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Bradley K. Young

Was Joseph Smith Sr. an “unmoored” and “oft-defeated” father who lived a life, “blighted by shame?” This is the picture Richard L. Bushman paints in his recent biography on the Prophet Joseph titled Rough Stone Rolling—but is it accurate?

Joseph Smith Sr. as Patriarch

Bushman states:

Richard Bushman addressing the John Whitmer Historical Association in 2011
Richard Bushman addressing the John Whitmer Historical Association in 2011, photo by John Hamer

Alvin may have taken the lead because his discouraged father could not.  Alvin had cosigned the articles for the land purchase in 1821, suggesting he was serving as auxiliary family head.  Joseph Sr., worn down by setbacks, may have partially abdicated [or failed to undertake] family leadership. 1

Only after Alvin’s death when Joseph was seventeen did responsibility for family leadership fall on Joseph, under the tacit family agreement that Joseph Sr. was not fully adequate. He was a gentle, disappointed man with an inclination to compensate for his failures with magic and drink. 2

Joseph Smith Sr., father of the Prophet Joseph Smith
Joseph Smith Sr., father of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

These critical and belittling comments by Bushman about a weak and failed father who lost his family’s respect are starkly contrasted by the voice of the Lord.

In a revelation given January 19, 1841, four months following the death of the Patriarch, the Lord revealed that His “aged servant Joseph Smith, Sen., . . . sitteth with Abraham at his right hand, and blessed and holy is he, for he is mine.” (D&C 124:19) This becomes more significant when we understand that “Abraham . . . Isaac also and Jacob . . . have entered into their exaltation, according to the promises, and sit upon thrones, and are not angels but are gods.” (D&C 132:37)

Deserving a place among the great patriarchs of old is hardly a blessing reserved for a failed father.

The feelings of the Lord are, if possible, even more evident in these words from a blessing given by Joseph Jr. to his father in 1835:

Blessing to Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith, 1835
Blessing to Joseph Smith Sr. & Lucy Mack Smith, 1835 (View original document)

Blessed of the Lord is my father [Joseph Sr.], for he shall stand in the midst of his posterity and shall be comforted by their blessings when he is old and bowed down with years, and shall be called a prince  over them, and shall be numbered among those who hold the right of patriarchal priesthood, even the  keys of that ministry: for he shall assemble together his posterity like unto Adam; and the assembly which  he called shall be an ensample for my father, for this it is written of him: . . .

So shall it be with my father: he shall be called a prince over his posterity, holding the keys of the patriarchal priesthood over the kingdom of God on earth, even the Church of the Latter Day Saints; and he shall sit in the  general assembly of patriarchs, even in council with the Ancient of Days when he shall sit and all the patriarchs with him— and shall enjoy his right and authority under the direction of the Ancient of Days. . . .

And again, blessed is my father, for the hand of the Lord shall be over him, and he shall be full of the Holy  Ghost; for he shall predict whatsoever shall befal[l] his posterity unto the latest generation, and shall see the affliction of his children pass away, and their enemies under their feet: and when his head is fully ripe he shall  behold himself as an olive tree whose branches are bowed down with much fruit.

Behold the blessings of Joseph by the hand of his progenitor, shall come upon him <the> head of my father and his seed after him, to the uttermost;  even he shall be a fruitful bough: he shall be as a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well whose  branches run over the wall, and his seed shall abide in strength, and the arms of their hands shall be  made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob, and the God of his fathers: Even <the God> of Abraham, Isaac and  Jacob, shall help him and his seed after him:

even the Almighty shall bless him with blessings of heaven above  and his seed after him, and the blessings of the deep that lieth under: and his seed shall rise up and call him blessed. He shall be as the vine of the choice grape when her clusters are fully ripe: and he shall also  possess a mansion on high, even in the Celestial Kingdom. 3

In the very least, this prophesies Joseph Smith Sr.’s role as sitting in the very counsel with Adam, the priesthood leader over this earth, 4 and others including Abel, Seth, Melchizedek, Enoch, Noah and so forth.  Because the Lord is, “no respecter of persons” (D&C 38:16), this blessed position must be a direct reflection of Father Smith’s personal character.

