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Martin Harris - Spiritual Vs. Physical Eyes


California

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I have been reading about Martin Harris and how he said that he saw the plates with this spiritual and not his physical eyes. I found a couple of quotes that I think makes sense of this claim:

(which I found on FAIR)

Does visionary mean imaginary? Does the belief that the experience had visionary qualities contradict the claim that the plates were real? Consider this: On separate occasions Harris also claimed that prior to his witnessing the plates he held them (while covered) â??on his knee for an hour and a halfâ?3 and that they weighed approximately fifty pounds.4 It seems unlikely from his physical descriptions as well as his other testimonies and the testimonies of the other two witnesses that the entire experience was merely in his mind. On one occasion, for example, critics charged Harris with delusionâ??that he had merely imagined to see an angel and the plates. Martin responded by extending his right hand:

Gentlemen, do you see that hand? Are you sure you see it? Are your eyes playing a trick or something? No. Well, as sure as you see my hand so sure did I see the angel and the plates.5

David Whitmer helps clear up the â??spiritual vs. natural viewing of the plates. Responding to the interviewer who questioned Harris, Whitmer replied,

Of course we were in the spirit when we had the view, for no man can behold the face of an angel, except in a spiritual view, but we were in the body also, and everything was as natural to us, as it is at any time.6

Paul understood the difficulty of describing spiritual experiences when he wrote:

I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) (2 Cor. 12:2-3.)

Paulâ??s vision was real, yet he was unsure whether he had the experience in or out of his body. Harris may have felt a similar experience. He knew the plates were real, yet he also knew that when the angel showed him the plates he was only able to see them by the power of God.

this makes sense to me. I would like some insight regarding this matter. Thanks!!!

:P

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Also, I have heard some things about Martin Harris saying that he saw the Angel Moroni with the Shakers or something like that. I have come to terms with that in that yet again, it isn't man we can trust but only God, because obviously Martin was always dillusional while everyone around him wasn't, or he just lied because he had a falling out with Joseph.

I would like some insight into this if anyone has any. Thanks.

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I have come to terms with that in that yet again, it isn't man we can trust but only God...

Three factors to consider here --

1. While out of the Church, Martin may have not always been perfectly truthful in what he had to say

2. The source(s) reporting Martin's words may not have given a fully accurate account of what he said

3. Martin Harris was never a General Authority -- his reporting, while important historically, probably

has little weight, when it comes to doctrine or church practices.

All of that considered, yes -- I do think that some of the witnesses saw only "with the eyes of faith,"

and that had a video camera been employed at that exact same moment, it might have recorded nothing.

I suppose that other witnesses actually saw and experienced "common consensus reality" events,

which that same theoretical video camera WOULD have recorded.

UD

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It is always shocking to me how much we members depend on these witnesses as testaments of truth given that:

-These men were very superstitious

-People claim weird things all the time (Just look at the number of UFO abductions per year!)

Why all the fuss over spiritual vs. physical eyes ? I think psychologically we apply how the individual (how we) would act under similar circumstances. Most people would not lie / exaggerate / self delude over such an important issue and so we expect others to also do so. However, given enough population combined with the right conditions, people will have all sorts of *supernatural* experiences (it is simply statistics).

Is it the old *power of the print* phenomenon ? If this wasn't signed or in the BoM would it suddenly become inconsequential ? It is a curious thing that our skepticism towards a particular claim is tied closely to how badly we want to believe in said claim...

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But given that Martin Harris did eventually return to the church after years of wandering from sect to Mormon sect, other than a stint with the Shakers, wouldn't that show that he always yearned for the truth and once having been in other faiths finally came to the conclusion that he had at one point had the truth? He also did say that he held the plates in his lap and that they weighed about 50 lbs. Paul says the same thing, "whether in the body or out of the body, i know not".

All this has taught me, is that the testimonies of our peers are not to be trusted entirely, ever. People lie, that's what they do when they want to have things go their way. Brigham Young actually said that people should pray about everything he said before believing it. Which is interesting because that is the same as the "arm of flesh".

