B. H. Roberts's Testimony

Brigham Henry Roberts was a Latter-day Saint general authority, historian, and defender of the faith. He wrote dozens of books and articles examining the history, scripture, and theology of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In January 1922, he presented private research to Church leaders he had undertaken at the behest of an inquirer that outlined difficulties or problems with the Book of Mormon's historicity. These studies remained unpublished until long after Roberts's death, and some have wondered whether they prove Roberts lost his faith in the Book of Mormon. This Q&A examines the history surrounding Roberts's Book of Mormon studies of 1922 and his personal beliefs during the last decade of his life.

Portrait of Brigham Henry Roberts (late 1800s).

Timeline of B. H. Roberts's Book of Mormon Studies and Testimony

The Origins of B. H. Roberts's Book of Mormon Studies (1921–1922)

Summer 1921

James F. Couch,[BIO] a non-Latter-day Saint, writes to his Latter-day Saint friend William E. Riter[BIO] with questions about the historicity of the Book of Mormon.[1]

August 22, 1921

Riter forwards Couch's letter to apostle James E. Talmage.[BIO][2]

Early November 1921

James E. Talmage forwards Couch's questions to B. H. Roberts.[BIO][3]

November 11, 1921

George W. Middleton,[BIO] a Latter-day Saint surgeon, offers answers to Couch's questions.[4]

December 3, 1921

Ralph V. Chamberlin,[BIO] a Latter-day Saint scientist, addresses Couch's questions.[5]

December 20, 1921

William E. Riter writes to B. H. Roberts asking if he could address Couch's questions.[6]

December 28, 1921

Roberts writes to Riter informing him that he is undertaking a study of Couch's questions.[7]

December 29, 1921

Roberts writes to the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve informing them of Couch's questions and provides a manuscript copy of his study of the problems.[8] He states that he found the questions difficult to answer, and urges the need for further study.[9]

January 4–5, 1922

Members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve meet with Roberts to discuss his studies.[10] An apostolic committee is appointed by President Heber J. Grant[BIO] to assist Roberts in addressing the issues raised in Couch's questions about the Book of Mormon.[11]

January 9, 1922

In a letter to President Grant, Roberts voices his disappointment with the outcome of the meeting but states he will continue working on Book of Mormon difficulties and hoping that it will be "vindicated."[12]

February 2, 1922

Committee members James E. Talmage, Anthony W. Ivins,[BIO] and John A. Widtsoe[BIO] meet with Roberts to continue discussions related to his studies on the Book of Mormon.[13]

February 6, 1922

Roberts replies to Riter with answers to Couch's questions.[14]

February 27, 1922

Riter responds to Roberts thanking him for his answers to Couch's questions.[15]

April 28, 1922

James E. Talmage meets a small group in the home of James H. Moyle[BIO] to continue discussions about Book of Mormon difficulties.[16]

ca. December 1921-May 1922

B. H. Roberts writes a manuscript titled "A Book of Mormon Study" which explored the argument that Joseph Smith was influenced by Ethan Smith's book View of the Hebrews.[17][18]

B. H. Roberts as President of the Eastern States Mission (1922–1927)

May 29, 1922

Roberts begins his service as president of the Eastern States Mission.[19]

October 1922

Roberts quotes the Book of Mormon in general conference as containing fulfilled ancient prophecies.[20]


Roberts writes missionary tracts The Lord Hath Spoken and Why "Mormonism" which teach the historicity and inspiration of the Book of Mormon.[21]

March 15, 1923

Roberts writes to President Heber J. Grant and members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles affirming his faith in the Book of Mormon as "unshaken" and explains the intention behind his "Book of Mormon Study" manuscript.[22]

April 1923

Roberts cites the Book of Mormon in general conference to defend the divinity of Christ.[23]

September 1923

Roberts participates in the centennial celebration of Moroni revealing the Book of Mormon plates to Joseph Smith at the Hill Cumorah in Palmyra, New York.[24]

October 1923

Roberts cites the Book of Mormon in general conference, affirming its truth and inspiration.[25]


Roberts gives a radio address calling the Book of Mormon an "American volume of scripture" of an "Israelitish origin" and a new witness for God.[26]

January 1924

Roberts publishes an article about the Book of Mormon's witness of Christ in the Improvement Era.[27]

February 1924

Roberts publishes an article in the Improvement Era describing the destruction of Book of Mormon peoples and its prophetic teachings about America.[28]

April 1924

Roberts cites the Book of Mormon in general conference to defend the divinity of Christ.[29]

