Talk:Three Witnesses

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Final testimony [ edit ]

I'd like to see the summary final testimony analysis User:John Hamer put in comments in Golden Plates moved to the end of this article as a nice bookend for the article. Its absence leaves a hole. Tom H. 15:57, Jan 24, 2005 (UTC)

Tom --- actually I didn't write this part: Oliver is the only one I (User:John Hamer) can find a scant bit of evidence that he recanted his testimony - this happened during the Kirtland Safety society scandal — but the only available evidence is his asking Smith and the Church for forgiveness for his statement and said that he hoped he had not comitted an unpardonable sin (paraphrasing of course) by leading people to believe that he did not see the plates. i've found no other credible sources of this aside from early and easily discredited (such as ezra booth) early (pre-1860) anti-mormon materials. Even Whitmer said under oath in a courtroom that he had indeed seen the plates and had never denied it - and any rumors to the effect were untrue. This while he was estranged from the Church

I actually have a book on Oliver Cowdery, but I can't figure out where I put it. I'm planning on using it to beef up his post-excommunication period article. I completely agree with you about expanding this portion of the 3 Witnesses article and I plan to do that soon. --John Hamer 14:43, 25 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I believe I wrote the above quote -Visorstuff 23:28, 25 Jan 2005 (UTC)

No references. This is a poor article without references. I'll add some in shortly. If anyone else can find some, please let me know or post them here. -Visorstuff 19:49, 8 Mar 2005 (UTC)

The "Magical Three Witnesses" [ edit ]

This article has seriously drifted from NPOV. It now appears to be all about the "magical three witnesses." Some balance would be nice without an overdose of the "Magical World View." Bochica 01:30, 20 December 2006 (UTC)

I am adding NPOV tag per Wikipedia NPOV policy: "None of this is to say that tiny-minority views cannot receive as much attention as we can give them on pages specifically devoted to them. Wikipedia is not paper. But even on such pages, though a view may be spelled out in great detail, it should not be represented as the truth." Bochica 13:55, 22 December 2006 (UTC)
As an example of what I am talking about, refer to the section on Martin Harris. These are the words and ideas associated with this man in the very first paragraph, in the order in which they appear: respected farmer...magical world view...excitable and of the devil...met Jesus in the shape of a deer...visionary honest man...overbalanced by 'marvellousness'...reputation of being crazy...seeing spooks. I am fully aware that this material was drawn from what appear to be primary sources, but the bias of the paragraph is obvious. When I read the Wikipedia page on Harris, I'm reading about a different person. Bochica 14:40, 22 December 2006 (UTC)
I agree. The Harris biography needs to be changed as well.--John Foxe 15:33, 22 December 2006 (UTC)
Regarding evidence concerning the POV charge, an example is already stated above. Bochica 16:03, 22 December 2006 (UTC)

Yes, there's definitely some NPOV problems here... while Grant Palmer is fairly certain that he knows what the three witnesses' mindset was (and "others" from the same time period as well), his self-assured presumptions don't impress me. We really need to work on this, and find a way to walk between the "magical" and "spiritual/religious" line. Folk magic/Divinity, Gullibility/sincerity... we don't need to really take a stance on this here, but it seems across the board that we already have (and it's Palmer's). gdavies 07:38, 16 February 2007 (UTC)

Just prove Palmer incorrect and I'll concede the field. Whether Palmer impresses you or not is of little consequence.--John Foxe 14:50, 16 February 2007 (UTC)
I can quote books out the ear that say that Joseph Smith saw an angel of God, that he saw God the Father and the Holy Ghost, that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, etc, but if I added these statements to the article of course they would be completely out of place and inappropriate. I can say that "Joseph Smith said..." because he did, we can also state whatever Palmer speculated as to Joseph Smith's or anyone else's "mindset," but to state their speculation (which he really isn't qualified to make) as fact is completely and totally inappropriate. Unfortunately it's your duty to cite the material you add (appropriately cite, not state one's unqualified and unsupported opinions as fact.), not for me to prove that there "aren't purple dinosaurs under the surface of the moon." You may want to review Wikipedia:Verifiability and wp:NPOV. gdavies 00:17, 17 February 2007 (UTC)

Regarding John Foxe's unexplained reversion... I changed "supernatural" to "divine." Besides obvious POV implications, the three witnesses witnessed the divinity of the Book of Mormon, not it's "supernatural" origins, implying folk magic, etc. which is not something that the witnesses implied.

Also, I edited the intro to the three witnesses to indicate that it is a belief held by some (esp. Palmer) but isn't necessarily fact. This was reverted without explanation as well.

Finally, I changed the following sentence, "Before Cowdery served as one of the Three Witnesses, he had already experienced two other important visions." I made it a statement of what both Smith and Cowdery said, as opposed to stating what they said happened as a fact. I'm not sure why this was reverted... gdavies 06:10, 17 February 2007 (UTC)

I have a separate concern regarding this sentence; "Like Smith, who was a distant relative, Cowdery was also a treasure hunter who had used a divining rod in his youth. Cowdery asked questions of the rod; if it moved, the answer was yes, if not, no." Obviously POV, this sentence is a bit pretentious... the source is to a Vogel letter, and i don't think (and this is my personal interpretation) that this evidence alone is enough to slap a treasure hunter label on Cowdery, but it seems like a primary instance of village gossip indicative of little more than contemporary anti-mormon sentiment. gdavies 06:10, 17 February 2007 (UTC)

November, 2007 Added phrase to comment on member testimonies, which are based not only on impressions but also on personal experiences. 21:11, 14 November 2007 (UTC)cdowis

Biographical Material on the Witnesses [ edit ]

One way to get it back to NPOV would be to remove much of the biographical information about the witnesses themselves. In other words, focus this article to be about the collective experience of the individuals when the became (again, collectively) "the Three Witnesses," and leave the individual biographical information for the individual pages that are linked to from this article. -Awyatt 20 December 2006

This is not a bad idea in order to avoid excessive duplication of material between this page and the individual biographies. I haven't examined the individual biographical pages yet, so I cannot yet comment further on this. My main concern regarding NPOV in this article is that it has become completely skewed toward the perspective of a single author (Grant Palmer), with quotes from his work becoming interspersed throughout the article and represented as facts. I have no issue with including Palmer's POV (and all of the quotes from his book) as long as it is clearly indicated that this is only one of a number of points of view. The counterbalancing POV will also need to be added in order to achieve net NPOV for the article. Bochica 13:46, 22 December 2006 (UTC)
Actually, I'll correct my statement above. It's not just Palmer's POV that is quoted, but a collection of various quotes taken from Early Mormon Documents that, when arranged as they have been, is intended to make these men sound like they were magical simpletons. There exist plenty of other quotes from primary sources that talk about the character of these men, and some of these will eventually need to be added to achieve NPOV. Bochica 14:17, 22 December 2006 (UTC)
Please, gentlemen, instead of taking the easy way out and slapping a tag on the article, find the quotations that provide the opposing point of view. I certainly won't object to including them.--John Foxe 15:37, 22 December 2006 (UTC)
The purpose of the NPOV tag is to highlight an article which is currently out of balance. In order to bring it into balance, the additional information must be added. Until then, the article is POV and deserves the tag, regardless of whether or not you found the article uncited when you began working on it. Bochica 16:01, 22 December 2006 (UTC)
You haven't proved the article out of balance, only asserted it. If the Three Witnesses were not united by their magical world view, that should be provable from primary sources. You've objected to none of the information currently cited in the article. You've just said you don't like it.--John Foxe 16:10, 22 December 2006 (UTC)
John Foxe, I have appreciated much of your contributions to Wikipedia. However, I believe you are mistaken in saying that tagging this article NPOV is "taking the easy way out" - I believe it is the correct course of action. I have just reviewed the stated policy again and it seems clear that this article should be tagged according to established Wikipedia policy. After reading the article, readers may be unsure about several things, but one thing they will know for sure is the author's personal opinion of the subject matter. I personally agree with Awyatt's recommendation to remove biographical information from this article as it should be included in the biographical pages for each of these people - If someone wants to know more about any one of them, they simply have to click that person's name. I will NOT be tagging the article as I can see how quickly you have reversed it in the past, but would recommend it be done. I have attempted to be courteous and constructive and will not edit the article (other than minor grammatical corrections) without discussion. Brykupono 00:15, 5 January 2007 (UTC)
Thank you. I appreciate your courtesy. While I'm a believer in making articles as clean and readable as possible, the biographical information in this article is material to the subject. To remove it would obfuscate the world view of the Witnesses and the differences between their era and our own.--John Foxe 00:46, 5 January 2007 (UTC)

John Foxe: I note that you undid some of my edits, which I think is unfortunate. As I stated at the beginning of this section, I think the best thing to do may be to remove all the biographical information about the witnesses on this page and rely solely on the individual articles about them. Since that has not been done, I thought it best to add some additional information about the witnesses and their feelings about their testimony, about the Book of Mormon, and about the Golden Plates. (For instance, see the additions I just made to the Martin Harris biography section.) I did not remove the material that was there, but simply augmented it with first-hand accounts that are properly referenced and footnoted.

