Shaker Witnesses

CES Letter Core Question

Why should we believe the Book of Mormon Witnesses but not the Shakers witnesses?

Shakers

The Shakers and Ann Lee:

The Shakers felt that “Christ has made his second appearance on earth, in a chosen female known by the name of Ann Lee, and acknowledged by us as our Blessed Mother in the work of redemption” (Sacred Roll and Book, p.358). The Shakers had a sacred book entitled A Holy, Sacred and Divine Roll and Book; From the Lord God of Heaven, to the Inhabitants of Earth.

More than 60 individuals gave testimony to the Sacred Roll and Book, which was published in 1843. Although not all of them mention angels appearing, some of them tell of many angels visiting them. One woman told of eight different visions.

Here is the testimony statement (page 304 of Sacred Roll and Book):

We, the undersigned, hereby testify, that we saw the holy Angel standing upon the house-top, as mentioned in the foregoing declaration, holding the Roll and Book.

BETSEY BOOTHE.
LOUISA CHAMBERLAIN.
CATY DE WITT.
LAURA ANN JACOBS.
SARAH MARIA LEWIS.
SARAH ANN SPENCER.
LUCINDA MCDONIELS.
MARIA HEDRICK.

Joseph Smith only had three witnesses who claimed to see an angel. The Shakers, however, had a large number of witnesses who claimed they saw angels and the Sacred Roll and Book. There are over a hundred pages of testimony from “Living Witnesses.” 

CES Letter, Page 103-104


Next Relevant Quote


Why should we believe the Book of Mormon Witnesses but not the Shakers witnesses? 

CES Letter, Page 104

The CES Letter continues to attempt to discredit the Book of Mormon witnesses by comparing their messages to that of over seventy testimonies published in the appendix of A Holy, Sacred and Divine Roll and Book. 

A holy, sacred, and divine roll and book from the Lord God of He

However, a comparison demonstrate many important contrasts:

Witnesses

Book of Mormon Sacred Scroll (Shakers)
Viewed the same things Yes

No

Commanded to bear witness

Yes No
Spiritual and physical experiences Yes

No (all spiritual)

Supernatural Experiences given to fulfill the law of two or three witnesses

Yes No
Testimonies specifically to all the world Yes

No

Later denials that the ever denied their testimonies

Yes No
Specific purpose of witnessed experiences Yes

No

Unified message

Yes No
Randomness of visions and testimonies No

Yes

 

To read the testimonies, Click here.

In Christian theology, “in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word [should] be established” (2 Cor. 13:1). The Book of Mormon witnesses were granted very specific supernatural experiences and then commanded to bear witness of what they saw.

The Shaker Roll and Book afterwards fell into discredit and dishonor among the Shakers themselves and was abandoned by its leaders and most believers,[12]

After the Three Witnesses saw the angel and the plates, Lucy Smith recalled Joseph exclaiming:

"Father, mother, you do not know how happy I am: the Lord has now caused the plates to be shown to three more besides myself. They have seen an angel, who has testified to them, and they will have to bear witness to the truth of what I have said, for now they know for themselves, that I do not go about to deceive the people, and I feel as if I was relieved of a burden which was almost too heavy for me to bear, and it rejoices my soul, that I am not any longer to be entirely alone in the world” (History of Joseph Smith, p.153).


Additional Resources:

Were the experiences of the witnesses spiritual or literal? It is claimed that the witnesses’ encounter with the angel and the plates took place solely in their minds. They claim that witnesses saw the angel in a “vision” and equate “vision” with imagination.

Did the Book of Mormon witnesses ever recant? Some have tried to argue that some or all of the Witnesses recanted concerning their testimony. They were all faithful to their testimonies to the end of their lives, even though many of them had personal disagreements with Joseph Smith that caused them to leave the Church.

Richard Lloyd Anderson, “Book of Mormon Witnesses,” byu.edu

FAIRMORMON: Book of Mormon Witnesses

Faith and Reason 7: Book of Mormon Witnesses, Michael R. Ash

Mormon FAIR-Cast 150: The Apostasy of the Witnesses, Martin Tanner

Mormon FAIR-Cast 150: The Apostasy of the Witnesses,

The Book of Mormon Critical Text Project and Mary Whitmer Witness to the Gold Plates by Royal Skousen

pt 1 Book of Mormon Witnesses and the Restoration

pt 2 Book of Mormon Witnesses and the Restoration

pt 1, Tangible Restoration: The Witnesses and What They Experienced 2006 FAIR Conference address

pt 2, Tangible Restoration: The Witnesses and What They Experienced 2006 FAIR Conference address

pt 3, Tangible Restoration: The Witnesses and What They Experienced 2006 FAIR Conference address

pt 4, Tangible Restoration: The Witnesses and What They Experienced 2006 FAIR Conference address

pt 5, Tangible Restoration: The Witnesses and What They Experienced 2006 FAIR Conference address

pt 1, The Cowdery Controversies

pt 2, The Cowdery Controversies

pt 3, The Cowdery Controversies

pt 4, The Cowdery Controversies

Tangible Restoration: The Eye Witnesses of The Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon Witnesses: Evidence for The Book of Mormon

