Mormon scholar explains the historical difficulty created by the Golden Plates


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  • Montana Mormon Miles City, MT
    Oct. 31, 2010 4:20 p.m.

    Brokenclay: You stated above, "The doctrine of Mormonism is foreign to the Bible; therefore, we know it is false." I am currently in my 82nd reading of the New Testament, so I consider myself well informed as to what the New Testament has to say about Christianity. Therefore, I respectfully disagree with your assessment of Mormonism and Biblical Christianity.

  • cmtam lake forest, ca
    Oct. 31, 2010 2:36 p.m.

    Idaho coug: "Therefore, if someone either received a different answer or none at all then they must have gone about the process incorrectly" No,
    "He saved us,not because of righteous things we had done,but because of his mercy,He saved us through the washing of the rebirth by the Holy Spirit"(Titus 3:5)
    Christians are saved grace through faith alone but not by faith that is alone,Christians will produce good works. "It does not therefore,depend on man's desire or effort,but on God's mercy. (Romans 9:16)

    Not,"you are saved by grace after all you can do."

  • brokenclay Scottsdale, AZ
    Oct. 31, 2010 2:13 p.m.

    "I know . . . how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false." (Rev 2:2)

    "Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good." (1 Thess 5:20-21)

    "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world." (1 John 4:1)

    "Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so." (Acts 17:22)

    "Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons." (1Tim 4:1)

    Test the spirits, apostles, and teachers: the world is full of deceiving spirits and false prophets! Any spirit can give a feeling. The objective way is as the Bereans did-- by searching the scriptures to see if these things are true. There are doctrinal tests. The doctrine of Mormonism is foreign to the Bible; therefore, we know it is false.

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    Oct. 31, 2010 12:12 p.m.

    A personal testimony or witness - either positive or negative regarding the BofM and other LDS issues - should be treated with respect.

    I recognize the "line upon line" concept of a testimony as mentioned by Alberta Reader. But we all know stories or have personally experienced the "big answer quickly and all at one time" as well. I know that I have personally experienced BOTH and most of us probably have.

    The problem we often face is our own absolute conviction of our beliefs. Therefore, if someone either received a different answer or none at all then they must have gone about the process incorrectly.

    I am very intrigued by the reality that millions have experienced profound spiritual confirmations that completely contradict the LDS position in one sense or another. What does that mean? It is easy for LDS to say those experiences came from an incorrect source or the testimony gaining process was not followed correctly. It is certainly easy for non-LDS faiths to contribute that to LDS testimonies.

    I believe the answer may be that the Lord has different life and spiritual paths for each of His children. And equally provides a spiritual confirmation for them.

  • cmtam lake forest, ca
    Oct. 31, 2010 9:02 a.m.

    Alberta Reader: "I am brought forth triumphant through the air, to meet you before the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah(YHWH), the Eternal Judge of both quick and dead. Amen"(Mornoni 10:34)
    Jehovah is a KJV mistranslation of the divine name of God or Yahweh. The angel Mormoni(JS) was misunderstood. See Galations 1:8.

  • Alberta Reader Magrath, Alberta
    Oct. 30, 2010 11:01 p.m.

    To Vanka continued from Elder Bednar

    However, the pattern repeatedly described in the scriptures suggests we receive “line upon line, precept upon precept,” or in other words, many small answers over a period of time. Recognizing and understanding this pattern is an important key to obtaining inspiration and help from the Holy Ghost.

    I like Montana Mormon have had the answer and yes it was line upon line no big event for me either I guess like you Vanka.
    I believe with my whole heart the last words of Moroni in the BofM as follows

    I am brought forth triumphant through the air, to meet you before the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah, the Eternal Judge of both quick and dead. Amen.

  • Alberta Reader Magrath, Alberta
    Oct. 30, 2010 10:53 p.m.

    It seems individuals like brokenclay and vanka make such comments to justify what they say they believe.

