When members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (“Mormons”) constantly bringing up the name of Joseph Smith, The Founder of the Mormon Church (1830), people wonder in what esteem they hold him. Do Mormons worship Joseph Smith? Or are they truly Christian, like they claim to be?

Painting of the Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith

Mormons have a deep respect for Joseph Smith, but he is not who they worship.

 

Reasons It Looks Like Mormons Worship Joseph Smith

Joseph Smith is indeed an extremely iconic figure in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Firstly, he has prestige as the founder of the Church.  Everyone from missionaries to young children refer to him when speaking about Mormon beliefs.  There are novels, statues and movies that tell his story.

At first glance, and maybe even a second, it would be easy to think that the Mormons could worship such a figure.  They read and study his teachings.  They preach his sermons and use examples of his life to encourage and inspire.  Mormons talk about Joseph Smith like many Christians talk about the Apostle Paul, quoting him often.

Considering the reverence and attention surrounding a single man, it is easy to think that the Mormons worship Joseph Smith.  But it might surprise some to know that in accordance to their own doctrine they simply can’t.  The act of worship is strictly reserved for God and his Son Jesus Christ.

Artistic depictions of Joseph Smith’s first vision seeing God the Father and Jesus Christ

The First Vision. In this vision the Prophet Joseph Smith saw God the Father and His son Jesus Christ, and conversed with them.

 

Why Joseph Smith is Such an Important Figure to Mormons

So why all the fanfare and focus on the Prophet Joseph Smith?  The answer to that question is both spiritual and logical. Without Joseph Smith, and a belief in his accounts, there can be no legitimate claim that he restored the church that lost its authority after Jesus Christ ascended into heaven and his apostles were killed. While The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worships Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith is seen as His instrument in restoring the gospel to the world. Without him and his witness of God the Father and His only begotten son Jesus Christ (The First Vision), the Book of Mormon, the restoration of the Priesthood, modern day revelation, and other prophetic claims, would have remained lost or would become invalid.

While all of these doctrines are vital to the faith and beliefs of Mormons, the focus of their worship is and must be the Lord Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon is important as a work of scripture mainly due to its being another testament of Jesus Christ, as is proclaimed on the cover. They pray in the name of Christ, teach of, love and reverence His divine life, and believe that people can only be saved and return to the Lord’s presence in and through the Savior’s suffering and death. The ultimate purpose of everything they do, from prayers, to studying the scriptures, to everything taught in their meeting houses and temples is to help them turn to Christ, and become more like Him.

 

The Lord has always called prophets (Amos 3:7), however, in every dispensation of the world to facilitate His works and teach people of Christ, and Joseph Smith is revered among Mormons as having a special place among those. Because Mormons believe that all of us are now living in “the last dispensation of time” before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, who is the first prophet of this dispensation, is especially revered among the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

 

So, Who Do Mormons Worship?

Like the ancient Prophets Abraham and Moses, Mormons celebrate Joseph Smith as a man that accomplished God’s will.  He is an important icon, because to believe in what he did is to understand how the Mormons even exist.  Do Mormons worship him?  No.  But it can often be perceived as such because he is essential to how and why Mormons worship Jesus Christ.

If you have questions about Joseph Smith and want to talk about them with a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please click this link and go to “chat” or simply send an email at [email protected]