First of all, I would like to thank Jack Welch and Neal Rappleye for their excellent help in editing my talk. I am not an expert on the Book of Mormon, like many who are making presentations, but I do have an intellectual and spiritual testimony of its truthfulness. And I do believe that the Book of Mormon, combined with the Spirit, is the greatest witness we have of the truthfulness of the Church. From an evidentiary standpoint, it is our spiritual smoking gun—our incontrovertible evidence for the honest in heart. While the following points I will make are not necessarily new or comprehensive in scope, I believe they all work together in a cumulative fashion to witness of the truth of the Book of Mormon. Somewhere, somehow, the critics must answer—how did the Book of Mormon come forth? Was it man-made as claimed by them or God-inspired as claimed by us.
The initial argument of the critics in this respect was that Joseph Smith could not have written the Book of Mormon—it was too complex. This was based on the premise that Joseph was only 23 years of age at the time; that he was unlearned and uneducated; he was in essence but a ploughboy farmer, and thus incapable of writing it. Therefore, someone far more intelligent and skilled than he must have done so.
One of the proposed candidates was Sidney Rigdon. After all, he was a minister, a theologian and an orator—certainly a likely prospect. In order to understand the supreme irony of this argument, however, one needs to remember that the Book of Mormon was published in March of 1830, the Church was organized in April of 1830, and then in October of 1830 (about 6 months later) Parley P. Pratt preached the gospel for the first time—to whom of all people—Sidney Rigdon (his former minister) and bears testimony of the Book of Mormon. In other words, Sidney was converted by the very book he was supposed to have written. Nancy Rigdon Ellis, the daughter of Sidney and age 7 at the time, would later write, “I saw them hand [my father] the book, and I am as positive as can be that he never saw it before. He read it and examined it for about an hour and then threw it down and said he did not believe a word in it.” Of course, he later did believe it and joined the Church.
Emma Smith wrote, “No acquaintance was formed between Sidney Rigdon and the Smith family till after the Church was organized,” which of course was after the Book of Mormon had already been published. These are but a few of the historical evidences that Sidney Rigdon never came in contact with the Book of Mormon until after it was published. Accordingly, this argument carries little weight today.
Another candidate who supposedly wrote the Book of Mormon was Oliver Cowdery. After all, he was well-educated, a schoolteacher, and later an attorney. The critics must have forgotten, however, that he was the self-admitted scribe to Joseph Smith. “I wrote, with my own pen, the entire Book of Mormon (save a few pages) as it fell from the lips of the Prophet Joseph Smith, as he translated it by the gift and power of God. … That book is true.” In addition, he was true to his testimony to the end as one of the three witnesses that he saw the angel and the gold plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated by Joseph Smith—not written by any man, let alone him. Also, certain others have acknowledged that for brief periods they acted as scribes to Joseph Smith. If Oliver wrote the book, why these scribes for Joseph? Needless to say, this argument was on borrowed time.
With the certain demise of the foregoing arguments a new argument arose: Joseph Smith allegedly copied the Book of Mormon from the Solomon Spaulding Manuscript, an unpublished account written by a minister named Solomon Spaulding in 1812. It is a fictional account of ancient Romans sailing for England who were blown off course and landed in North America. The easy response to this argument of plagiarism was to compare the two books and decide for yourself. But ever so conveniently, the critics claimed the manuscript was lost. In 1884, however, the manuscript was found in the historical papers of Eber Howe, one of the critics who claimed the manuscript had been lost. L. Rice and James Fairchild (president of Oberlin College), knowing of the plagiarism argument, compared the manuscript with the Book of Mormon and wrote, “[We] compared it with the Book of Mormon, and could detect no resemblance between the two, in general or in detail.” Thus, another explanation for the coming forth of the Book of Mormon was discredited.
The next argument was even more bizarre. It was that Joseph Smith suffered from a mental disorder and therefore possessed the skills to write the Book of Mormon. Harry Beardsley, a Chicago journalist wrote, “The Book of Mormon is a product of… a mind characterized by the symptoms of the most prevalent of mental diseases of adolescence—dementia praecox [sometimes referred to as schizophrenia].” The problem with that argument is that there exists no credible evidence that Joseph had a mental disorder, and even if he had, no evidence that such a disorder magically bestows upon an untrained writer the ability to become a skilled writer. As a side note, it is of interest to me that when these and other arguments of the critics are confronted, they often respond, “Oh, those are old arguments.” Translated, that means—we don’t want to talk about them anymore because we don’t want to acknowledge that those arguments made by fellow critics have now been proven to be totally defective.
