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by Ed Decker or

Parts of this book were originally published under the title,

The God Makers II.


The False Prophecies of Joseph Smith

The very existence of Mormonism hinges on its central tenet that it was founded by Joseph Smith, who claimed that he was called of God to re-establish Christ's true Church on the earth.  In the last chapter you saw that this could not possibly be true.  However, Mormons revere Joseph Smith as a true prophet of God and the holy man upon whom God himself laid the authority to oversee God's people and usher in the last dispensation of time.  If Smith's claims of having seen God and Christ and to have received his prophet-hood and authority from them really were true, two very important things would follow.

First, the Christian world would have to recognize that the "New Testament" era was over and a new era had begun.   To understand this concept one needs to understand the place of the "office" of prophet.  The calling of the Old Testament prophet was "one to whom and through whom God spoke.  Their messages were very largely the proclamation of the Divine purposes of salvation and glory to be accomplished in the future." [1]   The prophets and their messages were the pointers to Jesus!

In Luke 16:16, the Lord clearly stated, "The Law and the Prophets were until John: Since that time the Kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it."  The time for declaring the forthcoming of the Kingdom was over; the kingdom itself was now to be declared by the Son himself!

Hebrews 1: 1-2 makes it even clearer.  "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds."   This was said after Christ had risen and the church was in operation.  No prophet was appointed to be the head of the church and spokesman for God.  Christ had fulfilled that empty office in His own right when he said, "It is finished."   Yet as we read in 1 Corinthians, the gift of prophecy was active in the body of the Church.... not something found only in the headship of the church (see 1 Corinthians 14).

So, if Joseph Smith was the spokesman through whom God would now issue His orders, then the established order of New Testament government would have to be ended, and the church would step into a new covenant that was not foretold by Christ, by whom God was to speak to us in New Testament times.

Second, If Smith's claims to have restored Christ's true church on earth were true, then we could step back from the responsibility "every man presseth into it" and simply listen to the instruction and counsel of the Mormon prophet and trust and obey the words from his mouth as though they came directly from God.

However, before we take that step of obedience, it would be wise for us to check the Biblical tests of a prophet, as given in the Bible and put this new era prophet to the same simple tests by which every Old Testament prophet was judged.  We need to do that with Joseph Smith.  After all, Christ fulfilled over 300 exact prophecies in His birth, life, death and resurrection.  Some of these prophecies were foretold over 900 years before His birth.  Prophets can be checked out for accuracy.

One would think that any member of a "restoration" church which bases its very existence on its own personal latter-day prophet would be able to give any willing listener a long litany of "true prophecies."  At least the earnest seeker would expect to find dusty volumes of such prophecies abounding in church libraries throughout the new kingdom.  Yet in Mormonism, they don't exist in mind or matter.  While some people who claim both scholarship and membership have written books on the subject, the church does not receive them in any official capacity, especially since much of the work is contrived.

If you doubt that the true Mormon avoids such discovery, just ask a Mormon to extemporaneously recite 5 or 6 favorite Joseph Smith prophecies.  You will rarely get past one or two of the most commonly used "faith promoting" stories that are hardly kingdom shaking.

One such story that really did come true (if Joseph actually gave it) was a "word" given to Orrin "Porter" Rockwell, Joseph Smith's body guard and Church assassin for apostates of the early Mormon Church.  Smith promised Rockwell a quiet death in bed if he never cut his hair.  Porter Rockwell killed a lot of men through the years, never cut his hair and we are told he died in bed.

It is amazing that when the LDS missionaries share the joys of having a church led by a living prophet and are asked to produce a list of the prophecies of their living prophet or any of their deceased prophets, including Joseph Smith, they cannot produce any such list.  You would expect that any reasonable, thinking person would flee from such foolishness.  Yet millions of Mormons testify that they "know" by personal revelation, that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God.

In actuality, Joseph Smith meets the test of Scripture as one of the foretold false prophets who would come in the last days.  A number of the prophecies of Joseph Smith, some of which were buried deep inside the LDS closet, certainly failed to come to pass.  Judge them for yourself.

