Joseph Smith’s Violence to Kingdom-Growth Parables

There are at least three parables in the Bible on the gradual growth of the kingdom unto maturity:

1. Parable of the Mustard Seed (Matthew 13:31–32, Mark 4:30–32, and Luke 13:18–19)
2. Parable of the Wheat and Tares (Matthew 13:24-30,36-43)
3. Parable of the Leaven (Matthew 13:33; Luke 13:20–21)

All three of these parables were a threat to Joseph Smith’s view of the restoration and apostasy. Thus, it is no surprise that Joseph Smith did violence to all three of them to suit his purposes.

1. Parable of the Mustard Seed

> “The parable of the mustard seed… indicates that the kingdom Christ set up was to begin small but would gradually grow into a large, mature tree. Joseph Smith, however, interpreted the parable as representing ‘the Church as it shall come forth in the last days,’ with the mustard seed symbolizing the Book of Mormon sprouting out of the earth. [Joseph Smith, “To the Elders of the Church of the Day Saints,” 227]” (Charles Harrell, This Is My Doctrine: The Development of Mormon Theology, ch. 2)

2. Parable of the Wheat and Tares/Weeds

This parable implies the perpetuity of the wheat until final judgment. Joseph Smith instead taught that the wheat was choked, and that a second growing season was required:

> “And after they have fallen asleep the great persecutor of the church, the apostate, the whore, even Babylon, that maketh all nations to drink of her cup, in whose hearts the enemy, even Satan, sitteth to reign—behold he soweth the tares; wherefore, the tares choke the wheat and drive the church into the wilderness. But behold, in the last days, even now while the Lord is beginning to bring forth the word, and the blade is springing up and is yet tender.” (D&C 86:3-4)

But Smith then reverts:

> “Interestingly, Joseph Smith reverted to this more natural reading of the parable in December 1835, stating that the Savior was essentially telling his disciples, ‘The Church is in its infancy, and if you take this rash step [i.e., remove the tares], you will destroy the wheat or the Church with the tares: therefore it is better to let them grow together until the harvest, or the end of the world.’ [Joseph Smith, ‘To the Elders of the Church of the Latter Day Saints,’ 227]” (Harrell, ch. 2)

3. Parable of the Leaven

> “This seems to convey the same idea as the other parables—a gradual, spreading growth of the kingdom Christ established. According to Joseph Smith, however, this parable refers to the latter days as ‘the Church of the Latter-day Saints, has taken its rise from a little leaven that was put into three witnesses.’ [Joseph Smith, ‘To the Elders of the Church of the Latter Day Saints,’ 228] Later still, he saw other meanings in the three measures of meal, including, in December 1842, ‘the three in the Grand Presidency.’ [History of the Church, 5:207]” (Harrell, ch. 2)

If anything, this much is clear to me: The Bible was not sacred to Joseph Smith.

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17 Responses to Joseph Smith’s Violence to Kingdom-Growth Parables

  1. falcon says:

    Money quote:

    “If anything, this much is clear to me. The Bible was not sacred to Joseph Smith. He was willing to abuse it with all manner of contortions, just to suit his purposes.”

    That’s the game behind Smith and the countless other false prophets who have emerged since the inception of Christianity. First of all they have to declare the Church wrong, lost and apostate. Then they need to declare the revealed Scripture distorted, corrupted and not reliable. Third they then declare themselves the proprietors of a new revelation.
    This is all, of course, accompanied by tales of visions, miracles and when necessary, appearances by all sorts of heavenly beings that confirm and anoint the prophet.
    For some reason, there is a percentage of the population that will flock to almost any false prophet.
    Smith was pretty good at the false prophet business. He combined it with a real flair for creativity and enhanced by some folk magic hocus pocus. Throw in a little second sight vision and he had his home boys agreeing that they saw all manner of miraculous things through “the eyes of faith”.
    That’s the one thing Mormons need to get a hold of. Smith’s witnesses didn’t actually claim to see anything with their physical eyes. If I were so inclined I’ll bet I could get a Mormon to see the golden plates and the angel Moroni. After all, one of the Mormon prophets claimed the signers of the Declaration of Independence appeared to him.
    P.T. Barnum was right!

