Part 43: CES Letter Priesthood Restoration Questions [Section A]

By Sarah Allen


The first two times in my life that I ever felt the Spirit, I was a kid in Primary, too young to even know what the feeling was or what it was trying to teach me…but it was so unusual that I remembered it. The first time I felt it, we were learning the words to “The Spirit of God Like a Fire is Burning.” The second time I felt it, we were learning the words to “Joseph Smith’s First Prayer.”

When I was a few years older, after I had more experience with the Holy Ghost and knew how to recognize it for what it really was, I remembered those first two times I felt His presence and I understood the lessons He was teaching me: that Joseph Smith really did kneel down in that grove of trees, that he really did see God the Father and the Savior, and that the Priesthood really was restored to the Earth. Those were the very first things the Holy Ghost ever taught me, and He has reconfirmed them to me many, many times over the years.

We’ve already discussed the First Vision in this blog series and now, we’re going to discuss the restoration of the Priesthood. Like many of the topics in this Letter, this is one I take seriously. Supposed anachronisms or similar city names are one thing, but the restoration of the Priesthood is something else entirely. It’s literally one of the foundational pillars of my testimony. I’m sure that’s true for many of you, as well.

So far in this Letter, Jeremy Runnells has already attacked the Book of Abraham, the Book of Mormon, the First Vision, Joseph Smith, the idea of prophets in general, the existence of the Holy Ghost, and has even questioned God Himself. I hope you can all see how insidious this progression has been. He’s systematically going after every single element of a testimony that he can.

Just like with the other sections, though, he gets a lot of things wrong and leaves plenty out of his narrative. He opens this section with a quote from Rough Stone Rolling by Richard Bushman:

“The late appearance of these accounts raises the possibility of later fabrication.” — LDS HISTORIAN AND SCHOLAR RICHARD BUSHMAN ROUGH STONE ROLLING, P.75

This is actually a sentence taken from the middle of a lengthy paragraph, entirely removed from all of its context. Before that paragraph, Bushman recounted the story of the ordination of the Aaronic Priesthood to Joseph and Oliver by John the Baptist. They’d been translating the account of the Savior visiting the Nephites and realized that the proper authority was needed in order to baptize. As far as they could tell, nobody had the proper authority needed in order to baptize anyone, so they went to the banks of the Susquehanna River and prayed about it. Ryan Larsen of the Mormon Puzzle Pieces blog makes an interesting case for the idea that Joseph was translating Ether 4:18 at the time.

As they prayed, John the Baptist appeared and ordained them, and promised them that the Priesthood would never again be taken from the Earth. He also informed them that they’d receive the Melchizedek Priesthood at a later time, and gave them instructions they were to follow.

First, they needed to baptize each other, and second, they needed to re-ordain each other to the Priesthood. This was because a person has to be a baptized member of the Savior’s church in order to receive the Priesthood, but they had to hold the Priesthood in order to baptize each other as members of the Church. So, they were ordained by John initially so that they could have the authority to baptize, then baptized each other, and then were re-ordained as members of the Church.

At this point, the paragraph containing that quote begins. I’m going to give you the entire paragraph so you can read the line in context:

That was the story in its ripe form, but Joseph did not tell anyone about John the Baptist at first. Summarizing the key events in his religious life in an 1830 statement, he mentioned translation but said nothing about the restoration of the priesthood or the visit of an angel. The first compilation of revelations in 1833 also omitted an account of John the Baptist. David Whitmer later told an interviewer he had heard nothing of John the Baptist until four years after the Church’s organization. Not until writing his 1832 history did Joseph include “reception of the holy Priesthood by the ministering of angels to administer the letter of the Gospel” among the cardinal events of his history, a glancing reference at best. Joseph had not hold his mother about his First Vision, and spoke to his father about Moroni only when commanded. His reticence may have shown a fear of disbelief. Although obscure, Joseph was proud. He did not like to appear the fool. Or he may have felt the visions were too sacred to be discussed openly. They were better kept to himself. The late appearance of these accounts raises the possibility of later fabrication. Did Joseph add the stories of angels to embellish his early history and make himself more of a visionary? If so, he made little of the occurrence. Cowdery was the first to recount the story of John’s appearance, not Joseph himself. In an 1834 Church newspaper, Cowdery exulted in his still fresh memory of the experience. “On a sudden, as from the midst of eternity, the voice of the Redeemer spake peace unto us, while the vail was parted and the angel of God came down clothed with glory, and delivered the anxiously looked for message, and the keys of the gospel of repentance!” When Joseph described John’s visit, he was much more plainspoken. Moreover, he inserted the story into a history composed in 1838 but not published until 1842. It circulated without fanfare, more like a refurbished memory than a triumphant announcement.