If you deem this not worth keeping, could you please indicate why? -AWyatt January 15, 2006

This is an encyclopedia article and should be clear, brief, and readable; it should not be a collection of undigested primary material with an LDS POV.--John Foxe 21:34, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
It seems odd to me that secondary material (which is what the article previously consisted of) is to be considered preferable to primary material. As to my additions being "undigested," I would take exception to that since I obviously edited them as they were added.--AWyatt, 15 January 2007
Pick up your nearest print encyclopedia and look at how articles are constructed.--John Foxe 21:54, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
This isn't a print encyclopedia. gdavies 00:22, 17 February 2007 (UTC)
It seems that by "clear, brief, and readable" you really mean "full of third hand sources speculating 150 years after the fact" as opposed to (heaven forbid) primary sources that actually has to do with subject of this article. What are you trying to hide? gdavies 00:22, 17 February 2007 (UTC)
I think "divine" instead of "supernatural" is perfectly fine. The "some have said" business was vague, and besides the current statement is cited to Palmer. As for the introduction of Joseph Smith into the Cowdery experience, it's unnecessary. Cowdery swore to the experience on his own, which is the point of the sentence.
I'm all for primary sources, but as a noted classicist said about surviving manuscripts from the ancient world, "A lie is a lie even when it's told in Latin or Greek."--John Foxe 15:39, 17 February 2007 (UTC)
I'm glad you're alright with "divine,"... but how in the world can we justify stating as fact what some nut said 150 years after the fact, who just happens to know what the three witnesses' mindset, as well as "other Americans" was (perhaps he has ESP or "second sight."). You've got to be kidding me. It's speculation, which is fine to include, but we're not including it to state it as fact or reality, but instead to note that the speculation is out there. "some say" or "Palmer believes" would be fine, take your pick, but adding his "hunch" as a fact is utterly ridiculous.
As to my addition of Smith into the Cowdery statement, why is it "unnecessary" to include the fact that both he and Smith claimed they had these visions together. They worked together, then they prayed together and had divine manifestations together. How is it "unnecessary" to include these very useful details? I'm trying my hardest to imagine the source of your real aversion to it... is it that two people saying these visions might possibly lend more credence to the theory that it actually happened? I just don't see your reasoning.
I absolutely agree that sources don't necessarily dictate truth. However, it seems like that's what you're doing, except with tertiary sources, and only ones that happen to support your POV. You object to my restatements, which do nothing further than demote a tertiary critical statement to what it is ("some" or "critic's say") rather than a fact. You've definitely set a double standard when it comes to including materials. gdavies 22:30, 18 February 2007 (UTC)

As an aside, Foxe, I find your edits very exhibitive of "ownership." gdavies 22:34, 18 February 2007 (UTC)

I think on every LDS page to which I've contributed a Mormon has accused me of "ownership." My answer is always the same: No non-Mormon can "own" a Mormon page. The LDS community can overwhelm any individual non-believer.
I've added a Palmer quotation. Palmer's a former LDS seminary teacher, so he's your baby if you want to call him "some nut." He's an authority, and if you care to refute him, cite a counter-authority. Certainly the LDS apologetic machine must be grinding in response to this embarrassment.--John Foxe 14:12, 19 February 2007 (UTC)
Absolutely he's "some nut," although he does have (if I remember right) a degree in anthropology. Being a former LDS seminary teacher does not make him an authority on anything other than being a former LDS seminary teacher. He has obviously overstepped his range of knowledge and experience in his books, and much of what he says is his personal bias/POV/speculation, unsupported and unsuplemented by anything in reality.
Your inability to acknowledge that you have often "owned" articles is illustrative of an ignorance as to the definition of "own". You don't have to know anything or be an elephant to own an article on elephants, but surely these types of articles may be "owned" at one point or another. Your logic makes absolutely no sense here, if you are reverting other people's edits without explanation (beyond, "you don't think it's necessary"), adding extraneous material that is POV, speculative and irrelevant, stating such material as fact, and then not allowing other editors to remove it. That is the definition of "ownership". From Wikipedia:Ownership of articles, "Some contributors feel very possessive about material... they have donated to this project. one thing to take an interest in an article that you maintain on your watchlist. Some go so far as to defend them against all intruders. Maybe you really are an expert or you just care about the topic a lot. But when this watchfulness crosses a certain line, then you're overdoing it." I don't think that you're really blatantly attempting to own this or any other article, but it bothers me that you've kind of immunized yourself from this possibility because you aren't Mormon. Obviously this article could be owned by anyone, with or without knowledge/experience about the article's subject. This applies to me and everyone else, "If you don't want your writing to be edited mercilessly or redistributed by others, do not submit it." gdavies 17:46, 19 February 2007 (UTC)
I have "owned" articles. In fact, I do "own" articles. None of them are LDS related, however.--John Foxe 22:02, 19 February 2007 (UTC)
I think this is the fourth or fifth time I've tried to explain ownership of articles... I'd really sincerely encourage you to just read Wikipedia:Ownership of articles. Being a sole or primary editor doesn't make you an "owner," an owner is one who generally discourages other people's edits to an article for whatever reason. (Although it's certainly possible you exhibit these same behaviors in these smaller articles) gdavies 07:20, 21 February 2007 (UTC)
I understand you completely. Some articles that I've written are effectively modified only by vandals, bots, and me. That's because, for one reason or another, nobody cares about them. Of course, I don't own them; I "own" them. My guess is that I'm often accused of "owning" LDS articles because I'm the only non-Mormon who seems to be interested in them.--John Foxe 22:40, 21 February 2007 (UTC)
As long as we understand the difference between owning and "owning"... haha, yes that may well be a contributing factor, it's good to have you around for that reason, although we all make mistakes from time to time. gdavies 08:08, 23 February 2007 (UTC)

I'm not going to make another accusation of ownership (since that doesn't do anything anyway) but your actions over the last week or so are the kind of things I'm talking about. Just randomly reverting edits without explanation, burying material that doesn't support your POV and making large-scale deletions without discussion. gdavies 19:15, 14 March 2007 (UTC)