  2. 4fivesolas says:

    I had not really thought about it before, but I can see how these parables do create a problem for the Joseph Smith Restorationist story. It’s clear that a straight forward clear reading of the parables just won’t work for the LDS Church to be true; in other words, for Joseph Smith to be right, Jesus would have to be wrong in telling these parables about how the Church would grow. I have to go with Jesus – after all, He rose from the dead!

  3. falcon says:

    The problem with Mormonism is that it can only trace its roots back to about 1830. Smith shows up in an era that was rife with religious entrepreneurs and he progressively creates a religion.
    He was very creative and would spin anything he could to support his ever changing “revelation”. If he couldn’t spin it, he’d just declare the Bible or Biblical interpretation wrong and give his own spin.
    That’s how the BoA came about. Smith just spun a tale that the parchments said thus and such and no one could question it because, at the time, there was no way to translate the script. Then along comes the Rosetta Stone and wouldn’t you know it, the actual translation doesn’t match Smith’s spin.
    It doesn’t matter to Mormons however. They love the Smith creation and it provides a form of religion that scratches their itch.
    I saw a presentation about Lourdes on the news over the weekend. Countless thousands go there every year. It has its foundation in miraculous appearances and miracles. Whatever, at least Bernadette got Jesus right!

    The story about Bernadette’s body is really quite interesting. Check it out. It’s worth the time.

  4. falcon says:

    Biblical interpretation is something that aberrant groups and false prophets play fast and loose with.
    I don’t know if people remember the Worldwide Church of Tomorrow with Herbert Armstrong as the craggy old curmudgeon leader. He had this odd sort of charisma based on a sort of grumpy old man demeanor. His deal was British Israel-ism with a lost tribe of Israel message.
    The demeanor of the false prophet or teacher is often the key to their “success”. As long as they speak with confidence and authority, there are people who will follow them. I like to call it “out sourcing” your responsibility for sound Biblical interpretation to someone else.
    This is what happens in groups such as the Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons. The prophet speaks and that’s the end of the discussion because they have received the truth from God. The people are allowed to study, to a degree, as long as the conclusions they reach are those that have already been reached by the leader. What a drag!

  5. Ralph says:

    Yes well did you know that parables have more than one meaning? And that meaning is dependent on one’s spiritual level – Matt. 13:13–15; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10. I can understand why you take it to mean what you say and I can see how JS does as well, but I can also see other meanings within them.


    You said “Biblical interpretation is something that aberrant groups and false prophets play fast and loose with.” Since you do not subscribe to an ‘institute’ and it’s interpretation of scripture, where do you get your interpretation from?

    Just remember that it says in the Bible 2 Peter 1:19-21

    “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

    No prophecy in the Bible is for PRIVATE interpretation. So how is it to be interpreted? The same way it was given – by holy men of God as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost. This indicates to me, (as well as the scriptures stating that God’s house is a house of order and no man can serve 2 masters) that we still need a prophet on this earth to interpret God’s scriptures for all so there is no division from private interpretations.

    So I still hold that JS was a prophet of God.

  6. 4fivesolas says:

    Joseph Smith is putting things in those parables that just are not there. That’s not interpretation – that’s adding and changing. There is no natural (or unnatural for that matter) reading that will lead one to what Joseph Smith is teaching – he is adding content that simply is not there.

  7. falcon says:

    Oh boy Ralph.
    So we go down this road again.
    First of all, how do you know that I’m not a prophet?
    According to God’s Word I could be; or an apostle, or an evangelist, or a pastor or teacher. See Ephesians 4: 11 and also First Corinthians 12: 4-14 and First Corinthians 12: 28-30 and First Corinthians 14: 1.
    You don’t know what Gifts of the Holy Spirit God has intrusted to me so that I may function within the Body of Christ.
    Now you seem to be a little confused about Biblical interpretation. There are some solid principles that are applied when one reads the Bible to know and understand what God has revealed.
    That’s the problem with Mormons. They do not employ any systematic methodology that leads to correctly understanding God’s Word. Mormons basically pull a verse out of the hat and apply it in any manner to support what the false Mormon prophets say.
    Also, you seem to be under the impression that a person has to subscribe to a certain form of theology. Theology interests me but I see it basically as someone’s take on various topics. I can read it with interest and take it or leave it.
    That quote from Peter that you provided, I think you better apply that to Mormonism. That’s really what Peter is talking about. Mormons don’t have that much regard for the Bible anyway. They are more dependent on what some guy in Salt Lake City has to say than what God says. BTW, there are so many different sects of Mormonism and so many prophets all claiming to have the true church and revelation that I’d think you’d do better if you learned those solid principles of Biblical interpretation and a systematic means of dealing with the Word.

