I apologize for feeling it necessary to put in another contrary two cents’ worth. There is an excellent publication by James Bales on apostolic succession in the Mormon church. I recall that Brigham Young reportedly told “the saints” that no one would replace Joseph Smith as head of the church. Instead, the Quorum of Twelve Apostles would lead the church. As far as I am aware, there is no revelation, commandment, policy, or stipulation up to that point, allowing the Twelve that degree of authority.
Regardless of that, when it became apparent that a Mormon sect which did have a prophet at its head was winning over converts from the Church of the Twelve Apostles, and mocking the Brighamites for having a “headless” church, Young decided it was time for a new prophet to be chosen. Unfortunately, in promoting himself for that office, he neglected to obtain a quorum. Throughout the Bible prophets seem to have been called by God by some direct manner. In the case of Brigham Young, it was by popular vote. I do not recall any Biblical prophet, or Islamic prophet, or Book of Mormon prophet having obtained office through popular election. But what else could they do, in the absence of a direct call by God, in the absence of ordination by an angel, in the absence of another prophet passing his mantle and ascending into heaven in a chariot of fire? It was at that time that the Mormon Church obtained the doctrinal innovation, that the Quorum of Twelve Apostles possessed an unprecedented authority to elect prophets by popular vote.
Something interesting happened just after Joseph Smith’s execution. Sidney Rigdon, who was properly qualified as successor to Joseph Smith, by virtue of having been ordained “Prophet, Seer, and Revelator” in 1841, by being Joseph Smith’s vice-presidential running mate for the U.S. presidency, senior member of the First Presidency, being both First Counselor and Assistant President. Young, strategizing to effect his own elevation, asked the Mormons in conference, asked, “I now want to ask each of you to tell me if you want to choose a guardian, a Prophet, evangelist or something else as your head to lead you. All that are in favor of it make it manifest by raising the right hand.” No one did.” The Mormon Church’s current tack is to belittle Rigdon’s authority and importance by claiming he was never an Assistant President. This is what I might expect from a church that idolizes its prophets after voting in front of Brigham Young that they want no prophet! “… tell me if you want to choose . . . a Prophet . . . or something else as your head to lead you.” Young continued, “Here is the twelve, an independent body, who have the Keys of the Kingdom to all the whole world so help me God, and they are as the First Presidency of the hurch! . . . You can’t call a prophet. You can’t take Elder Rigdon or Amasa Lyman. They must be ordained by [us]! God will have nothing to do with you. You can’t put anyone at the head of the Twelve!”
More than a little arrogant, that.
Sabacthani, I never read anything about Joseph Smith saying anything at all like himself being some kind of forerunner to an age of prophets. And Brigham Young clearly insisted there would be no successor to Smith, until after a change in strategy was required in order to slow down the exodus from his church to a rival church. Maybe you are confusing the use of the word “prophet.” Joseph was the prophet of the Church, thus the supreme authority. The “gift of prophesy” that he claimed men and woman could enjoy was extremely limited – to their own personal affairs. Since anyone, even according to Mormon teachings, can enjoy inspiration from God, there always has been and always will be “an age of prophets,” meaning people with personal inspiration. That is our divine heritage. It’s not a remarkable claim for anyone, especially a supposed Christian, to make. But as for “an age of prophets” resembling – or succeeding – Joseph Smith as supreme, doctrinally infallible authority, I have not come across that in my reading. If you could provide a citation where Smith, or even Young really does say this, I would be grateful if you would share it. Thank you.