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Mormonism and Wikipedia/Joseph Smith, Jr./Legacy
An analysis of Wikipedia article "Joseph Smith"
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Smith's teachings and practices aroused considerable antagonism. As early as 1829, newspapers dismissed Smith as a fraud.
Author's sources: *Bushman (2005) , pp. 82–83, 88–89 (describing the editorial reaction to the publication of the Book of Mormon); Brodie (1971) , pp. 16–17.</ref> Disaffected Saints periodically accused him of mishandling money and property and of practicing polygamy.<ref>Bushman (2005) , pp. 323–25, 660–61; Brodie (1971) , pp. 181–82, 369–71; Hill (1977) , p. 188; Van Wagoner (1992) , p. 39; Ostling (Ostling) , p. 14.
Smith played a role in provoking an 1838 outbreak of violence in Missouri that resulted in the expulsion of the Saints from that state.
Author's sources: *Bushman (2005) , pp. 345, 357, 365–367; Brodie (1971) , pp. 225–27; Remini (2002) , pp. 133–34; Quinn (1994) , pp. 96–97.
He was twice imprisoned for alleged treason,
Author's sources: *Bushman (2005) , pp. 369, 547; Brodie (1971) , pp. 223, 248, 388.
the second time falling victim to angry militiamen who stormed the jail.
Author's sources: *Bushman (2005) , p. 550.
Smith continues to be criticized by evangelical Christians who argue that he was either a liar or lunatic.
Author's sources: *Richard J. Mouw, The Possibility of Joseph Smith: Some Evangelical Probings in Neilson (Givens) at 189.
Despite the controversy Smith aroused, he attracted thousands of devoted followers before his death in 1844
Author's sources: *Brodie (1971) , p. 380.
and millions within a century.
Author's sources: *Brodie (1971) , p. 15.
He is widely seen as one of the most charismatic and religiously most inventive figures of American history.
Author's sources: *Bloom (1992) , pp. 96–99 (Smith "surpassed all Americans, before or since, in the possession and expression of what could be called the religion-making imagination," and had charisma "to a degree unsurpassed in American history".); Abanes (2003) , p. 7 (noting that even Smith's harshest critics acknowledge his inventive genius); Persuitte (2000) , p. 1 (calling Smith "one of the most controversial and enigmatic figures ever to appear in American history").
These followers regard Smith as a prophet and apostle of at least the stature of Moses, Elijah, Peter and Paul.
Indeed, because of his perceived role in restoring the true faith prior to the Millennium, and because he was the "choice seer" who would bring the lost Israelites to their salvation,
Author's sources: *Brodie (1971) , pp. 72–73, 116–17 (noting the "choice seer" prophecies in the Book of Mormon and Smith's revision of the Bible); Smith (1830) , pp. 66–67 (claiming that the biblical Joseph prophesied, "A seer shall the Lord my God raise up, who shall be a choice seer unto the fruit of my loins... And his name shall be called after me; and it shall be after the name of his father. And he shall be like unto me; for the thing, which the Lord shall bring forth by his hand, by the power of the Lord shall bring my people unto salvation.").
modern Mormons regard Smith as second in importance only to Jesus.
Author's sources: *Bushman (2005) , p. 558 (quoting a tribute to Smith, probably by Taylor, stating that Smith "has done more, (save Jesus only,) for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it."); Smith, Joseph Fielding, The Historical Background of the Prophet Joseph Smith ("No prophet since the days of Adam, save, of course, our Redeemer, has been given a greater mission.").
During his lifetime, Smith's role in the Latter Day Saint religion was comparable to that of Muhammad in early Islam.
Author's sources: *Weber, Max, (1978), Economy and society: an outline of interpretive sociology University of California Press (In his role as the founder of Mormonism, Smith "resembled, even in matters of detail, Muhammad."); Brodie (1971) , p. 230 (speech dated October 14, 1838 at the Far West town square, in which Smith called himself "a second Mohammed"); Bushman (2005) , p. 352.
After his death, the Saints believed he had died to seal the testimony of his faith and considered him a martyr.
Author's sources: *Brodie (1971) , pp. 396–97.
His theological importance within the Latter Day Saint movement then only increased.
Author's sources: *Widmer (2000) , p. 98.