Adam and Eve

The Lord’s Trust in Him as a Father

Angel Moroni commands Joseph Jr. to tell Joseph Smith Sr.The Lord’s evident trust in Joseph Smith Sr. as a father is made clear by the Angel Moroni’s command:

He then again related unto me all that he had related to me the previous night, and commanded me to go to my father and tell him of the vision and commandments which I had received. (Joseph Smith—History 1:49)

Joseph Smith Sr. was in tune enough with the spirit to immediately recognize the truth of Joseph’s words and give the following counsel:

He replied to me that it was of God, and told me to go and do as commanded by the messenger. (Joseph Smith—History 1:50)

Elder M. Russell Ballard stated in the 1991 October General Conference:

The Lord foreordained his [Joseph Smith Jr.’s] father, Joseph Smith, Sr., who is spoken of in the holy scriptures, to be one of the earthly parents of the Prophet. . . . Joseph Smith, Sr., was in tune with the Spirit of the Lord. He knew that his young son spoke the truth. He not only believed the boy’s words but encouraged him in the work he had been called to do.

Joseph, Sr., endured ridicule and persecution because of his prophet son’s experiences and claims. Yet, he was unwavering in his loving support and defended his son.

He saw and handled the plates of gold from which the Book of Mormon was translated and testified throughout his life to the truthfulness of that sacred book. His name remains firmly affixed, with those of the other witnesses to the Book of Mormon, in the front pages of that second witness of Jesus Christ. On one occasion he was imprisoned and told he would be released if he would deny the Book of Mormon. Not only did he not deny it, but he converted two persons during his thirty-day confinement. 5

President Ezra Taft Benson also added his own witness of the Patriarch’s greatness:

In this dispensation, I think of Joseph Smith, Sr., the first person to give credence to his prophet-son’s testimony. . . . I revere these noble men, not just because they were great prophets, but because they were great fathers who realized what the Lord required of them, and they lived up to that expectation. 6

These scriptural and prophetic statements again starkly contrast with Bushman’s unflattering portrayal of Father Smith.

The Prophet Joseph: More than we know DVD

Foreordained By The Lord

Those who understand the bloodline of the Prophet Joseph as both the heir of Judah and Ephraim, as laid out in D&C 113, will recognize the significance of this statement by Brigham Young as it relates to the chosen and foreordained position of Father Smith.

The Lord had his eye [on Joseph Smith], and upon his father, and upon his father’s father, and upon their progenitors clear back to Abraham, and from Abraham to the flood, from the flood to Enoch, and from Enoch to Adam. He has watched that family and that blood as it has circulated from its foundation to the birth of that man. 7

As Seen By Those Nearest to Him

In addition to challenging Joseph Smith Sr.’s role as patriarch and his standing in the eyes of the Lord, Bushman also speaks negatively of how the Smith children viewed their father.

. . . [Joseph Smith Sr.] feared his sons’ scornful laughter. . . . All the boys loved and honored their father, Joseph Jr. particularly, but their affection may have included sympathy for a life blighted by shame. 8

View original document

In contrast to Bushman’s claim, Joseph Smith himself recorded the admiration, respect and deep honor he held for his father. His personal diary records:

Sunday 11th [October 1835] visited my Father who was very sick. In secret prayer in the morning the Lord said, “My servant thy father shall live.” I waited on him all this day with my heart raised to God in the name of Jesus Christ that He would restore him to health again, that I might be blessed with his company and advice esteeming it one of the greatest earthly blessings, to be blessed with the society of Parents, whose mature years and experience renders them capable of administering the most wholsom advice. 9

Certainly, being blessed with the company and advice of so great a man as Joseph Smith Sr. would truly be one of the “greatest earthly blessings”.

