A History Lesson on Mormonism

A History Lesson on Mormonism

by Jerry Blount

I published an article comparing the Mormon's founders to the founders of Christianity. I noted that virtually every signatory witness to the golden plates either repudiated their testimony, left the Mormon faith or was excommunicated before they died. Comparably, we also noted that none of the authors of your Bible ran... even though most of then became martyrs.

I was unprepared for the quantity and varied nature of the comments about Mormonism that followed. There seems to be a renewed interest in displacing what I would call a willful ignorance of Mormonism. We live in a funny world. Most churches are so afraid of sounding negative they just leave their members wallowing in ignorance.

I am reminded of another time: "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children" (Hosea 4:6).

By the same token, the behavior of the original Mormons was so inappropriate that most Mormons just do not want to know either! I have always thought how sad it was that Mormon leaders really have had to hide much of their history from their members. The Bible deals directly with this mindset. "The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?" (Jeremiah 5:31).

To make a long story short, a couple years back, our high school class was asking some pointed questions about the origins of the various churches. They also wanted to know how one church could be as good as another! Logically our young people were properly concluding that just couldn't be so. They knew they were correct and were asking for a basis to judge various churches as adults. Well, we don't leave our children ignorant. This is the material I used in that class.

Providentially at about the same time, I was studying with some young Mormon elders that had come to my door. These 20 year old "elders" complained that all they heard was negative things said about the Mormons. They elaborated that people just read bad things about the Latter Day Saints (LDS) church. I thought about it awhile and decided that part of their complaint was fair. It is important to know what Mormons really say, rather than what others say they say. I determined that I would concentrate on finding my material in the LDS documents rather than just from others.

Sadly, after I went to the work of presenting Mormon material describing these events, they chose to continue in ignorance.

Interesting isn't it?

The bottom line is that most of the study material below, while it may come off as negative, it is Mormon documentation of the Mormon founders' behavior. In other words, it is contemporaneous material from Mormonism. Much of it is what the Mormons said about themselves, to themselves. This was put out, before later generations started using selective memory.

Be sure that you find the following sections:

  1. The conversation the Mormons preserved for you about how Joseph Smith and Hyrum, his brother tried to convince Joseph's wife, Emma to accept polygamy. (I just had to laugh when I found this one.)
  2. Smith's prediction for the end of the world in the 1800's.
  3. The Mormon's so called "prophets'" description of the people that they said lived on the Sun. Note; If one of Christ's apostles said something this foolish, every university going would have a field day with it! The Bible just doesn't make these mistakes! The Book of Mormon admits to this silliness.

This article is a chapter from my workbook on the origins of various
churches. I had to cut the documentation and supplements section off. (It
would have been 32 pages long otherwise.)

Lesson 11

The Mormons

The Mormons represent an entirely different group of churches than those we have looked at thus far. The Mormon churches have added a supplement to their Bible that in practice bypasses or makes obsolete much of the Bible teaching.

In a nutshell, Joseph Smith claims that on September 21, 1823, the angel Moroni came to him and revealed to him that some golden plates were buried in the neighboring hill of Cumorah. These plates supposedly (among other things) told of the native Americans (under various fictional names) and their contact with Jesus Christ.

Smith further claimed these plates to be written in "reformed Egyptian." Not to worry. He miraculously translated these plates into English. Numerous people claimed to have seen these plates. but every one of these "witnesses" fell away from the church before they died!

Joseph was somewhat of a charlatan using peep stones and "magic" talisman looking for buried treasure prior to the time that he supposedly found the book of Mormon. He never quite gave it up. He had a talisman for Jupiter (the Greeks called him Zeus) on his person when he was shot to death.

In 1826 he was tried in a court of law because (much like fortune telling) these mystical practices were actually against the law in those days. He was found guilty but was not sentenced if he would leave the community.

Published in 1830, the Book of Mormon claims to be further revelation of Jesus Christ. It weaves quite a tale mixing fact and fiction indiscriminately. Fictional characters, Lehi and Nehi for example, are described in the opening pages as dwelling in Jerusalem during the reign of Zedekiah (a legitimate king of Judah.)

