Criticism of Mormonism/Books/One Nation Under Gods/Use of sources/Joseph's "Grandiose Sense of Self Importance"

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Joseph's "Grandiose Sense of Self Importance"?

A FairMormon Analysis of: One Nation Under Gods, a work by author: Richard Abanes

Author's Claims

One Nation under Gods, page 176-177 (hardback and paperback)

An examination of Smith's life reveals that he regularly exhibited all of these [narcissistic] characteristics... In his own History of the Church, Smith declared: "I am the only man that has been able to keep the whole church together....Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it."

Author's Sources

Endnote 29, page 544 (hardback); page 542 (paperback)

HC, vol. 408-409.


The author of ONUG attempts to illustrate that Joseph Smith had "a grandiose sense of self importance" [1] by isolating the Prophet's words from the tongue-in-cheek context in which they were delivered.

Since the author quoted a similar statement (at the beginning of chapter nine) from this same tongue-in-cheek discourse, it is therefore necessary to repeat what has previously been explained.

There are two key facts necessary for undestanding the tone and state of mind that Joseph Smith was speaking in.

Joseph Smith had a particular audience that he was directing his words to. Joseph Smith had previously read a scriptural passage to the congregation, which explained the nature of the words. Preceding the recorded discourse, the following details are given:

Address of the Prophet--His Testimony Against the Dissenters at Nauvoo. President Joseph Smith read the 11th Chap. II Corinthians. [2]

[Who was Joseph speaking against? Answer: The very people who had beaten, tarred, feathered, spit upon, and would ultimately kill him. How did 2 Corinthians 11 explain what he was going to say? Open up a Bible and take a look, paying particular attention to verses 1, 16-18, 22-23, 32-33. The Apostle Paul said]:

WOULD to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. (v. 1)

I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little. That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting. Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also. (v. 16-18)

Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they ministers of Christ (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. (v. 22-23)

In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands. (v. 22-23)

Understanding that Joseph had read the above to the congregation as an introduction to his address makes all the difference. In so doing, Joseph was asking the saints to "bear with him" in his "folly", while he "boasted foolishly" about his "labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent". He also wanted them to know that what he was about to say, would not be "after the Lord, but as it were foolishly." Joseph Smith planned to "glory after the flesh" as he spoke against his dissenters, just as Paul had done. He was going to mock the fools with foolishness, while simultaneously making it very clear: "WHATEVER YOU DO TO ME, I WILL ALWAYS COME OUT ON TOP!"

Joseph taught, "Who, among all the Saints in these last days, can consider himself as good as our Lord? Who is Perfect? Who is pure? Who is holy as He was? Are they to be found? He never transgressed or broke a commandment or law of heaven--no deceit was in His mouth, neither was guile found in His heart.... Where is one like Christ? He cannot be found on earth." [3] In a later discourse, Joseph stated, "None ever were perfect but Jesus; and why was He perfect? Because He was the Son of God, and had the fullness of the Spirit, and greater power than any man." [4]


  1. }Richard Abanes, One Nation under Gods (New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2002), 176.
  2. Smith, History of the Church, 6:408.
  3. Ibid., 2:23.
  4. Ibid., 4:358.