Defending the restored church of Christ - I created this blog several years ago to provide an alternative to what I saw at the time as a lot of bad "Mormon blogs" that were floating around the web. Also, it was my goal to collect and share a plethora of positive and useful information about what I steadfastly believe to be Christ's restored church. It has been incredibly enjoyable and I hope you find the information worthwhile.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Templar knights in modern world

– By Reverend Timothy Weddell, OSMTJ-USA Chaplain & Anglican Minister

The original premise of those nine”French knights who came to Jerusalem in 1118 A.D was strictly Christian in intent. These Poor Fellow soldiers of Jesus Christ blended the character of the monk with that of the soldier and thus these powerful and devoted military friars became the Delta Force, SAS and SEALS of the medieval period during the Crusades. Protecting pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem and defending the Holy City, they faithfully served God and the Faith for almost 200 years during this period.

To take upon ourselves the name of the Knights Templar in the 21st Century is quite an assumption! In this age of “political correctness” the very idea would be most repulsive to those peaceniks and unrealistic idealists. Such a culture evolved in Jerusalem after the death of King David under the leadership of David’s son, King Solomon. We can read about this period in the Book of Solomon’s Song 4:4. It reads, …”the tower of David builded for an armory, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men.”

In less than a generation, because of the exploits of “the mighty men,” the ancient nation of Israel had peace. Israel also had something else, lethargy and complacency!  These “might men” and their arms had become nothing more than legends and tales. Solomon had made their bucklers and shields museum pieces in the tower. A casual perusal of 1 Chronicles 11:22-23 reveals the character of these mighty men. Benaiah slew two lionlike men of Moab and he slew a lion in a pit on a snowy day! He singlehandedly  fell upon an Egyptian soldier who stood over seven feet tall, taking the Egyptian’s own spear out of his hand with which he killed the seven footer. That spear, most likely was in Solomon’s museum.

Of course, this is just one of many illustrations of “The Mighty Men of David.” Because of these men, Solomon was barely challenged for forty years. Good thing too, the nation became soft and compromised and shortly after Solomon’s death, the Kingdom divided and eventually fell to the enemy.

Our day is much like Solomon’s. Compromise abounds, lethargy rules and complacency is the cure! Never in the history of the world has there been a greater need for men and women of integrity and principle! In a world where 1 Christian is killed every 11 minutes, undefined Christianity is no problem for anyone! We have elevated personality above character in every sphere. We seek entertainment in church instead of worship. We embrace tolerance instead of truth. We value success over substance, and we place the need of man over God and His glory.

It was in such a world as ours that the Knights Templar marched with integrity and honor and by the Grace of Almighty God, made a difference. So can we in our day. The current cultural and societal trends must be reversed or Western Culture (which has had an overall positive impact on world culture) will be entirely lost.

The moral of the story is simple: we are not just to be like the Knights Templar of old, we are the KNIGHTS TEMPLAR and we are here to show the world the glory and honor of valor, strength, courage and integrity! We are here to show the world the glorious Red Cross of Jesus Christ!

 Knights, Arise!

Ad maiorem Dei gloriam



In praise of excommunication

(by Dan Peterson - Sic et Non blog - 11-22-18)

First of all, let me make it plain that I’m saddened by excommunications.  I don’t, as one very small pod of my somewhat unhinged personal critics pretend to believe, rejoice when people are excommunicated.  More precisely, though, I’m saddened by the acts of immorality, the abandonment of once-treasured covenants, the loss of spiritual confidence and trust, the angry rejection of Church leadership, the repudiation of central teachings of the Restoration, or whatever else it may be that has led to excommunication.  What saddens me isn’t so much the excommunication itself, which, in important ways, merely acknowledges a defection from the Kingdom, as it is the original straying from  fellowship.

Rumors of my glee over excommunications have not only been greatly exaggerated, they’ve been invented out of whole cloth.

(I’ll supply an unusually clear example, not entirely unrelated, of how such things are manufactured entirely ex nihilo.  I apologize for its somewhat gross character:  Several months ago, at the principal place where my most obsessive critics spin their fantasies about me, it was revealed that I believe that those who fail to gain the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom in the hereafter — the males, anyway — will be mutilated, that they will literally be anatomically emasculated, in the resurrection.  And I’m supposed to relish this, and to find it enormously funny.  As it happens, I had never even heard the idea before.  I’ve never thought any such thing, never imagined any such thing, never written about such a thing — not so much as a line, at least until I felt that I needed to deny holding such an opinion — and I absolutely don’t believe it.  Period.  More recently, though, several in that exceedingly weird place have taken to using the “fact” of my gleeful anticipation of the neutering of unbelieving men, including several specific, prominent, agnostic scientists of the past generation or so, as a revealing window into my allegedly cruel and vengeful soul.)

Anyway, back to the idea of excommunication:

I’ve just read a denunciation of the practice of excommunication from a person who, I think, may still be at least a nominal member of the Church.  I’ll respond, very briefly, to some of the points raised by this person:

 Excommunication is “outdated.”

Truthfully, I don’t even know what that claim means.  How does the mere passage of time, in and of itself, render a truth or a (divinely-commanded) practice obsolete?  Granted, conditions change.  But when did excommunication pass its sell-by date?  Was it on 12 May 2009, by any chance?  At 1:17 PM?  Or perhaps earlier, sometime in, say, the Fall of 1997?

In the Latter-day Saint understanding, the Church as a whole, in its doctrines and its organizations and its practices, represents the restoration (indeed, the Restoration) of very old things.  We believe temples, apostles, priesthood, baptism, prophets, and other such matters to be exceedingly old, but faithful members of the Church certainly don’t regard them as “outdated.”  Age isn’t a very potent argument against orthodox Latter-day Saint doctrine.

Excommunication is “abusive.”

