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Is Joseph Smith Greater than Jesus Christ?
Mormons teach that Jesus isn't the authority on who gets into heaven, but Joseph Smith.
Can you explain to me how one of your leaders, Brigham Young stated in the Journal of Discourses Vol 7 Page 289 "no man or woman in this dispensation will ever inter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith." This clearly goes against scripture because in John 14:6 Jesus responds to Thomas by stating that "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me you would know my Father as well." If you truly believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God then how can you possibly believe that Joseph Smith has authority of equality with Jesus or above Jesus.
Joseph Smith Boasted he was greater than Jesus Christ!
W. John Walsh
Stephen R. Gibson
Mike D. Parker
by W. John Walsh
Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus is truly the Only Begotten Son of God. We consider Joseph Smith to be a Prophet of God and Apostle of Jesus Christ similar to those men mentioned in the Bible like Moses, Samuel, Isaiah, Peter, Paul, and John. Latter-day Saints do not worship Joseph Smith or consider him to be equal to Christ. He is simply a servant of Christ, called to the holy ministry by Jesus himself, despite his mortal imperfections.
(See Do Mormons Woship Joseph Smith?; Teachings About Jesus Christ home page; The Prophet Joseph Smith home page)
by Stephen R. Gibson
The detractors are referring to a statement Joseph Smith delivered in Nauvoo, Illinois, in May, 1844, shortly before his death. It is true that he was boasting, having patterned his address after a talk by Paul recorded in 2 Corinthians chapter 11. In that sermon, Paul the Apostle was doing some boasting of his own to the Gentiles. Joseph Smith picked up on Paul's theme when he said,
I have more to boast of than any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such work as I (History of the Church, Vol.6, pp. 408-09).
While we aren't sure this is a completely accurate quote, let us assume that it is. Detractors read into this statement that the Prophet was saying he did a greater work than Jesus Christ. Considering the entire text and the circumstance of the time, he seems to be saying only that he was able to keep the Church together better than others did, including Jesus Christ. Surely Joseph Smith would be the first to agree that keeping a church together is not a greater or a more significant work than what was done by Jesus.
There is nothing as significant as being the God of Israel, taking upon oneself the sins of the world, dying for all mankind that they might live, nor being resurrected. Surely, everlasting life is the greatest gift anyone could give.
Nevertheless, the Lord himself said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father" (John 14:12). To what greater work could the Savior be referring? Perhaps the Lord means a larger work, but certainly not more significant. For example, John the Baptist presumably baptized more people than Jesus, Paul may have converted more as a missionary, Moses led more Israelites out of bondage, Noah built a bigger ship, and Joseph Smith kept the Church together longer.
The point should be clear: if greater means quantity, there are many who fulfilled the Savior's promise that his followers would do "greater works," and this includes Joseph Smith.
One Minute Answers, p. 65-66
Copyright by Horizon
I will address this by first discussing our belief in Jesus Christ, then the issue of prophetic authority, and finally the subject of Joseph Smith and the final judgment.Jesus Christ: Our Lord and Savior
Let me state unequivocally that Latter-day Saints believe and accept the ultimate authority of and salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh, and the only Being through whom we can be saved:
Be it known unto
you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,
whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here
before you whole.
This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:10-12; emphasis added.
The Book of Mormon echoes the message of the Bible, urging us to:
. . . remember that there is no other way nor means whereby man can be saved, only through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ . . . (Helaman 5:9.)
And reminding us that:
. . . we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. (2 Nephi 25:26.)
On page after page, the Book of Mormon testifies of the divinity and completeness of the atonement of Jesus Christ. As Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the LDS Church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, recently said,
Christ dominates [the Book of Mormon]. . . . He is referred to in 3,925 verses, more than half of the 6,607 verse in the book. Beginning with the title page, where the purpose of the book is given as "the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God," he is referred to as the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world, the Only Begotten of the Father, and nearly a hundred other titles. In the last phrase of the last sentence of the last verse, verse 6,607, the Savior is referred to as "the great Jehovah, the Eternal Judge."3
Joseph Smith's later revelations confirmed and reemphasized Christ's central and overriding position in our doctrine:
And we [Joseph
Smith and Sidney Rigdon, in a vision on 16 February 1832] beheld the glory of the Son, on
the right hand of the Father, and received of his fulness;
And saw the holy angels, and them who are sanctified before his throne, worshiping God, and the Lamb, who worship him forever and ever.
