Martin Harris and the Coronavirus

Martin Harris and the Coronavirus April 1, 2020


Lincoln Hoppe as Martin Harris
The rebaptism of Martin Harris, in a scene from the Interpreter Foundation’s “Witnesses” film project. (Still photograph by James Jordan)


Up now on the website of the Interpreter Foundation:


“Teachings and Testimony of the First Vision: Pure Apostolic Witness and Testimony of the First Vision”: Part 20 of a Series Compiled by Dennis B. Horne


Hales Swift:  “The Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Words of Jesus (3 Nephi 27)”

A Video Supplement for Come, Follow Me Book of Mormon Lesson 14: “He Shall Rise … with Healing in His Wings” (Easter)


Jonn Claybaugh:  Come, Follow Me — Study and Teaching Helps: Lesson 15, April 13-19: Mosiah 1-3


“Hugh W. Nibley Resources”




Here’s an item from Susan Easton Black and Larry C. Porter, Martin Harris: Uncompromising Witness of the Book of Mormon (Provo: BYU Studies, 2018), for which Mark 16:18 clearly provides the background:


On the “excessively hot” day of 16 June 1834, as the members of Zion’s Camp were making a twenty-mile march toward the confluence of the Grand River and the Missouri River, Martin Harris came across a black snake and decided to play with it a bit, which didn’t turn out well and earned him a reprimand from Joseph Smith, who left an account of the incident:


Martin Harris having boasted to the brethren that he could handle snakes with perfect safety, while fooling with a black snake with his bare feet, he received a bite on his left foot, it was communicated to me, and I took occasion to reprove him, and exhort the brethren never to trifle with the promises of God — I told them it was presumption for any one to provoke a serpent to bite him, but if a man of God was accidentally bitten by a poisonous serpent, he might have faith or his brethren might have faith for him, so that the Lord would hear his prayer and he might be healed — but when a man designedly provokes a serpent to bite him, the principle is the same, as when a man drinks deadly poison knowing it to be such — in that case no man has any claim on the promises of God to be healed.  (cited on 244)


Reading the passage above, I can’t help but think of those who have mocked the leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for alleged “faithlessness” in taking steps consistent with the best scientific and medical advice to minimize the spread of COVID-19.  Shouldn’t we simply — following the lead of certain fundamentalist Protestant pastors — simply go on as always, trusting in prayer and the priesthood?


The Prophet Joseph’s reaction to Martin Harris strongly suggests, though, that a deliberate and pointless incurring of fully predictable risks entails no obligation on the Lord’s part to pull us out of the pit that we’ve excavated for ourselves.  Prudence remains a virtue, and it is not supplanted by faith.


So I call attention, yet again, to this article:


“COVID-19: Rejecting the false choice of science or spirit, faith or reason”



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