June 7, 1925

Roberts gives a speech at a church conference in which he calls the Book of Mormon an "ancient record."[30]

October 1925

Roberts cites the Book of Mormon in general conference on the pre-mortal existence of Jesus Christ.[31]

October 1926

Roberts calls the Book of Mormon an inspired "translation" in general conference.[32]


Roberts publishes a new edition of his book Outlines of Ecclesiastical History, which contains a section on the demise of the Nephites in the Book of Mormon and the coming forth of the record in the tradition narrative given by Joseph Smith.[33]

February 1927

Roberts publishes a third edition of his series New Witnesses for God, which argues for the authenticity, historicity, and inspiration of the Book of Mormon.[34]

February 1927

Roberts writes a treatise in the pages of the Redeemed Hebrew magazine on the Book of Mormon as a witness for Christ.[35]

April 1927

Roberts calls the Book of Mormon a "translation" in general conference and cites it to defend the divinity of Christ.[36]

April 1927

Roberts is released as president of the Eastern States Mission.[37]

The Final Years of B. H. Roberts (1927–1933)

Circa October 1927

B. H. Roberts prepares a manuscript titled "A Parallel" in which he summarizes the points made in his earlier work "A Book of Mormon Study."[38]

October 24, 1927

Roberts writes to apostle Richard R. Lyman[BIO] with a copy of "A Parallel" and explains the intent behind the manuscript is to outline a possible argument critics could raise against the Book of Mormon.[39]

December 18, 1927

Roberts gives a speech in the tabernacle in which he affirms the historicity and inspiration of the Book of Mormon.[40]

Circa 1927–1928

In his unpublished magnum opus titled The Truth, The Way, The Life, Roberts repeatedly affirms historicity of the Book of Mormon.[41]


Roberts publishes a new edition of "Mormonism": Its Origin and History, in which he affirms the inspiration of the Book of Mormon.[42]

March 3, 1928

Roberts publishes an article in the Deseret News on the destruction of the "ancient Nephite people" at the Hill Cumorah.[43]

April 1928

Roberts speaks of the importance of the Book of Mormon in general conference.[44]

May 1928

Roberts speaks of the Book of Mormon as a "revelation" in an article in the Improvement Era.[45]

June 1928

Roberts praises the teachings of the Book of Mormon as a "master stroke of philosophy" in the pages of the Deseret News.[46]

September 9, 1928

Roberts gives a speech in the tabernacle in which he affirms his belief in the Book of Mormon's depiction of Jesus coming to the inhabitants of ancient America.[47]

October 1928

In general conference, Roberts sermonizes on the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.[48]

February 5, 1929

Roberts publishes an article on the divine origin of the Book of Mormon.[49]

April 1929

Roberts speaks in general conference and states that there "is evidence of inspiration in [the Doctrine & Covenants] equal to that of the Book of Mormon."[50]


Roberts publishes A Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in which he presents and defends Joseph Smith's account of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.[51]

April 1930

Roberts speaks of the Book of Mormon's authenticity and inspiration in general conference on the centennial anniversary of the organization of the Church.[52]

August 1930

Roberts begins writing a column in the Deseret News titled "New Dispensation Thoughts," in which, at various times, he affirms the inspiration and truth of the Book of Mormon and its teachings.[53]

December 20, 1930

Roberts writes on fulfilled prophecies in the Book of Mormon related to the birth of Christ.[54]


Roberts republishes a second edition of The Seventy's Course in Theology and first editions of The Falling of Away and Rasha—The Jew, which utilize the Book of Mormon to support various themes in the books.[55]

January 11, 1931

Roberts speaks to a stake in Alpine, Utah, in which he retells his experience meeting David Whitmer.[56]

January 23–24, 1931

Roberts bears his testimony in a stake meeting in Palmyra, New York.[57]

November 1931

Roberts answers more questions about the Book of Mormon in private correspondences.[58]

January 24, 1932

Roberts affirms his belief in the inspiration of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith in a speech given in the tabernacle.[59]

April 4, 1931

In an Easter message, Roberts speaks of the Book of Mormon as a witness for the resurrection of Christ.[60]

January 24, 1932

Roberts retells his experience meeting David Whitmer at a stake conference in Utah, and reaffirms his testimony.[61]

March 14–15, 1932

Roberts writes private letters explaining that his studies on Book of Mormon "difficulties" done in the 1920s were "awful" and never meant to be published.[62]

April 23–24, 1932

Roberts speaks at a stake conference in San Francisco where he reaffirms his testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.[63]