The False Prophecies of Joseph Smith

Remember, as you read the following list, that according to Deuteronomy 18:20-22, it only takes one false prophecy to make a prophet false, just as it only takes one murder to make a person a murderer.  As you read the many false prophecies of Joseph Smith, keep this Biblical teaching in mind.

1) The Abridgment of D&C 137

Although there are actually dozens of false prophecies I could begin with, I chose one which has come to newfound prominence in recent years.  In 1976, Section 137th of Doctrine & Covenants was submitted to the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for a vote to be "sustained" as scripture.  It is a narrative of a vision supposedly seen by Joseph Smith in Kirtland, Ohio, in 1836.

What the members who voted on this new addition to scripture were not told by "The Brethren," is that whole paragraphs (216 words) of the actual revelation as recorded in the History of the Church had been conveniently left out of the version to be included in the D&C.  The reason for these omissions was that four obviously false prophecies were contained in the part of the revelation that was censored out.  These were prophecies so obviously false that even the average Mormon reader would pick them up.   Therefore they went down the "black hole" of Mormon history.

What exactly did these missing parts contain? If you go to the official History of the Church published by the church's own publishing company, you will easily be able to find the missing prophecies. [2]  Here is what is not in the new D&C 137:

[Joseph Smith:] "....I saw the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb, who are now upon the earth, who hold the keys of this last ministry, in foreign lands, standing together in a circle, much fatigued, with their clothes tattered and their feet swollen, with their eyes cast downward, and Jesus standing in their midst, and they did not behold him.  The Saviour looked upon them and wept.

I also beheldElder M'Lellin in the south, standing upon a hill, surrounded by a vast multitude, preaching to them, and a lame man standing before him supported by his crutches; he threw them down at his word and leaped as a hart, by the mighty power of God.

Also, I saw Elder Brigham Young standing in a strange land, in the far south and west, in a desert place, upon a rock in the midst of a bout a dozen men of color, who appeared hostile.  He was preaching to them in their own tongue, and the angel of God standing above his head with a drawn sword in his hand, protecting him, but he did not see it.

And I finally saw the Twelve in the celestial kingdom of God. I also beheld the redemption of Zion and many things which the tongue of man cannot describe in full......." [all emphasis added].

Now, if this prophecy were true, it would have been a truly inspiring and wonderful declaration!  Unfortunately, for the Mormon faithful, a short look at these missing parts reveals the false prophecies contained therein.

The most striking of these is that Smith claimed to see his original "Twelve apostles" all in the celestial kingdom. [3]  This is difficult to imagine, since there was already division between Smith and the majority of the apostles, beginning with discord in Kirtland, Ohio.  The first portion of the missing parts shows his less than subtle rebuke of their resistance to his will.   "...fatigued....tattered...eyes cast downward....The Saviour looked upon them and wept."  Smith was calling them to get into line and submit themselves to his full authority.  That's the carrot offered in the last portion, "I finally saw the Twelve in the Celestial Kingdom of God."

However, his "thus saith the Lord" must have had little effect on these men, because at least seven of the twelve were soon excommunicated or apostatized from the church: John F. Boynton & Luke S. Johnson (1837), [4] Lyman Johnson (1838), [5] William E. M'Lellin (c.1838), [6] Thomas B. Marsh & Orson Hyde (1838), [7] and William Smith .(1845) [8]

How could they have ever attained the celestial kingdom under those conditions?  They couldn't!  They were not only accursed by their very acts of apostasy or excommunication, but fell victim to the LDS Church's own scriptural denunciation.  D&C 84.40-41 clearly states:

Therefore, all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my father, which he cannot break, neither can it be moved.  But whoso breaketh this covenant after he hath received it, and altogether turneth there-from, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come.

Although a few of these men later returned to the church, none of them were even close to the standards necessary for attainment of that highest degree of glory.  The majority remained apart for life.  Therefore, the prophetic utterance, "I finally saw the Twelve in the Celestial Kingdom of God" could not be true.  It would have been false even if only one Apostle remained outside the fold.

In addition, the vision of M'Lellin preaching and working miracles in the south never came true because he apostatized from the church without ever doing it!

Brigham Young did bring the Mormons west and was a great colonizer and orator, but the vision of Brigham Young preaching to "men of color" in their own language, in some strange and faraway place in the southwest never took place eitheror at least there is no trace of it in the very detailed records and diaries concerning his reign as prophet.

