While my wife and I were preparing to teach about history surrounding the development of Mormonism, I was very disturbed to find Joseph Smith, Jr’s., boastful sermon May 26, 1844, just 32 days before his death June 27, 1844. I will quote his boastfulness later.
The Apostle Paul, who God set apart as his apostle to the Gentiles, also made a boastful statement in 2 Corinthians 11:16 – 33. He was being verbally attacked by other ‘Christians’ as they attempted to inflate their importance. Paul, a God-appointed Apostle, seemed to be ashamed he was having to offer this defense.
“I repeat; let no one take me for a fool, but if you do then tolerate me just as you would a fool so that I may do a little boasting. In this self-confident boasting I am not talking as the Lord would, but as a fool. Since many are boasting in the way the world does, I too will boast. You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or puts on airs or slaps you in the face. To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that!”
“Whatever anyone else dares to boast about– I am speaking as a fool– I also dare to boast about. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the 40 lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked. I spent a night and a day in the open sea. I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles, in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and endanger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep. I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressures of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?”
“If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying. In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me. But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall had slipped through his hands.”
As you read this you see a God-appointed, God-fearing man sharing his previous experiences in defense of accusations. He is not trying to elevate his person but minimize it. His personality is unimportant. His service to God is very important.
It is important to evaluate the differences between a God-selected man, the Apostle Paul, and a ‘self-appointed prophet’, Joseph Smith, Jr.
While reading the Bible one will observe God selects leaders of positive character such as Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, and David. These men all had flaws, but their general character was positive.
God selected King Saul, a man of dubious character, because the Children of Israel wanted a king rather than trusting heavenly leadership. David, ‘a man after God’s own heart’, replaced the self-centered King Saul. After David’s leadership God turns to appointed godly men to be prophets. They provide God’s personal direction during the divided Kingdom. Again, these prophets are men of godly commitment and character who serve God even by sacrificing their lives.
On the other hand, Joseph Smith, Jr’s, known, and recorded history is less than stellar. There are numerous recorded events of his life showing him to be a charismatic, money-digger, diviner, magic stone-peeper, and social leader of “ne’er-do-well-youth”. His focus seemed to continually be about finding quick wealth, probably promoted by his family’s poverty. His personal nature appeared to be one of pride, influence, and self-importance.
This sounds rather harsh, but his past has been well documented and without challenges. In 1834, more than three years after the publishing of The Book of Mormon, a book by Eber D. Howe titled Mormonism Unvailed (sic) revealing the attested details of Joseph’s early life. Because of this serious threat Joseph made a public apology about his youthful life. His apology was an admission of facts detailed in Howe’s book.
A valid question to ask would be, is this the type of person God picks to influence the people He loves, His Creation?
Just before Joseph dies in the Carthage, Illinois, jail (June 27, 1844), he delivers this inflammatory public sermon demonstrating his known personality.
“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.” (History of the Church, Vol. 6, by the LDS Church, pg. 408-409.)
The question is, did this arrogance bring about Joseph Smith’s demise? One might think so, in as much as Joseph, in his mind, appears to supersede even Jesus. We have a similar situation happen recorded in The Acts of the Apostles (12:18-23).
“On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, ‘This is the voice of a god, not a man.’ Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.”
Our God is a jealous God. It has been correctly state that God is most jealous for his own glory, fame, and honor. Paramount to God is preservation of his name. Deuteronomy 25:11 states “For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” Actions, such as Joseph’s, stir God to anger (Deuteronomy 4:26). It might also be mentioned that Joseph, before this, Joseph had been wearing a military general’s uniform, proclaiming himself as a general. He also announced his candidacy for President of the United States. His young personality demonstrating self-importance had not changed. The 10th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Joseph Fielding Smith stated, “Mormonism, as it is called, must stand, or fall on the story of Joseph Smith, he was either a prophet of God, . . . or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground.”
Was Joseph Fielding Smith beginning to question?
Was Joseph Smith, Jr., the person of character who God would choose?
Is the Jesus of Mormonism the same as our Jesus of Nazareth?
Will you find salvation following Joseph Smith, Jr.?
This article began with my statement of shock over Joseph Smith, Jr’s., belief of his superiority to Jesus. This unabashed arrogance was not missed by our God!
So, regarding my title, ABOUT BOASTING, in 1 Corinthians 1:31 Paul said.
“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord!”
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