Posted by: Jay | May 21, 2007

Joseph Smith video

I watched the Joseph Smith movie last week. I was given the DVD on a recent trip I took to Navuoo, IL. This is the same movie released in Utah around the time of the LDS Church general conference. Overall I was disappointed in its content. I was going to post the notes I took while watching it, but I quickly discovered that would make a very long post. Instead I’ll list a few critiques of the film.

In the beginning, and throughout the film, it is stated that a belief in Jesus and a belief in Joseph are mutually exclusive. This is silly. Do we have to choose between Moses and Christ? LDS followers claim that Joseph is nothing more (or less) than a prophet. They do not and never will claim him to be equal to Christ. Since Joseph himself wanted LDS members to follow Christ’s teachings it doesn’t make sense to say, “It’s him or Christ”. This is not one of my major problems with the film, it is just repeated so often that I felt I should mention it.

The second problem with the film is that they repeatedly take scripture out of context. They use the … to dissect LDS and Biblical scripture, remove what they like and then place it in a context that suits them. This really hurts their credibility with the very audience they claim to be reaching out to. Several times I was shocked at the scriptures they quoted and the interpretation they gave. I thought, “Wow, 30 years in the LDS Church, five years of institute classes and I missed that?”. When I opened my LDS scriptures and looked up the reference I was surprised to see what they had done. I hadn’t missed anything; it was just taken out of context. What I don’t understand is why they would even bother to try this trick. It is too easy for LDS members to check and creates distrust of your whole message.

The third problem is that they use several faulty historical “facts” to show what a corrupt person Joseph Smith was. An example of this is the Jupiter talisman supposedly found on Joseph Smith’s body when he was murdered. The historical evidence for this is so thin that only the most bias commentator would use it to show Smith’s corrupt character. I suppose if someone had never heard of the Jupiter talisman and did not bother to do any fact checking then they might be swayed by it. However, once again this made me question how much of what I was watching was truthful.

Fourth, they hold LDS scripture to a standard they are not willing to hold the Bible to. The film talks about the lack of archeological evidence. This is despite the fact that there is no archeological proof that there was ever an exodus from Egypt as the Bible tells (For the record, I do believe there was an exodus). How can you feel comfortable arguing on such grounds when your own professed beliefs don’t hold up under such scrutiny? Especially if you believe that the events in Exodus happened only 3500 years before the Book of Mormon. I have heard non-LDS Christians say that given enough time there will be proof. Well, that’s what LDS members say about the Book of Mormon.

Lastly, the music was placed to manipulate. It’s curious that in the video they say we should not trust our feelings to find truth, but throughout the whole film music is used to create feelings of fear, suspicion, and paranoia. Whenever there was someone favorable to their point of view the music was light and spiritual. Contrasting this was the eerie horror film music played in the background whenever the Book of Mormon or Joseph Smith was talked about. This was a clear attempt to manipulate the audience.

They do make some relevant arguments against the Book of Mormon. One of these is the current lack of DNA evidence. This has defenses that are logical and possible, but still too weak (in my limited view) to be convincing. Another is the Book of Abraham, the fact that the original papyri were found and the translation does not correlate with the LDS scriptures. This too has defenses that are logical, but again too weak to be fully convincing. There were a few other references made to statements by Joseph Smith that were troubling, but given the above I remain skeptical and will need to look them up for myself.

If I recommend this video at all it would be so those that view it can see how non-LDS Christians, hostile to LDS doctrine, can misrepresent, twist and distort fact for their own gain. I know that sounds harsh, I just don’t know how else to say it. Surely LDS and non-LDS Christians can differ in how we view Christ’s gospel without resorting to the above tactics. As a person that is struggling with some aspects of history and doctrine in the LDS Church I found this video only made me a defender of the LDS Church rather than an ally of non-believers. I think it will have the same effect on many others that view it.

I know this is a very short post and probably doesn’t address many of the details I bring up. If you have an interest to know exactly what scriptures I believe were taken out of context, what historical facts were skewed etc. just ask and I can address those in a post.



  1. sadly, christians tend to be rather predictable in this arena. watch just about any of the hastily put together mockumentaries regarding the devil dan brown.

  2. I haven’t seen any of those. I really thought his book was a lot of fun though.

  3. Archeaology . . . I don’t quite see the simplistic comparisons the same as you, Jay. I know one of the profs brought up the exodus as an illustration in the PBS documentary. But the last time I was in the Sinai region, I thought to myself, “Who would want to build permanent roots/civilization here in the wilderness?” No wonder people have a difficult time detecting Jewish artifacts in the sand, millenniums later.

    But the “Joseph Smith video” was wrong about no archaeological evidence to back up anything in the BoM. The KJV Isaiah passages are chalk full of evidence for exploration.

  4. I like what you say about putting the Bible to the test. What if people questioned Moses as a prophet? Think of the things they could say about him.

    He started off by murdering someone. Then he ran away.

    He held a serpent… yes! GASP! a SERPENT up and said if you look you will live! Why, sounds like Satan worship to me.

    I could go on and on… but that’s how a critique of Moses would sound if done by the people who critique Joseph Smith.

    One of those anti-Mormon books helped solidify my testimony. I found enough 1/2 truths and outright lies in it, I knew the whole thing was a sham. AND it made me realize that if the religionists of the day were that intent on stopping the LDS movement, there must be something there. Of course the Holy Ghost had already confirmed it for me.