Well, I suppose it could be.  And perhaps, in a few cases, it has been.  Church leaders are, after all, human, and subject to all of the limitations to which mortal flesh is heir.  (Although I would imagine that there are more excommunicants who feel that they’ve been abused than there are actual cases of ecclesiastical abuse.  Just as there are more criminal defendants who claim to be innocent than there are actually-innocent defendants.)  But I’ve been involved in enough ecclesiastical disciplinary councils to be quite confident that many and probably the vast majority of them, even when they involve quite grave offenses, are conducted with utmost seriousness, prayerful sensitivity, a profound desire to get things “right,” and a genuine concern for the wellbeing not only of the Church but of the individual whose fellowship is in question.

Excommunication has the effect of ostracizing people, socially.

Well, yes.  In several senses.  That’s rather the point of the term  כרת‎ (karath, to “cut off”), which occurs in various forms throughout the Hebrew Bible.  It’s also certainly the point of such New Testament passages as

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.  But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.  And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.  (Matthew 18:15-17)

It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.  And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.  For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed . . .  to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.  Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?  Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:  Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.  I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators. . . .  But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.  (1 Corinthians 5:1-4, 6-9, 11)

But, according to the New Testament, such “ostracism” isn’t reserved only for cases of gross immorality:

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.  (Romans 16:17)

If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:  For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.  (2 John 1:10-11)

And, needless to say, the practice of excommunication has continued by revelation in modern scripture, as well, and under the leadership of contemporary prophets and apostles.

Ostracism from Latter-day Saint society as such, however, seems to me to be, as often as not, substantially self-imposed.  Certainly the Church advocates nothing like formal “shunning.”

I recall reading a letter, many years ago, from an elderly ex-Mormon lady to a monthly Baptist tabloid that was focused on attacking the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  In her letter, she lamented how, supposedly urged on to it by Church leaders, her children had begun to avoid her, to fail to invite her to social events, and the like.  But then, seemingly without the slightest tincture of self-awareness, she also told how, at every family birthday party and picnic, she spent as much time as she could on denouncing Joseph Smith, attacking their faith, and trying to bring her grandchildren out of the cult of Mormonism.  It didn’t take much imagination to realize that no directive from bishop or stake president to her kids was required for them to stop inviting such a tiresome anti-Mormon bore, Grandma though she was, to their family barbecues.

No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy; that he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.  (Doctrine and Covenants 121:41-44)

 Excommunication is “spiritual violence.”

Again, I don’t know exactly what this is supposed to mean, except that it’s plainly designed to portray as evil those who advocate the Church and the Restoration as the Church and Restoration have long been understood and taught.

Couldn’t that be viewed as, itself, a form of “spiritual violence” and “abuse”?  It’s certainly a case of attempted rhetorical manipulation.  However, I strongly prefer retaining the word violence for . . . well, you know, for actual cases of violence.  Excommunication isn’t remotely comparable to the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939, nor even to a brutal carjacking.

Excommunication is foreign to the beautiful, accepting, always-affirming message of the gentle Jesus.

God is love.  Jesus is loving.  By this shall men know ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Quite true.

But let’s not forget about the Jesus who carefully braided the whip and drove the moneychangers from the temple, who called the  Pharisees “whited sepulchers,” who distinguished between “sheep” and “goats,” who spoke extensively of Hell, who warned of “false prophets” who would appear “in sheep’s clothing” while “inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:15).

The Church’s message should always be “Come unto Christ,” never driving anybody away.

That is its message, and it always has been.  But coming unto Christ means accepting him as lord and master, not as uncritical playmate and always-affirming pop psychologist:  He didn’t say, “I’m OK, you’re OK, and isn’t it beautiful?”  He said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”  He commanded us to repent.

The leaders of the Church have no authority to determine who gets to belong and who doesn’t, no right to decide who fits and who doesn’t fit in.

On the contrary, for believing members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that is precisely their right and their authority and their responsibility.  The Kingdom isn’t an open-ended debating society in which every doctrine is up for grabs, every commandment subject to focus groups and polling and negotiation, every policy a matter to be worked out by means of street demonstrations and town hall meetings but always subject to revision if even a single person objects.

The Kingdom should, of course, always be led with compassion and love, and we can hope and pray and work to include as many within its boundaries as are willing to affiliate themselves with it on conditions of repentance.  But the Kingdom does have leaders, and it does have boundaries.  The Kingdom means something specific, and the very definition of definition is to set borders and limits — which is why the term is also used to refer to the degree of distinctness in the outline of an object, an image, or a sound.

Excommunication is one way in which those facts are made plain.

For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?  (1 Corinthians 14:8)

The Geology of Moroni’s Stone Box

The story of Joseph Smith retrieving gold plates from a stone box on a hillside in upstate New York and translating them into the foundational text of the Restoration is well known among Latter-day Saints. While countless retellings have examined these events in considerable detail, very few have explored the geological aspects involved in this story. In particular, none have discussed in detail the geological materials that would have been required by the Nephite prophet Moroni ca. ad 421 to construct a sealed container able to protect the gold plates from the elements and from premature discovery for some fourteen centuries. This paper reports the outcomes from a field investigation into what resources would have been available to Moroni in the Palmyra area. It was conducted by the authors in New York state in October 2017.

(follow the link for full article)

Compulsory tithing?

(by Dan Peterson - Sic et Non blog - 11-22-18)

A few days ago, after I had posted an item about plans to build a new high-rise office building in Salt Lake City, one disaffected former Latter-day Saint managed to turn the discussion—as almost always happens in such cases—to the damnably wicked biblical expectation and practice of tithing, reaffirmed in latter-day revelation.

Latter-day Saints, he argued, aren’t really free to choose to tithe or not to tithe, because, without being full tithe-payers, they won’t be counted as members in good standing of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Which means that they won’t be able to enter the temple, be ordained apostles, and such like.

And, of course, it’s true:  Not a full tithe-payer?  No apostleship for you.  No temple wedding.  No luxurious three-year vacation as a mission president in Mongolia.

 (It should not be forgotten, however, that one can be a full tithe-payer while literally paying nothing.  If you have no income, your full tithe is zero; as bishop of a relatively impoverished singles ward some years ago, I admitted several young people to the temple who were, at the time, paying no tithing.)

Unwilling to tithe your income or, absent income, to profess yourself a full tithe-payer?  Then you won’t be rewarded with appointment as a bishop and will be denied the enhanced leisure, the vast recreational opportunities, the eminent social status, and the lucrative financial benefits that accompany that sinecure.