Mormon leaders began teaching that Smith was already among the gods,
Author's sources: *Abanes (2003) , pp. 174–75 (noting statements by Heber C. Kimball and Brigham Young stating that Smith was one of the gods and that his permission was required for entry into heaven, and arguing that regard for Smith has not diminished among modern Mormons); Phelps, W.W., Joseph Smith off-site (an ode to Smith, now a popular Mormon hymn entitled Praise to the Man, describing him as "mingling with gods").
and some considered Smith to be an incarnation of the Holy Spirit,
Author's sources: *Swanson, Vern G., The Development of the Concept of a Holy Ghost in Mormon Theology in Bergera (1989) , p. 97 (noting the minority view in the aftermath of Smith's death that he was an incarnation of the Holy Spirit
a doctrine now taught by Mormon fundamentalists.
Author's sources: *Widmer 2000 98
Of all Smith's visions, Saints gradually came to regard his First Vision as the most important
Author's sources: *Smith (Mulholland) , p. 3. This vision was generally unknown to early Latter Day Saints. See Bushman (2005) , p. 39 (story was unknown to most early converts); Allen (1966) , p. 30 (the first vision received only limited circulation in the 1830s). However, the vision story gained increasing theological importance within the Latter Day Saint movement beginning roughly a half century later. See Shipps (1985) , pp. 30–32; Allen (1966) , pp. 43–69; Quinn (1998) , p. 176 ("Smith's first vision became a missionary tool for his followers only after Americans grew to regard modern visions of God as unusual.").
because it inaugurated his prophetic calling and character.
Author's sources: *Allen (1966) , pp. 43–44 ("Next to the resurrection of Christ, nothing holds a more central place in modern Mormon thought than" the First Vision.... The most sacred event in church history, a belief in its literal reality is fundamental to belief in Mormonism itself."); Shipps (1985) , pp. 9, 32 (First Vision came to be regarded as the "initial episode in Mormon history," and "emerged as a symbol that could keep the slain Mormon leader at center stage"); Widmer (2000) , p. 105.
Smith's death resulted in further schism.
Author's sources: *Quinn (1994) , p. 143; Brodie (1971) , p. 398.
Smith had proposed several ways to choose his successor,
Author's sources: *Quinn (1994) , p. 143 ("He proposed more than one way for a member of the First Presidency to succeed him, left the relative priority of the founding quorums in an ambiguous balance, performed secret ordinations, and suggested more than one method by which a brother or son might succeed him."); Shipps (1985) , pp. 83–84 (discussing several of the succession options).
but while a prisoner in Carthage, it was too late to clarify his preference.
Author's sources: *Quinn (1994) , p. 143.
Smith's brother Hyrum, had he survived, would have had the strongest claim,
Author's sources: *Quinn (1994) , p. 213 (after Smith was crowned king, Hyrum referred to himself as "President of the Church"), and Brigham Young agreed Hyrum would have been the natural successor.
followed by Joseph's brother Samuel, who died mysteriously a month after his brothers.
Author's sources: *Quinn (1994) , pp. 152–54, 213; Bushman (2005) , p. 555.
Another brother, William, was unable to attract a sufficient following.
Author's sources: *Quinn (1994) , pp. 213–26; Bushman (2005) , p. 555 (William Smith "made a bid for the Church presidency, but his unstable character kept him from being a serious contender".).
Smith's sons Joseph III and David also had claims, but Joseph III was too young and David was yet unborn.
Author's sources: *Quinn (1994) , pp. 226–41 (outlining the sons' claims and noting, "Even Brigham Young acknowledged the claims of patrilineal succession and as a result never argued that the Quorum of Twelve had exclusive right of succession."); Ostling (Ostling) , p. 42.
The Council of Fifty had a theoretical claim to succession, but it was a secret organization.
Author's sources: *Quinn (1994) , pp. 192–98 (before his death, Smith had charged the Fifty with the responsibility of establishing the Millennial kingdom in his absence; the Quorum of Twelve would eventually claim this "charge" as their own).
Some of Smith's ordained successors, such as Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer, had left the church.
Author's sources: *Quinn (1994) , pp. 187–91.
The two strongest succession candidates were Sidney Rigdon, the senior member of the First Presidency, and Brigham Young, senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve. Most of the Saints voted for Young,
Author's sources: *Bushman (2005) , pp. 556–57.
who led his faction to the Utah Territory and incorporated The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose membership surpassed 13 million members in 2007.
Author's sources: *Desert News "Addressing the New Mission Presidents Seminar on June 24, President Hinckley announced that LDS Church membership had reached 13 million." See also: Watson, F. Michael, (2008), Statistical Report, 2007 http://www.lds.org off-site Total Membership: 13,193,999
Rigdon's followers are known as Rigdonites.
Author's sources: *Bushman (2005) , pp. 557. The largest existing Rigdonitechurch is the Church of Jesus Christ (Bickertonite).
