JOSEPH SMITH’S INVOLVEMENT WITH
MAGIC, MASONRY, AND THE OCCULT©
How Joseph Smith put it all together
Joseph’s Magic Hat
Joseph Smith’s claim of receiving gold plates from a holy angel, has attracted over ten million converts to the Mormon Church, a church which doubles its population every 10 to 12 years at the rate of 840 new members a day.
Where are these amazing gold plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated? Since they are not on exhibit to confirm their reality, one might humorously say, Joseph must have said “abracadabra” and pulled them from a hat! Laughable; but, in a way, that’s exactly what he did!
Instead of translating directly from the alleged plates, he would put his face into the darkness of a hat which contained a seer stone, and the translation of what he called “Reformed Egyptian Hieroglyphics” would appear. This was a practice known as crystal-gazing or scrying. In following this procedure, Smith claimed that “spiritual light would shine”:
A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and beneath it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear.
Although Smith didn’t say abracadabra, his mother admitted the family practiced this magic incantation:
Let not the reader suppose that . . . we stopped our labor and went at trying to win the faculty of Abrac, drawing magic circles, or soothsaying, to the neglect of all kinds of business. We never during our lives suffered one important interest to swallow up every other obligation.
“Abrac,” is a Jewish Kabbalistic word. It comes from Abracadabra and Abraxis, a word placed upon amulets to work magic. The first four letters, A-b-r-a, are acrostics taken from the first letter of four Hebrew words, Ab which means Father; Ben which means Son, and Ruach Adsch which means Holy Spirit. When written in a triangular form on parchment and hung around the neck, it acted as a charm to heal tooth aches and other ailments.
Masonry, at that time, claimed the use of this faculty and since Joseph’s brother, Hyrum, was a Mason, the family probably learned it from him or from the many books on magic, available at that time.
Joseph and the Occult
Besides seer stones, Joseph’s involvement with the occult also included divining rods, magic circles, sacrifice of animals, and witchcraft.
The family’s involvement in witchcraft was confirmed by Fayette Lapham who, after visiting the Smiths, wrote:
[Joseph’s father] was a firm believer in witchcraft and other supernatural things; and had brought up his family in the same belief.
While one may view this as shocking, one needs to understand the climate of his culture. Belief in magic was not unusual. Mormon Historian, B.H. Roberts, acknowledged that Smith’s family believed in “fortune telling . . . warlocks and witches,” and added that “to be credulous in such things was to be normal people.”
Joseph’s Use of Peep Stones and Divining Rods
Joseph learned to how to use “peep stones” from his father. Joseph Smith, Sr., placing them in a hat, would receive revelation on buried treasure locations. Known as a “money-digger,” he hired out to locate these caches. An affidavit by David Stafford confirmed that “the general employment of the Smith family was money digging and fortune telling.”
Joseph, therefore, naturally followed in his father’s footsteps. Even long before he claimed to find the gold plates of the Book of Mormon through his peep stone, he was finding buried treasure and deciphering ancient writings. In one instance, according to William R. Hein, he gazed into his stone, and:
He saw Captain Kidd sailing on the Susquehanna River during a freshet, and that he buried two pots of gold and silver. He claimed he saw writing cut on the rocks in an unknown language telling where Kidd buried it, and he translated it through his peep-stone.
According to Brigham Young and Martin Harris, it was through a peep stone found in the well of a Mason Chase that Smith located and translated the gold plates. This is, of course, contrary to his later story where he said that it was an angel who directed him to the gold plates.
The stone found in Mason Chase’s well, was first used during Joseph’s occupation as a money-digger. Mormon history refers to it as the “brown” stone. Joseph Smith’s father, when interviewed by Fayette Lapham, said, “Joseph spent about two years looking into this stone, telling fortunes, where to find lost things, and where to dig for money and other hidden treasure.” He also used peep stones to read palms. The Mormon practice of giving patriarchal blessings is, no doubt, the outgrowth of Smith’s fortune-telling practice.
