One of our Sunday School teachers was baptized into the Church when she was 35 years old. As the only member of the Restored Church in her family and living in what some call the “buckle” of the “Bible Belt”, her membership was often challenged—particularly by close family members.
One day her brother arrogantly came to her and said, “If I could prove to you that the founder of your Church was an unrespectable good-for-nothing, a gold digger, etc.… would you leave your Church?”
She responded, “Well, yes.”
He got really excited and said, “Well, let me tell you about that Joseph Smith.”
She politely interrupted him and said, “No, you’d have to tell me about Jesus Christ because He is the founder of my Church.”
Her brother didn’t know what to say. And that was the end of the discussion.
This convert’s response teaches an important lesson: We are not responsible for explaining or defending every action and choice of every prophet God has ever called—whether it be Joseph Smith or Moses or Thomas S. Monson.
When we have a testimony that Jesus Christ founded this Church and still leads it today, the alleged missteps of His servants—whether partially true, completely true, exaggerated, or totally false—all become less significant to us.
A Christ-centered testimony makes it easier to “give Brother Joseph a break” because we realize that our membership in the Restored Church is rooted not in illusions of a perfect prophet but in the confirmation we receive that Jesus is the head of this Church.
Britt and I have discovered that when our testimonies are rooted in Christ, we are always able to fall back on the question, “Where can I go to find the words of Eternal Life?” With a testimony that Christ lives, we invariably realize that nowhere do we learn more of Him and His truth than in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Where else could we go and still have temples, priesthood authority, modern Revelation, etc.—all of which so powerfully help us come unto Christ, the Redeemer.
So, let them say what they will of Joseph Smith because Christ is at the head of this Church.
And because that is the case, “no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”
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