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Defending the Faith: Joseph Smith was known as truthful

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  • JRJ Pocatello, ID
    Dec. 20, 2011 11:13 p.m.

    Joseph knew his name would be known for good and bad in the world. How does it feel, folks, to be fulfilling prophecy?

  • lifelongguy EAGLE MOUNTAIN, UT
    Dec. 20, 2011 4:32 p.m.

    I guess this has been already made obvious just what a logical fallacy this entire argument is. That I told the truth once or twice does not declare my complete honesty throughout my life. Silly argument. That I lied once does not declare me to never tell the truth.

    Reminds me a bit of the old story they use to tell in primary, but I rarely hear of anymore, about Joseph refusing alcohol to help deaden the pain before having leg surgery. Held up as a citation of his valiant refusal of strong drink, so observant of a word of wisdom that, at the time of the story, had not yet been revealed. Does this imply that he was entirely dry, abstaining from alcohol his entire life? I am sure that was the desired implication but we know that Joseph drank often and throughout his life - even cited by some as having had wine while in Carthage jail just prior to his death.

    DCP is reaching with this anecdotal story of truthfulness. And the shame is that for many this kind of logical fallacy only weakens the Joseph Smith narrative - sets unrealistic expectations for the man.

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    Dec. 19, 2011 1:59 p.m.

    Very little seems to have changed since Joseph's time. There is no evidence from this court proceding, or others frankly, that indicate that Joseph was dishonest. There is evidence that he was thought to be honest. Some posters--just like those in Joseph's day--will see evil in everything he ever said or did. Many speak darkly about secrets THEY know about Joseph that members of the Church don't know (even though they probably got the information from the Church itself), and they love to point out that Joseph does not fit their idea of what a prophet should be.

    Well, he fits my idea. I have heard nothing new about Joseph for years, and I have been plied with anti-Mormon messages since my earliest days.

    I fully accept Joseph Smith as a prophet. I know all the supposedly "dirty secrets" that it's possible to know about him (some I've heard many many many times), and I still accept him as a prophet. I think Daniel Petersen's article gives good insight into the public perception of Joseph as an early teen (and contradicts many anti-Mormons), but it doesn't prove or disprove his prophetic calling for me.

  • Sigfried Payson, UT
    Dec. 19, 2011 11:23 a.m.

    HA. I think it's hilarious that some people here are pretending that they were looking for some real news story and now they are all offended that this wasn't worth their time. Like they didn't read the title.
    And then they take the time to comment and complain about it.
    Relax. This was just a fun article with some insights into Josephs experiences before the vision. True belief about spiritual things comes from another source.

  • Dan Maloy Enid, OK
    Dec. 18, 2011 1:02 p.m.

    My favorite story about Joseph Smith's honesty is when, while his character was under attack in the days leading up to his martyrdom in Carthage, Illinois, Joseph sent a messenger to see Governor Ford (the Illinois governor) to help stem the rising persecution against Joseph and the LDS church. Joseph told the messenger to "tell the governor both the good and the bad that you know of me."

    Now THAT is honest!

    I yearn for the day to be reacquainted with "Brother Joseph"!

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Dec. 17, 2011 6:53 p.m.

    This is really really embarrasing that stuff like this gets printed, and that many follow along with this. As a member, it makes me ill when these kids of "historical proof" is taken to be actually important. The whole notion that because someone was deemed as being worthy of testifying, and that the side they were testifying for prevailed is some kind proof positive that the witness was honest and credible stretches the bounds of reason. There are many, perhaps even thousands of case history where even guilty people have prevailed off of witness testimony the ultimately was proven unreliable.

    Here in North Carolina dozens of cases are now under review because of so called "expert" witness testimony has been discredited. Michael Peterson, the author, has just been granted retrial in his wife;s murder.

    This kind of "proof" the author uses makes us all look very bad. This would not convince anyone. This does not help us look better - if anything, a little silly.

  • Freedom-In-Danger WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    Dec. 17, 2011 6:28 a.m.

    "I have no problem believing that many people have honestly concluded he was"

    I missed this point obviously.

    If someone argues "your wrong" I have a problem as that ultimately is hostile. Arguing "I have concluded he isn't" through reason I would probably argue is arbitrary still (maybe not provoking, but still unreasonable to objectively argue). But arguing that "I've prayed about it and concluded otherwise" is something I can respect entirely.

    My concern isn't with people who've prayed and come to their own conclusions. My concern is with people who flat-out claim 'you are wrong'. To me that is hostile. It's like saying "You didn't see God Joseph". I wonder how they can make such a claim. Did they see God? Did God tell them?

