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Comments about ‘Defending the Faith: The story behind James Strang and his sect’

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Published: Thursday, June 9 2011 5:00 a.m. MDT

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skeptic
Phoenix, AZ

It seems troubling to the veracity of the Book of Mormon story that so many of the people involved with Joseph Smith and witness to his deeds were so curious and bedeviled in their lives and actions. Are these people who could be trusted as sane reliable witnesses.

Otis Spurlock
Ogden, UT

Frankly, I'm surprised at the severity of Mr. Peterson's criticisms against Mr. Strang. We, as LDS, should never attack a man with a sincere belief and his faithful followers. Even if we feel he is not on the right path.

These are similar attacks that many critics say about the LDS church. Also, you would figure the fundamentalists and the mainline LDS would get along much better. We are all Christians afterall and brothers and sisters.

Contention and attacking should never be an option when it comes to addressing another faith different than ours.

Enola
BOUNTIFUL, UT

LOL. Peterson is obviously an anti-Strangite. Why can't he just leave them alone?

There is no way he wrote this article completely unaware of the humorous irony of his piece. No way.

Weber State Graduate
Clearfield, UT

Must "believers in Mormonism...accept Strang's claims or reject both Joseph and Strang?"

Of course not...it's not a competition between witnesses. The issue is more about making the error of disproportionately weighing their claims in favor of religious authenticity, especially in light of the troubling aspects associated with both sets of witnesses.

Anyone can round up family and friends with an interest at stake and have them sign a document. The question is how much weight should be associated with their declaration? In the case of the surviving eleven BoM witnesses, not a single one was part of the LDS Church by 1847. Interestingly, all of the witnesses were at one time called liars, counterfeiters, thieves, etc. by Joseph Smith himself.

Does this mean that Joseph Smith should be summarily be rejected? No, but it certainly adds to the long list of suspicions that already exist regarding his other claims...the biggest suspicion being that the plates are conveniently absent for examination by any "objective" researcher, witness or observer.

It's simply a mistake for the church and its apologists to disproportionally prop up problematic witnesses as a trump for truth...that's the real issue.

Idaho Coug
Meridian, Idaho

As I am reading the Book of Mormon, I am keeping my positive, objective hat on. Of course Dan Petersen is going to write this article with a very positive spin toward the Church and Joseph Smith. He should. That is the job description of an LDS apologist.

I personally appreciate the fact that he wrote this article. The article and ensuing comments both pro and con will serve as an educational source for LDS that 50 years of correlated material will not provide. That is a positive thing!

I would be very interested to read an article by Dan Petersen addressing the history and use of Joseph Smith's seer stone both in searching for lost items and in the translation of the Book of Mormon. I think it is one of those things that many LDS have no knowledge of and yet it is an important fact of LDS history and regular used to criticize the Church.

bwoods
Tucson, AZ

Thanks for an interesting article. Strang was exposed as someone who was not a sincere man with sincere beliefs but a man who connived for power and influence and unfortunately duped some sincere people and colluded with other conniving people.

As for witnesses, the Lord has his and whether those witnesses through their own human frailties stumble or not, I have my own sure witness of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and the church.

Pentacone
Batley, W.Yorkshire

"James J.Strang"

Possibly, not many of you know of this Man?

Please "Google" the Name, and you will find a Site, supported by a Gentleman Known as Mr.John Hajicek (A Melchizedek Priest, of Lineage), and Called "The "Original" Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints"!

Mr. Hajicek has in his Possession, many Ancient Documents, some of which are For Sale (Or Transcribed on the Internet), for ALL to read.

When I read the "Letter of Authority", from Joseph Smith Jnr., and the Story related about it, I was in No Uncertain Doubt as to it's Authenticity.

So, please investigate further yourselves, before totally believing the Above Article.

With Kindest Regards,
Joseph Peter Sheehan.
"PENTACONE".

