Monday, November 15, 2010

A Misunderstood Apostasy

In the Spring of 1842, Elder J. D. Lee, a missionary in Tennessee, came upon a branch of the church at Indian Creek in Putnam County organized by two brothers, William and Alfred Young. The two had joined the Church elsewhere in Tennessee and had been ordained Elders. They decided to return to toen they grew up in and share the gospel with their relatives. Having done this they moved on to Nauvoo and left their father John Young to preside over the branch. But by the time Elder Lee arrived, however, the branch was under the influence of a Mr. Daniel Hunt, who claimed “to be the personage spoken of in the 20th chapter of Revelations who is to bind the dragon a thousand year” They had even begun to send out their own missionaries to neighboring De Kalb and Smith counties using grand displays of power. “One of these miraculous displays of the spirit, was exhibited in raising one of [their]ministers who died while on his mission to this place.” Elder Lee was appalled by the doctrines they taught, namely that...

They taught their converts to contend for the same spirit which they possessed, and when they obtained it and were impelled by it, it produced a change of countenance depicted with horror; a trembling, twitching, falling down and wallowing in the mud; others would snort like wild beasts, bark as dogs, run through the creek, pretending to sing and speak in tongues, crying prophecy, prophecy; others would lie in a swoon for several hours, and springing to their feet again, state that the spirit had commanded them to chastise certain characters who were present, and would then fall upon them with all their strength as though they were to be exterminated in reality; one of these young ladies feel on her knees before me, and said, although I was a stranger yet she loved me because I was a preacher, and attempted to put her arms around my neck; I put forth my hand and rebuked the evil spirit by which she was actuated, and she immediately fell to the earth and wept with shame.

Elder Lee along with his companions, Adolphus Young (who was related to the William and Alfred Young)and Samuel B Frost, worked long and hard to correct the false doctrines they had been led to believe. Ultimately he was largely successful. Elder Lee sent a letter to the editor of Times and Seasons, describing the situation at Indian Creek and accusing William and Alfred Young of teaching false doctrine. The letter was printed in the paper and it shocked the Young brothers. Alfred wrote about the accusation.

It seemed very severe on us as we had preached the gospel in all sincerity of heart, and in our simplicity had believed in the gifts of the Gospel as promised to the Saints in all ages. Whatever we had done we did it in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ never failing to give him the glory.

Eventually the two brothers were seen by the High Council of the Church to answer for Elder Lee’s charges. Alfred continues...

The Council was much divided but finally decided by a majority vote that we should acknowledge that our labors in Tennessee were not of God, but of the devil, that we had been deceived and had acted under evil influences.

But after coming to a decision, the council decided to take no further action. They did not even make the two reply to the council there and then. The brothers left the council dissatisfied with the decision. Each walked to their own home. Along the way, however, Alfred ran into Brigham Young who after listening to his story told him not to be concerned. The church had need of men of faith like him, and that it will be alright. His brother similarly ran into Hyrum Smith on his way home. He told him essentially the same thing. But Hyrum went further. Using his position as editor, he published the brothers’ names in Times and Seasons as being in full standing and fellowship in the Church. Eventually the High Council's decision was dropped and the incident was chalked up to a misunderstanding.

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