Another first-hand witness of Joseph Smith Sr.’s character was President Lorenzo Snow who said:

I do not know that any man among the Saints was more loved than Father Smith; and when any one was seriously sick Father Smith would be called for, whether it was night or day. He was as noble and generous a man as I have ever known. 10

At the time of his death, Joseph Smith, Sr., was described as “a man faithful to his God and to the Church in every situation and under all circumstances through which he was called to pass.” 11

Attacks on the Prophet

Bushman’s statements about the character of Joseph Smith Sr. subsequently call into question the reasons and motivation for Joseph Jr.’s prophetic work; this is perhaps because it is hard to call the tree bad and the fruit good. Consider these three examples taken directly from Rough Stone Rolling.

If there was a personal motive for Joseph Smith Jr.’s revelations, it was to satisfy his family’s religious want and, above all, to meet the need of his oft-defeated, unmoored father. 12

Joseph Jr. eventually restored his father’s dignity by giving him an honored place in the church. If there was any childhood dynamic at work in Joseph Jr.’s life, it was the desire to redeem his flawed, loving father, but was this enough to make him a prophet? 13

The Smiths have been diagnosed as a dysfunctional family that produced a psychologically crippled son. 14

These statements strike at the core of Joseph’s prophetic calling and are, consequently, also an attack on the Book of Mormon, priesthood power and keys, and the very message of the Restoration.

Brigham Young, in simple defense of the Prophet Joseph, had this to say:

I rose up, and in a plain and forcible manner told them that Joseph was a Prophet, and I knew it, and that they might rail and slander him as much as they pleased, they could not destroy the appointment of the Prophet of God, they could only destroy their own authority, cut the thread that bound them to the Prophet and to God and sink themselves to hell. 15

Joseph Smith Jr. family cabin

In Conclusion

It is only fair that we let the Prophet Joseph have the concluding words:

I have remembered the scenes of my childhood. I have thought of my father who is dead; who died by disease which was brought upon him through suffering by the hands of ruthless mobs. He was a great and a good man. The envy of knaves and fools was heaped upon him [and still is], and this was his lot and portion all the days of his life.

He was of noble stature, and possessed a high, and holy, and exalted, and a virtuous mind, His soul soared above all those mean and groveling principles that are so subsequent to the human heart. I now say, that he never did a mean act that might be said was ungenerous, in his life, to my knowledge.

I love my father and his memory; and the memory of his noble deeds, rests with ponderous weight upon my mind; and many of his kind and parental words to me, are written on the tablet of my heart.

Sacred to me, are the thoughts which I cherish of the history of his life, that have rolled through my mind and has been implanted there, by my own observation since I was born.

Sacred to me is his dust, and the spot where he is laid. Sacred to me is the tomb I have made to encircle o’re his head. Let the memory of my father eternally live. 16

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Notes:

  1. Bushman, Richard L. Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005. Print. 42, emphasis added
  2. Ibid. 55, emphasis added
  3. “Blessing to Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith, between circa 15 and 28 September 1835.” The Joseph Smith Papers. Web. 06 Jan. 2017. <http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/blessing-to-joseph-smith-sr-and-lucy-mack-smith-between-circa-15-and-28-september-1835/1>
  4. Doctrine and Covenants 78:16, 107:55; Joseph Smith: “This then is the nature of the priesthood, every man holding the presidency of his dispensation and one man holding the presidency of them all even Adam, and Adam receiving his presidency and authority from Christ, but cannot receive a fulness, untill Christ shall present. the kingdom to the Father which shall be at the end of the last dispensation. (Words of Joseph Smith, 5 Oct. 1840, p. 40-41); Joseph Fielding Smith: “he [Michael] was one of the greatest of the intelligences, and was sent here to this earth to stand at the head of his posterity, to rule over them through the ages of eternity.” (Doctrines of Salvation 1:90)
  5. Ballard, Russell M. “The Family of the Prophet Joseph Smith”. Ensign, October 1991, emphasis added
  6. Benson, Ezra Taft. “Great Things Required of Their Fathers”. Ensign, April 1981, emphasis added
  7. Young, Brigham. Journal of Discourses, Vol 7, 289-290
  8. Bushman, Richard L. Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005. Print. 42, emphasis added
  9. “History, 1838–1856, Volume B-1 [1 September 1834–2 November 1838].” The Joseph Smith Papers. Web. 06 Jan. 2017. <http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-1838-1856-volume-b-1-1-september-1834-2-november-1838/82> 628. see also Joseph Smith. The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith. 61-62, emphasis added
  10. Snow, Lorenzo. qtd in LeRoi C. Snow, “How Lorenzo Snow Found God,” Improvement Era, Feb. 1937, 84.
  11. History of the Church, 4:192.
  12. Bushman, Richard L. Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005. Print. 26-27, emphasis added
  13. Ibid.
  14. Ibid.
  15. History of Brigham Young, DNW, 10 Feb. 1858, 386
  16. “Journal, December 1841–December 1842.” The Joseph Smith Papers. Web. 06 Jan. 2017. <http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/journal-december-1841-december-1842/57> 57.
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43 Comments on "Was Joseph Smith Sr. a weak and failed father? A “Rough Stone Rolling” response"

