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Saturday, May 12, 2018

5 Truths About The Book of Mormon That Most People Aren't Aware Of

In 2015 and 2016 I wrote two articles - here and here - about common misconceptions about Christianity. Each one was designed to help people better understand the life and teachings of our Lord and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

For my third round of clearing up misconceptions I decided to make it about the one book I know is most likely to bring the reader closer to Christ and instill in them a desire to change to become more like Him, the Book of Mormon.

Misconception

The Book of Mormon is a the Mormon's replacement for the Bible.

Clarification

From the Introduction, the very first line: "The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible." Notice that it doesn't say "that replaces the Bible". The subtitle of the Book is "Another Testament of Jesus Christ", not "better testament of Jesus Christ." There are four volumes of scripture that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints use, the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price. I am currently going through a new years resolution I set for myself to read through all 2476 pages of these books before the end of 2018. Today I will likely be finishing Isaiah and I'll tell you what. With what I've been through so far, I have been reminded of - as well as found - some of the greatest and most wonderful evidences of the love of God and the benefits of keeping His commandments I could have imagined. I had in my mind a huge stigma through much of my life about how hard the Old Testament is to understand and good heavens! It's amazing! I've made more footnotes about lessons I've learned from the Book of Mormon that are solidified by the Bible and vice versa than I ever thought I would. From the story of Joshua "cleansing the inner vessel" if you will to Kings Saul, David and Solomon to Kings Hezekiah and Josiah and the stories of Mordecai and Nehemiah (who happens to be a lot like Captain Moroni from the Book of Mormon), I LOVE both books. Every four years in sunday school we rotate between studying each of book of scripture. All of them have eternally pivotal importance to us.

Misconception

Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon.

Clarification

Nope. As mentioned in the Introduction, it was "written by many ancient prophets by the spirit of prophecy and revelation. Their words, written on gold plates, were quoted and abridged by a prophet-historian named Mormon." The reason why it's called the Book of Mormon is because the physical hand of the prophet named Mormon literally wrote every single word of it, quoting many ancient American prophets as well as abridging much of the history of his people in the process. Joseph Smith was called of God to translate Mormon's writings into the English language and did so by the power of God. The Book of Mormon is, similar to the Bible, a record of many sermons and stories of ancient prophets who taught the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Misconception

The Book of Mormon has no archaeological evidence to support it.

Clarification

I could go on for hours about this one, but I'm sure you don't have hours to read this so I'll just point out a few archaeological evidence of the Book of Mormon.

First, gold plates. Many have scoffed at the idea of gold in the ancient Americas, but if you recall in the early 1500's when the Spanish Conquistadors were after gold when they came to the temples of Cajamarca in the Incan nation, Atahualpa, the emperor, offered to fill a room with almost 85 cubic feet of gold in return for being liberated from Spanish captivity. It took him only a few days.

Second, horses. People thought for the longest time that the first horses were brought to the Americas by the Spaniards even before the ransom of Atahualpa, but if you look at the research papers on the La Brea tar pits in California, you will find evidence of ancient american horses.

Third, Lehi and the Jaredites leaving from the Middle East for the Americas at 600 BC and around the time of the tower of Babel, respectively. Again, many have scoffed at this idea, mainly because the Bible, they say, doesn't mentioned Lehi leaving at all. However, if you look at 1 Nephi 16, verse 34 mentions that they stopped (on their way to the ocean, where they built a boat to sail to the Americas) in a place called Nahom where Ishmael, who's family had come with Lehi, died. At this point they had traveled for "many days" in "nearly a south-south east" direction from Jerusalem. If you look many days journey in that direction (without modern transportation of course) you will see the modern day city of Marib. There you can find inscriptions at the temple of Bar'an where sat the Queen of Sheba that date back to the 6th century BC. Some of those ancient Semitic inscriptions talk about people from the ancient city of Nahom. As for the Jaredites, the writings of Josephus make it quite clear that just after the destruction of the Tower of Babel there were many who "passed over the sea" toward the ancient Americas. (Josephus Bk. 1 Chapter 5)

There are a TON more evidences than that but there are a few for starters.

Misconception

Joseph Smith was simply a well educated man who was intelligent enough to come up with a religious text, the Book of Mormon, that happened to sound a lot like the Bible.

Clarification

Of his own admission, Joseph Smith was not well educated even into his adulthood when he finally began translation of the Book of Mormon. He had a the equivalent of what today we would consider a mere 3rd grade education and had little understanding about the world outside of where he lived in New York. Now, in order for someone to even write a secular history book and remain both truthful and contextually accurate, a person would usually needs to travel the world and spend years in research first. Lloyd C. Douglass, the author of The Robe, spent ten years in research before he even started and that book didn't even have to be true. It just had to sound like it was true. In this case, the first draft had to stand. Yet, as a man named Douglass Brian once said, "yet, the language is quite perfect. You will find no discrepancy between names and dates and places. Famous attorney's have declared that in this respect the whole book if as perfect as the finest of legal documents. Any author will tell you that for even the greatest scholar to write such a thing in one draft would be absolutely and utterly impossible."

I can also tell you from my own efforts that this is true. I wrote a historical fiction (that I still need to publish) with a part of the Book of Mormon as historical background that's over 300 pages long and almost 125,000 words. It was purely imaginative and it was crazy difficult to get all the details contextually accurate without messing up the timeline or contradicting character traits, appearances, relationship and familial details, who had which conversation with whom and when, etc. It's really difficult and I've been to High School and College. Joseph Smith didn't have that. At one point he was translating a passage about Jersalem where it mentioned the city walls and he said, in surprise, "Jerusalem has walls?"

Misconception

The Book of Mormon isn't Christian

Clarification

This is probably the biggest slap in the face to the Book of Mormon as well as a complete falsehood.

Jesus Christ is mentioned an average of every 1.7 verses, in connection with Mosaic law, Isaiah's prophecies, King Solomon and more and most importantly, for His unmatched life and atoning sacrifice on multiple occasions. Here is just a few verses from the Book of Mormon:

2 Nephi 25:26 "And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins."

and another

Mosiah 15:7-9 "Yea, even so he shall be led, crucified, and slain, the flesh becoming subject even unto death, the will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father. And thus God breaketh the bands of death, having gained the victory over death; giving the Son power to make intercession for the children of men - having ascended into heaven; having the bowels of mercy; being filled with compassion towards the children of men; standing betwixt them and justice; having broken the bands of death, taken upon himself their iniquity and their transgressions, having redeemed them, and satisfied the demands of justice."

and there are TONS more. There's a reason why it's called Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

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I can tell you from my own personal experience and thousands of hours of study of this book that it will bring you closer to Jesus Christ than you've ever been. I know that it is 100% truth because the Holy Ghost has witnessed it to my heart on multiple occasions.

Study this book. You've got absolutely nothing to loose and everything to gain by doing so.