Testing Joseph Smith’s Integrity

Joseph Smith by grindael

Joseph Smith
by grindael

Brigham Young University professor Daniel Peterson recently wrote an article for the Deseret News presenting evidence for the exemplary personal character of Mormonism’s founder, Joseph Smith. In “Defending the Faith: 2 legal tests of Joseph Smith’s integrity” Dr. Peterson discusses Joseph Smith’s three-year responsibility toward the Lawrence sisters and their sizable estate as legal guardian. Dr. Peterson explains:

“Edward Lawrence, a Canadian convert to Mormonism, died at the end of 1839, leaving behind six minor children and a pregnant wife. Joseph agreed to serve as the guardian of the Lawrence estate, but critics have sought to portray his behavior in this role as exploitative, or at least negligent. Now, however, probate documents and court records related to the Lawrence family have been located, and [LDS researcher Gordon] Madsen’s article carefully examines those materials. They permit Joseph’s involvement to be investigated step by step.

“Contrary to the negative picture cultivated by critics, Madsen argues that ‘the record shows that he performed his duty honorably. He did not claim compensation for service as guardian, and he made no claim for boarding Maria and Sarah; he was more generous in expenditures for and to the children and to (those who cared for Maria and Sarah’s siblings) than the law required.’ Moreover, he took all the steps that he could in order, when appropriate, to transfer guardianship of the children to John Taylor.”

Dr. Peterson asserts,

“Time after time, the criticisms aimed at Joseph cannot withstand examination. In many cases, they actually turn into affirmations of his solid decency and integrity.”

As usual, there is more to this chapter in the Prophet’s life than Dr. Peterson chose to discuss in his short article. Allow me to fill in some of the missing pieces, provided by LDS author Todd Compton from his landmark book, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith.

Sarah (14) and Maria (17) Lawrence became orphans under the law when their father died, even though their mother, Margaret, was still alive. In June of 1841 Joseph Smith stepped forward to become the legal guardian (as required by law) for the family. By early 1842 Margaret had remarried to Josiah Butterfield, a Mormon man in good standing with the Church. For the next year Josiah and Margaret worked unsuccessfully to regain guardianship of the estate and the girls. History of the Church records that in March of 1843 “Josiah Butterfield came to [Joseph’s] house and insulted [Joseph] so outrageously that [Joseph] kicked him out of the house, across the yard, and into the street.”

Almera Johnson v4

Images of the Restoration

In late spring of 1843 Joseph married both Sarah and Maria, bringing his number of wives to 24. Apparently Joseph’s legal wife, Emma, knew about his marriages to the Lawrence sisters, but she did not know about his earlier marriages to the Partridge sisters (Emily and Eliza). So when Emma demonstrated, via her willingness to accept the Lawrence sisters, that she had become more agreeable to plural marriage, Joseph took the opportunity to marry the Partridge sisters again – this time with Emma’s consent.

Joseph married another nine women over the following few months; he stopped taking new wives in November 1843. In the spring of 1844 disaffected Mormon William Law, a longtime friend of the Lawrences, filed a lawsuit against Joseph Smith for adultery in the case of Maria Lawrence — making Joseph’s secret marriages to the Lawrence sisters public knowledge. As noted by Todd Compton,

“In response [to the lawsuit], Smith flatly denied polygamy in a speech delivered on May 26: ‘What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one.’” (History of the Church 6:411)

The public pressure mounted and, as Dr. Peterson notes, Joseph Smith took steps to transfer guardianship of the Lawrence estate to John Taylor. But the transfer never actually happened (in fact, just three weeks before Joseph was killed, an Illinois justice of the peace notarized a certificate stating Joseph was the guardian of the Lawrences).

After Joseph’s death on June 27, 1844, the Lawrence sisters tried to get what remained of their inheritance from the Smith estate, but they had no success. All of Joseph’s property (with which the Lawrence estate had been comingled as allowed by law) was in the name of his legal wife, Emma, and she was not willing (or maybe not able) to pay back the funds.

In the end, perhaps feeling a measure of responsibility, William Law used his own funds to pay the Lawrence sisters the money Joseph Smith rightly owed them.