Bushman’s point all along was not that he believed Joseph made the story up. It was that there was little reason for Joseph to do so when he never did anything to capitalize on it. He didn’t brag about it, announce it to everyone who joined the Church, or publish it in newspapers. It wasn’t something he used to make a name for himself. He kept it mostly quiet, the way he did with every other vision he received until after the Kirtland Temple was built. (It wasn’t until he and others started receiving visions inside the temple that he began sharing them openly as they occurred.) Before that, he kept them mostly to himself. And is that any wonder, after the way he and his family had been harassed after stories of his earlier visions got out?

In fact, two paragraphs later in Rough Stone Rolling, Joseph gives a pretty good explanation of why he didn’t announce it publicly:

Joseph’s activities had not gone unnoticed in the neighborhood. He and Cowdery said nothing publicly about the vision of John the Baptist, but people knew about the translating. “We had been threatened with being mobbed, from time to time,” Joseph said, “and this too by professors of religion.”

Joseph’s full quote, taken from his 1838 history and provided to me by Reddit user WooperSlim, reads:

In the meantime we were forced to keep secret the circumstances of our having been baptized, and having received this priesthood; owing to a spirit of persecution which had already manifested itself in the neighborhood. We had been threatened with being mobbed, from time to time, and this too by professors of religion, and their intentions of mobbing us, were only counteracted by the influence of my wife’s father’s family (under Divine Providence) who had became very friendly to me and were opposed to mobs; and were willing that I should be allowed to continue the work of translation without interruption: And therefore offered and promised us protection from all unlawful proceedings as far as in them lay.

They were receiving threats from the neighbors over the translation efforts. Imagine how much worse that would have been for them had they also announced they’d been visited by John the Baptist. And remember back when we were talking about the First Vision, and I linked to a newspaper article mocking Joseph and the early Saints because of his visions? He knew exactly what would happen if he shared the vision with others because it’d all happened before.

The CES Letter continues:

Like the first vision story, none of the members of the Church or Joseph Smith’s family had ever heard prior to 1832 about a priesthood restoration from John the Baptist or Peter, James, and John. Although the priesthood is now taught to have been restored in 1829, Joseph and Oliver made no such claim until 1832, if that. Even in 1832, there were no claims of a restoration of the priesthood (just a ‘reception’ of the priesthood) and there certainly was no specific claims of John the Baptist, Peter, James, and John. Like the first vision accounts, the story later got more elaborate and bold with specific claims of miraculous visitations from resurrected John the Baptist, Peter, James, and John.

Just like he did in the First Vision section, Jeremy conflates not writing something down with not telling anybody that it happened. As we went over back then, Joseph hated writing and compared it to being in “a little narrow prison.” He barely wrote down anything prior to 1832, when he was commanded to, and his initial attempt at keeping a daily journal lasted only nine days before he took a ten-month break. But just because there isn’t written confirmation of the visions before 1832 does not mean Joseph and Oliver never told anybody. In fact, we know they did.

In April of 1831, the Articles and Covenants of the Church were published in the Painesville Telegraph. This is now Section 20 of the Doctrine and Covenants. This revelation was recorded a year before it was published, in April, 1830. Among other things, it says:

The rise of the Church of Christ in these last days, being 1830 years since the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the flesh, it being regularly organized and established agreeable to the laws of our country, by the will and commandments of God, in the 4th month, and on the 6th day of the same, which commandments were given to Joseph Smith, jun. who was called of God and ordained an apostle of Jesus Christ, an elder of the church, and also to Oliver Cowdery, who was also called of God an apostle of Jesus Christ, an elder of the church, and ordained under his hand, and this according to the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be all glory both now and ever—amen.

It says right here they were ordained as apostles. When you’re being ordained to a new Priesthood office, you have to be ordained by someone who already holds that office or a higher office. That means that apostles have to be ordained by other apostles. No one else can do it.

So, if Joseph and Oliver were ordained as apostles, and it wasn’t Peter, James, and John who did it, who ordained them? They had to be ordained by other apostles or someone holding an even higher office. That means that the only possible people who could have ordained them are God the Father, the Savior, John the Revelator, the Three Nephites, or the apostles who were ordained in their earthly lives before they died, sent back as heavenly messengers. There are no other options. At least one of the two of them had to have been ordained by divine means, whether that was by a heavenly being or a translated one.

