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Little Known Propaganda: 13 – Joseph Smith Boasted (part 2)

12 Aug

This is my continuing responses to the list of “little known facts” referenced at the blog Sound Doctrine. On this blog the author presents the list along with responses to each from a F.A.I.R. Mormon scholar, known only as CleanCut. In addition the author of this blog, known as Damon, gives a response to CleanCut. As I said in my introduction blog, I am writing a response to each fact in a lengthy series.

See also Fact #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, #11, #12, #13a

Note: This is the second part to this one because it ended up being much longer than the others. Please read both to have a full understanding of my comments. I do this because I don’t like any article on my blog to be over 1,000 words. Thank You

FACT #13. Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church, boasted of doing a greater “work” than the Lord Jesus.

Joseph Smith made this incredible boast:

“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. . . . 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.” (History of the Church, vol. 6, pp. 408, 409)

No true Prophet of God ever spoke such words as these.

 

Now, let us look at what Joseph Smith said.

 

My object is to let you know that I am right here on the spot where I intend to stay.

First Joseph Smith tells his audience his purpose in speaking, which is to let the world know that would remain faithful to God and the gospel.

I, like Paul, have been in perils, and oftener than anyone in this generation. As Paul boasted…

Here he directly compares himself to Paul, which is something he does throughout this talk.

God is in the still small voice. 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.

Just as Paul was speaking to answer the accusations of false teachers, so Joseph Smith is addressing the accusations of those who opposed him. Then, what follows is his very brief statement of boasting.

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.

Note a few things. First, the author made the claim that Joseph Smith boasted of doing a greater work than Jesus. They even placed the word ‘work’ in quotations to emphasize their point. Clearly they want the reader to believe that Joseph made the claim that he did a greater work than the Atonement that was wrought by Christ. However, if we look at what Joseph Smith said we see clearly that he never said any such thing. He claimed only to have done a unique work, making no claim to superiority in any way. So, the only thing that one need ask is was his work unique in the history of the family of Adam?

The answer to this is clearly yes. Every prophet in the scriptures had trouble with dissenters and apostates that continually divided the church and led to wide spread rebellion. Even Jesus was abandoned by a great portion of His followers. However, Joseph Smith led a church that remained faithful through some of the greatest tribulation that man has ever experienced. The vast majority stayed faithful through it all. This is unique in human history, and thus the claim is true.

Now, to say that Joseph was foolish to have said this, especially as regards Christ, is perfectly true. But then, as we have seen, he is taking his lead from Paul, who stated directly that he was going to speak foolishly. If Paul may have the privilege of speaking foolishly and still be considered a prophet, than why not Joseph Smith?

 

Now, we have seen that Paul’s intent was to answer the accusations of false teachers, and the rest of Joseph Smith’s remarks are also directed to this main purpose, with just a few side notes.

You know my daily walk and conversation…For the last three years I have a record of all my acts and proceedings…therefore my enemies cannot charge me with any day, time, or place, but what I have written testimony to prove my actions; and my enemies cannot prove anything against me…

To preface this answer to the accusers Joseph Smith declares that he can produce proof against their accusations, showing them all to be liars. He then spends the next five paragraphs speaking of the accusations of a Mr. Simpson, then nine paragraphs addressing William Law and his conspirators. In all this he is still, to some extent, boasting that these men can prove nothing against him.

When I love the poor, I ask no favors of the rich. I can go to the cross–I can lay down my life; but don’t forsake me. I want the friendship of my brethren.–Let us teach the things of Jesus Christ…

Here he entreats the saints to not forsake him, but to join with him in teaching Christ and his gospel. For Joseph Smith, even after foolishly boasted, still saw himself as a follower of Christ, and sought only for the glory of God.

He then gives some counsel, which is not important to our purpose here, and then speaks again about William Law and his associates. Finally he closes with this statement.