And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all which we give of him: That he lives!
For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father. (Doctrine and Covenants 76:20-23.4)
Joseph Smith himself, in response to the question "What are the fundamental principles of your religion?" answered:
The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.5
This is the principal and primary message of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and our scriptures and the words of our leaders and members proclaim it loudly! While a selective reading from antagonistic sources might make it seem otherwise, an honest and complete reading of Latter-day Saint literature cannot help but bear this out.
The role of prophets
As I just stated, the Savior is preeminent in our faith. Latter-day Saints also accept the witness and authority of prophets sent by Christ.
All men and women must accept the testimony of the prophets to receive salvation. Why? Christ himself left no written testimonywe only have information about him through the word of the prophets and apostles.
The scriptures testify that accepting the testimonies of the prophets is the first step to accepting Christ. The Savior declared to his apostles:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. (John 13:20, emphasis added.6)
He also warned of the grave consequences of rejecting the apostles' testimony:
He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me. (Luke 10:16, emphasis added.)
The apostle Peter, recalling his experience at the Mount of Transfiguration,7 wrote:
For we have not
followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our
Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts. (2 Peter 1:16-19, emphasis added.)
Peter's testimony is critical to our understanding of the divinity of Jesus Christ, because it is through him that we learn about the marvelous event on that mountain where the Father bore record of the Son. Likewise, John the Beloved is our primary source of majestic teachings of Jesus at the Last Supper, including the incomparable Great Intercessory Prayer.8
Amos taught the importance of prophets by declaring that:
Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but [i.e., except] he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. (Amos 3:7.)
Joseph Smith explained:
. . . the kingdom of God was set up on the earth from the days of Adam to the present time, whenever there has been a righteous man on earth unto whom God revealed His word and gave power and authority to administer in His name. And where there is a priest of Goda minister who has power and authority from God to administer in the ordinances of the gospel and officiate in the priesthood of Godthere is the kingdom of God. And, in consequence of rejecting the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Prophets whom God hath sent, the judgments of God have rested upon people, cities, and nations, in various ages of the world, which was the case with the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, that were destroyed for rejecting the Prophets.9
Following this teaching, Latter-day Saints believe that the history of the world has been marked by one gospel dispensation after another. In this pattern, the Lord reveals his will to a prophet (or prophets), who then share their witness with the people. If the people listen to and heed the prophet's message, the Lord then establishes his covenant with themhe will be their God and they will be his people.10 The prophets are given the "keys," or authority, to administer this covenant and its ordinances to the people.11
Invariably throughout history, though, God's people eventually fall away, breaking their covenant with him and pursuing false teachings and ideologies. Isaiah described the condition of Israel thus:
The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. (Isaiah 24:5.)
Fortunately the Lord is merciful, and after a periods of apostasy he has always reestablished his covenant. He promised Jeremiah:
Behold, the days
come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with
the house of Judah:
Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord:
But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Jeremiah 31:31-33.)
This cycle of restoration-apostasy-restoration has been at work since the beginning of time. The Lord revealed his will to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and others, each of whom headed up their own respective dispensation of the gospel.
During his mortal ministry, Jesus Christ established the "new covenant" prophesied by Jeremiah,12 which opened a new and great dispensation.13 Paul called this era "the dispensation of the grace of God" (Ephesians 3:2), and declared that he was a minister of it (Colossians 1:25).
Paul also prophesied that there would be a final dispensation, one to come after the time of the New Testament church. This would be the "dispensation of the fulness of times" during which the Lord would "gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him" (Ephesians 1:10).14
Peter called this last dispensation "the times of restitution of all things," following which the Lord himself would return (Acts 3:20-21).
