Praising the man

“No, we don’t worship Joseph Smith,” I explained to the investigator. “We respect him as a prophet.”

“You mean, like Mohamed?” he asked.

“No, more like Moses, or John the Baptist.”

It was a standard comparison that I had used repeatedly on my mission. Joseph Smith is just a prophet. He’s just like John the Baptist, or Moses, or Peter, James, and John.

Of course, there are a few problems with that characterization, aren’t there?

Chief among them — if Joseph Smith is really just like John the Baptist, then why don’t we treat the two similarly? And despite doctrinal protests, we really don’t.

In the current hymnal, there are no hymns about Moses. None about John the Baptist (though Jesus’s baptism is referenced a few times). A few cursory mentions of Peter, in places like What Was Witnessed (#11), and implied mention in #105, Master the Tempest is Raging. There are some mentions of Adam — more than any other Biblical prophet, probably — as well as Enoch.

In contrast, we get two very well-known, oft-sung hymns focusing directly on Joseph Smith: Praise to the Man, and Oh How Lovely was the Morning. Prior hymnals contained many more: The Seer; Blest was the Day when the Prophet and Seer; O Give me Back my Prophet; and so on.

The same goes for church art. The average church building might have pictures of Joseph Smith alone; of the First Vision; of the priesthood restoration; of translation. The Gospel Art kit reflects this. It contains ten pictures of Joseph Smith. There are six pictures of Jesus’ apostles, four pictures of Moses, Lehi, and Nephi, and three each of Adam and Daniel. For other prophets, there are fewer.

Some of the discrepancy in art and music can be explained by noting that we are celebrating the restoration of the gospel, not necessarily focusing on Joseph. Still, the personal nature of much of the music and art — Praise to the Man — cuts in the other direction.

On the other hand, it’s also clear that Joseph Smith is not the figure who dominates Mormon music or art. Hymnody and art about Jesus are several orders of magnitude higher than any other figure, including Joseph Smith. We may have two hymns about Joseph Smith, but there are scores and scores that talk primarily about Jesus.

Where does this leave us?

First, the sometimes-voiced criticism that we worship Joseph Smith is clearly wrong. We don’t worship Joseph Smith.

At the same time, my response — typical of a common response I’ve heard — isn’t quite right, either. Joseph Smith isn’t just another prophet. He’s a prophet who is accorded an extra degree of respect and admiration. This is not of the same degree — or even close — as the veneration and worship given to Jesus. But it’s also not exactly the same level of respect that we hear expressed for other prophets.

This may be hard to explain to the Protestant critic. There’s nothing in Protestant worship that approximates the level of admiration we give Joseph Smith. So the criticism is understandable. The only figure given sustained admiration in some Protestant contexts is Jesus. To an observer from such a context, any heightened level of admiration may look like worship.

Observers from other Christian traditions may be more familiar with giving praise and admiration to a figure, without worshiping that figure. Heirs of slave churches are probably familiar with the heightened emphasis on Moses — as seen in expressions like the hymn, Go Down Moses — in part a product of Moses’ role as one who frees slaves. Catholics are familiar with giving great respect to Mary and to saints (though this response is unlikely to satisfy a Protestant critic, since many consider Catholics to be worshipers of Mary).

But for many Protestants, there is no familiar analogue. Thus, the accusation that Mormons worship Joseph Smith, while incorrect, becomes somewhat more understandable.

101 comments for “Praising the man

  1. Ugly Mahana
    September 16, 2007 at 2:15 pm

    Not quite sure where you are going with this, but I would note that emphasizing one prophet more than others is not something unique to our tradition or time. If the Bible and Fiddler on the Roof are any guide, then Moses seems to be emphasized in both older and more recent Judaic practice than, say, Elisha or Daniel. Perhaps part of the reason both are emphasized is that they both were, in a sense, lawgivers. That, coupled with the thrill of the restoration, I think explains the emphasis.

  2. Kevin Barney
    September 16, 2007 at 2:36 pm

    Why did you say “not like Mohammad?” It seems as though if you are concerned with the relative strength of appreciation and respect of Joseph vis-a-vis other prophets, Mohammad is actually a pretty good analog most people would be able to understand. I.e., Muslims don’t worship Mohammad, either, but there is no question but that he is *the* prophet par excellence.

    I have to admit that I’m a little bit ambivalent about this. People often complain that we don’t talk about Jesus enough in sacrament and other meetings. Part of me wants to say, hey, the Restoration is incredibly rich and complex and we have a lot of other stuff that it is entirely appropriate to talk about, so get used to it already. We’re not Protestants. But another part of me is sympathetic to the criticism, particularly in the case of “Smithmas.” So I’m kind of inconsistent within myself on this.

  3. September 16, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    Kaimi, another sticking point with most protestants is the use of the term praise. This word has come to be synonymous with worship, so the song “Praise to the Man” using the commonly accepted definition is rock solid proof that we worship a man, JS, just as we would deity. The lyrics to the song really don’t do anything to dispel that belief either. “Great is his glory and endless his priesthood.” Note the lack of capital H’s in each, his. We’re signing about Joseph’s glory and priesthood. Which to me, borders on idolatry. For this reason, I choose not to participate in singing “Praise to the Man”.

  4. September 16, 2007 at 3:51 pm

    I totally agree with Marcus. I find the singing of the song “Praise to the Man” to be vaguely idolatrous as well, and I refrain from singing it. I don’t go out and campaign against it or anything, but if someone asks me why I don’t sing it, I’ll tell them that I’m not comfortable singing praises to anyone except a member of the Godhead.

  5. Costanza
    September 16, 2007 at 4:14 pm

    I have to agree with Kevin on this one. I think that the comparison to Mohammad is probably more apt than John the Baptist or moses.

  6. Peter LLC
    September 16, 2007 at 4:41 pm

    Joseph Smith sets Mormons apart from the herd, so there’s no surprise that he gets mad props while the rest of the prophets sit on the bench. I mean, if the building on common beliefs approach was such a wild success, there’d probably be no Preach My Gospel with its renewed emphasis on his role in the restoration of true priesthood authority and access to the Spirit, for example.

  7. September 16, 2007 at 4:58 pm

    Do/did the Jews worship Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? Anyone who suggested that they did would be accused of blasphemy pretty quickly — even a Protestant should recognize that. Yet those patriarchs, especially Abraham, hold a special place in at least Biblical Jewish history, similar to the position of Joseph Smith in our world view.

    I very much see hymns like “Praise to the Man” as referring to the Restoration, illustrated through the life of Joseph Smith, and not worship of Joseph Smith. Although I understand the words used in comments 3 and 4, I do not at all understand the sentiment behind them. To be consistent, you’d have to avoid hymns of praise to the nation (I know, I know — many people already do) and to places (“Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken” and perhaps “High on a Mountain Top” and a couple of dozen other songs glorifying Zion and/or Deseret). Where do we stop? Is “Faith of Our Fathers” to be outlawed because it is a hymn of praise to a concept rather than explicitly to God Himself? There goes “Sweet Is the Peace” and “Sweet Hour of Prayer” by the same logic, and “Lead Kindly Light” becomes iffy. How about hymns of the Restoration that use Moroni as a central focus (“An Angel from on High” and “What Was Witnessed in the Heavens” among several others)? “Sons of Michael, He Approaches” better be tossed, too. And then we move on to boycotting holidays celebrating American presidents and Italian explorers and warmongering, rebellious colonials …

  8. P.H.D.
    September 16, 2007 at 5:00 pm

    No, we don’t worship Joseph Smith, I explained to a co worker-investigator.

    A month later, we were in a regional meeting in Park City (large national company with a small office in Utah) and I issued the invitation to visit Temple Square. I stopped by the distribution center, guest in tow, to buy books. All the posters of Joseph were pointed out to me as well as modern prophets and apostles. I attempted yet another explanation, in response to seeming mounting evidence of the primary concern, now complicated by viewing these other non-worshiped men, in framed wall art. The ensuing comment: “I can’t imagine portraits of Pastor Dave in my home”. Months later, still asking questions, the missionaries invited this investigator to a broadcast fireside. Yes, Dec 23, 2005, Joseph Smith’s 200th anniversary of his birth.

    I thought I was never going to be able to offer a reasonable explanation. The spirit surely did. This investigator is now a member, faithfully in the fold.

  9. Geoff B
    September 16, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    I’d just like to point out that I know more members with pictures of Moroni (another prophet) in their homes than pictures of Joseph Smith. In fact, I can’t think of a single member friend of mine who has a portrait of Joseph Smith in their homes, but I can think of a half-dozen with copies of the portrait of Moroni burying the plates. And of course it is not Joseph Smith on our temples, but Moroni.

  10. It's Not Me
    September 16, 2007 at 6:21 pm

    Not singing “Praise to the Man” because it borders on idolatry? Wow.

  11. Hans
    September 16, 2007 at 6:46 pm

    #3 & #4. Well I generally don’t sing “Praise to the Man” because I’m the one playing the organ. However, if you want to get around singing the words, here are two suggestions:

    1.) Sing the original words to the tune (which is “Scotland the Brave”); this works only for the first part of the hymn since some LDS composer added on some stuff that was not part of “Scotland the Brave”.

    2.) Sing the original version of verse 2 which read:

    “Long may his blood which was shed by assassins,
    Stain Illinois, while the earth lauds his fame.”

    You will probably receive a few startled looks, especially if you sing it in Chicago.

  12. Sarah
    September 16, 2007 at 6:52 pm

    We don’t worship Joseph Smith, but we talk a lot about him because he did a lot of really important stuff for the modern church. Interestingly, we don’t worship Isaiah, but we quote him an awful lot because he talked about a lot of important stuff to us (same with at least four or five others — Nephi, King Benjamin, and Paul all get more than their fair share of quotation.) We, Jewish people, and Muslims don’t worship Abraham, but we reference him and his immediate family all the time: we don’t worship Joseph (son of Jacob,) but we mention his children in every single Patriarchal blessing. And so forth.

    There’s also an argument that Joseph is standing in as the figure representing all modern prophets — which is a close approximation to Abraham’s role — and the restoration more generally. “We Thank Thee, O God, For a Prophet” starts with that line, and then keeps right on trucking through the list of restoration stuff. Plenty of the Joseph Smith commemoration stuff focused on the restoration writ large — the imagery is of the Father and Son (with real bodies) and buried plates and the Kirtland and Nauvoo temples.