It was published in a newspaper a year before Jeremy says they ever told anyone it happened—and in the original version of the CES Letter, Jeremy claimed nobody had ever heard about it until 1834, another two years later.

The Painsville Telegraph also ran other articles about this. On November 16, 1830, it mentions Oliver as having conversed with angels and says he told them that ordinances hadn’t been performed properly since the days of Christ’s original Apostles. And on December 7, 1830, it reports that Oliver claims he was specially commissioned by Jesus Christ and that he and his associates were the only people on Earth with the proper authority to baptize.

On February 14, 1831, the Palmyra Reflector mockingly reported that no one had been authorized to preach the Gospel for 1500 years until Joseph was given that commission by God. And on March 2, 1833, the Reverend Richmond Taggart stated that Joseph, “the great Mormonosity,” had claimed to see Jesus Christ and the Apostles.

In Joseph’s own written account in 1832, he makes mention of it:

A History of the life of Joseph Smith Jr. an account of his marvilous experience and of all the mighty acts which he doeth in the name of Jesus Christ the son of the living God of whom he beareth record and also an account of the rise of the church of Christ in the eve of time according as the Lord brought forth and established by his hand ​firstly​ he receiving the testamony from on high seccondly the ministering of Angels thirdly the reception of the holy Priesthood by the ministring of—Aangels to adminster the letter of the ​Gospel—​the Law and commandments as they were given unto him—​ and the​ ordinencs, forthly a confirmation and reception of the high Priesthood after the holy order of the son of the living God power and ordinence from on high to preach the Gospel in the administration and demonstration of the spirit the Kees of the Kingdom of God confered upon him and the continuation of the blessings of God to him &c

This is the account Jeremy was talking about when he mentioned the “reception” of the Priesthood. But just because it says “reception” instead of “restoration” does not mean it was talking about a different event. For Jeremy to nitpick Joseph’s choice of words after he’s consistently used words incorrectly throughout this entire Letter is a tad hypocritical, just saying.

That isn’t the only evidence, though. One of the most striking documents we have is an 1829 copy of The Articles of the Church of Christ written by Oliver, and found online at the Joseph Smith Papers Project. It and other documents pertaining to the organization of the Priesthood were stolen by Symonds Ryder after he apostatized and were found and given back to the Church by his descendants in the 1950s.

Symonds Ryder, for those who don’t know, was supposedly the man leading the mob who tarred and feathered Joseph in March of 1832. He’d been baptized, ordained, and called on a mission the previous June after his neighbor’s arm was miraculously healed by Joseph, and then left the Church in or around that same September. His reasons for leaving included being upset that his mission call spelled his name incorrectly (he actually ripped up his certification calling him on the mission out of anger and refused to go, according to Susan Easton Black), but the larger issue seemed to stem from disagreeing with the Law of Consecration. After that, he and friend Ezra Booth, another former member, began a campaign of letter-writing to the local paper, smearing Joseph and other Church leaders, especially Sidney Rigdon. There was some public back-and-forth, and ultimately, it led to the mob attack. The men in the mob that night tried to castrate and poison Joseph, and when those attempts failed, they settled for tarring and feathering him. Sidney Rigdon suffered a severe head injury during the attack, leaving Joseph thinking he was dead.

At any rate, part of this document is very similar to the one given in D&C 20 and cited in the Painesville Telegraph above. Part is identical to verses in D&C 18. D&C 18:9 states that Oliver and David Whitmer were called as apostles like Paul. Again, apostles have to be ordained by other apostles, so someone had to ordain Joseph and Oliver before they could ordain David Whitmer. A letter from Oliver to Hyrum Smith, dated June 14, 1829, also quotes part of this section, showing that the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood had already happened prior to then.

In December of 1833, Oliver Cowdery recorded a blessing from Joseph which was subsequently published in 1835, and which said:

These blessings shall come upon him according to the blessings of the prophecy of Joseph, in ancient days, which he said should come upon the Seer of the last days and the Scribe that should sit with him, and that should be ordained with him, by the hand of the angel in the bush, under the lesser priesthood, and after receive the holy priesthood under the hands of those who had been held in reserve for a long season, even those who received it under the hand of the Messiah while he should dwell in the flesh, upon the earth, and should receive the blessings with him, even the Seer of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saith he, even Joseph of old, by his hand, even God. And he shall inherit a crown of eternal life, at the end; and while in the flesh shall stand up in Zion and assist to the crown the tribes of Jacob; even so. Amen.