He also had a white stone called the Urim and Thummin. It is with this stone, rather than the brown one, that he claimed to translate the Book of Abraham.
Joseph learned from his father how to use a divining rod in detecting metals and buried treasures. Often called a “mineral rod,” it was similar to dozing for water with a hazel branch.
Mormon leaders have suggested that Smith gave all that up after he started his church. But, this isn’t so. The use of divining rods and peep stones continued after the Mormon Church was established and was carried into his temple ceremony.
According to James Collin Brewster, the Smith family “anointed the mineral rods and seer stones with consecrated oil, and prayed over them in the house of the Lord in Kirtland.” The ritual consisted of putting on temple robes and asking yes or no questions of the mineral rod. If it moved, it meant yes. If there was no movement, it meant no.
To validate the Church’s continued use of a divining rod, Joseph produced a revelation from God: Addressing Oliver Cowdery, the revelation stated:
Now this is not all, for you have another gift, which is the gift of working with the rod: behold it has told you things: behold there is no other power save God, that can cause this rod of nature, to work in your hands.
Since this later proved embarrassing to the church, the revelation was altered to read: “You have another gift, which is the gift of Aaron.” Church leaders probably felt this would sound more acceptable. But, since a divining rod in those days was also known as a “Rod of Aaron,” it was still an occult term.
Joseph’s Use of Magic Circles
The magic circles Joseph’s mother mentioned, in their use of the “faculty of Abrac” to find treasures, were the same as witches use.
For example, William Stafford, a contemporary of Smith tells how Joseph said there was a buried chest of gold watches guarded by an evil spirit. To pacify the spirit, he ordered stakes set up in the form of a circle. He then sent a man to obtain a long knife, or sword, and to march around the spot with drawn weapon to guard against any satanic assaults. (Treasure spirits were usually considered evil and were thought to have the power to kill a person unless appeased by magic circles and blood sacrifices.)
In this activity, Joseph and his father worked in conjunction with each other. Often, while his father was performing this service for customers, Joseph would be in the house using his peep stone to keep track of what the evil spirit was doing. William Stafford again gives an account:
Joseph, Sr. first made a circle, twelve or fourteen feet in diameter. This circle, said he, contains the treasure. He then stuck a row of witch hazel sticks, around the said circles, for the purpose of keeping off the evil spirits. Within this circle he made another, of about eight or ten feet in diameter. He walked around three times on the periphery of this last circle, muttering to himself something which I could not understand. . . .[He then] asked leave of absence, and went to the house to inquire of young Joseph the cause of our disappointment. He soon returned and said, that Joseph had remained all this time in the house, looking in his stone and watching the motion of the evil spirit - that he saw the spirit come up to the ring and as soon as it beheld the cone which we had formed around the rod, it caused the money to sink.
Joseph’s Participation in Animal Sacrifice
Animal sacrifice was part of the treasure divining business. At that time, it was understood that there were both good and bad spirits guarding treasures. According to magic books, “white animals [were] sacrificed to the good Spirits and black to the evil.”
Therefore, Smith procured a black sheep for one occasion, claiming it was the only way to appease the evil spirit of a particular treasure. They were to cut its throat and lead it around in a circle while bleeding. Smith even sacrificed a dog on one occasion.
Mr. Stafford, the owner of the sheep, was later asked by M. Wilford Poulson, if Smith stole a black sheep from him. Stafford’s response was:
No, not exactly . . . he did miss a black sheep, but soon Joseph came and admitted he took it for sacrifice but he was willing to work for it. He made wooden sap buckets to fully pay for it.
A nephew of William Stafford testified:
Jo Smith, the prophet, told my uncle, William Stafford, he wanted a fat, black sheep. He said he wanted to cut its throat and make it walk in a circle three times around and it would prevent a pot of money from leaving.
JOSEPH’S OCCULT PRACTICES USED IN HIS CHURCH
AND TEMPLE CEREMONY
In addition to Smith’s peep stones and divining rods, he also carried animal sacrifice into his new religion. For example, he refused to let Willard Richards be ordained an apostle unless a lamb was first slaughtered and sacrificed in the temple.