Pentacone
Batley, W.Yorkshire

Thank You Ever-so-Much, Mormon Times, for Posting my 1st Comment,

And, to Progress the Information Further;

Please, those who are interested, "Google", "Hajicek", and numerous Web-Sites will be seen, showing John's Great Works, for and on behalf of, ALL Latter-Day Saints!

Kindest Regards,
Joseph Peter Sheehan.
"PENTACONE"

Mormoncowboy
Provo, Ut

Once again the anit-Strangite critics amass their arguments, distortions of history, misrepresentations, all lying to decieve, when they know that mountains of evidence exist to prove that Plates of Laban are true.

Even with all of the mountains of evidence, the fact is, you will never be able to prove that the Plates of Laban are not true using science, or any other kind of intellectual inquiry. Sure, rely on the witness of apostates, sons of perdition who are numbered among the liar from the beginning. Anybody who reads the Book of Mormon, particularly 1 Nephi, will undoubtedly recognize the parallels between that book and the Book of Laban. Laban is mentioned in both books! Furthermore, the plates of Laban are second witness to The Book of Mormon, as they both testify to the writing of ancient language on metal plates. "From the plates of two or more books, shall every word be established".

Daniel Peterson get's his anti-Strangite tripe by simply by believing unreliable testimonies. Even if I were to prove to him that the Book of Laban is true, he wouldn't believe it though, so God has blessed me with faith instead. I Know!

Jeff
Temple City, CA

@ Mormoncowboy: Interesting satire. My satirical posts are not usually permitted, so I have to keep it straight.

I appreciate Daniel Peterson's article; there has been talk of Strang lately on these posts, and many critics of the Church like to use him as some sort of foil to Joseph Smith in an effort to suggest that they were alike. I do not feel obligated to know everything about everyone who ever apostatized from the Church, but when questions arise (as with "Big Love" or the FLDS) it's helpful to know.

Why don't I need to worry about Joseph Strang (or any other apostate from "Mormonism")? I take the time to study, seek, and recieve a spiritual confirmation of the current prophet of the Church. Since Thomas S. Monson is a true prophet, then Joseph Strang is not, and I can examine him as a curiosity and I have no worry about his claims to legitimacy--satire to the contrary.

Daniel Petersen is doing what I would expect a good apologist to do: he is providing information that, though not spiritually necessary, may be useful in fallen, contentious world.

John Hajicek
Independence, MO

Fawn Brodie and Milo Quaife corresponded with each other as equal colleagues, and while a landmark author in 1945, Brodie is left behind today. Daniel Peterson acknowledges that he spent a mere 45 minutes writing an article he says he thinks about only a few times per decade, mostly based on a 1930 book by Milo Quaife, also outdated. The Roger Van Noord biography in 1988, also referenced, is midway in scholarship between Robert Flanders Kingdom on the Mississippi from 1965 and Andrew Smiths Saintly Scoundrel from 1997, all three from the University of Illinois Press by non-Mormons.

John Hajicek
Independence, MO

The tone of Peterson is plain to everyone, but there are mistakes of numerical facts that betray how inaccurately he wrote it all: He says the editions of the Book of the Law of the Lord were 84 pages and 350 pages, for example, but in fact they were 80 pages (1851) and 320 pages (1856). He does not provide any balance, either: He quotes Stephen Post as a Rigdonite saying that it was possible Strang made the plates, but he does not use the powerful favorable testimony of Post in the Stephen Post Papers at the Church History Library, nor the unshaken testimony of his brother Warren Post at BYU. And he relies on a third secondary book (which he does not name), which says it used an 1888 magazine, which printed a letter it says was written by an anti-Mormon, which says that Samuel Graham says (where or to whom the anti-Mormon did not say) he conspired with Strang to make brass plates; and that Samuel Bacon says (where or to whom the anti-Mormon did not say) that he found brass fragments in Strangs house.

