In Defense of Joseph Smith

We view it in context of our communion with Jesus, who is the head of His Church. A promise that those who are in communion with, and seek and do the will of Jesus, will manifest the fruit of holiness. An example of Catholic teaching:

"The holiness of many

  1. One fruit of the conversion brought about by the Gospel is the holiness of so many men and women in our time: not only those whom the Church has officially proclaimed saints, but all those who with simplicity and amid the circumstances of their daily lives testified to their fidelity to Christ. How can one not think of the countless sons and daughters of the Church who throughout Europe’s history have lived lives of generous and authentic holiness in the hiddenness of their family and their professional and social lives? “All of them like ‘living stones’ adhering to Christ ‘the cornerstone’, have built Europe as a spiritual and moral edifice, leaving a most precious inheritance to the future generations. The Lord Jesus promised: 'He who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father” (Jn 14:12). The saints are living proof of the fulfilment of this promise, and they encourage the belief that this is possible in the most difficult hours of history”. (APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION ECCLESIA IN EUROPA OF HIS HOLINESS POPE JOHN PAUL II, 28 June 2003)

It requires a view of greater being also not the greater as the world views greater. Jesus tells us to pick up our cross and follow Him. The difficult hours of our lives are the crosses we carry. Building the Kingdom of God on earth not done with the bravado of self centered actions, but of sacrifices willingly given with love, charity and fidelity to God.

Not much of a defense at all. The Catholic Church has gone through far more turmoil (both external and internal) throughout its 2000-year history, but has survived (and thrived), yet Mormons do not see its survival as evidence that it is the true church. So no, just because Joseph Smith was a fraud doesn’t necessarily mean the church he founded would have collapsed. The defense of Joseph presented in the article is full of half-truths and outright falsehoods. He most definitely was not an honest or virtuous man. Historical records show this quite clearly, as he lied to hide polygamy from his own wife and the public at large (just one example of many). He also did many things that were the antithesis of virtue (a very long list that you can read about in other threads).

LDS apologists have lost the war on church history as historians have painstakingly researched, compiled, and documented the bizarre happenings of early Mormonism. The church has for decades tried to control this information from getting out but the internet has made this impossible. They now are in the process of spinning the information as best they can to minimize the damage (via their recent articles dealing with historical issues they have tried to ignore for so long). The church cannot be fully honest about its own history, though, for to do so would completely discredit Joseph Smith as a true prophet and thus destroy the church itself. There will come an inevitable tipping point, though, as more and more members are learning this information from outside sources and asking serious questions that the leaders cannot adequately answer.


What would a Mormon say if I were to present this as an argument: Matthew 7:15, “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as sheep”, against going door to door; is this not considered aggressive behaviour?

They don’t view Smith as a false prophet and they view proselytizing as one of the most important things they do.

If they run Salt Lake City then what would a Mormon answer to this: Matthew 6:24, “No one can be the slave of two masters.”?

They view themselves as the stewards over Utah, of course. Though SLC proper is now only about 60% Mormon and the rural towns are 99% Mormon. We call our state legislators from the rural areas, the cowboy caucus. They keep Utah to its roots of anti-federalism and suspicious of organizations like the UN. They make sure school teachers can conceal and carry and that alcohol in restaurants is safely concealed behind a wall or screen so that young citizens of our state don’t get ideas about mixing up a cocktail before they are 21 years old.

I think he wanted to rile up his accusers. They hounded him from every side and made false accusations. As introduction to the statement he said:

Come on! ye prosecutors! ye false swearers! All hell, boil over! Ye burning mountains, roll down your lava! for I will come out on the top at last.

Joseph was not one to back down. I certainly can understand it.

Smith’s “false accusers” accused him of being a polygamist. Smith denied being a polygamist. The LDS church released an essay stating that Joseph Smith was, in fact, a polygamist. So, who was lying?

What were the false accusations made against Joseph Smith that he was not willing to back down to?

Why do you think Jesus didn’t fight back when falsely accused?

Should a modern day prophet follow Jesus’ example?

How is it that the Great Apostasy is proof Christ’s church fell away but the LDS apostasy isn’t proof of their church failing?

The great tragedy is that Joseph Smith was killed before he had the opportunity to complete his egomaniacal self-destruction. Had Joseph lived another 5 years, all of his followers would have realized what William Law and so many of Joseph’s inner circle had realized - that Joseph Smith was a brilliant and charismatic narcissistic sociopath.