Joseph soon incorporated animal sacrifice into his new priesthood. He stated:
It is generally supposed that sacrifice was entirely done away when the Great Sacrifice [i.e.] the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus was offered up, and that there will be no necessity for the ordinance of sacrifice in [sic] future; but those who assert this are certainly not acquainted with the duties, privileges and authority of the Priesthood, or with the Prophets. . . . These sacrifices as well as every ordinance belonging to the Priesthood, will, when the Temple of the Lord shall be built, and the sons of Levi be purified, be fully restored and attended to in all their powers, ramifications, and blessings. . . . It is not to be understood that the law of Moses will be established again with all its rites and variety of ceremonies; this has never been spoken of by the prophets; but those things which existed prior to Moses’ day, namely, sacrifice, will be continued.
Joseph’s Belief in Magic Medallions and Astrology
When Smith was killed, a Jupiter Talisman was found on his body. Displaying Hebrew characters, it was shaped like a silver dollar and made of silver or tin and carried the sign of the spirit of Jupiter.
Former director of the LDS Institute of Religion at the University of Utah, Dr. Reed C. Durham, Jr. identified it from a magic book available in Smith’s time. He explained that Jupiter was known to the Egyptians as Ammon; Zeus to the Greeks. Jupiter, in the presence of his priest, supposedly performed the most ancient form of marriage, marriage for time and for eternity (sound familiar?).
Since, astrologically speaking, Jupiter stood for many of Smith’s own personal ambitions, he probably selected it for that reason. The Jupiter ambitions consisted of “high positions, [having] one’s own way,” achieving status, and acquiring the “dignity of a natural ruler.” Also of interest, is the fact that in Astrology, Thursday is Jupiter’s day--and for sixty years Mormon fast meetings were always on Thursdays. So also were the Lodge meetings of the Mormon Masons.
Dr. Durham tried to lessen the negative impact of Joseph having the Jupiter medallion, by confirming its appropriateness:
It carries the sign and image of Jupiter . . . And in some very real and quite mysterious sense, this particular Table of Jupiter was the most appropriate talisman for Joseph Smith to possess. Indeed, it seemed meant for him, because on all levels of interpretation: planetary, mythological, numerological, astrological, mystical cabalism, and talismatic magic, the Prophet was, in every case, appropriately described.
Dr. Durham further explains that the magical “purpose of the Table of Jupiter . . . was to be able to call upon the celestial intelligences, assigned to the particular talisman [and] to assist one in all endeavors.” By Invoking the names of these inscribed gods, he said, it guaranteed the possessor of “riches and favor, and power, and love and peace . . . honors, and dignities, and councils . . .”
It also gave one “the power of stimulating anyone to offer his love to the possessor of the talisman.” Certainly, Joseph would need this kind of help in his money-digging ventures, not to mention his spiritual wifery doctrine where he had to convince a woman to become his plural wife while still married to her lawful husband.
Joseph wasn’t the only one in his family involved in this. His brother, Hyrum, also practiced magic. He possessed parchments containing pentagrams and pentacles used in gaining power over spirits and had a Masonic pouch to hold these parchments. He also carried a dagger with the Seal of Mars.
Joseph’s Occult Practices Continued by the LDS Church
Did succeeding church presidents continue in occult practices after Joseph died? Some of them did. Brigham Young wore a chained bloodstone about his neck for those occasions “when [he went] into unknown or dangerous places.”
Brigham Young inherited Oliver Cowdery’s divining rod. This was the rod, or cane, he was often seen with after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley. It was with it that he pointed out where the Salt Lake Temple would be, saying “this is the place”.
Occult symbolism was important to the leaders. When Brigham Young and John Taylor supervised the making of a woodcut seal for the twelve apostles, they copied occult symbols from Jacob Boehme’s Theosophical Works--a book used for two hundred years by Christian Kabbalists and Rosicrucians.