However, it seemed to me that the complainant was misusing the concept of freedom to suggest that we aren’t free to choose not to tithe because, to be more precise, we’re not free (if we have income) to choose to withhold tithing without that choice entailing consequences.  But those are quite distinct things.

It’s true that, if I don’t buy movie tickets, I won’t be able to take a seat in the theater to watch Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible XXXV: Adventures with Dentures.  But I’m still totally free to make that decision.  If I don’t practice the violin for hours every day, I won’t ever perform onstage at Carnegie Hall.  But I’m entirely free to practice or not to practice.  If I don’t pay for a subscription to Cigar Aficionado, I won’t receive that magazine in the mail.  If I don’t renew my gym membership, I won’t be permitted to work out on their equipment and, as a result, my legendarily buff appearance will be endangered.  If I refuse to look through the telescope, I won’t see the rings of Saturn.  If I don’t study hard, I won’t go to an elite law school.  All such decisions are free.  That they entail certain consequences makes them no less free.
 In order to make my point absolutely clear, I made a choice when I got into my rental car in Cairns for the drive up to Port Douglas:  Rebelling against the irrational Australian demand that I drive on the left hand side of the road, I insisted on exercising my right of free choice and drove on the right.  Shortly out of the rental parking lot, accordingly, I ran head on into a large truck that was fully loaded with sugar cane.  That’s why this post comes to you from an as-yet unspecified location in the spirit world.

But I trust that I’ve made my point:  Such decisions are entirely free.  Unfortunately, though, the Latter-day Saints aren’t the only people who will occasionally point out that they entail (sometimes grave) consequences.

(Heh heh.  I had you going there for just a moment, didn’t I?  Actually, I’m not [yet] dead, but am, to the contrary, writing this blog entry from a pleasant location right here on Earth.  Too bad for my extremist critics, who were probably gearing up to celebrate the end of what they pretend to regard as a life of unashamed avarice, cruelty, mendacity, and crime.)


The Simple Miracle That Helped the Whitmers Further the Book of Mormon

( 11-27-18)

In 1829, when Joseph Smith was in the middle of translating the Book of Mormon, he and his family began to experience some serious problems.1 Some people in Harmony, Pennsylvania were becoming increasingly aggressive towards them.2 Threats were becoming more and more common, and Emma’s family seems to have been the only thing keeping the Smiths from being injured or killed.3

During this difficult time, Oliver Cowdery wrote a letter to his friend David Whitmer, asking for help.4 He told David about what he and Joseph were doing. He then asked him to bring his team of horses and his wagon to Harmony to help Oliver, Joseph, and Emma move to a safer place: the Whitmer home in Fayette, New York.5 Knowing this would be a burden on his family, David discussed this possibility with his parents and siblings, who decided that, despite the sacrifice, letting the Smiths and Oliver stay with them was the right thing to do.

However, David couldn’t just pack up and leave right away. It was the time of year when the wheat the family depended on for survival needed to be planted, and David’s father reminded him that he still needed to plow and fertilize his fields before he left.7 His father also told him that he should pray to know whether or not he should leave immediately to get Oliver and the Smiths.8 David did so, and got the impression from the Spirit that he should finish his work before making the trip to Harmony.9

But then something miraculous happened. David later recalled, “I was pressed with my work. I had some 20 acres to plow, and so I concluded I would finish plowing, and then go.”10 He said that the next day, “on going to the field I found between 5 and 7 acres of my ground had been plowed during the night. I don’t know who did it, but it was done, just as I would have done it myself, and the plow was left standing in the furrow.”11

Although it is impossible to know for sure who plowed David’s fields, Lucy Mack Smith later recalled that three men that the Whitmers did not know came and worked the fields. According to Lucy, they had not been invited to do so, and never explained who they were and why they were there. They left without asking for payment.12

When David’s father heard what had happened, he was amazed.13 He told his son, that “there must be an overruling hand in this,” and encouraged him to leave as soon as he had finished plowing and fertilizing the rest of his fields.14 David quickly finished his work, got his wagon and team together, and left for Harmony far earlier than he had expected.15 This allowed him to get Joseph, Emma, and Oliver to his parent’s house in Fayette, New York by June 4th.16

Once the Smiths were finally out of harm’s way, the Book of Mormon translation was able to continue at a rapid pace. 1 Nephi through Words of Mormon, the last books of the Book of Mormon to be rendered into English, were translated at the Whitmer home between June 5th and June 30th, 1829.17

This small act, the simple plowing of a field, allowed Oliver and the Smiths to be moved out of danger sooner than expected. It also helped the Book of Mormon translation to proceed more smoothly. David said he was never sure who plowed his field for him, but this gesture, performed by an unknown hand, allowed the work of the Lord to move forward.18

Some of us may feel as though we have limited talents and abilities, and may wonder how we can possibly be of use to those around us. However, David Whitmer’s experience should remind us of the importance of seemingly mundane acts of service. A simple unplowed field was the only thing delaying the translation of the Book of Mormon. Far from being unimportant or insignificant, this farm labor hastened forward one of the most important events of this dispensation.

Although we may not be hastening forward the translation of the Book of Mormon, our own simple, seemingly mundane acts of service can move forward the work of the Lord in other significant ways. Sweeping the floors of the temple, for example, allows people to perform saving temple ordinances without being distracted. Driving missionaries to and from appointments may indirectly help bring more people to the truths of the gospel. And providing a meal or a service to someone in need may help meet both their physical and spiritual needs.


Monday, November 26, 2018

Fewer Sunday meetings? Why, I remember ...

(by Jerry Earl Johnston 10-12-18)

Anytime there are changes in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you can count on members long-in-the-tooth — like me — to tell you how things used to be.

“You’ve got it easy,” we say. “Why I remember …" and off we go with tales about walking five miles in a blizzard to attend Mutual.
So it is with the change from the current three-hour block to a two-hour schedule.

We elderly elders, of course, can recall the days of the “busted block,” two hours in the morning and another hour-and-a-half in the afternoon for sacrament meeting.

