Isn't it curious that these men, Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdery, and David
Whitmer all left the church but never denied their testimonies of the Book of
Mormon, etc.? If Joseph Smith had been perpetrating some kind of giant fraud he
certainly would have tried to keep these men close, to make sure they
didn't turn the tables on him. I believe the circumstances of their lives
lends validity to Joseph's work of the restoration.
I am glad that Harris lived such a long time. Primarily because it afforded him
the chance to come back to the church. The other reason is that it
allowed him to correct what some people incorrectly attributed to him. Whether
it is from misunderstanding, misinterpreting, mischaracterization or
intentional parsing of text, Martin Harris was able to correct what some
journalists said about his experience. After he felt he was misquoted, he used
words so that people were absolutely clear what he meant. He used tangible,
concrete examples like hitting a bed post and saying that the experience was as
real as that bed post.Few people (save perhaps martyrs) gave as much
for their faith as Martin Harris did. He wasn't perfect, but it is nice to
see how the Lord works with imperfect people to accomplish His work.
The fact that Joseph Smith dealt on a continual basis with men who were by turns
loyal confident, then bitter enemies, then loyal followers, etc. should give
every Anti-Mormon pause. As has been stated by others, Joseph Smith was either
the greatest fraud in American history, or a prophet of God. To try and strike
a tone of something in between is either naively ignorant at best or
disingenuous to the extreme at worst. I believe he was what he said he was.
"Isn't it curious that these men, Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdery, and
David Whitmer all left the church but never denied their testimonies of the Book
of Mormon,"Not saying that this is the case, but wouldn't
your average person be very reluctant to admit that they outright lied? That
would be pretty embarrassing and you would lose all possible credibility going
forward. Not to mention all the peoples lives who you would have affected.
@JoeBlowGood point, but taking yourself down by admitting a lie is
much more palatable if by doing so you also take down a person with whom you
have a personal dislike. If I were lying to protect/help someone, and later our
friendship went away, I wouldn't continue to lie about it.Bottom line is the fact that these men left the LDS Church but continued to
vouch for the authenticity of the plates makes their claims a lot more
believable than if they had stayed in the "inner circle".
I liked his wife's testimony as well.
JoeBlow-It was likely much more "embarrassing" in those days
to stay a faithful Mormon than it would have been to fess up to a "lie."
In general, since Mormons were extremely persecuted for their beliefs, it
wouldn't make much sense to keep going along with a lie.In
short, do you think someone would prefer being mocked, beaten, raped, pillaged,
or even killed (that happened to many faithful Mormons) rather than being
embarrassed by confessing a "lie?" Most likely not.Overall,
the story of the original Book of Mormon witnesses is truly miraculous and is
also a powerful witness to the divinity and truthfulness of the restoration of
the gospel and Christ's church -- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Is this a plug for an upcoming book? I feel you're reaching into my back
If they really did see the plates, angels, etc.... why would they leave the
church. They would have "known" it was the true church. Leaving would
mean they wouldn't get the highest kingdom.I think they had a
disagreement with Joseph and they knew it was one big lie, so they left. They
didn't want to admit later on that they were liars. Back then your word was
everything. You would never be trusted again if you were a self proclaimed
liar.Obviously the other option is they all truly believed they were
doing the Lord's work. They believed the Lord was telling them what to do.
Just like in Dan Brown's book "Angel and Demons".
Church member-Did not, the apostle Peter, deny Christ three times?
He knew of Christ's divinity, yet he denied Christ. Peter "came
back" too. You can know something is true, but fall way because
of other things: fear, pride, envy, jealousy, etc. It's convincing to know
some of the witness even became enemies to Joseph Smith for a time but never
denied their knowledge of the Book of Mormon.Consider what Martin
Harris said:"[…] Just as surely as the sun is shining on
us and gives us light, and the moon and stars give us light by night, […],
so surely do I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God, chosen of God
to open the last dispensation of the fulness of times; so surely do I know that
the Book of Mormon was divinely translated. I saw the plates; I saw the Angel; I
heard the voice of God. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph
Smith was a true prophet of God. I might as well doubt my own existence as to
doubt the divine authenticity of the book of Mormon or the divine calling of
Many of the people that left the early church did so because of disagreements
with Joseph Smith and new doctrines. They didn't deny their spiritual
experiences, just thought Joseph was not leading properly.
