Here Are 10 Fascinating Historical Cases Where People Claimed to be the Messiah

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Arnold Potter (1804-1872)

Both Arnold Davies and Mother Ann Lee were said to be the messiah by others. Arnold Potter bestowed the title upon himself. He called himself “Potter Christ, Son of the living God,” and as the messiah wrote the book of rules to be used as the basis of decision on the day of the Final Judgment. The book, according to Potter, was dictated to him by Angels, why Angels would dictate to the Son of God was not explained. He then founded a religion which he called the Church of the Potter Christ.

Potter grew up in Herkimer, New York, born there in 1804. Married in 1823, he relocated with his family to Indiana. There he encountered Mormon missionaries who baptized him and his family into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. In the spring of 1840 Potter relocated again, to Nauvoo Illinois, where he was made an elder of the church by Joseph Smith. Potter moved yet again, to Sand Creek in Iowa, where he was the elder for the church there.

By 1856, he was in California, having spent several years in Iowa and later at Salt Lake. While in San Bernardino Potter was assigned to serve as a missionary in Australia by Brigham Young. While traveling to Australia, Potter experienced the revelations through which he determined himself to be the Christ. It was in Australia that he received the dictations from the angels which led to his book, entitled Revelations of Potter Christ, the Messenger of the New Covenant. Rather than serving as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints he began seeking followers of his own.

He also had his forehead tattooed with a message which read, “Potter Christ The Living God Morning Star” with a cross and a star as embellishment. Returning to California he found followers among the Mormons and other religious communities there and during a trek in 1861 to Iowa, eventually settling in the vicinity of Council Bluffs. Potter maintained a small community of followers there. He also spent days on the streets of Council Bluffs, usually dressed in a white robe, and preached his message to whomever would listen. The town authorities considered him a harmless crank.

Potter’s messages often included some new revelation from God, which was enthusiastically welcomed by his followers. In 1872 Potter informed his congregation that it had been revealed to him that it was time for him to ascend bodily into heaven. He and his followers accordingly ascended a cliff, with Potter riding on a donkey until they reached the edge of a bluff. After a brief sermon, in which he explained that he was now ascending into heaven but would return, Potter leaped from the edge, and gravity prevented his ascension.

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