Wednesday, March 28, 2007

We All Have a Long Way to Go

I was disheartened today when I read in a Utah Newspaper about another campaign to discredit Mormonism. Sadly, this campaign violates several of the above rules. But we must be patient: They don't read my blog!
To be honest, the campaign is well-timed. This Saturday and Sunday is the 177th Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

General Conference is when the leaders of our Church with world-wide authority address members of the Church and the whole world. And if you ever wondered what an Apostle or a Prophet looks and sounds like in real life, you can watch along with us with live video streaming on
This is the schedule (Texas Time):
11:00am to 1:00pm
3:00pm to 5:00pm
11:00am to 1:00pm
3:00pm to 5:00pm

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Intermingled with the Government?

Among the many concerns that others have about having a Mormon as a president is the worry that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will use its influence to manipulate national policy. The Church's involvement can best be illustrated in Utah, the state in which the Church has the greatest social influence.
Click here to see how involved the Church was during the 2007 Utah Legislative Session.
The official policy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is political neutrality, but when lawmakers are considering issues which would have significant impact on religious and moral issues, it may express its concerns. There have even been times when the Church actively campaigns against or for certain laws.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Peace, Be Still

Dear All,

I'm concerned that the comments on this blog are becoming too contentious and devoid of the Spirit of Christ. The last thing I want to do is to start moderating comments. You all deserve to be heard. But I would like to reiterate some ground rules for posting on my blog. I articulated them several months ago, and I realize that most of you did not have the opportunity to read them.
Anonymous, your concerns are valid. And I understand how anyone can have them. I'm not offended in the least bit and want to express my love for you. If you have questions that you don't already have an answer to, please continue to ask them, and I will answer them as best as I can, even if you think the question might offend me.
That goes for everyone.
If any of you feel I'm judging you, forgive me. Mormons DO NOT believe we have a monopoly on Goodness, Truth, Love, Faith, Knowledge, or Miracles (notice the capital letters). (Please see Dallin H. Oaks, "Miracles," Ensign, June 2001, 6). Our claim is of FULLNESS, not exclusive Rightness. Yes, that means we believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord's True Church, but we believe that we are all children of God. And as children of God we have access to Him, regardless of religion, race, gender, social class, nationality, and skin color. (Please see James E. Faust, "Communion with the Spirit," Ensign, March 2002, 2-7). In other words, all religions that strive to make men and women better people possess Truth (again, note the capital letter).

This Sunday, I will talk about the Mormon concept of Heaven. Hopefully, this will help all to understand what I mean by this.
Until then, now and forever, I plead that you will adhere to these seven simple rules for religious discussion:
1. Never attack someone else's beliefs.

2. Declarations of sincere belief are always welcome. And if you wish to rebut someone else's belief, then do it by expressing what you believe. NOT by pointing out which points of doctrine you find to be silly, erroneous, or misguided.
3. If you want to know what members of another religion believe, go to them and not to their enemies.
4. Never judge a church by its worst members. Those who fail to live according to the tenets of their religion are not representative of that religion.
5. Leave room for divine envy.
6. Everyone has the right to believe or not what you are saying.
7. Listen (in this case read) for understanding, not to plan on what you will say to refute what the other is saying.
With Warmest Regards,
Craig Pankratz

