Kinderhook Plates – Part 2

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Following the discovery of the six Kinderhook plates in 1843 that supposedly had ancient writing on them, what ever became of those plates?

During the Civil War the plates were thought to be lost.  However, some time in the 1960’s, Wilford Poulson a professor at Brigham Young University, found one of the original plates #5 in the Chicago Historical Society Museum.  After examining the plate, Professor Poulson believed it to be a forgery. 

 

Welby Ricks, who was President of the BYU Archaeological Society, welcomed the discovery as a vindication of Joseph Smith’s work.  He wrote, “A recent rediscovery of one of the Kinderhook plates, which was examined by Joseph Smith, Jun., reaffirms his prophetic calling and reveals the false statements made by one of the finders.  The plates are now back in their original category of genuine.  Joseph Smith, Jun., stands as a true prophet and translator of ancient records by divine means and all the world is invited to investigate the truth which has sprung out of the earth not only of the Kinderhook plates, but of the Book of Mormon as well.” 

In 1980, LDS scholar Stanley P. Kimball was permitted to perform destructive tests on the #5 plate.  He described the results of the tests in the LDS Church publication, The Ensign, August 1981, pp. 66-70.  The article says, “A recent electronic and chemical analysis of a metal plate brought in 1843 to the prophet Joseph Smith appears to solve a previously unanswered question in Church history, helping to further evidence that the plate is what its producers later said it was – a nineteenth-century attempt to lure Joseph Smith into making a translation of ancient-looking characters that had been etched into the plates.  As a result of these tests, we conclude that the plate is not of ancient origin.  We conclude that the plate was made from a true brass alloy (copper and zinc) typical of the mid-nineteenth century; whereas the ‘brass’ of ancient times was actually bronze, and alloy of copper and tin.”

If Joseph Smith had not been shot and killed in June 1844, it is very possible he might have published a finished translation of all six of the counterfeit plates.  Wouldn’t that have been interesting?

What is the Church’s position on the Kinderhook plates, today?

The Church defended the authenticity of the plates and Joseph’s translations of them since their discovery in 1843 up to 1980 – 137 years!  Following the destructive testing, the Church backed off its claim that the plates were real.  Now the Church claims it was all a hoax.    

Smith made the claim that he could translate the ancient writings on the plates.  And in fact, did translate some of them.

It should be obvious that Smith’s work on these fraudulent plates casts serious doubt upon his credibility as a translator of other ancient records like, the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham.  We already know from the Church’s Gospel Topica Essay found on lds.org titled: “Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham” that the Book of Abraham isn’t a true translation of ancient Egyptian papyri.  The Church now admits that. 

After disproving the Kinderhook plates and the Book of Abraham translation, am I now supposed to trust Joseph Smith when he claims to have translated the Book of Mormon written in an unknown language in Reformed Egyptian from a – rock in a hat? 

 

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Kinderhook Plates – Part 1

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The Kinderhook Plates are a very important part of LDS church history.

In 1843 six brass plates – bell shaped – were found in a dug-up mound in Kinderhook, Illinois witnessed by nine individuals.

That could support the evidence for the Brass Plates of the Book of Mormon.

That is what those men thought when they saw the plates.   The plates had an ancient appearance with writing on them that looked like hieroglyphics. 

In fact, when the plates were taken and shown to Joseph Smith, he remarked that the figures or writing on them was similar to what was on the Book of Mormon brass plates. 

Smith claimed, that by the help of revelation he would be able to translate those plates.

The story of finding the Kinderhook Plates and drawings of the six plates was published in the Times and Seasons, which was the Church’s official newspaper.  Joseph was an editor and surely would not have allowed the story to be printed if it wasn’t true.

In time, Joseph Smith claimed that he actually did translated a portion of the plates.

How do we know for a fact that he translated the plates?

It comes from William Clayton’s diary, who was Joseph Smith’s private secretary. 

