Skip to comments.Joseph Smith: Creator of the Fourth Abrahamic Faith; Mormonism
Posted on 11/14/2007 8:28:07 AM PST by fortcollins
Joseph Smith Jr. was born December 23, 1805 in Sharon, Vermont. It is interesting that Brigham Young and John Humphrey Noyes, founder of the Oneida Community in upstate New York, also were born in Vermont. Joseph Smith Sr. lost considerable money in speculative business ventures putting the family in near poverty and resulting in seven moves in the first fourteen years of Joseph Smiths life. Around the year 1815 his family settled in Palmyra New York, just north of the finger lakes, and not far from the Oneida Free Community. He was limited in education and training, had little interest in farming or other types of work, and his interests moved into the spiritual and mystical realms. He spent a fair amount of time searching for buried treasure claiming miraculous powers but not succeeding.
In his autobiography The Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith relates that he became disturbed by the religious squabbles among Methodists, Baptists and Presbyterians in the community and indeed in his own family. He elected to follow advice he had found in James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. In the spring of 1820 Smith went to the woods to pray and to seek God. In his words he was sized by a great power that left him speechless and in darkness. He called on God for deliverance and then saw a great light over his head and heard a voice saying This is my beloved son, hear him. His next visit occurred three years later on September 21, 1823 when he was visited by an Angel named Maroni who directed him to a nearby hill where he would find a hidden book written on gold plates along with information on how to translate the inscribed words. The translated book became the Book of Mormon.
In 1829 Smith and his friend baptized each other and were visited, in his account, by John the Baptist who conferred on them both the Priesthood of Aaron. Later that year, although the date is uncertain, they were visited by the Apostles Peter, James and John who conferred on them both the both the Priesthood of Melchizedek, the King of Salem (Jerusalem) who lived during the time of the patriarch Abraham. As described in the Doctrines and Covenants of the Mormon Church Smith continued to receive revelations from God until his death.
In 1830 Joseph Smith established his Church in upstate New York and called it initially the Church of Christ. Later he moved his Church to Kirtland, Ohio, then Caldwell County, Missouri and in 1839 to Nauvoo Illinois. As a result of events that happened in Nauvoo, to be discussed below, he was arrested, moved to a jail in the county seat, Carthage where he and his brother Hyrum were assassinated by an angry mob.
Book of Mormon
In 1830 Smith was directed by an encounter with the angel Moroni to a location near Palimyra, New York on a hill subsequently named Cumorah where he found golden plates These plates were miraculously translated by Smith which revealed that it was the Book of Mormon that had been inscribed on these plates. Only a small handful of Smiths followers were allowed to see the plates. Smith published his translation in 1830 and the angel Moroni subsequently took the plates back.
The Book of Mormon describes the migration by boat of several Jewish tribes from what we now call Israel to what we now call the New World of North and South America 600 years before Christ. Two of these tribes were named the Nephites and the Lamanites. The Lamanites are described as marked by God with a darker skin color to identify their state of wickedness. After Christs resurrection he visited the New World and the Nephites and the Lamanites subsequently had several centuries of peaceful co-existence and cooperation. This ended with a massive battle on the hill Cumorah in which the Nephites were destroyed by the Lamanites. Mormons believe that American Indians are descendants of the Lamanites. In the Book of Ether, one of the books in the Book of Mormon, a people described as the Jaredites are described. Thes people were present at the Tower of Babel when human language was confounded but they fortunately escaped such confounding of their language. Approximately 2500 years before Christ the Jaredites by barge migrated to the New World. They grew to a civilization of two million people before they destroyed themselves by their own behavior just prior to the arrival of the Nephites and Lamanites.