Latter-day Saints believe that Joseph Smith was the prophet chosen by the Lord to usher in this last dispensation. As with former prophets, Joseph was given the "keys," or authority, to administer God's covenant and ordinances, to reveal the will of the Lord, and to reestablish Christ's church.
Joseph Smith was the last in a long succession of prophets who received a dispensation of the gospel. Down through time, each of these prophets was commissioned by Christ, each of them holding the keys to exercise the authority of God for their dispensation. Adam, the first prophet, presides over all the dispensations under authority from Christ (D&C 107:55). Joseph Smith described this "chain of command":
This, then, is the nature of the Priesthood; every [prophet] holding the Presidency of his dispensation, and one man holding the Presidency of them all, even Adam; and Adam receiving his Presidency and authority from the Lord, but cannot receive a fullness until Christ shall present the Kingdom to the Father, which shall be at the end of the last dispensation.15
But while each prophet holds the keys for his respective dispensation, only one Person holds all the keys of all dispensationsthe Lord Jesus Christ:
And when I
[John] saw him [Christ], I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me,
saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:
I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. (Revelation 1:17-18, emphasis added.)
Joseph Smith clearly taught:
Jesus Christ is the heir of this Kingdomthe Only Begotten of the Father according to the flesh, and holds the keys over all this world.16
With this background in mind, let us proceed to the subject you raised.
Joseph Smith and the final judgment
Both the Bible and other Latter-day Saint scriptures testify that all people will one day stand before Christ to be judged.17
However the scriptures also speak of Christ giving others the authority to execute judgment at this Last Day:
I beheld, and
the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;
Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom. (Daniel 7:21-22, emphasis added.)
Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have
forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have18
And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matthew 19:27-28, emphasis added.19)
And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed
That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Luke 22:29-30, emphasis added.)
Dare any of you, having a matter20
against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?
Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? (1 Corinthians 6:1-3, emphasis added.)
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4, emphasis added.)
From these verses we learn that Christ's twelve apostles will "sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Even beyond that, we are told that "judgment [is] given to the saints of the most High"Christ's covenant peopleand that the saints "shall judge the world," and not just the world but angels also.
So in regard to the great and final judgment, the scriptures make plain the fact that others, under authority from Christ the Lord, will exercise judgment upon all mankind and angels.
When Christ visited the people of the Book of Mormon after his resurrection, he called twelve Nephite disciples to lead and teach the people. Previous to this, around 600 B.C., the prophet Nephi was shown a vision of these twelve and also the twelve apostles who would minister in Jerusalem:
And the angel
spake unto me, saying: Behold the twelve [Nephite] disciples of the Lamb, who are chosen
to minister unto thy seed.
And he said unto me: Thou rememberest the twelve apostles of the Lamb [in Jerusalem]? Behold they are they who shall judge the twelve tribes of Israel; wherefore, the twelve ministers of thy seed shall be judged of them; for ye are of the house of Israel.
And these twelve [Nephite] ministers whom thou beholdest shall judge thy seed. And, behold, they [the Nephite twelve] are righteous forever; for because of their faith in the Lamb of God their garments are made white in his blood. (1 Nephi 12:8-10.)
Based on these and other scriptures, LDS apostle Bruce R. McConkie summarized:
Christ is the
great judge of all the earth. "The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all
judgment unto the Son." (John 5:22.) In due course, every living soul shall stand
before his judgment bar, be judged according to his own works, and awarded a place in the
mansions that are prepared. (Mormon 3:20.)
Under Christ a great hierarchy of judges will operate, each functioning in his assigned sphere . . . [He then quotes many of the scriptures listed above] . . . . No doubt there will be many others of many dispensations who will sit in judgment upon the peoples of their days and generationsall judging according to the judgment which Christ shall give them, "which shall be just." (3 Nephi 27:27.)21
A very precise treatment of this subject came from John Taylor, the third president of LDS Church:
When we reflect
upon the statement of creatures [human beings] being judged without law [Romans 2:12-16],
the question arises as to who are to be their judges. We may here state that Christ is
called the judge of the quick and the dead, the judge of all the earth. We further read
that the Twelve Apostles who ministered in Jerusalem "shall sit upon twelve thrones,
judging the twelve tribes of Israel." (Matt. 19:28.) Also the following: [He
quotes D&C 29:12; 1 Nephi 12:8-10.]
