Joseph Smith - a look at the man


#1

Joseph Smith was a man who was actually convicted of fraud. He dabbled in the occult, using a glass, similar to a crystal ball to find buried treasure on peoples’ property. Joseph denied this himself along with Mormon authorities until the court bill was found 140 years later.

He is hailed as a martyr by the Mormons but I wonder if they ever tell the truth about how he died. He was actually involved in a gun fight during which time he killed two other men and wounded another. How is that martyrdom?

PioAndrew


#2

OK, I’ll take the bait…

Four men trapped in a jail surrounded by a mob of 200 armed men with black painted faces isn’t much of a “gun battle”. It’s a slaughter, which is exactly what happened. The evidence that Joseph took out a couple members of the mob with his pea shooter is pretty weak. There were rumors of this but never any confirmation; no names or records. In any case, if Joseph was able to take out a couple mob members while being slaughtered in a jail more power to him I say. Doesn’t a man have a right to defend himself?


#3

"… Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived, accompanied by a large crowd, with swords and clubs, who had come from the chief priests and the elders of the people… And behold, one of those who accompanied Jesus put his hand to his sword, drew it, and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his ear. The Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”

Matthew 26:47-52


#4

[quote=PioAndrew]Joseph Smith was a man who was actually convicted of fraud.
PioAndrew
[/quote]

A bill for services is not documentation of conviction. Joseph Smith was continually being charged with all sorts of petty things by his enemies. He was acquitted on all things that were brought against him. Since there is not documents to the contrary let’s look at what we do know

In March 1826, Joseph Smith was brought before a justice of the peace in South Bainbridge, New York, and charged with being a “disorderly person.”

An attorney Gordon A. Madsen has analyzes several aspects of the trial in light of the legal context of the day: the charge, the court system, the legal terms, and the elements of the crime. First, Madsen looks at the New York statute that defined a “disorderly person”;

Joseph, who was then helping Josiah Stowell find buried treasure, was likely being charged as a person “pretending to have skill . . . to discover where lost goods may be found.”

Madsen then describes the three types of New York courts with which Joseph dealt. He also determines that the trial notes—those taken by Justice Neely himself and those taken by a friend of Justice Neely—are unreliable, not even stating conclusively whether Joseph was acquitted or found guilty.

However, Madsen uses the notes and an understanding of common court procedure of the day to reconstruct what might have happened in the court.

He also records some legal precedents for Joseph’s acquittal and concludes that Joseph was not convicted of being a “disorderly person.”

If the intent is find disparaging comments about Joseph Smith a person is sure to find them in the type sources that are quoted. There are equally to be found comments about his honorable and kind character by those that lived near him and didn’t have an axe to grind about him.

Paul


#5

Casen,

I appreciate you coming over to this board to defend the LDS faith. You do a fair job against the many over here. With my wife as a devout member of the LDS church, I come here to weigh both sides of an issue and your viewpoint is much appreciated. Haggling over differences here is much better than dealing with them with my wife. lol.

When I investigated your church you have to get around to looking at JS. As an individual you have to evaluate the way that he lived and died and how that correlates to Christ.

In looking at the way he died, he died with a gun in his hand. When I looked at the LDS site before, it simply stated he shot 3 people before he emptied his gun and then was shot as he tried to jump out of a window.

As a Catholic we have lots of examples of Christians who willfully died by getting burned at the stake, beheaded or thrown with the lions. I like our examples of martydom better than JS version even though he had a right to defend themselves. To each their own.


#6

Blueadept,
I can respect the pacifist position to a point but there are times when a man needs to defend himself, his home, his family and his country and stand up against evil. I certainly respect Christian martyrs but our scriptures tell us we have a right to defend ourselves. LDS serve proudly in our military and if you break into one of our homes late at night you’re likely to get shot. I don’t begrudge Joseph for attempting to defend himself, his brother and the two friends that were with him.


#7

I’m curious…Joseph Smith died at a jail. What was he doing in jail?


