Ep 69 – Mormon Apologist Debate
On this episode, we catch up with the Quorum of the Twelve apostles to see how their missionary efforts were developing in Europe prior to their departing England to make their way back to Nauvoo. They got in some sight-seeing and spare no detail in reporting everything back to the brethren on the other side of the pond. We continue to dive into a number of newspaper articles covering the Mormon expansion efforts. To round out the history for today, we feature a debate between a skeptic and Mormon apologist, but it’s not what you’d expect. After that, we’ll be talking to Mike who just posted an interesting analysis in the ExMormon subreddit comparing Utah to the socialist utopia of Norway. At least somebody listened to the teachings in the Book of Mormon about socialism and wealth.
Utah Vs. Norway armchair experiment
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Last episode we read a letter Jo sent to the Quorum of the Twelve still on their mission in Europe, telling them to come home, but leave a few brethren there to direct church affairs. Since Jo had sent them out on this mission in late 1839, they had been doing God’s work on the other side of the pond and we’ve only briefly checked in with them a few times during this mission reading a few letters of correspondence between them and the leadership in Nauvoo from time to time.
In that same letter, Jo eluded to anti-Mormon sentiments which were slowly arising in England in response to the mission preaching, and those assertions weren’t baseless. The Quorum of the Twelve were making significant progress in converting and baptizing people, and for every person baptized, two angry Christians were left in their wake balking at the fanaticism and stupidity of the Mormon delusion. Let’s catch up with the quorum to see how things were progressing and how the European citizens were reacting to their preaching.
With some milk to appetize our historical hunger, let’s partake of meat to satiate said hunger.
Preaching and dunking people weren’t the only things the Quorum of the Twelve apostles were doing in Europe. In addition to all their proselyting, they were doing a fair bit of sight-seeing and reporting on their findings. Let’s begin with reading a few extracts from the HoC about what they were doing on their P-days before we get to their actual proselyting and the public reaction to how quickly Mormonism was spreading.
The first bit we’ll read are snippets from a letter sent by Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, and George A. Smith to the brethren in Nauvoo, dated 28 Oct 1840.
Vogel HoC vol 4 pg 228
“We will on this occasion make a few extracts from Elder Woodruff’s journal, concerning certain places which we visited.
On the 21st of August, 1840, we visited the monument erected in commemoration of the dreadful fire of London in the year 1666, built under the inspection of that great architect, Sir Christopher Wren…
In addition to these were hundreds of churches, chapels, spires, and monuments, standing in the midst of one universal dense mass of brick and stone buildings; covering about six miles square of ground.
While viewing this scenery in a clear day, and beholding the streets and bridges crowded with human beings of every rank and station, and with beasts and vehicles of every kind, and the Thames covered with shipping, from the skiff to the man-of-war, a Prussian traveler (citizen of Berlin), who was standing by our side, exclaimed, “I have traveled over Europe, and Asia, and other parts of the world, but I have never before found a spot upon the face of the earth which presented to my view as grand a scenery as the one now lying before us.”…
On the 1st day of September, we visited the Thames Tunnel, by descending about 80 feet into the earth on the south side of the river, and entering the archway on the left, which was finished 1120 feet, and was beautifully lighted up with gas, we walked through it under the Thames, with the river and shipping over our heads…
On the 24th of August, we visited St. Paul’s Cathedral, which was first built by St. Augustine in the year [A.D] 610. It was destroyed by fire in 961, and rebuilt the following year. It was not till the reign of Athelstan that London became the metropolis of England, and it was to this Prince, more perhaps than to any of his predecessors, that the Cathedral of St. Paul was indebted for its permanent establishment and preeminence…
On the 5th of September, we visited Westminster Abbey, which is composed of 11 chapels,…
In walking through this Abbey, we see frequent marks of violence from Oliver Cromwell in defacing some of the tombs, monuments and brass work, with which some of the Abbey was adorned…
While speaking upon this subject, we would not pass over our visit to the House of Parliament, which is but a few rods from the Abbey. As we entered the House of Lords, we did not behold so much to interest the sight of the eye as the meditation of the mind; however we had the privilege of resting ourselves by sitting in the chair in which the Speaker of the House of Lords had sat for many years…
While retiring from this scenery, we had a view of British soldiers or foot guards while on parade in St. James Park, accompanied by a full band of music; also of the Queen’s horse guards, well mounted upon black horses, the bodies of the men covered with steel, which was glistening in the sun…
We have visited the British Museum, which contains a vast number and quantity of Egyptian sepulchers, mummies, hieroglyphics, and papyrus, the history and account of which we feel much interested in, and may forward you an account of the same in a future communication.
