By Dr. Leland Jensen


What is the True Status or Station of Joseph Smith?

Shoghi Effendi rightly explains Joseph Smith as a SEER and not a PROPHET. He is not an independent Prophet – a Manifestation who reveals a book – nor even a minor prophet of God like Daniel or Ezekiel who were firm in the Covenant of God under the Manifestation of their day. Smith is only a seer. “Seer” means that he can “see” certain things that are true, but not that he is some sort of infallible guide, or even that he is part of the religion of God! Shoghi Effendi makes this distinction absolutely clear and it cannot be ignored.


What this means is that Smith could see visions and glimpses of the future, but he did not speak or write on behalf of God, and he is not a prophet of God. The Bible is full of seers who were not prophets of God, such as Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar. Pharaoh saw the true dream and vision of the seven fat cows and the seven thin cows, etc. Therefore, he was a seer because he saw this. But he did not know the meaning of it. It was Joseph, (87) the prophet of God, who interpreted the dream and gave the correct meaning of it. Likewise, Nebuchadnezzar was into astrology, and he was a seer. He saw the dream of the giant statue (representing the powers of the world until the coming of the Kingdom of God). But he both forgot the dream and didn’t know its meaning. Therefore Daniel, the prophet of God, told him the vision of the dream and its meaning.

The reason God uses people like Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, or Joseph Smith is that they are popular and well known. Through them the fame and renown of the message of their vision spreads to all parts of the world, and all people hear about it. Because of Smith, all people should know the prophecy of the return of Jesus in America. Clearly, Baha'u'llah was never in America or the United States at all! If God gave these visions and prophecies to people who were unknown, then these visions would be ignored by everyone. So instead, God lets someone famous have the vision, someone who is a seer. But then, God has one who is from God come, to give the meaning. Thus the vision of the seer, through the explanation of someone like Daniel or Joseph, becomes the cause of the people accepting the true religion of God.

Now, just because Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, and Smith were seers with true visions, such as those recorded in the Bible, it does not mean we should convert to their corrupted forms of religion and/or paganism! No! God forbid! This is so that through the visions given to famous people such as Joseph Smith, Jeanne Dixon, Nebuchadnezzar, Pharaoh, etc, all people hear about it. Then when the true explanation is given by an authoritative one speaking on behalf of God, the people can turn to the religion of God and not to something else.

As to the events surrounding The Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, consider the following.

When Smith was 14 years old, he had a vision of the two Christs. He saw the Father and the Son as two separate people, Baha'u'llah and Jesus. Later Smith saw that the return of Jesus would be in America in the temple described by Ezekiel in the Bible, which would be located in the Rocky Mountains. Thus, up until the time he died in 1844, Smith directed his people to go to the Rocky Mountains “to prepare the way” for the return of Jesus.

However, being only 14 years of age, no one would listen to him, so he needed a way to get the people’s attention. He took some of his own ideas and visions, along with passages of scripture, and some say he took portions of a novel written by Solomon Spaulding, said to have been stolen years earlier, and he included all these things in The Book of Mormon.

Solomon Spaulding was born in 1761. He studied religion at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and was ordained as a minister. Later, he left the ministry and lived in New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, until his death in 1816. In his later years, he wrote a novel that he never published. However, he had submitted his novel to R & J Patterson’s print shop. Before Spaulding died in 1816, Patterson, the owner of the print shop, told Spaulding that his novel named Manuscript Found, had been lost. Much later, in 1884, someone by the name of L.L. Rice found the manuscript amongst some papers he had purchased. He turned the novel over to Oberlin College in Ohio.

Spaulding’s manuscript incorporated one of the popular ideas of his day, which claimed that Native American Indians descended from the ten lost tribes of Israel. His manuscript tells a story about a group of Romans that was blown off-course on a journey to Britain, and instead, they arrived in America. In the novel, one of the Romans is telling a story about the history and culture of the Native American tribes found there, and how they went to war with one another.

