This question is sparked in response to a statement from Church President Brigham Young, who said “that no man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith. From the day that the Priesthood was taken from the earth to the winding-up scene of all things, every man and woman must have the certificate of Joseph Smith, junior, as a passport to their entrance into the mansion where God and Christ are—I with you and you with me. I cannot go there without his consent.”
It therefore seem fair enough for any Christian to question whether Mormons worship Jesus Christ or Joseph Smith. After all, didn’t Christ say “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”?
But with only slightly closer examination it becomes clear that there is no contradiction between the Bible and Brigham Young’s statement. In fact, they support one another.
As Stephen R. Gibson has pointed out, in every period of time throughout history when there have been prophets or apostles of God upon the earth, rejecting the words of those prophets and apostles has been the same as rejecting God or Christ. As Christ himself stated “He that receiveth you receiveth me” (Matt. 10:40), which means the converse “He that receiveth [not] you receiveth [not] me” is just as true.
If one lived in the time of Moses and rejected the message Moses delivered, he would also be rejecting God. Moses is the passport to heaven for the people who lived in that time, as well as for us, at least in a sense, since we also have his words and are responsible for our obedience or lack thereof to them. Likewise if one rejects Joseph Smith’s teachings, he is rejecting Christ, since Joseph Smith is merely communicating Christ’s teachings to the world.
If that doesn’t do it for you, consider this analogy. Imagine a city surrounded by a wall, with only a single gate granting entrance into the city. We could say that no one comes into that city except by that gate, right? Then let’s suppose a guard is placed by the gate, and no one can enter the gate without first obtaining permission from the guard. Does this invalidate the statement that no one enters the city except through that gate? Of course not, the gate is still the only way into the city, and having a guard at the gate doesn’t change this. The gate is Christ, the guard is Joseph Smith, Moses, Peter, or whichever prophet or apostle is Christ’s authorized representative, depending on time and place.