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Defending the Faith: A witness for the Book of Mormon witnesses

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  • 1.96 Standard Deviations OREM, UT
    April 3, 2014 7:12 a.m.

    Wonderful article! This is fantastic.

  • Apocalypse please Bluffdale, UT
    April 3, 2014 8:02 a.m.

    Any faith based claim is going to make you susceptible to foolishness, dupery, and conspiracies. However, you have to exercise faith in the Book of Mormon in the face of contradictory evidence: plagiarisms, anachronisms, and of course anachronistic plagiarisms.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    April 3, 2014 8:14 a.m.

    Hearsay and personal believe is weak support without physical evidence to back it up. World history is evidenced by natures physical evidence. The BOM is supposedly a thousand years of physical history without one ioda of physical evidence. Impossible.

  • 1.96 Standard Deviations OREM, UT
    April 3, 2014 8:27 a.m.

    Apocalypse please:

    There is a lot of supporting evidence the Book of Mormon is truly a translation of an ancient record/language and that is of divine nature and origin. You can search for the DVD in the FairMormon bookstore entitled, "Evidences of the Book of Mormon." This DVD was produced in 2003, but the evidence in favor of the Book of Mormon continues to grow stronger with time.

    As for plagiarisms -- Witnesses to the translation process of the golden plates indicate Joseph Smith had no other materials to borrow ideas from, or even a Bible, for the matter.

    As for anachronisms - A lot of these have actually been addressed and even support the Book of Mormon.

    Ultimately, the greatest evidence you will ever get of the truthfulness of the BOM is the spiritual witness like what ex-member William E. McLellin stated. As he said, "I have read many ‘Exposes.’ I have seen all their arguments. But my evidences are above them all!"

  • Steve C. Warren WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    April 3, 2014 9:45 a.m.

    1.96 Standard Deviations,

    When McLellin said, "I have seen all their arguments. But my evidences are above them all!" we really can't tell if he was speaking of a "spiritual witness" or simply is speaking of his fact-gathering efforts and interviews relating to the Book of Mormon.

    "Joseph Smith had no other materials to borrow ideas from, or even a Bible, for the matter." Joseph Smith was a Bible reader from a young age, and the Isaiah passages of the Book of Mormon, with very minor changes, reflect the language of the King James Bible, not the language of the golden plates. This does not mean Joseph Smith plagiarized. It merely means that he chose, for whatever reason, to stick with the King James language. I'm disappointed that apparently no one asked him why he did this.

  • 1.96 Standard Deviations OREM, UT
    April 3, 2014 10:13 a.m.

    Steve C. Warren:

    Saying "My Evidences" is a pretty clear indicator to a spiritual witness. Also, McLellin made it a matter of prayer to confirm his previous examinations. As indicated in the article: "I rose early and betook myself to earnest prayer to God to direct me into truth; [...] "

    I recognize Joseph was familiar with the Bible, but it was not used in the translation process according to the witnesses. His wife also indicated he would continue translation even after major interruptions without referring to where they left off. That is another good indication he wasn't using any reference materials (like a Bible) for the translation.

    Keep in mind the voice of God declared to the three witnesses the BOM was translated by the power of God. Apparently. the language used and the translation rendered was apparently acceptable before God -- even if it is similar to the King James version type of English.

    Also note Joseph is on record saying all of the 'particulars' of the translation were not to be revealed to the world [yet]. I suppose we'll need to wait until the millennium to get all the details.

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    April 3, 2014 10:14 a.m.

    Skeptic

    You seem to put a lot of weight on "physical evidence". What then would qualify as physical evidence in your mind? Those of us who believe in the Book of Mormon see a lot of physical evidence in the ancient ruins found in Central and South America. Or is it the gold plates? Some might say I would believe if I could just see the gold plates. I don't think so. Even if the LDS Church produced the gold plates , the liahona, the urim and thummin, and put them on public display, all that would happen is people would say "fake". No. The real evidence of the Book of Mormon is the book itself. There is no other explanation for its existance than a supernal one. No person living at that time could have written it. Especially not a 3rd grade educated farm boy.

  • Russell Spencer Boise, ID
    April 3, 2014 11:50 a.m.

    I think Steve C. Warren's question is simply: Why did Joseph use King James English rather than frontier English? The answer is likely that King James English was (and remains) the English of scripture. Even translations of pseudepigrapha, Dead Sea scrolls, etc., made today rely on King James English.

