Have you ever wondered what was in the part of the Book of Mormon which Moroni was not allowed to include in the gold plates? Does it bother you that the Church was invited to become worthy to receive the rest of the Book of Mormon 168 years ago but it still hasn’t happened?
Is this because we haven’t asked?
We know that many parts of the Lord’s most precious scriptures are among those we have not yet received. For example, as Moroni came toward the end of his writings, he was just about to include a whole treasure of teachings which Jesus gave to his disciples at the end of his ministry to the Nephites.
But it never happened. Moroni says:
Behold, I was about to write them, all which were engraven upon the plates of Nephi [the large plates], but the Lord forbade it, saying: I will [first] try the faith of my people. (3 Nephi 26:11)
As a result of this restriction we only have the “lesser part” of the Book of Mormon. The prophet Mormon does not hesitate telling us how many “greater things” we are missing. He says:
But behold the plates of Nephi do contain the more part of the things which he [Jesus] taught the people.
And these things have I written, which are a lesser part of the things which he taught the people; and I have written them to the intent that they may be brought again unto this people [the future Lamanites], from the Gentiles [the modern members of the Church], according to the words which Jesus hath spoken.
And when they shall have received this [the lesser part], which is expedient that they should have first, to try their faith, and if it shall so be that they shall believe these things [the lesser part] then shall the greater things be made manifest unto them. (3 Nephi 26:7-9)
We have reason to believe that an important part of the “greater things” includes a complete manual of instruction on the procedure for setting up an ideal Zion Society.
We conclude this from the fact that immediately after Jesus completed his ministry among the Nephites, the twelve disciples organized the whole population into a gigantic Zion Society. Nowhere in scripture is there a revelation telling us exactly how to do this. But what Jesus gave the Nephites was so perfect and complete that their Zion Society lasted nearly 300 years.
We will need that manual of instruction in the near future because we must have it before we set up the New Jerusalem.
A Zion Society consists of a perfect order in which both crime and poverty are virtually eliminated. Unfortunately, we know just enough about a Zion Society to make us anxious for the scripture that will tell us how to set it up so that it will thrive in all its glory.
Why Our Present Book of Mormon is the “Lesser Part” of what Moroni Wanted to Give Us
One of the greatest gifts the Church has received since the restoration of the Gospel has been the Book of Mormon. However the greater part of the Book of Mormon has been withheld until we become worthy to receive the rest. Moroni says:
And if it so be that they [the modern gentile members of the Church] will not believe these things, then shall the greater things be withheld from them, unto their condemnation. (3 Nephi 26:10)
Two years after the Church had received the Book of Mormon they found themselves in trouble with the Lord.
A group of missionaries discovered this when they returned from their labors and went to Joseph Smith to hear how the Lord felt about their missionary endeavors. They received a rather shocking revelation. Here is what the Lord said:
And your minds in times past [since the Book of Mormon was published] have been darkened because of unbelief, and becauseyou have treated lightly the things you have received—
Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation.
And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all.
And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written—
That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom;otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion. (D&C 84:54-58)
What are Some of the Things We have Taken Lightly?
One of the most notable things we have taken lightly is the real meaning of the Atonement as explained by Amulek in Alma, chapter 34. We have discussed this extensively in tape #20 of our audio commentaries on the Book of Mormon.
Another things we have taken lightly is the brilliant promise that we can have the many magnificent scriptures the Lord has so far withheld. In a moment we will discuss some of these scriptures which we have NOT received—even a scrap. And the Lord makes it painfully clear that we will not receive these scriptural treasures until we plead for them and make ourselves sufficiently righteous to be worthy to receive them.
In our commentaries on the Book of Mormon we have mentioned scores of gospel truths we have taken lightly, which means we have neglected or ignored them. For example:
What is the source of God’s power?
Could he lose his power?
If that happened, would he “cease to be God?”
What steps has the Father taken to make certain this will never happen?
What are the two scenarios of prophecy concerning the judgments of God in our day as set forth in 3 Nephi, chapter 21?
Which one does the Church seem to be leaning toward at the present time?
Why does the Lord say the prophecy of Micah does not have to be fulfilled?
How can this be prevented?
The list includes upwards of a hundred important, identifiable things we have taken lightly, maybe even more.
In Spite of This, Many Feel All is Well in Zion
The modern members of the Church have accomplished some fantastic things during the 170 years since it was organized. Crossing the plains and establishing a commonwealth in the valleys of the mountains at a cost of burying around 6,000 loved ones in wilderness graves would be one of the foremost achievements. And it has become one of the fastest growing religions in the world. In my lifetime the Church has grown from 431,000 members worldwide to nearly eleven million.
We have bilt over 100 temples, set up over 2,300 stakes with more than 23,000 wards and branches. The Church has established over 325 missions which are serviced by around 60,000 volunteer missionaries. They have spread the influence of the Church across every continent of the planet. We have the largest building for conferences and religious worship in the United States. We have the largest private university in the nation with a vast network of seminaries and institutes supporting the educational standards of the members. We also have the largest resources for genealogical research in the entire world.
No doubt our Heavenly Father considers all of this tremendously commendable, and consequently marvelous blessings are being poured out on the members of the Church.
But we are still under condemnation.
In 2 Nephi, chapter 28, Nephi itemizes the perils which can be expected even when the Church is at the height of its success. In summary, he says:
And others will he [the devil] pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell. (2 Nephi 28:21)
Perhaps one of our greatest delinquencies is that we are being lulled to sleep with what scriptures we have, and are being cheated out of a vast legacy of sacred writings which the Lord promised the Church from its very beginning.
An Urgent Message from One of God’s Prophets
At a General Conference of the Church in October 1986, President Ezra Taft Benson devoted his entire talk to the specific task of getting the Church out from under the Lord’s cloud of condemnation. He quoted the revelation which defined the dimensions of our condemnation and then said:
The Book of Mormon is the keystone of testimony. Just as the arch crumbles if the keystone is removed, so does all the Church stand or fall with the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. (Ensign, November 1986, p. 6)
In this same discourse, President Benson said:
Every Latter-Day Saint should make the study of this book alifetime pursuit. Otherwise he is placing his soul in jeopardy and neglecting that which could give spiritual and intellectual unity to his whole life. There is a difference between a convert who is built on the rock of Christ through the Book of Mormon and stays hold of that iron rod, and one who is not.
What Are Some of the Scriptures Awaiting the Modern Saints?
The Book of Mormon makes specific reference to voluminous scriptures which Moroni spent twenty-five to thirty years carefully and precisely inscribing on the gold plates. It is almost unbelievable to contemplate the lonely vigil of Moroni as he tried to scrounge around for a little food while fearfully evading the predatory bands of Lamanites who wanted to find him and kill him. Yet during all those grim and terrifying circumstances, Moroni still managed to translate and record what turned out to be about two-thirds of the gold plates with the majority of his writings being included in the sealed portion.
We learn from the size of the sealed part of the Book of Mormon from a sermon given by Orson Pratt just eight years after the death of Joseph Smith and while many of the details were well known to the early members of the Church. Orson Pratt said:
You recollect that when the Book of Mormon was translated from the plates, about two-thirds were sealed up, and Joseph was commanded not to break the seal; that part of the record was hid up. The plates which were sealed contained an account of those great things shown unto the brother of Jared; and we are told that all those things are preserved to come forth in the due time of the Lord. (Journal of Discourses, vol. 3, p. 347)
From all of this we learn that when Joseph Smith received the gold plates, about one-third of these plates were written by Mormon and two-thirds were written by Moroni.
The Lord Wanted the Prophetic History of the World to Come Forth in Modern Times
We now know that the diamond core of scriptures in the gold plates—other than the one-third devoted to the Book of Mormon itself—was the complete prophetic history of the world from Adam to the end of the Millenium. The Brother of Jared received this fantastic vision on the shores of the great sea [around 2,000 B.C.] as he and his brother prepared to bring their families and friends across the wild waste of water enroute to the promised land.
Here is the way the Book of ether describes this marvelous revelation to the brother of Jared which covers everything from Adam to the end of the world.
And when the Lord had said these words, he showed unto the brother of Jared all the inhabitants of the earth which had been, and also all that would be; and he withheld them not from his sight, even unto the ends of the earth. (Ether 3:25)
The Lord then warned Ether that this vision must be hidden up until after the time when Jesus would come in the flesh. Nevertheless after his resurrection he commanded that this marvelous revelation should be translated from the Adamic tongue to the Hebrew and circulated among the Nephites. The scriptures says:
And after Christ truly had showed himself unto his people [in America] he commanded that they [the writings of the brother of Jared] should be made manifest. (Ether 4:2)
Of course, later on when both the Nephites and Lamanites had apostatized, Moroni was instructed to write this entire voluminous prophetic history on the gold plates in its Hebrew translation and this became the sealed portion of the gold plates. He says:
Wherefore the Lord hath commanded me to write them; and I have written them. And he commanded me that I should seal them up; and he also hath commanded that I should seal up the interpretation thereof; wherefore I have sealed up the interpreters, according to the commandment of the Lord. (Ether 4:5)
Then the Lord revealed to Moroni the conditions which must be satisfied before the Gentile members of the Church could have this precious record translated and published in the latter days. He says:
For the Lord said unto me: They shall not go forth unto the Gentiles until the day that they shall repent of their iniquity, and become clean before the Lord. (Ether 4:6)
In other words, genuinely appreciating the Book of Mormon and studying it profoundly, is the key to receiving these scriptures which the Lord has withheld.
The Lord also Wants Us to Have the Complete Writings of John the Revelator
It will be recalled that Nephi was allowed to see about 2,600 years of future history. This vision included a panorama of what will happen to the saints in modern times. However, the reader of the Book of Mormon is disappointed because just as Nephi was about to tell us what is going to happen in modern times, the angel said:
But the things which thou shalt see hereafter thou shalt not write; for the Lord God hath ordained the apostle of the Lamb of God that he should write them.
And I, Nephi, heard and bear record, that the name of the apostle of the Lamb was John, according to the word of the angel. (1 Nephi 14:25, 27)
Of course, the only book of prophecy by John is the Book of Revelation, but that is one of the most difficult and confusing books in the entire Bible. Certainly it contains no clear unfolding of what will happen to the wicked gentiles in the latter days of how the Lord will save the righteous.
Nevertheless, the Lord has revealed ina modern revelation that “the fulness of John’s record is hereafter to be revealed.” (D&C 93:6)
When we receive the fulness of John’s record we will know what Nephi saw.
In our audio commentary on 3 Nephi, chapters 30 and 31, we described the two latter-day scenarios which the resurrected Jesus outlined for the Nephites during his ministry. But it doesn’t say which of the two scenarios will come to pass. Nephi knew exactly which one will be fulfilled, but he wasn’t allowed to tell us.
Nevertheless, we are promised that the writings of John will be forthcoming when the modern saints are prepared to receive them. This suggests that we will get a more complete and much clearer revelation of the writings of John in the due time of the Lord. As Moroni wrote:
And then shall my revelations which I have caused to be written by my servant John be unfolded in the eyes of all the people. (Ether 4:16)
The Lord Wants the World to Have the Brass Plates
When Joseph, the eleventh son of Jacob, was sold into Egypt, he was raised up by the Lord to become the prime minister of Egypt. It is believed that it was under these prosperous circumstances that he undertook to write a scriptural history of God’s dealings with mankind from the days of Adam and Eve down to his own day. His descendants then kept the record up to date from Joseph down to the prophet Jeremiah in 600 B.C. (1 Nephi 5:10-13)
It will be recalled that this record fell into the hands of a wicked descendant of Joseph, named Laban, and it was necessary for the Lord to tell Nephi to decapitate Laban in order to get the Brass Plates and take them to the new promised land.
We have a description of the contents of the Plates of Brass (or Book of Joseph) and we learn that they were very similar to the Jewish Old Testament exact that the Jewish writings were “not so many” as the Plates of Brass. (1 Nephi 13:28)
One of the reasons why the contents of the Jewish Old Testament were “not so many” was because some of the most precious parts had been taken out. (1 Nephi 13:28)
The Plates of Brass Seen Along with the Gold Plates of Mormon
To gain a deeper appreciation of the tremendous significance of the Plates of Brass or Book of Joseph, we have the following statement by David Whitmer, one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon:
We not only saw the plates of the Book of Mormon, but also theplates of brass. (Preston Nibley, Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, p. 68)
This clearly signifies the supreme importance of the Plates of Brass in the eyes of the Lord. They were shown to the three witnesses right along with the Gold Plates of Mormon.
