Thursday, May 19, 2011

Wilt thou deny the Book of Mormon?

As more and more members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are crawling under and around the Book of Mormon on their way out of the church creating for themselves a lifetime of guilt, sorrow and wastefulness I stand with the apostles in declaring for the angels in heaven to record that I know the book to be a true and historically accurate account of the inhabitants of ancient America.

Serious study of the Book of Mormon is flourishing today as never before. And, with more study, the book’s sturdiness and richness and the remarkable accomplishment of its translator, the Prophet Joseph Smith, become more apparent for everyone to see. 

Scholarship does not replace spiritual witness as a source of testimony. As Elder B. H. Roberts of the Seventy said: “The power of the Holy Ghost … must ever be the chief source of evidence for the Book of Mormon. All other evidence is secondary. … No arrangement of evidence, however skillfully ordered; no argument, however adroitly made, can ever take its place.”

Yet scholarship has a definite place even in spiritual matters. In 1832 the Lord said to the Prophet Joseph Smith, “Seek learning, even by study and also by faith” Careful scholarship helps us to understand more fully, deeply, and precisely. “To be known, the truth must be stated,” Elder Roberts said, “and the clearer and more complete the statement is, the better opportunity will the Holy Spirit have for testifying to the souls of men that the work is true.”

It is an established and undisputed fact that the Prophet Joseph Smith did indeed possess the gold plates. In addition to Joseph, 11 official and several unofficial witnesses testified to the existence of the plates. Meticulous research on these witnesses has confirmed their good character and the veracity of their accounts. The language on the plates was reformed Egyptian which would have been common amongst ancient Native Americans.  Had the Spaniards not destroyed so many records upon their arrival in the Americas we would have assuredly found many more documents written in this popular tongue.

Further, there is no evidence at all that Joseph Smith did any scholarly research, or even that he read very much, before the Book of Mormon appeared.  He was probably illiterate by our modern day standards. In fact, according to the Ensign article upon which I am basing this post* he may not even have owned a Bible at the time of translation.  The fact that a large part of the Book of Mormon matches the King James Version of the Bible word for word is nothing short of a miracle. 

Joseph Smith spent the bulk of his innocent youth cutting trees, burning brush, clearing rocks, plowing, digging wells and in a nutshell avoiding all trouble and controversy.

Research shows clearly that the book does not fit the culture of early 19th-century America. There is little of the military romanticism of Joseph Smith’s America. Instead, we see grimly realistic portrayals of war’s devastation and suffering. And in the story of the Gadianton robbers we have a detailed, realistic portrayal of a prolonged guerrilla struggle—lacking any trace of fife and drum, uniforms, or parades—published well over a century before the guerrilla theorists of the 20th century put pens to paper.

DNA evidence clearly shows that the ancestors of modern Native Americans were principally and partially to a large and often undetectable extent among the Lamanites’ as confirmed in the introduction of the Book of Mormon. 

As Latter-day Saints, we must never take the Book of Mormon for granted. That it was produced by an almost completely uneducated young man constitutes a challenge to the entire world. Anthropologists, archaeologists, linguists and many other fields of research have done nothing but confirm the already overwhelming evidence that the book is authentic.

Those who do not wish to believe and obey must conjure up their own ideas for explaining it and the mounting evidence for its authenticity. And while we may never “prove” the Book of Mormon true, the trajectory of the evidence strongly suggests that it is exactly what it claims to be. Thousands of hours of research have produced the current blossoming of Book of Mormon studies that bless the lives of Latter-day Saints. They cannot be lightly brushed aside.

The conclusion of the matter is that much modern evidence supports the even more powerful witness of the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true. Joseph Smith, who translated it, had to be what he said he was, a prophet of God. Thomas S. Monson is the true prophet on the earth today, and I am a stake president with all the keys, rights and privileges appertaining to my sacred calling and duty. I leave these thoughts with you, humbly, in the holy and most sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.




35 comments:

Lisa said...