I have met many times with "Mormon Elders" and discussed the viability of their claims. Normally the "proof" these elders provide to back up their claims is to "pray fervently and God will convict you of its truth."

Children can be convinced to just believe anything or to follow their feelings, adults should be a little more cautious. Note that this is in fact an entirely different approach than that which the Bible instructs for Christians.

The follow is from Wikipedia:

An 1830 statement titled "Testimony of Three Witnesses"—one statement signed by three men rather than three separate statements—was published at the end of the first edition of the Book of Mormon:

Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, his brethren, and also of the people of Jared, which came from the tower of which hath been spoken. And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seeen [sic] the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shewn unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true. And it is marvellous [sic] in our eyes. Nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment-seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens. And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen.

The testimony of the Eight Witnesses was first published at the end of the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon and has been printed in nearly every edition since, although most subsequent editions have moved the statement to the front of the book, made minor grammatical corrections, and altered the phrase "Author and Proprietor" to read "translator."

Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That Joseph Smith, Jun., the Author and Proprietor of this work, has shewn unto us the plates of which hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated we did handle with our hands; and we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work, and of curious workmanship. And this we bear record with words of soberness, that the said Smith has shewn unto us, for we have seen and hefted, and know of a surety that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken. And we give our names unto the world, to witness unto the world that which we have seen. And we lie not, God bearing witness of it.

Here is a scan from my 1908 copy of the Book of Mormon. 

Virtually all these witnesses either left LDS, or were excommunicated by the
church before they died!

"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (I John 4:1).

The Mormon faith is actually a moving target. Even though they claim The Book of Mormon is from God it has had thousands of changes since its introduction as "scripture." The original Mormon approach was to "buy up" the old copies and to destroy them.

The errors are so extensive and the overall text so contradictory that the introduction to The Book of Mormon itself says, "And now if there are faults, they are the mistakes of men; wherefore condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ."

One amusing example of such is the text of Alma 15 page 303 "Yea, I know that he alloteth [sic] unto men, yea, decreeth unto them decrees which are unalterable, according to their wills." (Alama 29:4 in later editions).

This verse in my 1908 edition drops out the underlined words. Why do you
suppose Smith edited this out? It was actually dropped in 1840. It was put
back in 1981?

So we have an example of having to drop it out because of all the arbitrary revisions. then an established church eventually puts it back in. The story doesn't end here however.

In 1831 Joseph Smith supposedly received a revelation that is today contained in Doctrine and Covenants 56:2 (a-c)

"Behold, I the Lord commandeth, and he that will not obey shall be cut off in mine own due time; and after that I have commanded and the commandment is broken, wherefore I the Lord command and revoke, as it seemeth me good, and all this to be answered upon the heads of the rebellious, saith the Lord; wherefore I revoke the commandment which was given unto my servants Thomas B. Marsh and Ezra Thayre, and give a new commandment unto my servant Thomas, that he shall take up his journey speedily to the land of Missouri; and my servant Selah J. Griffin shall also go with him: for, behold, I revoke the commandment which was given unto my servants Selah J. Griffin and Newel Knight, in consequence of the stiffneckedness of my people which are in Thompson; and their rebellions."

Now we have the Mormons being inconsistent inside their scriptures. Before,
they were contradicting their scriptures by constantly revising them. Now
they have their scriptures contradicting themselves. Which is worse?

Again it doesn't stop there. Note what 56:3 says, "And again, verily I say unto you, that my servant Ezra Thayre must repent of his pride, and of his selfishness, and obey the former commandment which I have given him concerning the place upon which he lives; and if he will do this, as there shall be no divisions made upon the land, he shall be appointed still to go to the land of Missouri; otherwise he shall receive the money which he has paid, and shall leave the place, and shall be cut off out of my church, saith the Lord of hosts; and though the heaven and the earth pass away, these words shall not pass away, but shall be fulfilled."

