One Mighty and Strong
One Mighty and Strong is a person of unknown identity who was the subject of an 1832 prophecy by Joseph Smith, the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement. The prophecy echoes the words and prophecy of Isaiah 28:2. The One Mighty and Strong was said by Smith to be one who would "set in order the house of God" and arrange for the "inheritances of the [Latter Day] Saints". Since this prophecy was uttered, many Latter Day Saints have claimed to be or to have otherwise identified the One Mighty and Strong, and many schismatic Latter Day Saint sects have arisen as a result of these claims.
- 1 Smith's prophecy
- 2 Canonization by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
- 3 Interpretation by the LDS Church
- 4 Third interpretation: claimants to the One Mighty and Strong
- 5 Notes
- 6 References
[I]t shall come to pass, that I, the Lord God, will send one mighty and strong, holding the sceptre of power in his hand, clothed with light for a covering, whose mouth shall utter words, eternal words; while his bowels shall be a fountain of truth, to set in order the house of God, and to arrange by lot the inheritances of the Saints, whose names are found, and the names of their fathers, and of their children enrolled in the book of the law of God: while that man, who was called of God and appointed, that putteth forth his hand to steady the ark of God, shall fall by the vivid shaft of lightning .... These things I say not of myself; therefore, as the Lord speaketh, He will also fulfill.
Smith never revealed the identity of the "one mighty and strong" referred to in this prophecy.
Canonization by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The first Latter Day Saint denomination to canonize Smith's prophecy was The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). In 1876, the excerpt from the Smith–Phelps letter was included as section 85 in the church's edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, one of the church's books of scripture. The section continues to be found in the modern LDS Church's scripture. Since its canonization, members of the LDS Church and those who have created schisms from the LDS Church have been the primary groups of Latter Day Saints who have made claims of identifying the "one mighty and strong". However, persons from Latter Day Saint denominations that have not canonized Smith's prophecy have also, on occasion, made similar identifications.
Interpretation by the LDS Church
Possibility #1: Closed prophecy
First, the Presidency stated that Smith's words may have been a prophecy of what would happen if the presiding bishop of the church, Edward Partridge, failed to repent and fulfill his calling in the church:
It is to be observed first of all that the subject of this whole letter, as also the part of it subsequently accepted as a revelation, relates to the affairs of the Church in Missouri, the gathering of the Saints to that land and obtaining their inheritances under the law of consecration and stewardship; and the Prophet [Joseph Smith] deals especially with the matter of what is to become of those who fail to receive their inheritances by order or deed from the bishop. ...
It was while these conditions of rebellion, jealousy, pride, unbelief and hardness of heart prevailed among the brethren in Zion—Jackson county, Missouri—in all of which Bishop Partridge participated, that the words of the revelation taken from the letter to William W. Phelps, of the 27th of November, 1832, were written. The "man who was called and appointed of God" to "divide unto the Saints their inheritance"—Edward Partridge—was at that time out of order, neglecting his own duty, and putting "forth his hand to steady the ark"; hence, he was warned of the judgment of God impending, and the prediction was made that another, "one mighty and strong," would be sent of God to take his place, to have his bishopric—one having the spirit and power of that high office resting upon him, by which he would have power to "set in order the house of God, and arrange by lot the inheritance of the Saints"; in other words, one who would do the work that Bishop Edward Partridge had been appointed to do, but had failed to accomplish. ...
And inasmuch as through his repentance and sacrifices and suffering, Bishop Edward Partridge undoubtedly obtained a mitigation of the threatened judgment against him of falling "by the shaft of death, like as a tree that is smitten by the vivid shaft of lightning," so the occasion for sending another to fill his station—"one mighty and strong to set in order the house of God, and to arrange by lot the inheritances of the Saints"—may also be considered as having passed away and the whole incident of the prophecy closed.
