Because I was born and raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or the Mormon Church), I’ve always been exposed to questions and comments about Joseph Smith. Sometimes the questions and comments have been sincere and serious, often times, they weren’t. Many times, they were meant to mock and hurt. I can still remember the things that were said by other kids my age and adults whenever someone found out I was a Mormon. To a very young person, such an experience can be really traumatic. When you’re teased frequently for any reason whatsoever as a nine, ten, or twelve year old it leaves a mark on you.
Oddly enough, the comments about Joseph Smith that were meant to poke fun and belittle had another unforseen effect on me. Yes, they did hurt. Yes, at the time I would rather not have been teased and called names because I was a Mormon. However, with the passage of time and maturity, I realize that those years helped me to learn an important lesson. I learned that I needed to know for myself who Joseph Smith was. I needed to know why I was being tormented. I needed to know if I really believed that Joseph Smith saw what he said he saw, and if he really was a Prophet of God.
” I do not intent to write an essay about the Prophet Joseph Smith here. That has already been done by the many gifted writers and scholars who have dedicated significant time in the study of the Prophet’s life and mission. Therefore, suffice it for me to say this; because I have studied and prayed, and then studied and prayed some more, I know without any doubt in my mind that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God. I know that he saw and spoke with our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. I know that he was a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator. These truths are seared into my soul and heart, and no amount of mocking will ever erase that knowledge from my heart and mind.
My intent in this post is to guide you to online resources that can help you learn more about the Prophet Joseph Smith. If you are curious about Mormons, or you if have a sincere desire to know who Joseph Smith was, I invite you to check these sites. Study them out for yourself. Pray to know if these things are true. This is exactly what the Prophet Joseph did. He desired to know so he prayed after reading these words in James 1:5, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”
Joseph Smith, Prophet of God – This site maintained by the Church provides information on the Mission of the Prophet, His Life, Historical Documents from the life and times of Joseph Smith, and more.
The Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith – Another Church site, this one contains the Prophet’s accounts of his quest to find out for himself which Church is right, the First Vision, his persecution, and many more.
Mormon Answers: Fulfilled Prophecies of the Joseph Smith – Well known LDS writer and scholar Jeff Lindsay discusses many of the Prophet’s prophecies that have come to pass.
Joseph Smith and His Accounts of the First Vision – Jeff Lindsay responds to critics who dismiss the First Vision as a fraud.
Joseph Smith’s First Vision: A Harmony – Created by Elden Watson to “demonstrate the inherent unanimity and concurrence manifest by the nine known major recitals of Joseph Smith’s First Vision.”
Joseph Smith, Jr: The Prophet of the Restoration – This post by LDS author, screenwriter, and motivational speaker Candace Salima explains clearly who Joseph Smith was and what his mission was here on earth.
I pray that those of you who are sincerely seeking for the truth about Joseph Smith will study and pray about what you learn from these sources. Do not let the mocking and pointing fingers of others discourage you. You owe it to yourself to find out who Joseph Smith really was.
I testify to you that he was a Prophet of God, a Seer, and a Revelator. I testify that he was placed on this earth to restore God’s Church. He was called of God, but he was also still a man, with human failings and weaknesses. Consider this statement by the late Presdient James E. Faust (Second Counselor in the First Presidency until his death earlier this year);
We acknowledge that all Church leaders, past and present—except Christ himself—had human failings and weaknesses. The critics of the Church are wont to discredit this marvelous work because of the human weaknesses of its leaders. But, as President Gordon B. Hinckley said a few years ago, “to highlight the mistakes and gloss over the greater good is to draw a caricature. Caricatures are amusing, but they are often ugly and dishonest. A man may have a wart on his cheek and still have a face of beauty and strength, but if the wart is emphasized unduly in relation to his other features, the portrait is often lacking in integrity.”
Of the early leaders of the Church, President Hinckley said, “If some of them stumbled, or if their characters may have been slightly flawed in one way or another, the wonder is the greater that they accomplished so much.” The same is true today.
Whatever weaknesses the Prophet Joseph Smith may have had do not make him any less of a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator in my eyes. I’m in fact humbled by the knowledge that man can be so inspired. My heart is warmed by the knowledge that men can be an instruments in the Hands of God even though it is the very nature of humans to have failings and shortcomings.
I will forever testify and rejoice that God does indeed love us so much and has restored His Church upon the earth. I will forever testify that Jesus is my Savior and Redeemer. I will forever testify that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God.