A Moderate Millenarianism: Apocalypticism in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
apocalypticism; Book of Revelation; Mormonism; the Book of Mormon; visionary experience; ritual
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the largest and arguably best-known branch of the Restoration movement begun by Joseph Smith, sustains a complex but living relationship to nineteenth-century marginal millenarianism and apocalypticism. At the foundations of this relationship is a consistent interest in the biblical Book of Revelation exhibited in the earliest Latter-Day Saint scriptural texts. The Book of Mormon (1830) affirms that apocalyptic visionary experiences like John’s in the New Testament have occurred throughout history and even contains a truncated account of such a vision. It also predicts the emergence in late modernity of a fuller and uncorrupted account of such an apocalyptic vision, with the aim of clarifying the biblical Book of Revelation. In addition, however, Smith received an apocalyptic vision of his own in 1832 and produced a vision report that suggests that he understood The Book of Mormon’s anticipations of apocalyptic clarification to come as much through ecstatic experience as through the emergence of new apocalyptic texts. In 1842, Smith created a ritualized version of his own apocalyptic experience, a temple liturgy that remains authoritative into the present. This lies behind the moderate apocalypticism of twenty-first century Latter-Day Saint religious experience.
Original Publication Citation
“A Moderate Millenarianism: Apocalypticism in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Religions 10.5 (2019): 339.
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Spencer, Joseph M., "A Moderate Millenarianism: Apocalypticism in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints" (2019). Faculty Publications. 3291.