A native of southern California who earned his doctorate at UCLA after studying at BYU, in Jerusalem, and in Cairo, he retired on 1 July 2021 as a professor of Islamic studies and Arabic at Brigham Young University, where he had taught since 1985.
Formerly director of research and chairman of the board of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), now BYU’s Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, he is also a former president of the Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology and is currently a member of the board of the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy.
Dr. Peterson served in the Switzerland Zürich Mission (1972-1974), and, for approximately eight years, on the Gospel Doctrine writing committee for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He also presided for a time as the Bishop of a singles ward adjacent to Utah Valley University.
He is married to the former Deborah Stephens, of Lakewood, Colorado, and they have three sons and three granddaughters.
Brothers and sisters, it's a real honor to have been asked to speak to you today and a privilege to be here and to be involved in something connected with Ensign College which I regard as one of the most interesting educational projects in the church, doing some very exciting things from what little I know about it. I've decided to talk to you about the subject of witnesses and I call it “Witnesses Assembled”. You may wonder why I use the word assembled. It's because I'm going to be bringing them together in different groups to make my point.
Witnesses have been very much on my mind of late. I've been involved in thinking about the witnesses for decades. I think that there are various groups and they need to be understood as different groups, not just that there are additional Witnesses, but different groups of them so the Witnesses Assembled include the three Witnesses. This is not an actual photograph of the three witnesses and Joseph Smith in the grove waiting for the experience they were to have, but it comes from the film that I've been involved with. The eight Witnesses are a separate and distinct group and I'll talk about them.
Then there are also what I call The Unofficial Witnesses or the Informal Witnesses of the Book of Mormon and I'll eventually add another group to that and talk about them briefly, but you've got these three distinct groups the three Witnesses the eight Witnesses and The Unofficial or Informal Witnesses. My interest in this was peaked, I suppose, kindled by a great scholar and a friend, Richard Lloyd Anderson, who passed away just in 2018. He was by far the leading expert in the church on the witnesses to the Book of Mormon. A very meticulous scholar and a very honest scholar who would devote his energy to tracking down the slightest evidence and he put it together in a book that I think is one of the great classics of Latter-day Saints scholarship. I think him to be one of the great scholars in the Latter-Day Saint tradition. This book is called Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses and here's a comment from him in that which I think is important and true.
”No testimony,” he says, “of direct revelation in the world's history is better documented than the testimony of the Book of Mormon witnesses” and that's why they're so interesting. You have ancient witnesses, but here you have modern witnesses awash in a sea of documents. We can know a great deal about them and their character. We know very little about Isaiah, essentially nothing apart from what is said in the Bible.
Essentially nothing about the Apostles, the ancient Apostles apart from what's said in the Bible, but with the witnesses to the Book of Mormon we can know a lot about their society, their culture and them in particular. Now I was in a position finally to do something about my interest in the witnesses, a long story that I won't bore you with, but I'm the president as was mentioned, of something called The Interpretive Foundation, publish a journal and so on, but we also got involved in movie making and this is a scene from the set of the film that we did called “Witnesses”. You see Martin Harris there in the lower left-hand corner, Joseph Smith on the other side of the barrier, Emma Smith is coming into the room and Mark Goodman the director who I hope never made it into any of the scenes.
This is a complex enterprise and it was a real learning experience for me. It was especially a learning experience to do it during the time of Covid, as Joseph and Emma, I don't think they ever wore masks like that, but we had to wear masks through much of the production except in the actual scenes themselves. It complicated things tremendously to make this film, nevertheless there are now three results from it and I mentioned them just in passing. The theatrical film, “Witnesses”, a documentary or docudrama that just came out called “Undaunted, Witnesses of the Book of Mormon” and then we're doing short reels, seven to twelve minute long segments where a scholar interacts with an interviewer to talk about issues raised by the witnesses and that's available online at no cost. The others we've made available there. It's a non-profit organization so I feel safe in making a commercial if you don't mind.