We subscribe ourselves your brethren in the new and everlasting covenant,
H. C. Kimball
G. A. Smith”
Judging the mission trip from this letter alone, things seemed hunky dory for the Quorum of the Twelve during their mission. They were preaching, baptizing, printing periodicals and church materials including the hymn book and Book of Mormon, and they even had some time to relax and occasionally take in the sights. But, this is just one small snapshot of nearly 2-year trip of constant proselyting which was met with very mixed results. A few pages later in the HoC, it includes an article which was printed in England in response to the Mormon mission.
Let’s read that newspaper extract which was reprinted by Ebenezer Robinson in the Times and Season, which was subsequently included in the History of the Church. This article says some interesting things, but I’ll tell you at the onset, of the newspaper articles we’ll be reading today, this is one of the mildest I’ve seen among a sea of hatred for the Mormons.
Vogel HoC vol 4 pg 234
“To the editor of the Manx Liberal:--
Sir: I feel rather surprised, and chagrined that that modern delusion, viz, “Mormonism,” should have made such rapid strides in this town, hitherto considered exempt from the many systems of irreligious creeds which about in England, America, and elsewhere. I had thought that the powerful and argumentative addresses of the dissenting minsters would have checked such a gross piece of imposition in its infancy, and thus prevented the great mass of our town’s people from becoming the dupes of designing knaves,--“and being led away by every wind of doctrine.”..
O! Mr. Editor! I quake for the consequences;--such a wholesale conversion to Mormonism was never before witnessed in any town or country. What will become of our society? What will become of our class meetings? What will become of our brethren in the faith? And above all, what will become of poor Mr. Hays, that nice and humble man, who so nobly stood forward to expose the errors of the Mormons system; God bless him, and preserve him from want! But Mr. Editory, what makes the case worse is, that a rumor is prevalent that all these pious men are to be baptized!—that is, duly immersed in the salt water of Douglas Bay, by that abominable creature, Taylor!! Surely there must be something enchanting about the vile man. Immersion!! (My hand shakes while I write)—and in winter too!!! Oh sir! The thought chills my very soul;--surely this American dipper intends to drown them—he can have no other object in view; therefore, brethren of the Methodist society, beware!! Drowning is not to be envied, and that too in your sins…In conclusion brethren, I recommend you to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the things which belong to your eternal peace, and listen no longer to the follies of men.
Duke street, Douglas, 29 Oct 1840”
As I said, this was pretty mild in comparison to a few other articles we’ll be reading. It does, however, point to an interesting trend in the mission. The Mormons were obviously making some headway with converts. Hundreds of people had been baptized by late autumn of 1840, and the Europeans were reacting similarly to how Americans were reacting when the Mormons would move into an area and begin baptizing people in droves. There was outcry. People were pissed that Mormonism was a provable delusion and many of these Christians considered Jo Smith and the Mormons to be against the will of the true God, which made them and the missionaries out to be pawns of the devil, sent to draw the masses away from God’s one true word.
With proper thanks given to the internet as an amorphous all-knowing entity, it’s incredibly easy to track down newspaper articles of any given time or place, the majority of which are cataloged and indexed for easy searching. Let’s read a few that come up with a cursory search of britishnewspaperarchive.
Gloucestershire Chronicle Saturday 19 Dec 1840:
“The following facts relative to the “Latter-day Saints” are chiefly derived from the pamphlets published by the Revs. W. J. Morrish and J. Symons, to which we recently alluded, and which have been largely distributed particularly in the Ledbury district. We are sorry to learn that the infection has reached the neighbourhood of this city, in localities distant from any church…
‘It has been ascertained that the wife of the very man who wrote what they call the ‘Book of Mormon’ is now living in Monson, Massachusetts. Since the death of her former husband she has married a second husband named Davidson, and is a woman of irreproachable character and a Christian. Two reverend gentlemen are ready to bear witness that her testimony is worth of full confidence. The book which the Mormonites aver was written by God himself was procured in the following manner, as detailed by Mr. Morrish, upon the testimony of Mrs. Davidson.’”
