The Many-Transfigurations theory

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drumdude
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The Many-Transfigurations theory

Post by drumdude »

“DCP” wrote: In my judgment, the available evidence is persuasive that the story of Brigham’s transfiguration was being told quite early, and it’s difficult to imagine that so many testimonies over so long a period and from such far-flung areas emerged from a conspiracy to deceive or from a mysterious “contagion.” Something remarkable plainly seems to have happened at that meeting in August 1844.

A major argument leveled against the “mantle” story by Richard Van Wagoner is that some who claimed to have witnessed Brigham Young’s transformation weren’t even present in Nauvoo on 8 August 1844 to see it. But Lynne Watkins Jorgensen replies that some seem to have witnessed such a transformation on other dates and in other places, and that they weren’t necessarily even claiming to have been or to have experienced it there in Nauvoo on that day.

In partial support of her response, I offer a story from Wayne Borrowman, “John and Agnes Borrowman: A Story of the West” (Las Vegas: no publisher, no date) that I think relevant. Although it doesn’t describe a “transfiguration,” it tells of a seemingly miraculous attestation of Brigham Young’s right to succeed the Prophet Joseph that occurred nowhere near Nauvoo, and probably not on 8 August.

John Borrowman (1816-1898) was born in Scotland but was brought to Canada when he was four years old. He converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1840 and was promptly disinherited by his father, who thereafter banned even the mention of his name. One day in the summer of 1844, he was traveling on foot in the open Canadian prairie country with his missionary companion (and future relative-by-marriage), James Pollack Park.

“The two companions were conversing with each other and wondering if Brigham Young was really the right man for the leadership role, when suddenly they noticed a strange man walking with them. He started to talk to them and said, “You were wondering about Brigham Young. I want to tell you that he is the right man in the right place.” They asked him where he came from, as they had not seen him come. He replied, “You did not see me come and you will not see me go.” John Borrowman made up his mind that he would certainly see him go when he did go, so kept his eyes fastened upon him. They came to a stream, and John glanced down to see where to step. In the instant his eyes were taken from the stranger, the man disappeared.”

Afterwards, the book relates, Elders Borrowman and Park always thought that this personage must have been John the Revelator. Whatever the stranger’s identity, however, the story seems to strengthen the idea that miraculous confirmations were indeed being given to confused and sorrowful members of the Church: Brigham Young and the Twelve were now the Lord’s chosen leaders.
https://latterdaysaintmag.com/the-heave ... at-nauvoo/

It never ceases to amaze me how LDS apologists can turn any evidence against their story into an argument for it.

Daniel thinks that the sheer number of transfiguration stories lends credence to their accounts, even though all of them are late. An interesting research project would be to order these accounts chronologically to see if the earlier ones show less embellishments, and the later ones become more grandiose. That’s the common pattern for these kinds of religious stories- from Jesus Christ to Joseph Smith.
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Re: The Many-Transfigurations theory

Post by Philo Sofee »

Apologists are always more secure with quantity than quality. They would rather have 90 pennies than a $100.00 bill, because, well more pennies! They make a nice neat looking pile of copper! Obviously they would be more impressive to the eye than a mere flat piece of single paper.
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Re: The Many-Transfigurations theory

Post by drumdude »

Philo Sofee wrote:
Wed May 15, 2024 11:20 pm
Apologists are always more secure with quantity than quality. They would rather have 90 pennies than a $100.00 bill, because, well more pennies! They make a nice neat looking pile of copper! Obviously they would be more impressive to the eye than a mere flat piece of single paper.
Indeed. And no one put it better than Twain, “I could not feel more satisfied and at rest if the entire Whitmer family had testified!” :lol:
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Re: The Many-Transfigurations theory

Post by Kishkumen »

I guess it is important for LDS people to believe that Brigham Young was Joseph Smith’s successor, despite the fact that he did not see himself as such for some time. I think it is pretty obvious that he was not Smith’s successor. This does not mean he was not the leader of his community. It does not mean that he did not have legitimate authority.

Maybe no one was supposed to be Smith’s successor as “the Prophet.” The Gospel was restored. Job done.

None of this takes away from Young’s accomplishments. He was no Joseph Smith. He didn’t produce any inspiring revelations. He translated no ancient records. He did not restore the Gospel and the ordinances. He kept things going, and that was important enough.

