Mormon Times columnist McKay Coppins recently wrote about a bit of misadventure endured by LDS missionaries as they headed off to begin their missions. Before they even got beyond the airport they had suffered two incidents of rudeness directed at them because of their identifying missionary badges. To Mr. Coppins’ credit, he wrote,
“I am not relating these stories in an effort to paint the LDS Church or its missionaries as poor, persecuted Saints in an increasingly cruel world. On the contrary, I have consistently used this column to condemn the persecution complex so many of our members seem to have.”
Instead, Mr. Coppins suggested that it might be helpful if Latter-day Saints sought to understand the attitudes that seem to drive negativity directed toward Mormons. Therefore, he asked (as he titled his column), “Why do they hate us?”
The following week Mr. Coppins’ column related some of the responses he received, including such things as:
- a perceived lack of respect from LDS missionaries as they seek contacts;
- a judgmental attitude from Latter-day Saints toward those who have prayed but not received a confirmation that the Book of Mormon is true; and
- fear from seeing Mormonism as a threat to people’s cherished orthodox beliefs
While interesting, for the folks here at Mormon Coffee I think Mr. Coppins’ question, “Why do they hate us?” is the wrong question to ask. As far as I know, nobody here hates Mormons. A better question for Mr. Coppins to ask here (and perhaps elsewhere as well) might be, “Why do they challenge us?”
So I’m asking you, friends in the Mormon Coffee community: Why do you challenge Mormons and their belief system?
Comments within the parameters of 1 Peter 3:15 are invited.
Smith himself admitted Page gave false revelations through his stone & that the other witnesses to the Book of Mormon were influenced by his revelations:
The mormon god in D&C 28:11 instructs Smith to have Cowdery tell Hiram Page that “those things which he hath written from that stone are not of me, and that Satan deceiveth him.”
Seems Satan was working overtime in the early Church. If they could be deceived by Page (Satan), then they could easily be deceived by Smith(Satan) . When it came down to it, their testimony of the BOM sure did not mean much, since all but Smith’s brothers left the Church. Apostle George A. Smith clarified this:
If men with such “spotless” reputations could leave the Mormon Church even though they testified to ‘incontrovertible’ evidence, how good was that evidence, really? Not very, to be sure.
The three witnesses were ALL excommunicated from the church. Harris accused Joseph Smith of “lying and licentiousness.” The Mormon leaders in turn published an attack on the character of Harris.
The Elders’ Journal—A Mormon publication edited by Joseph Smith—said Harris and others were guilty of “swearing, lying, cheating, swindling, drinking, with every species of debauchery …” (Elders’ Journal, August, 1838, p.59).
This is how Smith describes the character of his OWN WITNESSES. David Whitmer was so confused, he said this:
Here you have one of the Three Witnesses to the BOM saying that sure as God told him the BOM was true, he also told him Smith was a false prophet. How can you believe anything this man says? What must be done is jettison everything Whitmer had to say as unreliable. It took him awhile, but Whitmer realized how evil Smith was. In a post above, I already quoted him about how he testified to Smith’s changing revelations.
William E. McLellin tells how Whitmer, gave revelations supporting his organization and condemning the Mormon Church:
Is this the same thing that happened when Whitmer saw the ‘golden bible?’ Sure it was. It shows you how easily duped these men could be, for Whitmer later left McLellin’s Church also.
Martin Harris joined the Strangite movement and even went on a mission to England for the Strangites. The Mormon church’s own publication Millennial Star had a great deal to say about Harris when he arrived in England:
THIS is the ‘wicked man’ who the mormon god used as a witness to the BOM? Yeah, I’m going to believe him. NOT. Then we have Cowdery, accused of making ‘bogus money’ in Kirtland and stealing land in Missouri. To be continued
I’m rather grateful for Janet’s engagement here. Unlike most previous Mormon posters, she has been forthright in what she believes. That doesn’t make her right; it just means she is holding Mormonism up for whah she thinks it is, and what I see is a fairly faithful representation of Joseph Smith’s later Nauvoo religion (in contrast to his earlier “preparatory” Gospel, which is closer to Orthodox Christianity).
Restoration of what? You won’t find your version of Mormonism in the Bible because it never existed. You won’t even find it in the preparatory Gospel. To restore something, it has to have been there before, but your Mormonism didn’t exist until Smith got himself to Nauvoo.
Revelation of what? That Mormons can just change their minds and reality will adjust itself to suit?
Progression of what? Mormonism is all about me and how I can make myself into a better person. Christianity is all about Christ
You accuse orthodox Christianity of stagnation. I’m not going to dispute that are many “stagnant” Christians around (and I might be one of them, to some degree or other), but the Christian Faith is the opposite of “stagnant”.