Then it goes on to give us the short take on how the Spalding theory got legs by telling us the whole story from the citizens of Ashtabula county’s perspective, even detailing John Spalding’s outburst when he learned his brother’s book had been coopted by Joseph and Rigdon to manufacture a new Christianity. Then it reprints some extracts from Mormonism Unveiled by Eber Howe about the character of the Smith family as well as their reputation in New York prior to publishing the Book of Mormon. It ends with this passage…
“In a publication called the ‘Book of Doctrine and Covenants,’ published by the mormonites, but which they are careful in not putting into the hands of their professed members generally, it is pretty clearly shewn that ‘filthy lucre’ is the only object which they seek to obtain. The following passages are addressed to the Mormon preachers or lecturers who are sent out to obtain converts, and these are set for the as divine revelations and instructions:--
‘Whoso feeds you, or clothes you, or gives you money, shall in no wise lose his reward; and he that doeth not these things is not my disciple; by this ye may know my disciples.’ ……. ‘And let all the monies which can be spared, it mattereth not unto me whether it be little or much, be sent up unto the land of Zion, unto those whom I have appointed to receive.’ ……. ‘Impart a portion of thy property; yea, even part of thy lands, and all save the support of thy family. Pay the debt thou has contracted with the printer.’
There are many other similar passages in the same book all tending to a like purport—the supply of money to the preachers. So that according to the doctrines which they preach no one refusing them money can belong to their society. This is intelligible enough, and it is matter of considerable surprise that in this boasted age of enlightenment and education, there could be found individuals who could be cheated with their eyes open by such a system of humbug.”
Shrewsbury Chronicle Friday 27 November 1840:
“The Latter-day Saints
We gave in the Shrewsbury Chronicle, on the 13th inst. A detailed account of a strange sect calling themselves “Mormonites,” or “Latter-day Saints,” which are spreading their wild doctrines among ignorant persons in the rural districts in Gloucestershire and Herefordshire…
We have had kindly placed into our hands for a few hours, but not sufficiently long to enable us to attentively peruse them, the celebrated “Book of Mormon” and a series, comprising the numbers from May to October, of a monthly periodical published at Manchester, called “The Latter-Day Saints’ Millennial Star.” We have been surprised, not to say shocked, at the evidence which this magazine affords of the sudden growth of these fanatics; for that they must now be a numerous body is certain from the simple fact that a magazine especially intended for circulation among themselves, can find readers enough to make it worth while for a publisher to issue it. But besides this inferential mode of calculating the numbers of the body, the magazine affords some statistical tables, from which we see that the ‘saints’ in England must unquestionably amount to thousands, and that no inconsiderable item of their numbers is to be found in their converts in Gloucestershire and Herefordshire. Still, from all we can understand of the matter from a cursory perusal of the books which we have seen, we should say that we are confirmed in an opinion we formerly expressed, that no very serious social evil is to be apprehended from this sect, and that provided they escape persecution, the sure method of swelling the ranks of zealots, the imposture will soon be exploded, after having probably produced one good result,--that of opening the eyes of Ministers in the Establishment and of the Dissenting denominations to the great mass of ignorance and consequent superstitious credulity, which exists in this country…
From the knowledge I now possess respecting the Latter Day Saints, their printing press at Manchester, their Books of Mormon, of which thousands are circulating, their various clever publications, their interested priesthood, and admirable scheme for raising money, I have not the least doubt but it will require all the exertion of the clergy, of every honest man, and wellwisher of his country, with the influence of the press, to eradicate these fanatical opinions; nothing but kindness and attention on the part of both clergy and laity will succeed; the lower classes must be taught the common principles of Christianity, which at present they do not know, and then, and not till then, will the fatal heresy pass away. Government ought to interfere; our present plan of education, as regards country parishes, is worse than a farce; it is downright hypocrisy; nothing less, than cheating both rich and poor, the one out of their money, and the other out of their instruction. I trust that I have now given such a brief statement as may induce others to investigate this matter, for many clergymen of my acquaintance were not aware of the poison covertly spreading throughout their parishes”
