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Joseph Antley

What's the difference between the Book of Mormon witnesses and the Strangite witnesses?

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You need to read Martin's account more closely. For him it was a "spiritual vision". I don't find it hard to understand why he would later make it "more palatable" to believers when he returned to the Church. That's human nature. You don't even have to read "anti-Mormon" writing to realise this. I realised it when I read the History of the Church.

I agree that we are not always rational. And one way in which we are not rational is by thinking that a "burning in the bosom" equals "historical truth".

I don't buy the spiritual thing being less then a physical account. When one is in the presence of heavenly beings often there is a transformation (LDS call it transfiguration).

I believe that spiritual revelation is more valid then 'seeing is believing'.

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For what it's worth, an article by Robin Scott Jensen that appeared in BYU Studies 44/3 (2005), entitled "A Witness in England: Martin Harris and the Strangite Mission," argued that Martin Harris's Strangite missionary service in England focused on the Book of Mormon, and not much (if at all) on uniquely Strangite texts or claims. So it may be a bit misleading to suggest that Harris has been discredited as a witness to Joseph Smith's claims because he was equally or similarly dedicated to those of James Strang. He may well not have been very devoted to them. He was, as ever, dedicated to the Book of Mormon.

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Since no one seems to have mentioned it yet, John Hamer wrote an interesting piece on the Voree Plates last year on the blog, By Common Consent: "The Miraculous Plates of Voree Examined"

If Hamer's analysis is correct, it is hard to dispute his conclusion that "regardless of their origin, the Voree Plates are a remarkably sophisticated artifact." (Of course, so were the Hofmann forgeries.)

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Visions and angels are weak props on which to hold up your faith. Most people who haven't had them are convinced that they would be life-altering events and that if they had one they would never falter again. Those who have had them say otherwise.

I don't believe you. Such an experience would be life altering. Of course, since I don't believe anyone has really seen an actual angel, I don't believe there are any real-life examples of what happens to people in that scenario. All we have is stories from scripture.

Look at what happens to people who believe they have seen aliens, or who have a near-death experience. Their lives are certainly altered. Why would an angel's visit be any different?

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What other kinds of visions are there, Ray?

Why do critics ignore the hundreds of accounts where Harris discusses the "physical reality" of the experience and fixate on the one acct where he describes the spiritual nature of the "vision?" I personally don't see how visions could be anything other than "spiritual."

When Moroni visited Joseph Smith 3 times in one night, in a room surrounded by his siblings, why didn't anyone else see him?

The problem Mormons have here is it tends to shoot down the argument that Joseph couldn't have possibly forged a set of plates to dupe intelligent men. We often say that he couldn't have afforded metal, couldn't have possibly made them without someone noticing, etc. Yet here we have someone who popped up with forged plates, took the time to forge symbols and inscriptions on them and duped plenty of intelligent people. Though he didn't come close to doing what Joseph did he did pull off some of it...for a time.

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Why do critics ignore the hundreds of accounts where Harris discusses the "physical reality" of the experience and fixate on the one acct where he describes the spiritual nature of the "vision?" I personally don't see how visions could be anything other than "spiritual."

Good points.

When Moroni visited Joseph Smith 3 times in one night, in a room surrounded by his siblings, why didn't anyone else see him?

I don't know. But here's a thought: The being who created the universe can probably put people into a deep sleep. I know my doctor can. So, for that matter, can a boring lecturer.

The problem Mormons have here is it tends to shoot down the argument that Joseph couldn't have possibly forged a set of plates to dupe intelligent men. We often say that he couldn't have afforded metal, couldn't have possibly made them without someone noticing, etc. Yet here we have someone who popped up with forged plates, took the time to forge symbols and inscriptions on them and duped plenty of intelligent people. Though he didn't come close to doing what Joseph did he did pull off some of it...for a time.

Again, not really comparable.

Joseph's plates were of gold, not merely of "metal." Strang's were of brass.

Joseph's plates were far more numerous and considerably larger than Strang's.

If Joseph made the plates, he did do so without anybody noticing. But Strang didn't. At least one man came forward claiming to have helped him in making them.

And so forth.

