter-day Saints, 2d ed., rev. and enl. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1992), 489. Oliver also alluded to the Trinity in the Messenger and Advocate 2 (December 1835): 236: “The representation of the Godhead—three, yet in one, is curiously drawn to give simply, though impressively, the writer’s views of that exalted personage.” If Oliver assumed traditional Trinitarian philosophy, it adds evidence to Richard Bushman’s theory that Joseph did not speak to people about his first vision until years after the fact. Although other early Church leaders mentioned the Trinity, Joseph did not. By the time Joseph was in Nauvoo, he articulated: “Concerning the Godhead it was not as many imagined—three Heads & but one body, he said the three were separate bodys—God the first & Jesus the Mediator the 2d & the Holy Ghost & these three agree in one & this is the manner we Should approach God in order to get his blessings.” Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, eds. and comps., The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Smith (Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1990), 63.
18. Filioque describes the Spirit’s procession from both God the Father and God the Son. Following the formation of the Nicene Creed, many Latin fathers and some of the Greek fathers wanted to add a phrase describing the Spirit proceeding from the Father and Son. In AD 589, the Synod of Toledo added the word filioque as clarification. This addition was hotly debated and contributed to the separation of the Western and Eastern churches.
19. Some would argue that Smith’s First Vision evolved over time, including his view of the Godhead. Yet all six full accounts directly formulated by Smith, and four of the five secondhand accounts written during his lifetime, mention that a light evolved into a vision of the Lord. In ten of the eleven accounts, two heavenly personages are described—God the Father and his Son. James B. Allen and John W. Welch, “The Appearance of the Father and the Son to Joseph Smith in 1820,” in Opening the Heavens: Accounts of Divine Manifestations, 1820–1844, ed. John W. Welch and Erick B. Carlson (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2005), 63, 74 n. 27, provide a thorough analysis of the differences between accounts of this vision written in the first and second person. They examine the seeming absence of two personages in the 1832 retelling in Smith’s own hand. Welch does not see a contradiction between this and the other recordings, because the inclusion of “the spirit of god” appears to reference God’s presence. Smith’s first draft of the 1832 account especially suggests that there were two beings present.
20. Ehat and Cook, Words, 379–80. “Men say there is one God—the Far. Son & the H.G. are only 1 God—it is a strange God any how 3 in 1. & 1 in 3. it is a curious thing any how—Far. I pray not for the world but I pray for those that thou givest me &c &c all are to be crammed into 1 God—it wod. make the biggest God in all the world—he is a wonderful big God—he would be a Giant I want to read the text to you myself—I am agreed with the Far. & the Far. is a greed with me & we are agreed as one—the Greek shews that is shod. be agreed.”
21. Moses 6:57: “Man of Holiness is his name, and the name of his Only Begotten is the Son of Man, even Jesus Christ.” For a more detailed discussion, see Ehat and Cook, Words, 343–46. On the topic of spirits at large, Smith also deviated from long-established tradition by defining “spirit as matter,” and announcing an eternal history for spirits in an eternally expanding cosmos. He preached on the first point in response to a Methodist minister’s sermon, which he felt required a few doctrinal corrections: “There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter but is more fine or pure and can only be discerned by purer eyes. We cant [sic] see it but when our bodies are purified we shall see that it is all matter.” Ehat and Cook, Words, 203. The Methodist minister, Samuel A. Prior, wrote his perspective after meeting Joseph Smith: “In the evening I was invited to preach, and did so.—The congregation was large and respectable—they paid the utmost attention. This surprised me a little, as I did not expect to find any such thing as a religious toleration among them.—After I had closed, Elder Smith, who had attended, arose and begged leave to differ from me in some few points of doctrine, and this he did mildly, politely, and affectingly; like one who was more desirous to disseminate truth and expose error, than to love the malicious triumph of debate over me. I was truly edified with his remarks, and felt less prejudiced against the Mormons than ever. He invited me to call upon him, and I promised to do so.” Ehat and Cook, Words, 203–4.
22. Ehat and Cook, Words, 382. Smith’s scribe, George Laub, included the following in his notes of the sermon: “But Every one being a diffrent or Seperate persons & So is god . . . & Jesus Christ & the holy ghost. Seperate persons. but the[y] all agree in one or the Self Same thing.” The sermon is dated as being eleven days before Smith’s martyrdom.
23. Hodge, Systematic Theology, 3:334. Hodge also elaborated on the immutability of the canon: “The Bible contains all the extant revelations of God, which He designed to be the rule of faith and practice for his Church; so that nothing can rightfully be imposed on the consciences of men as truth or duty which is not taught directly or by necessary implication in the Holy Scriptures” (1:182).