So, let’s now discuss the current argument being made by the critics, namely, that Joseph Smith was a creative genius who read numerous books and copied ideas and stories from them, such as View of the Hebrews and The Late War Between the United States and Great Britain. This is a total flip-flop, a 180 degree reversal from the original argument that Joseph Smith was incapable, too ignorant to write such a book. Now, all of a sudden, he is skilled, creative writer with genius intellect. What are the counter arguments to this assertion by the critics:
- Is there any concrete historical evidence proving that Joseph read any of these alleged books before the Book of Mormon was translated? None that I am aware of.
- More specific, is there a single reference—just one—in Joseph’s journals or letters suggesting that he might have read or had conversations concerning any of these historical sources before translating the Book of Mormon? No.
- Did Emma Smith, who was married to Joseph, ever comment that he referred to any of these books before the Book of Mormon was translated or that he visited any of the libraries where these books supposedly might have been located? No.
- Are there any independent sources who claim that Joseph discussed any of these books at any time with them before the Book of Mormon was translated? No.
- Is there any record that Joseph had any of these books or related notes present when he translated the Book of Mormon? No. In fact, Emma Smith was a firsthand witness of this. Asked in an interview if Joseph read from any books or notes while dictating, she replied, “He had neither manuscript nor book to read from. … If he had had anything of the kind, he could not have concealed it from me.”
- Is there any evidence Joseph was a good writer at age 23 and thus could be the author of the Book of Mormon? To the contrary, Emma Smith noted: “Joseph Smith [as a young man] could neither write nor dictate a coherent and well-worded letter, let alone dictate a book like the Book of Mormon.” This is staggering when you think about it—to claim that Joseph Smith, who could not write a coherent letter, wrote the Book of Mormon in a single dictation draft in approximately 65 working days with only minor changes—mostly grammatical. When I finished my book entitled A Case for the Book of Mormon, my secretary unexpectedly asked me, “Do you know how many drafts you had.” I replied, “No.” To which she responded, “72.” I thought, “Wow. It took me two concentrated years of writing, and many previous years of thinking and collecting ideas to write a book less than half the length of the Book of Mormon and far less meaningful, and 72 drafts to do so.” It reminds me of the statement of Hank Smith: “Someone with an experience is never at the mercy of someone with an opinion.” Accordingly, no one can ever tell me that Joseph Smith at age 23, trying to eke out a living on the edge of the frontier, with essentially nothing but primitive writing skills, wrote this historical and doctrinal masterpiece in a single draft in 65 days, let alone in any time frame. It is beyond rational belief.
No wonder Emma Smith wrote:
My belief is that the Book of Mormon is of divine authenticity—I have not the slightest doubt of it. I am satisfied that no man could have dictated the writing of the manuscripts unless he was inspired; for, when acting as his scribe, your father would dictate to me hour after hour; and when returning after meals, or after interruptions, he would at once begin where he had left off, without either seeing the manuscript or having any portion of it read to him. This was a usual thing for him to do. It would have been improbable that a learned man could do this; and, for one so ignorant and unlearned as he was, it was simply impossible.
This may seem insignificant to some, but to me it is astounding. For 34 years as a lawyer, I regularly dictated to my secretary. As I did so, I was often interrupted by a phone call or question. After such interruptions, I would invariably ask my secretary, “Where was I?” But Joseph was not dictating or writing a new work; he was translating an ancient scriptural record by the power of God and therefore did not need to ask, “Where was I?”
These are but a few evidences that the Book of Mormon was not man-made. What positive evidence do we have that it was divinely inspired? In other words, let’s switch from defense to offense. If the critic wants to be credible, they must not only have the privilege of asking questions but the responsibility of answering them.
First Evidence: Archaeology
While this is what I would call a lesser evidence, it is, nevertheless, an evidence. Reason can be used to bring about doubt, but it can also be used to bring about belief. Some years ago, a friend made a presentation to our family on the Book of Mormon. He commenced by reading these lines from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar:
There is no fear in him, let him not die;
For he will live, and laugh at this hereafter [clock strikes].
Peace! Count the clock.
The clock has stricken thrice.