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Dear Anonymous 7:20 pm

Dear friend,

I appreciate your comments. But I must confess that I hoped these posts would spark amicable discussions with others. I have heard all the anti-Mormon arguments. They haven't changed in 200 years. I've struggled with them and know they are wrong.
I am glad that you have decided to read my blog, even after our prior exchanges. I know that my mental capacity and reasoning aren't even close to that of most (my recent grades are proving that).
But I will tell you that as sure as I know the sun will rise tomorrow, I know that God lives and loves us. He is our Heavenly Father. His Son is Jesus Christ, the Savior of us all. And They have called Joseph Smith to be a Prophet. The Book of Mormon is true. There is a living prophet today, Gordon B. Hinckley.
I know these things because I have felt the power of God distill upon my soul more knowledge and understanding than I can describe.
I'm sorry that I don't have words to explain precisely how I know, but sometimes words fail.
Can you describe the taste of salt without using "salt"?
I have tasted Spiritual Salt, and I want everyone to taste it. I can't help it. There is a burning in my bones to share this message: The Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored, and all mankind is invited to supp at the table of the Lord, to receive the fullness thereof!
In Waco, I have watched members of other faiths with awe, especially in my oral advocacy class. Professors Osler, O'Brien, and Gloer are exceptional Christians. And I fully believe they will receive everything God has in store for them and more. They are men whom I seek to emulate as I strive to follow Jesus Christ.
But I echo the words of the man whom I recognize as the Mouthpiece of the Lord Jesus Christ, Gordon B. Hinckley: "Bring to us all the light and knowledge that you have, and let us see if we can add to it!"
I have no desire to attack the faith of others because I don't want to destroy it. I hope that my posts will build faith. You don't have to believe me. No one does. But I can't help but express what I know to be true. And I cannot say the smallest part of what I feel!
My dearest friend, let us strive to build each other up!
I would be lying if I said I didn't want this blog to spark within someone the desire to know that the Book of Mormon is true. But if nothing else happens, I hope others feel closer to Jesus Christ as the result of what I write. At the very least, I want others to understand the impetus behind Mormonism.
If I at any time made you or anyone else feel like I was attacking your faith or religious convictions, I apologize.
My friend, may we move forward in faith, building others and encouraging others to come to Christ.
With Warmest Regards,
Craig Pankratz

Because you asked

Recently, I posted some information about the Book of Mormon on my blog. An anonymous commentator asked me to provide physical evidence independent of Joseph Smith that supports the Book of Mormon.

Personally, I encourage anyone who wants to know the truthfullness of the Book of Mormon to study it and ask God if it is true. After you have gained that witness through the power of God, then you will begin to see other evidences.

But there are members of my Church, professional archeologists, who study Book of Mormon archeology. Today, I stumbled across a website illustrating some of their studies.

Again, I reiterate, the truthfullness of the Book of Mormon need not be proved by archeology, and archeology MUST NOT be the basis for your faith that the Book of Mormon is true. But because I have been asked to provide evidence independent of Joseph Smith, I submit to you this website:

Do with it what you will.



Sunday, March 11, 2007

Mormon Temples

For an excellent discussion about what goes on in a Mormon Temple, please read Russell M. Nelson, "Prepare for Blessings of the Temple," Ensign, March 2002, 17.
See also the official website about temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Approximately four hundred years before the birth of Jesus Christ, the prophet Malachi prophesied about the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord, or the Second Coming of Jesus Christ:
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. (Malachi 4:5–6).
On April 3, 1836, this prophecy was fulfilled in Kirtland, Ohio. The Latter-day Saints, led by Joseph Smith, had just completed the first LDS Temple at great sacrifice. During a Sunday service, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery retired behind a curtain which separated them from the rest of the congregation when a vision opened to them. The Lord Jesus Christ appeared and accepted the newly-built Temple. (D&C 110:1-10; compare to 2 Chronicles Chapters 4-8). After this vision, Moses and Elias appeared. (D&C 110:11–12). Finally, Elijah appeared:
After [the visions of Moses and Elias] had closed, another great and glorious vision burst upon us; for Elijah the prophet, who was taken to heaven without tasting death, stood before us, and said: Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi—testifying that he [Elijah] should be sent, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come—To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse—Therefore, the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands; and by this ye may know that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near, even at the doors. (D&C 110:13–16).
The power, or keys, which Joseph Smith received from Elijah is the sealing power, the power to bind on earth and in heaven and to loose on earth and in heaven. It is this power which gives efficacy to the ordinances which we perform within our temples.
Now that Elijah has come, the hearts of the Latter-day Saints have been turned to our fathers and to our children. For everything we do within our temples testify that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and through Him our families, even our unborn decendents and our departed ancestors, can be united for eternity.
Who Can Enter a Temple?
Contrary to popular belief, we want everyone in the world to enjoy the blessings of our temples. Before a temple is dedicated, we open it up for the community, and anyone wishes can enter the temple, walk through its rooms, and enjoy the peace and Spirit which exists there. If a temple is being built in your area or has recently been completed, I encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity to see a Mormon Temple from the inside. My favorite rooms within the temple are the "Sealing Rooms" where our marriages are performed. When you walk in, look to the walls, across from each other, you will see two mirrors with reflections on into eternity, a symbol that families are eternal. Your tour will also take you to see the baptismal font where we perform baptisms for the dead. (See below, "Vicarious Work for the Dead"). You will see the instruction rooms, and you will see the "Celestial Room" which symbolizes being in the presence of God.