Attitude of the Modern LDS Church
How do present day leaders respond to all this? Mostly, they try to suppress the incriminating evidence. But, when it does leak out, their rationale is to justify it as did Arturo de Hoyos. He writes:
One cannot help but wonder the reason why the Prophet Joseph Smith, and his brother, Hyrum, the Patriarch would possess articles such as they did unless they actually believed that these items did possess some sort of supernatural power, or that they were a “key” to receiving power or protection. Is it possible that just as the Masonic ritual, which Joseph termed the “apostate endowment” retained principles of truth, that these Pentacles which have come down through the ages to be asscociated [sic] with witchcraft, black magic, and the occult as a whole yet contain elements of truth which were recognized by the Prophet?
Joseph’s Necromancing and Contact with the Dead
In addition to Joseph’s occult interests, he was also a necromancer (contact with the dead). Long before he decided to say it was an angel who guarded the gold plates, he said it was the “bloody ghost” of a Spanish spirit. The following was his first story:
Smith said he had a dream in which he was shown the location of an iron box containing gold plates. He went there, found the spot, but claimed he was knocked down three times attempting to remove the stone covering the treasure. He described his experience to two individuals who later published it in the Amboy Journal. Quoting what Smith told them, they described Smith’s frustration:
“Why can’t I get it?” . . . and then he saw a man standing over the spot, which to him appeared like a Spaniard, having a long beard coming down over his breast to about here. [sic](Smith putting his hand to the pit of his stomach) with his (the ghost’s) throat cut from ear to ear, and the blood streaming down, who told him that he could not get it alone; that another person whom he, Smith, would know at first sight, must come with him, and then he could get it.
Smith related the same story to his father, how the ghost told him the valuable treasure contained information soon to be revealed to the world.
As the story developed over the years, the bloody ghost soon became a nameless angel, then an angel named Nephi. Then, finally, Moroni.
Joseph Plagiarizes from the Masonic Legend of Enoch to use in the Book of Mormon
Masonry also played a significant role in the Book of Mormon story. As Smith learned more about Masonic beliefs, he began to weave them into his buried treasure tale. (Although Joseph Smith was not inducted into the Masonic Lodge until March 15, 1842, after his Book of Mormon story, his knowledge of Masonic lore was probably acquired earlier from his brother Hyrum who was a Mason. Books were also in print containing Masonic stories.)
He particularly borrowed heavily from a Masonic myth called the Legend of Enoch. To those familiar with Mormon history, the parallels are self-evident:
Enoch’s legend describes God giving a secret doctrine to Adam in a dream. Adam is shown, in this dream, a gold plate engraved with unknown characters. Among these characters is the Tetragrammaton, the holy name of God.
Based upon what he saw in his dream, Adam makes a similar plate of gold and copies the sacred characters on to it. He hands it down to his son, Seth, who guards it carefully and also passes it on. Finally, it reaches Enoch.
Enoch, then receives a vision of the future. He foresees a world-destroying flood and is shown that the holy treasure will eventually be kept in a secret cavern inside Mount Moriah.
He then proceeds to build an underground cavern to preserve the treasure from the eventual flood. Placing a stone door over the cavern, he erects two pillars, one of marble the other, brass. Upon the marble pillar he engraves the story of the treasure and the history of the Tower of Babel in Egyptian hieroglyphics.
On the second pillar of brass, he engraves the history of creation and the principles of Masonry. Upon the top of the brass pillar he places a metal ball which miraculously solves problems and gives direction. The legend concludes by stating that the treasure will be found by one of Enoch’s Israelitish descendants.
Now, jumping from Enoch to the future King Solomon--after the flood--Solomon’s masons, while building the King’s temple on the hill Moriah, come across pieces of the treasure, although not yet the gold plate. They turn their findings over to the King. Solomon then places the treasure in a secret underground vault beneath the temple, just as Enoch saw in his vision. Solomon instructs the three men to go back to the ruins and see if they can find more of the treasure.
Upon doing so, they come across the stone covering Enoch’s cave. After three attempts to descend into the cave, they finally obtain the gold plate, noticing that “the brilliancy of the plate and jewels are of themselves sufficient to give light to the cavern.”