December 1932

Roberts bears testimony of Joseph Smith in an article published in the Improvement Era—says he believes Joseph was a prophet "without reservation."[64]


Roberts gives a series of lectures where he affirms his faith in the Restoration and the Book of Mormon.[65]

March 19, 1933

Roberts cites Book of Mormon prophecies in a stake conference in Utah.[66]

April 1933

Roberts cites prophecies in the Book of Mormon in the last general conference he speaks in before his death.[67]

June 18, 1933

Roberts delivers a speech in the tabernacle in which he affirms the inspiration of Joseph Smith and the antiquity of the scriptures he produced.[68]

August 7, 1933

Wesley P. Lloyd[BIO] meets with B. H. Roberts. According to Lloyd, Roberts felt the Book of Mormon "need[ed] more bolstering" and that the Doctrine and Covenants was the strongest evidence for the divinity of Joseph Smith.[69]

September 1, 1933

According to a former missionary of his, Roberts denies that Ethan Smith had anything to do with the authorship of the Book of Mormon.[70]

September 27, 1933

Roberts dies of complications related to diabetes.[71]

B. H. Roberts's Book of Mormon Studies After His Death (1933–1986)

Circa late 1920s to 1930s

Copies of Roberts's manuscript "A Parallel" begin privately circulating.[72]

July 22, 1939

B. H. Roberts son, Ben E. Roberts,[BIO] writes a letter to Ariel L. Crowley[BIO] denying rumors that his father had lost his testimony.[73]

October 10, 1946

Ben E. Roberts addresses a small meeting of people and discusses his father's unpublished Book of Mormon studies.[74]

January 1956

Roberts's manuscript "A Parallel" is published for the first time.[75]


Joseph Fielding Smith[BIO] acknowledges the existence of Roberts's unpublished Book of Mormon studies but says the manuscripts are with the Roberts family, not in Church archives.[76]


H. Grant Ivins,[BIO] son of Anthony W. Ivins, corresponds with descendants of B. H. Roberts in an attempt to have Robert's Book of Mormon studies manuscripts published.[77]


Jerald[BIO] and Sandra Tanner[BIO] publish a photographic facsimile reprint of Robert's "A Book of Mormon Study" manuscript.[78]


The Tanners publish a photographic facsimile reprints of Roberts's "Book of Mormon Difficulties" and "A Parallel" manuscripts.[79]


The University of Illinois Press publishes an academic edition of Roberts's manuscripts.[80]

Expand Timeline

Did B. H. Roberts lose his testimony later in life?

No, probably not. Up until his death, B. H. Roberts consistently affirmed his belief in the restored gospel, the Church, and the Book of Mormon.[81]

Why do some people think that he may have lost his testimony?

In the early 1920s, Roberts drafted two different reports about problems with the Book of Mormon.[82][83] These reports engaged Book of Mormon truth claims critically and candidly and were written for internal use within the leadership of the Church.[84][85] If taken out of context,[86] they could appear to be the work of a doubter or someone who lost his testimony.[87]

A journal entry from Wesley P. Lloyd[BIO] also indicates that towards the end of his life Roberts may have felt the Book of Mormon was difficult to defend and the Doctrine and Covenants was stronger evidence for the restored gospel.[88] Some have interpreted this as evidence that Roberts may have lost his testimony of the Book of Mormon,[89] while others have rejected this interpretation of the data.[90]

So what was the context in which he wrote these manuscripts?

Roberts was a passionate defender of the faith.[91] Apostle James E. Talmage asked him to respond to a list of questions about the Book of Mormon from a man named James Couch from Washington, D.C.[92] This assignment led Roberts into a deep investigation into possible weaknesses with the historicity of the Book of Mormon.[93] He presented his work to the First Presidency and the Twelve on January 4–5, 1922.[94]

What did the Prophet and Quorum of the Twelve think about B. H. Roberts's research?

After meeting with Roberts, President Heber J. Grant appointed an apostolic committee to further investigate the issues raised by Roberts, confident that answers would eventually be found.[95][96] Despite the action taken by President Grant, Roberts recorded that he was disappointed with the level of discussion in the meetings.[97][98]

Heber J. Grant's Account of the Meetings with B. H. Roberts to Discuss Book of Mormon Difficulties

Heber J. Grant, Journal, January 4–5, 1922

[Wednesday, January 4, 1922] . . . At 10:30 the First Presidency and Apostles and members of the First Council of Seventy met in the office of the Presidency and we listened to a long paper asking questions regarding the Book of Mormon, which paper was read by Bro. B. H. Roberts. . . . At 4:30 the First Presidency, Apostles and First Council of Seventy met again and listened to another long paper by Bro. Roberts. The meeting lasted until six p.m. . . .