But after a temple is dedicated, only members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who are in good standing may enter the temple. Please do not be offended that you cannot come in. Rather, take the time to enjoy the grounds surrounding the temple. There is a powerful Spirit of peace which you can feel just be being near the temple.
To enter a temple, a Mormon must have reached twelve years of age, and a boy must have been ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood. Young men and women participate in baptisms for the dead but do not participate in any ordinances for themselves. If someone older than twelve joins the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, after being baptized and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, he/she can go to the temple to perform baptisms for the dead the next day! (In addition to being baptized and to receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, a man must first be ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood).
Before a Mormon can participate in additional temple ordinances, he/she must have been a member for at least one year or reached the age of eighteen, whichever comes later. A man must also be ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood.
To enter a temple, a member must present a Temple Recommend which is a certificate signed by a Mormon’s ecclesiastical leaders and himself/herself attesting that he/she is worthy to participate in the temple ceremonies and ordinances.
Ordinances for the Living
Everything we do within the temple revolves around the Atonement, or sacrifice, of Jesus Christ. Although I cannot go into much detail of what we do within the temple, I can tell you that nothing we do or teach in the temples is contrary to what we do or teach outside of the temple. In fact, if you study the scriptures, including the Bible, the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Price, you will know very much of what we learn and do in the temple.

The Initiatory
The first ordinance which we receive for ourselves is the initiatory. Just as Aaron and his sons had to be prepared to officiate within the Tabernacle, (see Exodus Chapters 28–29) so do Mormon men and women. The initiatory is the means through which we are prepared to perform the work which goes on in the temple.
The Endowment
After we have received the initiatory ordinance, we then receive our endowment. This ordinance is a spiritual gift. The endowment teaches us about God’s plan for us. It is literally a gift. Brigham Young said, "your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the house of the Lord, which are necessary for you . . . to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels, . . . and gain your eternal exaltation." (See Russell M. Nelson, "Prepare for Blessings of the Temple", Ensign, March 2002, 17).
The endowment is presented in context of the Creation of the world, the Fall of Adam and Eve, and the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The entire presentation teaches us that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ—in other words, through the grace of Jesus Christ— despite our fallen natures, we can return to the Lord’s presence after this life.
It is a symbol-rich presentation, and frankly, would mean little to those who are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Sealing Ordinance
We believe that families are forever. And when we are married in the temple, we receive the promise that we will be with our families throughout eternity if we are faithful to the promises and ordinances which we receive both within and outside of the temple. Children who are born to parents who have been married in the temple need not be sealed to their parents because they have been born within the covenant. But if a couple has children and are later sealed in the temple, their children also need to be sealed to their parents. These ordinances make it possible to be together with our families forever.
Without Jesus Christ and His Sacrifice, none of this would be possible.
There is great power in being "sealed" as a family. Modern prophets and apostles have taught that if parents will keep the promises they made when they were married in the temple, they will not lose their children, even if their children go astray. (See James E. Faust, "Dear Are the Sheep That Have Wandered," Ensign, May 2003, 61) That is, if our children go astray, there will come a time when they, like the prodigal, will recognize that there is food enough and to spare in their parents’ house. Literally, as parents’ hearts are turned to their children by keeping their temple promises, their children’s hearts will turn to them, and their children will seek repentance.
Vicarious Work for the Dead
Another way in which the hearts of children are turned to their fathers is through the vicarious work for the dead which we perform in our temples. You can only receive the temple ordinances once for yourself. Every other time you return to the temple, it is to perform the ordinances for those who have died without the opportunity to receive them.

Because God is just, He will give all of His children the opportunity to accept or reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ. After Jesus’ crucifixion but before His resurrection Jesus went to the world of the Spirits and "preached to [the spirits of those who had lived on the Earth] the everlasting gospel, the doctrine of the resurrection and the redemption of mankind from the fall, and from individual sins on conditions of repentance." (D&C 138:19; See also 1 Peter 3:18–20, 4:6). Furthermore, Jesus authorized His servants in the Spirit world to teach the Gospel unto all those who had not yet heard it. (D&C 138:30–33).
But the ordinances necessary to receive the fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ pertain only to this Earth. Therefore, those of us on the Earth must perform the ordinances for and in behalf of those who died without receiving them. Lest you think it strange that we stand in for those who have died, remember that Jesus stood in for us when He paid the price of our sins. And those of you familiar with the law know that agents act for and in behalf of their principals in a way which binds their principals. And under certain circumstances some may be held liable for the actions of others.