#8

Joseph was arrested over and over again on spurious charges to satisfy the mob; not unlike the prophets and apostles of old.


#9

[quote=tkdnick]I’m curious…Joseph Smith died at a jail. What was he doing in jail?
[/quote]

I hope you’re not implying that just because someone spends time in jail they have a deficient character. Martin Luther King, Ghandi, Jesus, St Peter, St Paul, Nelson Mandela and many other good and holy people are ex-jailbirds. I’m not saying that JS was a holy man, just that his being in jail does not really mean anything.


#10

[quote=Ziggy]"… Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived, accompanied by a large crowd, with swords and clubs, who had come from the chief priests and the elders of the people… And behold, one of those who accompanied Jesus put his hand to his sword, drew it, and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his ear. The Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”

Matthew 26:47-52
[/quote]

Earlier on his way to give him self up at Carthage jail, Joseph told those around him that he goes like a lamb to the slaughter (he knew he was going to die), but feels confident in his worthiness before the Lord in all his actions.

At Carthage jail he was not submitting his life as a testimony to a lawful authority, but to a mob, and as such had the right to protect those that were with him. His actions saved the live of one.

*Luke 22:35-36
And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing.

Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take [it], and likewise [his] scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.*

Sounds like the Lord thought it was ok to protect themselves in certain situations.

Paul


#11

Earlier on his way to give him self up at Carthage jail, Joseph told those around him that he goes like a lamb to the slaughter (he knew he was going to die), but feels confident in his worthiness before the Lord in all his actions.

At Carthage jail he was not submitting his life as a testimony to a lawful authority, but to a mob, and as such had the right to protect those that were with him. His actions saved the live of one.

Luke 22:35-36
*And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing. *

Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take [it], and likewise [his] scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.

Sounds like the Lord thought it was ok to protect themselves in certain situations.

Paul

Can you provide any links or documentation on the event at the Carthage jail ? Just so I know what point of view you are coming from… I have to admit I do not have an extreme amount of knowledge on the subject. Also, I have to disagree with your interpretation of Luke…but not by much… I think this wasn’t so much that it was “ok to protect themselves” as it was a warning that they (apostles) would face hostilities/difficulties when preaching to the world and they should be prepared for it… In verse 38(same chapter) he says “It is enough.” because the apostles were taking him too literally… obviously he didn’t want that… if he did, verses 49-52 would have been a little different. Jesus would have allowed his disciples to defend him against the mob. Maybe Jesus would have been killed there if he had defended himself…


#12

[quote=PioAndrew]Joseph Smith was a man who was actually convicted of fraud. He dabbled in the occult…

PioAndrew
[/quote]

Apparently Joseph claimed that he received a revelation from God specifying that he must have three witnesses to prove the authenticity of the plates. So, when asked about it Harris said that he never saw them with his own eyes and all three men had different accounts of what happened in the woods. All three quarreled with Smith and left the church, so Smith disowned them and called his own witnesses liars. Eight more “witnesses” were all either related to one of the original witnesses, the Whitmer’s, a blood relative of Smith or someone who married into the family. The article then goes on to say that if these witnesses were chosen by “Divine Revelation” but how did five of the eight end up leaving the church?

I’m guessing and this is only my guess but Smith’s active role in FreeMasonry gave him the idea to put a sheet over his head and say that he was an angel of God.

Pio


#13

[quote=Tmaque]I hope you’re not implying that just because someone spends time in jail they have a deficient character. Martin Luther King, Ghandi, Jesus, St Peter, St Paul, Nelson Mandela and many other good and holy people are ex-jailbirds. I’m not saying that JS was a holy man, just that his being in jail does not really mean anything.
[/quote]

I just wanted to know why he was there…


#14

The Catholic Church affirms that we have a right to self-defense, and also the duty to defend others in matters of life and limb.