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The spiritual eyes quote is a non-issue when put in the light of everything else said by Martin Harris. I direct you to read Richard Lloyd Anderson's "Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses" before worrying any further. Many others on this site will direct you to this book.

When I had witness questions Peterson recommended this to me and it has answered nearly all of my questions concerning the issue.

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It is always shocking to me how much we members depend on these witnesses as testaments of truth given that:

-These men were very superstitious

-People claim weird things all the time (Just look at the number of UFO abductions per year!)

Why all the fuss over spiritual vs. physical eyes ? I think psychologically we apply how the individual (how we) would act under similar circumstances. Most people would not lie / exaggerate / self delude over such an important issue and so we expect others to also do so. However, given enough population combined with the right conditions, people will have all sorts of *supernatural* experiences (it is simply statistics).

Is it the old *power of the print* phenomenon ? If this wasn't signed or in the BoM would it suddenly become inconsequential ? It is a curious thing that our skepticism towards a particular claim is tied closely to how badly we want to believe in said claim...

not to derail the thread, but, you're a member of the church?

Also I echo the sentiment of reading Richard Lloyd Anderson's work.

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not to derail the thread, but, you're a member of the church?

Also I echo the sentiment of reading Richard Lloyd Anderson's work.

Not sure how my membership bears any relevance on the point made... but yes, I am technically a member. I'd rather hear a response to what was said...

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I believe that Susan Easton Black is working on a biography of Martin Harris.

She is very good so it should be enlightening.

A lengthy booklet on "Martin Harris' Kirtland" should also see print next year.

UD

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I think you should let him answer for himself, especially on his spiritual state which is between himself and God!

I think he has answered for himself, that's why I asked initially to clarify. He was speaking in terms of "we," and I'm not trying to disclude him, but I just wanted clarification to make sure he wasn't posting as some kind of devil's advocate, etc. It's also extremely enlightening that you happen to "rush to his aid," as it were. It says a lot.

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It is always shocking to me how much we members depend on these witnesses as testaments of truth given that:

-These men were very superstitious

-People claim weird things all the time (Just look at the number of UFO abductions per year!)

Why all the fuss over spiritual vs. physical eyes ? I think psychologically we apply how the individual (how we) would act under similar circumstances. Most people would not lie / exaggerate / self delude over such an important issue and so we expect others to also do so. However, given enough population combined with the right conditions, people will have all sorts of *supernatural* experiences (it is simply statistics).

Is it the old *power of the print* phenomenon ? If this wasn't signed or in the BoM would it suddenly become inconsequential ? It is a curious thing that our skepticism towards a particular claim is tied closely to how badly we want to believe in said claim...

If we have had a spiritual experience or witness of the truthfulness of the church we naturally assume these witnesses saw what they claimed. Since there are three such witnesses who claim the same thing it is reasonable to assume it was a genuine experience they had in common. The fact Martin generally sought affiliation with various LDS "denominations" proves he believed in this and other experiences and was largely questioning who now had true succession.

Your question appears to suggest the possibility that groups can in the excitement of the moment see together a vision that was not real but imagined. Like a tv show with a hypnotist or just how groups seem to naturally be so convinced of their experiences, such as mormons vs evangelical Christians etc. In this case though we have a further 8 witnesses who simply viewed the plates without the aid of an angel. Do we also question them? Conversely it is true also that JS managed to convince people of his seeing powers in hunting for treasure and it is an interesting read how one chap in the court case described with vivid belief how the treasure with a curse was almost obtained but kept moving deeper out of reach. It was decided the curse was too strong and the digging abandoned. In the end I don't think anyone I know was convinced by these witnesses. They hear the message and pray about it and rely on their own personal experience. That experience is repeatable in daily life as living the gospel brings the blessing and guidance of the Spirit, enabling us to know what we otherwise could not have known. If the gospel living enables personal communication with God then the principles are true whether or not the experience of these witnesses can be relied upon as absolute irrefutable truth. It is mormon logic of course that since the fruits of gospel living is the Spirit, which can be individually proven to be true by everyone who with faith lives it, that every detail of these witnesses must be true. Whether that logic is right I don't know and neither do I personally find it important to my life. It only becomes so when looking for reason not to believe, more than it does to those looking for reason to believe. This is because we rely on our personal testimony above just about anything. A loss of testimony increases the relevance of these questions to the individual as the faith in those personal experiences diminishes. That faith is replaced with a reliance on physical evidence only and questions apparently spiritual phenomenon that are not repeatable by you personally. So in fairness you have raised a genuine issue that has merit in the world at large. All the fervent belief of the various sects cannot reconcile with each other. That is evidence that people can be deceived as groups on many issues and believe enough to lay down their lives for that belief. Incredible human trait.

