Mormon Dilemma 74
Book of Mormon Witnesses
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, pg. 214; “The witnesses were men known for truthfulness and sobriety. Though each of the Three Witnesses was eventually excommunicated from the Church (two returned), none ever denied or retracted his published testimony. Each reaffirmed at every opportunity the veracity of his testimony and the reality of what he had seen and experienced…Five of these Eight Witnesses remained solidly with the Church; John Whitmer was excommunicated in 1838, and his brother Jacob Whitmer and brother-in-law Hiram Page then became inactive.”
The statement made above by the Church has to be one of the most confusing, outright and deliberate pieces of disingenuous propaganda there is in Mormonism.
Let’s see, the witnesses are truthful, but they’ve been excommunicated for lying amongst other things.
During the time of the infighting at Farr West, Smith, Rigdon and Young as well as others just outright disseminated the characters of the original witnesses, leaving nothing to the imagination of who these fellows might be. The infamous “Salt Sermon” was a product of Rigdon that was addressed to the members of the Church while not naming names, but his sermon was indeed meant for the dissenters of the day.
History of the Church 3:232; “Such characters as McLellin, John Whitmer, David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, and Martin Harris are too mean to mention; and we had liked to have forgotten them.” – Joseph Smith, Liberty Jail, Missouri, Dec 16, 1838
Journal of Discourses 7:164; “Some of the Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, who handled the plates and conversed with the angels of God, were afterwards left to doubt and to disbelieve that they had ever seen an angel.” – Brigham Young, Salt Lake City, June 5, 1859
The Church proclaims the witnesses are trustworthy; therefore, their names are still in the front of the Book of Mormon for unsuspecting inquirers to believe these guys were in good standing with the Church.
The truth about the eight witnesses is vastly different from what the statement says above. Three of the eight did in fact stay with the Church – keep in mind these included Joseph Smith, Sr., Hyrum Smith and Samuel H. Smith; the last two were Joseph Smith, Junior’s brothers and then of course his dad.
Brothers Peter Whitmer, Jr., and Christian Whitmer both died before their entire family was ex-communicated in 1838.
Oliver Cowdery denounced the Church and became a Methodist in 1848. (The Mormon Frontier, Diary of Hosea Stout, vol. 2, pg. 336) The Church of course denies this and insists he came back to the Church a repentant man. It’s interesting to note that while the Encyclopedia of Mormonism says only one of them didn’t return, the truth is that two of them stayed far away. Cowdery is one of the two. He eventually died from tuberculosis at the home of David Whitmer in 1850.
Another item to take special notice of are the comments made by Church officials that claim he was a dirty rotten scoundrel and at the same time proclaiming he did come back to the Church and became very active in Church affairs. Three different stories for just one person…
Martin Harris belonged to no less than five different denominations before he joined Mormonism and another eight after he left. Then in 1848 he came back to the Church, left again and in 1870 just five years before he died decided to get baptized after moving to Utah, completely destitute. Remember, he was the one who financed the original printing for the Book of Mormon.
David Whitmer, one of the original three witnesses to the Book of Mormon became disenchanted with the way Joseph Smith was running internal affairs of the Church, viz, polygamy. At the time of David Whitmer’s excommunication several other people and leaders of the Church left with him.
In response to Whitmer’s claims against Joseph about the affair with Fanny Alger, the young maidservant of Emma’s, Joseph came back with a very public character assassination of Mr. Whitmer. Smith said;
“God suffered such kind of beings to afflict Job . . . this poor man who professes to be much of a prophet, has no other dumb ass to ride but David Whitmer, to forbid his madness when he goes up to curse Israel: and this ass not being of the same kind as Balaam’s . . . he brays out cursing instead of blessings. Poor ass!” – History of the Church 3:228
In 1887 Whitmer wrote a pamphlet called “An Address to All Believers in Christ” in which he again asserted that the leadership of the Mormon Church rightly belonged to him. His writing also gave us insight of how the translation process of the Book of Mormon took place. In part this is what Whitmer wrote;
“I will now give you a description of the manner in which the Book of Mormon was translated. Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man.” – An Address to All Believers in Christ, 1887, p. 12
Now with all this information behind us on the first three witnesses of the Book of Mormon, I pose one simple question:
Why would you trust any of the statements made by anyone involved with this?
Be watching for our upcoming article on all the witnesses later this month!