24. Charles Finney, Systematic Theology (reprint, Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1994), 170, 350, 479.
25. Alexander Campbell, “Sacred Literature,” Millennial Harbinger 2 (August 1852): 424; see also Alexander Campbell, “Mr. Campbell to Mr. Skinner,” Millennial Harbinger 1 (April 1837): 179. “No other witness than the Apostles and Prophets, or the Spirit of God speaking in them, can be admitted of any authority.”
26. In my dissertation, I limited this social reaction to 1839, because different reactions came to the fore from 1840 onward. We see the importance of the Bible in early Americana by the development of organizations to promote it. In 1816 the American Bible Society rose to meet the needs of distributing Bibles across the expanding nation. In 1824 the American Sunday School Union organized with the goal of keeping frontier Americans literate and studying the Bible. In 1825 “The American Tract Society” promoted “sound religion.” Edwin Gaustad and Leigh Schmidt, The Religious History of America, 2d ed. (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 2004), 142.
27. For example, from Princeton University, Charles Hodge clung to the wording of the Westminster Confession by explaining: “The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and are therefore infallible, and of divine authority in all things pertaining to faith and practice, and consequently free from all error whether of doctrine, fact, or precept. They were the organs of God, because they were the organs of the Spirit. The Spirit, therefore, must be God.” Hodge, Systematic Theology, 1:152. In the same vein, he believed the Bible contained all of God’s truths for humanity: “All things necessary for [God’s] own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life is . . . expressly set down in Scripture. . . . Nothing at any time is to be added whether by new revelations of the Spirit or traditions of men.”
28. Most Protestant ministers in early America claimed their authority to preach and baptize from either their education, the Bible, or directly from the Spirit of God. Lyman Beecher from Yale opposed the Pope’s claim of authority, as well as simultaneously opposing the authority of itinerate preachers. Lyman Beecher, Autobiography, Correspondence, etc., of Lyman Beecher, 2 vols. (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1864–65), 2:349, 416, 585. Like Beecher, most educated Reformed preachers claimed their authority came from their studies and ordination. Methodist itinerate preachers received authority from their superiors after a period of time testifying to their conversion experience as an “exhorter.” Peter Cartwright, Autobiography of Peter Cartwright (1856; reprint, Nashville, Tenn.: Abingdon Press, 1984), 51. Other itinerate preachers, like Lorenzo Dow, felt their authority came as the Spirit guided them. Charles Sellers, Lorenzo Dow, the Bearer of the Word (New York: J. J. Little and Ives, 1928), 114, 139–40; also see Leigh Eric Schmidt, Hearing Things (Cambridge: Harvard Press, 2000). When priesthood authority was discussed initially in the Old Testament, it was a birthright of the chosen, given to the firstborn or chosen son from Abraham to Isaac, Isaac to Jacob, and so forth. Following Moses and Aaron, the priestly line of authority came through the tribe of Levi. The New Testament Apostles received their authority from Jesus, not through blood lineage. Hatch described the lack of interest in religious authority in the United States. The national emphasis on political liberty created a resistance to authority and orthodoxy. During the Second Great Awakening, the trend was to diminish the role of ecclesiastical hierarchy, which lessened the role of priestly authority. Nathan O. Hatch, The Democratization of American Christianity (New Haven: Yale University, 1989), 17–46.
29. Richard L. Bushman, with Jed Woodworth, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Random House, 2005), 270. Within weeks, these newspaper articles were spread throughout New England. Within a year, the New York Morning Courier and Enquirer editor James Gordon Bennett wrote: “You have heard of Mormonism—who has not? Paragraph has followed paragraph in the newspapers, recounting the movements, detailing their opinions and surprising distant readers with the traits of a singularly new religious sect which had its origin in this state. Mormonism is the latest device of roguery, ingenuity, ignorance and religious excitement combined, and acting on materials prepared by those who ought to know better. It is one of the mental exhalations of Western New York.” Leonard J. Arrington, “James Gordon Bennett’s 1831 Report on ‘The Mormonites,’” BYU Studies 10, no. 3 (1970): 357.
30. Article of Faith 8 is a good example that suggests a supremacy of the Book of Mormon over the Bible.
31. Schmidt, Hearing Things, 41–49. Schmidt described the offensive noise from revivals, “‘the groaning, crying out, falling down and screaming’; the ‘terrible speaking’ of itinerants; the clapping, stomping, singing, roaring, and ‘hearty loud Laughter.’ It was the shouting that turned into screams and screeches that especially disgusted” (66).