The only ordinance performed within the temple which is exclusively for the dead is baptism for the dead. Don’t worry, no bodies are exhumed. Rather, we are baptized in the place of those who were not baptized in this life.
Nevertheless, we also perform the other ordinances which I explained to you earlier for the dead.
Those for whom we perform these ordinances must also accept, or authorize (if we want to continue in legal parlance), them. We don’t believe anyone can be forced to become a Mormon either in this life or the next.

Temples Throughout the World and Texas
Currently, there are more than 120 temples throughout the world. Texas has four: Dallas, Houston, Lubbock, and San Antonio. To see pictures of other temples throughout the world, click here.

A Cult You Say?

According to a recent statistical study, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is now the fourth largest church in the United States.

Check back to my blog later today because I will be posting an article about Mormon Temples. It's the topic I've been most excited to write about when I started this project, but it's also the topic I have to be most cautious about when explaining because of the sacred nature of what we do within the temple.


Saturday, March 03, 2007

Dear Anonymous 1:06 AM

My friend,

I apologize for the delay in answering your comment.

Your concerns are shared by many, and I don't blame you for having them. Quite frankly, they rest upon one question: Was Joseph Smith truly called by God to be a prophet? The proof behind his calling is found in the Book of Mormon. Jesus testified, "by their fruits, ye shall know them." (Matt. 7:20).
The Book of Mormon is the fruit of the prophet Joseph Smith. If it is true, and I testify that it is, then he was a prophet. If it is false, then he was not. There are no other options.
In addition to this proof, there are proofs of the Book of Mormon; that is, there are twelve men who saw the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated.
But to fully answer your concerns, I feel it is necessary to give a summary of the message of the Book of Mormon and how it came forth.
I admit this response is lengthy, but I hope it helps you.

