Defending the Faith: Millions shall know Brother Joseph again


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  • Lbone Salt Lake City, UT
    June 30, 2013 11:01 p.m.

    Given that prophets are mere mortals, subject to the foibles and weaknesses of the flesh, I find great consolation in the fact that God speaks to mankind through prophets. (Amos 3:7).

    The coming forth of the masterpiece known as the Book of Mormon via JS is nothing short of miraculous. This book contains incredible soul-saving doctrines which can guide anyone who will read, pray, and ponder its passages. One verse is particularly helpful on this discussion: "Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, neither them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been." Mormon 9:31

    Less focus on human frailties and more promotion of faith-building activities is what is needed.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    June 30, 2013 8:20 a.m.

    @ JD. What I know about Joseph Smith is that some people that never met him, never interviewed a person who ever knew him wrote and said a lot of gossip at best and lots of false speculation about him at worst! In other words, in fulfillment of prophecy, his name will be (and is) had for both good and evil among all nations, kindred and people. I tend to believe what he produced, not what some people who never knew him say about him. Go figure!

  • DRay Roy, UT
    June 30, 2013 7:19 a.m.

    Comments here reflect that Joseph's name should be had for good and evil.. Certainly the fruits of his labor prove him Great, Jesus of course stands Supreme to all.

  • J.D. Aurora, CO
    June 29, 2013 9:50 p.m.

    @ Mountanman,
    Do you think they would forgive him if he had lied all the way to his grave, and made false claims in the name of God?

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    June 29, 2013 9:24 p.m.

    Peter denied Christ three times yet most people forgive him for being "human". But not Joseph, if Joseph Smith had denied Christ, would anyone ever forgive him?

  • J.D. Aurora, CO
    June 29, 2013 7:45 p.m.

    I have to really wonder what point Dan is trying to make when he says that Brigham thought Joseph to be a great man. David Miscaviage (president of Scientology) thinks L Ron Hubbard was the greatest man that ever lived. Many missled followers consider their founders/leaders to be great men. I'm afraid that Dan also seems to be a blind follower who would consider Joseph a great man regardless of ANY and all facts to the contrary (and there are many). Don't you think?

  • sharrona layton, UT
    June 29, 2013 7:41 p.m.

    RE: zoar63, The OT has accounts of a visible GOD but in the NT he is invisible.” No contradiction.

    And he said, You cannot see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.(Ex 33:20)Not in his fullness and (Shekinah)glory.

    Biblical hermeneutics, always use the N.T. to interpret the O.T.: Moses was with our ancestors, the assembly of God's people in the wilderness, when the angel spoke to him at Mount Sinai. And there Moses received life-giving words to pass on to us(Act 7:38 NLT).

    No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.(John 1:18 NIV)see (1Tim 1:17).

    Joseph Smith…for He(Moses) endured,as seeing him who is invisible(Heb 11:27 JST) …And no man hath seen God at anytime, except (JS)he hath borne record of the son…(John 1:19 JST)

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    June 29, 2013 9:23 a.m.

    I've never read a thing written by Joseph Smith that bothers me in the least but rather it edifies and enlightens me and creates enthusiasm for good in me. I don't see the need to "apologize" for him.

    So he sometimes "mixed with jovial company"? Sorry, that doesn't bother me at all but, being the man he was, it bothered HIM and that impresses me too.

  • zoar63 Mesa, AZ
    June 29, 2013 3:27 a.m.


    "Moses…kept his eyes on the one who is invisible."(Heb11:27)

    There is a problem

    And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock:
    And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by:
    And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.

    (Ex 33:21-23)

    Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel:
    And they saw the God of Israel: and [there was] under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in [his] clearness.
    And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink.
    (Ex 24:9-11)

    The OT has accounts of a visible GOD but in the NT he is invisible. Why the contradiction?

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    June 28, 2013 1:29 p.m.


    That statement didn't come from god. Joseph Smith wrote that. How are you attributing it to god? If I write a sentence down as if god is speaking to me are you going to believe it? Then why believe Joseph?

  • Verdad Orem, UT
    June 28, 2013 1:17 p.m.