Finally, "Zion" (Independence, Missouri) was never redeemed, has never been redeemed in the 165+ years since the prophecy was made.  Is it any wonder that The Brethren chose to remove whole chunks of this "inspired" revelation?

Was Emma Smith Destroyed?

One of the most significant sections of the Doctrine and Covenants is Section #132, which deals with the plural marriage (polygamy) revelation.  However, it also contains many false prophecies!

And as pertaining to the new and everlasting covenant [i.e.. polygamy or plural marriage], it was instituted for the fulness of my glory; and he that receiveth a fulness there must and shall abide the law, or he shall be damned, saith the Lord God.… (v.6)

Let mine handmaid, Emma Smith [Joseph's first wife] receive all those [wives] that have been given unto my servant Joseph, and who are virtuous and pure before me; and those who are not pure and have said they were pure shall be destroyed, saith the Lord God.…and I give unto my servant Joseph that he shall be ruler over many things; for he hath been faithful over a few things, and from henceforth I will strengthen him.   And I command my handmaid, Emma Smith to abide and cleave unto my servant Joseph, and to none else. But if she will not abide this commandment [of plural marriage] she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord; for I am the Lord thy God, and will destroy her if she abide not in my law. (v.52-54)

And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore he is justified." (v.62) [all emphasis added]

Where do we begin?  First of all, plural marriage was an "everlasting covenant" that only lasted about 50 years.   It was officially done away with in 1890. [9]  How can something that is ordained by God as "everlasting" ever stop?  Second, according to v.6, everyone who is not living in plural marriage in the LDS Church is damned.  That means that almost all Mormons except for 40,000 or so Fundamentalists today who still keep the original commandments of plural marriage are damned!

Verse 53 says that Joseph Smith would be strengthened henceforth.  Whether he was depends on one's definition of "henceforth," as he was shot dead by his enemies less than a year later!

Verse 54 threatens Emma Smith with destruction if she doesn't let Joseph have all of his wives without complaint and acknowledge the divine origins of plural marriage.  Emma never did these things.  She fought against the plural marriage doctrine; and yet she lived to ripe old age; and Joseph was shot just months later.  Emma was so opposed to polygamy that she went off with Joseph's son, Joseph Smith III and started the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which denies that Smith ever taught polygamy.

The Civil War Prophecy

This one is a little longer, but it should be looked at closely because the Mormons like to claim this prophecy as one of Joseph Smith's true prophecies.  Yet and it just doesn't bear close scrutiny.  In 87: 1- 8, we read:

Verily, thus saith the Lord concerning the wars that will shortly come to pass, beginning at the rebellion of South Carolina, which will eventually terminate in the death and misery of many souls; And the time will come that war will be pour out upon all nations, beginning at this place.   For behold, the Southern States shall be divided against the Northern States, and the Southern States will call on other nations, even the nation of Great Britain…and they shall also call upon other nations, in order to defend themselves against other nations; and then war shall be poured out upon all nations.

And it shall come to pass, after many days, slaves shall rise up against their masters, who shall be marshaled and disciplined for war.  And it shall come to pass also that the remnants who are left of the land will marshal themselves, and shall become exceedingly angry, and shall vex the Gentiles with a sore vexation.

And thus, with the sword and by bloodshed the inhabitants of the earth shall mourn; and with famine, and plague, and earthquake, and the thunder of heaven, and the fierce and vivid lightning also, shall the inhabitants of the earth be made to feel the wrath and indignation, and chastening hand of an Almighty God until the consumption decreed hath made a full end of all nations.

That the cry of the saints, and the blood of the saints, shall cease to come up into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, from the earth, to be avenged of their enemies.   Wherefore, stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come; for behold it cometh quickly, saith the Lord.  Amen.

This prophecy was given on Christmas Day, 1832, in appearance almost 30 years before the Civil War.  Although the prophecy looks good on the surface, it must be realized that at the time this was brought forth, South Carolina was already involved in many rebellious acts, and this fact was available in the papers of the time. [10]   Congress had passed a tariff in July of 1832 that South Carolina had declared unacceptable.

