Merry Smithsmas To All…

Did you remember to celebrate today!? Did you celebrate the baby laying in the cradle? Did you celebrate the nativity that BYU titles, “Bless Be His Name?” I am not speaking about Christmas, but rather December 23rd. Today is a sacred day indeed, it is the day when we should be giving solemn thanks for the birth of the man that has “has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it.”, at least that is what LDS/Mormon scripture would lead us to believe. The Deseret News, LDS Church owned newspaper, boldly reminds us not to loose sight of this date with everything surrounding that other holiday we celebrate in December. The newspaper admonishes us, “However, another important December date is often forgotten in the rush of the season. On Dec. 23, 1805, in Sharon, Vt., the fifth child of Joseph and Lucy Smith, Joseph Smith, Jr., was born. “ (Kristine Frederickson, Deseret News 12/20/09) This newspaper for the Lord tells us to “acknowledge” Jesus Christ, but that we should “revere Joseph Smith.”
This admonition to “revere” Joseph Smith begs the question, what should we be celebrating? Should we be celebrating the polygamy, polyandry, the secret underwear, the constitutional crimes, or the incredible claims of seeing God The Father and Jesus Christ? Perhaps we should consider celebrating one of the more beautiful gifts that Joseph left with us, polygamy and polyandry. The church has never publicly acknowledged Joseph Smith’s participation and endorsement of polyandry and has done a phenomenal job keeping his polygamy a lesser-known fact to LDS membership.

Many have been told and taught that polygamy was necessary doctrine brought about by the senseless murders of too many Mormon males in the confrontations with mobs in the 1830-40 in Missouri, Illinois, and Ohio. Unfortunately this form of apologetics does not explain why it continued well into the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, and why the US census has always demonstrated that in this period there was many more males than females in the Utah/Deseret Territory.

The creation of officially recognized polygamous marriage was bore out of the necessity to explain Joseph’s and many of the church leadership’s relationships and marriages to other women. The creation of this “new & everlasting covenant,” as the LDS scriptures refers to it as, allowed for the creation of many of the secret rituals of Mormonism including garments/underwear and temple rituals.

Even more shocking than the polygamy was perhaps the polyandry. By most historian accounts more than ten of his 33-48 wives were married to other men and continued to live with their original husbands, but frequently visited Smith overnight. It has been written that Smith claimed these marriages were required to test the commitment of those closest to him.

The best example of this testing is the demand placed on LDS Apostle and close friend of Joseph Smith, Heber C Kimball. Joseph demanded that Heber give him his wife, Vilate. According to Orson Whitney in his biography of Kimball, Joseph gave him an ultimatum, Mormonism or his wife. Kimball gave in and presented him with his wife on Smith’s doorstep. Perhaps we should commemorate this day in history by presenting our wives to our church leaders as an offering for our Smithsmas spirit.

Another lasting memory of the “Prophet Joseph” comes in the form of his momentous First Vision, in which he reports seeing two personages that informed him that all of Christianity was an abomination. Nevermind those pesky Biblical teachings about angels and personages of light coming from Satan… The late Gordon Hinckley, President of the LDS until his death, commented, “Our entire case as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints rests on the validity of this glorious First Vision…Nothing on which we base our doctrine, nothing we teach, nothing we live by is of greater importance than this initial declaration.”

That is placing considerable weight and emphasis on something that has had a convoluted and unclear past. According to the LDS Church the First Vision occurred in 1820, but the first published account did not appear until early 1842. It is puzzling to say the least that if the Mormon Church was created upon a mandate from God The Father and Jesus, why was it not part of the original dialog or canon of the church?

Equally damning perhaps that in 1834-35 as the leadership of the church attended the “School of Prophets” there was no mention of the vision anywhere in the seven lectures included in the course. This school sought to teach church leadership the core doctrines and beliefs of the church. Despite these lectures’ discussions regarding the nature of God there is no mention of Joseph seeing or conversing with God or Christ.

During this same period, 1835, the LDS Church printed their canonized Doctrine & Covenants, a book of scripture that contains many of the churches most controversial and important doctrines. In the preface for this book it mentions that it includes, “the leading items of religion which we have professed to believe.” How does a religion supposedly built upon a heavenly mandate fail to mention that as a leading item of their belief?