  8. falcon says:

    So Ralph would you be willing to accept me as a prophet?
    I don’t see why not. If God has chosen me for that role, as the Scriptures indicate that such a role is provided to the Body of Christ, why not follow me?
    I’ve worked as a pastor and still do a fair amount of preaching and teaching when called upon and I know God has given me certain gifts and callings so if one of them is as a prophet, would you follow me? Don’t hurt my feelings now Ralph by rejecting me.
    After the ascension, on the day of Pentecost, the Father sent the Holy Spirit to the Church. The Holy Spirit is referred to as the Gift. When someone is born again by the Spirit of God, all sorts of possibilities can take place.
    I’ve heard people speak in tongues and others interpret what was spoken and I’ve heard people prophesy and witnessed miracles. I’ve listened to inspired preaching and witnessed people manifest gifts of kindness, mercy and compassion. It’s what’s possible when believers are tuned into the Spirit of God.
    I really don’t need some man who resides in a tall building somewhere in a far away city, who’s worked his way through a church hierarchy and political system and now gets to serve on a board with a designation of prophet to tell me what God says.
    This is especially so since these Mormon apostles and prophets really can’t seem to keep straight what’s what.
    You follow these guys Ralph out of some sort of loyalty to a system of religion that has no idea who God is.

  9. falcon says:

    So Ralph you’re counting on the Salt Lake City prophet to tell you what God says? Well given that he’s telling you what the Mormon god says, anything the SLC prophet tells you is just fine I guess.
    That’s because the Mormon god doesn’t exist. The Mormon god is a former man who progressed through the Mormon system on some other planet to achieve personal deification. See Ralph you know that because a Mormon prophet, operating under and guided by the spirit of Mormonism told you so?
    Add it up Ralph. A false spirit guiding a false prophet in a false religious system equals what? Confusion, you got it. That’s why the Mormon prophets can’t keep anything straight. That’s why the Mormon church leadership is now claiming that they have no idea where that pesky ban on blacks in the priesthood came from. We even have GBH, former Mormon prophet, saying that he didn’t even know that progressing to godhood was even taught in the Mormon church. Don’t get me started on Brigham Young.
    So you need these guys Ralph to tell you stuff? Well if you’re not too fussy about what they tell you, I say why not?
    Quite frankly I think you’d be a lot better off striking out on your own and let God lead you to Himself. As long as you’re trapped in the Mormon system, the chances of you learning who He is, is about zero.

  10. falcon says:

    In case Ralph could have possibly missed it, what I’ve outlined above is what the NT teaches about the Church and how the Church functions. Paul talks about the Body of Christ and how God has seen fit, through the Holy Spirit, to distribute the Gifts to the members in such a way that the whole Body functions as one spiritual unit. While the Church recognizes leaders, God’s plan wasn’t for one man to hold sway over the entire Body and alone be receiving messages from God.
    One additional point, does anyone see the office of “priesthood” mentioned in the references I gave regarding the offices and Gifts. This is just one more example of how false prophets get in full creative mode and before long they have revelations that are so far from God’s plan and His Word that the result is unrecognizable as the Body of Christ.
    What the Mormon false prophet Joseph Smith did was create his own religion to suit his own desires and odd proclivities. That’s why such things as polygamy, men becoming gods, temple rituals lifted straight from Free Masonry and notions about heaven and the after life borrowed from Swendenborg.
    Knowing and understanding God’s Word, guided by the Holy Spirit, keeps people spiritual fit. Mormons out-source their responsibilities to men who call themselves prophets but are little more than amateurs playing church.

