Becoming The Head of the Eighth Dispensation

In 1958, Robert Eaby wrote a two-page document with the scriptural reference that expanded the traditional Mormon view of seven dispensations of the gospel and, more importantly, portraited Ross LeBaron’s patriarchal work in cosmic proportions.

Ross LeBaron Mormon Fundamentalist Church of the Firstborn Radio Show
Ross LeBaron talking to a caller during his show on the radio station KZZI, in Utah, 1988. | Image courtesy of George Frey, Houston Chronicle Library

The “ten weeks” described in the apocryphal Book of Enoch were identified by Eaby as ten dispensations of the gospel. Quoting from the Ethiopic Version of the Book of Enoch, he related each week in the apocryphal prophecy to a dispensation, starting with Adam.

After the seventh week – the dispensation of Joseph Smith – the eighth dispensation had Ross Wesley Lebaron at its head. The dispensation of Lebaron would then be followed by the Second Coming of Christ – the nineth week – and the coming of God Almighty – the tenth week. “And after that there will be many weeks without number for ever” – Eaby quoted from the apocryphal Enoch. He then concluded:

Herein are set forth the Ten Dispensations of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to mankind, the Eighth Dispensation being in force upon us at the present time. [Emphasis added]

The document was signed by Eaby only. About ten years later, however, Ross LeBaron and Robert Eaby would both sign a Proclamation announcing the end of Joseph Smith’s dispensation and the beginning of a new one.

Be It Known To The Saints Of The Most High:

As of February 27, in the year of our Lord 1968, the Seventh Dispensation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the children of men, along with the keys, power, authority and ordinances pertaining thereto is terminated; and the Eighth Dispensation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the children of men; along with the keys, power, authority and ordinances pertaining thereto is commenced, according to the pattern of the “Eighth Week” set forth by Enoch of old. [Emphasis added]

Then the Proclamation stated that

all things had by Joseph Smith Jr., founder of the Seventh Dispensation, must according to the word of God, be approved of or renewed by me, Ross Wesley LeBaron, founder of the Eighth Dispensation and heir of Joseph Smith Jr., according to the patriarchal law, to remain effective. [Emphasis added]

The last paragraph reemphasized LeBaron’s heirship as the “seed” of Joseph Smith:

This action is in accord with the promise made to Joseph Smith Jr. that; “In thee and thy seed, shall the kindred of the earth be blessed.”  D. & C. 124:58

While it is not clear when Ross LeBaron first saw himself as a dispensation head, I speculate that in several moments, and at least in one written revelation, he might have contemplated such possibility.

When he saw himself rejected by the Mormon polygamist movement in 1940, he felt like Enoch, the first mortal dispensation head, wondering about his role before God; when seeking the confirmation of his patriarchal keys from Joseph Musser in 1951, LeBaron saw himself as Abraham, the Father of the Faithful seeking blessings from Melchizedek. Later, he eventually realized he had the same position as Enoch and Abraham, raised to open a new dispensation, to dispense to humankind what had been lost or hidden.

In a revelation dated 05 June 1962, LeBaron was told that he had been called to the same calling of Abraham:

Hearken to the voice of the Lord unto you my servant Wesley; for I have called you by the voice of my spirit, from my throne in the heavens; to the calling that I called my servant Abraham;

(…)

For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory of the mortal kingdom; even as I held it when I was upon earth in the flesh.[1]

The eight dispensation, LeBaron taught, had a unique aspect as it brought back the patriarchal pattern of the Adamic priesthood:

Never since the dispensation of Abraham has the patriarchal heir line of Seth been honored in presiding over a dispensation. Moses and Jesus Christ both presided under the authority of the Holy priesthood after the order of the Son of God.

Joseph Smith held the priesthood of the Holy Order of God the Testator, which pattern is the same as the priesthood of the Son.[2]

LeBaron would still reinterpret the means by which his eighth dispensation started and change his mind on the end of the seventh dispensation. In the 1980’s, he taught that every previous dispensation of the gospel was still in force, and would never end. Dispensations were, therefore, a type of spiritual jurisdiction that would give their “heads” an eternal fatherhood over the people they were responsible for.

At least on one occasion, LeBaron said that being a dispensation head was a requirement for a man to be exalted:

You can never become an Adam unless you the head of a dispensation first. (…) There will be no more Adams off this world than that are dispensation heads. The dispensation heads become gods first.[3]

The concept of an eighth dispensation, that ended “the Times of the Gentiles, or the Adamic Dispensation” as LeBaron later termed it, would remain as one of the most important tenets of his theology, as well as one of the most challenging ideas to many of his followers and students.


References


[1] LeBaron, Ross Wesley. “Behold, I say unto you: THE REDEMPTION OF ZION must needs come by power…” [The Yellow Book]. The Church of the First-born. [circa 1962], pages 1-2.

[2] Ross Wesley LeBaron. Priesthood ExpoundedSelf-published. Salt Lake, 1985.

[3] Ross Wesley LeBaron. Talk on KSXX (Excerpt). 25 December, 1987. Transcript courtesy of Karen Bjorkman.

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