It was during that Christmas season when the nation's press expected and wrote about the impending outbreak of civil war, beginning with this rebellion in South Carolina.   Even the U.S. Army was on alert.  With these facts at hand, it didn't take much of a seer to predict the unfolding events.  Even a paper published by the Mormons themselves contained such news! [11]

However, the war did not come to pass.  Added to the dating problems, the scope of the prophecy is not in balance.  In just one item, the prophecy states that war would begin locally and pour out upon all nations and shall be the direct cause of an international global war.  Even the great World War I did not encompass all nations, and it was 50 years after the Civil War and had no possible relationship to it!

After having been given, the entire prophecy was shelved and never appeared again during Joseph Smith's lifetime.  In fact, the first two editions of the History of the Church did not include it even though it was in the original manuscript.  It reappeared in 1852 when the war again seemed imminent.

One former Mormon has pointed out that there are at least 20 elements in this prophecy, and for it to be a true prophecy, all of those elements would have to have come to pass. [12]  In human terms, those odds are 1 in 1,048,576a truly remarkable achievement, had Smith pulled it off.  Obviously he did not.

In another example of failure in this prophecy, verses 4 through 6 state that the slaves shall rise up, the remnants left in the land shall rise up against the Gentiles (non-Mormons) and the bloodshed, famines, plagues (caused by this great war) shall bring with God's wrath, and "...a full end of all nations."  This did not happen.  In fact, Smith only got two elements out of twenty rights, and those were based on current events and common sense.

Pestilence and Earthquakes to Sweep Across USA?

Here is an explicit false prophecy (given in 1833) from official Church history: [13]

And now I am prepared to say by the authority of Jesus Christ, that not many years shall pass away before the United States shall present such a scene of bloodshed as has not a parallel in the history of our nation; pestilence, hail, famine, and earthquake shall sweep the wicked of this generation from off the face of the land…flee to Zion before the overflowing scourge overtake you, for there are those now living upon the earth whose eyes shall not be closed in death until they see all these things, which I had spoken, fulfilled. [all emphasis added]

Obviously, none of these dire predictions have come to pass, and it has been 170 years since they were given.  No one is now left alive from that generation.  The scope of the warning was centered on the generation in which the Mormons were still calling on their converts to leave their homes, cities and countries to "Come to Zion." They have long since stopped this mandatory migration to the center of Mormonism. That generation had passed by before the end of the nineteenth century.

Jesus' Return

Joseph Smith made this reference to the Second Coming of Jesus:

"Were I going to prophesy, I would say the end [of the world] would not come in 1844, 5 or 6, or in forty years.  There are those of the rising generation who shall not taste death till Christ comes.

I was once praying earnestly upon this subject, and a voice said unto me, "My son, if thou livest until thou art eighty-five years of age, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man."  I was left to draw my own conclusions concerning this, and I took the liberty to conclude that if I did live to that time, He would make His appearance.  But I do not say whether He will make His appearance or I shall go where He is.  I prophesy in the name of the Lord God, and let it be writtenthe Son of Man will not come in the clouds of heaven till I am eighty-five years old.(48 years hence or about 1890) [14] [all emphasis added]

Interestingly enough, this passage is taken from Smith's diary; and modern LDS "historians" have removed the phrase "48 years hence or about 1890" because it so clearly demonstrated the falsity of the prophecy.

None of the "rising generation" ever saw Jesus' coming. Jesus certainly did not come in "about 1890."  Over a century has passed since that date; and Smith's prophecy lies dead and buried along with that rising generation."

The Potsherd Prophecy

Although Mormons like to exhibit their patriotism, Joseph Smith was not overly fond of the US government.  In 1843, he declared:

…if the government, which received into its coffers the money of citizens for its public treasury, cannot protect such citizens in their lives and property, it is an old granny anyhow; and I prophesy in the name of the Lord God of Israel, unless the United States redress the wrongs committed upon the Saints in the state of Missouri and punish the crimes committed by her officers, that in a few years the government will be utterly overthrown and wasted, and there will not be so much as a potsherd left… [15] [all emphasis added]

Congress failed to comply with Smith's demands.  It did not protect the Mormons, and did not redress the wrongs done against them.  In spite of this; the congress was never overthrown, and the US government has never been destroyed, overthrown or wasted.  After over 160 years, the United States is the most powerful country in the World!

