James Franklin Stoddard III—beloved father of 10 children and the founder of the Joseph Smith Foundation—passed away with faith and peace after a courageous battle with stage 4 lung cancer on the morning of September 6, 2021 in Provo, Utah. This video was filmed by the Truthseekers Foundation during the recent Restoration Days event, only two months before he passed.
James’ life was defined by his unparalleled love for his children and his devotion to the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Beginning at age 11, he would spend hours each day studying the scriptures and teachings of the prophets. After his mission, he directed his passion and focus into projects and missionary work opportunities, eventually producing eight documentaries, publishing 3 books, frequently speaking at conferences and firesides, establishing the Joseph Smith Foundation, Latter-day Answers, and launching many other organizations and projects. He would receive thousands of emails and letters from individuals whose lives were changed by his work. This last testimony is his plea for Latter-day Saints to remain true to the Restoration.
James: So I do not know how many of you know, but; it has been going on for a lot of years, but, people are trying to undercut the foundations of what we believe, and the most fundamental and important part of that is scripture. Right now there are serious attacks on the Book of Mormon, and what you are going to hear; and if you have ever heard this, you are going to be hearing it a lot, and it is going to become prevalent, and it is going to be prevalent, even among mainstream–it is getting that way–that the Book of Mormon has lots of errors–that it is–just–the idea is that prophets are extremely fallible, and the Book of Mormon–it has got all of these things, like racism in there, and all kinds of other issues. Mormon was a general, and we–we have got– in fact I have it on pretty good authority from the insiders, that BYU– that one half of the Religion Department at BYU does not believe that the Book of Mormon is historical. In other words, one half of the Religion Department does not believe that there was ever a Nephi, or a Mormon, or a Moroni; and that the Book of Mormon never really happened. That is pretty scary. And then, the idea that the Book of Mormon is filled with all these problems; something I would like you to think about is, Mormon, who compiled the Book of Mormon, also did the two-thirds that we do not have; and does anybody know why we do not have the two-thirds today–what is called the two-thirds of the Book of Mormon yet to come forth; why do we not have that?”
Audience member: We are not ready for it. (from unidentifiable person off camera, in audio background)
James: Because we are not ready for it, okay? And when is that going to come forth? During the Millennium, or whatever; in the future when we are righteous, okay? Now, one scholar of the Book of Mormon; he doesn’t line up with us on most beliefs, but he is thinking, and some of the best research is showing that the Lost Pages, that we lost, might have been the same size as what we have today. In other words, we have about five hundred and something english pages today, and that lost portion, might have been around the same size. So that means that we’d have over a thousand pages if we had all of it. And if you take two-thirds more, okay; correct my math because, my brain does not work right now, but I’m thinking, it is easily at least two thousand english pages. Two thousand english pages were compiled by Mormon, and we are not worthy of it. And we are not, and we will not be worthy of it any time soon, and we won’t be worthy of it until the Millennium, and that is going to be the scripture during the Millennium, or at least a large portion of it, and it is what is going to gather the strength of Israel, and you think about, that has already been written by Mormon, and we are not worthy of it. So, if what they are saying; that the Book of Mormon has all these errors, see how that does not make a lot of sense? Mormon already wrote the scriptures that we are going to use during the Millennium, and I doubt he did not know what he was doing. And I, you know, just a little bit of logic on some of these matters, to help us know; now, I’m just going to- I do not want to take too much time but, another things is, the Joseph Smith Translation is under attack. Al lot of you know that. Basically, one of the researchers, bless her heart, at BYU; she was an undergraduate, and she was doing research on the JST with another professor, who doesn’t have a lot of faith, and they started realizing, parts of the the JST, Joseph Smith took from a commentary that was very popular at the time, and so that rattled their faith; so she is obviously very antagonistic to the Church (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) right now, and to the Restoration, and these kinds of things are getting people. Now let me talk about the JST for a second. It is easily explained because Joseph Smith was going in and using whatever resources he had at the time, and parts of it, came from somebody’s commentary. But notice he did not use all of the parts, and he just picked out the parts that were inspired. Now, let me tell you how incredibly inspired the JST is! As I have read the Bible through my life, I have said about certain things, ‘Well that could not happen.’
Let me give you a ‘for instance’. One for instance, is that the Pharisees in the days of Jesus; what were they like? They were, ‘they sat in Moses’ seat,’ says the New Testament, right? And so they were the church leaders of the day, and they were not faithful. They did not keep the commandments, they did not live well, they did not teach good things. Now the New Testament that we have today says that Jesus said, ‘They sit in Moses’ seat, so all that they tell you to do, do. Just do not do after their works.’ How does that feel? You got these apostate leaders, and the Lord is saying, ‘yeah, go ahead and do what they tell you to do,’ are you kidding? That should have red alarms going off all over the place. So, you read, and you are like, ‘yeah, that can not be.’ Well, lo, and behold, if you go back to the original Hebrew manuscripts, [ in this ] I am going to be earth shattering today, but the original manuscripts of the New Testament were not Greek. I know that is what everybody tried to promote for som many years, [ and ] that came from a Roman, Greek influence; people trying to Romanize the ancient church, but the original manuscripts were Hebrew, and we kind of know that now, because there has been some new research that is bringing that forth, which is really, really cool! Well guess what? In that original Hebrew, it does not say, ‘Do what the Pharisees say to do,’ it says- it changes it, and it says, ‘They sit in Moses’ seat; do what Moses said to do.’ See that? Does that not feel a lot better? Now, let me bring the back to the Restoration. So, when we were studying these Hebrew manuscripts, and when we were seeing that mistake, that was introduced by people who were antagonistic against–you know, thousands of years–well, at least, you know–probably almost two thousand years ago, those changes were made. At least eighteen hundred or so. So those changes were made. When we were studying that, I was like, ‘Joseph Smith had to have caught that, because if he did not, he is not a true prophet, period,’ because anybody reading the New Testament knows, that the Lord would not have said that, right? So I flipped open the JST, and right there, Joseph Smith not only teaches–and this happens a lot–go back to the original Hebrew, that we have not had until the last couple of decades, you see that Joseph Smith actually changed things to what the original Hebrew said.”