As I grow older, my heart grows tenderer for you. I am at all times willing to give up everything that is wrong, for I wish this people to have a virtuous leader, I have set your minds at liberty by letting you know the things of Christ Jesus. When I shrink not from your defense will you throw me away for a new man who slanders you?…

He expresses his love for the saints, and his desire to be the virtuous man they deserve (though he does not claim to be perfect in any way). He then invokes Christ, declaring that it is Christ that has liberated the saints and brought them the joy and blessings they had received.

He finally says something similar to what Paul had said to the Corinthians. Don’t forsake him (even though he is foolish at times and has weakness), especially for a false teacher.

 

In all his words Joseph Smith spoke to address the concerns of the saints that had arisen because of the false accusations of some among them who were seeking to pull him down that they might lead the people instead. Just like Paul he spoke foolishly, boasting in his own works in order that the saints might see the truth of his prophetic calling, despite his faults. He gave the credit for his success to Christ, and entreated all to remain faithful, even though he was not perfect.

Little Known Propaganda: 13 – Joseph Smith Boasted (part 1)

12 Aug

This is my continuing responses to the list of “little known facts” referenced at the blog Sound Doctrine. On this blog the author presents the list along with responses to each from a F.A.I.R. Mormon scholar, known only as CleanCut. In addition the author of this blog, known as Damon, gives a response to CleanCut. As I said in my introduction blog, I am writing a response to each fact in a lengthy series.

See also Fact #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, #11, #12

Note: Because this one ended up requiring a longer response than the others I will be posting it in two parts. Please read both to have a full understanding of my comments. I do this because I don’t like any article on my blog to be over 1,000 words. Thank You

FACT #13. Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church, boasted of doing a greater “work” than the Lord Jesus.

 

Joseph Smith made this incredible boast:

“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. . . . 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.” (History of the Church, vol. 6, pp. 408, 409)

 

No true Prophet of God ever spoke such words as these.

 

This little tidbit has nothing to do with LDS doctrine, but is a sensationalized twisting of the words of Joseph smith. You can tell this by the fact that there is no attempt to actually address what was said. There is just a subdued outrage that he would dare to utter these words.

So, let us set aside the apparent clairvoyance of the author who thinks he knows everything every prophet has ever said, and let us look at what Joseph Smith is actually saying here, and in its full context.

 

In the record of this talk we are told at the beginning that Joseph Smith read from the 11th chapter of II Corinthians. We are not told how much of the chapter he read, and so it is assumed that he read the entire thing. So, to fully understand Joseph Smith we need to understand this chapter. As such I will review those relevant parts as briefly as possible.

1 Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.

First, Paul begins this chapter by asking us to bear with his folly. This is important for what comes later.

2-5 …I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means…your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached…ye might well bear with him.

It would seem that there were those in Corinth who had been teaching things contrary to the gospel that Paul and the other apostles had taught. Paul is here telling the people that if they follow Paul they should bear with him, but if they follow another they should bear with that person. This is important, as Paul is basically telling the people that they need to look past the faults of those whom they accept as teachers sent by God.

7-9 Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely?…in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself.

Basically, Paul is asking if it was wrong of him to work for their salvation at the expense of his own interests.

10 As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia.

Here we have the first direct statement of Paul boasting. He here states that he boasts of his work in Corinth throughout that region of the world.

12 But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we.

Here we get the real purpose of what Paul is saying. It is clear from this that there were those in Corinth who were not only teaching false doctrine, but were justifying themselves by ridiculing and accusing the apostles. They were seeking to find a reason, or an occasion that they could accuse the apostles, and thus turn the saints from them.

13-15 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

This is a great indictment against those who would seek to find fault with God’s anointed leaders.

16-19 I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little. That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting. Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also. For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise.

Here Paul asks the Corinthians to allow him a little folly and to suffer his foolishness gladly. In other words, accept that he had fault and let him have a few, as all men have faults.

21 I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also.

And from this point on Paul really gets into the folly of boasting, though I do not feel the need to post the rest of the chapter. It is simply a list of all the sufferings and works of Paul that he lists to show how much he has done for the church, and in so doing he also claims that he has done more and suffered more than any of the other apostles.

