"It seems obvious to me that, when evaluating Joseph Smith, the judgments of
contemporaries who knew him best ought to be given special emphasis."If Peterson is going to travel down this road, perhaps the judgments of
contemporaries who knew James Strang "ought to be given special
emphasis" regarding Strang's claim as the sole legitimate leader of the
Church after the death of Joseph Smith.Followers of Strang make a
similar argument that Peterson makes about Smith. Strang was allegedly
"supported by all of the family of Joseph Smith. He was joined by the
mother, wife, and three sisters of Joseph Smith. He was sustained by the only
surviving brother of Joseph Smith, and his brothers-in-law. He was believed by
all of the living Book of Mormon witnesses, except one who was no longer a
member of the church."I don't see Strang's followers
trumping Smiths, but it certainly can be reduced to a silly debate about how my
contemporaries should be given more "special emphasis" than yours...as
if this somehow adds more credibility to a claim...so why even bring it up?
Yet another excellent article by Dr. Peterson. Thank you!
The research of the past decade or so has certainly yielded a lot of great
information about Joseph Smith and early church history. Along with it, there
are many legitimate issues as well as distractions that often make it difficult
to discern what really happened.For me, I feel the content of the
Book of Mormon and Pearl of Great Price are more significant and impactful than
how they were translated. It would all be supernatural - whether Joseph Smith
looked through ancient eyepieces or looked into a hat or saw writing in the sky.
For me the result (the content) and what it does for my understanding of the
world, for my faith, my ability to see others as spirit children of a living
God, that is what matters.As for the recent writings on the
character of these people, it's great to have and I enjoy reading. I had
many ancestors who were there and chose to sustain Joseph and Brigham as
prophets. That carries a lot of weight for me. Who am I to say I'm smarter
than they were, with what little I have to go on as physical evidence or
WSU Grad,So let's go with your assumption here about Strang and
his contemporaries. Since most of the Smith family and others you mentioned
disavowed Strang before his death, that would seem to support Peterson's
contention of going with "the judgment of contemporaries". Strang joined the LDS church just a few months before Joseph's murder. He
was not already an Apostle or leader of any sort. His claim to the presidency
rested on a letter that he claimed to have received from Joseph before
Joseph's death. A letter some experts say has a forged signature. When you die, would you want your legacy represented by those who know you
best, or those who do not??
I'm not sure that I see your point, Weber State Graduate.Are
you really prepared to argue that, in judging the character of historical
people, the evidence of those who knew them shouldn't be given any more
attention than the opinions of those who didn't know them at all?Peterson didn't say that no other evidence should be taken into account,
nor that the testimonies of acquaintances should trump everything else, but
surely it's reasonable to pay special attention to what's said by
those who were in the best position to know somebody at first hand.And, finally, Peterson has already written here about James J. Strang and his
witnesses. I Googled it to be sure: He did a column about Strang on June 9,
2011. Look for "Deseret News Peterson James Strang." (I'm
apparently not allowed to give the link here.)
It appears that the writer of the article proposes that people who spoke/speak
in a positive way about J.S. should be taken more seriously than those who do
Weber State Graduate:Daniel Peterson wrote an article about James
Strang on June 9, 2011 for DN. It is entitled, "Defending the Faith: The
story behind James Strang and his sect." Do a search on DN and check it out
for yourself. In summary, James Strang's close associates essentially
called him a fraud and denied their testimonies. Later, James Strang was killed
in 1856 by some of his own disaffected followers.Can you tell me of
any legitimate fruits of James Strang that indicate he was to preside over the
church after Joseph Smith died? What is his legacy?
@ Mr Bohey ... In your personal life, who's testimony is apt to be more
accurate - those who speak well of you, or those who speak ill? This
isn't to suggest our critics don't have truthful things to say, but I
do believe, on the whole, a positive outlook is never as tainted as a negative
Nice article, Dan. And Bob, you are right. They should be taken more seriously.
1.96"James Strang's close associates essentially called him
a fraud and denied their testimonies. Later, James Strang was killed in 1856 by
some of his own disaffected followers."Isn't that pretty
much exactly what happened to Joseph Smith as well?
Although there is an excellent chance that Brigham Young on his deathbed was
referring to Joseph Smith when he said "Joseph, Joseph, Joseph,"
there's also an excellent chance that he was referring to his son Joseph,
who had died in August 1875. Joseph Young was the first male child of Brigham
Young, who likely was strongly affected by his son's unexpected death.Brigham loved Joseph Smith, but let's not automatically assume that
in passing from this life he was being greeted by Joseph Smith rather than his
I agree with Bob A. BoheyThe church wants you to believe everything
that was said that is positive about Joseph. And they want you to not believe
anything that was said that makes him look bad. No surprise.
