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Discovery Magazine 2/1/2004


by  Alden Bass

Joseph Smith was disgusted with religious division. It made him sick to see so many religious groups disagreeing over who wasright. So in 1820, when Joseph was 15 years old, he went to the woods behind his house to pray to God for wisdom so that he might select the right church. While he was praying, he imagined he saw a great light and Jesus appearing to him, telling him that all the churches in his town were false. After three years of waiting, he imagined he saw another vision, this time of an angel called Moroni. This angel told him about some golden plates that were supposed to contain “the fullness of the everlasting gospel.” After these things occurred, Joseph and some of his friends printed the message that was supposedly on those golden plates in a book called the Book of Mormon, which they claimed was just as important as the Bible. In 1830, they officially started the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the group we sometimes call the Mormons.

Joseph Smith was right to be confused about all the religions around him. He also went to the right Source (God) for answers. The problem is that God does not speak to us through angels or prophets anymore, but through His Word. The apostle Paul said, “but even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8). This warning is so serious that it is repeated in the next verse. Joseph Smith and his followers today have fail-ed to realize that God has given us all we need to know (in the Bible) to find the true church and to get to heaven (2 Peter 1:3). Also, the Bible warns us in various passages that man must never “add to” the Word of God (read Deuter-onomy 4:2, 12:32, and Revelation 22:18-19).

Even though most of the churches Joseph grew up with were false, this did not mean he had the right to start a new one. Jesus founded His church on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2), 1,800 years before Joseph Smith started the Mormons. The fact that Mormons call themselves “latter-day” saints indicates that they are something other than the simple Christians described in the New Testament (Acts 11:26).

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*Please keep in mind that Discovery articles are written for 3rd-6th graders.

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