    Regarding the accusations of plagiarism, there is no there there. Having done a verse by verse comparison of the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon at the Temple (recommended), there are some really important distinctions and only about a dozen verses (across three chapters) are unaltered--and they're both coming from the same speaker. The Isaiah chapters are cited as coming from Isaiah (so no plagiarism), yet still have some important distinctions. The Malachi chapters are also cited.

    The only thing that even LOOKS like plagiarism is Mormon's sermon on charity (Moroni 7:45-47) and Paul's letter to the Corinthians (1Cor. 13:4-8) ("charity suffereth long, etc..."). But, as independently shown by Harnack, Weiss, and Reizenstein in the early 1900s, Paul himself is quoting an ancient (in his day) source for the formulation. Mormon likely had access to the same source.

  • Steve C. Warren WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    April 3, 2014 12:30 p.m.

    1.96 Standard Deviations

    You wrote: Ultimately, the greatest evidence you will ever get of the truthfulness of the BOM is the spiritual witness like what ex-member William E. McLellin stated. As he said, "I have read many ‘Exposes.’ I have seen all their arguments. But my evidences are above them all!"

    I believe you are jumping to conclusions when you write that McLellin meant to say that his "greatest evidence" was a spiritual witness. McLellin was a skeptical, educated person who thoroughly examined things. Frankly, I don't think he was regarded as a spiritual giant. His "my evidences" likely are a combination of many factors.

    I'm not saying that Joseph didn't translate by the gift and power of God. I'm saying there's no question he decided to follow the King James language in much of his Isaiah translation. (Compare 2 Nephi 22-24 to Isaiah chapters 12-14, for example.) King James is considerably different from language that existed before the 17th century.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    April 3, 2014 12:47 p.m.

    Happy2behere, Most everyone (including most educated Mormons) realize that the ruins in central America are not related in time or nature to the BOM. Even among the most educated Mormons there is dispute as to where the BOM people supposedly lived. There are many who support the N/E USA in the area of the golden plates, or perhaps only in the mind of a pious dreamer.

  • Michigander Westland, MI
    April 3, 2014 1:21 p.m.

    The greatest proof of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon is yet to come. This will be in the person of The Choice Seer, the future full-blooded American Indian Moses who will translate the two-thirds sealed portion of the BOM gold plates and will also restore the American Indian to their rightful ownership (aka, inheritance) of ALL the lands of North, Central, and South America. This is the unwavering faith and doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ (WHQ: Monongahela, Pennsylvania).

  • sharrona layton, UT
    April 3, 2014 2:39 p.m.

    RE: Russell Spencer, did a verse by verse comparison of the Sermon on the Mount?

    (Mosiah 3:7) behold, blood cometh from every pore,The Textual Problem of Luke 22:43-44, Blood;, because of the serious doubts as to these verses authenticity, they have been put in brackets and noted by Modern translations.

    In 3 Nephi 13:12, (Jesus)deliver us from evil(KJV). Did Jesus teach the Nephites an abstract prayer in 34 A.D.? The correct translation of Mt 6:13 NIV is deliver us from the evil one.(Satan G,= tou ponerou).

    3 Nephi 13:13, For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. JS was unaware that Erasmus added the doxology in the 16thc to the KJV.

    I Nephi 10:9/John 1:28 KJV, Bethabara beyond the Jordan.
    Older and more reliable Greek MS support,Bethany i.e(John 1:28 NET,NIV,ESV) Bethabara was probably not on the Jordan River.
    Bethany is strongly supported by {Papyrus, 66,75.(175 A.D.), B Codex Vaticanus and many more..

  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    April 3, 2014 2:54 p.m.

    All I can say is they probably wouldn't me to of wrought their book. On Man Knows My history.

  • gmlewis Houston, TX
    April 3, 2014 3:12 p.m.

    The most convincing physical evidence of The Book of Mormon are the many detailed prophecies of the rise and progress of the restored church. Who in 1829 could have guessed that this tiny collection of saints would succeed in bringing the gospel, in virtually every language, to such a significant part of the earth? Very specific prophecies of the fulfilling of convenants concerning the nation of Israel and the descendents of the tribes have come about. There were prophecies of pollution of the earth that have clearly been fulfilled, in a way that would have staggered 19th century people.

    On April 5, 1830, most people would have assumed that the vast majority of the first 5,000 volumes of The Book of Mormon would just go in the trash. Its progress is certainly a miracle!

  • Cache Kid LOGAN, UT
    April 3, 2014 5:21 p.m.