Most of Smith's family and several Book of Mormon witnesses temporarily followed James J. Strang,
Author's sources: *Quinn (1994) , p. 211; Bushman (2005) , p. 556 (Strang followed Smith's example of producing revelations with a seer stone, saying an angel had ordained him, translating scripture from buried plates, having himself crowned as theocratic king, and practicing polygamy). Strang's current followers consist of the tiny Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite).
who based his claim on a forged letter of appointment,
Author's sources: *Quinn (1994) , p. 210; Bushman (2005) , p. 555.
but Strang's following largely dissipated after his assassination in 1856.
Author's sources: *Quinn (1994) , p. 211; Bushman (2005) , p. 556 (Strang followed Smith's example of producing revelations with a seer stone, saying an angel had ordained him, translating scripture from buried plates, having himself crowned as theocratic king, and practicing polygamy).
Other Saints followed Lyman Wight
Author's sources: *Quinn (1994) , pp. 198–203.
and Alpheus Cutler.
Author's sources: *Quinn (1994) , pp. 203–09.
Many members of these smaller groups, including most of Smith's family, eventually coalesced in 1860 under the leadership of Joseph Smith III and formed what was known for more than a century as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now Community of Christ), which now has about 250,000 members. Template:As of, adherents of the denominations originating from Joseph Smith's teachings number approximately 14 million.
In addition to churches in the Latter Day Saint movement, Smith is also accepted as a prophet by adherents of the Raëlian Church.
Author's sources: *Raël, Intelligent Design, p. 89.
Family and descendants
Smith wed Emma Hale Smith in January 1827. She gave birth to seven children, the first three of whom (a boy Alvin in 1828 and twins Thaddeus and Louisa on 30 April 1831) died shortly after birth. When the twins died, the Smiths adopted twins, Julia and Joseph,
Author's sources: *Brodie (1971) , pp. 110–11.
whose mother had recently died in childbirth. (Joseph died of measles in 1832.)
Author's sources: *The adopted twins were born of Julia Clapp Murdock and John Murdock
Joseph and Emma Smith had four sons who lived to maturity: Joseph Smith III (November 6, 1832), Frederick Granger Williams Smith (June 29, 1836), Alexander Hale Smith (June 2, 1838), and David Hyrum Smith (November 17, 1844, born after Joseph's death). As of 2011, DNA testing had provided no evidence that Smith had fathered any children by women other than Emma.
Throughout her life and on her deathbed, Emma Smith frequently denied that her husband had ever taken additional wives.
Author's sources: *Church History, 3: 355–356.
Emma claimed that the very first time she ever became aware of a polygamy revelation being attributed to Joseph by Mormons was when she read about it in Orson Pratt's booklet The Seer in 1853.
Author's sources: *Saints' Herald 65:1044–1045
Emma campaigned publicly against polygamy and also authorized and was the main signatory of a petition in Summer 1842, with a thousand female signatures, denying that Joseph was connected with polygamy,
Author's sources: *Times and Seasons 3 [August 1, 1842]: 869
and as president of the Ladies' Relief Society, Emma authorized publishing a certificate in October 1842 denouncing polygamy and denying her husband as its creator or participant.
Author's sources: *Times and Seasons 3 [October 1, 1842]: 940. In March 1844, Emma said, "we raise our voices and hands against John C. Bennett's 'spiritual wife system', as a scheme of profligates to seduce women; and they that harp upon it, wish to make it popular for the convenience of their own cupidity; wherefore, while the marriage bed, undefiled is honorable, let polygamy, bigamy, fornication, adultery, and prostitution, be frowned out of the hearts of honest men to drop in the gulf of fallen nature". The document The Voice of Innocence from Nauvoo. signed by Emma Smith as President of the Ladies' Relief Society, was published within the article Virtue Will Triumph, Nauvoo Neighbor, March 20, 1844 (LDS History of the Church 6:236, 241) including on her deathbed where she stated "No such thing as polygamy, or spiritual wifery, was taught, publicly or privately, before my husband's death, that I have now, or ever had any knowledge of...He had no other wife but me; nor did he to my knowledge ever have". Church History3: 355–356
Even when her sons Joseph III and Alexander presented her with specific written questions about polygamy, she continued to deny that their father had been a polygamist.