    Vanka same name but now a male and not from Michigan
    You don't understand God's process for revelation thus your disappointment. Study the concept of line upon line to learn how God gives revelation to His Children. Elder Bednar taught the following

    I believe many of us unknowingly accept a faulty assumption about the Lord’s pattern. And this faulty assumption then produces erroneous expectations about how we receive spiritual knowledge. And that faulty assumption and our misinformed expectations ultimately hinder our ability to recognize and respond to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Let me suggest that many of us typically assume we will receive an answer or a prompting to our earnest prayers and pleadings. And we also frequently expect that such an answer or a prompting will come immediately and all at once. Thus, we tend to believe the Lord will give us A BIG ANSWER QUICKLY AND ALL AT ONE TIME.

  • Summer Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 30, 2010 9:52 p.m.


    I lost respect for your "testimony" when you said there are "facts which prove Mormonism to be a false religion".

    There is no proof for or against any religion that is backed up by facts. It is all based on faith - either pro or con.

    I have read the Book of Mormon probably over 30 times - I quit counting at 15 times and have read it since then numerous times. I have received the witness of the Spirit of God that it is true. And I have yet to hear a decent alternative that explains the book - all the critics' arguments for the Book of Mormon - they contradict themselves.

    If the critics cannot decide what theory about the BOM they believe, then I would hardly say there are facts that prove it false. Disregard it if you want, but don't claim the facts disprove it - that is utterly false.

  • brokenclay Scottsdale, AZ
    Oct. 30, 2010 4:29 p.m.

    Like Vanka, I also have made serious request to the divine on the question of Mormonism. But instead of simply not receiving an answer, I actually received a negative response. One night I could not sleep, and I was weeping and crying out for hours for an answer. There are few times in my life when I've been so emotionally distraught. After several hours of this, a great peace and calmness came upon me, and memories came to my mind in rapid-fire-- all the memories of facts which prove Mormonism to be a false religion. This answer was not only a feeling (the peace of God that surpasses all understanding), but was accompanied by a rational response that did not come from me. Since that time I have never considered Mormonism as a viable option-- God has ruled it out.

    Remember the continuity of 4,000+ years of Judeo-Christian tradition: strict monotheism that worships the one true God! Mormonism is a different Gospel, and as such is to be rejected by those who embrace the truth.

  • JoeBlow Miami Area, Fl
    Oct. 30, 2010 6:04 a.m.

    Quite the ambiguity about the plates with many of the "witnesses"

    "brother of Joseph handled the plates in a pillow-case"

    "Emma felt the plates under a cloth on the table"

    Then there is the whole "spiritual eye" and "eye of faith" thing.

    Were there ever any plates? I do not know.

    What is apparent is that the witnesses comments about the whole thing are all over the map.

    Yes, there were comments made that left no doubt that these people saw, touched and knew the plates were real.

    These same people also made lots of comments that leave much doubt as to what they really saw.

  • Otis Spurlock Ogden, UT
    Oct. 30, 2010 12:05 a.m.

    The whole "Golden Plate" story never felt right to me, even as a child in Sunday School. It still does not feel right to me as an adult.

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    Oct. 29, 2010 9:26 p.m.

    RE: Vanka | 7:38 p.m.

    NOT getting an answer

    is not the same as getting a negative answer,

    God will answer in his own time and not yours, and when you are ready, especially spiritually.

    Many people get frustrated because they demand answers right away.

    and BOM was never intended to be a history book, or literature,

    but just an abridgement of greater records that Mormon was inspired to or directed to include,

    and primarily a witness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and of God's works with his other sheep in america.

  • Montana Mormon Miles City, MT
    Oct. 29, 2010 8:21 p.m.

    Vanka: Thank you for your candid response to your efforts to find out for yourself whether or not the Book of Mormon is true. As far as you can determine, you did not get an affirmative response. To the contrary, you perceive your response as a negative one. I respect you for making the effort and I respect the decision you have made based on your effort. I, on the other hand, have made the same effort and have received what I feel is an incontrovertible witness that it is true. And contrary to your observation, I feel the Book of Mormon is a superb history, is superb literature, and is superb theology. No naked emperor for me, so I will respect you for saying that you received a negative answer. Please, respect those of us who are so certain that we have received an affirmative answer that we are willing to stake our eternal welfare on it. This is serious business, for both of us.

    Oct. 29, 2010 7:38 p.m.