This all is, of course, a fabulous fable for which there is not even minimally convincing archeological, anthropological or historical evidence. However to say it is a creative fable written by an individual with an exceptionally imaginative mind would be an understatement. History of Mormonism
The organizational meeting of the Church of Christ, the forerunner of what became the Mormon Church was held April 6, 1830. Smith and Cowdery met with a small number of their followers. A lay ministry was ordained with a priesthood and offices of deacon, teacher, and elder. Smith and Cowdery were ordained as Apostles of Jesus Christ and as first and second elders respectively. In 1831 the Church moved to Kirtland. Ohio and its name was changed to the Church of Latter Day Saints. Sidney Rigdon, a prominent restorationist minister and follower of Alexander Campbell converted to Mormonism, joined Smiths nascent Church and brought a large number of Cambellites along with him. The Church of Latter Day Saints doubled in size. A Mormon temple was built in Kirtland. At that time a second Mormon gathering place was established in Independence, Jackson County, Missouri. Smith declared that the City of Zion would be built at that site. Construction was started but the temple was never built.
By 1837 the Church in Kirtland was unraveling with apostasy among the leadership and members and major financial irregularities in a bank Smith established. Smith, Rigdon and some of their followers fled from Kirtland to Missouri in the middle of the night. Dissenters in Kirtland reestablished the original Church of Christ and took possession of the temple. In 1836 the Mormon legislature had established the town of Far West, in Caldwell County as a place for Mormons to settle and so they did immediately. In 1838 Smith and Rigdon moved to Far West and had to struggle for Church leadership with Mormons already there and in Independence. Church leaders Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and William Wines Phelps were excommunicated by Smith and eventually fled Far West under threats for their lives. Cowdery and Whitmer were two of the three who claimed they had seen the golden plates. The Mormon Church now again under the leadership of Joseph Smith was reestablished and renamed the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, its present name.
In Far West Smith organized a paramilitary organization called the Danites, named in honor of the Jewish tribe of Dan of which Sampson was a member. Its role was to enforce religious conformity and protect the Mormons against the non Mormons. Secret instruction given the Captains of the Danites are described by Smith as follows:
Know ye not, brethren, that it will soon be your privilege to take !your respective companies and go out on a scout on the borders of the settlements, and take to yourselves spoils of the goods of the ungodly Gentiles? for it is written, the riches of the Gentiles shall be 'consecrated to my people, the house of Israel; and thus you will waste away the Gentiles by robbing and plundering them of their property; and in this way we will build up the kingdom of God, and roll forth the little stone that Daniel saw cut out of the mountain without hands, and roll forth until it filled the whole earth. For this is the very way that God destines to build up His kingdom in the last days. If any of us should be recognized, who can harm us? for we will stand by each other and defend one another in all things. . . . I would swear a lie to clear any of you; and if this would not do, I would put them or him under the sand as Moses did the Egyptian; and in this way we will consecrate much unto the Lord. This militancy, combined with claims of almost universal authority by Smith and Rigdon and the behavior of the Mormon settlers in Missouri led to much resentment on the part of the non-Mormons, now called Gentiles. In fact the Church militancy led Thomas B. Marsh, President of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles to break with Smith and to establish his own Church the Church of Jesus Christ, the Lambs Wife. President Governor Boggs of Missouri issued an order that the Mormons should be exterminated and driven from Missouri. Among other things this led to a brutal and bloody attack by 200 Missouri militiamen on a Mormon settlement at Hauns Hill. Many Mormons were killed. The fighting in Caldwell county became so intense that it is referred to as the Mormon Wars. It took 2500 Missouri militiamen to put down the rebellion. Governor Boggs ordered that Smith should be executed for treason. This outrageous order fortunately was never obeyed but the charge of treason remained. Smith and other Church leaders were arrested and imprisoned in a jail in Liberty, Missouri. They were allowed to escape and moved to an area in Illinois on the Mississippi river across from Iowa. Smith named his new town Nauvoo.
The Mormons regrouped in 1840 and by 1844 Nauvoo was the second most populous city in the State of Illinois. Joseph Smiths vision of a Kingdom of God under his leadership came to full flowering in Nauvoo. Nauvoo had received a charter from the State Legislature allowing them to raise a well organized militia. Joseph became the Mayor, Chief Justice of the Nauvoo Municipal court and Lieutenant General and Commander of the Nauvoo militia. This militia contained close to 3000 troops compared with 8500 troops in the United States Army at that time.
