Opposition to Mormonism-Facts, Fiction or Opinions

For almost 200 years Joseph Smith, has been the Prophet of the Restoration to millions of Latter-Day Saints.  To a handful of active critics and their proteges he was a simple boy that orchestrated a grand religious scheme.  Which was he?

The modern technology allows for mass dissemination of opinions and information, both true and false. Opinion narratives drive much discussion in politics, religion, science and any number of subjects. The reader or listener must evaluate and think critically about what they hear and see.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints claims and testifies that it is the only true and living church on the earth and that Jesus Christ stands at the head of it.  The priesthood order and authority that administers the covenants of the gospel of Jesus Christ and salvation is found it it. 

The Savior established a church when he was on the earth. Catholics make some claim to being the "true" church but Protestants can't make such a claim. None of them carry the name of the Savior and claim authority to be what is termed the Kingdom of God on the earth, except the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Why is this?

Some critically minded people just can't seem to accept the fact that even the Lord's church is full of imperfect people. Leaders and members alike are such and that events and practices they don't agree with have occurred in its history. Even so by what authority do they judge? Only with their opinions and false judgements. 

They represent themselves and have no claim to any authority and claim no credentials to speak for God. They speak for themselves. Their opinions are not designed to lift others or to take a person anywhere except from the church. They may become atheists or join in contradictory theologies of creedal sectarianism.

Mainstream Christian churches often start when person feels the desire to form a congregation or to depart from another congregation. They may disagree with another or current pastor or for occupational reasons seek to proclaim their version of biblical Christianity. They sometimes claim that they have received an anointing even though it is just their own claim. They simply meld into another of the tens of thousands of sectarian Christian factions. 

To assume that thousands of different churches can somehow be authorized to teach differing opinions because they can open a Bible and read it certainly seems to be a contradiction of truth.

The essence of the arguments against the Mormon church and its leaders comes down to one of the two scenarios mentioned at the beginning.  

Either the critics are using deceptive tactics to portray their story to misinform people. Their claim is that Joseph Smith managed to establish a 2000 year ruse.  In so doing they set themselves up a burden of proof that can't be met. He was willing to die for his claim.  Was he was in fact a prophet of God bearing testimony of truth? How do you recognize a true prophet? You study the fruits of his ministry.  

The many voices of internet dissention and discussion against the LDS church are uninformed individuals parroting information that was proven questionable long ago. They fail to study the matters and persist in rationalizing their own lack of spiritual progress by tearing down the church. The sad thing is they have nothing to offer in the least to replace it.

Mormon critics practise what can be described as a "wilderness of mirrors." They create an environment where the information provided blends truth, half-truth, opinions, lack of historical context and fiction so that uninformed readers or listeners have a difficult time telling what is true and what isn't. Someone with certain doubts will gravitate to it and use it as a reason to justify their doubts.

The critics accuse Joseph Smith of being a false prophet, of building a following and a church from declaring that he had received visions and visitations from God. Then they accuse the church of lying to cover up Joseph's "true" character based on little known facts of cultural insignificance from the early 1800's, of false allegations regarding the practice of polygamy and other practices that didn't disqualify past prophets from their callings.  

Joseph Smith's family were farmers living at time of extended poverty both personally and regionally.  His critics would have us believe that that due to certain part time jobs that Joseph did for other people that he was not fit to be a future prophet of God.  He was sued over 100 times in his life in attempts to defame him. Nothing ever became of those cases.

They use fallacies in defining their narrative of Joseph's youth. They tell of things that were normal and cultural in the 1820's that would seem strange if you did them in our day and age. It is like comparing the practice of bleeding sick patients in early medical practices to how disease is cured today. 

The critical narratives depend on a listener's lack of knowledge and lack of desire or opportunity to get all of the facts to know what the actual circumstances were. If the false narrative comes from someone they trust, like a pastor or minister then there is a tendency to dismiss the need for more information. These narratives have been repeated over and over in churches and on the internet around the world.