Does this episode from Joseph Smith’s life demonstrate his “solid decency and integrity” as Dr. Peterson would have us believe? When the dust settles around this affair, the Prophet’s handling of the funds from the Lawrence estate may have been done within the bounds of the law. Joseph may have been generous in his distribution of Edward Lawrence’s money for Edward’s children’s care. But Joseph Smith added the young Lawrence sisters to his entourage of illegal wives; he lied to his wife, Emma; he physically assaulted Josiah Butterfield in an argument about the Lawrence estate; he lied to his followers (and the world); and he heartlessly denied 33 women who had sacrificed much to become his plural wives — in order to save his own skin. Is all of this to be overlooked because Joseph did not submit a claim demanding to be paid for the “boarding” of his plural wives?

After examining the facts, when it comes to integrity, Joseph Smith fails the test.

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
This entry was posted in Early Mormonism, Mormon History, Nauvoo, Polygamy and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Testing Joseph Smith’s Integrity

  1. falcon says:

    It would appear that Peterson chooses to ignore the real facts of the episode and instead creates a story that seeks to support what he and other Mormon apologists want the LDS members to believe. So does Peterson know the truth of the matter?
    There’s a reason why, LDS sect members, once they learn the truth about Joseph Smith become so indignant and angry, feeling that they’ve been lied to. What we see here is not an interpretation of the facts but rather a total mis-representation of what took place.

  2. MJP says:

    Like anything else in Mormon history: “but he meant well” is likely the initial reaction and excuse to fall back on. They can excuse this by suggesting he ultimately did the right thing. However, that is not clear in the facts that he did the right thing in ‘protecting’ these girls and this family.

  3. falcon says:

    I know that probably the last thing you want to turn this thread into is an analysis of Daniel Peterson. However I think it’s important to the discussion to understand exactly the mind-set of the person who wrote that article. I’m including the post below from “Mormon Stories” comment section after an interview was done there with Daniel Peterson. It should also be remembered that Daniel Peterson got the boot from FARMS/FAIR i.e. Maxwell Institute.


    From Mormon Stories:

    “Now to Daniel Peterson – so much I could say. Daniel, the MAD board was one of the first places I turned after having my world rocked a few years ago, and you personally were a huge part of me losing my belief completely. Let me explain, before learning any of the tough issues, I was a fully active member and simply trying to learn more about JS and church history, with the express purpose of being a better teacher. I’d read a few church history books and was thus probably better educated on church history than 90% of most active members. When I discovered polyandry and the BoA controversies, I immediately sought out a safe forum to explain things to me, and landed at MAD. The arguments presented, including your own, and I have read a great deal of your ‘scholarship’ on subjects like the BoA, are so absurd they turned me off faster than anything else possibly could have. If learning about JS having sex with other mens’ wives cracked my testimony, it was the MAD board, FARMS, FAIR, and frankly, you personally Daniel Peterson who smashed it into a thousand small pieces. I do not doubt that you are sincere. But somewhere, perhaps consciously or unconsciously you seek to intentionally keep people from the obvious truth. You are long winded and evade questions. You reference projects or books that are either not published yet or are so obscure or your reference to them is so vague as to destroy any meaning to your answer. I’ve seen these tactics so many times on MADB. It is the apologist playbook and I don’t know how to better tell you, but it DOES NOT WORK. I have mission companions, friends, neighbors, etc who have disaffected and have told me the same thing. I hope you keep up your work because I genuinely believe you are leading more people out of the church than you are keeping in.”


  4. MJP says:

    Are you suggesting, Falcon, that even Peterson has integrity issues, too (or at least credibility issues)?

    That’s the problem with integrity. Poor integrity destroys credibility. So, if Smith did questionable things in this episode, it makes it means its harder to believe other positives, even if genuinely positive, define the man.

  5. falcon says:

    Yea………..I was trying to be a bit diplomatic. I really can’t figure guys like Peterson out. He obviously is at least a tick above average on the intelligence quotient. So how come he’s of the mind set he’s in? He knows better. But his faith in Joseph Smith and Mormonism results in him making preposterous defenses. His style appears to me to be odd. He went after John Dehlin and I think that may have been just one more nail in his coffin.
    Let’s haul out Michael Quinn, Grant Palmer, Richard Bushman, Todd Compton, John Dehlin and on and on. They’ve all been in and around Mormonism. They all have a “take” on the religion and an explanatory style. But it seems that Peterson has this really lame approach to explaining the troublesome areas of Mormonism.
    Anyway, my favorite on-line blog had an article about this some time ago. It seems that even a guy by the name of “falcon” commented.