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I think he has answered for himself, that's why I asked initially to clarify. He was speaking in terms of "we," and I'm not trying to disclude him, but I just wanted clarification to make sure he wasn't posting as some kind of devil's advocate, etc. It's also extremely enlightening that you happen to "rush to his aid," as it were. It says a lot.

I am sure it says as much as you want it too. Don't forget whilst my posts reveal a lot about me, in like measure so do yours about you! I guess we will be judged as we judge.

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I think you should let him answer for himself, especially on his spiritual state which is between himself and God!

I was answering for him based on everything he has told me. I don't know where he is with God, did I say I knew? No, I didn't. I know where he is in regard to the church, and that's all I claimed to know. When you leave something spiritually you just don't believe in it anymore or feel that it is for you anymore, it doesn't mean you hate God. This would would imply that the church is good and leaving is bad.

It's interesting though, how the way that things bounce off of us reveal alot about our inner state. Do you feel people are judging you and thinking you are not right with God? Is that why people who leave the church post on here? They leave but just can't leave it alone? Having to try to justify their decision for the rest of their lives?

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I have been reading about Martin Harris and how he said that he saw the plates with this spiritual and not his physical eyes. I found a couple of quotes that I think makes sense of this claim:

(which I found on FAIR)

this makes sense to me. I would like some insight regarding this matter. Thanks!!!

:P

This spiritual/natural eyes dichotomy is explained perfectly by Moses:

Moses 1:11

11 But now mine own eyes have beheld God; but not my natural, but my spiritual eyes, for my natural eyes could not have beheld; for I should have withered and died in his presence; but his glory was upon me; and I beheld his face, for I was transfigured before him.

Spirtual doe not mean immaterial

Section 131:7

7 There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes;

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This spiritual/natural eyes dichotomy is explained perfectly by Moses:

Moses 1:11

11 But now mine own eyes have beheld God; but not my natural, but my spiritual eyes, for my natural eyes could not have beheld; for I should have withered and died in his presence; but his glory was upon me; and I beheld his face, for I was transfigured before him.

Spirtual doe not mean immaterial

Section 131:7

7 There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes;

that was great Her. Thanks!

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To see with our spiritual eyes, is when the mind becomes enhanced to "perceive" differently. As the mind is altered, it can then comprehend things that it would normally not. The Spirit of God is what makes this alteration, albeit temporarily, to allow a person to perceive things they would normally not see. Faith is crucial in this alteration, for a faithless person would never be able to see things that a faithful person can.

Then there is another way to gain these "spiritual eyes".

IN the Bible, God said that we are to have a spiritual mind, not a carnal mind. This is a clue to what God speaks about when he warns us to prepare ourselves for the second coming. At the second coming, I personally believe, that people will not be enhanced by the Spirit to perceive Christ. It will solely depend on the degree and depth of faith (note both the degree and depth) that we developed in our individual perparation, and this preparation is done through the Spirit of God, not just by our own efforts. Those who have not prepared, therefore being of insufficient faith, will not abide with Christ at the second coming. Those who have sufficient faith, will abide. I believe, that if there is any help from the Spirit at that time, it may be to attract our "spiritual" attention so that we can focus by faith and not be distracted by evil. This would be similar to when a person hears the spiritual testimony and not only "perceives" it as true, but feels it as well.