[Thursday, January 5, 1922] . . . From 5 until 7:30 met in the Presidency's office with the First Presidency, Apostles and First Council of Seventy and we still further discussed the Book of Mormon problems that had been presented yesterday and this morning by Bro. Roberts. I appointed Bros. A. W. Ivins, James E. Talmage and John A. Widtsoe as a committee to assist Bro. Roberts in formulating answers to the questions that had been propounded to him by Bro. Riter in response to requests for information by <a> gentleman in the east who claims to be anxious to learn regarding the languages of the people described in the Book of Mormon and regarding the domestic animals reported to have been discovered in this country, and other items. I am impressed that the gentleman propounding these questions is not a seeker after truth but is a man who is anxious to discredit the Book of Mormon. Each and every one of the brethren in their talks today testified of their perfect and absolute faith in the divinity of the book of Mormon and the truthfulness of the record, and the brethren expressed themselves that they felt sure that in the providences of the Lord evidences could be adduced sufficient to sustain the Book of Mormon from archaeological and other investigations for every honest seeker after truth. I testified to the inspiration and testimony that came to me as a boy of about fifteen of the divinity of the Book of Mormon when I read it carefully and prayerfully at that time. Our meetings have been intensely interesting to me, and I feel that they have been profitable. Yesterday and today I believe will be counted as memorable days by all of the brethren who had the privilege of being present at our meetings. . . .[99]

Expand Table

What reasons are there to believe that he didn’t lose his testimony after doing all this research on the Book of Mormon?

There are three primary reasons. First, Roberts wrote private letters that explained how he was basically playing devil’s advocate and he actually believed in the Book of Mormon despite these problems.[100][101] Second, until his death in 1933, Roberts repeatedly stated that he believed in the historicity of the Book of Mormon,[102] the divine mission of Joseph Smith,[103] and in the Church.[104] The third reason is that B. H. Roberts's son, Ben E. Roberts, stated that his father "found nothing in his study which reflected upon the integrity of Joseph Smith's account of the Book of Mormon."[105]

Quotes by B. H. Roberts on the Book of Mormon (1922–1931)



October 1922

"The Lord made certain promises in ancient times concerning the land of Zion—North and South America. We are told in the book of Ether that when the floods receded from this land, it became a choice land unto the Lord, a land which he would dedicate to freedom, and hence, to free institutions, and unto a righteous people. That is the information we get from our Book of Mormon. And later on, in the history of this book, we get further information as to the decrees of God concerning this land."[106]

March 1923

"I am taking the position that our faith is not only unshaken but unshakeable in the Book of Mormon, and therefore we can look without fear upon all that can be said against it."[107]

April 1923

"I thank God that he thus anticipated the need of the religious world concerning a true knowledge of God; that he brought forth, as from the dust, the testimony of sleeping nations to the great central truth of the Christian religion, the important fact that Jesus Christ is indeed God, manifest in the flesh."[108]

January 1924

"Knowledge of the Christ in the Book of Mormon is both prophetic and historical. To appreciate the full value of its testimony prophetically, the fact of the pre-existence of the Christ — that is, his existence as a personal spirit before his birth into mortal life — should be set forth and emphasized. . . . The birth of Christ to the Nephites — the ancient people of America — was manifested in a most singular and beautiful manner. . . . Thus the risen Christ visited the Western world, made known himself unto them; made known to them God's plan for man's salvation; taught them the fulness of the gospel; organized his Church among them; and gave them the same moral and spiritual laws that he had given to the people of the Eastern lands. . . . a new found "Fifth Gospel," to be joined to the four Gospels of the New Testament, that makes for the increase of the witnesses of God that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself to all nations as the Savior of the world and the Savior of men individually that dwell therein, to the praise of his Majesty, and to the glory of his name forever and forever."[109]

June 1925

"That comes from our Book of Mormon, and is part of the preface of that ancient record, but it has always been published upon the title page of the translated work. That preface explains that this record has been brought forth and preserved, that it might lead to the convincing of 'the Jews and Gentiles that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations.' This is the primary purpose of this American volume of sacred scripture, the Book of Mormon, not to testify merely to the divinity of Christ. That is quite generally conceded, speaking now of Christendom. Being divine is one thing, but being Deity, the Eternal God, is something more than being divine."[110]