Spaulding’s brother points out an uncanny likeness between The Book of Mormon and Spaulding’s manuscript:

He [Solomon] then told me he was writing a book…. It was an historical romance of the first settlers of America, endeavoring to show that the American Indians are the descendants of the Jews, or the lost tribes. It gave a detailed account of their journey from Jerusalem, by land and sea, till they arrived in America, under the command of Nephi and Lehi. They afterwards had quarrels and contentions and separated into two distinct nations, one of which he denominated Nephites, and the other Lamanites. Cruel and bloody wars ensued, in which great multitudes were slain. They buried their dead in large heaps, which caused the mounds so common in this country. Their arts, sciences, and civilization were brought into view in order to account for all the curious antiquities found in various parts of North and South America. I have recently read The Book of Mormon and to my great surprise I find nearly the same historical matter, names, etc., as they were in my brother’s writings. I well remember he wrote in the old style, and commenced about every sentence with ‘And it came to pass,’ or ‘Now it came to pass,’ the same as The Book of Mormon, and according to the best of my recollection and belief, it is the same as my brother Solomon wrote, with the exception of the religious part. (88)

The story in The Book of Mormon may have been the same story that the Roman storyteller related in Spaulding’s novel. One of the employees at R & J Patterson’s print shop named J.H. Lambdin, said prior to Spaulding’s death, he had told several people that he knew for a fact that Sidney Rigdon had stolen his manuscript. One of the people Spaulding told this to was Dr. Cephas Dodd, who was Spaulding’s attending physician during his last illness. Dr. Cephas Dodd testifies:

This work [The Book of Mormon], I am convinced by facts related to me by my deceased patient, Solomon Spaulding, has been made from the writings of Spaulding, probably by Sidney Rigdon, who was suspicioned by Spaulding with purloining his manuscript from the publishing-house to which he had taken it; and I am prepared to testify that Spaulding told me that his work was entitled, “The Manuscript Found in the Wilds of Mormon; or Unearthed Records of the Nephites.” From his description of the contents, I fully believe that this Book of Mormon is mainly and wickedly copied from it. (89)

There are those, including many Spaulding theorists, who consider this statement from Dr. Cephas Dodd to be a forgery. If there was an original copy of this statement, it does not exist anymore. There is, however, an authentic letter written by Dodd, in which he says that he knows almost nothing of Spaulding’s writing.

Rev. Snowden reciting the “further testimony that Solomon Spaulding had written a manuscript entitled ‘The Manuscript Found in the Wilds of Mormon, or Unearthed Records of the Nephites,’” is problematic. This assertion was originally published in 1914 by Charles A. Shook – who, in turn, evidently received the unsubstantiated claim from Rev. R.B. Neal. The original source – a purported Cephas Dodd statement of June 5, 1831 – has been documented as a forgery, and there is no reliable evidence for Solomon Spalding ever having made use of this strange title. (90)

Title page of a 1830 copy of The Book of Mormon

Source: WikiMedia Commons.

Later, when The Book of Mormon was published, all of Spaulding’s friends and family immediately claimed to recognize that the story, the names, and the places were from Spaulding’s stolen manuscript.

It certainly appears that Joseph Smith merged his own visions and religious beliefs with Spaulding’s story of the ancient happenings of America, as well as parts of the Bible, into one book. Where the actual truth lies is difficult to discern given the varying opinions.

As to the gold plates, they were symbolic. Joseph Smith used them as a way to attract attention to his message. The very first edition of The Book of Mormon did not say the book was a “translation of gold plates.” It said that Smith did in fact write the book himself. The first edition also included a statement from eight witnesses who declared that Joseph Smith, Jr. was “author and proprietor of the work.” Martin Harris and David Whitmer, two of the eight witnesses, said they saw the plates with their “spiritual eyes” only.

Regardless of the details and circumstances, Joseph Smith believed he was called to prepare the people of America for the time of the return of Jesus. This was the most important aspect of his work. No matter how The Book of Mormon came to be written, it is not “revealed scripture,” nor can it ever be considered as being equal with the writings of the Bible and the writings of Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha. According to Shoghi Effendi:

Joseph Smith was a Seer, not a Prophet; neither major nor minor. He had a high standard, but the Baha'is have a higher standard coupled with God’s power that comes direct from God for this age. (91)

The Book of Mormon is a collection of ideas, visions, and prophecies of the seer Joseph Smith. Some portions are copied from the King James Bible, and other portions may have been copied from Solomon Spaulding’s manuscript.

Smith Saw Jesus Would Return in the Rockies

Joseph Smith believed he was the one who was to prepare the people in America for the second advent of Jesus Christ. During Smith’s time, the Great Awakening was taking place in America and Europe, meaning people had great expectations about the return of Christ. Smith was convinced his work was preparation for the coming of Christ. He equated himself to the spirit of Elijah. He believed that only after all things were ready, would the Messiah appear in His temple. Smith attempted to build a temple on three different occasions, twice in Kirtland, Ohio (he tried twice because the first temple had been burned), and once in Nauvoo, Illinois.