32. Cartwright, Autobiography, 21. In the early 1800s, Barton Stone also illustrated the “jerks” as a religious exercise: “The jerks can not be so easily described. Sometimes the subject of the jerks would be affected in some one member of the body, and sometimes in the whole system. When the head alone was affected, it would be jerked backward and forward, or from side to side. . . . When the whole system was affected, I have seen the person stand in one place and jerk backward and forward in quick succession. . . . I have inquired of those thus affected. They could not account for it; but some have told me that those were among the happiest seasons of their lives.” He further described the other exercises—dancing, barking, laughing, and singing—that were part of the religious fervor of revivals. Roger Finke and Rodney Stark, The Churching of America, 1776–1990: Winners or Losers in Our Religious Economy (New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1992), 95. See also Ann Taves, Fits, Trances, and Visions (Princeton: Princeton University, 1999).
33. Charles Grandison Finney, Charles Finney, an Autobiography (1876; reprint, Albany, Oreg.: Books for the Ages, 1997), 32. “There was no fire, and no light, in the room; nevertheless it appeared to me as if it were perfectly light. As I went in and shut the door after me, it seemed as if I met the Lord Jesus Christ face to face. It did not occur to me then, nor did it for some time afterward, that it was wholly a mental state. On the contrary it seemed to me that I saw him as I would see any other man.”
34. Patrick Carey, ed., Early Works of Orestes A. Brownson: Free Thought and Unitarian Years 1830–35 (Milwaukee, Wisc.: Marquette University Press, 2001), 70–71. The Catholic convert Orestes Brownson documented a night of anguish at age fifteen: “A soft, an inexpressibly sweet sensation pervaded my whole frame. There was a light around to which the day would have seemed as night; yet it was midnight. . . . All my guilt, all my grief, all my anguish, were gone and I felt as if ushered into a new world, where all was bright and lovely. . . . ‘I have tasted heaven today, what more can I contain?’ Thus was I born again.”
35. Sellers, Lorenzo Dow, 147.
36. Peter Cartwright exposed a preacher named A. Sargent who used gun powder to feign a heavenly light: “He said God had come down to him in a flash of light, and he fell under the power of God and thus received his vision.” Cartwright, Autobiography, 76. Cartwright smelled sulfur, found the powder, and exposed the sham.
37. Juster, Doomsayers, 209–10. Terryl Givens reports that Richard Bushman found thirty-two published pamphlets that described visionary experiences between 1783 and 1815. Givens, By the Hand of Mormon, 72.
38. Schmidt, Hearing Things, 231. One denomination, the Shakers, claimed to speak with the gift of tongues under the direction of the supposed female embodiment of Christ at his Second Coming, Mother Ann Lee (1736–84). Two early British Methodist leaders, Thomas Walsh (1730–59) and Adam Clarke (1762–1832), “made a place for charismatic endowments after conversion” and spoke in tongues. Donald G. Bloesch, The Holy Spirit (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 128. Yet Wesley worked to stop the expression of the gift of tongues in Methodism.
39. Taves, Fits, 349. “For more than a century and a half, Protestants viewed ‘enthusiasm’ as the epitome of false religious experience.”
40. Conservative Christians like Campbell authorized only wisdom, teaching, and peaceful sensations of the Spirit in the modern world. Richardson, Memoirs of Alexander Campbell, 2:224.
41. Finney, Autobiography, 360. Mark Noll sees Pentecostalism of the twentieth century emerging from the holiness movement of Finney and other nineteenth-century preachers who emphasized the fruits of the Spirit. Mark A. Noll, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1994), 116. Joseph Smith’s teachings on perfection hint at similar ideas.
42. Finke and Stark show that Methodism grew to the largest denomination in America and reached 34 percent of religious adherents by 1850. Churching America, 55. Methodist membership rose from 4,921 members in 1776 to 130,570 in 1806. See Mark Noll’s table in footnote 8.
43. Cartwright, Autobiography, 226; also 260–61. See examples of Cartwright’s use of: faith, 9–10, 18–19, 32, 187, 230, 264–65, 300–301, 311–12; hope, 12, 233, 249, 257, 284, 291; and charity, 271. Also see Jon Ruthven, On the Cessation of the Charismata: The Protestant Polemic on Postbiblical Miracles (Sheffield, Eng.: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993).
44. Charles Hodge, The Way of Life (Philadelphia: American Sunday School Union, 1869), 200, 268. Hodge described the Spirit’s communication as “those lovely fruits of holiness which never fail to mark his presence. . . . Love, gentleness, goodness, and all other graces, are the fruits of the Spirit” (326). Galatians 5:22 expresses the fruit of the Spirit as “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith.” Hodge’s Systematic Theology dedicates a chapter entitled “The Covenant of Grace,” wherein he stated: “Hence, all the fruits of the Spirit in believers are called graces, or unmerited gifts of God” (2:357).