The Scotsman Wednesday 23 December 1840
“Religious Imposters—Mormonism.—Many of our readers will be aware that a set of imposters, calling themselves Mormonites, have for several months back been busy in disseminating their tenets in this city, and attempting to entice the ignorant and unwary to join their ranks. The sect had its origin some years ago in America—from whence a few adventurers have lately come, in order to circulate their opinions in this country. One of these pretends to be an apostle, and declares that he has had intercourse with angels. They also assert that by a particular revelation they became possessed of a book called the Book of Mormon, of equal authority with the Bible; and that they have the power of working miracles, and of speaking in unknown tongues, &c. The absurdity of these pretensions should have rendered them harmless but we understand that they have already entrapped a considerable number of individuals. The book called the Book of Mormons, was, we understand, written by the late Rev. Solomon Spaulding, a retired clergyman, who resided in New Salem, America. It is, in fact, nothing more than a religious romance, in the style and phraseology of Scripture…
The adventurers we have now alluded to, imagined, no doubt, that their distance from the scene of the original imposture would screen them from detection; but we hope the facts here stated, will serve to put individuals on their guard.”
Luckily, searching these newspaper databases is much easier now than it was even a decade ago, much less for the entire 170 years Mormon history research has been conducted up to this point. I found a debate in a paper called the Herford Mercury and Reformer which summarizes a public debate conducted between a Mormon Missionary who converted from being a Methodist preacher named George Jones Adams. He founded a small schismatic Mormonism in Palestine after Jo’s death, but only after he was inducted as an elder and joined the Council of Fifty. He’d been baptized by Heber C. Kimball about 9 months before this confrontation. His challenger, Mr. Mallows couldn’t come up with any convincing arguments against Mormonism, but then somebody from the spectating crowd emerged slowly with a pipe in his mouth and a wealth of knowledge imprinted into his skull. Mr. White was the town skeptic who owned and operated a bookstore. Mr. White had heard of Mormonism and had read Eber Howe’s Mormonism Unvailed. He had spent the debate watching anxiously as the Mormon apologist, Mr. Adams had squirreled out from under every criticism, and he was fed up with the situation. As everybody was ready to disband, Mr. White, Heisenberg as we’ll call him for the purposes of this debate, began with some simple questions for our Mormon apologist, Mr. Adams, or, Peter, as well nickname him for the purposes of this debate. So sets our scene for a debate series which lasted 3 weeks between skeptic Heisenberg and Peter the apologist.
Part of why the Mormons became popular so quickly was because they went viral. Without TV and the myriad pacifiers we spend our free-time on today, whatever outside force shook up the community became the hot topic of discussion, and that’s what happened when the Q12 first appeared on the scene in England and were having prolific success. In the wake of their mission, thousands of people who’d only heard of the Mormons in passing conversation or international newspaper articles suddenly had a neighbor who was Mormon. The Mormons were a curiosity to the Europeans, but were also seen as heretical to the pious elite. When the first installment of this debate occurred, it was just a preacher talking to a Mormon preacher in a chapel, and hardly anybody was interested. Once Mr. White, our Heisenberg, stepped up to the stage, people lost their shit. Everybody in the community flocked to the chapel. With standing-room only, they were forced to leave the doors open so the masses standing outside could hear the proceedings of the debate. Let’s get into it.
