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False Prophecies of Joseph Smith

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 - HOW MANY FALSE PROPHECIES ARE NEEDED TO BE A FALSE PROPHET?
     The Bible warns us about false prophets (Matt 24:11, 7:15-20) and tells us how to judge them.

     But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.  And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken?  When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.  (Deuteronomy 18:20-22)

Should we be afraid of false prophets?  Now let us see what a Mormon apostle said.

    False prophets -- the curse and scourge of the world! How awful and awesome and evil it is when one pretends and professes to speak for God in leading men to salvation, but in fact has a message that is false, a doctrine that is not true, and a prophecy that will not come to pass.  (The Mortal Messiah, by Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, 2:168-169)

This LDS leader has the right idea, it is evil for a person to profess to speak for God and not have the prophecy come to pass.  It is sad that Mormons do not apply this to Joseph Smith. How many people does a person have to kill to be branded a killer? How many false prophecies does a person have to make to be a false prophet? The answer for both questions is - "Only one".

- WICKED IN THE UNITED STATES TO BE DESTROYED
     In 1833 and May 1843 Joseph Smith prophesied the destruction of the United States in preparation for the return of the lost tribes and if the wrongs committed against the Mormons went unpunished.

    And now I am prepared to say by the authority of Jesus Christ, that not many years shall pass away before the United States shall present such a scene of bloodshed as has not a parallel in the history of our nation; pestilence, hail, famine, and earthquake will sweep the wicked of this generation from off the face of the land, to open and prepare the way for the return of the lost tribes of Israel from the north country.  The people of the Lord, those who have complied with the requirements of the new covenant, have already commenced gathering together to Zion, which is in the state of Missouri...Repent ye, repent ye, and embrace the everlasting covenant, and flee to Zion, before the overflowing scourge overtake you, for there are those now living upon the earth whose eyes shall not be closed in death until they see all these things, which I have spoken, fulfilled.  Remember these things; call upon the Lord while He is near, and seek Him while He may be found, is the exhortation of your unworthy servant.

     (Signed) JOSEPH SMITH, JUN. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pages 17-18; History of the Church, 1:315-316; 1833)

At another time Joseph Smith said;

    President Smith, in concluding his remarks, said that if the government, which received into its coffers the money of citizens for its public lands, while its officials are rolling in luxury at the expense of its public treasury, cannot protect such citizens in their lives and property, it is an old granny anyhow; and I prophesy in the name of the Lord God of Israel, unless the United States redress the wrongs committed upon the Saints in the state of Missouri and punish the crimes committed by her officers that in a few years the government will be utterly overthrown and wasted, and there will not be so much as a potsherd left, for their wickedness in permitting the murder of men, women and children, and the wholesale plunder and extermination of thousands of her citizens to go unpunished, thereby perpetrating a foul and corroding blot upon the fair fame of this great republic, the very thought of which would have caused the high-minded and patriotic framers of the Constitution of the United States to hide their faces with shame. Judge, you will aspire to the presidency of the United States; and if ever you turn your hand against me or the Latter-day Saints, you will feel the weight of the hand of Almighty upon you; and you will live to see and know that I have testified the truth to you; for the conversation of this day will stick to you through life.  (History of the Church, 5:394; May 1843)

Now note the timing for the above and scope of the destruction - "for there are those now living upon the earth whose eyes shall not be closed in death until they see all these things", "you will live to see and know that I have testified the truth to you", "in a few years the government will be utterly overthrown and wasted, and there will not be so much as a potsherd left". It should be self evident that these destructions did not happen. Some might say that the Civil War was the fulfilling of Smith's prophecies, and while it was convulsive, the worst war the United States ever had, it did not result in "in a few years the government will be utterly overthrown and wasted" or "sweep the wicked of this generation from off the face of the land." The government did not "redress the wrongs", nor "punish the crimes". In reality federal laws and enforcement followed the LDS to their new home in the west (Utah) and caused them to drop the practice of polygamy.

