Shaker Witnesses

CES Letter Core Question

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


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.


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:


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


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


Later denials that the ever denied their testimonies

Yes No
Specific purpose of witnessed experiences Yes


Unified message

Yes No
Randomness of visions and testimonies No



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).