Monday, September 28, 2009

Fake Plates

I read a response to a post ( in the Bloggernacle (Tabernacle + Blog + Desire to be considered clever) that caught my attention and inspired my response. It appears there exists a theory; Joseph Smith (JS) actually created fake gold plates to solicit the testimony of the 11 witnesses. (See the actual testimony of the three witness and the separate testimony of eight additional witnesses 8+3=11)

At first glance this could be a semi-probable hypothesis for the 8 who were given access to touch the plates directly by JS, but it doesn't quite explain the three who also claim an angel (Moroni himself - resurrected prophet, final engraver, and concealer) showed the plates to them and testified of the truthfulness of JS's calling and his translation of the sacred record. (Unless you also throw in the administration of hallucinatory drugs and the power of suggestion by some freak-of-nature, ego-maniacal, 23 year-old genius.)

In my response I am not sure that I came across as gentle or too sarcastic. (Feel free to interject.) I use sarcasm to make a basic point; the theory seems ridiculous to me. Perhaps I am therefore guilty of using ridicule in my reaction. It was thoughtless and unfeeling of me I am sure.

The point driven home to my head is this: The question of authenticity is, by design, incapable of any certainty. This is why faith is required of those fortunate enough to posses a copy of the Book of Mormon (BOM) and it is also the reason that so many are flummoxed when they desire to dismiss the book as patently false. Desperation rears its ugly head, and the claims for falsehood are just as fantastic as the author's claim for divine origination. Some say it was forged, or plagiarized, it came from Satan, it came from visiting aliens, a good friend, who was much smarter, wrote it, or JS was, in fact, some kind of religious prodigy with a thing for the phrase "and it came to pass." This is the first time I have heard of anyone claiming Joseph was, as his last name suggests, a smith. Who would have thunk it? The thought makes reason stare, but at least the theorist should get props for originality.

In the end, no matter the intelligence, whit, or study of the commentator regarding the contents of the BOM, (all due respect to Hugh Nibley, et al) each individual must do as instructed by Moroni. He must read the words for himself, ponder the meaning and import of its message, and take his feelings to God in prayer for the truth. The promise from the author is an answer that can change their life.

It has mine.

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