And that would have been the end of it.

Joseph created a shadow church government (the council of fifty), formed the Danites to murder his enemies, made himself the General of a private army, had himself crowned king of the world, declared that as with Mohammed it would be “Joseph Smith or the sword”, and believed that he could be elected president of the United States. Had he lived just a few more years, all of his followers would either have been dead a al Jim Jones, or they would have abandoned him as a complete nut-job.

Do Mormons today know these things about JS?

The only reason that any of the many Mormon factions exist today is that Joseph Smith did not have the opportunity to finish shaming himself and exposing himself for the greedy power-mad fraud that he was.

If only Joseph had lived another five years, we would not be having this conversation. There are no threads that debate whether or not Jim Jones or David Koresh were prophets of God.

Paul (formerly LDS, now happily Catholic)

Very good points Paul.

“Come on! ye prosecutors! ye false swearers! All hell, boil over! Ye burning mountains, roll down your lava! for I will come out on the top at last.”

This quote, in context, is from “Address of the Prophet—His Testimony Against the Dissenters at Nauvoo. (Sunday, May 26, 1844)”, as printed in “History of the Church Vol. 6, p. 408-412”

In this address, he refutes a list of accusations against him, including polygamy.

" I had not been married scarcely five minutes, and made one proclamation of the Gospel, before it was reported that I had seven wives. I mean to live and proclaim the truth as long as I can."


“A man asked me whether the commandment was given that a man may have seven wives; and now the new prophet [William Law] has charged me with adultery. I never had any fuss with these men until that Female Relief Society brought out the paper against adulterers and adulteresses.”


"What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one.

I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago; and I can prove them all perjurers. I labored with these apostates myself until I was out of all manner of patience; and then I sent my brother Hyrum, whom they virtually kicked out of doors."

Notice, Smith employs his often-used strategy of using his position over his followers to smear the name and reputation of those who exposed him for what he was. As Smith himself points out, people who he once called friends.

Another defense of Joseph Smith comes from another branch of Mormonism, the Community of Christ (were once called RLDS). This is the group that Emma Smith associated herself to after the murder of her husband, and this group maintains to this day that Joseph Smith never practiced polygamy.

Their approach is that polygamy was brought to Nauvoo by Brigham Young. That after the death of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young exerted himself as the new leader of the Mormons with plural marriage a central and necessary doctrine for his followers.

The groups who renounced Young, accuse him of lying about the polygamy of Joseph Smith, of inserting section 132 into the D&C in the 1850s, and of fabricating polygamous testimony about Smith. Including testimony from women who were the wives of Young himself or of his close associates.

In essence, the defense regarding polygamy is either Smith never practiced it, and an approach that evidence that he did was fabricated. Or, that he did practice polygamy but lied for “pious” reasons. “Lying for the Lord”, being acceptable to Mormon leaders and their followers, for reasons of protecting the Mormon Church or its leaders.

I wonder why Emma claimed that JS did not practice polygamy. I’m sure there is plenty of evidence that she knew about it.:shrug:

That certainly would make her a person of questionable character.

Who knows. She may have had concerns that other women and their children would claim inheritance, both of property and of the leadership of the Mormons. Smith anointed his oldest son as his heir to his leadership position, three times. And when the boy was old enough to lead, he led the RLDS.

Social stigma of being a woman that participated in and supported a polyamorous lifestyle.

Jealousy, and the refusal to acknowledge Smith’s affairs as legitimate in any way.

Not wanting her children to know/believe their father was as he was.

Those are my guesses. Which, I think show she was concerned about her character and her children’s welfare. I don’t see that she ever viewed Smith’s affairs as marriages, spiritual or otherwise. So to her, no, there was no polygamy because she didn’t accept her husband’s extramarital affairs as marriages. He hid them as best and as often as he could from her, and when she did become aware or suspicious, she drove his other women off. These are not he actions of a woman who accepted polygamy as the Brigham Young followers did. Her testimony of polygamy is 180 degrees opposite of every woman who accepted polygamy and lived it willingly.

Brigham Young and his followers vilified her for decades to come, once saying about her that, “more hell was never wrapped up in any human being than there is in her”.

So the fact that fairmormon claims she accepted, and even helped arrange, some of JS marriages is a complete misrepresentation of her. Wow.

It would then make sense if she never accepted plural marriage to deny it later in her life.

