Testimony of the 3 witnesses
Moses gave some very important instructions for civil matters among the Israelites. Especially when investigating the truth, the account by a single person was considered insufficient to accuse anyone of wrongdoing.
One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.
The intention of this instruction and others similar (2 Cor 13:1, Deut 17:6) was to swear before the priests and God as a witness to the truth so that justice could be carried out. To swear falsely was a serious crime, and very serious punishments were given out if a false accusation was discovered.
Oliver Coudry, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris have followed in this same tradition to justify or testify to the truthfulness of Joseph Smith's claim of receiving golden tablets from God which bring a new revelation and testament of God's wishes and intentions for mankind.
Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, his brethren, and also of the people of Jared, who came from the tower of which hath been spoken. And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shewn 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, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true. And it is marvelous in our eyes. Nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment-seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens. And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen.
For the sake of argument.
What if 3 people conspired to tell a story? One that was not true.
Is there no recourse? no room for argument? only blind acceptance? If an Israelite was found guilty of false witness, it must have been because there was outside evidence that proved the witness wrong. Remember, the truth can withstand cross-examination.
- How is it that there is no extra evidence for the existence of the Nephites and the Lamanites? (archeological)
- Harris testified that the plates weighed 40 - 60 pounds, but gave the dimensions of 18x20x10 cm. (3600 cm3 of gold should weigh about 150 lbs). how could Harris' estimate be so far off? How did Joseph Smith escape captors while carrying 150 lbs of gold?
- A reputed copy of the Reformed Egyptian language from the plates shows no connection to any known language. Was Joseph's translation miraculous just like the Book of Abraham? How is it that the Book of Abraham was found to be actually about burial rites of the dead after the rosetta stone was discovered and Egyptian language was understood. Why is there no other account of reformed Egyptian language in archeology?
Years after their testimonies in 1838:
Harris is said to have told an Ohio congregation that "he never saw the plates with his natural eyes, only in vision or imagination. Coudry was excommunicated from the church and publicly declared that he was "ashamed of his connection with Mormonism". Whitmer never recanted on his testimony but was also excommunicated. However, Harris and Coudry would later re-join the church later in life.