BYU professor analyzes Joseph Smith's contribution to the Second Great Awakening

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  • donn layton, UT
    Aug. 11, 2013 1:28 p.m.

    RE: zoar63,Lectures on Faith, Q. What is the Father? A. He is a personage of glory and of power. (5:2.). What is the son? First, he is a personage of tabernacle.

    I.e. it is I myself: handle me, and see; for “a spirit” hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have (Luke 24:39). God[the father] is “a spirit”…(John 4:24)

    No one has ever seen God. ‘The only one(monogenes Greek,3439), himself God’, who is in closest fellowship with the Father, has made God [known].(John 1:18 NET)

    Context,. (Phil 2:6-7 NIV ) “Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant being made in human likeness.

    (Ex 33:21-23) “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”(Exodus 33:20 NIV)

    Moses was with our ancestors, the assembly of God's people in the wilderness, when the angel spoke to him at Mount Sinai.(Acts 7:38 NLT)

  • zoar63 Mesa, AZ
    Aug. 11, 2013 12:30 a.m.


    The king James Bible says God created man in his own image. I see no (spiritual) in that passage.

    The old testament also teaches God has body parts; back parts and feet and describes seventy witnesses seeing The God of Israel and mentioning a golden pavement under those feet. That is a far cry from an incorporeal God allegedly described in the New Testament (Ex 24:9-11) (Ex 33:21-23)

    If God came down and became flesh then who is this Father that Christ is praying to? (John 17:3-5)

    The resurrected Christ told his disciples that he was not a spirit he possessed flesh and bones. (Luke 24:39)

    Christ declared he was equal to God and was in the form of God (Philip 2:6) So if Christ has a body of flesh and bones and is in the form of God one must conclude that God also has a tangible body.

    No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared [him]. (John 1:18)

    That seems to contradict the Exodus accounts.

  • donn layton, UT
    Aug. 9, 2013 2:30 p.m.

    @Twin Lights, The Trinity in the O.T. ,Let us make man in ‘Our Image’ image and likeness …”(Gen 1:26)“So God created man in His “OWN(spiritual) Image” male and female…(Gen 1:27) If there were more than one God it would read in “their image.”

    Mt 28:19 NIV, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations baptizing them in the NAME of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”. 3 persons, but one name, one God.

    Baptism signifies an eternal consecration of the person to the service and honor of that Being in whose Name it is administered; but this consecration can never be made to a creature; therefore the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, are not creatures. i.e..,

    God said unto Moses,” I am HE *WHO IS=“(the BEING): and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, HE *WHO IS hath sent me unto you. (LXX Ex 3:14).

    *WHO IS=( The one Being)occurs in Rev 1:4, 8; 4:8, 11:17; and 16:5. 1of2

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Aug. 9, 2013 9:29 a.m.

    Twin Lights,

    "....I feel kinship to the Christ of the New Testament in the revelations of Joseph. It not another gospel than Paul’s. It is another than Martin Luther’s...."

    The ‘other gospel’ excerpt from Paul is cited to indict Mormon belief as a gospel other than the correct one. Read in the entire context of Galatians 1, it becomes clear that Paul is continuing his war with Jewish followers of Jesus who refuted Paul’s ideas. Paul accuses them of perverting the gospel of Christ among the Galatians. What we’re reading about here is evidence of the widening rift between Judean followers of Jesus and the rising Gentile Church.

    Paul elaborates by saying “the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

    That unequivocally serves notice on the Jerusalem church that Paul felt no need to defer to those who knew Jesus when he was alive. Early Christianity was obviously not one great big happy family.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Aug. 8, 2013 8:02 p.m.

    Semper Fi,

    They have everything to do with it. These were the doctrines I could not resolve myself to that are adhered to by many Christian sects.

    I do not belong to Joseph’s baptism any more than I belong to Peter’s or Paul’s.

    I feel kinship to the Christ of the New Testament in the revelations of Joseph. It not another gospel than Paul’s. It is another than Martin Luther’s. The reason for Luther's rejection of authority is obvious, hence Sola Fide.


    You are correct. Mormons do not believe we are gods. As to those of other worlds, perhaps.

    A miracle is still via physical laws. Just those we do not fully understand.

    As to a divine yet sexual being, I find no conflict. Either marriage is pure and sanctifying or it is not. Abraham, Moses, Peter, etc. were all married.

    To Both,

    I have read the NT looking for the Triune God. I do not find him. Christ speaks of nothing like this. Having struggled with the Athanasian Creed, only Christ could have adequately explained such a doctrine. He did not. His teachings are far simpler.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Aug. 8, 2013 4:49 p.m.

    Semper Fi,

    "....That is not the Gospel of the Jesus of history or the Bible. It doesn't matter if it's Mohammed or Mahonri M. It is another gospel than the one Paul/Saul delivered."

    Joseph Smith refused to bow to Saul or to anyone as a greater authority than he on heavenly matters. So in fact did Saul of Tarsus who took broad liberties to interpret Jesus in his own way. No one tried harder to teach another gospel than did Saul who then proceeds to forbid anyone else from teaching any gospel other than his. Sounds like Saul and Joseph Smith were two of kind, doesn't it?