45. Donald G. Bloesch, The Holy Spirit (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 127–28.
46. Ferdinand Piper and Henry Mitchell MacCraken, Lives of the Leaders of the Church Universal to the Present Time (Edinburgh: T and T Clark, 1880), 609. Between 1741 and 1790, Baptist membership grew from three thousand to sixty-five thousand. “With the crumbling of established [religious] authorities,” argues Schmidt, “God had more prophets, tongues, and oracles than before; thus, the modern predicament actually became as much one of God’s loquacity as God’s hush.” Schmidt, Hearing Things, 11. Moravians, Mormons, Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, and evangelical Congregationalists all “heard with an acuteness that was often overwhelming” (40).
47. Cartwright, Autobiography, 177, 232.
48. Hodge, Systematic Theology, 1:154, 300, 399.
49. Butler, Awash in a Sea of Faith, 185, also see 190, 225–32. Jonathan Edwards’s influence saturated the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as his writings circulated.
50. Hodge, Systematic Theology, 1:140. Hodge further taught: “It is true that during the apostolic age there were occasional communications made to a class of persons called prophets. But this ‘gift of prophecy,’ that is the gift of speaking under inspiration of the Spirit, was analogous with the gift of miracles. The one has as obviously ceased as the other” (1:138; see also 1:140, 162, 418). Hodge also limited the gift of healing to the New Testament in 1:503, 507, 617, 618, 625.
51. Campbell, Christian Baptist, 104. Campbell also asserted that since the apostolic age, “there has been no substantive, abstract and literal communication of the Holy Spirit to any man. . . . There has arisen no prophet, no originator of new ideas, no worker of miracles, no controller of nature’s laws, no person having any manifestation of the Spirit, or showing any divine power among men.” Alexander Campbell, Delusions: An Analysis of the Book of Mormon with an Examination of Its Internal and External Evidences, and a Refutation of Its Pretences to Divine Authority (1832; reprint, Salt Lake City: Morgan-Bruce Book, 1925), 6. A few years later he again wrote: “Since the Millennium and the evils of sectarianism have been the subjects of much speaking and writing, impostors have been numerous. . . . The shakers, . . . the Barkers, Jumpers, and Mutterers of the present age.” Alexander Campbell, “The Gift of the Spirit—no. 5,” Millennial Harbinger 5 (1834): 378.
52. Doctrine and Covenants 46:29 identified the head of the Church as one who possessed all the gifts of the Spirit. It was not until the following year, 1832, that Smith completed the scriptural list by interpreting and speaking in tongues. Heber C. Kimball, an eyewitness of the event, recorded: “Brothers Brigham and Joseph Young and myself went to Kirtland, Ohio. We saw Brother Joseph Smith and had a glorious time, during which Brother Brigham spoke in tongues, this being the first time Joseph had heard the gift. The Prophet rose up and testified that it was from God. The gift then fell upon him, and he spoke in tongues himself.” Larry E. Dahl and Donald Q. Cannon, “Tongues, Gift of,” in Encyclopedia of Joseph Smith’s Teachings (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997), 669–70.
53. Joseph Smith, “Gift of the Holy Ghost,” Times and Seasons 3 (June 15, 1842): 823.
54. History of the Church, 5:218, describes Mr. Sollars’s confrontation with Smith in 1842 about practicing the gifts of the Spirit: “May I not repent and be baptized, and not pay any attention to dreams, visions, and other gifts of the Spirit?” Smith tried to explain: “Suppose I am traveling and am hungry and meet with a man and tell him I am hungry, and he tells me to go yonder. . . . I go and knock, and ask for food, and sit down to the table, but do not eat, shall I satisfy my hunger? No. I must eat. The gifts are the food; and the graces of the Spirit are the gifts of the Spirit.”
55. Joseph Smith, “Try the Spirits,” Times and Seasons 3 (April 1, 1832): 744. “Methodists, Presbyterians, and others frequently possess a spirit that will cause them to lay down, and during its operation animation is frequently entirely suspended; they consider it to be the power of God, and a glorious manifestation from God,—a manifestation of what?—is there any intelligence communicated? are the curtains from heaven withdrawn, or the purposes of God developed? Have they seen and conversed with an angel; or have the glories of futurity burst upon their view? No! but . . . a shout of glory, or hallelujah, or some incoherent expression; but they have had ‘the power.’ The Shaker will whirl around on his heel impelled by a supernatural agency, or spirit, and think that he is governed by the spirit of God: and the Jumper will jump, and enter into all kinds of extravagancies, a Primitive Methodist will shout under the influence of that spirit, until he will rend the heavens with his cries; while the Quakers, (or Friends) moved as they think by the spirit of God, will sit still and say nothing. Is God the author of all this? If not of all of it, which does he recognize? Surely a heterogeneous mass of confusion never can enter into the kingdom of Heaven. . . . Who can drag into day-light and develope the hidden mysteries of the false spirits that so frequently are made manifest among the Latter-day Saints? We answer that no man can do this without the Priesthood, and having a knowledge of the laws by which spirits are governed.”
