Latter-day Saints do not worship Joseph Smith.
They do worship God, the Heavenly Father, His son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.
They acknowledge Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. Joseph Smith is venerated as the first prophet and founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who as a very ordinary man was called by God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ to the extraordinary responsibility to restore Christ’s church again to the earth in these latter-days. Anciently the Biblical prophets were seen as the representatives of God here on earth through whom God communicated his will for his children (Ezekiel 2:7, Amos 3:7). Latter-day Saints revere Joseph Smith as a prophet called by God in these “latter-days” and is seen in the same light as the prophets of the Bible.
Read more about him.
Joseph Smith’s calling as a prophet came as a result of an answer to prayer when only fourteen years of age. He had a desire to know which of all the churches he had attended were right, if any. As a result of reading from the Bible in the Book of James (1:5) he approached God in prayer and was visited by two personages that he identified as the Father and the Son, Jesus Christ. Their response to his question was to join none of the churches as they were all wrong. He was later visited by other heavenly messengers, working under the authorization of Jesus Christ, who taught him many important principles and who bestowed upon him the authority to organize Christ’s church again upon the earth.
He also received many instructions for administering the church which came through numerous revelations recorded in one of the Latter-day Saints book of scripture, The Doctrine and Covenants. For a more complete account of Joseph Smith’s early history read his own story as recorded in The Pearl of Great Price (another book of scripture), “Joseph Smith–History” (pp. 47-59) and History of the Church, Vol. 1, Chapters 1-5. After the official organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 6, 1830 Joseph led the Church through many difficult circumstances until killed by a mob on June 27, 1844 in Carthage, Illinois.
Joseph Smith never claimed to be more than an ordinary man. He said of himself, “I do not, nor never have pretended to be any other than a man, subject to passion and liable without the assisting grace of the Savior, to deviate from that perfect path in which all are commanded to walk” (Messenger and Advocate, 1, Dec. 1834, 40). See also “Joseph Smith–History 1:28″ and History of the Church 1:9-10. A newspaper reporter, who heard Joseph speak in Washington DC quoted him saying, “He had been represented as pretending to be a Savior, a worker of miracles, etc. All this was false. He made no such pretensions. He was but a man, he said; a plain, untutored man; seeking what he should do to be saved. He performed no miracles. He did not pretend to possess any such power”[i]
George Q. Cannon, a prominent early Church leader who was intimately acquainted with Joseph Stated before a large congregation:
“Now, was not Joseph Smith a mortal man? Yes. A fallible man? Yes. Had he not weaknesses? Yes, he acknowledged them himself, and did not fail to put the revelations on record in this book [the book of The Doctrine and Covenants, 3:7-10, 93:47-49] wherein God reproved him. His weakness were not concealed from the people. He was willing that people should know that he was mortal and had failings.”[ii]
Neither Joseph Smith, nor any of the prophets have ever been worshiped by Latter-day Saints. A church leader made this very clear: “We do not worship the Prophet Joseph Smith, although we love and honor him. But we never pray to him. In our doctrine, philosophy, and practice, he is not an intermediary of any kind, nor is any other prophet or saint. Christ alone is the advocate with the Father–not Mary, not Joseph, not Peter, James, or John, not any of the ancient prophets like Adam, Moses, or Abraham. No modern prophet like Joseph Smith or Brigham Young is ever worshiped or prayed to.”[iii]
Latter-day Saints see Joseph Smith and all the other successive prophets as ordinary men, not perfect, but having lived lives worthy of being God’s representatives here upon the earth.
Additional On Line Resources
Dallin H. Oaks, “Joseph, the Man and the Prophet,” Ensign, Nov. 1991, 5.
Neal A, Maxwell, “Joseph the Seer,” Ensign, Nov, 1983, 54.
Dean Jessee, “Joseph Smith’s Reputation,” Ensign, Sept. 1979, 57.