    And, hey, a martyr. Ask any Catholic (or person who was over 12 in 1963) — martyrs always get more attention, especially when they die at the height of their abilities and while comparatively young. And we have comparatively fewer martyrs, and none with as high a stature, in the restoration period: if Heber C. Kimball had been burned at the stake in Ohio and Joseph died as an old man in Utah, we might have a few hymns more about Heber C. Kimball’s life and legacy. We’d certainly have one fewer day to remember on the Joseph side.

    (randomly: there are more Joseph Smith pictures in the GAK, but there are far fewer lessons about or even referencing him in the Primary manuals. I count four “about” him in CTR A and B, one of which has the name “Jesus Christ’s Church Has Been Restored.” We sometimes go months between mentions of Joseph Smith, at least in Junior Primary — and usually we talk about what he did at 14, and then move on to something else.)

  13. September 16, 2007 at 7:10 pm

    It’s Not Me — Yeah, it’s pretty amazing when you read the lyrics and think about what they mean.

  14. September 16, 2007 at 7:38 pm

    Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. – John Taylor (D&C 135:3a)

    We have to understand the amount of love and respect the Nauvoo-era Saints had for Joseph, and how deeply they felt about his death. We are the inheritors of a hagiographic tradition.

  15. Ugly Mahana
    September 16, 2007 at 7:49 pm

    While ‘Praise to the Man’ does honor Joseph Smith, the lyrics firmly affirm that he is well below the stature of
    Jesus Christ. I see the hymn as affirming the totality of the restoration, as an appropriate song of gratitude for what God did in our time, and as a reminder that simple things (and simple men and women) can be great in God’s hands. The hymn does not say “look at what Joseph did all by himself.” It says look at what God did through his prophet; look at what a man can do when he puts his trust in God and serves with all his heart. This sort of symbolism is neither new nor inappropriate. Jesus talked about the faithful dead being in Abraham’s bosom, after all.

  16. Timer
    September 16, 2007 at 8:01 pm

    I think you have to view “Praise to the man” in historical context (see, e.g., the wikipedia article on “Praise to the man”). It was about a month after the martyrdom of Joseph Smith, as Mormons were being attacked from all sides — their very existence threatened.

    If you think of the way Americans felt immediately after September 11, you can maybe imagine a tenth of the raw anger, shock, defensiveness, and indignance Mormons were feeling at that time. This particular mode of letting off steam — the dignified (if slightly over-the-top) hymn of defiance — is fairly mild.

    Of course, we would not write a hymn like that today. But when I sing it, I remember the persecuted pioneers who felt the emotions the song expressed, as much as I remember Joseph Smith himself.

  17. Eric Russell
    September 16, 2007 at 8:02 pm

    Well someone ought to inform President Hinckley about the idolatry thing. Poor guy sings that hymn all the time.

  18. Ray
    September 16, 2007 at 8:17 pm

    We aren’t Protestant; praise doesn’t mean worship; praise means praise, and I praise my children and my wife every single day; I don’t think I’m going to burn for idolatry.

    Sometimes, we just think too much.

  19. September 16, 2007 at 8:28 pm

    Marcus (#13),

    I don’t understand what you mean with this comment. Could you explain further?

  20. September 16, 2007 at 8:34 pm

    I really have no problem singing about the restoration or singing about other mere men (I love both “Joseph Smith’s First Prayer” and “We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet”). I just happen to think that PTtM is over the line as far as it’s veneration of JS because it attributes things to Joseph that I believe are strictly the domain of the godhead. Obviously as a song there is plenty of room for subjective interpretation, and others are entitled to their interpretation. However, for me this song strikes a bad chord (pun intended) and singing it doesn’t bring me closer to god, so I don’t.

  21. September 16, 2007 at 8:35 pm

    A young American missionary does his best to reslove concerns: the French investigator just feels wrong–not enough Christ for a Christian church–too much Joseph Smith. You guys worship this guy. No, we revere him as a prophet–we are grateful for all he did. But he is all you talk about. No, this is The Church of Jesus Christ; please come to church with us one more time.

    Investigator reluctantly agrees.

    At church on Sunday, the missionaries are relieved to see their investigator. They enter the chapel, sit. Opening hymn: Praise to the Man.

  22. Clair
    September 16, 2007 at 8:41 pm

    Has Joseph ascended to Heaven?

  23. September 16, 2007 at 8:46 pm

    Geoff J — Well, you see It’s Not Me made a statement “Not singing “Praise to the Man” because it borders on idolatry? Wow.” that could be interpreted in multiple ways, as in “Wow, how absurd”, or “Wow, I can’t believe I never thought of that before.”
    I responded to the latter interpretation, which I suspect was the opposite of INM’s intent, as a sort of verbal irony. Some people might call it a joke.

  24. Ray
    September 16, 2007 at 10:05 pm

    Kaimi’s last paragraph is spot on (that it is understandable for Protestants to *mistakenly* think we worship JS when they hear the words “Praise to the Man” in the context of that song) – but I think it is ludicrous for Mormons to interpret it that way. Individuals (even Mormons) carry their respect for other people too far all the time – but it happens for athletes and politicians and writers and artists and actors and popes and reformers and televangelists ad infinitum – and, *often*, that borders on true idolatry much more than 99% of the Mormons do with Joseph.

    A quick, though tangential, example: I attended a Fellowship of Christian Students school year kick-off rally when I was a teacher in Alabama. I and a Baptist coach co-sponsored the group. At one point in the rally, the spokesman, a young evangelical youth minister named Dave, asked everyone to bow their heads, close their eyes and join him in prayer. In the middle of the pep talk/prayer, I heard these words, “Now, everyone here who wants to commit themselves to Jesus, raise your hands to the Lord and say, ‘DAVE, I commit myself to Jesus.'” He asked those kids to address *him* (Dave) in prayer and make their promise to *him* (DAVE) in prayer. That might not be idolatry in the classic sense, but it is *much* closer than singing a hymn of praise (not worship) to a martyred prophet.

    Furthermore, I immediately opened my eyes and refused to participate further. I looked around the room, and there were other youth ministers standing along the perimeter – during the “prayer” – with pen and paper in hand, writing the names of anyone who did not raise their hand and commit themselves to Jesus.

    I prefer to pay tribute in song to a fallen prophet.

  25. Ray
    September 16, 2007 at 10:16 pm

    Kaimi, the analogy of Joseph to Mohamed is not a good one – if only because we believe that future prophets can alter (either by addition or subtraction) or even rescind what Joseph taught and instituted. That attitude toward Mohamed would get you killed in much of the Muslim world. The closest connection in my mind is to John, the Baptist (if you include all of the Prophets of the Dispensation in that analogy) or any of the reformers to whom the modern Protestant religions still pay homage – especially Martin Luther. Luther is the one I always reference in a conversation like the one you describe, since he and a few others also were so revered that their followers killed each other to defend their teachings from corruption by the unenlightened others.

  26. Adam Greenwood
    September 16, 2007 at 10:17 pm

    I would love to see a hymn about Peter, Moses, Mary, Paul, Abraham, or some of the other greats. At the same time, Joseph is *our* prophet in a way they aren’t. Praise to the man. I have no problem singing those lyrics and never will.

    I’d add more, but everything insightful has already been covered in Kaimi W.’s excellent post or in the comments.

  27. el_godofredo
    September 16, 2007 at 11:28 pm

    #12 Sarah – Funny that you should mention a hypothetical martyrdom of Heber C. Kimball. David W. Patten was one of the original Quorum of the 12 and by age would have been senior in authority to Brigham Young. Elder Patten was shot during the “Battle of Crooked River” which helped precipitate the Extermination Order in Missouri and Hans Mill Massacre.

    So, no, we don’t sing hymns about David W. Patten, although I believe that Heber C. Kimball named one of his sons David Patten Kimball. The name matches one of the four young men that carried members of the Martin-Willie handcart companies across the ice laden Sweetwater river in Wyoming.

  28. Hans
    September 17, 2007 at 12:08 am

    “The closest connection in my mind is to John, the Baptist (if you include all of the Prophets of the Dispensation in that analogy) or any of the reformers to whom the modern Protestant religions still pay homage – especially Martin Luther. Luther is the one I always reference in a conversation like the one you describe, since he and a few others also were so revered that their followers killed each other to defend their teachings from corruption by the unenlightened others.”

    Tell me about it! My late father-in-law was Evangelical Lutheran. All I heard from him all the time was how great a guy Martin Luther was! It didn’t help when I pointed out that Luther was one of the biggest anti-Semites and anti-papists of his time. Geez, he was even giving my kids books and pamphlets on Luther! I also think that he and my mother-in-law secretly baptized my kids at home when they babysat them. It apparently didn’t take as 2 out of the 3 kids served LDS missions.

    “Hans Mill Massacre.”

    What??? No way. But I have heard of the “Haun’s Mill Massacre”!!!

  29. lamonte
    September 17, 2007 at 12:20 am

    It is true we don’t worship Joseph Smith, but we revere him more than any other prophet simply because he helped usher in the last dispensation, of which we are a part. I believe that with all my heart.

    But I think some of us are sometimes confused. Several years ago my father-in-law passed away just before Christmas. His funeral was held two days after Christmas. All of my wife’s family gathered on Christmas Eve at the stake center Relief Society room in our home town to share stories and memories of their father and view old home movies. I noted on the table at the front of the room there were three pictures of Joseph Smith, President Hinkley and Jesus Christ. The pictures had been carefully placed with Joseph in the center and Jesus and President Hinckley flanking him. I quickly made the switch to the proper order.

  30. MikeInWeHo
    September 17, 2007 at 12:26 am

    re: 25

    Mentioning the Lutherans is apt. I was raised in a conservative Lutheran congregation, and they thought of Luther in much the same way as the LDS think of Joseph. While the Lutherans would never describe Luther as a prophet or the Book of Concord as scripture, in practice both are de facto infallible (at least traditionally– contemporary mainstream Lutherans have veered well away from this). There are other similarities. For example, Lutherans also face serious challenges with their historical narrative (Luther’s antisemitism, etc). The fact that they have the name of Luther in their church’s name has occasionally made them susceptible to charges of idolatry by other Christians as well.

  31. queuno
    September 17, 2007 at 1:03 am

    I would love to see a hymn about Peter, Moses, Mary, Paul, Abraham, or some of the other greats.