The story of the “Witnesses” begins in the Peter Whitmer cabin. Now this is the Peter Whitmer cabin in Upstate New York. Well, it is and it isn't. It's on the foundations, but it's reconstructed. This is where the Whitmer family lived so Peter and Mary Whitmer were the parents of quite a large family including David Whitmer. It was from there that the witnesses went out to have the experience that they had and there they are in actual photographs or I guess technically the one of Oliver Cowdery is a daguerreotype. I don't know exactly how technically that differs, but it's apparently technically not a photograph. We're fortunate to have it. The photograph or daguerreotype of Oliver Cowdery was only found relatively recently. He died relatively young, that's why he looks relatively young. David Whitmer and Martin Harris lived to riper ages and so the photographs of them are older. These are colorized, but they're actual photographs. We know now what they looked like and so they have fascinating stories which I can't tell you in detail, but lots of them we've tried to incorporate into the films.
Everyone is familiar, I hope with the testimony of the Three Witnesses. It's worth reading if you haven't read it recently and seeing the nature of the thing now, let me just emphasize certain things that three Witnesses claim. They say that they have seen the plates. We also know that they've been translated by the gift and power of God for his voice hath declared it unto us. We declare with words of soberness that an angel of God came down from heaven and he brought and laid before our eyes that we beheld and saw the plates and the Engravings thereon. And then it closes, nearly closes with this: The voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it wherefore to be obedient unto the Commandments of God we bear testimony of these things. David Whitmer later told an interviewer that the angel had actually told him, If you ever deny what you have seen, you will be damned, which I think would be a good incentive to stick with your testimony.
The important thing to emphasize here is this was a supernatural experience. This involved seeing the plates, yes, but hearing the voice of God, seeing an angel descend from heaven and they see a lot of objects so I'll come back to that in just a minute. Here again is that image of the four of them from the film, actors portraying those for Joseph and the three witnesses preparing to receive the witness that they did receive. Now interestingly Martin actually had his experience separately. He withdrew from the group feeling that he was the obstacle to the angel or the plates appearing before them so he withdrew. He had the same experience later on that day with Joseph. Martin Harris and, excuse me, David Whitmer and Oliver Cowdrey had theirs with Joseph earlier.
Now one of the interesting things about this to me and there are many, many interesting things to point out, is the fact that the Lord had already, in Doctrine Covenants 17:1 said what He was going to show to the three Witnesses: “… you shall have a view of the plates and also of the breastplate the sword of Laban, the Urim and Thummim , which were given to the brother of Jared upon the mount when he talked with the Lord face to face and the miraculous directors that is the Liahona which were given to Lehi while in the wilderness on the borders of the Red Sea.” So, there's a kind of promissory list here of the things that the witnesses will see.
This is really daring if you're Joseph Smith and you're making it up. You've got to somehow get these guys out into the woods and have them see all the things that you've just promised them they would see. So, is he able to do that? Well, Joseph isn't able to do that. That's the point, but here's what David Whitmer later says in an interview. He says, “The angel showed to us the plates, the sword of Laban, the directors (that is the Liahona), the Urim and Thummim , and other records. There appeared as it were a table with many records on it besides the plates of the Book of Mormon. Also, the sword of Laban the directors and the interpreters. I saw them as plain as I see this bed.” And then the person to whom he's speaking records that he struck his hand upon the bed beside him to make the point. It was solid, I see the bed very clearly. He would often say to people when they would say, “Well, you know maybe it was dark, you couldn't really see clearly, the angel was a long distance away…” He’d say, “Young man, the angel was closer to me than you are. I know what I saw.”
So, here the Lord has made a promise of what would be shown to them and David Whitmer later testifies he saw exactly those things the Doctrine and Covenants 17:1 said he would see. If you're a fraud, I just wonder how did he pull that off? How would he have done that? So, the evidence to me is that Joseph was not a fraud and I'll be saying more about that. Here's Brother Anderson again, “Nothing short of biblical Christianity furnishes such a concrete statement of supernatural reality. One cannot dismiss the experience easily. For each man so testifying, impressed his community with his capacity in unwavering honesty and all three consistently reaffirmed the experience in hundreds of interviews throughout their lives.”