The Church developed line upon line and precept upon precept. The Book of
Mormon contains "the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ", but the
details of that gospel came later. The Book of Mormon witnesses could not
accept some of the later details. Indeed David Whitmer attempted on at least
one occassion to organize a church based on what the Church was during the
Palmyra and Kirtland periods. Oliver Cowdery appears to have left over the
emerging doctrine of polygamy. Essentially these good men saw the fruits of a
living prophet, but could not accept what having a living prophet means. That
the Book of Mormon witnesses never denied their testimony of the Book of Mormon
is true and stands as a testimony today of the Book of Mormon as devinely
revealed and translated. But that is about all one can get from these men never
denying their testimony. It is Martin and Oliver's later actions returning
to the Church that has the greater power.
To 1.96 SD:Maybe. Maybe that is all true. Maybe Martin, Oliver, and
David never denied that Joseph was a prophet. Maybe God told Joseph to take many
wives and keep it from Emma. Maybe the whole story of Mormonism happened the
exact way it is taught.But then again maybe all the awesome miracles
that the Muslims, Catholics, JW's, and FLDS teach are true as well. Every
religion has great stories and reasons why their church is true. I
think we all need to question everything. We need to be willing to look at both
sides of the evidence equally and with an open mind.
You'll have to remember that these men were just ordinary folks to begin
with. On what basis do we believe that these men would, from the beginning,
conspire to perpetrate a lie or fraud concerning some book? And for what
purpose?Why would a simple schoolteacher such as Oliver Cowdery be
caught up in a made-up story being fed to him by Joseph Smith's family, go
to Joseph Smith himself, then allow himself to get sucked into a fantastic tale
that they would publish a "new book of scripture," purportedly an
ancient text discovered with the help of an angel -- and Oliver's part
would be to assert an angel had visited him, along with a couple of others, to
tell about the golden plates?And for what? To get in on the ground
floor of a budding new mega-church that was certain to sweep the county?
There is one and only one way to discover God's truth, and it isn't an
easy road.You must first become humble enough to accept whatever God
tells you. You must become clean from worldly impurity and influence to be able
to hear His (or feel) his voice. You must work hard enough at personal
meditation and prayer to become familiar with how God will communicate with you.
Finally, after receiving communication and answers from Him, you must put it to
test and act upon it. This is the trial of Faith.It takes a
life-time to recognize His voice clearly. That is why you see some who have
been deceived, and their fruits do not emulate what you would expect from a
messenger of God.If you sincerely take on this journey, trusting
what God tells you over what man will tell you (with man's version of
history), you will be lead to His truth, a single step at a time.I
found that the fruit of the Prophet Joeseph Smith, namely the Book of Mormon,
and the fruit of the many prophets before him, comprising The Bible, is in fact
Church member-To Mormons, miracles don't make the church
"true." Miracles can happen to many who have faith.Here are
the primary reasons why Mormons believe The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints is the only true and living church:1) Jesus Christ is the
Savior - He saves us from physical death through the resurrection and from
spiritual death (sin) through his atonement. Obedience to his gospel is required
to be saved spiritually.2) Jesus Christ gave authority to administer
his gospel - This authority is called the Priesthood and can only be found in
His church. Only those with this authority can administer Christ's gospel
(like baptism) and have it be valid in during mortal life and after
mortality.3) Revelation through Living prophets/apostles - Since
Christ is the head of his own church, he guides living prophets/apostles to
ensure the gospel is taught correctly. Revelation is the "rock" Christ
mentioned to Peter so the gates of Hell don't prevail against Christ's
church. The LDS/Mormon church has living prophets/apostles of Christ today.Since Christ is the only way through which salvation is obtained, it is
important to find his true church and gospel.
Mr. Strong was not the only one to speak well of Martin Harris . Pomeroy Tucker
identified Martin Harris a true believer who had committed to memory entire
chapters of the Bible. For more information on Martin Harris readers may refer
to Richard Anderson's book on The Three Witnesses, to my historical musical
drama, Martin Harris: The Man Who Knew (1983, 1993), especially the endnotes,
which detail the sources and support the text of the Church production, which
now has been visited by over one million visitors. Gunderson and Shelton's
Masters work add additional information about the the credible reputation of
Martin Harris. Read also the talks of Stella Oaks, the mother of Elder Dallin H.