In 1842 Smith established a new Anointed Council for the Church, a select group of individuals who received their endowments directly from Smith. In 1844, three months before his death Smith established the ultra-secret Council of Fifty which promptly named him King, Priest and ruler over Israel on earth. Smith had now been practicing plural marriage, i.e. polygamy, for some time but he now authorized plural marriage for all Mormons. This is remarkable because plural marriage is explicitly condemned and declared to be an abomination in the Book of Mormon (Book of Jacob 2: 24, 27). He also instituted baptism for the dead.
Smith declared in a public sermon on May 12, 1844 I calculate to be one of the instruments of setting up the Kingdom of Daniel by the word of the Lord, and I intend to lay a foundation to revolutionize the world. These events and others led to the development of a strong dissenting movement led by William Law, one of the previous strongest supporters of Smith. On Sunday May 26, 1844 Smith gave a public response to the dissenters:
God is in the still small voice. In all these affidavits, indictments, it is all of the devilall corruption. Come on! ye prosecutors! ye false swearers! All hell, boil over! Ye burning mountains, roll down your lava! for I will come out on the top at last. I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole Church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet. You know my daily walk and conversation. I am in the bosom of a virtuous and good people. How I do love to hear the wolves howl! In this statement he also denied plural marriages when the fact is he had anywhere from 30 -50 wives at that time.
The dissenters established an opposition newspaper the Nauvoo Expositor. The paper criticized the developing theocracy and autocracy in Nauvoo, and also criticized the newly established doctrine of plural marriage to which they took great exception. Smith ordered the Expositors printing presses destroyed and for this he was arrested by order of Governor Ford of Illinois. Smith was subsequently imprisoned in the jail at Carthage, the county seat. Unfortunately but not by design Joseph Smith was not provided with adequate protection by the governors forces and on June 27, 1844 he was murdered in his cell along with his brother Hyrum.
After the death of Smith, on April 5, 1845 Brigham Young became President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. On April 6, 1844 under Youngs leadership the Twelve Apostles issued the following declaration. For its audacity and scope it should be read in full: PROCLAMATION
OF THE TWELVE APOSTLES OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST, OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS. To all the King's of the World; To the President of the United States of America; To the Governors of the several States; And to the Rulers and People of all Nations: GREETING: KNOW YE: THAT the kingdom of God has come: as has been predicted by ancient prophets, and prayed for in all ages; even that kingdom which shall fill the whole earth, and shall stand for ever. The great Eloheem Jehovah has been pleased once more to speak from the heavens: and also to commune with man upon the earth, by means of open visions, and by the ministration of HOLY MESSENGERS. By this means the great and eternal High Priesthood, after the Order of his Son, even the Apostleship, has been restored; or, returned to the earth. This High Priesthood, or Apostleship, holds the keys of the kingdom of God, and power to bind on earth that which shall be bound in heaven; and to loose on earth that which shall be loosed in heaven. And, in fine, to do, and to administer in all things pertaining to the ordinances, organization, government and direction of the kingdom of God.
The proclamation continues for a dozen pages of unbelievable claims and assertions.