- SOME OF THE FIRST APOSTLES WOULD NOT DIE
     The following was recorded at an official Mormon Church meeting which took place on February 14 and 15, 1835:

    President Smith then stated that the meeting had been called, because God had commanded it;....and it was the will of God that those who went to Zion, with a determination to lay down their lives, if necessary, should be ordained to the ministry, and go forth to prune the vineyard for the last time, or the coming of the Lord, which was nigh - even fifty-six years should wind up the scene. (History of the Church 2:182; i.e.  The Lord should arrive by February 16, 1891).

At this same meeting on February 14-15, 1835 twelve apostles (D&C 18:27) were named (History of the Church, 2:180-186) and nine men (1) (this is an end note) were ordained and given blessings (ibid, 2:187-191 and Comprehensive History of the Church 1:374-375).  Heber C. Kimball, one of the nine men ordained by Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris (three of the witnesses that allegedly saw the gold plates), relates how those ordained then had hands laid upon them by the First Presidency (Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon and Frederick Williams) to confirm the blessings (2) and ordinations they had previously received (Comprehensive History of the Church 1:375; Times and Seasons 6:868).  Three of these blessings were:

    The blessing of Lyman E. Johnson was, in the name of Jesus Christ,....and that no power of the enemy shall prevent him from going forth and doing the work of the Lord; and that he shall live until the gathering is accomplished, according to the holy prophets; and he shall be like unto Enoch; and his faith shall be like unto his; and he shall be called great among all the living; and Satan shall tremble before him; and he shall see the Savior come and stand upon the earth with power and great glory.  (History of the Church 2:188)

Lyman E. Johnson was excommunicated from the Mormon Church April 13, 1838 and he died December 1856 at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin at age 45.
 

    John F. Boynton's Blessing:....Thou shalt lead the elect triumphantly to the places of refuge; thou shalt be like the brethren who have been blessed before thee. Thou shalt stand in that day of calamity when the wicked shall be consumed, and present unto the Father, spotless, the fruits of thy labor. Thou shalt overcome all the evils that are in the world; thou shalt have wisdom to put to silence all the wisdom of the wise; and thou shalt see the face of thy Redeemer in the flesh. These blessings are pronounced and sealed upon thee. Even so. Amen. (History of the Church 2:191)

John F. Boynton was excommunicated 1837 and died in 1890 at the age of 79 in Syracuse, New York.

    William Smith's [the Prophet Joseph Smith's brother] Blessing:....He shall be mighty in the hands of God, in bringing about the restoration of Israel. The nations shall rejoice at the greatness of the gifts which God has bestowed upon him: that his tongue shall be loosed; he shall have power to do great things in the name of Jesus. He shall be preserved and remain on the earth, until Christ shall come to take vengeance on the wicked.   (History of the Church 2:191)

William Smith became involved with some of the off-shoots of Mormonism after his brother was killed and was excommunicated October 19, 1845.  He died in 1893 at the age of 82 at Osterdock, Iowa.

- SOME IN RISING GENERATION SHALL NOT TASTE DEATH

    .....Were I going to prophesy, I would say the end (of the world) would not come in 1844, 5, or 6, or in forty years. There are those of the rising generation who shall not taste death till Christ comes....I prophesy in the name of the Lord God, and let it be written--the Son of Man will not come in the clouds of heaven till I am eighty-five years old. (History of the Church, 5:336; April 1843; Joseph Smith was born Dec. 23, 1805, which means the Lord would come after Dec. 23 1890)

Some Mormons might say the above items by Joseph Smith were recorded incorrectly, are not understood or they were isolated incidents, but members also heard Joseph Smith teach the same thing. Two members recorded the following in their journals:

    At the April conference, 1840, the Prophet Joseph, while speaking of some of the elders on this matter said they were mistaken; the Lord would not come in ten years; no, nor in twenty years; no, nor in thirty years; no, nor in forty years, and it will be almost fifty years before the Lord will come [ie.  The Lord will come about 1890].  (Luman Shurtliff Autobiography, 1807-1847, typescript, Brigham Young University - special Collections Library, page 44;  LDS Historical Library, 1992 , by Infobases, Inc.)