56. History of the Church, 2:428. George A. Smith described the outpouring of spiritual gifts in the Kirtland Temple: “On the first day of the dedication, President Frederick G. Williams, one of the Council of the Prophet, and who occupied the upper pulpit, bore testimony that the Savior, dressed in his vesture without seam, came into the stand and accepted of the dedication of the house, that he saw him, and gave a description of his clothing and all things pertaining to it. That evening there was a collection of Elders, Priests, Teachers and Deacons, etc., amounting to four hundred and sixteen, gathered in the house; there were great manifestations of power, such as speaking in tongues, seeing visions, administration of angels. Many individuals bore testimony that they saw angels, and David Whitmer bore testimony that he saw three angels passing up the south aisle, and there came a shock on the house like the sound of a mighty rushing wind, and almost every man in the house arose, and hundreds of them were speaking in tongues, prophecying [sic] or declaring visions, almost with one voice.” George A. Smith, in Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. (Liverpool: F. D. Richards, 1855–86, 1851–86), 11:10.
57. Ehat and Cook, Words, 12. Smith, “Gift of the Holy Ghost,” 824, reads: “The greatest, the best, and the most useful gifts would [not] be known . . . by an observer. It is true that a man might prophesy, which is a great gift . . . [but] the manifestations of the gift of the Holy Ghost; the ministering of angels; or the development of the power, majesty or glory of God were very seldom manifested publicly, and that generally to the people of God; as to the Israelites; but most generally when angels have come, or God has revealed Himself, it has been to individuals in private—in their chamber—in the wilderness or fields; and that generally without noise or tumult.”
58. Ehat and Cook, Words, 21. Doctrine and Covenants 46:9, 32–33 teaches four prerequisites for exercising the gifts of the Spirit in the name of Christ: unselfishness, gratitude, virtue, and holiness.
59. Cartwright, Autobiography, 22, 38, 225–26, 260. Also Alexander Campbell, “Mormonism Unveiled,” Millennial Harbinger 6 (January 1835): 44, wrote that Mormonism was “a mental distemper, more incurable than the leprosy. And, that the more glaring and shameless the absurdity, the more determined and irreclaimable its dupes.” Also see Jessee, Writings, 334.
60. Cartwright, Autobiography, 226.
61. Cartwright, Autobiography, 227. Joseph Smith did not record any conversations with Cartwright in his journal (but he recorded three or four visits to Springville between 1839 and 1844, which makes the meeting plausible). Cartwright’s derogatory use of “uncle” was similar to the way that Abraham Lincoln used it against Cartwright in 1834. Robert Bray, Peter Cartwright: Legendary Frontier Preacher (Urbana, Ill.: University Press, 2005), 148.
62. Jessee, Writings, 216. In a letter dated March 1, 1842, Smith wrote John Wentworth: “On the 6th of April, 1830, the ‘Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints,’ was first organized. . . . Some few were called and ordained by the spirit of revelation, and prophesy [sic], and began to preach as the spirit gave them utterance, and though weak, yet were they strengthened by the power of God, and many were brought to repentance, were immersed in the water, and were filled with the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. They saw visions and prophesied, devils were cast out and the sick healed by the laying on of hands.”
63. From the first Church conference, June 9, 1830, until his death, June 27, 1844, Smith reported gifts of the Spirit. History of the Church, 1:84–86, 272, 323; 2:328, 428; 3:113; 4:361, 572, 580–81; 5:308–9; 6:187.
64. Hodge, Systematic Theology, 3:104.
65. Hodge, Systematic Theology, 3:475; see also 2:362.
66. The Westminster Confession 12.1, 3. “As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath he, by the eternal and most free purpose of his will, fore-ordained all the means thereunto” (3.6). Calvin’s theology stemmed at least in part from trying to make sense of Pauline doctrine.
67. Finney, Autobiography, 152.
68. For a discussion of Arminianism as a reaction as a reaction against Calvinism, see Robert L. Millet, “Joseph Smith Encounters Calvinism,” BYU Studies 50, no. 4 (2001): 6–8, 30. Jacob Arminius (1560–1609) denounced unconditional predestination and a limited Atonement. Methodism is based on Arminianism.
