D&C 3:1; “The works, and the designs, and the purposes of God cannot be frustrated, neither can they come to naught.”
As I’ve stated countless times before, there’s a lot to learn about Mormonism once you leave the fold. I was a sixth generation Mormon from Utah no less and thought I had a pretty good handle on the history of my beloved heritage. I’ve never been so wrong in my life!
Today we’re looking at one of the events in Mormonism that brings up more questions than answers. The infamous story of the ‘lost 116 pages to the BoM’ sits in the hallways of Mormon history waiting its turn to be exposed for the lie that it is.
A cursory glance at the subject matter doesn’t reveal the underhanded fallacious habits of Joseph Smith or what he did to pull this one out of his magic hat. The problem here is the same as it is with everything in Mormonism. The victims, if you will, are clueless as to what’s in the dark closets of their church. I know this for certain because I used to be one of them.
Pray with us that they will open their eyes and accept the truth that God is laying out for them to see!
With Love in Christ;
1 Cor 1:18
After a series of events and hearing rumors about a ‘golden bible’ in the upper Atlantic seaboard, Martin Harris set out looking for the young man who held special heavenly insight so he too could learn a new thing of the Lord. His pursuit paid off when he eventually came into contact with the young man and sometime between December 1827 and February 1828 a young Joe Smith met a middle aged man by the name of Martin Harris for the first time – HC 1:19…
Now Martin Harris was prone to follow the latest religious rumors of the day and by the time 1828 rolled around the very superstitious Martin had already been a member of no less than five different religious organizations. Being a wealthy farmer and ordained minister with his own flock wouldn’t stop his quest of looking for the next new thing. Also see History of the Church, Vol. 1, Chapter 3 Notes #2.
After meeting Smith and giving him $50 to pay off some debts Mr. Harris decided to lend his hand to the work of the Lord based on claims of the uneducated farm boy. Joe, already endowed with a reputation for treasure hunting, leaves little doubt he must have seen a cash cow via Harris’ bank account. The two men seemed to make a motley crew with their age and educational differences, life experiences and social standings. They had virtually nothing in common except for one thing – their desire to author a new gospel.
After making arrangements with both families the men began translating the golden plates at the Smith home in Harmony, Pennsylvania where Joe and Emma Smith were living at the time. While Harris and family lived almost 300 miles away in Palmyra, NY, Martin faithfully spent several days traveling back and forth in fulfilling his quest to translate the plates and take care of his family at the same time.
Saturday, April 12, 1828, BoM translation begins – HC 1:20-21
After making the necessary arrangements, the two men sat down to translate gold plates written in the unknown language of Reformed Egyptian. After just two months (June 14, 1828) a huge problem manifested itself and we are now witnesses to one of the quick thinking ‘saves’ Smith would come up with during his tenure as prophet.
In June 1828 Harris felt he needed to get back home to his family so he begged Joseph to allow him to take the transcripts back to Palmyra (presumably to convince his unbelieving wife of Smith’s prophetic calling). After asking several times and being told no, Smith finally acquiesced to Martin’s request and allowed the 116 transcribed pages about the prophet Lehi to leave with Harris.
During the fieldtrip at the Martin household, somehow the translated papers came up missing. There are two widely held ideas of what happened to the manuscripts. One theory is that Harris’ wife, Lucy, tossed them into the fireplace and the other is that she held onto them so when Smith ‘retranslated’ the lost documents she’d have proof Smith was a con artist who was only interested in draining her husband’s bank accounts.
When he didn’t hear anything from Harris for three weeks Joe finally set out for Palmyra to discover what was going on with his missing scribe. When Smith met up with him, Martin admitted that the transcripts had been lost.
With Harris fessin’ up to his predicament Smith immediately cried out he [Smith] was ‘ruined’ and wouldn’t be able to rewrite the translated plates. He was convinced evil men would try to prove him wrong if he retranslated the work. After returning home the Mormon god spoke to his inexperienced prophet and told him about the back-up plan.
In July 1828 Smith reamed out Harris through a prophecy given to him by the Lord (D&C 10), but the lost transcripts were never recovered.
After all that…
As luck would have it the Mormon God foresaw what would happen in 1828 so in BC 600 he had the prophet Nephi hammer out a new set of plates to replace the future lost transcripts his father Lehi had written. Instead of a book titled Lehi, we now have a new version of the first submission in the BoM that the Church refers to as 1st Nephi. The Church claims the original writings of Lehi were an historical account of events and the rewrite we have now in 1st Nephi was given as a non-historical, spiritual insight for future readers of the nineteenth century.
In addition to the new version of 1st Nephi, a later prophet by the name of Mormon also wrote an abridgement to explain why we have the first abridgment (1st Nephi) which came as a result of the lost 116 pages. This abridgment is known as the Words of Mormon. While the Nephite prophet Mormon authored the latter abridgment, his son Moroni would be responsible for placing his father’s writings into the Book of Mormon between the writings of Omni and Mosiah.
Q and A time…
In light of all the hullabaloo, a few questions come to mind –
Why would Smith and/or the Church be worried about evil men changing the transcripts if he retranslated them?
“Joseph learned by revelation that wicked men, intending to entrap him, had altered the words of the manuscript. If he translated the same material again and published it, they would say he was unable to do it the same way twice, and therefore the work must not be inspired…”
If Smith was a true prophet then why fear duplication of retranslating the plates?
Wouldn’t it prove he was a true prophet hearing from God?
How could Satan so easily mess up God’s plan? Smith’s prophecy in D&C 3:1 says that God’s plans can’t be frustrated.
Why would a woman (Lucy Harris) with a short fuse and a healthy untrusting spirit mess up the destiny of what God had ordained almost 2,500 years earlier?
Why didn’t God let Smith know that things had gone awry? According to historical accounts at LDS.org Smith didn’t know about the fiasco until he had traveled through the night to find out why he hadn’t heard from Harris in awhile.
Why did God chew out Smith for making the mistake of letting Harris take the transcripts if this was all mean to be? See D&C 10.
If this wasn’t a fraud – which it seems to be – why would the beloved prophet Mormon be involved with events from 1,000 years prior to his time?
How did Mormon know just where to insert his part of scripture into the BoM and describe the event some 1,000 years prior to the event?
Why did he involve his son Moroni in all of this?