For reals, President. I tell this story quite often, but only because the irrefutable proof and wisdom found in it continue to blow my mind. As an investigator, my missionaries (senior--they are more experienced and insightful, I think) pointed out the fact that a prophecy made in 1 Nephi was fulfilled in 3 Nephi. Therefore, the Book of Mormon is True!

I mean, can you refute that logic? I cannot.

Stake Pres. said...

It is very important that a book fulfill its own prophecies dear Lisa. That is the first thing critics will look for and point out. The fact that prophecies made in 1 Nephi are fulfilled later on is strong evidence of the book not being fraudulent in nature.

Brother Jamison said...

President, thank you for your irrefutable testimony of the Book of Mormon. I recently discovered a very useful website which present the Book of Mormon in a way that is very useful to rebuke the wicked and confound the unbelievers.

It found here: http://bookofmormononline.net/#/promised-land/121

I realize it is not produced by proper priesthood channels nor is reviewed by the inspired Correlation committee, so I would ask you to please review it and tell me if I should avoid it, because it might contain the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture.

Stake Pres. said...

Thank you Brother Jamison. I had a quick look at the site and it seems to be done by a faithful member who, like me, wishes to spread the message of truth. I enjoyed looking at the site and though it is not 'correlated' see nothing wrong therein.

Ryan said...

This was an even more powerful witness of the Book of Mormon than was given the Lords special servant and witness, even Elder Jeffery R Holland.

Do you think that you will be Ordained directly to the holy office of Apostle or will you have to be a mission president or lowly GA first? I cannot wait to hear your powerful witness and feel the comforting influence of the Holy Ghost as you bear solemn witness of the truthfulness of the restored church in General Conference. Is it appropriate to pray that the brothern will be inspired to call you to be an apostle?

anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcyzkd_m6KE

Here is a link I'd like you to take a look at, it also speaks of Joseph's amazing translation skills.

Stake Pres. said...

Ryan, have faith. There will be a vacancy in the 12 sooner than you would think.

Anonymous why would you post this link on this site? Was this video made by the church? Is it designed to increase or decrease faith in the church and its leaders? Has the correlation committee reviewed it? Please post these sorts of videos and their false claims somewhere else.

Papa Bear said...

President,

It is inappropriate to consider evidence related to the Book of Mormon, even if that evidence is thoroughly conclusive in its favor. We know that the Book of Mormon and everything that our Priesthood Leaders teach us about it because we know that Joseph Smith is a true prophet. Can a bad tree bring forth good fruit? If we build out testimonies on evidence, then we can lose them by evidence as well.

I was hesitant to post this because the Lord is a God of Order, and I know that you outrank me in the Priesthood (I'm still just an Elder!). But the Spirit constrained me. Thank you for your inspiring blog.

anonymous said...

I apologize Prez, but if you would just answer my questions, I wouldn't have to look elsewhere.

James said...

Anonymous, I just dedicated a well-spent hour on viewing the video to which you linked. The narrative may be beguiling, but I can assure you that despite the claims made, the Book of Abraham is an account of Abraham, written by Abraham's own hand, divinely translated by the Prophet Joseph Smith after God saw fit that it would fall into the hands of the Prophet in Kirtland, Ohio in 1835.

This is the only possible truth, for it is an incontestable fact that Joseph Smith is and was called by God to be a Prophet, Seer and Revelator in these latter days. What is far more likely, is that these so-called Egyptologists have a faulty basis for their knowledge. For example, one could rightfully doubt the legitimacy of the Rosetta Stone as an artefact. It was discovered by a brown-nosing French soldier, who clearly was trying to impress Napoleon. And besides, how much prayer was invested in its supposed translation? Why would God allow for the discovery of a text that would undermine the legitimacy of what would fall into Joseph Smith's hands? Quite simply, he would not allow it.

Harden not your heart! Prophets filled with the word of God have spoken as to the truth of these scriptures. Faith is all you need.

Stake Pres. said...