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The Strangite plates and witnesses are not closely comparable to those of Joseph Smith. I suppose it's time to repost my little piece on them from the 2006 FAIR conference, for perhaps the seventh or eighth time here on this board (the last being on 22 March of this year). I haven't bothered to include the footnotes:

I took the liberty of digging up what I think are your old footnotes. I tried to appropriately place them at the end of the essay, including the footnote indicators within the essay. I took them from this post of yours. Let me know if I erred at all.

Forgery is the virtually certain explanation for the two sets of inscribed metal plates that James Jesse Strang said he had found in Wisconsin and Michigan (between 1845 and 1849) and translated. Strang, who claimed to have a letter of appointment from Joseph Smith, announced himself as Joseph Smithâ??s successor and was clearly seeking to imitate the Prophet. That his plates really existed is beyond serious dispute. The first set, the three â??Voreeâ?

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Be honest, Ray. If you saw an angel on your way home tonight, how many hours/days/weeks would it take you before you'd rationalised the whole thing away as something else? Seriously, be honest.

That would depend on whether or not he asked to shake my hand.

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Please do share the criticisms you meant, though, if I've missed them. And then please explain why somebody who didn't believe his own testimony concerning angels and plates and priesthood restoration would come back despite all these criticisms.

Let me ask you a very simple question. Did Oliver support, and testify to, the "divine revelation" known as D&C 132? He, like Whitmer, only testified to the "divine mission" of Joseph Smith as far as the Book of Mormon and the early Church were concerned. That you did not see the omissions in Cowdery's testimony renders you far less than a critical observer. Cowdery was out of the Church ten years. Now go back and read his final testimony, and you'll see that he supported Joseph because of the early revelations, and nothing else.

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That would depend on whether or not he asked to shake my hand.

Clever dodge.

Still waiting for an honest answer, though.

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Let me ask you a very simple question. Did Oliver support, and testify to, the "divine revelation" known as D&C 132?

Let me actually answer your question: No, not that I'm aware of.

He, like Whitmer, only testified to the "divine mission" of Joseph Smith as far as the Book of Mormon and the early Church were concerned.

You're right. That's very strange behaviour from one of the three Book of Mormon witnesses.

That you did not see the omissions in Cowdery's testimony renders you far less than a critical observer.

That you filled in the 'omissions' in Cowdery's testimony specifically with your own criticisms renders you a rather imaginative reader.

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That you filled in the 'omissions' in Cowdery's testimony specifically with your own criticisms renders you a rather imaginative reader.

You are illiterate. Simple as that. You don't have a clue what you're talking about.

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don't know. But here's a thought: The being who created the universe can probably put people into a deep sleep. I know my doctor can. So, for that matter, can a boring lecturer

I think my point is that it was obviously spiritual in nature. Had one of Joseph's siblings woke up they probably would have seen nothing but Joseph on his knees listening. I'm thinking also of the Rigdon/Smith vision of the Kingdom of Glories. Other people were in the room but only Joseph and Sidney could see anything. These are "spiritual" visions just like Harris was explaining. But I do think the handling of the plates by the 3 and 8 witnesses was a very "physical" event born out in their testimonies.

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So, now that the question from my OP has been answered, I'm guessing the thread will devolve further into a debate over the credibility of the Three Witnesses, whether they saw with "spiritual eyes" and what that even means, how Joseph deluded them into believing they saw an angel, etc.

Oh boy! You mean the "fun stuff"!

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You are illiterate. Simple as that. You don't have a clue what you're talking about.

Tone it down please.

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Visions and angels are weak props on which to hold up your faith. Most people who haven't had them are convinced that they would be life-altering events and that if they had one they would never falter again. Those who have had them say otherwise.

Hmm. But Nehor, much of the authority and the 'raison d'etre' of the church is based upon visions and angels. Is Joseph Smith unique in becoming 'more' sure of the experiences that he claimed to have had, as time went on?

Just wondering, because you brought it up.

Mary

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QUOTE(The Nehor @ Jul 17 2009, 05:45 AM) *

Visions and angels are weak props on which to hold up your faith. Most people who haven't had them are convinced that they would be life-altering events and that if they had one they would never falter again. Those who have had them say otherwise.

