My Beliefs

ARE WE RELATED?
Donny Osmond

“As I’ve traveled all over the world, the fact that I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has caused a lot of interesting questions. I’ve received so many letters and e-mails asking things like, What are the basic beliefs of Latter-day Saints?”

Debby & Donny Osmond

My Testimony

Listen

…Some want to know how Debbie and I have been able to maintain a strong marriage — over all these years — while living in the world of show business. Others want to know how we dealt with the challenges of raising a close and happy family in such difficult times.

How do we maintain a balance between work, and family life? Well, you know it’s not always easy, but the following pages are my attempt to explain a way of life that helps answer these kinds of questions. It gives me stability in a world, and in a business, that can be uncertain, compromising, and stressful. It’s the pattern that gives me direction in my life. And, I hope that this information will help answer some of your questions.

Questions & Answers

  • Question on Joseph Smith lineage

    hello,

    I came across you website via Google and thought you might have some insight into my question related to LDS. My father is dedicated to defining our families ancestry and direct blood line. We have all gotten our DNA tested and discovered that we are direct descendants of Rev. John Lathrop and Joseph Smith. Since both whom are recognized in US history as staples in religions movements. This leads me to my questions.

    -Does being a a descendant of people recognized by followers in religions groups as “holy prophets” mean my family or myself is considered as “holy prophets”?

    -More directly, does being a descendant of the founder & leading prophet in LDS, Joesph Smith, categories my self as a, i guess one would say, “higher being” or “holy” in the view of LDS members?

    -Does being a descendant of a prophet mean I can enter a temple without going through the various ceremonies, since the blood in the veins is that of the founding prophet?
      Im guessing there there is a different sent of unspoken rules for those in the higher-priesthood of LDS.

    -Also one last random question, how to people of the church know if someone is “allowed” to enter the temple or if they are LDS all together?

    -i know only certain people are allowed to enter the church, so why does a church invite outsiders to explore the church beliefs & join, if outsiders are not allowed to set foot on the property?

    thank you for your time

    -KT

    Hi KT,
     
    This is a very interesting question and I am honored to be able to communicate with one of the descendants of the Prophet Joseph Smith.  
     
    There have been a few cases down through the ages where sons of prophets became prophets also, such as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (renamed Israel by the Lord) and Jacob’s son, Joseph.  There are a couple of instances in the Book of Mormon, also where this occurred, namely Nephi, son of Lehi and Alma, son of Alma.  As far as I can recall, these are the only such cases. 
     
    It certainly does not follow, in fact, in the case of Joseph Smith, when the Mormon Pioneer Trek West took place, his wife, Emma, chose not to follow Brigham Young, the succeeding prophet to Joseph.  She felt that their son should be the next prophet of the Church and eventually, a group of others who did not follow the body of the Church west, formed what was called, The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and they finally persuaded the oldest son, Joseph Smith III, to be their president, whom they called a prophet, but whom we do not acknowledge as such.  The Reorganized Church based their claim on the oldest son, each generation, being the prophet but after only a few generations, there was not a son, and the Church renamed itself to The Community of Christ and have altered much of the basic tenants of the originally restored Church.
     
    Each individual is expected to work out their own salvation by learning the true gospel of Jesus Christ and following him by living his gospel.  The basic steps in doing this are first, to find out which, if any, of the thousands of Christian churches that are claiming the truth is really his.  The Lord has given us the formula by which he assures us that we can know the truth:  
     
    7  Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:   (New Testament | Matthew 7:7)
     
    5  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.
    6  But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.  For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
    (New Testament | James 1:5 – 6)
     
    9  But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
    10  But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
     
    14  But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.  (New Testament | 1 Corinthians 2:9 – 10; 14)
     
    Have you read about your ancestor’s experience as he was called to be the prophet of the restoration?  Here is what he wrote:
     
