Sometimes Mormons are criticized for what others view as placing too much emphasis on the Prophet Joseph Smith. Some even mistakenly believe that we worship Joseph Smith. It is not the case that Mormons worship Joseph Smith. We hold him in high esteem, we sometimes celebrate his birth, his receiving the Priesthood; we sometimes pause to remember his death. That does not mean that we worship him though – those are all things that we might do for family members or friends. That’s precisely what the Prophet Joseph Smith is – family. He is the father of our dispensation.
I wrote some terms that are somewhat unique to Mormonism – Priesthood (unique in our understanding of it) and dispensation. I won’t go in to what those terms mean but Mormons look to Joseph Smith as our spiritual progenitor much in the same way many Jews view Father Abraham as their actual progenitor (we, Mormons, also believe that most of us are literally descended from Abraham).
So, we make much ado about Joseph Smith because it was through him that the Lord restored the fulness of the gospel to the earth, most importantly the priesthood authority and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Our focus at times on Joseph Smith doesn’t (or shouldn’t) detract from the centrality of Christ to the Church. All of Joseph’s work was to bring us closer to Jesus Christ and to Heavenly Father. It is because of the Lord’s work that Joseph Smith did that John Taylor, an apostle and prophet of the Lord, was able to state:
“Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. In the short space of twenty years, he has brought forth the Book of Mormon, which he translated by the gift and power of God, and has been the means of publishing it on two continents; has sent the fulness of the everlasting gospel, which it contained, to the four quarters of the earth; has brought forth the revelations and commandments which compose this book of Doctrine and Covenants, and many other wise documents and instructions for the benefit of the children of men; gathered many thousands of the Latter-day Saints, founded a great city, and left a fame and name that cannot be slain. He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood” (D&C 135:3).
What Joseph did was just the beginning of the work of Christ’s church in these last days. It is in this context that I embed the video of a beautiful sacred work by Rob Gardner about the Prophet Joseph Smith (or, if you prefer, you can watch it on the BYUtv website).