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The False Prophecies of Joseph Smith Jr.

Contender Ministries

Posted June 27, 2002

"Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." - 1 John 4:1

Prophecy is definitely a subject that never fails to pique curiosity.  This past century has seen the fulfillment of many Bible prophecies.  Even those who do not consider themselves to be believers of the Bible are contributing to the skyrocketing sales of prophetic literature, such as the “Left Behind” series of books.  Unfortunately, not all prophecy that intrigues people comes from God.  Dionne Warwick and Miss Cleo will peddle you their prophecies for a price.  These are examples of false prophets for true profit.  The Bible tells us that many false prophets have gone out into the world.  How can we recognize a false prophet? Is Joseph Smith a false prophet, or the real deal?  Former Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt threw down the gauntlet when he proclaimed that the veracity of Mormonism lives or dies on the question of whether or not Smith was a true prophet of God. 

Fortunately, the Bible gives us the litmus test for prophets.  Deuteronomy 18:22 says, If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him.  Boiled down, it only takes one false prophecy to make a false prophet.  Deuteronomy chapter 13 goes on to tell us that even false prophets will get some right from time to time – but ONE false prophecy is all it takes.  Let’s take a look at some of the prophecies of the founding “prophet” of the Mormon Church – Joseph Smith, Jr. – and apply the Biblical litmus test.

On September 1, 1842, Joseph Smith said, “…for to this day has the God of my fathers delivered me out of them all, and will deliver me from henceforth; for behold, and lo, I shall triumph over all my enemies, for the Lord God hath spoken it.”  (Doctrine and Covenants, 127:2).  The last phrase “for the Lord God hath spoken it,” indicates that this is prophecy.  Here, Smith has prophesied that God would allow him to “triumph” over all his enemies.  Less than two years later, these same enemies stormed the Carthage, Illinois jail where Smith was imprisoned and shot him dead.  Smith tried to fight back, shooting 3 of his assailants and killing 2 with a pistol smuggled in to him, but his “enemies” triumphed.  This is a false prophecy.  By the litmus test, we have already shown Smith to be a false prophet.  For arguments’ sake, however, let’s explore some more. 

The following prophecy has only been recounted by one person, and that person eventually left the Mormon Church.  Typically, we wouldn’t include it for that reason.  However, the person in question was David Whitmer, one of the three “witnesses” to Smith’s translation of the Book of Mormon.   And since the LDS Church lends Whitmer the credibility of having him still listed as an original witness (check the beginning of any Book of Mormon), we shall afford him some level of credibility here as well.  As the story goes, during the printing of the Book of Mormon, Smith was running out of the money needed to finish it.  Hyrum Smith (Joseph’s brother) suggested they could go to Toronto, Canada, and sell the copyright to the Book of Mormon for money.  Whitmer picks up the account, Joseph looked into the hat in which he placed the stone, and received a revelation that some of the brethren should go to Toronto, Canada, and that they would sell the copyright of the Book of Mormon. Hiram Page and Oliver Cowdery went to Toronto on this mission, but they failed entirely to sell the copyright, returning without any money. Joseph was at my father's house when they returned. I was there also, and am an eye witness to these facts. Jacob Whitmer and John Whitmer were also present when Hiram Page and Oliver Cowdery returned from Canada. Well, we were all in great trouble; and we asked Joseph how it was that he had received a revelation from the Lord for some brethren to go to Toronto and sell the copyright, and the brethren had utterly failed in their undertaking. Joseph did not know how it was, so he enquired of the Lord about it, and behold the following revelation came through the stone: "Some revelations are of God: some revelations are of men: and some revelations are of the devil." So we see that the revelation to go to Toronto and sell the copyright was not of God, but was of the devil or of the heart of man. - AN ADDRESS TO ALL BELIEVERS IN CHRIST, David Whitmer, 1887.  The stone to which Whitmer refers is the “seer stone” by which Smith arrived at many of his revelations, and which he used to help him “translate” the Book of Mormon.  Here, Joseph Smith himself admitted that he was susceptible to receiving revelations from men or from the devil, and passing it on as prophecy.  Strike two on the validity of Joseph Smith as a prophet.

Joseph Smith was also interested in the second coming of Jesus Christ.  So much so, that he tried to peg Christ’s return to a particular year – 1891.   Smith said, It is the will of the Lord 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 night – even fifty-six years, should wind up the scene.”  (The History of the Church, vol II, page 182).  Zion here refers to Jackson County, Missouri – not to Israel.  Given the context in which this was said, the fifty-six year time frame would place the return of Jesus on or before February 14, 1891.  Many Mormon periodicals demonstrated that zealous Mormons were anxiously awaiting the fulfillment of that prophecy.  February 14, 1891 came and went with no second coming.  It was truly a disappointing Valentine’s Day for many faithful Mormons.  Strike three on Smith. 

There are several more documented false prophecies of Joseph Smith, but we didn’t even need the three we covered.  Strike one against Joseph Smith constitutes a strikeout on his claim of being a prophet.  We picked up Apostle Pratt’s gauntlet and struck a sound blow with it.  However, we do so in love for the millions of earnest and deceived Mormons.  These people can never know the true saving grace of Jesus Christ until they are able to recognize that their religion is based on the words of a false prophet. 


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