“Important Discussion on the Merits of Mormonism:--
For a considerable time past the town and neighbourhood of Bedford have been convulsed with the preachings, baptizings, and denouncings of the Mormons, or Latter-day Saints. Families have been weaned away from several of the old congregations, and lured to join the new sect. An apostle from the Zion of the church (The United States), by name Mr. G. J. Adams, has crossed the Atlantic, and visited the “Heathen of England,” for the purpose of making converts to the new faith! He has taken up his abode in Bedford, and unceasingly proclaims the principles of Mormon. At one of his meetings several questions were put to him by one of the audience, which ultimately led to a discussion at the Castle Rooms. The discussion began on Wednesday evening last, and was first maintained principally by the aforesaid Mr. Adams, and a plain, sensible man named Mallows. At the close of the meeting, however, Mr. White, the bookseller, expressed a wish to address a few words to the assembly. He began by stating that from what he had heard, he presumed it to be the object of Mr. Adams to introduce the Book of Mormon and the other books of the sect as a new revelation from heaven, supplementary to the Bible; he (Mr. White) therefore wished to lay before the meeting a succinct history of the book called the Book of Mormon. It was pretended that it was a translation made from the Egyptian, the original being engraved on gold plates, which were taken from the earth in North America by an angel, and given to one Joseph Smith, who, by the help of the long-lost Urim and Thummim, which was given to him at the same time, translated them into the English tongue. (This is where Mr. White brings the slap-down)
Now, his very slight knowledge of the Egyptian character told him, that at the very least it would take 500 gold plates of the size mentioned (7 inches by 8 inches), to contain the aforesaid book; and this it was said was only part of the original—and these 500 plates would weigh at least four hundred weight. He (Mr. W.) would therefore like to know whether Mr. Joseph Smith could carry this alone, or whether the angel helped him. The value of these plates would be at the lowest computation 25,000£, which would fully account for the fact that these plates had never been brought to England. Further, Mr. W. observed, as this was an entirely new revelation, he considered that it ought to be authenticated, as former heavenly missions were, by a display of miraculous powers. When Moses was sent to Pharaoh, God gave him miraculous powers. When the Law came from Sinai, there were thunderings and lightnings and an earthquake. When Christ came, the angels appeared to the shepherds. And a miraculous star guided the wise men. And when the apostles preached, the Word of the Lord confirmed it by signs following. Now he (Mr. W.) in the name of the meeting, simply asked Mr. Adams to authenticate his revelation in the same way; and he did this with the more confidence, because Mr. A. had said that no church does not possess the power of working miracles can be the true church—and that the Church of the Latter-Day Saints certainly does possess those powers—“then (continued Mr. W. addressing Mr. A.) there really, sir, can be no difficulty here-only work us a miracle and we shall be willing to receive your book;--not an equivocal one, but a plain, manifest, and honest miracle (BOOOOM!!!). There is in the town an old gentleman who has not seen the light for many years, suppose you open his eyes—or if you like it better, go with us to the neighbouring grave-yard and raise a dead body and in either case we pledge ourselves to receive you, as you pretend to be a prophet sent from God” (cheers)[that’s really in there!].
Mr. Adams made a few remarks after this, and concluded by challenging his opponent to meet him on the following evening.”
He declined performing a miracle, doesn’t that mean that he didn’t truly believe it at some level? If he truly thought himself to be ministering for the one true church, why wouldn’t he accept the challenge with full sincerity knowing for a fact that he could perform a miracle because God had his back?
“On the following evening these two gentlemen again met, and as it was deemed requisite for the sake of order that a chairman should be elected, Mr. J. Wyatt was called to sustain that office, who laid down the rules of the discussion, that each speaker should be allowed half an hour, and that both speakers were to be heard without interruption.
Mr. Adams opened the discussion by stating that his opponent was mistaken in what he had said about the Egyptian language, for the peculiar character of that language was that a great deal could be got into a little space(HAHAHAHAHA not exactly a testable claim, even today)—but supposing that there might be the weight that Mr. W. talked of—did not Samson carry the gates of Gaza? Did he not catch 300 foxes? And did he not slay a thousand men with the jaw bone of an ass? (What about all the other people that ‘hefted’ the plates, were they super-powered too?) But according to his opponent the power of God was limited now—he referred to the Bible and by that he would abide. Mr. A. then quoted the 49th chap. Genesis 22nd and 24th v., “Joseph is a fruitful bough,” &c.,--but his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the God of Jacob” (from thence is the Shepherd the stone of Israel). And this text he considered in connexion with the 26th v., where it was said “the blessing of thy father have prevailed unto the utmost bounds of the everlasting hills”—clearly proved in his mind that the descendants of Joseph were to introduce a new dispensation, for the Shepherd of Israel could not mean Christ, as he did not come from Joseph but from Judah—and if from Egypt, where Jacob was when he pronounced this blessing, you were to calculate, what was the “utmost bound”—you would find that it was the far west of America where this book was found, which book actually revealed that the North American Indians were the descendants of Joseph. He then quoted the 29th chap. Of Isaiah, 11th and following verses, where a book was mentioned which neither the learned nor the unlearned could read, and this he considered clearly proved that a book was foretold—and as neither the learned nor the unlearned could read the Book of Mormon when it was found he had no doubt that that was the book intended. He further referred to that passage of Ezekiel where the prophet was commanded to take two sticks, one for Judah and one for Joseph—sticks were ancient record—and by reasoning which we confess not clearly to have understood, he affirmed that these sticks pointed to a new revelation, which he had no doubt was now made by the Book of Mormon.”