I had no idea that she and her son were founders/ leaders of the RLDS.

Thanks for the history lesson!:slight_smile:

You’re welcome. :slight_smile:

Mormon history is complex. Especially when you have different factions presenting history to suit an agenda. All Mormon offshoots of Joseph Smith do the same. I once had a Mormon tell me, after returning from Nauvoo, that “the Church” (meaning the Brighamites) needed to gain better control of the historical narrative that is being presented in Nauvoo. The RLDS have control and own most of the history there. (BTW, it was one of those times I’ve had where Mormons express what they know, without realizing themselves they know what they know.)

For myself, I see the historical facts as not so clear, on whether or not Smith viewed his affairs as marriages. Young and the apostles under Smith who followed him, obviously presented Smith as a supporter and practitioner of polygamy. (If you want to discover someone of questionable character, study up on Eliza Snow. Who knows if anything she ever said was true or not.) But then you have people of the same historical era who said he was not practicing polygamy.

Either way, he wasn’t loyal to his marriage to Emma.

I stopped reading after the first sentence…

If Joseph Smith was given to sedition and seduction, how long do you think his religious fold would have lasted?

Just as absurd if I posed a similar question…

If Catholicism was given to corruption and apostasy, how long do you think this religious movement would have lasted?

Is that why he high tailed it to the other side of the Mississippi when the warrant was issued for him, because he wasn’t backing down?

I don’t think there is a Christian understanding in that article, of what it means to bear good fruit. Good fruit are not our successes, that any can be achieved (including by non-Christians) with hard work, planning and determination.

Good fruit is the quality of deeds, of the individual who is claiming to be a prophet. It is a moral judgement of the individual making the claim, not a judgement about the successes of his ambitions.

The argument, that good outcomes arise from bad fruit, and therefore the fruit is good, reflects the pragmatism of LDS moral theology.

Christian morality does not accept a good end as justification for immoral means to meet that end.

Or in other words, a good end does not make immoral actions good, and that is essentially the argument being presented by the author of the OP’s link. Then calling that good end “good fruit”.

It is the actions of Joseph Smith that are being looked at. When he has adulterous affairs, and claims they are commanded by God, and then teaches others to follow his sinful actions as divine command, then we can easily determine that his fruit is indeed, bad. If he claims to be able to translate ancient texts into English, but is shown to have just made stuff up, we can easily determine there is another bad fruit. Success in his ambitions, in spite of an immoral character, are not the good fruits.

If a good outcome, or even a partial good outcome, were the definitions of good fruit, any criminal who has had success, gotten away with it, then used their ill gotten gain for good, would meet the definition of bearing good fruit. Again, bad fruit is not the outcome of ambition, but a moral judgement of the person’s actions. To the point, that the good gains achieved via rotten fruits, are also rotten in the eyes of God. The good has been poisoned, as it were.

That is the exact deception that Jesus is warning us against. Bad fruits mean the tree is bad, even when the tree appears not so bad. So judge the actions of those claiming to be a prophet, to determine if what is being presented as good, is actually, good.

It is a red herring. We aren’t pitting a judgement of claimed prophecy based on societal norms of the day, but on the commandments given by GOD. Thou shalt not lie. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Jesus, who is God, is not only the author of these commandments, He certainly didn’t break any of them. Smith, on the other hand, did.

Jesus, does not seek forgiveness from Joseph Smith, but Smith certainly should have from Jesus. I’ve never seen any evidence that Smith ever confessed his own sins. More the opposite, always bragging about how all his actions, including the sinful ones, were desired by, and pleasing, to God.

I think he made this judgement by how successful he was in keeping his followers, and gaining more followers. To the point that, factual accusations against his immoral actions, he viewed as persecutions on par with Jesus. It was of course, a self-delusion. Jesus doesn’t call us to be persecuted for our sins, but to accept persecutions for the sake of righteousness.

It is human nature, of course, to self delude ourselves. It is God who cleanses us from our faults, the obvious and the hidden, not Joseph Smith.

Except the obvious, the his accomplishments, which is what he’s pointing to. His claim that Josephs work and the growth of that work couldn’t not be produced by a deviant pervert is substantive evidence that Josephs actions have been mis-read.

Paul also boasted. I don’t see you shouting him down. His claim was that Jesus Christ didn’t do it, not that He couldn’t do it as you’re rendition implies.

Prove God that he didn’t command them to practice polygamy. Can’t be done.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit