101 Reasons to Believe Joseph Smith
August 17, 2013
"I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation."
-- Joseph Smith
Joseph Smith made a lot of unbelievable claims. He told farfetched stories about God and Jesus appearing to him when he was a teen. He shared fantastical tales of angels coming to visit him, showing him the location of a hidden book preposterously printed on golden metal plates. Even more unbelievable, he said God helped him translate the crazy writing on those plates into a book about a family that left Jerusalem and ended up in the Americas. Joseph dared called himself a prophet, even though all the smart religious people will tell you that everyone knows God ran out of things to say, so why would He need another prophet? And that was just the beginning of the unbelievable story of an unbelievable man who lived an unbelievable life. So why would anyone in their right mind believe in Joseph Smith, who has all manner of allegations and accusations concerning him? Here are 101 reasons to believe Joseph Smith:
1. The Holy Ghost testifies to people that Joseph Smith is a prophet.
2. The Holy Ghost testifies that the Book of Mormon is true.
3. God the Father and Jesus Christ did appear to Joseph as he prayed.
4. Joseph was inspired to pray to know which church was true while he was reading the New Testament. This prayer resulted in the First Visitation. He didn't know how his prayer would be answered, but he had enough faith at age 14 to know he would receive some sort of answer. So it's not like teen boy Joseph just woke up one morning and thought, "Hey, being a prophet would be cool. They get to wear cool retro tunics and grow awesome beards. I think I'll be a prophet and start a church today". He didn't grow a beard or own a tunic, so he obviously chose to be a prophet because he was chosen to be one, and not because of the perks.
5. God the Father testified of Jesus Christ and deferred to Him during the vision. This puts the vision in line with biblical precedent. This action also sets Joseph's First Visitation apart from other vision based prophets of the modern era. Additionally, years went by between the occurrence of the First Visitation and Joseph's visitation by the angel, Moroni. If he was making up the vision he wouldn't have waited so long to make up another one.
6. If Joseph, at 14 years old, was making up the First Visitation he would have depicted God to be in the Christian Tradition of the Trinity so people would be more likely to accept his story.
7. Joseph didn't need to make up the First Visitation just to start a church. There are scores of Protestant churches that were started based on a person's Biblical interpretation. No visions necessary. He said it because it happened.
8. Joseph didn't need to make up the golden plates or The Book of Mormon just to start a church. New scripture wasn't necessary to start a church in Protestant New England.
9. Joseph didn't need to make up the story about John the Baptist, Peter, James and John appearing to him and Oliver Cowdery to restore the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods just to start a church or get followers. Every other non-Catholic Church had already done away with the principle of needing priesthood authority and priesthood succession. He said they came because they did.
10. Joseph didn't need to make up a story about an angel coming to visit him on numerous occasions over the years. He could have started a church without claiming an angel came, just like other successful churches had. He said it because the angel did appear, on several occasions.
11. The angel Moroni told Joseph his name would be known for both good and evil across the world. This prediction has come true.
12. Joseph fulfilled a revelation his grandfather, Asel Smith, received that one of his posterity would make an impact on religion. He said, "It has been borne in upon my soul that one of my descendants will promulgate a work to revolutionize the world of religious faith."
13. The Book of Mormon is true.
14. According to his wife, Emma, Joseph couldn't write a letter on his own, much less a whole book.
15. During the translation of the Book of Mormon, Joseph never asked the scribe to read the last line back to him. He always picked up right where he'd left off, even if hours or days had passed. This is impossible for someone dictating a book out of their head.
16. Witnesses to the translation consistently stated over the years that there were no books, including the bible, or other reading materials present during the translation.
17. Joseph could only translate if he was in harmony with the Holy Ghost. If there was any contention in his home, or if he hadn't repented of a sin then he was unable to translate. If he was dictating a book from his head, or reading from another book, then his spiritual status wouldn't have mattered.
18. Every alternative explanation for the Book of Mormon hasn't held up.
19. The Solomon Spaulding "Manuscript Found Theory" has long been debunked (and you can get a copy of "Manuscript Found" from BYU).