In this, depending how "developed" in faith we are, says that a person can perceive things differently than others. Such as Jesus Christ "perceived" the words of the Pharisee's, and saw what they were really saying. The average person standing there at that time, would not "perceive" what Jesus perceived and would not understand. This is why many other Christians stand there denying and rejecting the testimonies of the Prophet and Apostles, because they are of little faith to "perceive" the truth, having been taken away by the doctrines of men.

IN this spiritual sight is not only faith, but sincere and humble desire to see truth. If a person who is faithful in some degree, but is unnecessarily critical, challenging everything that comes his way, is a person who has no sincere desire to see truth. The direction God gave about being humble and child-like is crucial, along with faith, to perceive spiritually. Unfortunately, too many people think, in a worldly way, that being argumentative all the time, critical all the time, doubting all the time, always taking issue with things, (and it goes down hill from there), is the proper way to gain understanding of God, when in truth it is a great detriment.

Therefore, when we see certain people in Church history that had these unique and gifted experiences, yet later became apostate, does not deny what they had, but shows the contrast between what we can all have versus what we can loose. This is why some testimonies by some Mormon's are true, when they were in the right state of faith and desire, but later became that critical doubting argumentative, taking issue kind of person who then fell away and became "Anti-Mormon", thinking that they saw the light and truth about this Church.

If you experienced enough times the state of right faith and desire, as I have described, you can draw from that experience and knowledge and discern the words of others (spiritual perception), to determine of what they say and/or do is truly in line with God's teachings.

Amen

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I was answering for him based on everything he has told me. I don't know where he is with God, did I say I knew? No, I didn't. I know where he is in regard to the church, and that's all I claimed to know. When you leave something spiritually you just don't believe in it anymore or feel that it is for you anymore, it doesn't mean you hate God. This would would imply that the church is good and leaving is bad.

It's interesting though, how the way that things bounce off of us reveal alot about our inner state. Do you feel people are judging you and thinking you are not right with God? Is that why people who leave the church post on here? They leave but just can't leave it alone? Having to try to justify their decision for the rest of their lives?

Well, my relationship with Mormonism is yet undefined, I think I am being tossed without my consent...

As for why people 'can't leave it alone' - I think like most human behavior, the reason is psychological. How many causes have you devoted your life to only to find out that you no longer believe in many of the fundamental claims behind that cause ? It has been for me a heart wrenching and painful experience. I am unable (as you are aware) to open up my thoughts to my family as they do not want to know about the history. So here I am, being torn apart and with no loved ones to lean on. These boards are frequented with LDS, part of *my* tribe, who are aware and willing to discuss the issues in church history. I may not agree with much of the reasoning and justifying but at least there are attempts to do so!

It is difficult to judge another person's reaction without having been in their position. I could also suggest with amazement how it is that people remain members after learning about the history... We are all in different situations in life and react to information based on all sorts of psychological and other factors.

The psychological power behind our actions cannot be denied - note how people generally follow the religion of their parents. The Chinese are buddhists, Utahns are Mormons, Middle Easterners are Muslims. Of course this is ridiculously obvious but the implications should be considered in terms of what potential role psychology (as opposed to evidence, spiritual or otherwise) is playing in our faith.

Thanks for keeping people honest moriancamur - I know California, she is quite aware of my situation. Her statement was essentially correct (the truth cuts like a knife!). Intellectually for sure, spiritually I am not quite sure yet... I need some *recovery* time :-)

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This spiritual/natural eyes dichotomy is explained perfectly by Moses:

Moses 1:11

11 But now mine own eyes have beheld God; but not my natural, but my spiritual eyes, for my natural eyes could not have beheld; for I should have withered and died in his presence; but his glory was upon me; and I beheld his face, for I was transfigured before him.

Spirtual doe not mean immaterial

Section 131:7

7 There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes;

Ok fine, I'll join the spiritual vs. physical eyes jabber though I'd rather understand why this is so important to people given that we dismiss thousands of witnesses to other alleged events all the time...

Why use "spiritual eyes" if not to distinguish from the way that eyes usually see ?

Oh and on a tangent:

"There is no such thing as immaterial matter" sounds like "there is no such thing unempty emptiness"... true by definition.