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Richard Hill
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I agree with Bradley Young. The Smith family was not a dysfunctional family. They endured a great deal of persecution because of the visions of Joseph who they trusted and helped in fulfilling his divine calling. His family struggled to make a living as most did in those times. Faith and Christian teachings were strong in their home because of the influence of Joseph Smith, Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith. Joseph Smith, Jr. was not a psychologically crippled son, manifested by the complexity and success of the gospel restoration.

Jarom
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Bushman is hardly qualified to claim that J.S. Sr. was a failed father. Heck, almost nobody is qualified to claim that anybody is a failed father.

Bruce Woodruff
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Thanks to Bradley for this great article! I believe it is important to recognize not just the truthfulness of the work that Joseph Smith Jr. and his family did, but also their personal cleanliness and preparedness to hear and follow the word of the Lord. Doing so allows us to have better vision of what God wants us to be doing to prepare to do His work. Contradicting the false information and interpretations being spread about the Prophet Joseph and his family is important because it dispels any possible excuses on our part, conscious or unconscious, and also shows us… Read more »
Jack of Hearts
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“Seriously, if Joseph Smith was a little occult boy and Joseph Smith Sr. a weak drunkard, who needs to worry about being any better?” Um, everyone. After all, that’s one of the primary messages of Christ’s ministry, no? He repeatedly teaches that He is the way, that we should emulate Him, and He commands us to be perfect. No one’s getting off the hook because His servants have weaknesses (weaknesses which, it should be noted, Bushman never characterizes using your exaggerated language).

