What are FACTS? How would you know? for sure, that is?
It seems there has been this wave of "falling away" among some of today's Millennial generation, and I think it has a lot to do with an unjustified but elevated level of trust in the information they read in the news, on the internet. There is this trust that they have all the information they need. But is this trust justified? I don't see it, and I do have a high level of distrust in the information I read because it is fallible. Plain and simple, information from man is fallible. Especially when it has to do with history.
I'm a pretty avid writer in my journals. I have written volumes. Its not on the internet. But sometimes I can go back through these writings and by reading my own writing remember things that were long lost and forgotten to me. I have experienced the scenario while reading my own writings even missionary journals, where I can't remember the things I wrote about, and I'm trying to even get the vaguest recollection of what I had written about, so lost was the event from my memory! How could something so important that I wrote about it, become lost to my memory? Can you imagine how fallible our writings must be when we make them about events from 4 or 5 decades prior? I am sure I would be creating some inaccuracies if I were to attempt to write about events in my life or my mission from 30, years ago, from 40 years ago, or especially 50 years ago! Even 1 year ago!
Yet that is exactly what has happened in much of LDS history where the historians are putting the statements from old people on their deathbeds reciting from memory how things "were" in their books. So we have these conflicting statements (of course). We have statements about Joseph Smith, the work etc., from apostates who were once apostles but quit angry as an enemy to Joseph, or even the wife of the prophet, all of whom have fallen away and joined other churches, forsook the kingdom and their previous testimonies of the truth as they once had it, and still some came back to the fold (like Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris after a decade of excommunication)... So we have some of these who have made statements, statements that are being used as "facts." But are they? Could they REALLY accurately remember? I know I couldn't.
Did you know that most scripture is written from the Spirit of Revelation? How else did Alma remember all of those DETAILS about what the Prophet Abinadi said to King Noah and all the wicked Priests? and later write it all down? God revealed these facts to him, that's how.
The only Facts that we can Trust in are facts that come from Revelation, from GOD.
Otherwise we are trusting in the arm of flesh.
Take the Book of Abraham for instance. How would we know it is true or not? That's easy, its by revelation by the power of the Holy Ghost. Yet we have some who claim it is not what it purports to be, they say it was a Joseph Smith fabrication now that some funeral texts that have been ASSUMED to be the same items Joseph Smith used to produce the Book of Abraham, which don't match the scripture text, at all. Maybe because its NOT the same item.
On the lds.org website*, it says of the papyri used by Joseph Smith for producing the Book of Abraham,
"historians believe that most were destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871."
When you ignore this fact, and remember how MANY papyri Joseph Smith actually had in his possession originally, and that only a few remain now, when you ignore this, then you can jump to the conclusion that the funeral texts were the same things that Joseph was looking at to publish the Book of Abraham, and you must conclude then he made it up. 50% chance you could be right based on simple logic and roll of dice. But if you consider that the original Book of Abraham writings he used actually got destroyed in the great Chicago fire of 1871, then it changes things. We will never know for sure using logic, because you are not going to ever see the papyri that were destroyed in the fire. Same "problem" with the person wanting to see the original gold plates, and not rely on the witnesses of those who did see. Its called faith.
Fact is, we'll never see the original manuscripts of the bible either, like the writings of Moses, but we still use and rely the first 5 books of the Bible, Genesis, Exodus, etc. which contain many doctrines including the 10 commandments and Marriage between a man and woman, starting with Adam and Eve. Wars and time have destroyed the original manuscripts. We only have copies today, the most prominent and amazing are the Dead Sea Scrolls. People believe these things in the Bible based therefore on FAITH. Not proof. It has always been so. I'm not sure that even having the original manuscripts "proves" anything except that someone wrote a manuscript. Even our testimony of God's very existence is based on faith, because nobody can prove it to each other.
This high threshold of "belief by proof" that many millennials are demanding is not even possible in ANY religion, so I do not understand the fascination with it, like its life changing when we are faced with fallible "facts" to don't comport with our previous understandings. Jesus is not in the history books, for instance, but He is heavily written about in the New Testament writings by His faithful followers, which took place many years after the fact, and we still believe that record based on our faith in their testimonies, that He was the Son of God! He was/is!! There is no historical proof of this, excepting a personal proof, to our souls, to our own persons from our exposure to the scripture texts. Proof is personal. If we see a vision, for instance, then it is still to ourselves only and we may declare it to others, but it is hardly proof to anyone else who hears us. If one gets proof of such things, it comes from God to their own persons/souls by the power of the Holy Ghost. This is testimony. If the Spirit of God witnesses to others of our testimony of things, then that is the way of God. By some other way, not of God.
I could go on and on about doubts many are having, but those doubts are based on assumptions, not proof. We can also doubt our doubts. Why not? They are not a proof. There will yet come a day when we have 100 times more information than we do now, where so many things will be much more clear. But for now, we are living by faith, and some are losing their faith because it is hard with all of the incoming pseudo truth presented as fact. Really? We must prove that, but alas, impossible. Its not the Lord's way anyway. He has always demanded FAITH of those that would come to know Him. Even the doubting Thomas, His original Apostle, wanted proof with his eyes. Jesus chastised him, and said that those who believed who did NOT see were more blessed than those who saw, and THEN believed. Not much of a test when we are shown absolutely.
An Apostle of God recently said 6 months ago in General Conference October 2015:
questions concerning the Prophet Joseph Smith are not new. They have been hurled by his critics since this work began. To those of faith who, looking through the colored glasses of the 21st century, honestly question events or statements of the Prophet Joseph from nearly 200 years ago, may I share some friendly advice: For now, give Brother Joseph a break! In a future day, you will have 100 times more information than from all of today’s search engines combined, and it will come from our all-knowing Father in Heaven.19 Consider the totality of Joseph’s life—born in poverty and given little formal education, he translated the Book of Mormon in less than 90 days.20 Tens of thousands of honest, devoted men and women embraced the cause of the Restoration. At age 38, Joseph sealed his witness with his blood. I testify that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. Settle this in your mind, and move forward!
Watch his talk here:
Husband, Father, Professional Engineer, and an amateur movie maker... and most importantly, a believer in Jesus Christ