When Joseph Smith was a young man, he was told by an angel that his name “should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people.”
And it’s true. When you claim that angels talk to you, that’s what happens.
To some people, Joseph Smith is a diabolical, treasure-hunting, con-man. To members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he’s a prophet of God. You’ll probably see both sides even right under this video in the comments section. In future videos, we’ll address some of the controversy around Joseph Smith, but if you really have no idea who he is or why he’s significant, this video is for you.
Joseph Smith was a farm boy who lived in the eastern United States in the early 1800s. When he was 14 years old, he claimed to have seen a vision of God the Father, and Jesus Christ. They appeared to him in response to a question Joseph had been praying about: Which church should I join? Similar to the religious world today, Joseph had noticed how the denominations of his day all used the same Bible to teach very different doctrines. He didn’t know what was true, and what wasn’t. The heavenly response was shocking, but their actual response to his question was also shocking. They told him not to join any of the existing churches because none of them was God’s authorized Church, and in one way or another, they were all in error. Joseph shared his experience with some people, and the persecution, especially among religious leaders from other faiths, hit hard. Joseph later wrote:
“I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it.”
A few years later, Joseph was again visited by a heavenly messenger. This time it was an angel named Moroni. The angel told Joseph about an ancient book engraved on metal sheets buried in a hill in the next county over. It was written by and told the story of some of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas. Most importantly, it told the story of Christ’s post-resurrection ministry to the people there. Joseph would eventually retrieve the record, and miraculously translate it into what we now know as The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.
Latter-day Saints believe that during Christ’s mortal ministry, He established His gospel and His Church on the earth. But, both His gospel and His Church were distorted during the centuries after His death. We believe that Christ used the young Joseph Smith to restore that ancient church. Correct doctrines, theology, and authority were restored through the prophet Joseph Smith.
Latter-day Saints do not worship Joseph Smith. He simply filled the same role as ancient prophets, like Moses, Jeremiah, or Peter.
So, the question is, is Joseph’s story true or not? If it’s not, then it’s nothing more than an elaborate hoax. If it is true … it changes everything. If you’re interested in knowing the answer, take it to God. Read The Book of Mormon, and ask God if it’s true. If you truly seek an answer, it’ll come. If you’d rather just casually learn more about Latter-day Saints beliefs, that’s cool, too. Subscribe to the channel, leave a comment, and check out some of these videos to learn more.
Joseph Smith was a teenager during a time of great religious fervor both in Europe and the U.S. called the Second Great Awakening. The northeastern United States was especially affected and earned the nickname “the burned-over district” because of the competition between religious groups and the number of revivals put on there. Attending a revival was not only something you did because you wanted religion, but it was entertainment, too, especially because fiery ministers opposed each other and preached hellfire and brimstone to get people moving. It was pretty exciting. All of the Protestant sects looked at the Bible as their authority, and young Joseph Smith couldn’t figure out why they didn’t all have the same beliefs. They not only made different claims and had different doctrines, but they also claimed they had the only truth.
it was reading James 1:5, 6 that got him to go out in the woods to pray. At 14, he never expected a vision. As soon as he told someone about it his life was in danger. It was always in danger until he was indeed murdered. Joseph didn’t build a church by getting up on a soapbox and giving fiery sermons. Instead, in the midst of his poverty, and constantly trying to hide from his enemies, he translated a book, got it published and then his few followers gave out copies or sold them. They said, “Read this book and ask God if it’s true,” which is just what Mormon missionaries do today.
It seemed like some people were prepared to accept Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. Many were not fully committed to their own denominations, because they felt like something was missing. Many had had spiritual experiences that made them think Christ’s original church needed to be restored, not just reformed.
Joseph Smith was brilliant, but he was a humble farm boy with only 3 years of primary school under his belt. He did not have access to libraries or universities where he could do research or engage in study. As events moved along and the Latter-day Saints were driven from place to place, he often did not know what to do and tried to work from revelations he received that did not give him every detail he needed. Constantly persecuted and reviled, he kept on; he never gave up; and he went to his death with the testimony of his calling, the Book of Mormon, and the truth of the new church intact. Latter-day Saints don’t worship Joseph Smith, but they sure appreciate what he achieved and how he kept on going through trial after trial.
Many scholars call Joseph Smith a religious genius. His doctrines seem new and astounding, but every one of them is found in very early Christianity because he was called to restore the gospel, not invent a new gospel.