At first, these lines seemed not only insignificant but also irrelevant to anything in the Book of Mormon. Then my friend made his point. Shakespeare had made a mistake—there were no striking clocks at the time of Julius Caesar. This was an anachronism—something out of date, out of context, out of place.
For decades critics have placed their scholarly stethoscopes firmly against the Book of Mormon, anxiously listening for a “striking clock”—something out of date, out of context—but with the passage of time, their stethoscopes have encountered a deafening silence. Why? Because this book is not the work of man, but of God.
What then are some of those alleged striking clocks as it pertains to archaeology and what is the truth?
Alleged Striking Clock #1: The Existence of Metal Plates
For years the world laughed at the idea of gold plates as a medium for record keeping. It was a favorite target of detractors.
Surely Joseph Smith must have thought—like the vast majority of the rest of the world—that ancient civilizations recorded their histories on papyrus or parchments, not metal plates. All the evidence seemed to support the critics; their argument seemed so convincing—so ironclad. Then, discoveries of ancient metal plates began to unfold, and the critics’ myth was shattered.
The plates of Emperor Darius I of Persia (written about 518 B.C.), composed of gold and silver, were found in 1933 by a German archaeologist. They were written during the same time frame as the Book of Mormon and stored in a similar stone-type box. Since then, numerous metal plates containing ancient writings have been discovered.
Nonetheless, some critics won’t concede the obvious. They now insist that the Book of Mormon is the wrong type of document to be written on metal—specifically, they think it is too long. Others are in the process of responding to that contention. But in terms of the general practice of writing on metal plates, this seeming anachronism has now become a witness of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.
Alleged Striking Clock #2: Cement in Ancient America
For many years, critics argued that a striking clock was to be found in the Book of Mormon because of its references to the use of cement by the ancient inhabitants of America.
Archaeologists were certain that cement was not invented in the Americas until years after the recorded history of the Book of Mormon. One critic (a Christian minister) summarized the claim as follows: “There is zero archaeological evidence that any kind of cement existed in the Americas prior to modern times.” The Book of Mormon references to cement were simply contrary to all known scientific facts of the time. Joseph Smith, they alleged, had inserted something out of date, out of context—certain proof of his hoax. But then truth, as it always does, surfaced, and the day of reckoning came. Cement was discovered in the Americas—dating to the same century when cement was reported to have been used by the Book of Mormon. President Heber J. Grant told of being ridiculed by a peer because he believed in the Book of Mormon, which spoke of an ancient people who built houses of cement. Listen to President Grant’s response:
“That [criticism] does not affect my faith one particle. I read the Book of Mormon prayerfully and supplicated God for a testimony in my heart and soul of the divinity of it and I have accepted it and believe it with all my heart. I also said to [my friend], ‘If my children do not find cement houses, I expect that my grandchildren will.’” He then said, “Now, since that time houses made of cement and massive structures of the same material have been uncovered [in the Americas]”
He then made mention of his counselor who had visited the ancient site at Teotihuacan, Mexico, and seen the cement mortar of the pyramids and cement drainpipes. Structural engineer David Hyman observed that cement discovered in Mexico from the first century AD is a “fully developed product. … Technology in the manufacturing of calcareous cements in Middle America [was] equal to any in the world at the advent of the Christian Era.” Another seeming crisis had become one more confirmation of the Book of Mormon.
Alleged Striking Clock #3: Alma as a Man’s Name?
For many years critics claimed to have found another ticking clock. The Book of Mormon refers to two male prophets by the name of Alma. Alma was considered a female Latin and Hebrew name, not a male name. In fact, one critic sarcastically wrote, “Alma is supposed to be a prophet of God and of Jewish ancestry in the Book of Mormon. In Hebrew, Alma means a betrothed virgin maiden—hardly a fitting name for a man.”
But the day of truth came. In 1961, a deed was found in Jerusalem dating to the early second century A.D. The deed was signed by Alma ben Yehuda, which means, in Hebrew, Alma, the son of Judah. Joseph was either inspired once again or a very, very lucky guesser. Some critics now claim that the earlier critics were wrong—that Alma’s name did exist as a male name at the time of Joseph Smith, but in either case they have confirmed that the Book of Mormon revealed a correct usage of the name of Alma.
Alleged Striking Clock #4: Barley in Pre-Columbian America
Barley is referred to in the Book of Mormon on multiple occasions. But for years the critics were ruthless in their attack against this Book of Mormon claim. One such critic alleged that “barley never grew in the New World before the white man brought it here!” Another alleged that reference to barley was one of numerous “verifiable blunders” found in the Book of Mormon.
