“So what happens when a believing Latter-day Saint finds out that Joseph Smith lied to the Church about his plural wives? What happens when a Mormon discovers that Joseph Smith coerced girls into polygamous unions? Or that Joseph Smith seduced his friends’ wives? Or that Joseph Smith couldn’t get his story straight when relating his First Vision? Or that Joseph Smith’s allegedly divine “translations” of LDS scriptures are fraught with problems? Or that Joseph Smith arrogantly taunted his critics, proclaiming, “If they want a beardless boy to whip all the world, I will get on the top of a mountain and crow like a rooster: I shall always beat them”? (See History of the Church, 6:408-412)”
The following article explains what is causing a crisis of faith among so many Mormons; they are learning the truth for the first time in their lives.
By Sharon Lindbloom
22 February 2016
The Salt Lake Tribune recently conducted a survey, asking readers (Mormons) “if they have experienced a faith crisis, what triggered it and how they resolved it.” The newspaper received just over 1700 responses. The demographical breakdown was roughly in thirds: no longer members (538), inactive members (637), and still active members (532).
The faith-crisis triggers were also broken into three main groups: Joseph Smith’s history, historical polygamy/polyandry, and the LGBT policies of the modern Mormon Church. The first two categories really speak of the same issue: the troublesome history of Mormonism.
Joseph Smith’s instituting of polygamy, his own 3-dozen-plus wives, his marrying of women already married to other men (polyandry), his changing accounts of the First Vision, and concerns about his “translation” of LDS scriptures were cited by survey respondents as specific areas of concern to them. Learning Smith’s true history led to their crises of faith in Mormonism. And it’s no wonder.
The Church has long taught that Mormonism stands or falls on Joseph Smith.
“Mormonism, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation 1:188. Italics in original)
A current Mormon apostle conveyed the same idea when he wrote,
“Either the Book of Mormon is what the Prophet Joseph said it is, or this Church and its founder are false, a deception from the first instance onward…Joseph must be accepted either as a prophet of God or else as a charlatan of the first order…” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “Christ and the New Covenant,” quoted in Ensign, September 2002, 14)
Joseph Smith is essential to Mormonism. The LDS Church cannot move away from the foundation laid by its first prophet. In 2005, when then-President Gordon B. Hinckley was asked why Joseph Smith’s teachings remain so important in this day and age, he said,
“Because they are the foundation of our faith. Everything we have is a lengthened shadow of Joseph Smith. He was the key figure in the restoration of the gospel as we have it, and our foundation of doctrine and practice and procedure all come down from him.” (“Moving Church forward with faith,” Church News, 3/19/05, 3)
In an Ensign article honoring Joseph Smith, Area Authority Seventy Tad R. Callister explained,
“The gospel is somewhat like a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. When young Joseph came on the scene, perhaps 100 pieces were already in place. Then the Prophet exercised his divine mantle and put most of the other 900 pieces together.” (“Prophet of the Restoration,” Ensign, June 2002, 64)
For Mormons, the gospel itself hangs on Joseph Smith. Without him and his contributions, only a fraction of God’s truth is available to mankind. Consequently, Mormons have been taught that Joseph Smith’s character and accomplishments rival those of Jesus Christ. Brigham Young said,
“Well, now, examine the character of the Savior, and examine the character of those who have written the Old and New Testaments; and then compare them with the character of Joseph Smith, the founder of this work… and you will find that his character stands as fair as that of any man’s mentioned in the Bible.” (Journal of Discourses, 14:203)
Continue reading at Mormonism Research Ministry