Oaks, and Elder Oaks's April 1999 Conference Sermon on Martin Harris. Sue
Easton Black Durrant and Larry Porter's book on Martin Harris will come off
the BYU Press soon. Brigham Young sent Edward Stevenson to bring Harris to Utah
on the Transcontinental Railroad at when he 87. He jokingly said, I never left
the Church, it left me." He cared for the Kirtland Temple and the census
showed him to Mormon Preacher. Martin arrived in good health with a bright mind.
There is much more!
The Solution posted:=There is one and only one way to discover
God's truth, and it isn't an easy=road.I agree
completely.=You must first become humble enough to accept whatever
God tells you.This is also true.=You must become clean
from worldly impurity and influence to be able to hear=His (or feel) his
voice.One must do as much as one can to "become clean from
worldly impurity and influence," but I think it's wrong to imply that
one must become completely clean before one can count on God talking to that
one. How can one become clean like that, if that one can't count on God
telling her/him how to become clean? I think one has to do as good a job at
getting prepared for divine communication as that one can't, but I disagree
that it takes a lifetime of preparation. God wants us to learn His will long
before the end of our lives.
Church member said: "But then again maybe all the awesome miracles
that the Muslims, Catholics, JW's, and FLDS teach are true as well. Every
religion has great stories and reasons why their church is true. I think we all
need to question everything. We need to be willing to look at both sides of the
evidence equally and with an open mind."Does Islam have a record
of 12 men who saw and handled the record that became the Quran? Do the
Catholics, or Jehovah's witnesses, have such witnesses to the their
foundational documents? Does the Community of Christ have witnesses to the
reason for changing LDS doctrine?We have the Book of Mormon. Four
men, including Joseph Smith saw an angel and beheld the record. Eight men
handled the record with their hands without any divine manifestation. None of
these denied what they had seen and touched even though some left the church and
some came back. This constitutes a powerful body of evidence. It seems unwise
to take such solid evidence lightly.
"conspire to perpetrate a lie or fraud concerning some book? And for what
purpose?"Religion in general has been used for power, money
and/or control. It is not exactly a new theme.And it repeats itself
kvnsmnsnPoint well taken. You are correct. That did sound like I was
implying one had to become perfect. That is incorrect. In fact, I just read a
cool story about a man whom God directed to save his life, when he was under the
influence and was planning a suicide.Thanks for that correction.
The correct thing to say then, would be that we need to be striving to rid
ourselves of worldly influences, but ultimately it is up to God how he and when
he talks to us.It may take a lifetime for me to get to the point
where I can recognize His voice clearly, without any distraction and doubt.
That's all I meant by that line.Thanks again.
RE: 1.96 Standard Deviations, It's convincing to know some of the witness
even became enemies to Joseph Smith for a time but never denied their knowledge
of the Book of Mormon. True,I have more to boast of than ever any
man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church
together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me.
Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did
such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day
Saints never ran away from me yet. D.H.C. v 6. P 408,409.RE:
Kvnsmnsn, “God made Aaron to be the ‘mouthpiece’ for the
children of Israel, and He will make me be god to you in His stead, and the
Elders to be mouth for me; and if you don’t like it, you must lump
it.” —DHC 6:318-320.”
@Church member"I think we all need to question
everything."What antagonistic nonsense.We need to
ask questions to further our understanding and knowledge.But
questioning for sake questioning is a waste of everyone's time.Martin Harris gave his witness and testimony, and no amount of rationalizing
or storytelling or inventing reasons why changes that fact.
A "testimony" is not a fact, it is an opinion, at best.
When I was younger I used to think it was strange that all of the 'Three
Witnesses' left the church for a period of time (David Whitmer,
permanently).Why disassociate oneself from what one knows to be
true?But then I realized the reality of the fact that if one did
become disassociated with the Church, they do so likely because they became
angry or hurt over something the Church leaders did or said. Those angry, hurt
feelings tend to fester and cause breaches in loyaty and that breach of loyalty
would likely manifest itself via harsh words or claims of "I was
tricked!"But.....they didn't say that.They
didn't say anything like that at all.Ever.Not even
David Whitmer, who left the Church and never returned, said anything like
that.So, to me, the fact that ALL THREE men left the Church for a
time, but never denied their angelic witness, STRENGTHENS my faith in their
testimony rather than weakening it.Isn't it interesting how the
Lord works?Drive on!