Bruce Woodruff
Guest
Jack of Hearts, I definitely agree that we are supposed to worry about being better; as you say “that’s one of the primary messages of Christ’s ministry”. Only problem for Bushman’s theory is, that applies to everyone. Making up, exaggerating, and pointing out flaws or sins in those the Lord has chosen undermines our need to choose right. If Joseph Jr. was an occult pervert (I don’t think he was or is) and could still be a prophet, then why not ‘follow his example’? It appears that the Lord was “well pleased with [Joseph Smith’s] offering“. If Joseph Smith &… Read more »
Jack of Hearts
Guest
“Making up, exaggerating, and pointing out flaws or sins in those the Lord has chosen undermines our need to choose right.” It doesn’t though. For example, anti-Mormon propaganda has no bearing on my need to choose righteously; it’s simply false to say otherwise. Christ’s teachings directly contradict that, as do the teachings of the prophets and apostles, and the doctrine of agency. “Some however, Bushman included, seem to think the Smith family [was] ‘a dysfunctional family that produced a psychologically crippled son’ to quote his book.” Actually, that line is a reference to Fawn Brodie’s work; it’s her claim that… Read more »
Bruce Woodruff
Guest
Jack of Hearts, You seem to not understand the principle Caleb, Elsie, Bradley, and others have said: Imagining up and/or accepting supposed sins in God’s servants undermines our need to be righteous; for if they were full of sin and were God’s servants, then we can be sinful too without worrying too much about the consequences of our actions. The only possible motivations I can see for those anxious to believe this slander are simply a desire to undermine the Prophet or a desire to ease one’s own conscience. “Christ’s teachings directly contradict that, as do the teachings of the… Read more »
Jack of Hearts
Guest
“You seem to not understand the principle Caleb, Elsie, Bradley, and others have said.” It’s not that I don’t understand, but rather that the principle is incorrect. Only the commandments have any bearing on my need to be righteous, and they are unyielding. Again, nothing undermines our need to be righteous. “They could not and would not be righteous servants of God if they were occultists, drunkards, perverts, and failed fathers the way some would paint them.” 1) Given the many accounts in the scriptures of God’s servants with questionable actions in the past, “could not” is not accurate and… Read more »
Bruce Woodruff
Guest
Jack of Hearts, “It’s not that I don’t understand, but rather that the principle is incorrect.” This only shows me more that you don’t understand it. God is just and the commandments you speak of apply to everyone; prophets, members, and Smith family alike. A God of justice “cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.” Saying that Joseph and the Smith family were so blatantly sinning DOES undermine God’s justice and our need for cleanliness – for it makes Him appear to be ok with their sin. “1) Given the many accounts in the scriptures of God’s… Read more »
Jack of Hearts
Guest
“Saying that Joseph and the Smith family were so blatantly sinning DOES undermine God’s justice and our need for cleanliness – for it makes Him appear to be ok with their sin.” Nope, it means that He forgives. “Yet again you give no examples.” Alma the Younger. Corianton. Omni. Jonah. Alma the Elder. I’m not saying they didn’t repent, but that they needed to repent. As we all do. The beauty of the gospel is that you can have clean hands and a pure heart no matter your past when you sincerely repent. “You’ll notice I didn’t attribute those all… Read more »
Samuel
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As “Jack of Hearts” said:
Given the many accounts in the scriptures of God’s servants with questionable actions in the past, “could not” is not accurate and denies the gospel message.

indeed. Bruce Woodruff asked for examples of this. Take Saul/Paul for example. He went around killing professed Christians and destroying Christ’s church. But he changed and was one of the most influential disciples known to man. Or what about both the Alma’s in the BofM?
Who’s to say it wasn’t a similar situation with JS sr. and that he changed once he knew better? There’s nothing wrong with that.

Jack of Hearts
Guest
I don’t see how the revelations contradict anything Bushman has written. Bushman’s observations come from the 1810s-1820ish, while the earliest revelation quoted is from 1835, approximately 15 years later. We believe in the Atonement, repentance, and new beginnings, and there’s no reason to believe it wasn’t the case here. More immediately, Bushman’s conclusions are tentative. His writing (despite the bolding that seems to encourage us to think otherwise) consistently uses words and phrases such as if, may have, perhaps, suggests, and other qualifying statements. As an academic historian, Bushman could not simply ignore conclusions that other scholars had come to,… Read more »
Bill W.
Guest

Jack of Hearts,
What’s your point?

Jack of Hearts
Guest

That this article is unhelpful in that it assumes the worst of Bushman’s book, makes no attempt to understand the genre he wrote in, and explains discrepancies by arguing that Bushman has set out to create and unfaithful portrait of the Prophet.

Bruce Woodruff
Guest
Jack of Hearts, “This article is unhelpful in that it assumes the worst of Bushman’s book.” With what Bushman says in his book, how can anything else be assumed? See Caleb’s comment below for some great examples of Bushman’s critical and accusatory tone towards the Smiths. “This article… makes no attempt to understand the genre he wrote in.” What genre would that be? Our modern genre of criticism, accusation, and unbelief? Bushman shouldn’t be ‘jumping on the bandwagon’ in the accusations some make against the Smith family. “This article… explains discrepancies by arguing that Bushman has set out to create… Read more »
Jack of Hearts
Guest
“What genre would that be? Our modern genre of criticism, accusation, and unbelief?” No; academic biography. I have discussed this in another response to you further up and in my response to Caleb Young further down. I’m more than happy to continue answering questions on it if you have any. “Anyone looking at the picture Bushman paints with his book vs. what the Lord paints in scripture and revelation can easily see the two don’t match up.” But again, does that automatically mean that Bushman is inventing stuff? That he’s trying to destroy faith? That every scholar who studies this… Read more »
Ace of Spades
Guest
Wow Bruce really did a great job on that comment below about Babylon and academia. Our world is growing more and more faithless and apparently so are some historians. Why would I come to that conclusion? Because Bushman and others have full agency and ability to paint the Prophet as the clean, pure, honest man that he was, or as a man full of sin – the option Bushman appears to have taken. Say what you will, what a person chooses to write (genre and style included) are a reflection of their opinion and belief. Who knows what Bushman’s motives… Read more »
Jack of Hearts
Guest

