Do Mormons Worship Joseph Smith?

In responding to comments on another post I did quite a bit of research on the question of whether Mormons worship Joseph Smith, so I thought it was worthy of it’s own post.

The question seems to arise due to the amount of praise and attention heaped on Joseph Smith by Mormons. I won’t deny this is the case. We have pictures of Joseph Smith in our churches, we have lessons about him in our classes, we study his life, and we do honestly revere him. But we don’t worship him. Some quotes from LDS leaders past and present should be enough to clarify our position:

President Gordon B. Hinckley said “We do not worship [Joseph Smith] the Prophet. We worship God our Eternal Father and the risen Lord Jesus Christ. But we acknowledge the Prophet; we proclaim him; we respect him; we reverence him as an instrument in the hands of the Almighty in restoring to the earth the ancient truths of the divine gospel, together with the priesthood through which the authority of God is exercised in the affairs of His Church and for the blessing of His people” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Joseph Smith Jr.—Prophet of God, Mighty Servant,” Ensign, Dec 2005, 2–6). See Do Mormons worship Joseph Smith?.

From Apostle Henry B. Eyring “The Prophet Joseph is an example and a teacher of enduring well in faith. I do not worship him, but I thank and love him as the Lord’s prophet of the Restoration. He has helped me pray with the intent to obey. I am better able to feast in the word and the love of God. Because of him I feel the Holy Ghost more often in the moments when I try to build the faith of a person in the Lord’s kingdom. And because of what I know of the Prophet Joseph and the scriptures which were revealed through him, I more often feel the love of God for His children and of His for me when I reach down to lift someone up.” – Henry B. Eyring, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, An Enduring Testimony of the Mission of the Prophet Joseph,” Ensign, Nov. 2003, 92.

Elder Penrose said “I bear testimony to you that I know this Church is the Church of Jesus Christ; that it has been built up by the power of God; that God Almighty has revealed it; that Jesus Christ, His Son, has manifested Himself, and that this Church is His Church, because He has built it up, and He guides and directs and controls it, through His servants who stand at the head of the Church. They are but men. We do not worship any man. We do not worship Joseph Smith, as some people imagine; but we look upon him as a very great Prophet, and we have reasons for this.” – Elder Charles W. Penrose, The Latter-Day Saints’ Millennial Star, Volume 54, p. 462

Mormons view Joseph Smith the way the children of Israel who were led out of Egypt saw Moses, or how the saints around 60 AD might have seen Peter or Paul. Brigham Young, in a letter to Mary Ann Young (16 Oct 1840, LDS Church Archives), spoke of Joseph Smith as “our Moses that the Lord has given us”.

Though less authoritative, below are links to articles and other informational resources that should make clear how Mormons regard Joseph Smith, and that while we reverence him as a prophet, we do not worship him, nor consider him to be equal to God or Jesus Christ:

Is Joseph Smith Greater than Jesus Christ?
Joseph Smith/Status in LDS belief
Parallel Prophets: Paul and Joseph Smith

Aside from this, a quick Google search for “do Mormons worship Joseph Smith?” will pull up countless responses from LDS faithful stating that they see Joseph Smith as a modern-day Moses, Peter, or Paul, and not a being to worship. If the LDS Church is teaching members to worship Joseph Smith or put him on a pedestal, it seems the message has not gotten through.

Comments

  1. Joseph Smith – The Mormon Saviour

    “[There is] no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith. If Joseph Smith was verily a prophet, and if he told the truth…no man can reject that testimony without incurring the most dreadful consequences, for he cannot enter the kingdom of God"

    – Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, v. 1, p. 190

    "No man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith…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"

    – Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, v. 7, p. 289

    "I tell you, Joseph holds the keys, and none of us can get into the celestial kingdom without passing by him. We have not got rid of him, but he stands there as the sentinel, holding the keys of the kingdom of God.. But I tell you, the pinch will be with those that have mingled with us, stood next to us, weighed our spirits, tried us, and proven us: there will be a pinch, in my view, to get past them. The others, perhaps, will say, If brother Joseph is satisfied with you, you may pass. If it is all right with him, it is all right with me. Then if Joseph shall say to a man, or if brother Brigham say to a man, I forgive you your sins, ‘Whosoever sins ye remit they are remitted unto them;’ if you who have suffered and felt the weight of transgression–if you have generosity enough to forgive the sinner, I will forgive him: you cannot have more generosity than I have. I have given you power to forgive sins, and when the Lord gives a gift, he does not take it back again."

