Comments about ‘Defending the Faith: A witness for the Book of Mormon witnesses’

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Published: Thursday, April 3 2014 5:00 a.m. MDT

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1.96 Standard Deviations

Wonderful article! This is fantastic.

Apocalypse please
Bluffdale, UT

Any faith based claim is going to make you susceptible to foolishness, dupery, and conspiracies. However, you have to exercise faith in the Book of Mormon in the face of contradictory evidence: plagiarisms, anachronisms, and of course anachronistic plagiarisms.

Phoenix, AZ

Hearsay and personal believe is weak support without physical evidence to back it up. World history is evidenced by natures physical evidence. The BOM is supposedly a thousand years of physical history without one ioda of physical evidence. Impossible.

1.96 Standard Deviations

Apocalypse please:

There is a lot of supporting evidence the Book of Mormon is truly a translation of an ancient record/language and that is of divine nature and origin. You can search for the DVD in the FairMormon bookstore entitled, "Evidences of the Book of Mormon." This DVD was produced in 2003, but the evidence in favor of the Book of Mormon continues to grow stronger with time.

As for plagiarisms -- Witnesses to the translation process of the golden plates indicate Joseph Smith had no other materials to borrow ideas from, or even a Bible, for the matter.

As for anachronisms - A lot of these have actually been addressed and even support the Book of Mormon.

Ultimately, the greatest evidence you will ever get of the truthfulness of the BOM is the spiritual witness like what ex-member William E. McLellin stated. As he said, "I have read many ‘Exposes.’ I have seen all their arguments. But my evidences are above them all!"

Steve C. Warren

1.96 Standard Deviations,

When McLellin said, "I have seen all their arguments. But my evidences are above them all!" we really can't tell if he was speaking of a "spiritual witness" or simply is speaking of his fact-gathering efforts and interviews relating to the Book of Mormon.

"Joseph Smith had no other materials to borrow ideas from, or even a Bible, for the matter." Joseph Smith was a Bible reader from a young age, and the Isaiah passages of the Book of Mormon, with very minor changes, reflect the language of the King James Bible, not the language of the golden plates. This does not mean Joseph Smith plagiarized. It merely means that he chose, for whatever reason, to stick with the King James language. I'm disappointed that apparently no one asked him why he did this.

1.96 Standard Deviations

Steve C. Warren:

Saying "My Evidences" is a pretty clear indicator to a spiritual witness. Also, McLellin made it a matter of prayer to confirm his previous examinations. As indicated in the article: "I rose early and betook myself to earnest prayer to God to direct me into truth; [...] "

I recognize Joseph was familiar with the Bible, but it was not used in the translation process according to the witnesses. His wife also indicated he would continue translation even after major interruptions without referring to where they left off. That is another good indication he wasn't using any reference materials (like a Bible) for the translation.

Keep in mind the voice of God declared to the three witnesses the BOM was translated by the power of God. Apparently. the language used and the translation rendered was apparently acceptable before God -- even if it is similar to the King James version type of English.

Also note Joseph is on record saying all of the 'particulars' of the translation were not to be revealed to the world [yet]. I suppose we'll need to wait until the millennium to get all the details.

clearfield, UT


You seem to put a lot of weight on "physical evidence". What then would qualify as physical evidence in your mind? Those of us who believe in the Book of Mormon see a lot of physical evidence in the ancient ruins found in Central and South America. Or is it the gold plates? Some might say I would believe if I could just see the gold plates. I don't think so. Even if the LDS Church produced the gold plates , the liahona, the urim and thummin, and put them on public display, all that would happen is people would say "fake". No. The real evidence of the Book of Mormon is the book itself. There is no other explanation for its existance than a supernal one. No person living at that time could have written it. Especially not a 3rd grade educated farm boy.

Russell Spencer
Boise, ID

I think Steve C. Warren's question is simply: Why did Joseph use King James English rather than frontier English? The answer is likely that King James English was (and remains) the English of scripture. Even translations of pseudepigrapha, Dead Sea scrolls, etc., made today rely on King James English.

Regarding the accusations of plagiarism, there is no there there. Having done a verse by verse comparison of the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon at the Temple (recommended), there are some really important distinctions and only about a dozen verses (across three chapters) are unaltered--and they're both coming from the same speaker. The Isaiah chapters are cited as coming from Isaiah (so no plagiarism), yet still have some important distinctions. The Malachi chapters are also cited.

The only thing that even LOOKS like plagiarism is Mormon's sermon on charity (Moroni 7:45-47) and Paul's letter to the Corinthians (1Cor. 13:4-8) ("charity suffereth long, etc..."). But, as independently shown by Harnack, Weiss, and Reizenstein in the early 1900s, Paul himself is quoting an ancient (in his day) source for the formulation. Mormon likely had access to the same source.

Steve C. Warren

1.96 Standard Deviations

You wrote: Ultimately, the greatest evidence you will ever get of the truthfulness of the BOM is the spiritual witness like what ex-member William E. McLellin stated. As he said, "I have read many ‘Exposes.’ I have seen all their arguments. But my evidences are above them all!"

I believe you are jumping to conclusions when you write that McLellin meant to say that his "greatest evidence" was a spiritual witness. McLellin was a skeptical, educated person who thoroughly examined things. Frankly, I don't think he was regarded as a spiritual giant. His "my evidences" likely are a combination of many factors.

I'm not saying that Joseph didn't translate by the gift and power of God. I'm saying there's no question he decided to follow the King James language in much of his Isaiah translation. (Compare 2 Nephi 22-24 to Isaiah chapters 12-14, for example.) King James is considerably different from language that existed before the 17th century.