    The only honest way to get an answer is through your own experience. Someone on here argued that Mormons are refusing to be objective. This isn't true. Our entire belief relies on personal witness and revelation, agency, and ultimately subjective principles. So I respect your view now that I understand it more clearly. Promoting your own idea is one thing. Attacking another persons claim is where my concerns with peace are.

  • JKWilliams PAYSON, UT
    Dec. 16, 2011 10:54 p.m.

    Freedom-In-Danger: (Borrowing my brother's account) I am not arguing anything of the sort. I never said I hadn't received an answer to prayer. I said quite the opposite, that my belief is based on study and prayer. I also did not argue whether you had or hadn't received answers, nor have I disputed your testimony: I explicitly said I accept and respect the testimony of people who believe differently than I do.

    How expressing respect for your beliefs and testimony is in any way hostile or provoking is beyond me. Apparently, however, you cannot extend any respect for my beliefs and the answers to my prayers. Don't worry, though. I'm not offended, and I do not assume you are trying to provoke war.

  • Freedom-In-Danger WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    Dec. 16, 2011 10:03 p.m.

    Runtu64: "I don't understand why it's so difficult to believe that some people can honestly conclude, based on study and prayer, that Joseph Smith was not a prophet."

    You do realize your essentially arguing that "I have studied and prayed. I haven't received an answer to my prayer. Therefore, Joseph Smith was not a prophet."

    If I have to point out the problems with that argument, then maybe your difficulty in trying to understand the mentality of others isn't because of them, but your own conclusions. If you haven't received answers, so be it. I wouldn't say you aren't faithful enough. It may be a matter of patience, or timing, or anything. I don't know. But there is nothing provoking you in saying "answers are real and I have received".

    You can honestly say whether you've received but it's completely hostile and provoking to argue about whether we've received answers. Any statement that "Joseph Smith was not a prophet" makes the same provocation. So literally any comment denied for arguing "Smith was a false prophet" is already proven to be provoking. Provoking comments are not allowed.

    Disputing others subjective testimony inherently is provoking. It seeks only war, fighting peace.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Dec. 16, 2011 7:30 p.m.

    RE: Twin Lights, If the Lord were to only CHOOSE the perfect for his work, there would be no work done by mortals.
    True, You did not choose me, but I chose you(John 15:16)having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.(Eph 1:11).

    Re: VoR Read Hebrews 11:3 again. It refers to something real but unseen, not "Ex Nihlio".Wrong,
    Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that the universe(time G.165) was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. He created time therefore he existed before time, ("creation out of nothing"), contrasts creation out of some pre-existent, eternal matter.

    Re:Bill,This verse doesn't mean what you are trying to imply at all,wrong.
    Before me no god was formed,nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the LORD(YHWH),and apart from me there is no savior. (Is 43:10,11)
    the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, (Titus 2:13 NIV)

  • Vince here San Diego, CA
    Dec. 16, 2011 4:13 p.m.

    In the words of John Taylor, Joseph Smith was just simply awesome!

  • Runtu64 PROVO, UT
    Dec. 16, 2011 3:48 p.m.

    Voice of Reason: I don't understand why it's so difficult to believe that some people can honestly conclude, based on study and prayer, that Joseph Smith was not a prophet. I have no problem believing that many people have honestly concluded he was, but apparently you cannot extend the same courtesy. Insisting that those who disagree "see things as they want them to be" is indeed unfair. If I had seen only what I wanted to see, I would still believe Joseph Smith was called of God.

  • A voice of Reason Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 16, 2011 3:36 p.m.

    K.C. Mormon, well said!

    Most anti-LDS arguments include similar double-standards. Just as I've pointed out the fallacies in many of the anti-moderator comments.

    The one fallacy that all "anti's" can never live up to is the Straw-Man. At LEAST give us the credit we deserve.

    -------

    RanchHand,

    How can I trust your adherence to policy or credibility when you misrepresented Elder Packer?

    He didn't suggest ignorance, but usefulness / relevance. If Joseph Smith bit his fingernails, would that make him a true/false prophet? Packer even clarified this point by a similar analogy, thereby making criticisms contextually inappropriate.

    -------

    Sharrona,

    Read Hebrews 11:3 again. It refers to something real but unseen, not "Ex Nihlio".

    Either way, did you read the first lecture? I'm not contending with biblical doctrine.

    -------

    Runtu64,

    If you read the 1st lecture on faith (Joseph Smith), we see that it isn't an unfair claim - "faith, and faith only.. is the moving cause of all action."

    If actually desiring truth, God will in fact answer.

