This video discusses the hundreds of witnesses who experienced personal divine manifestations as part of Christ’s church being restored – it wasn’t just Joseph Smith!
So this video in the Evidences series was inspired by an article I read in the Deseret News about six years ago from Daniel Peterson. It was entitled, “Too many credible gospel witnesses to believe they all lied”. And Daniel was discussing how he came out of General Conference and saw a sign that read “Joseph lied”, and he started thinking about how many other people would have had to have lied.
It wouldn’t have been just Joseph and one of the paragraphs at the beginning of his article says, “It wasn’t just Joseph that would have had to lie … Lucy Mack Smith must have borne false witness in claiming to have held the breastplate that came with the Nephite record. Emma Smith and Katherine Smith Salisbury must have lied in their descriptions of the Book of Mormon plates. William Smith must have lied in estimating the weight of the plates at about 60 pounds. Mary Whitmer must have lied to her son and grandson in claiming to have seen them.”
If you recall, she was the first one to actually see the plates. And then of course we have the three witnesses that were shown the plates with the angel Moroni. All three of them left the church. Two came back, one didn’t. I’m going to do an entire separate video on that specifically, and then of the eight witnesses that saw just the plates, three of them left also. None of these individuals ever denied their testimony of what they experienced. I think that’s powerful witness. Also, if you think about the translation process, in the Book of Mormon Miracles video that I did, I talked a lot about that. How Emma talked about Joseph never needing to be told where he was when he took a break and started again, the translation, he wouldn’t ask for her to repeat where they were in the process. He couldn’t write a well-worded letter, she said, at that time. In the house Elizabeth Ann Whitmer who later married Oliver Cowdery, talked about the process that she witnessed.
She said, “I often sat by and saw and heard them translate and write for hours together. Joseph never had a curtain drawn between him and his scribe while he was translating. He would place the director in his hat, and then place his face in is hat, so as to exclude the light, and then read to his scribe the words he said as they appeared before him.” Oliver Cowdery described this process. He said, “These were days never to be forgotten, to sit under the sound of a voice dictated by the inspiration of Heaven.” Then Oliver ended up being a second witness, the law of witnesses when the Priesthood was restored at this time as well. John the Baptist, the Aaronic Priesthood, and then Peter, James and John a month later, in June of 1829, restoring the Melchizedeck Priesthood ,and again, Oliver fell away for a period of time, but came back towards the end of his life, but while he was out of the church he never denied any of these miraculous experiences.
There was a huge outpouring of the Saints in Kirtland. There are three great books I would recommend. Joseph himself had 76 documented visions and those are accounted for in this great book, “Opening the Heavens”. Another great book about Kirtland particularly, “The Savior in Kirtland” and then a newer book, “The Witness of Women”. Lots of great references and I’ll share some of the tidbits that I pulled together out of this. Hundreds of people had divine experiences and interactions with angelic beings in the Kirtland period. 23 had accounts directly with the Savior himself. I’ll share some of those experiences.
Philo Dibble actually talked about, where they were baptizing in Kirtland, he said, “A pillar of light was seen every evening for more than a month hovering over the place where we were doing the baptizing. One evening … the moon was not to be seen that night. Although it was cloudy, it was as light as noonday.”
Mary Elizabeth Lightner talked about an experience of seeing Joseph with a searchlight within him. He was transparent. She said, “I shall remember it and see it in my mind’s eye as long as I remain upon the earth.”
Martin Harris described how the Savior was in their midst but there was a veil over their eyes. That’s how they described how they saw Joseph.
Orson Pratt talked about seeing Joseph receive one of the sections of the Doctrine and Covenants. “His face was exceedingly white and seemed to shine.”
Here are some other great experiences: The Father and the Son manifested themselves to Joseph Smith, Lyman Wight and Harvey Whitlock. The vision came as the Priesthood gathered in the log schoolhouse on the Isaac Morley farm to ordain the first high priests of the church.
John Murdoch testified that one of the Savior’s appearances in the School of the Prophets, saying, quote, “I beheld the face of the Lord.” Zebedee Coltrin who was one of the first seven presidents of the Seventy recorded several visions, at least one of which included both the Father and the Son.
