As was discussed earlier, the statement by God to Joseph Smith not to join any church has been misapplied to everyone, meaning “NO ONE” should join any church, except one of Joseph’s.
The truth is, most of the Smith family attended the Presbyterian Church AFTER this instruction was given, and continued to attend even AFTER he received the gold record. That instruction was only for Joseph.
While imprisoned in Liberty Jail Missouri, Joseph was at one of his humblest states ever. There, in that prison, he wrote a most revealing letter to a land owner by the name of Isaac Galland. In it, he says other churches are right, and makes a case for his own church without ever mentioning priesthood:
We believe that no man can administer salvation through the gospel, to the souls of men, in the name of Jesus Christ, except he is authorized from God, by revelation, or by being ordained by some one whom God hath sent by revelation, as it is written by Paul, Romans 10:14, “and how shall they believe in him, of whom, they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach, except they be sent?” and I will ask, how can they be sent without a revelation, or some other visible display of the manifestation of God. And again, Hebrews, 5:4, “And no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.”-And I would ask, how was Aaron called, but by revelation (not priesthood).
And as far as they teach the gospel of Jesus Christ, as it is verily written and are inspired, and called as was Aaron, I feel myself bound to bow with all deference (respect) to their mandates and teachings; (Other churches are true.) (Times and Seasons, vol. 1, no. 4, March 22nd, 1839)
To support this view, in an interview between Joseph Smith and President Martin Van Buren in 1839, it was recorded:
In our interview with the President, he interrogated us wherein we differed in our religion from the other religions of the day. Brother Joseph said we differed in mode of baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. We considered that all other considerations were contained in the gift of the Holy Ghost (History of the Church, 4:42).
Notice, Joseph did not claim to have special authority, i.e. priesthood. His authority was in the Holy Spirit like everyone else. The internal “church” authority (priesthood) that he and Rigdon made up was disposable; that is why Joseph’s mother AND wife did not follow Brigham Young west. They knew he had no advantage over them by any authority.
Unfortunately, none of the churches of Joseph Smith want the world to know this side of him, so they continue to alienate themselves from the body of Christ by neglecting these early statements. All the while they are harming the reason for which Joseph was called – to bring forth The Book of Mormon.
The other misapplication that has occurred is the presumption that all people historically were also wrong – all the way back to the time after Christ. They have no respect for the hundreds of Martyrs, Reformers, or our Founding Fathers as being called by God because they did not have “their priesthood.”
The Book of Mormon says God’s Spirit was alive and well during that time; that He moved upon the Reformers, the Founding Fathers, and many others.
This neglect of God’s work through the ages, and through others, up to and including the Reformers, Martyrs, Early Church Fathers, and our Founding Fathers is a serious wound to the work of God.