    In all-too-typical critic fashion, Ishmael immediately jumps to lack of integrity as the explanation for his target's error or disagreement.

  • Ishmael Mansfield, TX
    June 28, 2013 12:57 p.m.

    In typical apologist fashion, DCP is not telling the whole story. He writes:

    But two following sentences are vitally relevant: "In making this confession, no one need suppose me guilty of any great or malignant sins. A disposition to commit such was never in my nature."

    Those two "vitally relevant" sentences were not written by Smith at all, but added by church scribes after his death. And the previous ones are heavily redacted. The original text reads:

    "...I was left to all kinds of temptations, and mingled with all kinds of society. I frequently fell into many foolish errors, and displayed the weakness of youth, and the corruption of human nature, which, I am sorry to say, led me into divers temptations, to the gratification of many appetites offensive in the sight of God. In consequence of these things I often felt condemned for my weakness and imperfections..."

    The hagiographic portrayal of Joseph Smith reaches back to the earliest written histories of the church, and is now canonized in the Pearl of Great Price. In this article DCP pretends he is looking past such depictions to get to the truth, while it does the opposite.

  • byufootballrocks Herndon, VA
    June 28, 2013 10:04 a.m.

    Joseph did not fall. He was just as great a prophet on the day he died as he was at 14 when he knelt in the sacred grove, or at 21 when the Angel Moroni delivered the plates to him.

    The Lord himself said so:

    "Joseph Smith, whom I did call upon by mine angels, my ministering servants, and by mine own voice out of the heavens, to bring forth my work;

    "Which foundation he id lay, and was faithful; and I took him to myself."

    Doctrine and Covenants 136: 37-38

    The God that presides over this universe so declared it, and what is needed is for us to get in tune with Him, and we can have the same answers about the Prophet Joseph's diving calling and faithfulness to the end as anyone else who has lived in this generation.

    If there is "reconciliation" that is needed, it is between us and God, not between the truth and the thoughts and ideas of mortal men.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    June 28, 2013 9:25 a.m.

    @Twin Lights, I can just imagine the comments against the prophets and other leaders in their time?
    God confirms them: Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith.(Heb 11:7)
    … Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God,(Heb 11: 9-10)
    …by faith that Joseph..(Heb 11:22) by faith that Moses…kept his eyes on the one who is invisible.(Heb11:27)
    ..the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets…. They shut the mouths of lions(Daniel),… Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half(Isaiah) and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats(Elijah).Hebrews

    That seer… his name shall be called Joseph[Smith], and it shall be after the name of his father. ( Genesis 50:33 JST)? JS Confirmation, NOT found in Greek LXX(Apostles Bible)

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    June 28, 2013 9:11 a.m.


    "....I personally think that at the core of Joseph's most vociferous critics is jealousy, their inability to be as charismatic as Joseph or inspire the kind of loyalty he inspired from so many good people...."

    Imaginative people who are born to lead and who display unconventional manners in making their mark often arouse gut level antipathy with the locals. Joseph may have erred on the side of the grandiose but he wasn’t afraid to make a big splash.

    Anyone can claim to be a prophet and many who have done so throughout history failed to convince all but a handful of people seeking something to believe in. They are regarded as mad or as eccentrics who crave attention. But Joseph totally immersed himself in the role of prophet. He lived that role, he became that role. It’s not hard to see why many found him so believable.

  • coltakashi Richland, WA
    June 27, 2013 8:51 p.m.

    The scripture produced by Joseph Smith is a monumental work that has inspired millions to look to Jesus Christ as their Savior and their God, Jehovah. The lives of the Latter-day Saints are full of unselfish service and moral living combined with outreach to the rest of mankind , inviting them to repent and be transformed and sanctified through the power.of Christ's atonement. Professor Truman Madsen saw Joseph Smith as a window through which we can better see the Savior.

    None of Joseph's critics have ever produced writings as profound or moving, or as vivid in their testimony of the Savior, as the Book of Mormon and the Book of Moses. I personally think that at the core of Joseph's most vociferous critics is jealousy, their inability to be as charismatic as Joseph or inspire the kind of loyalty he inspired from so many good people even 170 years after his martyrdom. As with his contemporary, Abraham Lincoln, who was also murdered by his critics,Joseph was hated precisely because he was so effective in his mission.