Papa Bear thank you for expressing your thoughts with regards to evidence. I actually agree with you that evidence is unimportant when it comes to spiritual matters. I wish articles of this nature would not be present in our Ensign magazines but sometimes The Brethren feel that a little additional ‘research’ will boost the testimonies of members increasing commitment and donations which can never be a bad thing.

Anonymous I apologize and will now answer any and all questions that you may have in order that you will not go online to find answers. Sometimes I hold back and allow other faithful members the opportunity serve by answering though – whether it be by their voice or mine it is often the same. I will correct them if their answers are not in harmony with the gospel.

anonymous said...

Thank you. I really appreciate the time you give to help members of your Stake--both here and on Facebook. I know you are quite busy with building up the kingdom and your temporal job. Sometimes it's hard to get blessings and answers from my husband when you send him out of the country to pick up sales.

Cindy said...

I really enjoyed reading your post. It was a powerful testimony of the BOM and I felt the spirit strongly as I read it. I was always taught that God was a God of Science. Just because we don't understand everything, does not mean there isn't an answer for it. We may not get the answer right away, it may take years even but there will always be an answer even if we have to wait until the next life to have it.
When I read the BOM I know that this was not something JS could have just made up, the idea actually sounds a little silly to me. The advisory is working hard to thwart the plan of salvation and is keen on attacking God's church. We must be ever aware of this.
It is especially important to be careful when on the internet. I try to only go on sites I believe to be by active members of the church. I have to admit that sometimes I'm a little confused by your site. I think your posts have really great points and have been at times very informative but I don't always understand the comments so I tend to just skim though them or not even read them at all unless it's a response from you.
I think it's amazing that you care so much about the gospel that you would take the time to do this.

Cindy

Stake Pres. said...

Thank you Cindy and James for sharing your faith promoting comments on this blog.

Anonymous in the absence of your husband please feel free to come to me for any needs you may have.

Brigham Taft Pratt said...

Some of you may know of Dr. John L Lund. He has written a book that basically proves, with solid evidence, that the Book of Mormon is a true historical record of ancient Americans. Here is a link for his book. I would not provide a link to the book if it was no published by the Lord's own publisher, even Deseret Book.

http://deseretbook.com/Mesoamerica-Book-Mormon-Place-John-L-Lund/i/5004746

I also believe that physical evidence is of little importance because we all know that the Book of Mormon is true no matter what.

Raptor Jesus said...

Dear President of Steaks,

I saw you venture into the land of Apostates just recently. Tisk tisk tisk. Very very naughty of you, sir.

I'm curious as to whom you will be confessing? Is it a 70, or dost thou have to go all the way up the chain to the 15 themselves?

Perhaps you were only there to get directions on how to get away from there. Either way, if you ever feel like the need to call someone to repentance, come and play.

http://thelifeandministryofraptorjesus.blogspot.com/

anonymous said...

Oh Prez, you are a tease, just like Jesus!
http://judgementday2011.com/
"You will be left behind by God, only to be teased with the glorious presence of Jesus"

Samuel's Dad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papa Bear said...

Samuel's Dad,

It sounds like your experience was similar to that of Korihor. I am glad that you have chosen to repent and I pray that you will not be trampled to death as Korihor was.

Nevertheless, the Spirit constrains me that I should reprove you with sharpness. Remember that you have made a sacred covenant in the temple to never question, criticize, or even speak lightly of your Priesthood Leaders (Do the phrases 'evil speaking of the Lord's anointed' and 'loud laughter' sound familiar?) I fear for your eternal well-being if you continue to use phrases like 'Count Monsula' and 'man bossoms.' Please seek the counsel of your Priesthood leaders who will help you to repent of this transgression (I'm only an Elder, so you should probably find someone else to confess to.) I testify that the angels will rejoice over your repentance.

anonymous said...

I have another question--so many times I hear the comment the "church is true". I am confused by this statement, what exactly does it mean?