Delivering the gold plate to King Solomon, he places it in his underground vault along with the breastplate of the High Priest of Israel and the Urim and Thummin. Solomon then changes the status of the vault from “secret” to “sacred” and allows only a few to see the plate.
The following summarizes the comparisons:
Joseph’s Motive in Producing the Book of Mormon
Was Smith’s only objective in producing the Book of Mormon, to promote the Masonic Legend of Enoch? No. There were three other contributing motives.
The first . . . Smith simply loved to con people and took advantage of his imaginative powers. His mother tells how Smith would often entertain the family for hours relating stories of how the ancient Americans dressed and acted, about their cities, warfare and religion long before he came up with the idea of writing the Book of Mormon.
His enjoyment at fooling people was well known, and reported in affidavits by Smith’s contemporaries. For example, after a rain shower, Smith discovered some white sand. He “tied up several quarts of it [in his ‘frock’] and then went home.” His family was eager to know what he had. Smith later told Peter Ingersol:
At that moment I happened to think about a history found in Canada, called the Golden Bible; so I very gravely told them it was the Golden Bible. To my surprise they were credulous enough to believe what I said.
The second motive? He wanted to answer the big question of the day--are the Indians transplanted Israelites?
This was a hot topic. As early as 1634, Joseph Mede was questioning the origin of the Indians. By 1650 writer Thomas Thorowgood decided they were the Lost Tribes of Israel. In 1775 and 1816 Elias Boudinot and James Adair brought the idea to the forefront again. Newspapers in Smith’s locale also speculated on the origin of the Indians.
Then, in 1823, Ethan Smith wrote, View of the Hebrews, in an attempt to explain the absence of a recorded history for the American Indians. Although Smith borrowed much from Ethan Smith’s book, his idea for the Book of Mormon in the first place, was probably triggered by a magician named Walters:
[Walters] had an old copy of Cicero’s Orations, in the Latin language, out of which he read [in] an unintelligible jargon, which he would afterwards pretend to interpret, and explain, as a record of the former inhabitants of America, and a particular account of the numerous situations where they deposited their treasures previous to their final [destruction].
Joseph, spurred on by public interest in the subject and influenced by both Walters and Ethan Smith’s book, hit on the idea that he would be the one to provide the recorded history.
But, this required some ingenuity. If his story was going to cover Lamanite settlements in South America and Nephites in Central America, how was he going to get their sacred records to the state of New York, three thousand miles away, for him to find fifteen hundred years later? Obviously, he had to invent a character who would carry them there.
But, common sense asks why the character Mormon, or his son Moroni, would travel three thousand miles on foot when they could have buried the plates closer to home? In addition, how could they have transported as many heavy gold plates as Smith describes?
The third motive? The Book of Mormon provided Smith with an outlet for his fascination with Masonic mysteries.
However, it gradually grew to be more than just fascination. Smith admits, in a letter to John Hull, that what he really wanted was to produce a truer and higher level of Masonry. Not just for the United States, but world-wide. Intrigued with this concept, he began using Masonic vocabulary in his sermons, such as the “nail in a sure place,” later to become part of the temple ceremony. He also interjected the motifs of the sun, moon, planets and stars. (These motifs, however, didn’t originate with Masonry. They were a blend of Rosicrucian, Alchemic, Kabbalistic and Hermetic symbols of which the sun and moon were part.)
Joseph’s Use of Masonic Emblems
In the temple in Salt Lake City, and large conference rooms were fashioned like Masonic Lodges and temples, and Masonic emblems were used extensively. This was because Smith believed “the whole earth was compared symbolically to a Grand Masonic Lodge, the counterpart of which was the Grand Lodge in the eternal regions of Glory.”
The temple displays the Masonic All-seeing Eye, used by many ancient religions. Occult literature reveals it as the Diva, or the Cyclopean Eye, the ancient third eye of spiritual insight used by the Chaldeans, Egyptians, Greeks and other pagan religions. Later, it was adopted by Hermetic philosophers as “the sacred emblem of a perpetual divine and uncreated intelligence.” In the Christian context, it was changed to mean the eye of Jehovah. Mormons, today, claim the latter.
