Comments about ‘'Joseph Smith Captured': Elder Dallin H. Oaks to speak on the LDS president's legal battles’

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Published: Monday, Sept. 9 2013 10:10 a.m. MDT

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Salt Lake City, UT

Elder Oaks extensive research on this subject is refreshing and will clarify misinformation that has surrounded this segment of LDS history. His legal scholarship and knowledge of this time period is unequaled.

Provo, UT

Will Dallin also talk about the legal battles that Joseph Smith faced in NY in the late 1820s and early 1830s with his treasure seeking?

I'd be very interested in that.

I would also like Dallin to shed light on what exactly was the justification of Joseph Smith ordering the destruction of the printing press that William Law legally established and used to tell another side of the story of Joseph Smith.

Danbury, CT


I love the monikers people use who try to debunk religion e.g. A Scientist, Thinkman (as if the rest of us don''t think or don't accept Science). Elder Oaks HAS written and spoken on other legal battles including the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor - see "Carthage Conspiracy".

Come out here and study American History with us. Lots of people in the early 1800's were engaged in various ways of making money (life was hard back then and people worked many jobs). The Smith boys were hired out a lot in the 1820's as their family had lost their savings.

I have a question for you: If there really were no gold plates, why did people in Palmyra try everything they could to try to steal them from Joseph Smith and his family? Seems the idea of "treasure" was on a lot of people's minds back then.

Cinci Man

This should be most interesting. There are who always want to change the subject, isn't there? They refuse to read things in perspective. They refuse to 'experiment on the word'. They refuse to develop and nurture faith (God's prescribed way). They refuse to seek the Spirit. Their thinking mirrors the Sadducees and Pharisees. We know how Jesus dealt with them. You cannot help them.

Thanks Elder Oaks. I look forward to you remarks.

South Jordan, UT

It's very interesting that the hearing took place in the same building as Abraham Lincoln's law office. Also, Mary Todd Lincoln was in attendance.

sandy, ut


You are implying that because he said it then it must be true. Do you believe everything you hear? He told people there were gold plates, that is why they came after him. That in no way means they existed. People may have believed him. But in my opinion they didn't exist. Nobody saw them. The witnesses saw them in 'spirit' and in visions. If he had the gold plates where did they disappear to?? Do you believe that an angel took physical gold plates up to heaven never to be seen again?

Don Bugg
Prince Frederick, MD

It appears that Brahmabull has never bothered to read the actual testimony of the Three Witnesses and the Eight Witnesses, all of whom swore they had both seen and handled the plates. I'm also wondering why he thinks the belief that Moroni could take physical plates back into his possession is somehow a difficult one. He seems to imply that idea is ridiculous, but I don't understand why.

Danbury, CT


I'm not sure which "he" you are referring to - Joseph Smith of Dallin Oaks? Oaks' book has plenty of references if you want to check out the sources of his statements.

As for the angel and the gold plates, NO one knows for sure whether he came and took the plates or whether the plates existed. You and I both DON'T know. We have to assume based on what other things we know about the story. I choose to believe for my reasons and you choose not to for yours. I think it must be somewhat intriguing for you as I see you on a lot of "Faith" story blogs. If you are open to discussion, I suggest you find a friend whose opinion you trust and talk to them. Much easier than finding answers from strangers on a blog.

BTW- Angels who are resurrected beings could carry physical objects. If you believe in an afterlife, that's not a stretch. If you don't, then it would be.

Genola, UT

Mary Whitmer also testified that Moroni appeared to her and showed her the plates. I believe Joseph returned the plates to Moroni but whether or not he took them up to heaven I do not know.


Don Bugg

It appears as if you don't know your history. The witnesses didn't testify of seeing and handling the plates. It was a pre-prepared statement. But here is the kicker - the original document wasn't even signed by the witnesses. It was signed by.. get this... Oliver Cowdery. He signed all of the names. Several of them testified later that they viewed them spiritually, or in a vision. Why would anybody have to view metal plates in a vision. I also think it is not possible for Moroni to take the plates - it makes no sense. If I told you I found a golden calf in the mountains and I brought them into my possession would you believe me? If I wrote down a pre-written message for 11 of my family members and friends to sign saying they saw it would you believe me? If I then said an angel came back and took it away from me would you believe it?? These are the reasons that people don't believe the stories. When you take it all into account it is just too far fetched to be believed.


Don Bugg

Why weren't the dead sea scrolls or any other ancient inspired documents taken back by an angel after they had been translated?? Answer: they haven't. The documents are still here to be examined for their authenticity. It would be easy to say "I translated an ancient book and I would prove it to you, but an angel repossessed them". It is too convenient.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY


I think you are way overstating the case reference the witnesses spiritual vs. physical manifestation. Note that Paul couldn’t seem to figure it out either.

Reference the plate, of course Moses HAD tablets written on by the finger of God himself but he broke them by throwing them down the mountain in a fit of anger . . .

