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Review of Witnesses movie Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
June 20, 2021 9:41 pm

Review of Witnesses movie Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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June 20, 2021 9:41 pm

This week Bill and Eric go to the movies, taking a look at a Mormon-produced film titled Witnesses. Some things the film gets right, but other things leave the wrong impression. See whether or not the two from MRM give their thumbs up or down. For a written review, visit

Viewpoint on Mormonism
Bill McKeever
Viewpoint on Mormonism
Bill McKeever
Viewpoint on Mormonism
Bill McKeever
Outer Brightness

In their own words, a collection of Mormon quotations compiled by Mormonism Research Ministries Bill McKeever is a valuable resource when wanting to know what Mormon leaders have said on a given topic.

Pick up your copy at the Utah Lighthouse Bookstore or In 1979, Mormonism Research Ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect. And now, your host for today's Viewpoint on Mormonism. Apparently, their role in the coming forth of the Book of Mormon is certainly seen as something very important to many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, so much so that a film was released on June 4th, 2021 titled Witnesses. This film by the Interpreters Foundation, whose president is Dr. Daniel C. Peterson, a BYU professor, and a man who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This film also places a lot of emphasis in the testimony of the Three Witnesses when it comes to the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.

Well, Eric and I went to see this film, and I don't know, Eric, if you were a non-member of the church and invited by someone to go see that by a member, do you think it would have persuaded you that the story of the Three Witnesses was something that you did not know? If I were just to see that without having a background understanding of what most of the film was about, I would have been a little confused in a lot of areas. And I think one of the confusing things was the very beginning of the movie where it said it was based on a true story.

I mean, is this a true story, or is it based on a true story? Because if it's just a basing, you would think there's a lot of fictional details. I think for the most part, there was a lot of truth in the story. But they didn't always give you all the details. And so if you were to do more research, I think it would have raised more questions and provide answers. To address your first concern, there was at the end of the film an explanation that there was some theatrical license taken, and they did add some things in order to make it, I guess, more interesting to the viewership.

But you're right. Overall, many of the accounts that were in the film really did happen. But I agree with you, if you did not know the history behind some of the things that were quickly being referenced, you really wouldn't have an understanding of what's happening here.

And I can see how that could be very confusing. But of course, the strong emphasis of the film had to do with the gold plates. Did in fact these three witnesses see these gold plates?

And if they did in fact see these gold plates, what do you do with that account? And at face value, I would think that would probably be a pretty strong argument if in fact the three witnesses saw tangible gold plates. But there were a number of things that the film, and I have to say, Eric, I think Daniel Peterson's a smart guy. And I think he knows what a lot of the arguments are, because before this film came out, he kind of put out a call for papers, if you will, wanting people to send him some of the criticisms that they were aware of. And you responded to Dr. Peterson and gave him links to some articles that we have at, and also an article that MRM associate Sharon Lindblom wrote regarding that. And I don't recall seeing in the film some strong rebuttals to some of the things that we have produced.

And believe me, folks, a lot of what we produce is not all that original. These are things that have been around for years, because you know our habit is to cite sources that a Mormon would probably respect. And so we're not giving just our opinion, we are citing the opinion of other experts, historians, that should be respected by members of the LDS Church. Somebody might be wondering what are the articles that I sent over to Dr. Peterson, and so I'll give you the addresses so you can look at it for yourself. The first was your article, as you mentioned, Bill, called Did the Eleven Witnesses Actually See the Gold Plates?

We'll be talking about that this week during this series. You can see that article at slash eleven spelled out, eleven witnesses with a hyphen between eleven and witnesses. And then Sharon Lindblom wrote an excellent article back in 2017. It's titled Two Sets of Official Book of Mormon Witnesses, and that is found at slash, and it's a long one, Two Sets of Official Book of Mormon Witnesses, and hyphens between that, and two is spelled out. Two Sets of Official Book of Mormon Witnesses. I encourage anybody who wants to learn more about what we're going to be talking about this week to check those articles out. And just so you know, Dr. Peterson did respond and thanked me for sending those links, and he put in parentheses, sincerely.

So it seemed like he really did appreciate that he wanted to see what others were saying, including critics like us, and hopefully he did have a chance to look through them. I was kind of anticipating what this film was going to show regarding the weight of the gold plates, naturally, because I've been talking about that for years and taking my replica gold plates down to the Mormon Miracle Pageant for many years. And I find that that story is one that can really be used to get many thinking Latter-day Saints to just stop and reassess, quit telling people to go to Moroni 10-4 and merely pray about the Book of Mormon, because I would have many Latter-day Saints do that. Well, what about Moroni 10-4?