What is discussed here briefly is the theology of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints with its headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Church teaches that after the death of Jesus there was a Great Apostasy. In its own words: Following the death of Jesus Christ, wicked people persecuted and killed many Church members, and other Church members drifted from the principles taught by Jesus Christ and His Apostles. The Apostles were killed and the priesthood authority including the keys to direct and receive revelation for the Church was taken from the earth Because the Church was no longer led by priesthood authority and revelation, error crept into Church teachings. Good people and much truth remained, but the gospel as established by Jesus Christ was lost. This necessitated a Restoration of the Church which took place starting in 1820 with the first vision of Joseph Smith Jr, followed by Smiths discovery of the golden plates and the inscribed Book of Mormon, and many subsequent revelations claimed by Joseph Smith. The Priesthood authority (first Aaronic then Melchisedek) was conferred on Joseph Smith by Christs Apostles Peter James and John. As a result Smith now claimed to possess the Fullness of the Gospel. Joseph Smith clearly was a Bible scholar, otherwise he would never have known about Melchizedek, a rather obscure figure in the Bible. The Priesthood of Mechizedek is mentioned only in three books of the Bible; Genesis, Psalms and Hebrews. In Genesis 14 Abram, after rescuing Lot in battle, is blessed by Melchizedek, king of Salem ( Jerusalem), who is described as a "priest of God Most High." In return Abram gives King Melchizedek a tenth of his spoils of battle. In Psalm 110 the psalmist states that his personal lord has been made by the Lord on High a "priest forever in the order of Melchizedek." The unknown author of Hebrews in chapters 6-7 identifies Jesus as a "priest forever in the order of Melchizedek." Further this author claims that the Melchizedek Priesthood is superior to the Aaronic or Levitical Priesthood by virtue of Abram giving Melchizedek a tenth of his spoils of battle, thus implying the superiority of Christianity over Judaism. Obviously Hebrews makes quite different theological points than does Joseph Smith.
On April 6, 1844 in the King Follett Discourse Joseph Smith described his view of the nature of God (Journal of Discourses vol 6):
God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted Man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens. That is the great secret. If the vail was rent to-day, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by his power, was to make himself visible,-I say, if you were to see him to-day, you would see him like a man in form-like yourselves, in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image, and likeness of God, and received instruction from, and walked, talked, and conversed with him, as one man talks and communes with another. In order to understand the subject of the dead, for the consolation of those who mourn for the loss of their friends, it is necessary that we should understand the character and being of God, and how he came to be so; for I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity, I will refute that idea, and will take away and do away the vail, so that you may see. These are incomprehensible ideas to some; but they are simple. It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the character of God and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth the same as Jesus Christ himself did; and I will show it from the Bible. I wish I was in a suitable place to tell it, and that I had the trump of an archangel, so that I could tell the story in such a manner that persecution would cease for ever. What did Jesus say? (Mark it, Elder Rigdon.) The Scriptures inform us that Jesus said, "As the Father hath power in himself, even so hath the Son power"-to do what? Why, what the Father did. The answer is obvious-in a manner, to lay down his body and take up again. Jesus, what are you going to do? To lay down my life, as my Father did, and take it up again. Do you believe it? If you do not believe it, you do not believe the Bible. The Scriptures say it, and I defy all the learning and wisdom and all the combined powers of earth and hell together to refute it.
Here, then, is eternal life-to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you,-namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one,-from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power. And I want you to know that God, in the last days, while certain individuals are proclaiming his name, is not trifling with you or me. In 1857, at the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City Brigham Young said this: I want to tell you, each and every one of you, that you are well acquainted with God our heavenly Father, or the great Eloheim. You are all well acquainted with Him, for there is not a soul of you but what has lived in His house and dwelt with Him year after year; and yet you are seeking to become acquainted with Him, when the fact is, you have merely forgotten what you did know. I told you a little last Sabbath about forgetting things. There is not a person here to-day but what is a son or a daughter of that Being. In the spirit world their spirits were first begotten and brought forth, and they lived there with their parents for ages before they came here. This, perhaps, is hard for many to believe, but it is the greatest nonsense in the world not to believe it. If you do not believe it, cease to call Him Father; and when you pray, pray to some other character. Young also said this: Now to the facts in the case; all the difference between Jesus Christ and any other man that ever lived on the earth, from the days of Adam until now, is simply this, the Father, after He had once been in the flesh, and lived as we live, obtained His exaltation, attained to thrones, gained the ascendancy over principalities and powers, and had the knowledge and power to create-to bring forth and organize the elements upon natural principles. This He did after His ascension, or His glory, or His eternity, and was actually classed with the Gods, with the beings who create, with those who have kept the celestial law while in the flesh, and again obtained their bodies. Then He was prepared to commence the work of creation, as the Scriptures teach. It is all here in the Bible; I am not telling you a word but what is contained in that book. Things were first created spiritually; the Father actually begat the spirits, and they were brought forth and lived with Him. Then He commenced the work of creating earthly tabernacles, precisely as He had been created in this flesh himself, by partaking of the course material that was organized and composed this earth, until His system was charged with it, consequently the tabernacles of His children were organized from the coarse materials of this earth. This is the origin of the Mormon concept of great numbers of spirit babies, sired by God, that oblige Mormon women to provide earthly bodies for.