To: MoontanYou make some interesting points. Those closest to Warren
Jeffs have very positive things to say about him. They even know that he is a
prophet of God. Should we believe them as well? How do we tell the difference
between all the people who proclaim to be prophets?
Bob A. Bohey and "Church member": Peterson wrote that
special emphasis should be given to the testimonies of those who knew a person
best. This seems to be a reasonable historical principle. He said nothing
about rejecting negative comments and paying attention only to positive
I don't believe Joseph Smith was murdered by "some of his own
disaffected followers" as fboy has queried.
I think a person's deeds should carry more weight than what his friends
say. And in eveluating a person's deeds, all (un-whitewashed) information
should be considered. Sources that attempt to obfuscate or cherry-pick facts
should be discounted when weighing conflicting information regarding a
When evaluating testimonials as a form of judging character, we should remember
that Goebbels, Goering, Himmler, and Hess has great things to say about you know
eastcoastcoug"When you die, would you want your legacy
represented by those who know you best, or those who do not??"Perhaps those who don't know him best can give a more accurate and
unbiased view of the true character of the person and the events surrounding
@Church Member: Good question. I'd side with a preponderance of the
evidence, and toss in a healthy dose of 'follow my heart' and enough
intellect to check any and all excess. Then I'd move through life content
that my decision was upright if not all right, reminding myself now and again
that I'll never have all the answers this side of eternity.
@Verdad "Peterson wrote that special emphasis should be given to the
testimonies of those who knew a person best. This seems to be a reasonable
historical principle. He said nothing about rejecting negative comments and
paying attention only to positive testimonials"Church member
summed it up nicely for me: "Those closest to Warren Jeffs have very
positive things to say about him. They even know that he is a prophet of God.
Should we believe them as well? How do we tell the difference between all the
people who proclaim to be prophets?"Now your comments leave the
impression that you are somewhat intelligent and if that is the case am I to
believe that you didn't comprehend that the writers intent was to persuade
the readers that the positive accounts of J.S. should be taken more seriously
than the negative? Shame on you.
@MoontanI agree 100%. It is impossible to know one way of the other
for sure. Anyone who tells you otherwise is mistaken or lying. No one knows what
happens when we die. All we can do is live the best lives we can.
Church member:"How do we tell the difference between all the
people who proclaim to be prophets?"Do you believe in
Christ's teaching, "by their fruits ye shall know them?"Do you also believe God answer prayers with perfect clarity, leaving no room
for doubt? I.E. By the power of the Holy Ghost?
@Church Member ... Hold on, please. Don't take my answer to your question
re character and Warren Jeff, and apply it to my views of the Church, the
Prophet, and the possibility or impossibility of life after death. That's
quite a stretch there. If I tell you my favorite color for a vehicle is black,
don't tell everyone Moontan's going to paint his house black.
His name would be known for good and for evil, as Moroni said. That prophecy has
definitely come true, and there is little ground in between. Like Christ
himself, Joseph Smith was either exactly what he said he was, in which case he
was one of the greatest men who ever lived, or he was a madman and a fraud, in
which case nothing that he ever said or established can ever be assigned any
value. But I have seen his work and tasted the fruit that it has born. I know
that it is good, and thus I know that he was exactly what he professed to be: a
true prophet of God, who restored the true Church of Jesus Christ onto the Earth
again. My witness can be added onto those of the people quoted in this article.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
To Bob A Bohey:No, he said that we should take seriously the
testimonies of those who knew him best!
Actually the testimony of people closest to someone isn't always the best
testimony in determining who that person was. For instance, as someone already
pointed out, you can find praise for Hitler from those closest to him. Also you
can find praise for Jim Jones, and Charles Manson from those who knew them. Not saying Mr. Smith was like these people, but just pointing our that
people will give praise for many reasons. As far as Mr. Smith you can find
testimony critical of him by people that knew him well also.
RE:1.96 Standard Deviations, How do we tell the difference between all the
people who proclaim to be prophets?" Do you believe in Christ's
teaching, "by their fruits ye shall know them?" True,Fruits
can be doctrine e.g…Not that which goes into the mouth defiles a man; but
that which comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.(Mt 15:11)Wine(oinos) was used by Jesus 2:1-11, He turns water into wine not wine into
water And Mt 11:19.. Timothy 1Tim 5:23.MT 9:17, Mark 2:22 implies
fermentation. Jesus or would not be Temple worthy today.Wine
(gleukos)denotes “sweet” new wine. Acts 2:13 where the accusation
shows that it was intoxicant and must have been undergoing fermentation.
JS,” In the very beginning the bible shows there is a plurality of
Gods. Beyond the power of refutation”.(Hof C v. 6 p.476) Wrong, Genesis 1:1 Greek Septuagint In the beginning God (*o Theos, Grk. 2316).