I think we can come to a meeting of the minds about material that you consider too anti-Mormon, but loading the article with material about Harris's wanderings in Utah isn't a great way to begin the conversation. Then too, if there's evidence against Grant Palmer's statement, let's have it.--John Foxe 22:17, 14 March 2007 (UTC)
I like to assume you know how unreasonable the last part of your statement was. That's not my prerogative, it's your responsibility to source material you include, not mine to disprove it. Why don't you have to "disprove" all the material you keep removing? You seem to assert some authority over this article that I don't quite understand. It's extremely obvious to me that you're cherry picking material that you feel supports your POV and then calling anything else "wanderings," "loading," etc. in an effort to downplay anything you don't personally want in the article. The material is valuable, well sourced, and your unexplained deletions really look like vandalism. I know we can work this out, but I'm frankly very peeved that you're so willing to bury anything that you don't like personally, and then continue to assert some guys gut feeling about the witnesses' mindset 150 years after they're all dead as fact. gdavies 02:02, 15 March 2007 (UTC)
Palmer is more than "some guy," he's an expert, a fellow who's spent his career studying Mormonism, something that neither you nor I have done. It's fine to contradict him, but you must do so with evidence.
The Harris material is fluff. It only repeats at length what has been said already, that at the end of his life, Harris returned to one version of his earlier testimony. On the Golden Plates page, we agreed that the current article was too long and you tried to shorten it. (I had no problem with any of your deletions.) Here you advocate adding a lot of extraneous material for no other reason than that it exhibits Mormon POV.--John Foxe 13:51, 15 March 2007 (UTC)
I would like to keep it short as well, but the right way to go about that is not to just delete everything you don't like. How about we go through and delete any repetitious material (which most of it isn't... btw) and see if we can shorten without losing content. I'm glad you were okay with my deletions, I hope we can do the same sort of thing with this article. The "extraneous" material covers stuff that hasn't been covered elsewhere in the article, and is more important (in my opinion) then you think. You say he merely "returned to one version of his earlier testimony." Surely that's a naive mischaracterization... he said that the rumors that were floating around that he ever retracted his testimony were completely false and that he always stuck to his original testimony. Surely that's very noteworthy that he made this statement under oath at the end of his life (whether you believe the statement is true or not). gdavies 17:11, 15 March 2007 (UTC)
As to Palmer, it's safe to say he's a critic and that he's definitely on questionable ground. He seems to have no problem proclaiming himself an expert (he has a masters in anthropology if I'm not mistaken) and then making comments about psychology, 19th century society, and a slough of other stuff that he is by no means an expert about. I have no problem including his comment, but we can't make it into something it's not - a fact. The fact is that it's what some critics (in great part due to palmer's book) believe, but what they believe isn't necessarily the truth. You can't "prove" their mindset, but you can prove what some people think it is. This is fundamental wiki reliability policy. gdavies 17:11, 15 March 2007 (UTC)
About those rumors that Harris retracted his testimony: they were true. But sure, it's no problem to say that he denied them under oath at the end of his life.
Palmer has an M.A. in American history from BYU. The magical mindset of the Witnesses is amply demonstrated in their respective biographies. Palmer just points out what can be denied only by ignoring plain evidence.--John Foxe 18:54, 15 March 2007 (UTC)
I think we're all very aware of your POV, but Palmer and his history degree doesn't make psychological speculation fact. We can state it, but not as a fact, because it isn't. We have no primary account (primary meaning something said or written by Harris) about a denial, just one obscure third hand letter, more likely the product of gossip than actual occurences. Don't you think there would be other references if this actually happened? We're not going to come to an agreement on this, unless we can compromise. I don't think Palmer deserves any mention on Wikipedia or anything pretending to be scholarly or unbiased. You think what he says represents truth. Why not just state the only indisputable fact, "Palmer (or critics, or some who are skeptical, etc.) has speculated that the witnesses had a magical mindset." gdavies 19:03, 15 March 2007 (UTC)
See what you think of these compromise wordings.
Harris repeatedly declared that he had seen the plates with his "spiritual eyes," as opposed to his natural sight, so his testimony and his "denial" might not have registered as a discrepancy in his mind.--John Foxe 20:16, 15 March 2007 (UTC)
That's one interpretation, here's mine. Right after explaining he saw them with his spiritual eyes he usually said "do you see my hand... am I tricking you? This is how I saw the plates and the angel, and I can't deny it any more than you can deny you're seeing my hands." I think it'd be completely ridiculous to get into a discussion about transfiguration, spiritual matter (D&C 131 particularly) and the effects of seeing an angelic being in some circumstances. Joseph Smith also said that he "came to himself" after some of his visions, and other prophets have talked about "dreaming dreams" or having "visions" while they're asleep. There's a whole element of altered consciousness that I don't think is relevant to this article, but since you bring it up I thought I'd ramble for a moment. I guess what I"m saying is you're inferring contradiction where he didn't (or, in general, the people who heard him). His experience was very real to him whatever his state was at the time it took place, and the fact that he said he saw these things with his spiritual eyes doesn't really mean much (to him or to me at least). Besides, he was one of the witnesses who received a spiritual witness of the plates, as opposed to the eight who received a physical witness... so the issue of "spiritual eyes" really makes sense and isn't necessarily contradictory.
I'm fine with the compromise (with the few edits I made). My problem was generally with the first sentence, which stated what Palmer said as a fact... how does my edit look? I'd still like to add in at least some of the material that was removed... gdavies 20:35, 15 March 2007 (UTC)
The early 19th-century magical mindset is part of the vision problem; it's similar to caves with plates and swords lying around inside, treasures disappearing into the ground faster than you could dig, etc.
I've tried to tweak a bit. You had two "fervents" in the same sentence, for instance. I say add away, and I'll take a look. Didn't seem to me that there was much of interest in that material though.--John Foxe 21:19, 15 March 2007 (UTC)
Whoops... I meant to replace the "more fervently than ever" with a "fervent" earlier in the sentence, but forgot to delete the other phrase... As to your edits... looks great, thanks for working with me on this one. I'll look through the other material and see what we can do with it. gdavies 22:30, 15 March 2007 (UTC)

Manuscript of Testimony? [ edit ]

Does the original signed manuscript of the Testimony survive? -- 16:58, 6 August 2007 (UTC)

No.--John Foxe 18:14, 6 August 2007 (UTC)
The original manuscript to the Book of Mormon was put in the cornerstone of the Nauvoo House and most of it rotted away. Though we have a small part of the original documents, the majority of it is gone. Just as with all manuscripts, without proper care it is very difficult to maintain/retain originals. We don't have any original signed testimony of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon. However, we do have the printer's manuscript where, in Oliver Cowdery's hand, he signed his own testimony in copying the testimony of the three witnesses in the printer's manuscript. I hope this helps. --Storm Rider (talk) 19:57, 6 August 2007 (UTC)

Testimony of the Tanners [ edit ]

Re: The authenticity of the experiences of the Three Witnesses is challenged by well known Mormon critics such as Jerald and Sandra Tanner, and the Institute for Religious Research.

It makes no difference whether well-known Mormon critics challenge the testimony of the Witnesses. Some Mormon could easily list a host of Mormon apologists who argue otherwise: "The testimony of the Three Witnesses has been supported by Mormon apologists B. H. Roberts, Hugh Nibley, and John W. Welch." Yawn. Now, if the latter did not support the testimony of the Three Witnesses, that would be worth mentioning.--John Foxe (talk) 19:55, 20 February 2008 (UTC)

Quorum of the Twelve [ edit ]

I see no reason to outright delete the material on the Three Witnesses choosing the original members of the Quorum of the Twelve. This information is readily available from any number of sources; if an editor is unhappy with the History of the Church citation, the answer is to request other citations, not simply delete it on the grounds that s/he can't find it mentioned in one particular work. I will be working on getting other citations. Good Ol’factory (talk) 13:06, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

  • Incidentally, I just found the reference for the same information in Bushman on p. 255, which User:John Foxe suggested did not exist when s/he deleted the material. Strange that you would delete this and claim it did not exist without checking first (?). Good Ol’factory (talk) 13:16, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
Sorry, my mistake. I looked at Bushman but obviously not hard enough.--John Foxe (talk) 15:17, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
No problem, just curious if you knew something I wasn't seeing. Thx. Good Ol’factory (talk) 07:51, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

Move of material from Criticism of Mormonism article [ edit ]

The reason that material is being moved from the CoM article to the main related articles is because the CoM article is so bloated and plagued with POV issues. By moving much of the critical material to the main related articles, it's given a chance for more context and, perhaps, thorough vetting. The CoM as it stands is, in a lot of ways, just a POV fork. I hope that makes sense. And I agree with your edit at the Eight Witnesses article. --TrustTruth (talk) 19:12, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

I dislike the notion that because one article is a POV fork, the situation can be improved by exporting the POV to other articles, such as Three Witnesses, that are relatively neutral and stable. In any case, most of the material that you've added is already here without the POV. But I'll stand down a bit on this one and let other members of the community have their say.--John Foxe (talk) 21:27, 3 May 2008 (UTC)
I agree with TrustTruth - In a perfect world, the Wikipedia would not have any POV fork articles, and all relevant content should be in the articles themselves. The content that was moved should be covered in this article for it to be balanced. If you think that it is too POV, then try rewording it (without changing the cited quotes of course). --Descartes1979 (talk) 02:00, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
I still think the section unnecessary, but if it has to be here, at least let's make it as concise as possible.--John Foxe (talk) 23:19, 10 May 2008 (UTC)
I think it should be absorbed into the article, ideally. --TrustTruth (talk) 01:15, 13 May 2008 (UTC)
OK, I've now incorporated that new material into the article. Once I eliminated the irrelevant comment about the family ties of the Eight Witnesses, I came up with one new sentence for the text and a couple in a footnote. Be happy to have your comments.--John Foxe (talk) 14:31, 13 May 2008 (UTC)

Magic world view? [ edit ]

Gents, I am a new editor so I hope don’t see my modest edit as some interloper. All this talk of ownership. My edit is to the point of what a standard opening paragraph should be about; a general statement of the matter at hand - The three Witnesses - broad topic - far more than pushing the headline "Magical worldview". I did allow that the matter at hand - the "witnesses" had created such a storm that the remaining articles would be examining different explanations for the claims made by the three witnesses. I gave links to those opinions. I believe I did so without passing off POV as fact as I observe to such an extent in Mormon WIKI topics as to often make them unusable as a scholarly fact based reference. SteveMarquis —Preceding unsigned comment added by SteveMarquis (talkcontribs) 06:10, 26 January 2009 (UTC)

If you believe there is anti-Mormon POV in the article, trying eliminating it rather than deliberately adding Mormon POV.--John Foxe (talk) 11:05, 26 January 2009 (UTC)

After seeing the unending defense you have raised {no not compelling - just unrelenting), I decided to grant you an olive branch by leaving your obvious POV problem. I completely agree with gdavies in regards to its inappropriateness notably in the context that you expressed it. Rather than remove it, I placed it in proper context and juxtaposition it with a link that was already at the bottom of the article.