    "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." -James 1:5

  • Runtu64 PROVO, UT
    Dec. 16, 2011 2:11 p.m.

    Joseph's imperfections really don't have a lot to do with whether he was a prophet or not. Many people have no problem accepting a prophet who slept with women without his wife's knowledge or consent, and others do. I suppose it depends on how much perfection you expect. I don't expect much, but I do expect a prophet's claims to stand up to scrutiny. For me, that is the more important question about Joseph Smith.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Dec. 16, 2011 1:48 p.m.

    As a convert, it took me a good long while to become fully comfortable with Joseph as a prophet. I have read a lot and heard all of the arguments for and against.

    My conclusion? He was what he claimed. Flawed. Imperfect. Given to some amount of excess. A buoyant personality. Etc.

    Also, that that what he did experience the things he related. That he was chosen to do an important work in the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Peter was certainly imperfect. Paul too. Even John. Yet the Lord chose them and used them to advance his work.

    If the Lord were to only choose the perfect for his work, there would be no work done by mortals.

    Also, imperfect (which is part of the human condition) is not the same as fundamentally flawed. That is the leap some try to make with Joseph and it simply does not wash.

    I think that is Dr. Petersen's point here. Not that Joseph was perfect. Simply that he was not the lying charlatan some would make him out to be.

    I think the quote by William Smith is instructive.

  • Runtu64 PROVO, UT
    Dec. 16, 2011 1:13 p.m.

    Bill in Nebraska: Some of us desperately wanted Joseph Smith to be a true prophet. That was the position from which I started, and I lived 40 years convinced as you are that he was what he said: a prophet. That I have after years of consideration, study, and prayer determined that he was not does not mean I am "seeing the truth as I want to believe."

    It's unfair to tell people they don't believe because they don't want to believe, just as it would be unfair of me to say you believe only because you want to believe.

  • Runtu64 PROVO, UT
    Dec. 16, 2011 12:51 p.m.

    Suppose I was physically attacked by an angry mob of apologists. A bystander has witnessed the crime, so the police ask for his testimony. The man testifies in court to what he saw, his testimony is believed, and my attackers are convicted. Later, we find out that this man has cheated elderly widows out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    But, not to worry. The court has attested to his honesty by allowing him to testify at the trial. What's more, his brother says he is an honest man raised by honest parents. Therefore, no one can possibly question his honesty and integrity, so it's beyond reason to believe he cheated those lying old ladies.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Dec. 16, 2011 12:37 p.m.

    The problem Sharrona is that the verses you speak identify solely Jesus Christ and his mission. It doesn't state that there is ONLY one God. The verses means the following: "I even I am" means the God of the Old Testament - Jesus Christ; "The Lord", Jehovah from the Hebrew Yahweh; "apart from me there is no savior", meaning the one and only Messiah. This is a prophesy bearing that he would come in the flesh to the earth. Today we celebrate that birth through all of Christmas.

    This verse doesn't mean what you are trying to imply at all.

    The problem with many of the critics is that even if they are to see the truth as it is other than what they want to believe. Ranchand says he knows the truth about Joseph Smith. Well so does Voice of Reason, myself and many others know without any doubt whatsover that Joseph is exactly who he says he is, the man chosen to be the prophet of the Lord to usher in the Despensation of the Fullness of times. That he was chosen to restore the Lord's church to the earth. Nothing can or will change that mission.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Dec. 16, 2011 8:59 a.m.

    @VOR, I'd be interested to hear anyone's commentary on the first lecture.

    Or Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that the universe(time G.165) was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
    An explicit statement of creation Ex Nihlio. No exaltation!

    Faith is only as good as the object of faith. (Biblical Jesus) For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6).

    Yet, Mormonism teaches God is progressive, As man is, God once was; As God is, man may be.

    Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the LORD(YHWH), and apart from me there is no savior. (Is 43:10,11)

    Just about anybody can read the N.T. and make some sort of sense out of it, But the real theologian is someone who feels condemnation on account of sin and realizes the message of forgiveness. Martin Luther

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    Dec. 16, 2011 7:57 a.m.

    @VoR;

    All of my comments so far on this article have been censored. None have been vulgar and all have contained the truth about JS. Since it wasn't "faith promoting" however, the DN won't let them through. Boyd K. Packer is the one who said (in The Mormon Documentary), that the Truth isn't always useful.

    Oh well. I know the truth about JS as do many others. More and more LDS are learning the real truth as well - you can't hide the truth under a bushel from the light forever you know.

  • nick humphrey kent, WA
    Dec. 16, 2011 7:55 a.m.