And D&C 27:12, given in September of 1830, specifically says that Peter, James, and John were sent by the Lord and ordained and confirmed them to be apostles. This wasn’t recorded in full detail until 1835, but we’ll talk about this issue in a lot more detail next week.

Additionally, in an article by Larry C. Porter it states:

That Joseph and Oliver had previously received the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood under the hands of Peter, James, and John is further affirmed by the proceedings of the organizational meeting held on 6 April 1830. Without those keys, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery would not have been authorized or would not have had the priesthood power to take the actions they took on that day. Although each already had received the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood and apostolic authority, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery ordained each other to be an elder to “signify that they were elders in the newly organized Church.” They then used the higher priesthood to confirm those who had previously been baptized members of the Church and conferred upon them the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands….

Ordinations of other brethren to various offices in the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods were also performed by Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery both on that day and on the occasion of the first conference of the Church, which followed on 9 June 1830.

He then runs through statements by Orson Pratt, Hiram Page, and Brigham Young, all close friends with Joseph, confirming their belief in the visions and the necessity for them to have happened in order for the Priesthood to have been restored.

And let’s not forget that Oliver was excommunicated and left the Church in 1838. During his decade away from the Church, he had ill feelings toward Joseph as a person and as a prophet, but he never denied his testimony of the restoration of the Gospel. He never denied his visions, or the miraculous coming forth of the Book of Mormon. If he and Joseph had made these visions up, he would have said so. In fact, as recounted in both the Journal of Discourses and in an account by Judge C.M. Nielsen, Oliver once bore his testimony in a court of law in front of multiple witnesses during a trial he was prosecuting. And in a letter he wrote to Brigham Young’s brother Phineas when he was hoping to come back to the Church, he reconfirmed these two particular visions and spoke beautifully of how important it was to him that people believed his testimony:

“But from your last [letter], I am fully satisfied, that no unjust imputation will be suffered to remain upon my character. And that I may not be misunderstood, let me here say that I have only sought, and only asked, that my character might stand exonerated from those charges which imputed to me the crimes of theft, forgery, &c. Those which all my former associates knew to be false. I do not, I have never asked, to be excused, or exempted from an acknowledgement, of my actual fault or wrong—for of these there are many; which it always was my pleasure to confess. I have cherished a hope, and that one of my fondest, that I might leave such a character as those who might believe in my testimony, after I should be called hence, might do so, not only for the sake of the truth, but might not blush for the private character of the man who bore that testimony. I have been sensitive on this subject, I admit; but I ought to be so—you would be, under the circumstances, had you stood in the presence of John, with our departed brother Joseph, to receive the Lesser Priesthood—and in the presence of Peter, to receive the Greater, and looked down through time, and witnessed the effects these two must produce,—you would feel what you have never felt, were wicked men conspiring to lessen the effects of your testimony on man, after you should have gone to your long sought rest. But, enough, enough, on this.”

So, there’s quite a lot of small evidences showing that this story was being discussed to some degree prior to 1832 (or 1834, if we’re using Jeremy’s original date), and that Joseph and Oliver considered it a commission from God and a blessing of divine authority to perform ordinances and receive and utilize Priesthood keys.

Jeremy continues by quoting some more of that same paragraph from Rough Stone Rolling:

LDS historian and scholar, Richard Bushman, acknowledges this in Rough Stone Rolling:

Summarizing the key events in his religious life in an 1830 statement, he mentioned translation but said nothing about the restoration of priesthood or the visit of an angel. The first compilation of revelations in 1833 also omitted an account of John the Baptist. David Whitmer later told an interviewer he had heard nothing of John the Baptist until four years after the Church’s organization. Not until writing in his 1832 history did Joseph include ‘reception of the holy Priesthood by the ministering of angels to administer the letter of the Gospel’ among the cardinal events of his history, a glancing reference at best…The late appearance of these accounts raises the possibility of later fabrication.”

Why did it take 3 plus years for Joseph or Oliver to tell members of the Church about the restoration of the priesthood under the hands of John the Baptist and Peter, James, and John?

