Strange Ramblings: The Ideal and Practice of Sermons in Early Mormonism

People who attended meetings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during its first seventy years heard many sermons preached. But the sermons often seemed different from those heard in Protestant and Catholic congregations. For the Saints, this was further evidence that the restored Church was not tied to a professional clergy, but, like primitive Christianity, allowed wide participation by parishioners. Outsiders, however, were often less than favorably impressed with Mormon sermons. According to one observer, most Mormon speakers he heard were guilty of “strange ramblings.” This article discusses rhetorical styles of early Church leaders, the efforts of N. L. Nelson to improve sermons, and the goals of nineteenth-century LDS speakers. 

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