    I think that the great Peter, Paul, and Mary have given us a lot of great hits…

  32. Jeremy
    September 17, 2007 at 1:39 am

    If we’re ranking prophets according to the attention they get in our music, I think we’d be remiss to exclude primary songs — I’m convinced that’s really where kids get their sense of what we really believe. And in the primary songbook, Nephi gets a rather laudatory song all to himself; “Follow the Prophet” gives a verse each over to Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Samuel, Jonah, and Daniel; Samuel the Lamanite gets one; Spencer Kimball gets one specifically for his counsel to plant a garden; and of course all the post-restoration prophets are mentioned in “Latter-day Prophets.” Make of all this what you will.

    On a completely different note: sometimes on my mission when I was feeling smarmy, and/or felt I had a good rapport with the investigators asking the question about whether we paid too much attention to Joseph Smith, I’d say “We talk about Joseph Smith quite a bit, perhaps even as much as you talk about Jesus in your church, but you only go to church for an hour a week. We go for three. If you spend 100% of your time at church talking about Jesus, and we spend 66% of our time talking about Jesus and 34% talking about Joseph Smith, we’re still talking about Jesus twice as much as you are!”

  33. Norbert
    September 17, 2007 at 5:35 am

    1. I was once told that we should refer to Joseph Smith as a prophet in the present tense — ‘I have a testimony that Joseph Smith is a prophet’ not ‘was a prophet’– because his significance is everlasting, not located in his own time. This is obviously not church policy, written or otherwise. Has anyone else heard this? This bit of folklore strikes me as a step in the wrong direction.

    2. A friend of mine went to a mormon church just before Christmas and was surprised to hear all the talks about Joseph Smith because of his birthday, rather than Christmas. While this is not a bad thing altogether, and while this does not mean we worship him, it doesn’t look so good.

    3. I was actually quite surprised by the artwork outside the JSB at BYU. There is nothing doctrinally unsound about it, and the rays from above on the other figures mean something, but otherwise the symbolism might be confusing to someone with less experience with on-the-ground mormonism.

  34. meems
    September 17, 2007 at 5:38 am

    Norbert, is that you in that picture?

  35. Norbert
    September 17, 2007 at 9:00 am

    No, I just googled it. I tried to find an official BYU picture of it, but only found this at a blog called Beat Jeremy Coon.

  36. September 17, 2007 at 9:05 am

    Jeremy’s and a Spectator’s comments got me to thinking about something else. Perhaps it’s the very fact that we sing Praise to the Man during our worship service that creates the confusion among non-members. We have 75 minutes set aside for worship, and during that time we sing three or four hymns. If one, of those hymns focuses on someone or something other than the godhead, then we shouldn’t be surprised when outsiders see this as our regarding that person or thing as equal in significance to God. The last few times PRtM was on the program in my ward, it was the intermediate hymn, and as is the practice in this ward, we stand up. If there had been any investigators in attendance that Sunday, they might have gotten the impression that we sit down for the hymns about Christ, i.e. the Sacrament Hymn, but we stand up when we sing about Joseph Smith. In thinking about this angle, I suspect my problems with this hymn wouldn’t be so pronounced if it were only sung during the Sunday School or Priesthood/Relief Society meetings.

  37. September 17, 2007 at 9:10 am

    That’s the last time I try to use abbreviations. PRtM, should have been PttM, for Praise to the Man, but alas my fat fingers don’t take orders well.

  38. Ray
    September 17, 2007 at 9:36 am

    marcus, that’s an interesting aspect I hadn’t considered – the misperception of us standing for intermediate hymns and then singing PttM. Thanks.

  39. kurt
    September 17, 2007 at 10:05 am

    Are we becoming so obsessed with our image and how we look to traditional Christians that would consider removing Praise to the Man from our hymnals to avoid \”confusion\”? Not me! I love unabashedly singing this hymn in sacrament meeting that praises the prophet I love and respect, mentions the plurality of gods and even hints at blood atonement. After reading this blog I’m going to start singing it with more gusto and defiance, pumping my fist up and down with the beat as I sing. If I wanted to be a traditional Christian I would have stayed Baptist and would have kept singing “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know.” As for me, I love being Mormon and I love what makes our church, culture and doctrine unique.

  40. Bonjo
    September 17, 2007 at 10:11 am

    A friend of mine had parents who converted to the gospel early in their marriage. Her grandfather opposed the church. One Sunday he agreed to come to Sacrament Meeting with them. “Praise to the Man” was the rest hymn.

    She recalled how he sang this song with great gusto. They were all pleasantly surprised. However, the grandfather thought the song was about Jesus Christ–until they reached the last stanza which reads “Millions shall know brother Joseph again.” At this point, he stopped singing–staring in disbelief, until he collected himself and quietly put the hymnbook away. Whenever we would sing that hymn she would always smile thinking of her grandpa.

  41. Sarah
    September 17, 2007 at 10:18 am

    I’m not so sure the standing up thing is that noticeable — though to be fair, I’ve never brought anyone who was serious about their religion to an LDS service, I have brought both average unchurched adults and a class of freaked out Unitarian Universalist kids who’d never really expected to have to participate in the church services our comparative RE class was supposed to visit. And every one of them interpreted standing up after close to 45 minutes of sitting still as a straightforward “yay, we get to stretch our legs” moment. That was one of the only things those kids actually mentioned about the experience in the debriefing afterwards. That, and the lack of African-Americans in the chapel (which was really funny when they realized that we had 70 adults in the UU congregation, and only one of them was black.) Actually, they thought we didn’t sing enough, in general. I tend to agree with that one.

    And I have to point out that focusing on Joseph Smith’s birthday near Christmas is not a universal thing in the church — I’ve been in four different wards over the Christmas season (two singles’ wards and two family wards; one in CA and the other three in OH) and we’ve been all-Christmas all the time for the five or six weeks following Thanksgiving every time, especially in my current family ward. Actually, with three Christmas songs per week, there aren’t quite enough songs to fill the entire time period — and one year we actually sang Christmas songs the week *before* Thanksgiving, too, which exacerbated the problem — so usually by New Year’s the question is which ones we’re going to sing twice or three times this year. Though there’s always a special performance by the primary children, often of “Samuel Tells of the Baby Jesus,” which prevents excessive repetition. We don’t seem to do Joseph Smith focused stuff till April, anyway.

  42. September 17, 2007 at 10:22 am

    If I wanted to be a traditional Christian I would have stayed Baptist and would have kept singing “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know.”

    Which is a really sweet children’s hymn, though. I wish we had it in our books. That and “Amazing Grace,” and about a dozen other Protestant hymns we learned while living in Arkansas.

  43. John Mansfield
    September 17, 2007 at 11:01 am

    If we used drawings of Mohammed, Moslems wouldn’t like it much, so yeah, the much drawn Joseph Smith is more like Moses or John the Baptist.

  44. Mark Ashurst-McGee
    September 17, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    I would compare our veneration of JS to the position Moses held among ancient Israelites.

  45. Ray
    September 17, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    Mark, do you mean the respect for the deliverer or the constant complaining during difficulties? *grin*

  46. Dan S.
    September 17, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    There is a reason why we ask investigators to have a “testimony” that Joseph Smith is a prophet. A testimony of Joseph Smith as the first prophet of this dispensation is a linchpin to our claim to our Priesthood. Consequently, he gets much more face time than any other prophet during a person’s conversion process to the Church. This is natural, and good. Every convert needs to know Brother Joseph’s role in the plan of salvation, and the Holy Ghost needs to confirm it. It would be wrong to shift the focus away from him just because it “seems” excessive to critics. Hymns, testimonies, stories, etc., that draw our attention toward Joseph Smith give a convert a realistic sense about The Restoration, like it happended just yesterday, instead of some long ago historical event. So, when it comes to all things about the Restoration, like emphasis on Joseph Smith over other prophets, or emphasis on the Book of Mormon over other scriptures, etc., it’s probably better to over do the publicity than to supress it, even if it “seems” like adoration.

  47. Jacob M
    September 17, 2007 at 1:02 pm

    In regards to those who don’t like to sing “Praise to the Man”, the exclusion of that hymn would greatly increase the amount of sleeping during sacrament meeting!

  48. Last Lemming
    September 17, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    I was actually quite surprised by the artwork outside the JSB at BYU. There is nothing doctrinally unsound about it, and the rays from above on the other figures mean something, but otherwise the symbolism might be confusing to someone with less experience with on-the-ground mormonism.

    I thought it made Joseph look like a cylon firing away at innocent ragtag colonials.

  49. September 17, 2007 at 2:10 pm

    I could be wrong, but “The Seer; Blest was the Day when the Prophet and Seer; O Give me Back my Prophet;” aren’t these the same song? At least the first and last?

  50. September 17, 2007 at 2:18 pm

    To # 4:

    I don’t equate the praise of “praise to the man” with the worship of God. If someone makes a great painting, I will praise that person. If someone creates a wonderful piece of praiseworthy music, I will praise it. If a prophet does a great work, I’ll praise that, too.

    When I sing it I am reminded of the man who wrote the song. At one point he had turned his back on the prophet, let a rift develop, and forsook the Church. He even went so far as to publish some falsehoods about Joseph. Later, when coming to himself and realizing what he’d done, he wrote Joseph asking for forgiveness,which Joseph readily extended and they were brothers again. I can’t help but think of that story when I sing the line “traitors and tyrants now fight him in vain.”

    This is only one of the many things I am reminded of when singing “praise to the man.” Even within the song Jehovah is given precedence, though He isn;t the ultimate subject of the song. If every song we sing had to be restricted to a few very particular subjects I’d miss the variety. I’d like more variety even now.

  51. Janet
    September 17, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    I don’t especially love the hymn “Praise to the Man” because we inevitably sing it the exact Sunday I’ve explained to a friend that no, we don’t worship Joseph Smith and they consent to accompany me to services. Then I have to have the conversation all over again. That could just be my bad luck. Since it’s one of the few songs we sing with zip and ferver, I’d miss it if we excised it from the hymnal.

    On the hymn topic in general, however, I’d love us to purge less than gracious sentiments from our songs (like how we got rid of the old lyrics regarding what would happen to people from Illinois from the song in question). Yesterday we had Stake Conference in the newly-restored tabernacle in SLC. For a small-town gal from elsewhere, who felt great trepidation about a move to Utah, this constituted quite the perk to Utah life. And we sang “We Thank Thee, Oh God, For a Prophet” as a closing song. I loved singing that song in that building. But I must confess that the jubilant, merry sound of the tune with the lyrics “the wicked who fight against Zion shall surely be smitten at last!” and “those who reject this glad message shall never such happiness know!” struck me as discordant and a little scary considering all the non-members who had filed in the back. It’s not that the lines aren’t true–wicked people do fight against Zion, those who reject Christ won’t be as happy–but the gusto with which we announced this unnerved me. Sad thoughts. Happy tune. Love the first part.

