Monday, April 13, 2015

Why I Believe: Evidence Thirty-eight: The “Pure Logic And Downright Beauty” Of The Plan Of Salvation

101 Reasons Why I Believe Joseph Smith Is A Prophet

Evidence Thirty-eight:

I have written previously that one of Joseph Smith’s strengths as a prophet is his remarkable consistency in answering important, difficult and substantive religious questions. I am not the first to notice this, but I believe it is an element of his ministry that is not adequately explored and highlighted. Howard Coray served as a clerk to the Prophet during the Nauvoo period. He spoke of the “many valuable opportunities” this afforded him to learn from the Prophet as he entertained “a great many callers and visitors, ... doctors, lawyers, priests, and people.”  He continued,
“Not only were they anxious to see, but also to ask hard questions in order to ascertain his depth. Well, what did I discover? This, verily, that he was always equal to the occasion and perfectly master of the situation and possessed the power to make everybody realize his superiority.... I could clearly see that Joseph was the captain, no matter whose company he was in. Knowing the meagerness of his education, I was truly gratified at seeing how much at ease he always was, even in the company of the most scientific, and the ready, off-handed manner in which he would answer their questions.(1)
Wandle Mace, another acquaintance of the Prophet in Nauvoo, also spoke of this characteristic in Joseph.  He told of the “rare treat” it was when he and others could talk with the Prophet. When the opportunity came, someone would invite him to talk with them. When he asked them what they wanted to discuss this 
“would bring out some question for Joseph to answer, and then I could lean back and listen.  Ah what pleasure this gave me; he would unravel the scriptures and explain doctrine as no other man could. What had been mystery he made so plain it was no longer mystery.(2) 
In light of these statements I was extremely interested in a report of the assessment of the Finnish theologian Heikki Raisanen in a 1984 article about the Joseph Smith and the Bible. His article was translated into English by professor Douglas F. Tobler of the Department of History at BYU for Edwin Haroldsen, author of the article cited here. Raisanen pointed out that Joseph’s teachings “provide solutions for most, if not all, of the genuine problems and contradictions of the Bible with which scholars have wrestled for generations.”  Edwin Haroldsen continues that Raisanen said Joseph put
“his finger on a real, theological problem,” namely, the “delicate point” of the unity and consistency of God’s plan of salvation throughout the whole Bible.  Brother Tobler explains that without knowledge restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith, theologians relying solely on their own interpretations of the Bible face difficult questions of faith like the following, raised by Raisanen: How can we say that God has an eternal plan of salvation when, according to traditional Christian theology, Jesus Christ brought a new way of salvation which the ancients did not know?  Did earlier generations actually know the divine plan of salvation, or did God mislead them by giving them a law that was both preparatory and transitory?  If, however, the ancients could, in fact, be saved by the law they knew, what was the need for Jesus Christ? Did God think of a better plan after his first one failed? 
Mr. Raisanen wrote that the Prophet Joseph Smith’s answer to these questions–that Jesus Christ carried out a single divine plan of salvation, a plan known by the ancient prophets–was to him a thing of  “pure logic and downright beauty.” In addition, he noted that these views of Joseph Smith are remarkably similar to those expressed in First Clemens’s letter, as well as in the writings of the Pseudepigrapha.(3)
Amazing!  Raisanen’s questions about the traditional evolutionary view of  Judaism and Christianity which sees the plan of salvation as changing from the Old Testament to the New Testament and the implications which that gives rise to, is one of the most honest assessments of traditional Christian theology of which I am aware. More importantly, his recognition that the answers to those questions which come through the Prophet Joseph Smith were “pure logic and downright beauty” resonates with the testimony of the Spirit in this man’s heart and constitutes an important evidence of the inspiration which permeated the life and thought of the Prophet.

Thank God for Joseph Smith!

Lets think together again, soon.


1.  Howard Coray, “Autobiography,” original in LDS Church Archives.  Typescript available online at:

2.  Autobiography of Wandel Mace, original in LDS Church Archives.  Typescript available online at: 

3.  Edwin O. Haroldsen, “Good and Evil Spoken Of,” Ensign (August 1995) p. 10, citing Douglas Tobler trans., Heikki Raisanen, "Joseph Smith und die Bibel: Die Leistung des mormonischen Propheten in neuer Belechtung," Theologische Literaturzeitung, Feb. 1984, pp. 83-92, emphasis added.


  1. The plan of salvation is THE doctrine that was the turning point in my conversion. I entered the missionary lessons as a combatant ready to easily disprove "Christianity." From that lesson I approached my study of Mormonism with a open mind willing to let the precepts pass through my carefully constructed walls of cynicism and secular knowledge. The doctrine is so simple in its concept that it just "clicks" yet infinitely deep and compelling that for someone like myself who is annoyingly curious can find an answer to any question if I study, ponder and ask God.

    My biggest problem initially with religion was that it didn't make sense in any degree because there was too much confusion and contradicting doctrines. Not so with the gospel and the truths revealed to Joseph Smith.

    Great post President!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it. The more I study "the plan" the more I am convinced that Raisanen is correct in his evaluation. There is nothing like it in any religion, Christian denominations included, on earth!