Possibility #2: Prophecy of a future presiding bishop
However, the First Presidency also offered the possibility that the prophecy was not closed, and that the One Mighty and Strong would be a future presiding bishop of the church when the Latter-day Saints return to Jackson County, Missouri. Concerning this possibility, the First Presidency stated:
If, however, there are those who will still insist that the prophecy concerning the coming of "one mighty and strong" is still to be regarded as relating to the future, let the Latter-day Saints know that he will be a future bishop of the Church who will be with the Saints in Zion, Jackson county, Missouri, when the Lord shall establish them in that land; and he will be so blessed with the spirit and power of his calling that he will be able to set in order the house of God, pertaining to the department of the work under his jurisdiction; and in righteousness and justice will "arrange by lot the inheritances of the Saints." He will hold the same high and exalted station that Edward Partridge held; for the latter was called to do just this kind of work—that is, to set in order the house of God pertaining to settling the Saints upon their inheritances.
Contemporary interpretation in the LDS Church
Curriculum material published by the LDS Church for use in the Church Educational System favors the first of the 1905 First Presidency interpretations. In fact, the curriculum does not present the text of the First Presidency's proposed second possibility.
Third interpretation: claimants to the One Mighty and Strong
Since the end of the nineteenth century, a number of individuals have proposed a third interpretation of the prophecy: that Smith predicted the coming of "One Mighty and Strong", and that such a person has been identified. Often, those who claim to have discovered the identity of the One Mighty and Strong identify themselves as the fulfillment of the prophecy.
This interpretation assumes a much broader role of the One Mighty and Strong, extending throughout the church and beyond the confines of Jackson County, Missouri. Such individuals generally have alleged that the LDS Church is "out of order" and that the One Mighty and Strong has been sent to set it in order, as prophesied by Smith.
The following chart includes individuals who have claimed to have identified the One Mighty and Strong:
Chart of claimed identifications of the One Mighty and Strong
|Date of initial claim||Identifier||Person identified as the One Mighty and Strong||Notes|
|1844||members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite)||James J. Strang||members of the Strangite church have claimed that Strang was the One Mighty and Strong who put the church in order after Joseph Smith's death|
|1851||Jason W. Briggs||Joseph Smith III?||Claimed he received a revelation from God, part of which is as follows: "and in mine own due time will I call upon the seed of Joseph Smith, and will bring one forth, and he shall be mighty and strong, and he shall preside over the high priesthood of my church; and then shall the quorums assemble, and the pure in heart shall gather, and Zion shall be reinhabited". This record became accepted as the first genuine document of the early Reorganization movement. Joseph Smith III, however, stated, "I do not personally claim to be 'the one mighty and strong.'"|
|1880||William W. Blair||Claimed that Joseph Smith III came "in the spirit of the "one mighty and strong"||Claimed that Joseph Smith's revelation "related to his son Joseph III, who, like his father, should be sent in the spirit of the "one mighty and strong" to restore the "house of God" to "order" after it shall have been ruled out of order and the fathers plucked up out of the land of Zion because of their iniquities." Here a distinction seems to be made between Joseph Smith III and the individual known as the "one mighty and strong", in whose spirit he "should be sent", like his father was.|
|1887||James Brighouse||Self||Claimed Brigham Young was a fallen prophet and that he was the reincarnation of Adam, Enoch, Moses, David, Ezekiel, Jesus, George Washington, and Joseph Smith|
|1900||Committee of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints||Possibly Jesus Christ, although left open.||"Whereas, we have received no divine communication authorizing any particular interpretation of the revelation before us; and as the Reorganized Church has never taken action upon the matter; Resolved, that we leave it an open question, to be decided as God may develop his purposes among us, while we acknowledge the leading features in it to be prominently characteristic of Jesus Christ. (Signed on behalf of said committee by chairman and secretary)" |
|1904||Samuel Eastman||Self||Claimed Joseph F. Smith was a fallen prophet|
|1905||John Tanner Clark||Self||Claimed that John Taylor had visited him as an angel and appointed him as the One Mighty and Strong; was excommunicated from the LDS Church in 1905 and continued to claim to be the One Mighty and Strong until his death in 1932. Published a book in 1920 setting out his claims.|
|1910||Alma Dayer LeBaron, Sr. and LeBaron family||Self||Claimed Joseph F. Smith was a fallen prophet|
|1927||Otto Fetting||John the Baptist||Fetting, an apostle in the Church of Christ (Temple Lot), claimed that John the Baptist had appeared to him and instructed him to put the church in order by building a temple on the Temple Lot; led to the creation of the Church of Christ (Fettingite)|