69. Alexander Campbell, Views of Mr. Alexander Campbell Concerning the Doctrines of Election and Reprobation, as Embodied in the Circular Letter Addressed to the Churches in Connection with the Redstone Baptist Association in 1817 (Fulton, Mo.: T. L. Stephens, 1856), 19.
70. In Hodge’s Commentary on Ephesians he explained the elect “have obtained a portion in this inheritance, and, after having believed, have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” (68). Similarly, I found two other nineteenth-century publications that addressed the phrase. First, Reverend Eliot, the pastor of the Church of the Messiah at St. Louis, wrote: “The Holy Spirit, or Spirit of God, was ‘poured out’ or ‘shed forth’ both on Jews and Gentiles. Believers were ‘sealed’ with the Holy Spirit of promise. Jesus ‘breathed on them,’ and said, ‘Receive ye the Holy Spirit.’” William G. Eliot, Discourses on the Doctrine of Christianity (Cambridge, Mass.: American Unitarian Association, 1855), 33. Also, Reverend Guthrie explained that one “must first believe and . . . then look for the seal and witness of the Spirit: ‘In whom, after ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,’ &c. As long as people hold fast these principles, and the like, they can hardly come to the knowledge of their gracious state, which God hath warranted people to prove and clear up to themselves, otherways than by these foresaid things.” William Guthrie, The Christian’s Great Interest (Glasgow, Scotland: Collins, 1828), 75.
71. Joseph Smith taught that through the grace of God, humans could receive their election through obediently submitting to God’s commands and revelation throughout their trials (see 2 Ne. 2:27). Receiving a permanent sealing or “calling and election” (2 Pet. 1:10) became another restored ordinance administered to the living or vicariously to the dead—this one only administered under the direction of the Prophet.
72. Ehat and Cook, Words, 334.
73. Smith recorded the phrase “Holy Spirit of Promise” in Doctrine and Covenants 76:53; 88:3; 124:124; 132:7, 18, 19, 26; and JST 1 John 3:9. Doctrine and Covenants 132 includes a sealing of proper ordinances. Ehat and Cook explain: “In a certain limited sense, a sense Joseph Smith used many times, the phrase ‘Holy Spirit of Promise’ has reference to the concept of ‘making your calling and election sure’ or ‘being sealed up unto eternal life’ (D&C 88:3–5). Thus, when the Holy Spirit (who was the one appointed by the Father to give final sanctioning authority for all priesthood blessings) receives authorization from Jesus Christ to unmistakably ‘seal’ the promise of eternal life on a worthy individual, he is placing the seals on the highest gospel ordinances in his office as Holy Spirit of Promise (D&C 132:7). The Prophet expressed this concept in his poetic rendition of D&C 76 (v. 53).” Ehat and Cook, Words, 26; see also Roy W. Doxey, “Calling and Election,” in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, ed. Daniel H. Ludlow, 4 vols. (New York: Macmillan, 1992), 1:248; and Lawrence R. Flake, “Holy Spirit of Promise,” in Ludlow, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 2:651–52.
74. Doctrine and Covenants 76:53; 88:3; 124:124; 132:7, 18, 26.
75. Jessee, Writings, 15. “Obtain that Holy Spirit of promise—Then you can be sealed to Eternal Life.”
76. Brigham Young and Willard Richards, “Election and Reprobation,” Times and Seasons 2 (September 15, 1841): 539–42. Also see Times and Seasons 4 (November 15, 1842): 6.
77. Ehat and Cook, Words, 5. “When the Lord has thoroughly proved him & finds that the man is determined to serve him at all hazard. then the man will find his calling & Election made sure then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter which the Lord hath promised the saints.”
78. Ehat and Cook, Words, 334.
79. In Hodge’s Commentary on Ephesians, he explained the elect “have obtained a portion in this inheritance, and, after having believed, have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” (68). I found only one other American publication from that era which addressed the phrase from Ephesians 1 and 5. Reverend Eliot wrote: “The Holy Spirit or Spirit of God was ‘poured out’ or ‘shed forth’ both on Jews and Gentiles. Believers were ‘sealed’ with the Holy Spirit of promise. Jesus ‘breathed on them’ and said, ‘Receive ye the Holy Spirit.’” Eliot, Discourses on the Doctrine of Christianity, 33.