#15

[quote=tkdnick]I just wanted to know why he was there…
[/quote]

Ok…sorry


#16

[quote=ComradeAndrei]The Catholic Church affirms that we have a right to self-defense, and also the duty to defend others in matters of life and limb.
[/quote]

I agree with what you say here, I have not said anything to the contrary. But I might ask exactly where is this taught ? For example, can I look it up in the CCC ? The reason I asked (Paul) earlier for more information on the Carthage jail incident is because you cannot judge the act to be good, evil, moral or what not without more info… Again I’m not disagreeing with you, just looking for more info :smiley:

CCC 1756

It is therefore an error to judge the morality of human acts by considering only the intention that inspires them or the circumstances (environment, social pressure, duress or emergency, etc.) which supply their context. There are acts which, in and of themselves, independently of circumstances and intentions, are always gravely illicit by reason of their object; such as blasphemy and perjury, murder and adultery. One may not do evil so that good may result from it.


#17

[quote=ComradeAndrei]The Catholic Church affirms that we have a right to self-defense, and also the duty to defend others in matters of life and limb.
[/quote]

I think the problem here lies with the fact that the word “martyr” means different things to Catholics than LDS. When a Catholic hears the word “martyr” they think of someone who willingly went to their death for their beliefs, the key word here is “willingly”, meaning they did not try to defend themselves. To LDS the word means simply, someone that died for their religious beliefs, the manner of death and the fact they died while fighting back is beside the point. The dictionary seems to substantiate the LDS concept although I can understand why some Catholics complain when Jospeh Smith is called a martyr.


#18

[quote=PioAndrew]Apparently Joseph claimed that he received a revelation from God specifying that he must have three witnesses to prove the authenticity of the plates. So, when asked about it Harris said that he never saw them with his own eyes and all three men had different accounts of what happened in the woods. All three quarreled with Smith and left the church, so Smith disowned them and called his own witnesses liars. Eight more “witnesses” were all either related to one of the original witnesses, the Whitmer’s, a blood relative of Smith or someone who married into the family. The article then goes on to say that if these witnesses were chosen by “Divine Revelation” but how did five of the eight end up leaving the church?

I’m guessing and this is only my guess but Smith’s active role in FreeMasonry gave him the idea to put a sheet over his head and say that he was an angel of God.

Pio
[/quote]

Let me understand what you are saying here. Those witnesses who refused to back him he disowned them and went on a search for witnesses who would back him? And when he found witnesses, finally, who would back him, this proves what exactly?


#19

[quote=Casen]OK, I’ll take the bait…

Four men trapped in a jail surrounded by a mob of 200 armed men with black painted faces isn’t much of a “gun battle”. It’s a slaughter, which is exactly what happened. The evidence that Joseph took out a couple members of the mob with his pea shooter is pretty weak. There were rumors of this but never any confirmation; no names or records. In any case, if Joseph was able to take out a couple mob members while being slaughtered in a jail more power to him I say. Doesn’t a man have a right to defend himself?
[/quote]

His pea shooter? Really. He killed three men with a pea shooter. Don’t you see that one of the things that works against Mormon apologetics is the tendency toward exaggeration? His pea shooter? Why not just say he used a sling shot?

And yes, a man has the right to defend himself. Just as we have a right to follow the man who lays down his life for the unjust man. Joseph Smith couldn’t seem to lay down his own life even for himself and his friends,much less his enemies.


#20

iwonder said: Joseph Smith couldn’t seem to lay down his own life even for himself and his friends, much less his enemies.

200 men were firing indiscriminately into the jail! Hyrum Smith was shot first, followed by John Taylor who was hit several times by flying bullets. It wasn’t until after these two people were shot that Joseph emptied his six-shooter in an attempt to defend them. Also, that the men Joseph shot later died is not clear from the evidence. Anyway, it seems people like you will do everything possible to paint our faith in the worst possible light, ignoring fact and grasping at rumor and innuendo if it will bolster your argument. Any objective person would see that this was not a “gun battle”… it was a slaughter.


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