"Whether the Mormon religion be true or false, I leave the world to judge;
for its effects on Martin Harris have been to make him more cross, turbulent and
abusive to me. His whole object was to make money out of it. I will give a proof
of this. One day at Peter Harris' house (Abigail Harris' husband) I
told him he had better leave the company of the Smiths, as their religion was
false. To this he replied, "If you would let me alone, I could make money
out of it.' It is in vain for the Mormons to deny these facts, as they are
well known to most of his former neighbors."- Lucy Harris wife
of Martin Harris
In addition to the golden plates, Joseph claimed that he had in his possession a
sacred manuscript written by Abraham and Joseph who was sold into Egypt. Did
Joseph hide the papyri and have a few of his followers sign a paper that they
had seen it? Joseph did not use witnesses; he put it on display and
charged 25 cents to see it. The whole world was able to see it. There are a lot of things that are fishy about our LDS history.
Research of congregations around Kirtland, Ohio, suggested that Martin Harris
never joined other churches, but found great joy in meeting with a variety of
congregations, bearing witness of how Bible prophecies were fulfilled in the
Restoration of ancient Christianity by Joseph Smith. When Brigham Young
arranged for the 87-year old Harris to migrate to Utah on the railroad in August
1879, Harris was surprised that some people thought he had "left the
Church." (Many aging Latter-day Saint Christians--like Lucy Mack Smith and
Lorenzo Snow's parents--did not migrate to Utah Territory.) Harris had
expressed his desire to William Homer and Edward Stevenson to join his family in
Utah Territory. To Harris's generation, a deathbed testimony was
significant: one must not die and face God with a lie on one's lips.
William Homer recorded Martin Harris's deathbed witness: "...'Yes,
I did see the plates, on which the Book of Mormon was written: I did see the
angel; I hear the voice of God; and I know that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of
God, holding the keys of the Holy Priesthood.'" Martin Harris rested
back on his bed and died.
David Whitmer: "If you believe my testimony to the Book of Mormon; if you
believe that God spake to us three witnesses by his own voice, then I tell you
that in June, 1838, God spake to me again by his own voice from the heavens, and
told me to separate myself from among the Latter-day Saints, for as they sought
to do unto me, so should it be done unto them." Sounds like
David Whitmer also thought that god told him to separate himself from the
latter-day saints.So why would David Whitmer be commanded by god to
separate from the latter-day saints? It all just doesn't add
CommonmanA pre-written manuscript with 3 mens names on it, along
with another one, with 8 mens names on it, without their signatures on it is
hardly convincing. The prewritten statement makes it seem like they were all in
one room and were shown some gold plates, and looked at them and handled them.
This was not the case. As you know the 3 witnesses had to go to a field to pray
to see the plates. Isn't that suspicious? The others claimed at some point,
to only lift the plates while they were covered. So that is hardly convincing.
Why would the 3 witnesses have to pray to see the golden plates, and have them
shown to them by an angel when the plates were sitting in Joseph's house?
This is a story that makes that little sense, and it is very hard to believe
such a story.
the truthDo you believe everything any witness has ever said? Do you
know there were also witnesses to the James Strang plates? Do you also believe
them? If not, why? There are numerous sworn affadavits of people that claim
Joseph told them it was all a hoax, and of people who knew Sidney Rigdon got the
manuscript from spaulding, and even people who claim to know that Joseph had a
box with a tile in it and used to fool people about that being the plates. Do
you believe them? Why are they less credible then Martin Harris and the others?
They never denied what they said either.
The other side of this coin is rarely considered for some reason. Think of the
commonly used phrasing "never denied their testimonies" as "never
admitted to being liars". If someone makes a claim that would have a huge
negative impact on their reputation as well as their family/descendants
reputations if they admitted it was false they would have ample motivation to
take it to their grave. It's one thing to leave a church organization.
It's another to be labeled a liar in the history books. Whether they were
is not something I can determine, but I think it's important to frame the
context appropriately and consider all possible motivations.
@the truth"I think we all need to question everything."What antagonistic nonsense.----Sorry, but that
"nonsense" is what we are taught in LDS Sunday School. What's wrong
with that principle exactly?