This exhibits a principle of adjudication of judgment in the hands, firstly, of the Great High Priest and King, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God; secondly, in the hands of the Twelve Apostles on the continent of Asia, bestowed by Jesus Himself; thirdly, in the Twelve Disciples [of the Book of Mormon] on this continent, to their peoples, who it appears are under the presidency of the Twelve Apostles who ministered at Jerusalem. . . . It is also further stated that the Saints shall judge the world. Thus Christ is at the head, His Apostles and disciples seem to take the next prominent part; then comes the action of the Saints, or other branches of the Priesthood, who it is stated shall judge the world. This combined Priesthood, it would appear, will hold the destiny of the human family in their hands and adjudicate in all matters pertaining to their affairs; and it would seem to be quite reasonable, if the Twelve Apostles in Jerusalem are to be the judges of the Twelve Tribes, and the Twelve Disciples on this continent are to be the judges of the descendants of Nephi, then that the brother of Jared and Jared should be the judges of the Jaredites, their descendants; and, further, that the First Presidency and Twelve who have officiated in our age, should operate in regard to mankind in this dispensation, and also in regard to all matters connected with them, whether they relate to the past, present, or future, as the aforementioned have done in regard to their several peoples. . . .22
President Taylor describes an organized structure, set up by Jesus Christ for the purpose of carrying out the final judgment. Note how he says that the authority and final decision is "in the hands, firstly, of the Great High Priest and King, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God," after which each group holding the keys of their own dispensation will judge those who lived in their dispensation. He concludes, "it would seem to be quite reasonable . . . that the First Presidency and Twelve who have officiated in our age, should operate in regard to mankind in this dispensation."23
Now to the statements from Brigham Young you used. You claim that "in Young's eyes [Joseph] Smith was at least as important as Jesus Christ."24 Let's review Brigham's words, keeping in mind the doctrine of judgment being given to the saints.
In this first example, I will also include the preceding paragraph, as it throws added light on the subject:
Much has been
said about the power of the Latter-day Saints. Is it the people called Latter-day Saints
that have this power, or is it the Priesthood? It is the Priesthood; and if they live
according to that Priesthood, they can commence their work here and gain many victories,
and be prepared to receive glory, immortality, and eternal life, that when they go into
the spirit-world, their work will far surpass that of any other man or being that has not
been blessed with the keys of the Priesthood here.
Joseph Smith holds the keys of this last dispensation, and is now engaged behind the vail in the great work of the last days. I can tell our beloved brother Christians who have slain the Prophets and butchered and otherwise caused the death of thousands of Latter-day Saints, the priests who have thanked God in their prayers and thanksgiving from the pulpit that we have been plundered, driven, and slain, and the deacons under the pulpit, and their brethren and sisters in their closets, who have thanked God, thinking that the Latter-day Saints were wasted away, something that no doubt will mortify themsomething that, to say the least, is a matter of deep regret to themnamely, that no man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith. 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 areI with you and you with me. I cannot go there without his consent. He holds the keys of that kingdom for the last dispensationthe 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 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.25
Note very carefully Brigham's language in this statement. Does he teach that Joseph Smith is at least as important as Jesus Christ is? No, nor does even imply it.
You claim that "the Bible shows us that Jesus holds the keys" [with which I agree] but "Brigham Young said that Joseph Smith holds the keys."26 According to Brigham, what keys does Joseph hold?
