Some Comparative Perspectives on the Early Mormon Movement and the Church-State Question, 1830-1845
Journal of Mormon History
Salt Lake City, UT
Mormon History Association
Wilson sees early Mormonism like other new religious groups in formation: 'Strong figuralism, significant millenarian convictions, pronounced ecstatic elements, and inventive or improvised organizational forms.' We should properly interpret Mormonism as a new culture-in-the-making. A new social world was in the process of being defined, and thus the old world was outmoded for those who became committed to it.' As a result, Mormons developed 'the two kingdoms or two realms pattern which is so deeply embedded in the Christian tradition. . . .Adoption of this two-fold pattern as a means of defining church-state issues often means devalution of this world in comparison with the next, or de-emphasis of the realm of governmental affairs in relationship to the religious realm. This devaluation does not take place in the early Mormon movement. . . .In the early 1840s, even after the Mormons experienced frustration with the government, their emphasis began to turn to the possibilities of using the government and directing it toward the realization of religious ends through a new interpretation of the Constitution.