Some people believe that Mormonism was orchestrated by a man. Others say it was orchestrated by God. My goal was to find out. I needed to find out if this orchestration was beyond the reach and scope of a man.
I have always been the sort of person that likes to get to the bottom of things, and research them for myself. That mentality is no different than Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, or many other great leaders of the church. Blind faith has never been my thing. The leaders of every age whom I respect the most never just settled on someone else’s word. They used a combination of logic and faith in order to arrive at their testimony, and then never stopped building their testimony. They were never “finished” acquiring their testimony. We often attribute Brigham Young’s testimony to coming from a single event wherein “a man without eloquence,” Eleazar Miller convinced him of the truth through his pure testimony and pure testimony alone. Yes, Eleazar’s testimony may have sealed the deal for Brigham… but it was two years of careful observation and study that led him to a place in which his heart could be pricked by a simple testimony. Logic and faith finally intersected.
I’m a firm believer in what President J. Reuben Clark once said: “If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed.” I’ve never felt like God has wanted anyone to display blind obedience. Sometimes we cite Adam saying “I know not, save the Lord commanded me,” as an example of blind obedience. (Moses 5:6) But Adam’s faith and obedience was far from blind. The guy was just in the presence of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and was booted out of the garden. He had that event fresh in his mind. He experienced first hand, the existence and reality of God. Many of us have not had the same first-hand experience as Adam. We’re constantly looking for pieces of evidence to build our faith. It’s that evidence combined with a humble faith that drives our testimony to be one that endures through hard times.
The day before Joseph Smith was born was the twenty-second of December. That day is called the “Winter Solstice” otherwise known as the “shortest day” of the year. That day has the least amount of light making it the “darkest of days” throughout the year. The dawning of the next day, which is December 23rd, marks the beginning of “brighter days!” That day is a symbol of new beginnings and greater light.
Now imagine that! Joseph Smith was born on the one corresponding day of the calendar year that brought brighter days on to the earth in his region of the world. But let’s dig even deeper. The woman who brought Joseph Smith into the world was named Lucy. The name Lucy comes from the Latin meaning of “light” or “light bringer” or “light bearer.” So this “light bringer” lady was born, that happened to bring a boy into this world whom she named Joseph. Did she realize that when she named her fifth child Joseph, that the Hebrew meaning of his name meant “God will give increase” or “God will add to.” The boy’s last name would be a Smith. What is a “smith?” A “smith” is someone who forges and builds something new out of old and raw materials. Let’s take it even further. The boy Joseph had an older brother who stood by his side even until death. His name was Hyrum. The name Hyrum in the Hebrew means, “my brother is exalted,” or “brother of the exalted one.”
This thing we call the “restoration” is much more elaborate than most people suppose. It was orchestrated by someone. That many coincidences don’t just line up this way. It was either orchestrated by God or man. If it was orchestrated by man, then it was the most complex and comprehensive hoax to ever take place. But you’ve got to ask yourself, is there any way, that any of this could have been orchestrated man, especially when so many of these “coincidences” were set in motion well before any of the key players were born? Did Lucy’s parents name her Lucy and then ensure that her third child was then named “Hyrum,” so that he could stand by her fifth son who was named Joseph, whom she would somehow cause to be born on the Winter Solstice, the one day of the year that most accurately codified what a prophet of a new dispensation would do. Bring new light. Could they have known? Is it humanly possible? I can’t see how it would be.
But that’s just the beginning of the miracle of it all.
Now it was the angel Moroni’s turn to provide some evidence for us to stumble upon in our studies. Joseph Smith reported that Moroni initially visited Joseph and subsequently gave him his first glimpse of the gold plates on September 21st, 1823. That date coincided with the Feast of the Tabernacles. The Feast of the Tabernacles was instituted by God as a way for the Israelites to commemorate and remember the deliverance of God in times past. Out of all the times of the year, could there have been a better day for God to reveal a book that would mark the beginning of God’s final deliverance and gathering in the last days? Could Joseph, or Lucy, or Lucy’s parents or whoever might be suspect… even have a chance to get that right? We’re they academically capable of that kind of historical orchestration and planning?
If you just look at the significance of the names, the dates, and the setting of this latter-day restoration, you can logically conclude that there is more than just coincidence at work here. You’ll also be able to conclude that there is no way this orchestration came about by any human. No human is capable of setting up that many coincidences BEFORE they were even born. But this is just the tip of the coincidental iceberg. We could talk about the importance of the Malachi statement, church organization dates, and the miraculous appearance of Elijah in the Kirtland temple on the exact date that Jews around the world were setting a table for the Passover meal and leaving an empty chair at the table for Elijah to return? We could go on and on and on.
One of the greatest evidences in my mind of Joseph Smith being a prophet is the fact that there are so many of these cosmic coincidences associated with the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and surrounding events of the restoration. It’s one thing to make a prophecy and then go out and fulfill that prophecy, but it’s quite another thing to have meaningful evidence lined up to prove your case from before you are even born.
In the past, it was only the prophets of the Bible who were born into these types, symbols, and foreshadowings. These were things that would give us evidence of a creator and point our minds to Christ. These were things that could only be prepared for them from before the foundation of the world, and not by any human in this temporal world. “God has a work for you to do,” said the angel to Joseph Smith, “and your name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people.” Who says that… and actually has it happen?
God asks us to “study [things] out in out minds,” to take a step forward, and then ask him if it’s right, before we ever fully accept or commit to something. Never have I come across any of the Lord’s teachings in which he doesn’t want us to use our brains. I feel like our intellect is much more important than we’ve given it credit for in the past. God said he would tell us in our “mind”… and in our hearts. (D&C8:2-3) But we spend a lot of time talking about how to “follow our hearts” or “listen to our hearts.” God speaks to us first through our mind, and then our mind subsequently conveys peace to our “hearts.” It is the feeling of light cleaving unto light that illuminates our bodies and gives us peace in our “heart.” Joseph Smith once said that “When you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas… [and] those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God.” From what Joseph Smith is describing, our mind and our associated God-given intellect is at the core of our eternal progression. It is not our intellect that deceives us. It is our agency, rebellion, and rejection of the feelings that have been transmitted to our “heart” through the instrumentality of our brain and the spirit that quickens it. (D&C 45:26) The intellect just conveys. It’s the heart that accepts or rejects.
Humans are prone to forgetfulness. I’ve got to believe that is why so many prophets have emphasized the importance of the word “remember” over the years. It’s easy to forget the things “we absolutely knew to be true” just a couple years ago. So we’ve got to continually search, and seek, and remember the things that brought peace to our hearts through the instrumentality of our minds so that we can stay sturdy and strong in these last days. I found that if you look hard enough, you’ll be able to see that the creation and orchestration of the restoration of the gospel has plenty of logical evidence built in to reinforce our faith. Long before Joseph Smith even set foot on earth… orchestration was taking place. We just have to see it, recognize it, and attribute it to the correct source.