  6. Mike R says:

    If Mr Petersen is a BYU prof. he is one of the last persons to listen in order to get the truth
    about why Mormon prophets should be considered trustworthy guides in gospel preaching.

    If I remember correctly a year or two ago he made a statement about Mohammed .
    He would’nt give a clear yes or no whether we should call the Muslim prophet a false prophet !

    Concerning Joseph Smith’s integrity . I think his behavior is suspect in many respects , and
    his teachings are even more troubling . I don’t think it far fetched to say that he succumbed
    to apostasy , he drifted from the Bible’s truths about God , and even from the ” gospel teachings ”
    Mormon missionaries originally carried far and wide . Verdict : I can’t trust him or those who
    he mentored and carried on the ” gospel preaching ” after him . Simply don’t need them to
    know the truth about God / Jesus and how to be saved . Rom 1 :1-9 .

    Mormon leaders are a text book example of the prophets Jesus said would come in the latter days .

  7. falcon says:

    Really this is about integrity.
    I’ve mentioned several times that when I began my study of Mormonism years ago what I was struck by was the institutionalized dishonesty. So when we examine this article written by Daniel Peterson, it’s just more of the same. These guys are masters of the Joseph Smith spin machine and they’re not one bit embarrassed by it.
    For the naive believer what these guys put out in terms of explanations is just find. They are the equivalent of the modern day low information voter. The faithful do not want to be disturbed. They want to maintain an emotional equilibrium.
    Remember, the whole program is based on getting a good feeling about what Joseph Smith created. From then on the emotion must be substantiated with some sort of rational thought. The problem is that there is no rational thought in Mormonism.
    It’s all bent.

  8. falcon says:

    So are these guys just outright liars or are they so blind to the deception they are caught in that their thinking gets twisted?
    Go back to Joseph Smith and ask the same question. I think that Smith was a habitual liar, an unusually good one who probably believed his own lies. That’s a real dangerous person, to say the least. It’s a real sick pathology but studying Smith’s life, he got an early start.
    Understand that Smith told one of the women he was seducing that an angel with a sword threatened to kill him if he didn’t take on more wives. He sold people on the idea that he could see buried treasure in the ground with the aid of his magic seer stone. Who tells whoppers like that?
    Integrity and Joseph Smith were strangers to one another!
    For a Mormon apologist then to develop a narrative promoting Smith as a person of integrity? Who does something like that?

  9. falcon says:

    The average Joe Doakes pew sitter in the LDS ward doesn’t know much. They basically repeat what they’ve been told. I don’t hold them to much of a standard except for the fact that they do have individual responsibility to get at the truth.
    But these guys who travel about, lecture, write and otherwise attempt to hold up the glorious mantel of Joseph Smith, should be held to a high standard. This is especially true when they hold academic positions and have been trained to do research.
    But what do we get from them? Is it an honest approach to the history of Mormonism? No, it’s not much more than a high school sophomore contending that his favorite team is the best ever and his favorite player can’t be matched.
    What we get from these LDS apologists is little more than cheer leading. Come to think of it, that’s pretty much what passes for prophetic leadership in the LDS church.

  10. MJP says:

    I think these guys truly believe what they say but have to suspend logic to affirm their faith. To an extent, it is the same with us, because can’t put God in a cage and show him off to everyone. I’m originally from St. Louis, MO, the Show Me State. MO got that name because the early people were doubters and always asked others to show them something before they believed/bought the idea or product. We can’t ‘show’ God, just as the Mormon cannot show their god.

    However, a key difference between us and Mormonism is that we don’t have to twist our logic to affirm our faith. We are OK with what we have, and know everything about our God stands against reason. Logic supports our God, and our leaders. We have no spiritual connection to our leaders, and can readily admit their faults without damaging our faith. See, we can agree with folks who say someone like Calvin was a hard, ruthless man when it comes to certain areas of his life.

    Mormons can’t do that. They cannot defend faith without ignoring real faults of its leaders. This leads to a dilemma: ignore real faults or short comings in logic or damage the character of leaders, which damages the faith. Either choice leads to a position where integrity becomes an issue. Within the pantheon of Mormonism, though, it seems less an issue to ignore as compared with damaging the reputation of leaders.

    To outsiders of Mormonism, the questions of integrity still exist and are problematic.

