I had a bit of a spiritual epiphany the other day. An epiphany is one of those moments when you see, with sudden clarity, what you really should have known all along. For a long, long time, the debate had raged about Joseph Smith. Is he an inspired prophet of God, or con man and a charlatan? Is he a sex-driven madman that stole his friend’s wives, or a fierce opponent of polygamy? The historical debate rages.
Of course, over the years, I’ve gained my own testimony, and formulated my own understandings.
Then I read this post at the Pure Mormonism blog, and I was fascinated to read the information there and the interpretations thereof. It turns out that the historical evidence isn’t always what it seems. New documents are constantly being found, old documents are re-examined and understood in different light.
But what really hit me as the epiphany wasn’t the historical evidence that shook or supported my faith. It was the sudden realization that we really don’t know what we think we know. All of the ideas and interpretations and assumptions we’ve all made about Joseph Smith’s life are just that, and no more. There is simply not enough empirical evidence to say with any certainty who he was as a person.
Perhaps the truest words every written about him are, “No man knows my history.” People have been saying for years how the Church’s “official” history is glossed over and even inaccurate. Well, it looks more and more that the anti-mormon histories are no more sure.
The cool thing about that, and the source of my epiphany, is that, once again, it really comes down to testimony. Do you believe that he translated the Book of Mormon? Do you believe that he saw God the Father and Jesus Christ? Historical evidence will not prove nor disprove it. Prayer alone will.
...And I believe it.
Mark has a lifelong testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormon Church). Mark also has other sites and blogs, including MarkHansenMusic.com and his Dutch Oven blog.
Mark's Other Blog Posts: Dutch Oven Berried Chicken, New Song: "The Chapel"