    Ardis: I did always snicker when singing “High on a Mountain Top” while living in flat St. Louis. It’s a fun song, though.

  52. kurt
    September 17, 2007 at 3:17 pm

    When I was a missionary I was always nervous about taking investigators to church on Fast Sunday. I was worried about what people would get up and say in testimony meeting. It wasn’t until half way through my mission that I realized that investigators usually loved fast and testimony meetings. They liked hearing people democratically getting up and talking about what they really believed, even if it was weird. I was more worried about them thinking we were respectable Christians. If they had been satisfied with “respectable Christianity” most of them wouldn’t be coming to church with us in the first place.

    I feel the same way about Praise to the Man. We could walk on egg shells trying to appease those who are never going to accept us as Christians anyway, or we could proudly sing our true beliefs – that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and a special witness of Jesus Christ. As the Church becomes more and more main stream, singing Praise to the Man is one of the last ways we can give the bird to those who disdain us and say, “we’ll believe and worship how we want and we don’t care what you think!”

  53. Kaimi Wenger
    September 17, 2007 at 3:22 pm

    Plate (49),


    O Give me Back my Prophet, by John Taylor, is 193 (1928 hymnal). The Seer (96) is a different text, also by John Taylor. Oh, Blest was the Day (377) is an Emily Woodmansee text.

    The two John Taylor hymns have different words. I’m not sure if they’re from the same source, though.

  54. September 17, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    This is a searching post.


    You bet, I would struggle with singing in praise to prophets.

    All those sinful, desperately needy O.T. prophets were only signposts to that one true Prophet to come.

  55. Jacob M
    September 17, 2007 at 4:44 pm

    Praise to Isaiah who was cut by a hacksaw . . .

    Doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

  56. Ardis Parshall
    September 17, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    Pastor Wood, you may balk at praising prophets, but does your faith tradition sing this hymn in praise of missionaries?

    How beauteous are their feet
    Who stand on Zion’s hill,
    Who bring salvation on their tongues,
    And words of peace reveal!
    How charming is their voice,
    How sweet the tidings are!
    Zion, behold thy Savior King;
    He reigns and triumphs here.

    Or maybe that one doesn’t count, because it doesn’t praise specific missionaries. How about this one in praise to specific apostles?

    Praise, Lord, for Thine apostle, the first to welcome Thee,
    The first to lead his brother the very Christ to see.
    With hearts for Thee made ready, watch we throughout the year,
    Forward to lead our brethren to own Thine Advent near.

    All praise for Thine apostle, whose short lived doubtings prove
    Thy perfect twofold nature, the fullness of Thy love.
    On all who wait Thy coming shed forth Thy peace, O Lord,
    And grant us faith to know Thee, true Man, true God, adored.

    Praise for the first of martyrs, who saw Thee ready stand
    To aid in midst of torments, to plead at God’s right hand.
    Share we with him, if summoned by death our Lord to own,
    On earth the faithful witness, in heaven the martyr’s crown.

    Praise for the loved disciple, exiled on Patmos’ shore;
    Praise for the faithful record he to Thy Godhead bore,
    Praise for the mystic vision through him to us revealed.
    May we, in patience waiting, with Thine elect be sealed.

    Praise for Thine infant martyrs, by Thee with tenderest love
    Called early from the warfare to share the rest above.
    O Rachel! cease thy weeping: they rest from pains and cares.
    Lord, grant us hearts as guileless and crowns as bright as theirs.

    Why would anyone balk at singing the praises of a prophet yet freely sing the praises of the apostles? The words of God were wrought through both.

  57. Jacob M
    September 17, 2007 at 5:02 pm

    I should have noted that my line above is to the same tune as Praise to the Man.

  58. September 17, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    Ardis, you can call me Todd.

    I do sing a Scripture chorus related to this hymn, speaking of the beautiful feet recorded in Isaiah. The climax is my favorite. “Our God reigns. Our God reigns. Hallelujah. Our God reigns.”

    When our church family travelled through Romans 10, I told them, jokingly, “Who cares about the pictures of missionaries’ faces, let’s start posting pictures of their feet up on the walls.” :)

    To the second hymn, I have never heard this one before. Thanks for the reference.

    Ardis, I don’t consider the apostles, inspired men. The only thing, I consider inspired by the Holy Spirit is their words in the N.T. canon. Sometimes, the apostles needed to be rebuked publicly (consider the chief of the apostles, Peter). Can Joseph Smith be rebuked publicly for where he was wrong or is his status beyond public rebuke by ordinary followers in the LDS church?

  59. ronito
    September 17, 2007 at 6:49 pm

    I am sort of surprised and yet not so much to see that really few people view the hero worship of Joseph Smith as possibly unhealthy.

    I like Marcus don’t care much for Praise to the Man simply because I feel many people don’t differentiate between revering and hero worshiping someone.

    When ever I go back to Utah it hits me like a hammer between the eyes. Pictures of Joseph Smith everywhere or pictures of the first presidency easily outnumbering the pictures of Christ easily. Many people forget that it’s Jesus Christ’s church. Yeah Joseph did a lot for the church, so did Abraham, so did Peter, so did many. But the foundation of the church is Christ and not Joseph, Gordon B, Thomas S or anyone else.

    I was recently asked “Don’t you mormons worship your prophet?” To which the only honest reply I could come up with was, “I could see why you’d say that. But no, no we don’t.”

    Honestly I view the whole thing as a bit unhealthy and have seen more than one person have the faith seriously shaken when they find out some of the less palatable things that Joseph Smith had done simply because their testimony was more based on Joseph Smith as sold by Deseret Book than the restoration.

  60. September 17, 2007 at 7:37 pm

    Todd, I’ll leave the rebuking of prophets, including Joseph Smith, to the One who rebuked the apostles.

  61. Jacob F
    September 17, 2007 at 8:07 pm

    Amen Kurt (52) and Ms. Parshall (60)!

  62. kurt
    September 17, 2007 at 9:02 pm

    By the way, does anyone have a problem with If You Could Hie to Kolob or O My Father? You’d have plenty of explaining to do if you brought your non-member friends to church and they sang those songs. Should we chuck them out too?

    My wife is the ward chorister and I think I’m going to ask if this Sunday we can sing O My Father for an opening hymn, Praise to the Man as a rest hymn (standing up of course), and If You Could Hie to Kolob for a closing hymn. Unfortunately, we don’t have a great Mormon themed sacrament hymn. Someone really should write one. Maybe something about the last supper with grape juice and Wonder bread.

  63. It's Not Me
    September 17, 2007 at 10:35 pm

    #59: “I feel many people don’t differentiate between revering and hero worshiping someone.”

    Those are just labels.

    “I am sort of surprised and yet not so much to see that really few people view the hero worship of Joseph Smith as possibly unhealthy.”

    Frankly, I’m surprised so many people put this much thought into it. Those who have a problem with Joseph Smith will eventually get over it. One way or another.

  64. September 17, 2007 at 11:48 pm

    #11. I always sing the “stain Illinois” words. And I sing yoohoo unto Jesus. Anything else I should still be singing?

    I general, I think we as a people do tend to give the Atonement short shrift. I was at a fireside last night at which we were told (by an Emeritus 70, no less) that the most important thing in the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the family.

    But I shrug and put that up to human frailty, along with our over-veneration of JS. The Atonement is so much a part of our background, it’s like the air. We just tend to forget it’s there.

  65. Clair
    September 18, 2007 at 2:20 am


    Good question. Jesus ascended to heaven, but I think Joseph was buried in Illinois. Is not his sepulcher with us unto this day?

    But the tune says Joseph is ascended to heaven. Did Brother Phelps know something that we don’t?

  66. September 18, 2007 at 11:14 am

    As has been noted here, the problem, from a Protestant perspective, is not just found in lyrics and paintings. There is much concern among non-LDS anchored in the way Church leaders talk about Joseph. A few examples:

    His teachings \”are the foundation of our faith. Everything we have is a lengthened shadow of [him].\” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Church News, 3/19/2005, p. 3)

    \”I honor and revere [his] name… I delight to hear it; I love it. I love his doctrine… I am his witness.\” (2nd President Brigham Young, quoted in Ensign, 1/1996, p. 7)

    \”I look to him. I love him. I seek to follow him.\” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Church News, 12/13/2003, p. 3)

    \”He not only gave us joy, happiness and opportunity here, but also a great hope in the life to come.\” (L. Tom Perry, Church News, 7/3/1993, p. 4)

    \”How great indeed is our debt to him. …Great is his glory,… We stand in reverence before him… Let us not forget him. Let not his memory be forgotten in the celebration of Christmas.\” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, 12/1997, p. 2)

  67. September 18, 2007 at 11:34 am

    Thanks, Kaimi. Do you know where I might acquire sheet music?

  68. September 18, 2007 at 11:38 am

    Worshipping in the way people say Mormons do Joseph, in my opinion, would include a belief that without him, salvation is impossible, and that through him, salvation is possible, etc. Sine we believe Joseph fulfilled his prophetic role we are grateful for it, but I realize if he hadn’t been able to fulfill the calling someone else would have stepped in. Who knows but that Joseph was a replacement for one who didn’t fulfill their calling, etc.? Does anyone think this is a possibility?

    Christ was the Greatest, the only one who could perform the atonement. Irreplaceable. Through Him we can be saved. There’s a big difference, and we don’t perform any sacraments in the name of Joseph, or pray in his name, etc.

  69. Ardis Parshall
    September 18, 2007 at 12:04 pm

    I think LOaP is right, that most of the problem is definition (charitably assuming, that is, that there isn’t a wilful misunderstanding on the part of people who want to condemn Mormons for “worshipping” Joseph Smith).

    I suspect that Todd Wood and I are using vocabulary very differently, for instance — he doesn’t consider the ancient apostles to have been inspired men, but how could their words have been inspired if they themselves were not? I see no difference, but he may. He also speaks of rebuking apostles and asks if the same is possible of Joseph Smith — “rebuke,” to me, is the wrong word to use when speaking of ANY historical figure (“You bad, bad King Henry VIII — shame on you for doing X, Y and Z! Shame!”) and I have to wonder whether Todd rebukes Peter in any meaningful way. If by “rebuke” he means the same as I do by “recognize human failings,” then we may be communicating.

    Ditto for “revere” and “follow” and “honor” and “love.” These are all very different words, with very different meanings, from “worship.”