“Also, who are we gonna take more seriously about their worthiness? The Lord’s revelations or accounts and accusations of men?” Once again, this is a forced dichotomy. It is an a priori conclusion to assume that this apparent conflict necessitates discarding one side.

Elsie
Guest
“I don’t see how the revelations contradict anything Bushman has written.” The revelations DO DIRECTLY contradict those who would call Joseph Smith Sr. and the Smith family failures, occultists, etc. The picture painted by Bushman and others is the opposite of the picture the Lord paints of them. Which source is the one we should be trusting? (Read JST Mark 9 for other details on this.) “We believe in the Atonement, repentance, and new beginnings, and there’s no reason to believe it wasn’t the case here.” Bushman and others claim that the occult practices ‘stuck around until the end’ and… Read more »
Jack of Hearts
Guest
“The revelations DO DIRECTLY contradict those who would call Joseph Smith Sr. and the Smith family failures, occultists, etc.” As I mentioned above, they only do if you want them to; there are other explanations. “Bushman and others claim that . . . Joseph Smith Jr. called Joseph Smith Sr. as patriarch to ‘[restore] his father’s dignity.'” That’s not true, at least not in Bushman’s case. Bushman writes that the calling did restore Joseph Sr.’s dignity, but he doesn’t comment on Joseph Jr.’s motivation. “All but one quote in the article fail to include any such ‘qualifying statements’.” How are… Read more »
bboy4liberty
Guest
I wish that Bushman had the kind of moral integrity that would allow him to actively fight for the Prophet and his family. We know that all these attacks calling Joseph Sr. a drunkard, a failed father, etc, etc–they’re all false. The statements and revelations are clear on that. (I’m happy to include citations and examples if there are questions) Now compare Bushman with John Bernhisel who knew the prophet personally. This is a letter sent to Gov. Ford defending the prophet. ““Nauvoo, June 14th, 1844. “To His Excellency Gov. [Thomas] Ford, Sir; Though I have not the honor of… Read more »
Jack of Hearts
Guest
“I wish that Bushman had the kind of moral integrity that would allow him to actively fight for the Prophet and his family.” Ouch. It’s rather presumptuous to judge the man’s moral integrity based on his work in an academic biography, where the purpose of the work is to be as objective as possible. If that’s not your cup of tea, fine, but judging a man’s testimony because of a book he wrote in a field with conventions you don’t agree with seems . . . well, presumptuous. “We know that all these attacks calling Joseph Sr. a drunkard, a… Read more »
Bruce Woodruff
Guest
Jack of Hearts, You keep talking about ‘academic’ ‘genres’ and things ‘not applying’. As I have given some thought to our modern genre, I see that the problems with Bushman’s book are contained in it because of the modern ‘genre’ he has adopted – a genre that is in direct opposition to truth because they try to remove truth for facts. Truth, however, applies to everything – it is “in all things, through all things, and round about all things.” Either Bushman’s ‘genre’ and style are truth-based, or they are not. There is a huge discrepancy between Bushman’s style and… Read more »
Jack of Hearts
Guest
“Rough Stone Rolling wasn’t written for academic scholars. It was written and marketed towards church members.” I’ll grant that it wasn’t written exclusively for academic scholars (that’s usually the province of papers), but I have seen no evidence that it was written for Church members. It was published by an academic press and is part of scholarly conversation. Until your premise is established, criticism from that perspective is baseless. “Either Bushman’s writing reflects truth or it does not.” Indeed. But conventions for establishing truth are different in the Church than in academia; he followed the conventions of the body that… Read more »
Caleb Young
Guest
Jack of Hearts, You say “you’ll have to provide examples” and yet you provide none of your own. Interesting. Just because the examples are so easy to find, (thanks to LDS Answers and their articles) here’s a few. There are no ‘qualifying statements’ in the following quotes. These quotes are ALL ‘very sweeping assumptions’, as Elsie has said. This is a direct attack on the characters of the Prophet and his family – not just ‘acknowledging’ the opinions of others. “[Joseph Smith Sr.] feared his sons’ scornful laughter”. “[Joseph Smith Sr.] was a gentle, disappointed man with an inclination to… Read more »
Jack of Hearts
Guest
“You say ‘you’ll have to provide examples’ and yet you provide none of your own.” What would you like? “(Bushman does not contradict this statement, therefore, he agrees with it and also diagnoses them as such.) . . . He doesn’t deny or contradict any of the charges, leaving only one option for interpretation of his opinion.” That’s simply not how academic writing works though. The opinion of the author is immaterial in an academic work, though it can be given with caveats and if clearly labelled as such. Professional history is based on a series of premises that precluded… Read more »
Elsie
Guest