Here are a few of the Mormon conflicts:

Mormonism vs. Bible

Mormonism The Bible
If there are faults, they are mistakes of men. (Introduction) "One jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law" (Mathew 5:18).
The witnesses fell away. "None of them is lost but the son of perdition that the scripture
may be fulfilled
" (John 17:12).
Eyewitnesses didn't see. "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life-- the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us--that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full" (I John 4:1-4).
Testimony misleading. Martin Harris admitted he never saw anything with his physical eyes. He stated: “I never saw the golden plates, only in a visionary or entranced state.” "We have not followed cunningly devised fables but were eyewitnesses" (I Peter 1:16).

Scientifically Inaccurate

Brigham Young prophesied of men on the moon and sun (Journal of Discourses 13:271)

Oliver B Huntington described inhabitants of moon in detail. (Journal of Oliver Huntington, vol II pg 166)


"hangeth earth on nothing" (Job 26:7).

"It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers" (Isaiah 40:22).

False Prophecies

"... and it was the will of God that those who went to Zion, with a determination to lay down their lives, if necessary, should be ordained to the ministry, and go forth to prune the vineyard for the last time, or the coming of the Lord, which was nigh--even fifty-six years should wind up the scene" (History of the Church, vol 2 pg 182)

"Were I going to prophesy, I would say the end (of the world) would not come in 1844, 5, or 6, or in forty years. There are those of the rising generation who shall not taste death till Christ comes. I was once praying earnestly upon this subject, and a voice said unto me, `My son, if thou livest until thou art eighty­five years of age, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man.' I was left to draw my own conclusions concerning this; and I took the liberty to conclude that if I did live to that time, He would make His appearance. But I do not say whether He will make His appearance or I shall go where He is. I prophesy in the name of the Lord God, and let it be written ­­ the Son of Man will not come in the clouds of heaven till I am eighty­five years old. Then read the 14th chapter of Revelation, 6th and 7th verses ­­ `And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment is come.' And Hosea, 6th chapter, After two days, etc., ­­ 2,520 years; which brings it to 1890." (History of the Church vol 5 pp.336­337).

"Will the present struggle free the slave? No; ... they cannot do that,..." (Bingham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol 10 pg 250).

Accurate Prophecies

Concerning the destruction of Jerusalem:

"Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place" (Matthew 24:34).

Concerning the end of the world:

"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only" (Matthew 24:36).


"Brethren, adieu" (Jacob 7:27) French in 544-421 BC America?

The outright dishonesty of many of the Mormons in dealing with their own teachings is more than a little unnerving. For example, Mormon apostle Parley Pratt describes the process of revelation to us:

"'Each sentence,' says he, 'was uttered slowly and very distinctly, and with a pause between each, sufficiently long for it to be recorded by an ordinary writer in long hand. This was the manner in which all his written revelations were dictated and written. There was never any hesitation, reviewing, or reading back, in order to keep the run of the subject; neither did any of these communications undergo revisions, interlinings or corrections. As he dictated them so they stood, so far as I have witnessed." (History of the Church, Vol. 1 pg 173 footnote).

Compare this to the scan of the original Book of Commandments obtained by the Tanners in 1961. They were allowed to start photocopying Wilford Woodruff's personal copy. They had only managed to copy 41 pages when the hierarchy of the Mormon church stopped them from proceeding further (The Case Against Mormonism, Jerald and Sandra Tanner 1967 pg 135). They included copies of said pictures in their book. It is easy to see why the Mormons do not want the public to see these originals of something that obviously is not inspired. It is edited to the max!

The Book of Commandments was originally published in 1833. A mob destroyed the printing press before the run could be completed. In 1835 it was republished as the "Doctrine and Covenants." You can see for yourself how extensive the revisions were.

  1. Read Matthew 5:17-19
    How does Jesus" statement of scripture match up with the scan above?
    How does the description above of how Joseph Smith's revelations were supposedly made compare to Jesus' comment?
    So, would it be fair to say that Parley Pratt understood (presumably from scripture) how Joseph Smith should have been able to reveal God's Word if Smith were actually a prophet?
    Covering up for your friends. Is that the way the godly are supposed to act?
  2. Read II Timothy 3:13-17
    Vs 13 How are impostors described?
    So what is one earmark of an impostor?
    Vs 14ff Where are we directed to avoid such as this?
  3. Read II Corinthians 11:1-5
    Is it possible for one to come and preach "another Jesus?"
    What about an "different spirit?"
    What about a "different gospel?"
    Vs 2 What is the implied reason that Paul is worried about this?