You claim that "in the words of Brigham Young, if you want to get into the part of the Kingdom where Jesus isyou must have the permission of Joseph Smith."27 That depends on who the "you" is to whom you refer:
As I discussed at the beginning of this letter, Doug, context is everything. Once the doctrine of judgment being given to the saints is understood, Brigham's statement falls right in line with scripture. You may not believe that Joseph Smith will be given the authority at the final judgment, but if you believe the Bible you certainly must believe that judgment will be given to Christ's followers. Brigham Young is merely extending that doctrine to include Joseph Smith, whom Brigham accepted as a follower of Christ and a prophet to whom was given a dispensation of the gospel.
You also quoted Joseph Fielding Smith to support your thesis:
No Salvation Without Accepting Joseph Smith. If Joseph Smith was verily a prophet, and if he told the truth when he said that he stood in the presence of angels sent from the Lord, and obtained keys of authority, and the commandment to organize the Church of Jesus Christ once again on the earth, then this knowledge is of the most vital importance to the entire world. No man can reject that testimony without incurring the most dreadful consequences, for he cannot enter the kingdom of God. It is, therefore, the duty of every man to investigate that he may weigh this matter carefully and know the truth.28
I don't understand how this could be taken to mean, "Joseph Smith is as important as Jesus Christ." Joseph Fielding is merely stating a fact that even you should accept as a hypotheticalthat if Joseph Smith was a prophet of God then we are required by God to believe his testimony.
Let me rephrase this last quote in a way that may help you understand its importance:
No Salvation Without Accepting Simon Peter. If Simon (son of Jona, called "Peter" by the Lord) was verily a prophet, and if he told the truth when he said that he stood in the presence of angels sent from the Lord (Acts 12:5-11), and obtained keys of authority (Matthew 16:18-19), and the commandment to organize the Church of Jesus Christ once again on the earth (Matthew 16:18; 28:18-20), then this knowledge is of the most vital importance to the entire world. No man can reject that testimony without incurring the most dreadful consequences, for he cannot enter the kingdom of God. It is, therefore, the duty of every man to investigate that he may weigh this matter carefully and know the truth.
As I discussed above, the testimony of the prophets is critical to our belief in Christ. If Peter was an apostle of the Lord, then our faith in Christ rests partly in his witness, as described by himself in his epistles29 and by the authors of the Gospels. If we reject Peter's testimony, we reject the Lord who said that Peter gained that testimony by revelation from the Father (Luke 10:16; Matthew 16:15-17).
You also use another statement of Brigham Young:
One excellent idea that was advanced this morning, I will venture to carry out a little further. The time was when the test of a Christian was his confession of Christ. In the first Epistle of John it is written, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God; every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God, and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is not of God. And this is that spirit of anti-christ, whereof ye have heard that it should come, and even now already is in the world." This is no test to this generation, for all men of the Christian world confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. This generation, however, is not left without a test. I have taught for thirty years, and still teach, that he that believeth in his heart and confesseth with his mouth that Jesus is the Christ and that Joseph Smith is his Prophet to this generation, is of God; and he that confesseth not that Jesus has come in the flesh and sent Joseph Smith with the fulness of the Gospel to this generation, is not of God, but is anti-christ. All who confess that Joseph Smith is sent of God in the latter days, to lay the foundation of his everlasting kingdom no more to be thrown down, and will continue to keep his commandments, are born of God. All those who believe in their hearts and confess with their mouths that Joseph Smith is a true Prophet, at the same time trying with their might to live the holy principles Joseph the Prophet has revealed, are in possession of the Holy Spirit of God and are entitled to a fullness. When such men go into the world to preach the Gospel though they know not a letter in a book, they will do more real good to erring man than the great and wise can possibly do, though aided by all their learning and worldly influence in the absence of the gift of the Holy Ghost. When the spirit of the preacher is embued with the Spirit and power of God, his words enter the understandings of the honest, who discern the truth and at once embrace it to their eternal advantage.30
First, note that Brigham sets straight the relationship between Jesus and Joseph: "Jesus is the Christ and . . . Joseph Smith is his Prophet to this generation . . ." Joseph Smith is not placed on the same level as Christhe is clearly defined as subordinate.31
Regarding the statement as a whole, perhaps I would choose different words, but I fully accept the premise. To accept Christ we must accept what his prophets have said about him. (Remember "He that receiveth [you] receiveth me" but "he that despiseth you despiseth me"?) We cannot believe Christ without believing Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Since Christians already accept these testimonies, the next step is to accept the testimony of Joseph SmithJesus Christ's prophet in the last days.