    Reading the comments about *evidence* for the Book of Mormon is rather like watching an episode of 'Ancient Aliens' on Discovery.

    There is *NO* evidence that could be actually considered evidence.

    There's conjecture, and that's it.

  • Pops NORTH SALT LAKE, UT
    April 4, 2014 6:00 a.m.

    Thanks, Dr. Peterson, for sharing another bit of interesting and enlightening personal history of an early player in the Restoration that is unfamiliar to most of us.

    I've often wondered about the King James English as well. My guess is that it wasn't because Joseph wanted it that way, because the words of the translation were revealed to him. It wasn't as if he knew reformed Egyptian and was doing the translation by virtue of knowledge he clearly didn't possess. Another guess is that King James English represented the high point, in terms of refinement and sophistication, of the English language at the time. Frontier English, being mostly spoken by the uneducated of that day, most likely would not have possessed the vocabulary nor the grammatical nuances to do the book justice. What better choice than King James English?

  • goosehuntr Tooele, UT
    April 4, 2014 8:34 a.m.

    The Book of Mormon is absolutely true. Anyone, anywhere who applies the principles of light found within it's pages and examines the change of heart and experience its attending happiness cannot for one second refute it's claims. That book has the power to change night into day. From Lehi's Dream, to the Allegory of the tame and wild olive tree, King Benjamin to Captain Moroni, from Alma and Amulek and the planting of the seed of faith, to Samuel the Lamanite, and the Saviors visit and His remarkable words of prophecy and love, to Mormon's lamentation of a fallen people and his son Moroni's final plea to all people everywhere to "Come unto Christ," that book stands as irrefutable evidence of it's divine origin. There is no possible way on this planet that anyone, even among the greatest writers that ever lived, could have written such a complex record. Any serious study leads a person to only 2 possible conclusions: 1. The record is true, or 2. Joseph Smith was the greatest literary genius that ever lived on the planet... not including anything else from his pen. I am a witness of its transforming power.

  • antodav TAMPA, FL
    April 4, 2014 10:09 a.m.

    Even this man, one of the most virulent and hostile apostates in the Church's early history, who fabricated stories about Joseph Smith himself that were outright vulgar and scandalous, was still never willing to deny his testimony of the Book of Mormon itself. He would not, in spite of the strong grip that Satan had on him, become a son of perdition by denying the witness of the Holy Ghost that that book was in fact true. In some ways, this testimony is even stronger than those of the various members of the eleven witnesses who left the Church but ultimately never denied the Book of Mormon either. McClellan had every reason to do so, and indeed, he denied virtually everything else about the Restoration (his words are a favorite source for quote mining by anti-Mormons seeking to denigrate the Prophet), but this, somehow, was still a bridge too far, even for him. Remarkable.

  • EW HENRIETTA, NY
    April 4, 2014 10:17 a.m.

    For skeptics and believers alike, what you need to understand is that physical knowledge comes by physical means (such as the scientific method) but spiritual knowledge comes by spiritual means, specifically the proverbial leap of faith (Knock and it shall be opened unto you). If skeptics don't want to take that leap of faith that's fine and that's their business but for them to assume that other people's spiritual knowledge is somehow not valid because they don't have spiritual knowledge themselves is naive at best.

  • Church member North Salt Lake, UT
    April 4, 2014 11:10 a.m.

    To EW:

    The problem with spiritual knowledge that comes through spiritual means is that everyone seems to get a different answer. When the Muslim person prays with a sincere heart he gets a spiritual confirmation that his church is true. The same can be said for countless other religions. Maybe feelings aren't the best way to find truth. Maybe people are getting a spiritual confirmation of what they want to be true.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    April 4, 2014 11:16 a.m.

    LDS writers do no service to the Church by continuing emphasis on witnesses to the Book of Mormon. The inclusion of signed testimonies was a harebrained notion to begin with. If Joseph meant for it to assuage public skepticism about a book whose upcoming publication was the most poorly kept secret in New York, it defeated his purpose.

  • maclouie Falconer, NY
    April 4, 2014 11:42 a.m.

    All this chit-chat about KJ language. Get real. Just watch The Joseph Smith Papers. One of my favorite episodes enables me to believe the following (not official Church position, but mine): Joseph Smith saw the words in the seer stone. Someone had to write those words. And it would be someone that knew how to translate "reformed Egyptian" to English and it may have been someone that was familiar with 14th and 15th century English - not King James English, as many of you assumed is the language of the translation. Also, get real, God did not do the writing. God always delegates. Obviously, it was done by the power of God through someone (an angelic being/messenger) that knew the two languages.

