Witnesses Shared Worldview
Three & Eight Witnesses
CES Letter Core Question
Were the three & eight witnesses gullible people united by a belief in magic?
They are 11 witnesses to the Book of Mormon: Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdery, Hiram Page, David Whitmer, John Whitmer, Christian Whitmer, Jacob Whitmer, Peter Whitmer Jr., Hyrum Smith, Samuel Smith, and Joseph Smith Sr. – who all shared a common worldview of second sight, magic, and treasure digging – which is what drew them together in 1829. (This was not a magic club. What drew them together is that they believed that Joseph received divine revelations and that his work was of God)
The following are several facts and observations on three of the Book of Mormon Witnesses:
CES Letter, Page 88
The witnesses were not gullible dupes, but were skeptical inquirers who would not have easily been deceived.
The witnesses were willing to testify because they believed in Joseph Smith and because their experiences were real to them. They understood that by giving their names to their witness statements, they would suffer social costs and rejection.
Some of the witnesses were related, but assuming collusion because of familial ties is not warranted. In fact, the opposite dynamic is just as likely. Their interest in Joseph Smith would not have distinguished their natural skepticism.