  70. Janet
    September 18, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    “You bad, bad King Henry VIII — shame on you for doing X, Y and Z! Shame!””

    W/the current colloquial use for the verb “doing,” I might get on the Henry VIII castigation train :). But now I can’t get that portrait where he’s looking all stern, and as wide as he was tall, out of my head while “Praise to the Man” recites endlessly. Very, very odd conflation I assure you!

  71. Jacob M
    September 18, 2007 at 1:48 pm

    Janet, you’re killing me! That’s hilarious.

    On that vein, here’s the song for you:
    Praise to King Henry as he ditched his wife Katheryn
    For the young and pretty Anne Boleyn.
    But she was barren so he cut her poor head off
    And found a young wife who too was soon slain.

    Sorry for the threadjack! I couldn’t resist!

  72. Ray
    September 18, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    #65 – Clair, I hope that was tongue in cheek – or that you aren’t Mormon – or something else that means you weren’t serious. Mormon theology teaches that *many, many, many* people have ascended to heaven by this time. It isn’t a copy of Christ’s ascension before the disciples in Acts – and I don’t know a single active Mormon (of literally thousands I know personally) who views it that way.

    Hyperbole (from any perspective) is what derails these discussions and turns them into unproductive bickering.

  73. Josh Smith
    September 18, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    Sunday we sang both \”We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet\” and \”Praise to the Man\” in Sacrament Meeting. I found the focus unsettling and didn\’t sing past the first verse of the closing hymn, \”Praise to the Man.\” I just quietly put the hymnal away.

    I haven\’t thought much about it since. I still haven\’t organized my thoughts on the subject, but I appreciate you raising it. Thanks for the post and some of the thoughtful comments on this thread.

  74. Dan S.
    September 18, 2007 at 4:07 pm

    #59- ronito said “Honestly I view the whole thing as a bit unhealthy and have seen more than one person have the faith seriously shaken when they find out some of the less palatable things that Joseph Smith had done simply because their testimony was more based on Joseph Smith”

    I can empathize with you on that point. One of my best friends, who was a return missionary and strong member, fell inactive when he learned that Joseph Smith married a 14 year old girl and had 38 wives. I think that Todd above makes reference to Joseph Smith being wrong on occasion, such as on some prophecies. So, yes, if your testimony is alone based on the imagery of a perfect white knight, then you are setting yourself up for disappointment when that image becomes tarnished.

    However, I don’t think that the Church encourages members to join the Church based only on a testimony of Joseph Smith as a prophet. There is greater emphasis on having a testimony that Jesus Christ is the Savior, the cornerstone of the Church, and that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and the keystone to our religion. Those who don’t have those testimonies are standing on weak legs indeed. But, the process of praising a prophet of the restoration isn’t unhealthy, in my opinion, as long as your testimony isn’t based on that prophet being an infallible man.

    #58 – The Lord himself did rebuke Joseph Smith many times in our recorded history, which Joseph Smith himself felt no need to hide from Church members and non-members alike. I doubt our worldly rebukes could even come close in poignancy or efficacy to those recorded divine rebukes.

  75. Ray
    September 18, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    Quick quiz –

    Q: Who is chastised in the D&C more often, in more verses, than any other person?

    A: Joseph Smith

    I guess it’s a good thing we worship him, or God’s chastisements might actually mean something to us. (Ouch, my tongue hurts from being bitten as it pokes through my cheek.)

  76. Julenissen
    September 18, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    Anyone here have plans for celebrating “Smithmas” this year? :)

  77. Jonovitch
    September 18, 2007 at 6:07 pm

    Ray, I was about to say the same thing. You beat me to it.

    I think it’s remarkable that the “author” of the Doctrine & Covenants allowed his personal faults to be permanently on display. Joseph Smith received a number of rebukes from the Lord through revelation, voiced those revelations and wrote them down, and then published them for all the world to see so that others could learn from them. If that doesn’t show strength of character, I don’t know what does.


  78. Dan S.
    September 18, 2007 at 6:17 pm

    #76 – I had never heard the term “Smithmas” before this post and I’ve lived in a lot of places around the country, including Utah. Does anyone know if that is a commonly used term in their parts by members? I’m curious b/c it sounds like an “anti” term to me (when I run a Google search on that term, it shows up mostly on anti-mormon sites), and I marvel at how anti-mormon vernacular gets integrated into the LDS mainstream . In a sense, it emphasizes to me the derogatory nature of the term “Mormons” by the Church’s early enemies trying to infer that we LDS place undue emphasis on people and things other than Christ. I see a little more clearly why the church tries to de-emphasize the term “Mormons”, even though it has caught on amongst the LDS ranks as an acceptable moniker. I hope that “Smithmas”, however, does not catch on in the LDS vernacular.

  79. Jacob M
    September 18, 2007 at 6:42 pm

    I guess I need to have one serious comment, too. Dang it! Anyway, I also have never heard of Smithmas before this post, but I have heard of people spending the night two days before Christmas and having a celebration of Smith’s birth, but not involving any gift giving. And even if some people do celebrate Smithmas, hey, Christ’s birth according to our folklore happened in April, anyway. So Christmas might be closer to Joseph’s birth than it is to Jesus’. I knew of one bishop who would have them sing “Joy to the World” the first Sunday in April.

  80. Adam Greenwood
    September 18, 2007 at 9:59 pm

    My main objection to ‘Smithmas’ is that its a totally synthetic tradition and, given its proximity to Christmas, always will be.

  81. Clair
    September 18, 2007 at 10:28 pm

    #72. Ray, it was a serious theological question, not an attempt to pick a fight or sidetrack anything.

    Is Joseph resurrected and ascended to Heaven or not? D&C 138 contains a vision of him in the spirit world, not the Celestial Kingdom. The resurrections immediately following that of Jesus are described as the graves opening and bodies arising. Joseph described with some joy a vision of his resurrection as being a family reunion and big hug right at their gravesites. I personally believe that. And yet, Joseph’s grave appears undisturbed. None of that seems in accord with the lyrics of Joseph ascended to Heaven.

    I sing the hymn, too, but I wonder if it is theologically accurate in that detail. Citations would be helpful.

  82. Hezikiah Smith
    September 18, 2007 at 11:37 pm

    “That Joseph and Hyrum were not resurrected in 1886 may be further borne out by the fact that the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints exhumed their bodies in 1928. Samuel O. Bennion, then President of the East Central States Mission, with three others, upon hearing about the exhumation, drove from In dependence to Nauvoo, and they arrived just after the bodies had been disinterred. He wrote in a report to President Heber J. Grant:

    Fred(rick) M. (Smith, President of the Reorganized Church) took me upstairs where they were photographing and taking measurements of the skulls of Joseph and Hyrum. I could hardly keep the tears back when I saw these men handling these skulls like they were just common ordinary skulls and I said to Fred M. Why don’t you let the bodies of these men rest where they were, it seemed a terrible thing to disturb their graves. He answered me, by saying that he wanted to find out if the graves of these men were down by what was called the Spring House and rather evasively avoided my question, but told me that he did not know exactly where they were buried and he wanted to find out. It is my impression brethren that he had heard reports that Brigham Young took the bodies of Joseph and Hyrum to Utah and that he wanted to prove it untrue. He did not mention that but in an indirect way he did. I said to him “Didn’t your father tell you where these bodies were laid?” And he answered “Yes.” I told him his father had told me where they were and that I was convinced that they were there close to the foot of Emma Smith’s grave.

    The lower jaw of Hyrum Smith is just as near like the pictures of Hyrum as it could be. His jaw was very large and was quite square especially at the chin compared with Joseph’s. Joseph’s jaw was more pointed, but Hyrum’s was a little more square all around than Joseph’s. These men must have been big because their lower jaws were extra large and strong.

    The bullet that killed Hyrum entered into his face near the lower part of his nose on the right side and broke his upper jaw just above the teeth. The break shows very distinctly where the bullet entered the face, because the bone was broken and the bullet went in an upward direction right under the eye and came out on the other side of his head, just a little above his ear and toward the front.16

    If Joseph’s and Hyrum’s bodies were exhumed in 1928, we may logically assume that they had not previously been resurrected. We may confidently conclude with Brigham Young: “When Joseph is resurrected, you may find the linen that enshrouded his body, but you will not find his body in the grave.”. .17

  83. Ray
    September 19, 2007 at 12:49 am

    #81 & #82 – I’m not going to get into an argument about whether or not Joseph is resurrected now – and, if so, when it happened – and if it will be obvious when it happens. I wrote an extensive paper in a Divinity School class on the resurrection many years ago, and I don’t want to rehash it here. However, I will address the line from Praise to the Man.

    As to the question of “ascended to heaven” – What does that mean? I can think of so many possibilities that, again, even if he hasn’t been resurrected, such a statement is not automatically heretical. If you assume he has been, otoh, our scriptures plainly teach that resurrected beings can visit and administer in the Spirit World, so D&C 138 is useless to settle this question, as well. I’m certainly not going to use it as a justification to avoid singing “Praise to the Man.”

    Finally, I don’t agree with one of the lines from “Away in a Manger” – and my family jokes about it regularly. “but little Lord, Jesus, no crying He makes.” Huh?! Come on, people! He was a baby, for crying out loud! (Nice pun, don’t you think?) I think that line is the ultimate example of how Christianity has come to ignore and even deny His mortality – which, imo, is one of the most abominable teachings of the apostasy. However, I still sing the song, since it is a sincere attempt to praise the Lord and His birth – and I only have a problem with that one phrase. Most people who know me know my feelings about that line, but everyone in the congregation (and probably the city, frankly) hears me sing it – heretical, apostate assertion be damned.

  84. Clair
    September 19, 2007 at 2:11 am

    Bad example, Ray. Away in a Manger” has to be the most lame Christmas song in the book, with or without the heresy. Adding a line about the baby crying and messing his swads would not improve it, nor make it any worse. But I see your point.

    I still sing Praise to the Man, but the lyrics are, as someone else wrote, a bit over the top and in your face, Illinois. That’s understandable, given the time when it was written. I like the tune, though. I can imagine the Scottish singing robustly about their independence from the Brits in the same spirit. Right before they moon them, perhaps. It’s a good hymn for when I’m feeling feisty about my faith. It’s very inside Mormon stuff, which, I suppose, we can indulge in during an LDS sacrament meeting about as well as anywhere.

    So, let’s sing it loud and sing it proud.