  11. falcon says:

    What we see in Peterson’s article is an attempt to portray Smith the way the LDS church wants him portrayed. I watched a movie about the “prophet” at the visitors center of the Carthage Jail and it was total Disney fantasy land type stuff. The young couple with a child in a stroller there were just sucking it all up. I’m doing a triple eye roll. There was absolutely no relationship between the legend the LDS church was promoting and who Joseph Smith was.
    Thus we have Peterson’s snow job on the integrity of Joseph Smith. Only a true believer would accept this version of Smith’s relationship with these girls. Smith had the misogyny play down pat. He knew how to take vulnerable women, in particular, and work his will with them. He used religion as a means to satisfy his own blatant sexual desires. We see the spin that is put on his polygamy when those who are spinning the yarn no better.
    They will be responsible before God for their part in the seduction of innocent people into this religious cult.

  12. MJP says:

    Yes, its what the church wants portrayed, and I think, is that Peterson wants the same. He does not want the church portrayed negatively, let alone his prophet, especially his founding (or is that the restoring?) prophet.

    I think some of these people are quite willing to suspend logic, or are so delusional they don’t know they are doing it.

    Smith did have his game down quite well, and got a lot of ‘tail’ from it. He was addicted to power, plain and simple, and knew enough to do enough ‘nice’ things so that his people would turn a blind eye to the things they otherwise knew were wrong. If they thought it was for good, and he was a prophet, he could get away with anything. He did get away with it until someone decided to publish it in a paper. He burned the paper. He went to jail shortly after, and gave people there liquor and smokes, things he said were not good…

    In that short paragraph, we have ample evidence to question his true integrity. None of the facts are wrong, either. If anyone else were to condemn people to hell for drinking liquor, then goes out and requests liquor while in jail, that person would be quickly labeled “hypocrite” even by Mormons. But that’s what we see applied by Mormons toward Smith…

  13. falcon says:

    I guess, on a broad level, this discussion is about Mormonism and integrity. Specifically it could be about integrity and the LDS church, integrity of the LDS spinmisters, and/or the integrity of those who are true believing Mormons and repeat the company line because they believe it to be true.

    One interesting case for me is that of Michael Quinn. He has a doctorate in history from Yale and has written extensively on all things Mormon. He was also excommunicated from the LDS church because of his research and writing. So he knows where all the skeletons are buried, he writes about it, gets excommunicated and guess what? He’s still a believer! Below is an excerpt that was written by Steve Benson and which I found in a couple of different places.

    “Quinn’s Abiding Testimony in the Truthfulness of the Mormon Faith As God’s Restored Church On Earth–”

    “In personal discussions, Mike shared with me his testimonial belief that the “Book of Mormon” was a literal historical record of ancient and accurate vintage; that Joseph Smith was a prophet called of God to reveal His divine truth to the world; that through Joseph Smith the golden plates were translated and that following the death of Joseph Smith the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints fell into apostasy through the corruption and sin of its leadership–and that this “falling away,” if you will, of the Mormon Church from the purposes and designs of God’s original 1830 restorative act, has continued up to the present time.”

    “Mike told me that it was his belief that a second Restoration (i.e., one occurring after the initial return of God’s true Church to the earth in 1830 through the hands of Joseph Smith) was necessary in order to rehabilitate the Mormon Church and again make it the organization through which God would lead and guide His children to eventual salvation.”

    So does Michael Quinn have integrity? I’d say yes despite that I don’t agree with his perspective. In fact I’m scratching my head trying to figure out how he can know what he knows, exposes it, but still believes in the 1830 restoration.

  14. falcon says:

    So here’s some more of Steve Benson’s recollection of his conversations with Michael Quinn. What I’m wondering is what the average true believing Mormon would make of Quinn’s perspective on the LDS church. I think it would be easy to say of Quinn that he’s delusional. But I don’t think that gets at it.
    For me it’s a question of spiritual warfare that the apostle Paul writes about extensively. It doesn’t really matter how sincere, devout and well meaning someone is. There are millions of bright, sincere and devout people in the world who embrace belief systems at odds with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
    What’s dangerous about Mormonism is that it’s a counterfeit gospel. The religious convictions of people of various faiths are easily seen as not being Christian. The LDS gospel is a hybrid version of various thoughts that incorporates enough Christian sounding principles to deceive people.
    Anyway, for what it’s worth, more on Michael Quinn from Steve Benson:

    “I asked Mike how he could profess a testimony in Mormonism’s historical and doctrinal foundations, especially given what many consider to be his devastatingly critical and historical dissection of Mormon origins and extensions of power.”

