Irony in the Succession Crisis
Posted by BrianJ on December 16, 2009
The teacher on Sunday took us through a list of potential successors of Joseph Smith, some of whom were long-shots and their campaigns didn’t last long*. At a conference in Nauvoo, held about 6 weeks after Smith’s assassination, two of the main candidates, Sidney Rigdon and Brigham Young, presented their arguments. God sided with one of them—using a clever touch of irony.
Two candidates, two very different arguments:
Rigdon: Joseph is still prophet, but Church needs a “guardian” in his absence; Rigdon is obvious choice because, as a member of the First Presidency, he was already (in a sense) a substitute for Joseph**.
Young: Joseph cannot be replaced, but the Church is run by the Priesthood and not by a man; the Quorum of the 12 Apostles hold the keys of the Priesthood and Young, as president of the 12, is leader of the Church; i.e., the Church is led by the priesthood, the priesthood is led by the 12, and the 12 are led by Young.
So, what would be the most appropriate way for God to manifest that Rigdon was indeed a stand-in for Smith? Oh-oh, I know: when Rigdon speaks, have some sort of “mantle of Joseph” fall upon him—you know, make him look or talk like Joseph. But of course, this isn’t what happened: reportedly it was Young who miraculously seemed like Joseph. The sign that would have been most fitting for Rigdon’s candidacy was instead bestowed upon the man making essentially the opposite argument!
I hadn’t noticed that before and thought it was pretty cool, and hope you do too.
* Based on my limited understanding. I may be way off….
** Rigdon also claimed to have received revelation stating that he should be Guardian.