Title: I Know He Lives: How 13 Special Witnesses Came to Know Jesus Christ
Author: Dennis B Horne
Publisher: CFI/Cedar Fort
Genre: History and Doctrine
Year Published: 2017
Number of Pages: 293
Reviewed by Andrew Hamilton for the Association for Mormon Letters
I served my LDS mission in the early 1990’s in the Southern part of the USA. While doing our door to door proselytizing among the people of various Protestant faiths (Baptists, Pentecostals, and others), we were frequently asked and challenged by them about our belief that the LDS Church is led today by prophets and apostles like those found in the Bible. It was common for them to ask us questions like, “Have they seen Him?” “Do you believe the Bible when it says that an Apostle, ‘must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection’” (). We told them that we did believe that. We told them that we believed that they were eyewitnesses and that they had seen him. And we all really believed that they had. In particular I remember how, after the deaths of Marvin J. Ashton and Ezra Taft Benson, we missionaries had many long conversations with each other wondering how “seeing Jesus” must work for new Apostles after they received their call. Did they go by themselves in a room in the temple and there He was? Did they sit down at a table together and call Him in to meet “the new guy”? Inquiring minds wanted to know.
After I got home, studied, and grew older, I came to realize that the reality of “have they seen him” is far more complex than what we understood, testified, and speculated about as young missionaries. Some LDS Apostles have spoken and written about their witness and experience of having seen the Savior. Others have indicated that they have not seen Him. Still others have been more vague, have avoided the question, or have taken something of an “I cannot confirm or deny” type approach. In “I Know He Lives: How 13 Special Witnesses Came to Know Jesus Christ,” Dennis Horne explores the doctrine and history behind the LDS teachings on whether or not the apostles have seen or need to have seen Jesus Christ and then, as implied in the title, tells the stories of 13 members of the LDS Quorum of 12 who did share, speak, or write of their witness of having seen Him.
The first three chapters of the book explain the doctrine and history on “The Apostleship,” their “Charge” and about whether or not apostles are “required” to see the Savior. Chapter One, “The Doctrine of the Apostleship.” uses scriptures and quotations from LDS leaders to provide a definition of just what an apostle is. As it does so, this chapter explores teachings about the Keys of the Priesthood, spiritual trials frequently faced by apostles, teachings about “sons of perdition,” apostles having their “calling and election made sure,” and other doctrines related to the apostleship. Chapter 2, “The Apostolic Charge,” quotes Oliver Cowdery’s instruction to the original LDS Twelve to “never cease striving until you have seen God face to face” and then builds on that with statements from apostles and prophets from that time until the present to explain just what the “charge” is that is given to newly called apostles. Chapter 3, “Teachings About Whether a Modern Apostle Must See the Savior,” does just what the title implies: it uses quotes from a number of prophets and apostles to discuss just what it means for an apostle to be a “witness” of the Savior and if physically “seeing” Him is a requirement to bear witness of His resurrection. It also tells the story of “The Curious Case of Elder John W. Taylor,” an LDS apostle who testified that he DID see the Savior who nevertheless fell away from, and was excommunicated from, the LDS Church. These chapters are fairly brief, only taking up 33 pages including footnotes. Nevertheless they are filled with detail and depth and should provide an interesting education on just what the “Apostleship” is for most LDS readers.
After laying the doctrinal foundation about the apostleship and having a witness of the Savior in the first three chapters, Horne then spends one chapter each on the 13 apostles referenced in the title of the book. Chronologically, the earliest apostle’s witness discussed in the book is Joseph Smith; the most recent is Boyd K. Packer. In these chapters, the reader will find both doctrine and stories that tell of these men and how they came to have their witness of Christ.
In writing this book, Horne really did his homework. To give the reader as full a story as possible of each of these men’s witness, Horne has compiled many quotes and stories that they shared during their lives. These stories come not only from easily available public sources such as old general conference talks and widely published books, but also from rare and hard to find sources such as privately published autobiographies, journals, and letters. While the story of each apostle is told briefly, and is nowhere near a full “biographical” experience, this compilation of so many sources makes sure that the reader gets an in-depth story about each apostle’s witness of Jesus Christ.
The final chapter of the book gives an “and the rest” capstone to the book by briefly quoting another 28 apostles’ testimonies and stories about their witness of Jesus Christ.
“I know He Lives” is an excellent book for Latter-day Saints. It is part biography, part history, and part theology, and is sure to interest many readers. This is a fascinating book that would be a great addition to any LDS library. It is great for personal and family devotional and study use and is sure to provide many readers with material for talks and Sunday school, Priesthood, and Relief Society lessons.