Also I gave the opening paragraph what English101 teaches every student - What is the topic, A few supporting sentences that set the stage for further discussion - you on the other hand use the entire opening as a salvo to blast the veracity of the witnesses. What was their significance. My revision handles all these and freely acknowledges the controversy about their action with appropriate intro and links for further investigation.

If you want to get rid of your POV that I generously allowed, go ahead and edit it out and take oaks expert POV out as well. This should be about the facts, They acted as a group - the THREE. What did they do. How did it affect the Church. What effects did this produce in the greater public (that’s an opportunity to point out your controversies and ad a link but not to put in your private digs. Leave that for the links or the detail in the article.

I will now restore with a small but proper improvement in the opening paragraph. SteveMarquis

Well Mr Foxe, I see you really really want your unadulterated POV expressed. So be it. Perhaps other editors can weigh in and we will leave the two versions for the reader's pleasure for now. SteveMarquis

Welcome to Wikipedia, Steve. The article lede gives plenty of introductory material, and the topic of the section in question demonstrates the most salient similarity between the Three Witnesses, their magical world view. If you want to dispute that fact, if you believe it's anti-Mormon POV, you need to prove it with appropriate citations not wordy, obfuscating additions. The fact that this article has been stable for months suggests that other Mormons have found the evidence unassailable.
You can identify your posts by typing four tildes at their conclusion. It's also appropriate to provide an Edit summary before making changes. All the best, John Foxe (talk) 11:29, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
John, you overstate the case. Silence does not mean stability or agreement; much less being unassailable. Magic world view is most definitely POV and is anti-Mormon at its core unless of course you think every Christian in the early 1800s held a magic world view and are willing to describe them as such. The salient characteristics of these individuals is that they all followed Jesus Christ and responded positively when hearing of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.
Steve, it is good to have you join Wikipedia. A word of advice when editing; never use flowery language. Editors should not lead readers to conclusions, but rather report the facts. Just as it is not acceptable to use "magic world view", which demonstrates the objective of tying these individuals not to their belief in Jesus Christ, but to the occult (a favorite of anti-Mormons because it is sensational to the uneducated), it is unacceptable to use words such as substantial, fledgling, avid, intense and so on. Strip out the interpretive language and it is a worthy addition to the article (when accompanied by complete references). John can assist with word-smithing should he choose, but his admitted objective is to provide the critical side of Mormon history.--StormRider 19:02, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
If the salient characteristic of the Three were that they were followers of Jesus Christ, then we would expect to find a host of nineteenth-century Protestants with divining rods and seer stones heading up revivals and becoming missionaries to foreign parts. In fact, mainstream Protestants of the day, here and abroad, condemned divining rods and seer stones as works of the devil.
By "unassailable," I meant only that the statement is properly cited and has not been refuted by any evidence that I've seen. In fact I've never read a Mormon apologist who's argued that the Three did not have a magic world view; usually the tack taken is that the practice of folk magic was quite common in that time and place.
And while I know this statement may well bring down on me Wikipedian howls, my objective here is not to provide "the critical side of Mormon history" but to write an article that both reads well and tells the truth.--John Foxe (talk) 20:21, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
John, I think you are a good wordsmith and apperciate your editing. However, the "truth" as you call it is very one sided. It may be that it is the truth as you see it, but it is hardly "the" truth. For example, you could ask one million LDS about the three witnesses and what characteristics did they share and I suspect you would not find one that would say it was their "magic world view". It is simply not in the minds of any LDS. Where that thought is held is at the other end of the the minds of anti-Mormons. It is an issue of framing the conversation. There is a middle ground that should be sought in an encyclopedia. I think you have a problem recognizing when you are interjecting what you view as important or "true" versus just reporting facts. You and Steve are guilty of the same thing, but just on opposite ends of the spectrum of belief.
Belief in magic did not help them to testify of Jesus Christ. Interestingly, you don't find sermons on seer stones or diving rods. If these items were so important we should see a plethora of discussions and teachings so that all LDS could use them. They are completely absent from any of their writings. What you do find are writings, discussions, and sermons in endless numbers that discuss their belief in Jesus Christ, His church, revelation, personal prayer, and faith. Their faith in God enabled each of them to walk through the mocking criticisms of their neighbors and the persecution of mobs. They may not have ended the race strongly, but they did not end it talking about their magic world view, but of Christ. There is no evidence to the contrary. --StormRider 21:46, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
The reason why you hear nothing of seer stones or divining rods from LDS members is that leaders who know (and are embarrassed) have made a deliberate attempt to prevent average members from learning about the superstition entwined around the origins of the Church.
As for truth, I believe in it. And I refuse to put the word inside "sneer quotes." What Mormons or anti-Mormons affirm about the Three Witnesses makes no difference. Wikipedians must often seek a middle ground but not when it means deliberately suppressing evidence.--John Foxe (talk) 22:30, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
No one has made a request to suppress evidence. Steve is attempting to add to the article. However, you do demand that only your side of the story is the "truth" and should be allowed in the article. Those quotation marks are used to signify that it is not an absolute truth, but rather a concept that is limited to your own mind. It is not truth for others, but just a spin. It is not shared by LDS or others. It is a one-sided story to promote your spin as truth. You know better and this is a tired argument. Wikipedia is not concerned about truth; saying what is true is beyond its ability and purpose. We are concerned about a neutral telling of history by reputable, reliable experts.
Just so that we understand one another, I know what is true and I know what is counterfeit and false. I recognize false teachers and false doctrines because I have spent years studying the religions of the world and though I have a deep appreciation of many of them, I know where I partake weekly of the Lord's supper. Any attempt on your part to belittle the beliefs of others is rejected in toto. Furthermore, my personal beliefs are irrelevant here on Wikipedia just as yours. To attempt to make this a soap box for one's beliefs is to distort, twist, and pervert the role of Wikipedia. Put down the axe and use your word smithing abilities to improve in a neutral manner this article. Begin by working in a cooperative manner with this new editor. His edits have merit and should be used.--StormRider 00:56, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
There are three salient truths about the Three as a group untypical of the either their contemporaries or of modern LDS—truths, not spin: they all had a magic world view, they all broke with Smith and were excommunicated from his church, and they all thereafter testified to the divine origin of the Book of Mormon. The LDS leadership is happy to emphasize the latter while suppressing knowledge of the former. When such knowledge can't be directly suppressed (frequently the case in this Information Age), they try a Hugh Nibley and blizzard members with learned obfuscation.
I often have sympathy for the practitioners of false religions, but unlike you, I have no "deep respect" for the religions themselves. That's because they're false. They're lies. "What communion hath light with darkness?"--John Foxe (talk) 10:51, 28 January 2009 (UTC)

(new indent) The three salient truths that you have identified are what you perceive; they are completely subjective. Can you see the difference and how other people will have a different concept of the "three salient truths" for these individuals? It is not a case of attempting to hide historical fact; that is something that you are creating. It has more to do with what individuals perceive. Our job is to use reliable references to share the different perspectives. To only focus on one perspective is to deceive readers while violating our NPOV standards.