Phoenix, AZ

Happy2behere, Most everyone (including most educated Mormons) realize that the ruins in central America are not related in time or nature to the BOM. Even among the most educated Mormons there is dispute as to where the BOM people supposedly lived. There are many who support the N/E USA in the area of the golden plates, or perhaps only in the mind of a pious dreamer.

Westland, MI

The greatest proof of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon is yet to come. This will be in the person of The Choice Seer, the future full-blooded American Indian Moses who will translate the two-thirds sealed portion of the BOM gold plates and will also restore the American Indian to their rightful ownership (aka, inheritance) of ALL the lands of North, Central, and South America. This is the unwavering faith and doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ (WHQ: Monongahela, Pennsylvania).

layton, UT

RE: Russell Spencer, did a verse by verse comparison of the Sermon on the Mount?

(Mosiah 3:7) behold, blood cometh from every pore,The Textual Problem of Luke 22:43-44, Blood;, because of the serious doubts as to these verses authenticity, they have been put in brackets and noted by Modern translations.

In 3 Nephi 13:12, (Jesus)deliver us from evil(KJV). Did Jesus teach the Nephites an abstract prayer in 34 A.D.? The correct translation of Mt 6:13 NIV is deliver us from the evil one.(Satan G,= tou ponerou).

3 Nephi 13:13, For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. JS was unaware that Erasmus added the doxology in the 16thc to the KJV.

I Nephi 10:9/John 1:28 KJV, Bethabara beyond the Jordan.
Older and more reliable Greek MS support,Bethany i.e(John 1:28 NET,NIV,ESV) Bethabara was probably not on the Jordan River.
Bethany is strongly supported by {Papyrus, 66,75.(175 A.D.), B Codex Vaticanus and many more..

george of the jungle
goshen, UT

All I can say is they probably wouldn't me to of wrought their book. On Man Knows My history.

Houston, TX

The most convincing physical evidence of The Book of Mormon are the many detailed prophecies of the rise and progress of the restored church. Who in 1829 could have guessed that this tiny collection of saints would succeed in bringing the gospel, in virtually every language, to such a significant part of the earth? Very specific prophecies of the fulfilling of convenants concerning the nation of Israel and the descendents of the tribes have come about. There were prophecies of pollution of the earth that have clearly been fulfilled, in a way that would have staggered 19th century people.

On April 5, 1830, most people would have assumed that the vast majority of the first 5,000 volumes of The Book of Mormon would just go in the trash. Its progress is certainly a miracle!

Cache Kid

Reading the comments about *evidence* for the Book of Mormon is rather like watching an episode of 'Ancient Aliens' on Discovery.

There is *NO* evidence that could be actually considered evidence.

There's conjecture, and that's it.


Thanks, Dr. Peterson, for sharing another bit of interesting and enlightening personal history of an early player in the Restoration that is unfamiliar to most of us.

I've often wondered about the King James English as well. My guess is that it wasn't because Joseph wanted it that way, because the words of the translation were revealed to him. It wasn't as if he knew reformed Egyptian and was doing the translation by virtue of knowledge he clearly didn't possess. Another guess is that King James English represented the high point, in terms of refinement and sophistication, of the English language at the time. Frontier English, being mostly spoken by the uneducated of that day, most likely would not have possessed the vocabulary nor the grammatical nuances to do the book justice. What better choice than King James English?

Tooele, UT

The Book of Mormon is absolutely true. Anyone, anywhere who applies the principles of light found within it's pages and examines the change of heart and experience its attending happiness cannot for one second refute it's claims. That book has the power to change night into day. From Lehi's Dream, to the Allegory of the tame and wild olive tree, King Benjamin to Captain Moroni, from Alma and Amulek and the planting of the seed of faith, to Samuel the Lamanite, and the Saviors visit and His remarkable words of prophecy and love, to Mormon's lamentation of a fallen people and his son Moroni's final plea to all people everywhere to "Come unto Christ," that book stands as irrefutable evidence of it's divine origin. There is no possible way on this planet that anyone, even among the greatest writers that ever lived, could have written such a complex record. Any serious study leads a person to only 2 possible conclusions: 1. The record is true, or 2. Joseph Smith was the greatest literary genius that ever lived on the planet... not including anything else from his pen. I am a witness of its transforming power.


Even this man, one of the most virulent and hostile apostates in the Church's early history, who fabricated stories about Joseph Smith himself that were outright vulgar and scandalous, was still never willing to deny his testimony of the Book of Mormon itself. He would not, in spite of the strong grip that Satan had on him, become a son of perdition by denying the witness of the Holy Ghost that that book was in fact true. In some ways, this testimony is even stronger than those of the various members of the eleven witnesses who left the Church but ultimately never denied the Book of Mormon either. McClellan had every reason to do so, and indeed, he denied virtually everything else about the Restoration (his words are a favorite source for quote mining by anti-Mormons seeking to denigrate the Prophet), but this, somehow, was still a bridge too far, even for him. Remarkable.


For skeptics and believers alike, what you need to understand is that physical knowledge comes by physical means (such as the scientific method) but spiritual knowledge comes by spiritual means, specifically the proverbial leap of faith (Knock and it shall be opened unto you). If skeptics don't want to take that leap of faith that's fine and that's their business but for them to assume that other people's spiritual knowledge is somehow not valid because they don't have spiritual knowledge themselves is naive at best.

Church member
North Salt Lake, UT

To EW:

The problem with spiritual knowledge that comes through spiritual means is that everyone seems to get a different answer. When the Muslim person prays with a sincere heart he gets a spiritual confirmation that his church is true. The same can be said for countless other religions. Maybe feelings aren't the best way to find truth. Maybe people are getting a spiritual confirmation of what they want to be true.

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