What the hell did that have to do with how heavy the gold fucking plates were? I’m astonished to see braindead monkeyshit illogical apologetics being birthed so early in Mormon history. These are criticisms I would bring up against an apologist today, doesn’t that say something about the significant problems in church history if they’re still running from the same answers 175 years later?
“Mr. White (slowly putting the fractured pieces of his own brain back together after such an impudent and ignorant screed), in reply, shortly explained the texts referred to. The first, he said, did not foretell that the Shepherd of Israel should come from Joseph, as his opponent had alleged, but from the “God of Jacob”; and in the text quoted from Isaiah, the prophet, did not say that there should be a book—but that the words of the prophet, foretelling the judgments coming upon Jerusalem, were so awful, astonishing, and incomprehensible, as to be like a sealed book. It was merely a simile; and as to the sticks of Ezekiel, it was nothing more than a forcible way common among the prophets of old of expressing their meaning, which in this case he took to be that, though the tribe of Judah and the other tribes were separated they should come together again. But supposing that the interpretations given by Mr. A. were correct, what had they to do with the Book of Mormon? (nice way to chase off that red-herring and get back to a relevant question.)
Supposing that the Prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel did mean that a book should be found, what proof had they that the Book of Mormon was the book? He again demanded that it should be authenticated by a miracle. (YEEEESSSHHHH!!!!!) He then proceeded to lay open some of the absurdities of this book. It professed to be a narrative of the flight of some Jews from Jerusalem in the reign of Zedekiah; and the first proof of its forgery he would adduce would be found in page 53, where it mentioned a mariner’s compass having been used about 1900 years before the discovery of that instrument. Perhaps his opponent would get out of this difficulty by alleging that God could teach the use of the compass though it had not been discovered by men; a convenient, but he (Mr. W.) apprehended not a very satisfactory mode. He further noticed that the book could not have been written when it professed to have been, as in it there were numerous instances of Greek words being used—such as Christ, Jesus, Alpha, Omega, by a people who at that time could not have known anything about Greek. But one of the strongest arguments that the book was a gross imposture, was the following fact:--It was said that this book was translated by Joseph Smith from the Egyptian character, but on referring to its pages, he found that all the quotations from Scripture with which the book abounded, were exactly in the words of our authorized version! Now a coincidence of this kind was utterly impossible. (Going to anachronisms and Bible plagiarism in the Book of Mormon, I fuckin love this guy!) He would produce to them a copy of a Greek Testament, with six translations, and read a line of each (Mr. W. here produced a part of Bagster’s Hexapla, and read a line or two of each translation.) By this it would be seen that the words were in every case different, although the sense was the same, and if 500 people were each to undertake the same task, the language of no two of the 500 would be the same. He therefore would ask his opponent how Joseph Smith happened to hit exactly upon the very words of our translators. But further, it was alleged that he (Joseph Smith) translated by inspiration; and it might therefore be said that he was inspired to use the same words as our translators used; but our translation was imperfect. In many parts it was acknowledged by all to be wrong; and yet Mr. Smith, inspired as he was, adopted all our blunders. Perhaps Mr. Adams could satisfactorily explain this; otherwise he must be contented to have his book scouted as an imposture. At all events he (Mr. A.) could not be surprised if a miracle was again demanded to authenticate a book with so much suspicion about it.
Mr. Adams in reply did little but reiterate the arguments that he before adduced from the three texts of Scripture above quoted, affirming that Mr. White had not, as he (Mr. A.) had wished, gone to the Bible, but had talked very learnedly about the Greek language; but that was the way with this generation. He, however, was for bringing everything to the Bible.
