Basically, it’s saying Joseph Smith wouldn’t have died for a lie, so he must have been telling the truth about the Book of Mormon. But the premise is flawed. If he was lying, he wasn’t the first to die for a lie and he wasn’t the last. Compare Joseph Smith’s life with other “prophets” in history and similar patterns emerge.
Muhammad, founder of Islam
1. He was influenced by a variety of Christians when he was young.
2. Claimed an angel appeared and gave him unique scripture while praying.
3. Believed he was a prophet called by God to restore the true teachings of the Old Testament and Jesus.
4. Comforted his followers with new revelation while facing death after being poisoned by a Jewish woman.
David Koresh, American leader of the Branch Davidians
1. Tried multiple Christian denominations while growing up.
2. Claimed to receive specific, unique direction from God through prayer and visions.
3. Believed he was a modern day prophet chosen by God.
4. Continued to rely on his prophetic insight while facing imprisonment and death.
There’s at least two explanations for this pattern. Maybe Joseph Smith started out lying and he got so attached to the power, admiration and authority that he was willing to die for it. Plus, by the time he was arrested, admitting the church was a lie wouldn’t have helped him.
Or maybe Smith, Koresh and Muhammad all sincerely believed they were prophets. Maybe an angel actually visited them.
8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.
Paul certainly thought it was possible that an “angel” could preach a false gospel. So the issue isn’t about if Joseph was lying or if he saw an angel. It’s if a gospel matches what the apostles taught.