    @Verdad "Joseph Smith was found guilty in the 1826 trial? Evidence, please!"

    google "Joseph Smith The Glass looker March 20, 1826 Misdemeanor To my fees in examination of the above cause 2.68"

    you'll find screenshots of the bills for the court case, showing joseph smith was charged of a misdemeanor.

  • nick humphrey kent, WA
    Dec. 16, 2011 7:49 a.m.

    @Red "faith is better than doubt."

    how so? examples please. how about a counter example: the 16 year old boy in oregon with a urinary tract infection who recently died because he had faith god would heal him if he prayed for help instead of accepting medical help.

  • nick humphrey kent, WA
    Dec. 16, 2011 7:39 a.m.

    @ADN "they are only helping fulfill the prophecy made by the angel Moroni to Joseph Smith when he told him that his name would be had for good and bad in all the world. Thank you for helping fulfill prophecy, and we miss you!"

    every person's name is usually "had for good and bad". how is this any kind of meaningful "prophecy"? it's like me prophesying that you will have both good days and bad days.

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    Dec. 16, 2011 6:11 a.m.

    It's interesting how much members don't know about the founder of their religion. Very interesting.

  • nick humphrey kent, WA
    Dec. 16, 2011 4:19 a.m.

    compare this:
    'Since he did, in fact, eventually testify, we can be sure that the court certified him to be, as the laws of the period stipulated, of "sound mind and memory," without "vicious intention," "maturity in crime" or "weak intellect."'

    with the description of joseph smith that has been taught for over a century:
    unlearned, can't even write a simple sentence, etc (note: as an adult, as "proof" that he "translated" the book of mormon by the "power of god")

  • Full-on double rainbow Bluffdale, UT
    Dec. 15, 2011 11:51 p.m.

    Censoring comments that state historical facts that are unflattering = correlation. Correlation is going to hurt you in the long run.

  • A voice of Reason Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 15, 2011 10:59 p.m.

    To all those who criticize the Deseret News moderating policy...

    I myself adhere to the same policy, do I not? I have a 200 word limit THE SAME as you all do, do I not? I cannot cuss, provoke, belittle, or any other cruel act on here all the same as you cannot.

    Upon examining the similarities between my abilities to post here and your own, such claims are mute, invalid, and ultimately without any merit whatsoever.

    -------

    Sharrona, I read that very same chapter in Isaiah today. Honestly I don't see any relevance to this.

    Also, the Wikipedia definition you quoted continues to state "or that reason and faith are hostile to each other".

    Real Faith isn't believing without seeing. Faith is evidences of things unseen, not imagined fiction. The Lectures on Faith perfectly address how faith is the most reasonable conclusion, even motivation, in our entire existence. Faith inherently IS reason. After reading the 1st lecture, any claim that faith contends with reason is completely exposed as a lie. The whole notion is nothing less than nonsense meant to confuse, in my opinion.

    I'd be interested to hear anyone's commentary on the first lecture (it's pretty short).

  • Blue Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 15, 2011 9:10 p.m.

    Sharrona: "Fideism is an epistemological theory which maintains that faith is independent of reason..."

    We'll if those are the rules, then why don't we discuss matters of faith that are of _real_ significance?

    Like, how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Dec. 15, 2011 8:52 p.m.

    VOR, but I've concluded nothing without asking first. Call it unreasonable, but I CAN rationally defend it and will!

    Fideism is an epistemological theory which maintains that faith is independent of reason, Mormonism.
    The Christian(testimony),awards the highest stage of revelation to the Son or Christ, who embodies holiness.
    The three qualities of the numinous: Experience, a. its absolute unapproachability, b. its power, c. its urgency or energy, a force which is most easily perceived in the "wrath of God."
    Wholly Other, i.e., is unlike anything that we have encountered or ever will encounter, it arouses in us a mental state of stupor, a "blank wonder, an astonishment that strikes us dumb, amazement absolute."
    The nothingness is not a sense of guilt for a transgression, but the sense of being profane(sinner), which is the opposite state to the holy or holiness, which is an absolute quality belonging just to God.

    Biblical Experience, Woe to me! I cried. I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD(YHWH) Almighty. ,(Is 6:5 NIV)

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    Dec. 15, 2011 8:32 p.m.

    @Verdad: When the title is so completely incorrect, why bother reading the article?
    @double rainbow: You are 100% correct. They can't accept objectivity.

  • Full-on double rainbow Bluffdale, UT
    Dec. 15, 2011 7:37 p.m.

    George Orwell would be proud of the DN censors

  • KC Mormon Edgerton, KS
    Dec. 15, 2011 6:51 p.m.