    3  I was born in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and five, on the twenty-third day of December, in the town of Sharon, Windsor county, State of Vermont . . . My father, Joseph Smith, Sen., left the State of Vermont, and moved to Palmyra, Ontario (now Wayne) county, in the State of New York, when I was in my tenth year, or thereabouts.  In about four years after my father’s arrival in Palmyra, he moved with his family into Manchester in the same county of Ontario—
    4  His family consisting of eleven souls, namely, my father, Joseph Smith; my mother, Lucy Smith (whose name, previous to her marriage, was Mack, daughter of Solomon Mack); my brothers, Alvin (who died November 19th, 1823, in the 26th year of his age), Hyrum, myself, Samuel Harrison, William, Don Carlos; and my sisters, Sophronia, Catherine, and Lucy.
    5  Some time in the second year after our removal to Manchester, there was in the place where we lived an unusual excitement on the subject of religion.  It commenced with the Methodists, but soon became general among all the sects in that region of country.  Indeed, the whole district of country seemed affected by it, and great multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties, which created no small stir and division amongst the people, some crying, “Lo, here!” and others, “Lo, there!”  Some were contending for the Methodist faith, some for the Presbyterian, and some for the Baptist.
    6  For, notwithstanding the great love which the converts to these different faiths expressed at the time of their conversion, and the great zeal manifested by the respective clergy, who were active in getting up and promoting this extraordinary scene of religious feeling, in order to have everybody converted, as they were pleased to call it, let them join what sect they pleased; yet when the converts began to file off, some to one party and some to another, it was seen that the seemingly good feelings of both the priests and the converts were more pretended than real; for a scene of great confusion and bad feeling ensued—priest contending against priest, and convert against convert; so that all their good feelings one for another, if they ever had any, were entirely lost in a strife of words and a contest about opinions.
    7  I was at this time in my fifteenth year.  My father’s family was proselyted to the Presbyterian faith, and four of them joined that church, namely, my mother, Lucy; my brothers Hyrum and Samuel Harrison; and my sister Sophronia.
    8  During this time of great excitement my mind was called up to serious reflection and great uneasiness; but though my feelings were deep and often poignant, still I kept myself aloof from all these parties, though I attended their several meetings as often as occasion would permit.  In process of time my mind became somewhat partial to the Methodist sect, and I felt some desire to be united with them; but so great were the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was, and so unacquainted with men and things, to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong.
    9  My mind at times was greatly excited, the cry and tumult were so great and incessant.  The Presbyterians were most decided against the Baptists and Methodists, and used all the powers of both reason and sophistry to prove their errors, or, at least, to make the people think they were in error.  On the other hand, the Baptists and Methodists in their turn were equally zealous in endeavoring to establish their own tenets and disprove all others.
    10  In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done?  Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together?  If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?
    11  While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: 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.
    12  Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine.  It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart.  I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did; for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know; for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible.
    13  At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God.  I at length came to the determination to “ask of God,” concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally, and not upbraid, I might venture.
    14  So, in accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt.  It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty.  It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally.
    15  After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God.  I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak.  Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.
    16  But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being—just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.
    17  It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound.  When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air.  One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son.  Hear Him!
    18  My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join.  No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.
    19  I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”
    20  He again forbade me to join with any of them; and many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time.  When I came to myself again, I found myself lying on my back, looking up into heaven.  When the light had departed, I had no strength; but soon recovering in some degree, I went home.  And as I leaned up to the fireplace, mother inquired what the matter was.  I replied, “Never mind, all is well—I am well enough off.”  I then said to my mother, “I have learned for myself that Presbyterianism is not true.”  It seems as though the adversary was aware, at a very early period of my life, that I was destined to prove a disturber and an annoyer of his kingdom; else why should the powers of darkness combine against me?  Why the opposition and persecution that arose against me, almost in my infancy?
     
    Some preachers and other professors of religion reject account of First Vision—Persecution heaped upon Joseph Smith—He testifies of the reality of the vision.  (Verses 21–26.)
     
    21  Some few days after I had this vision, I happened to be in company with one of the Methodist preachers, who was very active in the before mentioned religious excitement; and, conversing with him on the subject of religion, I took occasion to give him an account of the vision which I had had.  I was greatly surprised at his behavior; he treated my communication not only lightly, but with great contempt, saying it was all of the devil, that there were no such things as visions or revelations in these days; that all such things had ceased with the apostles, and that there would never be any more of them.
    22  I soon found, however, that my telling the story had excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion, and was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase; and though I was an obscure boy, only between fourteen and fifteen years of age, and my circumstances in life such as to make a boy of no consequence in the world, yet men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a bitter persecution; and this was common among all the sects—all united to persecute me.
    23  It caused me serious reflection then, and often has since, how very strange it was that an obscure boy, of a little over fourteen years of age, and one, too, who was doomed to the necessity of obtaining a scanty maintenance by his daily labor, should be thought a character of sufficient importance to attract the attention of the great ones of the most popular sects of the day, and in a manner to create in them a spirit of the most bitter persecution and reviling.  But strange or not, so it was, and it was often the cause of great sorrow to myself.
    24  However, it was nevertheless a fact that I had beheld a vision.  I have thought since, that I felt much like Paul, when he made his defense before King Agrippa, and related the account of the vision he had when he saw a light, and heard a voice; but still there were but few who believed him; some said he was dishonest, others said he was mad; and he was ridiculed and reviled.  But all this did not destroy the reality of his vision.  He had seen a vision, he knew he had, and all the persecution under heaven could not make it otherwise; and though they should persecute him unto death, yet he knew, and would know to his latest breath, that he had both seen a light and heard a voice speaking unto him, and all the world could not make him think or believe otherwise.
    25  So it was with me.  I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth?  I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen?  For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation.
    26  I had now got my mind satisfied so far as the sectarian world was concerned—that it was not my duty to join with any of them, but to continue as I was until further directed.  I had found the testimony of James to be true—that a man who lacked wisdom might ask of God, and obtain, and not be upbraided.  (Pearl of Great Price | JS-History 1:3 – 26)  
     
    I know that your ancestor, Joseph Smith, was a true prophet and was the instrument of the Lord in restoring his true gospel, priesthood authority and church organization as was promised before the second coming of Christ:
     

    21  Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.  

    (New Testament | Acts 3:21)  
     
    Many heavenly manifestations and revelations were required from the Lord and heavenly messengers he sent to Joseph and one or more others who were personal witnesses of these direct divine communications.  The restored organization of the Church included the calling of apostles and prophets once again.  These were anciently referred to as the foundation of the Church:
     
    19  Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
    20  And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
    (New Testament | Ephesians 2:19 – 20)
     
    The reason they were and are now so important, is because, as prophets, they receive divine direction from the Lord to lead the Church and to teach the true gospel: 
     
    7  Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.  (Old Testament | Amos 3:7)
     
    I cannot imagine any greater honor than to share the message of the restored gospel through Joseph Smith to one of his descendants.  If you are interested, please let me know.
     
    Thanks,
     
    Donny Osmond