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What John Whitmer’s History Tells Us

John Whitmer’s history of the Church shows ordinary people working through real-world difficulties.

When John Whitmer was commanded in 1831 to record the history of the Church, he simply said, “I would rather not do it.” Regardless, he obeyed, and as Joseph Smith promised, his history has become “a choice record in Israel.”

John Whitmer’s record is available to readers in high definition on the Joseph Smith Papers website. Whitmer offers a rich perspective of the experiences of the early Church. Highlights of his record include the following:

Whitmer’s history paints a picture of ordinary people struggling along as they learn what it
means to be led by revelation and as they try to establish the kingdom of God on the earth. These
are some of the same struggles Church members face today.

Unfortunately, John Whitmer eventually left the Church, and the final chapters of his record
contain his unfavorable view of Church events after his excommunication. However, his record
reflects a principle Whitmer himself wrote about in the history (transcribed here from the
original manuscript):

Whiel all the foregoing letters and petitions were circulating the saints were humbling themselves before the Lord. but some were making preperation to leave the land others, were doubting the truth of the book of Mormon, others denying the faith, others growing in gracce and in the knowledge of the truth.

Read “John Whitmer, History, 1831–circa 1847.”

Source: The Joseph Smith Papers

—Ariel Szuch, Mormon Insights

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