In the LDS History of the Church, vol. 5, page 372, Joseph Smith is documented as saying, “I insert fac-similes of the six brass plates found near Kinderhook.  I have translated a portion of them and find they contain the history of the person with whom they were found.  He was a descendant of Ham, through the loins of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the Ruler of heaven and earth.”

Thirteen years later, on April 25, 1856, W. P. Harris, who was one of the nine witnesses to the discovery of the plates, wrote a letter in which he admits the plates were forgeries.  He states that “I was present with a number at or near Kinderhook and helped to dig at the time the plates were found.  I made an honest affidavit to the same.  Since that time, Bridge Whitten said to me that he cut and prepared the plates and he and R. Wiley engraved them themselves.  Wilbourn Fugate appeared to be the chief, with R. Wiley and B. Whitten (The Book of Mormon? by James D. Bales, pp. 95-96).

How do we know that W. P. Harris who wrote that letter was telling the truth about the plates being a forgery?

Because on June 30, 1879, Wilbourne Fugate, who was mentioned as chief of the nine witnesses, wrote a letter in which he admitted his part in the hoax.  That letter can be found in the LDS September 1962 Improvement Era magazine entitled, “Letter of W. Fugate, as cited in The Kinderhook Plates” by Welby W. Ricks. 

Mr. Fugate states, “I received your letter in regard to those plates and will say in answer that they are a humbug, gotten up by Robert Wiley, Bridge Whitten and myself.  We read in Pratt’s prophecy that ‘Truth is yet to spring out of the earth.’  We concluded to prove the prophecy by way of a joke.”

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Book of Abraham – Part 4

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Gospel Topics Essays on LDS.org

There is an important one released in 2014 titled: “Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham”. 

It starts off by stating, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints embraces the book of Abraham as scripture.”

I’m surprised Church leaders embrace the Book of Abraham after all the problems I pointed out in our previous conversations.  The Book of Abraham is perhaps the biggest reason church members are leaving Mormonism. 

The reason is because there is plenty of evidence to show this LDS Scripture is fraudulent.

Honestly Elders, I believe the Book of Abraham is an embarrassment to the LDS Church.

The Book of Abraham is supposed to be evidence of the inspired calling of the Prophet Joseph Smith.  But it turns out, Smith never translated the ancient writings of Abraham like he claimed he did.  That has been proven beyond a doubt. 

But haven’t LDS scholars proposed a number, of theories to support the reliability of the Book of Abraham?

Yes, but none of these theories has been able to hold up when all the evidence is considered.

It would be worth your time to read “By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus” by Charles Larson for explanations of those theories.  He  shows that there is absolutely no support for Smith’s translation.

Egyptologists all agree that Smith’s translation was inaccurate and that his papyrus source was, in fact, of pagan origin, having nothing to do with father Abraham.

To put it another way – Not a single word, thought, or concept, including his explanations of his three facsimiles, is in any way related to the subject matter of the Egyptian texts from which they were supposedly translated.

It says in the essay, “The book of Abraham’s status as scripture ultimately rests on faith in the saving truths found within the book itself as witnessed by the Holy Ghost.”

So, the greatest evidence of the truthfulness of the book of Abraham is not found in an analysis of the physical evidence nor historical background, but it is primarily a matter of faith. 

The Bible is very clear that we must “prove all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).  We are supposed to “try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the word” (1 John 4:1).  The Bereans were considered nobler than the Thessalonians because they tested the truth of everything against scripture (Acts 17:11).  

It is completely unbiblical for the essay to say that facts ought to take a back seat to faith.

Here’s another thing to consider – There is no evidence a Jew like Abraham ever wrote in the Egyptian language. 

But one might notice that Abraham traveled to Egypt and stayed for a while.

But ask yourself – Why would Abraham have written in Egyptian hieroglyphics belonging to foreign pagans who worshiped other gods?   It is simply illogical!