And those 90-minute sacrament meetings, you whippersnappers, were held without air conditioning. And on summer afternoons those old, brick chapels quickly turned into adobe kilns, where inspiration and perspiration mingled freely.

Funeral homes tried to help by passing out little cardboard fans. Why funeral homes, you ask?

Because if some 90-year-old sister went down for the count from the heat, the mortuary wanted its name to be the last thing she saw. With her last gasp she’d say “Call Felt Mortuary.”

For the most part, of course, we did what members of the church have been doing for almost 140 years. We adjusted. Like those famous frogs in the pot that's slowly brought to a boil, we’d adapt and act fat, dumb and happy until we were fricasseed, until we were “ready to serve,” in a pot roast kind of way.

Some weeks, as the meeting wound down, the setting sun would hit the west windows and create a glare like a band of ministering angels. Squints and headaches abounded. Some bishops would allow members to don sunglasses, but not ours. Bishop Ed Anderson, an old farm boy, believed suffering brought forth the blessings of heaven. So we’d all sit there, roasting and suffering, while speakers warned us away from hell, where — if we weren't careful — we’d be made to roast and suffer.

A few weeks ago, in our Brigham City ward, the electricity went out and all the Sunday meetings were canceled. One concern was the lack of air conditioning would be a hardship for the kids in the nursery and the oldsters with health problems.
Canceling meetings was the right thing to do.

Still, as my wife and I quietly sat around the house, I had to wonder if some St. George member from the 1950s, where Sunday meetings could hit 115 degrees, wasn’t looking down at us and playing the world’s smallest violin.


Saturday, November 17, 2018

Thomas S. Monson: Eight Awesome Things He Did While President Of The Church

(by Jarom Barlow 1-14-18)

The passing of President Thomas S. Monson has been the cause of both mourning and happiness. Mourning for those who will miss him and happiness for those who have been reunited. With obituaries and memoirs about him and his life circulating all over the interwebs, I wanted to jump on board and pay my tribute to the man. This is a list of 8 awesome things President Thomas S. Monson did while he was President of the Church (in no particular order).

#8. Varsity and Venture Scouting

In May 2017, the Church announced that it was ending all Varsity and Venture Scouting programs in the United States and Canada starting January 2018. Rather than earning merit badges or learning how to tie knots, President Monson decided that it was time for the young men between the ages of 14-18 to stop being weenies and raise the bar. The purpose of the new program is for the young men to build “strong testimonies in the Lord Jesus Christ” and to “[help] them magnify their priesthood duties and [prepare] to fulfill their divine roles.” I’ll accept that over any scouting program any day.

#7. Council of Fifty Minutes

The minutes of the Council of Fifty meetings were published by the Church Historian’s Press in the Joseph Smith Papers in 2016. The minutes had never been open to research and study until Tommy gave the go-ahead. Historians and anybody with any knowledge of how awesome the Council of Fifty was and is will forever be thankful to William Clayton for keeping the minutes. However, we will always be thankful to President Monson for allowing them to be published. A copy of the Constitution of the Council of Fifty is available in our store.

#6. “Political Machinations”

President Monson gave his first talk as President of the Church during the Priesthood Session of the 2008 April General Conference. In his talk, he warned that “political machinations ruin the stability of nations, despots grasp for power, and segments of society seem forever downtrodden, deprived of opportunity, and left with a feeling of failure.”

What most people don’t know is that he gave this same warning 4 different times (that I’m aware of) during his lifetime. And each warning occurred during the Priesthood Session of General Conference (1988, 2000, 2008, and 2014). Here’s a thought. If he has been warning us of something for the past 20 years, we should probably figure out what it is that he is warning us about. This article is a good start.

#5. Same-Sex Marriages

Gay marriage became legal nationwide during the tenure of President Monson. The LGBTQ+ABCDEFG movement has grown drastically within the last 10 years. Tons of pressure has been put on religious leaders of all types to accept this family-destroying lifestyle. What happens? President Monson receives a revelation from the Lord (yes, President Nelson says it was a revelation) instructing him to label them as apostates. What does Tommy do? He labels them as apostates. That’s bold. That’s awesome. It’s like he stuck a middle finger to the Devil… only in a Thomas S. Monson kind of way. So, maybe he just wiggled his ears.

#4. Last General Conference Address

When you are 90 years old, losing your strength, and possibly know that you will be giving your last General Conference talk, what would you talk about? Well, President Monson gave a short, but powerful, speech about something that has drawn the attacks and criticisms of the world since before it was even published: the Book of Mormon. What was one point he made? “It is essential for you to have your own testimony in these difficult times, for the testimonies of others will carry you only so far.”

#3. Ordain Women

Along with the homosexual movement, the feminist movement grew at an alarming rate during the time Thomas S. Monson served as President of the Church. Groups like Ordain Women and feminist blogs came out of nowhere and started to gain a huge following. Pressure grew from inside and outside the church to “change” the roles of men and women by destroying the differences God has created us with thus classifying each of us into one big unisex where we each have the Priesthood conferred upon us and give birth to babies. Not cool.

How did President Monson react to this pressure? He was like, “Yeah… no thanks.” Not only did he not ordain women to the Priesthood, but he took it a step further, which leads to the next item.

#2. Kate Kelly

After Ordain Women founder, Kate Kelly, was excommunicated in June of 2014, she appealed her excommunication all the way to the top of the echelons, the First Presidency. What was the result? Nothing. Yes, nothing. Which makes it so cool. Under the direction of President Monson, the First Presidency chose to do nothing about Kate Kelly’s excommunication, meaning they upheld the decision. This just makes me want to give Tommy a standing ovation. Learn more about the dangers of this whole movement on the Mormon Counter Narrative Youtube channel.

