Kingdom of Matthias Term Paper

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Kingdom of Matthias. There are three references used for this paper.

From the Quakers to the Great Awakening to Nat Turner, we have examined numerous variations of where a belief in the 'inner light' or the 'priesthood of all believers' could lead. It is important to examine the cult of Matthias to understand why he was popular, the factors which could have led to his revelations, the social and religious climates and the needs of his followers. It is also important to explore whether the cult was due to the transhistorical appeal or if it offers deeper lessons about early American religious experiences.


Robert Matthews was "a carpenter from upstate New York who, after a lifetime of finding God everywhere and economic success nowhere, rode his half-starved horse into Manhattan in 1832, proclaiming his own divinity. He presented himself as not a Christian at all, but as Matthias, the culmination of a line of virile Jewish prophets leading up through Adam, Moses and Jesus to his penultimate incarnation as the thirteenth apostle. In the 1,800 years sine the apostolic times, Matthias declared, God's 'male governing spirit' had been wandering the earth, staying his hand until the vast Christian heresy was ripe for its end (Brown)." Matthias told the people of the time that he had now taken human form and was there to collect his chosen followers.

A Zealous Preacher

Matthias was well-known in 1829 not only for preaching in the streets, but also "loud discussions and pavement exhortations, but he did not make set sermons. However, at the beginning of 1830, he was only considered zealous (" During this same year, he was reading his bible and preparing to shave, suddenly "exclaimed, 'I have found it! I have found a text which proves that no man who shaves his beard can be a true Christian', and shortly afterwards, without shaving, he went to the Mission House to deliver an address which he had promised, and in this address is proclaimed his new character, pronounced vengeance on the land, and that the law of God was the only rule of government, and that he was commanded to take possession of the world in the name of the King of kings ("

Social and Religious Climate

As the country changed, the people began to experience a number of challenges to authority, allowing "newborn religions to have a genealogical foundation for their chosen ness (Brown)." Claiming to be directly related to Jacob by way of Ephraim, Joseph Smith convinced those who followed him that "their own conversion to Mormonism effected a literal genetic transmutation. 'The effect of the Holy Ghost upon a gentile' he said, 'is to purge out the old blood, and make him actually the seed of Abraham' (Brown)."

Creating A New Cult

The new cult was accepted since over the course of history, the "very welter of our religious identities has made up much of the challenge that new religious movements set out to address. Whether they come as broad revivals or as fresh cults, new groups distinguish themselves not only for the sake of their peculiar visions, but also in order to cure confusion with the clearest of all possible answers. The unintended result is that new holy communities only swell the spiritual jumble by throwing in one more model of exclusion (Brown)."

Since Americans were more likely to search for something, instead of seeing what was already there in front of them, Matthias's charismatic personality quickly convinced wealthy New Yorkers to not only follow his cult, but provide financial backing as well.

Matthias "took over a small church previously devoted to just the sort of Christian practices he detested, and then…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Brown, Lee Rust. "The Kingdom of Matthias." The New Republic. (1994): 17 October.

Johnson, Michael P. "The Kingdom of Matthias: A Story of Sex and Salvation in 19th-Century

America" The Nation. (1994): 14 November.

(The Matthias Delusion. (Accessed 27 November, 2004).

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