    “From my own personal standpoint, Mike’s compellingly documented book, “Early Mormonism and the Magic World View” (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1987, 313 pp.) had not only knocked out, but blown out, the struts out from under any serious claim that Mormons might attempt as to the alleged divinity of the LDS Church.”

    “During our personal discussions, Mike acknowledged to me that he knew that his belief in Mormonism did not sound logical but that he nonetheless possessed an inward testimony of the “Book of Mormon,” of the prophetic calling by God of Joseph Smith and of the truthfulness of the Mormon Gospel as God’s One and Only True Church.”

    “I found Mike’s testimony startling, incongruous and at significant odds with his unparalleled research that, in my opinion, clearly exposed the fraud, frailties and fictions of Mormonism.”

    “But Mike’s ultimate testimony in the Mormon faith seemed to rest on his firm belief that it was initially restored by God’s hand in pure and true form, then became corrupted through the human-caused downfall of its leaders who subsequently followed Joseph Smith into power in the post-Smith era.”

    “Simply and fundamentally put, Mike holds on to the belief that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints remains God’s true Church on the earth–but that it is in dire need of a complete restorative overhaul in order to bring it back to its original integrity, purpose, luster and exaltation-providing power.”

  15. falcon says:

    As far as “integrity” is concerned, I think the main difference with Quinn as opposed to Peterson, is that Quinn doesn’t shy away from the facts. He just lays it out there. Peterson and his ilk have to go into over-drive trying to spin what’s obviously incriminating information.
    The other thing is that Quinn is in a way, at war with the LDS church and the hierarchy where as Peterson is in lock step. Although since Peterson got the boot from FAIR/FARMS, who knows.

    Quinn, like most devoted Smithites, depends on the “inner witness” for his faith in the prophet. The inner witness with Quinn is more than able to over-come all of the evidence to the contrary. Someone said that Quinn believes that Joseph Smith was a good prophet but a bad husband. That’s creative.
    Laying hands on someone and having “a word” for them is a very powerful thing. Consider the following:
    In an autobiographical essay entitled, “The Rest Is History” (“Sunstone,” December 1995, p. 54), Mike addressed his personal consuming desire to someday become a member of the Quorum of the Twelve and how Kimball helped him deal with this distraction through the laying on of hands:

    “President Kimball asked if I would like to have a blessing. As he laid his hands upon my head, I expected him to give me the comfort and strength to overcome my aspirations for Church office. Instead, Spencer W. Kimball promised me that one day God would call me to be an apostle. After the blessing, President Kimball told me not to work for the office or try to ‘curry favor’ with Church leaders, but just to live as I felt the Lord desired for me. There was no way I could logically explain that experience, then or now.”

    It would appear then, that Michael Quinn’s belief in Joseph Smith and the church he founded is rooted in a spiritual experience. Having a “confirming blessing” like he received would only deepen his commitment. In the battle between emotions and logic. Emotions are most often the victor.

  16. falcon says:

    Here’s a good 18 minute video that gets at the idea of “integrity” with Mormon apologists.


  17. Mike R says:

    Michael Quinn’s expertise as a trained historian is useful because he acknowledges how the
    Mormon church , led by those after Joseph Smith , drifted away from what God’s will for
    it was and thus is in need for a restoration . It has fallen away from truth in significant areas .

    That sounds a lot like apostasy , which is I believe a accurate description of Mormonism soon
    after 1830 .
    This is something I’ve mentioned before , and it reveals why I can’t take Mormonism’s claim
    of authority to be the truth . I think this drift , the ” fallen away” that Quinn mentioned , had
    in fact already commenced during Joseph Smith’s tenure as President of the church . In the last
    several years of his life , especially , he drifted from his former teachings , and his ego became
    elevated as he was secretly ordained a king , decided to lead a huge private army of LDS
    as a Lt. Gen. , and even attempted to become the President of the United States . His want for
    more power was clearly evident .
    Mormons don’t like the word apostasy , but if we look at what Mormon leaders did soon after
    they arrived on the scene in 1830 , we see their behavior was similar to what they claimed
    men succumbed to which greatly facilitated the great apostasy which allegedly happened not
    long after the deaths of Jesus’ apostles . Mormon leaders after Joseph Smith were quite vocal
    in castigating the other churches around them as guilty of being unable to offer stable ,
    trustworthy , guidance in teaching gospel truths — Eph 4:14 .
    But by doing this , Mormon leaders were engaging in what’s known as : the pot calling the kettle black .

