15 And the king [Limhi] saith That a seer is greater than a prophet.
16 And Ammon saith That a seer is a revelator and a prophet also. (Mosiah 8)
On this and other sites, we explain that Joseph Smith was only called to bring forth The Holy Book of Mormon and not to start a church. That the revelations which speak of him starting a church were changed by Joseph to say so. His purpose, according to prophecy and David Whitmer, was to convince the Christian world of The Holy Book of Mormon.
Had he done so, Christians would have accepted The Holy Book of Mormon (with no strings attached, i.e. no need to join a particular church) and the reforming that started with Martin Luther would have been completed.
Joseph Fielding Smith said:
If Joseph was a deceiver, who willfully attempted to mislead people, then he should be exposed, his claims should be refuted, and his doctrines shown to be false. (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 1, pp. 188-189)
Our approach is very simple – we detail the mandate Joseph was given in the Bible, then look at how he did to fulfill that. We discuss Twelve Doctrines that his followers adhere to and compare those with the purpose of his mandate – The Holy Book of Mormon.
On your left are the Topics. They flow from the top down. Please begin at the top and work your way down.
A Note to LDS, RLDS, COJC, and Other Restoration Groups:
To show his humanness here is proof that Joseph changed revelations:
1. Joseph was originally called to transcribe the Book of Mormon and nothing more. He had to modify this revelation to avoid condemnation for doing more than he was called to do.
And you have a gift to translate the plates; and this is the first gift that I bestowed upon you; and I have commanded that you should pretend to no other gift until my purpose is fulfilled in this; for I will grant unto you no other gift until it is finished. (D&C 5:2 compared with Book of Commandments IV:2. Emphasized words were added later by Joseph.)
2. Joseph added the word ordain. Jesus never said that to him because Jesus never called him to start a church.
Verily, I say unto you, that woe shall come unto the inhabitants of the earth if they will not hearken unto my words; For hereafter you shall be ordained and go forth and deliver my words unto the children of men. (D&C 5:5-6 compared with Book of Commandments IV:3. Emphasized words were added later by Joseph.)
And in addition to your testimony, the testimony of three of my servants, whom I shall call and ordain, unto whom I will show these things, and they shall go forth with my words that are given through you. (D&C 5:11 compared with Book of Commandments IV:4. Emphasized words were added later by Joseph.)
4. Jesus never said anything to Joseph about starting a church. Joseph had to add that.
And to none else will I grant this power, to receive this same testimony among this generation, in this the beginning of the rising up and the coming forth of my church out of the wilderness — clear as the moon, and fair as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners. (D&C 5:14 compared with Book of Commandments IV:4. Emphasized words were added later by Joseph.)
5. A formal church required formal ordinations. Joseph added both of which.
And behold, whosoever believeth on my words, them will I visit with the manifestation of my Spirit; and they shall be born of me, even of water and of the Spirit — And you must wait yet a little while, for ye are not yet ordained — (D&C 5:16-17 compared with Book of Commandments IV:4. Emphasized words were added later by Joseph.)
6. A reformation is not the same as starting a church, so Joseph had to remove the words of Jesus.
And thus, if the people of this generation harden not their hearts, I will work a reformation among them, and I will put down all lyings, and deceivings, and priestcrafts, and envyings, and strifes, and idolatries, and sorceries, and all manner of iniquities, and I will establish my church, like unto the church which was taught by my disciples in the days of old. And now if this generation do harden their hearts against my word, behold I will deliver them up unto Satan, for he reigneth and hath power at this time, for he hath got great hold upon the hearts of the people of this generation; and not far from the iniquities of Sodom and Gomorrah, do they come at this time: and behold the sword of justice hangeth over their heads, and if they persist in the hardness of their hearts, the time cometh that it must fall upon them. Behold I tell you these things even as I also told the people of the destruction of Jerusalem, and my word shall be verified at this time as it hath hitherto been verified. (D&C 5:20 compared with Book of Commandments IV:5. Emphasized words were later removed by Joseph.)
Finally, the changes Joseph made are being made publicly available in the newly released Joseph Smith Papers project.
The Prophet did not believe that revelations, once recorded, could not be changed by further revelation. (Elder Marlin K. Jensen, “The Joseph Smith Papers: The Manuscript Revelation Books,” Ensign, March 09; July 09)
“The revelations…did not force themselves on the early saints, rather only as the Church leaders were ready and asking did they move into new periods of ecclesiastical development and understanding. So looking back we should expect that the development of Church government, as a process, WAS MORE ROOTED IN HUMAN AGENCY, more drawn out, and more dynamic THEN SOME OF US IMAGINE.” (Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, Joseph Smith’s Prophetic Ministry: A Year-by-Year Look at His Life and Teachings, J. Spencer Fluhman, “1835: Priesthood and Church Government,” Deseret Book, 2009, CD 8, track 3)
“Joseph Smith was given revelation, and at times I believe that revelation was word for word. But at other times, it was concept perhaps. We don’t really know, …” Turley said. “But it appears that as Joseph received revelations and then reviewed the way they had been written down, he would sometimes make refinements to capture the sense of what God gave him, better than perhaps on the original dictation. And I think that’s one thing that people will see.”
Robert J. Woodford, one of the volume’s three editors, echoed that sentiment, saying that it was up to Joseph Smith to put God’s words into the vocabulary of his day.
“He did have a vision now and again. He did have dreams. He did have words dictated to him on occasion, but for the most part these represent the inspiration of the Holy Ghost to him. So he would get the concept, and then, as Section 1 of the Doctrine and Covenants says, put it in a language that we could understand,” Woodford said. (Molly Farmer, “New volume shows when Prophet prayed, he received revelations,” Mormon Times, Wednesday, Sep. 30, 2009. Url=http://mormontimes.com/studies_doctrine/research_discoveries/?id=10950)
This view assumes God does not know how to communicate effectively to His children. Anyone who has had “word-for-word” answers to prayer, promptings, or warnings knows this is a lame attempt to justify the changes Joseph made and is contrary to scripture:
But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. (Mark 13:11)
And it came to pass that Nephi and Lehi did preach unto the Lamanites with such great power and authority, for they had power and authority given unto them that they might speak, and they also had what they should speak given unto them (Helaman 5:18)
And it shall be given thee in the very moment what thou shalt speak AND WRITE (D&C 24:6)
The error, of course, is the apathy that LDS have for the changes Joseph made. The implication that Jesus misspoke, and Joseph corrected is ridiculous. Thankfully, we know when Jesus spoke, what he said, and why Joseph changed the words of Jesus Christ.
Now the world knows that Joseph Smith was an unbaptized sinner – a Gentile, fulfilling Book of Mormon prophecy. The revelations he received about The Holy Book of Mormon and under the anointing of The Book of Mormon were inspired.
Why Joseph made the above-mentioned changes should cause all believers to think and ponder. As we detail on this website, Joseph was not called to start a church, but to “reform” the existing churches through The Most Holy Book of Mormon.