Now, I want to expand on that just a little bit. One of my favorite arguments against the church that I ever heard was someone who said look David Whitmer remained faithful to the Book of Mormon, bore his testimony because he was terrified of Brigham Young. He knew that Brigham would have him done in if he ever dared tell the truth. Well, there's some issues with that first of all Brigham died in 1877 and David Whitman died in 1888. he had 11 years and he still goes on bearing his testimony and then the thing that really struck me when I went to the cemetery when he where he's buried, I should have had a picture of this in here, but there's a there's a stone pillar on his grave which he asked to be put there. On the top of it are carved in stone two books clearly meant to be the Bible in the Book of Mormon and then on one side of the pillar it says, “The record of the Jews and the record of the Nephites are one. Truth is Eternal.” Now, he's bearing testimony after his death. Surely by this point he's not scared of Brigham Young anymore, but he knew the Book of Mormon was true and he wanted to bear testimony forever. He had it literally engraved in stone.
Then, there's a very different kind of testimony, the testimony of the eight Witnesses and I used to wonder why three and eight? When I was younger I couldn't figure it out, it just seemed strange. Okay, so you have three and then you add eight more so now you've got eleven. Well, that's nice, but as I thought about it more I realized that the eight Witnesses are very very different from the three Witnesses. Their experience is fundamentally different. If you read their testimony, you'll notice it's restrained, it's matter of fact, it's legalistic. “…almost as many of the plates as the said Smith has translated we did see with our eyes.” You know, it's written in the kind of language that lawyers write which can be really dull. Anyway, the point is to be very careful. They saw the plates, which they said had the appearance of gold.
Now, they're not metallurgists and they didn't perform a chemical test on the plates, they just say they had the appearance of gold. They saw the engravings on those plates which they said had the appearance of ancient work and of curious workmanship. They don't claim to have seen the Liahona, the breast plate, sword of Laban, the Urim and Thumim. There's no audible divine voice, no heavenly confirmation, but they do use the word heft repeatedly. To heft something, they hefted the plates and to me this indicates heaviness. The plates are tangible, they're not something and Joseph Smith's imagination, they're not hallucinatory. They are a solid metal object and a rather substantial one. Richard Anderson again, “…eight farmers and artisans publicly reported that Joseph Smith had shown them ancient plates of the Book of Mormon, a practical group who worked with their hands. They were better able to evaluate the appearance of gold and the curious workmanship than eight picked at random from a modern city.”
Now I've had some people say to me, oh well these people were sort of divorced from reality, you know, they lived in a primitive world and so on. Let me ask you, many of us spend our lives staring into a computer screen in an air-conditioned or heated room under artificial lighting --who's divorced from reality? These are the guys who are out there pulling up tree stumps and moving rocks and building fences and digging wells, right? I think they're more tightly tied into reality than we tend to be and the fact that they said, we hefted these plates we turned the pages, that impresses me a great deal. All of them, like the three remained faithful to the Book of Mormon and their testimony of the Book of Mormon for the rest of their lives. So, you have these two groups and it seems to me that they constitute a real challenge to critics.
The three Witnesses, you could say, well, okay it was hallucination, it was a vision. We all know visions aren't real. Actually, we don't all know that, but some people say that and they want to dismiss it as being not real. It's fantasy. That explanation doesn't work for the three and it certainly doesn't work for the eight because the eight go out into a grove of trees at about one in the afternoon, absolutely matter of fact. No angel, no voice of God, nothing like that. Joseph Smith produces the plates, lets them hold them, turn the pages and so on. It's as down to earth as it can possibly be. On the other hand, if you try to go with the eight Witnesses first and you say, well, so Joseph faked some plates-- harder to do, by the way than you might think.
One of the things in our documentary is an interview with the metallurgist who has made the plates for the church's visitors centers. He says, “You know, I'm a professional metallurgist. It's hard for me to do this. Joseph didn't just pound out some plates, you know and pass them off. That's easy to say, hard to do, but assume, okay that he did. So, he takes some yokel farm boys out into the grove of trees and he shows them these plates and they fall for it. Fine, you think you've dismissed the eight Witnesses, but you haven't touched the three Witnesses. What do you do with the voice of God, the descent of an angel, all the other objects? Not just the plates, but the sword of Laban and the Liahona. All these other things that that the three Witnesses see.