Why weren't the dead sea scrolls taken back by an angel? First, they were not delivered by an angel. Nor were they translated by anyone claiming divine power to do so.

Danbury, CT

Whoa there Mr. Silver prospector, I'd like some references for all these new stories you're introducin' here. Pre-prepared? Who said? One person had to write each witness statement. Would it be more satisfactory if you had 8 different kinds of handwriting? For the 3 witnesses it appears to be in the handwriting of Oliver Cowdery but we don't know if he read it off another text, was dictated to or wrote it himself. Many of the sections in the Doctrine and Covenants were scribed by someone and dictated by Joseph Smith.

The bigger question is what you believe. Do you believe in God, that Jesus Christ died for our sins and was resurrected and that his life set a pattern to follow? What will you do with your time here and what is your purpose. You could research all your life and never know for certain the answer to your questions as we all must live by faith. Even much of science is accepted by faith as we can't see or measure the exact elements in space, etc. But we live by its principles and our lives are affected and constrained by laws of physics.

Danbury, CT

@Silver Prospector,

Don't confuse the terms "opened a vision" or "saw with our spiritual eyes" to mean it is in someone's dream or imagination. These merely mean that someone saw the plates after being prepared spiritually to see them. When you are communicating something of great importance or sensitivity to someone, you do things like prefacing your remarks to get them into the right frame to receive and understand what you want to communicate, like taking your girlfriend to a romantic spot with dinner and candlelight before proposing marriage. If you do it over the phone or when you arrive at the door, it kind of spoils the moment.

I don't know what you believe, but we don't have a lot of the original text of the Bible. Yet we can believe it is true by other spiritual means. Paul said the things of God are foolishness unto men. It sounds like you are in this vein regarding the Book of Mormon. I invite you to really read what the book says e.g. the second chapter of of 2nd Nephi, and then tell me if it reads and sounds like scripture.


Twin -

There are numerous statements about how they were shown the plates. I am not overstating anything. These are their own statements - not mine. Some were allowed to touch them, but only while covered as stated below.

"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 familyWhen 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.)

David Whitmer said he saw them by a supernatural power.

Oh and the plates weren't delivered by an angel either.

Northern Lights
Arco, ID


I assume you are referencing the original document containing the testimony of the three and eight witnesses found in the Joseph Smith Papers? I don't believe that was meant to be a legal document, rather it appears to be a manuscript prepared for the printing of the Book of Mormon. Personally, I am not concerned that there are no authentic signatures on this particular document. I suspect if the PC had been available in the early 1800s, we would all be viewing these signatures in Times New Roman.

Regardless of how it was recorded, all 11 witnesses consented to the statement associated with their names. Although many eventually left the Church, no single witness never recanted their testimony of the Book of Mormon.

Mesa, AZ


"These are the reasons that people don't believe the stories. When you take it all into account it is just too far fetched to be believed"

You are welcome to gather the best religious scholars and book authors and write a book comparable to the BOM. If you succeed you have a point that the BOM is a fabrication. If not…

Actually that challenge has been open for quite some time but as yet there have been no takers. Here are some pointers. Be sure you have a Jewish scholar that is an expert in writing allegories otherwise you are going run into problems when you get to The sixth chapter of Jacob. You might also think about having a military expert on the team seeing as how the last part of the book of Alma deals with wars and military strategies. I never could understand how Smith wrote that part as he probably did not know anyone who was a West Point graduate that could assist him.

After the writing begins is should be ready for publication in ten months. Plan for 522 pages.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

"....Although many eventually left the Church, no single witness never recanted their testimony of the Book of Mormon...."

I wouldn't expect them to.

John Pack Lambert of Michigan
Ypsilanti, MI

I think the comment about how it would all be typed now hits the nail on the head. Putting someone's name down means they support it, and none of the witnesses ever claimed that the statements their names were connected to were false. The 8 witnesses clearly affirmed the physical reality of the plates.

That said, that is not even at issue with the article. The article mentions that Elder Oaks and others will be speaking about 1842 events. There is more than enough interesting and exciting legal issues being brought up there, there is zero reason for Elder Oaks to delve into earlier issues. The fact that Joseph Smith went to and won at the Illinois Supreme Court undermines the narrative of his trying to establish a separate state.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY


You are cherry picking. From the Poulson interview with David Whitmer:

I—Did you handle the plates with your hands? He—I did so! I—Then they were a material substance? He—Yes, as material as anything can be. I—They were heavy to lift? He—Yes, and you know gold is a heavy metal, they were very heavy. I—How big were the leaves? He—So far as I recollect, 8 by 6 or 7 inches. I—Were the leaves thick? He—Yes, just so thick, that characters could be engraven on both sides. I—How were the leaves joined together? He—In three rings, each one in the shape of a D with the straight line towards the centre. . . . . I—Did you see them covered with a cloth? He—No. He handed them uncovered into our hands, and we turned the leaves sufficient to satisfy us.

Reference the golden plates vs. the dead sea scrolls, I won't quibble over direction vs. delivery. I think you get the point.

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