Thursday, December 27, 2018

More Comments from Readers – Part III

Here are some more comments received from our readers:
Comment #1: “First of all, I love your films. Thank you and keep them coming. However, I would like to comment on one of your last film on YouTube about Frederick G. Williams…it seems many of the Church Leaders in the late 1800s and early 1900s criticized his comment” Jacob J.
Response. B.H. Roberts (Left) sums up the criticism of an early belief that Williams’ written statement was a revelation for the Church received by Joseph Smith, when he said, “If no more evidence can be found to establish this passage in Richards and Little’s Compendium as a revelation to Joseph the Seer, than the fact that it is found in the handwriting of Frederick G. Williams, and on the same sheet of paper with the body of revelation about John, the beloved disciple, the evidence of its being a revelation to Joseph the Seer, rests on a very unsatisfactory basis” (B.H. Roberts, New Witnesses for God, volume 3, The Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1909, pp. 501-502).
    What they, and even theorists today, criticize was and is the early belief that the statement was a revelation—which it was not and not claimed to be by Joseph Smith or even Frederick G. Williams. The problem surrounding the importance of this comment from Williams lies in limiting the conversation to this single issue, which subjugates the most important point—the one we made in the film. That point is the underlying and all important agreement William’s comment has with 1 Nephi 18:23-24 as to what Nephi found where they landed.
    We need to keep in mind that this statement, attributed to an 1833 event, i.e., the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, was made by a person who had not only never been to South America, but could not have possibly known anything about the area he identified as Lehi’s landing site. In fact, this area today called the Bay of Coquimbo and La Serena, though it perfectly matches the scriptural description of Lehi’s landing site, was not only unknown to Williams in the 1830s, but to just about everyone else in the area of the Church’s early locations.
    Forget the argument over it being a revelation, which, again, Williams never said it was meant to be a revelation for the Church, or even a statement by Joseph Smith, but pay attention to what he wrote and when he wrote it and the lack of any knowledge of the area on the part of anyone in that part of North America.
    Simply put, it matches the statements made about the ocean currents; the dying down of those currents in the vicinity allowing a maneuver into the Bay of Coquimbo (a serene and protected bay for ships); an immediate place to settle, with both soil and climate not only conducive to planting seeds brought from Jerusalem, but having an identical climate to that of Jerusalem (Mediterranean Climate)—a fact not understood until well into the 20th century; having fresh water for both planting and growing crops and for personal use (a mountain river running from the Andes down to the bay); a forest nearby large enough for both domestic (feral) and wild animals to co-exist; and untold amounts of copper, gold and silver. These facts, easily confirmed today, have always existed there, but would have been unknown in North America until much later in the 19th century.
Comment #2: “I found the discussion about Malaysia quite interesting and like the idea of the Malay Peninsula” Robert W.
Response: Then you should also like the claim by Frank Joseph Hoff in the Atlantis and Lemuria Interview, wherein he claims that Indonesia was the site of Eden (Garden of Eden) and states: “It was in Indonesia and the neighboring lands that Man, after emigrating from the semi-desertic savannas of Africa, first found the ideal climatic conditions for development, and it was there that he invented agriculture and civilization. All this took place during the Pleistocene, the last of the geological eras, which ended a scant 11,600 years ago. Though long by human standards, this is but a brief moment in geological terms…the land of Sumatra, “Ancestral Land” in Hindi and where they placed their pristine Paradise…in the region of Indonesia, precisely the spot where humanity first flourished.”
    On the other hand, there is much to discredit such an idea, of which we have written many times in this blog.
Comment #3: “You make a big deal out of your Book of Mormon, yet I understand that the original witnesses to the work of Joseph Smith denied their testimonies” Paul G.
Response: You understand wrong. The original three witnesses were David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris. In 1887, at the age of 82, just one year before his death, David Whitmer refuted all claims that he had ever denied his original testimony. He wrote a remarkable pamphlet under the title of Address to All Believers in Christ, on which he wrote in the first Chapter, page 8, the following: “I will say once more to all mankind, that I have never at any time denied that testimony or any part thereof. I also testify to the world that neither Oliver Cowdery nor Martin Harris ever at any time denied their testimony. They both died reaffirming the truth of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon. I was present at the deathbed of Oliver Cowdery, and his last words were ‘Brother David, be true to your testimony to the Book of Mormon.’ He died here in Richmond, Mo., on March 3, 1850.”
    The pamphlet can be found on the internet or the LDS Church historian’s office, or from Kessinger Publishing, (2010) LLC ISBN-10:1162951907, or from Amazon Books. It is entitled “An Address to All Believers in Christ, By a Witness to the Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon.” Written in Richmond Missouri 1887. The quote above is found on Page 8 of the 75-page work, in Part First/Chapter I.
Comment #4: “You refer to the Book of Lehi, but I know of no such book nor have I heard of any. Where do you get that information?” Cy B.
Response: Joseph Smith wrote: “I would inform you that I translated by the gift and power of God, and caused to be written one hundred sixteen pages, the which I took from the Book of Lehi which was an account abridged from the plates of Nephi by the hand of Mormon” (DHC [Documentary History of the Church], approved by David O. McKay and the entire First Presidency in 1956] vol.1, p56). These are the first writing that Joseph translated, the same 116 pages that Martin Harris requested to take home to show his wife and subsequently lost, and had to be replaced with the existing translation of the Small Plates of Nephi (which is what we have now).
Comment #5: “I read that the word “Mormon” comes from the Greek “mormo.” Is this true and if so, what does it mean?” Randy W.
Response: The Greek word “mormo” meant “terrible wolves,” and was a female spirit, ghost, specter, or phantom in Greek folklore, sometimes referred to as mormolyce; mormolykeia, or mormolyceum. Her name was invoked by mothers and nurses to frighten children to keep them from misbehaving. That would hardly suggest a comparison to the word Mormon as referenced in the Book of Mormon.
    Joseph Smith, in quoting Moroni (Mormon 9:32-34) tells us that “none other people knoweth our language therefore the Lord, and not man, had to interpret, after the people were all dead.” And as Paul said, “The world by wisdom knew not God,” so the world by speculation are destitute of revelation; and as God in his superior wisdom has always given his Saints, wherever he had any on Earth, the same spirit of prophecy, which is the testimony of Jesus. I may safety say that the world “Mormon” stands independent of the wisdom and learning of this generation…the word “Mormon means literally “More good” (DHC, Vol V, pp399-400).
Comment #5: “You make repeated claims that Joseph Smith was a farmer, but other than the fact he lived at a time when farming was prevalent in America, how do we know Joseph Smith, or his father, were actually farmers?” Dick M.
The Smith family farm in Manchester, New York, where Joseph Smith, Sr., farmed and where Joseph Smith Jr. grew up (picture taken in 1907, after the Smiths moved from here)

Response: In the Wentworth letter, which Joseph Smith wrote at the request of Mr. John Wentworth, Editor and Proprietor of the Chicago Democrat, Joseph Smith wrote a “sketch of the rise, progress, persecution, and faith of the Latter-day Saints of which I have the honor, under God, of being the founder.” He states in his first paragraph, that “I was born in the town of Sharon, Windsor County, Vermont, on the 23 of December 1805. When ten years old, my parents removed to Palmyra, New York, where we resided about four years, and from there we removed to the town of Manchester. My father was a farmer and taught me the art of husbandry…”
    In 1828, the area where Joseph Smith lived, the word “husbandry” meant “the business of farming, comprehending agriculture or tillage of the ground, the raising, managing and fattening of cattle and other domestic animals, the management of the dairy, and whatever the land produces” (DHC, Vol IV, pp 505-541).

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