I have been busy all day long and am getting to my blog post just before midnight. I went to the temple this morning as my Christmas gift to Heavenly Father as well as to Jesus Christ. I spent the rest of the day cleaning and cooking in preparation for Christmas, but I did not want to go to bed without wishing a Happy Birthday to Joseph Smith. He was born on December 23, 1805, in Sharon, Vermont, and tomorrow is his birthday.
To me and to millions of other people, Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. Many of the people who believe he is a prophet – maybe most of us – have inquired of God and had the Holy Ghost confirm that Joseph Smith is God’s prophet.
More than forty years ago I needed to know for myself if Joseph Smith was God’s prophet. I did not doubt that he was God’s prophet, but I could not say, “I know that Joseph Smith is prophet of God.” I read everything that I could find about Joseph before I was prompted by the Spirit to read the Book of Mormon. This was not my first time in reading the book, but it was my first time to do so while searching for an answer to my question.
I found my answer in Third Nephi 27, and I knew it as soon as I saw it. Then I knelt down beside my bed and asked God to confirm what I had found. That confirmation came so strongly that I cannot deny it. There is no doubt in my mind that Joseph Smith is God’s prophet called to restore the gospel of Jesus Christ to earth. I know that the Book of Mormon is an instrument in God’s hands in teaching this truth to all who sincerely seek it.
Millions of people testify that they know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and that the Book of Mormon is true. Yet there are millions and billions of other people who do not believe them. There are even some people who claim that they would join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints if only we would get rid of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.
The Meridian Magazine published an excerpt from a talk given by Daniel C. Peterson. The name of the article is “Why I Can’t Manage to Disbelieve Joseph Smith.” Peterson explains that people want “absolute proofs for the Book of Mormon,” but he does not think that there are any proofs that would convince people.
I don’t believe there are any such things. I think that what Latter-day Saint scholars – apologists, if you want to use that term – have though they were doing with the Book of Mormon … is constructing a cumulative case, no one element of which is definitive, no one element of which will simply force, compel unbelievers to suddenly cave in, surrender. I don’t believe that that’s the Lord’s intention. I don’t believe that there will be any such things.
Peterson has “tried seriously and honestly” to find a way to explain the origin of the Book of Mormon other than the one given by Joseph Smith. He explains that critics of Joseph Smith have given many explanations for how the Book of Mormon came to be, “but they are convoluted.”
My argument would be that all of the counter-explanations of the Book of Mormon that I’ve looked at – and I think I’ve looked at all of them – run into walls. You eventually run into something where, it simply can’t get you there. It can’t explain everything that needs to be explained.
If you think Joseph Smith wrote it, how did he do it? If you think there were no plates, what’s going on? You need to come up with another explanation.
I see problems with all the alternative explanations, and to me they’re lethal.
The Book of Mormon was first published in March 1830, and it quickly drew critics. For more than 188 years detractors have tried to disprove the explanation given by Joseph Smith for the origin of the Book of Mormon. They have not been able to do so because Joseph Smith spoke the truth. The Book of Mormon was written on plates by numerous prophets living in ancient America. One of those prophets delivered the plates to Joseph Smith, and he translated them into what we know as the Book of Mormon.
The only way for anyone to determine the truth of this statement is to prayerfully study the Book of Mormon and then to ask God if it is true. There is no better proof than the word of God delivered by the Holy Ghost! I know that Joseph Smith is exactly what he claimed to be – a prophet of the living God.