The detractors are referring to a statement Joseph Smith delivered in Nauvoo, Illinois, in May, 1844, shortly before his death. It is true that he was boasting, having patterned his address after a talk by Paul recorded in 2 Corinthians chapter 11. In that sermon, Paul the Apostle was doing some boasting of his own to the Gentiles. Joseph Smith picked up on Paul's theme when he said, "I have more to boast of than any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such work as I." (History of the Church, Vol.6, pp. 408-09). While we aren't sure this is a completely accurate quote, let us assume that it is. Detractors read into this statement that the Prophet was saying he did a greater work than Jesus Christ. Considering the entire text and the circumstance of the time, he seems to be saying only that he was able to keep the Church together better than others did, including Jesus Christ. Surely Joseph Smith would be the first to agree that keeping a church together is not a greater or a more significant work than what was done by Jesus. There is nothing as significant as being the God of Israel, taking upon oneself the sins of the world, dying for all mankind that they might live, nor being resurrected. Surely, everlasting life is the greatest gift anyone could give. Nevertheless, the Lord himself said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father" (John 14:12). To what greater work could the Savior be referring? Perhaps the Lord means a larger work, but certainly not more significant. For example, John the Baptist presumably baptized more people than Jesus, Paul may have converted more as a missionary, Moses led more Israelites out of bondage, Noah built a bigger ship, and Joseph Smith kept the Church together longer. The point should be clear: if greater means quantity, there are many who fulfilled the Savior's promise that his followers would do "greater works," and this includes Joseph Smith. (Stephen R. Gibson)
Let's take a look at this statement and try and figure the logic behind their thinking.
It is true that he was boasting, having patterned his address after a talk by Paul recorded in 2 Corinthians chapter 11. In that sermon, Paul the Apostle was doing some boasting of his own to the Gentiles.
Well since he doesn't list the verses that could mean he doesn't know or he wants you to think he does. So lets look at 2 Corinthians chapter 11.
2 Corinthians 11
Paul and the False Apostles
1 I hope you will put up with me in a little foolishness. Yes, please put up with me! 2 I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. 3 But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.
5 I do not think I am in the least inferior to those “super-apostles.” 6 I may indeed be untrained as a speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way. 7 Was it a sin for me to lower myself in order to elevate you by preaching the gospel of God to you free of charge? 8 I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you. 9 And when I was with you and needed something, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied what I needed. I have kept myself from being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so. 10 As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, nobody in the regions of Achaia will stop this boasting of mine. 11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!
12 And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. 13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.
Paul Boasts About His Sufferings
16 I repeat: Let no one take me for a fool. But if you do, then tolerate me just as you would a fool, so that I may do a little boasting. 17 In this self-confident boasting I am not talking as the Lord would, but as a fool. 18 Since many are boasting in the way the world does, I too will boast. 19 You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! 20 In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or puts on airs or slaps you in the face. 21 To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that!
Whatever anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me. 33 But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.
Please oh please tell me how this is boasting? To me it sounds like Paul is making it very clear that everyone knows his past and that all the focus is put on the REAL Jesus Christ and not a false gospel. Now lets take a look at something that LDS apologist can't stand to do and look at things in CONTEXT.
Come on! ye prosecutors! ye false swearers! All hell, boil over! Ye burning mountains, roll down your lava! for I will come out on the top at last. I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet. You know my daily walk and conversation. I am in the bosom of a virtuous and good people. How I do love to hear the wolves howl! When they can get rid of me, the devil will also go.
Now I will be the first to admit that I am not the smartest person out there but It would appear that Joseph is making it very clear where he wants all the attention to be (on himself). Now at this point he goes into John 14:12. Now I find this funny that an LDS apologist will try and use this chapter to justify their cause because it is talking about how Jesus and God are one in the same. Let's look at the entire section which this is taken out of which starts in verse 5.
Jesus the Way to the Father
5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
Now if you noticed the LDS apologist is claiming our salvation that Jesus gave us on the cross is a work performed by Jesus (implying that Jesus needed to perform works for his salvation/exhalation) and that we can do something better than the salvation for all mankind. So what works could Jesus be referring to? Again I admit that I am not the smartest one out there but maybe, just maybe it could be the works done by us through the Holy Spirit as a result of the faith we have by not having seen Jesus in person. He ends his statement by saying that Joseph kept his church together longer. Well first off I encourage you to look up how many offshoots there are of the Mormon church for one. Second the church that Jesus set up isn't a building, it's believers. And if it wasn't still together than the gates of hell would of had to of prevailed against it as Jesus said it wouldn't (Mathew 16:18), which would make Jesus a liar and a false prophet which the LDS agree that he isn't.
I ask that if you are listening to someone such as this trying to pull scripture to justify their cause you take what they give you and look at it with what we like to call the 20/20 rule. This means you look up to 20 verses before and 20 verses after. You can make the Bible say almost anything you want by taking verses out of context. I pray this helps you better understand the verses that God gives us and to also know Joseph was extremely self centered to the point he would write down prophecies of himself to make him appear legit to his followers. Jesus loves you as you are and you will not get there by following the teachings of Joseph and his band of merry men.
Your Brother in Christ,
Ephesians 2 Ministry