I’ve used this metaphor before, but when you come to the center of the circle, the only direction you can move from there is away from the center. Christ himself, is the center. Just as He came to the Father and “sat down”, so we come to Him and “sit down”. Like Peter, we say
On page 147 of A History of the Latter-day Saints in Northern Missouri From 1836 to 1839, Le-land Gentry states: “Joseph Smith, for example, testified that Cowdery had informed him that he had ‘come to the conclusion to get property, & that if he could not get it one way, he would get it another, God or no God, Devil or no Devil, property he must & would have’
This is the REAL character of the men who had such ‘spotless’ reputations. And they were called wicked and evil by the Mormons themselves!. These men who went from one belief to another, one lie to another, God would NEVER use in the first place. Smith hoodwinked them, like he did everyone else. Mormon writer Richard L. Anderson admits that Harris “changed his religious position eight times” during the period when he was in Kirtland, Ohio:
Richard Anderson is forced to admit that Harris’ life shows evidence of “religious instability”. Mormon writer E. Cecil McGavin stated that “Martin Harris was an un-aggressive, vacillating, easily influenced person who was no more pugnacious than a rabbit…. His conviction of one day might vanish and be replaced by doubt and fear before the setting of the sun. He was changeable, fickle, and puerile in his judgment and conduct” (The Historical Background for the Doctrine and Covenants, p.23, as cited in an unpublished manuscript by LaMar Petersen).
Cowdery was gullible, as were all the other witnesses. According to Smith, Cowdery was led astray by Hiram Page’s “peep-stone.” He was ejected from the Mormon church, he united with the “Methodist Protestant Church” at Tiffin, Ohio. In 1841 Mormons published a poem which stated that the BOM was “denied” by Oliver. He accused Smith of adultery, (with 14 year old Fanny Alger) & then the Mormons claimed it was Oliver who “committed adultery.” Smith listed Cowdery among those who were “too mean to mention.” The Mormons claimed that he joined “a gang of counterfeiters, thieves, liars, and blacklegs.” Smith testified that when a warrant was issued against Cowdery for “being engaged in making a purchase of bogus money & dies,” he “left the country.” (These statements are all in the HotC)
Cowdery seems to have returned to the Mormon church before his death, but Whitmer claimed he died believing Smith was a fallen prophet and that his revelations in the D&C must be rejected:
following Martin’s comment…
when your ambition is yourself, there is no hope BUT stagnation. YOU are just NOT THAT BIG.
God, on the other hand, is so big that IN HIM, no one will ever not have more to explore, learn, enjoy. There is no possibility of stagnation.
In 1885 Whitmer was interviewed by Zenas Gurley. Gurley asked if Whitmer knew that the plates were real metal. Whitmer said that he did not touch or handle them. He was then asked if the table they were on was literal wood or if the whole thing was a like a vision. Whitmer replied that the table had the appearance of literal wood as shown in the vision, in the glory of God (Zenas H. Gurley, Jr., Interview with David Whitmer on January 14, 1885.).
Remember Whitmer’s vision from years later? Same thing. This is how ALL the witnesses REALLY saw the plates, duped into it by Smith. Same for the others. There are even accounts of the Mormons having ‘too much wine’ and being drunk when having the visions in the Kirtland Temple. see: http://www.whymormons.net/2008/04/alcohol-mormon-temples.html Whatever Smith wrote in the preface to the BOM, it was all lies, attested to by unstable, wicked men who were duped into signing their names to a document that was completely false. The only ones who stuck with Smith? His brothers. Imagine that. Some held on to the belief of the so-called ‘vision’, some did not. Here we presented evidence of their lives, and again, like David Koresh & others like him, I choose to challenge liars, frauds & men who are ‘carried about on every wind of doctrine’ & deceived by the devil ‘who can appear as an angel of light.’ Remember this line quoted from above: Elder Wheelock will remember that evil men, like Harris, out of the evil treasure of their hearts bring forth evil things… This is the man who later would claim to see an angel & the plates. Constant readers, the nut is cracked. (Many thanks to the Tanners: Changing World of Mormonism, & Bill McKeever, who were instrumental in collecting much of this data, & showing the world the true ‘caractor’ of Smith)
A significant point regarding the eight witnesses comes from a letter dated April 15, 1838. It was written by a former Mormon leader named Stephen Burnett. In that letter, Burnett told how he heard Martin Harris state in public that Harris never saw the plates with his natural eyes but only in vision or imagination, [supported by Harris’ later statements] and the same was true for Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer. Martin Harris went on to say that the eight witnesses never actually saw the plates either, and therefore, were hesitant to sign the statement, but were persuaded to do so.
According to the letter, Burnett and several other men publicly renounced the Book of Mormon. After they were done speaking, Harris got up and said he was sorry for anyone who rejected the Book of Mormon, for he knew it was true, and said he would have never told them that the testimony of the eight witnesses was false if it had not been picked out of him, and that he should have left it as it was (Stephen Burnett, Letter in Joseph Smith Papers, Letter Book. Copy and typed transcript on file in office of Institute for Religious Research.)