#1. Religious Freedom

Religious freedom has always been a big teaching in the church, obviously. However, it has never had its own dedicated page on… until now. Thank you, Tommy. The religious freedom page does a lot more than just telling people to vote in harmony with correct principles. It tells people to know your rights, learn the issues, and get involved. It even quotes the First Amendment. That’s pretty sweet. A great way to follow the counsel of President Monson and get started in this freedom fight is to check out our friends at Latter-day Conservative and Defending Utah.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Sacred Grove

(by Donald L. Enders
When Joseph Smith was a boy, ministers of the leading Protestant churches taught that God no longer spoke to man. They claimed that communication from heaven had ceased with the death of the Lord’s Apostles, that the Bible contained all of God’s word to man, and that no more revelation would be given.
But God had not forgotten mankind. On a beautiful day in spring 1820, God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ appeared in person to the young Joseph Smith in a woodland on his family’s farm in rural western New York. This event inaugurated the restoration of the gospel—lost from the earth for centuries—and ushered in the dispensation of the fulness of times.
The Joseph Smith, Sr., family moved from the Connecticut River Valley of eastern Vermont to western New York in 1816. They settled in Palmyra, a promising village located in the rich wheat-growing lands of the Genesee country.
About two years after the Smiths arrived in Palmyra, they constructed a log home two miles south of the village down Stafford Road in order to be near a heavily timbered 100-acre tract of land they were then negotiating to buy. Prior to signing a contract for the property in mid-1820, they received permission from its owners to begin clearing the land. Between 1819 and 1825, they succeeded in cutting timber from sixty of the hundred acres. They developed this cleared land into fields, meadows, a garden, an orchard, a permanent homesite, and building lots.
In developing their farm, the Smiths followed the pattern of most other farm families of the early nineteenth century, reserving about a third of their land in timber. Twenty-five acres of the timber that they reserved covered most of the two hills on the east of the property. The red and white oak, which grew in abundance there, were used for making barrels. The Smiths used other trees as fuel for cooking, heating their home, and boiling sap into maple syrup and sugar. The Smiths also sold “jags of cordwood” to local residents.1
Approximately 15 acres on the west end of the farm were left as forest. This area included a great many large maple trees and was chiefly used as a “sugar bush.” Most of the approximately 1,500 maple trees the Smiths tapped each season to produce an average of one thousand pounds of sugar grew here.2 From this grove Alvin, the oldest son, probably cut the beech timbers used in the construction of the frame home. The grove provided wood for making household and farm implements and produced fruit and nuts for family and livestock.
The forested lands of the Smith farm served as more than a storehouse from which to draw commodities for sustaining daily life. The woods also enriched the family’s spiritual lives. Somewhere in the forest on the Smith farm was a quiet place “where members of the Smith family were wont to hold secret prayer.”3
After the Smiths moved from the farm, later owners expanded the cultivated areas by removing nearly all the timber on the east end of the farm and reducing the woodland on the west to its present size of ten acres. It is this beautiful tract at the west end of the farm that is traditionally honored as the Sacred Grove—the place where God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith in spring 1820.
Joseph was only a boy when he experienced his vision in the grove. Sources about his early life indicate that from a very young age he had pondered concerning his standing before God. He was a prayerful person and also sought spiritual understanding through Bible study and attendance at religious meetings. These efforts, however, did not resolve his yearning to know if he was accepted of the Lord and which, if any, of the churches was God’s.
At length, Joseph became convinced that God would answer his questions if he sought Him in faith. The epistle of James inspired Joseph to seek divine understanding through prayer. It was his first effort to pray vocally for answers to these specific questions.
Joseph said, “It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the Spring of eighteen hundred and twenty” when he prayed.4 Since Sunday was the only day of the week a farm boy was free from the demands of rigorous spring farm labor, he probably chose a Sabbath to find a quiet and secluded place for his supplication. Joseph later said that he went to pray in an area of the forest where, on the day before, he and his father and brothers had been felling trees.5 At the time of Joseph’s prayer, the Smiths had cleared the trees from probably only five or ten acres of their developing farm. Farm work was seasonal, and felling trees—generally for the purpose of clearing land—was undertaken from late fall through early spring, concluding in time to plow, plant, and tend crops. The cutting of trees usually stopped by the end of April. Thus it was probably in the weeks of late March through April 1820 that Joseph sought God in prayer.
The precise location where Joseph prayed and experienced the marvelous vision is not known. This omission on Joseph’s part seems intentional. Except for specific reference to the Lord’s appearance in the Kirtland Temple, the Prophet throughout his life refrained from referring, except in a general way, to places where sacred events had occurred. This reserve was born of respect for holy experiences.
The grove at the west end of the Smith farm has been long associated with the First Vision by people who lived in the neighborhood after the Smiths moved from the Palmyra area. In 1860, Seth T. Chapman, who claimed to be a boyhood friend of Joseph Smith, purchased what had been the Smith farm. He later told his son William that he had never touched an ax to the trees in the woodlot on the west end of the farm because Joseph had identified this area as the place where he had beheld his vision.6

The Sacred Grove is one of the last surviving tracts of primeval forest in western New York state. When first purchased by Joseph Smith, Sr., and Alvin, the Smith farm, like much of the land in the area, was covered with a magnificent stand of hardwood forest. Many of the trees were from 350 to 400 years old. Maples, beech, hophornbeam, and wild cherry dominated, interspersed with ash, oak, hickory, and elm. This forest supported as many as 120 trees per acre, nearly all a foot or more in diameter.
Numerous trees in this ancient forest grew to tremendous size. More than half were from 2 to 4 feet across their trunks. A considerable number reached diameters of 4 to 6 feet, and a few had diameters of 7 feet or more. Two, three, or even four trees on the Smith’s hundred acres likely reached massive proportions of nine to ten feet in diameter.
The upper canopy of this forest included maple, beech, oak, and hickory, reaching heights of more than 100 feet. A few enormous elms rose more than 125 feet. The understory of trees ranged from 25 to 60 feet and included hophornbeams, wild cherry, and white ash. Of all the trees, the sugar maples were truly the patriarchs of the forest, rivaling elms in height and generally exceeding all others in size and age.
The floors of these great woodlands were carpeted with the leaves of many seasons. Their rich soil nurtured a luxuriant growth of ferns, grasses, wildflowers, chokecherry, and dogwood. Few forests in the eastern United States of the early 1800s rivaled the size, height, age, and beauty of the trees in the woods of western New York. The preparing hand of nature had truly created a sanctuary worthy of the presence of the Father and the Son.
A century and a half after the First Vision, the ten-acre grove still retains much of its primeval beauty. Trees of mature size in Joseph’s day still grace this aged forest. Many are more than 200 years old. One old monarch has lived 260 years. The trunks of a dozen of the now-ancient ones surpass 4 feet, and great numbers of the trees in the grove reach upward between 90 and 100 feet. The ground below, still accumulating its seasonal fall of leaves, continues to spawn its ever-renewing undergrowth.
The Sacred Grove is currently healthier, better cared for, and more beautiful than it has been for many years. The Church has for some years been directing a program to safeguard and extend the life of this beautiful woodland that is sacred to Latter-day Saints. New growth and plantings are extending the grove’s boundaries to its historic dimensions and strengthening its interior. The Sacred Grove is making a marvelous comeback from the disease and pollution that, until recently, seriously threatened its existence.7
A directive specifying that the Sacred Grove is to be reserved as a quiet place of contemplation for individuals, couples, and small groups, along with the ongoing professional maintenance program, will help ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy the serenity and sacredness of this hallowed ground.

