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What is the Book of Mormon?

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What is the Book of Mormon? Is it an addition to the Bible?


Steve Answers:

The Book of Mormon is vital religious literature for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (abbreviated LDS) and sometimes called Mormon. It is an addition to the Bible for those who believe it.

I’m a Seventh-day Adventist, so I don’t have the inside track on the Book of Mormon. But here’s what I found in the official online edition of the Book of Mormon from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at http://scriptures.lds.org/en/bm/introduction. I’ll ask a few questions and make a few comments after the following five-paragraph quotation:
The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible. It is a record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains, as does the Bible, the fulness of the everlasting gospel.

“The book was written by many ancient prophets by the spirit of prophecy and revelation. Their words, written on gold plates, were quoted and abridged by a prophet-historian named Mormon. The record gives an account of two great civilizations. One came from Jerusalem in 600 B.C., and afterward separated into two nations, known as the Nephites and the Lamanites. The other came much earlier when the Lord confounded the tongues at the Tower of Babel. This group is known as the Jaredites. After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians.

“The crowning event recorded in the Book of Mormon is the personal ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ among the Nephites soon after his resurrection. It puts forth the doctrines of the gospel, outlines the plan of salvation, and tells men what they must do to gain peace in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come.

“After Mormon completed his writings, he delivered the account to his son Moroni, who added a few words of his own and hid up the plates in the hill Cumorah. On September 21, 1823, the same Moroni, then a glorified, resurrected being, appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith and instructed him relative to the ancient record and its destined translation into the English language.

“In due course the plates were delivered to Joseph Smith, who translated them by the gift and power of God. The record is now published in many languages as a new and additional witness that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God and that all who will come unto him and obey the laws and ordinances of his gospel may be saved.”

I find it interesting and creative to think about Jesus going to America after His resurrection to spread the Gospel. But in Acts 1:8 Jesus told His disciples that they would be doing that. Personally, I think that Jesus would’ve done a better job than the disciples did. But according to the Bible, Christ’s plan doesn’t mention anything about that.

According to the Book of Mormon, there was a great battle that wiped out the Nephites. Hundreds of thousands of men and beasts allegedly perished in that battle. Weapons and armor were scattered all over the ground, and no one was left to clean it up. That was in 421 AD. But for some reason, there’s no historical or archaeological evidence that this ever happened.

When Joseph Smith, under “divine inspiration,” translated these golden plates given to him from a resurrected prophet, he translated them into the King James Version style of writing, with some portions directly from Smith’s own King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. Smith included some minor errors that came from the KJV since it was translated from copies of copies of copies . . . from the originally inspired writings.

But Joseph Smith claimed inspiration in his translation, so he shouldn’t have had those errors. And he came up with his own errors, too. According to Alma 7:10, Jesus was born in Jerusalem, and not in Bethlehem as the Bible makes clear. According to Ether 2:3, bees were introduced in America around 2000 B.C. According to scientists, Spanish explorers brought them to America in the fifteenth century A.D.

In the first paragraph of the portion I quoted, notice that the Book of Mormon contains “the fulness of the everlasting gospel.” But it’s not completely full since several major Mormon doctrines aren’t found there.

One example is the belief that God the Father has a god above Him, and there’s a god above him, and another above him, etc. Another is that Jesus is a “spirit brother” of Lucifer. These aren’t in The Book of Mormon, but they are Mormon doctrines that should have some bearing on “the fullness of the everlasting gospel” supposedly contained in this book.

If you’re an LDS, you need to believe that The Book of Mormon is inspired by God, inscribed on metal plates and delivered in 421 by a dead/resurrected prophet to a man living in 1823 who claimed to have the gift of inspiration to translate these hidden writings into an English style like the King James Version from 1611.

I’ve heard some people say that Seventh-day Adventists treat Ellen White’s writings the same way Latter-day Saints treat the Book of Mormon. If that’s true, then those Seventh-day Adventists aren’t following the official statements of the Seventh-day Adventist Church nor of Ellen White’s writings! The official doctrines include “The Holy Scriptures, Old and New Testaments, are the written Word of God” (www.adventist.org/beliefs/fundamental/index.html), and the writings of Ellen White “make clear that the Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested” (www.egwtext.whiteestate.org/issues/scripsda.html).

Ellen White actually wrote that she gave specific testimonies to people who had neglected the Bible. Seventh-day Adventists believe that Ellen White was inspired, but her writings are not an addition to the Bible.

Whether you’re LDS or SDA, I’d suggest that you get into the Bible!



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