80. History of the Church, 2:52. Joseph Smith expressed a “great love for the Bible.”
81. Jessee, Writings, 144–45. Joseph repeated a similar statement in 1840. “We teach nothing but what the Bible teaches. We believe nothing, but what is to be found in this book.” History of the Church, 4:78. He felt fervently enough on this subject to publish an even stronger statement in the Elders’ Journal two years later. He organized the article as a dialogue of questions followed by his answers: “First—‘Do you believe the Bible?’ If we do, we are the only people under heaven that does, for there are none of the religious sects of the day that do. Second—‘Wherein do you differ from other sects?’ In that we believe the Bible, and all other sects profess to believe their interpretations of the Bible, and their creeds.” History of the Church, 3:28.
82. To clarify this difference of interpretation, Joseph Smith added a provisional clause during a Sunday sermon on October 15, 1843. “I believe the Bible as it read when it came from the pen of the original writers. Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors.” History of the Church, 6:57.
83. Table 3 compares the four English words most often used to describe the Holy Spirit in Mormonism’s sacred texts and the Bible, but only when the Hebrew ruach and Greek pneuma refers to God’s Spirit. Since in English, Hebrew, and Greek, spirit/ruach/pneuma all have multiple meanings, each citation was evaluated. In the Old and New Testaments and in the Book of Mormon, when a spirit guide carries a prophet into a vision, or a prophet is “in the spirit,” these were not attributed to the Holy Spirit. Yet I attributed it to the Holy Spirit when prompting someone, such as when Alma “was led by the Spirit to the land of Nephi” (Alma 22:1; see also Hel. 10:16). The “spirit of prophecy” was accredited to God’s Spirit, while someone who had the “spirit of meekness” or a “contrite spirit” was not. I did not include the references in Daniel when he was told he had the “spirit of the holy gods” because of the pagan connotations of the context. I tried to be consistent, as in when “good spirit” was included from Nehemiah 9:20, it was also included from Alma 3:26. When truth and Spirit were linked, they were included, but not “true spirit of freedom” (Alma 60:25). A complete listing of usage is available from the author.
84. Alma 4:20; 5:46; 8:24; 9:21; 17:3; 23:6; 45:10; Helaman 4:23; 3 Nephi 3:19; Doctrine and Covenants 8:3; 11:25. Another observation is Alma’s dominant use of “the Spirit of revelation,” seven of the nine citations. The Book of Mormon claims multiple authors, and this singular word preference is an example of distinctive authorship. For statistical separation of authors in the Book of Mormon, see John L. Hilton, “On Verifying Wordprint Studies: Book of Mormon Authorship,” BYU Studies 30, no. 3 (1990): 89–108; also Noel B. Reynolds, ed., Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited: The Evidence for Ancient Origins (Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1997).
85. Ehat and Cook, Words, 5–6, 82, 211–12; Jessee, Writings, 216, 665; History of the Church, 4:313, 318; 5:426; Elders’ Journal of the Church of Latter Day Saints 1 (August 1838): 1:4.50. One of the best examples is from one of Joseph’s sermons: “the spirit of revelation is in connection with these blessings. A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; (i.e.) those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus.” History of the Church, 3:381; original spelling may be found in Ehat and Cook, Words, 5–6. The phrase “spirit of prophecy and revelation” is also found in History of the Church, 1:64; 2:382, 489; 3:379; and Alma 43:2.
86. 1 Nephi 4:18; 22:2; Doctrine and Covenants 84:46, 47; 104:36; 105:36, 40. History of the Church, 1:483; 2:112, 196, 281, 363, 429. After his death, Joseph’s scribes and editors continued to reference him in 6:53 and 61.
87. Joseph first recorded an auditory revelatory process in Doctrine and Covenants 14:8: “You shall receive the Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance that you may stand as a witness of the things of which you shall both hear and see.” In June 1829, a revelation to Smith’s peers reads: “I speak unto you, even as unto Paul mine Apostle.” Doctrine and Covenants 43:23 states: “The Lord shall utter his voice out of heaven.” In Doctrine and Covenants 128:20, 23, Smith recorded hearing voices on multiple occasions: “What do we hear? . . . A voice of the Lord in the wilderness of Fayette, Seneca county, declaring the three witnesses to bear record of the book! The voice of Michael, . . . the voice of Peter, James and John in the wilderness. . . . How glorious is the voice we hear from heaven, proclaiming in our ears, glory, and salvation.” An attorney that defended Smith in New York, Mr. Reid, remembered that Smith “said that he distinctly heard the voice of Him that spake.” History of the Church, 1:96 n. 2. Ehat and Cook found that “in 1835 Joseph Smith wrote to his uncle Silas to convince him that revelation was still necessary, reasoning that the modern Saints had to hear an audible voice from the Lord by revelation.” Ehat and Cook, Words, 17 n. 6. On March 22, 1839, Smith dictated a letter that included his testimony concerning the nature of receiving revelation: “I certify to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man; for I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Jessee, Writings, 423.
