Saturday, May 11, 2024

"A Doctrine of Devils": Morrisite Teachings after Joseph Morris

After the death of Joseph Morris in 1862, his followers were broken up. Several individuals then arose claiming prophetic authority for a time. Among these, several can be noted.

James and George Dove

Anderson Writes: 

“In 1887 the Doves published Articles of Faith, which outlined the basic principles and doctrines of the Church of the Firstborn … Among these were the rejection of the principle of a literal resurrection after one life on earth in favor of a belief in reincarnation. It was believed that persons could not become perfected in one lifetime upon the earth, but that several sojourns would be required in different bodies and places before the eternal spirit would be prepared to dwell with the angels of heaven. Variations of this belief were found among nearly all Morrisite factions, although it was emphasized much more by some than others.

“The Doves taught that reincarnation was not only available to the righteous but was open to all …. Sinners were given a second chance. `After we have cast off this mortal, the deeds done in the body come to memory, and if our deeds have been evil, we at once feel convicted, and fully realizing our condition, we are anxious to come in mortality to try again.” Anderson, Joseph Morris and the Saga of the Morrisites, 194

George Williams “Prophet Cainan" (1814-1882) 

Williams claimed that angelic being ordained him.  Anderson states:

“He reported that they laid their hands upon his head and declared him to be `the first-born son of the third God in the last quorum of heaven, even Cainan, then Melchisedec, now George Williams, and then conferred upon … [him] … all the keys of the holy priesthood that were ever given to mortal man.”

“The reference here to Caninan and Melchisedec is a continuation of the principle of reincarnation or transmigration of spirits introduced by Joseph Morris. George Williams reported that this was his third incarnation. In his first incarnation he had been Cainan, one of the seven angels, and in his second one he was none other than Melchisedec, the great king of Salem. These previous incarnations, plus the authority granted to him during the two celestial interviews, entitled him to rule upon the earth as God’s supreme representative `to put in motion and carry on the great gospel plan of saving, redeeming and exalting Adam’s race, together with the planet on which they dwell.’” Anderson, Joseph Morris and the Saga of the Morrisites175-176. 

Wiliams also Claimed to have had a vision in which an individual appeared to him and said, “Hail servant of the Most High. I am Mohamet, and before I was Mohamet I was Ishmael the son of Abraham and Hagar, and I am also a servant of the Most High … [and] I am permitted to leave my mansion in Paradise to visit the servant of the Most High now in mortality.” Anderson, Joseph Morris and the Saga of the Morrisites, 183.

William W. Davies (1833-1906)

Concerning Davies Anderson writes:

“He took the principle of reincarnation and made it the keystone of his belief system, applying it not only to himself but also to other members of his family. He claimed a distinguished personal identity, insisting that he was Michael the Archangel reincarnate. That is, the spirit of the Archangel inhabited Davies body and had striven throughout his lifetime to prepare him for his calling. Michael had inhabited several illustrious bodies in ages past, having appeared as Adam, Abraham, and King David. These incarnations were a necessary prelude to the work assigned to Davies” Anderson, Joseph Morris and the Saga of the Morrisites, 200-201

Davies named one of his sons “Messiah Son of David” who was sometimes referred to as “Walla Walla Jesus.” He named another one of his sons “Our Father” meaning God the Father who adopted the name David. Both of these children died in 1880 during a diphtheria epidemic. After the death of his first wife Davies remarried. “In due course, she bore Davies a daughter, which he affirmed was his reincarnated previous wife returned to earth for the purpose of completing her interrupted calling.” He afterwards appears to have lost the following that he had. Anderson, Joseph Morris and the Saga of the Morrisites, 201-203.

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