20. Sydney Rigdon did not write the Book of Mormon. He joined the church after the book's publication. Furthermore, on his deathbed he told his son, John, that he played no part in the writing of the Book of Mormon.
21. The Golden Plates are real.
22. Joseph had to wait three years to get the golden plates from the time he was first shown them. Why wait three years if you're making a story up?
23. Joseph couldn't have just made metallic plates to fool people. Local or regional merchants would have testified that they sold Joseph the metal and materials to make them.
24. Emma was waiting in the wagon for Joseph when he retrieved the plates. They were covered in his coat but according to her they made a chinking metallic sound when he placed them in the wagon.
25. Joseph had to use several hiding places for the gold plates because locals kept trying to find them. He wouldn't have needed several hiding places if there was nothing to hide. He could have just told people there were in a spot no one would find.
26. Oliver Cowdery saw Moroni and the Golden Plates.
27. David Whitmer saw Moroni and the Golden Plates.
28. Martin Harris saw Moroni and the Golden Plates.
29. Christian Whitmer saw and held the plates.
30. Joseph Smith Sr. saw and held the plates.
31. Peter Whitmer Jr. saw and held the plates.
32. Hyrum Smith saw and held the plates.
33. Samuel H. Smith saw and held the plates.
34. Hiram Page saw and held the plates. He left the church but never denied his testimony of the plates. Years after his death his son said, "I knew my father to be true and faithful to his testimony of the divinity of the Book of Mormon until the very last. Whenever he had an opportunity to bear his testimony to this effect, he would always do so, and seemed to rejoice exceedingly in having been privileged to see the plates and thus become one of the Eight Witnesses."
35. Jacob Whitmer saw and held the plates. He reaffirmed his testimony of the plates on his death bed and had a depiction of them carved on his headstone.
36. John Whitmer saw and held the plates. A few weeks before his death, John was interviewed about the plates. He described them and said, "He [Joseph] handed them uncovered into our hands, and we turned the leaves sufficient to satisfy us."
37. After Joseph was finally able to show the plates to the witnesses he expressed gratitude and relief; saying, "Father, mother, you do not know how happy I am; the Lord has now caused the plates to be shown to three more besides myself. They have seen an angel, who has testified to them, and they will have to bear witness to the truth of what I have said, for now they know for themselves that I do not go about to deceive the people, and I feel as if I was relieved of a burden which was almost too heavy for me to bear, and it rejoices my soul that I am not any longer to be entirely alone in the world."
38. Emma testified that the plates existed. Though she didn't see them, she felt them under a cloth and moved them around the table.
39. Mary Whitmer saw and handled the gold plates and saw Moroni, without Joseph present.
40. Lucy Mack Smith didn't see the plates, but she hefted and handled them while covered. She did however see and handle the Urim and Thummim, the divine translation device that had been stored with the plates.
41. Alva Beman let Joseph hide the plates under the hearth of his fireplace. Alva was allowed to feel the plates under a cloth, and said that when they were placed in the hearth they made a metallic chinking sound.
42. Katherine Smith Salisbury was allowed to lift the plates in the box they were kept in. She described them as very heavy.
43. William Smith was allowed to lift the plates while they were in a pillow case. He said they weighed around 60 lbs.
44. Harrison Burgess received a vision while praying, shortly after joining the church wherein he saw Moroni and the plates.
45. Benjamin Brown had a vision of people from the Book of Mormon while he was investigating the church in 1835.
46. Zera Pulsipher had a vision in 1831 of angels holding and displaying the Book of Mormon. He was baptized not long after.
47. While taking a break during the translation of the Book of Mormon, Martin Harris, who was Joseph's scribe at the time, replaced the seer stone Joseph had been using with an identical stone to see if Joseph was just faking it. When Joseph was unable to recommence translating, Martin told him what he'd done. Once the actual seer stone was back in place Joseph was able to start translating again.
48. Joseph only had to use the Urim and Thummim and the seer stone temporarily during the translation of the Book of Mormon. By the end of the translation he was able to receive the words from the Holy Ghost directly.
