Joseph Smith The Prophet

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).

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One thought on “Joseph Smith The Prophet

  1. I took a religion course at my high school in 12th grade where the teacher said something to the effect that Mormons believed Joseph Smith was Jesus Christ. Maybe I did not process it correctly but I remember being surprised when they started running adds that ended something like “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints” We are the Mormons. I thought that was clever advertising for a Church that did not believe in Jesus. I knew Mormons but didn’t know about their faith as they were a parent of a friend or the wife of my dad’s friend(two houses from my best friend in grade school). This teacher was quite educated from my estimation. I had felt like I learned so much from her when she was my 8th grade teacher. She also taught me English for a semester in 9th grade and I think was the one who taught Mythology. In the class, she openly stated how she had search for a different faith than the Catholic Church but always made sure to attended Catholic Mass to be on the safe side. In the end, she felt that the Catholic Church was the one with the Priesthood as it traced back. I was always timid to share what I found out and now she has passed away. An LDS friend of mine going to a secular University sent me a paper once that I think he wrote for a class that really laid out the falling away that took place in the first century following the death of Christ. I know that is a subject for another day.

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