Joseph Smith, Jr. was the first prophet and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Much has been written about him and this website will not attempt to provide a full biography of his life and teachings. For more information about Joseph Smith you can refer to the resources below.
Joseph Smith grew up in a religious family in upstate New York. The early 1800s were a time of great religious excitement, and Joseph wanted “to know which of all the sects [churches] was right,” (Joseph Smith—History 1:18). He records that one day, while reading from the New Testament in the Epistle of James, he read a verse that made a profound impression upon him:
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”
Reading this scripture prompted Joseph to pray to God to know which of the many churches was true. For, “so great were the confusions and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was…to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong” (Joseph Smith—History 1:8).
Accordingly, Joseph Smith went to a grove of trees near his home in the Spring of 1820 to pray to God to ask Him which church was right, and which he should join. During his prayer, he had a miraculous experience. Joseph was visited by God the Father, and by His Son, Jesus Christ.
“…I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.
“…When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!”
~Joseph Smith — History 1:16-17
They instructed Joseph to join none of the churches, because they were all wrong. The called him to be a prophet to restore the true church of Jesus Christ, the same church Jesus established when he lived on the earth.
And Joseph did just that. By 1830, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was established (the “Latter-day Saints” denoting the followers of Jesus and His church in the last days).
Joseph Smith’s Life
Joseph received much persecution throughout his life because he never denounced that he had seen a vision of God and Christ. He was a normal person with his own faults and weaknesses, but he was a prophet of God that taught and revealed many great things. One of his greatest contributions to the Church, and indeed to the world, was his translation of the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith was also instrumental in restoring the priesthood of God, of organizing the Church of Christ, and revealing and teaching nearly every major doctrine found in the Church today.
Persecution followed Joseph Smith his entire life. It came to a tragic end in June 1844 when he and his brother, Hyrum, were killed by an angry mob while imprisoned in Carthage, Illinois.
Many at the time thought the Church would fail with his death. But it did not. That’s because this is not Joseph Smith’s church. It never was. He was merely the instrument in God’s hands, the prophet who restored the true and living Church of Jesus Christ.
I know that God loves His children, that He has called prophets throughout time to lead and guide them, and that Joseph Smith was one of those prophets. There is so much that can be learned about Joseph Smith that simply cannot fit in these pages. I invite you to learn more by clicking on one of the links at the bottom of this page.
Do Mormons Worship Joseph Smith?
No. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches its members to worship God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. While Mormons highly revere Joseph Smith for his leadership and role in restoring the Gospel of Christ, they do not worship him.