  • maclouie Falconer, NY
    April 4, 2014 11:54 a.m.

    Church Member:

    I've never heard of a Muslim person praying with a sincere heart whether his church is true and I've never heard a Muslim articulate their answer. I guess that does not mean it hasn't happened; but it would have been more useful, in this context, to say (because I am sure all of us have heard this) that those who pray about the Book of Mormon get different answers. There are many explanations for this, I am sure. Just like there are explanations why scientists get different result with their experiments (ie speed of light, cold fusion, and many more). I think the final explanation is they didn't do it right.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    April 4, 2014 12:56 p.m.

    The Book of Mormon is nothing more then a 19th century book written by a man in the 19th century. That is why it sounds like 19th century language and not ancient language as Joseph claims it is. Why should we have to accept this on faith, despite there being no physical proof? That is like asking somebody to accept Warren Jeffs as a prophet just by using faith... and many have. Just because some people believe in it does not mean it is historically what it claims to be. There are too many oddities and conveniences for it to be real. Joseph had the plates in his house, yet he couldn't just show it to the witnesses - he had to lead them to a field so they could pray to see them. That just doesn't make sense. Add that to the face that the plates disappeared (coincidence) after he was done, mixed with the thousands of errors it has (not just punctuation). Then you mix that with the wrong book of abraham translation (coincidence) and there you have it.

  • goosehuntr Tooele, UT
    April 4, 2014 1:04 p.m.

    To Church Mamber
    Or maybe they are wandering to and fro seeking the word of the Lord and not finding it... so, on their journey to understanding, maybe they are comfortable at this rest stop on their way to discovery. God does not force Himself into anyone's heart. He has to be invited. I have had numerous experiences with those at those rest stops. God has lead them to a certain point, then familiar feelings come as the doctrines of the restoration are taught. They then move from that rest stop, continuing on their journey bringing with them the light gathered along the road they have traveled. What we share adds to that light, and then true and living authority to bind on earth and in heaven is employed and by their own choice they enter into covenants which tie them to God, and allow previously unexperienced blessings of the Spirit of God to flow according to faithfulness to those promises into their lives. These rest stops are both in the church and out of it. Everyone is searching for something. We can know something, but won't be moved until we feel it too.

  • gwtchd Mountain Village, AK
    April 4, 2014 1:06 p.m.

    On the subject of King James language. Joseph Smith did not chose the language of translation. The Urim Thummim showed Joseph in what language to use and translate the words. This is the same Urim and Thummim that Abraham used.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    April 4, 2014 1:14 p.m.

    gwtchd

    Yes, reformed Egyptian just happens to sound exactly the same as King James version English. Except for way more "it came to pass".

  • goosehuntr Tooele, UT
    April 4, 2014 1:29 p.m.

    To Brahmabull

    Have you yourself read the book from start to finish? Are the errors that you mentioned the ones you found in your study? Or, are they errors you are regurgitating from someone else's opinion? I have heard all this before. Are you Dr. of ancient scripture or even an English major? Were all these "oddities" you speak of odd from your perspective? Do those invalidate both the testament and the testator? Could not the keeper of the plates ask for their return? And if there were no plates, then why all the efforts to get them from him? Surly you are more educated than Joseph was right? Time for you to produce your own book with all you have found out about this book. You'll be famous! Remember, you only have 66 or so days to write it. The challenge and invitation is there for you. At the very least, when your done your comments will be much more educated. They will represent your own personal examination and study instead of old worn out opinions of others. C'mon Brahmabull! Cowboy up!!

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    April 4, 2014 1:41 p.m.

    goosehuntr

    I have read the book from front to back several times. I also personally own several copies of the book of mormon from the mid to late 1800's. I have seen the changes with my own eyes.

    Regarding producing my own book - there is no benefit to do so. Plus, somebody else already has done so, they claim to have translated the "sealed portion" and they published the work. I suggest you read it and tell me how a person came up with all of that on his own. Doing it without help from above isn't as far fetched as everybody makes it seem. Joseph Smith didn't do it in 66 days. He could have been working on it from any point, and only brought it forth later on. Some of it is copied straight out of the bible. Nobody knows, and it is impossible to prove he only had 66 days.

    These aren't old opinions, despite what you say. I know they aren't true. I have discovered them through much prayer, reading and pondering. If you believe in the tall tales, that is your right. I don't believe in them.