    I have always found it interesting that if you place the comments about Joseph AFTER 1820 in the form of a court hearing those who spoke ill of him end up contradicting themselves. On the one hand Joseph and the Smiths were lazy but then on the other hand They were up all hours of the night digging for gold. On the one hand they kept the treasure seeking secret but on the other they invited everyone to be part of it.
    To place the accounts in the format of a trial Joseph was the hardest working lazy person every and the most talkative secret keeper ever who could not even hold a secret as well as Washington DC.

  • Blue Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 15, 2011 6:05 p.m.

    The notion that the Deseret News would ever support an honest, uncensored, in-depth factual discussion of the life of Joseph Smith is, well, silly.

    200 words, limit of four comments...

    But I do admire the attempt.

  • Verdad Orem, UT
    Dec. 15, 2011 5:53 p.m.

    LOL. Refusing even to read an article is a rather unusual way of deciding that it's neither academic nor well thought out. Saves time, though.

  • Bak Irish OREM, UT
    Dec. 15, 2011 5:35 p.m.

    @Jeff Again, Peterson is making a huge leap to accuse them of speaking ill of the Smiths simply because of religious hatred. It is very possible, and probable, that people saw "untruths" in what Joseph was doing and tried to correct what they saw as "wrong."

    How do we know that the court requirement that Joseph be a "respectable" man was a large issue for those involved? Even today, human nature at such preceedings is to quickly pass over the red tape so that the meat of the matter can be discussed. The trial was probably a mole hill in these people's lives, but Joseph's subsequent claims, which these people knew to be false, were much more important to them.

    It is typical human nature to forget a mole hill when climbing a mountain. But, that in no way implies that someone is acting out of religious bigotry alone.

    The possibility that these people had valid claims cannot be dismissed.

    If you see a witness at a trial today, even though his peers, the layers and judges deem him an honest man, do you? I certainly don't.

  • A voice of Reason Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 15, 2011 4:43 p.m.

    UtahCentrist,

    I trust something more than flawed evidence and the flawed reasoning used to justify it.

    Faith isn't blind in believing that truth exists, being humble enough to accept it no matter what it is, and praying for an answer. When you do in fact gain your own personal experience that something is true, like a vision- then what force of human being, or community of so-called "rational-thinkers" can disprove such an experience? None. Personal experiences ARE evidence. So much as any other scientific observation. Being unobserved negates nothing. But the observations and flawed rationals of other human beings have NEVER disproved my own experiences and the logic I adhere to.

    We're an imperfect people doing a perfect work. Disputing our flaws does nothing to argue against the work. Anyone who'd deny even the possibility of the LDS Church being true isn't looking for truth anyway. They have their answer.

    But no one has any reasonable ability, authority or power to claim I don't in fact have my answers, and that they aren't valid. I have questioned things myself, but I've concluded nothing without asking first. Call it unreasonable, but I CAN rationally defend it and will!

  • A voice of Reason Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 15, 2011 4:20 p.m.

    Utter Nonsense,

    "well founded criticisms" mostly don't exist against Joseph Smith. The only real criticism of Joseph Smith I have ever found well-founded, noteworthy, and ultimately I agree with- is that Joseph Smith was an imperfect human being who learned. He truly was a rough stone rolling.

    "They won't post it because they know it makes them look silly". IS that meant to be facetious? I have had my disagreements with the D.N. moderators, I'm sure they'd be happy to confirm it themselves. However, their not posting your claim does not prove your claim true and it does not prove anything about their motives. If you accept that premise, then I can make any judgments about you I like... without actually knowing for certain what is going through your mind.

    Now I ask... someone willing to make such rationalizations, and who in doing so has used more than one logical fallacy in doing so... I ask, how do you expect me and others to believe your arguments are credible based on nothing more than the arbitrary whim that is inherent in saying "I have a good argument, but as it was denied, you should just trust me."?

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    Dec. 15, 2011 4:18 p.m.

    @ Bak Irish: The point is not that Joseph Smith was found truthful by a court of law, and is therefore truthful. The point is that people believed Joseph to be truthful before his claims that he had had a divine encounter; after his claims they asserted that he was "never truthful." In their later statements, they obviously contradict their earlier beliefs.

    One may infer from these court documents that the Smiths, though poor, were generally regarded as a good, respectable family, which means that all the later condemnation of them was not motivated by the truth, but by religious prejudice.

    By the way, I would never rank Oral Roberts and Billy Graham (especially the latter) with the list you make.