The Brass Plates Converted Thousands of Lamanites
The Brass Plates turned out to be a marvelous scriptural converter, particularly among the hostile Lamanites. Here is what Alma says in this connection:
Yea, I say unto you, were it not for these things that these records do contain, which are on these plates [the Plates of Brass of the Book of Joseph], Ammon and his brethren could not have convinced so many thousands of the Lamanites of the incorrect tradition of their fathers; yea, these records and their words brought them unto repentance; that is, they brought them to the knowledge of the Lord their God, and to rejoice in Jesus Christ their Redeemer. (Alma 37:9)
When Father Lehi first examined the Book of Joseph of the Brass Plates, he received a revelation that they must go to all the world in modern times. Here is how Nephi describes it:
And now when my father saw all these things, he was filled with the Spirit, and began to prophesy concerning his seed—
That these plates of brass should go forth unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people who were of his seed.
Wherefore, he said that these plates of brass should never perish; neither should they be dimmed any more by time. And he prophesied many things concerning his seed. (1 Nephi 5:17-19; see also Alma 37:3-4)
If this important record is to go forth to all nations, it would seem to be the direct responsibility of the members of the Church to qualify themselves so that these scriptures can become available in our day and fulfill their divine destiny.
The Lord Wants Us to Have the “Greater Part” of the Book of Mormon Restored
As we pointed out in the beginning, the key to removing the condemnation of the Church by the Lord is in the comprehensive and in-depth appreciation of the Book of Mormon. Only then will the floodgates be opened to allow the treasure of hidden scripture to come forth—the scripture the Lord has been anxiously waiting to restore to the modern saints. As the Lord has said:
And they [the children of Zion] shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them. . . otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion. (D&C 84:57-58)
As we mentioned earlier, it is thought that this “greater part” of the Book of Mormon includes the detailed description of how to set up a Zion Society, and this is knowledge the modern saints must have before they can build the New Jerusalem.
The Church has experimented with a variety of plans called the “United Order” and other ventures which attempted to practice what little is known about a Zion Society, but the brethren have acknowledged that we cannot set up all the ramifications of a Zion Society until we have the Lord’s complete revelation on the subject.
No doubt the revelation of the “greater part” of the Book of Mormon will contain the glorious revelation on the Zion Society and other scriptural treasures we should know.
The Age of Bread and Circuses
In the days of ancient Rome it was a common practice to prevent the people from revolting by providing them with bread and circuses. Satan uses the same combination to distract good people from participating in the dynamics of the second estate, such as the task of undertaking a profound study of the Book of Mormon.
We all know how this pattern works in our daily lives. The complex ferocity and lightning speed of modern living includes a heavy routine of bread and circuses. Far too often the neglect of intense gospel study and especially the Book of Mormon generates the breathless lamentation, “There just isn’t time!”
It is interesting that in the next life we are going to be judged in part by members of the Priesthood whom we respectfully refer to as the pioneers. To a remarkable extent these honored forebears not only knew the scriptures better than many of us today, but they milked cows night and morning and labored in the field from sunrise to sunset.
According to the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 88, verses 108-110, the Lord is going to provide a panoramic vision some day showing our individual lives except for the sins the Atonement has erased. As this great vision unfolds and our daily activities appear on the screen, how will any of us pretend that we didn’t have the time to remove the condemnation of the Lord by cherishing and studying the Book of Mormon? And what will we say when these venerable pioneers see us squandering whole weekends glued to a TV set or indulging ourselves in a continuous panorama of sports spectaculars?
Recreation is important, but in many cases we have allowed it to literally root out of our daily lives the study of the gospel and the scriptures. No doubt our challenge is not so much a lack of time as it is the perpetual rat race which smothers us under a virtual tidal wave of tantalizing trivia.
So what can we do to restructure our lifestyle and replace much of the circus trivia with the Lord’s lifestyle of happy living? Or, to say it another way, what can we contribute as individual members of the kingdom to help provide the precious time for a penetrating study of the Book of Mormon and other scriptures so as to remove the Lord’s condemnation of the Church?
Two Suggestions for Consideration
Two elements are required to make a breakthrough in Book of Mormon study. First of all, the text of the Book of Mormon must be perceived as highly interesting and inspiriting communications from God, so that it will command our attention.
Second, there needs to be a plan involving thousands of Church members who are consistently studying the Book of Mormon, digging out its hidden treasures and making it an integral part of our daily lives.
In order to help make the Book of Mormon both exciting and stimulating, we have just finished having the entire text professionally recorded by Wendell Noble who has an appealing and inspirational voice.
Then, to keep the listener focused on the message, we have interrupted every few verses to given an interesting commentary on the historical or doctrinal significance of what has just been heard.
By having this stimulating discussion of the Book of Mormon on tape, it can be enjoyed while working in the kitchen or while driving in the car.
Of course, we should mention that the Lord will probably not be satisfied to have the Church members merely know the story of the Book of Mormon because even the Primary children know that much. What the Lord wants us to know are the treasures of the gospel which are highlighted in the Book of Mormon but which we have “taken lightly” for over 168 years.
In our commentary on the Book of Mormon we have emphasized scores of these treasures. We think most people will immediately recognized why the Lord is deeply offended because we have neglected or ignored so many important parts of this great scriptures.
We therefore have a further suggestion in order to keep the continuity of our Book of Mormon study sufficiently vibrant so that it will demonstrate to the Lord that we are anxious to have the rest of the Book of Mormon soon. Of course, these sacred scriptures will come forth when the Lord sees fit to make them available, but we must do our part to facilitate the process.
We believe it would prove supremely significant if each of us made a personal commitment to listen to at ltest one or more tapes every week for the rest of our lives. Each tape requires only 90 minutes and even at the rate of one tape each week you will complete the entire Book of Mormon every 6 weeks.
This will do four things:
It will keep the spirit of the Book of Mormon in our homes and make it a part of our daily lives.
It will make us more intimately acquainted with every important detail of this inspired scripture.
It will help us understand the more profound principles of the gospel as set forth in the Book of Mormon and help us acquire the ability to explain its deeper doctrines with greater facility.
It will lay the foundation for the lifting of the Lord’s condemnation of the Church and bring about the restoration of the previous scriptures which, by the year 2000, had been withheld for 168 years.
I’m a licensed Southern Baptist minister and I embrace the Book of Mormon.
That is, I believe the truths recorded in it. No, I’m not a convert to the Mormon faith, nor am I a member of any particular “spin-off” restoration group such as the RLDS (Reorganized Latter-day Saints), Hedrikites, or Strangites. I’m still a Baptist minister. To be exact, I’m “charismatic Baptist.” That is, I still embrace the “born again” experience. I still believe you’re saved by grace. By the shed blood of Christ. Salvation is by faith alone in His finished work on Calvary. I still believe in the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit. I believe and embrace those cardinal doctrines of Protestantism.
And you know what?…
I still believe the Book of Mormon too!
I know. I can hear you now. “…A charismatic Baptist minister who believes the Book of Mormon?! Impossible. That’s like a Protestant Pope…” No, it’s not. It’s not a contradiction.
The two go hand in hand, really–Protestant doctrine and the Book of Mormon. They’re not at odds. The Book of Mormon is filled with Protestant cardinal doctrines, believe it or not. In fact, I discovered, the Book of Mormon is more “Baptist” than the Baptist hymnal in places. I know that’s hard to believe, but it’s so. I read the Book from cover to cover and found as a Baptist minister, there is absolutely nothing in it that contradicts the Bible.
For example, the book uplifts the blood of Christ (Mosiah 1:118), declares that salvation is only by God’s grace (2 Nephi 7:42), defends the grand theme of salvation (Mosiah 1:108), and proclaims that salvation comes only through faith on the Lord Jesus Christ (Mosiah 3:8,9). Other themes such as repentance, atonement by Christ’s blood, redemption, and forgiveness run like a scarlet thread through the book as well (Alma 3:86, Helaman 2:71, Alma 13:13, Mosiah 2:3,4). Thus, our “tongue ‘n’ cheek” title, TheBaptist Version of the Book of Mormon. I’m telling you, the grand themes of Protestantism are found recorded through and through. From cover to cover.
A Word About My Background…
Reared in a small conservative Baptist church back in the hills of the Ozarks, I was taught with strong convictions that Mormons were no different from Jehovah Witnesses, Christian Scientists, or Armstrong followers. They all sooner or later knocked on your door. We were instructed by our parents to “…let none of them in the house. And don’t buy their materials…” All were cults. Certainly the Mormons were not within mainstream Christianity.
Lee Ridenhour, a Baptist Minister who believes and teaches from the Book of Mormon, and his dear wife
I was taught that the Book of Mormon was a lie. We have the Bible and no man was to add to the scriptures lest his soul be damned. And I was taught that the rapture could occur any minute. Establishing a literal kingdom on this earth was pure nonsense. And I believe my convictions were typical. Most protestant/pentecostal Christians today share similar sentiments.
So what are we faced with concerning the Book of Mormon? Is it…
Adding to the Bible or Duped by the Canon
“…You don’t really believe in that book, do you?” Or “…you surely don’t believe the Book of Mormon is equal with the Bible, do you?…”
These are questions my friends now ask me, wondering if I haven’t erred from the truth.
What’s my response?…
I have chosen to follow the style of the Master. When asked a probing question, He often responded with one. The Pharisees once asked Him about John the Baptist, and…
“…Jesus responded, ‘I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you…’” –Matt.21:24
When my friends ask, “…do you believe in the Book of Mormon?” I respond, “I will answer that, but first I would like for you to answer my question, ‘Why do you believe in the canon of scripture? Would you give me your reasons?’”
Most can’t. They’ve never thought it through.
That’s really the issue, you know—not whether or not I believe in the Book of Mormon, but whether or not we as Christians are to embrace the concept of canonization. For that’s the perception here—that by embracing the Book of Mormon I’ve violated scripture’s canon. My friends are convinced I’ve added to the Word of God. I’m convinced we’ve been duped by the canon.
To get to the point—not many evangelical Christians realize (I didn’t), the concept of canonization became popular with the Church around the time of Constantine, a period when the Church became infiltrated with nationalism and worldly teachings. Closing the canon to 66 books was the outcome of man’s wisdom and man’s heresy. Canonization has its origin in worldly tradition, is not found in the Bible, and was not practiced by the early Church. And I’m aware—that’s a shocker.
A bit of trivia–God would not end His book with the numbers ’66.’ That’s one “six” short of 666—the number of the Anti-Christ. God’s number has always been “seven,” not “six.”
I have discovered, there are two extra-biblical teachings propagated by Protestantism that must be dealt with before most of us will take the Book of Mormon seriously: 1) the doctrine of canonization, and 2) the teaching of the rapture. Both are cardinal doctrines of Protestantism and both are extra-biblical teachings. That is, neither is supported by the Word of God.
The other Protestant myth…
“…Joseph Smith can’t be taken too seriously because he believed in a literal city of Zion.” I must say, that doesn’t sound so strange these days. Many evangelical Christians no longer embrace the rapture.
What about the rapture? Where did the doctrine come from? Did the early saints believe in it?
For eighteen hundred years the saints did not believe in the rapture, pre-tribulation, post-tribulation, or mid-tribulation. The teaching is new. In the light of church history, it’s new. Again, perhaps that’s a shock to some of us.
I find it very interesting—both the rapture theory and the restoration of the gospel came forth in the same year: 1830! When the Lord moves in the earth, the Devil usually attempts his imitation of the real.
For instance, which does the Bible teach: removal or restoration?
Joseph Smith, Jr. was called to restore primitive Christianity to the Church in 1830 and Margaret MacDonald, a fourteen year-old Scottish girl, went into a trance that same year. She described a vision where she saw the saints leaving the earth at the return of the Lord. Her “revelation” occurred while living in Port Glasgow, Scotland. The vision was recorded in two books written by R.N. Norton, M.D., and printed in London, England in 1861. Two Brethren ministers, Edward Irving and John Darby, popularized her vision. The Plymouth Brethren accepted the vision as valid and the rapture doctrine “took off” during prophetic meetings at Powerscourt House in Ireland.