 

So, to summarize: There were people in Corinth that had been teaching false doctrine and justifying themselves by accusing the apostles and persuading others that since the apostles had faults they weren’t really from God. In response Paul boasts of his works, doing so to counter the accusations of these false teachers in an attempt to persuade the Corinthians to remain faithful to the true gospel.

(Continued in part 2)

 

Little Known Propaganda: 1 – All Churches Wrong

11 Jan

This is my first response to the list of “little known facts” referenced at the blog Sound Doctrine. On this blog the author presents the list along with responses to each from a F.A.I.R. Mormon scholar, known only as CleanCut. In addition the author of this blog, known as Damon, gives a response to CleanCut. As I said in my introduction blog, I am writing a response to each fact in a lengthy series. I will not, however, comment on what CleanCut or Damon said.

 

FACT #1 The Mormon Church teaches ALL other Churches are WRONG; ALL their creeds are an ABOMINATION in the sight of God; and ALL their teachers are corrupt.

One of the Mormon Books of Scripture, The Pearl of Great Price, says this about non-LDS churches:  “…they were ALL WRONG; and the Personage who addressed me said that ALL their creeds were an ABOMINATION in his sight; that those professors were ALL CORRUPT…” (Joseph Smith 1:19).

 

Very true; however this is hardly a little known fact. Even in 2008 it was well known that we believe we have the only true church. So, to have it on a list of supposedly little known facts is not completely honest.

 

Also, it must be understood in its proper perspective. You see, we take Paul literally when he says there is but one church and one faith (Ephesians 4: 4-5). We do not hold to the view that the church is all Christians; rather we believe the church to be the organized system of religion that Christ established while on the Earth. When that system was lost the church was lost. Any religion that is not part of that organization cannot be the true church. Paul also described this organization, listing as offices within it Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers (Eph. 4: 11-12).

So, any church that does not contained these offices, duly appointed by God as was Aaron (Hebrews 5:4), cannot be the true church that Christ established. As none of the churches at the time of the First Vision had these offices, or the authority to appoint them, all of them were the wrong church.

 

As to the creeds, anything that tends to lead men away from God and the fullness of his glory would be an abomination to God. God wants all his children to share in his glory; anything less causes him sorrow. So, those creeds that teach false doctrine and thus lead men to a lesser glory would be detestable to God as they frustrate his desires.

 

Having said all this it must also be understood that just because a church is not the one true church that does not mean that all the doctrine that it espouses is wrong. All churches have a measure of truth, some more than others. It is also true that the followers of the different religions are most often good people who have simply been deceived.

False Prophecies

21 Oct

One of the favorite tactics of those who oppose the church is to try and point out unfulfilled prophecies of Joseph Smith. I have read many such lists, and they generally fall back on the same ten or twelve. This is done in an attempt to prove that Joseph Smith is not a prophet.

The argument is based in Deuteronomy 18: 20-22, which reads “But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we a know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.”

So, the critics want to present false prophecies to claim that Joseph Smith is guilty of giving false prophecies so they can try to convince others that he is not a true prophet and can be rejected. In fact, at the CARM website they say “that having several fulfilled prophecies and even a single false prophecy still means that the person is not a true prophet of God.”

Now, it is true that this is a test of a true prophet. However, for this to be proven you first have to prove that the person was claiming to speak in the name of God, and then you have to prove that the prophecy was false.

Now the first one can be hard to prove, because prophets don’t always begin their prophecies with “Thus saith the Lord.” Actually, sometimes they may seem to indicate they are speaking for God but are actually speaking for themselves, offering their opinion on what God has planned.

The second is even more difficult to prove. Prophecy is notorious for symbolism and generalities, rarely giving time tables for anything. This leaves it to the reader to try and figure out the meaning, or recognize it when it is fulfilled. The key to unlocking the meaning and fulfillment of prophecy is given to us by Peter. In his second epistle he tells us “no prophecy of the scripture is of any private d interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” In other words, prophecy comes by through the Holy Ghost, and so it is only through the Holy Ghost that one can understand its meaning.

