Suppose that God were to insert into today’s world a modern Moses, a prophet assigned once again the stewardship for directing God’s kingdom on earth. If such an event were to happen, it would be the most significant spiritual outpouring in centuries. It would be important to investigate it. One claim to such a prophetic appointment that is worth examining is that of the Prophet Joseph Smith Jr., divinely appointed leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This web site does not have the mission of putting forth his entire case (see instead www.josephsmith.com). However, the doctrine and organization that came forth under his direction is remarkable in both its comprehensive breadth and pinpoint accuracy relative to what was lost through apostasy.
Let’s look at the list of questions outlined in How can I know if a man is a true prophet?
- Q. Did he claim that the call came from Deity, even though the calling itself may have come through another person in a position of authority?
- A. “I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? 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 see? For I had seen a vision: I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it” (Joseph Smith-History 1:25).
- Q. Did he receive priesthood authority to act in God’s name?
- A. “In 1829, [Joseph Smith Jr.] received priesthood authority from John the Baptist and from Peter, James, and John” (Guide to the Scriptures, s.v. “Smith, Joseph Jr.”).
- Q. Does he offer revelations and pronouncements from God that he considers binding on the people he leads?
- A. All but 3 of the 138 revelations that make up the book Doctrine and Covenants were received by Joseph Smith and are considered canon and therefore binding on the Latter-day Saints.
- Q. Does he teach universal truths that cross cultures and political boundaries?
- A. As one example of the breadth of Joseph’s intended message, the title page of the Book of Mormon states that it is “to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations” (emphasis added).
- Q. Does he address social issues in clarifying and sometimes radical ways?
- A. Joseph Smith’s revelation on a health code (see Doctrine and Covenants 89) is a good example of his radical approach to health that has been proven to be very much in accord with good health practices today.
- Q. Does he both maintain and reform status quo religion?
- A. See, for example, his teachings on the Godhead.
The answers to these additional questions are similarly positive and clarifying. However, you should do the research and answer them yourselves, and then turn to God to ask Him yourself for a spiritual confirmation regarding whether Joseph Smith was truly called as a prophet. Then you owe it to yourself to examine his fellow prophets in line as prophets and apostles over Jesus Christ’s restored Church:
- Did he go through some sort of spiritual preparation for the calling?
- Does he now or did he have a major weakness or trial to overcome?
- Does he have opponents who do not believe his calling as prophet?
- Does he have both a reliance on and a willingness to expand sacred texts (scripture)?
- In what ways does he testify of Jesus Christ as the Redeemer of mankind?
Where Have All the Prophets Gone? by Scott R. Petersen
Encyclopedia of Religion, s.v. “Prophecy”
The Encyclopedia of Mormonism, s.v. “Smith, Joseph: The Prophet”