Joseph Smith and Simon the Sorcerer Compared

07 July

Joseph Smith 8The Joy of Redeeming the Dead”; “…Every prophetsince Joseph Smith has emphasized the imperative need to provide all ordinances for ourselves and our deceased ancestors.” — Richard G. Scott [emp. mine]


Acts 8:9-24; “But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: 10 To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. 11 And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. 12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. 14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: 15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: 16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) 17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. 18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, 19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. 20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. 21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. 22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. 23 For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. 24 Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.”

‘Pride, ambition, and an affectation of grandeur’ have always been the mischief of ‘the world and the church’, as Matthew Henry said regarding Simon the Sorcerer. The young church had a problem with ditching everything from their past and right on queue, Simon enters, stage left. Whether persuaded on his own or by Satan, there he was and some in the body of Christ picked up right where they left off, falling for his shenanigans. Meanwhile, 1,800 years later, another was honing his tools for a grand performance.

The biblical scenario above is a mirror image of what took place in the States at the beginning of the 2nd Great Awakening in the early nineteenth century.

America, in her shining moment of throwing herself at the feet of God, had some in her crowd panting after the showmanship, and sometimes lucky magic tricks, of Joseph Smith, Junior. He was the snake oil salesman of upstate New York.

Joe Smith had a bridge to sell and many, many people bought into the plan. America was going to be known worldwide, and the kids of those who fought in the Revolution who wanted to make their papas proud were chomping at the bit to do something. Anything, really. Like Simon Magus, ol’ Joe knew a few magic tricks of his own he had picked up from his own father.

Christianity in post Revolutionary Americana had more similarities to the early body of Christ than not, making them easy prey for the likes of Smith and his magical ideas.

Are you ambitious? √

Pride for yourself and country? √

Want to be in on the action? √

Want to be known, or remembered for ‘being there’? √

While most were out discovering the open mountains and valleys of the vast landscape, some threw caution to the wind and had forgotten about hidden pits of quicksand waiting for its next victim. Once you fall in and the more you flail around, the further you sink.

So it was with Joe Smith, and early Mormonism. He was charismatic, brash, and new. His vernacular held enough Christian vocabulary to sound legit, and people were sucked into the trap. The longer they stayed, the more invested they were emotionally, as well as financially. In those days disposable incomes and vocations were unheard of, making it nearly impossible to reinvent oneself. They were stuck.

Every Prophet Since Joseph Smith

You’ll take note of the key word in the phrase above. It’ll tell you that no reputable teacher, pastor, or even prophet before Smith came along, proclaimed the doctrines he did. In fact, no one outside of that circle has done so even today. We have no record of people building massive temples to perform necromantic rituals as the Mormons do now.

Unlike early Christianity when members of the body of Christ were reprimanded, they conformed, Smith on the other hand chided the superiors. Rebellion coursed through the man’s veins just as the witchcraft he openly practiced. With his mind set on being famous, a couple of naysayers weren’t about to stop his freight train of ideas.

He claimed God had told him that his name would be known for good and evil, and boy, was it ever. That revelation is the one of the very few true things he ever said.

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