On the temple walls one can also see the Masonic phrase, “Holiness to the Lord,” as well as the compass and clasped hands. Even the weathervane of the Nauvoo temple, with its small angel, exhibited the square and compass.
The Beehive emblem was also utilized later as a symbol for the Mormon State by Brigham Young. This emblem, used in earlier centuries by Christian Hermetics, later entered Freemasonry.
Contrary to what many assume, the beehive did not represent physical industry. Metaphorically, it represented one’s inner soul, with the industry of the bee illustrative of the spiritual labor required for the alchemic transmutation of the individual, or dark matter, into gold. This is the basis for the Mormon belief that one may be transformed into a god. Herman R. Bangerter explains that if one is worthy of wearing the symboll of the square and compass on his or her garments, and continues faithfully in the service of the Master, he will receive the spiritual light, which will enable him or her to unite the physical and the spiritual, and through the process of Divine Alchemy, change the mortal corruptible body into a Celestial Body and thereby have eternal life.
In the St. George, Utah Tabernacle (not the temple), there still remains, on a mock fireplace, a round circle resting on the horizontal arm of a cross. Occult writer Madame Blavatsky explains in her Secret Doctrine, that this is the “Venus’ looking-glass,” a symbol of human procreation and also the “sacred cross of Egypt” as carried in the hands of the gods, the Pharaohs and the mummified dead.
In the temple ceremony itself, there is the apron, special handshakes, oaths and penalties, the five points of fellowship, special garments with markings of the square and compass, and giving of a new name--all taken from Masonry.
Probably the most astounding admission by a Mormon scholar on Joseph’s plagiarism of Masonry, was Dr. Reed Durham, Jr.:
The Mormon ceremony which came to be known as the Endowment, introduced by Joseph Smith to Mormon Masons, had an immediate inspiration from Masonry. This is not to suggest that no other source of inspiration could have been involved, but the similarities between the two ceremonies are so apparent and overwhelming that some dependent relationship cannot be denied. They are so similar, in fact, that one writer was led to refer to the Endowment as Celestial Masonry.
While members of the Mormon Church believe every jot and tittle of Mormonism, especially the temple ceremony, was received by revelation, one is reminded of Dr. Durham’s admission about the similarities to Masonry, “To explain them only as coincidence,” he says, “would be ridiculous.”
Joseph’s Use of “Clangs”
To purposely disguise any Masonic connection to his new religion, Smith used clangs--word-inventions intended to mask words.
For example, according to the Tanners, it is believed he incorporated “the first three letters of Moriah (M-O-Riah) . . . and the last three letters of Solomon (SoloM-O-N)”, to come up with Mor-mon, which is both the name of his sacred book and the name of its main character.
Another clang is Mahonri Moriancumer, the name of a character in the Book of Ether. According to Dr. Durham, the last name, Moriancumer, could easily be “a compound of ‘Moriah,’ the sacred hill where Solomon stored Enoch’s treasure--and ‘Cumorah,’ the sacred hill where the new Enoch [Smith] found his treasure plates.”
Moriancumer’s first name, Mahonri, according to Walter F. Prince, is “clang” for Masonry. This is achieved by replacing the s in Masonry with an h and changing the y to i. Therefore, Mahonri Moriancumer, “divested of ‘clang’ is Masonry Moriah Cumorah.”
Joseph’s Desire for Occult Revelation and Secret Ceremonies
The reason Joseph was so attracted to Masonry, was because he believed the Masonic ceremony contained rituals and doctrines practiced by the ancient Eleusinians and the Greek mystery religions. He was convinced they contained secrets handed down from Adam. Dr. Durham acknowledged this by saying that Joseph Smith accepted Masonry because ”he recognized true Ancient Mysteries contained therein.”
Smith, however, chose not to stick with the Masonic Lodge, but start his own. Why?