  • Moontan Roanoke, VA
    June 27, 2013 3:38 p.m.

    If those who dismiss the LDS Church because of questionable actions of the Prophet Joseph are consistent in their beliefs, they must also write off Judaism and non-LDS Christianity, as all the prophets from Moses on displayed questionable behavior at times. Indeed, did Joseph ever murder anyone? Those who embrace traditional Christian denominations, yet criticize Mormons and Joseph, are not being honest. The pot and black kettle thing. Therefore their opposition must be based on other factors.

    And what exactly can we conclude from reports of Joseph's practice of polygamy? In 2013 we disagree over actions and motivations which are RECORDED for all to watch repeatedly ... and we still argue over what was said and meant. Yet we are expected to decide with 100% assurance what occurred in the 19th century, based upon faded letters and moth-eaten books?

    I judge the BoM by its fruit. I see no bad fruit. I therefore take Joseph at his word as to its origin.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    June 27, 2013 3:37 p.m.

    Mighty Mouse is correct.

    I can just imagine the comments against the prophets and other leaders in their time:

    Adam is insufficiently concerned with what his sons are doing.

    Noah is just out there. All he ever talks about is a flood.

    Abraham did not care about Hagar and Ishmael.

    Jacob shows more affection for Rachael than his other wives.

    Joseph talks big, shows a lack of respect to his elders, and is not above nasty tricks.

    Moses is a murderer and is much too influenced by his Egyptian upbringing.

    Daniel is too good for the rest of us.

    Mordecai is not fully honest about his family lineage.

    Isaiah lets his education show too much. He could use simpler language if he wanted to.

    John the Baptist is just a showman with his camel hair clothing and eating locusts.

    Peter is way too impetuous to be a leader.

    James and John are social climbers. How can I follow them?

    Paul appears mad to some people. Isn't that bad for the spreading of the gospel?

    The list goes on and on . . .

  • Unwieldy Toaster Bluffdale, UT
    June 27, 2013 1:56 p.m.

    I would have liked to see mr Peterson address some of the polygamy issues where coercion and deceit were employed by Joseph. Or maybe even an honorable mention of treasure hunting.

  • WI_Member Appleton, WI
    June 27, 2013 1:49 p.m.

    Could Mr. Peterson please share his thoughts regarding Joseph's handling of the polygamy issue and his treatment of Emma?

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    June 27, 2013 12:12 p.m.

    “I was guilty of levity, and sometimes associated with jovial company, etc., not consistent with that character which ought to be maintained by one who was called of God as I had been.”

    Confessing to levity and associating with jovial company is not confessing to much. But it might have been centrally important to Joseph if he saw those traits as threatening and/or unbecoming to what he felt destined to be or believed himself called to be. I’ve sensed this in other places in the writings of Joseph Smith that suggest an ongoing inner conflict he often wrestled with.

    Daniel Peterson argues that Joseph was basically a good man. I too think there was much good in him. But even the best of men can have a dark side that they don’t recognize as such.

    Just a few random thoughts from a dime store psychologist.

  • Mighty Mouse Salt Lake City, Utah
    June 27, 2013 10:49 a.m.

    It was no easier for those who lived in the days of Moses or Isaiah or Jeremiah or Jesus himself to believe in prophets. It has always been a challenge for some to exercise the faith necessary to believe that God condescends to reveal His mind and will to chosen mortals. For some it is easier to believe in the dead prophets than to accept that God speaks to one of their chosen contemporaries. Jesus Christ noted this when he said, as recorded in Luke 11:47, "...ye build the sepulchers of the prophets, and your father's killed them." As a flawed, mere mortal myself, it gives me great hope to know that we are that important in God's plan that He entrusts chosen vessels among us to give us the guidance we need for our day. And, if you think we need it less than those in ancient times, just read this newspaper.

  • fkratz Portland, OR
    June 27, 2013 10:44 a.m.