49. Oliver Cowdery had a falling out with Joseph Smith and left the church. During this time he testified in a court case he was trying that the golden plates were real, that he had held them, and that he had helped write during the translation. He could have easily exposed Joseph if it was all a lie, but he didn't. He eventually rejoined the LDS Church.
50. David Whitmer left the church and was estranged from Joseph Smith. Weeks before David's death he published an affidavit in a newspaper reaffirming that he did in fact see the angel and hold the plates. If he was part of a conspiracy he would have wanted to confess to clear his conscience before facing God.
51. Martin Harris spent years estranged from Joseph and the church but never denied seeing the plates and the angel Moroni. He eventually rejoined the church a few years before he died.
52. The Book of Mormon describes landscape, terrain, geography, botany found in Arabia that was unknown in America when the book was published. Today these locations have been corroborated, including the area of Nahom. This name was found on an altar in a location matching the Book of Mormon description.
53. A location matching the description in the Book of Mormon of Lehi's first campsite after leaving Jerusalem was found, as well as area that matches the description and location mentioned in the Book of Mormon of the land Nephi called "Bountiful" was also discovered.
54. When the Book of Mormon was first published critics scoffed saying the book's claim of ancient transoceanic travel was impossible. Now it's been proven true.
55. When the Book of Mormon was first published critics mocked the book saying ancient civilizations never wrote on metal plates. Now it's been proven true.
56. When the Book of Mormon was first published critics laughed saying there was no proof that human sacrifices took place in Ancient America as the book claimed. Now it's been proven true.
57. When the Book of Mormon was first published critics scorned it saying there was no proof of the books claims that ancient American's used cement. Now it's been proven true.
58. When the Book of Mormon was first published critics ridiculed it saying there was no proof that barley was used in Ancient America even though the book said it was. Now it's been proven true.
59. When the Book of Mormon was first published critics slammed it saying there was no proof of its depiction of ancient Americans using swords, spears, javelins, and slings. Now they've all been proven true.
60. When the Book of Mormon was first published critics dismissed it saying there was no proof of highways between cities as the book mentioned. Now it's been proven true.
61. There are 60 items mentioned in the Book of Mormon that were seen as anachronistic when the Book of Mormon was published. By 1842, only 8 (13%) of those items had been validated. In 2005, the number of validated items had reached 35 (58%). Time has been on the book's side.
62. Even after being tarred, feathered, mobbed, jailed, marched, hunted, starved, and other indignities, as well as enduring the deaths of several of his children, and eventually being shot to death, Joseph didn't deny his testimony.
63. Joseph was not a con man. Con men run away and abandon their marks when angry mobs come for them and set up somewhere else. Joseph didn't abandon the church or its members. "The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion." Proverbs 28:1. Plus, if he was just a con man, he would have run off with the thousands of dollars Martin Harris gave him to publish the Book of Mormon.
64. Joseph never expected anyone to take his word for it. He encouraged everyone to pray to know whether or not he was a prophet.
65. Joseph never maintained control by force over the members of his church. He always had faith in his people, even though some betrayed him.
66. Joseph led by teaching correct principles and by example, and left the rest to the free will of the church members. He never claimed to be more than he was; which is a prophet and an imperfect man.
67. Several revelations Joseph published include God chastising him for errors and sins. He never tried to portray himself as perfect.
68. Church members saw him as a saint, opponents saw him as the devil. Those neutral who spent time with Joseph described him as cheerful, sociable, kind, patient, a self-asserter, an inspired teacher, a man of high character, a hard worker, and intuitive.
69. Joseph earned the respect and help from some of his persecutors. Including two police officers that were sent to arrest him and deliver him to mobs.
70. In Missouri, a group of armed militia came to Far West to shoot Joseph because of a false report that he'd killed 7 men. When Joseph came out to meet them, he stepped toward the armed troops smiling and shook each of their hands. Each of the militia men were stunned at his calm demeanor, as he began discussing the church with them and the tribulation he and members had received. The men, who hours before were ready to shoot Joseph on sight, were now vowing to do what they could to keep him safe. One of the militia officers commented, "Did you not feel strangely when Smith took you by the hand? I never felt so in my life. ... I guess this is about my last expedition against this place. I never saw a more harmless, innocent appearing man than the Mormon Prophet".