    @skeptic (I think): The First Vision, though important, is not regarded by Latter-day Saints to be the most important thing to ever happen in history. The coming of Jesus Christ, his atonement and resurrection are the greatest events in the universe, according to our theology. The First Vision ranks with other, previously recorded visions of God and the Savior, though it has unique and remarkable characteristics.

  • Bak Irish OREM, UT
    Dec. 15, 2011 3:40 p.m.

    So, let me see, if I were Hugh Nibley, I would look for patterns of behavior or previous examples that parallel this argument. Do you think I could find a group of five respectable people that would vouch for the objective "truthfulness" of... say David Koresh, Oral Roberts, Billy Graham, Warren Jeffs, or even James Warren Jones... at some point in their lives?

    I think the odds of success there are pretty high. If I can, does that imply that their life's works were based on "truth?"

    The leap from "once speaking truth" to assuming "truth" for the remainder of one's life is quite an intergalactic extrapolation.

  • Sasha Pachev Provo, UT
    Dec. 15, 2011 3:25 p.m.

    I first heard about Joseph Smith and his vision from an American student from Idaho in Moscow, Russia. The moment he told me I had a strong feeling Joseph Smith was telling the truth about what he saw, and it was more than just a fruit of his imagination, but he had talked with the actual Heavenly beings. I was raised as an atheist in the Soviet Union, but at that point I knew that God was real in a way that was different from but superior to the way I was used to knowing things. It is quite remarkable that at that point I had nothing more in my hands than what my friend had told me, but it was nevertheless enough. Now 20 years later I had studied quite a bit about Joseph Smith, and it helps me appreciate that initial witness of the Spirit. It is not about how much you study or know, it is all about how well you can hear the voice of the Lord.

  • ADN Weiser, ID
    Dec. 15, 2011 2:48 p.m.

    I love the nay sayers, first, because they are my brothers and sisters and children of Heavenly Father. Second, they are only helping fulfill the prophecy made by the angel Moroni to Joseph Smith when he told him that his name would be had for good and bad in all the world. Thank you for helping fulfill prophecy, and we miss you!

  • Matthew75 CULPEPER, VA
    Dec. 15, 2011 1:24 p.m.

    This is fine as far as it goes, which is that he was credible on this set of facts. Courts have two scoundrels before them all the time but one tells a story that makes sense and the other doesn't and one of them is found to be more credible than the other. That is no less likely to be what happened here than the sort of general good character Petersen is drawing. Of course, Petersen would like you to ignore the whole host of people who later came forward to talk about his bad reputation and character as being incredible.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Dec. 15, 2011 12:44 p.m.

    @Red and 1702,

    Sure it might make life esier to just accept happy thoughts as truths, but using that logic Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy would be part of man's faith and religion. Some how more must be expected of man, like searching for the truth and finding truth through science and fact and not just hear say or myth because it makes man feel good, secure and allays his fears of death. With today's advancing technology the Joseph Smith story will be validaded or voided with time. Of course, it would be wonderful if it were all true, but it seems doubtful.

  • garybeac Chapel Hill, NC
    Dec. 15, 2011 12:40 p.m.

    Joseph is a phenomenon. He is a modern-day prophet of the stature of Moses and John. Like all the great prophets, his life and death parallels the Savior's, especially recalling that he was urged to go to Carthage by his friends, in spite of his declaration to them of what awaited him there. The phenomenon is that he was just as prone to weakness and folly as any other man, a thing that people today can not so clearly see about the ancient prophets. There will certainly be shame for the person who rejects Joseph for his mortality. And there will be regret for the person who denies his mortality and, by over-zealousness, causes otherwise worthy people to reject Joseph's message as fanatical delusions. In our time, Latter-day Saints alone have the opportunity of a clear view of God's workings through men and women, and so, the potential of all men and women to aspire and strive to serve God in spite of their inevitable shortcomings.

  • UtahCentrist Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 15, 2011 12:33 p.m.

    Article by LDS-paid apologist in LDS-owned newspaper contradicting the large amounts of historical evidence testifying to Joseph Smith's dubious honesty?

    How can you not trust an article of such unassailable objectivity?

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Dec. 15, 2011 12:17 p.m.

    How is this mislead.

    First there were a total of seven witnesses with only five paramount to the discourses. No one was sworn in as Judge Neely from which the documents come from state, "in examination of above case".

    Second, it wasn't a trial but a pre-trial hearing.

    Third, no guilty verdict was ever reached because it was a hearing, not a trial.

    Fourth, no fine was levied at Joseph Smith. The bills were paid to the witnesses that testified. Documentation supports this status.

    Fifth, there is no court record. Only felony trials were recorded. This was a misdemeanor. No witness signatures as required by law at the time if a trial.