Hmm. But Nehor, much of the authority and the 'raison d'etre' of the church is based upon visions and angels. Is Joseph Smith unique in becoming 'more' sure of the experiences that he claimed to have had, as time went on?

Just wondering, because you brought it up.

Mary

My two cents worth. Laman and Lemuel saw angels as well as Sam and Nephi. Why did they fall away while Sam and Nephi remained strong in the faith? Nephi and (evidently Sam) followed up on their experiences and received other spiritual experiences to bolster those initial revelations. This was also the case with Joseph Smith.

Glenn

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Something important to remember. I don't think any of these men who had fell out with Joseph ever doubted his prophetic calling and the origins of the BOM. They believed Joseph was a "fallen" prophet. I don't think any of these men close to him said they believe they were "duped" from the beginning. This would lend credence that the overwhelmingly powerful spiritual experiences they had early on with Joseph Smith had dulled and they weren't having experiences significant enough to sustain them through the trying times.

I think it says everything that they believe Joseph had "fallen" rather then was a deceiver from the beginning.

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If Harris was so sure of his vision, why did he join the Strangites? He later returned to the Church, but one might ask, why any doubt on the part of one who "saw an angel"? According to "official" accounts. (That's disputable too, as he had to be "coaxed" into a "vision").

Martin Harris was a good, decent, honorable man who tended to search when unsure of himself. When the church was thrown into turmoil by Joseph's death, he, like others, became confused over what path to follow. There were so many claims and counter claims that even many of the "elect" were uncertain.

Although Martin may have wavered in his faith, he was no fool. His wife had tried to convince him that Joseph Smith was using him, and she accused Martin of being gullible for giving Smith money for printing the Book of Mormon. I've always maintained that trying to bring such a man into a conspiracy would have been disastrous, in that it would have confirmed his wife's suspicions. Think what you want, but Harris was a shrewd businessman. He may have been lacking in faith, but once the angel appeared and showed him the plates and sword, and after he heard the voice of God bearing witness to it, Martin said, "'Tis enough; 'tis enough; mine eyes have beheld!" And he remained true to those words despite his subsequent weaknesses. In fact, throughout his life when anyone challenged his experience, or the vision he beheld, Martin literally moved both Heaven and Earth to set them straight. Whatever uncertainty he felt in other areas of his life, both his friends and enemies acknowledged that 1) he was an honest man, and 2) he was completely sincere when it came to his Book of Mormon testimony, from which he never wavered.

Had Joseph brought him into a conspiracy with the promise that it would be the only way for Martin to see a return on his investment, Harris almost certainly would have exposed Smith at a later time when relations grew strained.

James J. Strang, though a relatively new convert to the church at the time of Joseph and Hyrum's deaths, had some convincing elements to his story which many intelligent people bought into. But they were carefully designed and intended to deceive, and to further Strang's insatiable ambition. Strang, though, serves as a brilliant example of how it takes more than brains and some creative artifacts to succeed in creating a church that will prosper. If one recalls that the Book of Mormon came forth in 1830 and boldly committed the restored church to a course of success from which it has never deviated, one can truly appreciate what Joseph Smith would have been up against had he been a fraud. All the schisms that followed withered. All the other frontier movements also wasted away and even the Reorganized Church has lost both its heritage and its spirit.

Only the main church, the church with the priesthood keys and the apostolic authority, has continued to grow and to prosper. It, alone, is rolling forth like a stone without hands on a steady but sure course of filling the Earth.

In the end, Martin died in the right church with the right testimony on his lips. Even on his death bed, he swore to anyone who came to him and would listen that what he saw, he saw; and that what he heard, he heard â?? and that as he prepared to slip away to death, his testimony now was what it always had been. For years, he was known to react the same when people asked him about his vision. "Do you see that [fill in the blank] over there? Well, just as sure as you can see that [fill in the blank], so I, too, saw the plates of the Book of Mormon and I, too, saw the angel."

Martin's testimony was the only anchor in his life of turmoil and indecision. Whatever weaknesses he had, or whatever bitter feelings or misgivings, they always vanished when someone asked him about his seeing the gold plates and the angel. In fact, of the three witnesses, his testimony, in many ways, was the most meaningful, sincere and compelling. He's another reason why God chooses the weak and insignificant to show forth His own strength and power. I urge people not to sell Harris' testimony short, nor reject it lightly.