We are getting off the purpose of this page, but it is worth a response. You missed the reason for my respect of other religions. What I respect is truth and I have found a great deal of truth in other religions (light seeks after its own). Yes, there are things that are false, but I do not seek after that which is false, but that degree of light God has given them. A recognition of truth does not result in communion with them; communion is only with the saints. One thing that you did point out correctly is that I have a deep respect for the practioners of religions; a more accurate statement than saying I have a deep respect for religions. --StormRider 18:18, 28 January 2009 (UTC)

Those truths about the Three Witnesses are not subjective. The Three Witnesses all had a magic world view, they all broke with Smith, they were all excommunicated from his church, and at some point afterward, they all testified to the supernatural origin of the Book of Mormon. Those are facts, not opinion; and they're all documented in the notes of this article. In other words, the statements are both Wikipedia truth and truth in the larger sense.--John Foxe (talk) 19:58, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
We are not disagreeing about facts, but we are disagreeing about what is salient. You seek to focus on three specific characteristics, but others may think there are other facts that are just as salient. Your focus is subjective and it would be acceptable for other editors to focus on other characteristics; both would be just as acceptable (assuming WP:RS). For example, I think the ability of the three witnesses to have a sense of folk magic is nothing and not significant to their role or actions as the three witnesses. We agree that it is significant that they all broke with Smith, but yet did not deny their testimony of the truth of the Book of Mormon or the restored gospel. To break away and still believe is of particular interest. The issue is where you seek to focus, but you deny other editors the same right to focus on other things. Is it deceitful that you focus on these things? No, and it is not deceitful of other editors to focus on other things. Do you get what I am saying? --StormRider 20:52, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
I'm sure there are other similarities shared by the Three. All of them died outside New York State, for instance. But it's more than a "focus" to note that all these gentlemen who said they saw angels and gold plates had previously been practicing folk magic. This similarity goes to the heart of their credibility as witnesses—which is why there's a Wikipedia article devoted to them in the first place.--John Foxe (talk) 22:11, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
John, my grandmother threw salt over her shoulder and my other grandmother, a fervent Pentacostal, could switch a well as good as anyone; so I suppose they should be added to the list of those who practiced folk magic and their character should be "besmirched" to your standards. You are stretching and you know it. You are not writing from objectivity, but you seek to highlight your POV. Again, set down the axe. --StormRider 04:22, 2 February 2009 (UTC)
Fortunately, I don't have to comment on your grandmothers' behavior because they didn't bear witness to gold plates displayed by an angel.--John Foxe (talk) 10:28, 2 February 2009 (UTC)

Friends of Wiki

It’s a good effort, but there is a life outside wiki so don’t for a minute think that lack of rebuttal is evidence of acquiescence. Further, when I see tit for tat unending until you wear out your fellow writer, it just becomes a last man standing affair.

Some of these articles as so chock full of POV that they read more like sophistry on a soap box than a plain statement of facts. That was in fact my 1st observation in “magic” . I value an essay much less when it redirects me than when it states the case. If it does redirect, then the link should directly make the case. Foxe’s links fail both my tests for a valuable article. The links bring me to a WIKI article even more chock full of POV than the initial paragraph and in any case the referred article did not even address the matter of “Magic” let alone make a convincing case that these 3 Gents were purveyors of the art.

John, If I just totally missed the “good dirt” on the three witnesses in those links – do point it out so I protest not.

I understand from the gentleman, Storm Rider, that made some defense for my part(thanks) that I must avoid flowery language like “fledgling.” Hmmm would “early” church have passed the muster of must I guess at a date range ? Yes I am being a bit pithy. Really. the best critique of that line would have been that it is just as relevant today as it was then. Now that would be a fact indeed. I’ll rewrite to that tone.

Because someone writes an article or book codifying his POV and ESP does not make the contents fact nor quotable as facts. Claiming someone an expert and therefore reliable is a logical fallacy called Appeal to Authority unless you can take the time to so establish his opinion as reliable and unbiased to be unquestioned. So far I have yet to meet a real one in any aspect of life from electronics to biology and definitely not from a Mormon apostate with an axe to grind.

If I am going to spend any time helping here it will be to root out POV and false application of experts opinion as just more opinion.

Quoting a remote article without at least insetting the salient quote as a teaser is the lousiest form of scholarship in my view because a chunk of people will just buy the point assuming the link backs the point. We can do better here. If you have some facts, besmirching the three witnesses then lay them on the table and quit hiding behind the skirts of links to links to a book somewhere.

As for adding in balance the quote from Justice Oaks, those ARE facts he was talking about. What did they do? How do witnesses behave in estranged situations. How did the these witnesses behave. A legal perspective is quite relevant and is fact based not ESP.

I will review the article and resubmit in this forum for your comments. Sorry it takes so much time for my reply– I have a very active life. I have nothing to hide. You can learn a bit about who is on the other end of the pen from my web sites: and Cheers Steve MountainMan (talk) 03:50, 2 February 2009 (UTC)

I think if we met, we'd enjoy each other's company, Steve, although I'm a generation older. But you really need to learn more about the nature of evidence on Wikipedia as well as rein in your tendency toward literary effusiveness.--John Foxe (talk) 10:40, 2 February 2009 (UTC)

I think so; I thought it a good Idea to attempt an e-introduction of sorts. Appreciate the effusive comment. Was that in regard to this side dialog or my initial post? I spend a fair amount of time on Wiki as a user and have a good feel for a good artical vs a poor one. You implied a different standard for facts than I would have - I'll review wiki policy and we'll talk againMountainMan (talk) 14:02, 2 February 2009 (UTC)

No offense, but I thought your article edit and your comments above were both pretty effusive. Rambling POV edits are not uncommon at Wikipedia, but I try to eliminate them in articles I watch. Remember that any statement that presents a point of view needs to be attributed, as I have done with Grant Palmer.--John Foxe (talk) 20:24, 2 February 2009 (UTC)

None taken. I can see a few places but I would not take a broad brush in that regard. Before I take another crack at this, I would particularly like to get to the bottom of your contention that POV is fine so long as you attribute it. That seems wrong. Can you point to some official WIKI goal that says POV has such a place of accetability? MountainMan (talk) 07:17, 4 February 2009 (UTC)

This from WP:NPOV: "As the name suggests, the neutral point of view is a point of view, not the absence or elimination of viewpoints. The elimination of article content cannot be justified under this policy on the grounds that it is 'POV.'...Articles should provide background on who believes what and why, and which view is more popular; detailed articles might also contain evaluations of each viewpoint, but must studiously refrain from taking sides."--John Foxe (talk) 11:28, 4 February 2009 (UTC)

Cowdery's possible denial [ edit ]

I think this quotation from Times and Seasons has enough authority to include in the article. I have no doubt that Cowdery later said that he never rejected his original testimony. But why should this one sentence with authority from Times and Seasons be rejected out of hand?

There is even the possibility, though no direct evidence, that he may have briefly denied his testimony regarding the Golden Plates. [reference] The following verse was published in Times and Seasons (1841), 2: 482:"Or does it prove there is no time,/Because some watches will not go?/...Or prove that Christ was not the Lord/Because that Peter cursed and swore?/Or Book of Mormon not His word/Because denied, by Oliver?"

--John Foxe (talk) 00:51, 6 February 2010 (UTC)

Here is my thinking...what would the value be of a statement that said, "There is the possiblity, though no direct evidence, that Jesus Christ may briefly denied any relationship to God the Father and that he was only the literal son of the carpenter, Joseph."
  1. Wikipedia is being place in the position of stating a "possibility" of something happening...that Jesus was not the Son of God.
  2. The reference to support this is a single statement, Because denied, by Oliver. What is the context and why was it written. Is the author taking poetic license because Oliver had defected from Mormonism? Did he equate this defection with a denial of the Book of Mormon? Probably so, but that license does not equate to reality.
  3. Stick to reality and actual facts. You know that I have long advocated just keep to facts, do not surmise, do not guess, do not uses these types of statements without very clear quotes. Without doing so, we end up with gibberish. What is the value of "Jesus denied his divinity"? You and I both know that we can use scripture to say almost anything we choose when the standard is left to a "possibility" of being true.
I am not rejecting a statement out of hand, but continuing in the same standard I draw for all other articles and edits. This reeks. I once read an article that accused Jesus of practicing magic because of the words he used to curse a fig tree. (See Matt 21:19). I found it an absurdity because of this same quality of logic. Sorcerers used this same type of language when they cursed things and Jesus did also...therefore Jesus is a sorcerer. At best the speaker is synthesizing a POV. Worse, in this instance of Oliver, we are taking a poem and synthsizing a conclusion that has no evidence to support the statement. We are not building our edits on sand, but we are making edits out of whole cloth. Poetic license is one thing, actual facts are another. --StormRider 01:16, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
This looks familiar. Is there a reliable source that cites this poem as possible evidence that Cowdery may have denied his faith? If not, then I think it should be excluded. I think we need at least one reliable source to give credence to it. COGDEN 02:18, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
Shook, the source I've quoted in the footnote, uses this poem as additional evidence; but I find the three testimonies that he joined the Methodist church to be even stronger evidence. I suppose we could question the reliability of Shook; perhaps some LDS apologist has done that.--John Foxe (talk) 00:25, 7 February 2010 (UTC)