    ....also concerning the Millerites (3).  They were preparing a place for the Savior to come and meet with them, on a certain day, in that month in Illinois.  They were making great preparations by cleaning a certain piece of ground and spreading carpets, etc.  Brother Joseph was speaking on the `Resurrection' and the `Second Coming of the Son of God.' `You can go and tell Brother Miller he won't come on that day nor the next, nor the next year.  In the name of Jesus Christ I prophesy he won't come in forty years.'.....He was enquiring of the Lord concerning his second coming; the answer was, `If you live to be (I think it was eighty) years old you will see the face of the Son of God.'" (Martha Thomas autobiography, in Daniel Thomas Family History (1927), pages 32-33; LDS Historical Library, 1992 , by Infobases, Inc.)

There is no evidence that any of the people above ever saw the face of the Lord and obviously the Lord did not return.  The Bible warns us about people that would set dates for the Lord's Second Coming (Matt 25:13).

- JOSEPH SMITH'S CIVIL WAR PROPHECY

    Verily, thus saith the Lord concerning the wars that will shortly come to pass, beginning at the rebellion of South Carolina, which will eventually terminate in the death and misery of many souls;  And the time will come that war will be poured out upon all nations, beginning at this place.  For behold, the Southern States shall be divided against the Northern States, and the Southern States will call on other nations, even the nation of Great Britain, as it is called, and they shall also call upon other nations, in order to defend themselves against other nations; and then war shall be poured out upon all nations.  And it shall come to pass, after many days, slaves shall rise up against their masters, who shall be marshaled and disciplined for war.  And it shall come to pass also that the remnants who are left of the land will marshal themselves, and shall become exceedingly angry, and shall vex the Gentiles with a sore vexation.  And thus, with the sword and by bloodshed the inhabitants of the earth shall mourn; and with famine, and plague, and earthquake, and the thunder of heaven, and the fierce and vivid lightning also, shall the inhabitants of the earth be made to feel the wrath, and indignation, and chastening hand of an Almighty God, until the consumption decreed hath made a full end of all nations; (Doctrine & Covenants 87:1-6, Dec. 25, 1832)

The potential of a civil war was general knowledge at the time this revelation was allegedly given. The State of South Carolina had passed a tariff nullification ordinance on November 24, 1832. This and northern anti-slavery agitation (Encyclopedia Britannica, 21:86-87, 1956 edition.) led to talk of armed conflict at this time.  Newspapers quickly carried this information all over the country, one even before the actual passing of the tariff nullification ordinance on November 24, 1832 . Five examples of these are found in a New York City paper, "Weekly courier and New York Enquirer", in three separate publications dated September 8, December 8 and December 22, 1832. All three were front page articles and expressed concern about a civil war, the union and treason. The "Painesville Telegraph", located only about ten miles from the center of Mormon operation in Kirtland, OH on December 21, 1832, four days before Smith's alleged prophecy, in an article titled, "The Crisis" made it very clear how concerned many were about actual war and the preservation of the union. Even a Mormon newspaper, "Evening and Morning Star" of January, 1833, page 64, published in Independence, MO, featured an article titled "Rebellion In South Carolina". It described the political problems then occurring in South Carolina.
     It is worth noting that this revelation, which is dated December 25, 1832, was  not made scripture until after the Civil War. If one author is correct about individual Mormons spreading Smith's prophecy then such enthusiasm did not show up in official Mormon publications. The alleged revelation was not in the 1833 Book of Commandments or in the 1835 and 1844 editions of the Doctrine and Covenants. It was included in the 1876 edition. It was also included in the first publication of the Pearl of Great Price, by F.D. Richards in England in 1851.  However the Pearl of Great of Price and the 1876 D&C were not canonized until 1880.
 Note that Smith's prophecy says that war would be poured out on all nations.  This did not happen in the Civil War nor in any of the wars that followed for more than the next 100 years. There also has not been "a full end of all nations".