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To the 3 witnesses, the physical existance of the plates were clearly a thing of mysterious materiality as they were always hidden, covered, or even said to be in a different physical location during translation (as joseph read them by looking in his hat/seer stone). (I think I recall reading that Joseph's father once said that they were in the mountain while they were translated--suggesting a method of "distance reading" much akin to what the CIA and other mystics have tried to do throught the years, which also sheed an interesting perspective on JS's development of other scripture).

The mysterious of materiality is supported by the fact that an angel presented the plates to the 3 witnesses. Why would this be necessary if jospeh actually had them and if jospeh was allegedly able to physically show them to the 8 witness later?

Further, the 3 witnesses don't seem to say they physically handled the plates. It could easily be seen as a "spiritual expierence" by the 3--perhaps a common spiritual one. But again, if Jospeh had the plates in his posession during translation, why the need for a "vision"?

Further, there are various reports of the plates appearing and disappering miraculusly as needed by circumstance--as if by miracle.

Its only with the eight witnesses that we actually hear of a clear, unobstructed, physical handeling of the plates, after all the other restrictions and mystery.

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Well, my relationship with Mormonism is yet undefined, I think I am being tossed without my consent...

As for why people 'can't leave it alone' - I think like most human behavior, the reason is psychological. How many causes have you devoted your life to only to find out that you no longer believe in many of the fundamental claims behind that cause ? It has been for me a heart wrenching and painful experience. I am unable (as you are aware) to open up my thoughts to my family as they do not want to know about the history. So here I am, being torn apart and with no loved ones to lean on. These boards are frequented with LDS, part of *my* tribe, who are aware and willing to discuss the issues in church history. I may not agree with much of the reasoning and justifying but at least there are attempts to do so!

It is difficult to judge another person's reaction without having been in their position. I could also suggest with amazement how it is that people remain members after learning about the history... We are all in different situations in life and react to information based on all sorts of psychological and other factors.

The psychological power behind our actions cannot be denied - note how people generally follow the religion of their parents. The Chinese are buddhists, Utahns are Mormons, Middle Easterners are Muslims. Of course this is ridiculously obvious but the implications should be considered in terms of what potential role psychology (as opposed to evidence, spiritual or otherwise) is playing in our faith.

Thanks for keeping people honest moriancamur - I know California, she is quite aware of my situation. Her statement was essentially correct (the truth cuts like a knife!). Intellectually for sure, spiritually I am not quite sure yet... I need some *recovery* time :-)

I find their assumptions a little small minded. They certainly have no conception of my position. It is currently beyond their apparent comprehension. That is revealed in their answers to my post. To clarify one point, I don't believe in telling someone their problems reconciling history with Christian expectation for behaviour is unreasonable. It is reasonable. Accepting that is an important step to understanding how God works in the lives of individuals, why He blesses them as members of the church and restoring faith. Boxing people up endaevours to limit understanding only to parameters we feel comfortable with and does nothing to strengthen the individual or meet their needs. In effect its the difference between being a letter of the law pharisee and a true Christian who has taken the Spirit to be their guide. The most important thing to God is the salvation and eternal life of man, not simply tenets of belief.

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I find their assumptions a little small minded. They certainly have no conception of my position. It is currently beyond their apparent comprehension. That is revealed in their answers to my post. To clarify one point, I don't believe in telling someone their problems reconciling history with Christian expectation for behaviour is unreasonable. It is reasonable. Accepting that is an important step to understanding how God works in the lives of individuals, why He blesses them as members of the church and restoring faith. Boxing people up endaevours to limit understanding only to parameters we feel comfortable with and does nothing to strengthen the individual or meet their needs. In effect its the difference between being a letter of the law pharisee and a true Christian who has taken the Spirit to be their guide. The most important thing to God is the salvation and eternal life of man, not simply tenets of belief.

well said. Boxing people up serves a cognitive function - it allows one not to investigate any further the causes or struggles for which one might be naturally inclined. People who have the mental integrity to avoid such boxing behavior are indeed *true* people, be it Christian, or otherwise.

best!

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