While some LDS scholars and apologists have tried to brush aside this testimony as “hearsay,” it is corroborated by a letter cited in Wayne C. Gunnell’s 1955 BYU dissertation. This letter, written by George A. Smith to Josiah Fleming and dated March 30, 1838 (a couple of weeks earlier than the Burnett letter), describes a similar scene with Martin Harris, Boyington, Parish, and Johnson, all of whom are mentioned in the Burnett letter.
Only three of the eight witnesses made separate statements that they had handled the plates. They were Joseph’s two brothers, Hyrum and Samuel, and John Whitmer. Hyrum and Samuel’s statements are further qualified by their brother William who, in an interview, also claimed to have handled the plates.
He said, “I did not see them uncovered, but I handled them and hefted them while wrapped in a tow frock and judged them to have weighed about sixty pounds. … Father and my brother Samuel saw them as I did while in the frock. So did Hyrum and others of the family.” When the interviewer asked if he didn’t want to remove the cloth and see the bare plates, William replied, “No, for father had just asked if he might not be permitted to do so, and Joseph, putting his hand on them said; ‘No, I am instructed not to show them to any one. If I do, I will transgress and lose them again.’ Besides, we did not care to have him break the commandment and suffer as he did before.” (Zion’s Ensign, p. 6, January 13, 1894, cited in Church of Christ broadside.)
This sleight of hand shenanigans was a well known MO of Smith. Take this account, given at Smith’s 1826 trial, where he tried to prove his ability using his ‘peepstone’:
John Whitmer’s statements are the most detailed – one made in1878 and one in an1839 statement to Theodore Turley where he said, “I now say, I handled those plates; there were fine engravings on both sides. … they were shown to me by a supernatural power” (History of the Church, Vol. 3, p. 307).
Was this the same way Whitmer saw his visions? Sure it was. If he saw and handled them, why qualify it with ‘by a supernatural power”? No, these men handled something hidden under a cloth, and were then persuaded by Smith they were gold plates & that they needed ‘spiritual eyes’ to see them.
So, were there really gold plates, or did Smith produce a prop which he kept covered in a cloth and allowed only certain relatives to see and lift? This is what William Smith related. Joseph had four years between when he announced he discovered the gold plates, and when he actually claimed to get them out of the ground. When did Smith, Harris, Whitmer & Cowdery first find out there would be three special witnesses? And isn’t it convenient that Smith translated MOST of the BOM when the plates were hidden in the woods? Was it so that no one could discover the hoax when he was not around? The D&C records two different times when Joseph claimed to receive a revelation regarding BOM witnesses. The first came at the request of Harris in March of 1829 (D&C 5). It warned Smith not to show the plates except to those whom God commanded (vs. 3). This revelation went on to say that three witnesses would be given special power to see the plates, but “to none else will I grant this power” (D&C 5:13-14). According to this revelation, there would only be three witnesses.
Yet, in the HotC 1:52-53, Smith & Cowdery did not discover there would be three witnesses until they were translating the BOM in late June of 1829 – at least three months later. A little while after this (no date is given) Smith took it upon himself to show what he claimed were the BOM plates to the eight witnesses who were all related to one another. Joseph had them sign a testimonial. Apparently, showing the plates to his father and brothers did not require the power of God, but supernatural power was needed for showing them to John Whitmer.
There was also no revelation giving him permission to show the plates, just a private meeting.
At least one source indicates that Joseph showed the plates to two groups of four on separate occasions in his house, while other accounts say that all eight were together out in a grove. Like the accounts of the first vision, there are just too many divergent accounts for this to be a true story. (William Smith left the Church after his brother died, as did the rest of his surviving family).
Why did Brigham Young make this statement:
The answer is OBVIOUS: Their signing of a phony document was not enough to keep them in the Church. They never saw any plates or an angel because there were no plates and no angel.
As to the copyright of the BOM,
Amen, setfree. A very perceptive comment.
Geesh, Grindael, how on earth do you keep track of all this stuff?
I understand you’re posting it mainly for the benefit of the “lurkers” out there, and your rigor and encyclopeadic knowledge puts most (all?) Mormon apologetics to shame. I just hope there’s a better repository for your knowledge than this forum, which is, let’s face it, here today and gone tomorrow.
Does your Marshall stack really turn up to 11?
(PS, Aaron and MRM, I’m not saying this forum does not have its place; rather, that it’s as ephemeral as any conversation in any format)
I wanted to be a Church Historian someday when I was a Mormon, no lie. And no, I posted right at midnight, and then right after and they all posted.
But these are archived, so they will be here awhile, and yes, I post for the LURKERS, Or constant readers as I like to call them. I also have a (near) photographic memory. But this also gives facts to the Christians, to use in witnessing to Mormons, who would have the evidence at the touch of a few buttons on their laptops. LOL, thank the Lord for the internet!
And I sure enjoy your comments, so stick around, will ya?