As quoted in the full paragraph above, Bushman literally answers that question in the part omitted by the ellipsis in Jeremy’s quote:

Joseph had not hold his mother about his First Vision, and spoke to his father about Moroni only when commanded. His reticence may have shown a fear of disbelief. Although obscure, Joseph was proud. He did not like to appear the fool. Or he may have felt the visions were too sacred to be discussed openly. They were better kept to himself.

By this point, Joseph had been mocked, threatened, and ostracized for his claims of visions and translation for a good nine years. He’d nearly been killed several times over it already. Rather than invite himself open to further ridicule and danger, he kept it fairly quiet. That doesn’t mean that people didn’t know. They were open about the fact that they’d been baptized and received the Priesthood, and that they’d been given the authority to use it. Many early revelations in the D&C mention the Priesthood and the importance of acting with authority, including the few we touched on that specifically refer to the visitations of John the Baptist and Peter, James, and John. Joseph was telling people he’d conversed with the original Apostles.

And, as Bushman pointed out later in that same paragraph we’ve been quoting, the circulation of the full account was met “without fanfare.” It didn’t cause a stir. If nobody had ever heard about it before, why wouldn’t people be buzzing about it? Why wouldn’t it cause a controversy? A few people denied ever hearing about it until it was published, but those accounts weren’t given until decades later and all of them had left the Church long before they made those statements. As far as I could find, there are no contemporaneous accounts of this being controversial.

Jeremy continues:

David Whitmer, one of the witnesses to the Book of Mormon, had this to say about the Priesthood restoration:

“I never heard that an Angel had ordained Joseph and Oliver to the Aaronic Priesthood until the year 1834[,] [183]5, or [183]6—in Ohio … I do not believe that John the Baptist ever ordained Joseph and Oliver….” — Early Mormon Documents, 5:137

I don’t have a copy of this book, but Reddit user WooperSlim provided the original source for this quote for me. FAIR also provides a fuller version of the quote in question, which gives more context:

…[I]n the year 1829, on our way I conversed freely with them upon this great work they were bringing about, and Oliver stated to me in Josephs presence that they had baptized each other seeking by that to fulfill the command-And after our arrival at fathers sometime in June 1829. Joseph ordained Oliver Cowdery to be an Elder, and Oliver ordained Joseph to be an Elder in the Church of Christ. <and during that year Joseph both baptized and ordained me an elder in the church of Christ.> Also, during this year the translation of the Book of Mormon was finished, And we preached, baptized and ordained some as Elders, And upon the Sixth day of April 1830, six Elders together with some fifty or sixty (as near as I recollect) of the members met together to effect an organization. I never heard that an Angel had ordained Joseph and Oliver to the Aaronic priesthood until the year 1834[,] [183]5, or [183]6 – in Ohio, my information from Joseph and Oliver upon this matter being as I have stated, and that they were commanded so to do by revealment through Joseph. I do not believe that John the Baptist ever ordained Joseph and Oliver as stated and believed by some. I regard that as an error, a misconception….

In this same paragraph, he talks about Joseph and Oliver baptizing and ordaining each other, so he was at least aware of the Priesthood…the same Priesthood he himself was ordained to in 1829, and which he believed in. We can’t be sure where he thought Joseph and Oliver got the ability to baptize and ordain each other, because we don’t have any record of his thoughts. The closest thing we have is a report by Edward Stevenson after an interview in 1886 in which he said, “David said the Prophet of God received the command from God, and that was sufficient authority. He did not seem to understand the necessity of the connecting link of ordinations.” Whether that’s what he thought in 1829 or what he thought in 1886 or both, we don’t know.

It’s curious to me why he didn’t believe this story when he himself confirmed repeatedly throughout his life, even in this same interview, that he personally saw an angel. He also stated that his mother had been shown the plates by Moroni (though her grandson said it was Nephi). With all of these miraculous visions going on at the time, why would he doubt this one but believe the others?

I can’t speak to Whitmer’s state of mind in those 1885-86 interviews or in the early years of the Restoration, but he’d been out of the Church for nearly 50 years by this point. A very sore point for him had been the Priesthood and his own lack of authority compared to Joseph’s. There was also quite a big gap between the events in question and the quotes we have concerning them. Unlike with his recollections of his own vision, they weren’t something he repeated constantly over the intervening decades. Maybe he was reporting the facts accurately and maybe he was misremembering, or maybe his brain rewrote some of his memories. We just don’t know.