The truth never changes. God does not conform to the ways of the world; no matter who else may be doing so. The genre or culture we live in does not justify Bushman or anyone else in the demeaning of the Prophet and others whom the Lord has pronounced clean before Him. I encourage all to seek out for their own answers from the Holy Word of God, with a humble heart, willing to conform to and obey the inspiration they receive.

Jack of Hearts
Guest

“The truth never changes. God does not conform to the ways of the world; no matter who else may be doing so.” Indeed, but I don’t see what that has to do with the matter at hand. No one is changing God’s truth here.

Elsie
Guest

Jack of Hearts,
In your previous comment, you justified Bushman’s demeaning of the Smith family by saying that it was an “academic biography” and thus he couldn’t write by the Spirit. I believe that it doesn’t matter what genre-or whatever- we should always go by what the Lord has declared and was thus reenforcing that principle in my last comment.

Jack of Hearts
Guest

“[I]t was an ‘academic biography’ and thus he couldn’t write by the Spirit.” Not quite. Bushman’s testimony of the Prophet given by the Spirit isn’t admissible evidence in academic biography, but I imagine if it were the will of the Lord Bushman could write by the Spirit.

“I believe that it doesn’t matter what genre-or whatever- we should always go by what the Lord has declared.” And it’s not clear that Bushman hasn’t. As I’ve written, malicious intent on Bushman’s part is not the only explanation for what he wrote.

bboy4liberty
Guest
I certainly won’t be the one to accuse Bushman of purposely destroying faith by the image of the Smith family that he paints. All of his reasons I clearly don’t know. What I do know and see is that Bushman has painted a picture of the Prophet that doesn’t match the words of those who knew the prophet best and, most importantly, doesn’t match the voice of the Lord. Ya, there were lots of people who said terrible things about Joseph during his lifetime–even Christ had people lying about him–but why does Bushman include those lies?–and he doesn’t respond to… Read more »
Jack of Hearts
Guest
“What I do know and see is that Bushman has painted a picture of the Prophet that doesn’t match the words of those who knew the prophet best and, most importantly, doesn’t match the voice of the Lord.” As I have explained elsewhere, the idea that they conflict and so one must be discarded is an a priori conclusion. It is not the only possible answer to the apparent conflict. “Bushman’s book has been an instrument in Satan’s hand for destroying the testimonies of people.” And it has been an instrument in the Lord’s hand for strengthening my testimony and… Read more »
bboy4liberty
Guest
Do not interpret this as a personal attack, how you will feel meeting the Prophet Joseph, I don’t know; I simply have learned the following truth taught by President Benson, “It is not enough for us to be sincere in what we support. We must be right!” Has your testimony in truth been strengthened by Bushman?–I don’t know. I do know that the more I read the articles here on LDSAnswers and compare them with Bushman/similar ideas, one seems to fit the words of the Lord and living prophets. I am learning but continue to become more and more convinced… Read more »
Jack of Hearts
Guest

“how you will feel meeting the Prophet Joseph[?]” Just fine, thanks. I’m pretty excited to ask him about all kinds of things.