Mr. White again answered the Scriptures quoted, and then proceeded to say that, in a book which professed to give a history of the Book of Mormon, he found it stated that a copy of part of the writing on the plates had been submitted to Professor Anthon, of New York. This gentleman he very well knew by reputation; and if it had been stated that the learned professor had seen the plates, the matter would have assumed a different complexion, but as it stood this name went for nothing. At the end of the book there were two testimonials, signed by a number of individuals, who stated that they had seen the plates; but these names had no places of abode or occupation affixed, and therefore could not be of any weight. (YEESSS! Going after the credibility of the 3 and 8 witnesses. This Mr. White is classic Heisenberg) Such names would not get a cheque for 5£ cashed at the bank; and would any one trust his immortal soul to such unsatisfactory testimony? In conclusion he had a word or two to say to his opponent. It was in his (Mr. W.’s) opinion no trifling matter, to be a leader of the people. Were he the editor of a newspaper, he should never put his pen to paper without remembering the responsibility of being even a political leader of men’s opinions; but how much graver a matter it must be to be a leader in concerns which affected men’s eternal interests; and he had never talked to a truly conscientious minister on the subject, without finding that his responsibility was felt at times almost too great to be borne. (Interesting point. Now it seems he’s making the argument that what Jo and this missionary are doing is actually immoral because they’re tampering with people’s eternal salvation.) But his opponent had not only started as a leader, but had attempted to lead men entirely away from the old and beaten paths to Heaven. He (Mr. W.) would seriously warn him that this could not be a light and trifling matter. If his followers fell into his snare, with their eyes open, doubtless they would perish; but if so, what, in the great day of account, would be the doom of the man, who, not satisfied with his own ruin, had labored hard to allure his fellow-creatures to destruction?
The meeting then separated.”
Mr. Adams and Mr. White weren’t done taking intellectual swings at each other, because they did meet again the second debate was published in the next week’s edition of the Herford Mercury and Reformer. They went back and rehashed all the same points they hit on in the first debate with Mr. White never relenting on the same damning points, while Mr. Adams continued to grandstand, red-herring, and evade. However, Mr. White did hit Adams on the Mormons condoning slavery, which England had the historic high ground over America in that regard having outlawed it decades prior to this, so Adams answered by saying the condoning of slavery was issued to keep the Mormons from being persecuted in Missouri, which obviously didn’t work. The crowd really didn’t like it. This is how their second debated concluded:
“Mr. White, in reply, said that when Joseph Smith and his accomplices repented as the persons alluded to had done, there would be no objection to their again being received into the Church—and they might even become its teachers if possessed of the necessary abilities…
The Chairman then announced that the discussion on the subject of the Book of Mormon was closed, and he should take the sense of the meeting as to whether Mr. Adams had, by Scripture and reason, proved that the Book of Mormon was authentic, or whether it was a vile imposture. He called for a show of hands, when there appeared in favour of the Mormonites about half-a-dozen, and against them more than five hundred. Order having been obtained, the chairman stated that the Latter-day Saints had collected pence at the door of all who attended the meeting, upon the understanding that it was merely to defray the expenses attendant on the discussion. The meeting was anxious to know what had been collected; he had therefore called in the money takers, and found that after paying the whole expense, there remained a balance in hand of 3£ 2s… As this was public money, he should take the sense of the meeting as to the disposal of it.
It was then proposed by Mr. White, and seconded in several parts of the room, that Mr. Wyatt, the chairman, should hold the money until Christmas-day, and then see that it was given to the inmates of the union workhouse in roast beef and plum pudding.”