Finally, you use Joseph Smith's own words against himself:
God is in the still small voice. In all these affidavits, indictments, it is all of the devilall corruption. Come on! ye prosecutors! ye false swearers! All hell, boil over! Ye burning mountains, roll down your lava! for I will come out on the top at last. I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him;32 but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet. You know my daily walk and conversation. I am in the bosom of a virtuous and good people. How I do love to hear the wolves howl! When they can get rid of me, the devil will also go. For the last three years I have a record of all my acts and proceedings, for I have kept several good, faithful, and efficient clerks in constant employ; they have accompanied me everywhere, and carefully kept my history, and they have written down what I have done, where I have been, and what I have said; therefore my enemies cannot charge me with any day, time, or place, but what I have written testimony to prove my actions; and my enemies cannot prove anything against me. They have got wonderful things in the land of Ham. I think the grand jury have strained at a gnat and swallowed the camel.33
I will be first in line to admit that Joseph was perhaps getting a little worked up.34 But is it true? Is it possible that Joseph, in keeping the church together, had done a greater work than even Jesus Christ had? Jesus himself promised:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater35 works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. (John 14:12, emphasis added.)
Whether or not Joseph had done a greater work is a matter of opinion. Joseph seemed to believe it, and Jesus' own words declare it could be done.
This does not mean that Joseph Smith is equal or superior to Jesus Christ! As I demonstrated earlier, we can only be saved through the holy name and atoning blood of Christ, the Only Begotten of the Father.
Doug, as I have just demonstrated, Latter-day Saints from Joseph Smith to the present day worship and revere Jesus Christ as our Savior and Redeemer. We teach and preach that there is "no other way nor means whereby man can be saved" (Helaman 5:9). We witness that he is utterly incomparable in who He is and what He has accomplished.
In an attempt to prove otherwise you have abused your sources and have borne false witness against the Latter-day Saints.
2. Cf. 2 Nephi 31:21; Mosiah 3:17; 5:8.
3. Boyd K. Packer, "The Peaceable Followers of Christ," address given at Brigham Young University, 1 February 1998, see Ensign, vol. 28, no. 4 (April 1998), p. 65-66. Packer cites Susan Ward Easton, "Names of Christ in the Book of Mormon," Ensign, vol. 8, no. 7 (July 1978), p. 60-61.
4. Hereafter cited as D&C.
5. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Joseph Fielding Smith, ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Press, 1938), p. 121 (emphasis added; hereafter cited as Teachings). Joseph Smith said that he "published the foregoing [answer] to save myself the trouble of repeating the same a thousand times over and over again." (Ibid.)
6. Cf. Matthew 10:40; Luke 9:48; D&C 39:5; D&C 84:36-38, 89; 99:2; 112:20.
7. Matthew 17:1-9; Mark 9:2-10; Luke 9:28-36.
8. John 13-17.
9. Teachings, p. 271; see also History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, edited by B. H. Roberts. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1980), 5:256-57 (hereafter cited as HC).
10. See, for example, Leviticus 26:12; Jeremiah 7:23; Ezekiel 36:28; 1 Nephi 17:40; D&C 42:9.
11. Matthew 16:18-19.
12. The word testament in Matthew 26:28 literally means "covenant."
13. "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days [i.e., recently] spoken unto us by his Son . . ." (Hebrews 1:1-2.)
14. Cf. D&C 27:12-13.
15. Teachings, p. 169; cf. Daniel 7:9-14. Joseph also said, "The keys have to be brought from heaven whenever the Gospel is sent. When they are revealed from heaven, it is by Adam's authority" (Teachings, p. 157), meaning, of course, Adam's authority under Christ.