Irving’s views influenced C.I. Scofield, whose Bible notes popularized the new theory among fundamentalist/evangelical Christians in the West. The rest is history. However, as I said, many fundamentalist/evangelical Christians today have second thoughts about the doctrine, having re-evaluated their position. They no longer believe Christians will be “raptured out” of the tribulation.
There they are—two Protestant myths that must be dealt with before one is likely to take the Book of Mormon seriously: the doctrines of canonization and the rapture.
…that God still speaks today—that the canon is still open—and that there’s not going to be a removal of the saints but a restoration of His creation (which includes His people), then perhaps the message of the Book of Mormon is not so “far fetched” after all.
Speaking of the message of the Book of Mormon, what exactly is its message? What is its central theme? Restoration of the covenants in these latter days. That surprised me, blessed me, and witnessed to me.
No, the book is not meant to be used as a tool to proselyte you into some weird sect or cult. No, it’s not meant to be used to “make a Mormon” out of you. The Book of Mormon is the most nonsectarian book I’ve ever read! It’s meant for Catholics, for Methodists, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Charismatics, Seventh Day Adventists, for Baptists, Pentecostals…you name it. It speaks to all.
I’ll say it again. The central message of the Book of Mormon is—restoration of the covenants in these latter days! And that message is meant for all God’s children.
“…For behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have been taken away…” –I Nephi 3:168,169
Its Central Theme
Let’s explore the central theme of the Book of Mormon—restoration of the covenants. Somehow our generation has overlooked the obvious: the Bible is a covenant document!
And what’s a covenant?
It’s the missing revelation among God’s children, among the church at large. That’s what it is. And how sad. Like Mephibisheth, the majority of today’s Christians do not know they have a covenant with the King. And as believers we don’t miss the covenant because we don’t know we have one. We have no idea—we were destined to sit at the table with the King.
Like in King Josiah’s time (II Kings 23), “covenant” has been forgotten among us. I would say—since the early 1800s we’ve lost the revelation. We’re a generation without a covenant, without a mandate, without dominion. Yes, today’s Church, by and large, has taken away “…many covenants of the Lord…”, has taken away from the gospel “…many parts…”
Let me give a brief prophetic history of the church age. John speaks of different ages in his book of Revelation. Seven churches represent seven approximate time periods. For example, Ephesus represents that period approximately29 AD to 100 AD. Smyrna represents 100 AD to 300 AD. Pergamus, 300 to 350 AD. Thyatira, 350 to 500 AD. Sardis, 500 to 1500 AD, the dark ages. Philadelphia, 1500 to 1830 AD, the Reformation. And the Church at Laodicea,1830 to present—the age of the lost and forgotten covenants of the Lord.
Please consider that last point—we’re living in an age of “…the lost and forgotten covenants of the Lord.”
Selah—ponder that for a moment.
The Laodicean age—no real commitment to covenants and contracts. The fruit of the Reformation (sectarianism) changed the concept of biblical salvation “oh so” subtle among the majority of Protestants. And in the process, the covenants were lost. Protestantism for the past 150 years has preached salvation by decision-making, not covenant-keeping. That’s a caricature of the real thing. “…Invite Jesus into your heart,” “…Make a decision for Christ,” are buzz words of the modern Protestant movement. The problem is—you don’t make a “…decision for Christ.” You enter into a covenant with Him. You make a covenant with the King of the universe that begins in time but lasts throughout eternity. There’s a world of difference between entering into a covenant and making a decision. One is binding throughout eternity; the other, more times than not, is mere mental gymnastics.
You say, “Ridenhour, you’re just playing with words…semantics.” No, I’m not. The implications are far deeper than a mere play on words.
The Book of Mormon is a revelation of the covenants being restored among His people in these latter days. When a people sign a contract they act differently (especially if the contract is with God!). They weigh the consequences. In these latter days we will again begin to know what it means to sign a contract with the Lord of Hosts, and act accordingly. A revelation of biblical salvation will return to his people. Praise His name.
In other words, the central message of the Book of Mormon is—to repent and come unto Christ, which means to establish a covenant with Him. And that message is coming to light in these latter days. And that’s why I embrace the Book of Mormon. Our generation knows very little, if anything, about establishing a covenant with Christ. Protestantism doesn’t teach it. Unfortunately, most of us are products of “cheap grace” and “decision-making” Sunday School preaching. Hosea described a people who were “…half baked” (Hosea 7:8). Like a cake not turned. Sadly, my generation fits the bill.
Listen to the words of the ancient prophet.
“…Behold, I [the Christ] have come unto the world to bring redemption unto the world, to save the world from sin; therefore whoso repenteth and cometh unto me as a little child, him will I receive; for of such is the kingdom of God.” –3 Nephi 4:51
To make sure we understand…
Scriptural salvation is entering into a personal covenant with Him; thereby coming unto Christ for all our temporal and eternal needs and wants. The contract is binding throughout eternity while effectual in time.
Let’s go on…
Back to the title of our pamphlet, “The Baptist Version of the Book of Mormon.” Setting aside the title’s “tongue ‘n’ cheek” tendency, there is an element of truth I’m getting at. As I said earlier, having read the Book of Mormon through as a Baptist minister, I was astonished at how often I kept running into Protestant themes. Themes such as: the plan of salvation, salvation by faith in Christ, salvation by grace alone, repentance, the gifts of the Spirit, the filling of the Spirit, sanctification, justification by faith, forgiveness and redemption. I could go on.
I kept thinking as I was reading, “…wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were some piece of writing available that listed all these themes from the Book of Mormon.” I searched and searched for such a work and never found it. (I’ve noticed, since becoming a part of this wonderful restoration movement, there are very little, if any, writings concerning the restoration written to “non-restoration” saints.) So I decided, I would write to non-restoration believers. Make available materials on the restoration to our Protestant, Pentecostal, Catholic brethren. Hence, another booklet.
What I’m going to do for the remainder of this booklet is list various Protestant themes taken from Book of Mormon scriptures. If I seem a bit repetitious, it’s deliberate. I want you to get the full impact of the spirit of the wording. And my prayer is—may the Spirit of God bear witness to your spirit as you read.
First, Book of Mormon scriptures on the…
Born Again Experience
I was delightfully surprised to find so many “born again” scriptures in the Book of Mormon. For example…
“…For, said he, I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold, I am born of the Spirit. And the Lord said unto me, Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men, and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; Yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; and thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in no wise inherit the kingdom of God…” –Mosiah 11:186-188 (all scriptures quoted from RLDS 1908 version)
That verse, I must say, sounds so “Baptist.” And I believe every word of it.
“…And now I say unto you, that this is the order after which I am called; yea, to preach unto my beloved brethren; yea, and every one that dwelleth in the land; Yea, to preach unto all, both old and young, both bond and free; yea, I say unto you, the aged, and also the middle aged, and the rising generation; yea, to cry unto them that they must repent and be born again; Yea, thus saith the Spirit, Repent all ye ends of the earth, for the kingdom of heaven is soon at hand; yea, the Son of God cometh in his glory, in his might, majesty, power and dominion…” –Alma 3:85-87
“…Now I say unto you, that ye must repent, and be born again: for the Spirit saith, If ye are not born again, ye can not inherit the kingdom of heaven…” –Alma 5:24
“…after wading through much tribulation, repenting nigh unto death, the Lord in mercy hath seen fit to snatch me out of an everlasting burning, and I am born of God…” –Mosiah 11:190
“…Yea, what shall I do that I may be born of God, having this wicked spirit rooted out of my breast, and receive his Spirit, that I may be filled with joy, that I may not be cast off at the last day? ..” –Alma 13:49
“…Yea, and from that time, even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost…” –Alma 17:22
“…my limbs did receive their strength again, and I stood upon my feet, and did manifest unto the people that I had been born of God…” –Alma 17:21
“…and now behold, O my son, the Lord doth give me exceeding great joy in the fruit of my labors; for because of the word which he has imparted unto me, behold, many have been born of God…” –Alma 17:23
“…Now my son, I would not that ye should think that I know these things of myself, but it is the Spirit of God which is in me, which maketh these things known unto me: for if I had not been born of God, I should not have known these things…”Alma 18:6
One of my favorite hymns of the early restoration saints is: YE MUST BE BORN AGAIN.
A ruler once came to Jesus by night,
To ask Him the way of salvation and light;
The Master made answer in words true and plain
“Ye must be born again.”
“Ye must be born again,
Ye must be born again,
I verily, verily say unto thee
Ye must be born again.”
One other thing. I discovered, Joseph Smith meant exactly what I meant when he used the phrase “born again.” He wasn’t saying one thing and meaning another; that is, he wasn’t playing with semantics. I found the above scriptures to be so comforting to my spirit. So believable. So “…plain and precious” to the soul.
Here’s another Protestant theme…
Plan of Salvation
“…he has made these things known unto us beforehand, because he loveth our souls as well as he loveth our children; therefore in his mercy he doth visit us by his angels, that the plan of salvation might be made known unto us as well as unto future generations. O how merciful is our God!…” –Alma 14:38
“…For what could I write more than my fathers have written? For have not they revealed the plan of salvation?…” –Jarom 1:3,4
“…if Adam had put forth his hand immediately, and partook of the tree of life, he would have lived for ever, according to the word of God, having no space for repentance; Yea, and also the word of God would have been void, andthe great plan of salvation would have been frustrated…” –Alma 19:85,86
Plan of Redemption
“…Now if it had not been for the plan of redemption, which was laid from the foundation of the world, there could have been no resurrection of the dead…–Alma 9:42
“…if it were possible that our first parents could have gone forth and partaken of the tree of life, they would have been for ever miserable, having no preparatory state; And thus the plan of redemption would have been frustrated…” –Alma 9:44,45
“…And they began from that time forth to call on his name; therefore God conversed with men, and made known unto them the plan of redemption, which had been prepared from the foundation of the world…–Alma 9:49
“…God gave unto them commandments, after having made known unto them the plan of redemption, that they should not do evil, the penalty thereof being a second death, which was an everlasting death as to things pertaining unto righteousness; For on such the plan of redemption could have no power, for the works of justice could not be destroyed, according to the supreme goodness of God…” —Alma 9:52,53
What blessed scriptures. What a blessed theme—the plan of redemption!
“…But God did call on men, in the name of his Son, (this being the plan of redemption which was laid,) saying: If ye will repent, and harden not your hearts, then will I have mercy upon you, through mine only begotten Son…” –Alma 9: 54
“…he expounded unto them the plan of redemption, which was prepared from the foundation of the world…” –Alma 12:119
“…And Aaron did expound unto him the scriptures, from the creation of Adam, laying the fall of man before him, and their carnal state, and also the plan of redemption, which was prepared from the foundation of the world, through Christ, for all whosoever would believe on his name…” –Alma13:45
“…I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance, and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might be no more sorrow upon all the face of the earth…” –Alma 15:53
“…therefore, only unto him that has faith unto repentance, is brought about the great and eternal plan of redemption. Therefore may God grant unto you, my brethren, that ye may begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to call upon his holy name, that he would have mercy upon you; yea, cry unto him for mercy; for he is mighty to save…” –Alma 16:217,218
What a verse!
“…I would that ye would come forth and harden not your hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time, and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you. For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God…” –Alma 16:227,228
“…Is it not as necessary that the plan of redemption should be made known unto this people, as well as unto their children?..” –Alma 19:26
“…And now remember, my son, if it were not for the plan of redemption, (laying it aside,) as soon as they were dead, their souls were miserable, being cut off from the presence of the Lord…” —Alma 19:92
And now we turn our attention to one of the most central and cardinal Protestant doctrines of all…
“…And then at that day, will they not rejoice and give praise unto their everlasting God, their rock and their salvation?..” —I Nephi 4:20
“…And it came to pass that Alma said unto him, taking him by the hand, Believest thou in the power of Christ unto salvation? And he answered and said, Yea, I believe all the words that thou hast taught. And Alma said, If thou believest in the redemption of Christ, thou canst be healed. And he said, Yea, I believe according to thy words. And then Alma cried unto the Lord, saying, O Lord our God, have mercy on this man, and heal him according to his faith which is in Christ. And when Alma had said these words, Zeezrom leaped upon his feet, and began to walk…” –Alma 10:95-100
What a powerful passage!
