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Joseph Smith's False War Prophecy

Contender Ministries

August 11, 2003

Updated August 21, 2005

“The God of Heaven has revealed to us that Jesus is the Christ, that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today obtained his prophetic calling by the choice and with the full approval of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the head of this church.”  This statement by Glenn L. Pearson in his handbook for Mormon missionaries, The Book of Mormon Key to Conversion, points to the heart of the truth or falsehood of Mormonism.  Pearson contends that all objections to Mormonism really amount to one single objection – that Joseph Smith was not a prophet, nor were his successors.  This could not be more true.  If Joseph Smith were not a prophet, then the Book of Mormon is not true, the succession of prophets have built upon lies, and the LDS Church has as its foundation a liar and false prophet.  If Smith was a true prophet of God, then the LDS Church is the only true church of Christ on earth, and the rest of Christendom is no more than a tattered relic of an apostate church. 

The Bible tells us how to recognize a false prophet.  Moses shared what God told him about recognizing when a message is not from God and whether a prophet is a true prophet or a false one.  In Deuteronomy 18:21-22 we read, “And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken?  When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.”  If a man prophesies in the name of God, and the prophecy does not come to pass, the prophecy and the prophet are false!  In verse 20, God is pretty direct about His feelings towards those who utter false prophecies, “But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.”  Some well-meaning Mormons find it trivial to engage in discussions on what prophecies may have happened or not, but such discussions go to the heart of the issue.  If Joseph Smith is a false prophet, evidenced by speaking false prophecies, then their faith is built upon a liar who God said shall die!  In this article, we want to focus on one particular prophecy of Joseph Smith.

When you click on the icon below, you will be directed to Joseph Smith’s Prophecy and Revelation on War.  Smith prophesies that the impending civil war will be “poured out upon all nations.”  This is one aspect of a prophecy that obviously did not occur, and is therefore obviously a false prophecy.  Applying Deuteronomy 18:22, the only logical conclusion is that Joseph Smith was a false prophet.  This prophecy also wins out over a very common, but weak objection to some LDS prophets’ false prophecies.  That argument is that unless the prophet says, “thus saith the Lord,” then the text is not intended to be a prophecy.  The prophecy on war starts with just those words.  If you are LDS, read the prophecy carefully, and consider God’s words to Moses.  It is illogical to conclude anything other than Joseph Smith being a false prophet.  Your testimony is based on a lie.  You are a victim of deception, but Christ is real, and covets you to abandon the false gospel of Mormonism and come to Him. 

UPDATE, August 21, 2005:  Since initially posting this article, many concerns have been raised, and some have been swayed by an article written by John Tvedtnes of FAIR, who claims this as an accurate prophecy.  Tvedtnes states that this prophecy was fulfilled by the American Civil War.  However, while he tries to acknowledge some important historical facts, he fails.  Let’s look at the facts.  On July 14, 1832 (more than five months before the date of Smith's prophecy), Congress passed a tariff act that South Carolina declared null and void. Because tensions were high, President Andrew Jackson put the U.S. army on alert and the United States expected war in 1832! The LDS Evening and Morning Star and many other U.S. newspapers reported that information before Smith's prophecy!  So anyone who might have read Joseph Smith's prophecy at that time would not have been enthralled by a prediction of war beginning in South Carolina -- everyone was expecting that.  However, things calmed down.  Perhaps that's why, even though D. & C. 87 is dated December 25, 1832, it did not appear in the 1833 Book of Commandments or in any edition of the D. & C. or other LDS scripture until after the Civil War began! It was printed in the 1851 Pearl of Great Price in England and in The Seer by Orson Pratt in 1854, but neither of those were considered then as scripture.  And in the 1850's, the rumors of war between the North and South were already starting, so that was probably why Pratt published it then.  The point is, the prediction of war beginning in South Carolina was something anyone would have made in 1832.  Reviving this in the 1850’s was reactionary to renewed rumors of civil war.  At the time it was given, most people would have read it and said, “Well, duh!”

Addressing verses 2 and 3, it says, "And the time will come that war will be poured out upon all nations, beginning at this place.  For behold, the Southern States shall be divided against the Northern States, and the Southern States will call on other nations, even the nation of Great Britain, as it is called, and they shall also call upon other nations, in order to defend themselves against other nations; and then war shall be poured out upon all nations."  Now, the south DID call upon Great Britain for help, but Great Britain did not get involved, nor did they call upon other nations to defend themselves.  If one reads this with intellectual honesty as opposed to blind faith, it’s easy to see that Joseph Smith establishes the South Carolina rebellion as the causal factor in war being poured out upon all nations.  This simply did not happen, and given the wording of the prophecy, it can in no way be construed as something that can still come to pass.  This prophecy doesn't say, "and someday down the road, war will be poured out on all nations for reasons other than the South Carolina rebellion," but that's the way Mr. Tvedtnes wants you to interpret it.  World War I did not start because of the South Carolina rebellion, and its roots did not begin there.  Any effort to link the South Carolina rebellion or the American Civil War with any war that has happened since is simply illogical.  D&C 87 was not a divine insight.  Rather, it was a false prophecy.  When you use the prophecy test listed in Deuteronomy 18:20-22, Joseph Smith fails.  He was a false prophet.


[Click to view prophecy]