Orson Pratt’s Works
By Orson Pratt

Synopsis: This book is a compilation of the missionary works of Orson Pratt, including: Divine Authority, or the Question, Was Joseph Smith Sent of God?; The Kingdom of God; and Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon. These were all published in England between 1848 and 1851. Divine Authority is about the veracity of Joseph Smith’s prophetic calling; The Kingdom of God is about the necessity of membership in God’s true Kingdom (i.e. the Church); Divine Authenticity is about the truthfulness of the great revelation of the last days – the Book of Mormon. Separately, they read like long tracts to an audience undecided about the veracity of the Church (they were originally pamphlets written in a series); together they are a sweeping, comprehensive array of arguments in favor of the truthfulness of the Church. In each presentation, logic and reason are appealed to as well as scripture. They were compiled together by Parker Pratt Robison in 1945 in a book entitled Orson Pratt’s Works. For purposes of this review, these tracts will be referred to together in their form as a single book.

Strong Points: This book is rather astonishing in its comprehensiveness, its clarity, its pure genius shown in the ideas presented throughout. The absolute masterful skill of the author is apparent on each page. Elder Pratt’s command of the scriptures could probably only be rivaled by the Prophet himself, and the quality of his intellectual arguments sit firmly in the realm of a genius. Rarely is such thoughtfulness and powerful argument combined in so small of a space. It is electrifying in its testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and pulls no punches in its condemnation of false religious systems. Every scriptural argument in favor of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, and every answer to scripture-based criticisms against them, is given first already in this early book, and articulated better than I have heard elsewhere. I really think that this book would still, in this day and age, constitute a powerful and persuasive witness of truth for honest seekers, and a stumbling block to religionists of other sects who deny the Restoration of the Gospel. I would certainly feel intimidated by this volume, were I such a person presented with it and asked to rebut its claims and arguments. If ever there was a man skilled and qualified to defend the truth of God as revealed in the latter days, it was the apostle Orson Pratt.

Weak Points: The 1945 edition that I read is old and out of print, hard to find, and has no index. An index to the volume is sorely needed in order for the reader to access and reference its excellent contents easily. However, it appears that a new addition of Orson Pratt’s Works is currently available through Deseret Book, but only as an eBook. Another weak point for me is that near the end of the book, Elder Pratt briefly appeals to evidences in Mesoamerica as evidence for the veracity of the Book of Mormon, but new light lends a lot more credence to the Heartland Theory of Book of Mormon geography.

Interesting: 5/5

Must Read: 5/5

Overall: 5/5

Pages: 289

Selected Quote: “In the midst of all this thick darkness, a young, illiterate, obscure and inexperienced man announces a message from heaven, before which darkness flees away; human dogmas are overturned; the traditions of ages are uprooted; all forms of church government tremble like an aspen leaf at its approach, and the mighty fabric of popular sectarianism is convulsed and shaken to its very foundation. How happens all this? If Joseph Smith were an impostor, whence his superior wisdom? What power inspired his mind in laying the foundation of a church according to the ancient order? How could an impostor so far surpass the combined wisdom of seventeen centuries as to originate a system diverse from every other system under heaven, and yet harmonize with the system of Jesus and His apostles in every particular? What! An impostor discover the gross darkness of the ages, and publish a doctrine perfect in every respect, against which not one scriptural argument can be adduced! The idea is preposterous! The purity and infallibility of the doctrine of this great modern prophet is a presumptive evidence of no small moment in favor of his divine mission.” (p. 5).


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