Many have interpreted Matthew 7:15 which read “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” as applying to Joseph Smith, the alleged “prophet” of the Mormons. This scripture is often coupled with others mentioning false prophets, such as:
Mark 13:22 – For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.
Matthew 24:24 – For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
Matthew 24:11 – And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
1 John 4:1 – Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
2 Corinthians 11:13 – For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
Revelation 16:13 – And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
The logic for many seems to be “Joseph Smith called himself a prophet, the Bible mentions false prophets, therefore Joseph Smith is a false prophet because he is called a ‘prophet’.”
Of course this is a rather weak argument and undermines itself. The very fact that the Bible warns against false prophets leads us to believe there will be true prophets and false prophets, and it tells us how to identify the false vs. the true. If there were to be no true prophets, it would simply have been easier for the writers of the books of the Bible to have declared in simple terms “If anyone claims to be a prophet, don’t believe them, because after the Bible there will be no more prophets.”
The next step in this argument is to bring in the “by their fruits ye shall know them” verses, as follows:
15. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17. Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
21. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23. And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Many times this scripture is quoted as though it provided all the proof necessary to convict Joseph Smith of being a false prophet, as though it is obvious and no explanation is necessary. But it’s only natural to follow this to the question “What exactly are the evil fruits of Joseph Smith that prove he was a false prophet rather than a true one?”
And that’s where I leave the question to you. What do you think?