Questions and Answers
And I, Joseph, did return for a third day to the grove. And at this time my family became greatly excited about all that we had discussed and many of them were interested and wished to accompany us to the Grove, but we did not, as of yet, have them come.
But Alvin, my Brother, (Who wrote this record by his own hand) did come, and we saw the Lord for a third time.
And we did say as we approached, “Oh Lord; we have thought about what thou didst say about authority, and we have some questions for thee.”
“That is good,” replied the one who was identified as “Son,” “For asking questions is a good thing, and it will help one discover truth.”
“Oh Lord, We have looked at the scriptures to determine which of all religions are right, and little Don Carlos, he’s my brother, he said, ‘but how do we know the scriptures are right?’ And if authority is to be questioned, oh Lord, and the scriptures are written by authorities, well it begs the question, why should we trust the scriptures?”
“This is the right sort of question,” saith the Lord, “For it knocks upon the doors that bar knowledge, it seeks to find a deeper truth. Asking this sort of question will bring truth unto you.”
And Alvin and myself were much relieved that the Lord was grateful to have his scriptures questioned, and he did impart many words unto us of knowledge, but we, being so nervous did not write them all down, but we did write many, and we hope they are a guide to those who should read these words.
And the Lord said something close to, “In as much as I have made the claim ‘this is my beloved son, hear him,’ I have made a claim that is beyond common expectation, and thus extraordinary evidence should be presented to go with it. Behold, I could be the Devil appearing as an angel of light. Or I could be a dream or hallucination which are so common among the children of men. Therefore, the burden of proof upon my claim is mine, and I must redeem it, otherwise no man can be held responsible for their lack of faith. This thing is justice.”
And Alvin and myself were amazed that the Lord would prove himself to us, for we had never before thought of such an thing.
And the Lord said, “Behold the nail prints in my hands and feet, and the spear wound in my side. Handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. These wounds are more than mortal man can bare, and these things are not permitted that the devil should copy them.”
“Therefore these marks are sure.”
“Now, Ye may say, ‘Lord, thou dost not give us anything but thy word in this matter, is this not a contradiction?’ but trust and faith must begin somewhere, and ye shall see this trust is not ill-placed.”
And the Lord did show us many signs and tokens by which we might know a true messenger. Indeed, He did say, “When a messenger comes saying he has a message from God, offer him your hand and request him to shake hands with you.
If he be an angel he will do so, and you will feel his hand.
If he be the spirit of a just man made perfect he will come in his glory; for that is the only way he can appear—
Ask him to shake hands with you, but he will not move, because it is contrary to the order of heaven for a just man to deceive; but he will still deliver his message.
If it be the devil as an angel of light, when you ask him to shake hands he will offer you his hand, and you will not feel anything; you may therefore detect him.”
Then the Lord did introduce us to one such messenger. And my brother did remember that he was not writing the words, and did take up his pen again and did write.
“This is an angel, Moroni. He lived upon this continent long before the gentiles arrived. I introduce him now so that you may know him and there need not be any confusing accounts wherein ye might call him Nephi, or say he was a toad, or report him as a Spaniard cut ear-to-ear, nor that ye may need to pay an occult practicer a large sum of money that you might contact the dead.”
“But that ye may know that this is a true messenger, He will now shake your hand, and give you the tokens by which ye may know him to be true. And these Tokens are not to be kept secret, but should be known unto those who believe. But further, for men shall say that ye, Joseph Smith, invented these tokens, or that they were taken from the Masonic Order to which thine father belongs, I will cause a different image each day to appear in the minds and hearts of those who receive the token, that they might know this message is from me. And a false message will not generate the image in their minds.”
“Thus, if any man doubts a message, he can confirm the image with those around him who also received the message, and if all are agreed, then the message may be known to be true with a surety that is not perfect, for there is no perfect system on the Earth, nor shall there ever be, but we can correct mistakes as they occur.”
And thus Moroni did shake our hands, and did introduce himself, and told us about his people, and how Jesus did visit them once. And these things were interesting to us, but we know not why he was introduced, save that he should visit us again.
And the Lord did command that my family should come, and they were witness to Moroni, and the Lord, yea, My father, my Mother, My brothers and sisters were all witnesses. Yea, even female witnesses, for the Lord surely esteemeth one flesh as much as another, even one gender is not better than another.
And the Lord did not appear again, but we all rejoiced and did not attend the church in the area, and many of the preachers reviled against my entire family, because we asked hard questions, and questioned authority, and required a burden of proof. And the preachers did stir up the hearts of the citizens against us, but we were secure in the knowledge that the Lord had given us these tools and that they were not pursuing us for treasure hunting or some other illegal act.