 

So, while people are continually trying to prove Joseph Smith a false prophet, they seem to lack the power to do so. No one without the gift of the Holy Ghost is qualified to judge anyone to be a false or a true prophet. Those who have never been baptized by proper authority do not have this gift, and those who have left the church have lost it.

All things considered one can see why it is difficult for anyone to know exactly what a prophecy means and if it has been fulfilled, especially for those who are trying to prove them false.

 

However, for the sake of sportsmanship I will do a series on some of the prophecies in question. I take the first five from the CARM website. As I find more in other lists I will add them to this series over the years. I also ask that if any of those reading this know of any such claim that they would like me to research and post on I will gladly do so.

I realize that I am working on several series right now (I think this makes three) but I will be posting on all of them in the next week.

Articles of Faith: Eleven

21 Apr

In my first post of this series I went over the origin and history of the Articles of Faith. I have also discussed Article of Faith 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10. Today I will discuss briefly the eleventh of the Articles, as given below.

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

This will be a short comment as there really isn’t much to say concerning this. We believe that all men have the god given right to believe whatever they choose. No one has the right to dictate conscience. Joseph Smith gives this same sentiment in another place. He declares

If I esteem mankind to be in error, shall I bear them down? No. I will lift them up, and in their own way too, if I cannot persuade them my way is better; and I will not seek to compel any
man to believe as I do, only by the force of reasoning, for truth will cut its own way. (quoted in Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith)

We believe in building men up, and building them up in the way they desire if we cannot persuade them our way is better. In other words, I will teach everyone the truths of the gospel, but if one comes to me for assistance in building his Hindu shrine I will assist him. This is actually a little exaggerated, but it makes the point. I think I would be willing to help a friend construct a religious building or shrine to his faith, but what I think Joseph Smith meant was that we will not deny anyone our assistance in a good work. We will not turn others away from our stores, or deny anyone any aid we can provide based on what they believe.

We will not assist in any undertaking that is not good and calculated to uplift our fellowmen, however. So, we will not help a friend conceal his affair from his wife, nor will we assist anyone in covering up a crime. However, we will not hold back aid from anyone who is doing good, regardless of what they believe.

I think the reason that Joseph Smith included this in the articles was in large part due to the severe persecution he and the saints had suffered for the past 25 years. Part of that persecution was the spreading of lies that the saints were isolationist in nature, that they didn’t trade or associate with those of other faiths. It was also spread around that in Nauvoo those who were not Mormon were persecuted, especially because Joseph Smith was the Mayor. He wanted to dispel these false rumors and make the truth of our beliefs known.

Articles of Faith: Nine

8 Apr

In my first post of this series I went over the origin and history of the Articles of Faith. I have also discussed Article of Faith 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8. Today I will discuss briefly the ninth of the Articles, as given below.

We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

In the last article Joseph Smith declared our belief in the written record of God’s word. I think it appropriate here to mention that he did not include the Doctrine and Covenants or the Pearl of Great Price in the Eighth Article. This is a point some non-members have brought up to me in the past. The reason is simple; his intent was to speak on the ancient records of God’s words. Some may question why the Book of Moses and the Book of Abraham were not included. Well, the Book of Moses was simply a retranslation of the Bible, and thus is included, while the Book of Abraham was not yet published or accepted as a standard scripture of the church.

However, all of these are included in the Ninth Article of Faith. This article is the declaration of our belief in continuing revelation. The Doctrine and Covenants is a collection of modern revelation and a number of the sections had not been revealed when Joseph Smith wrote this article. By declaring this belief he affirmed that more knowledge and more direction would be revealed and it would be just as true as anything revealed in the past, and thus allowed future presidents the ability to lead the church as is necessary.