Such has been the approach of the of critics that continue to emerge to oppose the Church since it began some two hundred years ago. They have provided their dialogues of misinformation to thousands of of orthodox Christian churches, pastors and leaders and they disseminate it to their congregations in one form or another. They like to emphasise that Mormonism is a non-christian cult.

The process is readily identifiable for the purpose of spreading false information. Such was the case with me after I joined the church in 1973. I was taken to a church where a lecture was being given to explain why the Mormon Church was the fabrication of a "con artist". Their methods and actions of teaching and disseminating are the real work of "con artists".  Here is what they suppose.

Because the growth and success of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has occurred against great odds, they want people to believe that it is actually the result of a cleverly crafted scheme.

Their narrative, in attempting to demonstrate a corrupt Joseph Smith, they actually show the prophetic nature of what he accomplished. Today the church is a worldwide organization with a presence in almost every community in North and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia, and still expanding to parts of the world where Christianity can be taught.

The critics base their overall antagonism against the church from an irrational standpoint.  They want people to believe that a 14 year old boy, Joseph Smith made up a story and told multiple lies to support it over a 30 year period.  These lies would become a con for centuries to come. The church he founded would endure substantial persecution and eventually become established through out the world and known for its moral and family values. He said God and Christ visited him as an answer to a prayer while seeking knowledge about religious truth.

Could a 14 year old boy really stick to a story so profound like this for his whole life while being persecuted for it? A story that led directly to his early death at 44 years of age.  Several versions of the first vision have surfaced but if you have ever tried to write about something in your past you will soon discover the weakness of the mind in recalling exact events.

This story and movement also included the development of theological teachings the were starkly different from the mainstream of Christianity.  All of the principles and doctrines he taught are biblical. He explained the contradictions in their teachings and doctrinal conclusions. This increased the persecutions in attempt to defame him.

God was a person he said, with a glorified and exalted body and so was Christ. We were created in their image and likeness. Current orthodox teachings taught that God was a genderless incorporeal intelligence that assumed 3 personalities to fit the narrative of the Bible.

Joseph claimed that they called him to be their prophet to accomplish an important work in the earth to prepare the world for the second coming of Jesus Christ. 

Could such a story be the subject for a con that would be carried out over two centuries? As a boy prophet in 1820, in the United States he saw God and was visited by resurrected apostles and prophets that laid their hands on his head to ordain and give him authority. No other church founder has made such claims of authority that the fullness of Christ's gospel would be restored.  The only things that had taken place before were reformations of the existing churches.  None claimed authority to be the true church.

It was common knowledge that he started declaring such testimony at that early time in his life.  But how could he devise a con that would need to last for centuries according to what modern critics say?  

He said that John the Baptist and Peter, James and John visited him as resurrected beings to give him authority that no other religious entity or preacher had at the time.  He was ordained an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ with this authority. 

One of the angels told him that his name would be had for good and evil throughout the world. A very unlikely scenario for a 14 year old boy in upstate New York in 1820.   

It is true today, 190 years later that you can speak his name in religious circles around the world and they know his name, some for good and others for ill. His critics have fulfilled the prophecy.

His story was such that none of the other orthodox Christian denominations would accept him.  He kept declaring his vision and story in spite of persecutions. About 4 years later he then came up with what was surely something to make the story even better.   

It wasn't enough to see God and angels and to tell all the other churches their theology was wrong. He brought forth another book calling it scripture. It was written on metal plates by ancient prophets living in the Americas.  How does one get such an idea for a story, let alone come up with a whole book and calling it scripture? According to his critics the whole story is a fabrication from Joseph's imagination or copying some other book.

He didn't just call it any book. It was another testament of Jesus Christ and that he of all people translated it from those gold plates by using an instrument used by other prophets.  Anyone that reads it with an inquiring mind will see that a person of ill intent could not have written it.