Audience member: Oh my g#sh, that is awesome! (from unidentifiable person off camera, in audio background)
James: Yeah, it is pretty cool! Now let me tell you, in addition to what the ancient Hebrew said, Joseph sSmith also added more; probably more than was originally even written down, and the stuff that he added fits perfect. It just makes everything work. So, I guess my two cents is, do not give up on–because, there is going to be a lot of mounting pressure in the future. Do not give up on the scriptures. ODes anybody know what Joseph Smith said about his revelations that he gave? He said, ‘there is no error in the revelations.’ So that is my witness to all of you. There is no error in the revelations. It does not mean that we do not find places where we misquoted Joseph Smith. I do not know if you know this, but one of the sections–sections 130 (Section 130 of the Doctrine and Covenants) talks about the Holy Ghost. Can anybody quote that part about the Holy Ghost in section 130? Hopefully my mind is right. It is in 130 still, right? Or did I move things around in my mind lately? The Holy Ghost is what? ‘A personage of spirit. Were it not so,’ what does it say?”
Audience member: He could not dwell within you. (from unidentifiable person off camera, in audio background)
James: ‘He could not dwell within you.’ Now guess what? That is not what Joseph Smith ever said. That is what we thought he said; that is what we put in the scriptures; that is what we canonized. Guess what he said after that? Now we know. He said, ‘That is a sectarian notion. The idea that the Holy Ghost, or ahy being can dwell within another person, is false.’ So the Holy Ghost does not dwell in us. So there are little things like that, that creep in–that have crept in, but that is not what was in the original revelation. Does that make any sense? What Joseph Smith originally gave was always true, and does not ever need to be changed. The truth is, that no being should be dwelling inside another being, and if they are doing that, that is not appropriate. I’m not saying it does not happen. I am just saying it is not appropriate, and that is what Joseph Smith taught.
These are just a few things, and I am going to let other people talk, that are a lot stronger, and have a lot better brains than I do right now, but I just wanted to come down, at least, to make sure everybody knew, this might be the last time… (tears) this might be the last time I ever talk to a group. I am supposed to be dead a thousand times over. Every time I go in. The last surgery I had, the doctors were not going to do it, because they said, ‘Why are you guys working on this guy? He is going to be dead in a few days, stop working on him!’ And our cardiologist, God bless him; he is the only doctor in Utah that works in the conventional world that actually believes in some of the things we are trying to do, but, he told them–he said–he pulled some strings, so they did–they put a thing in that drains my heart so I can stay alive right now, but–so this might be my last time.
I just want everyone here–and if this gets filmed or recorded–my kids to know –and they know this. I have said it a thousand times, but, I know, independent of any other person, for myself, that Jesus Christ lives, and that, more important than that; it is one thing that He lives, but more important than that, is that He is the perfect example. He is the perfect way. We talk a lot in modern circles about Jesus Christ dying for us. The important thing is He lived and gave the perfect example, and I know His example is perfect; I know that for myself. I know–I am almost hesitant to say this, because we got everybody going around having experiences where they believe that God is coming to them, and they believe they are being ordained them to this, or, all these crazy things that are not really happening, but I just want to say that I know that He lives, absolutely, with certainty, and I know it will not make any difference if I die in a few days.
I know just as much now as I will know then, the reality of this work. This is the work of God; this is the work of Jesus Christ. I also want to bear witness that Joseph Smith is the greatest prophet ever to live, excepting Jesus Christ, on this Earth. Joseph Smith was–is greater than even the ancient prophets; even Adam, and Enoch, and Noah, Elijah–in fact, all of those prophets–all of those prophets. Every one of them testified of the mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith; that he would come and prepare the way for the Son of God to return. This is reality; this is fact, and I honestly–I cannot really share what I know about Joseph Smith.
A few years ago, I was being criticized by someone who had been my friend. He said, ‘look, you are teaching too much about Joseph Smith. You should not be saying those things.’ And so, after I got done with a big conference, I was home praying at night, and I was asking the Lord, ‘Have I gone too far? Because, I do not think I have but, I want to know.’ And the Lord–one of the most incredible experiences in my life–He showed me a lot more, and He said, ‘Everything you have taught is just fine, and everything that is in the scriptures, and is taught by the leaders, and the prophets–you can teach all of that about Joseph Smith. There is no problem–that is fine. It needs to be taught.’ Be He goes, ‘All of this other–if you teach it, you will be damned.’ But I will say my last words. Joseph Smith is greater than any of us can imagine. In fact, he said himself–he said ‘I cannot tell you who I am’, and he said, ‘No one will know me until I am weighed in the balance, at the judgment, and then you will all know me then.’ So we really cannot know–and that includes me–who he is. I am not saying that we worship him, the way that we worship the Son of God, but I would like to say, those who are attacking his character right now, will regret it, and that each one of us–I beg you–I plead–I probably will not be here to do it–please, please defend the character and the teachings of the Restoration, and the Prophet Joseph Smith. Please! And I leave that with you, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. “
Transcription of audio/video recording of the testimony of James F. Stoddard III at Restoration Days, on 07,24,21.