Monday, November 12, 2018

David A. Bednar quote

Heber C. Kimball prophecy

After a while the Gentiles will gather by the thousands to this place, and Salt Lake City will be classed among the wicked cities of the world. A spirit of speculation and extravagance will take possession of the Saints, and the results will be financial bondage.
Persecution comes next and all true Latter-day Saints will be tested to the limit. Many will apostatize and others will be still not knowing what to do. Darkness will cover the earth and gross darkness the minds of the people. The judgments of God will be poured out on the wicked to the extent that our Elders from far and near will be called home, or in other words the gospel will be taken from the Gentiles and later on carried to the Jews.
The western boundary of the State of Missouri will be swept so clean of its inhabitants that as President Young tells us, when you return to that place, there will not be left so much as a yellow dog to wag his tail.
Before that day comes, however, the Saints will be put to a test that will try the integrity of the best of them. The pressure will become so great that the more righteous among them will cry unto the Lord day and night until deliverance comes.
—Heber C. Kimball, First Counselor in the First Presidency, May 1868, in Deseret News, 23 May 1931; see also Conference Report, Oct. 1930, p. 58-59

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Kirtland temple ownership not ‘us versus them’ for LDS Church, Community of Christ

(by Eleanor Cain 3-27-18)

The snow was lightly falling. It was dark, but whether from the street lamps’ soft illumination or something more, Jewell Bolton still remembers how the white temple on a hill took her breath away.

“It’s magical in a way,” she said. “It’s a place of pilgrimage. People go because they want to learn and they want to feel the spirit in the temple there.”

The Kirtland, Ohio temple was Jewell’s destination. As an elder in the Community of Christ and wife to former apostle Andrew Bolton, Jewell said her own “pilgrimage” experience as a young adult has stayed with her.

Bolton is a former apostle for the Community of Christ, a teacher of world religions since 1987, and an outspoken supporter of dialogue between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Community of Christ church.

The two churches have a common origin. The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was formed after the Prophet Joseph Smith was martyred in 1844. The reorganized church became the Community of Christ in 2001.

Many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also make the “pilgrimage” to historic sites in Kirtland. BYU church history professor Casey Griffiths is one such member. He said “one of the greatest experiences of (his) life” was on a private tour in the Kirtland temple.

Relations between the Community of Christ and the LDS Church have had ups and downs in the 182 years since the Kirtland temple dedication in 1836, but Community of Christ Apostle Lachlan Mackay said the temple remains common historical ground for the two “restorationist” faiths.

Kirtland Temple ownership

Many Latter-day Saints wonder why the LDS Church doesn’t own the Kirtland temple, but Richard O. Cowan, BYU professor emeritus of church history and doctrine, said it’s important to remember the history behind ownership in the early church.

“The (Kirtland) temple had been held in (Joseph Smith’s) name, just like in later years many things were in the name of Brigham Young; that’s the way they did it,” Cowan said. “So after the death of these people, there was a question about what was church property and what was personal property.”

According to Richard Moore’s book, “Know Your Religions: A Comparative Look at Mormonism and the Community of Christ,” the Community of Christ — formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints — was founded by Latter-day Saints who rejected teachings of polygamy and believed Joseph Smith’s son, Joseph Smith III, should succeed his father as prophet.

It was Joseph Smith III who gained the title of the Kirtland temple in 1880. The Community of Christ takes care of the temple and owns various historic sites throughout Kirtland today.

However, Griffiths said in recent years the Community of Christ has sold historic sites such as Joseph Smith’s Kirtland home and Haun’s Mill to the LDS Church.

Perhaps the most publicized sale was of the original Book of Mormon printer’s manuscript for $35 million, according to Griffiths

Would ownership change?

Bold questions resurfaced about future sales of historic items in the church’s possession when the Community of Christ sold the original Book of Mormon printer’s manuscript in September 2017, Griffiths said.

After the decision to sell the manuscript, a Community of Christ statement announced the church would sell “historic assets and other noninvestment properties that are not essential for the church’s mission” to rebuild its financial position.

Though the announcement does not specify which other historic properties are being considered, it said “the Presiding Bishopric is continuing to explore several potential sales.”

“We’re carefully saying what’s not included,” Mackay said. “We are most interested in (selling) things that are not directly missional. … But our historic sites are more missional right now than they have ever been.”

Though Andrew Bolton is no longer in the leading councils of the Community of Christ, he said the spiritual beauty of the temple would be missed if ownership were ever to change hands.

“I think it would be very difficult for us to lose (the) Kirtland temple because it is really a sacred space,” Andrew said. “You always anticipate a spiritual blessing by going there.”

Cowan said he remembers a past president of the Community of Christ addressing the question of ownership at a Mormon History Association conference in Kirtland a few years back.

“He said that every so often people from (the LDS) church approach them and say, “Are you interested in selling?” And you hear stories (that) they would welcome the finances and so on, but he said that the temple is significant to them and their heritage and he just didn’t see them selling it,” Cowan said.