71. Joseph fulfilled a prediction made by Thomas Jefferson in 1820 that "The genuine and simple religion of Jesus will one day be restored: such as it was preached and practised (sic) by himself".
72. Joseph's youthful treasure hunting was inspired because it led him to his greatest treasure-Emma. If Joseph hadn't gotten involved in boyhood treasure hunting they would have never met and married. And she was the perfect companion for him.
73. Orson Hyde, one of the original apostles of the LDS Church recorded Joseph's urgency to give the 12 the temple ceremonies. He wrote, "We were in council with Brother Joseph almost every day for weeks; said Brother Joseph in one of those councils, 'There is something going to happen; I don't know what it is, but the Lord bids me to hasten and give you your endowment before the Temple is finished.' He conducted us through every ordinance of the holy priesthood, and when he had gone through with all the ordinance he rejoiced very much, and said, 'Now if they kill me, you have got all the keys, and all the ordinances, and you can confer them upon others, and the hosts of Satan will not be able to tear down the kingdom as fast you will be able to build it up'; and now, said he, 'On your shoulders will the responsibility of leading this people rest.'"
74. If Joseph had just been ripping off the Freemasons he wouldn't have needed to be urgent. He could have waited until the temple was done.
75. Joseph had started construction on the Nauvoo temple and sharing elements of the Endowment, and other temple ordinances, prior to his initiation into Freemasonry. He also only showed up to three lodge meetings once he was a Mason. Though he incorporated some elements for the ceremonies he thought was useful, the LDS temple ceremonies were not Masonic in origin.
76. Specific parts of the temple ordinances are found in ancient Christian writings that Joseph didn't have access to or know about.
77. Many of Joseph's pivotal divine experiences were shared with others. They were able to corroborate his story.
78. Oliver Cowdery was with Joseph when John the Baptist appeared to them to restore the Aaronic Priesthood.
79. Oliver Cowdery was with Joseph when Peter, James and John appeared to them to restore the Melchizedek Priesthood.
80. Oliver Cowdery was with Joseph Smith when Jesus, Elijah, Moses and others appeared to them in the Kirtland, Temple to bestow specific priesthood keys.
81. Sydney Rigdon shared the vision when the Three Degrees of Glory were revealed to Joseph Smith. The two described to each other what they were seeing as others were present.
82. Truman Angell, Fredrick Williams, Oliver Cowdery and others shared a vision with Joseph of the design for the Kirtland Temple. They were shown the entire building inside and out.
83. Zina Huntington, Benjamin Johnson, Heber Kimball, Vilate Kimball, Sarah Leavitt, Emily Partridge, Mary Elizabeth Rollins, Letitia Smith Dunn, Lucy Walker, Elizabeth Whitney, Newell Whitney and others received direct visions and revelations confirming plural marriage after they'd fretted and prayed about it.
84. Joseph was not a misogynistic philanderer because of plural marriage. If he was only in it for the sex he didn't need to marry the women, much less ask permission to marry them. Furthermore, only some of the marriages were even consummated. Many were dynastic marriages, only meant to tie families together.
85. He used his prophetic gift to help others. For example, he and the group known as "Zion's Camp" were traveling across an expansive prairie in the heat of early June and had run out of water. After the group of men settled in for the night, thirsty and unable to water their horses, Joseph asked for a spade and then surveyed the dry land. He selected a spot and began digging a shallow well. Immediately water began bubbling up; enough water for 200 men and scores of mules and horses.
86. A doctor came to Joseph's house in a horse and buggy and didn't tie the horse to the post. Joseph advised him to tie up the horse or else it was going to run off and smash the buggy. The doctor explained that he'd used that horse for years and had never needed to tie it up. Joseph asked him to tie up the horse a few more times and each time the doctor refused. After a while, the horse got spooked and took off running. The carriage hit some posts and smashed. The doctor, dumbfounded, looked at Joseph and said, "I'll be damned if you aren't a Prophet."
