A brief defense of Joseph Smith, which is going to sound odd, but in fairness, I think I should do it. Please read to the end of it before you decry me as a heretic!
Joseph Smith was very young when he pretended to meet God and Jesus Christ. From what I’ve read, he was fairly interested in becoming a Methodist, but his main problem was, “Why are there so many denominations?”
Well, that’s an easy question he could have had answered if he’d approached any Baptist pastor – the Bible warned that grievious wolves would arise, sparing not the flock.
We have heretics arising like Augustine and John Calvin, teaching unbiblical doctrines. Those doctrines were further expounded on by Zwingli, which is where we got all the “reformed” denominations. You have Martin Luther, who protested the Roman Catholic church, but didn’t go far enough in rejecting unBiblical doctrines like infant baptism.
There are assorted synods, and simple arguments like a Pew tax, which is where the Free Methodists came from.
Joseph Smith began this at age 15, never having even learned basic elementary Christian doctrines.
I will say this, the evidence was showing that God speaking to Joseph Smith, the same way He speaks to every human, calling them to repent, to seek Him, to have their sins washed clean.
18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:18 (KJV)
Smith instead decided to create his own religion, one that would answer his questions. Alas, he lacked any understanding of basic Christian doctrines, such as Salvation by grace without works, believer’s baptism, etc.
There are about ten major areas of doctrine one studies when they’re called into the ministry, each having profound implications if you neglect any one part.
- Soteriology (salvation)
- Theology (the study of God and His nature)
- Christology (the study of Jesus Christ and His nature)
- Pneumatology (the study of the Holy Spirit and His nature)
- Ekklesiology (study of the church)
- Bibliology (study of the Bible and its makeup and nature)
- Eschatology (study of prophecy and last things)
- Hamartiology (study of sin and its origins and implications)
- Angelology (the study of the created beings of Angels and devils)
- Anthropology (the study of Man and how he fits into God’s plan)
Trust me, I know – some areas I would have liked to study longer in Seminary ended up being glossed over, and some I thought should have been glossed over were entirely too long (like Ekklesiology!).
THe point here is, Smith came up with all of this at 20 years old. To have invented the Book of Mormon was a prodigious undertaking! It’s a large book. Compared to most Buddhist writings, it’s huge. At a quick glance, it looks almost as large as the Bible.
Smith faced the task and completed it. He did it without any training in doctrine, and at a fairly young age. No wonder it went completely awry! It’s your typical man centered religion. “We are gods! Worship mighty mankind! LO!!!!”
Okay, that’s as far as I defend him. Ignorance is no excuse.
What should he have done instead? Well, how about going from church to church and asking the different pastors what was the difference in their denominations? Or possibly reading some books on it. He should have gotten some guidance. He should have prayed, and asked the Lord what the Lord wanted. He should have read his bible, and determined for himself what God’s word said, instead of looking for what he could use to justify his new religion. He did it completely backwards.
He should have gotten saved, gotten involved with a Bible believing church, and gone to a seminary. Joseph Smith actually could have been a famous pastor or evangelist, and gone on to great rewards if he’d been a Christian.
Instead, he’s gone on to great torment and punishment, which will be great indeed as he’s led millions astray.
Joseph also found ways to involve all his pursuits and interests into his new religion, including weaving Freemasonry into his religion, taking secret ceremonies and rituals and weaving them unchanged into Mormonism. The secret Temple Ceremonies, for example, are word for word and riutual for ritual identical to Freemasonry, with some minor changes to make them fit in.
He invented in a religion. When you turn to a false god, the real God simply says, “fine. Let them save you.” Since those gods do not exist, they cannot save you.
Smith should not be suprised when he awoke in torments after death. He’d abandoned the God of the Bible, and must have known where he’d end up. I pray that Christians do not have to witness the Great White Throne judgment, as it will be horrific to see these people attempt to justify why they did what they did. However, I’m afraid we probably do have to witness it. We don’t have to suffer through it, as billions of lost souls do.
Did Smith believe what he was preaching? I don’t know. I can’t answer that. I merely find myself close to weeping when I think about what could have been for him, versus what he chose for himself and millions.