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Martin Harris was a good, decent, honorable man .... I urge people not to sell Harris' testimony short, nor reject it lightly.

Very nice spin. From everything I have read, I have a hard time imagining anyone as credulous as Martin Harris.

The claim by his wife that he beat her, to me is very problematic. I don't believe that one can be a good, decent and honorable man and beat his wife, period. The fact that his second wife took the children and left him, also says quite abit about his character.

Autuer55: I think it says everything that they believe Joseph had "fallen" rather then was a deceiver from the beginning.

Not really. I would never expect Whitmer, Cowdery or Harris want to admit in public to have been either duped by Smith, or conspired with him to defraud others.

Whitmer, by tying to the two event, BOM witness, and God telling him that Smith was a fallen prophet, was really quite shrewd. I don't really know how mormon, who have read Whitmer's condemnation of Smith, can still accept Whitmer as a valid, reliable witness without their head exploding.

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The Strangite plates and witnesses are not closely comparable to those of Joseph Smith. I suppose it's time to repost my little piece on them from the 2006 FAIR conference, for perhaps the seventh or eighth time here on this board (the last being on 22 March of this year). I haven't bothered to include the footnotes:

As you know Daniel, this subject will come up every now and then. This time it was a member seeking an honest account of Strang's plates and his witnesses. However, critics usually bring up Strang as a slam dunk for book of mormon fraud. But I see no comparison between the two. In fact, Strang's fraud shows just how difficult it would be for Joseph to get 11 witnesses together and believe in success if he was a fraudster.

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Very nice spin. From everything I have read, I have a hard time imagining anyone as credulous as Martin Harris.

The claim by his wife that he beat her, to me is very problematic. I don't believe that one can be a good, decent and honorable man and beat his wife, period. The fact that his second wife took the children and left him, also says quite abit about his character.

Not really. I would never expect Whitmer, Cowdery or Harris want to admit in public to have been either duped by Smith, or conspired with him to defraud others.

Whitmer, by tying to the two event, BOM witness, and God telling him that Smith was a fallen prophet, was really quite shrewd. I don't really know how mormon, who have read Whitmer's condemnation of Smith, can still accept Whitmer as a valid, reliable witness without their head exploding.

I think that you show some fallacy here. I have no idea if Martin beat his wife. But seeing the angel and testifying to it, does not make a man or woman perfect. We all have problems and human traits that are not that positive.

And I would expect Whitmer, Cowdery and Harris to publically admit that they had been duped. Cowdery and Whitmer because of polygamy would have given them a good reason to come clean. And I do believe that they could have made some money on the proposition. And to my understanding Harris dropped out and came back as did Oliver. Why?

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Something important to remember. I don't think any of these men who had fell out with Joseph ever doubted his prophetic calling and the origins of the BOM. They believed Joseph was a "fallen" prophet. I don't think any of these men close to him said they believe they were "duped" from the beginning. This would lend credence that the overwhelmingly powerful spiritual experiences they had early on with Joseph Smith had dulled and they weren't having experiences significant enough to sustain them through the trying times.

I think it says everything that they believe Joseph had "fallen" rather then was a deceiver from the beginning.

This is true. And I may add that the 11 witnesses would defy human nature by not proclaiming the book a fraud if they knew it were a fraud. The Strang witnesses can testify to that understanding of human nature. The 'secret' would eventually come out.

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Hmm. But Nehor, much of the authority and the 'raison d'etre' of the church is based upon visions and angels. Is Joseph Smith unique in becoming 'more' sure of the experiences that he claimed to have had, as time went on?

Just wondering, because you brought it up.

Mary

I think that he meant that angels and visions do not guarantee lasting faith or testimony. Eventually, people become spirit beings on a human journey and falter. But in the book of mormon case, no one denied their experience regardless of lack of eventual faith.

And I can understand this very well. I had a very powerful book of mormon experience when I prayed about it. But that has not kept me active. But I will never deny that experience as not coming from the holy ghost.

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