“…Yea, even that ye would have so much faith as even to plant the word in your hearts, that ye may try the experiment of its goodness; and we have beheld that the great question which is in your minds, is whether the word be in the Son of God, or whether there shall be no Christ. And ye also beheld that my brother has proven unto you, in many instances that the word is in Christ, unto salvation…” –Alma 16:203,204
“…these things shall be hid up, to come forth unto the Gentiles by the gift and power of the Lamb; And in them shall be written my gospel, saith the Lamb, and my rock and my salvation…” –I Nephi 3:185,186
“…And then at that day, will they not rejoice and give praise unto their everlasting God, their rock and their salvation?…” –I Nephi 4:20
“…Yea, and all the earth shall see the salvation of the Lord, saith the prophet…–I Nephi 5:256
“…I know that thou art redeemed, because of the righteousness of thy Redeemer: for thou hast beheld, that in the fullness of time, he cometh to bring salvation unto men…” –II Nephi 1:63
“…For the Spirit is the same, yesterday, to-day, and for ever. And the way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free…” –II Nephi 1:65,66
“…Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say, O Lord, I will praise thee for ever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation…” –II Nephi 3:50
“…Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord, JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Therefore, with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation…” –II Nephi 9:133,134
Sure sounds like Isaiah!
“…For there is nothing which is good, save it comes from the Lord; and that which is evil, cometh from the devil. And now, my beloved brethren, I would that ye should come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption. Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth, ye will be saved…” –Omni 1:45-47
“…For behold as in Adam, or by nature they fall, even so the blood of Christ atoneth for their sins. And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given, nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent…” –Mosiah 1:115,116
“…But men drink damnation to their own souls, except they humble themselves, and become as little children, and believe that salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent: For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been, from the fall of Adam, and will be, for ever and ever; But if he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man, and becometh a saint, through the atonement of Christ, the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. And moreover, I say unto you, that the time shall come, when the knowledge of a Savior shall spread throughout every nation, kindred, tongue, and people…” –Mosiah 1:118-121
Sounds like some good ole Baptist preaching to me!
“…For behold, if the knowledge of the goodness of God at this time, has awakened you to a sense of your nothingness, and your worthless and fallen state; I say unto you, if ye have come to a knowledge of the goodness of God, and his matchless power, and his wisdom, and his patience, and his long suffering towards the children of men, And also, the atonement which has been prepared from the foundation of the world, that thereby salvation might come to him that should put his trust in the Lord…And there is none other salvation, save this which hath been spoken of; neither are there any conditions whereby man can be saved…” –Mosiah2:8-9,12
“…There is no other name given, whereby salvation cometh, therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God…” –Mosiah 3:11
“…And it came to pass that Alma said unto him, taking him by the hand, Believest thou in the power of Christ unto salvation? And he answered and said, Yea, I believe all the words that thou hast taught. And Alma said, If thou believest in the redemption of Christ, thou canst be healed. And he said, Yea, I believe according to thy words. And then Alma cried unto the Lord, saying, O Lord our God, have mercy on this man, and heal him according to his faith which is in Christ. And when Alma had said these words, Zeezrom leaped upon his feet, and began to walk…” –Alma 10:95-100
Again, what a powerful passage!
“…Yea, behold, I say unto you, that as these things are true, and as the Lord God liveth, there is none other name given under heaven, save it be this Jesus Christ of which I have spoken, whereby man can be saved…” –II Nephi 11:39
“…And I pray the Father in the name of Christ, that many of us, if not all, may be saved in his kingdom, at that great and last day…” –II Nephi 15:15
The Lord Jesus Christ
Like the Bible, the central theme of the Book of Mormon is the Lordship of Jesus Christ. There are over 160 passages in the Book of Mormon that speak of the Lord Jesus Christ. There were 22 men named in the Book of Mormon who saw Christ. Some form of Christ’s name is mentioned on an average of every 1.7 verses. The New Testament mentions a form of Christ’s name on an average of every 2.1 verses. The name of the Savior appears nearly 25 percent more frequently in the Book of Mormon than in the New Testament. When we realize that a verse usually consists of one sentence, we cannot on the average read two sentences in the Book of Mormon without seeing some form of Christ’s name.
“He is Lord” rings loud and clear from its pages like a London cathedral choir harmonizing on a Sunday morning. The sound is resonant throughout the book’s pages. The Spirit’s witness is there. That same Jesus I discovered in the Bible is also present in the pages of the Book of Mormon. Praise be to His holy name!
I mention but a few of the many passages that speak of our blessed Savior.
“…And according to the words of the prophets, and also the word of the angel of God, his name shall be Jesus Christ, the Son of God…” –II Nephi 11:36
“…Yea, behold, I say unto you, that as these things are true, and as the Lord God liveth, there is none other name given under heaven, save it be this Jesus Christ of which I have spoken, whereby man can be saved…” –II Nephi 11:39
“…And as I spake concerning the convincing of the Jews, that Jesus is the very Christ, it must needs be that the Gentiles be convinced also, that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God; and that he manifesteth himself unto all those who believe in him, by the power of the Holy Ghost…” –II Nephi 11:78
What a blessed verse.
“…And the gospel of Jesus Christ shall be declared among them; wherefore, they shall be restored unto the knowledge of their fathers, and also to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, which was had among their fathers. And then shall they rejoice; for they shall know that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God…” –II Nephi 12:82,83
“…I glory in plainness; I glory in truth; I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul from hell…” –II Nephi 15:7
I have always liked this verse. One of my favorites, for sure.
“…Wherefore, we search the prophets; and we have many revelations, and the spirit of prophecy, and having all these witnesses, we obtain a hope, and our faith becometh unshaken, insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus, and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea…” –Jacob 3:7
“…And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things, from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary. And lo, he cometh unto his own, that salvation might come unto the children of men, even through faith, on his name…” –Mosiah 1:102,103
“…We believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created heaven and earth, and all things, who shall come down among the children of men…” –Mosiah 2:4
“…And I say unto you, that I know that Jesus Christ shall come; yea, the Son, the only begotten of the Father, full of grace, and mercy, and truth. And behold, it is he that cometh to take away the sins of the world; yea, the sins of every man who steadfastly believeth on his name…” –Alma 3:83,84
“…And according to the spirit of prophecy which was in him, according to the testimony of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who should come to redeem his people from their sins…” –Alma 4:10
“…And it came to pass that there were many who died, firmly believing that their souls were redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ; thus they went out of the world rejoicing…” –Alma 21:74
“…O remember, remember, my sons, the words which King Benjamin spake unto his people; yea, remember that there is no other way nor means whereby man can be saved, only through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, who shall come; yea, remember that he cometh to redeem the world…” –Helaman 2:71
“…I have reason to bless my God and my Savior Jesus Christ…that he hath given me and my people so much knowledge unto the salvation of our souls…” –III Nephi 2:103
“…And then shall they know their Redeemer, who is Jesus Christ, the Son of God…” –III Nephi 2:109
“…As many as were converted, did truly signify unto the people that they had been visited by the power and Spirit of God, which was in Jesus Christ, in whom they believed…” –III Nephi 3:63
“…Behold I am Jesus Christ, the son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. I was with the Father from the beginning. I am in the Father, and the Father in me; and in me hath the Father glorified his name…” –III Nephi 4:44,45
That name which is above every name, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is found throughout the pages of this blessed book—the Book of Mormon.
On to another central Protestant doctrine…
“…And he commandeth all men that they must repent, and be baptized in his name, having perfect faith in the Holy One of Israel, or they can not be saved in the kingdom of God. And if they will not repent and believe in his name, and be baptized in his name, and endure to the end, they must be damned; For the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, hath spoken it…” –II Nephi 6:48-50
“…For behold, I say unto you, That as many of the Gentiles as will repent, are the covenant people of the Lord; and as many of the Jews as will not repent, shall be cast off; For the Lord covenanteth with none, save it be with them that repent and believe in his Son, who is the Holy One of Israel…” –II Nephi 12:77,78
“…And the Father said, Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my beloved Son…” –II Nephi 13:14
“…Believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you…” –Mosiah 2:16
“…Except they repent, and turn to the Lord their God, behold, I will deliver them into the hands of their enemies…” –Mosiah 7:32
“…The time is at hand that he must repent, or he can not be saved…” –Alma 3:55
“…Preach unto all, both old and young, both bond and free; yea, I say unto you, the aged, and also the middle aged, and the rising generation; yea, to cry unto them that they must repent and be born again…” –Alma 3:86
“…Thus saith the Spirit, Repent all ye ends of the earth, for the kingdom of heaven is soon at hand; yea, the Son of God cometh in his glory, in his might, majesty, power and dominion…” –Alma 3:87
“…The Spirit saith unto me, yea, crieth unto me with a mighty voice, saying, Go forth and say unto this people, Repent, for except ye repent, ye can in no wise inherit the kingdom of heaven…” –Alma 3:89
“…Now I say unto you, that ye must repent, and be born again: for the Spirit saith, If ye are not born again, ye can not inherit the kingdom of heaven…” –Alma 5:24
Sounds like Nicodemus and Jesus in John chapter three, doesn’t it?
“…Melchisedec having exercised mighty faith, and received the office of the high priesthood, according to the holy order of God, did preach repentance unto his people. And behold, they did repent; and Melchisedec did establish peace in the land in his days…” –Alma 10:12,13
“…And now it came to pass that when Alma had said these words unto them, he stretched forth his hand unto them and cried with a mighty voice, saying, Now is the time to repent, for the day of salvation draweth nigh…”–Alma 10:18
“…And we see that his arm is extended to all people who will repent and believe on his name…” –Alma 12:180
“…And also, what is this that Ammon said: If ye will repent ye shall be saved, and if ye will not repent, ye shall be cast off at the last day?…” –Alma 13:37
“…There was a time granted unto man, to repent, yea, a probationary time, a time to repent and serve God…” –Alma 19:84
“…And it came to pass that they did repent, and inasmuch as they did repent, they did begin to prosper…” –Helaman 2:49
“…Blessed are they who will repent, and hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God; for these are they that shall be saved…” –Helaman 4:70
“…O all ye that are spared, because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you? Yea, verily I say unto you, If ye will come unto me, ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me. Behold I am Jesus Christ, the son of God…” –III Nephi 4:41-45
On to another central Protestant doctrine…
“…And it came to pass after I, Nephi, having heard all the words of my father concerning the things which he saw in a vision; And also the things which he spake by the power of the Holy Ghost; which power he received by faith on the Son of God; And the Son of God was the Messiah who should come…” –I Nephi 3:23-25
“…Behold they are righteous for ever; for because of their faith in the Lamb of God, their garments are made white in his blood…” —I Nephi 3:117
“…We are made alive in Christ, because of our faith…” –II Nephi 11:46
“…Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far, save it were by the word of Christ, with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save; Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men…” —II Nephi13:28,29
“…I have charity for my people, and great faith in Christ, that I shall meet many souls spotless at his judgment seat…” –II Nephi 15:8
“…Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions…” –Jacob 2:49
“…Beloved brethren, be reconciled unto him, through the atonement of Christ, his only begotten Son. That ye may obtain a resurrection, according to the power of the resurrection which is in Christ, and be presented as the first fruits of Christ, unto God, having faith, and obtained a good hope of glory in him, before he manifesteth himself in the flesh…” –Jacob 3:16,17
“…For he had said unto me, Whatsoever thing ye shall ask in faith, believing that ye shall receive in the name of Christ, ye shall receive it. And I had faith, and I did cry unto God, that he would preserve the records; And he covenanted with me that he would bring them forth…” –Enos 1:24-26
“…And after I, Enos, had heard these words, my faith began to be unshaken in the Lord; and I prayed unto him with many long strugglings for my brethren, the Lamanites. And it came to pass, that after I had prayed, and labored with all diligence, the Lord said unto me, I will grant unto thee according to thy desires, because of thy faith…” –Enos 1:17,18
“…There are many among us who have many revelations: for they are not all stiff-necked. And as many are not stiff-necked, and have faith, have communion with the Holy Spirit, which maketh manifest unto the children of men, according to their faith…” –Jarom 1:8,9
“…Wo unto him who knoweth that he rebelleth against God; for salvation cometh to none such, except it be through repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ…” –Mosiah 2:4-6
“…We believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created heaven and earth, and all things, who shall come down among the children of men. And it came to pass that after they had spoken these words, the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come…” –Mosiah 2:4-6
“…Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things both in heaven and in earth; Believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; Believe that man doth not comprehend all things which the Lord can comprehend. And again: Believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you: And now, if you believe all these things, see that ye do them. And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness, and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceeding great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long suffering towards you unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily…” –Mosiah 2:13-21
“…This day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him, and have become his sons and his daughters…” –Mosiah 3:9
“…And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, Have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts? Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God, to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body? I say unto you, Can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day, Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth…” –Alma 3:27-32
“…And now as I said concerning faith: Faith, is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith, ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true. And now, behold, I say unto you; and I would that ye should remember that God is merciful unto all who believe on his name; therefore he desireth, in the first place, that ye should believe, yea, even on his word…” Alma 16:143,144
“…If ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith; yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words. Now we will compare the word unto a seed…” –Alma 16:151,152
Truly, one of my favorite passages in the Book of Mormon.
