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Comments about ‘Defending the Faith: Martin Harris: 'Native honesty' and life-long testimony’

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Published: Thursday, Sept. 19 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

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fowersjl
Farmington, Utah

Isn't it curious that these men, Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdery, and David Whitmer all left the church but never denied their testimonies of the Book of Mormon, etc.? If Joseph Smith had been perpetrating some kind of giant fraud he certainly would have tried to keep these men close, to make sure they didn't turn the tables on him. I believe the circumstances of their lives lends validity to Joseph's work of the restoration.

Red Headed Stranger
Billy Bobs, TX

I am glad that Harris lived such a long time. Primarily because it afforded him the chance to come back to the church.

The other reason is that it allowed him to correct what some people incorrectly attributed to him. Whether it is from misunderstanding, misinterpreting, mischaracterization or intentional parsing of text, Martin Harris was able to correct what some journalists said about his experience. After he felt he was misquoted, he used words so that people were absolutely clear what he meant. He used tangible, concrete examples like hitting a bed post and saying that the experience was as real as that bed post.

Few people (save perhaps martyrs) gave as much for their faith as Martin Harris did. He wasn't perfect, but it is nice to see how the Lord works with imperfect people to accomplish His work.

bandersen
Saint George, UT

The fact that Joseph Smith dealt on a continual basis with men who were by turns loyal confident, then bitter enemies, then loyal followers, etc. should give every Anti-Mormon pause. As has been stated by others, Joseph Smith was either the greatest fraud in American history, or a prophet of God. To try and strike a tone of something in between is either naively ignorant at best or disingenuous to the extreme at worst. I believe he was what he said he was.

JoeBlow
Far East USA, SC

"Isn't it curious that these men, Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdery, and David Whitmer all left the church but never denied their testimonies of the Book of Mormon,"

Not saying that this is the case, but wouldn't your average person be very reluctant to admit that they outright lied? That would be pretty embarrassing and you would lose all possible credibility going forward. Not to mention all the peoples lives who you would have affected.

Brave Sir Robin
San Diego, CA

@JoeBlow

Good point, but taking yourself down by admitting a lie is much more palatable if by doing so you also take down a person with whom you have a personal dislike. If I were lying to protect/help someone, and later our friendship went away, I wouldn't continue to lie about it.

Bottom line is the fact that these men left the LDS Church but continued to vouch for the authenticity of the plates makes their claims a lot more believable than if they had stayed in the "inner circle".

Ernest T. Bass
Bountiful, UT

I liked his wife's testimony as well.

1.96 Standard Deviations
OREM, UT

JoeBlow-

It was likely much more "embarrassing" in those days to stay a faithful Mormon than it would have been to fess up to a "lie." In general, since Mormons were extremely persecuted for their beliefs, it wouldn't make much sense to keep going along with a lie.

In short, do you think someone would prefer being mocked, beaten, raped, pillaged, or even killed (that happened to many faithful Mormons) rather than being embarrassed by confessing a "lie?" Most likely not.

Overall, the story of the original Book of Mormon witnesses is truly miraculous and is also a powerful witness to the divinity and truthfulness of the restoration of the gospel and Christ's church -- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

MapleDon
Springville, UT

Is this a plug for an upcoming book? I feel you're reaching into my back pocket again.

Church member
North Salt Lake, UT

If they really did see the plates, angels, etc.... why would they leave the church. They would have "known" it was the true church. Leaving would mean they wouldn't get the highest kingdom.

I think they had a disagreement with Joseph and they knew it was one big lie, so they left. They didn't want to admit later on that they were liars. Back then your word was everything. You would never be trusted again if you were a self proclaimed liar.

Obviously the other option is they all truly believed they were doing the Lord's work. They believed the Lord was telling them what to do. Just like in Dan Brown's book "Angel and Demons".

1.96 Standard Deviations
OREM, UT

Church member-

Did not, the apostle Peter, deny Christ three times? He knew of Christ's divinity, yet he denied Christ. Peter "came back" too.

You can know something is true, but fall way because of other things: fear, pride, envy, jealousy, etc. It's convincing to know some of the witness even became enemies to Joseph Smith for a time but never denied their knowledge of the Book of Mormon.

Consider what Martin Harris said:

"[…] Just as surely as the sun is shining on us and gives us light, and the moon and stars give us light by night, […], so surely do I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God, chosen of God to open the last dispensation of the fulness of times; so surely do I know that the Book of Mormon was divinely translated. I saw the plates; I saw the Angel; I heard the voice of God. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. I might as well doubt my own existence as to doubt the divine authenticity of the book of Mormon or the divine calling of Joseph Smith."

Sneaky Jimmy
Bay Area, CA

Many of the people that left the early church did so because of disagreements with Joseph Smith and new doctrines. They didn't deny their spiritual experiences, just thought Joseph was not leading properly.

BobDog
Salt Lake City, UT

The Church developed line upon line and precept upon precept. The Book of Mormon contains "the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ", but the details of that gospel came later. The Book of Mormon witnesses could not accept some of the later details. Indeed David Whitmer attempted on at least one occassion to organize a church based on what the Church was during the Palmyra and Kirtland periods. Oliver Cowdery appears to have left over the emerging doctrine of polygamy. Essentially these good men saw the fruits of a living prophet, but could not accept what having a living prophet means. That the Book of Mormon witnesses never denied their testimony of the Book of Mormon is true and stands as a testimony today of the Book of Mormon as devinely revealed and translated. But that is about all one can get from these men never denying their testimony. It is Martin and Oliver's later actions returning to the Church that has the greater power.

