Joseph Smith: Selected Sermons & Writings

Joseph Smith: Selected Sermons & Writings

Joseph Smith: Selected Sermons & Writings

Joseph Smith: Selected Sermons & Writings

Synopsis

An introduction to the life and thought of Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet-leader, focusing on his concept of spirituality and how that vision impacted upon Mormonism and thus the modern LDS Church.

Excerpt

In the history of American religion there are few more intriguing and perplexing characters than Joseph Smith. Born in Vermont in 1805, he was the son of a farmer whose bad luck in New England caused him to move to the region of Palmyra in western New York. Joseph's humble origins were indistinguishable from those of scores of farm boys from the vast stretches of western New York State bordering the Erie Canal. There he heard the revivalists repeatedly ignite the burned-over region with their message announcing the dawning of a new millennial age of unbounded prosperity for true believers. It dovetailed with the hopes of land speculators and farmers, merchants, and displaced factory workers who flooded the western frontier in search of a better life. At age fourteen, without ever having received much formal education, Joseph had a vision of angelic beings who announced to him that he would be the prophet of God's new revelation to the whole world. That experience was followed by other visions in which he received engraved plates on which were written the history of God's dealings in North America. The Book of Mormon was to tell of the epic exploits of the Lamanites, the Nephites and the Jaredites and of heroes like Mormon and Moroni.

The Prophet Joseph, as his followers came to call him, set out to reveal more than just the history of the original inhabitants of the continent, however. He founded a new religion, based on Christianity to be sure, but with a number of unique aspects that gave it a distinct cast. The religious revelation was matched by a revolutionary vision for the reordering of society to conform with the values of the Gospel.

Many of his claims were highly controversial, even scandalous. His insistence on the ongoing nature of revelation, his claim to have received a further revelation than what is contained in the Bible, his defense of polygamy and his defiant, critical posture toward the outside world all contributed to the opposition that led in 1844 to his lynching by a mob in Carthage, Illinois.

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