In a world that is obsessed with picking apart any claim to determine credibility, the book of Mormon still stands as a "marvelous work and a wonder" even among scholars today who are not of our faith. It can be questioned but not refuted.The three, and subsequently the eight witnesses confirm that the record (you can argue ancient or otherwise) did exist. They held the plates in their hands. Their witness testifies of the truthfulness of the record. That in and of itself is huge. If the record was real, then Joseph Smith did translate it. If Joseph translated that record by the gift and power of God, then it stands to reason that he is a Prophet. If he is a prophet, then the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is God's restored church and the only true church on the earth today.God doesn't expect us to blindly believe. He has given us witnesses and evidence. And just like any jury is expected today, it is up to us to take the evidence, consider the facts, and then pray to know for ourselves.
One thing you missed is that even though some of these witnesses left the church, some never to return, NONE of them ever repudiated their witness even on their death beds. At least one did, on his death bed, confirm yet again that he saw and handled the plates. This, to me, as a convert, is a "final testimony" of the truth of their existance.
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