They had a final exchange, which apostle Orson Hyde, as we know him, L’Chydem, who was on his way to his mission in the holy land, and L’Chydem brought with him a Doctrine and Covenants to prove that there was no passage condoning slavery. Mr. White took it as an opportunity to show how much Mormonism was clearly a Multi-level Marketing scheme in response. It follows in the 29 May 1841 publication:
“Mr. Wyatt then repeated the charge of upholding slavery, and commented on the apostle’s explanation of the passage in the book when he said they did not preach the gospel to the slaves without the consent of their masters, because it would subject them to the persecution of the masters. So impudent an avowal, said Mr. Wyatt, as this, speaks louder than the host of arguments which might be brought against the awful creed, and can produce but one impression upon the meeting, namely that it is what he before denounced it to be a wicked imposture to raise money for the support of the fellows Joseph Smith, Martin Harris, Sidney Rigdon and the remainder of the apostles of the Mormonite settlement. They do not believe it right to interfere with bond-servants and slaves and preach the gospel to them, why?—because they know that it would prevent the present compact between them, the Mormons and the selfish slave-owners for keeping their fellow-creatures in abject slavery and filling the coffers of their treasury. The person who has just delivered the lecture refused to let him have the book, or he would have read to you a passage or two which would still more have convinced you that the object of these wicked men is fraud; their soul is gain, and they care nothing for your spiritual or temporal welfare so long as they can persuade you to fill their pockets.
Mr. Adams replied, and said he was willing to shew the book to any person who would call on him (hisses), and that he should for the future give a lecture nightly at Mr. Mayle’s room. He solemnly declared that he devoutly believed in the principles of Mormon and that the was willing to be a martyr in the cause. Since he had been here (in Bedford) threats had been extended to him, and one person had expressed his readiness to shoot him (loud cries of “Name, name”). He did not know the name but had been told as much (hisses).
Mr. Wyatt then said he regretted that such a charge had been preferred against the people of Bedford upon a hearsay, and added, that such was his good opinion of the people that he would hold himself responsible for any harm done to the apostles of Mormon so long as they acted with decorum (cheers). Mr. Wyatt concluded by begging the audience not to pin their faith upon the doctrines of Mormon and quoted the 2nd Epistle of Peter 2nd chapter, where false prophets are foretold who through covetousness should “with feigned words make merchandize of the people” (Hear, hear).
Mr. Adams then dissolved the meeting, and we are strongly of opinion that this is the last demonstration that will be made by the Mormons.”
It must have been because that was the last article from that paper covering the Mormons for another 3 months. Mr. Adams must have slinked away, tail tucked firmly betwixt his nuts and never returned to Bedford.
All it takes is a learned man debating a Mormon missionary to cause a spectacle and send the Mormon on their way with no answers and the crowd’s laughter and hisses ringing in their ears. One thing I can’t help but notice is that the same problems scholars and historians have with the Book of Mormon today are the same exact arguments critical thinkers were bringing a decade after it was published, and just like the 19th-century Mormons had no answer for these myriad criticisms, Mormons today can’t answer them any better today, even with the massive depth of new scholarship and research that’s being conducted daily on their behalf.
On one hand, it’s kind of sad to think that the arguments haven’t changed for nearly 2 centuries, and they likely won’t change for another 2 centuries because these are foundational issues with hard truth claims the church makes. On the other hand, according to this reporter, the crowd was resoundingly in favor of the skeptic’s arguments and the Mormons were laughed out of the room, with only a half-dozen out of the 500 in attendance still espousing belief in the religion. If we have a margin of error in public debates with Mormon apologists of 1%, that doesn’t speak well to the viability of the church’s teachings. It just goes to show, regardless of the time, place, or specific skeptic who’s asking the questions, the Book of Mormon, and by extension, the Mormon religion, will never stand up to the harsh white-hot light of scrutiny.
With Utah being one of the most notoriously red states and capitalism being one of the few underlying platforms on which the GOP runs, it’s important to take a step back and see what God has to say about what the perfect society would be. When we examine the teachings in the Book of Mormon and D&C, some interesting trends begin to emerge, one of which is the communal or socialistic aspect. It just so happens that we’re joined today by Mike who made an amazing post on the exmormon subreddit, and he's going to educate us on some hard statistics in comparison to model cities put forth in the Book of Mormon.
This could be construed as a miracle:
“Curious accident.—On Tuesday last, a horse ran away in the High-street, Bedford, with a cart load of bricks, and galloped down the street at a tremendous space. Upon reaching the bridge the axletree broke, the wheels flew off, and the cart fell with a sudden shock, which threw the bricks over the horse, covering him to all appearance in his last brick grave. Assistance was rendered, and it was discovered that the horse had entirely escaped injury; not having received even a broken knee.”
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