Literalness of Mormon Belief

No responsible historian can afford to underestimate the literalness of Mormon belief. These emigrants were convinced that they went not merely to a new country and a new life, but to a new Dispensation, to the literal Kingdom of God on earth. In the years between Joseph’s vision and its fulfillment, persecution and hardship discouraged many, and others fell away into apostasy, but what might be called the hard core of Mormonism took persecution and suffering in stride, as God’s way of trying their faith. Signs and wonders accompanied them, their way was cleared by divine inter: entions. Rivers opportunely froze over to permit passage of their wagons, quail fell among their exhausted and starving camps as miraculously as manna ever fell upon the camps of the Israelites fleeing Pharaoh, the sick (even sick horses) upon whom the elders laid their hands rose up rejoicing in health, the wolves that dug up Oregonian and Californian graves and scattered Gentile bones across the prairies did not touch the graves of the Lord’s people. If they were blessed with an easy passage, they praised God for His favor if their way was a via dolorosa milestoned with the cairns of the dead, they told themselves they were being tested, and hearkened to counsel, and endured.