No miracle stories of Young’s alleged transfiguration change any of this.
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Re: The Many-Transfigurations theory

Post by Gadianton »

I don't get the Mopologist interest. Is this something taught as a miracle in the CES curriculum? What's the doctrinal underpinning? I've never heard of a transfiguration account from the scriptures where one person turns into another. Like Satan turning into an angel of light.

As a Chapel Mormon, I was taught out-there stuff. I don't recall my parents ever talking about this incident. It doesn't seem to be an episode that needs defending, so what's the point?

It seems like Petersen is doubling down on "eye witness" evidence, and that he's offering this as a "courtroom" proof of a miracle that critics can't explain.
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Re: The Many-Transfigurations theory

Post by Kishkumen »

Gadianton wrote:
Thu May 16, 2024 1:28 am
I don't get the Mopologist interest. Is this something taught as a miracle in the CES curriculum? What's the doctrinal underpinning? I've never heard of a transfiguration account from the scriptures where one person turns into another. Like Satan turning into an angel of light.

As a Chapel Mormon, I was taught out-there stuff. I don't recall my parents ever talking about this incident. It doesn't seem to be an episode that needs defending, so what's the point?

It seems like Petersen is doubling down on "eye witness" evidence, and that he's offering this as a "courtroom" proof of a miracle that critics can't explain.
As long as you assume that the torch was passed smoothly from Smith to the present, there is no need for transfiguration stories. But when you learn about the Succession crisis, it all becomes more complicated. The more you dig into it, the more complicated it becomes. It is because Young’s claim is so weak, only a miracle story or a few of them can balance it all out.

The miracle story, when viewed in the light of the weakness of his actual claim, makes it all worse. Truth is, he made no claim to be Smith’s successor at the time.
“The past no longer belongs only to those who once lived it; the past belongs to those who claim it, and are willing to explore it, and to infuse it with meaning for those alive today.”—Margaret Atwood
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Re: The Many-Transfigurations theory

Post by drumdude »

Gadianton wrote:
Thu May 16, 2024 1:28 am
Is this something taught as a miracle in the CES curriculum?
The link no longer works, but is archived here:

https://web.archive.org/web/20200926001 ... e?lang=eng

“Chapter Twenty-Three: The Twelve to Bear Off the Kingdom,” Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual (2003), 286–96
The Mantle Falls on Brigham Young
Thursday, 8 August 1844, stands as one of the most important days in the history of the Restoration. On that day a miracle occurred before the body of the Church—Brigham Young was transfigured before the people, and the succession crisis of the Church was resolved. A special meeting to choose a guardian was held that morning at ten o’clock in the grove, according to the arrangements of William Marks. Sidney Rigdon spoke for an hour and a half about his desires to be the guardian of the Church, but he awakened no emotion and said nothing that marked him as the true leader. Brigham Young told the audience that he would rather have spent a month mourning the dead Prophet than so quickly attend to the business of appointing a new shepherd. While he was speaking, he was miraculously transfigured before the people.

Brigham Young’s own record of the events that day is especially meaningful: “My heart was swollen with compassion towards them and by the power of the Holy Ghost, even the spirit of the Prophets, I was enabled to comfort the hearts of the Saints.” The meeting was then dismissed until 2 o’clock in the afternoon.

At 2:00 p.m. thousands of Saints gathered for what they knew would be a significant meeting. With the quorums of the priesthood seated in order, Brigham Young spoke frankly about the proposed guardianship of Sidney Rigdon and his alienation from Joseph Smith during the previous two years. He boldly prophesied, “All that want to draw away a party from the church after them, let them do it if they can, but they will not prosper.”

President Young continued, and then turning to his main point declared:

“If the people want President Rigdon to lead them they may have him; but I say unto you that the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have the keys of the kingdom of God in all the world.

“The Twelve are appointed by the finger of God. Here is Brigham, have his knees ever faltered? Have his lips ever quivered? Here is Heber and the rest of the Twelve, an independent body who have the keys of the priesthood—the keys of the kingdom of God to deliver to all the world: this is true, so help me God. They stand next to Joseph, and are as the First Presidency of the Church.”

