Joseph Smith

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    Joseph Smith, Jr.

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Joseph Smith, Jr.
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We should be careful not to claim for Joseph Smith perfections he did not claim for himself. He need not have been superhuman to be the instrument in God’s hands that we know him to be. In May, 1844, Joseph declared: “I never told you I was perfect, but there is no error in the revelations which I have taught.” He had commented earlier: “Although I do wrong, I do not the wrongs I am charged with doing: the wrong that I do is through the frailty of human nature, like other men. No man lives without fault. Do you think that even Jesus, if He were here, would be without fault in your eyes? His enemies said all manner of evil against Him—they all watched for iniquity in Him.” Joseph Smith was a mortal man striving to fulfill an overwhelming, divinely- appointed mission against all odds. The wonder is not that he ever displayed human failings, but that he succeeded in his mission. His fruits are undeniable and undeniably good.

—Elder D. Todd Christofferson, "The Prophet Joseph Smith," Brigham Young University-Idaho Devotional (September 24, 2013) off-site
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It is claimed that Joseph Smith was a disreputable person. (Click here for full article)

  • Was Joseph Smith ego-maniacal, proud, and narcissistic?
    Brief Summary: Some quote Joseph Smith as saying such things as: "I am learned, and know more than all the world put together," "I combat the errors of ages; I meet the violence of mobs; I cope with illegal proceedings from executive authority; I cut the Gordian knot of powers, and I solve mathematical problems of universities, with truth . . . diamond truth; and God is my ‘right hand man.’” They use these quotes to portray Joseph as egomaniacal, proud, and narcissistic. (Click here for full article)
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  • Joseph as a "second Mohammad"
    Brief Summary: Joseph Smith is quoted as saying that he would be a "second Muhammad," threatening to spread his beliefs with the sword. (Click here for full article)
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  • Did Joseph Smith 'boast' of keeping the Church intact?
    Brief Summary: Joseph Smith is reported as saying: “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 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, 6:408–409). This attitude strikes some as boastful, and unbecoming a prophet. (Click here for full article)
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Was Joseph Smith's engagement in "money digging" or looking for buried treasure a blot on his character? (Click here for full article)

Joseph Smith's claim that he saw the Father and the Son in 1820 has produced a wide variety of criticism. This set of articles addresses the various critical claims related to the First Vision. The linked articles below are designed to help readers to see some of the weaknesses that are found in arguments that are made against Joseph Smith's First Vision accounts. Some of these arguments are currently being advocated in anti-Mormon literature that is handed out near the Sacred Grove in Palmyra, New York. (Click here for full article)

Citing Joseph Smith's experiences with folk magic, treasure seeking and seer stones, it is claimed that Joseph Smith's spiritual experiences were originally products of magic and the occult. Some charge that only much later did Joseph retrofit his experiences in Christian, religious terms: speaking of God, angels, and prophethood rather than in terms of magic, treasure guardians and scrying. It is also claimed that a "vagabond fortune-teller" named Walters became popular in the Palmyra area, and that when Walters left the area, "his mantle fell upon" Joseph Smith. (Click here for full article)

It is claimed that Joseph Smith claimed to translate other texts or items, which can be checked against modern academic translations. They claim that this "cross-checking" proves that Joseph could not have translated the Book of Mormon or other ancient texts. (Click here for full article)

  • Joseph as seer and his use of seer stones
    Brief Summary: What do we know about Joseph's seer stone? What is its relation to the "Urim and Thummim"? Did Joseph place his seer stone in his hat while he was translating the Book of Mormon? (Click here for full article)
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  • Book of Abraham (Click here for full article)
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  • Joseph Smith and the Greek psalter
    Brief Summary: It is claimed that an ancient text of Greek psalms (a "psalter") was misidentified by Joseph Smith as a containing "reformed Egyptian" hieroglyphics. (Click here for full article)
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  • Kinderhook Plates
    Brief Summary: Given the evidence that the Kinderhook plates were fraudulent, how can one explain the following things: Why did William Clayton claim that Joseph Smith had translated a portion of the plates? Where did the translation described by Clayton come from if the plates were actually fake? By what means did Joseph attempt to translate the plates? (Click here for full article)
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  • The Joseph Smith "translation" of the Bible and its relationship to the Book of Mormon
    Brief Summary: Some passages from the Bible (parts of Isaiah, for example) were included in the Book of Mormon text. However, the same passages were later revised for the Joseph Smith Translation of the Holy Bible. In some cases these passages are not rendered identically. It is claimed that if the JST was an accurate translation, it would match the supposedly more 'pure' Isaiah text possessed by the Nephites. (Click here for full article)
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  • Joseph Smith's involvement with legal issues
    Brief Summary: How many times was Joseph involved with legal issues? (Click here for full article)
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  • Does D&C 98 teach the Saints to disobey the secular law?
    Brief Summary: According to historian D. Michael Quinn, Joseph received a revelation which "established the primacy of religious law over secular law...and not only authorized but commanded Mormons to disobey secular law and civil leaders not conforming to the commandments of God." This interpretation, however, is Quinn's own. The revelation is not telling the Saints to "disobey secular law and civil leaders"—it is telling them to "befriend" the law of the land, and seek to support "honest men and wise men" as leaders. (Click here for full article)
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  • Claimed mismanagement of the Lawrence estate
    Brief Summary: Joseph Smith was appointed the guardian of two daughters, Maria and Sarah Lawrence, and their inheritance. He later married them in plural marriage. The evidence shows that Joseph Smith faithfully discharged his legal duties, despite the claims made by some nineteeth-century and modern critics. (Click here for full article)
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  • Joseph Smith's presidential run
    Brief Summary: Some claim that Joseph Smith's decision to run for President of the United States in 1844 shows him to be either a megalomaniac bent on amassing ever more power, or a fanatic with delusions of grandeur. (Click here for full article)
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Joseph Smith is frequently criticized for his introduction and practice of polygamy. From a Christian perspective, these attacks usually focus on arguing that polygamy is unchristian or unbiblical, and that Joseph hid the truth from the world. From a secular perspective, it is asserted that the practice of polygamy sprung from Joseph's carnal desires to marry young women. Of particular interest is the fact that Joseph was sealed to women who were already married to other men (polyandry). (Click here for full article)

Further reading and additional sources responding to these claims

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