During his mortal life, Joseph Smith wrote a series of volumes of history of the LDS Church, called History of the Church. The LDS Church today says that the angel Moroni visited Joseph Smith in the 1820’s, but Joseph Smith first published in the History of the Church that it was an angel named “Nephi” that appeared to him. In LDS Church publication Times and Seasons volume 3, p. 753, it records Joseph Smith as saying, “He called me by name and said… that his name was Nephi.” In modern readings of History of the Church, volume 1, p. 11, it now reads “He called me by name, and said… that his name was Moroni…”
Joseph Smith never changed it from Nephi to Moroni in his lifetime. The name Nephi was also published in the 1851 version of the Pearl of Great Price.
In the Book of Mormon storyline, Nephi is Lehi’s son, who is the first among the fictitious Nephite civilization on the American continent. Moroni was the last of the Nephites, who supposedly buried the golden plates which Joseph Smith claimed to have dug up in 1827.
There is a problem here with these changes. If Joseph Smith really saw Moroni, then why did he write down that he saw Nephi? If he did see Nephi, why do Mormons now believe that it was Moroni? Why did LDS Apostle Orson Pratt have “Nephi” changed to “Moroni” in the 1878 version of the Pearl of Great Price? These are shaky items in Mormonism’s founding. If Joseph Smith saw Moroni, why didn’t he change the name Nephi in the Times and Seasons? After all, Joseph Smith oversaw what was written in those articles. This casts serious doubt into Joseph Smith’s testimony and story, as well as his credibility as a prophet of God.
Last fall in the LDS Church’s General Conference, Elder Neil L. Andersen, a current Mormon apostle, stated in his October 2015 General Conference Speech entitled, “Faith is Not by Chance, but by Choice”:
“For example, questions concerning the Prophet Joseph Smith are not new. They have been hurled by his critics since this work began. To those of faith who, looking through the colored glasses of the 21st century, honestly question events or statements of the Prophet Joseph from nearly 200 years ago, may I share some friendly advice: For now, give Brother Joseph a break!”
Really? We should give Joseph Smith a break? Joseph Smith claimed to be a prophet, and Mormons hold him in esteem as a great prophet like unto Moses, yet he had dozens of failed prophecies and moral failures that he denied, so we should most definitely take a look at Joseph Smith’s claims! When we take a look at Joseph Smith’s claims, we realize that what Joseph said and prophesied does not hold any water.
Latter-day Saints, let’s take our eyes off of Joseph and onto Jesus, the only name under heaven by which we are saved!