Joseph Smith’s Own FAQ’s

Here’s a transcript of Joseph Smith’s “FAQ” (from History of the Church, Vol.3, Ch.3, p.28-30)

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I [Joseph] answered the questions which were frequently asked me, while on my last journey but one from Kirtland to Missouri, as printed in the Elders’ Journal, Vol. 1, Number 2, pages 28 and 29, as follows:

First–“Do you believe the Bible?”

If we do, we are the only people under heaven that does, for there are none of the religious sects of the day that do.

Second–“Wherein do you differ from other sects?”

In that we believe the Bible, and all other sects profess to believe their interpretations of the Bible, and their creeds.

Third–“Will everybody be damned, but Mormons?”

Yes, and a great portion of them, unless they repent, and work righteousness.

Fourth–“How and where did you obtain the Book of Mormon?”

Moroni, who deposited the plates in a hill in Manchester, Ontario County, New York, being dead and raised again therefrom, appeared unto me, and told me where they were, and gave me directions how to obtain them. I obtained them, and the Urim and Thummim with them, by the means of which I translated the plates; and thus came the Book of Mormon.

Fifth–“Do you believe Joseph Smith, Jun., to be a Prophet?”

Yes, and every other man who has the testimony of Jesus. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.–Revelation, 19:10th verse.

Sixth–“Do the Mormons believe in having all things in common?”

No.

Seventh–“Do the Mormons believe in having more wives than one?”

No, not at the same time. But they believe that if their companion dies, they have a right to marry again. But we do disapprove of the custom, which as gained in the world, and has been practiced among us, to our great mortification, in marrying in five or six weeks, or even in two or three months, after the death of their companion. We believe that due respect ought to be had to the memory of the dead, and the feelings of both friends and children.

Eight–“Can they [the Mormons] raise the dead?”

No, nor can any other people that now lives, or ever did live. But God can raise the dead, through man as an instrument.

Ninth–“What signs does Joseph Smith give of his divine mission?”

The signs which God is pleased to let him give, according as His wisdom thinks best, in order that He may judge the world agreeably to His own plan.

Tenth–“Was not Joseph Smith a money digger?”

Yes, but it was never a very profitable job for him, as he only got fourteen dollars a month for it.

Eleventh–“Did not Joseph Smith steal his wife?”

Ask her, she was of age, she can answer for herself.”

Twelfth–“Do the people have to give up their money when they join his Church?”

No other requirement than to bear their proportion of the expenses of the Church, and support the poor.

Thirteenth–“Are the Mormons abolitionists?”

No, unless delivering the people from priestcraft, and the priests from the power of Satan, should be considered abolition. But we do not believe in setting the negroes free.

Fourteenth–“Do they not stir up the Indians to war, and to commit depredations?”

No, and they who reported the story knew it was false when they put it in circulation. These and similar reports are palmed upon the people by the priests, and this is the only reason why we ever thought of answering them.

Fifteenth–“Do the Mormons baptize in the name of ‘Joe’ Smith?”

No, but if they did, it would be as valid as the baptism administered by the sectarian priests.

Sixteenth–“If the Mormon doctrine is true, what has become of all those who died since the days of the Apostles?”

All those who have not had an opportunity of hearing the Gospel, and being administered unto by an inspired man in the flesh, must have it hereafter, before they can be finally judged.

Seventeenth–“Does not ‘Joe’ Smith profess to be Jesus Christ?”

No, but he professes to be His brother, as all other Saints have done and now do: Matt. 12:49 , 50 , “And He stretched forth His hand toward His disciples and said, Behold my mother and my brethren; for whosoever shall do the will of my Father, which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

Eighteenth–“Is there anything in the Bible which licenses you to believe in revelation now-a-days?”

Is there anything that does not authorize us to believe so? If there is, we have, as yet, not been able to find it.

Nineteenth–“Is not the canon of the Scriptures full?”

If it is, there is a great defect in the book, or else it would have said so.

Twentieth–“What are the fundamental principles of your religion?”

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.

I published the foregoing answers to save myself the trouble of repeating the same a thousand times over and over again. (May 8, 1838.)

