Articles of Faith, p. 25*; “The Seal of Martyrdom—”The highest evidence of sincerity that a man can give his fellow-men—the highest proof that he has spoken the truth in any given case—is that he perseveres in it unto death, and seals his testimony with his blood…” – James E. Talmage
John 15:13; “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Acts 22:20; “And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.”
The words of Mr. Talmage are not truth.
Here are the facts:
‘Martyr’ is a Greek word, and the transliteration for this is ‘martys’, pronounced mar-toos. It means ‘a witness (literal [judicially], or figurative [genitive]); by analogy a “martyr” :- martyr, record, witness’. (Strong’s Exhaustive Hebrew and Greek Talking Dictionary)
Additionally, dictionary.com describes martyr as “someone who willingly suffers death rather than renounce his, or her own faith; a person who is put to death or endures great suffering on behalf of any belief, principle, or cause; a person who seeks sympathy or attention by feigning or exaggerating pain, deprivation, etc.”
Now, the Bible tells us there’s no greater love than when a man gives his life. However, the Bible does NOT say that giving your life serves as proof he/she has spoken truth.
If this were so, then Islam must be true. Think of all the ISIS suicide bombers killing themselves every day for their cause. No one outside their circle believes ISIS’ message is true!
Furthermore, and of equal import, is Joe Smith’s ‘situation’. Smith wasn’t a martyr then, nor is he a martyr today.
Joseph Smith died in a gunfight while incarcerated at the Carthage Jail. Being a martyr means giving your life. Smith didn’t give his life for the cause of Christ, or Mormonism. He died while trying to save his own life and firing back at his assailants.
*In the book form of Articles of Faith, this reference is found on p. 415 with a variation of listing it as #7, whereas, online it’s listed as #4, p. 25.