The prophet Joseph Smith

Joseph Smith who is the founder of Mormonism was inspired to begin a new religion. After consulting God in prayer over the truthfulness of different denominational beliefs he claimed that God the Father and Jesus appeared to him and told him that all churches were wrong and not to join any of them.

Three years later an angel called Moroni appeared to him and indicated that he was chosen to translate the book of Mormon and like buried treasure he was directed by Moroni in locating these golden plates that were unearthed in a hill near his home. These golden plates were supposedly inscribed in reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics , which would require the use of specialized glasses or crystals to translate the text into English.

During this translation period supposedly John the Baptist appears to Smith telling him to preach the true gospel and restore the true church. Once the book of Mormon was completed Smith claimed it to be the most correct book on the face of the planet.

I am going to stop here with this brief introduction to Mormonism and from this point on we will look at the credibility of Joseph Smith as a person who was supposedly given the privilege as the repository of God’s revelation.

I believe to a degree that a person can be strongly influenced through the cultural experience of “Family” or “Community”. To give an example of this we can see by  studying various religious movements that they often have an association based on geographical location. For instance the likelihood of someone being a Muslim in Saudi Arabia would be quite high given the statistics that about 93% of the population supports this view. This belief system has influenced the Saudi’s entire worldview from the family all the way up to the governmental institutions.

Again I do not want to be overly dogmatic on this point but I would encourage you to be mindful of the dynamics of what may have developed from Smith’s childhood experiences.

Now to give you a little bit of family background his father Joseph Smith, Sr  had the reputation of being a money digger and was seeking the buried treasure of Captain Kidd and his mother Lucy was a highly superstitious woman. These characteristics seem to be played out in the imaginative and adventurous spirit of Joseph Smith, Jr whether through self deception or a deceiver par excellence.

If the credibility of the movement comes down to the origin of the book of Mormon then perhaps upon observation we might find it less than credible or believable.

This blog is not intended to discuss content at this point and this post only gives a brief overview concerning the starting point of revelation working towards its compilation and completion as well as a biographical sketch concerning Mr. Smith’s character.

So how did Joseph Smith, after miraculously finding these golden tablets, begin the arduous task of translation?

To begin with when Joseph Smith Jr. was in his early twenties he participated in the “craze of treasure hunting” for profit by utilizing seer stones in an attempt to locate lost items and buried treasure. Smith would put a stone in a white stovepipe hat and would then see the required information in reflections given off by the stone. This all took place before he had his heavenly visitation and then afterwards Mr. Smith employed these stones as a means of translation for the book of Mormon.

Other early Mormons also had seer stones such as Hiram Page, David and Jacob  Whitmer, as well as James Strang who claimed to be Joseph’s Smith designated successor.

Later after his movement was formed he received a revelation that there was much treasure in Salem, Massachusetts and by using the seer stone he left and returned empty handed.

Early nineteenth-century Americans used the seer stones to gain revelations from God and for treasure hunting. The likes of which Mr. Smith was employing. However, many of his treasure hunts were mostly unsuccessful but nevertheless he never denied their power to find treasure and this magical culture stayed with him until the end.

One other thing I might add is that Oliver Cowdery who helped with the dictation of the Book of Mormon also came from a similar upbringing in treasure seeking and other magical practices likewise.

I guess its nor hard to miss the overtones of his parental influence. When I first heard of this and began to research this concept of the seer stone I found information related to it by doing a google search and found an association with the seer stone and the art of witchcraft. So from this perspective it appears that Joseph Smith was incorporating occultish practices in establishing the alleged “Book of Mormon”

In Old Testament times the validity of the prophet was very simple. If what the prophet said came to pass then he was considered a true prophet.

If you look at many of the prophecies of Smith you will see that he is proved to be a false prophet based on this criteria.

One of his prophecies included an incident when Smith tried to organize a military response after his group had been persecuted and forced to move to another location. Its at this point that he had another revelation that “the redemption of Zion must needs come by power” but the trek of what came to be called Zion’s camp ended without anything being accomplished.