Then the shoe dropped. The year 1983 came—a nightmare for these critics. Barley was discovered in Hohokam Indian archaeological sites in Arizona, contrary to the unequivocal assertions of the critics that no barley existed in the Americas in Pre-Columbian times. The Hohokam Indians were believed to have existed between about 300 BC and AD 1450 thus overlapping with Book of Mormon times but predating any European migrations to the Americas. Subsequently, barley was found to be native in other U.S. states as well as Mexico. Thus, another striking clock myth was disposed of. Doctor John Lund tells of the student working on his PhD in horticulture who came to him in the 70s and explained that he couldn’t believe in the Church anymore because he had learned that domesticated barley didn’t exist in Book of Mormon times. If only he had patiently endured a few more years, his dilemma would have resolved itself. And thus, one more casualty was added to the list of those who chose to set aside their faith in favor of a limited knowledge of science.
Alleged Striking Clock #5: Names, Places and Events Not Yet Confirmed
With the demise of the foregoing arguments, the current critics claim there are many items referred to in the Book of Mormon which have not yet been discovered with certainty in archaeological excavations, such as horses, cattle, steel, and the names of Nephite cities, and therefore conclude the Book of Mormon cannot be true—that all these references are likewise anachronisms. One such critic wrote: “Anachronisms: horses, cattle, oxen, sheep, swine, goats, elephants, wheels chariots, wheat, silk, steel, and iron did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times. Why are these things mentioned in the Book of Mormon as being made available in the Americas between 2200 BC – 421 AD?” My first thought was, “How does he know?” Have all archaeological remains for ancient America been uncovered? Hardly?
What the critics have failed to mention is that archaeology scholars have opined that only 2% or less—probably much less—of ancient American ruins have been excavated.
George Stuart, a leading Maya scholar who worked for National Geographic for almost 40 years, did an interview in 2011 on National Geographic Live. In the course of his interview, he made the following revealing comment: “And we hardly know anything, really about the Maya [believed to have existed during a portion of Book of Mormon times]. You know, there’s almost 6000 archaeological sites and we’ve dug at forty of them.” That is less than 1%.
Suppose I were to tell you that a man surveyed 2% of the geography of the United States (represented by the circle on the screen) and then he made the unequivocal assertion that there are no large lakes in the U.S., no everglades, no mountains above 10,000 feet, no redwood forests, no volcanoes, and no gold mines, because in his 2% survey he did not see any such things. You would likely respond: How foolhardy for him to categorically state there were no such things when 98% of the U.S. had never even been seen by him. Likewise, how foolhardy to unequivocally claim there were no horses, cattle, steel, and Nephite names in Book of Mormon lands and times when at least 98% of archaeological remains in ancient America have not been unearthed.
Time and science are great allies of the Book of Mormon—in fact, they are best friends. Like President Grant, we can trust the impressions of the Spirit we have received confirming the truth of that book. In due course, the Earth will produce its archaeological evidences and the truth will be confirmed.
Second Evidence: Bible Prophecies
A number of years ago, someone asked me, “If the Book of Mormon is such a critical witness of the Savior, why isn’t the Book of Mormon prophesied of by name in the Bible?”
I responded, “Do you believe Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world?”
“Of course,” he replied.
“Why then, is Jesus Christ not prophesied of by name in the Old Testament?”
He replied, in essence, “Well, the Old Testament does not mention the name of Jesus Christ—I admit that—but it does prophesy of Him in such a way that any reasonable person should know that it’s referring to Jesus Christ.”
I responded: “And so it is with the Book of Mormon. The Bible prophesies of its coming forth and its purpose, not by name, but by events and descriptions that are sufficiently clear and precise that honest seekers of the truth who are familiar with the Book of Mormon can discern their fulfillment.” What, then, are some of these prophecies?
There are actually a number of Bible prophecies that refer to the Book of Mormon, its people and their promised land. One is found in Ezekiel.
The word of the Lord came again unto me saying,
Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick [book] and write upon it, for Judah, [the Bible] . . . then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions [the Book of Mormon].
And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. (Ezekiel 37: 15-17)
These books are one in the Lord’s hand as the prime purpose of each is to bear witness of Jesus Christ and His divinity.
