Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon
The titled page of the the
Book of Mormon reads:
The Testimony Of Three Witnesses
BE IT KNOWN unto all nations, kindreds, tongues,
and people, unto whom this work shall come: That we, through the grace of God
the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this
record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites,
their brethren, and also of the people of Jared, who came from the tower of
which hath been spoken. And we also know that they have been translated by the
gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know
of a surety that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the
engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shown unto us by the
power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an
angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes,
that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that
it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld
and bear record that these things are true. And it is marvelous in our eyes.
Nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of
it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of
these things. And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our
garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment-seat
of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens.. And the honor be
to the Father, & to the Son, & to the Holy Ghost, which is One God. Amen.'
Signed: Oliver Cowdery & David Whitmer & Martin Harris
And Also The Testimony
Of Eight Witnesses
BE IT KNOWN unto all nations,
kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That Joseph
Smith, Jun., the translator of this work, has shown unto us the plates of which
hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold ; and as many of the leaves
as the said Smith has translated we did handle with our hands; and we also saw
the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work, and of
curious workmanship. And this we bear record with words of soberness, that the
said Smith has shown unto us, for we have seen and hefted, and know of a surety
that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken. And we give our
names unto the world, to witness unto the world that which we have seen. And we
lie not, God bearing witness of it.
Christian Whitmer & Hiram Page & Jacob Whitmer & Joseph Smith, Sen. Peter
Whitmer, Jun. & Hyrum Smith & John Whitmer & Samuel H. Smith
got the vision?
(David's brother), one of the eight witnesses, wrote the following in his own
history of the church, which later, of course, was crossed out: "God knowing all
things prepared a man whom he visited by an angel of God and showed him
where there were some ancient record hid . . . whose name is James J. Strang
. . . and Strang Reigns in the place of Smith the author and proprietor
of the Book of Mormon" (John Whitmer's History, p.23).
Points to consider concerning of the so-called Three Witnesses
Most of the Three (including the eight) were blood related.
In fact, all of the Eight were members of either the family
of Joseph Smith Jr. or the family of David Whitmer's father.
The Three Witnesses all of questionable character.
Commenting on the Three Witnesses, founder of the Mormon religion Joseph
Smith said in 1838, "Such characters as McLellin, John Whitmer, David Whitmer,
Oliver Cowdry, and Martin Harris are too mean to mention; and we had liked to
have forgotten them" (History of the Church, vol. 3, p. 232).
Also, consider this: All three *witnesses* were eventually
excommunicated from the Mormon church.
Even after his
testimony regarding the Book of Mormon, he was known for wavering as to what
church to join! Over his whole life he changed his affiliation over 13 times.
"Testimony of three witnesses: We Cheerfully certify . . . The Lord has made it
known to me that David Witmer is the man. David
was then called forward, and Joseph and his counselors laid hands upon him, and
ordained him to his station, to succeed him . . .
He will be prophet, seer, Revelator and Translator before God." Signed Martin
Harris, Leonard Rich, Calvin Beebe (emphasis added).
>This however, never
Brigham young became Smith's successor.
The Mormon Church saw him as
"became partially deranged . . . flying from one thing to another" (Millennial
Star, vol. 8, p.124).
The Mormon paper, Millennial Star, reported that the Mormons said of
Martin Harris and a few other men "a lying deceptive spirit attend them . . .
they are of their father, the devil. . . . The very countenance of Harris
will show to every spiritual-minded person who sees him, that the wrath of God
is upon him" (Millennial Star, vol. 8, pp. 124-28).
on Harris's wavering character and unstableness, the Mormon church says of him:
One of the
witnesses to the Book of Mormon, yielded to the spirit and temptation of the
devil a number of years ago—turned against Joseph Smith and became his
bitter enemy. He was filled with the rage and madness of a demon. One day he
would be one thing, and another day another thing. He soon became partially
deranged or shattered, as many believed, flying from one thing to
another.... In one of his fits of monomania, he went and joined the
"Shakers" or followers of Anna Lee. . . . but since Strang has
made his entry ... Martin leaves the "Shakers," whom he knows to be right .
. . and joins Strang. . . . We understand that he is appointed
a mission to this country,... if the Saints wish to know what the Lord hath
said to him they may turn to ... the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and
the person there called a "wicked man" is no other than Martin Harris
... Elder Wheelock will remember that evil men, like Harris, out of the evil
treasure of their hearts bring forth evil things. . . .
Just as our paper was going to press, we learned that
Martin Harris, about whom we have written in another article, had landed in
Liverpool,... there was a strangeness about him, and about one or two who
came with him ... A lying deceptive spirit attends them, and has from
the beginning.... they know that they are of their father, the devil,
who was a liar from the beginning, and abode not in the truth (Latter-Day
Saints' Millennial Star, vol. 8, pp.124-28).
