The Times and Teachings of Joseph Smith (2011)




Director:      Gary Cook.   

Starring:      Instructional. 

the teaching and influencing moments from the life of the Prophet Joseph Smith


Spoiler Warning:

Joseph Smith was born in 1805 of parents who instructed him in the Christian religion.  Their whole district was deeply committed to religion.  There was a lot of debate over different and varying religious answers and it confused Joseph somewhat.  He thought there must be one interpretation that everyone can agree upon.

One day he was reading the Epistle of James:  "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him."  So, Joseph starts asking of God for the answers to his religious questions. 

Joseph went into the woods and when he was sure he was alone he started asking questions of God:  "I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head above the brightness of the sun which descended gradually till it fell upon me.  I saw God, the Father and His son, Jesus Christ.  They did, in reality, speak to me."  Joseph asked God which of the many sects should he join and God told him not to join any of them. 

Joseph runs home to tell his mother. 

Joseph led a group of men to help the scattered saints.  The men walked 25 miles to Adam-ondi-Ahman. 

Joseph starts to preach his message to others.  Among other things, he says that salvation can come only through Jesus Christ.  His mission is to testify of Jesus Christ::  "I know that He lives.  I know."

October 1830.  Joseph appoints men to preach the Gospel through the western states.  A woman in the town of Kirtland, Ohio, named Elizabeth Ann Whitney, had a feeling that the word of the Lord is coming to their town.  A man named Parley P. Pratt comes to town and he preaches that God again has spoken from the heavens.  There is a new prophet and his writings have been published in the Book of Mormon.  In two or three weeks the Mormons baptize 127 souls. 

A woman, Miss Phoebe Carter, first heard the Gospel in Maine.  She was so moved by the message that she wanted to unite with the saints of God.  She travels via a canal boat. 

Missionaries traveled throughout north and south, east and west going to every state in the USA and even going into Canada. 

April 3, 1836.  Prophecy was fulfilled when Moses appeared to Joseph and committed the keys to the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth.

Joseph marries to Emma, but he still does his missionary work along with many others.  Missionaries even go to Great Britain now.  Within 18 months, they baptized almost 8,000 souls. 

When Joseph was a boy he looked up to his older brother Alvin.  He asks Alvin about what it takes to be saved?  Alvin comments that he can't believe that God wants to save only a few souls.  He wants to save everyone.

Joseph says that Alvin watched over his younger brothers with a father's care.  And Alvin had complete faith in his visits with the divine messengers.  So Joseph tells them about the angel and the record buried in the hill.   Joseph can't translate the work.  He feels that he has to wait and prepare himself so when he's older, he can translate it. 

Alvin lays on his death bed.  He tells Joseph to do everything he can to obtain the record.  Alvin dies and Joseph thinks hard on what is the purpose of man's existence on this earth.  A preacher comes to him and tells him to forget his foolish notions and come into the church.  Joseph says he can't do that. 

One day Joseph tells his mother that in the temple he had a vision of the celestial kingdom of God, and the voice of the Lord revealed these words.  He starts reading the words:  "All who die without a knowledge of the Gospel, who would have received it, will be heirs of the Kingdom of God."  Joseph tells mom that Alvin is not lost.  Mother is pleased with that message and she kisses Joseph.

Joseph is there at the side of his father's death bed.  Dad says he sees Alvin.  These were his last words. 

Joseph has a huge temple built. 

A man named Phelps says he first heard about the Book of Mormon from Pratt.  While reading the book, he was struck with a sacred joy. 

One night a messenger from God came to speak to Joseph, saying there was a book written upon gold plates and placed under a rock and the fullness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it.  A year later it was time for Joseph to receive the plates. 

Joseph is persecuted for his religious beliefs.  One time he was tarred and feathered.  He was thrown in jail.  He lost members of his family and friends. 

As boys Joseph and his brother Hyrum Smith were very dedicated to each other.  On his deathbed, Alvin tells the two brothers to take care of each other.  Hyrum did follow his brother's request.  "No mortal man could have been more loyal, more true, more faithful in life or in death than was Hyrum Smith to the prophet of the living God." 

Joseph and Hyrum were betrayed by friends and were in put in a prison called "Liberty Jail".   Hyrum's wife Mary has to leave her home in the dead of winter to get away from the persecution heaped upon them.  She and many others had to leave. 

In Nauvoo, Illinois Joseph and Hyrum worked side by side to complete the temple.  And still they were persecuted.  In the newspaper there is a threat that Joseph Smith might be murdered.  Joseph tells Hyrum that if they go to Carthage, Illinois we will both be butchered.

In the winter of 1833-1834, the Saints in Jackson County, Missouri, were driven out of their homes by enemy mobs.   Joseph organizes a group of men called Zion's Camp to march to Missouri to bring emergency supplies and to help rebuild the Saints lives. 

Arriving at their destination, now the Governor of Missouri changes his mind and refuses to intervene on behalf of the Saints.  Zion's Camp left without a fight.  Some men left the faith because there was no fight. 

Work goes ahead on building another temple.  Joseph explains the importance of the temple:  "In the temple we can receive all the ordinances of salvation, not only for ourselves, but for those who have died without them." 


I have seen quite a few films about the Mormons.  This one is not bad, but it's certainly less historical.  It's also a bit confusing at times because the film jumps around a lot in time.  There are also a lot of people who tell their interpretations of the Mormon faith.  Very religious people will enjoy this, but as an historian this is not what I was looking for.  A more traditional telling of the story of Joseph Smith would have been better.  It would have been a better way of teaching about Joseph Smith and his ideas, and be much more thorough in the telling.  I would like someone to produce a more traditional movie about the Prophet Joseph Smith.  Maybe they have.  See Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration (2013)

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.



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