He became convinced that Masonic teachings, handed down from the Hermetic Magi, Babylon, Chaldea, Egypt and the Kabbalah, had been distorted over time. He felt that further back, there was an original truth, a purer Masonry. Joseph’s objective was to get to the very root of things and have a religion he could claim contained the most primordial doctrines--ones that originated as close to the beginning of time as possible.
Dr. Durham further confirmed this by saying that Smith “believed he was restoring Masonry’s original pristine brilliancy, and re-creating the original Mysteries of the ancient Priesthood.” Smith also incorporated ideas from the ancient Eleusinian mysteries gleaned from the Encyclopaedia Britannia and other available sources in 1837.
What other aspect of the shrouded teachings and doctrines of these cultic mysteries, fascinated Joseph? They could only be passed on to those made worthy through ritualistic ceremonies.
These ancient rituals included washings and anointings, oaths and penalties, a new name, special garments, covenants of chastity, achieving godhood and special passwords to enable one to pass by the sentries who guard the gates of heaven.
Most of these ancient ceremonies were taken up with initiates watching live actors in a drama--not much different from today’s temple ceremony. (Temple participants today, view most of the drama by watching actors in a movie.)
The idea of the temple drama was originally used in the Rosicrucian order, then incorporated into French Masonry in 1750. Known as allegorical “mystery plays”, they taught rituals which were “fundamentally Hermetic-Kabbalistic”. Of further interest is the 28th Degree of the Scottish rite, also known as “the Rite de Perfection,” which was “administered in a room painted like a vast garden, with open fields, forests, and mountains.” Similar murals adorn Mormon temple walls.
In a way, Smith’s desire to find God’s original revelation, was a noble endeavor. However, the deceit of the whole matter was that the ideas gleaned from the ancient mystery cults, including the Kaballah, he passed off as revelation from the Holy Ghost:
Now, I ask all who hear me, why the learned men who are preaching salvation, say that God created the heavens and the earth out of nothing? The reason is, that they are unlearned in the things of God, and have not the gift of the Holy Ghost . . . But I am learned, and know more than all the world put together. The Holy Ghost does, anyhow, and he is within me, and comprehends more than all the world; and I will associate myself with him.
Joseph was very taken up with the Jewish Kaballah (the mystical, esoteric tradition of Judaism, claiming the original knowledge Adam received from God). His diary admits that he studied with a Jewish convert, Alexander Neibauer who had an extensive library on the Kabbalah. (”Freemasonry adopted portions of the Kabbalah into its third degree, the Royal Arch, and into some of the higher grades.”)
Faithful members believed his new insights were revealed from God. A year after his study with Neibauer, at the funeral of a man named King Follett, he began teaching some of these complex insights, gleaned from the Kaballah and other sources, his more famous one being the following:
[In the beginning] the head God called together the Gods and sat in grand council to bring forth the world . . . The mind or the intelligence which man possesses is [co-eternal] with God himself . . . God . . . is an exalted man . . . we have got to learn how to be gods . . . the same as all gods have done before.
Also influenced by the Kabbalistic concept that sacred revelation was progressive and open-ended, he felt he could receive a higher and more advanced revelation of God, and he thus began to receive his own revelations.
Many argue that Joseph Smith was uneducated, a statement promoted by Mormon leaders.
But, he was no dummy. He may have been illiterate in the beginning, but he became an avid learner while Neibaur tutored him. Smith had Latin, Hebrew, German and Greek New Testaments. Whether he could read them all is debatable; however, LDS history says he could read the German New Testament.
A look at the Modern LDS Church
Today’s Mormons argue that while all this may be true about Joseph Smith, the Church today no longer believes all that “superstitious stuff” “They have high morals, excellent ethics and standards, etc.”
But, there is something missing in this presumption. Mormonism’s foundation rests upon a man which God, in Deuteronomy 18:9-14, warns about:
Let no one be found among you . . . who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord.