The easiest answer to the above question is that is wasn’t important until it needed to be… At the time of the First Vision’s publication in the LDS periodical “Times and Seasons,” the Church was in a state of chaos. Members of the church’s leadership were being excommunicated and many more had become opponents of the church. Ironically, the first few handwritten accounts of the “First Vision” chronicle not a visitation from God and Christ but rather “angels” that gave Smith assurance that his sins had been forgiven. Considerably different that what is taught today…

The other interesting component of the “First Vision” story is the fact that most church leaders did not even teach this story until the mid-1870’s. In an 1850 letter by John Taylor, the third LDS President, wrote explaining that Joseph Smith was visited by “two personages” making no mention of God, Jesus Christ, nor any damnation of Christianity.

With so many questions and discrepancies surrounding this event why would church leaders place so much emphasis on this story? Again, Gordon Hinckley explains the paradox involved, “I would like to say that this cause is either true or false. Either this is the kingdom of God, or it is a sham and a delusion. Either Joseph talked with the Father and the Son, or he did not. If he did not, we are engaged in blasphemy” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Conference Reports, October 1961, p.116).

In the second point made, Joseph Smith does in fact make overt gestures to join the Methodist Church in the Harmony Township, in 1828, by signing up for the probationary classes. This is less than one year since being lead to the Golden Plates by the “Angel Moroni.” Additionally, despite the alleged story of a visitation from God and Christ, his family in 1824 joins the Presbyterian Church. Further damning, according to Joseph’s father, Joseph Smith was “baptized, becoming thus a member of the Baptist Church” (Interview With The Father of Joseph Smith, The Mormon Prophet…1870).”

A celebration of Joseph Smith’s birthday would not be complete without a true look at the quotes, words and songs that Latter-Day Saints use to describe their founder. Many Protestant Christians might be familiar with the usage of the phrase or song, “Blessed Be His Name,” but they would be mistaken in thinking this is referring to Jesus Christ. Consider how the LDS Church thinks that famous title should be used. In 2005, Brigham Young University, official LDS college, setup a Joseph Smith nativity scene to commemorate the 200 year anniversary of his birth and titled it, “Blessed Be His Name.” I guess we should be careful not to lose sight of the blessed name of Joseph Smith during this busy Christmas season.


An LDS Hymn takes it another step further and declares: “His equal now cannot be found, By searching the wide world around. With Gods he soared in the realms of day, And men he taught the heavenly way.” With all that being said, perhaps my favorite way of reflecting on Joseph Smith this Smithsmas is by reading a quote from his own hand,

“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)

We should put our trust in the One and Everlasting God, and in the one that we come allows us to come to Him, Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Let us celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ with full knowledge and appreciation for the immense sacrifice and freedom that He brings to us that seek and accept him! Remember that the Bible contains the everlasting message from God to his people. This Christmas season commit your life to following Christ. Christ boldly declares in John 11:25-26, while comforting Martha, “…I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth on me, though he die, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth on me shall never die. Believest thou this?” Do we now believe in this? Will we not trust in Him that he alone has the power to conquer sin and death? As Christmas approaches let us heed the divine counsel of our God come in flesh (John 1:1, 14). I will close with the words of the Apostle Paul in his letter the Ephesus, “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe (Ephesians 1:18-19).”

No Responses to “Merry Smithsmas To All…”

  • Helen Hulse

    thank you, Ben excellent insight.

  • Nicholas Crown

    I am lds and there are no pictures of joseph smith in my home. The only picture we have is of Christ. I dont know where you get all of this crazy stuff. Maybe you should try asking a member instead of relying on anti-mormon literature. My underwear is my business, you dont see me talking about yours. As for joseph smith’s birthday I forgot it was today. Just wondering if you would die for your cause?

  • Ben

    Nick, thank you for your comment in response to my Merry Smithmas posting. While you may be a Mormon without pictures of Joseph Smith in your home, in my 26 years of experience as a Mormon you are certainly a minority. I applaud your devotion to Jesus Christ, but caution you to be worshiping the Christ as taught in the Bible and not the fictional figure depicted in Joseph’s First Vision.

