Joseph Smith in Nauvoo

June 25, 2021 E-Letter

In the late ‘80’s Kurt Goedelman of Personal Freedom Outreach and I went to Nauvoo, Illinois to scout out the prospects for a witnessing effort at the City of Joseph Pageant. The annual outdoor pageant was one of several put on by the LDS church. The other pageants were in Palmyra, NY where Mormonism began and Manti, Utah.

We are posting a number of e-letters Make Sure Ministries has received from David Henke, founder of Watchman Fellowship, Inc., an apologetics ministry, on a variety of subjects. They will post on Tuesdays into the foreseeable future. As always, we appreciate your comments. Please consider clicking on the link following this blog to learn more about Watchman Fellowship and what they have to offer. E-letters have been slightly edited for clarity.

One year later there was a well-organized effort to present the gospel to the 20,000 plus attendees of the pageant in Nauvoo. Most of those attendees were non-Mormon people from the surrounding area. Most Christians to this day don’t know the real beliefs of Mormonism and many think they are a Christian denomination. Our desire in our outreach was to, as Paul Harvey would say, tell “the rest of the story.”

There are many memorable events arising out of that early outreach. The most significant one was the establishment of the Nauvoo Christian Visitors Center (NCVC). The Center is on the main street of town and has presented the gospel to scores of thousands of people.

The LDS have ceased putting on their outdoor pageants but the NCVC is still there and growing in their outreach.

In witnessing to anyone in a high control group it is useful to present obviously contradictory information within the groups teaching as a way to wake them up so they can begin to think critically.

Here is one question about the Book of Mormon:

If Mormon Apostle Bruce McConkie was correct in saying that a martyr voluntarily surrenders his life then was Joseph Smith a martyr if he shot back at his assailants?

The account is contained in History of the Church, which says,

When Hyrum fell, Joseph exclaimed, “Oh dear, brother Hyrum!” and opening the door a few inches he discharged his six shooter in the stairway (as stated before), two or three barrels of which missed fire.

History of the Church, Vol. 6, page 618. See also History of the Church, Vol. 6, page 620, and Vol. 7, page 102.

The ”six shooter” was a pepperbox pistol with six barrels. They were prone to not firing reliably.

Joseph Smith was in the Carthage, Illinois, jail for destroying the printing press of William Law, a Mormon leader in Nauvoo who was using his newspaper to expose Smith’s polygamy. The  Governor of Illinois issued a warrant for Smith’s arrest. Joseph had gone too far in destroying William Law’s printing press.

Below are pictures taken in 2014 of their jail cell and the window through which Joseph attempted to escape (Make Sure Ministries’ collection):

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