Joseph Smith saw a vision of a great river, and Jesus was on the west side of the river. Prior to his murder in 1844, Smith prepared to leave and go west across the river. However, he returned saying that he was not to go, and shortly thereafter was murdered in the Carthage Jail.

Joseph Smith believed Jesus would return in the Rocky Mountains, west of the river. In what has become known as the “White Horse Prophecy,” or Rocky Mountain Prophecy, allegedly given in 1843, Smith wrote:

You will go to the Rocky Mountains and you will be a great and mighty people established there, which I will call the White Horse of peace and safety…. Peace will be taken from the earth and there will be peace only in the Rocky Mountains. (92)

After Joseph Smith’s death, Brigham Young set out to find a place for his followers. Since most governors in the eastern states had refused to grant asylum to the Mormons to protect them from persecution, and because Joseph Smith had said they should go to the Rocky Mountains, most Mormons left Nauvoo in February of 1846, and headed for the Rocky Mountains.

Joseph Smith was Right

Joseph Smith was right. Jesus did return to his temple in the Rocky Mountains. Although he was somewhat of a scoundrel with many iniquities, the greatness of Joseph Smith is that he was the only man who directed his followers to go to the Rocky Mountains where Jesus would return. Thus, he was a true seer.

One of the main visions of Joseph Smith was:

You will see the Constitution of the United States almost destroyed. It will hang by a thread, as it were, and that thread as fine as the finest silk fiber…. A terrible revolution will take place in the land of America, such as has never been seen before, for the land will be left without a supreme government, and every species of wickedness will be rampant. It will be so terrible that father will be against son, and son against father; mother against daughter, and daughter against mother. The most terrible scenes of murder and bloodshed and rapine that have ever been looked upon will take place…. Peace will be taken from the earth, there will be no place of safety except in the Rocky Mountains. This will cause many hundreds and thousands of the honest in heart to gather there; not because they would be Saints, but for safety and because they would not take the sword against their neighbor.

The prophet Joseph Smith was shown the doings of Negroes in America at this time, and the scene was so terrible that he could not bear to look upon it any longer, and he asked the Lord to close this scene from his vision. The race rioting was too horrible to view. (93)

Baha'u'llah said many things similar to this. We are into the “Day of Judgment,” where everyone will be paid for what they have done.

Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to repay every one for what he has done. (94)

The Perversity of All Religion

Each of the approximately 22,000 sects of Christianity point to the other sects, saying they are perverse. As the Baha'is were supposed to be the ones that led the people out of their religious marasmus, they are more perverse than the rest. They were given a clear and distinct Covenant for the unity of the faith, which they have grievously violated.

The world is in travail, and its agitation waxeth day by day. Its face is turned toward waywardness and unbelief. Such shall be its plight, that to disclose it now would not be meet and seemly. Its perversity will long continue. And when the appointed hour is come, there shall suddenly appear that which cause the limbs of mankind to quake. Then, and only then, will the Divine Standard be unfurled, and the Nightingale of Paradise warble its melody. (95)

The prophecies of the destruction of America are not unique to the Mormon faith. George Washington was given a similar vision. In his vision he saw the United States involved in three great wars, the third being the worst, but rose from the ashes. The fact that George Washington had this vision was common knowledge among the founding fathers of this country.

"Phoenix Bird" Drawing for the Great Seal of 1782.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Because the founding fathers believed they knew the future of this country, they put the PHOENIX bird as the original symbol on the Great Seal of the United States. The legend of the Phoenix bird is that it lives for centuries, and is finally consumed in a fire of its own making. Then, it rises in youthful freshness from its own ashes. Later, since the Phoenix bird was actually a legendary bird, they chose the eagle to represent the Phoenix bird. The founding fathers knew the fate of this country, that by its own act it will cause a nuclear war where the United States will be the most destroyed country in the world. This is in the works now. The United States, by its own actions, causes New York City, the seat of the beast, to be nuked.

And the fifth angel (96) poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast [the UN building in New York City]. (97)

The United States will be burned to a cinder. Out of its ashes will arise a new Phoenix bird, which will be spiritual, established by the teachings of the return of Jesus. These four beasts (that is, what is left of them) will become the first Baha'i States.