Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

An Amazing Prophecy: Book of Mormon Witnesses to Establish the Word

This week during family scripture study, I noticed what may be one of the most interesting prophecies to come through Joseph Smith. It wasn't his prophecy, it was actually Nephi's, but it certainly counts in favor of Joseph Smith. The prophecy - so I will call it - comes from 2 Nephi 27, the chapter in which Nephi built upon Isaiah's prophecy of the sealed book to give insight into the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. Verse 14 is what impressed me. It refers to the witnesses of the Book of Mormon that will be called (the three main witnesses plus a number of others), and states that through these witnesses, God will "establish his word." If Joseph were a fraud, it would have been utterly foolhardy to let others in on his secret and ask them to pose as false witnesses of real plates and angels and so forth - much safer to keep the conspiracy to as small a circle as possible - preferably him alone - and keep everything visionary and mysterious. If it were a fraud, the chances of multiple false witnesses all remaining loyal to their testimony to their dying day to "establish" the word of God is beyond belief, especially given that many of those witnesses did part ways with Joseph Smith and would have had every motivation to expose him and avoid the constant trouble their testimonies created for them - but none of them denied their witness of the Book of Mormon.

As the prophetic Book of Mormon states, multiple witnesses were called. They saw and held the plates, and three saw an angel and heard the voice of God. They put their necks on the line, standing bravely as eye-witnesses of the divinity of the Book of Mormon, facing a life of trouble as a result, but never wavering. Truly these witnesses, with their valiant, lifelong testimonies of the Book of Mormon, did establish God's word - or that part of it we are blessed to have in the sacred book, the Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why did so many of the witnesses, who had a firm knowledge (seeing angels) of the restoration leave the church?

Bookslinger said...

Same reason as many other people who knew the truth left the body of believers, ever since the beginning.

1) Cain rebelled (left the church or whatever organization Adam had set up) and comitted murder _even after_ he had talked with God.

2) Many of the children of Israel rebelled _even after_ they heard the voice of God from the mount and from the tabernacle, and saw the pillar of fire and cloud of smoke.

3) Hundreds of men rebelled against Moses and demanded that they have the priesthood (be able to burn incense) _even after_ they had seen all the signs and wonders.

4) Satan, and the angels who followed him, rebelled in heaven and were cast down, _even after_ they SAW GOD FACE TO FACE in heaven.

5) Many members of the primitive church apostatized _even after_ seeing signs, miracles, and wonders of the apostles.

6) King David talked with God, had a witness of many miracles, yet he transgressed and the Spirit of the Lord withdrew from him.

7) King Solomon talked with God too, and he disobeyed by marrying foreign wives, setting up Israel for big problems with adopting idolatry.

The BIBLE is replete with examples of people who sinned/rebeled/left *even after* having being eyewitnesses to miraculous things.

Seeing angels, hearing the voice of God, seeing signs and wonders is no guarantee that you'll never sin or never rebel, or never leave the body of believers.

Free will, free agency, is always in play. And Satan is ever ready to exploit any chink in our armor.

God is willing to show signs and wonders to those who exercise faith in him. Many people get to see those signs and wonders *before* they are perfect. Seeing a sign or wonder doesn't make you perfect. You're still left with whatever human weaknesses you had before you saw the miracle. Seeing miracles, or seeing God himself, is no guarantee you'll not sin again.

And if we don't watch out and work on them, those weaknesses can lead us to sin, and if we don't repent of our sins, we fall away.

So I guess the bottom line answer is: "They left the church because they sinned and didn't repent." Makes sense to me. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. The nice thing is, is that when you're ready to come back, they always let you back in. If they let people like me come back, they'll let anyone back, even you.

Oliver Cowdery eventually did come back. As well as others like Sidney Rigdon, and Thomas Marsh, though the latter two weren't among the ones who saw the plates.

Martin Harris and David Whitmer also are on record as having left *very powerful* testimonies of the Book of Mormon plates, even when they were in their old age.

C. Jones said...

Great post, great comment. Thank you!

Mike Parker said...

Anonymous said: Why did so many of the witnesses, who had a firm knowledge (seeing angels) of the restoration leave the church?

The main issue was power. The Three Witnesses (Cowdery, Harris, and Whitmer) felt that Joseph had gone too far and had too much control over the saints. They each resisted in their own way (Harris, for example, joined a breakaway group in Kirtland that attempted to take over the temple) and were excommunicated.

The fascinating thing is that, despite their differences with Joseph, they all maintained their testimonies of the Book of Mormon. David Whitmer -- the only witness of the three who never returned to the Church -- even had his testimony engraved on his tombstone.

Before Joseph's story of gold plates and angels can be dismissed, the critics need to deal with the witnesses. For the most part, they simply ignore them. Those who have attempted to deal with them haven't been able to come up with a satisfactory explanation for their firm testimonies. (Vogel, for example, tells us Joseph had amazing hypnotic powers and was able to mass-hypnotize them into thinking there was an angel and plates. Right.)

Anonymous said...

Hey, if I search for "Jeff Lindsay" on Google images, the first thing that comes up is a moth. Is that supposed to mean something?

Anonymous said...

I dont think it means anything. Jeff is just a regular old guy.

Bookslinger said...

Be careful who you're calling "old!" I'm older than Jeff. (At least chronologically.)

It's all relative anyway. I'm the 'spring chicken' at FHE where the average age is 70-something. Not much dating prospects there, but, boy, can they cook.

There technically could be a prospect. One of them got high on her medications (a couple times) and left me suggestive phone messages. It would have been funny if it hadn't been so gross.

And as every little kid knows, you're not really old until you start to "smell like an old person."