As much as a negative mess as this article article is, designed to destroy the credibility of the witnesses, I have re-worded this statement per WP:SYNTHESIS:

"There is indirect evidence he denied his testimony"

When I looked at the source cited for it, it said no such thing and rather said "he was ashamed of his connection with mormonism". It says nothing whatsoever about denying his testimony. The author (Foxe) has drawn a negative conclusion from the citation (as usual), in an attempt to damage the reputation of the witnesses (as usual). Since the source does not provide any support for the statement he is keen on defending whatsoever, I have changed it. Routerone (talk) 08:43, 7 February 2010 (UTC)

I agree that Cowdery's statement before the Methodist church of Tiffin might be interpreted differently: either that Cowdery was ashamed to have ever been involved with Mormonism or that he was ashamed that he was currently associated with the particular version of that religion that had recently excommunicated him. In such a case, a quotation from the primary source is probably best.--John Foxe (talk) 12:23, 7 February 2010 (UTC)

Testimony of Harris [ edit ]

I though it would be better to separate out discussion on the three, first up is Harris. Issue: The reference that is prefaced with an specualtion by a contemporary critic seems pretty weak. I don't think it should be in the article, at least not in the form it is now. Maybe just the information about Harris taking out an endowment in Utah while at the same time apparently did support other Utah based LDS practices.Rockford1963 (talk) 18:53, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

What's weak about the reference? Metcalf's an authority, and the citation is to EMD.--John Foxe (talk) 00:53, 7 September 2010 (UTC)
Weak because it is stated to be speculation. This, coupled with the fact that it is from an LDS critic, and the sentence about about Harris' testimony of the BoM being is folowed by an "although", makes the parapgraph appear to be POV. I sugegst the following:
In 1870, at the age of 87, Harris accepted an invitation to live in Utah, where he was rebaptized and took out an LDS temple endowment in Salt Lake. Harris spent his remaining years with relatives in Cache County, bearing fervent testimony to the authenticity of the plates. Although now alligned again with the LDS church Harris indicated, in an interview, that he did not beleive certain LDS practices, such as temple endowments, were part of Mormonism.[36] In a letter of 1870, Harris swore, "[N]o man ever heard me in any way deny the truth of the Book of Mormon, the administration of the angel that showed me the plates, nor the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints under the administration of Joseph Smith, Jun., the prophet whom the Lord raised up for that purpose in these the latter days, that he may show forth his power and glory."[37]Rockford1963 (talk) 13:04, 7 September 2010 (UTC)
I've eliminated the words "speculation" and "although." The fact that the information comes from an LDS critic makes no difference. In fact, I've now improved the paragraph by adding more specific information from Metcalf because he's such a reliable source.--John Foxe (talk) 15:52, 7 September 2010 (UTC)

BOMC edits [ edit ]

BOMC has recently made a number of edits without citing WP:RS to back the changes. He has also refused to discuss the edits on this talk page.--John Foxe (talk) 18:05, 9 January 2012 (UTC)

It's up to you how this goes. You can be credited with defending non-primary sources or you can back up your claim that I have not

  1. Documented the changes.
  2. Used primary sources.BOMC (talk) 22:08, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
You need to take a look at WP:RS. Odd as it seems to newcomers, Wikipedia privileges secondary, rather than primary, sources. Come back with the proper sort of secondary sources, preferably one at a time, and we'll talk them over.--John Foxe (talk) 20:24, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
A reading of WP:OWN and WP:Please do not bite the newcomers would probably be in order as well :-) ~Adjwilley (talk) 20:45, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
I'm not the owner, just the "genius tutelary." :)--John Foxe (talk) 20:54, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
This is the second time you, John Foxe, have made unsubstantiated accusations. Give examples.BOMC (talk) 06:51, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
Please discuss major changes here first. (The burden of proof's on the editor who wishes to make the change.) I'll be glad to talk the edits through with you, but they need to be discussed here first. Most of your sources are not WP:RS.--John Foxe (talk) 22:06, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

Proposed [ edit ]

I divided this talk section and created a new subsection entitled Whitmer Excommunicated? New subsections will be added as each point is addressed. In response to 72Dino proposal, I have added the relevant quotes from all sources and added additional ones. This meets wiki standards.BOMC (talk) 01:15, 15 January 2012 (UTC)

With the caveat that this was not my edit and I'm not an expert in this area, I wanted to propose an edit that had been inserted and reverted. This is one of a larger number edits that may need to be addressed this same way.

Whitmer Excommunicated? [ edit ]

The second paragraph in the lede currently reads as follows:

All three witnesses eventually broke with Smith and were excommunicated from the church he had founded. Harris and Cowdery eventually rejoined the church, and to varying degrees, all three continued to testify to the divine origin of the Book of Mormon.[ref]In 1838, Joseph Smith called Cowdery, Harris, and Whitmer "too mean to mention; and we had liked to have forgotten them." B.H. Roberts, ed. History of the Church (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1905), 3: 232.[/ref]

It is proposed that these sentences be revised to read:

All three witnesses eventually broke with Smith and two were excommunicated from the church he had founded—Harris and Cowdery.[ref]David Whitmer separated from the church but is often described as being "excommunicated." (Michael J. Latzer, "Whitmer, David," American National Biography Online, Oxford University Press, February 2000.) Researcher Ebbie Richardson discovered that Whitmer had resigned from the church but that his membership was never voted upon: "After members of the Council had read the letter from David they no longer thought it necessary to investigate the charges made against him. The feeling created by the letter caused the Councilors to consider him no longer 'a member of the Church of Christ of the Latter-day Saints,' though there is no indication that his membership was ever voted upon." (Ebbie L. V. Richardson, "David Whitmer, A Witness to the Divine Authenticity of The Book of Mormon," Provo: Brigham Young University, Master's Thesis, August 1952, p. 71.)[/ref] Harris and Cowdery eventually rejoined the church, and all three continued to testify of the divine origin of the Book of Mormon.

Apologies in advance if this is not the right approach or if the ref tags mess up the talk page, but there has to be a better way than the wholesale reverting going on. Thanks, 72Dino (talk) 18:24, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

Ebenezer Robinson is not a WP:RS. Besides, FAIRMormon says explicitly here that Whitmer was excommunicated. Cowdery's testimony to the Book of Mormon is at least suspect and so therefore the qualifier "to varying degrees" is appropriate.--John Foxe (talk) 23:06, 13 January 2012 (UTC)
You respond that Ebenezer Robinson (author of a published book) is not a reliable source and then cite some wiki as more reliable? WTucker (talk) 02:18, 14 January 2012 (UTC)
No. Just noting that even LDS apologists agree that Whitmer was excommunicated. Leonard Arrington & Davis Bitton, The Mormon Experience (University of Illinois Press, 1979)—which is a WP:RS—says, "David Whitmer, a witness to the Book of Mormon, was likewise read out of the church." (67)--John Foxe (talk) 02:45, 14 January 2012 (UTC)
O.K. I am not sure I would equate "read out" with "excommunicated" in the face of other evidence to the contrary, though. Now, I would like to see your evidence that Ebenezer Robinson is not a reliable source. WTucker (talk) 05:29, 14 January 2012 (UTC)
American National Biography, a scholarly, peer-reviewed source (and therefore a reliable source for Wikipedia) says, "On 13 April 1838 he was formally excommunicated." Ebenezer Robinson's book is neither scholarly nor peer-reviewed, and it was published by a church; therefore it's an unreliable source for this article.--John Foxe (talk) 23:34, 14 January 2012 (UTC)

The known points of view are now included in the above proposed edit. I have applied some styling (only for the Talk page) that should allow editors to quickly see what is different. I removed Joe's view of the witnesses and suggest it be moved down the page where it can be presented in context. Any suggestions are gladly accepted.BOMC (talk) 00:28, 17 January 2012 (UTC)

