Church History Professor Alexander Baugh Speaks on the Roles of Joseph Smith
Of all the roles of the Prophet Joseph Smith, prophet, translator, revelator and seer, his role as a seer is the greatest, BYU Church History and Doctrine Professor Alexander Baugh said at a devotional address on Tuesday.
As a seer is one who sees visions and visions can take various forms, said Baugh, including heavenly visitations, visions through divine instruments and mind visions.
During mind visions, "they saw things by their spiritual eyes as if they were literally seeing and experiencing it for themselves," Baugh said. "It was so real to them that it was if they were actually there. It would be something similar to what people experience when they watch a 3D movie in an IMAX theater—times one billion!"
Here are a few more highlights Baugh shared on each of the roles of Joseph Smith:
Joseph Smith as a Seer: "A number of years ago I decided to explore the types of visions Joseph Smith had, as well as how many, and I was rather surprised when I discovered that documentation exists to show that he had over seventy visions. Most of these visions are not found in the standard works but pervade the Prophet’s own history and the records kept by contemporaries who were present when a vision was received, or when Joseph Smith spoke about his sacred communications."
Joseph Smith as a Translator: "But what did the Prophet mean when he said that the Book of Mormon was the most correct book? Many have interpreted that to mean the Book of Mormon is the most correct book in terms of doctrine. Could I suggest that what the Prophet may have actually been saying was that the English translation of the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any translated text. Why? Because the translation was given by revelation, and if it was given by revelation from God, it was correct."
Joseph Smith as a Revelator: "Given that the source of Joseph Smith’s revelations was Jesus Christ, it would be virtually impossible for any uninspired person, one not endowed with the gift of the Holy Ghost, to produce anything comparable to the Prophet’s collective revelations. It cannot be done, even if that individual were the most gifted, intelligent, knowledgeable, cerebral theologian, religious scholar, or academic. They could not do it."
Joseph Smith as Prophet: "Joseph Smith’s life exemplified the role of what a prophet was, is, and should be. Nor was he shy or reserved in letting others know that he was indeed a genuine prophet—one called and appointed by the very God of heaven Himself. His doctrinal teachings are deep, profound, far-reaching, and all-encompassing; and to those seeking additional light and truth, his inspired instructions and concepts are comparable in many instances to the eternal truths revealed in the canon of scripture."
Next devotional address
On Tuesday, July 1, Jim Slaughter, University Chaplain and Assistant Dean of Students, will deliver the devotional address at 11:05 am in the de Jong Concert Hall. Slaughter will speak on "one of the greatest blessings we enjoy in this life: the blessing of choice."