Stella Oaks recorded: A young barber in the Clarkston General Store joked Martin
Harris, “...I guess now that you are old and wiser you don’t tell
about seeing the golden plates and the angel.’” Ninety-one year old
Martin Harris turned around, “grasped my arms in a vise-like grip...and
looked me straight in the eye. I felt the tremor of his earnest declaration:
‘Young man, the longest day you live I want you to remember what I say to
you now: I did see the angel, I did handle the gold plates, and I did hear the
voice of God.’ I was silent the rest of this particular occasion.
Another time I promised him I would faithfully repeat his testimony.”
Parallel statements were made by Cowdery and Whitmer at the end of their lives.
On August 27, 1835, Joseph Smith, Sr., blessed Martin Harris:
“...thy mind shall be enlarged, and thy testimony shall yet convince its
thousands; yea, it shall shine like the sun, and though the wicked seek to
overthrow it, it shall be in vain, for the Lord God shall bear it off
Professor Peterson wrote an earlier column, DocHolliday, about J. J.
Strang's plates and his witnesses. It's pretty interesting. I
apparently can't post a URL here, but you can easily find the article by
Googling under "Peterson," "Deseret News," and the title:
"The story behind James Strang and his sect."
Deathbed Testimony: "David Whitmer died at his home in Richmond, on the 25th
of January, 1888," age 84. "His final testimony was given under the
following circumstances: On the evening of Sunday, January 22, at half past five
o'clock, Mr. Whitmer called his family and a number of his friends to his
bedside, and to them delivered his dying testimony. Addressing his attendant
physician he said: 'Dr. Buchanan, I want you to say whether or not I am in
my right mind before I give my last testimony.' The doctor answered:
'Yes, you are in your right mind, for I have just had a conversation with
you.' He then directed his words to all who surrounded him, saying:
'Now, you must all be faithful in Christ. I want to say to you all that the
Bible and the record of the Nephites (Book of Mormon), are true, so you can say
that you have heard me bear my testimony on my death bed. All be faithful in
Christ and your reward will be according to your works. God bless you all. My
trust is in Christ for ever, worlds without end. Amen.'" (New Witnesses
for God, 2:296)
I must defend Martin Harris and my fellow Texan. According to Strong, a man who
know Harris and was not kindly disposed to Joseph Smith or his Church wrote
highly of Harris' character, including his honesty despite the scorn he
received from some neighbors. Martin did not hold a position of
power, he gave money to help publish the Book of Mormon and got none in return,
and he was often the subject of ridicule. As to religion in general
being used for "power, money and/or control," compared to what other
group, organization or institution? Pick a party, Democrat or Republican, they
seem more interested in power than even the most politically active religion in
the USA. Money? Businesses exist to maximize profits. Religions of all types
run or give to charities. As to control, no religious organization can arrest
you for violating its laws. Sure, they can tell you your actions will condemn
your soul, but that is a weak thread to bind an adherent's actions. If the
adherent believes, the threat is not necessary and if she does not, it is
@Who'sLife ... Lucy Harris wouldn't be the first wife to speak of her
husband as if he were responsible every evil under the sun. Martin was smart
enough to achieve his objectives; the fact that he made no money on the BoM, I
think, answers her allegation quite well.
It really doesn't matter what one witnesses to if there is no evidence or
prove of its reality. One may swear he/she witnessed men on the moon, it
doesn't make it so. In the case of the BOM there is over a thousand years
of physical history with no physical evidence, until there is physical evidence
to support the Book of Mormon peoples existence all else is just magical
dreaming, and people do and can believe in their dreams; doesn't make them
Not one shred of evidence? What about the millions who believe? Is that not a
witness? What about the millions who have died believing? What about the
immense amount of good done as a result of following gospel principles? Is this
not a witness? You cannot say there are no witnesses. There are witnesses
enough. You've dismissed the prophet Joseph. You've
dismissed the three witnesses. You've dismissed the eight witnesses.
You've dismissed all the apostles of this dispensation and those that came
before. You've dismissed ancient and modern scripture that testifies of
Christ. For, every witness of this generation witnesses of past
dispensations.It does not matter how many witnesses you are given.
You will not believe. And why will you not believe, because "you have put
off the spirit of God that it has no place in you." The fruit
of restoration theology is solid, strong and tangible. There are innumerable
witnesses.But you have no witnesses that it is not true. Not a
shred of evidence supports you.You have nothing.