Sunday, November 9, 2014

Why Do Mormons Believe in Joseph Smith?

picture found here

Joseph Smith is a central figure in Mormon's beliefs. There are many interesting rumors mixed with truth about Joseph Smith that have caused many people to question his character.  Those outside (as well as member of) our faith might have misconceptions about our belief in him. Some claim that we believe he was/is Jesus, or an equal to Christ. That idea can easily be proved wrong. However, there are other doubts many have about Joseph Smith that cannot be explained as easily. As I stated earlier, there have been a lot of half truths mixed in with hearsay that have spread false information about Joseph Smith, much of which can't be confirmed, or denied. There are also a lot of mysterious and curious things from Joseph Smith's, and our church's, history: polygamy, treasure digging, free-masonry etc. It's natural for doubts to come up since so many people question Joseph Smith and our history. You either believe he was called as a prophet of God, or you likely think he was a genius fraud or delusional man.

While we were in New York we had the opportunity to visit Palmyra. We visited Hill Cumorah where Mormons believe Joseph Smith found the golden plates which he later translated in three months time into the Book of Mormon. We went to the printing shop where the Book of Mormon was printed. We explored Joseph's Smith's old homes, and the farm he'd worked on. We also visited the Sacred Grove where Joseph Smith's journey as a prophet really began. It was there that, as a fourteen year old boy, he saw God the Father and Jesus Christ. It was there that he prayed (about what church to join), and it was in the Sacred Grove that his prayer was answered.

picture found here

As we walked through the beautiful Sacred Grove, I couldn't help but feel moved. I thought back to different doubts I'd personally had about Joseph Smith. There were a couple of times I'd heard, or read a well articulated argument against Joseph Smith. I remember those articles caused doubts to creep in and I started to feel a little worried or confused. Whenever I'd start to have questions about whether or not my religion had really all been a sham, I'd go to the Lord in prayer and would let him know just how I felt. Every single time those feelings or doubts were eased as I would "coincidentally" happen upon another article or a discussion that had answers to my questions or concerns.

While I still have questions and there is plenty that I don't understand, I've come to realize that any concern I've had has always led me back to whether or not I believe Joseph Smith truly experienced what he said he had in that grove of trees.

In his own words he describes what happened in the Sacred Grove:

"I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me... When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!"
If Joseph Smith truly did see God the Father and Jesus Christ, and if he was called as a prophet of God, then the Book of Mormon is from God. Likewise, if we come to know that the Book of Mormon is true, we can know Joseph Smith was called as a prophet and that the church of Jesus Christ (with all it's keys and authority from God) has been restored.

While the articles and discussions Heavenly Father led me to happen upon were helpful, and reminded me that God hears our prayers, I've come to learn how fundamental it is to have a testimony in the restoration of the gospel. As I walked through the Sacred Grove, I was also reminded of the times that I'd received a witness from the Holy Ghost that Joseph Smith's story was true...that the Book of Mormon is true. We Mormons could spend all the time in the world pointing out Bible references that confirm our beliefs, or all the scientific and all the linguistic evidence there is throughout the Book of Mormon, but all that effort would be in vain. Those who oppose the church can do likewise. There are plenty of convincing arguments on both sides. Which is why I believe, it really does come down to faith. The only way to know whether or not the restored gospel is true is through sincere study and prayer.

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