And what I would often tell them is, look, you're making me go clear to the end here. I want to talk about the beginning. If the story of the gold plates is not believable, if this did not happen the way Joseph Smith claimed and the way his witnesses explain it, there is no Moroni 10-4. And I think that needs to be stressed when we're having this conversation with our LDS friends. If the details that have been given to the LDS people did not happen the way they are led to believe, then we have a problem with Moroni 10-4. I'm not saying that it's not a part of the current Book of Mormon, but if the gold plates story is not to be believed, folks, there is no Moroni 10-4. There is no Moroni.

There is no Nephi. The story is a fabrication. It's a fiction. Now Dr. Peterson certainly doesn't believe that, nor do a great many of the Latter-day Saints. They do believe this story is authentic.

That's why I was very curious to see how these stories were going to be portrayed. We have to understand, as a historical story, if the Book of Mormon is not, then Mormonism ought to be rejected. In fact, Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland said at a general conference, this is recorded in the Inside magazine, November 2009, page 90, he says, if he or she leaves this church, it must be done by crawling over or under or around the Book of Mormon to make that exit. Well, if somebody has found out that the Book of Mormon is not true, that if the facts like you're talking about, as far as the weight of the plates, which we'll be talking about this week, if this is not in accordance with what the information we have, then the Book of Mormon doesn't matter, no matter how much you might want to cite Moroni 10-4 and 5 or other verses.

If it's not a historical book, then who cares? In fact, he even called it a sudden death proposition. Either the Book of Mormon is what the Prophet Joseph said it is, or this church and its founder are false, a deception from the first instance onward.

And he said that in the December 2002 article in the Inside magazine. Pretty much the same kind of challenge that Gordon B. Hinckley, another president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, laid down for people, that if there was no first vision, we're involved in a great blasphemy. So Jeffrey R. Holland, the man you just cited, and Gordon B. Hinckley, you might say, have really thrown down the gauntlet. If you can prove us wrong in these two areas, you have a point, and you probably shouldn't be a member of the LDS Church.

We thank Jeffrey Holland for that comment. We thank Gordon B. Hinckley for that comment as well, because I think what they do is they show just how serious these two stories are when it comes to the validity of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If you can poke holes in these two stories, one, the first vision, which the film really doesn't deal a lot with, it doesn't really talk about that, but it does spend a lot of time on the gold plates. How Joseph Smith retrieved them, what he did after he retrieved them, how he was received, how they were translated, it spends a lot of time dealing with those subjects, but very quickly in the time that we have remaining, much of the film deals with one of the three witnesses, a man by the name of Martin Harris. Now you would think that if you were going to trust the testimony of these three witnesses, including Martin Harris, you would want to have some kind of an idea as to what is the character of Martin Harris? What is the character of Oliver Cowdery?

What is the character of David Whitmer? All three of these men are featured quite prominently in this film, as we would expect, because the film is called Witnesses. It doesn't deal so much with the testimony of the eight witnesses, but it deals more with the testimony of the three witnesses, and these testimonies are found in the front of every edition of the Book of Mormon. In fact, let me very quickly just read to you what it says according to the testimony of the three witnesses. I don't have time to read it all, but this is the pertinent part.

This is signed by Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, Martin Harris, the three primary characters in this film. And we declare with words of soberness that an angel of God came down from heaven and he brought and laid before our eyes, and we beheld and saw the plates and the engravings thereon. And we know that it is by the grace of God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ that we beheld and bear record that these things are true. And the question that has to be answered, did they in fact see what they claim to have seen? I think the main question is, and I don't think the film really made the case, did they see tangible gold plates? And one thing for sure, it was clearly stated, gold plates. I'm glad they didn't fool around with that silly tombaga argument that we hear so much by Mormon apologists and Mormons on the streets. It dealt with the issue of gold plates, though the phrase golden was used in the film, but most of the time we are given the impression that the plates were made of gold.

That becomes important. If in fact the plates were made of gold, now we need to talk about the weight. Earlier you asked if I were somebody to watch that film, having been brought in by maybe some LDS friends, what would I have thought of the movie? And I'm going to suggest, from what you just read there, that they saw the plates. I don't see that in the movie. Right, they show this glow in their faces and you get the impression, well they're seeing something, but they don't really show the plates. And I was kind of curious, are they going to show this angel in kind of an ethereal type of a manner, and would the plates look the same as the angel itself? Or would the angel appear just as solid as the other characters that are in that particular scene? It doesn't do that. It doesn't show you the plates at that particular moment. Tomorrow we're going to look a little more closely at this film called Witnesses. We hope you'll join us again as we look at another viewpoint on Mormonism.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-01 23:51:20 / 2023-11-01 23:56:42 / 5

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