Joseph Smith was an arrogant and self-centered man. Ask yourself if this sounds like someone promoting the glory of Jesus Christ to the world?

"In all these affidavits, indictments, it is all of the devil-all corruption. 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. I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet. You know my daily walk and conversation. I am in the bosom of a virtuous and good people. How I do love to hear the wolves howl! When they can get rid of me, the devil will also go." (History of the Church, pg 408 "Address of the Prophet - His Testimony Against the Dissenters at Nauvoo. (Sunday, May 26, 1844)"

  1. Read II Corinthians 4:1-7
    What was the apostle's attitude toward the ministry entrusted to them?
    Vs 5. For we do not preach ________________ but ______________ as Lord.
    Who was the glory reserved for?
    What was their attitude toward dishonesty?
  2. Read the scan from the Journal of Discourses.
    According to the Mormons who holds the key for going to heaven?
    Who gives permission or issues a "passport" into heaven?
    When the Catholics were trying such things, what did they call them?
    Who did the Catholics claim held the "keys to the kingdom?"
  3. Read John 14:1-6 According to Jesus who holds the way into heaven?
    Who is the truth?
  4. Ephesians 5:6-11
    Vs 6 What caution does scripture hold for all this?
    Vs 9 The fruit of light consists of ____________________, ___________________, and __________________
    Vs 11 What is the scripturally defined role for you?
  5. Ephesians 4:11-14
    What is the stated reason for the church vs 14?
    Does it matter what foundation a church is built on?

Excerpt from Joseph Smith's 1826 trial manuscript:

"That at Palmyra he pretended to tell by looking at this stone where coined money was buried in Pennsylvania, and while at Palmyra had frequently ascertained in that way where lost property was of various kinds; that he had occasionally been in the habit of looking through this stone to find lost property for three years, but of late had pretty much given it up on account of its injuring his health, especially his eyes, making them sore; that he did not solicit business of this kind, and had always rather declined having anything to do with this business."
[Fraser's Magazine, February, 1873, vol. VII]

Joseph Smith admitted doing this in court. Pretending to be able to tell by looking at a stone, hmm this sounds like the same line he told concerning his so-called revelation of the Book of Mormon.

  1. Read II Timothy 3:1-13
    Will we be exempt from dealing with false prophets?
    Focus on vs. 2: What are the relevant characteristics to the Joseph Smith's personality described?

Let's look at the games played by Joseph over manipulating his wife, Emma Smith, into the polygamy doctrine.

"On the morning of the 12th of July, 1843; Joseph and Hyrum Smith came into the office... They were talking on the subject of plural marriage. Hyrum said to Joseph, 'If you will write the revelation on celestial marriage, I will take it and read it to Emma, and I believe I can convince her of its truth, and you will hereafter have peace.' Joseph smiled and remarked, 'you do not know Emma as well as I do.'" (History of the Church, Joseph Smith, Volume 5, Introduction)

Well, to make a long story short, they tried this approach. How far do you suppose it would get with your wife? William Clayton and Joseph Smith waited in Joe's office while Hyrum did the deed. When he returned he reported, 'He had never received a more severe talking to in his life.' (ibid). Smith's response was, 'I told you, you did not know Emma as well as I did.'" (ibid)

  1. Focus on the last phrase of II Timothy 3:4.
    How does this description relate to the behaviors described?
    Does it also describe the antics of the folks around Joseph

Pinning the Mormons down on this is a moving target. For example look at the following Doctrine and Covenants entry.

"Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in the case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again." [Doctrine and Covenants p.104] They removed it from the 1876 edition.

Note that if Joseph had convinced his wife, everyone else would have to be obligated to the same! "And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood - if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else." [Doctrine and Covenants, 132:61]

Like Mohammed, Joseph considered these so called regulations to apply to everyone other than him. According to his own so-called revelations, Joseph had a double affair with two ladies that were living with him. Here is their report of said "marriage."