- DAVID W. PATTEN WAS TO GO ON A MISSION - BUT HE DIED

    Verily thus saith the Lord: It is wisdom in my servant David W. Patten, that he settle up all his business as soon as he possibly can, and make a disposition of his merchandise, that he may perform a mission unto me next spring [spring 1839], in company with others, even twelve including himself, to testify of my name and bear glad tidings unto all the world.  (Doctrine & Covenants 114:1; April 17, 1838)

David W. Patten was killed on October 25, 1838 at the age of 38 at the Battle of Crooked River, Missouri.  Obviously he never went on his mission "next spring". Some Mormons might say he went on his mission in the "spirit world".  But note that the alleged revelation says "next spring, in company with others,....to bear glad tidings to all the world."  This must be the world we live in, not alone to the "spirit world".

- JOSEPH SMITH PROPHESIED THAT A TEMPLE WAS TO BE BUILT

    A revelation of Jesus Christ unto his servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and six elders, as they united their hearts and lifted their voices on high. Yea, the word of the Lord concerning his church, established in the last days for the restoration of his people, as he has spoken by the mouth of his prophets, and for the gathering of his saints to stand upon Mount Zion, which shall be the city of New Jerusalem.  Which city shall be built, beginning at the temple lot (4), which is appointed by the finger of the Lord, in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri, and dedicated by the hand of Joseph Smith, Jun., and others with whom the Lord was well pleased.  Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation. For verily this generation shall not all pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord, and a cloud shall rest upon it, which cloud shall be even the glory of the Lord, which shall fill the house. (Doctrine & Covenants 84:1-5; Sept. 1832).

This temple has not been built even to this day, and the land is not owned by the Mormon Church (of Salt Lake City) or the RLDS Church.  Historical evidence (5) shows that Mormons of Joseph Smith's day, and after his death, expected the temple to be built in their life time.
     Some would say, in his defense, that Joseph Smith used "in this generation" as in Matthew, "Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled." (Matthew 24:34).  They say that because the Lord has not come, "this generation" must have another meaning in the Bible and in Smith's temple prophecy. But Joseph Smith's translation of this verse in Joseph Smith - Matthew 1:34 (which some Bible scholars agree with (6)) shows that Smith knew when to qualify what "this generation" means. This verse says,

    Verily, I say unto you, this generation, in which these things shall be shown forth, shall not pass away until all I have told you shall be fulfilled. (Joseph Smith - Matthew 1:34, Pearl of Great Price, page 45; 1831)

As Smith did not qualify "this generation" in the temple prophecy  he must have been speaking about his own generation, which was also what his contemporaries testified (5), even well after the following revelation was published. Doctrine & Covenants 124:49-54 (Jan. 19, 1841) also says the same thing. This alleged revelation, from the same God that told the Mormons to build the temple, lets the Mormons out of their responsibility. They are now told they do not have to build the temple. Why is it that the God that gave the original commandment to build the temple missed seeing that it could not be done? What happened to 1 Nephi 3:7,

     And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them. (1 Nephi 3:7)

It is clear that God allegedly gave the Mormons a commandment to build a temple in "this generation" (D&C 84:1-5). But he did not give them a way to accomplish it in "this generation". This doesn't say much for the God of Mormonism. He gives commandments that cannot be kept, he does not seem to know it ahead of time and he does not help his people accomplish  them. But we should not be surprised at this, as it has happened many times, as shown in the above six examples of false prophecies.

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END NOTES:

1. The remaining three apostles were ordained later, Parley P. Pratt on Feb. 21, 1835, and Orson Pratt and Thomas B. Marsh on April 26, 1835.
2.A sample of 560 LDS blessings in the 1839-1899 period showed that 6 were told they would not taste death and 57 were told they would remain until the Second Coming ("Patriarchal Blessings and the Routinization of Charisma", Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, by Irene M. Bates; Vol.26, No. 3, Fall 1993, pages 9-11, 20, 21).
3. This group is the roots of the present day Watchtower Society and Seventh Day Adventists.
4. The "Temple Lot" as it is called, is in Independence, Missouri.
5.  Journal of Discourses, 6:190; 10:344; 13:138, 362; 17:111; Answers to Gospel Questions, by Joseph Fielding Smith, 4:11-115.
6. The Complete Biblical Library, New Testament Study Bible, Matthew; Springfield, Missouri, 1989; pages 531, 706.