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Prophetic AuthorityDemocratic Hierarchy and the Mormon Priesthood$
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Michael Hubbard MacKay

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780252043017

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252043017.001.0001

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Apostleship and the Authority of Change

Apostleship and the Authority of Change

(p.37) 3 Apostleship and the Authority of Change
Prophetic Authority

Michael Hubbard MacKay

University of Illinois Press

In addition to baptism, a second foundational narrative that demonstrates Joseph Smith’s authority was the establishment of the Mormon apostleship. His translations and revelations called for major initiatives that required increasing amounts of commitment from his adherents, but with these major initiatives, the revelations also required a certain amount of malleability. Smith established certain forms of authority, such as priesthood and sacraments, through his revelations and then molded and reformed them through additional revelations to meet the evolving needs of his church. In doing this, Smith demonstrated his ability to control the narrative and shape his authority. As his theology developed and his lay ministry expanded, his prophetic leadership adapted. It was the malleability of his leadership that enabled the relationship between hierarchy and democracy to adjust and find stasis on the waves of change. To demonstrate this point, this chapter explores one of Smith’s most radical concepts of authority—namely, apostleship—in its nearly superfluous beginnings and its ultimate importance within Mormonism.

Keywords:   Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Orson Pratt, Parley Pratt, David Whitmer, Hiram Page, Religious Authority, Ecclesiology, Clergy, Apostle

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