I’m not a Nauvoo Mormon

Could a Latter-Day Saint start describing themselves as a non-Nauvoo Mormon? Many of Mormonism’s most distinct doctrines and practices were formed while the church was headquartered in Nauvoo. If an LDS person said “I’m really more of a Kirtland Mormon” could they still call themselves Mormon? Is rejecting doctrines that were formed late in Joseph Smith’s life considered heresy that is too unacceptable to remain in the church? Is it heresy that would prevent someone from holding a calling? From getting a temple recommend? (not that they’d want to go through the endowment ceremony) Would it prevent someone from being in leadership?

I’d personally love to see a growth in Kirtland Mormons, but I don’t know if the Nauvoo Mormons would allow it. Do I need to clarify the difference between a Kirtland Mormon and a Nauvoo Mormon?


13 thoughts on “I’m not a Nauvoo Mormon

  1. That’s a wacky idea. Unfortunately I don’t think it would have much of a very positive reception in the Church. At the very least, it rejects continuing revelation and it would mean that the Church had been in apostasy since Kirtland, meaning that the current leadership of the church is in error.

    Now, that being said, there are a lot of Mormons who manage to hold unconventional beliefs. They just do so quietly. I imagine that many bishops and stake presidents would issue temple reccomends and callings to these “heretics” provided they didn’t try to openly teach their unconventional beliefs.

  2. Kullervo, maybe next week, I will post something on HI4LDS, published publicly last year and selling in one of the main bookstores in Idaho Falls. It is a huge book. You will need to tell me if this is an “unconventional belief”.

  3. That’s essentially what the Community of Christ nee RLDS Church did. Several years ago, I was at a conference where we asked RLDS Historian Richard Howard how the RLDS could maintain its historical position that Joseph Smith wasn’t involved in plural marriage. He said that basically, the RLDS Church was very comfortable with the Kirtland Church and uncomfortable with the Nauvoo period; consequently, they preferred to act as though Nauvoo never happened.

    Of course the distinction between belief and behavior again is what would make the difference. Someone who chose not to believe in the Nauvoo concepts (or even in the atonement) could do so and remain a member (as Sterling McMurrin did), as long as he didn’t try to encourage others to believe along with him. In that case, it would be considered apostasy and probably be acted upon. As far as wanting to participate in temple ordinances, I guess your suspicion is correct that they wouldn’t want to do so, but I don’t recall that any of the questions asked would disqualify someone who didn’t believe in eternal marriage or baptism for the dead. Of course tithing and adherence to the Word of Wisdom both came out subsequent to Kirtland so that might be problematic. The doctrine of the Godhead certainly pre-dated Kirtland so I’d be interested how someone might define a “Kirtland Mormon.” I spoke quite a few years ago with a fellow who claimed to be a 19th century Mormon because he was a practicing homosexual and felt that Brigham Young wouldn’t have had any trouble with that lifestyle. I assured him that he hadn’t studied enough of Young’s teachings if he really believed that.

  4. Someone more versed in LDS history help me out, but were there some temple ordinances done in Kirtland? I agree with what kullervo said about people with unconventional beliefs within Mormonism.

  5. Sealings and baptisms for the dead were performed in Kirtland. The temple was also used as a meeting house. Joseph delivered his “Lectures of Faith” in the Kirtland Temple. Lecture 5 actually fits into Trinitarianism pretty well.

    Kullervo, it might be a wacky idea, but I think we might someday be surprised to hear who agrees with it.

  6. Sealing and baptism for the dead weren’t performed until Nauvoo, although what some people think is a portion of the endowment was performed in the Kirtland Temple. The lectures on faith were delivered in the school of the Elders in 1834. The temple wasn’t completed until 1836 and the Lectures were included in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants.

  7. I live in Nauvoo just 1.5 blocks from the Nauvoo temple on Mulholland Street…This is Mormon “Mecca” to the Momons that come here even though most cannot even get inside the temple. They come because to Mormons this is Mormon Nauvoo, it’s not just Nauvoo, IL. It does not matter that there was a town here before they came and there has been a town here since they left and moved to Utah with Brigham Young. I hear it often by Mormons, this is our town! And by the way, not all Mormons went to Utah with Brigham Young. Emma Smith and her family did not, they stayed right here in Nauvoo!

  8. Helen,

    Nauvoo is only one of several stops along a Mormon trek that crosses our nation. Anyone serious about LDS history will visit Nauvoo to see “where it all happened”. I have been to Nauvoo many times over the years and never have I heard a statement of “this is our town” (though I believe that you heard someone say that). If there are some LDS members that say “this is our town” the best thing to do is to laugh it off. It is a silly statement. Getting upset about it will just give you an ulcer.

  9. Could you explain, please, what a Nauvoo Mormon and a Kirtland Mormon are? I’m not real clear on the distinctions alluded to here.

    Yes Helen, Emma stayed put and wouldn’t go with any one group. She had pretty much had it, I think. I admire her very much, and her children spoke very highly of her. She tried to protect them from future problems, and probably thought staying put would do it. Her remarriage, however, didn’t always work out so well, and they still had to live with some tough times. What is amazing is that her son, Joseph Smith III, who had nothing to do with any restoration movement after his father’s death, still grew up to be a man of God and a considerable peace maker, eventually returning to the restoration movement. Can’t blame her, though, for staying put.

  10. A Kirtland Mormon would be one that acted as Mormons did when the church was headquartered there. It was in Nauvoo that Joseph Smith’s behaviour and theology and became more outlandish and further outside Chritian orthodoxy. It was in Nauvoo that exaltation to Godhood, polygamy and secret handshakes were introduced.