  85. Scotty MacTavish
    September 19, 2007 at 3:00 am

    “Scotland the Brave” by Cliff Hanley

    Hark when the night is falling
    Hear! hear the pipes are calling,
    Loudly and proudly calling,
    Down thro’ the glen.
    There where the hills are sleeping,
    Now feel the blood a-leaping,
    High as the spirits
    of the old Highland men.

    Towering in gallant fame,
    Scotland my mountain hame,
    High may your proud
    standards gloriously wave,
    Land of my high endeavour,
    Land of the shining river,
    Land of my heart for ever,
    Scotland the brave.

    High in the misty Highlands,
    Out by the purple islands,
    Brave are the hearts that beat
    Beneath Scottish skies.
    Wild are the winds to meet you,
    Staunch are the friends that greet you,
    Kind as the love that shines
    from fair maidens’ eyes.


    Far off in sunlit places,
    Sad are the Scottish faces,
    Yearning to feel the kiss
    Of sweet Scottish rain.
    Where tropic skies are beaming,
    Love sets the heart a-dreaming,
    Longing and dreaming for the homeland again.


  86. September 19, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    This all reminds me of the BYU nativity display in December of 2005 that depicted the birth of Joseph Smith. The sign in front read:

    “We are the beneficiaries of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, a work which had its earthly commencement with the birth of Joseph Smith, in the hills of Vermont on a December day in 1805. As we commemorate the birth of the baby in Bethlehem, the Savior of the world, may we also remember his messenger, Joseph Smith, and rejoice in his life and sacrifice.” (Larry C. Porter, “Christmas with the Prophet Joseph,” Ensign, Dec 1978, 9, link)

  87. September 19, 2007 at 1:02 pm

    (You can’t see it in the picture, but there’s a Christmas tree to the right)

  88. Adam Greenwood
    September 19, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    I have a hard time seeing what’s objectionable about that, though, given its Aaron S., prominent member of the fluffy, fluffy, nice bunny club, I’m sure its somehow meant to be damning.

  89. September 19, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    “Away in a Manger” has to be the most lame Christmas song in the book, with or without the heresy.

    No, this claim is the heresy. There are Christmas carols, Christmas songs, and Christmas hymns, all with their own different measures and standards. But this is a Christmas lullaby, the only one I’m aware of, and an achingly beautiful tune and lyric at that. Anyone who disagrees with me must clearly be Mr. Potter.

  90. Janet
    September 19, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    I’m with Russell. “Away in a Manger” is lovely–of course, I only like one of the two tunes to which it is commonly sung so I’ll just assume that’s the “achingly beautiful” one to which he here alludes.

    And does anyone else besides my husband occasionally sing the original lyrics of “Praise to the Man” to see if people will notice? I think he’s mostly trying to make me laugh and/or scowl at him, but I do wonder how many members are aware or the historical lyrics.

  91. September 19, 2007 at 6:00 pm

    Hi guys,

    #60, Ardis, in my mind, I was thinking of Paul rebuking Peter to his face for the hypocrisy in Acts. And how we have the whole thing recorded for all posterity. It speaks volumes to me about religious authority. And the inspired Word speak volumes to me that Peter did not have a life stamped with inspiration. Like my life, his life was at times a wicked mess. I preach sermons on this. But do bishops ever get up before their congregations and speak of the sinful mess of Joseph Smith?

    Friends, my sensitivities are high, regarding Joseph Smith, because of the allowances given to him for editing and correcting Old Testament text by prophets and N.T. text, recording words by Christ and the apostles.

    Would general authorities allow me to correct Joseph publicly within the LDS church for where I believe he is dead wrong in counter changes he has made to the inspired words of the early prophets and apostles? In “Praising the Man” culture, room is given to correct and clarify doctrine by prophet Isaiah or apostle John but not Joseph in standard works.

    Our belief that the Bible teaches every earthly prophet and apostle needs desperate redemption from (sinful slavery) personal depravity–this is not often embraced to my knowledge or expressed clearly and loudly in talks at Conference time. I have yet to read a modern LDS apostle, based three hours south of me, write an Ensign article describing Joseph’s wicked sins and his desperate need for Christ’s unmerited grace.

    Again, these are outside observations from one buried deep within the culture of the Mormon corridor among my LDS friends . . .

  92. Kaimi Wenger
    September 19, 2007 at 6:10 pm


    From Joseph Smith-History:

    28 During the space of time which intervened between the time I had the vision and the year eighteen hundred and twenty-three—having been forbidden to join any of the religious sects of the day, and being of very tender years, and persecuted by those who ought to have been my friends and to have treated me kindly, and if they supposed me to be deluded to have endeavored in a proper and affectionate manner to have reclaimed me—I was left to all kinds of temptations; and, mingling with all kinds of society, I frequently fell into many foolish errors, and displayed the weakness of youth, and the foibles of human nature; which, I am sorry to say, led me into divers temptations, offensive in the sight of God. In making this confession, no one need suppose me guilty of any great or malignant sins. A disposition to commit such was never in my nature. But I was guilty of levity, and sometimes associated with jovial company, etc., not consistent with that character which ought to be maintained by one who was called of God as I had been. But this will not seem very strange to any one who recollects my youth, and is acquainted with my native cheery temperament.
    29 In consequence of these things, I often felt condemned for my weakness and imperfections; when, on the evening of the above-mentioned twenty-first of September, after I had retired to my bed for the night, I betook myself to prayer and supplication to Almighty God for forgiveness of all my sins and follies, and also for a manifestation to me, that I might know of my state and standing before him; for I had full confidence in obtaining a divine manifestation, as I previously had one.

    From D&C 3:

    3 Remember, remember that it is not the work of God that is frustrated, but the work of men;
    4 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.
    5 Behold, you have been entrusted with these things, but how strict were your commandments; and remember also the promises which were made to you, if you did not transgress them.
    6 And behold, how oft you have transgressed the commandments and the laws of God, and have gone on in the persuasions of men.
    7 For, behold, you should not have feared man more than God. Although men set at naught the counsels of God, and despise his words—
    8 Yet you should have been faithful; and he would have extended his arm and supported you against all the fiery darts of the adversary; and he would have been with you in every time of trouble.
    9 Behold, thou art Joseph, and thou wast chosen to do the work of the Lord, but because of transgression, if thou art not aware thou wilt fall.
    10 But remember, God is merciful; therefore, repent of that which thou hast done which is contrary to the commandment which I gave you, and thou art still chosen, and art again called to the work;
    11 Except thou ado this, thou shalt be delivered up and become as other men, and have no more gift.
    12 And when thou deliveredst up that which God had given thee sight and power to translate, thou deliveredst up that which was sacred into the hands of a wicked man,
    13 Who has set at naught the counsels of God, and has broken the most sacred promises which were made before God, and has depended upon his own judgment and boasted in his own wisdom.
    14 And this is the reason that thou hast lost thy privileges for a season—
    15 For thou hast suffered the counsel of thy director to be trampled upon from the beginning.

    From D&C 5:

    21 And now I command you, my servant Joseph, to repent and walk more uprightly before me, and to yield to the persuasions of men no more;

    From D&C 20:

    5 After it was truly manifested unto this first elder that he had received a remission of his sins, he was entangled again in the vanities of the world;
    6 But after repenting, and humbling himself sincerely, through faith, God ministered unto him by an holy angel, whose countenance was as lightning, and whose garments were pure and white above all other whiteness;

    Not only do we believe that Joseph Smith was a faulty and sinful man, but the idea is _canonized_.

  93. Adam Greenwood
    September 19, 2007 at 6:19 pm

    In “Praising the Man” culture, room is given to correct and clarify doctrine by prophet Isaiah or apostle John but not Joseph in standard works.

    I think you’ll find more than a few doctrinal developments since Joseph Smith’s time. What we don’t do is use prior prophets to attack later ones, the way Jews will reject Jesus because he doesn’t conform to their interpretation of the OT.

    BTW, I think some of the things evangelicals will say about Peter and so on are shameful. Believing Christ and the necessity of his grace doesn’t require belittling everyone and everything. Peter was a great man.

  94. September 19, 2007 at 7:44 pm

    Todd, as far as I’m concerned you’re more than welcome to rebuke Joseph Smith for his sins should you still be in such an ugly frame of mind the next time you happen to meet him. As has been detailed here, he has been rebuked by One who is in a far better position to judge his merits and faults than you are. Leaving comments that you know will be offensive to your hosts is hardly gracious behavior of a guest, though — we’re all familiar with your website through your previous forays into the Bloggernacle and can get more than enough of that kind of thing there, should we wish. Please leave it there, and wipe your feet before you enter here.

  95. Ray
    September 19, 2007 at 7:50 pm

    Adam beat me to the punch on this one.

    It bugs me to no end to hear modern Christians bash early prophets like Peter and Paul, then turn around and bash Mormons for letting go of some of the early teachings of Joseph and Brigham. The hypocrisy is so thick it is amazing. On the other side of the coin, there are those who claim Biblical inerrancy – who refuse to consider the possibility that earlier prophets and apostles might not have recorded the universal, unending word of God – and turn around and bash Mormons for “worshiping” Joseph (again, even though we have let go of quite a few of his earliest teachings). Again, the irony makes me gag. The truest irony is that BOTH of these groups claim we worship Joseph – even though, in practical terms, when these charges have any degree of legitimacy, we simply are treating him like these people treat the prophets of their own heritage – either too harshly or with too much honor.

    Damned if you do; damned if you don’t – even though each extreme in Mormonism tends to be less extreme than its counterpart in Protestantism. Physician, heal thyself.

  96. September 19, 2007 at 11:57 pm

    Ray, I don’t make any claims that you worship Joseph Smith. Ok? But my question is when push comes to shove, does Joseph Smith’s words trump either biblical prophets or apostles or even Christ’s words as recorded in the Bible. And if so, could you not give understanding to where this might be “shameful” or “belittling” or “ugly” or “offensive” or “hypocritical” to a sincere biblical Christian?

    Ray, Joseph Smith has a “woe” hanging over my head in Isaiah 29. I am damned if I don’t trust him. Yes, he is about as dead earnest over the issues as I am.

  97. Jacob
    September 20, 2007 at 2:05 am

    Actually Todd, through much study and prayer, I’ve found that Joseph’s words agree with the Bible, because they come from the same source – God! The whole revelation bit.

    And men pronounce there own woes upon them. And yes, thats from the Book of Mormon! I have absolutely no problem quoting something that comes from God!

    Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah!