  11. falcon says:

    I remember growing-up Catholic and the message we got was basically don’t read the Bible you might interpret something wrong. You need the priest to tell you what the Scriptures are saying. Then when I got saved I started reading the Bible and was blown away by the message. I had thought, up to that point in my life, that the Bible was really complicated and way too much for the average person to understand. It’s amazing what getting myself born again did for my desire to read God’s Word and understand the message.
    It wasn’t long after however, that I realized that without a few simple principles of interpretation, it was possible to misinterpret and misapply the Scriptures. So it might be asked, “Shouldn’t it be enough to just depend on the Holy Spirit to guide my understanding?” That’s like saying that since I’m born again, my human nature has changed and now I’ve achieved sinless perfection. Our spirit is still locked in a body of flesh and our souls like to interfere; if we don’t have some hard fast rules and a systematic way of thinking to guide us.
    I have an inductive study Bible that has an excellent introduction which explains some very simple and basic principles of reading and interpreting God’s Word. Without such a method, folks get seduced by false prophets like Joseph Smith giving their creative views on what the Scriptures are saying. I don’t have a copy, but Andy Watson has a Joseph Smith Translation of the KJV of the Bible. Andy says if you really want to see fantasy, check that beauty out.
    Incidentally, who owns the copyright on that particular work of Smith. Well it’s the Community of Christ, not the SLC sect of Mormonism. Just a little fun fact.

  12. Mike R says:

    Falcon said,

    ” I really don’t need some man who resides in a tall building somewhere in a far away city,
    who’s worked his way through a church hierarchy and political system and now gets to serve
    on a board with a designation of prophet to tell me what God says. This is especially so since
    these Mormon apostles ad prophets really can’t seem to keep straight what’s what.”

    That sums it up well .

  13. Sandi B. says:

    Amen Falcon, keep on preachin it!

  14. falcon says:

    I must be warming up. I have to preach a week from Sunday.

    I was talking to Andy Watson today and he was relating to me the court case that three of the Mormon sects went through to determine who owned the JST copyright. At the time it was the RLDS now the Community of Christ that was designated the real deal Mormons and given the copyright.
    So the way Andy figures, if Mormons want to follow the real prophet then they need to jump on board the CoC train and get moving down the prophetic track.
    Just think of it, the Salt Lake City bunch don’t even own the temple lot in Independence, MO.
    So when it comes to real Mormonism and real Mormon prophets, I guess the SLC sect is closed out of the program. At one time the RLDS and LDS were trying some sort of quasi reconciliation but that got tubed.
    I don’t think the SLC Mormons have much of a leg to stand on. The real Mormons are either the FLDS or the CoC. They must have the real Mormon prophets.
    It’s all bogus anyway but it does show the inconsistencies and lack of any sort of integrity within the whole Mormon prophet program.

  15. Mike R says:

    Aaron said, ” All of these parables were a threat to Joseph Smith’s view of restoration and
    apostasy . Thus it is no surprise that Joseph Smith did violence to all three to suit his purposes”.

    When you have such a ridiculous belief that soon after the death of the last of Christ’s apostles
    there occurred a complete/universal apostasy from the Christian religion , that Christianity
    sickened and died , that Jesus’ true followers were exterminated , and that the gospel was no
    longer available on the earth , then it really is’nt surprising at all that a false prophet would
    resort to most any tactic to convince people of this erroneous doctrine . The Parables , being what
    they are, would especially be used by him to prove his false teaching.

  16. falcon says:

    Between the Council of Nicea and those dastardly monks who left all of the Mormonism out of the Bible, we have a conspiracy of monumental proportions.
    That’s the problem with Mormons. They never ask a follow-up question.
    Think of how easy it is to get a religion going if people aren’t willing to ask a few probing questions. A Mormon’s personal faith is built on a feeling they got and interpreted as God speaking to them when they read the BoM.
    So we have a conspiracy theory and a feeling; a great combination. There also has to be a willingness and proclivity to believe fantastic claims of visions and appearances of all manner of heavenly beings. This includes one where an angel with a sword appeared to Smith demanded that he practice polygamy or the angel would kill him.
    How can anyone believe such nonsense?
    But then we have the wholesale “adjustment” of the Bible. I’ve never read the JST but my understanding is that it’s quite a work of fantasy much like the BoM.

  17. Mike R says:

    Falcon, you call it “conspiracy ” , I think that “fairy tale ” might be accurate describing
    what Mormon authorities have taught as their doctrine of a complete apostasy . The
    Mormon people deserve better . God is waiting to help them see the truth about the
    true gospel .

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