Who WAS Oliver Granger?

Another personal prophecy of Smith's which fell to the ground was recorded as Doctrine and Covenants 117.12-15, which says in part:

I say unto you, I remember my servant Oliver Granger; behold, verily I say unto him that his name shall be had in sacred remembrance from generation to generation, forever and ever, saith the Lord…[all emphasis added]

Ask 100 Mormons who Oliver Granger is and 99 will give you a blank look.  His name is supposed to be in everlasting remembrance from generation to generation, and millions of Mormons have never heard of him, nor if they do 'remember' him, can give any reason why he should be held in sacred remembrance.

Did Joseph Smith Triumph Over His Foes?

The section of Doctrine and Covenants where this prophecy is given, Section 121, is prefaced in the LDS Church introduction by being identified as "Prayers and Prophecies written by Joseph Smith the Prophet, while he was a prisoner in jail in Liberty…" Note what is said in verses 5-15:

…My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes…And also that God hath set his hand and seal to change the times and seasons, and to blind their minds, that they might not understand his marvelous workings; and take them in their own craftiness…And not many years hence, that they and their posterity shall be swept from under heaven, saith God, that not one of them is left to stand by the wall…[all emphasis added]

This prophecy promises that Smith and his Church would triumph over all their foes.  This never happened.  They had just been driven out of their "Zion" in Independence, Missouri.  Smith was to die by the hands of his foes, about five years later.  The entire church was run out of the state about eight years later and had to flee to Utah!  Can this be triumphing over your enemies?

Even in Utah, the power of the church was ultimately broken by the federal government, which forced the Church leaders to submit to government authority and to do away with their cherished doctrine of plural marriage.  More recently, the church was forced to succumb to outside pressure again and change its racist position on the blacks or else lose its tax-exempt status. Is this triumph?

We need to ask: When did God change the times and seasons on us?  When did he blind the minds of Smith's enemies?  When were every one of Smith's enemies "swept from under heaven"?  In fact, most of them long outlived him!

Boastful Prophets

In the Doctrine and Covenants 3, verse 4 (given in 1828), we find this:

For although a man may have many revelations, and have power to do many mighty works, yet if he boasts in his own strength, and sets at naught the counsels of God, and follows after the dictates of his own will and carnal desires, he must fall and incur the vengeance of a just God upon him. [all emphasis added]

Bear this prophecy in mind, as we move ahead several years to 1844.  In May of that year, Smith proclaimed this:

I have more to boast of than any man ever had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a church together since the days of Adam.…Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I.  The followers of Jesus ran away from him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet. [16]

Just 30 days from making that boast, on June 27, 1844; Joseph Smith was murdered by a mob at the Carthage, Illinois, jail. [17]   It would seem that he fell, and incurred the vengeance of a just God upon himself.   This is not how Mormons see it; but at least this time, Joseph's prophetic word was true.

A Second Mohammed

As Ed was researching the religion of Islam, he came across these facts on the internet.  There were no references to ownership, so we publish it here, in part.

In the heat of the Missouri "Mormon War" of 1838, Joseph Smith made the following claim:

"I will be to this generation a second Mohammed, whose motto in treating for peace was 'the Alcoran [Koran] or the Sword.'  So shall it eventually be with us'Joseph Smith or the Sword!' " [18]

It is most interesting that a self-proclaimed Christian prophet would liken himself to Mohammed, the founder of Islam.  His own comparison invites us to take a closer look as well.  And when we do, we find some strikingand troublingparallels.  Consider the following.

•    • Mohammed and Joseph Smith both had humble beginnings.  Neither had formal religious connections or upbringing, and both were relatively uneducated.  Both founded new religions by creating their own scriptures.  In fact, followers of both prophets claim these scriptures are miracles since their authors were the most simple and uneducated of men. [19]

•    • Both prophets claims of having angelic visitations and of receiving divine revelation to restore pure religion to the earth again. Mohammed was told that both Jews and Christians had long since corrupted their scriptures and religion.  In like manner, Joseph Smith was told that all of Christianity had become corrupt, and that consequently the Bible itself was no longer reliable.  In both cases, this corruption required a complete restoration of both scripture and religion.  Nothing which preceded either prophet could be relied upon any longer.  Both prophets claim they were used of God to restore eternal truths which once existed on earth, but had been lost due to human corruption.