"We had been there about a year when the principle of plural marriage was made known to us, and I was married to Joseph Smith on the 4th of March 1843, Elder Heber C. Kimball performing the ceremony. My sister Eliza was also married to Joseph a few days later. This was done without the knowledge of Emma Smith. Two months afterward she consented to give her husband two wives, providing he would give her the privilege of choosing them. She accordingly chose my sister Eliza and myself, and to save family trouble brother Joseph thought it best to have another ceremony performed. Accordingly on the 11th of May, 1843, we were sealed to Joseph Smith a second time, in Emma's presence!" [Historical Record, p. 240]

  1. Focus on II Timothy 3:5-9
    Who is to harmed by their behavior?
    One of the great powers of Christianity demonstrated on earth is the Christian home. What are these people doing?
    When we look closely at their behavior what is the result vs 9?

The women within the ranks of Mormonism understandably rebelled. From my present day discussion with Moslems I can pretty much guess the reaction even without documentation, can't you? Regularly I have brought up the multiple wife thing to Moslems, and they tell me the probable universal reaction in America is "I'd kill him!" I have actually lost track of how often I have heard that reaction. Apparently the Mormons were having the same problem. Finally Brigham Young decided to handle the "problem." He delivered the following ultimatum:

"I wish my own women to understand that what I am going to say is for them as well as others, and I want those who are here to tell their sisters, yes, all the women of this community, and then write it back to the States, and do as you please with it. I am going to give you from this time to the 6th day of October next, for reflection, that you may determine whether you wish to stay with your husbands or not, and then I am going to set every woman at liberty and say to them, Now go your way, my women with the rest, go your way. And my wives have go to do one of two things; either round up their shoulders to endure the afflictions of this world, and live their religion, or they may leave, for I will not have them about me. I will go into heaven alone, rather than have scratching and fighting around me. [Journal of Discourses, Vol. 4. Brigham Young sermon, pg. 55 ff (Also published in the Deseret News)].

Let's see, "get on board with this polygamy thing or get out"! Doesn't that pretty much sum it up? "You have two weeks." Perhaps there were a few more out there like Smith's Emma!

"Prepare yourselves for two weeks from to morrow; and I will tell you now, that if you will tarry with your husbands, after I have set you free, you must bow down to it, and submit yourselves to the celestial law. You may go where you please, after two weeks from tomorrow; but, remember, that I will not hear any more of this whining." (ibid)

  1. To follow false teaching what must you be willing to sacrifice?
  2. Read Ephesians 5:25-33
    What specific command is being tossed out here?
  3. Read Acts 15: 13-16
    When James evaluated the conclusion reached by Peter, what standard did James apply to determine whether it was true?
    Comparing the so-called revelations above to Ephesians 5 (question 13) Would Joe's or Brigham's "revelations" pass this test?
    If they do not. what is the consequence to their claim of being prophets?

Some of their dealings with scripture would be downright comical, if it were not so serious! "When our father Adam came into the garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives with him." [Journal of Discourses, Brigham Young, Vol. 1, page 50].

  1. Read Jeremiah 14:11-15 Would it be fair to say that God had given up on these people?
    What is Jeremiah's complaint to God? vs 13
    What is God's response to these people?
    Were the false prophets of Jeremiah's day telling them that everything was alright when if fact God was condemning them?

Some of it is disgusting. "I discover that some of the Eastern papers represent me as a great blasphemer, because I said, in my lecture on Marriage, at our last Conference, that Jesus Christ was married at Cana of Galilee, that Mary, Martha, and others were his wives, and that he begat children." [Journal of Discourses, Orson Hyde Mormon Apostle, Vol. 2, page 210].

Now, one obvious question that is often asked by Mormons as they meet with you is, "How can you account for the Book of Mormon?" Let's note at least one possible explanation. It is important to note that you do not necessarily need to know what or where something came from in order to know what it is not. For example I do not need to know the age of the earth in order to dispute the claim that it is 4.5 billion years old. I do not need to know all about the workings of the Holy Spirit in order to know that Smith and Rigdon's so-called revelations did not come from Him. For the record, I do not know how David Copperfield performs his acts of "magic." I absolutely know that Copperfield's theatrical behavior is not the work of the Holy Spirit!

