Friday, October 23, 2015

Original Intent and Original Witnesses

Apologies for borderline apologetics here, but I was cruising the interwebs and came across a very basic and forehead-slapping idea:
When it comes to the Book of Mormon witnesses, the question is which historical documents is one willing to trust? Those whose faith has been deeply shaken sometimes find it easier to trust lesser evidence rather than the best sources or the overwhelming preponderance of the evidence. But that choice is not a foregone conclusion. It is neither inevitable nor irreversible. . . . Why not opt to believe in the direct statements of the witnesses and their demonstrably lifelong commitments to the Book of Mormon? This choice asks us to have faith in the marvelous, the possibility of angels, spiritual eyes, miraculous translation, and gold plates, but it does not require us to discount the historical record or create hypothetical ways to reconcile the compelling Book of Mormon witnesses with our own skepticism.
(Steven C. Harper, "The Eleven Witnesses," in The Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon, 128–129.)

Of course! Just like the original intent of the U.S. Constitution is set out up front, loud and clear in the Preamble and does not require us to go digging deep into 18th Century word analysis of the Federalist Papers or some off-hand remark made by one of the founding fathers to a drinking buddy at the local tavern, we need look no further than the published testimonies of the witnesses to the Book of Mormon, including Joseph himself, for an explanation of its origins.

Sure, I love going into the details. The complexities of the historical record fascinate me with regard to both the Constitution and the Book of Mormon. The issues of Faith abound in the religious Book of Mormon in contrast with the more philosophical ideals of the "general welfare" and all for "a more perfect Union" envisioned by the Constitution. But the contortions of the detractors of the first and the highly politicized interpretations of original-intent of the second, seeking but never seeming to arrive at the truth of anything, seem to me very similar.

Call me an idiot for believing in the ideals of those who framed the Constitution and the power of God manifest in holy scripture and sacred witnesses, but that's how I chose to live my life.

1 comment:

  1. As we've discussed before, on this blog and in private, we actively choose what we believe, only after giving ourselves over to the possibility of other worlds (in other words having faith), does the reality of those worlds come to view, or as is explained in Alma 32, you must first have a desire to believe.
    Anon D


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