Author's sources: *Van Wagoner (1992) , pp. 113–115 As Fawn Brodie has written, this denial was "her revenge and solace for all her heartache and humiliation." (Brodie, 399) "This was her slap at all the sly young girls in the Mansion House who had looked first so worshipfully and then so knowingly at Joseph. She had given them the lie. Whatever formal ceremony he might have gone through, Joseph had never acknowledged one of them before the world." Newell and Avery wrote of "the paradox of Emma's position," quoting her friend and lawyer Judge George Edmunds who stated "that's just the hell of it! I can't account for it or reconcile her statements." Newell (Avery) , p. 308
After Smith's death, Emma Smith quickly became alienated from Brigham Young and the church leadership.
Author's sources: *Bushman (2005) , p. 554 ("Emma's alienation from the main body of the Church began almost immediately."); Brodie (1971) , p. 399 (Emma Smith "came to fear and despise" Young); Avery (Newell) , p. 82 (noting that Young later stated that "to my certain knowledge Emma Smith is one of the damndest liars I know of on this earth.").
Young, whom Emma feared and despised, was suspicious of her desire to preserve the family's assets from inclusion with those of the church,
Author's sources: *Bushman (2005) , p. 554.
and thought she would be even more troublesome because she openly opposed plural marriage.
Author's sources: *Bushman (2005) , p. 554 ("Her known opposition to plural marriage made her doubly troublesome.").
When most Latter Day Saints moved west, she stayed in Nauvoo, married a non-Mormon, Major Lewis C. Bidamon,
Author's sources: *Bushman (2005) , pp. 554–55. Emma Smith married Major Lewis Bidamon, an "enterprising man who made good use of Emma's property." Although Bidamon sired an illegitimate child when he was 62 (whom Emma reared), "the couple showed genuine affection for each" Bushman (2005) , pp. 554–55.
and withdrew from religion until 1860, when she affiliated with what became the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now the Community of Christ), first headed by her son, Joseph Smith III. Emma never denied Joseph Smith's prophetic gift or repudiated her belief in the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.
|Wikipedia references for "Joseph Smith, Jr."|
- Abanes, Richard, (2003), One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church Thunder's Mouth Press
- Allen, James B., The Significance of Joseph Smith's "First Vision" in Mormon Thought off-site .
- (1992), The Mormon Experience University of Illinois Press .
- (1980), The Lion and the Lady: Brigham Young and Emma Smith off-site .
- Bergera, Gary James (editor) (1989), Line Upon Line: Essays on Mormon Doctrine Signature Books .
- Bloom, Harold, (1992), The American Religion: The Emergence of the Post-Christian Nation Simon & Schuster .
- Booth, Ezra, Mormonism—Nos. VIII–IX (Letters to the editor) off-site .
- Brodie, Fawn M., (1971), No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith Knopf .
- Brooke, , (1994), The Refiner's Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644–1844 Cambridge University Press .
- Bushman, Richard Lyman, (2005), Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling , New York: Knopf .
- Clark, John A., (1842), Gleanings by the Way , Philadelphia: W.J. & J.K Simmon off-site .
- Compton, Todd, (1997), In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith Signature Books .
- Foster, Lawrence, (1981), Religion and Sexuality: The Shakers, the Mormons, and the Oneida Community , New York: Oxford University Press .
- Harris, Martin, (1859), Mormonism—No. II off-site .
- Hill, Donna, (1977), Joseph Smith: The first Mormon , Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Co. .
- Hill, Marvin S., (1976), Joseph Smith and the 1826 Trial: New Evidence and New Difficulties off-site .
- Hill, Marvin S., (1989), Quest for Refuge: The Mormon Flight from American Pluralism Signature Books off-site .
- Howe, Eber Dudley, (1834), Mormonism Unvailed: Or, A Faithful Account of that Singular Imposition and Delusion, from its Rise to the Present Time , Painesville, Ohio: Telegraph Press off-site .
- Hullinger, Robert N., (1992), Joseph Smith's Response to Skepticism Signature Books off-site .
- Jessee, Dean, (1976), Joseph Knight's Recollection of Early Mormon History off-site .
- Lapham, [La]Fayette, (1870), Interview with the Father of Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet, Forty Years Ago. His Account of the Finding of the Sacred Plates off-site .
- Larson, Stan, (1978), The King Follett Discourse: A Newly Amalgamated Text off-site .
- Mormon History off-site .
- Mack, Solomon, (1811), A Narraitve [sic] of the Life of Solomon Mack Windsor: Solomon Mack off-site .
- (1994), Inventing Mormonism Signature Books .
- Marquardt, H. Michael, (1999), The Joseph Smith Revelations: Text and Commentary Signature Books .
- Marquardt, H. Michael, (2005), The Rise of Mormonism: 1816–1844 Xulon Press .