“…Dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith, for it was by faith that Christ shewed himself unto our fathers, after he had risen from the dead…” –Ether 5:7
And now, perhaps the keystone doctrine of the Protestant reformation…
“…Redemption cometh in and through the holy Messiah: for he is full of grace and truth…” –II Nephi 1:71
“…How great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise. Wherefore, he is the first fruits unto God, inasmuch as he shall make intercession for all the children of men…” –II Nephi 1:73-76
“…O the wisdom of God! his mercy and grace!–II Nephi 6:19
“…And remember after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved…” –II Nephi 7:14
The Book of Mormon, like the Bible, teaches that salvation is by grace through faith.
“…My soul delighteth in his grace, and his justice, and power, and mercy, in the great and eternal plan of deliverance from death. And my soul delighteth in proving unto my people, that save Christ should come, all men must perish…” –II Nephi 8:11,12
“…I say unto you, that I know that Jesus Christ shall come; yea, the Son, the only begotten of the Father, full of grace, and mercy, and truth. And behold, it is he that cometh to take away the sins of the world; yea, the sins of every man who steadfastly believeth on his name…” –Alma 3:83,84
“…I have come, having great hopes and much desire that I should find that ye had humbled yourselves before God, and that ye had continued in the supplicating of his grace, that I should find that ye were blameless before him…”–Alma 5:4
“…not many days hence, the Son of God shall come in his glory; and his glory shall be the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace, equity and truth, full of patience, mercy, and long suffering, quick to hear the cries of his people, and to answer their prayers…” –Alma 7:40
“…Blessed are they who will repent, and hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God; for these are they that shall be saved. And may God grant, in his great fullness, that men might be brought unto repentance and good works,that they might be restored unto grace, for grace according to their works. And I would that all men might be saved…” –Helaman 4:70-72
“…The Lord spake unto me, saying, Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness; and if men come unto me, I will shew unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness, that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak thing become strong unto them…” –Ether 5:27,28
…May the grace of God the Father, whose throne is high in the heavens, and our Lord Jesus Christ, who sitteth on the right hand of his power, until all things shall become subject unto him, be, and abide with you for ever…” –Moroni 9:28
“…Come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, thatby his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in no wise deny the power of God. And again, if ye, by the grace of God, are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father, unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy without spot. And now I bid unto all, farewell. I soon go to rest in the paradise of God, until my spirit and body shall again reunite, and I am brought forth triumphant through the air, to meet you before the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah, the eternal Judge of both quick and dead. Amen.” –Moroni 10:29-31 The end.
I find it both uplifting and somewhat unique that the Book of Mormon ends by focusing on the themes of: coming unto Christ, God’s grace, the shed blood of Christ, the power of God, sanctified in Christ, the covenant, and the remission of our sins.
There you have it—The Baptist Version of the Book of Mormon: Protestant Doctrines within the Book of Mormon.
…Born Again Experience
…Plan of Salvation
…Plan of Redemption
…The Lord Jesus Christ
What a book!
Perhaps the late John Henry Evans (1872-1947) said it best when he penned an overview of the Prophet’s life with typical nineteenth century eloquence:
“…Here is a man,” says Evan, “who was born in the stark hills of Vermont; who was reared in the backwoods of New York; who never looked inside a college or high school; who lived in six States, no one of which would own him during his lifetime; who spent months in the vile prisons of the period; who, even when he has his freedom, was hounded like a fugitive; who was covered once with a coat of tar and feathers, and left for dead; who, with his following, was driven by irate neighbors from New York to Ohio, from Ohio to Missouri, and from Missouri to Illinois; and who, at the unripe age of thirty-eight, was shot to death by a mob with painted faces.
Yet this man became mayor of the biggest town in Illinois and the state’s most prominent citizen, the commander of the largest body of trained soldiers in the nation outside the Federal army, the founder of cities and of a university, and aspired to become President of the United States.
He wrote a book which has baffled the literary critics for a hundred years and which is today more widely read than any other volume save the Bible…”
–Joseph Smith, An American Prophet, 1933 preface
Joseph Smith “…wrote a book which has baffled the literary critics…” So true.
One other quote. Hear Henry A. Wallace, one of our late Vice Presidents:
“…Of all the American religious books of the nineteenth century, it seems probable that the Book of Mormon was the most powerful. It reached perhaps only one percent of the United States, but affected this one percent so powerfully and lastingly, that all the people of the United States have been affected.” –New York Times, Nov.5, 1937
Let’s focus briefly on the man, Joseph Smith. What kind of man was he? The man whom God used to commence the restoration in these latter days. What did he have to say concerning truth and doctrine?
Well, first of all, Joseph was extremely tolerant of sects, of those not sharing his Christian point of view. This is a side of Joseph that’s not well known even by those inside the restoration movement, let alone by those outside it.
On one occasion, in a sermon, he said, “…If I esteem mankind to be in error, shall I bear down on them? No. I will lift them up, and in their own way too, if I cannot persuade them my way is better. I will not seek to compel any man to believe as I do, only by force or reasoning, for truth will cut its own way. Do you believe Jesus Christ and the gospel of salvation which he revealed? So do I. Christians should cease wrangling and contending with each other, and cultivate the principles of union and friendship. I am just as ready to die defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any other denomination.” –Sermon, 1843
That last statement especially was quite a statement; “…I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian…”
“…Christians should cease wrangling and contending with each other…” is also quite a statement.
While mayor of Nauvoo, Joseph passed an ordinance “…that the Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists, Latter-day Saints, Quakers, Episcopals…and all other religious sects and denominations whatever, shall have free tolerance and equal privileges in this city…”
It was “against the law” not to show charity and tolerance toward those of other sects in the city of Nauvoo, the city Joseph built.
Again, what kind of man was he?…
One Sunday morning—among a group of prominent politicians, Attorney Butterfield, Judge Douglas, Senator Gillispie, and others—these gentlemen wanted to know about Joseph’s Christian beliefs. Butterfield asked what the main difference was between his faith and that of other Christians.
“…The most prominent difference is this: Sectarians all circumscribe by a peculiar creed, which deprives them of the privilege of believing anything not contained therein. The Latter-day Saints, on the contrary, have no creed, but stand ready to believe all true principles that exist, as they are made manifest from time to time.”
I thought that was well put. In other words, truth remains dynamic. Revelation of truth continues throughout our lifetime. Creeds, on the other hand, tend to become static and inflexible with time.
One last anecdote…
The Prophet is appealing to the President of the United States on behalf of his people. Terrible atrocities have occurred back in Missouri. He had obtained a meeting with President Van Buren. While at the capital, the Prophet preached the gospel to bureacrats. One of the representatives, a certain Matthew S. Davis from New York state, tells about one of the meetings held in the capital by Joseph.
This United States representative, who met Joseph Smith face to face, I believe answers our concerns (better than I could ever address them) in a letter he sent to his wife back home. The congressman writes…
“…I went last evening to hear ‘Joe smith,’ the celebrated Mormon, expound his doctrine. I, with several others, had a desire to understand his tenants as explained by himself.
He is not an educated man; but he is a plain, sensible, strong-minded man. Everything he says, is said in a manner to leave an impression that he is sincere. There is no levity, no fanaticism, no want of dignity in his deportment. In his garb there are no peculiarities; his dress being that of a plain, unpretending citizen. He is by profession a farmer, but is evidently well read.
During the whole of his address, and it occupied more than two hours, there was no opinion or belief that he expressed, that was calculated, in the least degree, to impair the morals of society, or in any manner to degrade and brutalize the human species. There was much in his precepts, if they were followed, that would soften the asperities of man towards man, and that would tend to make him a more rational being than he is generally found to be. There was no violence, no fury, no denunciation. His religion appears to be a religion of meekness, lowliness, and mild persuasion.
Towards the close of his address, he remarked that he had been represented to be a Savior. All this was false. He made no such pretensions. He was but a man, he said: a plain, untutored man, seeking what he should do to be saved.
Throughout his whole address, he displayed strongly a spirit of charity and forbearance. I have taken some pains to explain this man’s belief, as he himself explained it. I have changed my opinion of the Mormons. They are an injured and much-abused people.”
“…I have changed my opinion…” said the U.S. representative.
Concerning the Book of Mormon and the man, Joseph Smith, it is my prayer—so have you.r
About the Author:
Lynn Ridenhour grew up in the heart of Missouri near the Ozarks. A licensed Baptist minister for over 38 years, Lynn read the Book of Mormon and had a marvelous conversion experience to the restoration gospel as proclaimed by Joseph Smith.
Dr. Ridenhour has a Ph.D in literature with a specialty degree in composition theory from the University of Iowa. He has taught creative writing in both Christian and secular universities. Dr. Ridenhour has also pastored Baptist churches for years, has taught at Jerry Falwell’s university, and has been involved in the charismatic renewal since 1972.
Lynn is the founder of WinePress Publishing Co., and has a heart for evangelism. Paperback copies of Dr. Ridenhour’s booklets may be purchased for $3 per copy.
WinePress Publishing Co.
3601 S. Noland Rd., PMB 230
Independence, MO 64055
Should you want Dr. Ridenhour to come and speak in your church, or organization, simply email him, giving him the details. Lynn travels extensively for speaking engagements, sharing his testimony and conversion.
Lynn and Tanya Bascom, an LDS couple from Bountiful, Utah, went on vacation this past June, touring some of the nation’s historical sites in the Boston, Massachusetts, area. At the home of John Quincy Adams, they found an 1841 copy of the Book of Mormon that originally belonged to someone very special in Church history — Emma Smith, wife of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
The 1841 early edition of the Book of Mormon. Joseph, Emma and Hyrum all had their own copies, as well as the members of the Quorum of the Twelve and their wives. Several of the copies have been located. Joseph Smith's copy remains undiscovered. (Courtesy: Adams National Historical
“We went back East for a wedding in Nantucket,” said Lynn Bascom. “My wife was born in Cape Cod, and we love to visit the New England area.” While they were there, Brother and Sister Bascom decided to visit some historical sites associated with the family of John Adams in Quincy, Massachusetts.
The final stop on the Adams historical sites tour is the Old House at Peacefield, the home of John Quincy Adams. “In his will, John Quincy Adams requested that his library of books be preserved in a fireproof structure,” said Brother Bascom. “The library is actually a quaint little cottage that is a separate stone building [housing] more than 14,000 volumes. They put in sky lights so you can see the vast array of books there.”
The National Park Service oversees the tour of the Adams’ historic homes and a park ranger led the tour that the Bascoms attended. “The guide doing the tour asked us where we were from, and we told him we were from Utah,” said Tanya Bascom. “He asked us if we would be interested in seeing a copy of the early edition of the Book of Mormon and directed us to a table in the library that contained several books. About six feet away from us was an 1841 copy of the Book of Mormon given to Charles Francis Adams by the Prophet Joseph Smith.”
