A new book about Joseph Smith is about to hit the market. A recent online press release divulged,
“Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, could be the most controversial and mysterious religious figure of the past two hundred years. While volumes have been written about him— both in praise and contempt— the reality is that very little is known about what occupied his thoughts and the meaning behind his actions…
“This book, Without Disclosing His True Identity— the Authorized and Official Biography of the Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith Jr., will answer every question ever considered about the beginnings of Mormonism.”
With an impressive title and an equally impressive promise, this book sounds pretty interesting. The author, Christopher (no last name), states that his book does not rely on previous histories and source documents, all of which have been used by competing branches of Mormonism and critics to paint a picture of Joseph Smith to their own liking. Christopher asks, “Does anyone actually know the real truth?” (Introduction, p. 3). His answer may be somewhat surprising. Yes, someone does know the real truth, and that someone is Joseph Smith. The author’s claim is that this book is written under the direction of the resurrected Joseph, himself.
“Joseph Smith Jr., like his predecessor Moroni, is a living, advanced (resurrected) human being living on another planet near our own solar system. He is waiting for the time to come when he will reveal himself, along with other advanced human beings, to a world of unaware free-willed human beings; thus helping to save them from their own demise. If the angel Moroni is real, then why can‘t—why shouldn‘t—the resurrected Joseph be? The proper protocol for revealing information to the world was shown in the example of how Joseph Smith received his mission and the instructions to carry it out from Moroni and other resurrected beings.
“Because Joseph is a real person, he has the power to tell his own story and explain his own history. His own words will confound the wisdom of the learned historian and everyone else who pretends to know who Joseph was and what he accomplished during his tenure as a mortal upon this earth. Some might question the veracity of his existence and this presentation of his true history, claiming that if Joseph does indeed exist, then he should present himself to the whole world as a resurrected being and tell it from his own mouth. The same could be required of Moroni. But there was only ONE man who ever saw the angel Moroni and claimed to have received instruction from him through face-to- face communication. And there is only ONE man who has ever seen the angel Joseph and claims to have received instruction from him through face-to-face communication.” (Introduction, p. 5)
The publisher’s website provides more detail:
“Through Christopher, the resurrected Joseph Smith Jr. will now finally disclose his true identity to the world and explain the real truth about what happened from the time that he as a young boy, first inquired into the concept of religious thought, to the time of his martyrdom in Carthage, Illinois on June 27, 1844. Through Christopher, and under the direct auspices of the resurrected Joseph, the real truth behind the establishment of an organized church, priesthood, ordinances, and everything else associated with his name will be revealed in its fullness.”
Is this exciting news for Mormons? Imagine, Joseph Smith himself setting the record straight, clearing away any misunderstandings, and clarifying debated doctrines!
I suspect the thought of this book does not generate hopefulness and electrified anticipation among Latter-day Saints. Christopher says,
“This information will put to rest, once and for all, any misconception of who Joseph Smith Jr. was and what he was commanded to do. Unfortunately, once these things are finally revealed, all sects of Mormonism will find themselves in a dilemma of forced self-introspect. ” (Introduction, p. 2)
But still. What if it’s true? Will Mormons read, ponder and pray about the things revealed in the Authorized and Official Biography of the Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith Jr.?
One might apply the words of LDS Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley (with a few alterations) to this new history: “This sacred book, which came forth as a revelation of the Prophet Joseph Smith, is indeed another testament of the calling of our Prophet. I would think that the whole Mormon world would reach out and welcome it and embrace it as a vibrant testimony.”