However, LDS interest in the temple remains high. The shared heritage of the early Kirtland years is important for both Mormons and Community of Christ members, though interest in the temple doesn’t end with just those denominations, Griffiths said.

“On one level it’s one of the few places we can pinpoint an exact spot where Jesus visited the earth,” Griffiths said. “On a second level, the Kirtland temple should be significant to all people that are Jewish or Christian or Muslim because that prophecy at the end of Malachi that Elijah will come before the great and dreadful day of the Lord is fulfilled in the Kirtland temple.”

Stewards for "all who care"

Though the Community of Christ owns and cares for the Kirtland temple, Mackay also said the structure holds special significance for secular scholars and people of all faiths, including Latter-day Saints.

However, Mackay said visitors will often find the “spirit that they are looking for.”

“I’ve had (LDS) people on the same tour and one is having this powerful, emotional, spiritual experience … and another one leaves a little card saying, ‘I feel no spirit here,’” Mackay said.
Over the 25 years Mackay has spent caring for Community of Christ historic sites, including serving as director of the Kirtland temple visitors center for 15 years, he said people of all faith traditions have come to worship and learn about the temple.

“I always thought of what I was doing (in Kirtland) as providing stewardship, not simply for Community of Christ but for all who share the heritage,” Mackay said. “We’re stewards for all who care.”

In fact, relations with the LDS Church over the Kirtland temple have a history of “increasing collaboration,” Mackay said, adding that both religions owe a debt of gratitude to scholars from both faiths.

Finding common ground

Differences between the LDS Church and the Community of Christ originally ran much deeper than doctrine, Mackay said.

When first cousins Joseph F. Smith and Joseph Smith III were presidents of the respective organizations, Mackay said the schism was more than a matter religious differences; it was a “family feud.”

“They would write 30-page letters to each other … pointing out the errors of their ways,” Mackay said. “They infected all of us and it took our historians beginning the 1960s to begin talking and sharing insights and sources, and that new relationship slowly worked up the leadership and slowly down to membership.”

Cowan, who has been involved with church history for 53 years, said he appreciates all that the Community of Christ has done in recent years to make the Kirtland temple available to historians and LDS visitors alike.

“A few years ago they let us hold a special meeting in the temple, and that meant a great deal to us,” Cowan said. “They have a very cordial relationship with us.”

Griffiths also said the Community of Christ’s openness with the temple has benefitted many Latter-day Saints, including himself. After a private tour from Mackay, Griffiths said he remembers the “feeling of love” as Andrew led his group in singing the hymn “The Spirit of God.”

“I wish more Latter-day saints in our tradition would understand what a sacred shared space (the Kirtland temple) is,” Griffiths said. “I wish our tradition had a little less ‘us versus them’ (mentality) … and instead would say, ‘this is our space.'”


Friday, November 9, 2018

Ye Shall Call the Church in My Name

At the October General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Russell M. Nelson made a scriptural case for using the full name of the Church. He cited the resurrected Christ’s response to those Nephites who asked him what the Church should be properly called:

A basic reading list

(by Dan Peterson - Sic et Non blog - 11-4-18)

I’m sometimes contacted by people who’re experiencing doubts about the claims of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or whose spouse or father or daughter has lost faith.  I always ask what the specific issues might be, and I then try to address those or to locate colleagues or published resources that might help resolve their concerns.

I think that such efforts are extraordinarily important.  Elder Neal A. Maxwell, for whom the Maxwell Institute was named, was fond of Austin Farrer’s praise of the great C. S. Lewis: “Though argument does not create conviction,” Farrer wrote, “lack of it destroys belief. What seems to be proved may not be embraced; but what no one shows the ability to defend is quickly abandoned. Rational argument does not create belief, but it maintains a climate in which belief may flourish.”  (See Austin Farrer, “Grete Clerk,” in Jocelyn Gibb, comp., Light on C. S. Lewis [New York: Harcourt and Brace, 1965], 26.)  
Farrer’s words  long served as a kind of unofficial motto for several of those who were associated with the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), which later became the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship.  I think that motto was entirely appropriate.

I don’t, however, like to play only defense.  I don’t want to spend all my time putting out brushfires, playing catch-up, responding to crises. To use a very popular modern buzzword, I much prefer to be proactive.  I want to build faith to such a strength that crises will be less common, to create conditions under which such brushfires will be much more difficult to kindle.  Back to the sports metaphor:  If the defense is always out on the field, it may be able to keep the opposing team from scoring.  But if the offense doesn’t eventually come out to play, the prospects of victory will be very low.  A single error by the defense, simple growing weariness, one moment of inattention or poor execution, will be enough to lose the game.
One way that I choose to be proactive is to suggest a basic packet of books that I would like as many Latter-day Saints to read as possible, a set that I especially wish faltering members to be familiar with. I offer a few nominations here:

Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1981).  I was once, I confess, sitting at the back of a rather unexciting church class, rereading Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses, when an academic colleague of mine from BYU sat down beside me. He looked over at what I had been reading.  “Next to the scriptures,” he commented, “that’s the most faith-promoting book I’ve ever read.”
I’m inclined to agree with him. Richard Anderson, who earned a law degree from Harvard before receiving a doctorate in ancient history from the University of California at Berkeley, is one of the finest scholars the church has ever produced.  In this book, he subjects the Book of Mormon witnesses to meticulous examination.  They emerge from the process as sane, lucid, honest, reliable men—a fact of perfectly enormous importance because of the way their testimony directly corroborates central claims of Joseph Smith and Mormonism.