February 1927

"This Book of Mormon, then, this new volume of scripture, revealed of God, in the manner above detailed, is God’s New Witness to the world of the truth that Jesus is both Lord and Christ,—Jehovah incarnate, God manifested in the flesh."[111]

April 1928

"Since this is Easter day, let me call your attention to one other thing in the testimony of the scriptures of the western continents — the Book of Mormon — in relation to the resurrection of Christ. What a wonderful testimony that book contains for the thing that is celebrated this day throughout Christendom, namely, the resurrection from the dead of our Lord the Christ! . . . . What a message of the Deity to the world; a message and testimony of the Christ. . . . And the world would have lost this if it had not been for the Book of Mormon coming forth, and there is a hundred more such glorious things that have come to the world in that book to enlighten the children of men, all of which would have been lost had not this American volume of scripture been brought forth."[112]

February 1929

"Three years subsequent to this first revelation, this same young man [Joseph Smith] received the visitation of an angel, who said that he was one of the ancient prophets that lived among the ancient inhabitants of America. He had been resurrected from the dead, and was now sent to him to reveal the existence of a record of the ancient inhabitants of the American Continent; which contained not only an abridged history of those people and the source from whence they sprang, but also contained the fullness of the Gospel as taught to them by the inspired servants and prophets of God who lived among them, and by the glorified and risen Redeemer who had visited them, after leaving his disciples in Palestine. . . . The foregoing is the miraculous story upon what the world calls "Mormonism"—but what in reality is the restored Gospel of the Son of God—is based."[113]


"With the coming forth of the Book of Mormon there are associated superhuman events. What men usually call miraculous events. The book's existence was revealed by Moroni, an ancient American Prophet, now raised from the dead, and co-operating with Joseph Smith to bring forth to the world this record of an ancient people. The integrity of this whole story unfolding in the text of these pages depends upon the reality of these things."[114]

April 1930

"The Record of Joseph in the hands of Ephraim, the Book of Mormon, has been revealed and translated by the power of God, and supplies the world with a new witness for the Christ, and the truth and the fulness of the Gospel."[115]


"The Book of Mormon was revealed and brought forth; the American volume of scripture, which revealed the knowledge that the gospel of Jesus Christ was had among the ancient Americans; that the resurrected Christ visited them and established his truth and church."[116]

April 1931

"At the beginning of the New Dispensation—over a hundred years ago—the world’s great need was undoubtedly Faith, and hence the logical step to be taken in the development of that New Dispensation after God had raised up his first Witness, Joseph Smith, was to increase the evidence for the supreme religious truths; and hence the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, the record of God’s handdealings with the ancient inhabitants of America, chiefly a branch of the house of Israel, descendants of Joseph, son of Jacob."[117]

December 1932

"[I am] one who believes in [Joseph Smith], accepts him as a Prophet of the Most High God, inspired as no other man has been inspired to establish God's truth in the world; one who believes in him without reservation. . . . To me and for me, he is the Prophet of the Most High, enskied and sainted! So let him forever stand."[118]

June 1933

"[God] gave [Joseph Smith] power from on high to translate the Book of Mormon, and thence followed all which brought forth the New and Last Dispensation. After the Book of Mormon came the restoration of the Priesthood in the Aaronic and the Melchizedek—with the Apostleship, holding as it does the very keys of all the spiritual powers of the priesthood, the keys of this heavenly kingdom. Then the organization of the Church; the translation of ancient scripture—the Book of Moses and the Book of Abraham; the coming of the Christ, of Moses, Elijah and Elijah, with the keys of their respective dispensations—all this and numerous have forth the development of the truth, that the prophet revealed the truth for former dispensations. These formed the commandments which inspired the prophet!"[119]

Expand Table

Did he ever specifically say he no longer believed in the Book of Mormon or the Church?

No. Roberts wrote many articles on the restored gospel and gave many speeches in the years following his Book of Mormon research, all in support of the faith.[120][121] There is no record of him ever indicating that his research on Book of Mormon difficulties was anything more than an intellectual exercise to help defend the faith.[122]

B. H. Roberts during the 1920s and the title page of the 1830 first edition of the Book of Mormon.

But is it possible that Roberts developed a more “nuanced” understanding of the Book of Mormon where he believed it was inspired, but it wasn’t literally a historical record?

Possibly, but probably not. Even after he wrote his studies on Book of Mormon problems, Roberts repeatedly referred to the book as being of ancient origin.[123]

Did B. H. Roberts once say that if members of the Church knew the "real history," half of them would apostatize?

