Joseph Smith, Jr. (1805-1830). The founder of the Mormon religion. He claimed that he was visited by God and Jesus Christ in 1820, and later by the angel Moroni in 1823. In 1830, he published the Book of Mormon and founded the Mormon Church with six members. According to LDS scripture, “Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it” (Doctrine and Covenants 135:3). A month before he was killed in a gun battle at the Carthage Jail in Illinois, Smith explained, “I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I” (May 26, 1844, History of the Church 6:408-409). Smith is not worshipped by the Mormon people, though he is highly revered. As thirteenth President Ezra Taft Benson said, “Joseph Smith has done more for the salvation of men in this world than any man who ever lived in it, except the Master” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 132). Remember his December 23rd birthday, fifteenth President Gordon B. Hinckley declared, “We stand in reverence before him. He is the great prophet of this dispensation. He stands as the head of this great and mighty work which is spreading across the earth. He is our prophet, our revelator, our seer, our friend. Let us not forget him. Let not his memory be forgotten in the celebration of Christmas. God be thanked for the Prophet Joseph” (“Joseph Smith: Restorer of Truth,” Ensign, December 2003, 18-19).
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