John Hajicek
Independence, MO

That is hearsay. Regardless, by hearsay or otherwise, none of the witnesses are reported to have denied anything that they saw, touched, or heard. Moreover, the 1888 anti-Mormon says that events he himself prophesied on Beaver Island came true, and that Strangs 1844 letter of appointment from Joseph Smith was true, yet Daniel Peterson and his secondary sources make no reference to this for balance. Comparatively, Samuel Bacons 1880s reminiscence about leaving James Strang has no greater nor less weight than David Whitmers 1880s reminiscence about leaving Joseph Smith.

John Hajicek
Independence, MO

Most importantly, Daniel Peterson fails in his claim that Strangs witnesses later denied their testimonies in that he provided no words from any of them recanting anything that they had said. Samuel Bacon had an unorthodox conclusion of how he thought James Strang obtained his plates, and David Whitmer had an unorthodox conclusion of how he thought Joseph Smith translated his. Neither of them witnessed those collateral events, however, and neither man changed his printed testimony.

Brahmabull
sandy, ut

So let me get this straight... The fake plates (Strang's) were proven to be false using scientific methods. The real plates (Joseph's) were taken up to heaven with the angel so they could not be examined for their authenticity? Does anybody find that a bit odd? The real plates don't exist anymore in reality on earth. The next question is this: We are often told that we cannot take anything worldly into heaven with us, so what would be the use of some golden plates in heaven? No other inspired manuscript, to my knowledge, have been taken up to heaven once they have been translated. The dead sea scrolls, the bible manuscripts, etc. were never taken up to heaven by an angel. It is extremely suspicious.

KC Mormon
Edgerton, KS

Brahmabull
Seeing that we do not have a single ORIGINAL manuscript from the Bible (OT or NT) how do you know that they were not taken "up to heaven by an angel"? Is there anything in the scriptures that tells us what happened to the ORIGINAL manuscripts? Or are you making an assumption that they were not?

Brahmabull
sandy, ut

Since there is no witness accounts of any angel taking the bible manuscripts up to heaven, one must come to the conclusion that it did not happen. If there is an account of it I will change my mind. Clearly, if god allowed Joseph Smith to witness an angel, it only makes sense that if that happened with the bible manuscripts there would be a witness to all of this. You do realize, KC mormon, that the bible is made up of thousands of different manuscripts that were found at different times. Are you suggesting that after each one was found and translated an angel came and took them up to heaven? Ok.... well back to reality. What purpose would there be for heaven to hold these sacred documents? Further more - it seems that when people try to justify an event in their minds they really stretch to make things connect. The most simple and most likely explanation is usually the most correct. So that being said it is more likely that after the original manuscripts were copied onto new material that they were simply destroyed or fell apart due to age. Seems too simple of an explanation, I know.

john in az
tempe, az

Joseph Smith had the plates for 2 years. Translation began in 1828, was interruppted and began again in 1829. So there isn't much credence to saying that Strang took a decade and JS took 2 months, as the 2 month claim is not entirely correct. Little over 2 months total, but not consecutive.

ENDavis
American Fork, UT

I find it oddly curious that Mormons can pass Strang off as a "con man" who duped his followers with his forgeries and deceptions, but of course Joseph Smith was still a true prophet. How is it one man can be easily dismissed, without question, while the other is readily accepted, without question?

If you can use a little objective skepticism with regards to James Strang, then you should also take a step outside the mormon "bubble" and use that same objectivity in regards to the story of Joseph Smith. You will find that Joseph has just as much history in the art of the con as any of his contemporaries.

KC Mormon
Edgerton, KS

Brahmabull
First I never said that the manuscripts WERE taken only that we have NO ORIGINALS and NO ACCOUNTS of what happened to the originals. They could have been destroyed or for later use they could have been safeguarded in heaven we have no idea what happened to them. What we do know is that what manuscripts we have today are simply copies of copies of copies etc. Not one single original has ever been found.that goes for both OT and NT. Do we have an account of everything that happened in biblical times? NO. After all the Bible itself tells us that many things Jesus did all of which are not recorded. So if not even all of Jesus actions are not recorded do you believe that all actions of the Prophets and Apostles were recorded? What happened in the days, weeks and years between the events they recorded?

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