But here’s my question does that warrant him being attacked by a mob and murdered? Hello, Saints. For those of you who don’t know who I am, my name is Jeff. I am a Christian pastor exploring everything I can about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints and whether, at the end of the day, I end up agreeing or disagreeing with various aspects of the LDS Church. I want to to make the best effort I can to actually understand and to fight criticism with curiosity, which is why I want to make sure I have a better understanding of the person of Joseph Smith, which is why I read the book Rough Stone Rolling.
If you’re an LDS church member, I’m sure you know what this book is. But it is a biography of Joseph Smith that’s written by an actual LDS church member. So I’m going to give you my five impressions of Joseph Smith and my five main takeaways from Rough Stone Rolling. Let’s dive in. My first takeaway is that Joseph Smith very much seemed like a man of his time.
I’ve always heard him sort of made fun of because he was a treasure seeker and he had an interest in building communities and understanding more about the church and how the church should interact with community. And I’ve basically heard people just say, well, all he wanted to do was start a cult. And we can just dismiss all those things because it’s very strange. But the reality is, after reading this book, I’m realizing and even doing a little bit more research, that treasure hunting was not an uncommon thing for the culture of that time. Agree with it or not, he wasn’t coming up with this idea.
This is a widespread practice, though I do understand that some people probably did do it to con people out of money. And this goes for even the things that he did once he established a church, like establishing a bank or building communities that had like a communal feel. There were a lot of community leaders and individuals at that time who were doing these things in a very young America. Many people were trying to be inventive and innovative about how they set up those communities. So just because he was trying to do these things doesn’t mean he was ill intended necessarily.
And I also think this is really important when it comes to the issue of him trying to make sense of the church at that time. This was during a time in church history when the Second Great Awakening was happening, and there were these revivals taking place all over the world, and interesting experiences were coming out of this of people being healed and speaking with tongues and all these other things. So a lot of individuals at this time were trying to make sense of what was going on in the church, which church had it right, which church had it wrong. So his quest to understand these things. And even his pleading before God, I think was a really common thing for individuals at that time who felt that spirituality and faith was important.
So these are some of the things that I’ve always heard people sort of talk negatively about when it comes to Joseph Smith. And though there is a conversation we had about his motives, that doesn’t necessarily mean he was ill intended across the board. My second takeaway is that there’s two sides to every story. Again, I’m used to a context where people just always tell me the bad and negative things about Joseph Smith. And the reality is, I’m understanding that there were some things about him he seemed to really want to care for people and to set up a structure that would work for people, whether that be in community or in church governance.
And even though I personally feel like he was misguided when it came to the Bible and some of his truth claims about faith, I also feel like there’s two sides to every story when it comes to how he handled the church’s relationship with surrounding communities, specifically in Missouri and also in Navu. I’ve always been told that the LDS church members were very hostile people and they were a violent people, and they were always trying to push people out of their communities, which I’m sure in some cases that did happen. That doesn’t mean that the locals in Missouri or surrounding NA Vu had the right to do what they did. In attacking the LDS church members, it seems like a lot of people were coloring outside of the lines of law, and I think this is especially clear in NA Vu. So Joseph did do some things where he sort of colored outside of the lines of what his leadership jurisdiction should have been in NAFU by destroying the newspaper press and doing some of those other things.
But here’s my question does that warrant him being attacked by a mob and murdered? I thought that everything that unfolded in David was really disturbing. And I feel that though I might understand why the LDS presence in NABU made surrounding areas uncomfortable, it seems like the governor of Illinois was not honest with Joseph Smith and really doublecrossed him. And his murder really is disturbing to me and really doesn’t represent justice as it should have been carried out as pertains to what Joseph Smith was doing. And the same thing applies here for his imprisonment in Missouri.
It seems like there wasn’t quite enough evidence to imprison him for as long as he was or to even extradite him as many times as they tried. And it very much seemed that there were other agendas at play when it came to going after Joseph Smith and just helped me realize that there really are two sides to every story. Number three, I have to be honest, there were certain aspects to the lifestyle and the convictions and even the temperament of Joseph Smith that made me scratch my head. He seemed to have very intense and harsh reactions with certain leaders within the Church from time to time, but then he would turn around and then he would be very gracious and he would restore people. And seeing how he sort of oscillated between being very rigid and very heavyhanded.