The definition of church is:
–noun
1. a building for public Christian worship.
2. public worship of god or a religious service in such a building: to attend church regularly.
3. ( sometimes initial capital letter ) the whole body of Christian believers; Christendom.

So, a building, worshiping in a building or a body of believers.

And true is defined as:
–adjective
1. being in accordance with the actual state or conditions; conforming to reality or fact; not false: a true story.
2. real; genuine; authentic: true gold; true feelings.
3.sincere; not deceitful: a true interest in someone's welfare.

Putting them together, a building, worshiping in a building and a body of believers are all in accordance, real and sincere. Now I can see, hear and touch people and buildings, is that what they mean when they say the church is true?

Aurora said...

The important thing to keep in mind as that we can ALL know of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon for OURSELVES. We don't need evidence, only prayer and listening to the promptings of the Spirit. If you don't get that answer the first time, simply pray again. If again you don't hear an answer, you have to pray once more. If you are not praying with real intent, (the intent being to find out if its true), then you won't find out its true. Eventually though, if you keep on praying, you'll get that answer that yes, yes it is true. It will feel like a vague sense of well being, and that's how you know the Book of Mormon is a historic record of ancient peoples.

This is important, because as the prophets have told us, either the Book of Mormon is true or none of it is. Either its the greatest fraud on Earth or its a record written on plates of gold passed down by ancient Israelites by generations until it made its way to upstate New York. There IS no middle ground. There can be no nuance, that is just a cunning trap of the adversary.

I am thankful I took the time to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it at EFY and I am grateful that I got the answer I expected to get. It would have been very socially awkward if I decided it wasn't true at EFY.

Stake Pres. said...

Thank you Brother Pratt for referencing this well researched scientifically accepted book by Brother Lund.

Raptor Jesus, as a stake president I am commissioned to work with all people including apostates in an effort to bring them back to the safety of the fold. I will post on RFM as frequently as the spirit constrains.

Samuel's Dad, thank you for your confession. I hope Raptor Jesus can now see the fruit of my good works over on the RFM board. As Papa Bear stated the angels truly do rejoice over the soul that repenteth.

Anonymous please do not go to the dictionary for definitions, come straight to me. By 'Church' we mean authorized religion of God. D&C 1:30 confirms that ours is "the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased."

Aurora, thank you for your testimony. We truly can know for ourselves, through prayer, that the Book of Mormon is true. EFY and other events are meant to solidify this testimony within our youth to ensure that they all comply with the commandments their leaders have given them.

anonymous said...

I am so glad you are here to correct and enlighten me so much Prez. I would truly be lost without you.

Sweetie said...

I'm now further enlightened to know what the meaning of the only true church is. Thank you pres for clarification.


Did joseph smith retranslate the dictionary? I'd like to find the only true dictionary on the face of the earth so I can know the truth about what real words mean.

Samuel's Dad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Dear president, I have a problem and i'm too embarrased to talk to my bishop. I have prayed countless times as to the truthfullness of the BOM, but EVERY time I just feel like it is my own brain answering my question. I feel really silly admitting this. Aurora said that sometimes you have to pray many times, but how many is too many? I'm afraid that I am just worthless and unworthy. The only conclusion I can come to is that I am just not worthy of an answer. Please help me!!!

Chris S said...

Anonymous,

You have probably already have the answer, but you just didn't realize it. The same thing happened to me. I prayed many times on my mission to know if the BoM was true, but I didn't receive an answer. Then I realized that I wasn't getting an answer, because I already KNEW it was true. Why would God reveal something to us if we already know it? Instead, in his infinite wisdom, he chooses to keep the channels of communication uncluttered so that they will be ready for when we really need an answer.

And in case this doesn't satisfy you, you can always establish the veracity of the BoM with a little logical proof: Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God. If Thomas S. Monson is a prophet, then so are all the presidents of the church, back to Joseph Smith (a dead branch cannot bring forth living fruit). If Joseph Smith was a prophet, then we know that there must have been evidence of his prophetic mantel. There are, in fact, many evidences, of which the Book Of Mormon and the First Vision are preeminent. QED: The BoM is true.

