Do Mormons Worship the Prophet Joseph Smith?

Last week I wrote an article that was viewed about 300,000 times within about 5 days. To date, there are 233 comments from people that took an interest in the topic. When I wrote the article, my goal was to simply analyze why people think the Mormon church is so crazy and to clear up some common misconceptions. I found a pattern that seemed to repeat itself over and over again in the comments that were made on the blog…

People are obsessed with destroying the character of the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith.

Many people actually think that Mormons worship Joseph Smith? So… do they? The quick answer is… heck no…and if you’re patient with me, I’ll explain who it is Mormons do worship and what Joseph Smith has to do with it.

I have been in the LDS church for a long time, and never in a million years have I been compelled to or even desired to worship Joseph Smith. Everything in this Church leads me to love, believe in, and worship Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is referred to or mentioned on average every 1.7 verses in the Book of Mormon. The subtitle to the Book is “Another Testament of Jesus Christ”. The official name of the “Mormon” Church is one of the few Christian denominations that actually bear’s the actual name of Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith was a man, subject to all of the other tendencies and temptations of other men. He admitted his own weaknesses over and over again publicly. He made many mistakes, even to the degree that he was rebuked by the Lord repeatedly in the Doctrine & Covenants. If Joseph Smith didn’t do what the Lord had commanded him, the Lord would have raised up another in Joseph’s stead.

It’s funny when you think about it. One guy… with such diametrically opposed opinions of him. A person will say he was lazy and indolent, and then others label him as one of the hardest workers they have ever seen. Some say he was a liar and a cheat…and yet others describe him as the most honest man they have met. Some say he was inspired by the devil to write one of the most influential Christian books in human history, and yet the Bible says that a house divided against itself will fall. The list goes on. 

joseph-smithI can’t sit here and act like I knew the man. I’ve read accounts from both sides. But this much I do know. I have never heard of a well liked prophet. Ever! Prophets have always created a stir. They’ve always made bold declarations and incurred the wrath of the mainstream. From Christ to Peter to Jeremiah and Ezekiel… list them all out and you’ll find that the masses always threw everything they had at them…and because I am unable to make a real time personal judgement, I can only take the advice of the Bible and “know them by their fruits”.

The Book of Mormon has changed my life. I’ve read it many times and am convinced that no man could have written it from scratch, especially an uneducated teenager. I have read and heard all of the theories about its inception, and have never heard the Book disproved. It exists and it must always be reckoned with as a fruit of Joseph Smith.

While on a mission, I encountered a few men whose livelihood it was to prove Joseph Smith was a fraud. I loved these guys and we had some great discussions. I asked them one day as we sat down to discuss some things…if we could just leave the character of Joseph Smith out of it. I said, “Let’s just focus on the doctrine and not bring up the character of Joseph Smith…just this once.”  For the next hour we discussed the various doctrines of the Mormon church and I learned something very important that day. The doctrine is irrefutable in the context of the Bible. We focused on the Book of Mormon and the evidences of apostasy, the need for a restoration, the nature of God and the important work of preparing for the second coming of Christ. We looked at the gospel being preached to those that had passed, and the need for temples. We left Joseph Smith alone for a few minutes and the result was amazing.

It is understandable that one might want to focus on Joseph Smith when disproving Mormonism. After all, he is the one that Mormons look to as the founding prophet of their church. You’d expect for him to have a perfect record and a sinless past. But why? None of the other prophets that were called were sinless. In fact, many of them were weak and simple and rebellious.

Is it logical to try and learn about Joseph Smith from the people that hate him the most? No way. Would you want people to shape their perceptions of you based on what your enemies have to say. It would be futile to ask the Pharisee’s about the character of Christ. You would get a wholly twisted idea of who He was and what he did. Christ has been painted as a lunatic by contemporary Jewish historians citing phycological issues and a troubled childhood…and yet we love Him and revere Him and worship Him for being the Savior of the world.

The point I’m trying to make is this; don’t make up your mind about someone based on biased opinions. Make sure you go to the source. If you can’t get to the source then get the truth from the people that were closest to the person in question. Don’t ask someone’s enemy what they think about a person. There is no way you’ll get an accurate depiction. Many people don’t like Joseph Smith because they’re inundated with false reports. And what a shame because his claim is incredible and worth investigation. That is why members of the Mormon church revere Joseph Smith. However, they don’t worship him. They look at him as one of the major prophets in human history and a servant of the Lord. Mormons worship the Lord Jesus Christ as found in the New Testament and that is the truth. They are grateful for the sacrifices that Joseph Smith made on the church’s behalf.

If you haven’t met the man, its hard to say he’s bad… especially with so many conflicting reports. Read the Book of Mormon and then decide if you think a bad man could have brought forth such a work.

 

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