The Story within the Book of Mormon

The central message of the Book of Mormon is that "JESUS is the CHRIST, the ETERNAL GOD, manifesting himself unto all nations. . . ." (Title Page of the Book of Mormon). And this message is delivered through the history of a family which became two great nations on the American continent:
Six hundred years before the coming of Christ, prophets such as Jeremiah testified that Babylon would soon destroy Jerusalem and carry her inhabitants into captivity. A man living in Jerusalem, Lehi, heard these prophets and prayed mightily on behalf of Jerusalem and its inhabitants. After praying, a pillar of fire appeared before Lehi, and the things he saw and heard made him tremble. He went home, and being overcome with the Spirit of God, was carried away in a vision. In his vision, he saw God sitting on His throne and read a book testifying that Jerusalem would be destroyed. Thus, Lehi was called to be a prophet of God.
In a later dream, Lehi was warned to leave Jerusalem with his family. Lehi obeyed.
Lehi's family, accompanied by a few others, made their way through the Arabian desert until they arrived on the sea shore. God then directed Lehi's son Nephi, who was also a prophet, to construct a ship. When the ship was finished, God guided them across the ocean until they arrived on the American continent.
After the death of Lehi, his family divided into two groups, the Nephites, led by Nephi, and the Lamanites, led by Lehi's oldest son Laman. The Nephites were righteous, kept the Law of Moses, and looked forward to the coming of the Messiah, whom they knew would be called Jesus Christ. The Lamanites were not righteous and taught their children to hate the Nephites.
The story of the Book of Mormon follows the interactions between these two groups.
There were many prophets after Lehi and Nephi, and each wrote his prophesies on golden plates. They wrote on plates because they wanted their words to be preserved for future generations and knew that if they were to write on anything else, their words would perish.
And each prophet in the Book of Mormon wrote of Christ and taught that He is the Son of God and redeemer of the world. They also taught that Jesus would be born, live, be crucified, and be resurrected in the land of Palestine. However, they foresaw the day when Jesus would minister to the inhabitants of this continent.
In fact, the crowning event of the Book of Mormon is the personal appearance of the Risen Lord after His crucifixion and resurrection. When Jesus was crucified, the Earth mourned with great upheavals and destructions. On the American continent, the face of the land was changed. Some time after these destructions, a group of people had gathered around a temple and were discussing the changes which had occurred when they heard a Voice.
The first two times, they couldn't understand it, but the third time, they looked to the heavens and focused their attention on the voice. Then they understood, "Behold my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name---hear ye him." (3 Nephi 11:7).
Descending from heaven, they saw a Man, but did not know who He was until He said, "Behold, I am Jesus Christ of whom the prophets testified. . . ." (3 Nephi 11:10). He then invited each person to come to Him, to feel the prints of the nails in His hands and His feet.
Jesus spent several days with these people and visited them occasionally thereafter. While He was there, He established His Church and ordained Apostles to preside over the Church after He returned to His Father.
For two hundred years after the appearance of Jesus Christ, there was peace as all people lived the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Once people stopped living according to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the people divided again into Nephites, who followed Jesus and His Apostles, and Lamanites who sought to destroy Christ's Church.
In approximately 322 A.D., God called a prophet, Mormon, to be the custodian over all the records which had been written by the prophets and Apostles who lived on the American continent. Additionally, God commanded Mormon to abridge these records into a single work.
Mormon was also the General over the Nephite armies. Tragically, however, the Nephites, except for a few, also denied the Christ. In approximately 385 A.D., all the Nephites who would not deny the Christ were destroyed. (Moroni 1:2-3). Mormon's son, Moroni survived the wars and inherited the book which his father had written.
Moroni wandered for several decades across the Americas until he hid the book, written on gold plates, in a hill in what is now upstate New York.
The Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon
For 1400 years, the book lay hidden in the hill until God called another prophet on the American continent: Joseph Smith.
In 1820, Joseph had been called to be a prophet. Three years later, Joseph was wondering about his standing with the Lord. He prayed to God and asked for the forgiveness of his sins when a light appeared in his room. In the midst of the light was an angel who identified himself as Moroni.
Moroni told Joseph that Joseph's name would be had for good and evil throughout the world and that God had a work for him to do. Moroni told Joseph about the book which was hidden in the hill. Moroni appeared four times to Joseph and shared with him the same message with little variation.
The hill where the plates where hidden was only a few miles from where Joseph and his family were living. The next day, Joseph went to the hill and uncovered the plates. However, Moroni appeared again and forbade Joseph from taking the plates and told Joseph to return to the place where the plates were buried each year for four years where Moroni would instruct Joseph in preparation for the translation of the book.
Proof upon which to Build Faith
The time arrived, and Joseph was allowed to take the plates home, with strict instructions to show them to no one.
To assist in the work of translation, a prominent local farmer, Martin Harris offered to assist Joseph. Martin wanted proof whether Joseph really had ancient records. In response, Joseph copied several characters from the plates and translated them by the means of a Urim and Thummim, which had been buried with the plates. (See Exodus 28:30; Lev. 8:8; Deut. 33:8; Ezra 2:63; Neh. 7:63).
Martin took the characters and the translation to a Professor at Columbia University, Charles Anthon. I now quote from the account of Martin Harris of what ensued:
“I went to the city of New York, and presented the characters which had been translated, with the translation thereof, to Professor Charles Anthon, a gentleman celebrated for his literary attainments. Professor Anthon stated that the translation was correct, more so than any he had before seen translated from the Egyptian. I then showed him those which were not yet translated, and he said that they were Egyptian, Chaldaic, Assyriac, and Arabic; and he said they were true characters. He gave me a certificate, certifying to the people of Palmyra that they were true characters, and that the translation of such of them as had been translated was also correct. I took the certificate and put it into my pocket, and was just leaving the house, when Mr. Anthon called me back, and asked me how the young man found out that there were gold plates in the place where he found them. I answered that an angel of God had revealed it unto him.

“He then said to me, ‘Let me see that certificate.’ I accordingly took it out of my pocket and gave it to him, when he took it and tore it to pieces, saying that there was no such thing now as ministering of angels, and that if I would bring the plates to him he would translate them. I informed him that part of the plates were sealed, and that I was forbidden to bring them. He replied, ‘I cannot read a sealed book.’ I left him and went to Dr. Mitchell, who sanctioned what Professor Anthon had said respecting both the characters and the translation.”
(I would also encourage you to read and compare this account to Isaiah 29:11-12).
Martin served as a scribe for a while. Later, Oliver Cowdery took his place. As Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, he learned that three witnesses would be privileged to see the plates. (2 Nephi 27:12; Ether 5:4). Three men who had been involved in the translation, Martin Harris, Joseph's first scribe, Oliver Cowdery, Joseph's scribe for the majority of the translation, and David Whitmer, a young man whose family supported Joseph and his wife during the translation of the Book of Mormon, all desired to be the three to whom the plates would be shown.