Church member
North Salt Lake, UT

To 1.96 SD:

Maybe. Maybe that is all true. Maybe Martin, Oliver, and David never denied that Joseph was a prophet. Maybe God told Joseph to take many wives and keep it from Emma. Maybe the whole story of Mormonism happened the exact way it is taught.

But then again maybe all the awesome miracles that the Muslims, Catholics, JW's, and FLDS teach are true as well. Every religion has great stories and reasons why their church is true.

I think we all need to question everything. We need to be willing to look at both sides of the evidence equally and with an open mind.

Central Texan
Buda, TX

You'll have to remember that these men were just ordinary folks to begin with. On what basis do we believe that these men would, from the beginning, conspire to perpetrate a lie or fraud concerning some book? And for what purpose?

Why would a simple schoolteacher such as Oliver Cowdery be caught up in a made-up story being fed to him by Joseph Smith's family, go to Joseph Smith himself, then allow himself to get sucked into a fantastic tale that they would publish a "new book of scripture," purportedly an ancient text discovered with the help of an angel -- and Oliver's part would be to assert an angel had visited him, along with a couple of others, to tell about the golden plates?

And for what? To get in on the ground floor of a budding new mega-church that was certain to sweep the county?

The Solution
Las Cruces, NM

There is one and only one way to discover God's truth, and it isn't an easy road.

You must first become humble enough to accept whatever God tells you. You must become clean from worldly impurity and influence to be able to hear His (or feel) his voice. You must work hard enough at personal meditation and prayer to become familiar with how God will communicate with you. Finally, after receiving communication and answers from Him, you must put it to test and act upon it. This is the trial of Faith.

It takes a life-time to recognize His voice clearly. That is why you see some who have been deceived, and their fruits do not emulate what you would expect from a messenger of God.

If you sincerely take on this journey, trusting what God tells you over what man will tell you (with man's version of history), you will be lead to His truth, a single step at a time.

I found that the fruit of the Prophet Joeseph Smith, namely the Book of Mormon, and the fruit of the many prophets before him, comprising The Bible, is in fact God's truth.

1.96 Standard Deviations
OREM, UT

Church member-

To Mormons, miracles don't make the church "true." Miracles can happen to many who have faith.

Here are the primary reasons why Mormons believe The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living church:

1) Jesus Christ is the Savior - He saves us from physical death through the resurrection and from spiritual death (sin) through his atonement. Obedience to his gospel is required to be saved spiritually.

2) Jesus Christ gave authority to administer his gospel - This authority is called the Priesthood and can only be found in His church. Only those with this authority can administer Christ's gospel (like baptism) and have it be valid in during mortal life and after mortality.

3) Revelation through Living prophets/apostles - Since Christ is the head of his own church, he guides living prophets/apostles to ensure the gospel is taught correctly. Revelation is the "rock" Christ mentioned to Peter so the gates of Hell don't prevail against Christ's church. The LDS/Mormon church has living prophets/apostles of Christ today.

Since Christ is the only way through which salvation is obtained, it is important to find his true church and gospel.

Old Poet
Salt Lake City, UT

Mr. Strong was not the only one to speak well of Martin Harris . Pomeroy Tucker identified Martin Harris a true believer who had committed to memory entire chapters of the Bible. For more information on Martin Harris readers may refer to Richard Anderson's book on The Three Witnesses, to my historical musical drama, Martin Harris: The Man Who Knew (1983, 1993), especially the endnotes, which detail the sources and support the text of the Church production, which now has been visited by over one million visitors. Gunderson and Shelton's Masters work add additional information about the the credible reputation of Martin Harris. Read also the talks of Stella Oaks, the mother of Elder Dallin H. Oaks, and Elder Oaks's April 1999 Conference Sermon on Martin Harris. Sue Easton Black Durrant and Larry Porter's book on Martin Harris will come off the BYU Press soon. Brigham Young sent Edward Stevenson to bring Harris to Utah on the Transcontinental Railroad at when he 87. He jokingly said, I never left the Church, it left me." He cared for the Kirtland Temple and the census showed him to Mormon Preacher. Martin arrived in good health with a bright mind. There is much more!

kvnsmnsn
Springville, UT

The Solution posted:

=There is one and only one way to discover God's truth, and it isn't an easy
=road.

I agree completely.

=You must first become humble enough to accept whatever God tells you.

This is also true.

=You must become clean from worldly impurity and influence to be able to hear
=His (or feel) his voice.

One must do as much as one can to "become clean from worldly impurity and influence," but I think it's wrong to imply that one must become completely clean before one can count on God talking to that one. How can one become clean like that, if that one can't count on God telling her/him how to become clean? I think one has to do as good a job at getting prepared for divine communication as that one can't, but I disagree that it takes a lifetime of preparation. God wants us to learn His will long before the end of our lives.

Commonman
HENDERSON, NV

Church member said:
"But then again maybe all the awesome miracles that the Muslims, Catholics, JW's, and FLDS teach are true as well. Every religion has great stories and reasons why their church is true. I think we all need to question everything. We need to be willing to look at both sides of the evidence equally and with an open mind."

Does Islam have a record of 12 men who saw and handled the record that became the Quran? Do the Catholics, or Jehovah's witnesses, have such witnesses to the their foundational documents? Does the Community of Christ have witnesses to the reason for changing LDS doctrine?

We have the Book of Mormon. Four men, including Joseph Smith saw an angel and beheld the record. Eight men handled the record with their hands without any divine manifestation. None of these denied what they had seen and touched even though some left the church and some came back. This constitutes a powerful body of evidence. It seems unwise to take such solid evidence lightly.

JoeBlow
Far East USA, SC

"conspire to perpetrate a lie or fraud concerning some book? And for what purpose?"

Religion in general has been used for power, money and/or control. It is not exactly a new theme.
And it repeats itself constantly

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