There are many other scriptures in the Bible that speak about the Book of Mormon, such as prophecies that a branch of Joseph (referring among others to Lehi and his family) would inherit a promised land (meaning the Americas) that Joseph’s descendants would have a numerous posterity, [i.e. the Nephite-Lamanite civilizations] that they would speak from the dust, [the gold plates containing their history would be buried in the earth], that it would be given to one who is unlearned (meaning Joseph Smith), that this book would open the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf, which the Book of Mormon has certainly done, and that Christ would personally visit His sheep in the Americas. These are all descriptions of the Book of Mormon, its people and their promised land as found in the Bible.
Third Evidence: The Book’s Divine Eloquence
The Book of Mormon speaks with a divine language and eloquence that rings of divinity—that lifts us up and inspires each of us to be a better person. It invites us to ponder many of its phrases—perhaps even to memorize them, or highlight them in our scriptures, or place them on a mirror or refrigerator door. These phrases become our companion and friend in time of need or reflection. These phrases are forged from the language of the Spirit, they are messages with a heartbeat—messages that live and breathe and inspire. The Book of Mormon is filled with such golden nuggets—each a divine masterpiece in its own right.
On the screen are some inspired masterpieces from the Book of Mormon that answer questions of the soul and give direction in life.
“Men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25).
“Feast upon the words of Christ; for behold the words of Christ will tell you all things that ye should do” (2 Nephi 32:3).
At first blush I thought, how can the scriptures tell me all things I should do? Can they tell me who I should marry or what career I should pursue? Then I realized that they do in fact tell me all things I should do in two important ways: first, they teach me correct principles that I can apply in specific as well as general situations, and second, the scriptures invite the Spirit that helps me apply those principles to my specific needs.
“Wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10). Wouldn’t that solve a lot of problems in the world today if people truly believed that? I think most of us would be happy if in a lifetime we were to have two or three memorable phrases that truly resonated with and touched our family and friends. The burning question then becomes: “How did Joseph Smith at age 23, who lacked formal education and could not write a coherent letter as attested to by his wife, produce this incredible list of memorable phrases and sage counsel in approximately 65 working days. The answer: he didn’t; the Lord did.
Fourth Evidence: The Divine Doctrine
For me, this is the greatest evidence, separate and apart from the Spirit. At some point the honest searcher of truth must ask, “Where did Joseph get the deep and expansive doctrine found in the Book of Mormon, much of which is contrary to or clarifies the religious beliefs of his time?” For example, where did he get the stunning sermon on faith in Alma 32 (where he compares faith to a seed), or Nephi’s concise and powerful message on the doctrine of Christ in 2 Nephi 31 and 32, or King Benjamin’s incomparable sermon on the Savior’s Atonement in Mosiah 2–5 or Moroni’s concluding chapter on the causal connection between perfection and the Atonement of Jesus Christ? How did this inexperienced, uneducated young man miraculously pen these compelling sermons composed of profound doctrinal truths?
For my own benefit, I have made a list of over 25 doctrines that the Book of Mormon clarifies or restores that have become lost or mystified because of the plain and precious truths removed from the Bible. I list but a few for your consideration:
|Confusion in Some of the Christian World
|Clarification by the Book of Mormon
|1. The fall was a tragic step backwards.
|1. If there had been no fall, Adam and Eve would have remained in a state of innocence (i.e., spiritually neutral) and had no children. (2 Nephi 2:23)
|2. Man cannot become like God.
|2. Through the grace of Christ we “may be perfect in Christ” (Moroni 10:32). The Savior’s Atonement not only cleanses us but perfects us.
|3. Churches need not be named after Christ but may be named after Reformers (e.g., Lutherans and Calvinists) or procedures (e.g., Baptists) or clergy (Presbyterians).
|3. “And how be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses’ name then it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel.” (3 Nephi 27:8)
If these doctrinal truths were so easy to discover and articulate, why hadn’t others in the 1800 years following Christ’s ministry done so? Because it was not brilliance, but revelation, that was the source of these teachings.
Fifth Evidence: The Testimony of the Eleven Witnesses
As a further witness of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, we have the testimony of at least 11 people in addition to Joseph Smith, eight of whom handled the plates, and three of whom saw the plates and heard an angel of God bear witness of their divine origin. We have about 200 historical statements corroborating the integrity of these men and confirming their ongoing testimony until the day of their deaths. We have about 8–10 negative statements. That is a ratio of about 19 positive for every 1 negative.