The essay says, “Much like the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith’s translation of the book of Abraham was recorded in the language of the King James Bible.  This was the idiom of scripture familiar to early Latter-day Saints, and its use was consistent with the Lord’s pattern of revealing His truths.”

It is clear, that Joseph Smith plagiarized the Book of Abraham from the Book of Genesis to make it sound biblical.

It is obvious why the Mormon Church needs to maintain the Book of Abraham as authentic.  As an intellectual leader and historian of the LDS Church, B.H. Roberts noted: “If Joseph Smith’s translation of Egyptian parchment could be discredited, and proven false, then doubt would be thrown also upon the genuineness of his translation of the Book of Mormon, and thus all pretensions as a translator would be exposed and come to naught.” (Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Vol. 2 p. 138)

The essay concludes: “The veracity and value of the book of Abraham cannot be settled by scholarly debate concerning the book’s translation and historicity.  The book’s status as scripture lies in the eternal truths it teaches and the powerful spirit it conveys.” 

It is time for the LDS Church to de-canonize the Book of Abraham.  But, the Book of Abraham is so full of distinct LDS doctrines that it can never be discounted as inauthentic without throwing Joseph Smith’s reputation out the window. 

The Gospel Topic Essay regarding the translation of the Book of Abraham does not provide the answers necessary to stem the tide of defection among Latter-day Saints. 

I realize many members won’t care how Joseph did it.  All they know is that it was done.  If members begin to question, they are regarded as weak in their faith, so most never allow themselves to do so. 

As a, result they fall for another JosephSmyth.

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Book of Abraham – Part 3

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The original claim that the Book of Abraham had been translated from ancient egyptian papyri scrolls has been proven false when it was clearly shown that the scrolls where funeral text.

The Church allowed photographs of the papyrus to be published in the February 1968 edition of the Improvement Era magazine, along with an article explaining them.  Now that over a hundred years had passed since the book’s translation, there were many educated people both in and out of the LDS faith who understood the Egyptian language.

During this time, many articles ran in the Improvement Era from 1968 through 1970 regarding the translation.  However, the LDS experts completed work revealed – that not only did the papyri NOT contain the Book of Abraham – there was not even the slightest connection between their contents and Abraham. 

What was on them?

They were simply ordinary Egyptian funeral texts – prayers to pagan Egyptian gods – that had been buried with the mummies.

Unsatisfied with the outcome, LDS leaders extended the opportunity to several other non-LDS Egyptologists to examine and comment on the papyri.  Each one of them arrived at the same conclusion: the papyri were common funeral texts, all clearly dating 1500 years later than Abraham’s time – having no connection whatever with the biblical patriarch Abraham. 

What Joseph Smith claimed to be the Book of Abraham, was actually the Book of Breathings.  And, what was supposed to be the Book of Joseph of Egypt, was the Book of the Dead.  

Paul warns us that when we die, we will be judged not only by our actions and words – He will judge the secrets of men and women.  Romans 2:16 “In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.”    He’s talking about the hidden desires, secret lusts, unspoken passions, thoughts, and motives of all people.  The thoughts of the hearts.  And, only God through Jesus Christ can determine the human heart. 

Then Paul declares the status of all men, women and children.  Romans 3:10-12 “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:  There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.  They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”  Wow!  How does that make you feel?  He is simply saying that man is universally evil.  Unprofitable – corrupt.  No one naturally seeks after God.  Our tendency is to seek our own interest.  We are born selfish.  The message is clear here – There has not been, nor will there ever be, anyone who is justified before God due to their good lives or their obedience to religious laws.  From Mother Teresa, to Ghandi, or the Dali Lama.  None!  Human corruption is universal.   Compared to the incomprehensible holiness of God who is eternal and unchangeable – how could any created human being ever be considered righteous for anything – especially when we consider the elements that hide within the human heart?  We are “unprofitable – there is none that doeth good – not one.”  This speaks of the failure of Man to DO good. 

