Moroni's visit/Angel of Satan
Some critics have charged that Moroni — the resurrected prophet who gave the Book of Mormon plates to Joseph Smith — was really an angel of Satan. They base this charge on two passages in the New Testament:
- 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. (2 Corinthians 11:13–15)
- But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8)
Critics ask, "If Satan can appear as an angel of light, couldn't he have deceived Joseph Smith by claiming to be Jesus Christ or Moroni or any of the other messengers who appeared to him?"
Some have argued that Joseph Smith might have been deceived by Satan or been misled by his imagination but these objections fail an objective analysis using the scriptures as our standard of truth. The teachings of Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the LDS Church affirm that Jesus is the Christ and that he "came in the flesh" as prophesied and affirmed in scripture. For Satan to inspire these latter-day truths goes counter to Christ's own teachings (Matthew 12:25–26; also Matthew 9:33–34; Mark 3:22–30; Luke 11:14–26; Jesus the Christ, pp. 265–266).
To believe that an uneducated farm boy could have imagined these things and convinced so many others of their veracity is difficult to justify especially in view of the testimonies of all those who were also intimately involved as eyewitnesses to many of these same events. Indeed, to deny these events took place as so many witnesses testified takes more faith than to accept their accounts as factual. Joseph Fielding McConkie pointed out:
- "Many a pretender to the prophetic office has claimed to entertain angels or to have spoken with God, but who other than Joseph Smith introduced his angels to others? Joseph Smith introduced Moroni to Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris. He was never alone when priesthood or keys were restored.... He and Sydney Rigdon received the revelation on the degrees of glory together. Together they saw legions of angels, along with the Father and the Son (see D&C 76:21–23). Oliver Cowdery was with Joseph Smith when John the Baptist came to restore the Aaronic Priesthood, and when Peter, James, and John came to restore the Melchizedek Priesthood. Oliver was also with Joseph Smith when Christ came to accept the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, and Moses, Elias, and Elijah restored their keys, powers, and authorities." 
This is certainly possible in LDS belief, since the Book of Mormon describes two instances where this occurred (2 Nephi 9:9; Alma 30:53). Joseph Smith also briefly described several incidents of this nature associated with the restoration (D&C 128:20; Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 214 ). Nevertheless, it appears that Joseph became aware of this tactic early on and taught the members how to recognize this ruse (Teachings, pp. 202, 204, 214, 227; see also Bruce R McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 2:440–441).
The Bible also contains a test to enable us to judge or, as John says, to "try spirits whether they are of God" (1 John 4:1). If Jesus Christ or Moroni or any of the other messengers who appeared to Joseph Smith failed this test we would know they were ministers of Satan.
John states, "Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God" (1 John 4:2–3). Joseph Smith likewise taught, "...if I profess to be a witness or teacher, and have not the spirit of prophecy, which is the testimony of Jesus, I must be a false witness.... [A]ny man who says he is a teacher or preacher of righteousness, and denies the spirit of prophecy, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; and by this key false teacher and impostors may be detected" (Teachings, p. 269).
In the First Vision Jesus Christ was introduced by God the Father as his "Beloved Son" (Joseph Smith—History 1:17). God the Father was, in essence, witnessing that Jesus Christ was his Only Begotten Son just as he had done when Jesus "came in the flesh" and was baptized (Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11). In a subsequent appearance Jesus identified himself as "the first and the last...he who liveth...he who was slain" (D&C 110:4). Jesus Christ was testifying that he was the same person who lived in the Holy Land and crucified for our sins. He confirmed that he indeed came "in the flesh" to accomplish the atonement.
The angel Moroni who appeared to Joseph Smith also confirmed that "Jesus Christ was come in the flesh" by quoting Old and New Testament scriptures which were fulfilled with his coming (Joseph Smith—History 1:40). He also stated that his (Moroni's) purpose was to reveal a book "giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent" and containing the "everlasting Gospel...as delivered by the Savior" following his mortal ministry. The stated purpose of the Book of Mormon is in fact to convince both "Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ" (title page); as such, it is subtitled Another Testament of Jesus Christ. Latter-day Saints believe it to be a second witness, after the Bible, of Jesus Christ's divine mission. If Moroni were Satan or one of Satan's ministers acting as an instrument of evil, he surely would not have done so much to convince mankind to believe in Christ; it goes counter to Satan's purpose (Matthew 12:25).
In the Book of Mormon, Jacob told us:
- "Yea, I know that ye know that in the body he shall show himself unto those at Jerusalem, from whence we came; for it is expedient that it should be among them; for it behooveth the great Creator that he suffereth himself to become subject unto man in the flesh, and die for all men, that all men might become subject unto him. For as death hath passed upon all men, to fulfil the merciful plan of the great Creator, there must needs be a power of resurrection, and the resurrection must needs come unto man by reason of the fall; and the fall came by reason of transgression; and because man became fallen they were cut off from the presence of the Lord." (2 Nephi 9:5–6.)
Jacob's brother Nephi taught:
- "And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, harken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good. And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye — for Christ will show unto you with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness." (2 Nephi 33:10–11)
The Book of Mormon also contains an account of Christ's visit to those upon this continent wherein he allows them to "feel the prints of the nails" in his flesh (3 Nephi 11:14) that they might understand that he died for them also. Thus Moroni and the book which he brought, both testify that Jesus Christ is the Messiah and was come in the flesh "manifesting himself unto all nations" (title page; 1 Nephi 10:4–11; 11:18–21, 27–33; 15:13; Mosiah 7:27; 15:1–2; Ether 3:6, 9, 16–17; Moroni 9:25).
None of the messengers which appeared to Joseph Smith ever denied that Jesus Christ was the Messiah come in the flesh (D&C 13:1; 18:11–12; 19:16–19; 20:1; 110:4) and all had a "testimony of Jesus." Paul gave us a final key to detection of false messengers; he said that their "end shall be according to their works" (2 Corinthians 11:15). If their works be evil or unrighteous we will know they are not from God. "By their fruits ye shall know them" (Matthew 7:20).
- [note] Joseph Fielding McConkie, Sons and Daughters of God: The Loss and Restoration of Our Divine Inheritance (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1994), 194–195. ISBN 0884949362.