In Mormon theology God the Father and God the Son, i.e. Jesus Christ, are two distinct persons each with glorified perfect bodies of flesh and blood. The body of God looks human in appearance but is perfect beyond description. Christ is the Jehovah of the Old Testament and created the world. God is the father of Jesus spirit body but also is the literal father of Jesus physical body. Mormons believe in the physical resurrection of Christ and that after his resurrection his spirit and physical bodies reunited and he is the living head of the Church. Mormons believe that in the Great Apostasy the Priesthood of Christ was lost. In fact, at the time of Christs resurrection there was no Priesthood connected to or associated with Christ or any of his Apostles or followers.
Although Mormon theology contains some elements of Christianity it is not Christian theology nor does it reflect Christian understandings of the nature of God and Christ. In addition nor does it reflect Christian history. Indeed it is diametrically opposed to what is known historically about Christianity. Joseph Smith said to his followers Ye are the children of Israel and of the seed of Abraham. Mormonism can best be understood as a fourth Abrahamic faith.
Joseph Smith and Muhammed
Joseph Smith and Muhammed each claimed to be the last, not merely the latest, but the last Prophet of God. Each created a Holy Book to support his claim and a new religion to implement his claim in the world. In creating the Koran Muhammed plagiarized extensively from the Old Testament of the Bible. In fact of the twenty five Prophets of Islam twenty two are in the Bible including Adam, Abraham, Noah, Moses, Joseph, Isaac, Jacob and Jesus. In creating the Book of Mormon Joseph Smith also borrowed extensively from the Bible. But in addition he wrote an incredible fable of the migration of Jewish tribes to the New World 600 years before Christ. Muhammed and Joseph Smith each believed that his religion would one day control the entire world. from them every fingertip.
In the words of David Bigler, author of the book The Forgotten Kingdom; The Mormon Theocracy in the American West 1847-1896 (Utah State University Press, 1998) the grandiose goals of the Mormons were as follows: "Accepting any suffering or hardship, its people set out to accomplish an incredibly ambitious and confrontational purpose. This was to sweep away all other nations of the world and make ready for the coming of the Lord, and to do this within their own lifetimes. For the destiny of the Mormon kingdom was to roll forth to world dominion, to prevail over the kingdoms of the earth, as a condition of Christs return to inaugurate his millennial reign. "
Both Muhammed and Joseph Smith claimed to have been visited by Angels. In the case of Muhammed it was the Angel Gabriel who, not coincidentally was the Angel in the Gospel of Luke who told Mary of the coming birth of Jesus. In the case of Smith it was the Angel Moroni who in the Book of Mormon had been a member of one of the Jewish tribes that had come to the New World so many years before Christ.
Islam and Mormonism both experienced succession crises on the death of the founder. In Islam the succession went to Abu Bakr a close follower of Muhammed and not to a family member Ali, husband of Fatima Muhammeds daughter. This led to the split in Islam to the Sunni and Shia traditions. In the case of Joseph Smith the succession went to a close follower of Smith, Brigham Young, and not to Smiths son Joseph Smith III. The Church split into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The latter movement in 2001 became the Community of Christ a Christian denomination.