88. 1 Nephi 10:17, 19; 13:37; 2 Nephi 26:13; 28:31; 32:3; 33:1; Jacob 7:12, 13, 17; Alma 7:10; 3 Nephi 21:2; 29:6; Moroni 3:4, 6, 7, 9; 7:36, 44; 8:7; 10:4, 5, 7; Doctrine and Covenants 18:32; 20:35, 60; 34:10; 124:4; Romans 15:13.
89. The number does not include those references to Satan’s spirit or power, nor to Elijah’s or Paul’s power, nor to the “power of his deliverance.” It does include the Great Spirit’s association with power.
90. 2 Nephi 25:4; Jacob 4:6; Alma 3:27; 4:13; 5:47; 6:8; 9:21; 10:12; 12:7; 13:26; 16:5; 17:3; 25:16; 37:15; 43:2; Helaman 4:12, 23; Doctrine and Covenants 11:25; 131:5; Joseph Smith–History 1:73. History of the Church, 1:42, 46, 64, 71; 2:382, 428, 489; 3:28, 379, 389; and after Joseph’s death the editors compiled his notes into 5:140, 215, 231, 392, 400, 427, 516; 6:77, 194. The History of the Church also includes eleven other references to the “spirit of prophecy” by Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Sidney Rigdon, and an editorial from the Boston Bee.
91. History of the Church, 5:215–16.
92. Jessee, Writings, 6–7, 149, 152, 157; History of the Church, 1:391; 2:277, 384, 387, 392.
93. History of the Church, 2:392 (the text is unedited in Jesse, Writings, 157). Interestingly, Joseph included some of the manifestations of being “filled with the Spirit” that Paul included in his list of the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:7–11). The second example comes after a similar meeting described in Jessee, Writings, 152.
94. 2 Nephi 31:13, 14, 17; 3 Nephi 9:20; 11:35; 12:1, 2; 19:13; Mormon 7:10; Ether 12:14; Doctrine and Covenants 19:31; 20:41; 33:11; 39:6. Helaman 5:45 discusses the baptism of fire thus: “The Holy Spirit of God did come down from heaven, and did enter into their hearts, and they were filled as if with fire.”
95. If every pair or word combination of baptism and Spirit is counted, the rate increases in the Book of Mormon to 1.5 times, and in the Doctrine and Covenants to twice as frequent as the New Testament.
96. Additional examples of the role of the Spirit include but are not limited to: (1) producing fruits of the Spirit (love, revelation, inspiration, testimony, peace, and so forth) in Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 5:9; Mosiah 3:19; 4:3; Alma 5:46–47; 13:28; (2) producing miracles through the Spirit in Galatians 3:5; 2 Nephi 26:1; Alma 23:6; 3 Nephi 7:2; (3) acting as a teacher in John 14:26; Luke 12:12; Alma 18:34; (4) assisting in repentance in Matthew 3:11; Alma 5:50–54; Moroni 8:28; (5) witnessing of truth in Romans 9:1; Moroni 10:4–5; (6) acting as the Comforter in John 14–16; Moroni 8:26; (7) detecting false spirits; and (8) giving spiritual gifts.
97. History of the Church, 1:60. The Bible describes the need for the higher apostolic priesthood in Acts 1:8; 8:15–19; John 20:22. Joseph believed that the Melchizedek Priesthood authority was absolutely crucial because it brought the gift of the Holy Ghost. His account tells of the resurrected Peter, James, and John coming to give Joseph and Oliver Cowdery power to baptize with the Holy Ghost: “The voice of Peter, James, and John in the wilderness between Harmony, Susquehanna county, and Colesville, Broome county, on the Susquehanna river, declaring themselves as possessing the keys of the kingdom, and of the dispensation of the fulness of times” (D&C 128:20). Joseph also taught that it was the gift of the Holy Ghost that brought other gifts of the Spirit: “We believe that we have a right to revelations, visions, and dreams from God, our heavenly Father; and light and intelligence, through the gift of the Holy Ghost, in the name of Jesus Christ, on all subjects pertaining to our spiritual welfare.” Jessee, Writings, 421; an excerpt from a letter written by Joseph Smith to Isaac Gallant in Liberty Jail, Clay County, Missouri, March 22, 1839.
98. History of the Church, 5:499. Scribes transcribed the sermon as Joseph delivered it. As a result, it suffers from deletions and incomplete sentences.
99. History of the Church, 6:410.