A few of the copies of the 1841 Book of Mormon, the first to be published in England, were engraved with the names of early Church leaders and their wives. It can be seen along the bottom of the book's spine that this copy belonged to Emma Smith. (Courtesy: Adams National Historical Park)
“My wife asked if we could touch the Book of Mormon but we were told ‘no,’” said Brother Bascom. “There was also no photography allowed in the home. It was nice the guide threw it out there that the book existed. There was a large table of books that were out for display, and we could see it just a few feet away. We had taken this tour before and never noticed the Book of Mormon.”
The story might have ended there without the help of Utah historian Ron Fox, a member of the Salt Lake 14th Ward. The Bascoms shared their experience with him when they returned home from their vacation and then he went to work trying to find out more. Working with the National Park Service, he obtained photos of the Book of Mormon. The results were astonishing.
The photos showed the spine of the book, indicating that it had been Emma Smith’s personal copy. “A few of the copies of the 1841 Book of Mormon, the first to be published in England, were engraved with the names of early Church leaders,” said Brother Fox. “Joseph, Emma and Hyrum all had their own copies, as well as the members of the Quorum of the Twelve and their wives. No one knew where Emma’s copy was until now. Now I wonder where Joseph Smith’s copy is. Somebody might have an 1841 copy of the Book of Mormon with the name Joseph Smith engraved on it and not realize it was his personal copy.”
The photos also revealed that Joseph Smith had personally signed the book and Adams had documented the receipt on the same page underneath Joseph Smith’s name. Adams wrote in the Book of Mormon he received, “The above is the autograph of the chief of the Mormons who gave me this book at Nauvoo on the 15th of May 1844.” It was signed C. F. Adams.
The photo reveals that Joseph Smith had personally signed the book and "C.F. (Charles Francis) Adams" documented the receipt on the same page beneath Joseph Smith’s name. Adams wrote, “The above is the autograph of the chief of the Mormons who gave me this book at Nauvoo on the 15th of May
“Joseph Smith did not sign more than a handful of copies of the Book of Mormon,” said Brother Fox. “This signature and the fact that it was Emma’s copy means the book would be worth a great deal if it were on the public market, probably in excess of a million dollars or more.”
To understand the significance of this discovery, it is important to substantiate the historical accuracy with the journal accounts of the two men who visited Nauvoo in May of 1844. Charles Francis Adams Sr. was the son of President John Quincy Adams and grandson of President John Adams. He was serving in the Massachusetts State Senate at the time of his visit and would later become a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. His traveling companion was Josiah Quincy Jr. He was serving as a member of the Boston city council at the time of his visit and was elected the mayor of Boston the following year in 1845. They decided to make a stop in Nauvoo. Both of them recorded separate experiences in their journals.
From the journal of Charles Francis Adams, May 14, 1844: “As we went on it became very necessary that we should settle upon our course. Quincy [Josiah Quincy Jr., Adams’ traveling companion] wished to stop at Nauvoo, the city of the Mormons and see something of Joe Smith, the prophet.”
Traveling on the Steamer boat Amaranth, the two stopped in Nauvoo. “At the door of a two-story wooden house with a sign post before it, we stopped and were introduced to the celebrated Joe Smith,” writes Adams. “A middle-aged man with a shrewd but rather ordinary expression of countenance, unshaved and in clothes neither very choice nor neat. The whole air of the man was that of frank but not coarse vulgarity. He received us civilly and forthwith introduced us into his house.” (In the early 19th century, “vulgar” meant “common, but not necessarily disgusting” [A Guide to Eighteenth-Century English Vocabulary, Jack Lynch, 14 April 2006, p. 21])
While in Nauvoo, the prophet Joseph Smith entertained, housed and fed them. They visited the construction site of the Nauvoo Temple, discussed religion and politics and Adams and Quincy both saw the Egyptian mummies and manuscript Joseph had procured. Adams writes, “He then took us down into his mother’s chamber and showed us four Egyptian mummies stripped and then undertook to explain the contents of a chart or manuscript which he said had been taken from the bosom of one of them.”
“I think it important to note that Joseph was happy to meet with these men,” said Brother Fox. “They were important in their time, a son of the president of Harvard and son and grandson of the president [of the United States], and at the time President John Quincy Adams was still alive. These were both elected officials and I believe Joseph was looking to build the creditability of the Church in the East and to get help for the Church from the attacks of its enemies.”
The possibility that two copies of the Book of Mormon were given out, one to each visitor, is hinted at in the book Figures of the Past From the Leaves of Old Journals by Josiah Quincy Jr. He writes, “I have before me some relics of my visit to Nauvoo. Here is the Book of Mormon, bearing the autograph which its alleged discoverer and translator wrote, at my request.”
The signature of the Prophet Joseph Smith can be seen in the Book of Mormon given to Charles Francis Adams. Very few copies of the Book of Mormon were ever signed by Joseph Smith. (Courtesy: Adams National Historical Park)
Quincy also shared his impressions about his visit with the Prophet Joseph Smith. “He had already traversed the roughest part of the way to that coveted position,” he wrote. “Born in the lowest ranks of poverty, without book-learning and with the homeliest of all human names, he had made himself at the age of thirty-nine a power upon earth. Of the multitudinous family of Smith, from Adam down (Adam of the “Wealth of Nations,” I mean), none had so won human hearts and shaped human lives as this Joseph. His influence, whether for good or for evil, is potent today, and the end is not yet.”
“It’s thrilling that there is a copy of the Book of Mormon out there with such a wonderful background,” said Brother Bascom. “It’s fascinating to think that it is part of the Quincy Library and interesting how it fits his diary. Establishing these historical moments with historical artifacts dispels a lot of the misconceptions out there that Joseph Smith was not real or Mormonism is fiction.”
Sister Bascom said, “From the whole experience I was left with this thought: John Adams and his family were part of bringing new freedoms to the people of the United States. Through freedom of religion, the Book of Mormon and the gospel of Jesus Christ were allowed to flourish. This is a token of what Adams fought for and therefore he passed the blessing of the restoration of the gospel on to us. Not a lot of people know how much they have been blessed by his efforts. This is one of the hidden gems about this historical tour.”
In a local newspaper in Provo (Utah), there had been an ongoing series of articles written by individuals who wanted to persuade, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, commonly known as, the “mormon church” to leave the Church. In response to the highly critical and spirited remarks, a local member wrote this rebuttal:
I have been thinking of quitting the Mormon Church. Yes, if I can, I am
going to get even with that church. As soon as I can find another church
that teaches about the Gathering of the House of Israel; the return of the
Ten Tribes and their mission; the return of the Jews to Palestine and why,
and how they are going to build the temple; the building of temples and what
to do with them; the mission of Elias, the prophet, as predicted by
Malachi; the method for the salvation of the people that died at the time of
Noah in the flood; the origin of the American Indian; the complete
explanation of why Jesus of Nazareth had to have a mortal mother but not a
mortal father; the explanation of the three degrees of glory (three heavens)
as mentioned by Paul; the complete explanation of why Elias and Moses did
not die but had to be translated (since they both lived before the
resurrection was introduced by Christ); the restoration of the gospel by
modern revelation as promised by Peter and Paul and Jesus himself; the
belief in eternal marriage and the family, and the knowledge and the place
to seal for eternity; that teaches abstinence from all harmful drugs and
foods ; and that sells the best fire insurance policy on earth, for the
last days, for only a 10th of my income.
Yes sir, as soon as I can find another church that teaches all that, or
even half as much, I will say good-bye to this Mormon Church. The church
that I am looking for must also be able to motivate 50,000+ youth, and
adults, for the first, second or third time, to leave their homes for two
years at their own expense and go to far-away places to teach and preach
without salary. It must be able to call, on a frosty day, some 5 or 6
thousand professors, students, lawyers, doctors, judges, policemen,
businessmen, housewives and children to go and pick apples at 6 am. It must
be able to call meetings and get the attention for two hours of more than
150,000 men. Yes, it must also teach and show why salvation is assured for
children who die before eight years of age.
Mr. Editor, could you help me find a church that teaches all that and more
than hundreds of other doctrines and principles, which I have no room to
mention here, and which brings solace and comfort to the soul; peace,
hope, and salvation to mankind, and above all, that answers the key
questions that all the great philosophers have asked; questions and answers
that explain the meaning of life, the purpose of death, suffering and pain;
the absolute need for a Redeemer and the marvelous plan conceived by our Father
and executed by Jesus Christ the Savior? Yes, as soon as I find another
church that teaches that, and also that has the organization and the powers
to make that teaching effective, I am going to quit the Mormon Church. For
I should not tolerate that “they” should change a few words in the Book of
Mormon-even if those changes simply improve the grammar and the syntax of
the verses-for, after all, don’t you think the Divine Church should employ
angels as bookmakers, and clerks, to do all the chores on earth? Don’t you
think, Mr. Editor that the Divine Church should also have prophets that
don’t get sick and don’t get old and die, and certainly, that don’t make a
goof here and there. No, sir! A Divine Church should be so divine that only
perfect people should belong to it, and only perfect people should run it.
As a matter of fact, the Church should be so perfect that it should not even
be here on earth!
So, I repeat, if any one of the kind readers of this imperfect letter knows
about another church that teaches and does as much for mankind as the
Mormon Church, please let me know. And please do it soon, because my turn
to go to the cannery is coming up. Also, “they” want my last son (the fifth
one) to go away for two years and again, I have to pay for all that. And I
also know that they expect me to go to the farm to prune trees, and I have
heard that our ward is going to be divided again, and it is our side that
must build the new chapel. And also, someone the other day had the gall of
suggesting that my wife and I get ready to go on a second mission, and when
you come back, they said, you can volunteer as a temple worker.
Boy, these Mormons don’t leave you alone for a minute. And what do I get
for all that, I asked? “Well,” they said, “for one, you can look forward to
a funeral service at no charge!”… Do you think you can help me to find
I can still remember the exact spot I was sitting when I knew the Book of Mormon was true. I was in a beach chair on my balcony in Corona Del Mar, California waiting to go surfing. I had just recently started a serious investigation of the Church when I first began reading the Book of Mormon. As I began my study…I realized that the most important thing I could do is find out whether or not the Book of Mormon was true.
Greg Trimble asks, "So you think the Book of Mormon is a Fraud?"
If you’re ever having doubts about the restoration or about Joseph Smith, just read the Book of Mormon and ask your self these 11 questions:
Could an uneducated boy come up with 531 pages of ancient scripture on his own that was historically accurate and prophetic in nature?
Would it be possible for that boy to understand and include ancient Hebrew literary writing styles such as idioms and Chiasmus, some of which weren’t even discovered until long after Joseph Smith was gone ?
How would Joseph Smith have been able to know so much about the Middle East, especially the Arabian Peninsula where Lehi and his family traveled? The book includes findings in that region that no one had discovered yet.
How could Joseph Smith come up with roughly 200 new names in the Book of Mormon and then have them turn out to be Semitic in nature?
If you think Joseph Smith couldn’t have written this book, then where did it come from? If one says the devil put him up to it…then why would Satan want to publish another testament of Jesus Christ and a book that does nothing but promote righteousness. Jesus said that a house divided against itself would fall.
Who were the “other sheep” that would hear Jesus’s voice in John 10:16?
Why are there volumes of books written by non-LDS authors stating that Christ came and visited the America’s a couple thousand years ago just like it says in 3rd Nephi? (See Example “He Walked The America’s”) How would Joseph Smith have known this when at the time no one even considered it?
If we have the stick of Judah (record of the Jews or the Bible), then where is the stick of Joseph that is referenced in Ezekiel 37:15-20? The Book of Mormon is the only explanation for this scripture. Lehi was a descendant of Joseph. Think Joseph Smith could have gotten that right by sheer chance?
How could there be so many witnesses of the Book of Mormon and the plates and not one of them deny their testimony even when some of them became bitter toward Joseph Smith? With so many people involved…a hoax of this magnitude could never go uncovered.
How could the Book of Mormon never contradict itself while being an extremely complex book? After all these years…someone would have found something…but no.
Brian Handwerk, of National Geographic, published an article saying nearly “one-third of Native American genes come from west Eurasian people linked to the Middle East and Europe, rather than entirely from East Asians as previously thought, according to a newly sequenced genome.”