•    • Both prophets created new scripture which borrowed heavily from the Bible, but with a substantially new "spin."  In his Koran, Mohammed appropriates a number of Biblical themes and charactersbut he changes the complete sense of many passages, claiming to "correct" the Bible.   In so doing he changes many doctrines, introducing his own in their place.  In like manner, Joseph Smith created The Book of Mormon, much of which is plagiarized directly from the King James Bible.  Interestingly, claims that this same Bible has been substantially corrupted and is therefore unreliable.  In addition, Joseph Smith went so far as to actually create his own version of the Bible itself, the "Inspired Version," in which he both adds and deletes significant portions of text, claiming he is "correcting" it.  In so doing he also changes many doctrines, introducing his own in their place.

•    • As a part of their new scriptural "spin," both prophets saw themselves as prophesied in scripture, and both saw themselves as a continuation of a long line of Biblical prophets.  Mohammed saw himself as a continuation of the ministry of Moses and Jesus.  Joseph Smith saw himself as a successor to Enoch, Melchizedek, Joseph and Moses. Joseph Smith actually wrote himself into his own version of the Bibleby name.

•    • Both prophets held up their own scripture as superior to the Bible. Mohammed claimed that the Koran was a perfect copy of the original which was in heaven.  The Koran is therefore held to be absolutely perfect, far superior to the Bible and superceding it.  In like manner, Joseph Smith also made the following claim.  "I told the Brethren that The Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding its precepts, than by any other book." [20]

•    • Despite their claim that the Bible was corrupt, both prophets admonished their followers to adhere to its teachings.  An obvious contradiction, this led to selective acceptance of some portions and wholesale rejection of others.  As a result, the Bible is accepted by both groups of followers only to the extent that it agrees with their prophet's own superior revelation.

•    • Both Mohammed and Joseph Smith taught that true salvation was to be found only in their respective religions.  Those who would not accept their message were considered "infidels," pagans or Gentiles.  In so doing, both prophets became the enemy of genuine Christianity, and have led many people away from the Christ of the Bible.

•    • Both prophets encountered fierce opposition to their new religions and had to flee from town to town because of threats on their lives.  Both retaliated to this opposition by forming their own militias.  Both ultimately set up their own towns as model societies.

•    • Both Mohammed and Joseph Smith left unclear instructions about their successors.  The majority of Mohammed's followers, Sunni Muslims, believe they were to elect their new leader, whereas the minority, Shiite Muslims, believe Mohammed's son was to be their next leader.   Similarly, the majority of Joseph Smith's followers, Mormons, believed their next prophet should have been the existing leader of their quorum of twelve apostles, whereas the minority, RLDS, believed Joseph Smith's own son should have been their next prophet.  Differences on this issue, and many others, have created substantial tension between these rival groups of each prophet.

•    • Mohammed taught that Jesus was just another of a long line of human prophets, of which he was the last.  He taught that he was superior to Christ and superceded Him.  In comparison, as we have just quoted a few paragraphs above, Joseph Smith made this following claim.

"I have more to boast of than ever any man had.  I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam.  A large majority of the whole have stood by me.   Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it.  I boast that no man ever did such a work as I.  The followers of Jesus ran away from Him, but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet." [21]

In light of these parallels, perhaps Joseph Smith's claim to be a second Mohammed unwittingly became his most genuine prophecy of all.

A Prophet Without Error?

Near the end of his life, Joseph Smith insisted, "there is no error in the revelations with I have taught." [22]  Joseph Smith also said "I am learned and know more than all the world put together." [23]  Subsequent Mormon leaders have affirmed that once the prophet has spoken, the church has its marching orders.  In one Ward Teachers' message [a monthly message sent by The Brethren to the homes of the members], they were told:

He [Satan] wins a great victory when he can get members of the Church to speak against their leaders and do their own thinking.... When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done.  When they propose a plan - it is God's plan.  When they point the way, there is no other which is safe.  When they give direction, it should mark the end of controversy.  God works in no other way.  To think otherwise, without immediate repentance, may cost one his faith, may destroy his testimony and leave him a stranger to the kingdom of God. [24]

Having made such a strong affirmation, one would think that the die had been cast and the words of Joseph Smith would live on in the hearts and minds of the Mormon people for eternity, but it isn't so.  When the church changed the doctrine on African-Americans being allowed to hold the priesthood and go to the temple, these bedrock doctrines of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were shattered and a new theology emerged.

