Joseph Smith/Status in LDS belief/Brigham Young applied 1 John 4:3 to Joseph Smith

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Brigham Young applied 1 John 4:3 to Joseph Smith

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Question: Did Brigham Young commit blasphemy by applying 1 John 4:3 to Joseph Smith?

The scripture in 1 John applies to Joseph because Joseph is a prophet—and prophets testify of Christ

It is claimed that Joseph's place in LDS theology is blasphemous and even idolatrous. As evidence for this, they cite Brigham Young's application of 1 John 4:3 to Joseph.

The scripture in 1 John applies to Joseph because Joseph is a prophet—and prophets testify of Christ. To reject Christ's prophets is to reject him. One can no more, in Brigham's mind, reject Joseph Smith and claim to obey Christ than one could reject Peter, James, John, Paul, or Matthew and consider oneself a faithful Christian. The application of 1 John to Joseph Smith applies only insofar as Joseph is an apostle and witness of Christ.

Brigham Young said:

For unbelievers we will quote from the Scriptures—"Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God." Again—"Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God." I will now give my scripture—"Whosoever confesseth that Joseph Smith was sent of God to reveal the holy Gospel to the children of men, and lay the foundation for gathering Israel, and building up the kingdom of God on the earth, that spirit is of God; and every spirit that does not confess that God has sent Joseph Smith, and revealed the everlasting Gospel to and through him, is of Antichrist....

Brigham does apply 1 John to Joseph—but interestingly insists that to deny Joseph is to "Antichrist." That is, to reject Joseph is to reject Christ. Critics rarely provide this perspective, which Brigham makes more clear as he continues:

They may say that they acknowledge Him [Jesus and His Father] until doomsday, and he will never own them, nor bestow the Holy Spirit upon them, and they will never have visions of eternity opened to them, unless they acknowledge that Joseph Smith is sent of God. Such people I call unbelievers. They tell about believing in Jesus Christ, but they might as well talk about birds understanding the Hebrew language. This statement is no more positive than true. All whom I call unbelievers, if they will repent of their sins, obey the requirements in the New Testament, be baptized for the remission of sins by a man who holds the key and authority to lead them into the waters of baptism, and receive the laying on of hands for the Holy Ghost, shall receive a witness that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God, and that he was sent of God to build up his kingdom in this last dispensation. You will receive a Spirit that will bring all things to your remembrance, past present, and to come, teaching you all things necessary for you to understand. There are but a few in this generation who will do this.[1]

Brigham makes it clear that a belief in Joseph's prophetic mission springs from a willingness to accept God in faith, repent, "obey...the New Testament," be baptized for the remission of sins, and receive the Holy Ghost.

To see citations to the critical sources for these claims, click here


  1. Brigham Young, "LIGHT OF THE SPIRIT—COURSE OF MISSIONARIES," (9 September 1860) Journal of Discourses 8:176-177.

Further reading and additional sources responding to these claims

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