  • donn layton, UT
    Aug. 8, 2013 4:11 p.m.

    RE: Twin Lights, “Jesus the Christ by Talmage”.

    He agrees that Jesus was referring to divinely appointed judges when he wrote, "Divinely Appointed Judges Called 'gods.' In Psalm 82:6, judges invested by divine appointment are called 'gods.' To this the Savior referred in His reply to the Jews in Solomon's Porch. Judges so authorized officiated as the representatives of God and are honored by the exalted title 'gods'" (p. 465).

    I.e. Jesus quotes Psalm 82:6 which reads, "I have said, Ye are gods." Jesus does not say, "Ye can become Gods." The text reads, "Ye are Gods." Not even Mormons believe that they are Gods right now.

    that Child to be born of Mary was begotten of Elohim, the Eternal Father, not in violation of *natural law . James Talmage. Christians believe the Virgin Birth was a unique miracle

    C.S. Lewis. “Our Father which art in Heaven with, The supreme being transcends space and time. The first goes to pieces if you begin to apply the*literal meaning to it. How can a sexual animal really be our father? How can it be in the sky? The second falls into no such traps

  • Semper Fi Bakersfield, CA
    Aug. 8, 2013 4:01 p.m.

    Good points, Twin L. But they have nothing to do with the Gospel According to JS.

    The difference between the Biblical Gospel and Joseph's is exactly what he said, wrote and delivered via LDS scriptures. You must belong to his church, his baptism, his priesthood, his temple ceremonies, his revelations, his new scriptural edits of the Bible and new-found Nephite history, in order to fully receive all that God has.

    That is not the Gospel of the Jesus of history or the Bible. It doesn't matter if it's Mohammed or Mahonri M. It is another gospel than the one Paul/Saul delivered.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Aug. 8, 2013 2:30 p.m.


    I am not sure why you mention the charity and good works of the LDS. Though these are fine points I did not address them.

    Your biblical reference is interesting. But it is John 6:68 that binds me to the church. In other Christian denominations I have not found the words of eternal life.

    Please understand, I mean no disrespect. I have wonderful friends in other denominations (catholic as well as new school and old line protestant types). Many of these folks are the salt of the earth. I respect them and their beliefs. But I cannot follow them. If find their doctrine shallow.

    I cannot believe in a God who condemns those who do not know through no fault of their own. Who creates us for the purpose of worshiping Him. Who gives us families we will not retain. Who (according to the Calvinists) controls my destiny and therefore (to its logical extent) not only whether I am saved but whether I sin.

    For an outline of Christ, see the book Jesus the Christ by Talmage.

    BTW, Christ did not have to ask Peter those questions. See Matthew 19:27-30. They had left all.

  • OnlytheCross Bakersfield, CA
    Aug. 8, 2013 12:58 p.m.

    Twin Lights, I know many loving Mormons with whom I would love to spend Eternity, my own family first and foremost.
    But the charity and goodness of any group has nothing to do with the Biblical gospel. It is "Who do You say that I AM?", (Peter)...
    We can find benevolent work from Islamic, Hindi, Judaic groups to every known governmental agency.

    Just as you were, all "born-again" believers are also turned off by traditional Christian denominations and only find the new creation/spiritual birth in a relationship with Jesus. As is often said, Christianity is not a religion per se; it is a relationship. There are many wonderful organizations and churches. Christ did not ask Peter how much charity/tithing/ordinances he did.

    My question is, how did Joseph tell the world was the way to Christ? That is what all discussion on his contributions should anchor on. And accurately, full-disclosure, and non-redacted.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Aug. 8, 2013 11:17 a.m.


    I have done that analysis. Traditional Christianity only led me away from Christ. It taught a Christ I could not follow, a God I could not worship, and a plan of salvation that seemed weak and full of holes.

    I do not worship Joseph. I believe he would find such a notion repugnant. But it is only in the teachings he promulgated that I have found the Savior and salvation.

  • Thinkman Provo, UT
    Aug. 8, 2013 11:15 a.m.

    From the article:

    "She found that words regarding the Spirit are mentioned 217 more times in the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants than in the Bible."

    Not hard to state Jesus Christ, Spirit, Holy Ghost, Lord, Savior, Christ, Jesus, etc more times in your own work AFTER seeing the Bible.

    Remember too that the Bible mentions 3 degrees of Glory. Joseph "reveals" that there are 3 degrees alone in the Celestial Kingdom. He also writes in the Book of Mormon that there were 3 days of darkness during the alleged time of the death of Jesus Christ. The Bible only mentions 3 hours of darkness. It seems in these 2 examples that Joseph had to "one-up" the Bible in his 2 books. (Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants)

    Remember too that in the Book of Abraham, it wasn't God who created the earth, it was Gods who created it. Again, another "one-up."

    Joseph also has far more "And it came to pass" references in the Book of Mormon than the Bible does. Does that then make the Book of Mormon more "biblical" than even the Bible?

  • OnlytheCross Bakersfield, CA
    Aug. 8, 2013 10:03 a.m.