87. During his time in Liberty Jail, Joseph and the others with him were going to be brought to the Davies County Missouri Courthouse for trial. Fearing mob violence, one of the Missouri Militia leaders offered to supply Joseph and the prisoners with additional guards to guarantee their safety. Joseph declined the offer, saying, "In the name of the Lord, if we take a guard with us, we will be destroyed; but if we put our trust in the Lord, we shall be safe, and no harm shall befall us, and we shall be better treated than we have ever been since we have been prisoners." Upon arriving at the courthouse, a large mob started crowding in on them chanting "Kill them, kill them". Joseph called out to the mob, "We are in your hands; if we are guilty, we refuse not to be punished by the law." A few of the ringleaders agreed and the mob was satiated and treated Joseph and the others respectfully for the rest of the day.
88. On August 6, 1842, Joseph Smith prophesied, "Brethren I have been very much edified and instructed in your testimonies here tonight, but I want to say to you before the Lord, that you know no more concerning the destinies of this Church and kingdom than a babe upon its mother's lap. You don't comprehend it. It is only a little handful of Priesthood you see here tonight, but this Church will fill North and South America—it will fill the world." This prophecy has been, and is still being fulfilled.
89. In January 1831, Newell and Elizabeth Whitney were praying in their Ohio home for religious guidance. As they prayed they both heard the voice of The Lord say to them, "Prepare to receive the word of the Lord, for it is coming." In February 1831, a stranger approached Newell and said, "Newell K. Whitney, thou art the man," and shook his hand. Newell asked the stranger who he was. The man replied smiling, "I am Joseph the Prophet. You've prayed me here; now what do you want of me?" Joseph and Emma stayed with the Whitneys for a time. The word of the Lord literally did indeed come as they'd been told it would, because Joseph received several revelations while staying with him.
90. In 1838, Joseph prophesied that an elder would preach the gospel in Jackson County, Missouri, despite death threats to any Mormon that entered the county. Later that year, the Missouri Militia sacked the Mormon settlement of Far West and took Joseph Smith and other church leaders prisoner. While being transported in chains to Independence, the caravan made a stop in Jackson County. While stopped there a woman came up to Joseph and asked him why he professed to be Lord and Savior. Joseph said he wasn't, he was just a servant. He began preaching the gospel to her, to others with her and to some of the soldiers. This fulfilled his prophecy. Interestingly, the woman who initially approached him walked away after praying aloud for his safety. Thus he turned another detractor into an ally.
91. In 1841, Joseph Taylor was afraid for his brother's life because he was being held in a jail in Missouri, for being a Mormon. At the time it was legal to kill Mormons in Missouri, and many had been. Fearing he'd never again see his brother alive, Taylor decided to go see Joseph Smith and ask him if he could tell him his brother's fate. So Taylor rode the three miles to Smith's home to ask him. Taylor asked Joseph about his brother and Joseph bowed his head and prayed. After a few minutes Joseph raised his head smiling and told Taylor that he would see his brother within a week. Six days later, Joseph Taylor's brother returned home safely.
92. Joseph Smith told Stephen A. Douglas, who had been friendly to the church, "Judge, you will aspire to the presidency of the United States; and if ever you turn your hand against me or the Latter-day Saints, you will feel the weight of the hand of Almighty upon you; and you will live to see and know that I have testified the truth to you; for the conversation of this day will stick to you through life." In an 1857 speech, Douglas turned on the Mormons and made some vitriolic comments about the church. When he ran for President against Abraham Lincoln, not only did he lose, he only got 12 Electoral College votes. Thus Joseph's prophecy to him was fulfilled.
93. William D. Huntington died after being bedridden with an illness for weeks. As family and friends who were at his bedside wept and mourned, Joseph Smith and a couple of elders arrived and were told that William had passed on. Joseph and the elders that accompanied him laid their hands on William's head and Joseph gave him a blessing. Right as they said "amen" his eyes opened and he sat up in bed, insisted on getting dressed and got up and walked around on his own. Everyone in the room had a shocked expression and tears of sorrow turned to tears of joy. In 1856, as William was retelling his experience he stated, "Now I have told you the truth, and here I am a live man, sitting by the side of you on this log, and I testify that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God."
