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Dave, how (if at all) do you think the credibility of the three witnesses is affected by their association with Strang?

The idea of going to Wisconsin didn't come out of the blue. If I recall correctly from RSR, the church had previously sent some people up there (to get lumber I think) and at one point there was talk of sending Joseph up there to get away from enemies. Did Strang absorb the Wisconsin Mormon colonies--or what remained of them?

Good question, Ed. Witness credibility is determined by the jury, and the jury of active LDS are inclined to grant the Three Witnesses full credibility vis-a-vis the golden plates and the angelic witness regardless of anything they said or did later. For others, later association with Strang (or anyone else) by the Three might be more troubling.

In fairness to the Three, if someone didn't go to Utah but still considered themselves Mormon (as they did), you had to associate with someone. The RLDS Church emerged about 1860 partly because of frustration and disappointment up to that point of those Mormons who "stayed behind" with failed leaders like Strang.

Dave, does the book mention what happened to the Strangites (besides the five wives) after his death? Was there any effort to continue as a group, or did they go their separate ways?

PS interestingly (or not), I have a friend who's dad just remarried this past weekend and did so at Beaver Island (which was completely random...no connection to the area and lives several hours away).

The Strangites still exist.

I can't find it on their website now, but a couple years ago, part of the story of their group stated how the ones who followed BY out west were the "uneducated and poor" and those who stayed in Nauvoo were the educated and prosperous.

I see the title of this entry and I keep thinking of [edited] ... guess I should be thinking Kipling instead.

weird to see a comment by ethesis edited!

Fascinating stuff about the Strangites. I don't see the credibility of the Three tarnished by association with the Strangites. Any damage to their credibility comes from their disassociation with the Prophet Joseph Smith.

As for their relationship to the Strangites and the effect of that on their testimony about the Golden Plates and the Angel and other artifacts -- well, the Three testified that they literally saw and handled these items. I am not aware they made the same claims about any Strangite items.

So, ed, how do you think association with Strangites would affect their credibility about their statement of fact as to what they saw and handled physically? I'm not seeing the "credibility" connection here. It's like saying that because I believe Brigham Young was a prophet, my statement about whether I saw and touched my uncle's set of missionary scriptures comes into question.

Did the three actually touch any items? According to the testimonies in the Book of Mormon, the eight touched ("hefted") the plates in a non-glorious setting without any heavenly beings present. The three saw the plates and other artifacts in a glorious setting, as presented by an angel, but don't mention touching any of the items.

Bookslinger, according to the statement printed in the Book of Mormon over the names of eight men (four Whitmers, three Smiths, and a Page): "[A]nd as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated we did handle with our hands." That's actually a little stronger than "hefted," since you can "heft" something while it's inside a box or covered with a sheet.

I was going to point out, as Bookslinger did, that the Strangites are still kicking around. Last time I checked in, they were claiming between 75-300 members (depending on which source you checked). Back in Kirtland, where I used to live, there are still a few of the various splinter groups practicing.

Of course, there's the Community of Christ (previously known as the RLDS). There's also another group, the Church of Christ, some members of which I met the night before their annual 'washing of the feet' that the then-RLDS still allowed them to have in the temple. They were an interesting group--still believed in the Book of Mormon as scripture, but felt that somewhere along the way (my guess is during the Safety Society crisis) Joseph lost his prophetic gift.

What I would *love* to see come to print would be the definitive study of all restorationist churches. I once read that there are over 200 groups that all claim Joseph Smith and the restoration of their roots. It could be as simple as an encyclopedic format listing how, when, and why they broke from the main body of saints, as well as their leadership heirarchy since.

(I have even asked FLDS friends, and I just can't get their order of succession straight, only that the break with us goes back to John Taylor/Wilford Woodruff, for obvious reasons.)

Naiah, thanks for that (although I'm not sure if you were directly responding to comment 4). What are some of the sources you refer to as to the Strangites and some of the other restorationist churches you mention? Anything you've found particularly useful, beyond a Google search?

Alas, APJ, I don't even have that much. (I suddenly find myself trying to think of search items that would not land me pages and pages of anti-mormon nonsense; nothing comes to mind.)

I realize what a faux-pas it is in the academia-driven 'nacle, but I simply have my own experiences with people. When I was looking to be baptized LDS in 1995, someone pointed me at the Strangites, and, after my baptism, living in Kirtland and being a bit of a church history geek, you can't miss the CoC(RLDS). I met the sisters from the Church of Christ when I was a Tupperware lady. Another Tware lady got sick, and I filled in for her. The sister hosting the party had a scripture from Alma on the wall, and the conversation started from there. I knew about their ordinance because they were all talking about having had pedicures that day before "everyone saw their feet" the next day. How could I not ask? :)

So, given that my experience and scope of thought has been limited to first hand chance encounters, you can see why I'd hunger for nice, authoritative, well-researched, comprehensive book.

As for something useful (or at least of interest), there's a page on wikipedia (ahhhh, wikipedia) that you might find handy. Look up "Restorationism." I created the "Restorationist" page, which now redirects to the Restorationism entry, on a whim some time ago, with just one paragraph differentiating the LDS and it's spin-offs from 'Protestants.' In the ensuing time, someone has taken it and run with it, and done it more than justice.

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