R. Nephi Samuelson said...

Dear President,

I am so pleased with this blog and your words of light and love regarding my most cherished possession, even a marvelous work and a wonder, the Book of Mormon! There have been many times in my life when I was tempted to heed the words of the world regarding the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, but as I have searched and pondered and then of course, prayed over those sacred pages, I have felt my testimony grow to unbelievable heights!

When my dentist brother decided to go inactive following his addiction to nitros oxide commonly known in the dental profession as ‘laughing gas.’ it was the power of the Book of Mormon which healed him and brought him back into the safe and watchful fold of his family. With his demanding schedule he still works late hours, but his wife says he returns home with a glow and serenity which no doubt is a result of his daily feasting from the pages of that sacred work!

I, like Brigham Young feel like shouting hallelujah when I think of Joseph Smith and his bringing forth the Book of Mormon for our day. It truly is the keystone of our religion and as attested to by myself and humble brother, the most correct book on earth!

It will continue to flood the earth!

-R. Nephi Samuelson

Jackie said...

Is there a promise in the book that it can be returned for a full refund?

R. Nephi Samuelson said...

We mock what we don't understand Jackie! Mocking things which are sacred to others should not be tolerated! Faith deserves respect and is off limits from your taunting jibes!

We value the spirit of peace and love, not one of contention, for as it says in the Book of Mormon, if you are of contention, you are not of me!

Yours in reproving love,

R. Nephi Samuelson

Roger said...

Brother Samuelson, you clearly wield the sacred power of the priesthood in your strong hands, as evidenced by your righteous boldness.

The Book of Mormon itself says, "fools mock, but they shall mourn." In other places, it predicts the dozens of ways the Book of Mormon and its holy prophet translator will be mocked in the last days. How could this new new testament have known these things hundreds of years before the Seer was born unless it was, in fact, the sacred word of Heavenly Father?

The Book of Mormon itself commands us not to mock the Book of Mormon, Jackie. My advice is to follow the authority of those who have stewardship over us, even President Paternoster and R. Nephi Samuelson. That is, unless you want to "mourn" as Heavenly Father promises to make you do!

Roger (Ni!)

R. Nephi Samuelson said...

Sadly, one must reprove with sharpness when sacred things hang in the balance.

Thank you for your kinds words of support and love Brother Roger. We must stand together in the defense of truth. The cunning plan of the adversary continually plays forth in keeping the children of men from the truth of the new and everlasting covenants of the gospel. Let our voices continually be raised in warning to our neighbors that the coming of the Lord is nigh, and the Book of Mormon is a prophetic herald of these holy and sacred events which have been foretold by prophets of old.

Keep the faith brother, keep the faith!

-R. Nephi Samuelson

Anonymous said...

I'm always amazed at how people refuse to accept the truth when it's presented with such clarity. If only more people would rely on prayer and deep sincere, ernest desire to know before coming to such brash and hate filled conclusions. It's true and it's so easy to prove.

God Bless your for your testimomy to it's truthfullness and love.

I will walk the extra mile in your shoes with you anytime the spirit exacts.

convincingly true.

Anonymous said...

Please never give up this work. Thank you so much for your loving testimony.

Sincerely Your brother

Dr. Rangi said...

Why are faithful Latter-Day Saints spouting "facts" about the authenticity of the BoM? There is no need! Joseph Smith IS a prophet of God, of that there is no doubt. He said that the BoM is the most correct book and that one could get closer to God by reading it than any other book. For me, this is evidence enough of the truthfulness of the book.

As an aside, towards the end of Daniel C. Peterson's inspired article, he states that the boy Joseph knew more about olive cultivation than most Americans at that time. As a medical man, I would say that that is true. If you ask any 19th century American, they would say that olives don't grow in vineyards. But, clearly young Joseph knew this was not true and, in Jacob 5, correctly translated that the owner of the vineyard grew olives, after dunging them about.