This is the state of every person who lives and dies by laws, ordinances, and covenants.  We are totally screwed by our attempt to please God by any external approach – especially through religion.  And this is why Jesus was born, which allows Paul to describe the only solution to such a hopeless state.  Romans 3:23-24 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:”   Paul tells us in Romans 3:19-20 “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.  There by the deeds (works) of the law there shall be no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”  Paul is describing here the state of all men and women when they each stand before God and attempt to justify their lives by virtue of having done good.  There is no justification before Holy God through our works of righteousness and obedience to laws and ordinances.  That is why my friends, we need to completely understand that you can not have salvation by anything other than through grace.  Salvation comes only by and through God’s goodness, His righteousness, and His shed blood, and nothing from us.  We can’t go to the foot of the Cross and tell Jesus “Thank you for what you’ve done for me by paying for my sins – but it wasn’t enough.  I need to add my good works to the atonement.”  Try justifying yourselves before God on judgment day.  I repeat what he said in verse 20 “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall be no flesh be justified in his sight.”  God’s Law is good, is righteous, is perfect.  We cannot get angry at God’s Law – for it comes from Him.  But the Law was a way for us to examine our hearts and to understand that we can’t keep the law perfectly.  The last part of verse 20 “for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”  It should be reasonably understood by believers that we are not saved by obedience to Law.  Gravitating towards the law, limits our freedom in Christ and puts us back into bondage under the law. 

Paul continues in Romans 3:21 “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;”  It’s important to know that when Paul writes the sentence, “the righteousness of God” he is not speaking of an attribute of God – but instead how God makes Man righteous.  In other words we could read it this way, “But now, the way God makes man righteous without the law is made known.”  It was going to take a plan from God without including the law to save mankind.  That plan mentioned in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosover believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  How does that happen?  Jesus came and both fulfilled the law through perfect adherence to it and then magnified it in the lives of those who trusted and believed on Him.  Romans 3:22 “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference.”  But faith is a matter of choice on our part.  Nobody can be saved by works; and all are dependent on the mercy of God found through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.  Why in this way only?  Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” 

Now Paul goes into greater detail saying, Romans 3:24-26 “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”  That is the good news of the gospel – that we are “justified freely by his grace.”  It is an absolute, totally free, unconditional and underserved gift.  Free to us through believing.  But the cost and price, was the highest of anything to ever be purchased in eternity.  Christ redeemed us – He paid the ransom for us. 

Paul then adds, Romans 3:27 “Where is boasting then?  Is it excluded.  By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.”   Where is the boasting? Jews? Mormons? Christians?  If it was by any works, at all, boasting would be in order.  But Paul adds “but by the law of faith” in the Son of God.  Then he concludes with this amazing statement in verse 28 “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”  There is no other way.  To trifle with this doctrine is to truly present another Gospel – contrary to the biblical Gospel Paul is talking about.  A false gospel teaches that “people ought to do good works then saving faith will come.”  Doing good works in order to bring about salvation or saving faith is a tool centered in the flesh, not in faith.   

Then Paul ends chapter three by bringing us all the way back around full circle by saying, Romans 3:31 “Do we make void the law through faith?  God forbid: yea, we establish the law.”  By what means does the justification of someone by faith establish the Law?  Here’s a great saying “Grace teaches us to say no to sin.”  Where the law reveals and exposes each of us to sin – grace teaches us to say no to it.  The moral law is embraced by those who are justified.  The Law is established in those who have been saved by grace through faith.  Romans 13:8 “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.”  When Jesus was on earth he was approached by a lawyer, as recorded in Matthew 22:36-40 “Master, which is the greatest commandment in the law?  Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”  To love – God and others – is the result of those who have come to faith.  It is by and through this action – love – that the Law is established in the lives of those who’ve experienced God’s mercy. 