“Has your testimony in truth been strengthened by Bushman?” Uh, yes. How else is a testimony strengthened?

bboy4liberty
Guest
Also, do we really want to invite all of the thousands of lies out there into our homes, place them on our bookshelves, and do all of this in the name of academic fairness or the modern ‘rules’ by which we know to define truth as whatever is most repeated? These are the words of Elder Holland in relation to bad thoughts and I think they apply. “Like thieves in the night, unwelcome thoughts can and do seek entrance to our minds. But we don’t have to throw open the door, serve them tea and crumpets, and then tell them… Read more »
Caleb Young
Guest
“What would you like?” It’s not my job to tell you what I want you to share to ‘prove’ or uphold your point, that’s your job. I gave plenty of examples to support my point. “It may have been the only secular option that Bushman felt could be established from the sources.” I think that Bruce’s hammer-and-screw example is perfect. Bushman’s job (and the job of every church member) is to witness of Christ, His gospel, and His prophets in all things that we do. RSR portrays a degenerate, sinning Joseph and Smith family, not righteousness and faith. If academia… Read more »
Jack of Hearts
Guest
“It’s not my job to tell you what I want you to share to ‘prove’ or uphold your point, that’s your job.” True, but I’m honestly not following here. I asked for examples of sweeping generalizations from Elsie, you gave some, and then . . . I’m not sure what you want, so I’m legitimately asking. “RSR portrays a degenerate, sinning Joseph and Smith family, not righteousness and faith.” I strongly contest this characterization, obviously. I’ve explained why elsewhere in these comments (in the root comment of this thread, in fact), so I’ll direct you there rather than rewrite it… Read more »
Helen
Guest

fascinating and educating article. thank you!

Helen
Guest
I can’t get this article out of my mind. It saddens me that Deseret Book would sell a book like Rough Stone Rolling (which got it’s sources from ex-lds members) which is convincing a lot of members to leave the Church and doubt their once solid testimonies of Joseph Smith and his family. Those quotes alone about attacking Joseph’s character as a Prophet are so saddening to me that anyone would ever say that about Joseph Smith unless their sole intent on writing the book was to falsify his role as a Prophet, which makes me wonder again, why on… Read more »
Jack of Hearts
Guest

“People get books from there with the assumption that it isn’t antimormon literature.” A safe assumption, and one not contradicted by Rough Stone Rolling. As you will see if you read some anti-Mormon discussion boards where the book comes up, most anti-Mormons see Bushman as an apologist for the Church who tried to paper over Joseph’s scandalous past. It saddens me that people have their testimonies weakened by Bushman’s book; for myself, my stake president, and others in my local congregation and family, the book has done nothing but strengthen our testimony of the divinity of the Restoration.

Julie
Guest
I am just not sure why people turn to Bushman for the real story on Joseph Smith’s father or family in general. One can feel the love of his family and support and character in his own words, in his history, or in Lucy Mack Smith’s writings on her family. She shares beautiful stories of her husband and his personal life. It paints an entirely different picture than when one reads Rough Stone Rolling. No one can rightly deny that his family sought righteousness and the will of God and Joseph was nurtured in this environment. Through Joseph Smith, Jr.,… Read more »
Jack of Hearts
Guest

“No one can rightly deny that his family sought righteousness and the will of God and Joseph was nurtured in this environment.” Bushman doesn’t do this, though. Have you read Rough Stone Rolling?

bboy4liberty
Guest
I loved Julie’s quote from Eliza. THAT is the way those who actually knew Joseph Sr. felt. We today are so willing to buy into that many false reports that are out there. Are there lies out there?–Joseph tells us that “Owing to the many reports which have been put in circulation by evil-disposed and designing persons, in relation to the rise and progress of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, all of which have been designed by the authors thereof to militate against its character as a Church and its progress in the world—I have been induced… Read more »
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