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Optimism versus Pessimism

“The spirit of the gospel is optimistic; it trusts in God and looks on the bright side of things. The opposite or pessimistic spirit drags men down and away from God, looks on the dark side, murmurs, complains, and is slow to yield obedience. We should honor the Savior’s declaration to be of good cheer. (In Conference Report, Apr. 1917, 43)

Elder Orson F. Whitney

Joseph Instructs Against Killing of Animals

On a number of occasions, Joseph Smith taught those in the camp to conserve natural resources and to avoid killing. One afternoon while preparing to pitch his tent Joseph and others discovered three rattlesnakes. As the men prepared to kill them, the Prophet said, “Let them alone—don’t hurt them! How will the serpent ever lose his venom, while the servants of God possess the same disposition, and continue to make war upon it? Men must become harmless, before the brute creation.” The snakes were carefully carried across a creek on sticks and released. Joseph instructed the camp to refrain from killing any animal unless it was necessary to avoid starvation. 17

17. History of the Church, 2:71–72.

Early Missionary Opposition Taken in Good Humour

The clergy were particularly vehement and sometimes ingenious in their opposition to the missionaries. In 1835 a Baptist deacon passed a pop-gun and ammunition through a window to a friend listening to a missionary sermon by Elder George A. Smith. Elder Smith wrote that the man shot “wads of tow [short broken fiber from flax that is used for yarn] at me all the time I was preaching. He was an excellent shot with the pop-gun, [and] most of the wads hit me in the face. I caught several of them in my hands. Many of them [the audience] were tickled, but some of them paid good attention. I finished my discourse without noticing the insult.” 27

27. George A. Smith, “My Journal,” Instructor, Oct. 1946, p. 462.

Lyman Wight’s Vision of The Father and Jesus Christ

The fourth general conference of the Church convened in a schoolhouse in Kirtland township on Friday, 3 June 1831. Many missionaries in Ohio returned for the meetings. Minutes record that sixty-three priesthood holders were in attendance. 29 In Joseph Smith’s words, “The Lord displayed His power to the most perfect satisfaction of the Saints” at the conference. 30 After the opening business, Joseph announced that the Lord wanted worthy elders “ordained to the high priesthood.” 31 These were the first ordinations to the office of high priest in this dispensation. The Prophet ordained five brethren high priests; one of them, Lyman Wight, ordained several more in the same meeting. John Corrill and Isaac Morley were called to be counselors to Bishop Edward Partridge and were set apart to that calling by Lyman Wight. 32

During the conference the Spirit was with the Prophet in an “unusual manner. The spirit of prophecy also rested upon Lyman Wight: “He said the coming of the Savior should be like the sun rising in the east, and will cover the whole earth.” He predicted that some of the brethren would suffer martyrdom for the sake of their religion and would seal their testimony of Christ with their blood. 34 The Prophet Joseph, Harvey Whitlock, and Lyman Wight saw the heavens open and Jesus Christ sitting on the right hand of the Father. Lyman testified that he saw the Son of God making intercession to the Father for the Saints. 35

34. In McKiernan and Launius, An Early Latter Day Saint History, p. 67; punctuation standardized.

35. In McKiernan and Launius, An Early Latter Day Saint History, p. 67; see also “Levi Hancock Journal,” LDS Historical Department, Salt Lake City, pp. 91–92.

John the Revelator among the Ten Tribes in 1831

The fourth general conference of the Church convened in a schoolhouse in Kirtland township on Friday, 3 June 1831. Many missionaries in Ohio returned for the meetings. Minutes record that sixty-three priesthood holders were in attendance. 29 In Joseph Smith’s words, “The Lord displayed His power to the most perfect satisfaction of the Saints” at the conference. 30 After the opening business, Joseph announced that the Lord wanted worthy elders “ordained to the high priesthood.” 31 These were the first ordinations to the office of high priest in this dispensation. The Prophet ordained five brethren high priests; one of them, Lyman Wight, ordained several more in the same meeting. John Corrill and Isaac Morley were called to be counselors to Bishop Edward Partridge and were set apart to that calling by Lyman Wight. 32

During the conference the Spirit was with the Prophet in an “unusual manner. And [he] prophesied that John the Revelator was then among the ten tribes of Israel . . . to prepare them for their return from their long dispersion.” 

33. In McKiernan and Launius, An Early Latter Day Saint History, p. 66