Book of Mormon Witnesses, Part 1: Motives (PDF) by Michael Ash

Book of Mormon Witnesses, Part 2: Oliver Cowdery (PDF) by Michael Ash

Book of Mormon Witnesses, Part 3: Martin Harris (PDF) by Michael Ash

Book of Mormon Witnesses, Part 4: David Whitmer (PFD) by Michael Ash

Explaining Away the Book of Mormon Witnesses (2004 FAIR Conference) by Richard L. Anderson

Tangible Restoration: The Witnesses and What They Experienced (PDF) (2006 FAIR Conference) by Daniel C. Peterson

The Cowdery Controversies (PDF) (2007 FAIR Conference) by Larry Morris

The Testimony of Eight by Scott Gordon

Richard Lloyd Anderson, “Attempts to Redefine the Experience of the Eight Witnesses,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 14/1 (2005): 18–31.

Kenneth W. Godfrey, “David Whitmer and the Shaping of Latter-day Saint History,” in The Disciple As Witness: Essays on Latter-Day Saint History and Doctrine in Honor of Richard Lloyd Anderson, edited by Richard Lloyd Anderson, Stephen D. Ricks, Donald W. Parry, and Andrew H. Hedges, (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2000),223–256.

Kirk B. Henrichsen, “How Witnesses Described the “Gold Plates,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies10/1 (2001): 16–21.

Jeff Lindsay, “Circumstantial Evidence and the Witnesses of the Book of Mormon: Can They Be Ignored Any Longer?“, jefflindsay.com

Matthew Roper, “Comments on the Book of Mormon Witnesses: A Response to Jerald and Sandra Tanner,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 2/2 (1993): 164–193.

Richard Lloyd Anderson, “The Credibility of the Book of Mormon Witnesses,” in Book of Mormon Authorship: New Light on Ancient Origins, edited by Noel B. Reynolds and Charles D. Tate (eds.), (Provo, Utah : Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University ; Salt Lake City, Utah : Distributed by Bookcraft, 1996 [1982]),Chapter 9, 213–232.

Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1981).

Richard L. Anderson, “Personal Writings of the Book of Mormon Witnesses,” in Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited: The Evidence for Ancient Origins, edited by Noel B. Reynolds, (Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1997), Chapter 3.

Milton V. Backman, Jr., Eyewitness Accounts of the Restoration (Orem, Utah: Grandin Book, 1983).

Matthew B. Brown, Plates of Gold: The Book of Mormon Comes Forth (American Fork UT: Covenant, 2007).

John W. Welch and Larry E. Morris, editors, Oliver Cowdery: Scribe, Elder, Witness (Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah: Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, 2006).

Book of Mormon Witnesses, Part 1: Motives (PDF) by Michael Ash

Book of Mormon Witnesses, Part 2: Oliver Cowdery (PDF) by Michael Ash

Book of Mormon Witnesses, Part 3: Martin Harris (PDF) by Michael Ash

Book of Mormon Witnesses, Part 4: David Whitmer (PDF) by Michael Ash

The Book of Mormon Witnesses: Evidence for The Book of Mormon

pt 1 Book of Mormon Witnesses and the Restoration

pt 2 Book of Mormon Witnesses and the Restoration

Tangible Restoration: The Witnesses and What They Experienced (PDF) (2006 FAIR Conference) by Daniel C. Peterson

pt 1, Tangible Restoration: The Witnesses and What They Experienced 2006 FAIR Conference address

pt 2, Tangible Restoration: The Witnesses and What They Experienced 2006 FAIR Conference address

pt 3, Tangible Restoration: The Witnesses and What They Experienced 2006 FAIR Conference address

pt 4, Tangible Restoration: The Witnesses and What They Experienced 2006 FAIR Conference address

pt 5, Tangible Restoration: The Witnesses and What They Experienced 2006 FAIR Conference address

Attempts to Redefine the Experience of the Eight Witnesses–  by Richard Lloyd Anderson

Comments on the Book of Mormon Witnesses: A Response to Jerald and Sandra Tanner–  byMatthew Roper

David Whitmer Interviews: A Restoration Witness–  by Daniel C. Peterson

Personal Writings of the Book of Mormon Witnesses by Richard Lloyd Anderson

Articles of Faith 2: Royal Skousen on Book of Mormon Critical Text Project and Mary Whitmer Witness to the Gold Plates, Royal Skousen, 0:38:05

Faith and Reason 7: Book of Mormon Witnesses, Michael R. Ash, 0:15:32

Mormon FAIR-Cast 150: The Apostasy of the Witnesses, Martin Tanner, 0:19:20

Mormon FAIR-Cast 150: The Apostasy of the Witnesses

Explaining Away the Book of Mormon Witnesses (2004 FAIR Conference) by Richard L. Anderson