|1932||Francis M. Darter||"an Indian prophet"||Claimed an Indian prophet in Yucatan had been ordained by Lorin C. Woolley and that he and his followers would wrest control of the LDS Church and put it in order|
|1934||Benjamin F. LeBaron and LeBaron family||Self||Benjamin LeBaron, not Alma LeBaron, Sr., was the One Mighty and Strong|
|1936||J. H. Sherwood||Self; renamed Jasper No. 7||Sherwood demanded to be made the presiding bishop of the LDS Church based on his literal descent from Aaron and his identity as the One Mighty and Strong; when the LDS Church refused, he began the Church of Jesus Christ of Israel|
|1938||Joseph W. Musser||Joseph Smith||Many Mormon fundamentalists follow Musser's opinion that Smith himself was the One Mighty and Strong|
|1930s||Paul Feil||Self||Claimed to be a successor to Samuel Eastman but that he, not Eastman, was the One Mighty and Strong|
|1943||William A. Draves||John the Baptist||Draves broke from the Fettingites; led to the establishment of the Church of Christ with the Elijah Message, Established Anew in 1929|
|early 1950s||Theron Drew||Merl Kilgore||Drew was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite) and thought Kilgore was the One Mighty and Strong who would act as a successor to Joseph Smith and James Strang in the Strangite church; Drew abandoned his claims after just a few months|
|1955||Joel F. LeBaron and LeBaron family||Self||the third of the LeBaron family to claim to be the One Mighty and Strong; led to the formation of the Church of the Firstborn of the Fulness of Times|
|1955||Ross Wesley LeBaron||"an Indian prophet"||LeBaron believed he was sent to prepare the way for the One Mighty and Strong, who would be "an Indian prophet"|
|1958||William C. Conway||Eachta Eachta Na, a nineteenth century "young white Indian" from Yucatan||Conway stated that Eachta Eachta Na was the reincarnated Joseph Smith and re-established the Kingdom of God on earth in 1890, the year the LDS Church abandoned plural marriage|
|1960||LeRoy Wilson||Self||former Mormon fundamentalist|
|1960||William L. Goldman||Self|||
|1964||Alexandre R. Caffiaux||Self||founded the Holy Church of Jesus Christ, claimed successor to Strang|
|1967||Ervil LeBaron||Self||LeBaron claimed that he, and not his brother Joel, was the One Mighty and Strong and rightful leader of the church; Joel was murdered upon his orders in 1972|
|1975||David Roberts||Self||founded the True Church of Jesus Christ Restored, claimed successor to Strang|
|1975||John W. Bryant||Self||In 1974, Bryant began to state that he was receiving revelations from Jesus He claimed that John the Beloved had visited him as an angel and instructed him to form an "Order of the Ancients". In 1975 he was taken in vision to the City of Enoch, where AUB founder Joseph White Musser and Latter Day Saint movement founder Joseph Smith ordained him to the presidency of the church and the high priesthood. At this time, Brant claimed to be the "One Mighty and Strong"|
|1977||Eugene O. Walton||Self||Walton left the Church of Jesus Christ (Cutlerite) and established the Restored Church of Jesus Christ in Independence, Missouri|
|1980s||Archie D. Wood||Self||Wood left the LDS Church because it once espoused the practice of plural marriage, which Wood teaches that Joseph Smith erred in teaching. While Wood doesn’t directly say he is the One Mighty and Strong, he does claim that a prophet named Azrael is the One, and that Jesus Christ told him that he is Azrael, making an indirect link.|
|1980s||Frank Miller||Self||Miller wrote several pamphlets that often condone polygamy and the Old Testament's death penalty for adultery. Bob Crossfield, (also known as "the prophet Onias") and former leader of the Ron and Dan Lafferty group said, "The Millers scare me. To me, they make the same kinds of claims that Ervil LeBaron did."|
|1980s||Roger E. Billings||Self (disputed)||Billings is known as the developer of hydrogen-powered cars and buses. But fundamentalist leader Owen A. Allred stated that Billings also claims to be the One Mighty and Strong. Allred stated "Upon our arrival, Mr. Billings sat us down and demanded that we recognize him as the One Mighty and Strong." Billings denies that he has ever claimed to be the One Mighty and Strong.|
|1980s||Ron and Dan Lafferty||Self||Ron Lafferty and his brothers claimed to collectively be the One Mighty and Strong. Ron Lafferty is on death row for the 1984 murder of his sister-in-law and her baby in American Fork, Utah.|
|1980s||members of the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints||Frederick Niels Larsen||Current president of the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, whose members believe that Larsen is the one mighty and strong.|
|1983||Art Bulla||Self||Organized the Church of Jesus Christ (Bullaite)|
|c. 1997||Brian David Mitchell||Self||Going by the name Immanuel David Isaiah, Mitchell has created a book, referred to by himself as "The Book of Immanuel David Isaiah", and as "The Manifesto of Brian David Mitchell", by others: in this book, Mitchell identifies himself as the prophesied "one mighty and strong": "One who is mighty and strong I have ordained in the stead of him who was ordained of God."|
- Letter from Joseph Smith to William W. Phelps, 1832-11-17, reprinted in "Let Every Man Learn His Duty", Evening and Morning Star, vol. 1, no. 8, pp. 121–22 (January 1833).
