Question: Why did several years pass before Oliver talked about the priesthood restoration?

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Question: Why did several years pass before Oliver talked about the priesthood restoration?

We don't know when Oliver first mentioned the priesthood restoration to anyone - we only know when he first put it in print

It should first be noted that many critics ignore versus in the Book of Mormon that refer explicitly to the High Priesthood of Melchizedek such as Alma 13:18. Alma was "confined [to the] high priesthood of the holy order of God..." (Alma 4:20). It is therefore unlikely that these accounts are a pure fabrication since we know that these versus and versus in Mosiah would prompt Joseph and Oliver to enquire about the proper mode of baptism under this authority. We don't know when Oliver first mentioned the priesthood restoration to anyone - we only know when he first put it in print. But consider this: If Oliver was covering up a fraud on the part of Joseph Smith when he talked of receiving the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods, then why didn't he expose the fraud after he fell into disagreement with Joseph Smith and was excommunicated from the Church? Why, in fact, did Oliver continue to insist that the events related to the restoration of the Priesthood actually happened?

The implication is that Oliver was dishonest, yet his associates during the time that he was a lawyer after leaving the Church viewed his character as "irreproachable". Harvey Gibson, a political opponent of Oliver's, and another lawyer (whose statue now stands in front of the Seneca County courthouse) wrote:

Cowdery was an able lawyer and [an] agreeable, irreproachable gentleman. [1]

Webster's 1828 dictionary defines "irreproachable" as "That cannot be justly reproached; free from blame; upright; innocent. An irreproachable life is the highest honor of a rational being." [2]

Oliver wrote the following to Phineas Young two years after Joseph's death, well after he had left the Church:

I have cherished a hope, and that one of my fondest, that I might leave such a character, as those who might believe in my testimony, after I should be called hence, might do so, not only for the sake of the truth, but might not blush for the private character of the man who bore that testimony. I have been sensitive on this subject, I admit; but I ought to be so—you would be, under the circumstances, had you stood in the presence of John, with our departed Brother Joseph, to receive the Lesser Priesthood—and in the presence of Peter, to receive the Greater, and looked down through time, and witnessed the effects these two must produce,—you would feel what you have never felt, were wicked men conspiring to lessen the effects of your testimony on man, after you should have gone to your long sought rest. [3]

Notes

  1. "Letter from General W. H. Gibson," Seneca Advertiser (Tiffin, Ohio) 12 April 1892.
  2. Webster's Dictionary, off-site
  3. Oliver Cowdery to Phineas Young, 23 March 1846, Oliver Cowdery Collection, "Scriptory Book of Joseph Smith Jr." (kept by George W. Robinson), 22, LDS Church Historical Department (published in Scott H. Faulring, ed, An American Prophet's Record.— The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1989), emphasis in original; cited in Scott H. Faulring. “The Return of Oliver Cowdery”, FARMS Featured Paper, no date.