What is The Book of Mormon?

The Book of MormonRecently, ‘The Book of Mormon’ has received a lot of attention because of the Tony Award-winning production ‘The Book of Mormon’.  Although perhaps entertaining, I assume the production did little in helping its audience to understand exactly what ‘The Book of Mormon’ really is.  Therefore, it is still the source of a great deal of misunderstanding.  For instance, there are those who believe that for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (aka Mormons), ‘The Book of Mormon’ is a substitute for the Bible (see ‘Are Mormons Christian?’ to learn why we are referred to as Mormons).  Actually, this could not be further from the truth.  Because ‘The Book of Mormon’ has played such a key role in my own life, I would like to help others understand what it is and why we, as a church, consider it to be sacred.

‘The Book of Mormon’ is a volume of scripture that is comparable to the Bible.  Just as The New Testament is a record of Jesus Christ’s ministry in the Holy Land, ‘The Book of Mormon’ is a record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas.  It was actually written by many ancient prophets by the spirit of prophecy and revelation.  Their words were written on gold plates and eventually quoted and abridged by the ancient prophet-historian Mormon. The record gives an account of two great civilizations.  One came from Jerusalem in 600 B.C. and afterward separated into two nations, known as the Nephites and the Lamanites.  The other, the Jaredites, came much earlier at the time the Lord confounded the tongues at the Tower of Babel.

The crowning event recorded in the Book of Mormon is the personal appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ among the Nephites soon after His resurrection.  During His mortal ministry, Jesus stated in John 10:16 “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”  We believe that the Nephites on the American continent were among those to whom He referred in this statement.

After Mormon completed his abridgement of the record, he gave the plates to his son, Moroni, who wrote a few more words and then buried the plates in the hill Cumorah.  On September 21, 1823, this same Moroni, then a glorified resurrected being, appeared to Joseph Smith giving him instructions regarding the translation of the ancient record into English.  In due time, the record was delivered to Joseph Smith who translated them by the gift and power of God.  The record is now published in many languages as a new and additional witness that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God and that all who will come unto Him and obey the law and ordinances of the gospel may be saved.

We, therefore, cherish ‘The Book of Mormon’ as a companion to the Bible witnessing that Jesus is indeed the Christ.  It fulfills the law of witnesses found in the Bible and repeated by Jesus in Mathew 18:16 “But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.”  I can testify that as I have read both ‘The Book of Mormon’ and ‘The Holy Bible’ side by side, I have felt a confirming power that Jesus is the Christ, my Savior and my Redeemer.  Therefore, I can add my own witness that “the [Broadway] production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people’s lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ.”  I am grateful for the blessing it has been to me and my family.

For More about ‘The Book of Mormon’ see this wonderful message by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland:  ‘Safety for the Soul.

Reference:  ‘The Book of Mormon’ Introduction page.

Coming up:  With the 2012 Presidential Campaign having two Mormon Republican candidates, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, there is and will be more talk about Mormons.  But, what do Mormons really believe?  If you are interested in learning more about Mormon beliefs in a ‘non-threatening’ manner, over the next few months I will be posting a weekly discussion regarding basic Mormon beliefs.  These doctrines come from a document known as ‘The Articles of Faith’.   The ‘Articles of Faith’ help people who are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to understand how our Church is different from other churches. ‘The Articles of Faith’ do not contain all of the teachings and beliefs of the Church, but they do explain some of our most important beliefs.  Each week I will focus on one of the thirteen articles contained in the document with a very short discussion following each one.  I will also, at times, provide links for further information.  I welcome your comments and questions, but ask if you leave comments that you do so in a respectful manner.  Otherwise, I will not approve them for publication.

In the meantime, Remember that 2 Plus 2 Doesn’t Always Equal 4  [And please take time to read my original post to understand Why the Title of this Blog? (Feb. 17, 2011)]

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