  • Dan Maloy Enid, OK
    April 4, 2014 3:12 p.m.

    I've never understood how someone can claim they have a testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, as delivered to them by the Holy Ghost, and yet not also in the same breath state with equal conviction that Joseph Smith truly was a prophet of God and that, therefore, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was and is God's one true church upon the earth.

    Why do I say that?

    Because the Book of Mormon either is or is not the word of God. It's either true or it's false....there is NO middle ground.

    If a man truly were a prophet of God, he will produce scripture. That pattern is undeniable. It is seen over and over and over throughout the entire Bible.

    That prophet produces scripture (the 'teachings of God') and therefore, by deductive reasoning, "scripture" comes from a "prophet".

    I mean, if you see a man and he says, "See, here is "scripture".", you can also take what he says is "scripture" (even if he's not around) and if it is in fact "scripture" then that individual is indeed a prophet.

    Patterns/logic + Holy Spirit = pure knowledge.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    April 4, 2014 3:32 p.m.

    Brahmabull,

    The Book of Mormon is nothing more then a 19th century book written by a man in the 19th century.
    ______________________________

    The Book of Mormon is atypical of any document I’ve been exposed to. I agree that it’s of 19th century authorship. It’s boldness as a purported history written down in the ancient past has served the argument that a destitute semi-literate farm boy of the 1820s could not possibly have pulled off such a clever hoax.

    That’s nonsense. Desperate circumstances can be the very soil for an undetected talent that becomes so driven to achieve something so grand that the world must take notice. The Book of Mormon reads like a conscious effort to create scripture using the King James Bible as the creative model.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    April 4, 2014 4:05 p.m.

    Dan Maloy, So is the Quran scripture and Mohammed a true prophet, if so shouldn't we all be gathering in Mecca.

  • Utes Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    April 4, 2014 4:40 p.m.

    For the life of me, I don't understand how critics can make their ever-popular claim that "not one shred of evidence exists for the Book of Mormon" and yet not have a clue how the book came to be.

    Critics cannot even agree what theory they support. I mean, we know the size, color and shape of Joseph's seer stone. But history is absent how things in the book came to be, like Hebrew names and phrases, complex chaiasm, the complex, but consistent narrative, and hundreds of other issues that the BOM possesses. Not to mention the remarkable dictation that Joseph accomplished. This would have required incredible research, time and effort to produce - the equivalent of numerous scholars over years, if not a few decades to produce: you just can't hide that from history - we would know about it if it were a fraud.

    There are volumes of history written about Joseph and his family during this time, yet nothing exists that shows details of the so-called fraud.

    The book is from God. Sincere seekers will find that truth through humble prayer.

  • bj-hp Maryville, MO
    April 4, 2014 7:37 p.m.

    I too have read and studied the Book of Mormon besides having an original Book of Mormon. So everything some of the most vocal critics especially those who were once members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints have become the most vocal about its truthfulness yet they continue to bring up the same misinformation and lies over and over again. Therefore their willingness to deceive meets all the demands that Satan has placed upon them.

    No one is going to pray earnestly and get a different answer from the Holy Ghost than one who has as stated by the Book of Mormon. They either have gotten the answer they were supposed to get and then betrayed their own thought or they have never earnestly prayed for the answer. There is no gray area. You either did or you didn't. The Holy Ghost doesn't tell one it is true and another false. The truth lies within the book and thus it is true. Those getting a different answer have been deceived by Satan.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    April 5, 2014 10:43 a.m.

    RE: Utes Fan, we would know about it if it were a fraud.(BoM),

    A Marvelous Work and Wonder. A Modern Translation, “ Therefore I will take awesome vengeance on these hypocrites, and make their wisest counselors as fools.” (Is 29:14 LB.)Or,

    Therefore behold I will proceed to remove this people, and I will remove them: *I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will hide the understanding of the prudent.” (Is 29:14 Septuagint)”
    Paul quotes from, Is 29:14 Septuagint, *I will Destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent” see,(1 Cor 1:19 KJV)

    God denounces the policy of the Wise in Judah seeking an alliance with Egypt against Assyria. Fulfilled ultimately the Jews reject Jesus, Not the BoM.

    (Jesus)…born of Mary at *Jerusalem … who shall be overshadowed and "conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost"[not man] and bring forth a son yea, even the Son of God. ( Alma 7:10).

    "In *Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet(Malachi) has written: ".'"( MT 2:5),Fulfilled Prophecy is what separates the Holy Bible from all other books..