- See also reprint in Joseph Smith (B.H. Roberts ed.) (1902). History of the Church 1:297–99.
- Hales, Brian C (2009). "The 'one mighty and strong'". mormonfundamentalism.com. Retrieved 14 December 2010., See footnote 15[unreliable source?]
- See Doctrine and Covenants 85:7.
- "First Presidency Statement", Deseret News, 1905-11-11, reprinted as "One Mighty and Strong", Improvement Era, vol. 10, no. 12, pp. 929–43 (October 1907). Also reprinted in James R. Clark (ed.) (1965–1971). Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft) vol. 4.
- Church Educational System (2d ed., 2001). Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual (Salt Lake City, Utah: LDS Church) p. 186–87.
- Ogden Kraut (1991). The One Mighty and Strong (Salt Lake City, Utah: Pioneer Press).
- History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints 3:200–01; The Messenger, edited by Jason W. Briggs, vol. 2, p. 1.
- Launius, Roger D. (1988). Joseph Smith III: Pragmatic Prophet. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press. pp. 85–86. ISBN 0-252-01514-2.
- Joseph Smith III, Letter to James C. Hambleton, February 1, 1895, Joseph Smith III Letter Book 6, p. 1, Community of Christ Library-Archives, Independence, Missouri.
- William W. Blair, "The One Mighty and Strong," Saints' Advocate, January 1880, [emphasis added].
- Lyle O. Wright (1963). "Origins and Development of the Church of the Firstborn of the Fulness of Times". (M.S. thesis: Brigham Young University).
- "Minutes of General Conference, 1900," Supplement to the Saints' Herald (Independence, Missouri: Herald House, 1900): 180–83.
- Hales, Brian C. (Fall 2006), "John T. Clark: The 'One Mighty and Strong'" (PDF), Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 39 (3): 46–63
- J. Gordon Melton (1996). Encyclopedia of American Religions (Detroit, Michigan: Gale) pp. 561–85.
- Brian C. Hales (2007). Modern Polygamy and Mormon Fundamentalism: The Generations After the Manifesto (Salt Lake City, Utah: Greg Kofford Books).
- Davidson, Staff Writer (June 28, 1988), Several Men Claim to be The 'One Mighty and Strong', Salt Lake City Utah: Deseret News, retrieved April 12, 2011
- Ogden Kraut (1991). The One Mighty and Strong (Salt Lake City, Utah: Pioneer Press) pp. 91–99.
- Shepard, Bill (Fall 2006). ""To Set in Order the House of God" : The Search for the Elusive "One Mighty and Strong"" (PDF). Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. 39 (3): 20.
As we shall see later, it is one of the ironies of Mormon history that RLDS fundamentalists of the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints currently believe that their president and prophet, Frederick Niels Larsen, is the one mighty and strong.
- The Manifesto of Brian David Mitchell
- Bill Shepard, "'To Set in Order the House of God': The Search for the Elusive 'One Mighty and Strong'", Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 39(3): 18–45 (Fall 2006).