Clearly God, singular. *Nominative singular article.
I believe weber's point was pretty clear. It appears his post was to use
Strang only as an example -- using the judgments of contemporaries as somehow
deserving special emphasis is not any more valid for one person than it is
another.By playing such a game, one could use
"contemporaries" of all kinds of folks for special emphasis, but it
doesn't make the claims of Joseph Smith or James Strang any more valid.Validating the Prophet Joseph Smith should be a matter of faith, which
is a better approach, rather than what other people have to say – good or
bad.I think weber never intended to rehash old arguments about
Strang himself. At least that's how I understood his post.
The following statement was made above: "Joseph Smith was
either exactly what he said he was, in which case he was one of the greatest men
who ever lived, or he was a madman and a fraud, in which case nothing that he
ever said or established can ever be assigned any value."I
don't mean to mock here, but the above statement is false (and ridiculous)
on its face. Of course a person can not be what they say they are and still do
something good or valuable. One (or two) lies does not negate other good
deeds.I bring this up because this type of (adoration) talk sounds
crazy to logical nonbelievers (as does the excessive quoting of scriptures to
nonbelievers) and immediately gets dismissed as hyperbolic nonsense. If you want
to convince a logical nonbeliever of something, using "crazy talk" has
no place in the discussion. I have not examined everything Joseph's friends
said about him, but I can understand why testimonies using such hyperbole might
be rejected offhand by nonbelievers.
@antodav"Joseph Smith was either exactly what he said he was, in which
case he was one of the greatest men who ever lived, or he was a madman and a
fraud"Yeah, unlike someone like Methodism's founder John
Wesley, Joseph Smith doesn't leave much of a neutral option thanks to the
Book of Mormon. Either it is what it's claimed to be, or it's a fraud.
There's not really any room for a "well I think he's a sincere guy
who is just wrong" position. It's kind of a shame because I don't
believe in the Book of Mormon but would like to just believe that Joseph Smith
was sincere and wrong but the hoops I have to jump through to make that position
make sense are... well I never have had a high vertical leap.
To 1.96 Standard Deviations:You say "Do you also believe God
answers prayers with perfect clarity, leaving no room for doubt?"If God answered prayers with perfect clarity then why are there hundreds and
hundreds of religions today. Wouldn't everyone pray and get the same
answer? If you listen to people from other faiths talk they believe just as
strongly as you that their church is true. And if you ask them how they
"know" they will say God has told them. So maybe prayers are not as
clear as you have been led to believe.
Church member:I take that as a "no" that you don't
believe God answers prayers with perfect clarity. What are your
thoughts or opinions of Jesus Christ?
The true successors to Joseph Smith in the Church Presidency were Sidney Rigdon
and William Bickerton. Brigham Young was a fallen apostle.When BY
died the words "Joseph, Joseph, Joseph" were not words of hopeful
reunion, but were words of anguish and despair. Joseph Smith, in the paradise of
God, could not save BY as BY was being dragged down to outer darkness.
MichiganderWhile I certainly don't believe in the teachings of
the current mormon church, I also do not believe that you know where Brigham
Young's final resting place for the eternities will be. Anybody who makes a
statement like that loses credibility immediately as there is no way to know
Brahmabull,ANYONE can know that for sure and for certain from the
Book of Mormon (2Ne. 9:36; 26:32; 28:15).
RE: Ghostleigh, I don't believe Joseph Smith was murdered by "some of
his own disaffected followers" as fboy has queried.“I
remember what Joseph said, a short time before he was slain in one of the last
sermons I ever heard him preach. Said he, “Men are here today who are
seeking my blood, and they are those who have held the Priesthood and have
received their washings and anointing’s; men who have received their
endowments.” I saw the faces of those men at that time, and they had a
hand in slaying the Prophet. (JoD v 4 p 140). Whether Mormons killed
JS or not is unimportant many important Mormons wanted to by taking an oath to
kill him. (The Oath upon request) . Francis M Higbee was at a meeting of
dissenters on April 28, 1844.Brigham Young comments on it.…
when you feel like killing me for so doing, as some of the people did who called
themselves brethren in the days of Joseph Smith, look out for yourselves, for
false brethren were the cause of Joseph's death, and I am not a very
righteous man.(JoD v 3 49.)
I say ask Emma, Oliver Cowdrey, and the editor of the Nauvoo Expositor.
I can understand "Defending the Faith" but I am not sure that extends to
defending history. I mean wouldn't you be suspicious of person who was
trying to defend Thomas Jefferson as a person? This all sounds too much like
politics. Defend the "Faith" by focusing on which principles you are
going to live by. Defend the "Faith" by living by a strong moral code,
not flapping your lips about people who lived so long ago that you can't
say for certainty anything regarding their character, it makes you look