  98. Jonovitch
    September 24, 2007 at 6:26 pm

    Todd, first of all, the JST is not official Church scripture any more than are the footnotes and chapter headings (i.e., none of them are). His work there wasn’t finished, and we have nothing to say he wouldn’t have changed his mind on a number of passages. It’s in there for reference, and unfortunately, is overemphasized in some classrooms. In addition, it is often recited in those same classrooms that a living prophet always takes precedence over dead prophets. The living prophet is there in part to interpret what his predecessors said and wrote. It’s not a new thing, either. Prophets have been interpreting their dead colleagues for millenia. President Hinckley, to my knowledge, hasn’t added the JST to the official Church canon, and until he does, it’s still an unfinished reference into Joseph Smith’s quest for further light and knowledge.

    Secondly, I have read more bastardized text from variations on what used to be the Bible than I care to from various Protestant “translators” with much lower agendas than what Joseph Smith ever had. I recently read a version of (what used to be) Romans that made my head spin. At first I thought it was a paraphrase, only to realize, to my horror, how badly the text, along with its context and true meaning, had been mangled. In fact, in my German-language Luther translation, I occasionally happen upon text that has been altered away from Martin Luther’s original translation to fit the current evangelical dogma, with only a microscopic footnote that states the passage has been changed since Luther first translated it. (My own quick research shows that it only happened in the last 100 years, too, since my German-script Bible from the late 1800’s has Luther’s text intact.) Yes, it is that bad in some cases. So for you, or anyone, to go on about Joseph Smith’s earnest attempts at trying to reveal the meaning of certain passages smacks of insincerity or even hypocrisy.

    Further, if bishops ever need to speak of the “sinful mess of Joseph Smith,” they will simply quote from his own history, or from the Doctrine & Covenants, both quoted above, and both canonized, as noted above. I don’t think it does any good to harp and dwell on the mistakes of men who can’t defend themselves, especially those who readily admitted them already, and especially those whose lives are mysterious to us — be it Peter or Joseph Smith. It serves no purpose to knock them down, other than to try to feel better about yourself.

    As for the “desperate need for Christ’s unmerited grace,” you can read in 2 Nephi 2, where Lehi details to his son, Jacob, that “I know that thou art redeemed, because of the righteousness of thy Redeemer” and that “redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth” and that “no flesh … can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah.”

    These are some of the most famous lines from the Book of Mormon, and Joseph Smith never claimed exception to them. I don’t think it would do any more good for a modern apostle to detail Todd’s “wicked sins” and Todd’s desperate need for Christ’s unmerited grace, than it would for them to specifically detail Joseph Smith’s. At best, such an article would be redundant — see the above (and often-cited) canonized autobiographical confessions and divine rebukes. At worst, it would only serve to depress, destroy, and stunt the growth of faith in Jesus Christ, which is the point you’re getting at, right?

    The Doctrine & Covenants teaches us the correct model for chastisement: do it quickly, precisely, and with the Spirit. Then get over it already! And most importantly, follow up with lots of love so you don’t leave any lasting bad impressions.

    I have the feeling that your wanting to have Joseph Smith publicly castigated has less to do with love or inspired correction than it has to do with self-loathing. I have the feeling that your feelings for Joseph Smith and his faults are truly a reflection of your feelings of yourself. I have nothing to base this on, of course, other than my dabblings in psychology. I might be way off, but often our loathing for others has its source in ourselves.

    Let me set you straight about official Church doctrine (you might be surprised!). The desperate need for redemption from sin is universal and absolute. It encompasses every apostle and prophet to have walked the earth, including Joseph Smith, Peter, Lehi, Abraham, and the rest. Not one man has the ability to save himself. We humans are not capable of moving vertically — that is Christ’s job. Our job is to move horizontally — either toward Christ or away from him. This is a paraphrase of official doctrine, but it’s just that. (Someday I’ll post my entire vertical/horizontal, anti-ladder philosophy.)

    In sum, is your purpose in picking at the particulars of a person’s character to produce doubt, uncertainty, fear, guilt, and otherwise repress a person’s spirit, or is it to build faith, inspire, enlighten, uplift and draw closer to Christ? Joseph Smith, despite (or perhaps because of?) his “wicked mess” of sins, lived out his life trying to bring others closer to Christ. If you stopped dwelling on his mistakes (which are well documented, we know! so did he!) you might learn something from his example.


  99. Adam Greenwood
    September 24, 2007 at 6:38 pm

    Christ is an artist of souls. I cannot love the Artist and depreciate his work.

  100. August 25, 2008 at 7:39 am

    So many platitudes. So much opinion. Opinion can never stand up to the truth. Better far to refer to the LDS doctrinal and historical record for more on Joseph Smith. Remember that even the Savior referred to John the Baptist as \”more than a prophet,\” (Matt 11:9) and that no greater was born of women than John the Baptist (Matt 11:11). What could that mean? While Joseph\’s role was not the same as the role and mission of the Savior, original LDS teachings place his role and mission far above other men. Let the Baptists say what they want. Should we quote from former-day LDS leaders what they thought about the opinions of these people?

    John Pratt ([email protected])

    Verily, verily I say unto you, that my servant Baurak Ale (Joseph Smith, Jun.), is the man to whom I likened the servant to whom the Lord of the vineyard spake in the parable which I have given unto you. (Doctrine and Covenants 103:21)

    And it shall come to pass that I, the Lord God, will send one mighty and strong, holding the scepter of power in his hand, clothed with light for a covering, whose mouth shall utter words, eternal words; while his bowels shall be a fountain of truth, to set in order the house of God, . . . (Doctrine and Covenants 85:7)

    Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand. (Isaiah 28:2)

    You will gather many people into the fastness of the Rocky Mountains as a center for the gathering of the people, and you will be faithful because you have been true; and many of those who come under your ministry, because of their much learning, will seek for high positions, and they will be set up and raise themselves in eminence above you, but you will walk in low places unnoticed and you will know all that transpires in their midst, and those that are my friends will be your friends. This I will promise to you, that when I come again to lead you forth, for I will go to prepare a place for you, so that where I am you shall be with me. (Joseph Smith, quoted in “Diary of John E Forsgren,” Fate of the Persecutors of Joseph Smith, N.B. Lundwall, pg. 154)

    My servant Joseph Smith still holds the keys of my kingdom in this dispensation, and he shall stand in due time on the earth, in the flesh, and fulfill that to which he is appointed. (Revelation to Apostle Parley Pratt while walking in Illinois on the road back to Nauvoo after the martyrdom, Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, pg. 368)

    So it is with the Prophet Joseph Smith. He has gone before with the keys of this dispensation, after having lived and conferred them upon the authorities of the church, even all that was necessary until he shall come again to build up this kingdom preparatory to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Apostle Franklin D. Richards, August 30, 1885, JD 26:302)

    But we still were in hopes that he (Joseph Smith) would live and that he would be the man who, like Moses, would lead this people from bondage. I do not know but he will yet. God’s arm is not shortened that he cannot raise him up even from the tomb. (Apostle Orson Pratt, March 9, 1873, JD 15:363)

    From the day that the Priesthood was taken from the earth to the winding-up scene of all things, every man and woman must have the certificate of Joseph Smith, junior, as a passport to their entrance into the mansion where God and Christ are—I with you and you with me. I cannot go there without his consent. He holds the keys of that kingdom for the last dispensation—the keys to rule in the spirit-world; and he rules there triumphantly, for he gained full power and a glorious victory over the power of Satan while he was yet in the flesh, and he was a martyr to his religion and to the name of Christ, which gives him a most perfect victory in the spirit-world. He reigns there as supreme a being in his sphere, capacity, and calling, as God does in heaven. Many will exclaim—”Oh, that is very disagreeable! It is preposterous! We cannot bear the thought!” But it is true. I will now tell you something that ought to comfort every man and woman on the face of the earth. Joseph Smith junior, will again be on this earth dictating plans and calling forth his brethren to be baptized for the very characters who wish this was not so, in order to bring them into a kingdom . . . (President Brigham Young, October 9, 1859, JD 7:289)

    But I am learned, and know more than all the world put together. The Holy Ghost does anyhow, and he is within me, and comprehends more than all the world; and I will associate myself with him. (Joseph Smith, “King Follett Discourse”, Given 7 April 1844, Reported in Times and Seasons, 15 August 1844)

    Joseph also said that the Holy Ghost is now in a state of Probation which if he should perform in righteousness he may pass through the same or a similar course of things that the Son has. (“Scriptural Items”, F. D. Richards, The Words of Joseph Smith, Ehat/Cook, pg. 245)

    Now concerning the organization of the kingdom of God [which] is brought to pass. The Savior told his disciples as he [has] seen the Father do, so does he, and as Joseph Smith [has] seen Jesus do, so did Joseph do, and as I [have] seen Joseph do, so do I also. (President Brigham Young, December 1844, George Laub’s Nauvoo Journal, BYU Studies 18:177-178)

    Many men will say, “I will never forsake you, but will stand by you at all times,” but the moment you teach them some of the mysteries of the kingdom of God that are retained in the heavens, and are prepared for them, they will be the first to stone you and put you to death. It was this same principle that crucified the Lord Jesus Christ, and will cause the people to kill the prophets in this generation. Would to God, brethren, I could tell you who I am! Would to God I could tell you what I know! But you would call it blasphemy, and there are men upon this stand who would want to take my life. (Joseph Smith, Jr., as quoted by Heber C. Kimball, Life of Heber C. Kimball, by Orson F. Whitney, pg. 322-323)

    The Jews answered him [Jesus], saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. (John 10:33)

    Oh ye learned doctors and lawyers who have persecuted me, I want to let you know that the Holy Ghost knows something as well as you do. (Joseph Smith, April 7, 1844, “King Follett Discourse”)

    Like the sun in his meridian splendor, Joseph Smith shown [shone] as full man at home, among his friends, in the field, on the bench, or before the world. [He] a pattern parent; a worthy friend; a model general; a righteous judge, and the wisest man of the age, sustained by Truth, and “God was his right hand man.” Surely, as one of the Holy Ones commissioned by his Father among the Royal Seventy, when the High Council of Heaven set them apart to come down and “multiply and replenish the earth,” he was the “last,” and who knows but the “greatest,” for he declared—we—knew not who he was! So, I may say, as the last is to be first, and the first last in eternal rotation, that Joseph Smith, who was Gazelam [seer—see Alma 37:23, D&C 78:9, 82:11, 104:26, 43] in the spirit world, was, and is, and will be in the endless progress of eternity: —The Prince of Light. ‘Tis so, and who can dispute it! (W. W. Phelps, speaking at the funeral of the Prophet Joseph Smith, June 29, 1844, BYU Studies vol. 23, Winter 1983, 12, also “President Brigham Young’s Doctrine on Deity, Collier, p. 250)

    Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. . . . The testators are now dead, and their testament is in force. (D&C 135:3, 5, written by John Taylor)

    I teach the people that Joseph Smith was greater than any other Prophet that ever lived, except Jesus Christ. (President B. Young: “That is true. How can it be otherwise?”) It can’t; and I tell you that he is just as active to-day as ever he was, and he can do more for this people and for the cause of Zion than he could when here. In the days of Israel of old, and in all former dispensations, there have been many Prophets; but Joseph Smith stands at the head of this, which is a dispensation of all dispensations: it will comprehend and complete the unfinished work of all former days. (John Young, April 8, 1857, JD 6:231-232)

    The Holy Ghost is a man; he is one of the sons of our Father and our God; and he is the man that stood next to Jesus Christ, just as I stand by brother Brigham. (Heber C. Kimball, August 23, 1857, JD 5:179)

    Who can justly say aught against Joseph Smith? I was as well acquainted with him, as any man. I do not believe that his father and mother knew him any better than I did. I do not think that a man lives on the earth that knew him any better than I did; and I am bold to say that, Jesus Christ excepted, no better man ever lived or does live upon this earth. I am his witness. (Brigham Young, August 3, 1862, JD 9:332)

    It was not necessary for Joseph Smith to be killed, if the people had believed his testimony; but as the testator has sealed it with his blood, his testimony is in force on all the inhabitants of the earth, and wherever it goes those who reject it will be damned. (Brigham Young, August 12, 1866, JD 11:257)

    Some of Joseph’s wives thought they had the Holy Ghost for a bed fellow. (Joseph H. Jackson, August 1844, “Guide to Mormon Diaries & Autobiographies,” p. 172)

    We have just been listening to the testimony of one of the Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, also an Apostle of him whom the Lord has called in our day to establish his kingdom no more to be overcome by wickedness on the earth. To say that we are Apostles of Joseph Smith is rather a dark saying to many. Jesus Christ being sent of the Father to perform a certain work, became an Apostle. (Brigham Young, August 31, 1862, JD 9:364)

    I am Brigham Young, an Apostle of Joseph Smith, and also of Jesus Christ. (Brigham Young, October 6, 1857, JD 5:296)

    What is the nature and beauty of Joseph’s mission? You know that I am one of his Apostles. (Brigham Young, October 7, 1857, JD 5:330)

    But the Mormon prophet [Joseph Smith] invoked the Holy Ghost of the ancient Hebrews, and burst the sealed heavens. The Holy Ghost came, and His apostles published the news abroad. (Eliza R. Snow Smith with Edward Tullidge, The Women of Mormondom, 1877, p. 21)

    Joseph Smith was an unlettered youth. He came not in the polished form of wisdom—either divine or human—but in the demonstration of the Holy Ghost, and with signs following the believer. (Eliza R. Snow Smith with Edward Tullidge, Women of Mormondom, 1877, p. 39)

    I arose and spoke to the people, my hart [sic] was swollen with compassion towards them by the power of the Holy g[h]ost even the Spirit of the Prophet, I was enabled to comfort the harts [sic] of the saints. (Diary of Brigham Young, August 18, 1844, p. 49, LDS Historical Dept.)

    Joseph has always been preserved from his enemies, until now, but he has sealed his testimony with his blood, and his testament is now in force. While the Testator lived it was all in his hands, but now he is dead. (Brigham Young, August 18, 1844, Teachings of President Brigham Young, Collier, 1:1;8;18;44)

    Everlasting covenant was made between three personages before the organization of this earth, and relates to their dispensation of things to men on the earth; these personages, according to Abraham’s record, are called God the first, the Creator; God the second, the Redeemer; and God the third, the witness or Testator. (Prophet Joseph Smith, TPJS, p. 190)

    He [President Young] next showed how the saints are delivered up in their progress from those who give them up to the high council, and from the high council to the prophet, and from the prophet to the son, the elder brother, and from the son to his father. (Brigham Young, October 6, 1944, in General Conference, DHC 7:287)

    That is why I am going there when I go or else they may just as well keep me here, but there will be a time of peace, rest, joy and glory, but I will not rest as I have told you many times until every spirit bows in reverence to our Father and to Jesus His Son…(with deep emotion)…and to Joseph, the Prophet. I will not rest until that trinity is placed in its proper place and praise and glory given to them forever and forever. * * * “Do not fear, my brethren, for when these things are happening to you, when evil men and women despitefully use and accuse you and bring you and your name and character into disrepute, remember they did this to me before they did it to you.” This is a wonderful consolation, that they did this to Father Adam, to Jesus Christ, to Joseph Smith, before they have done it to us. * * * These are tears of joy, dear people. I seldom have tears of sadness, but I have wept worlds of tears of joy for this great work; and I feel like shouting to all and wish my words to be heard, HALLELUJAH, HALLELUJAH, GLORY BE TO ADAM OUR FATHER AND OUR GOD, TO JESUS CHRIST HIS SON, AND TO THEIR BELOVED JOSEPH! FOREVER AND FOREVER, AMEN AND AMEN! (Apostle John W. Taylor, discourse in SL Tabernacle, 1888, Church Archives, caps in original, emphasis added)

    I never told you I was perfect—but there is no error in the revelations which I have taught—must I then be thrown away as a thing of naught? —I enjoin for your consideration, add to your faith, virtue, love &c. I say in the name of the Lord, if these things are in you, you shall be fruitful. I testify that no man has the power to reveal it, but myself, things in heaven, things in earth and hell—and all shut your mouths for the future—. (Joseph Smith, Jr., “Thomas Bullock Report”, May 12, 1844, Temple Stand, The Words of Joseph Smith, Ehat/Cook, pg. 369)

    “I have asked the Lord to take me away. I have to seal my testimony to this generation with my blood. I have to do it for this work will never progress until I am gone for the testimony is of no force until the testator is dead. People little know who I am when they talk about me, and they never will know until they see me weighed in the balance in the Kingdom of God. Then they will know who I am, and see me as I am. I dare not tell them and they do not know me.” These words were spoken with such power that they penetrated the heart of every soul that believed on him. (Joseph Smith, as quoted by Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, speech given at BYU, 1905)

    I rejoice in hearing the testimony of my aged friends. You don’t know me; you never knew my heart. No man knows my history. I cannot tell it: I shall never undertake it. I don’t blame any one for not believing my history. If I had not experienced what I have, I could not have believed it myself. I never did harm any man since I was born in the world. My voice is always for peace. I cannot lie down until all my work is finished. I never think any evil, nor do anything to the harm of my fellowman. When I am called by the trump of the archangel and weighed in the balance, you will all know me then. I add no more. God bless you all. Amen. (Joseph Smith, “King Follett Discourse,” April 7, 1844, TPJS, pp. 361-362)

    I have heard him [Joseph Smith] say on certain occasions, “You do not know who I am.” The world did not like him. The world did not like either the Savior, or the Prophets; they have never liked revealed truth; and it is as much as a bargain for the Saints even to bear the truth. (John Taylor, October 20, 1881, JD 26:106)

    You did not know who you had amongst you. Joseph so loved this people that he gave his life for them; … Joseph and Hyrum have given their lives for the church. But very few knew Joseph’s character; he loved you unto death—you did not know it until after his death: he has now sealed his testimony with his blood. If the Twelve had been here we would not have seen him given up—he should not have been given up. He was in your midst, but you did not know him; he has been taken away, for the people are not worthy of him. (Brigham Young, August 8, 1844, BYA 1:45)

    If you find out who Joseph was, you will know as much about God as you need to at present; for if He said, “I am a God to this people.” He did not say that He was the only wise God. Jesus was a God to the people when he was upon the earth, and is yet. Moses was a God to the children of Israel, and in this manner you may go right back to Father Adam. (Brigham Young, March 8, 1857, JD 4:270)

    And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there never is but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred), are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead. (Doctrine and Covenants 132:7)

  101. sscenter
    August 25, 2008 at 9:17 am

    Frankly, I find the tone of this conversation insulting. Why should we as Mormons care what others think about us? We are either right or wrong and that is all. If another wants to accuse me of worshipping Joseph Smith, I say let him. I know who I worship and frankly I have always thought trying to convice others to change thier minds about me or my religion is usually an effort in futility. Take Todd for instance. While his remarks may make valid points, it is clear that he has no interest in our responses. Note his quote:

    “Ray, I don’t make any claims that you worship Joseph Smith. Ok? But my question is when push comes to shove, does Joseph Smith’s words trump either biblical prophets or apostles or even Christ’s words as recorded in the Bible. And if so, could you not give understanding to where this might be “shameful” or “belittling” or “ugly” or “offensive” or “hypocritical” to a sincere biblical Christian?”

    So while he placates and says, no you don’t worship Joseph, he then goes on and explains that we do. After all, Joseph can change the words of Christ! That is called a straw man argument. Todd or whomever sets up that we believe that Joseph is greater than Christ, provides a false argument for validating that (we know that he JST of the Bible corrected back to the original words of Christ, not changing them from the original as Todd would claim) then bravely knocks down that straw man. He can then say, ‘see they are wrong after all’ and is not bothered by the facts or context of what was actually said.

    Our job is only to relay truth. Joseph Smith is the most important prophet ever – to us. He is the one who opened our dispensation. so he is like Moses, Abraham and the others, they were the most important to their times.

    When it comes to Joseph Smith, yes there are negatives to dwell on. If one wishes to focus on those and lose the blessings of the priesthood, gift of the holy ghost, the temple, ect,….well, I know the truth about Joseph Smith. I know that many of his mistakes were committed under the context of a young, uneducated man who was called to a position that was way over his head and I would be shocked if he had done everything right. If someone does not agree, fine, but I personally feel no need at all to convince others of this. The Lord stated that he sheep would know his voice, why are we trying to apologize or explain away the person Christ himself called to open this dispensation. And not singing Praise to the Man, it never ceases to amaze how people can find evil everywhere, even in a song sung by every prophet since BYoung. (I weighed out marcus and keri versus BYoung, JTaylor, WWoodruff, GASmith, HJGrant, DOMckay, JFSmith, JFSmith, SWKimball, HBLee, ETBenson, HWHunter, GBHinckley and TSMonson and lets just say, I’ll keep singing it.)

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