94. The church Joseph founded matches the New Testament church because it's founded on revelation and lead by prophets and apostles, has a missionary program, has a priesthood program, has an unpaid lay ministry, and teaches that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and our Savior.
95. Joseph Smith shares the traits of Biblical prophets. He was young and uneducated like Jeremiah; he was called directly through a vision of God like Moses; he occasionally used a divine instrument to receive revelations like Joseph of Egypt did with his cup; and he was not a formally trained religious leader just like Peter.
96. All true prophets produce additional scripture. Joseph Smith did that by translating the Book of Mormon and publishing his revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants.
97. Joseph Smith passes the Biblical test for a true prophet, which states that the prophet points people to obedience to God's law and adherence to His testimonies. (Isa 8:20) He taught, "We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel."
98. Joseph Smith passes the Biblical test for a true prophet, which states that you judge them by their fruits (Matt 7:16, 20). This whole article verifies the good fruit of Joseph Smith. Further, President Ezra Taft Benson stated, "The fruits of Joseph Smith's teachings have withstood over 150 years of investigation, criticism, and persecution. The message, the Church, and the people stand as a vindication of the truth of his testimony and works."
99. Joseph Smith passes the Biblical test for a true prophet which states that they lead people to worship the true God. (Deut 13:1-3) Joseph taught, "The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it. But in connection with these, we believe in the gift of the Holy Ghost, the power of faith, the enjoyment of the spiritual gifts according to the will of God, the restoration of the house of Israel, and the final triumph of truth. "
100. Joseph Smith passes the Biblical test for a true prophet which states you can judge a prophet by the accuracy of their predictions. (Deut 18:22) This article covered several prophecies, and there are many more that either have, or will in the future.
101. Joseph Smith passes the Biblical test for a true prophet which states they must teach that Jesus has come to earth in the flesh (1 John 4:2, 3). Joseph Smith declared, "And we beheld the glory of the Son, on the right hand of the Father, and received of his fullness; and saw the holy angels, and them who are sanctified before his throne, worshiping God, and the Lamb, who worship him forever and ever. And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father— That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God."
I believe Joseph Smith was a prophet for all these 101 reasons and more. Many other reasons are out there for you to learn on your own, if you so choose. The best reasons are those that are deeply personal. I've had several divine experiences of my own that has confirmed and reconfirmed the truth of Joseph and of God and Jesus to me. None are as dramatic as the First Visitation, and I haven't seen any angels—at least not that I know of. But they were experiences tangible enough to make me never want to deny my testimony of the prophet or of Jesus Christ. And all the criticisms and derogatory comments some say about Joseph and his life do not change the facts listed above. He was a true prophet. And just like the prophets of old he was fallible and human, but a prophet all the same.
My membership in the LDS Church has given me an eternal perspective that has helped me to navigate the hurricanes of life, and has made the good times even brighter. I'm grateful to Heavenly Father and Jesus for the restoration of the priesthood through Peter, James and John to Joseph Smith, and for the clarity the restoration of the gospel offers. I'm grateful to live in a day with modern prophets and the knowledge that God does still actively care about me and all His children on earth. And that this love is based on familial love, the profound love of a Father for His children and not just the love an inventor may have for a project gone wrong.
It's said that active Mormons have a light about them. Knowledge is power, and this light is powered by the knowledge of everything the truth of Joseph Smith represents; which is that God The Father and Jesus Christ Live, and that the promises They made mankind are real and will come to pass. We are not forgotten, we are not alone. This light is also a reminder of the true pillar of light that fell on Joseph Smith when he prayed in a grove at 14, in which God The Father and Jesus stood, and The Father said to Joseph while pointing to Jesus, "This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!" God and Jesus believed in Joseph Smith, and that's reason enough for me.