The Brethren had already been at work, preparing the Saints for several decades of enormous change.  At a BYU Stake fireside meeting on May 5, 1974, General Authority, S. Dilworth Young had already warned the students about modern revelation.  "That is modern revelation," he said.  "May I repeat?  Modern revelation is what President Joseph Smith said, unless [then] President Spencer W. Kimball says differently." [25]

After the shock waves settled down following the African-Americans receiving the priesthood and being allowed in the temple, more revelation knowledge was given to the people.  On February 26, 1980, a landmark speech was given before the student body of Brigham Young University by Ezra Taft Benson, who was at that time the President of the Council of Twelve, and soon to ascend to the presidency of the church upon the death of Spencer W. Kimball.  His message, "The 14 Fundamentals of Following The Prophet" listed those things that set the LDS prophet apart from the rest of mankind.  Among the things he listed were:

"Second, The living prophet is more vital to us than the standard works [the scriptures].

Third, the living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet.

Fourth, the prophet will never lead the church astray...

Sixth, the prophet does not have to say, thus saith the lord, to give us scripture." [26]

The door was now opened wide to begin the changes to the LDS doctrines that separated it from the mainstream of Christianity.   The trick was to be able to change just enough to slip in the side door of the ecumenical body of believers without giving up some of those special things that made their faith so much more to them.  One of the problems is that the LDS people adore their prophet, seer and revelator.  He is their door into the throne room of God and the instructor of their fate.  How can they ever give him up?

LDS General Authorities can only acclaim the prophet with unmasked adulation.

We can all be blessed by the words of the prophets of the Lord-if we will only listen and follow their counsel.  How fortunate we are that "the living God" has restored his "living Church" with "living prophets" and additional "living scriptures. [27]

Having a living prophet on the earth today is evidence that God loves us and is interested in us.  When we speak of the prophet of the Church, we mean the President of the Church who is president of the High Priesthood.  He is sustained by the membership of the Church as "prophet, see, and revelator."  He holds the "keys of the kingdom." (see D &C 107:91-92)  The prophet and his counselors constitute the First Presidency of the Church.  We sustain the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve as prophets, seers, and revelators.

As Elder Bruce R. McConkie explains, "Those called to preside over quorums, wards, stakes, or other organizations in the Church should be prophets to those over whom they preside."  He points out that the First Presidency presides over all the presidencies in the Church and that they do so because of their apostolic authority, holding "both the fulness of the priesthood and all of the keys of the kingdom of God on earth.  The President of the Church serves in that high and exalted position because he is the senior apostle of God on earth....(He) is the presiding prophet on earth and as such is the one through whom revelation is sent forth to the world." [28]

The prophet is so vital to Mormonism that his writings and speeches are to be considered by the Church as direct revelation from God.   The only problem is that by the time a man works his way through the tangled hierarchy of the Mormon Church to the top spot, he is often too old to be more than a figurehead prophet.  During much of his presidency and in 1993 when the following report was published, Ezra Taft Benson had been so frail that he was nonfunctional.

Ezra Taft Benson, the 93 year old president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, broke ground on the gleaming, $24 Million San Diego Temple in 1988, but is too sick to attend its open house, which begins today.   It is an irony that has not gone unnoticed by some Mormons who fear Benson is no longer able to receive divine inspiration to lead the 8.5 million member worldwide church.

Mormon historian D, Michael Quinn, who is under investigation by church leaders for apostasy, has described Benson as "mentally diminished." ...and Mario De Pillis ...incoming president of the Mormon History Association has gone so far as to say Benson is senile. [29]

During the time it took for Benson to pass away and a new prophet chosen, Gordon B. Hinckley, counselor to President Benson, continued to function as the acting president of the Mormon Church.  Elder Hinckley filled this same function for the then ailing Spencer W. Kimball, during the last years of his office.