A 1952 master's thesis written at BYU isn't a WP:RS.--John Foxe (talk) 15:17, 17 January 2012 (UTC)
The guideline on theses is "Completed dissertations or theses written as part of the requirements for a PhD, and which are publicly available, are considered publications by scholars and are routinely cited in footnotes. They have been vetted by the scholarly community; most are available via interlibrary loan. Dissertations in progress have not been vetted and are not regarded as published and are thus not reliable sources as a rule. Masters dissertations and theses are only considered reliable if they can be shown to have had significant scholarly influence." (See WP:SCHOLARSHIP). If this master's thesis has had significant scholarly influence, then it is an RS. If not, then it is not an RS. Just bringing up the guideline (although it's not a policy) to help with the discussion of sources. 72Dino (talk)
Thanks, I should have posted that quote myself. I can imagine situations in which a 1952 master's thesis from BYU would more than qualify as a reliable source at Wikipedia, say the biography of an obscure LDS pioneer who's later made part of a prosopography.--John Foxe (talk) 18:55, 17 January 2012 (UTC)
 DoneThank you 72Dino. I can't tell if user John Foxe was being facetious; I will assume good faith, but for other readers, yes, the above mentioned work by Richardson has had significant influence and is the de facto source for subsequent works including Vogel, Cook, Brighurst, Anderson, etc. I'll go ahead and make the edit then and consider this section done.BOMC (talk) 03:18, 18 January 2012 (UTC)
I wasn't being facetious. My point was that I could imagine a situation in which a 1952 master's thesis from BYU would be a WP:RS, but you've not demonstrated that this one is. You'd need to provide citation evidence that this thesis has had "significant scholarly influence."
See section 12.3 below for the scholarly uses.BOMC (talk) 13:22, 20 January 2012 (UTC)
Lucy Mack Smith's memoirs are a primary, rather than a secondary source; and the citation to EMD is incorrect. Vogel (EMD 5: 421) gives the date in his chronology on that page as "Circa 28 June 1829."--John Foxe (talk) 22:04, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

The Callings of the Three Witnesses [ edit ]

There are two problems with the following statement, first, it is in the wrong section and second, it is wrong.

Testimony of the Three Witnesses As a group, the Three Witnesses served only one other role in the church before they were excommunicated in 1837-38. After Joseph Smith had selected the council of the Twelve Apostles from among the veterans of Zion's Camp, the Three Witnesses "called out the twelve men and gave each one a blessing."[4]

I suggest it be moved to the section: The Three Witnesses

The intent of the paragraph is unclear. Is the point what callings they had? Or how the twelve were called and ordained?

Sources Vetted [ edit ]

Richardson, Ebbie, "David Whitmer," M.A. Thesis, BYU, 1952. WP:SCHOLARSHIP

Scholarly uses: Vogel, Dan, ed., Early Mormon Documents, Signature Books, 2003, p. 460; Romig, Ronald E., "David Whitmer: Faithful Dissenter, Witness Apart," Differing Visions, Dissenters in Mormon History, eds., Roger D. Launius and Linda Thatcher, University of Illinois Press, 1994, p. 40; Jennings, Erin B., "Whitmer Family Beliefs and Their Church of Christ," in Scattering the Saints, Newell G. Bringhurst and John C. Hamer eds., John Whitmer Books, 2007, p. 45; Marquardt, H. Michael, "David Whitmer: His Evolving Beliefs and Recollections," in Scattering the Saints, Newell G. Bringhurst and John C. Hamer eds., John Whitmer Books, 2007, p. 77; Quinn, D. Michael, "The Mormon Succession Crisis of 1844" in BYU Studies, vol. 16 (1975-1976), Number 1 - Autumn 1975, p. 200; Backman, Milton V. Jr., Eyewitness Accounts of the Restoration, Deseret Book Co., 1983; Backman, Milton V. Jr., Joseph Smith's First Vision: Confirming Evidences and Contemporary Accounts, 2d ed. rev. Bookcraft, 1980, p. 145; Van Wagoner, Richard S.and Steven C. Walker, A book of Mormons, Signature Books, 1982; Anderson, Richard Lloyd, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses, Deseret Book Co., 1981, pp. xiii, 73.

The Return, Cook, p. 262; Romig, p. 44; Jennings, p. 44; Marquardt, p. 64x2, 75x2, 77; Quinn, p. 200. — Preceding unsigned comment added by BOMC (talkcontribs) 13:15, 20 January 2012 (UTC)

American National Biography says Whitmer was excommunicated. So does Arrington & Bitton. Romig, whom you've cited above, cites the High Council as having "decided that David Whitmer be no longer considered a member of the Church of Christ of Latter day Saints."(36) A 1952 master's thesis can't legitimately contradict later first-rate published sources from Oxford and the University of Illinois Press. That sort of argument is WP:FRINGE.
Both sources (M.S. thesis & The Return) were vetted. The wiki is not the place to argue pov. I reverted your edit because my inclusion already acknowleged both view points. After showing that my source did meet wiki standards, you should have restored my edit.BOMC (talk) 20:27, 21 January 2012 (UTC)
Your 1952 master's thesis isn't WP:RS for this article. You haven't cited any use of the quoted material in any secondary source despite the fact that the thesis is sixty years old. Besides, published sources of the first quality say flatly that Whitmer was excommunicated. That should settle the issue. Why do you insisting on pushing this peculiar POV?--John Foxe (talk) 21:12, 21 January 2012 (UTC)
The thesis does meet standards as shown. So too does the thesis on Cowdery which you for some reason tolerate. What have you not rejected that one? Is there a reason? Is there a double standard?
I'm even more annoyed that you deliberately replaced the correct date with one that I've already explained is incorrect. It's 1829, not 1828 (you're a whole year off), and Bushman makes the month July (78).
Take a look at the footnotes where I've included additional information and see what you think.--John Foxe (talk) 23:40, 20 January 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for noting that year mistake! I placed both view points directly in the article now. Unless there is a source that says day and lcoation were "unknown" it does not belong.BOMC (talk) 21:17, 21 January 2012 (UTC)
We've been through this before. Any major edit needs to be discussed on this talk page first.
Grant Palmer says, "the official statements published in the Book of Mormon are not dated, nor is a specific location given for where the events occurred. There are not eleven affidavits but rather one statement signed by three men and one signed by eight." (195)
which edit are you talking about? to assume good faith, please return the favor by discussing them one at a time. The wiki should not favor any one view point. Instead of warring with me, just include the view you feel is documented. It doesn't have to be one-or-the-other. Thanks!BOMC (talk) 22:50, 23 January 2012 (UTC)
To repeat the comments I wrote above to which you did not respond: "Your 1952 master's thesis isn't WP:RS for this article. You haven't cited any use of the quoted material in any secondary source despite the fact that the thesis is sixty years old. Besides, published sources of the first quality say flatly that Whitmer was excommunicated. That should settle the issue. Why do you insisting on pushing this peculiar POV?"--John Foxe (talk) 21:08, 22 January 2012 (UTC)
Your pattern of making wholesale deletions without consulting specific improvements or the source material cited is getting old and is hindering the development of this article. Do not accuse me of not responding to you and please keep specific comments in the appropriate sections. You seem to take pride in keeping this article underdeveloped (i.e. you refused to correctly structure the page by taking the initiative in the last 4 years with what you say is 41% your own work and your refusal to do so after I asked you to do so.) What is the problem with respecting authorities who spoke specifically to the issue on Whitmer's excommunication, i.e. Marquardt, 2007? Thanks.BOMC (talk) 18:03, 24 January 2012 (UTC)
This article was stable for years until you decided to push your own POV undocumented by WP:RS. I do appreciate your addition of the bibliography. But this article is about the Three Witnesses and should not mention in the text some obscure writer of a 60-year-old master's thesis (the author perhaps a relative of yours?). I've asked you to justify your edits one by one. The burden of proof is on you to cite reliable sources if you'd like to make changes.--John Foxe (talk) 23:44, 24 January 2012 (UTC)
Storm Rider has reverted my edits without any discussion here.--John Foxe (talk) 14:53, 25 January 2012 (UTC)


I wish to discuss why user John Foxe who portends to own this page has failed to structure the Note and Reference sections like all well cited articles have? Or why Nyttend did not offer the suggestion since they argue quality of sources. The credibility of the Wikipedia on this topic and related topics is highly flawed and anyone familiar with the topic knows it is slanted beyond neutrality and a turn off. Can user Foxe show any contributions that have bettered the article or has he only been defending a position and spinning webs? It is deplorable that the wiki has tolerated his nonsense.BOMC (talk) 11:33, 13 January 2012 (UTC)

