Amasa Mason Lyman was born in the township of Lyman,
Grafton county, New Hampshire, on the 30th of March 1813. He was the third
son of Boswell Lyman and Martha Mason. His father died when Amasa was
about eight years of age, and some time later his mother remarried. Thus
he was reared in the home of his grandfather on the maternal side, Perez
Mason, until he was eleven years of age. Perez Mason then retired from
his farm to live with his eldest son Perley Mason with whom also, according
to the wishes of his mother, Amasa lived during the next seven years.
When young Lyman was in his eighteenth year he became
thoughtful on the subject of religion and earnestly sought the favor of
the Lord by righteous deportment, though without connecting himself with
any of the religious sects. About one year later Elders Orson
Pratt and Lyman E. Johnson passed
through the section of New Hampshire where young Lyman lived. He believed the message proclaimed by the missionaries and was
baptized on the 27th of April, 1832 by Elder Lyman E. Johnson, and confirmed
on the following day by Elder Orson Pratt.
In consequence of the ill feelings which arose in
his uncle's family owing to his joining the Church, Amasa departed from
the home of his kindred and set out on foot for the gathering place of
the saints in Ohio. After a journey of some seven hundred miles, in which
he endured many hardships--for much of the journey was made on foot and
with but scant means of subsistence--he arrived at Hiram in portage county,
and engaged to work for Father Johnson at ten dollars a month.
It was at this time that the Prophet was making his
home at Father Johnson's though on the arrival of young Lyman at Hiram
he was absent in Missouri. About the first of July, however, Joseph returned
from his western journey, and Amasa had the joy of meeting the Prophet
of the new dispensation. Of that meeting and the impressions it produced,
he said: "Of the impressions produced I will here say although there was
nothing strange or different from other men in his personal appearance,
yet when he grasped my hand in that cordial way (known to those who have
met him in the honest simplicity of truth), I felt as one of old in the
presence of the Lord; my strength stand on my feet; but in all this there
was no fear, but the serenity and peace of heaven pervaded my soul, and
the still small voice of the spirit whispered its living testimony in the
depths of my soul, where it has ever remained, that he was the man of God."
("Autobiographical Sketch of Amasa M. Lyman", Millennial Star, vol.
vii, p. 173.)
Amasa M. Lyman was ordained an Elder in August of
1832 under the hands of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
He was ordained a High Priest Dec. 11, 1833, by Lyman E. Johnson, assisted
by Orson Pratt. During a brief suspension of Elder Orson Pratt from the
quorum of the twelve, 1842, Elder Lyman was ordained an apostle by Brigham
Young assisted by Heber C. Kimball to take
Elder Pratt's place; this on 20th Aug. 1842; but Elder Pratt having made
satisfaction to President Smith was restored to fellowship in his quorum,
Jan. 1843; this let Elder Lyman out of the quorum of the twelve, still
an ordained Apostle. Elder Lyman was taken by President Smith into the
first presidency (History of the Church, Period I, vol. v, pp. 255-6);
but he was never formally presented to the people in that capacity. After
this appointment, however, Elder Lyman was always honored by the twelve
both before and after the demise of the Prophet, as one of the leaders
of the church; and some time later--Aug. 12, 1844--was received again into
the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
In 1860 President Brigham Young appointed three of
the twelve apostles, Elders Amasa M. Lyman, Charles
C. Rich, and George Q. Cannon to
be the presidency of the European Mission. Elders Lyman and Rich
departed at once for their field of labor, where they arrived on the 27th
of July, 1860, accompanied by eleven other elders from Utah.
While in Europe Elder Lyman developed some strange
ideas. He delivered a discourse in Dundee, Scotland, on the 16th of March,
1862, which virtually denied the necessity of, and the fact of, the "Atonement
of Jesus Christ." No satisfactory explanation appears why this matter was
allowed to pass apparently unnoticed until the 21st of January, 1867. But
it was not until then that Elder Lyman was brought before the Council of
the Twelve for his heresy.
"The Quorum of the Twelve" says the account of the
meeting, "were horrified at the idea that one of the Twelve Apostles should
teach such a doctrine." When interrogated upon the subject Elder Lyman
avowed that such had been his views--that is, that men were not saved through
any atonement made in the death of the Christ. Each of the quorum then
spoke against the views of Elder Lyman. Elder Woodruff said, "that he felt
shocked at the idea that one of the Twelve Apostles should get so far into
the dark as to deny the blood of Christ, and say that it was not necessary
for the salvation of man and teach this as a true doctrine, while it was
in opposition to all the doctrine taught by every prophet and apostle,
and saint from the days of Adam until today. The Bible, Book of Mormon
and Doctrine and Covenants teach, from beginning to end, that Christ shed
his blood for the salvation of man, and that there is no other name given
under heaven whereby man can be saved. And I can tell Brother Lyman that
his doctrine will send him to perdition if he continues in it, and so it
will any man; and furthermore, such a doctrine would send this church and
kingdom to pieces, like an earthquake. There never was and never will be,
a saint on the earth that believes in that doctrine, it is the worst heresy
man can preach.
After the Twelve were through speaking Elder Lyman
was very much humbled "and asked forgiveness." The council repaired
to President Young's office, where the matter was presented to him. The
president sustained the views of the Twelve and emphasized them, "and required
Brother Lyman to publish his confession and make it as public as he had
his false doctrine." To this he evidently consented for a most humble acknowledgment
of his error was published in the Deseret News!
Unhappily, however, Elder Lyman did not adhere to
his confession of error, but in a few months reaffirmed his conviction
of the accuracy of the principle of his Dundee discourse against the necessity
of, and the fact of, the atonement; and as a result of this course, after
an investigation by three of the apostles, Elder Lyman was removed from the Quorum of the Twelve and deprived of his Apostleship by action of the Twelve apostles in a council meeting at
St. George, May 6th, 1867; which action was ratified by the general conference
of the Church on the 8th of October following.
Apparently even this was not enough to cause him to repent, as he was excommunicated May 12 1870.
Amasa Mason Lyman died February 4, 1877 at Fillmore,
Millard County, Utah. His blessings were restored in 1909, many years after his death.