Brother Anderson has written many other very important articles on the witnesses—and on other relevant topics—since his book was published.  These are available online at the Maxwell Institute website, including but not limited to “Attempts to Redefine the Experience of the Eight Witnesses,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 14/1 (2005): 18–31; “Personal Writings of the Book of Mormon Witnesses,” in Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited: The Evidence for Ancient Origins, ed. Noel B. Reynolds (Provo, UT: FARMS, 1997), 39–60; and “The Credibility of the Book of the Mormon Translators,” in Book of Mormon Authorship: New Light on Ancient Origins, ed. Noel B. Reynolds and Charles D. Tate (Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1982), 213–37.  But Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses remains, I think, the place to start on this vital subject.
John W. Welch, ed., Opening the Heavens: Accounts of Divine Manifestations, 1820–1844 (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 2005).  In this book, the prolific polymath John W. Welch has assembled an impressive collection of original documents relating to six foundational topics in Mormon history: (1) the first vision, (2) the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, (3) the restoration of the priesthood, (4) Joseph Smith’s visionary experiences generally, (5) the restoration of temple keys, and (6) succession in the presidency (specifically the “transfiguration” of Brigham Young in Nauvoo).

Mark McConkie, ed., Remembering Joseph: Personal Recollections of Those Who Knew the Prophet Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2003).  Mark McConkie, a professor in the School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, has created a vast treasury in this book and in the accompanying bonus CD of intimate views of the Prophet Joseph Smith.  The sheer volume of material is deeply impressive. (The CD includes 2,000 pages of primary-source testimonials. The book alone includes statements from many scores of Joseph Smith’s contemporaries.)  Most of the accounts included—from Joseph’s family, friends, and acquaintances, and even from his enemies—have never been published before or are, practically speaking, inaccessible to ordinary people.  But they’re very much worth the time.  Joseph Smith, as described by those who knew him, comes across as an honest, good, and sincere man.  And once again, because of the nature of his claims, that’s something very important to know and understand.

Grant Hardy, Understanding the Book of Mormon: A Reader’s Guide (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010).  This is a somewhat more difficult book than the others I’ve recommended above, but, in my opinion, it’s a book that will abundantly reward the effort invested in it.
Grant Hardy, who holds an undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University in classical Greek and a PhD from Yale University in Chinese history, has published impressively on the history of historical writing from his perch at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, where he’s served as the chairman of the History Department.
In Understanding the Book of Mormon, he turns his highly trained eye on the historical writings of Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni, treating them as distinct personalities with very different approaches to their material.  Although he himself is an active and committed member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for the purposes of this study he “brackets” the question of whether or not they were real individuals.  Nevertheless, the extraordinarily fruitful results of his study demonstrate that the writings of Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni are indeed quite distinct—and by far the most reasonable explanation for this, in my opinion, is that they represent three real, historically different men.

I believe that serious and fair-minded engagement with the four books I’ve recommended is virtually certain to strengthen faith in readers who’re even slightly open to the possibility that Mormonism is true.  Mark McConkie’s compilation will build confidence in the character of Joseph Smith.  Richard Anderson’s book and John Welch’s anthology provide powerful corroboration of Joseph’s claims to revelation.  Grant Hardy’s book demonstrates, at least in one area, how very complex, rich, and internally consistent the Book of Mormon is.

When people contact me with doubts and problems, I don’t want merely to try to allay their concerns.  I want to build their faith so that their areas of uncertainty will shrink relative to their areas of confidence. These books—and, of course, there are others—are well suited to do just that.

Years ago, my friend Louis Midgley alerted me to an anecdote that the eminent Protestant church historian Martin Marty once used to make a point about Mormonism: The famous 18th-century French hostess Marie de Vichy-Chamrond, the Marquise du Deffand, friend of Voltaire and other leading intellectuals of her day, was conversing with Cardinal de Polignac. He told her that the martyr St. Denis, first Christian bishop of Paris, had taken up his head and walked a hundred miles after his execution. Madame du Deffand replied, “In such a promenade, it is the first step that is difficult.” She meant, of course, that it’s not the claim that St. Denis walked a hundred miles that poses a difficulty. Maybe he really walked only 99 miles. Or perhaps he walked a hundred and two. Such differences mean little. The fundamental question is whether, after his beheading, he walked at all. If that essential point has been granted, the rest is merely a footnote.
Similarly for the foundational events of the Restoration.  If we’re confident about them, the rest of the narrative follows pretty easily thereafter.

Confirmed, in its very origin, by so many witnesses

(by Dan Peterson sic et non blog)

While hosting me for my little fireside up in American Fork last Saturday, Ben Pack kindly gave me (among other things) a copy of David Hammer, comp., The Pamphlets of Orson Pratt: The Complete Collection (Salt Lake City: Eborn Publishing, 2017)

One of the essays contained in the volume is “Evidences of the Book of Mormon and Bible Compared,” which was published as Number 4 in the series Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon.  This particular essay appeared at Liverpool, England, on 15 December 1850.  Here is a passage from it that occurs on page 344 of the book:

Here, then, are twelve witnesses of the existence of the plates.  Neither of these witnesses has ever denied his testimony to this day.  Some of these witnesses have died — some have been martyred for their testimony; and one is still living.  Is there a person on the earth, that can prove that these witnesses did not see the plates?  No, there is not.  The existence of the plates, filled with engravings, is proved by twelve eye witnesses; while the correctness of their translation is proved by four eye witnesses, not only of the plates, but of the angel.  Therefore, the evidences which this generation have of the Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon, and of the existence of the plates, are far greater than the evidences which they have for the truth of any of the books of the Bible.  Hence, if they would be condemned for rejecting the Bible, how much more will they be condemned for rejecting the Book of Mormon which was confirmed, in its very origin, by so many witnesses?

I was struck by Elder Pratt’s comment.  (He was including Joseph Smith among the “Four” and the “Twelve.”)  He knew all of the witnesses personally and well, although most of them were dead by 1850 and he had pretty much lost touch with the rest of them by then.

As a matter of fact, though, several of them — not just one — still lived in 1850.  Oliver Cowdery had died earlier that year, at the tragically young age of 43.  But David Whitmer and Martin Harris were still very much alive, as were Jacob Whitmer, John Whitmer, and Hiram Page.

I find the witnesses to the Book of Mormon — including the unofficial ones not mentioned by Elder Pratt — extraordinarily persuasive.  That’s why we’ve undertaken the creation of a major dramatic documentary about them (“Creating a Witness to the Witnesses”).

Forgotten things, recalled to remembrance

News from Antiquity

Evidence supporting the book of Abraham continues to turn up in a wide variety of sources.

(by Daniel Peterson 1-94)