He declared that this book was the most correct scripture on earth containing the pure doctrine of Christ. After 190 years no one has determinedly proven it not to be so. Millions testify that it is. Hundreds of millions of copies have been distributed throughout the world in 110 languages.

To make this so called fabrication more extensive, having another ancient testament wasn't enough.  Over the next 20 years or so he said he received the mind and will of the Lord regarding many subjects and the kingdom of God in preparation for the second coming of the Lord in his glory. 

He called it scripture too, the Doctrine and Covenants. Imagine the idea of saying that modern revelation came to a latter-day prophet. His detractors would call him a false prophet but they couldn't prove it or stop his testimony.

Through all of this he was persecuted by many enemies on many fronts.  His children dying, his family suffering. But what con man would not endure such acts of persecution and suffering?

Then of all things, 10 years after his first vision at age 24 and with no clerical training he started a church. He said it would eventually be on every continent and spread throughout the world.  It would be patterned after the Lord's church in the New Testament.  His critics could not stand for such a thing. The made sure to label it a cult lest any consider joining it.

No critics or enemies could stop its progress Joseph testified. Looking at it today, that prophecy has been fulfilled after abundant barriers and challenges that could or should have stopped it, including his death. Today 30,000 plus geographic congregations exist around the globe and are led by a volunteer unpaid clergy.

That was some con to organize the church of local volunteers even with critics labeling it a cult. Even so, some of the best and the brightest minds would be attracted to it and lead it through all kinds of adversity at all levels.  It would survive times of trouble and later prosper much to the disdain of the church's detractors.

The most brilliant part of the con is it would be pulled of for the most part after Joseph Smith was dead. The vast majority of his followers would never meet or know Joseph Smith in person. This would truly have to be one of the greatest cons in history.  Using a dead man's story to build a thriving church throughout the world.

The first missionaries traveling through the world would go telling the story on foot and horseback and traveling across the oceans by ship. Many tens of thousands would join the church. They would cross a desolate wilderness and established a community in the mountains of Utah.  A hundred years later the messengers would be 18-22 year old youths leaving their homes and paying their own way for two years at a time and millions would join the church.

Mormon critics say Church leaders have developed the perfect con, a deception for telling people that they could read the Book of Mormon and pray.  To have young men and sister missionaries tell people that God would answer their prayer if they were sincere in their desire to know.  It has happened for millions of us.

They call members of the church ignorant fools that pledged their lives to the church through baptismal covenants and found ongoing purpose and happiness being aware of their eternal destiny through temples. 

Members don't use tobacco or drink alcohol, tea or coffee.  This part of the con clearly demonstrates a brainwashing effect. He told believers about health issues unproven by science until at least a hundred or so years after his death. Surely he had some hidden techniques of mind control yet to be discovered by modern psychologists. 

Another doctrinal development new to the theological community was telling people that they could live forever in their family relationships.  That intimacy and fidelity were very important for happiness for all of his followers but Smith was some kind of a philanderer with dozens of illicit wives. Members of the Church that have studied the history know better. Joseph Smith was a faithful and virtuous person.

Only a studious few sincere seekers take time to get enough information to understand something of the circumstances.

"Joseph Smith’s vision of man’s immortal nature reached from an existence before birth to the eternities beyond the grave. He taught that salvation is universal in that all men will become the beneficiaries of the Resurrection through the Atonement wrought by the Savior. But beyond this gift is the requirement of obedience to the principles of the gospel and the promise of consequent happiness in this life and exaltation in the life to come."

How is it that just a handful of modern critics and apostates are the only people smart enough to recognize this con that has become a worldwide church. From what are they warning people? These misguided critical souls believe their twisted version of the story. They are convinced that a  masterful con artist of youth fooled millions of people for two centuries. 

The evidence and testimony of the Spirit of God confirms to me that he was a prophet of the living Christ. His critics are the con artists, telling an outrageous tale in a crooked narrative of deception designed only to misinform.

Charles Brown

Mesa, AZ. 


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