That said, one of the most plausible explanations to me is that it is in fact an altered form of the Solomon Spaulding novel, "Manuscript Lost." I believe the evidence suggests that Joe Smith and Sidney Rigdon cooked up this scheme together. Rigdon was originally a Baptist preacher that was heavily influence by the restoration movement. He even did some traveling and working with Alexander Campbell. They seemed to have had a falling out over Rigdon's proposal to set up a quasi communal situation within the church. Campbell denounced such. It seems plausible that Rigdon had the Spaulding manuscript sometime between the years 1820-1823.

Solomon Spalding had originally delivered the manuscript to a printer (then known as Patterson & Hopkins Booksellers) in 1812. This firm changed hands through bankruptcies and reorganization multiple times. Finally in 1823 the firm then known as Patterson & Lambdin went into bankruptcy and was

This manuscript would, of necessity, have had to have been transferred at this time if it were still in the possession of this company. Now, Sidney Rigdon is thought to have worked in said printing firm. Regardless, the Baptist minister John Winter claimed to have seen the handwritten manuscript in Rigdon's office also in 1823. He alleged further to have discussed it at that time. Rigdon explained that he "had gotten it" from the printers to read as a curiosity. The author, Spaulding, had died in 1816.

When the Book of Mormon came out, various of Spaulding's neighbors or acquaintances had signed statements saying the book was actually a remake of Spaulding's work. The key points that seem to have resonated with the contemporaries were the strange names in both Spaulding's book and the Book of Mormon. Lehi, Nehi, Mormon, etc. These names, both unique and peculiar, were what stuck out. Numerous statements, including one from Spaulding's widow were collected to preserve these "memories" for posterity.

False Prophecies

The false prophecies of Smith and the other "prophets" around him are numerous. We'll deal with only a few of them.


Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Kirtland, Ohio, September 22 and 23, 1832. HC 1: 286-295. During the month of September, elders had begun to return from their missions in the eastern states and to make reports of their labors. It was while they were together in this season of joy that the following communication was received. The Prophet designates it a revelation on priesthood.

1 A REVELATION. of Jesus Christ unto his servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and six elders, as they united their hearts and lifted their voices on high.

2 Yea, the word of the Lord concerning his church, established in the last days for the restoration of his people, as he has spoken by the mouth of his prophets, and for the gathering of his saints to stand upon Mount Zion, which shall be the city of New. Jerusalem.

3 Which city shall be built, beginning at the temple lot, which is appointed by the finger of the Lord, in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri, and dedicated by the hand of Joseph Smith, Jun., and others with whom the Lord was well pleased.

4 Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation.

5 For verily this generation shall not all pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord, and a cloud shall rest upon it, which cloud shall be even the glory of the Lord, which shall fill the house."

  1. Was the "temple" raised in Independence, Missouri?
    Is everyone that was alive in 1832 now dead?
    Did Smith's prophecy of a New Jerusalem, complete with a temple in his generation come true?
    Where is the "temple" today?

From Doctrine and Covenants Section 114

Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Far West, Missouri, April 17, 1838. 1-2, Church positions held by those who are not faithful shall be given to others. 1 VERILY thus saith the Lord: It is wisdom in my servant David W. Patten, that he settle up all his business as soon as he possibly can, and make a disposition of his merchandise, that he may perform a mission unto me next spring, in company with others, even twelve including himself, to testify of my name and bear glad tidings unto all the world. 2 For verily thus saith the Lord, that inasmuch as there are those among you who deny my name, others shall be planted in their stead and receive their bishopric. Amen.

Note the date of the prophecy. Here is the point. David Patten, the one supposed to "go on a mission next spring," died in October. He didn't live to "next spring!"