    Let's synthesize Joseph's ultimate condensed version of the salvation he promoted and refrain from majoring in the minors. I will respect LDS scholars honesty in that analysis. That he was an astute, self-taught, highly motivated (young) leader is not in dispute.

    What is at issue is:
    *Were his prophecies quantifiable and accurate;
    *Was his reformed Christianity akin to Biblical theology, (NOT other denominational abberations);
    *What was his ultimate product.

    As a former dedicated follower/adherent/believer in Joseph Smith, I worshipped every word he wrote, believed in him beyond question, and never analyzed him in any context. Nothing any detractors could sling would sway me. I simply believed that he was God's emissary, period.

    Then one day I decided to prove his brilliance and purity to naysayers, so I gathered all his works and set out to compare his teachings to Jesus'. I soon realized that if I were honest, his trajectory did not lead me to the foot of the Cross. It wove me through a maze of new theology, a pantheon of Gods, and pure polygamy.

    Do your own analysis. Choose your prophets. But be honest with the sum total.

    Aug. 8, 2013 9:05 a.m.

    Craig Clark, it could have been the way you said, or it could have been the way Joseph Smith said: the Restoration occurred "line upon line". Your theory is not new, it's been around at least as long as Fawn Brodie's time. The jury is still out on her work--acclaimed by some, considered nebulous history by others.

  • oldcougar Orem, UT
    Aug. 8, 2013 8:14 a.m.

    Dog Chow, I will read the dissertation when I get time. My comment referred to an article which, in the space it occupied, could have provided a newspaper reader with a factual synopsis/executive summary of the dissertation. I didn't. My comments were not critical of the professor at all...just weak journalism.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Aug. 7, 2013 3:43 p.m.

    Mormon belief was improvised by Joseph Smith as he went along. It bore the mark of his readings, interactions, prayer, and mullings, all of which might come together in a timely revelation. BTW, Quakers also believed in continuing revelation. His break with Christian orthodoxy on the trinity also had precedent with Quakers and the Unitarians as well. So just how original was Joseph Smith?

    I would certainly call him original as a stylist. But in substance, he coopted ideas that were familiar to him and his contemporaries. Nothing wrong with that, BTW. We all might do well to let ourselves learn from others.

  • OnlytheCross Bakersfield, CA
    Aug. 7, 2013 2:09 p.m.

    His definitions are beyond "unique"; they are totally different/another gospel.

    Ditto: His Jesus, Father, Holy Spirit, priesthood, salvation, exaltation, etc.

    I did enjoy reading Lynne's well-written article. But remove the lipstick and it's still a 19th-century remake.

  • Utes11 Salt Lake City, Utah
    Aug. 7, 2013 1:56 p.m.

    wait a minute... FAIR has an annual conference?! That's a kin to the Bigfoot guys from Animal Planet getting together once a year to talk about their findings!

  • laVerl 09 St Johns, AZ
    Aug. 7, 2013 1:11 p.m.

    Lynne, I just read the condensed version of your dissertation and liked it very much.
    For years, since reading Joseph's comment to Pres. Van Buren, I have been assembling scriptural references and commentary on the Holy Ghost. Your tables were very helpful, but the definitions of the two levels of sealing by the Holy Spirit of Promise ("temporary" vs "permanent") will facilitate a lot of classroom discussion on this subject.
    Thanks for sharing.
    PS: I have found a very elucidating expansion on this subject by following a study of the Holy Spirit sometimes called the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of Christ, the light of truth, or the light of Christ.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Aug. 7, 2013 11:40 a.m.


    Just checked John 14 in the NIV (the translation lots of non-LDS refer to). Christ refers to the Holy Ghost as a person.

  • J-TX Allen, TX
    Aug. 7, 2013 10:10 a.m.

    I guess I'll have to read the dissertation. I'll wait until I'm in the pool, though, so as to not get dehydrated.....

  • donn layton, UT
    Aug. 7, 2013 10:03 a.m.

    RE: "Joseph uses the same biblical vocabulary as his peers do, Wilson said. "But his definitions were quite unique, especially in pneumatological matters.” True,

    Holy Spirit of promise denoting the Holy Ghost's sanction of every ordinance performed in righteousness. The influence or spirit that emanates from Jesus Christ, which is also called the Light of Christ, is holy, but is neither the Holy Spirit nor a personage. Mormon Encyclopedia

    LDS–Holy Ghost is a person–Holy Spirit is a influence from the Father.

    Bible same Greek word(pneuma) used for Holy Ghost and Holy Spirit. “ Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” 1 Cor 3:16.

    What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own. (1 Cor 6:19). I.e.

    (Virgin Birth) The Holy Ghost(Spirit) shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.(Luke 1:35) .

  • dogchow1 Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 7, 2013 9:44 a.m.


    That's a strange comment, since you took more time to comment than read this story, apparently. At the end is a link to the professors' dissertation which will give you the complete analysis.

  • oldcougar Orem, UT
    Aug. 7, 2013 7:58 a.m.

    I'm still waiting for the story. Nice intro, but with no details. Sorry, but this occupied a couple minutes I'll never get back.