  18. falcon says:

    Joseph Smith’s problem with integrity started early and it carried with him through out his life.
    It’s called character which recently has been defined as “what you do when no one is watching”.
    But it seems as Smith went through life that it mattered little whether people were watching or not. He pulled-off some of his greatest cons right in front of folks. The most obvious was his ability to get his “witnesses” to see gold plates that weren’t even there. The dupes reported later that they saw them “through the eyes of faith”. That folks is a great slight-of-hand trick; to get people to see something that’s not there.
    With Smith’s most ardent followers, it is necessary that they massage reality in such a way that what really took place takes on a different look from the actual event or claims. So in Daniel Peterson’s article, Smith takes on the role of benevolent benefactor and protector of two sort of orphaned girls. Does Peterson know better? I would guess he does but there’s something in Mormonism called “lying for the Lord”. In this case it would be lying for the prophet. It’s a means justifies the end scenario. It works for the truly dedicated LDS member for whom any story is not too far fetched. But for those who would question, it’s not going to make the cut.
    With these folks, it’s a question of character and integrity and they won’t accept nonsense explanations. Needless to say, these folks don’t last long in the Mormon bubble.

  19. Mike R says:

    Prof Petersen claims that Joseph Smith had ” solid decency and integrity ” . I suppose we could
    find instances where he was kind and generous . But when we look at his life what do we see ?
    What does the record show about how he lived and did he also have integrity in another
    area , namely as a church officer , a teacher of the gospel ?

    I find it incredible that most Mormons have known so little about his personal life . It’s only
    because of the work of some ex Mormons and ministries like UTLM , MRM and others that
    have kept bringing up Mormon history relative to Smith and Brigham Young etc , historical
    information that Mormons were told not to worry about etc , that has forced Church
    officials to address more openly , publically . There’s been much reluctance on their part in
    this area in the past , but more and more LDS are troubled and asking some hard questions .
    One of these issues concerned Smith and his behavior with polygamy . It has shocked many
    Mormons to learn that he had married a large number of women .

    Prof Petersen is only parroting what his leaders have been telling LDS for a long time .
    Some examples :
    – Pres. John Taylor claimed Joseph Smith ‘s private and public character were unimpeachable .
    [ Teachings of The Presidents of the Church — John Taylor , p. 83 ] .
    – Brigham Young claimed that no better man ever lived on the earth , excepting Jesus , than
    Joseph Smith . [ Discourses of B.Y. p. 459 ] .
    – Young also claimed that no better man could be found who had a better character than
    Joseph Smith ( and his brother Hyrum ) . [ Jof D v 14 p. 203 ] .

    This is the type of testimony that Mormons have grew up hearing about Joseph Smith .
    When non Mormons are invited to view a Mormon church produced film introducing
    them to Joseph Smith and Mormonism , do they get enough facts to make a decision ?
    Well , evidently the whole truth about Mormon prophets is still something the public is’nt
    going to readily find in church produced films , at least in two of it’s best productions :
    ” Legacy ” ( 1993 ) and ” Joseph Smith , Prophet of the Restoration ” ( 2005 ) .

    Both of these are professionally directed and produced , they elicit strong emotions bringing
    some viewers to tears . But they are a great example of Mormon P.R. at it’s best because neither
    of these films reveal Smith’s character in a objective manner . Key issues are left out .