The end of the world! 1896? The minutes of the Kirkland High Council February 14, 1835:

"To go on mission . God had not designed all this for nothing, but he had it in remembrance yet, and those who went to Zion, with a determination to lay down their lives, if necessary, it was the Will of God, that they should be ordained to the ministry and go forth to prune the vineyard for the last times, or the coming of the Lord which was nigh, 56 years to the end (1896) even fifty six years, should wind up the scene. From this hour."

Note, this prophecy shows up several places. Virtually the same wording shows up in History of the Church, volume 2, page 182.

Like today, they "knew in their hearts" that the end would come. As you read the supplement, you'll see that Joe described the meeting and the subsequent revelations as from the "Holy Spirit."

Smith taught similar things repeatedly. For example, in History of the Church, volume 1, page 323: Smith claimed "I asked of him a father's blessing, which he granted by laying his hands upon my head, in the name of Jesus Christ, and declaring that I should continue in the Priest's office until Christ comes." (January 23, 1833).

  1. I John 4:1-6
    Why do you suppose so many followed after Smith?
    Why do you suppose they still are following him?
    What are you supposed to do before you follow anyone?
  2. Deuteronomy 18:18-22
    What is the classic standard by which we are to test a prophet?
    Does Joe pass the test?
    What is God's assessment of Joe?
  3. Matthew 7:1-6
    Should you "judge" Joe?
    From this section of scripture, what terminology would Jesus use to describe Joseph Smith?
    (Matthew 7:13-23)
    Some of the "multitude" today look up to the Mormons as a standard of moral excellence. Is this a
    legitimate standard by which to judge them (vs 13-14)?
    What terminology would Christ apply them in this section (vs 15-20)?
    What are some the fruits?
    Have these people done "great things" for "God" (vs 21-23)?
    What is Christ's assessment?

Smith also tried his hand at bank fraud. He attempted to set up a bank. The state refused him a charter, so he called it an anti-bank and started issuing these worthless bank notes. Joseph and Sidney Rigdon were tried for violating said banking laws, found guilty, and fined $1000 each.

The "assassination" of Joseph and Hyrum Smith is a matter of perspective. For Mormons it is a sign of religious persecution. For those outside of Mormonism it is an example of rebellion against religious and political tyranny. Assassination or rebellion is a matter of lively debate.

Joe had set himself up as mayor. Mormons also lopsidedly controlled the city council. When warrants had been served on Smith he had used a writ of Habeas Corpus to invalidate them. A group of ex-Mormons headed by William Law founded an anti-Mormon paper called the Nauvoo Expositor. Law had been offended when Smith tried to seduce his wife into a "plural marriage" arrangement. Law apparently confronted said wife and she confirmed that Smith had "revealed" to her that half her love was for her husband, and half for Smith. This newspaper was only allowed to print one edition.

Be that as it may be.

The Mormon city council declared the paper a "public nuisance" and order it destroyed. The warrants were served on Smith then squelched. Smith ultimately declared martial law and ordered his Nauvoo Legion to be called out. This was his private army of about 5000.

The Illinois governor Thomas Ford offered to guarantee Smith safety for a trial at Carthage, Illinois. Smith had to either surrender or face all out war. Once there, both Hyrum and Joe Smith were not only charged with riot but for treason. They were to be held without bail. If convicted they faced the death penalty.

On June 27, 1844 a group of about 200 men with painted faces stormed the jail. Smith had a six shooter and went out in a blaze of glory. Three of his shots misfired, but he got the other three off.

"I shall never forget the deep feeling of sympathy and regard manifested in the countenance of Brother Joseph as he drew nigh to Hyrum, and, leaning over him, exclaimed, 'Oh! my poor, dear brother Hyrum!' He, however, instantly arose, and with a firm, quick step, and a determined expression of countenance, approached the door, and pulling the six-shooter left by Brother Wheelock from his pocket, opened the door slightly, and snapped the pistol six successive times; only three of the barrels, however, were discharged. I afterwards understood that two or three were WOUNDED by these discharges, TWO of whom, I am informed DIED." [History of the Church, Vol. 7, pp. 103].

  1. John 10:17-19
    Is it fair to compare the death of Joseph with the death of Jesus?
    What is the difference?
  2. Read John 18:6-11
    What is different in attitude?