One third of Native Americans came from Europe and the Middle East - says National Geographic. PHOTOGRAPH BY ROLAND W. REED, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
The problem comes when he mentions an arm bone of a 24,000 year old Siberian youth. The DNA dating method used is very questionable. More recent methods using mitochondrial DNA are much more accurate.
Here are comments from this article and my responses that may be interesting…
Ken Krogue The DNA shows the same thing. They seem to have come from the middle east and europe about 600 BC.
Ken Krogue And there is a very specific group that the DNA says is Haplo Group X that matches exactly a population that lived in Israel that landed on what looks like the Florida peninsula in about 600 BC and migrated north into the Great Lakes area and became a mighty people we known as the Mound Builders of Ohio/Pennsylvania and covered the entire Mississippi River basin to the Rocky Mountains. They even match today the DNA of about 100 Native American tribes that make up the Algonquin language group. These are the groups like the Fox and Sac tribe, and the Cherokee. My friend Talon Richey is part Cherokee and has this blood line so we have been looking into it big time. They have found steel forges, huge roads and fortresses, with massive earth works topped by timber walls and barricades. They also worked in some areas in cement.
Ken Krogue The other DNA groups are A, B, C, and D that are of another strain that also ties closely to areas of Mongolia and eastern Asia. They seem to have come from the other direction along the Aleutian Island when there seemed to be more of a land mass along that way. Very interesting. I’m wondering what DNA is found among the Polynesian Islands. Don’t know yet. I’m looking into it.
Juliana Turner Though, and I’m very sorry to say this, the DNA in the bones founded were from 24,000 years ago. Not 2,600, as when Nephi left with his family.
Mena Seyed-Ashraf There’s no reason to assume this disproves anything because of the discrepancy in counting years. Who is to say that we count years the same way now as they were counted back then? In the old testament people were living to be 500 or more years old while living to be 100 is a goal today. Perhaps we count differently?
Ken Krogue Actually the data methodologies are in question. I have seen other research that shows it isn’t nearly that old. Not even close. There was two different research studies that went back the other directions checking DNA from the Russian Czars through exhuming their known family lines back several generations and checking DNA and found the dating mechanisms may be way off.
Ken Krogue If you are interested I can give you the two scientific journals that document this.
Mena Seyed-Ashraf I always figured that using carbon dating was a guess at best because circumstances and other chemical compounds could change or impact the breaking down process. I’d actually like that if you would share. Thank you!
Ken Krogue The research is about mitochondrian DNA which is inherited mother to daughter and mutates an order of magnitude faster than does nuclear DNA, making it particularly useful at shallow time depths – Evolutionary Anthropology 12:7-18, 2003
Ken Krogue The specific research is through the Czar Nicholas II of Russia and we know all of his ancestors quite a ways back. The rate of DNA mutation is shown to change between he and his current day ancestors is 26 times faster than previously thought. Most in the scientific community started with assumptions that actual science is showing to be incorrect. They assume that the original human ancestors had their origins in Africa around 100,000 to 200,000 years ago. They call “mitochondrial Eve” the first true human ancestor. But a very interesting article called “Calibrating the Mitochondrial Clock” in Science, 2 Jan 1998, Vol 279, no 5347, pp 28-29 says something rather shocking: “researchers have calculated that “mitochondrial Eve”– the woman whose mtDNA was ancestral to that in all living people–lived 100,000 to 200,000 years ago in Africa. Using the new clock, she would be a mere 6000 years old.”
Ken Krogue The second set of research backing up this claim that DNA dating verifies a completely different set of data comes from Trends in Ecology & Evolution (TREE) Vol 12, no 11, November 1997 and says “The hypothetical descent of mankind from ‘mitochondrial Eve’ has been much debated… some claim 800,000 years to be an upper limit, while most researchers suggest a date of approximately 200,000 years… They sequenced 610 basepairs of 357 individuals from 134 different mtDNA lineages… and found… such a high mutation rate would indicate that Eve lived about 6500 years ago – a figure clearly incompatible with current theories on human origins.”
Ken Krogue Mmmm 6000 years, 6500 years, that sounds very familiar and aligns exactly with a creationist model when you remove skewed perceptions and origins models and align strictly with the data. A lot of people malign science, but when it is really used it is pretty amazing.
Ken Krogue If you start with the wrong base assumptions, you end up with the wrong conclusions. You have to let science guide you even in your assumptions. But what do I know. I’m just an entrepreneur… not a scientist. Entrepreneurs are very practical. We focus on what actually works. We invent things that solve problems. Scientists try and explain why the things invented by technologists and entrepreneurs and inventors actually work.
Ken Krogue Science still can’t even explain everything about electricity…
Juliana Turner My comment wasn’t to disprove The Book of Mormon — I’m LDS, guys. But it just doesn’t actually prove it either. It’s a very interesting piece of research, that’s is all. You can’t rely in scientific research, dismissing whatever you don’t like about it. Anyway, I’m not a scientist, and obviously had no participation in the resaearch, so I can’t go deeper on this.
Ken Krogue True, unbiased science is actually pretty powerful…
Seeming “errors in grammar and diction,” particularly in the earliest manuscripts and first printed edition of the English Book of Mormon, have provided merriment for mocking critics since at least 1830.
The Book of Mormon - Deseret Book Archives
Recent scholarly study of the book’s textual history, however, suggests that such derisive criticism is fundamentally misguided. Indeed, it may even demonstrate that, here as elsewhere, apparently “weak things” can “become strong” for those who believe (see Ether 12:27).
The pioneering research of Royal Skousen, a professor of English language and linguistics at Brigham Young University, for example, extending now over nearly three decades, provides arresting evidence that significant portions of the vocabulary of the Book of Mormon derive from the 1500s and the 1600s, and not, as one might expect, from the 1800s. Further, his latest studies have refined those dates even more exactly, showing that the vocabulary and meanings of many words in the text date from the 1540s up to about 1740. To put it another way, some Book of Mormon vocabulary reflects a period not only prior to the birth of Joseph Smith but also prior to the publication of the King James Bible in 1611.
Carmack shows that much of what has been dismissed as incorrect in the language of the Book of Mormon isn’t actually wrong. To the contrary (while considering dozens of such “obvious” grammatical “howlers” as “in them days,” “I had smote” versus “I had smitten” and “they was yet wroth”), he maintains that the book’s language is “excellent and even sophisticated.”
It simply isn’t the Modern English that we typically use today.
And this, for my present purposes, is the crucial point: “It’s important and helpful to bear in mind,” Carmack writes, “that the original Book of Mormon language is, generally speaking, only nonstandard from our standpoint, centuries after the Elizabethan era, which appears to be the epicenter of the book’s syntax.”
Now, think about that statement. Let it sink in, because its implications are stunning.
Carmack argues that, especially when the textual “corrections” of the past nearly two centuries have been stripped away — emendations and “improvements” intended to bring the published Book of Mormon into conformity with modern standards of usage — the grammar found in the book offers extensive evidence of its Early Modern English character. The original English Book of Mormon is, he says, “in large part” an Early Modern English text, “even reaching back in time to the transition period” from late Middle English into Early Modern English. “The correspondences are plentiful and plain.”
This brand new book, published May 12, 2014, is written by Timothy Ballard. This article is a summary of an article written by him May 2, 2014.
The Lincoln Hypothesis: A Modern-day Abolitionist investigates the possible Connection between Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and Abraham LIncoln
The Lincoln Hypothesis reveals documented evidence that Abraham Lincoln did, in fact, check out the Book of Mormon as he struggled with making some of the most critical decisions of his presidency. Did he read it? Did it influence him? Was the Book of Mormon a key factor in Lincoln’s success and the healing of a nation?
Timothy Ballard explores the crucial role that President Lincoln played to bring this nation closer to heaven. Who knew that doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints and Abraham Lincoln’s political decisions could have been so intertwined?
The story of how I ended up working against child trafficking—an industry some have called abolitionism—is long and complex. The more interesting story, perhaps, is how I have been able to deal with such a difficult thing physically, emotionally, and even spiritually. First and foremost, I have turned to the Lord, and I have had the unwavering support of a wonderful family. But there is something else I have turned to: American history.
Photo by Mark Gibson of The Dalles Chronical - TIMOTHY BALLARD, a crusader with a goal to end child trafficking, spoke in The Dalles March 7.
As an undercover operative working with governments throughout the world to fight child trafficking, I fight for freedom on a daily basis. Recognizing that my favorite American heroes were asked to do far more difficult things than I must do, I have turned to them to learn how they did it. Two of these American heroes of mine are Joseph Smith and Abraham Lincoln.
As I studied their lives, I could not help but recognize some powerful similarities between the two men: both were born a few years apart from each other, both were raised under the humblest of circumstances, and both reached an unlikely national prominence. Both their names were known for good or ill to their countrymen, both were cut down in their prime by an assassin’s bullet, and both were laid to rest in neighboring cities. But these are the least of their similarities. There was something else—something that seems almost impossible—that provided me with the inspiration I sought. It is something that places Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War into an unlikely partnership with that which I hold dearest of all—the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Abraham Lincoln’s “Conversion”
To explain this connection, I must first reveal perhaps the most important secret about Abraham Lincoln. In the middle of the war, he passed through a pivotal transformation, even a conversion. He called it “a process of crystallization” during which he “constantly prayed.” Others called it a “Damascus Road experience.” Though at the war’s beginning, Lincoln promised not to touch slavery where it existed, and though at the beginning he did not see the conflict as God’s doing, all of that changed.
His conversion began with the death of his sweet 11-year-old son, Willie, which left an already war-humbled Lincoln completely shattered. The tragedy brought Lincoln to his knees in prayer like never before. That, and the powerful spiritual encouragement he gained through the teachings of a Christian nurse brought in to care for the family in the wake of Willie’s death, left him a changed man forever. The result: he began receiving revelations from God. He started to see the war in a different light—a spiritual light. Much to the concern of his cabinet, Lincoln began claiming, “I talk to God,” and he began believing and testifying that “God’s purpose is something different from the purpose of either party. . . . God wills this contest, and wills that it shall not end yet.”
At one point in September 1862, he even made what he called “a covenant” with God. Give us victory in this upcoming battle, he pleaded to heaven, and I will turn this war into a holy endeavor. I will begin with freeing the slaves—I will issue the Emancipation Proclamation. Sure enough, during the very battle over which Lincoln prayed and covenanted (the Battle of Antietam), one of the most astonishing miracles in American history occurred, which led to Union victory and prompted Lincoln to make good on his promise to God. It was an event that acclaimed Civil War historian James McPherson declared to be “a million to one” chance opportunity for the North. It was a miracle that played out with the simplest of tools—three cigars, an empty field, and a wandering soldier—yet it brought great things to pass.
Joseph Smith’s Civil War Prophecies
But this story runs so much deeper than just the conversion and the miracle. It appears that this change in Lincoln, which caused an even greater change in the national heart, is eternally tethered to powerful prophecies stemming from my other favorite hero, Joseph Smith. Indeed, in a manner quite stunning, it appears that Smith saw it all, his prophecies and visions written, documented, and hiding in plain sight. They were “hiding in plain sight” because without reading the prophecies with Civil War history in mind, it’s easy to miss. Yet the prophecies are abundant, and they become clear upon examining Lincoln’s side of the story.
Brigham Young certainly did not miss the spiritual message and connection when, in the middle of the war, he declared: “God has come out of his hiding place and has commenced to vex the nation that has rejected us, and he will vex it with a sore vexation. . . . [Joseph Smith’s] prediction is being fulfilled, and we cannot help it.”
Smith had indeed spoken of the mighty vexation that would befall the nation should the people not repent. American sin was piling up high in the land. And not just private sin being committed by individuals. It was sin being carried out by the collective—legislated and codified in the land. Slavery—the most brutal form of tyranny—was growing and spreading like a cancer.
Religious minorities, like Mormons, were often treated just as badly, and there was no legal recourse for the oppressed. Wicked men had hijacked the divinely given principles of the Constitution. Something needed to change fast because not only was slavery abounding in the land, but temples were being confiscated and burned, or their building was not permitted in the promised land created for their very existence. The Lord had a plan to fix this problem, and He revealed it to His prophet.