    All if this leads to the fact that the basis for the charges were religious in nature and against Joseph Smith as a prophet.

    Finally, "Understanding the context of th case removes any threat it may have posed to Joseph's prophetic integrity."

    Case closed.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Dec. 15, 2011 12:08 p.m.

    Weber does a misjustice to imply Joseph was found guilty of being a money digger. This is utterly false as stated by Verdad. In fact, the reason the trial was never approved of is because of the so called proof originally displayed.

    One thing to note is that the original book from which certain aspects of the trial are used has never been produced by anyone including the man who brought the whole thing to light. Secondly, it wasn't until 1971 that bills for charges pertaining to the so called trial were ever found.

    However, evidence leads that this was never a trial. It was an examination, a pretrial that never got any further. There were 7 known witnesses but more that were able to testify. There are 8 different accounts and none of which is the same, yet in two accounts they had the same documents to go by. In 1830 Joseph Smith was brought up on the same charges again and documents from the first were used. Since, no damning evidence came from 1826, he was acquitted in 1830 of all charges. So where does this put Weber at. As one who uses critics information to mislead.

  • t702 Las Vegas, NV
    Dec. 15, 2011 10:25 a.m.

    Great article. Red is exactly right either you accept brother Joseph or you don't. Those who chooses to focus in his imperfactions will never see the light in the gospel.

    In Jesus days lots of the so called "learned" did not accept Christ as the Lord and Savior just because he was a son of a carpenter and they rejected His message just because of that "imperfaction".

  • Verdad Orem, UT
    Dec. 15, 2011 10:02 a.m.

    Joseph Smith was found guilty in the 1826 trial?

    Evidence, please!

    (Hint: Gordon Madsen, another prominent lawyer and legal historian, has analyzed that case in detail and published his conclusions.)

  • Joan Watson TWIN FALLS, ID
    Dec. 15, 2011 9:46 a.m.

    Peterson is a first rate scholar as well as a defender of his church and its leaders. Regardless of what he writes concerning Joseph Smith there will always be skeptics and detractors. Hopefully reasonable minds will continue to gain insights and interest in Peterson's historical research.

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    Dec. 15, 2011 9:42 a.m.

    With all due respect, if Petersen is using one court case to establish that "Joseph Smith was known as truthful," then it's certainly fair to use another court case in context. The 1826 "money-digging" trial of Joseph Smith certainly brings into question the issue being truthful. In this case, Smith was arrested, tried and found guilty.

    What does this trial prove? Well, nothing really. But it sure excites the critics after church apologists went to great lengths to deny that such a trial ever took place, but have now admitted as such with the discovery of court records verifying that the trial indeed took place.

    What it does show is that in addition to the case Petersen cites, Joseph had been evaluated in another court case and found NOT to be truthful with respect to his "money-digging" activity.

    Of course, this is trivial to "defenders of the faith" and very disconcerting to church critics.

  • Pete in Texas Copperas Cove, TX
    Dec. 15, 2011 9:21 a.m.

    I read the comments made by some of the "nay-sayers" on here, and am amazed at the lack of humility portrayed by them. Everyone seems to be an "expert" on Joseph Smith Jr. because of this or that article they've read in their lives. If I googled his name, I'm sure I could read for days and days articles written in his behalf and some written that would condemn him. So is someone more enlightened believing the articles written in his behalf or those written that would condemn him? My feeling is that nay-sayers want to believe he couldn't be a prophet simply because it would incriminate them or their lifestyle. There is certainly enough "evidence" out there to support Joseph being a prophet and the Book of Mormon being what it says it is, another testament of Jesus Christ. Yet for many, it's more convenient for them to believe the stories and "evidences" that would deny that. Are those who deny him any more enlightened than those who believe him? Has any of us living now talked personally with Joseph Smith and can believe first hand knowledge? If not, your arguements are as convincing as mine.

  • SoCalChris Riverside, CA
    Dec. 15, 2011 9:01 a.m.

    Thank you for this piece. I learned something new. Certainly appropriate for the Faith section of the DN.

    If you think the article isn't newsworthy don't read it.

  • Red Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 15, 2011 8:50 a.m.

    The proof is in the pudding.

    You can either accept the fact that Joseph Smith was telling the truth and enjoy all of the benefits the Gospel offers, or you can continue to be critical and act like you are doing the world a favor trying to "expose" something that isn't perfect.

    Your choice.

    It's not too late to learn to that love is better than hate, and that faith is better than doubt.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Dec. 15, 2011 8:32 a.m.