Wikipedia privileges secondary, peer-reviewed sources over primary material. To quote from WP:RS: "Articles should rely on secondary sources whenever possible. For example, a review article, monograph, or textbook is better than a primary research paper....Material such as an article, book, monograph, or research paper that has been vetted by the scholarly community is regarded as reliable. If the material has been published in reputable peer-reviewed sources or by well-regarded academic presses, generally it has been at least preliminarily vetted by one or more other scholars."--John Foxe (talk) 20:53, 13 January 2012 (UTC)
What have you contributed to the article? Why did you not set up the structure? Answer the questions.BOMC (talk) 21:03, 13 January 2012 (UTC)
Sorry, I don't understand your questions.--John Foxe (talk) 21:07, 13 January 2012 (UTC)
I think BOMC is asking why the article doesn't have separate sections for Notes and References like other articles do. ~Adjwilley (talk) 21:39, 13 January 2012 (UTC)
Ah, if all BOMC wants to do is add a reference section, I have no objection.--John Foxe (talk) 23:00, 13 January 2012 (UTC)
Unless you John Foxe can show a contribution, i.e. added something, it is apparent there is a COI going on. Please state what your interest is.BOMC (talk) 19:52, 14 January 2012 (UTC)
You can check my contributions to this article on Dashboard.--John Foxe (talk) 21:15, 14 January 2012 (UTC)
There's nothing substantial; but based on your sources, that makes sense. Are you going to correctly structure the page as explained by Adjwilley? If you fail to do so I will use your reluctance as evidence of a conflict of interest. Thanks.BOMC (talk) 22:41, 14 January 2012 (UTC)
42% of all the edits to the article is "nothing substantial"?--John Foxe (talk) 23:15, 14 January 2012 (UTC)

Conflict of Interest Inquiry - John Foxe [ edit ]

It appears user John Foxe has violated the WP:COI policy and I am asking for comments. Please review the guidelines and share your comments. I have several, but then I'm new here. If there is a concensus, he should be reported at once on the Wikipedia:Conflict of interest/Noticeboard to prevent further "disruption" to the objectives of the wiki.BOMC (talk) 20:08, 14 January 2012 (UTC)

I'm not sure if there is conflict of interest. I believe there is just a very strong POV as shown by edits like this by him. 72Dino (talk) 20:50, 14 January 2012 (UTC)
Thanks!BOMC (talk) 22:22, 14 January 2012 (UTC)

Importance Section needs to be removed/fixed/rewritten. [ edit ]

The section on "Importance" is very oddly written. It reads:

The example of the Three Witnesses has encouraged the practice within Latter Day Saint churches of having members regularly bear :::their testimony to the truth of the Mormon gospel based on personal spiritual experiences and impressions.

This seems to be POV or speculative. It seems to suggest that it is because of this history that Mormons "bear testimony." There is nothing in the research I've seen or the reference in the article that makes that direct connection. It is like saying that the sun "encourages" my alarm clock to ring. The only doctrinal connection is that they are similar actions, but not causally connected. Even if they had not received or recorded their witness it is not unlikely Church members would still testify of their beliefs. Does anyone have any research to back this statement up before we remove it?

The only way I can see it being worded is:

The testimony of the Three Witnesses is reflected in a practice within the Church where members dedicate a portion of one Sacrament meeting each month to bearing testimonies to the truth of the Mormon gospel based on personal spiritual experiences and impressions.

I believe this in no way contradicts the reference already in place.--Canadiandy talk 04:46, 15 January 2012 (UTC)

There's a little stylistic awkwardness in the change, but substantively it seems fine.--John Foxe (talk) 01:11, 16 January 2012 (UTC)
I agree with Canadiandy, unless a direct connection can be documented, this section needs to be removed or replaced with content that is documented and "Important."BOMC (talk) 00:35, 17 January 2012 (UTC)
It's been done. I tweaked the revision that Canadiandy suggested.--John Foxe (talk) 15:12, 17 January 2012 (UTC)
Thanks, all. I still don`t like `Latter-day Saint Church`, but it`s a hundred times better.--Canadiandy talk 08:11, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

I agree that it has been rewritten well, but the footnotes do not in any way show that a monthly testimony meeting is inspired by or due to the Three Witnesses. Personally, I think the idea is interesting but it's still opinion or original research. I am removing it. Ohspite (talk) 04:37, 18 July 2013 (UTC)

Testimony of the Three Witnesses Needs Rewrite [ edit ]

The sentence in question:

An 1830 statement titled "Testimony of Three Witnesses"—one statement signed by three men rather than three separate statements—was published at the end of the first edition of the Book of Mormon:

Seems redundant. Might I suggest:

The testimony of each witness was combined into a single statement that was then signed by each of the witnesses. This statement is known as "The Testimony of the Three Witnesses" and was included in the first and subsequent editions of the Book of Mormon.

As there were no comments and as the proposed edit was reversed, some background on the original version was warranted. The source for the original comes from Palmer and says:

The official statements published in the Book of Mormon are not dated, nor is a specific location given for where the events occurred. There are not eleven affidavits but rather one statement signed by three men and one signed by eight. p. 195

The official quote is more coherent. Either we quote Palmer outright, or make it clear that the "no date, no place" statement applies solely to the published statement and not in general.BOMC (talk) 19:37, 24 January 2012 (UTC)

BOMC edits (paragraph 1) [ edit ]

BOMC has repeatedly attempted to insert the following paragraph in this article:

The Three Witnesses were [[Oliver Cowdery]], [[Martin Harris (Latter Day Saints)|Martin Harris]], and [[David Whitmer]], whose joint testimony, in conjunction with a separate statement by [[Eight Witnesses]], has been printed with nearly every edition of the Book of Mormon since its first publication in 1830. All three witnesses eventually broke with Smith and two were excommunicated from the church he had founded—Harris and Cowdery.<ref>David Whitmer separated from the church but is often described as being "excommunicated." (Latzer, Michael J., "Whitmer, David," ''American National Biography Online'', Oxford University Press, February 2000.) Researcher Ebbie Richardson discovered that Whitmer had resigned from the church but that his membership was never voted upon: "After members of the Council had read the letter from David they no longer thought it necessary to investigate the charges made against him. The feeling created by the letter caused the Councilors to consider him no longer 'a member of the Church of Christ of the Latter-day Saints,' though there is no indication that his membership was ever voted upon." (Richardson, Ebbie L. V., "David Whitmer, A Witness to the Divine Authenticity of The Book of Mormon," Provo: Brigham Young University, ''Master's Thesis'', August 1952, p. 71.) This view was reiterated by Marquardt in 2007, see Marquardt, Michael H., "David Whitmer: His Evolving Beliefs and Recollections," in ''Scattering of the Saints, Schism within Mormonism,'' eds. Newell G. Bringhurst and John C. Hamer, Independence, MO: John Whitmer Books, 2007, p. 50.</ref> Harris and Cowdery eventually rejoined the church, and all three continued to testify of the divine origin of the Book of Mormon.

All reliable sources say that Whitmer was excommunicated. A sixty-year-old master's thesis is not a WP:RS when its information differs with such sources as the American National Biography and Arrington & Bitton, The Mormon Experience. Even if Whitmer's "resignation" were to be mentioned in the text, the citation should be to Marquardt, a more recent published source. (I'd advise a quotation from Marquart.) Why should an obscure author of a 1952 master's thesis be mentioned even in the footnotes?--John Foxe (talk) 21:29, 26 January 2012 (UTC)

@BOMC and John Foxe: The few sources I've seen on this also say that Whitmer was excommunicated, but I haven't been able to find much on the subject. Perhaps you two could "agree to disagree" on this one and compromise on a neutral wording? "All three witnesses eventually broke with Smith and left the church" might be an option. If an agreement can't be reached in this way, I'd probably side with John Foxe on the excommunicated bit, based on the sources I've seen. I haven't looked closely enough at the other edits to have an opinion on those, but I agree with others who have commented here that the tone and neutrality need work. ~Adjwilley (talk) 00:43, 27 January 2012 (UTC)
I removed the word "excommunicated" from the lead paragraph. (I hope you find that a profitable example of compromise by shortening.)--John Foxe (talk) 00:55, 29 January 2012 (UTC)

Young Synth [ edit ]

I've reverted this a couple times now, so it's probably time for a talk page discussion. It is synthesis to apply Brigham Young's quote (a primary source by the way) to the 3 Witnesses when it's not even clear that he's talking about them. Using the quote in this context is particularly problematic, since in the very next sentence Young says, "One of the Quorum of the Twelve—a young man full of faith and good works, prayed, and the vision of his mind was opened, and the angel of God came and laid the plates before him, and he saw and handled them, and saw the angel, and conversed with him as he would with one of his friends; but after all this, he was left to doubt, and plunged into apostacy [sic], and has continued to contend against this work. There are hundreds in a similar condition." (Note that none of the Three Witnesses was ever "one of the Quorum of the Twelve" indicating apparently that Young was talking about someone else who had seen a vision of the plates). Either way, please discuss before reverting again. ~Adjwilley (talk) 15:01, 18 April 2014 (UTC)

I think you're right.--John Foxe (talk) 19:30, 18 April 2014 (UTC)
What is this?