I brought with me a book that somebody inquired about, who came up to my desk to talk to me. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. It’s the Book of Mormon. Every version of the Book of Mormon that I have ever seen has, in the front of it, the "Testimony of the Three Witnesses." Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris. I want to read to you what they say in this affidavit. "And we also know that they [that is, the words in the Book of Mormon], have been translated by the gift and power of God for His voice hath declared it unto us. Wherefore, we know of assurety that the Work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings [these are the Golden Plates that the Angel Moroni allegedly brought down to Joseph Smith]. They say, we saw them. "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…." And he goes on to, and they go on to say, "and we saw it." "We touched them." "We handled them." "We know that it happened." Doesn’t Mr. Horner wish that he had evidence like that from Mary Magdalene, Salome, Joanna? Boy, wouldn’t he be happy if he had evidence like that.
He does not believe that the Book of Mormon is, in any sense, inspired of God. He rejects it. But we have firsthand testimony from the three witnesses. And if you’ll get a copy of the Book of Mormon, and open it, and look at that page, you’ll see that underneath it is the testimony of the eight witnesses who swear that they didn’t see the angel bring the plates down but they handled them with their hands.
He doesn’t believe that. Why does he not believe it? Because it is such an extraordinary event that he wants far more proof than the mere word that somebody said that it happened. And so it brings us back to what I said a moment ago, I have no strange criterion for history. It simply comes down to a matter of if someone says something that our common sense tells us can happen, then we’re willing to accept it. But when people want to talk about angels coming down and delivering golden plates, or angels coming down and rolling stones away from a tomb, what, what’s really the difference in the two stories?
Well, he was educated to believe one. He was not educated to believe the other. There are probably people in this audience who are Mormons; I wouldn’t be a bit surprised, considering where we are. And they probably think that we’re absolutely crazy because we will not accept the testimony of the three witnesses and the testimony of the eight witnesses.
He said that the angel’s descent on the stone is not an example of legend. Well, let’s just talk about the Resurrection story for just a moment. And I’m going to go back to a couple of events that happened allegedly before the Resurrection.
While Jesus was on the cross, there was a period of darkness from noon until three o’clock, about a period of three hours. Now, Matthew, Mark and Luke, all three said that that darkness was over all of the land. And the word translated ‘land’ is from the same Greek word that is sometimes translated ‘earth,’ so we don’t know whether the writers actually meant that the darkness was over the whole Earth or whether they were saying that it was over the whole land. But over the whole land would at least mean to me that, that general region in which was Palestine was located.
Why is it that we have no corroborating evidence that anything like that ever happened? Wouldn’t[‘t you be surprised tomorrow if at noon, suddenly the light went out, overhead, the Sun? And there was no light for a period of three hours? Wouldn’t you wonder what in the world had caused that? And don’t you think that even if we lived back in the time when we didn’t have printing presses and the rapid system of communications that we have now, that someone would report that and there would be records of it? But we don’t have it.
And then when Jesus died on the cross, Matthew tells us, and only Matthew — Mark didn’t; tell it, Luke didn’t tell it — that there was an earthquake (Matthew was a big one for earthquakes, by the way), there was an earthquake and it shook open the tombs and some of the saints were resurrected and after Jesus rose from the dead, they went into they went into the city and appeared "unto many." Yet, historians like Josephus make no reference at all to anything like that happening. And don’t you think that if "many saints" were resurrected and "appeared unto many" in the city, that someone, somewhere, besides the biased writer, Matthew, would have reported that that happened?
And then, of course, there’s the case of the angel descending and rolling away the stone, which he says doesn’t strike him as being legend. And then what happened to Jesus after he appeared on the earth for forty days after his resurrection — or, if you’re going to take Luke’s account in the Gospel, he was resurrected the same night, he ascended the same night that he was resurrected. In the book of Acts, he tells us, no, that was a mistake, it was forty days later. But anyway, Jesus ascended into heaven.
Suetonius tells us that someone standing by when the body of Augustus Caesar was being cremated, saw the spirit of Augustus Caesar ascend into heaven. Well, he doesn’t believe that that happened; he would say, "Well that’s simply a legend that developed."
The prophet Mohammed presumable ascended into heaven on a white horse. "Legend! Legend," he would say, "but now when we read these things in the New Testament, all of these miraculous things that happened, we can be sure that they were not legend, and Till’s only problem is that he wants to reject anything that is miraculous." Well, my friends, it’s just that too many miraculous events are recorded in the New Testament for anyone to take it seriously.
I’d like to talk about independent verification, but I see that I have only ten seconds left and so I won’t have time to say it. By the way, I read Ronald Nash’s article too, and I didn’t think a whole lot about it.