A lot of people wonder about Mormons and Joseph Smith. Some people think that Mormons worship him. Some people think that Joseph Smith is why our church is phony or strange. Here is what I have to say about Joseph Smith…
Mormons don’t worship Joseph Smith, but we do think that he’s an important part of our current religion – he was a prophet – like Abraham, Moses, or John the Baptist. Joseph Smith was a prophet who ushered in the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and translated the Book of Mormon.
Here is a great article on Joseph Smith’s role in translating the Book of Mormon.
I haven’t always had the strongest testimony of Joseph Smith’s role as the first prophet in these modern days. I grew up in the church, so I understood the concept, but I didn’t always have a testimony.
When I was 16 years old (or 17?) I went on a trip with the youth of my church to Palmyra, New York. We visited various church history sites including the Sacred Grove. Even though I felt that the place was holy, I also realized that I didn’t much of a testimony of Joseph Smith. I wasn’t really converted to the idea that He was a prophet.
Up to this point, I had not yet read the Book of Mormon, so I didn’t really have a testimony of it either.
Over the next few years, I decided to read the Book of Mormon. As I read the Book of Mormon, I gained a testimony that it was true. At this point, my testimony of Joseph Smith was by default; because I knew the Book of Mormon was true, Joseph Smith was a prophet. For a while, I was okay with this testimony. Eventually, I did gain a stronger testimony of Joseph Smith as a prophet.
For me, Joseph Smith will always be tied to the Book of Mormon. I still study the Book of Mormon every day, and every time I open the pages of this Holy Book, my testimony of it grows. Additionally, I feel gratitude for every prophet that had to do with the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. I feel gratitude for the ancient prophets that wrote the Book of Mormon, and I feel an immense sense of gratitude for Joseph Smith, who translated the Book of Mormon. It was not an easy task. He was mocked, scorned, and eventually martyred. He gave his life for this gospel, and because of his sacrifice, I have the Book of Mormon. I have been able to make covenants with the Lord. I have peace and joy in my life. So, while I don’t worship Joseph Smith, I feel indebted to him for his love and sacrifice that has brought me to Christ.
In the most recent Ensign, an article on Joseph Smith states:
“Since 1830 millions of people have read the Book of Mormon and have joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because of the Book of Mormon’s witness of the Savior. The book is also evidence that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that the Savior leads His Church today.” – The Prophet Joseph Smith: Translator of the Book of Mormon
I count myself in these millions, who have read the Book of Mormon and received a witness of the Savior, and I’m grateful to Joseph Smith who did so much so I could receive such a witness of Jesus Christ.