Introducing the Book of Mormon
Why would I title this post “Getting people to read the Bible” when it’s mainly about the Book of Mormon? Encountering the book published by Joseph Smith, in the early 19th century, promotes Bible reading. That needs explaining.
I, Jonathan Whitcomb, am one of millions who have been influenced by the Book of Mormon in this way: My faith in Jesus Christ has been strengthened; my knowledge of his Gospel has been enlarged; my understanding of his divine existence has been elevated. And there’s something else.
Like millions of other ordinary persons, I have come to better appreciate the Bible and believe in its divine origin because of the Book of Mormon. In other words, we have greater confidence in the Bible because of the Book of Mormon, greater faith in the truths in those 66 books than we would have if we had never encountered the Book of Mormon.
Reading the Bible—a fruit of the Book of Mormon
What is the greatest tool that God has given to modern mortals, to turn their hearts to reading the Bible? Other than the printed Bible itself, it is the Book of Mormon.
The greatest tool in defending the divine origin of the Bible—that’s the Book of Mormon? Exactly. How many people had never touched a Bible until they had been touched by the Book of Mormon! I’m not one of those many readers but my wife is. (I was converted to Jesus Christ from reading the Bible, before I found the Book of Mormon.)
I intend no special criticism of the Roman Catholic church nor any of its members by the following statements, for we are all human, with weaknesses in knowledge and understanding that God has given to us while we live in this short estate of mortality. With all the qualities of character and faith that I have seen in the lives of my Catholic friends, persons whom I have loved and admired throughout my life, many of them have not read the Bible. Notable exceptions are those many Catholics who have encountered the Book of Mormon and felt the influence of the Holy Spirit, testifying to their hearts that it is true. That leads them to the Bible.
Origin of the Book of Mormon
The key mortal in organizing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and in bringing forth the Book of Mormon—who was he? Let’s approach it thus: Can any person be sure of coming to know who Joseph Smith truly was by first rejecting the man’s claim to being a prophet of God?
Beware of that approach, the same faulty approach used by those Jews who rejected Jesus Christ during the mortal ministry of the Savior. Jesus tried to reason with those who opposed him, asking them to consider his works, even if they disliked him. If they had followed his counsel, they might have recognized the truth: His life was evidence that he was who he said he was: the Messiah.
Who is a prophet of God?
Consider what Jesus said (7th chapter of Matthew):
15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
Notice that he did not say that the world would never again have prophets in the future. If our Father in Heaven intended that no prophets would be sent to the earth, after the Savior’s redeeming sacrifice was accomplished, Jesus would then have simply said that no more prophets would come. He said nothing like that, but gave us a way to tell the difference between true and false prophets. Now apply that to Joseph Smith.
The Book of Mormon—a fruit of the life of Joseph Smith
A farm boy in the back woods of New York state in the early 1800’s—Joseph Smith could hardly finish writing an intelligible letter, let alone hundreds of pages of apparent ancient scriptures, when the Book of Mormon first began to emerge. What greater evidence could we find, of a man being a true prophet or a false prophet, than a new publication of proclaimed scripture?
Consider the following, if you have not yet read anything in the Book of Mormon. Regardless of what you had previously assumed about it, use portions of it to test whether or not Joseph Smith was a true prophet.
What early-18th-century farm boy anywhere on this planet would have known that many people in Jerusalem, in 600 B.C., were strongly influenced by the Egyptian language? Only recently have scholars come to understand how deeply those people were involved in the culture and language of Egypt at that time in history.
And that is only the beginning of the countless evidences for the historical validity of the Book of Mormon, that first page. Beware of those critics who use improper tactics to try to discredit this modern book of scripture, for some of those tactics have also been used to try to discredit the Bible, in particular vain declarations based on the assumption that all scripture is of human origin, without divine authority.
Beware of careless criticisms against the greatest tool that God has given us to defend the divine origin of the Bible: the Book of Mormon.
The ancient American prophet Mormon is teaching his son Moroni what was revealed by God through revelation, after Mormon had become troubled about disputations on this subject of infant baptism.
It appeared to me that this commentator had not actually read the Book of Mormon but was speculating based on his imagination (and perhaps on what other critics had speculated) for he gave no detail, no example, no reference. . . . [in reality, however] How obvious that there was no textual evolution from 1830 to the present!