An explanation that works for one doesn't work for the other group. It seems to me the difficulty isn't only arithmetic, you know it's twice as hard with two groups. It's four times as hard. I don't know how to calculate it, but something like that. It is much more difficult. And what price did they pay for it? Here's one of my favorite examples, but it's not by far the only example. These men who testified of the Book of Mormon were driven from state to state and ridiculed for the rest of their lives. They suffered for it. They paid a price for it. But here's one price they paid you may know about the mission to the Lamanites where Oliver Cowdrey and Peter Whitmer Jr. and Parley Pratt is another, there were four of them who went out on a mission to the borders of the Lamanites, that is to the Western border of Missouri early on in the church's history and it was one of the worst winters in the history of the United States. The snow was often up to their waists. They said that the wind was in their faces almost the whole way, freezing their skin. They were really really miserable and I'm thinking, okay, if I'm Oliver Cowdery and I'm in on some sort of scam or fraud about a thousand miles into this I'd be thinking to myself you know this isn't as fun as I thought it would be. I think I'll opt out. I’m just going to take off. It didn't really happen, forget about it, sorry I ever mentioned the Book of Mormon.
However, Oliver was a believer he wants to get out and it's his idea really to go preach the gospel in the borders of the Lamanites because they are the people he thinks who need to hear this news, that the record of their ancestors has been found. He believed, he was sincere and so are the other Witnesses.
Now I'm going to get to what I call the informal or unofficial Witnesses and there are several of them. In fact, there's one that I haven't even included here because I just heard about him a short while ago and want to research this. I think there's another witness out there who saw the plates or hefted them anyway and a really really interesting case. Never joined the church and he's quite famous for other things. But William Smith, the younger brother of Joseph Smith, is one of the witnesses. He actually held the plates on a couple of occasions at least and he testified that they were very very heavy. He wasn't one of the three or the eight, but he held the plates and he said they weighed about 60 pounds. Now that's at the high end of the estimates. Most of the estimates put them about 40 to 45 pounds. But what he's saying is they were tangible, they were a solid object. The family knew that Joseph had something that was really really heavy and he had to move it around a little bit.
Josiah Stoll is one of my favorites because I didn't know about him until a few years ago. Josiah Stoll was the man for whom Joseph used to work occasionally and he's interesting because he wasn't primed to see the plates. He saw them by accident and he testified to it under oath in a jury trial. He was asked by a prosecuting attorney, so how do you know that Joe Smith had the plates? He said because I saw them. I was reading through that trial transcript and I thought, my word, I didn't know this. Well, he said when Joseph was handing the plates to him covered in a cloth through a window the cloth came off one corner of the plates and he saw the metal plates underneath and they glistened in the light. This is a man who's not primed.
Some people have dismissed the three and the eight and said, well they were they worked themselves into a spiritual state and imagined these things. Well, he was just taking something passed through a window and saw it very matter of fact.
Lucy Harris, you may not have thought of Lucy Harris as a witness to the Book of Mormon. She's the wife of Martin Harris and she's really mad at him for spending money on the printing of the Book of Mormon, but she is a witness. She said at one point in a dream or in a vision, it's not clear which, an angel appeared to her and showed her the plates and turned them, page by page and commanded her to stop speaking evil of the Lord's anointed. I think it changed her ways for about three days and then she went back to speaking evil of the Lord's anointed. But one of the things she did was to donate a substantial amount of money, by the standards of her day, to Joseph Smith to help him have food to eat while he was translating. She is probably the very first person to donate money to the cause of the Book of Mormon which is really ironic given her overall history.
Lucy Mack Smith, the mother of the Prophet actually held and felt the Urim and Thummim and the breastplate. She said that she could see through the cloth that covered the breastplate; it must have been a very thin cloth and not very expensive or dense. She could see the glint of the metal through the cloth of the breastplate beneath. So, these objects were tangible, they were real, there was something. The evidence shows that Joseph had something in 1828-29.
Catherine Smith, Joseph's younger sister also handled the plates. At one point Joseph comes into the house. He's been chased by a mob, he hands the plates to her and says go hide these the mob is coming. She takes them, staggers under the weight, and puts them under the covers of her bed. She then climbs in, pretends to be asleep and the mob doesn't bother her so they don't find the plates. Later in in her life, she says they were really, really heavy—so they were tangible.