To put this in perspective, suppose you are the judge in an auto accident case, and there are 20 witnesses. Further, suppose that 19 of the witnesses were consistent in their testimonies as to how the accident occurred, while one, just one, had a different perspective. Absent other circumstances, as the judge, whom will you believe?
For the sake of time, I cite but one such statement by David Whitmer, one of the three witnesses. After he learned that it had been reported in two encyclopedias that he had denied his testimony of the Book of Mormon, he responded with this unequivocal statement:
It is recorded in the American Cyclopedia and the Encyclopedia Britannica, that I, David Whitmer, have denied my testimony as one of the Three Witnesses to the divinity of the Book of Mormon, and that the two other witnesses, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris, denied their testimony to that book. 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 affirming the truth of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon.
One is inevitably led to the conclusion that the testimonies of the 11 witnesses—often borne under the most difficult of circumstances, are compelling, even irrefutable evidence of the divine origin of the Book of Mormon.
Sixth Evidence: The Witness of the Spirit
As wonderful as the foregoing evidences are, there is none more certain or sure than that of the Spirit. It is the witness of all witnesses—the evidence of all evidences. Moroni confirmed this truth:
And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true, and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things. (Moroni 10:4–5)
Hopefully, we will never underestimate the power of that promise.
President Boyd K. Packer once told “of two frivolous girls clattering through a great museum and then flippantly remarking as they left the building that it hadn’t impressed them much. One of the doorkeepers standing by commented to them, ‘Young ladies, this museum is not on trial here today. Its quality cannot be contested. You are the ones who are on trial.’”
And so it is with the Book of Mormon—it is not on trial—its divinity cannot be contested by the honest in heart. It is we who are on trial to see if we will read it with a sincere heart and real intent to discover its truth.
I have a friend who is extremely bright who left the Church because it could not answer all his intellectual questions. He searched for another church that might do so but searched in vain. So, he decided to study the Church once again. He said, “One day, while reading the Book of Mormon in my room, I paused and knelt down and gave a heartfelt prayer and felt resoundingly that Heavenly Father whispered to my spirit that the Church and the Book of Mormon were definitely true. My 3.5 year period of reinvestigating the Church led me back wholeheartedly and convincingly to its truthfulness.” He then added in a subsequent letter: “The primary factor in helping me gain a spiritual testimony of the Book of Mormon was that I changed my focus or criterion on what would make it true for me. Initially, I wanted the Book of Mormon to be proven to me historically, geographically, linguistically, and culturally. But when I changed my focus to what it teaches about the gospel of Jesus Christ and His saving mission, I began to gain a testimony of its truthfulness. … Seeking after scientific proof for the Book of Mormon had shackled, bound, and blinded me, but seeking after spiritual enlightenment empowered me to be set free to receive the light and testimony of its beauty and truthfulness.”
As a boy of about 15 or 16, I read the account of the 2,000 sons of Helaman. This story had a particular appeal to me as a young man. I marveled at their bravery and the Lord’s protecting hand. Than a voice came to my mind—not an audible voice, but a discernible one, “That story is true.” Since then other witnesses have come. I add my witness to that of many others—that the Book of Mormon is of divine origin, that it is God’s crowning witness of the divinity of Jesus Christ, the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith, and the absolute truth of this Church. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, act 2, scene 1, lines 190-93.
 Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, 278-88.
 John L. Smith, “What about those Gold Plates?” The Utah Evangel, September 1986, 8.
 Grant, in Conference Report, April 1929, 129.
 Hyman, Precolumbian Cements, ii.
 Walter Martin, The Maze of Mormonism, 327.
 Matthew Roper, “Right on Target”.
 David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ by a Witness to the Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon (David Whitmer: Redmond, Virginia, 1887 (emphasis added). The critics believe that this quotation of David should be tempered by the following statement which he made in the same address: “If you believe my testimony to the Book of Mormon; if you believe that God spoke to us three witnesses by his own voice, then I tell you that on June 1833, God spoke to me again by his own voice from the heavens and told me to ‘separate myself from among the Latter-day Saints,” (p. 27). One response to this is that David had the Spirit when he saw the angel and gold plates but lost the Spirit and his ability to recognize it when he made this later observation, which was made at a time when he had been excommunicated from the Church. For further corroboration of this, see the observation of James H. Moyle, as set out in the context of the book and referenced as footnote 36.
 Packer, Teach Ye Diligently, 177