    It is hard to imagine that any human,tasked with providing all of humanity with a restored scripture, as they were in actual contact with the creator of the universe, be so undisciplined as to succumb to the urges of greed, power, and lust. Wouldn't the burden of saving all of humanity have some effect on the psyche of Joseph Smith?

    There are and have been many, tasked with much, much less, who have lived exemplary lives. Some of them may be your neighbors, friends or family.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    June 27, 2013 10:01 a.m.

    Tyler D,

    "....That may be an age appropriate way to teach kids about church history, but as you yourself testify, it doesn’t leave you on very solid ground when you begin to learn the whole truth as an adult...."

    Boyd K. Packer once took intellectual Mormon authors to task arguing that written history of the Church should be faith-promoting. I think that's an appropriate standard for the Sunday School manual, the Priesthood manual, and all the general instructional material the Church publishes. But academic history must adhere to a higher standard. That's where I have a real problem with Mormon apologists who want their work accepted as scholarship.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    June 27, 2013 9:40 a.m.

    @Craig Clark

    Excellent comment!

    From what little I know it sounds like both Brodie and Bushman agree on the facts of Joseph’s life (Bushman apparently cites Brodie often in his biography); where they differ of course in on how to interpret those facts.

    And while Bushman’s book has been hailed by the church, and heavily promoted by Deseret Book Store, the facts he and Fawn Brodie uncover are often very different from the white washed versions kids learn in Sunday School (e.g., only one “1st vision” account, etc…).

    That may be an age appropriate way to teach kids about church history, but as you yourself testify, it doesn’t leave you on very solid ground when you begin to learn the whole truth as an adult.

    I wonder if the church is rethinking their approach now that we are chin deep in the information age.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    June 27, 2013 9:11 a.m.

    It is interesting how such selective arguments could make Satan out to be a saint.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    June 27, 2013 8:56 a.m.

    Are you sure Moroni visited Joseph? I thought it was Nephi...

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    June 27, 2013 8:50 a.m.

    Intense scrutiny comes with the turf of notoriety. We don’t deny that Washington and Jefferson were slave owners. We deal with it in a context of our choosing.

    Those who attack Joseph Smith with poisonous emotion weaken their assessment. So do apologists who gloss over blemishes of character and behavior to paint a rosy picture of the man millions see as a prophet of God. Questions about the credibility of his claims cannot and must not be danced around simply because he is a venerated figure for devout believers. Responsible biographers struggle to strike the right balance. Both Fawn Brodie and Richard Bushman know better than most that it’s not as easy as it sounds.

    My boyhood regard for Joseph Smith approached near idolatry and the surreal. The image of his first vision instilled in me in Primary and Sunday School was the spine-tingling event of the latter days. It was painful for me in later years to face realistic facts that I still struggle to come to terms with.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    June 27, 2013 8:40 a.m.

    RE: Twin Lights, “Joseph himself said so and there was only one faultless man to ever walk among us. And they crucified him.”

    Joseph,” 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”.(DHC v.6 p. 409.409).

    Jesus did not sin.” He is the kind of high priest(Melchizedek) we need because he is holy and blameless, Unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honor in heaven.(Heb 7:26 NLT).

    …the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about, His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through “the Holy Spirit”. (Mt 1:18 NIV,ASV,ESV). A Unique miracle Jesus was Born sinless.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    June 27, 2013 7:11 a.m.

    I agree both generally and specifically. We are too quick to want to destroy any hint of greatness by reveling in faults often no greater than our own. Further, we expect the great men and women of centuries or even millenia past to be modern in every way and do not comprehend how they could be both great and of their time.

    Reference Joseph, the revelation that he was flawed should surprise no one. As Dr. Peterson notes, Joseph himself said so and there was only one faultless man to ever walk among us. And they crucified him.

    One of the greatest lessons I ever learned was from Sister Marjorie Hinckley. When Pres. Hinckley was nearly 90 and had been prophet for a few years, a member of the first presidency for over a decade and an apostle for several decades - she noted how much he had changed in the past few years. I was stunned. Changed? He was already nearly perfect in my view. But this woman who had a front row seat to his life noted that with his new calling, he had grown. This gave me hope. If he could grow at nearly 90, so could I.