    RE: Bill in Nebraska, all found him truthful and a good person. It is said that if he could sit down with his critics he could actually teach them a thing or two of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was confident as well,

    Joseph Smith said, Dont employ lawyers, or pay them money for their knowledge ,for I learned that they dont know anything. I know more than they all (DHC v. 5). And
    I have more to boast of than every 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. (DHC v. 6)

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Dec. 15, 2011 8:11 a.m.

    Mr Peterson presents the case that young Joseph Smith was honest and considered a competent witness by authorities of the the United States court juticial system. About a year later, a year older and still more mature and competent, Joseph Smith experiences the greatest single amazing event in all man's history: Joseph Smith sees and talks with God and the son Jesus Christ.
    However, Joseph Smith being and experienced witness does not document this wonderful encounter until twelve years later and then what he witnessed needed to be revised three times to its current presentation. There seems to be some what of a disconnect in this history of Joseph Smith. It would be appreciated if Mr. Peterson will explain why.

  • Red Headed Stranger Billy Bobs, TX
    Dec. 15, 2011 7:27 a.m.

    To Mr. "Utter Nonsense",

    This article is not drivel. It presents an interesting historical snapshot from an official, unbiased source about the Smith family prior to Joseph Smith first vision. The Smith family was considered by a jury of twelve peers to be telling the truth. In fact you had to be comparatively better off to sit on a jury. Like Dr. Peterson says, Joseph Smith Sr. wouldn't have qualified. So the Smiths were considered to be more truthful than a wealthier, established family just prior to the 1820 first vision experience. What does that prove? Well, that Joseph had been evaluated and was considered to be telling the truth. Dr. Peterson presented evidence and then a reasoned analysis of that evidence.

    What is drivel is making an off-handed unfounded criticism without any back up. Is there a problem with the court records? Did Dr. Peterson misrepresent the outcome of the case? Did Dr. Peterson make an egregious error in his analysis? Unless you have something to add to clarify the topic, then you just end up looking silly.

  • Carrick Layton, 84041
    Dec. 15, 2011 5:45 a.m.

    An excellent column demonstrating the integrity of not only Joseph Smith but his family. It was only when Joseph publically announced his visions and mission that neighbors began accusing the Smiths of lying, laziness and other negative attributes. In the New Testament is states that "A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country..."

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Dec. 14, 2011 9:14 p.m.

    To the critics: Joseph was a man who made errors but as for being honest many who knew him outside of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints all found him truthful and a good person. It is said that if he could sit down with his critics he could actually teach them a thing or two of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    As for not telling the truth about his marriages later, one needs to read very carefully Bushman's ROUGH STONE ROLLING to actually see that not only did Emma know more than she let on, but at times even agree with some of the marriages. She knew quite a bit, just that she refused to admit the truth on many occassions. In fact, Emma even invited one of the wives to live in the house for a time. So though I revere Emma, I know that she went through a lot and knew much more than what some want to have reported. The reason for this is so as to put doubt on the Presidency of Brigham Young.

    I also think the author of this piece proves why Joseph at 13 was competent to testify.

  • Stay the Course Salt Lake City, utah
    Dec. 14, 2011 8:57 p.m.

    some of the above comments are utter nonsense
    this is a great article thanks Dan

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Dec. 14, 2011 7:41 p.m.

    It is difficult to know where the truth begins and ends with Joseph Smith, if in his earlier years he was trust worthy, in his later years he was not truthful with his wife Emma. That presents a question of what is relevant and where is the beginning and where is the end. What is one to believe.

  • BYU Track Star Los Angeles, CA
    Dec. 14, 2011 5:29 p.m.

    This does not qualify as "News". What would qualify as "News" is Newt G. letting one of his Staffers in Iowa go after the Staffer made some unkind comment about Mitt's Religion in an Iowa Focus Group meeting. The L.A. Times just reported this

  • caleb in new york Glen Cove, NY
    Dec. 14, 2011 5:27 p.m.

    I'm interested in knowing what the support is for this statement in the article - "Even more important, this same jury, in conjunction with the local justice of the peace, found the young boy Joseph Smith Jr. to be both a credible and competent witness". I'm curious because the jury itself could have still decided in favor of Joseph Sr. and Alvin even if the jury had found Joseph Jr. to be completely uncredible. This could happen if the other witnesses for Joseph Sr. and Alvin gave especially believable testimony. I'm a believer in Joseph Smith as a prophet but I am interested in knowing what the basis is for the statement that I quoted from the article. I also wonder if it was the jury or the judge who tested witnesses before the witnesses were permitted to testify at the trial.

  • New Yorker Pleasant Grove, UT
    Dec. 14, 2011 5:21 p.m.

    Like!