    Bill in Nebraska,

    I took the test you have described. I took it over and over, repeatedly, while my beautiful wife prayed and fasted and yearned for me to "see the light".

    I received nothing that can be called an "answer" or "revelation". If the "feelings" I have had over the years regarding the Book of Mormon count as "revelation", then they have to be revelation that the book is not true. And it isn't even good reading. It is not good history. It is not good literature. It is not good logic or science. It is not good moral guidance (cut off a man's head because "an angel" tells you to? Really?). My repeated conclusion after taking Moroni's Challenge was consistently: "Well, there's another few days I will never get back." Add to that the time I wasted taking classes from BYU religion professors and attending Education Week, and I can only testify that I have wasted more time than anyone I know trying to find out if the Book of Mormon is "true".

    So, please, don't try to pawn off that ancient con-game on us. We know the Emperor is naked.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Oct. 29, 2010 6:42 p.m.

    To Mormoncowboy:

    Actually Joseph Smith has nothing to prove. Martin Harris even on his death bed failed to recant his witness to the plates as did David Whitmer. They had every opportunity and every reason to recant but NEVER did. What you say is only words of description not fact or reason. There are too many that know for a fact that Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of God.

    That through the power of inspiration Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon. The evidence has been presented but just as some have seen angels and been spoken to have failed to be swayed so why should anyone else who have been told of the same excuses know any different.

    The promise of the Book of Mormon to know for a sureity is in Moroni 10:3-5. Put that to a test with a complete sincere heart to know and then to be ready to act upon it. No one will have to tell God whether the Book of Mormon is true or false but when you ask when did you tell me remember those on this board that have told you.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    Oct. 29, 2010 4:42 p.m.

    This isn't the place (the forums which allows for only brief comments) for a detailed analysis of the issue. So I won't go into that. However, beyond the vague assertion that eight witnesses had in fact "hefted", who knows the actual story of when the Whitmers and Smiths were said to have experienced this. Secondly, think to story of the three witnesses, paying particular attention to Martin Harrises "witness". Next learn of David Whitmers retelling and how it actually is more consistent with Martin Harris's experience (hint: it was in their mind - their words, not mine) than the Testimony signed in The Book of Mormon. Finally, read David Whitmers "An Address to All Believers in Christ" and see if you can maintain the validity of his "testimony". No nothing can be proved, and from where I stand Joseph Smith has a lot to prove before getting my vote.

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    Oct. 29, 2010 3:52 p.m.

    The fact that God chose to take back the plates makes it difficult for some to just rely on the witnesse's testimony. But I'm not sure that many members know that the Church HAS the seer stone in their possession. I have seen a picture of it and I would assume many well-placed members have physically viewed it. The seer stone in JS's hat was used for the vast majority of translations.

    I recognize there is some inherent embarrassment in general regarding the hat and stone process but it is what it is and the seer stone is in the church's possession. It would be pretty cool if members were allowed to see it. But that darn PR/image thing will probably always prevent that.

    I wonder if the book will address the reality that the stone was used FAR more than the plates for translation? And did I say we actually HAVE it?

  • Utes Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 29, 2010 1:57 p.m.

    The plates were real. The witnesses "handled" and "hefted" them. William Smith, a brother of Joseph handled the plates in a pillow-case and claimed on several occasions that the set of plates weighed about sixty pounds, as did Willard Chase, while Martin Harris said that they weighed forty to fifty pounds. Emma felt the plates under a cloth on the table and noticed that they felt metallic. And some enemies of Joseph tried to steal them - even they at least believed the plates to be real.

  • ADN Weiser, ID
    Oct. 29, 2010 12:30 p.m.

    The Lord covered all his bases when he had the 12 men testify of the plates. There was Joseph who had them and handled them. who saw the angel and translated them. That would be easy to rationalize away, if that was the end of the story. So the Lord gave us 3 more witnesses who saw an angel, heard the Lord's voice declaring the truthfulness of the record and saw the plates, the sword, the liahona, and the Urim and Thummim. They are the spiritual witness, testifying that Joseph wasn't just daydreaming or having fantastic ideas floating in his head. Then the Lord had 8 more men see and feel the plates. They are the physical witness of the Book of Mormon. They saw no angel, and heard no voice.

