Robert Lang Campbell

“A Wise Scribe in Israel” and Schoolman to the Saints



Here on the very edge of civilization, in the wilds of the American West, where “manifest destiny” was being realized by the constant flow of emigrants moving westward, the writer’s apprentice and former Christian Chartist from Kilbarchan was working out his own personal “manifest destiny.” Because of his faithfulness, he was promised that he would yet play a role in bringing to pass the divine purposes far from the garret meeting places of Dalry, the infidels of Irvine, or the writer’s office in Johnstone. Although he was not the recipient of the divine will directly, as a faithful disciple, a “wise scribe in Israel,” and as schoolman to the Saints, Robert Campbell can be viewed as one of many unsung “civil servants” of the kingdom who recorded and transmitted the revelations to the world and to the Saints. He clearly accepted that his task was not to interpret or question what was done, but to implement the social policies of those who received the revelations and formulated the epistles and policy statements. Even prophets and Apostles still needed faithful Saints with the skills of the pen, including expertise in such mundane things as spelling and punctuation. Although the particular needs of the brethren defined, and in some sense circumscribed and limited, the aspirations of those who served them, the saintly scribe from the west of Scotland found his niche on the western frontier of North America and carved out for himself a place in the annals of Mormon and Utah history. And it all began with the conversion of a Christian Chartist to Mormonism in Johnstone, Renfrewshire, in 1842.


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