After the translation was complete, an angel appeared to them while they were with Joseph Smith and showed them the plates. The following is the testimony of these three men:
Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, their brethren, and also of the people of Jared, who came from the tower of which hath been spoken. And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true.And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates;and they have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true. And it is marvelous in our eyes. Nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men,and be found spotless before the judgment-seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens. And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son,and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen.
Oliver Cowdery
David Whitmer
Martin Harris
And in addition to these three men, eight others were privileged to see the plates. But instead of an angel, Joseph Smith showed them the plates. The following is their testimony:

Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That Joseph Smith, Jun., the translator of this work, has shown unto us the plates of which hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated we did handle with our hands; and we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work, and of curious workmanship. And this we bear record with words of soberness, that the said Smith has shown unto us, for we have seen and hefted, and know of a surety that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken. And we give our names unto the world, to witness unto the world that which we have seen. And we lie not, God bearing witness of it.

Christian Whitmer
Hiram Page
Jacob Whitmer
Joseph Smith, Sen.
Peter Whitmer, Jun
Hyrum Smith
John Whitmer
Samuel H. Smith
And here, my friend, is your proof. There are twelve men who saw the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated.
As you also know, there may be issues about the credibility of any witness. To answer any questions you may have, I will address the credibility of Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and David Whitmer by telling you, briefly, what happened to each of them after they saw the plates.

Oliver Cowdery served for some years as Assistant President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. He was with Joseph during some of the most important and amazing visions and revelations Joseph received. However, Oliver was an educated man and began believing he could run the Church better than Joseph. In 1838, he asked that his fellowship be removed from the Church records. He went on to practice law in Missouri for ten years. During that time, he never denied his testimony of the Book of Mormon. Before he died in 1850, Oliver rejoined the Church, was rebaptized, and died in full fellowship.
Martin Harris also left the Church due to a financial crisis and a failed bank which Joseph had tried to start. However, he later moved to Utah, was rebaptized, and died in full fellowship. Martin never denied his testimony of the Book of Mormon either.
David Whitmer, however, never rejoined the Church and died in Richmond, Missouri. Concerning his testimony, I refer you to an editorial which he wrote in response to rumors that he had denied his testimony of the Book of Mormon. The editorial in full is below.
(Published in the Richmond, Mo., "Conservator" of March 25,1881)
Unto all Nations, Kindreds, Tongues and People, unto whom these presents shall come: It having been represented by one John Murphy, of Polo, Caldwell county, Missouri, that I, in a conversation with him last summer, denied my testimony as one of the Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, To the end, therefore, that he may understand me now, if he did not then; and that the world may know the truth, I wish now, standing as it were, in the very sunset of life, and in the fear of God, once for all to make this public statement:
That I have never at any time denied that testimony or any part thereof,which has so long since been published with that book, as one of the Three Witnesses. Those who know me best well know that I have always adhered tothat testimony. And that no man may be misled or doubt my present views inregard to the same, I do again affirm the truth of all my statements as thenmade and published.
He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear; it was no delusion; what is written is written, and he that readeth, let him understand.…And if any man doubt, should he not carefully and honestly read and understand the same before presuming to sit in judgment and condemning the light, which shineth in darkness, and showeth the way of eternal life as pointed out by the unerring hand of God?
In the spirit of Christ, who hath said: "Follow thou me, for I am the life, the light and the way," I submit this statement to the world; God in whom I trust being my judge as to the sincerity of my motives and the faith and hope that is in me of eternal life.
My sincere desire is that the world may be benefited by this plain and simple statement of the truth. And all the honor to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen!
DAVID WHITMER, Sen.Richmond, Mo., March 19, 1881.
I know this is a lengthy letter, but I hope it assists your ability in determining the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.
As always, I am your humble servant,

Craig Pankratz

Friday, March 02, 2007

Recent Gallup Poll About Mormons

Gallup recently did a survey to analyze America's attitudes towards the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Click here to see the results

Polygamy seems to be the greatest concern, so Sunday, I will address it.