    The following review of ” Joseph Smith , Prophet of the Restoration ” is found in The Salt
    Lake City Messenger , issue # 106 May 2006 p 19 :

    ” This film comes across as a Disney -type fantasy , not a real balanced account of Smith’s life .
    While possessing natural abilities and talents , Joseph Smith ‘s personal character was far
    from the saintly image his followers have molded him into . His strong egotism and drive
    for power , together with his deceptive practices led ultimately to his destruction . “

  20. falcon says:

    When I use to have to discipline kids in school I would ask myself a key question about the behavior. The question was, “Is this an event or is it a pattern?”
    With Joseph Smith the unacceptable behavior he displayed was part of a pattern that revealed his character. A good man with integrity doesn’t “marry” women married to other men or adolescent girls. He would have been kicked out of any other religious group except, perhaps, those advocating “free love”. Not only did he display this behavior, but he led others into his sin.
    A man of integrity doesn’t lead others to destroy the property of another man as Smith did with the sacking of William Law’s print shop. A godly man of integrity would have stood and answered the charges. Smith couldn’t do that because it would have exposed his behavior.
    William Law is a good example of a man of integrity who would not stand for Smith’s sinful behavior. He called it what it was unlike those who work over-time to try and present an image of Smith that is contrary to the record.


  21. Mike R says:

    Falcon, I’m glad you mentioned the word ” pattern ” . In evaluating latter days prophets ,
    both their lifestyle and their teaching track record , the word ” pattern ” is a vital criteria
    in determining if these men are worth following as religious leaders for a very good
    reason — Matt 2411

  22. falcon says:

    Yup that’s it……………..a pattern of behavior.
    That’s why what we see with Mormon apologists is so insidious. Their is a pattern of trying to recast Joseph Smith and the history of Mormonism into something that only a Disney production could match.
    The LDS church likes to say that they haven’t hidden anything. Well why is it then that those leaving the church did so after “discovering” this information. Perhaps the motivation wasn’t there on the part of these members but I think we can see why. They are fed a steady diet of hippy zippy isn’t it all just so wonderful; Joseph Smith, the BoM, the LDS church and let’s not forget the current prophet and of course the all important priesthood authority.
    So the obfuscation and development of the fairy tale don’t go along way to informing the members of what really is the truth. When the truth is presented it’s all about the enemies of the church and Satan leading folks astray. The excuse making is a pattern and eventually it leads to mistrust which results of abandonment of faith in God generally.

  23. Mike R says:


    many years ago I followed the counsel of the apostle John concerning evaluating any prophets–
    ( 1 Jn 4:1-6 ) . His advise is still very important to utilize today . I first to time to examine the
    teaching track record of the leaders ( Gov Body ) of Jw’s . They had a consistent pattern of
    doctrinal flip flops since 1879 when their first Pres. appeared on the scene . Verdict : they
    failed the test .
    Next , I examined the teaching track record of Mormon leaders since 1830 . Same verdict .
    Both of these organizations are false prophets led religious organizations , their leadership
    have exhibited a pattern as unreliable as guides .
    Jesus was spot on with His warning to watch out for false prophets in the latter days .Matt 24

    Sincere decent people have been detoured by false prophets into embracing a imitation gospel.
    Mormons are such people .

  24. Mike R says:

    So how should we look at Mormon prophets , though Joseph Smith was the first , it would
    prudent to evaluate his immediate successors like Brigham Young , John Taylor , and
    Wilford Woodruff etc , why ? If the men who knew and were mentored by Joseph Smith
    to serve in the church and carry on after him , exhibited a lack of integrity , especially in
    preaching / teaching , then that would be very important to know if we should submit to
    them as true prophets/ apostles of Jesus whose teachings are true / reliable .
    As Mormon General Authority Bruce McConkie claimed :

    ” A testimony is to know by revelation that Jesus is the Christ ; that Joseph Smith AND his
    successors are the revealers of the knowledge of Christ and of salvation for our day …. ”
    [ Ensign mag . Nov . 1974 , p.35 ] .

    Though I believe Joseph Smith lacked enough integrity in his personal conduct to dismiss
    him as being an alleged officer in Jesus’ church , it is his teachings and those of the men who
    were authorities in the church that followed him that are especially troubling because they
    exhibited a true lack of integrity to be considered as true preachers of sent by Jesus and
    who we must confess to be such today in order to gain His favor .
    Rather than being men Jesus has appointed to lead His Body and to teach accurate gospel
    doctrines , Mormon leaders have instead exhibited a very good reason why they are to be
    considered the type of prophets we are alerted by Jesus in His word to beware of in the latter
    days .

    Bottom line : we simply don’t need Mormon prophets in order to receive forgiveness of sins
    and be reconciled to God and receive from Him the gift of eternal life and the fullest of blessings
    thereof . That truth was available to man before the first Mormon prophet appeared on the
    scene . We have Jesus to thank for that .
    Heb 7:25 .

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