Emma Smith is another of my absolute favorites. Emma Smith used to have to move the plates sometimes when she was dusting. Joseph would go off and would leave the plates on the table covered with a thin cloth. Emma would sometimes have to move them. She said that they were really heavy. She had to move them so that she could dust or do whatever she was doing with her housework and Emma spent quality time with the plates—I think. She says later on in the interview that she felt along the one edge, she could feel the pages, the leaves of the plates. They felt like unusually thick pages of a book. She moved the top plate and heard it scrape metallically on the plate beneath it. She felt the three rings on the other side of the plates. She was asked did you ever see the plate—she answered no. To be honest, I would like to ask her, “Come on Emma, between you and me, you're alone with them, you're obviously standing there feeling them very carefully. Come on, I know what I would have done.” She said, “I know that my husband had the plates” and she did. Now whether she ever looked I don't know, but again she's testifying not only to the heaviness of the plates, the material reality of them, but to the description of them with the rings on the side and pages and metallic sound and all those kind of things.
You may know the story of Mary Musselman Whitmer. I don't know if you know all the story. Mary Whitmer was the Mistress of the home in which Joseph and Oliver Calgary were doing the translation and dictation. She was frankly getting a little angry with them because they were out there translating, dictating, taking dictation and they were farm boys so you know this kind of sitting work didn't appeal to them. So, every once in a while, they would get up and they'd go out, just to get a little exercise, fresh air, and light and they would skip rocks on the lake, a little pond and things like that.
Meanwhile, visitors are coming all the time and they're staying and Mary is having to feed them and take care of them and do all the housework. I'm sure a lot of women can appreciate this. The men are doing the important things, the women are doing the work that makes the family run, right? And important things in quotes, right? So, she was getting to the point where she was going to ask Oliver and Joseph to leave one day and we have three lines of source for this, that she told the story to three members of her family who later recorded it. She said that she was out in the barn doing farm work and a stranger appeared to her and called her by name which surprised her because she didn't think that, uh, how did he know my name and she said what do you want? He said, well, you've been under a lot of stress and pressure lately (I'm paraphrasing) and it's only fair that you should see the plates. You should have a glimpse of what's going on. He had a backpack. He took it off. He took the plates out and showed them to her and allowed her to turn the plates and examine the plates. She never complained thereafter. She knew that Joseph wasn't making it up.
Now the interesting thing about the Unofficial Witnesses to the Book of Mormon is that their encounters with the plates and what seems to be an angelic messenger, certainly in Mary Whitmore's case, actually happened before the official Witnesses. Brother Anderson, “These private encounters with the metal book preceded both the three Witnesses seeing the angel and plates and also the eight Witnesses handling the plates in natural surroundings.
So, there's something significant about those unofficial Witnesses—they're different. They don't expect to see the plates. They're surprised by them. They're not primed to have some sort of spiritual experience, they just have it and then report it. It's also interesting that there are several women among them, but there are no women among the official Witnesses. Let me just speculate on that really quickly here. Here's my suggested reason. Women could not serve on juries. Women could rarely serve as witnesses in American courts of the time. Their testimony would not be taken seriously. It's amazing, if you look up the record of when women were admitted to serve on juries, how late that happened. In some States, into the 50s and the 60s before women were allowed. It's stunning to me. I was completely surprised.
Some of you may have heard of or seen a play or a movie, a famous film, called “12 Angry Men” about a jury. But think about the title. This movie was made in the 1950s or 1960s. Late 50s, I think, and it's about a jury and it's 12 Angry Men. Think about how odd that is. It was only men, as late as that so I'm not surprised that women's testimonies were not included among the official testimonies because they wouldn't be taken seriously. Women couldn't own property. There were all sorts of restrictions on women. You're having to speak into the society of the day, but the Lord didn't leave women without witnesses and several of the unofficial Witnesses are women and their Witnesses are, in some ways, just as impressive as the official Witnesses.
I want to talk about in closing about another group of witnesses who are women. Who are the first people at the Tomb of Jesus? It's women. They go there, they find that the stone has been rolled away and the tomb is empty. And when they go back, remember they say to the apostles, we've been there, the tomb is empty and if you recall, one of the scriptural comments about it, the apostles didn't respond particularly well. “It seemed to them as idle tales”, the King James Bible says. They didn't believe them. Hysterical women. You know you can't take them seriously because in first century Judaism the testimony of a woman was not acceptable in court either. So, I think it's significant, by the way, that the first witnesses to the resurrection according to the scriptures are women.
