“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)
“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)
“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)