Years after he alleged that he
"witnessed as to the Book of Mormon plates, Whitmer said,
If you believe my testimony to the Book of Mormon; if you believe that God spake
to us three witnesses by his own voice, then I tell you that in June, 1838, God
spake to me again by his own voice from the heavens, and told me to
'separate myself from among the Latter-day Saints. . .
. " (Address to All Believers in Christ, p. 27, 1887).
Of course, no matter how clear the evidence is, LDS
apologists still have no problem denying this. For several views have been
promulgated. Example, struggling to somehow defend Whitmer's statement, one LDS
He only mentioned the undefined voice at Far West
once, in this last writing to fellow believers-- but he had repeatedly testified
of an audible voice authenticating the Book of Mormon. Those with him in 1830 in
the New York grove certified that they had also heard God's voice then, but
neither Oliver Cowdery nor John Whitmer, both of whom left Far West with David
at this time, say anything about the heavenly command of 1838. Whatever came to
David Whitmer, the later experience fails to contradict his earlier divine
command to testify of the ancient record. David Whitmer could have received true
spiritual comfort because of the unjust methods that his former associates were
using against him; or he may have only felt that God spoke to him because of the
powerful indignation that swelled up in his soul; or if he gave way to the
spirit of anger and retaliation, he invited Satan to inspire him and deceive
him. For instance, once in later life he was tempted to lead, thereby dictating
several revelations that he later considered false. The Far West “voice” might
fall into this category (Richard L. Anderson,
Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (SLC: Deseret Book Co., 1981, pp.
Note the theories, ("Whitmer could have . . . or he
may. . . . "). The historical fact is, Whitmer denied the Book of Mormon and was
excommunicated by the Mormon Church--later claiming that he only saw the Book of
Mormon plates wit the eye of
Whitmer later started his own church.
SAME AS Whitmer: He was excommunicated from the Mormon Church and joined the
In 1841, the Mormons published a poem which said: "Or Book of Mormon not his
word, because denied by Oliver" (Seasons and Times, 2:482)
The Mormon church accused Cowdery of "adultery" and claimed he had joined "a
gang of counterfeiters, thieves, liars, and blacklegs".However, Cowdery returned to the Mormon Church before his death, but
note that David Whitmer claimed that Cowdery died believing that Joseph
Smith was a fallen prophet and that his revelations in the Doctrine
and Covenants must be rejected:
I did not say that Oliver Cowdery and John Whitmer had
not endorsed the Doctrine and Covenants in 1836. They did endorse it in
1836; I stated that they "came out of their errors (discarded the Doctrine
and Covenants), repented of them, and died believing as I do to-day," and I
have the proof to verify my statement. If any one chooses to doubt my word,
let them come to my home in Richmond and be satisfied. In the winter of
1848, after Oliver Cowdery had been baptized at Council Bluffs, he came back
to Richmond to live. . . . Now, in 1849 the Lord saw fit to manifest unto
John Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery and myself nearly all the errors in doctrine
into which we had been led by the heads of the old church. We were shown
that the Book of Doctrine and Covenants contained many doctrines of error,
and that it must be laid aside. . . . They were led out of their errors, and
are upon record to this effect, rejecting the Book of Doctrine and Covenants
(An Address to Believers in The Book of Mormon, 1887, pp.1-2).
As seem above, Joseph Smith listed Cowdery as among those, "too mean to mention"
Further, Cowdery died claiming that the book of Doctrines & Covenants must be
For the Mormons admitted in 1846:
One day he [Martin
Harris] would be one thing, and another day another. He soon became deranged
or shattered, as many believed, flying from one thing to another, as if
reason and common sense were thrown off their balance. In one of his fits of
monomania, he went and joined the 'Shakers' or followers of Anne Lee. He
tarried with them a year or two, or perhaps longer... but since Strang has
made his entry into the apostate ranks, and hoisted his standard for the
rebellious to flock too, Martin leaves the 'Shakers,' whom he knows to be
right, and has known it for many years, as he said, and joins Strang in
gathering out the tares of the field. ( Millennial Star, vol. 8,
November 15, 1846, p. 124.)