Joseph Smith was well aware of the life of Muhammed and the Sword of Islam. In a sworn affidavit a close follower of Smith,Thomas B. Marsh, made the following comments:
The Prophet inculcates the notion, and it is believed by every true Mormon, that Smith's prophecies are superior to the laws of the land. I have heard the Prophet say that he would yet tread down his enemies, and walk over their dead bodies; and if he was not let alone, he would be a second Mohammed to this generation, and that he would make it one gore of blood from the Rocky mountains to the Atlantic ocean; that like Mohammed, whose motto in treating for peace was, 'the Alcoran or the Sword.' So should it be eventually with us, 'Joseph Smith or the Sword.'
In 1847 Brigham Young moved with his followers to what is now known as Utah, then part of Mexico, established his Kingdom of God on earth and named it Deseret. He claimed land from the Rocky Mountains in present day Colorado to the Sierra Nevada in California. The violence associated with the Mormon Church disappeared after this fifty year theocracy in Utah, from 1847 -1896. The better part of this period was characterized by violence and rebellion against federal officials and indeed against the authority of the United States government. In 1857 President Buchanan sent federal troops to Utah to put done the rebellion against the United States government. In May,1862 the War Department of the United States government ordered a regiment of troops from California under the command or Colonel Connor to Utah territory to protect the overland mail route. General Halleck, commanding officer of the U.S. army in Washington D.C issued the following order to Connor: "all arms and military munitions intended for use against the authority of the United States are liable for seizure." Coming just three years after the remnants of the 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre had been viewed by U.S. troops, it is clear that this order was directed at the Mormon rebellion and not protecting the overland mail route. Colonel Connor, soon to become General Connor, established his camp on the heights above Salt Lake City with his guns trained on the city below. Brigham Young ordered his Navoo Legion to bring canon in to protect the city and his house. Fortunately Connor's guns and Young's cannon trained on each other were never fired. In 1896 the Mormon Church gave up polygamy and made other concessions in its political and theological structures in order to became a State in the United States of America.
How do the different sects (denominations?) of Christians recognize other Christians?
The Nicene Creed is an very good start.
Comments from the GRPL swarm?
oops .....”a” very good start....
When was that "creed" developed. What were Christians before the Nicene Creed?
Ishmael was not born of Abraham, but born of Abram and a slave girl.
Mormonism started off by saying that they were not in any way connected with the standard Christian denominations......
... that sounds like a prudent policy....
I believe that Abram and Abraham are the same person
I was first. Woot!
I’ll have to get back to you later on this....... best wishes to you and the rest of the participants on this thread for a while until I can return.....
Not if you are familiar with the Holy Word of G-d.
Someone correct me if I'm wrong but I'm pretty sure I've read that he never showed anyone the golden plates. He kept giving some story about why he cant show them and then the final story was that he buried them somewhere.
By the belief in the one true God, who has been forever, and his son Jesus who died for our sins and the Bible is the infallible Word of God. No wiggle room.
Mormons believe that God was once a man like them and ascended to “godship” just as some Mormons will do. They also place the Book of Mormon above the Bible as pathway to salvation. To Christians God has always been and will always be.
Mormons will talk with you and use many terms Christian use but they do not mean the same. Like the pathway to salvation to them means a totally different thing than what it means to Christians.
There are plenty more differences.
except for the fact that they use standard editions of the Bible .... often the KJ version as Holy scripture and authoritative reference
What does the bible say about false prophets?
I try to be gentle.
His supposed Egyptian scrolls that he found in Pennsylvania that he interpreted to say a tribe of Israelis came to America in 600 BC then later when scholars decoded them said nothing like he ( Smith ) said. The Mormon answer is the original scrolls have been misplaced or stolen.
Mormonism is based on the ramblings of one man, just like Islam, they are just more peaceful aside from the few massacres they have had.
The author states several similarities between Islam and Joe Smith but does not state this one...polygamy.
Personally, I think both false religions were started because their founders wanted to rebel against the christian tradition of monogamy.
In other words...they were sexual addicts.
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