This post may be considered part II of the “Are Mormon’s Christian?” post I wrote a month ago. The goal of this post is to clear up any misconceptions there may be, and to attempt to set forth simply our prophetic premise in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As always, I’m not an official spokesman for the church and am solely responsible for this post.
Recently I came across a scripture in the Book of Mormon that I quickly realized was a very important verse, perhaps the most important scripture, at least from a missionary stand point, in the entire canon of scripture.
11 Therefore it shall come to pass that whosoever will not believe in my words, who am Jesus Christ, which the Father shall cause him to bring forth unto the Gentiles, and shall give unto him power that he shall bring them forth unto the Gentiles, (it shall be done even as Moses said) they shall be cut off from among my people who are of the covenant. (3 Nephi 21:11, emphasis added)
These are the words of the resurrected Savior to the people of ancient America. He is talking about the prophet who would bring “these things” (meaning the Book of Mormon) forth. The Savior is talking about Joseph Smith. His message is straight forward, you can’t get to the Savior without going through Joseph Smith.
This aspect of our faith has been attacked and misrepresented by anti-Mormons. The accusation is that we worship Joseph Smith, that we talk too much about him, and not enough about Jesus. Sadly, these accusations cause some members of my church to under emphasize the role of Joseph Smith in an attempt to be considered more “Christian”. But under emphasizing Joseph Smith is not something the Savior Himself is willing to do.
10 But this generation shall have my word through you; (D&C 5:10, emphasis added)
Joseph was told this early in his revelations from Jesus. But this prophetic expectation is not new. Consider what Moses was told when he spoke to Jehovah from the burning bush and was called to deliver Israel and use Aaron as a spokesman,
15 And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do.
16 And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God. (Exodus 4:15-16, emphasis added)
Even in the dispensation where Christ Himself was among the people, He declared to Peter:
18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18, emphasis added)
This is how God has always performed His work with us. He sends prophets. And occasionally there is a reset after a major period of apostasy, where a prophet restores the lost faith. This prophet will act as the head of that dispensation and will be the one through whom all people of that time period must go through to get to Jesus Christ.
I understand that this is a hard thing to believe. But when has faith ever been easy? How many struggled to follow Moses, or the ancient Apostles?
I simply challenge anyone who contests Joseph Smith’s prophetic claims to apply the test Jesus Himself prescribed for determining true prophets from false, “by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matt 7:20). You could observe our people and our values as the fruits of Joseph Smith. But his claim centered on the Book of Mormon. By this fruit you will know him. And once you know him, you’ll be invited to join us in this important work.