It is interesting to note that the next in line to take the presidency and become the church's prophet upon the death of Benson was Howard W. Hunter, president of the Council of Twelve Apostles, who was already so frail that he must use a walker. [30]

Today, in 2003, Gordon B. Hinckley is the prophet and president of the Mormon Church, having outlived both Benson and Hunter.  He, too, is limited now by age and frailty.

Revelations...Of God or Man?

Hugh B. Brown, a high ranking member of the Mormon hierarchy for 22 years up to his death in 1975, is recorded in his memoirs as saying that many church decisions called "revelations" were actually decisions first "thrashed out" thoroughly by the top authorities.  Those decisions "are no less revelatory, but it is simplistic to think that it [revelation] comes as a bolt out of the blue," said the memoirs editor, Edwin B. Firmate, a grandson of Brown and a law professor at the University of Utah.

The decision-making procedure, Brown explained, generally worked like this:

An idea is submitted to the First Presidency and Twelve, thrashed out, discussed and rediscussed until it seems right.  Then, kneeling together in a circle in the temple, they seek divine guidance and the president says, "I feel to say this is the will of the Lord.'  That becomes a revelation.   It is usually not thought necessary to publish or proclaim it as such, but this is the way it happens. [31] 


[1]    Vine's Expository Dictionary, p. 904.

[2]    History of the Church, Deseret Books, Salt Lake City, UT., 1978, 2:380-81.

[3]    See ibid., 2:187 for a list of the Twelve Apostles chosen.

[4]    Ibid., 2:528.

[5]    Ibid., 3:20.

[6]   Ibid., pp. 31-32.

[7]    Ibid., pp. 166-167.

[8]    Ibid., 7:483.

[9]    Doctrine & Covenants, Official Declaration1 (p. 291-92, 1981 edition).

[10]    Larry S. Jonas, Mormonism Claims Examined, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI., 1961, p. 52.

[11]    The Evening and Morning Star, vol.1, issue 8.

[12]    Letter from Dick & Patty Baer, dated October 10, 1981, p. 9.

[13]    History of the Church, Deseret Books, Salt Lake City, UT., 1978, 1:315-16.

[14]    History of the Church, Deseret Books, Salt Lake City, UT., 1978, 5:336.

[15]    Ibid., p. 394.

[16]    Documentary History of the [Mormon] Church, vol.6, pp. 408409.

[17]    Doctrine & Covenants, Chapter 135: 1-2.

[18]    Joseph Smith made this statement at the conclusion of a speech in the public square at Far West, Missouri on October 14, 1838. This particular quote is documented in Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History, second edition, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1971), p. 230231.

[19]    John Ankerberg & John Weldon, The Facts on Islam, (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1998), pp.89.  Eric Johnson, Joseph Smith & Muhammed, (El Cajon, CA: Mormonism Research Ministry, 1998), pp. 67.

[20]    Documentary History of the [Mormon] Church, vol.4, pp. 461.

[21]    Documentary History of the [Mormon] Church, vol.6, pp. 408409.

[22]    Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith, Deseret Book 1972 p. 368 #46).

[23]    Ibid., p.350.

[24]    Mormon Ward Teachers' Message, Deseret News, May 26, 1945 #47).

[25]    S. Dilworth Young, BYU Stake fireside meeting on May 5, 1974.

[26]    "President Benson Pleads, 'Follow the Prophet!'" Brigham Young University TODAY Speech delivered Feb. 26, 1980 in Marriott Center.

[27]    Neal A. Maxwell, Scriptures for the Modern World, ed. Paul R. Cheesman and C. Wilfred Griggs, Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, 1984, p.1.

[28]    A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985 pp.348-50.

[29]     Brigitte Greenberg, "As membership grows, Mormon president wanes", Journal American, Bellevue, WA, February 20, 1993, p. B1.

[30]    Wendy Ogata, "Benson too frail to attend [General Conference]" See picture accompanying article, Ogden Standard Examiner, Religion page, October 4, 1992.

[31]    The Salt Lake Tribune, Sunday, Dec. 4, 1988. p. B15. "LDS Apostle wrote of 'Revelations'.


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