He pointed out that Sidney could not be above the Twelve because they would have to ordain him to be President of the Church. Brigham urged everybody to see Brother Rigdon as a friend and stated that if he were to sit in cooperation and counsel with the Twelve, they would be able to act as one. Following President Young’s two-hour speech, talks were delivered by Amasa Lyman, William W. Phelps, and Parley P. Pratt; each eloquently contended for the authority of the Twelve.
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Re: The Many-Transfigurations theory

Post by drumdude »

A couple of folks over at the Peterson Obsession Board finally noticed the Meridian article -- Dumb-Dud and the former Kerry Shirts, at least -- and have begun to chant their disagreement with it and their disdain for it. As of yet, they've shown no awareness of the actual argument, let alone any sign of having read and dealt with the research of Lynne Watkins Jorgensen, to which I called attention
Philo, did you legally change your name?? :lol:

Dan has no response to pointing out how ridiculously childish his apologetic arguments are. Two Hills Cumorah. Two Watson letters. Two, three, four transfigurations of Brigham Young. Whatever it takes to jam that square peg into a round hole.
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Re: The Many-Transfigurations theory

Post by Gadianton »

That's a very interesting way to view it Reverend. The miracle "ratifies" BY as legit. But the need for that underscores just how shaky the proceeding was in the first place. Interesting.
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Re: The Many-Transfigurations theory

Post by I Have Questions »

drumdude wrote:
Wed May 15, 2024 11:10 pm
“DCP” wrote: In my judgment, the available evidence is persuasive that the story of Brigham’s transfiguration was being told quite early, and it’s difficult to imagine that so many testimonies over so long a period and from such far-flung areas emerged from a conspiracy to deceive or from a mysterious “contagion.” Something remarkable plainly seems to have happened at that meeting in August 1844.

A major argument leveled against the “mantle” story by Richard Van Wagoner is that some who claimed to have witnessed Brigham Young’s transformation weren’t even present in Nauvoo on 8 August 1844 to see it. But Lynne Watkins Jorgensen replies that some seem to have witnessed such a transformation on other dates and in other places, and that they weren’t necessarily even claiming to have been or to have experienced it there in Nauvoo on that day.

In partial support of her response, I offer a story from Wayne Borrowman, “John and Agnes Borrowman: A Story of the West” (Las Vegas: no publisher, no date) that I think relevant. Although it doesn’t describe a “transfiguration,” it tells of a seemingly miraculous attestation of Brigham Young’s right to succeed the Prophet Joseph that occurred nowhere near Nauvoo, and probably not on 8 August.

John Borrowman (1816-1898) was born in Scotland but was brought to Canada when he was four years old. He converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1840 and was promptly disinherited by his father, who thereafter banned even the mention of his name. One day in the summer of 1844, he was traveling on foot in the open Canadian prairie country with his missionary companion (and future relative-by-marriage), James Pollack Park.

“The two companions were conversing with each other and wondering if Brigham Young was really the right man for the leadership role, when suddenly they noticed a strange man walking with them. He started to talk to them and said, “You were wondering about Brigham Young. I want to tell you that he is the right man in the right place.” They asked him where he came from, as they had not seen him come. He replied, “You did not see me come and you will not see me go.” John Borrowman made up his mind that he would certainly see him go when he did go, so kept his eyes fastened upon him. They came to a stream, and John glanced down to see where to step. In the instant his eyes were taken from the stranger, the man disappeared.”

Afterwards, the book relates, Elders Borrowman and Park always thought that this personage must have been John the Revelator. Whatever the stranger’s identity, however, the story seems to strengthen the idea that miraculous confirmations were indeed being given to confused and sorrowful members of the Church: Brigham Young and the Twelve were now the Lord’s chosen leaders.
https://latterdaysaintmag.com/the-heave ... at-nauvoo/

It never ceases to amaze me how LDS apologists can turn any evidence against their story into an argument for it.

Daniel thinks that the sheer number of transfiguration stories lends credence to their accounts, even though all of them are late. An interesting research project would be to order these accounts chronologically to see if the earlier ones show less embellishments, and the later ones become more grandiose. That’s the common pattern for these kinds of religious stories- from Jesus Christ to Joseph Smith.
There are a couple of charts within this article that claim to show the general chronology…

https://ldsanswers.org/evidence-transfi ... ham-young/

…however they don’t provide the data used to produce the charts.
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