It should be noted that other close friends and acquaintances of Joseph did believe his account. In that article written by Larry Porter that I referenced above, he quotes several of them:

Orson Pratt, who joined the Church on 1 September 1830, understood the restoration process very well. Later a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, he affirmed: “It would be impossible for a Church to be re-organized upon the earth, unless God had bestowed the authority upon men to act in his name, that is, had spoken from on high and called them by revelation.”

Elder Pratt explained that John, the restorer of the Aaronic Priesthood, had taught while he was upon the earth that there was a greater priesthood—the priesthood after the order of Melchizedek—through which the obedient could receive the higher baptism, of fire and the Holy Ghost. “Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery sought after this higher authority, and the Lord gave it to them, before the rise of this Church, sending to them Peter, James and John. What for? To bestow upon them the Apostleship. 

“Now, who would be better qualified to administer the sacred office of the Apostleship than the three men who held it while they were here on the earth? … It has to be a man who holds authority in heaven that can bestow it here on the earth; and such men were Peter, James and John, who restored that authority to earth in our day, by bestowing it upon Joseph Smith. When this authority was restored, the Church was organized on the 6th day of April 1830, … and then there was power in existence, not only to baptize, but to confirm by the laying on of hands for the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost; and from the authority then sent down afresh from heaven has this Church been enabled to pass along, and receive the great blessings which the Lord has bestowed upon it.”

Hiram Page, a son-in-law of Peter Whitmer Sr., and one who was present on the day of the Church’s 6 April 1830 organization, later confirmed that “Peter, James and John” had come and bestowed the Holy Priesthood “before the 6th of April 1830.”

Brigham Young, confidant of the Prophet, began his examination of the gospel in 1830 and joined the Church in 1832. He declared, “I know that Joseph received his Apostleship from Peter, James, and John, before a revelation on the subject was printed, and he never had a right to organize a Church before he was an Apostle.”

We also have another account about this that’s interesting and may shed some doubt on Whitmer’s later statements, or at least confirm that Oliver was clear about his own testimony. In a paper written by Kenneth W. Godfrey it says:

A close look at the historical record discloses that Whitmer’s memory may have betrayed him with respect to the restoration of the priesthood by John the Baptist and Peter, James, and John. As early as 1823, the Prophet learned that “the Lord will give the holy priesthood to some.” Joseph Smith first wrote of this event in 1832, and Oliver Cowdery offered the first detailed, recorded account in 1834. Even William E. McLellin, under a journal entry of 25 October 1831, writes of “the high priesthood” and the “lesser priesthood,” suggesting that he knew of two priesthoods in the church.

David Whitmer himself was not free from inconsistency when recounting his views on the priesthood. For example, David H. Cannon reported that in 1861 when he visited Whitmer, the two men with others stood beside the grave of Oliver Cowdery. Whitmer declared that he had heard Oliver say, “I know the Gospel to be true and upon this head has Peter, James, and John laid their hands and conferred the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood.” Whitmer also displayed for the group how this was done. While the historicity of the restoration of priesthood authority is complex and the documentation not nearly as clear as we would prefer, certainly David Whitmer’s testimony that casts doubt on the appearance of John the Baptist and Peter, James, and John should not be accepted as true, especially in light of what he told Cannon.

Whether Whitmer’s recollections were 100% accurate 56 years later or not, I don’t know. But I do know that his opinion, while one I respect, is not one I lean on for my own testimony. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter to me if he believed in those particular visions or not. What matters is that I believe in them. The Holy Ghost has been testifying of the restoration of the Priesthood to me for as long as I can remember. He’ll testify of that to you too, if you only ask Him to.

David Whitmer’s testimony is important. But what’s more important is your testimony. If you don’t have one regarding the Restoration, please do what you need to do in order to get one.


Sources in this entry:…Cowdery_and_his_friends_had_frequent_interviews_with_angels.22…told_them_he_had_seen_Jesus_Christ_and_the_Apostles_and_conversed_with_them.2C_and_that_he_could_perform_miracles.22….27I_never_heard_that_an_Angel_had_ordained_Joseph_and_Oliver_to_the_Aaronic_Priesthood_until_the_year_1834….22


Sarah Allen is brand new in her affiliation with FAIR. By profession, she works in mortgage compliance and is a freelance copyeditor. A voracious reader, she loves studying the Gospel and the history of the restored Church. After watching some of her lose their testimonies, she became interested in helping others through their faith crises and began sharing what she learned through her studies. She’s grateful to those at FAIR who have given her the opportunity to share her testimony with a wider audience.

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