Tough Questions Answered

A Christian Apologetics Blog

How Do the Witnesses of the Gold Plates Compare to the Witnesses of the Resurrection? Part 3

Post Author: Bill Pratt

In part 2, we continued looking at Rob Bowman’s online exposition of how the witnesses of Jesus’s resurrection and the witnesses of Joseph Smith’s golden plates compare to each other.  In part 3, we will compare the lives of the witnesses after their experiences of either the resurrection or the viewing of the golden plates.  Bowman writes:

The witnesses to the Resurrection gained credibility after their experience, becoming consistently reliable, faithful witnesses to Jesus Christ and honorable members of the Christian movement.  Cowardly Peter, doubting Thomas, and persecuting Paul each became unwavering witnesses to Christ and remained so for the rest of their lives.  Peter and Paul were both martyred for their faith, as were some of the other apostles (e.g., James the son of Zebedee in Acts 12).  Not one of the known witnesses of the Resurrection ever undermined his or her testimony.  Not one ever left the Christian church.  Not one was ever excommunicated or excluded from the church.  Not one ever tarnished his or her witness by engaging in wicked behavior.  Not one ever diluted his or her witness by also bearing witness to other religious claims in conflict with the Christian faith.

What about the golden plate witnesses?  Did they live out their lives in a similar fashion?

The witnesses to the gold plates, far from gaining in credibility following their signing the testimonies, lost credibility over the years. Martin Harris diluted his witness by also bearing witness later to the Shakers and the Strangites.  Hiram Page had his own seer stone and claimed to receive revelations that Joseph condemned as from the devil!  Several of the witnesses were excommunicated (some eventually returned, others did not).  Several of the witnesses over the years gave conflicting testimony as to whether they actually saw the plates with their natural eyes or physically handled the plates.  Joseph [Smith] claimed that God had commanded him to take over thirty women, some of them already married to living men, as his wives.  David Whitmer maintained, not without cause, that Joseph was a fallen prophet.  Joseph and Hyrum were killed, not for their testimony to the Book of Mormon, but because of violent mob reaction to their polygamy and other illegal activities.

There is simply no comparison between these two groups of witnesses.  What a stark contrast!  Bowman continues:

Mormons routinely argue that the checkered history of the witnesses all the more underscores the fact that they never disavowed their testimony that Joseph did have the plates.  There is some question about this claim with regard to Cowdery and Harris, but letting that pass, one may accept that Joseph had something like metal plates without concluding that the whole story is true and Joseph really did translate gold plates with Egyptian characters by the gift and power of God.  The lack of credibility of the witnesses is a real evidential difficulty that cannot be turned into an apologetic asset.

In the last post of this series, Bowman explains some final difficulties with the golden plates.  You won’t want to miss it.


About The Author

Comments

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ VinnyJH

    Not one ever left the Christian church.

    Is there credible evidence to support this claim?

    Not one was ever excommunicated
    or excluded from the church.

    Is there credible evidence to support this claim?

    Not one ever tarnished his or her witness
    by engaging in wicked behavior.

    Is there credible evidence to support this claim?

    Not one ever diluted his or her
    witness by also bearing witness to other religious claims in conflict
    with the Christian faith.

    Is there credible evidence to support this claim?

    Joseph and Hyrum were killed, not for their testimony to the Book of
    Mormon, but because of violent mob reaction to their polygamy and other
    illegal activities.

    Peter and Paul were killed, not for their testimony to the resurrection, but because Nero needed a scapegoat for the fire that he started in Rome. The evidence that Joseph Smith could have saved his own life by abandoning the Mormon Church–but chose not to–is at least as good as any evidence we have that any of the apostles willingly risked death rather than abandon their faith.

    The lack of credibility of the witnesses is a real evidential difficulty that cannot be turned into an apologetic asset.

    Of course it can. We know that several of the witnesses to the Golden Plates had motive and opportunity to recant their testimony. They could have benefited financially from books and lectures. We know that there were many non-Mormons who were actively seeking to discredit the story of the Golden Plates. Had any of the witnesses unambiguously recanted, we should expect to find it well documented.

SEO Powered by Platinum SEO from Techblissonline