Everything hinges on whether Joseph Smith was a prophet or a charlatan. If Smith was a prophet, the church is true regardless of what we my prefer. On the other hand, if he was not a prophet, then the foundation he laid and everything that was subsequently built upon that foundation is an extravagant hoax that threatens the eternal life of every Mormon.
Last night the phone rang. I was surprised to hear the voice of my former Mormon Bishop, who I will refer to as “Bishop R”. He called and asked if I and my wife would post a letter to him requesting that our names be officially removed from the records of the Mormon church.
Today, I am primarily addressing every Mormon or non-Mormon within the sound of my voice. But first, a humble supplication to Bishop R.
We have had quite a journey, you and I. God willing, it will end in a good place for everyone involved. We are promised that the truth will make us free and I know it will if we chose to embrace it. I just listened again to the ninety minute meeting we had back in March of last year. It did not begin or end in prayer. During that meeting, you talked of the demands that you, as a man in authority, required of me. You spoke of how we, you and I could fix a very broken community that often defaults to anger and hate. You attempted to enforce the demands of a Stake President, as a man in authority, over me. As I listen now, it is amazing to me that the name or blessings or assistance or power of Jesus Christ were never mentioned. The only power recognized in the meeting was you and the Stake President.
I don’t fault you for failing to recognize Jesus. At that time I was also swimming in the mud and smoke and vapor and darkness and evil of Mormonism. At that time, I was trying to balance your imagined authority with the realities of right and wrong. They did not reconcile. Your authority vs right and wrong were only two things I could see. I was blinded to the only power that could save or repair what was broken. So were you or you would have called on his name. Not involving Jesus seemed perfectly normal to me because of my blindness. In my heart, I knew that you had violated the laws of the land and the laws of God. I also knew, or thought I knew, that you were called of God and given authority of God. I was wrong, you were wrong, we were wrong! God was right and he was dead to us!
In that meeting, you failed to recognize Jesus and I understand why. The founder of your religion boasted of his own exaltation even above Jesus Christ, claiming that he alone was more capable than God. You will see undeniable proof of this as we progress. I don’t fault you for this because we were the same. How could we do different when our recognized prophet was the blackest of all. But now, as a follower of Jesus, I listen to that meeting. The darkness and evil of it is undeniable, on both sides. We looked to every solution except our God!
You are in a position to do much good, or evil. You can hide the truth and curse the people. Or, you can embrace the light and embrace the truth and help to set the people of Rockland free. I feel only love for you and pray that you will turn to God and embrace his truth.
Everything hinges on whether Joseph Smith was a prophet or a charlatan. If Smith was a prophet, the church is true regardless of what we my prefer. On the other hand, if he was not a prophet, then the foundation he laid and everything that was subsequently built upon that foundation is an extravagant hoax that threatens the eternal life of every Mormon. This work is not intended to tear down or ridicule any one or anyones beliefs. Instead, it is a search for the truth. In the spirit of fairness, I will only pose questions based on doctrine that has been published but hidden in the official records of the Mormon church.
The church has commissioned many paintings of Joseph translating directly from the Gold plates. Joseph’s wife Emma does not agree. She revealed that Joseph dropped a rock in his hat and read the words of the Book of Mormon as they appeared to him on the rock. This is curious because God reportedly gave Joseph the Urim and Thummim, which was a special interpretor to be used for the translation of the plates. Instead of using the instrument that God provided, Joseph worked his hocus pocus. This does not necessarily disprove Joseph as a prophet, but it does raise questions.
Joseph purchased an Egyptian Papyri. In his own words, Joseph wrote,
I commenced the translation of some of the characters or hieroglyphics, and much to our joy found that one of the scrolls contained the writings of Abraham, another the writings of Joseph of Egypt.
After the death of Joseph, Emma sold the papyri and it was thought to be lost. To the joy of the Mormon people, the papyri was rediscovered at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1966. After a careful examination, the church had to admit, “None of the characters on the papyrus fragments mentioned Abraham’s name or any of the events recorded in the book of Abraham”. Instead, the entire record is a “Book of the Breathing” which is commonly found with mummies and in this case, speaks of the mummification and afterlife of an Egyptian priest by the name of Hor.
One church assertion is that Joseph did not literally translate but instead used the papyri to channel the words of Abraham much as he used the seer stone to translate the Gold Plates. Joseph’s own words do not support that possibility:
The remainder of this month, I was continually engaged in translating an alphabet to the Book of Abraham, and arranging a grammar of the Egyptian language as practiced by the Ancients.
October 1.–This afternoon I labored on the Egyptian alphabet… during the research, the principles of astronomy as understood by Father Abraham and the ancients unfolded to our understanding, the particulars of which will appear hereafter.”
Tuesday, [Nov.] 24.–…In the afternoon we translated some of the Egyptian records… Thursday, 26.–Spent the day in translating Egyptian characters from the papyrus…
A second church assertion is that the portion of papyri that contained the Book of Abraham is still missing. According to the Book of Abraham, Joseph possessed an illustration, drawn by Abraham himself, which showed priests attempting to slay him on an Egyptian alter. Joseph Smith did include an illustration and labeled characters, including Abraham, the Priest and others. Here then is the question. If Joseph had a drawing by the hand of Abraham, why did he not insert that into the Book of Abraham? Why did he use the pagan drawing of Hor being mummified by an Egyptian God?
Joseph learned of six brass plates, (Kinderhook plates) that contained curious inscriptions and were reportedly found with the remains of an ancient American. He purchased these and returned to his home. These plates were a 19th century hoax designed to expose Joseph Smith as a fraud. The church has admitted that this is the case but declared, “Joseph Smith did not make the hoped-for translation. In fact, no evidence exists that he manifested any further interest in the plates after early examination of them…”
The assertion of the church and the reality of 150 years of church history just do not align. Joseph wrote,
I have translated a portion of them, and find they contain the history of the person with whom they were found. He was a descendant of Ham, through the loins of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the Ruler of heaven and earth.
One month prior to the death of Joseph Smith he wrote and caused to be published in the Millennial Star, a Nauvoo newspaper, these words,
What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one. I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago; and I can prove them all perjurers. I labored with these apostates myself until I was out of all manner of patience; 
Yet, the church acknowledges Joseph took many wives. Personally, I can document 33 wives, four of whom were very young, two of whom were purchased from parents, eleven of whom were married to other men when they married Joseph, nearly half of whom suffered divorce or separation in their lives. We also know that during Joseph’s polygamy years, a previous version of the Doctrine and Covenants was in use. In Section 101 of that version, polygamy was denied and forbidden. In fact, Section 101 was added to the canonized doctrine after Joseph began the practice of polygamy.
The Millennial Star article also included the following,
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.
These are the things we know. Joseph lied about some of his translation work which brings all translations into question. We know that Joseph lied about having multiple wives right up to his death. We know that he secretly practiced polygamy in disobedience to the published doctrine of the church. We know that he placed the name of Jesus last on a list of mere men and elevated, exalted himself above them all.
So my dear friend, Bishop R, where do you stand… with Joseph or with Jesus?
- History of the Church, Vol. 2: 236↩
- History of the Church, vol 2, page 238↩
- History of the Church, vol 2, page 286↩
- History of the Church, vol 2, page 320↩
- Abraham 1:12↩
- History of the Church, vol 5, page 372↩
- History of the Church, vol 6, page 411↩
- History of the Church, vol 6, page 408, 409↩