As Smith was facing false charges and witnessing the persecution of his people, he inquired of God as to what he should do. God’s counsel for him is found in Doctrine and Covenants, Section 101. First, the Lord acknowledges that He ultimately had inspired the Constitution (verses 76–80), then He instructed Joseph Smith to seek redress from the judge (verse 86). If that did not work, he was told to go to the governor (verse 87). Finally, if the governor failed him, he was told to go to the president of the United States (verse 88). Should that not work, the Lord revealed a most frightening contingency:
“And if the president heed them not, then will the Lord arise and come forth out of his hiding place, and in his fury vex the nation; and in his hot displeasure, and his fierce anger, in his time, will cut off those wicked, unfaithful, and unjust stewards, and appoint them their portion among hypocrites, and unbelievers” (verses 89–90).
The Lord was speaking directly about Joseph Smith’s generation when He declared that “there shall be men standing in that generation, that shall not pass until they see an overwhelming scourge; for a desolating sickness shall cover the land.” The Lord then described this scourge in part, leaving little room to imagine what He was referring to: “And they will take up the sword, one against another, and they will kill one another” (D&C 45:28–33).
Indeed, Joseph Smith knew the war was coming. Among a vast number of similar prophecies Smith and others revealed concerning the war, one revelation even noted where the first shots of the war would be fired: South Carolina (D&C 87:1–5).
As prophet, Smith knew what he had to do. In an effort to do as the Lord commanded, he went to the judge, the governor, and the president and practically shouted to them of the need to repel slavery and bring protection to religious minorities. He warned that if they did not listen, “they shall be broken up as a government.” They refused to listen.
The 13th and 14th Amendments
Knowing the calamities that would befall the nation should it continue in grave sin, Joseph Smith even ran for the presidency of the United States in 1844 to give voice to his concerns. His platform would represent the solution to the national crises: the eradication of slavery and the end to what Smith called “the states’ rights doctrine”—a constitutional theory that allowed states (like Missouri) to ignore the Bill of Rights and persecute Mormons and other minorities without consequence. “The states’ rights doctrine,” declared Smith, “are what feed mobs. They are a dead carcass, a stink and they shall ascend up as a stink offering in the nose of the Almighty.”8 What Joseph Smith the candidate was seeking is what we finally got—in essence, he was asking for the 13th Amendment (eradication of slavery) and the 14th Amendment (the tempering of the states’ rights doctrine). Smith was very candid about his belief that the Constitution needed amending: “the Constitution is . . . not broad enough to cover the whole ground,” he declared.f
He also knew that the nation could choose these solutions on its own, or it could wait for the Lord to unleash the frightening prophecies that would bring national humility and lead to the required national repentance. In short, America could turn to God and create the 13th and 14th Amendments peacefully, or God would bring them about the hard way: through a scourge and vexation upon the land.
The national choice was symbolically revealed on June 27, 1844, at 5 p.m. While in the middle of his presidential campaign against slavery and “the states’ rights doctrine”—indeed, at the height of his warnings to the nation—Joseph Smith was killed. Not only was he martyred, but as a budding politician entering the national stage, he was assassinated. The murder was followed by silence from the state and the nation. Shortly thereafter, the temple was burned to the ground. Again, silence and apathy followed. As was its right, America at large had chosen to ignore God’s prophet.
As was His right, God would then mete out the consequences of that decision. With the prophet and his brother dead, the temple in ashes, and the Saints being hauled out of America, the Lord revealed to Brigham Young:
“Thy brethren have rejected you and your testimony, even the nation that has driven you out; And now cometh the day of their calamity, even the days of sorrow. . . . For they killed the prophets, and them that were sent unto them; and they have shed innocent blood, which crieth from the ground against them” (D&C 136:34–36, emphasis added).
The Civil War came. And it worked. It brought to bear the precise fruit indicated by the prophecies—it brought humility, repentance, and the 13th and 14th Amendments. And it fulfilled one incredibly specific prophecy Smith gave concerning Jackson County, Missouri—a fulfillment almost too shocking to believe (D&C 121:11–24).
In the end, slavery would be done away with. And temples would survive.
But it is the way in which the prophecy was fulfilled that represents the most amazing part of this story of God, country, and scripture. I believed Joseph Smith was a prophet before I discovered the truth about the Civil War. But seeing how his prophecies were fulfilled to the letter has bolstered my personal testimony of him. Furthermore, I always felt Abraham Lincoln was an inspired man. But seeing what he did relative to Joseph Smith’s words and revelations puts him in the realm of other inspired men like Christopher Columbus and George Washington.
Abraham Lincoln and the Book of Mormon
Research shows that Abraham Lincoln checked out a copy of the Book of Mormon during the weeks and months prior to issuing the Emancipation Proclamation
In 1862, Lincoln’s conversion really heated up. What exactly was he being converted to? He was learning what Joseph Smith knew. He began seeing the Civil War the way Joseph Smith and Brigham Young saw it. Lincoln surprised the nation with the Emancipation Proclamation in the wake of his conversion and that powerful battlefield miracle. But the most important thing to understand is that the Proclamation represented the beginning of national repentance; it was the initial link in a chain of events that would lead to the 13th and 14th Amendments—to the end of slavery and to the constitutionally binding protection of temples in the land. “In giving freedom to the slave,” pronounced Lincoln, “we assure freedom to the free.” Lincoln was fulfilling Joseph Smith’s prophecies and bringing forth the national solutions the prophet had sought.
As a result of his conversion, Lincoln started to believe that God actually wanted this war in the land. Let us not take this for granted. It is a most bizarre thing for a president of the United States to believe—bizarre, that is, until coupled with the promises and prophecies of Joseph Smith. Lincoln was only saying what Joseph Smith had said. “And insomuch as we know that by His divine law, nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world,” declared Lincoln, “may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people?”
Smith of course had read such things in the Book of Mormon—the story of the covenant land of America. The story tells of how, in a covenant land, a wicked people may expect the humbling power of national calamities to befall them: “Except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea except he doth visit them with death and with terror . . . they will not remember him” (Helaman 12:3).
Similarly, Lincoln declared to the nation: “It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness . . . let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the Divine teachings, that the united cry of the nation will be heard on high, and answered with blessings no less than the pardon of our national sins, and the restoration of our now divided and suffering country.”
Something must have influenced Lincoln to see America like the prophet Joseph did—to see America like an ancient Nephite prophet had.
Right in the middle of his conversion, while Willie was dying, while the Christian nurse was teaching, while he was passing through what he called his “process of crystallization,” Lincoln had a copy of the Book of Mormon, which he himself had requested from the Library of Congress. Having kept it for nearly eight months, Lincoln finally returned it to the Library a mere seven days after issuing his first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation to his cabinet. Was this merely a coincidence? Did Lincoln begin to insert Book of Mormon principles—even Book of Mormon language—into his speeches and policies? After having the book, did he actually change his opinion on Mormons and begin to treat them more kindly than any American president up until that time? The evidence seems to add up to the affirmative, suggesting that the Book of Mormon had influenced the president. This might have been at least partially responsible for the fundamental shift in American policy during the war: the eradication of slavery and the constitutional protection for God’s people. Or, as Lincoln declared at Gettysburg, “under God . . . a new birth of freedom.”
The Lincoln Hypothesis
While I know I would not be able to prove my hypothesis beyond a reasonable doubt, I had already discovered too much evidence to be able to ignore the possibilities.
I was searching through my books in storage a few days ago and came across a first edition of the Book of Mormon in Afrikaans. I served a mission in South Africa from 1971 to 1973. It was an interesting and challenging experience.
I attended the Stake Conference in Johannesburg on May 14, 1972 when the new translation of the Book of Mormon into Afrikaans (Die Boek van Mormon) was presented.
It was an electric moment. People wept. Some had waited all of their lifetimes to read the Book of Mormon in Afrikaans. Many people had learned English for the sole purpose of reading this scripture. The Spirit was strong among us as we rejoiced.
Remembering back more than 50 years, I can still remember Professor Felix Mynhardt [not a member of our church] as he spoke of his experience in translating that sacred book. I will retell it as best I can recall.
Professor Mynhardt was invited to come to the stand and speak about his experience in translating the Book of Mormon. He recounted how he had been given a gift of languages from God from his youth. He said that he was fluent in many languages, including English, Afrikaans, Hebrew and Egyptian, as well as many others.
He was presently employed as a language professor. He said he had been praying that the Lord would give him some task, some divinely important task, that would justify his having this gift of language from God.He said in about 1970 that he had visited with a group of Mormon leaders, who sought to commission him to translate the Book of Mormon from English into Afrikaans. He said that he knew of the Book of Mormon from his religions studies, and his initial reaction was that he did not want to be involved in translating it. However, that evening, as he prayed upon his knees, as was his habit, he said the Spirit of the Lord convicted him. The message was something on the order of,
“You asked me for a great, divinely inspired task of translation, I sent it to you in the form of translating the Book of Mormon, and you declined.”
Professor Mynhardt said he could not sleep through the night because he knew that translating the Book of Mormon would get him into trouble with his university, which was owned and operated by the Dutch Reformed Church.
When morning came he telephoned Elder Clark to inform him that he would begin the translation immediately. He stood at the pulpit and described the experience.
“I never begin translating a book at the beginning. Writing style usually changes through a book, and becomes more consistent toward the middle. Accordingly, I opened to a random place in the middle of the Book of Mormon, and began translating.”
“I was startled by the obvious fact that the Book of Mormon was not authored in English.
“It became immediately apparent that what I was reading was a translation into English from some other language. The sentence structure was wrong for native English. The word choices were wrong, as were many phrases.”
“How many times has an Englishman said or written, ‘And it came to pass?’”
We all laughed, and knew he was right, of course. He continued,
“When I realized this, I knew that I had to find the original language, and translate it back into the original language, or a similar language to the original, and then proceed to translate it into Afrikaans.
He listed a half-dozen languages he tried, all of which did not accommodate the strange sentence structure found in the Book of Mormon. He said,
“I finally tried Egyptian, and to my complete surprise, I found that the Book of Mormon translated flawlessly into Egyptian, not modern, but ancient Egyptian. I found that some nouns were missing from Egyptian, so I added Hebrew nouns where Egyptian did not provide the word or phrase. I chose Hebrew because both languages existed in the same place anciently. “I had no idea at that time why the Book of Mormon was once written in Egyptian, but I can tell you without any doubt, that this book was at one point written entirely in Egyptian.”
I heard him say this over and over. Then, he said,
“Imagine my utter astonishment when I turned to chapter one, verse one and began my actual translation and came to verse two, where Nephi describes that he was writing in the language of the Egyptians, with the learning of the Jews!”
“I knew by the second verse, that this was no ordinary book, that it was not the writings of Joseph Smith, but that it was of ancient origin and was in fact scripture. I could have saved myself months of work if I had just begun at the beginning. Nobody but God, working through a prophet of God, in this case Nephi, would have included a statement of the language he was writing in. Consider, how many documents written in English, include the phrase, “we are writing in English!”
It is unthinkable and absolute proof of the inspired origins of this book. He paused, then noted,
“I am one of the few people in the world that is fluent in ancient Egyptian. I am perhaps the only person fluent in ancient Egyptian who is also fluent in Afrikaans and English. And I know for a fact, that I am the only person alive who could have translated this book first into Egyptian, and then into Afrikaans. If your church ever needs an Egyptian translation of the Book of Mormon, it is sitting in my office as we speak.”
We all laughed. Professor Mynhardt spoke of many other things regarding the translation of this book, and then said,
“I do not know what Joseph Smith was before he translated this book, and I do not know what he was afterward, but while he translated this book, he was a prophet of God! I know he was a prophet! I testify to you that he was a prophet while he brought forth this book! He could have been nothing else! No person in 1827 could have done what he did. The science did not exist. The knowledge of ancient Egyptian did not exist. The knowledge of these ancient times and ancient peoples did not exist. The Book of Mormon is scripture. I hope you realize this. “I will keep promoting this book as scripture for the remainder of my life– simply because it is scripture, and I know it. I haven’t studied your doctrine or your history since Joseph Smith. The only thing I know about the Mormon religion is that you have authentic, ancient scripture in the Book of Mormon, that your church was begun by a living and true prophet of God, and that all of the world should embrace the Book of Mormon as scripture. It simply can’t be denied.”