- Matzko, John, (2007), The Encounter of the Young Joseph Smith with Presbyterianism off-site .
- Morgan, Dale, Walker, John Phillip (editor) (1986), Dale Morgan on Early Mormonism: Correspondence and a New History Signature Books off-site .
- (2008), Joseph Smith Jr.: reappraisals after two centuries Oxford University Press .
- Newell, Linda King, (1994), Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith University of Illinois Press .
- (1999), Mormon America: The Power and the Promise HarperSanFrancisco .
- Persuitte, David, (2000), Joseph Smith and the origins of the Book of Mormon McFarland & Co. .
- Phelps, W.W. (editor) (1833), A Book of Commandments, for the Government of the Church of Christ , Zion: William Wines Phelps & Co. off-site .
- Prince, Gregory A, (1995), Power From On High: The Development of Mormon Priesthood Signature Books .
- Quinn, D. Michael, (1994), The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power Signature Books .
- Quinn, D. Michael, (1998), Early Mormonism and the Magic World View Signature Books .
- Remini, , (2002), Joseph Smith: A Penguin Life Penguin Group .
- Roberts, B. H. (editor) (1902), History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , Salt Lake City: Deseret News off-site .
- Roberts, B. H. (editor) (1904), History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , Salt Lake City: Deseret News off-site .
- Roberts, B. H. (editor) (1905), History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , Salt Lake City: Deseret News off-site .
- Roberts, B. H. (editor) (1909), History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , Salt Lake City: Deseret News off-site .
- Shipps, Jan, (1985), Mormonism: The Story of a New Religious Tradition University of Illinois Press .
- Smith, George D., (1994), Nauvoo Roots of Mormon Polygamy, 1841–46: A Preliminary Demographic Report off-site .
- Smith, George D, (2008), Nauvoo Polygamy: "...but we called it celestial marriage" Signature Books .
- Smith, Joseph, Jr., (1830), The Book of Mormon: An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon, Upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi , Palmyra, New York: E. B. Grandin off-site . See Book of Mormon.
- Smith, Joseph, Jr., Jessee, Dean C (editor) (1832), Personal Writings of Joseph Smith , Salt Lake City: Deseret Book .
- Jessee, Dean C (editor) (1839–1843), Personal Writings of Joseph Smith Deseret Book .
- (1835), Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of the Latter Day Saints: Carefully Selected from the Revelations of God , Kirtland, Ohio: F. G. Williams & Co off-site . See Doctrine and Covenants.
- Smith, Joseph, Jr., Church History [Wentworth Letter] off-site . See Wentworth letter.
- Smith, Lucy Mack, (1853), Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet, and His Progenitors for Many Generations , Liverpool: S.W. Richards off-site . See The History of Joseph Smith by His Mother
- Tucker, Pomeroy, (1867), Origin, Rise and Progress of Mormonism , New York: D. Appleton off-site .
- Turner, Orsamus, (1852), History of the Pioneer Settlement of Phelps and Gorham's Purchase, and Morris' Reserve , Rochester, New York: William Alling off-site .
- Joseph Smith: The Gift of Seeing off-site .
- Van Wagoner, Richard S., (1992), Mormon Polygamy: A History Signature Books .
- Vogel, Dan, (1994), The Locations of Joseph Smith's Early Treasure Quests off-site .
- Vogel, Dan, (2004), Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet Signature Books .
- Widmer, Kurt, (2000), Mormonism and the Nature of God: A Theological Evolution, 1830–1915 McFarland .
Articles on this subject
- For an overview on this subject, see
- Mormonism and Wikipedia: The Church History That "Anyone Can Edit", Roger Nicholson, Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture, Vol. 1, 2012. 151-190
- "Wiki Wars: In battle to define beliefs, Mormons and foes wage battle on Wikipedia", Michael De Groote, Deseret News, January 30, 2011.
- "Something Wiki This Way Comes: How collaborative editing is changing the face of online LDS apologetics", R. Scott Lloyd, Church News, August 8, 2011.
- Something Wiki This Way Comes: How Collaborative Editing is Changing the Face of Online LDS Apologetics. A close look at the challenges and history of editing LDS topics in a Wikipedia. This is a 2011 FAIR conference presentation by Roger Nicholson, in PDF format.
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Sites we recommend:
- Bushman (2005) , pp. 178–79, 247, 332, 336–40; Remini (2002) , pp. 109–10; Brodie (1971) , pp. 207, 368–69; Hill (1977) , p. 216; Ostling (Ostling) , p. 14.