LDS Apostle George Q. Cannon, a member
of the First Presidency had stated,
[Cowdery] transgressed the law of God; he committed
adultery; the Spirit of God withdrew from him, and he, the second elder
in the Church, was excommunicated from the Church. (Juvenile
Instructor, 1885, p. 360)
Despite these facts, LDS Apostle
John A. Widtsoe does not agrees with their founder. Despite clear instability on
these witnesses and certainly fertile imaginations, Apostle John A. Widtsoe
states The Book of Mormon plates were seen and handled, at different times, by
eleven competent men, of independent minds and spotless reputations, who
published a formal statement of their experience. (Joseph Smith, Seeker After
A Holy, Sacred and Divine Roll and Book; From the Lord God
of Heaven, to the Inhabitants of Earth
As Jerald and Sandra Tanner, in their book,
The Changing World of Mormonism point out:
It would appear that same of the
witnesses to the Book of Mormon would follow almost anyone who had a peep
stone or claimed to have been visited by an angel. Take, for instance, their
willingness to believe in the claims of the deceiver James J. Strang who claimed
to translate ancient plates with the Urim and Thummim. The reader will remember
that Martin Harris even served on a mission for the Strangites. This was not the
only time that Harris endorsed a religion which claimed to have a sacred book
given directly by the Lord.
As we have already shown, in the
Millennial Star the Mormons admitted that Martin Harris joined the Shakers:
"In one of his fits of monomania, he went and joined the 'Shakers' or followers
of Anne Lee." The Shakers felt that "Christ has made his second appearance on
earth, in a chosen female known by the name of Ann Lee, and acknowledged by us
as our Blessed Mother in the work of redemption" (Sacred Roll and Book,
p.358). The Shakers, of course, did not believe the Book of Mormon, but
they had a book entitled A Holy, Sacred and Divine Roll and Book; From the
Lord God of Heaven, to the Inhabitants of Earth. More than sixty individuals
gave testimony to the Sacred Roll and Book, which was published in 1843.
Although not all of them mention angels appearing, some of them tell of many
angels visiting them—one woman told of eight different visions.
On page 304 of this book, we find the
testimony of eight witnesses:
We, the undersigned, hereby testify,
that we saw the holy Angel standing upon the house-top, as mentioned in the
foregoing declaration, holding the Roll and Book.
Caty De Witt.
Laura Ann Jacobs.
Sarah Maria Lewis.
Sarah Ann Spencer.
Joseph Smith only had three witnesses
who claimed to see an angel. The Shakers, however, had a large number of
witnesses who claimed they saw angels and the Roll and Book. There
are over a hundred pages of testimony from "Living Witnesses." The evidence
seems to show that Martin Harris accepted the Sacred Roll and Book as a
divine revelation. Clark Braden stated: "Harris declared repeatedly that
he had as much evidence for a Shaker book he had as for the Book of
Mormon" (The Braden and Kelly Debate, p.173).
There is a Mormon source which
indicates that Martin Harris claimed to have a greater testimony to the Shakers
than to the Book of Mormon. In a thesis written at Brigham Young
University, Wayne Cutler Gunnell stated that on December 31, 1844, "Phineas H.
Young [Brigham Young's brother] and other leaders of the Kirtland organization"
wrote a letter to Brigham Young in which they stated: "There are in this place
all kinds of teaching; Martin Harris is a firm believer in Shakerism, says
his testimony is greater than it was of the Book of Mormon" ("Martin
Harris—Witness and Benefactor to the Book of Mormon," 1955, p.52) (Jerald and
Sandra Tanner, The Changing World of Mormonism, chap. 5, pp.
There is much more that can be said about the
unreliability of the Three (and the Eight) Witnesses to the Book of Mormon
plates. However, even if all eleven Witnesses affirmed that they really saw
and even handled the Book of Mormon plates it does biblically validate the
Mormon faith: The Mormon faith rejects Jesus Christ.
As seen, the LDS faith affirms
1. the existence of
many Gods (polytheism).
2. God was a mere man
on another planet before becoming God.
3. that God had to
become God at a point in time (thus denying that God always existed as God).
4. that God the
Father and Mary had *sexual intercourse* to procreate the physical body of Jesus
5. that God was married
to His own spirit daughter, Mary.
6. that Jesus
Christ is not the eternal God (i.e., denying that He always existed as God).
7. that eternal life
(true salvation) is acquired by meritorious works.
8. that *black skin*
(Indians, Africans, etc.) is a mark from God indicating that they are or were
(depending on what LDS Prophet you read) cursed by God for their
evil acts in their first estate in heaven (as *spirit children*
before coming to earth).
Thus, it is not the major discrepancies and
inconstancies that plague the history and origin of the Book of Mormon, nor is
it the insurmountable problems with the Book of Mormon (internally and
externally), but it is the God that the Mormons embrace that condemns them:
But the LORD is the true God;
He is the living God and the everlasting King
At His wrath the earth quakes,
And the nations cannot endure His indignation.
Thus you shall say to them, "The gods that did
not make the heavens and the earth will perish from the earth and from
under the heavens" (Jer. 10:10-11)