Then of course Sidney Rigdon had the greatest vision, there with Joseph, they had the vision of the three degrees of glory. It went on for over an hour in the John Johnson farm in the upper story. There were 12 witnesses of this. Philo Dibble described how powerful the room was as they witnessed Joseph and Sydney experiencing this. Again, Sydney later left the church after the martyrdom but never denied having these experiences.
Frederick G. Williams in the First Presidency had an experience of actually seeing the temple, the Kirtland Temple, before the construction was begun at all. He said, “We went upon our knees, called on the Lord, and the building appeared within viewing distance; I being the first to discover it. Then all of us viewed it together. After we had taken a good look at the exterior, the building seemed to come right over us.”
Then at the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, March 27th, 1836, there were almost a thousand people in the temple that witnessed this Pentecostal experience, they called it a great rushing wind. Many saw angels, even outside the temple. They thought the roof of the temple was on fire with this large pillar of light that was there. Truman Angel’s autobiography records that a heavenly messenger, who Joseph Smith said was Peter, had ‘come to accept the dedication’ and was seen entering the temple and sat between Frederick G. Williams and Joseph Smith Sr.
Nancy Tracy said, “The heavenly influence rested down upon that house … heavenly beings appeared to many … it was heaven on earth.”
Eliza R. Snow said, “The ceremonies of that dedication may be rehearsed, but no mortal language can describe the heavenly manifestations of that memorable day.”
And Benjamin Brown, this is a crazy story, he said, “One woman brought her child, about two months old. The woman and child entered and the child did not cry a word from eight until four in the afternoon. But when the Saints all shouted ‘Hosanna’, the child was nursing, but let go and shouted also. When the Saints paused, it paused. When they shouted, it shouted for three times. When they shouted ‘Amen’ it shouted also for three times. Then it resumed it’s nursing without any alarm.” Quite the story.
Charles Walker recorder Harrison Burgess’s account of the first endowments given in the Kirtland Temple. He said that all at once there was a heavenly and divine atmosphere surrounding them, and it seemed as if the rafters and beams were all gone and Joseph gazing up said, “I see the Son of God sitting at the right hand of the Father.” Hyrum Smith at the same instant said, “I behold the angels of Heaven,” and Roger Orton said, “I see the horses and the chariots of Heaven.”
At the solemn assembly, Heber C. Kimball said, “The beloved disciple John was seen in our midst,” by the prophet Joseph, Oliver Cowdery and others. Then of course the grand finale was on the following Sunday, after the dedication. It was Easter Sunday and Passover, April 3rd, 1836. This is canonized as Doctrine and Covenants section 110, the Savior appeared to both Joseph and Oliver, as a second witness, and said that He had received the temple. Also, Moses, Elias, and Elijah came and restored priesthood keys to both Joseph and Oliver, again as a second witness. Remember, Oliver left, never denied any of these things happening.
After the temple dedication, over the next year, there were lots of experiences that continued to happen. Prescendia Kimball talked about seeing angels on the top of the roof of the temple from end to end. She said a number of children in Kirtland saw the same. Another time they were praying in the temple and heard a choir of angels. She said, “…united and singing some song of Zion.” Invisible to them but in the corner of the temple she said, “Sweet harmony filled the temple of God.”
So I hope you enjoyed many of those different examples of a lot of the people that experienced the restoration. It wasn’t just Joseph Smith. Miraculous things happened and I want to share this quote at the end here from George Q. Cannon. He said in speaking of Joseph Smith and Oliver beholding the Savior in Kirtland, he said, “These witnesses are also supplemented by hundreds of others who have beheld in vision, glorious personages in these latter days. In the face of these testimonies which cannot be impeached successfully, is it any wonder that faith grows in the hearts of the people of God?”
I hope you enjoyed the video and subscribe for more. Thanks.
The Savior in Kirtland by Karl Anderson
Opening the Heavens by John Welch
The Witness of Women by Janice Johnson and Jennifer Reeder
Too many credible gospel witnesses to believe they all lied https://www.deseretnews.com/article/7…
Latter-day Saints’ Q&A is a video series not produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but by me, an ordinary member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an independent voice, with a passion for studying Church history and defending the faith. In this series, I provide evidences for the restoration, and address tough questions posed by critics of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, offering faithful answers based on accurate research and historical references which will be posted at the end of each video.
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