Ross W. LeBaron claimed to have “the patriarchal keys of the lineage of the Prophet Joseph”. He considered his heirship to the Mormon Prophet “the highest title of birth, and the second order of priesthood,” as he stated to Joseph White Musser in 1951. Lebaron believed the Mormon Fundamentalist movement, on the other hand, operated under “the keys of the lineage of Hyrum”. In 1985, LeBaron explained his views of the Fundamentalist priesthood authority in the following manner:
The only possible claim to the sealing power, by the Polygamists after 1890, was through the sealing keys of Hyrum Smith. Those keys were conferred upon John Smith by Brigham Young.
Ross Wesley LeBaron in June, 1977. | Image: Dale Van Atta. Courtesy of L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Brigham Young University.
On July 28, I`ll be presenting a paper on Ross LeBaron at the Sunstone Summer Symposium to be held this year at the Mountain America Expo Center, in Sandy, Utah.
A religious innovator within the Mormon tradition, Ross LeBaron (1914-1996) organized The Church of the First-Born in 1955. Although commonly identified by outsiders as a Mormon Fundamentalist denomination, LeBaron saw his small organization as being the Church of God the Father, while recognizing the priesthood authority of mainstream LDS Church and the Mormon Fundamentalist movement as different branches of the Church of the Son. LeBaron also reinterpreted the Mormon concept of dispensations as never-ending spiritual jurisdictions, adding his own eighth dispensation that would usher the second coming of Adam.
The full schedule of the Sunstone Symposium can be seen here (my presentation is listed as #362). For registration, click here.
The following is an excerpt from historian Christopher Blythe‘s master thesis on Ross LeBaron, submitted to the Utah State University in 2009. In his work, Blythe characterizes Ross LeBaron as “a religion maker in the same sense as Joseph Smith or Jesus Christ, in that he brought forth new concepts, which diverged from previous orthodox norms” (p. 04).
Ogie’s Cafe, in Salt Lake City, Utah used by Ross LeBaron and associates for “priesthood meetings” | Photo: Antonio Trevisan
The Crafting of a New Religious Movement
In order to teach students the intricacies encapsulated in a “full-fledged” religion, Catherine Albanese has developed a system of four Cs: Code, Community, Creed, and Cultus. The first category, Code, embraces the notion that religions necessarily introduce a system of morals and ethics by which adherents make life decisions. The second category, Community, includes social structure and hierarchy, as well as the manner in which believers relate to the non-believing world. The third category, Creed, includes not simply a formal statement of belief, but a discussion of beliefs and theology embraced by the community of believers. Finally, the fourth category, Cultus, is a technical word simply meaning ritual which embraces both formal ceremony and the practice of the believers. (For example, this includes informal prayer, the study of scripture, and sermonizing.) In this section, Albanese’s convenient system is used in order to study the religion developed by Ross Wesley LeBaron. Yet, before we discuss the basic four categories introduced above, a fifth C of particular usefulness when studying Mormon traditions – the claim – is presented. Continue reading
The following excerpt is from Lyle O. Wright‘s Master Thesis, submitted to Brigham Young University in 1963, based on his interviews with Ross W. LeBaron. Even though Wright’s research focused on the Church of the Firstborn of the Fullness of Times, led by Joel and Ervil LeBaron, it approached the different priesthood claims in the LeBaron family.
Ross Wesley LeBaron in January, 1984. | Photo courtesy of Tom Green
Patriarchal organization of the world
This earth is organized on a patriarchal pattern of government. All of the churches come under the Patriarchal Priesthood, as well as kingdoms, and anything having to do with civil government.
In the Patriarchal Presidency of the World, Adam presides as the Patriarch.of the world. Noah, the Priest, is second in the Presidency, and a Patriarch to those after the flood, except Jesus Christ. Christ, the King, and third in the Presidency, is a patriarch
to his posterity. Christ was married, lived polygamy, and had a family; the 45th Psalm has to do with his marriage and children. Joseph Smith was of the lineage of Christ. Christ is called the “king of kings” because he is the third in the grand Patriarchal Council of the world, and the third office carries the title of “king.” Continue reading