Also another one of his failed prophecies would come when he had a revelation to build a temple in Independence Missouri during his lifetime which until this day has never happened.

Yet another failed prophetic revelation occurred  when the federal government  pressured the movements position on polygamy which resulted in the Mormon president to revise this model of marriage for the world to come.

In addition to failed prophecies other things that may indicate his questionable character was the printing and circulation of notes referred to as wildcat banking which after a month had failed which resulted in a warrant being issued for Smith’s arrest because of bank fraud which led to him fleeing Ohio for Missouri.

Another incident was around 1840 when Smith published the “Book of Abraham” and his translation turned out to be an “Egyptian Book of the Dead” that he had purchased from a traveling exhibitor in 1835. From this book came the doctrines concerning the plurality of gods, pre-mortal existence, and the concept that the earth had been organized out of preexisting matter.

Another questionable activity was Smith’s involvement as a “Free Mason” which is a whole other subject in and of it self relating to cultish activities. Many of the temple rites resemble his masonic influence.

One of Smith’s most controversial actions was the undertaking of polygamy or plural marriages. In 1841 he secretly wed Louisa Beaman as a plural wife and during the next two and a half years he may have married around thirty additional women, ten of them already married to other men. About a third of his wives were teenagers including two fourteen year old girls.

Smith allegedly told one prospective wife that submitting to plural marriage would ensure her of eternal salvation and exaltation as well as her fathers household.

In conclusion this is just a brief description to the character and ministry of Joseph Smith. Much of this information was obtained through Wikipedia as well as referring to or consulting  other source documents. I tried to be as fair as I could in my presentation and as a  matter of fact I left out some things that seemed questionable or would need further proof or clarification before validating. Some of these quotes and information came from Richard Bushman who is active member in Mormonism and who was a graduate from Harvard and has outstanding credentials as a reference, that is if he was quoted properly.

Anyway this blog doesn’t show the favorable side to Mormonism. However, the movement does have a positive influence based on their emphasis in supporting family values as well as upholding a high standard of morals. I was first introduced to Mormonism as a young Christian living in Wyoming as there are many  Mormons living in this particular area of the country. At this time I also viewed the video called the “Godmakers” which is a must see and a eye opener whether you are a practicing Mormon or a seeker. This may help you to perceive the organization for what it really is by giving you a  behind the scenes look.

One other thing I appreciate about Mormon culture is their zeal in their missionary endeavors yet my challenge to them is what good is zeal if it is misdirected. You can be sincere and yet be sincerely wrong and that is why I have wrote this post in order to  challenge the truth claims behind Mormon belief. No to maliciously slander but to expose error.

Finally, in all fairness when considering the character of Joseph Smith I am not looking for infallibility in an individual the likes of which only God can obtain. We understand that men are merely human agents and therefore have shortcomings in which the bible fully supports this view as is indictated to us through the many scriptural examples that are contained therein. I am not writing this blog with the intention to defame Mr. Smith or his successors yet upon doing my research I find his person to be strongly questionable and fraudulent.

After all he appears to have a questionable history and background which should warn you to seek further counsel beyond the sanctuary and the court room of the LDS rulings.

We do this everyday in a civil court of law in determining whether a person is a credible witness. My conclusion is that the testimony is only as credible as the person who has conceptualized it. Through this examination I would ask you to further seek for evidence as related to this matter and then let it direct your path towards a verdict.

In closing do not seek as your primary source of confirmation the emotional experience  of having a burning in your bosom but rather seek for objective truth that can be obtained through research. Finally ask the “Father” who is the source of truth and revelation to give you guidance versus trusting in the fallibility of human agency or an organization. This is a pivotal point whereby your eternal destiny hangs on and it would behoove you not to haphazardly dismiss these charges by stating “I don’t believe that” or worse yet “I don’t care.” I encourage and implore you to do otherwise out of a critical sense of necessity.

To sum all of this up I leave you with a new testament quote taken from Galatians 1:6-9 which reads 6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!

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