  5. Jayleen, that’s kind of how this video made me feel. Struggling with history or doctrine of the LDS Church has made me crave conversation that is honest and transparent. I like to hear both sides and decide for myself what is right. This video did have some truth to it, but it was so one-sided that it lost credibility with me almost from the start. I suppose it upset me because it insulted my intelligence. Their audience was apparently the woefully uninformed (not the quasi-informed).

  6. Todd,
    Its not just in the wilderness, there is no archeological evidence that the Jews were slaves in Egypt either. I too can understand how it would be difficult to find archeological evidence in a vast wilderness. However, there should be some mark they left in Egypt, shouldn’t there? Again, I believe what the Bible says about this topic. I’m just trying to make the point that a lack of physical evidence by itself doesn’t mean something didn’t occur.

  7. Jayleen, there should be a video entitled “Moses versus Jesus Christ”. Moses is not even close to being in the same ball park as the Christ, and I like how the Bible shows that . . . Moses in all his perverted rebellion.

    Jay, this is my idea of a good archaeological video. I would like to go on LDS archeaological tour, film all the lecture sessions, interview all the LDS on the tour, and then within this particular video, provide some of my own counterpoint discussion.

    Do you think this would ever be allowed?

  8. I don’t see why not.

  9. Todd – I was more comparing Joseph Smith to Moses, not Christ. I get tired of hearing about Joseph Smith from those who have no clue… those who breeze right over the Old Testament Prophets as if they were perfect.

    I can just see what they’d be saying if it were Joseph that held up that serpent instead of Moses!! LOL

    And no, I’m not saying Moses was wrong… he wasn’t… he did what God asked him to do. Just as Abraham did. And like Joseph Smith, they all made their mistakes as well. Can you picture the fallout if Joseph Smith said God told HIM to sacrifice a son? Again… it’s not that I don’t believe the Old Testament, I do, but people just read it and go on where if Joseph Smith did a fraction of those things, they’d B-B-Q him and serve him on a platter… Oh wait, they did try… and for far less reason.

  10. ok so there is no Archeological Evidence for the Book of Mormon and there is no evidence for the Exodus ? But the New Testament speaks of Moses and the Israelites and of Abraham and many others also and there is Archeology for the New Testament and also for alot of the Old Testament .Its Historical link is amazing .

    But no-one in the Book Of Mormon is known about in the New Testament . For Example ‘Lehi’ – no one spoke about him as a prophet leaving Jerusalem . No one spoke of the Jaredites leaving either . No one in the bible seems to know about the Book Of Mormon characters ! All these Prophets in the Book Of Mormon and yet no one in the bible was familiar with them .

    I suspect Joseph Smith made it all up . If I’m wrong I will pay the price I guess so I wouldn’t be saying it lightly .

  11. One fundamental problem with the whole BofM thing is Why?

    Why go to all that trouble just to create a history?
    Why did JC only visit a select few in Zarahemla? What about all the others in SA, NA, Asia, Africa, the Islands, Europe? Why did HF and JC only think it necessary to visit a few folks in Zarahemla while ignoring the rest of the world?

    This has bothered me for a long time.

  12. Those are good questions. I don’t think the LDS Church doctrine excludes visits from Christ to other continents. In fact, I’d argue that the LDS Church would be the first to say that it is entirely possible that he has visited other continents.

    Jesus’ ministry in the old world was limited to a specific geographic area also. It wasn’t until later that he sent out the disciples to preach to the world. The Book of Mormon follows this same pattern.

  13. EJ, There is lots of archeological evidence for the Doctrine and Covenants. Will you believe that:)

    There is a reference in Jeremiah that talks about prophets preaching repentance to the inhabitants of Jerusalem around Lehi’s time. But there is no account of what these prophets said or what happened to them. It is easy to suppose (as many LDS do) that Lehi was among them.

  14. Jay ,

    I see your point on the D&C lol but there is alot of archeology for the Old Testament too unlike the Book Of Mormon . If 80 or 90% of the old testament is archeologically sound then it inspires some confidence at least in the other 10 or 20% . The intruigue and mystery surrounding the Israelite exodus and enslavery and parting of the red sea and Noahs flood etc is interesting based on the rest of the bible and it does make me think .

    However The Book Of Mormon just comes across as a man made hoax trying to mimic its own glory from the bible , and now we are faced with a bunch of men calling themselves apostles in the same manner and authority as The New Testament ones . Its almost too corny !

    Maybe I could have a vision of a Father Abrumah and his family leaving Jerusalem at that time and colonising Russia and my book is an account of the origin of Russian Nation and Jesus Christ visiting them , meanwhile I’ve lived off convert members consecrating their asetts , asked for their wives and married lots of teens etc . Then my own future church apologists will be trying to explain away why Russians are not DNA related to Israelites and why the geography and evidence doesn’t match etc

  15. Forgot to include my web link to the above post !

  16. Elder Joseph – you go ahead and write that book. Once you do, let’s sit down and compare it to the BoM.

  17. Jay! what the Heck! Your back! 🙂

    Missed you 🙂

  18. Not quite. I just pop back in every once in a while. You’ll notice I still approve all comments. This tends to discourage people from commenting. I’ve tried to remember to take that option off of my newest post though.

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