There are Latter-day Saints who go to James chapter 2 to say, “faith without works is dead.”  But If we go to James chapter 2 beginning in verse 14, we can put it all into context.  I think we’ll find that James is talking about this very point that Paul makes here in Romans 3:31. James 2:14 “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works?  Can faith save him?”  He is saying, “What good is it if a man SAYS he has faith, but has not the works of LOVE?”  Then James goes on and gives us some illustrations in Verses 15 and 16.  Love is a verb.  God so LOVED the world He gave us His Son.  Jesus so LOVED the world He gave us His very life.  Then in verse 17 “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”  James is saying the same thing as Paul is saying.  James continues in chapter 2:18-20 “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.  Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.  But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”  Just as love without action or application is dead – so is faith without works.  There is no difference.

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Did Joseph Smith Write Himself into Scripture?

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2 Nephi 3:14-15

“And thus prophesied Joseph, saying: Behold, that seer will the Lord bless; and they that seek to destroy him shall be confounded; for this promise, which I have obtained of the Lord, of the fruit of my loins, shall be fulfilled.  Behold, I am sure of the fulfilling of this promise; And his name shall be called after me; and it shall be after the name of his father.  And he shall be like unto me; for the thing, which the Lord shall bring forth by his hand, by the power of the Lord shall bring my people unto salvation.”

 

Who is that prophesy referring to?

Latter-Day Saints believe it was speaking into the future of Joseph Smith.

This passage is from the Book of Mormon for which we know there are no ancient documents or records to verify. 

And what’s the correlation?

You’ll need to read from the Joseph Smith Translation Genesis 50:33

“And that seer will I bless, and they that seek to destroy him shall be confounded; for this promise I given unto you; for I will remember you from generation to generation; and his name shall be called Joseph, and it shall be after the name of his father; and he shall be like unto you; for the thing which the Lord shall bring forth by his hand shall bring my people unto salvation.”

Do you notice the similarities?

That reference to Joseph and his father is obviously, Joseph Smith Jr. and Joseph Smith Sr. 

Those corrections that Joseph Smith made do not appear in any of the numerous ancient Old Testament manuscripts.

So, what’s your point?

It’s apparent to me that both scriptural passages came through one man.  And it’s the same man who is the object of those prophecies – Joseph Smith. 

Doesn’t that seem self-serving and arrogant of Joseph Smith to write himself into the narrative of what is called Mormon scripture?


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Seer Stone in the Hat

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How did Joseph Smith translate the Book of Mormon?

Let’s have a look at this controversial topic.

A Mormon missionary will tell you that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon from the Golden Plates, which were inscribed in ancient reformed Egyptian hieroglyphs. But according to David Whitmer, who was one of the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon,

“Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face … A piece of something resembling parchment would appear… One character at a time would appear, …, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear, Thus the Book of Mormons was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man.”

MormonThink.com

This is the actual seer stone Joseph Smith used as released by the LDS church.

This is the seer stone that Joseph Smith used to translate the Book of Mormon | LDS.org

So why don’t the Mormon Missionaries tell you this? Is it because it is a bit weird? A bit Crazy, perhaps!

The Church says that the Book of Mormon is of divine origins, and that Joseph Smith, or any other person, was incapable of inventing a document of such length and complexity.

Members of the LDS Church often say they believe in the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. They say “How could a young farm boy have written a long, complex, flawless religious text like the Book of Mormon? If Joseph could not have written the book on his own, his story of the golden plates and the angel must be true,” they say.

The first edition of the Book of Mormon, written in 1830 had many grammatical errors. This alone questions whether the text was written by man or translated divinely. There were also other errors in the early editions of the Book of Mormon such as changing the name of

King Benjamin

to

King Mosiah

or changing that

Mary was the ‘mother of God’

to

‘mother of the son of God’

Those are BIG differences.

Through the years there have been 3,913 changes to the first edition of Book of Mormon. This is the book Joseph called ‘the most correct book on earth’.

Really, the most correct book.

Then why did they make almost 4,000 changes?

Think about that.

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