Monday, May 16, 2016
Why Book of Mormon Wars?
I'm often asked about the title of this blog. I used it because it's relatively easy to remember and because it is a play on major themes in the Book of Mormon itself. Still, some people think it sounds contentious.
I'm migrating everything to a new blog that has a more "friendly" name, which I'll announce soon, but in the meantime, I'd like to give an example of what I'm trying to do here.
In October 1834, Joseph Smith, David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, Hyrum Smith, F.G. Williams, and R. and A. Orton left Kirtland on a steam boat, heading west. Below I quote Oliver's account of an incident that occurred on the boat that illustrates the importance of speaking out when you hear error.
Some might consider Oliver's account contentious--in effect, a war--but I think it's a good illustration of what everyone should do when we hear or read errors.
That's all I'm trying to do on this blog.
From the Messenger and Advocate, October 1834
While passing this evening toward Monroe, at the mouth of the river Raisin, we held a conversation with a man calling himself Ellmer, on the subject of religion. When any thing was mentioned of the doctrine or belief of the Latter Day Saints, we could not but remark the similarity of spirit, and the uniformity of sentiment apparent in the actions and arguments of this man, with others alike ignorant.
He said that he was personally acquainted with Joe Smith; had heard him preach his lies, and now, since he was dead, he was glad! In fact, he seemingly expressed more joy in this belief than any thing else which he advanced during the conversation.
He said that he had heard Joe Smith preach in Bainbridge Chenango co. N. Y. five years since; he knew it to be him; that he was a dark complexioned man, &c. I was as particular to enquire [inquire] his appearance, size, age, &c. as decency would admit, and found that the man was guilty of falsehood. This accounted for the warmth of his assertions when he pronounced the name "Joe Smith," and I conclude that he learned it from the popular priests of the day, who, thro' fear that their craft will be injured if their systems are compared with the truth, seek to ridicule those who teach it.
Now, that he lied, I have no hesitancy in saying, as our brother Joseph Smith Jr. had not commenced to preach five years since, neither has he ever preached in Bainbridge; and, as to the correctness of his description of his complexion I leave all who are acquainted with his person, to judge. But his bluster, (for he made no little noise,) excited the curiosity of many who crowded round, eager to assertain [ascertain] the cause of this "war of words."
After making several assertions, and many flourishes, he gave opportunity for an answer.-He said that the Savior had not been seen since his ascension, and that any man contradicting this was a deceiver.
After obtaining liberty to speak, we informed the gentleman that, to commence, we would correct one assertion just advanced, which was, that "Christ had not appeared to any man or men since his ascension into heaven, after his resurrection."
The company listened intensely, and we proceeded:-
In John's testimony we read that after Peter and John, early in the morning, had left Mary at the sepulcher, she stood without, weeping, and after she had conversed with the angels, turned round and saw Jesus standing by; that when she knew that it was the Lord, she was forbidden to touch him: "For I am not yet ascended to my Father," were his words. See John, 20:17.
[Oliver describes other Bible verses they read.]
After ending these few remarks upon this item, we were prevented from making any further, as our friend Ellmer had grown quite uneasy, and also said that they were not to be found in the scriptures.
He was informed, however, that if he would wait till I could go to my trunk he should have a privilege of seeing for himself, as those passages could be found in a few moments, to which I had referred. He said that he wanted nothing of my Mormon bible; that he did not believe in it, neither would he hear it.He was informed that it was the English version of the bible, containing the Old and New Testaments, translated by order of James VI, between the years 1607 and '10.
As he refused to hear our bible, he was told if he would produce one on board the Boat, I would produce those items previously named-but he refused.
A gentleman present (a methodist preacher by profession) said, that any man acquainted with his bible would be ready to admit the correctness of what had been quoted.-
The poor man soon found that the company discovered his ignorance, and also his anger, as he soon turned from us with a loud boast and an important swell, as another methodist priest from England had done a short time previous, after being shown the weakness of his own argument by our brother H. Smith.
How far this conversation was, or will be productive of good, I am unable to say; but by that means numbers heard, and no doubt, felt an increased anxiety to learn something further relative to this "strange work."
One individual purchased a book of Mormon, notwithstanding Mr. Ellmer's bitter cry of "Joe Smith," and "false prophets;" and will thus have a privilege of hearing the truth, though he may be separated far from those who have authority to administer the ordinances of the everlasting gospel. May heaven inspire his heart to seek diligently until he obtains a certain knowledge of the kingdom of our God in these last days!