In honor of May 21 and the crazy predictions of “The Rapture“, let it be know that almost every religion has had its false prophesies of armageddon.
I remember having discussions with fellow missionaries in Brazil about the Jehovah Witnesses’ expecting the second coming to occur several times in the past and then reformulating that revelation to have a different meaning when it failed to occur. I couldn’t believe that they could buy into it! I had no idea my church could have fallen for the same thing.
In History of the Church, volume 2, pp182, it reads:
“President Smith then stated…it was the will of God that those who went to Zion, with a determination to lay down their lives, if necessary, should be ordained to the ministry and go forth to prune the vineyard for the last time, or the coming of the Lord, which was nigh – even fifty-six years should wind up the scene.”
“There are those of the rising generation who shall not taste death till Christ comes.” (History of the Church, vol. 5, p336)
When the Twelve Apostles were first ordained, some of them received promises that they would live until Christ came:
“The blessing of Lyman E. Johnson was…that he shall live until the gathering is accomplished…and he shall see the Savior come and stand upon the earth with power and great glory.” (History of the Church, vol. 2, p188)
William Smith’s blessing stated:
“He shall be preserved and remain on the earth, until Christ shall come to take vengeance on the wicked.” (History of the Church, vol. 2, p191)
Of course none of the Apostles lived to see the coming of the Lord and Joseph’s statement of fifty-six years did not come to pass.
In Mormon history and culture, there was apparently a big hoopla around 1891 when Joseph Smith’s 56-year prophesy would have come about. But just like Jehovah Witnesses did, and just like the modern day doomsday folks will do on Sunday, the Mormons rationalized it away and went on believing and formulating other stuff that was “essential to their salvation”… Like making sure black people couldn’t enter the temple… important stuff like that.