However, there is a greater implication to this article. After the first century when the church started to fall into apostasy the leader chose to close the canon. They had no authority to do this, but they declared that God would never reveal anything else to man. In this way they set the early apostles apart as being on a level that no one else could ever attain. God no longer called men as prophets or apostles.

Joseph Smith, however, declared boldly that God was not yet finished, but would continue to reveal truth to his people. Joseph Smith could have done the same thing as those early, uninspired men. He could have declared that after him there would be no future revelation, and thus set himself apart as something that no one else could attain. But he did not do this. He left it open for those who came after to not only become as he had, but possibly to be greater. This shows a great humility in the man, as he had no desire to keep things for himself.

Because of this article we can accept the revelation to Joseph F. Smith concerning the world of Spirits; we can accept the Manifesto and the later lifting of the ban on the Priesthood. These things pose no problem for those who truly understand the gospel, because we believe that God has not finished revealing his will to man. Not only this, but we look forward to many more and great revelations that are yet to come. Joseph Smith gave us the record of the Nephites in the Book of Mormon, but we anticipate the sealed portion being brought forth. We also anticipate the bringing forth of the record of the lost tribes. These things are things we can look forward to, because we do not believe that God has shut the heavens and does not reveal his will anymore. We believe he has yet to reveal many great and important things pertaining to his kingdom.

Articles of Faith: Seven

3 Apr

In my first post of this series I went over the origin and history of the Articles of Faith. I have also discussed Article of Faith 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. Today I will discuss briefly the seventh of the Articles, as given below.

We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.

First to note is the ‘and so forth.’ Joseph Smith is not attempting to list all the gifts of the spirit here, and in truth he does not list even all the gifts that are listed in the other scriptures. There are two other places that a list is given, both having a longer list than what Joseph Smith gives here.

Paul gives a list of the Gifts of the Spirit

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. (1 Corinthians 12: 7-11)

This is what is stated in the Doctrine and Covenants.

For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God. To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby.To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world.To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful.And again, to some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know the differences of administration, as it will be pleasing unto the same Lord, according as the Lord will, suiting his mercies according to the conditions of the children of men.And again, it is given by the Holy Ghost to some to know the diversities of operations, whether they be of God, that the manifestations of the Spirit may be given to every man to profit withal.And again, verily I say unto you, to some is given, by the Spirit of God, the word of wisdom.To another is given the word of knowledge, that all may be taught to be wise and to have knowledge.And again, to some it is given to have faith to be healed;And to others it is given to have faith to heal.And again, to some is given the working of miracles;And to others it is given to prophesy;And to others the discerning of spirits.And again, it is given to some to speak with tongues;And to another is given the interpretation of tongues.And all these gifts come from God, for the benefit of the children of God. (D&C 46: 11-26)

Even these lists are hardly exhaustive, but they give us a clearer idea of what is included. Let us again consider the order. This is the only one that I can honestly say that I don’t think the order has any real importance. No gift is greater than any other, and not all have all gifts. We are counseled to seek out the best gifts, but what is best for me is not going to be what is best for others. As such, if we were to list the gifts in order of greatness the order of the gifts would be different for each person. So, let us now look at the actual gifts.

Each gift is unique, and I am not going to take the time to go over each one. The important thing to note is that all of the gifts listed in all these references refer to what would be called supernatural ability or divine power. A person may be born with a great ability to learn languages, but this does not mean they have the Gift of Tongues from the spirit. Another may be born with great skill in medicine, but that does not mean they have the Gift of Healing from the spirit. The Gifts of the Spirit refer to God granting us, through his spirit, power beyond what we would be capable of on our own. A skilled doctor that rejects the gospel cannot claim to have any gift from the Spirit, and yet still be able to heal people. Why? Because he has a natural talent within himself. A person who has no such talent and yet, through their faith in Christ is able to heal others can claim to have the Gift of Healing.

While I think it proper and good to thank God for our natural talents and credit his goodness that we have them, we should not confuse our talents with the Gifts of the Spirit.