When one brings up the story of Joseph Smith Jr., either reverence or ambiguities will more than likely arise. The LDS (Mormons), the RLDS, and the many other branches rooted from Smith's teachings view him as "the great prophet of God;" whereas, a vast majority of others question his belief of being called by God to restore the "true church." In this paper we will briefly view the life of Joseph Smith, and then show what he believed and taught, making manifest the significance of this false prophet.
The Life of Joseph Smith.
Joseph Smith was born December 23, 1805. As a youth, he moved from Vermont to western New York, near the town of Palmyra. (Melton 29) His family was proselyted into the Presbyterian denomination. Either his fourteenth or fifteenth year (not made clear from the many different testimonies) he claimed that although he was partial to the Methodist sect he still did not know which group to join. His problem was solved by a vision he had in 1820. Writer LeGrand Richards described this vision as, "One of the most important and momentous events in this world's history. God, the Eternal Father, and his Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to Joseph Smith and gave instructions concerning the establishment of the kingdom of God upon the earth in these latter days." (Richards 6) Many of Smith's followers to this day believe that this first visit of God and Jesus with Smith is the marvelous work and wonder in Isaiah 29:14. The personage that he saw in this vision told him that he was not to join any of the groups he was considering. Smith then claimed that he was greatly persecuted because of everyone's lack of belief about this vision. His justification behind all this was 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 to him." (Testimony 7).
Three years later (1823), another vision occurred, but this time at Joseph's bedside.