Further, two Presidents of the Mormon Church said, ”Joseph Smith is the foundation of this church,” and “Mormonism . . . must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith,” If so, it is, therefore, important to examine the life and claims of Joseph Smith closely. If he, as the foundation of their church, is proved false, then all the doctrines of Mormonism must also be false.
Some may continue to argue, “At least Mormons believe in Christ!”
But, even the most radical cults preach Christ. Mormonism, typical of other cults, teaches that faith in Jesus and what he did on the cross is not “enough” for salvation. Brigham Young taught that full salvation (exaltation in the highest heaven) can only come through acceptance of and final say-so of Joseph Smith, not through the grace of Christ:
No man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith. Every man and woman must have the certification of Joseph Smith, Junior, as a passport to their entrance into the mansion where God and Christ are.
[There is] no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith. If we get our salvation, we shall have to pass by him [Joseph Smith] . . . we cannot get around him.
Even non-Mormons might be tempted to say, “Well, let’s not hold Joseph Smith against the Mormon Church--look how far they’ve come! They no longer believe in divining rods or peep stones, and present day leaders certainly don’t engage in occult practices like animal sacrifice and magic circles.”
But the issue is not that they don’t practice them anymore. The issue is--that is what their church was built upon!
A true church must line up with all of God’s Word. Can we imagine God allowing his Old Testament prophets to indulge in magic and occult activities? In this respect, Smith’s reputation was so bad that he was refused membership in the Methodist Church.
When Joseph Smith asked to join the Methodist church the preacher, unaware of his occult activities, put his name on the rolls. Eventually, however, a board member, Joseph Lewis, heard about it and objected. He said, “Joseph’s manner of life rendered him unfit to be a member.” Smith was asked to withdraw unless he wanted to recant, confess, and reform himself. Smith refused. Later, in the Amboy paper, Lewis, along with a local preacher, Joshua McKune, explained:
We thought it was a disgrace to the church to have a practicing necromancer, a dealer in enchantments and bleeding ghosts . . . his occupation, habits and moral character were at variance with the discipline [and] his name would be a disgrace to the church.
Therefore, it makes no difference whether Mormons have high ethics or profess a belief in Christ. If the foundation is not built upon Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone, it’s false.
Often it is asked: “Why don’t Mormon leaders wipe the slate clean and tell the truth to their members about Joseph Smith? Why don’t they gradually get rid of unbiblical beliefs and build their church around their high ethics and a Biblical belief in Jesus?”
But, Mormon leaders find themselves between a rock and a hard place. Knowing, as they do, the facts about Joseph Smith, they realize that if they admit to them, they chance destroying the faith of their members. Therefore, out of necessity they have to continue white-washing the image of Joseph Smith and extolling the divine foundation of the church.
As a result, Mormons continue to be deceived, along with many unsuspecting converts, who are not told certain Mormon doctrines up front, but led to believe they are joining another Christian church.
One must not be gullible but discerning, like the Bereans in Acts 17 who were praised by Paul because they tested everything he said by the Scriptures.
First Thessalonians 5:21says one must prove all things and hold fast to that which is good. Is the following good?
· Joseph was involved in the use of peep stones, divining rods, witchcraft, astrology, blood sacrifices, necromancy, and magic circles.
· Joseph continued to rely upon these methods when he started his church, incorporating them into his temple ceremony along with rituals from ancient mystery religions.
· Everything Smith introduced into his new church, he passed off as divine revelation and requirements for salvation.
· To translate the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham, he used the same peep stones used as a money-digger and palm reader.
· Many of the events pertaining to the Book of Mormon, were taken from the Masonic Legend of Enoch.
· Joseph Smith told conflicting stories on how he found the plates:
1. He found them through a brown seer stone (according to Brigham Young and Martin Harris).
2. Joseph claimed he received them from a Spanish ghost.
3. Joseph claimed he received them through a dream
4. Joseph claimed they were received from a nameless angel.
5. Then, through an angel named Nephi.
6. Lastly, through an angel named Moroni.
No individual, knowing the truth about the Mormon Church’s occult background, could possibly follow Joseph Smith as a prophet or embrace his teachings.
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