Possibly. The source for this claim is late and secondhand, and indicates that Roberts said this with "a kind of puckish smile" which may indicate he was speaking in jest.[124]

What did his research conclude?

That there were problems with the Book of Mormon related to linguistics,[125] the migration of Indigenous peoples,[126] metallurgy,[127] and horses.[128] He also noted issues related to the similarities between Ethan Smith’s[BIO] View of the Hebrews and the Book of Mormon.[129]

Do these serious problems still exist today?

Not really. Given almost a century of scholarship, Book of Mormon scholars have largely accounted for the issues that Roberts noted with varying degrees of evidence.[130] Roberts himself was not very bothered by the issue of alleged anachronisms in the Book of Mormon.[131] It's impossible to know for certain, but it is likely that Roberts would have been satisfied with these modern findings and explanations.

What has changed in the last 100 years that gives us better answers than Roberts had?

There have been new archaeological discoveries and more research by scholars that better account for the questions Roberts grappled with in the early 1920s. See the table below.

Advances in Book of Mormon Scholarship Since the 1920s

Couch’s Book of Mormon Concerns[132]

Scholarly Advancements since 1922

Linguistic studies divide the Native American languages into five distinct linguistic groups. Lehi and his descendants could not have been responsible for this division of languages in such a short time.

Latter-day Saint scholars (and the Church) have rejected the premise that Lehi is the primary ancestor of the Native Americans.[133] There have also been studies on the relationship between Old World and New World languages.[134]

Horses are present in the Book of Mormon, yet Historical and paleontological data shows that the horse was not in America at the time of the Book of Mormon.

In 2022 research published in the Texas Journal of Science documented evidence for pre-Columbian horse remains from dates corresponding to the Book of Mormon.[135]

Previous to the discovery of paleontological evidence, scholars offered possible translation explanations for the appearance of the term 'horse' in the Book of Mormon.[136]

Nephi claimed to have a bow made of steel, but steel did not exist in 600 BC.

Biblical archaeologists have discovered steel in the Middle East as far back as the eleventh century BC.[137]

The scimiter is a curved sword that did not exist until the middle ages, long after the time of the Book of Mormon.

Scholars have identified curved swords in pre-exilic Israel and Egypt.[138]

Silk is present in the Book of Mormon, but silk was not present in American in pre-Colombian times.

Bishop Diego de Landa and Francesco Saverio Clavigero both refer to pre-Columbian "silk" in Mesoamerica.[139]

The Facts

  • In the early 1920s B. H. Roberts undertook studies highlighting problems with the Book of Mormon's historicity based on the knowledge of the day.

  • He shared these studies with the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve.

  • Roberts explained that he was acting as a sort of devil's advocate and that these issues needed to be addressed.

  • President Heber J. Grant assigned a committee to assist Roberts in addressing the problems he identified.

  • Roberts continued faithful service in the Church for the remainder of his life, testifying of the truth of the Church and the Book of Mormon.

  • Towards the end of his life, he told a friend that he thought the Doctrine and Covenants was stronger evidence than the Book of Mormon for the Church because there were unresolved issues with the Book of Mormon.

Our Take

Hearing of someone losing a testimony can be disheartening, even more so when it is a prominent church member. And since B. H. Roberts was such an intellectual force in the Church, hearing that he may have lost his testimony can leave people wondering if they can be intellectually honest and still be faithful.

The good news is that all available evidence points to Roberts maintaining a strong, devoted testimony to the truthfulness of the gospel. He openly acknowledged that the Book of Mormon had problems that could not yet be solved by scholarship at the time, but he continued to have faith that it was an ancient record and inspired by God. Today, nearly all of the difficulties that Roberts cataloged have been addressed by modern scholarship.

It’s important to study things out, both intellectually and spiritually, with a humble heart. Faithful members—even Church leaders—can have sincere intellectual questions and not receive answers to all of them. It's okay to wrestle with issues, but it's important to also have patience and trust that Heavenly Father reveals truth and peace through the spirit and know that not every intellectual difficulty will be solved in our lifetime.

What's Your Take?

280 characters remaining
These takes are curated for a general audience and may contain minor edits when posted.
  • Jeremy
    Seeking answers to legit questions is not showing weakness of testimony, but further strengthening it.
  • Elder B.
    B H Roberts is one of the GOATS, an inspiration to anyone seeking to critically study the gospel.
  • Joe
    B. H. Roberts also wrote extensively in defense of the Book of Mormon, as well