I’ve never thought much about why there were only three witnesses to the Book of Mormon. I’ve been blessed with an early measure of faith in the Book of Mormon. I was blessed to have this book all of my life, and I’ve felt the spirit that are in the words of these prophets who lived so long ago.
I didn’t really need to have other witnesses.
However, I’m not blind to the fact that there are many who criticize the Book of Mormon because we don’t have the golden plates sitting around for all to see.
I think that many Mormons have faced this challenge from others – or perhaps even internally, and we might answer, “If we could see and touch the golden plates, then we wouldn’t need to have faith…That’s why we don’t have the physical plates these days…” Maybe there is value to that reasoning. I don’t know. However, I read the following today which really shed a little light on the scenario:
“13 And there is none other which shall view it, save it be a few according to the will of God, to bear testimony of his word unto the children of men; for the Lord God hath said that the words of the faithful should speak as if it were from the dead.” – 2 Nephi 27:13
The thing is, we aren’t supposed to rely on the testimonies of those who saw and handled the plates. We shouldn’t be fixated on the plates at all. Instead, the witness that we need are the words of the faithful [speaking] as if it were from the dead.
This is why there aren’t more witnesses. Other witnesses, or a stack of golden plates in the Church History building would probably cloud the clear testimonies of Nephi, Alma, Moroni, Mormon, Helaman, etc. Instead of the words of the prophets – speaking from the dust to us, we’d have this artifact – which would be cool, but not necessarily convincing of the fact that Jesus IS the Christ – the eternal God.
I think that, as people, we are sometimes a lot like raccoons – distracted by shiny things. If we had those plates right now, would we really concentrate so much on what they said? Would it feel like people speaking to us from the dead?
Because we don’t have the plates available to us, we are able to focus on the true message of the Book of Mormon – which has been given to us from ancient prophets – It truly is like they are speaking from the dust.