    – Apostle Orson Hyde, Journal of Discourses, v. 6, p. 154

    The congregation will now sing Hymn # 27.

    • Cato, does any of what you have cited show that Mormons worship Joseph Smith? What is your definition of worship?

  2. To say that you need Joseph to get in into Heaven , when Jesus said He is the only way is a form of worship. Especially as your Profits have stated in the past: "No man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith…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… [Joseph Smith] REIGNS there as supreme a being in his sphere, capacity, and calling, AS GOD DOES IN HEAVEN.

    Many will exclaim–"Oh, that is very disagreeable! It is preposterous! We cannot bear the thought!" But it is true." Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p.289-91

    "He that confesseth not that Jesus has come in the flesh and sent Joseph Smith with the fullness of the Gospel to this generation, is not of God, but is anti-christ" Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 9, p.312

  3. "You call us fools; but the day will be, gentlemen and ladies, whether you belong to this Church or not, when you will prize brother Joseph Smith as the Prophet of the Living God, and look upon him as a GOD , and also upon Brigham Young, our Governor” Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, Vol.5, p. 88

    "It is to be feared that in course of a century, some gifted man like Paul, some splendid orator, who will be able by his eloquence to attract crowds of the thousands who are ever ready to hear, and be carried away by, the sounding brass and tinkling cymbal of sparkling oratory, may command a hearing, may succeed in breathing a new life into this modern Mahometanism, and make the name of the martyred Joseph ring as loud, and stir the souls of men as much, as the mighty name of Christ itself. Sharon, Palmyra, Manchester, Kirtland, Far West, Adam-ondi-Ahman, Ramus. Nauvoo, and the Carthage Jail, may become holy and venerable names, places of classic interest, in another age; like Jerusalem, the Garden of Gethsemane, the Mount of Olives, and Mount Calvary to the Christian, and Mecca and Medina to the Turk." Brigham Young, History of the Church, Vol. 7, p.40-41

  4. "To say that you need Joseph to get in into Heaven , when Jesus said He is the only way is a form of worship. "

    Is it a form of worship to say one needs the approval of an immigration official in order to enter a country?

    The dictionary definition of worship says "Show reverence and adoration for (a deity); honor with religious rites."

    Mormons do not honor Joseph Smith with religious rites. They do not adore him. Reverence? Depends on you definition of the word, again. If by "reverence" you mean "respect" then sure, we reverence, or respect, Joseph Smith. We also respect and reverence Moses, Peter, James, and John, and all the other prophets and apostles. In no way to Mormons place any of them on the same pedestal as God or Jesus Christ.

    If you want to use a definition of worship to say we worship Joseph Smith then that's fine, you can use whatever definitions you want for various words and thus make a statement true, if only for your own entertainment. But what you cannot do is say that we worship Joseph Smith in the same way we worship God or Jesus Christ. There is simply nothing factual about such an idea or statement.

  5. "You call us fools; but the day will be, gentlemen and ladies, whether you belong to this Church or not, when you will prize brother Joseph Smith as the Prophet of the Living God, and look upon him as a god…" (Herber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses 5:88)

  6. “The day will come—and it is not far distant, either—when the name of the Prophet Joseph Smith will be coupled with the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Son of God, as his representative, as his agent whom he chose, ordained and set apart to lay anew the foundations of the Church of God in the world, which is indeed the Church of Jesus Christ, possessing all the powers of the gospel, all the rites and privileges, the authority of the Holy Priesthood, and every principle necessary to fit and qualify both the living and the dead to inherit eternal life, and to attain to exaltation in the kingdom of God” (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. [1939], 134; quoted in “Joseph Smith: Restorer of Truth,” Ensign, Dec 2003, 17).

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