16. Teachings, p. 323 (emphasis added).
17. See, for example: John 5:22, 27; Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:12; 1 Nephi 15:32-33; Alma 11:41; Mormon 3:20; D&C 76:68; 133:50.
18. esomai, future first person singular of "to be." Compare NIV: "Peter answered him, 'We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?'"
19. Cf. D&C 29:12.
20. pragma, a matter at law, a case or lawsuit. Compare NIV: "If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints?"
21. Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), vol. 1, pp. 558-59. As I will discuss later, McConkie's writing is not authoritative, but it does fairly summarize the general LDS viewpoint on this doctrine.
22. John Taylor, The Mediation and Atonement of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Company, 1882), pp. 155-57 (emphasis added).
23. On the issue of whether this concept is "official" LDS doctrine, note President Taylor's words: "who it appears are under the presidency," "seem to take the next prominent part," "This combined Priesthood, it would appear," "it would seem to be quite reasonable." It strikes me that he is couching his language very carefully so that the reader understands that this is his (Taylor's) belief as far as he understands it, and not a subject on which he has personally received direct revelation. As promised, I will deal with the subject of "official" doctrine later.
24. Doug Harris, letter to Mike Parker, 6 March 1998.
25. Journal of Discourses, 7:288-89 (emphasis added; hereafter cited as JD.) I find the last two sentences intriguing in light of our present dialogue.
26. Harris, 6 March 1998.
28. Doctrines of Salvation: Sermons and Writings of Joseph Fielding Smith, compiled by Bruce R. McConkie. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954), 1:189-90 (emphasis in the original). You miscapitalized "kingdom of god" [sic] in your letter, an error transmitted from your sourceInfobases' LDS Collector's Edition CD-ROM.
29. See also Peter's testimony, preached in power and recorded by Luke in Acts 2-3. (Acts 2:32"This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.")
30. JD 9:312.
31. Brigham Young said on another occasion, "It is his [Joseph Smith's] mission to see that all the children of men in this last dispensation are saved, that can be, through the redemption" of Jesus Christ (JD 7:289). Notice again the clear subordination of Joseph to Jesus Christ.
32. Which is trueJohn 6:66.
33. HC 6:408; see also The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph, edited by Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook. (Orem, Utah: Grandin Book Company), p. 373-74.
34. In his defense, this sermon was delivered in Nauvoo on 26 May 1844, one month before he was killed by an angry mob of over 150 anti-Mormons. At this time he and the Latter-day Saints were being constantly attacked by mobs and indicted by false accusers.
35. In your polemic against Jehovah's Witnesses
you claim the meaning of greater in this verse is "quantity although not
quality." Unfortunately your analysis of the Greek is flawed.
The Greek word here is meizona, which is the adjectival, pronominal, comparative, accusative, neuter, plural form of the root word meizwn (the w representing omega or long o), which means "greater works." It represents a comparative number of things greater in value or in hierarchy than what is being comparedi.e., quality of works, not quantity. The word is used most often to compare relative greatness of things or persons compared to other persons or things. See Matthew 11:11; 12:6; Mark 4:32; 12:31; Luke 7:28; John 10:29; 13:16; 14:28; 15:20; where "greater" (meizona) is used in this fashion.
You might have had a stronger case if the Greek word been based upon the root perissoteros. The Greek perissoteros is never used to indicate a greater quality of persons or things in the Bibleinstead, it indicates more abundance of a thing or attribute rather than expressing a qualitative concept. See 2 Corinthians 1:12; 2:4; 7:13; 7:15; 11:23; 12:15; Galatians 1:14; 1 Thessalonians 2:17; Hebrews 2:1 for examples of this usage.
Since the Greek meizwn, rather than perissoteros, is used in the Greek text of John 14:12, this fact lends more support to the position that the works referred to by Jesus would be greater in quality, rather than more abundant in a numerical sense.
(My thanks for D. Charles Pyle for his assistance with this analysis.)
Copyright by Mike Parker
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