Mormonism – Part 2
Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism.
Joseph Smith was the son of parents who were into selling blessings and fortune telling. Joseph himself had quite a reputation for telling tall stories. He was born in 1805 and at the age of fourteen was said to have had a divine visit from an angel and warned to have nothing to do with the established church.
Visit from Moroni!
Joseph was then supposed to have received a further visit from an angel whose name he said was Moroni. who gave him instructions to go to a certain place named Palmyra where he would receive a very special revelation from God. He would be told where to find some special gold plates with very special writing on. The writing would be in Egyptian so he would not have understood with out some kind of aid. Fortunately there just to the side of the gold plates were a pair of spectacles (glasses) and when Joseph looked through those glasses at the writing he would see it translated into his own language.
In 1827 Joseph Smith began to dictate from behind a curtain to three men who acted as his scribes as he read from those gold plates using those special glasses I referred to earlier.
Beginnings of the Book of Mormon
When completed, these writings were formed into a book and when printed was called “The Book of Mormon.” Then it is said that Moroni the angel returned, collected the plates as well as the glasses and disappeared again. In 1830 Joseph Smith started the Mormon Church or The Church of the Latter Day Saints as it is also known.
It is only fair to point out at this stage that this book of Mormon which is given as high a place as the Bible in the Mormon Church was produced at the same time as a historic novel written by a man by the name of Spaulding. He had been a Presbyterian preacher who eventually died of consumption in a place named Conneaut in Ohio .
Before he died he made a great deal of money out of it it as it sold well. The book was called ‘Forgotten Tales of the Monk Cyril and the Abbot Joachim’. It is believed that The Book of Mormon is actually the writings found in that book plus some added scriptures.
If this is the case then it doesn’t enhance the man Joseph Smith to us as a godly man who had said the writings came from God and received from an angel called Moroni. When his own father questioned him about the writings and wanted to look at the gold plates for himself, Joseph said it was unwise for if he were to look upon them he would surely die.
His own wife Emma also helped in writing the book of Mormon as Joseph continued to dictate from the gold plates but never became a part of the Mormon church till many years later.
Several years on, Polygamy became a regular practice in the Mormon church. What was it that triggered that off you ask?. After all wasn’t this Mormon church supposed to be morally sound, a godly fellowship of God’s people?
Joseph Smith gives us the answer himself. He said it came as a divine revelation to him. No one it seems was prepared to argue with him on that matter that prompted that action.
Following Joseph Smith’s death, Brigham Young took over as leader. During his lifetime the Mormon Church was forced to obey the laws of the country and not only follow their own rules and codes of practice.
You will not be totally surprised to hear of the legacy Brigham Young left behind him when he died. He left 400,000 dollars, seventeen wives, and fifty six children. Polygamy continued to be expressed as the Mormon church said they were only following their interpretation of scriptures relating to Abraham who had many concubines during his life time.
More about that in our next study where we will be looking specifically at some of the teachings of the Mormon church especially in relation to the book of Genesis and what they add to the scriptures as well as leave out!