    You can't claim that it was a hallucination, because of the 8 who saw physical evidence. You can't claim that the 8 were in cahoots with Joseph because of the 3 witnesses. The Lord showed in a very real way that the Book of Mormon and plates are real. That isn't taking into affect the millions who know by the Holy Ghost.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Oct. 29, 2010 12:21 p.m.

    To Jolter: The problem with your argument is that these so called eleven witnesses did see and handle these plates. Physically handled them. The other thing is that none of the eleven ever and I mean ever recanted their testimonies.

    To Mormoncowboy: There are many instances where Joseph Smith didn't look at the plates during translation but into the hat with the seer stone. We know that the first 116 pages of the Book Of Mormon were lost or stolen awaiting for Joseph to retranslate them. This never happened thus those pages never seem to have ever come back into existance. The plates and the translators were taken from Joseph for a season. When the plates were returned we don't know if the original translators were returned to him or not, thus the reason for the seer stone.

    You will never prove the falsehood or the truth of the Book of Mormon through so called hard evidence, just as you will never prove the same with the Bible. Just because the names of so called places aren't found doesn't mean they never existed.

    The Book of Mormon must be taken on faith and faith alone.

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    Oct. 29, 2010 12:04 p.m.


    For those who choose to be gullible and who remain closed to the possibility of deception, lies, lust for money, the fear of notoriety, the fear of the loss of power, the fear of embarrassment as very possible motives for witnesses to support the existence of the golden plates no matter how much good contrary evidence is presented, and who believe the role of direct personal revelation from God can't logically be disputed and challenged, won't think any good evidence to the contrary, regardless of its logic and reliability, would be sufficient evidence to disregard the existence of the golden plates. Nor would the display of detailed evidence by scholarly sources that the BoM is false be sufficient.

    The BoM can easily be challenged and the evidence supporting it can't stand on its own. The three and the eight witnesses to the Book of Mormon plus plenty of other evidence give many people no confidence as to the existence of the golden plates or the truth of the BoM.

    Humanism shows that we all believe many things just because we want them to be true. Mormonism is NO exception.

    Will DN post a rebuttal?

  • newslover Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 29, 2010 12:02 p.m.

    Reluctant... because ... well... "they don't exist."
    ... unless I'm mistaken ... and they are at the Field Museum in Chicago.

  • GmaxD Lehi, UT
    Oct. 29, 2010 11:16 a.m.

    Mormoncowboy: For those who choose to be cynics and who remain closed to the possibility of truth, no matter from wherever it may come, and who deny the role of direct personal revelation from God, I don't think even a thousand witnesses, regardless of the circumstances, would be sufficient evidence. Nor would the display of a set of gold plates claimed by the church to be THE gold plates be sufficient evidence.

  • EndOfAnError-01/20/2013 Suwanee, GA
    Oct. 29, 2010 11:02 a.m.


    Not sure what cowboy is saying but I will read this book when it becomes available.

  • Jolter Northern, Utah
    Oct. 29, 2010 10:56 a.m.

    Deseret News...I get tired of posting reasonables arguments that don't get posted because it doesn't support Mormonism. What are you afraid of? You must already know the evidence really can be challenged and can't stand on its own.

    The Book of Mormon witnesses later said, when they were questioned more in detail, was that they only saw these things in visions, not in reality, in other words, they were only “visionary imaginations”, of obviously very gullible people. The BoM speaks of tangible plates so there is something wrong if the witnesses saw visionary ones.

    The Mormon Church tries to prove on psychological grounds that the witnesses to the Book of Mormon must have been telling the truth. It does this by eliminating the ulterior motives such as lust for money, the fear of notoriety, the fear of the loss of power, the fear of embarrassment as motives for the witnesses not retracting their testimony. There was great pressure put by the book itself on the witnesses to make themselves see visions of the plates and the angel saying the book was true.

    Extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence. People who believe seem to accept disputibly weak evidence.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    Oct. 29, 2010 9:20 a.m.

    The independent accounts of the witnesses are less than compelling that those affidavits contained in The Book of Mormon should be taken seriously.