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BYU Studies Quarterly

BYU Studies Quarterly

Authors

Klaus Hansen

Abstract

One cause for the problems between Mormons and their Gentile neighbors in the early Church was the political kingdom of God. Early members of the Church of Jesus Christ felt a responsibility to establish a temporal kingdom in preparation for the kingdom Christ would establish at his second coming. Misunderstandings about the nature of the kingdom of God on earth between Church members and those outside the Church contributed to the persecutions and eventual expulsions from Missouri and Illinois as well as to the martyrdom of Joseph Smith. Those outside the Church suspected Church leaders of plotting to overthrow the government and set up a Mormon Church-State. Church members, however, visualized this process as a peaceful one, the government of the kingdom stepping in when other governments had failed of their own accord. The Council of Fifty, organized in 1844 by Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, was seen as the governing body of the political kingdom, but the secret nature of its meetings led to rumors and suspicion about its purposes. The dream of the political kingdom of God and the accompanying persecution continued when the Saints moved west and only ceased with the 1890 Manifesto, which ended the practice of plural marriage.

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