    In your comments you made a statement that is astounding and frankly shows your rage toward any true dialog regarding the foundational items of your faith, “Maybe you should try asking a member instead of relying on anti-mormon literature. “ Nick, perhaps you either are not thinking clearly or have not fully read my post. Not only does my post not contain any alleged “anti-Mormon” material, but only cites works that are recognized as acceptable to members of your faith and are published by The LDS Church, Deseret News, or Deseret Book. All of my sources are ones that you will find in any members’ homes.

    Additionally, I was once a Mormon not some person making conjecture based on something I heard or read. As a Mormon, I attended the temple, held the priesthood, attended Ricks College/BYU, and held many callings; I know what I am talking about when it comes to the Mormon faith. I find your frustration regarding my abstract comment about garments to be puzzling, as I neither discussed their purposes, origins, or style. I am always willing to discuss my underwear, it is not secret, it was bought at Macy’s.

    I am assuming when you ask if I am willing to die for my cause you are referring to Joseph Smith’s being killed in a gunfight and not threatening my life… I am willing to die for my God if needs be, lest we not forget that He already has taken the flesh to sacrifice Himself for us. Everything we have in this life is a gift from God, He can decide to take it when it suits His plan!

  • Nicholas Crown

    You may use publications, but you use them out of context as I looked up in one of your comments in a prior post. I am sorry that you learned all of those things and choose to go a different way. I actually feel sorry for you because of the knowledge that you have and what you are deciding to do with it. I also know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and that he died for me. I hope everyone that you teach is aware that you have not always attended church. I hope that when the time comes and you are judged that by that time you will have realized the damage that you are doing to yourself and to other people that are trying to obtain a testimony of their own. About my underwear, it is sacred, not secret. Being a former member I am sure you understand what sacred means. The Christ that i know has a body of flesh and bones just as his father and that is the Christ that I know.

  • Ben

    Thank you for your follow up comments. I have never made it a secret that I was at times an inactive Mormon, nor will I ever deny my lack of faith in God during the two years following my exit from Mormonism. Just as Paul had the scales fall from his eyes, so they did for me. I was able to overcome my unbelief, just as Paul did, and accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Despite my involvement and activity in the Mormon faith I never felt that it gave me everything I needed spiritually, nor did I feel that church leaders were honest about the origins of the faith. Nick, I hope you and your family have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  • Kelly

    Just wanted to say how refreshing it is to hear from an honest Mormon…one that acknowledges his God is not the God of the Holy Bible. If all of Mormonism was this upfront & honest, it would diminish the need for us former Mormons to inoculate Christians against the deception that is Mormonism. Good for you, Nicholas! Hope that the “Christ” you believe in can save you. According to God’s Word, there’s only One that can save. Odds are not in your favor…

  • Kelly

    BTW…great post, Ben! I find the nativity scene featuring Joseph Smith absolutely disgusting. I’m telling you, after years of research on the bilge that is Mormonism, it still never ceases to amaze me! I will be forwarding this post to every Christian that I know. Thank you & keep fighting the good fight!

  • Nicholas Crown

    You guys continue to amaze me. The picture that you have up there is not even close to a nativity scene. That was a picture from when it was his 200th birthday. I can not believe that you guys would go so far as to offend millions of people. One other thing, God is the same yesterday,today, and forever. It was him that spoke when Jesus was baptized. Jesus of the new testament was Jehovah of the old testament. My God is the Father of Jesus Christ who are two separate and distinct individuals. Again, try getting your info from a more credible source, not one that changes words around to fit whatever they want someone to know. Why not include everything that is said and not just part of it. No unhollowed and can stop the work from progressing! This church will continue to grow and you will not stop it. It is the stone cut out of the earth without hands that will fill the whole earth.

  • Ben

    I am glad we are amazing someone. I guess you got done setting up your children’s Christmas presents and decided to give this another go around. Again, it appears you did not read my blog posting, as I specifically identified that particular picture and the scene as being from his 200th Birthday anniversary. There wasn’t any distortion or mis-categorization there.

    Please be honest with us, Nick, you do not believe that God was the same yesterday, today, and forever. If you believe in Joseph Smith then you adhere the doctrines of the King Follett Discourse, which blatantly teaches that you believe in a God that was once a man, and you believe that one day you can become a god too. Your concept of Father, God is one of a glorified and redeemed sinner who has earned his god role.

    You right about no unhallowed hand stopping the work, just the Internet. Now, please, go be with your family the next day or two and enjoy your Christmas.