Why is this significant? Because I don't think a Jew writing in the first century who's making the story up would have chosen it to be women. He would have chosen men. If you're making it up you can choose anybody you like, right? But it's women in the accounts because they really were the first witnesses there. The first, in a sense, Apostolic witness ever borne of the resurrection of Jesus, is borne by women. That's really interesting to me and you may notice in I Corinthians 15, when the Apostle Paul runs through a list of the witnesses of the Resurrection, he doesn't include the women. Why doesn't he? I don't know, but here's one possible reason. Paul is a lawyer and a Pharisee and he knows the rules for court room testimony in Jewish law and so he just doesn't bother to include the women. It's just all the men who'd seen the resurrection of Jesus or beheld the resurrected Jesus.
Now let me go on about one more of those unofficial Witnesses and that is Mary Magdalene. Here are the official Witnesses, unofficial Witnesses, eight Witnesses.
Here's Mary Magdalene you remember the story. Mary Magdalene sees the gardener, she thinks and then when he calls out her name, she realizes who it is. I'm sure that there's a subtle difference between seeing someone battered and bruised and dead on the cross and seeing him glowing with life when you hadn't expected to see him at all. He calls out her name and she says, “Rabbani! My master,” and then there's a funny passage. He says to her, “Touch me not, for I have not yet ascended to my Father which is in heaven.”
Now I've heard sermons and gospel doctrine lessons on this and it's one of my pet peeves so I'm going to express it here. This is an image from a Russian painter and you see Mary Magdalene reaching out and Jesus basically saying don't touch me, hands off, stay away. I don't think that's what happened at. Let me tell you what happened here. The Greek verb that's translated as touch me not is a weird, it's an inceptive aorist in Greek. We don't have that in English. It doesn't mean to not do something, it means to stop doing something that you are doing. So, she has touched him already. And it doesn't mean just to touch either. “Haptomai” means don't adhere to me, don't cling to me, don't attach yourself to me. Basically, I think she has thrown herself at Jesus. Can you imagine the response? Very human scene. She throws herself at him and is embracing him and he's saying, he's trying to peel her off a little bit and to say, look I'm sorry, I can't stay. I've got to go. I'll be back, but I've got to go. But it's a very different scene. I've heard gospel doctrine teachers speculate, well maybe you have to kind of the resurrected body has to go up to heaven and be certified by the father or something before it's okay to touch it. Nothing to do with that. She's grabbed him and holding on to him and he's saying, I've got to go. Stop clinging to me, please. I've got to go. So, a powerful scene.
This is an image from a church just outside the walls of ancient Constantinople, today's Istanbul. It's called the Korah Church, the Country Church and I love it because it's called the resurrection, heinostasis, and there you see Jesus. It's not what we would call the resurrection. They use the term more broadly than we do, but what he's doing is he's pulling Adam out of his tomb. He's pulling Eve out of her tomb on the other side. He's trampling on the gates of hell. He has burst into Hades, the spirit world, spirit prison if you will and he's freeing the spirits that are there. This is the scene that Joseph F Smith saw in his famous vision of the Redemption of the Dead. And in this scene, he is standing on those gates of hell. See the two, the doors, he's broken them apart. He's burst into the place and under his feet in that little blue area, there's all the lock mechanism. He's just burst the lock, destroyed it and if you look very carefully, there's a kind of odd figure. You can hardly tell, under one of the doors there. That's the Devil. He's standing on him. And what this shows is Christ's triumph over death and sin and all of those other things that are our enemies.
This is why these testimonies are so important. The Book of Mormon is important in its own right. Most important is it is something that points to other things. It points to the fact that there is a God. That there is a God who loves us and who intervenes in history and He has a Son, Jesus Christ, who came to redeem us and to save us and that Son rose from the dead.
He freed the spirits from spirit prison as He will do for all of us. He frees us from our sins and He will ultimately defeat Satan and put down the rebellion of Lucifer. This is the most important message that we can know. It's the most important message that we can share and it's the most important message to which the testimonies of the Book of Mormon itself, and where all the testimonies in the scriptures point, which is that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ and in the case of the Book of Mormon that the church has been restored. I bear you my testimony these things are true. That the gospel is true. That there is hope. That life doesn't end with death. That there is purpose in this life. There's a loving God who cares about us and He has restored His authorized Church which is led today by prophets and apostles and I bear you that testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.