But at the same time trying to be very gracious and merciful made me scratch my head a couple of times. Especially when I was lining it up against some of his lifestyle choices as it pertained to his teachings on alcohol. And yet it seemed that he might have drank alcohol or his teachings on adultery and marriage. And yet he had this sort of secret life for a while. Unbeknownst to his wife Emma when it came to the plural marriage issue.
But I don’t want to spend a ton of time on these lifestyle issues that made me scratch my head, because I know that there are a lot of religious leaders, even people in the Bible that made really bad choices or did things they shouldn’t have done. And I think it requires a little bit more of a complex, nuanced understanding of who they were rather than just looking for reasons to completely discount the person. I’m not saying it’s not a worthy conversation to have, but I’ll just leave it at there was some behavior and lifestyle things that did make me scratch my head. Number four, in full honesty, I did finish Rough Stone Rolling and understanding who Joseph Smith was with less confidence about his claims that he was a prophet. I struggle with why there were so many different versions of the first vision and why there seemed to be some inconsistencies there.
I believe that the Bible teaches that true prophets are 100% right all the time in the prophecies that they make, and if any of their prophecies don’t come true, then they should be considered a false prophet. There are a lot of things that didn’t come true, for example, the building of the temple and independence, and I’m willing to leave the door open for explanations as to why that may be the case. But even beyond that. His claim to be able to translate scriptures in this role of this prophetic voice. Not just with the Book of Mormon and the methods that he used with the Searstone and some of these other things.
But even what occurred with the Book of Abraham and how we’re able to translate the source material for the Book of Abraham and it’s not consistent with what he translated. I know that the Church has an explanation for this, but if I’m going to be honest, just from a pastor’s perspective, there seems to be a lot of calisthenics that are being done to explain something that seemed very clearly contradictory to what he claimed about himself. Most of all, I think one of the reasons why I struggle with his claim of being a prophet because it seems like a lot of the things that he taught contradicts what the Bible teaches that God himself was once as we are now and is an exalted man. I believe that the Bible teaches that God is not a man, that God is God, and that we were created in his image and that he has always existed as God eternity’s past through eternity’s future. And that has never changed and that will never change.
So this idea that God has been progressing himself and becoming more of God is not what I believe the Bible teaches. It makes it really question Joseph Smith’s claim to be a prophet. One other line that stuck out to me out of the King for the Ath sermon was God himself finding he was in the midst of spirit and glory because he was more intelligent, saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself. So in other words, this is saying that we who are humans can progress into a place of Godhood. Now, I know that the eldest church is trying to make sense of these things and explain them because they seem to not totally line up with what the Book of Mormon teaches.
But to me, they all point to the same question that I have about whether or not Joseph Smith actually was a prophet. And last but not least, my fifth takeaway from Rough Stone Rolling is that it seems that Joseph Smith was a little bit more rigid about his convictions about the LDS Church and how all of that compares to the rest of Christianity. That all other Christian creeds were an abomination. And that seemed very clear to me, the rigidity of those things, the rigidity of that belief in the exclusiveness of the Eldias Church having the right belief. Whereas now I get a lot of messages from the Eldius Church that seems to say, no, we’re actually very similar in a lot of ways and we’re actually more similar than we are different.
That’s a takeaway that I had from Joseph Smith that really does make me scratch my head and view the posture and some of the things that are being stated from the LDS Church in a modern day that seems to be a little bit more open minded about the cooperation that can take place between the LDS Church and the rest of Christianity. He seemed like a man of very strong convictions and he was willing to die for these things. So that main takeaway is something that I’m trying to reconcile even as I interact with current LDS Church members and how they seem to be more open minded than Joseph Smith was. There were a lot of takeaways I’m not talking about because I want to make other videos about it, which is why you need to like this video and subscribe and come back for more. And I would also love it if you you would support me on Patreon so that we can walk this journey out together.
So until next time. I’ll see you later, Saints.