  11. I see. So what is the difference, then, between Community of Christ beliefs and those of a Kirtland Mormon? It seems that the differences espoused here were the same as those differences between the two churches originally.

  12. Tim, I don’t know how you are going to answer Kitty’s question, but the RLDS/Community of Christ DO have the Word of Wisdom. For many RLDS, following the Word of Wisdom is VERY important. I don’t know the exact date, but according to Friuliveneto, the Word of Wisdom came out after Kirtland. Assuming this is accurate, it’s not like we totally disregard everthing that happened in Nauvoo.

  13. I am a member of the Community of Christ/RLDS Church. I do not see the affidavits collected regarding Joseph smith and polygamy unquestionable. Joseph Smith 3rd had himself suggested his father may have married to or sealed to some of the women for eternity. Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy online at http://www.restorationbookstore.org makes a good case against Eliza Snow’s claims.

    With Patty Session’s and Helen Mar Kimball Todd Compton suggested no sexuality in the marriages. So a women being married to Joseph Smith for time and for eternity does not in and of itself the woman shared marital relations in the flesh with Joseph Smith. I found his case in his book In Sacred Lonliness for sexuality in the polyandry cases quite open to question. No claim of a child born to a plural wife has yet been proven via extensive and ongoing DNA studies. 7 out of 12 are still under some degree of investigation. 5 of the candidate children of his via plural wives have been proven not his. I know he honestly feels Josephine Fisher Sylvia’s Sessions daughter was Joseph Smiths, but i don’t.

    D.&C. 132:41-44 prevents a woman vowed to another man to be given in mortality to another husband unless the husband were guilty of adultury. Which of the 11 husbands on the polygandry list was guilty of adultury? It basically is a repeat of Matthew 19 which does not allow for divorce unless it were because of fornification. As i read D.&C. 132 a woman under a vow not released via divorce can’t have another mortal husband. So i favor the idea these were ceremonial sealings not marriages involving marital relations in the flesh anything else would be according to the revelation adultury.

    James Whithead an eyewitness said under oath in the Temple Lot case that he read the polygamy revelation manuscript at Winter Quarters. That the one Bishop Whitney showed him, and the one in the LDS D.&C. was changed to sanction modern earthly polygamy not just platonic polygamous sealing. Others said the copy they had seen was the same as in the LDS D.&C. But without the copy still being in existence i can’t verify for myself the accuracy of the printed version in the LDS D.&C.. Even if the content were different no doubt the revelation still affirmed ancient polygamy, and Celestial polygamy.

    I see the long list of 33 wives in In Sacred Lonliness, ect as bully lists. Because i can go through his book and poke holes in his case. An example of a problem is in the chapter on Delcina and Almira Johnson. The author made a strong case for Almira as having to have been sealed to Joseph Smith between April 2-22 1843. That wasn’t in itself problematic, but another detail brings into question the credibility of these women as wives of Joseph smith. Benjamin and Almira Johnson both claimed Hyrum Smith supported the new polygamy doctrine and her sealing to Joseph Smith. Hyrum Smith could have only converted to polygamy about late May, or early June so the claim about Hyrum is very out of place. I am yet to see any proof for a proposed second sealing, or an August sealing that would fit with the problematic detail about Hyrum.

    I fin his 33 so-called well documented cases as anything, but unquestionable. I am aware of William Claytons Nauvoo Journals. They do associated Joseph Smith polygamy. I own the George D. Smith Signature Books edition, and have books which cite from them. I once asked the author’s of Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy about them. Pamela Price e-mailed me a short “I have not had the time to study “William Clayton’s Diaries” in depth, therefore i can not comment on them at this time.” But it is basically speculated that William Clayton got up a false version of an earlier journal at a later date to associate Joseph Smith with polygamy. This view has a few adherants including myself.

    Most book’s try and associate Joseph Smith with polygamy using the Temple Lot case. What is always left out is that U.S. court rejected the polygamy testimony in the decision of Judge Phillps.

    The non-sense in Mormonism Shadow or Reality? about Joseph Smith going to jail for polygamy was proven false in the very case Jerald and Sandra Tanner abused. At most the judge in the case thought it uncharitable to accuse Lucy Walker and Melissa Lot Willis of lying. But he saw no legal basis to see Joseph Smith as being convictable on the polygamy charge. He thought if the women had any relationship with Joseph Smith at all they were but sports in nest hiding. I think he gave a wise response to the issue of sexuality in Joseph Smiths marriages by not accusing anyone of lying.

    I confess i have leanings towards the traditional RLDS view on Joseph Smiths innocence. Other than my leaning towards Joseph Smiths idea his father was platonically sealed to some of the women. Those in my denomination who feel he was guilty see no reason to defend him. Several of our historians see William Clayton’s Diaries are authentic. The church does not mandate positions on history.

    In the Frequently Asked Questions article it gives our official response to the polygamous information. We have moved away from trying to exonerate Joseph Smith of polygamy as a denomination. Instead we do “persue a broader and more future-oriented focus for its(our denominations) resources and energies.


    With the exception of two book’s i have on order i have all the major books dealing with Joseph Smith and polygamy. I mark up my books. I have read several of them a bunch of times. But i still have leanings towards our older official position as an individual. But i also teach a bit of the non-traditional views i run into from our scholars without feeling guilty for my leanings towards traditional point of view.
    I see Joseph Smiths Nauvoo theology as speculative. So i tend to like his earlier Kirtland ideas better.

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