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How to Use the Book of Mormon

by Dudley Ross Spears

The "Book of Mormon" is one of several alleged "revelations" the followers of the late Joseph Smith, Jr. accept as divinely inspired. While they give some credence to the Bible, "as far as it is translated correctly" (Articles of Faith, # 8), the Book of Mormon is their mainstay. They never speak of it "as far as it is translated correctly." That would not only be unthinkable for a Mormon, it would be heresy. Their founder and spiritual father, Joseph Smith, Jr., rather immodestly said of the Book of Mormon, "I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book." (History of the Church, Volume 4, page 461). Thus the Book of Mormon is a perfect work, translated by an infallible device and is the true basis of the entire Mormon structure.

The late "apostle" Bruce McConkie, in a fireside satellite transmission to Mormons world wide said, "The Bible of the Old World has come to us from the manuscripts of antiquity -- manuscripts which passed through the hands of uninspired men who changed many parts to suit their own doctrinal ideas. Deletions were common, and, as it now stands, many plain and precious portions and many covenants of the Lord have been lost. As a consequence, those who rely upon it alone stumble and are confused and divide themselves among churches, all based on this or that interpretation of the Bible." (Ensign, December 1985, page 55). McConkie has gone now to his reward, but one wonders why he, nor any other Mormon apologist, ever mentions the divisions among Mormons, now well in excess of 100 various factions. It may be true that those who profess to follow the Bible are divided, but it is not due to these imaginary deletions, emendations, and alterations the Mormons claim for the biblical manuscripts.

McConkie didn't stop at misrepresenting the Bible, he went even further. He wrote, "On the other hand, the Bible of the New World, as I choose to designate the Book of Mormon, has been preserved for us by a divine providence which kept the ancient record in prophetic hands. Written by inspiration on plates of gold [which were mysteriously pirated away to heaven supposedly, DRS] it was hidden in the soil of Cumorah, to come forth in modern times by angelic ministration and then be translated by the gift and power of God. "After the translation, the voice of God, speaking from heaven to witnesses chosen beforehand by him, declared two things -- that the translation was correct and that the book was true. We, of course, believe the Bible as far as it has been translated correctly, but we place no such restriction on the Book of Mormon. And so it is that there has come into our hands a book that is as perfect, or near perfect, as mortal hands can make it. It is a divine book, a book like none other ever written, translated, or published." (Ibid). So there you have it. The Mormon estimate of their own "Bible." It is as perfect as it is humanly possible to make it. One would surely conclude that it is the only book they look to for guidance, correction, doctrine, and discipline. And the Mormons make a stab at doing that very thing. Let's look again at some of their public statements.

At the time this was written the president, prophet, and seer of the LDS Church was Ezra Taft Benson. In Ensign Magazine, official organ of the LDS Benson said, "God with His infinite foreknowledge, so molded the Book of Mormon that we might see the error and know how to combat false educational, religious, and philosophical concepts of our time." Benson urges his people to use the Book of Mormon to combat religious concepts of our time. Mormonism holds several things to be false in the religious world. In fact, Smith himself, claims God plainly declared all religious movements of his day to be false and of the devil. When Smith went to inquire of the Lord which church was the right one, he says the divine "Personages" replied, "... join none of them, for they were all wrong..." (Joseph Smith -- History, 1:18-19). So, the Book of Mormon should be very useful in refuting all the religious movements other than those that claim to follow the Book of Mormon. But that simply is not true.

The truth is that the Book of Mormon not only has nothing in it that can authentically expose anyone's error, it actually exposes the errors of Mormonism. Consider the following examples. Lehi, the father of Nephi, had a vision which is detailed in I Nehpi 8. The vision is explained in I Nehpi 11. Verse 25 reads, "And it came to pass that I beheld that the rod of iron, which my father had seen, was the word of God, which led to the fountain of living waters, or to the tree of life; which waters are a representation of the love of God; and I also beheld that the tree of life was a representation of the love of God." In this same book of I Nehpi, Nephi himself interprets the dream as follows. "And they said unto me: What meaneth the river of water which our father saw? And I said unto the that the water which my father saw was filthiness; and so much was his mind swallowed up in other things that he beheld not the filthiness of the water" (I Nehpi 15:26-27). Now which did the water represent -- the love of God or filthiness?

Next, consider Mosiah 12. The chapter tells of an amazing prophet called Abinadi. King Noah swore to take his life because Abinadi had prophesied against the king's evil. The better part of valor urged Abinadi to get lost for two years. Then, he did an amazing thing. But read along with me and you can see it for yourself. "And it came to pass that after the space of two years that Abinadi came among them in disguise, that they knew him not, and began to prophesy among them, saying: Thus has the Lord commanded me, saying -- Abinadi, [wonder why he bothered to be disguised, DRS] go and prophesy unto this my people for they have hardened their hearts against my words..." (Mosiah 12:1).

With such obvious blunders, how could the book be regarded as the most humanly perfect book anywhere, or the means by which to refute error? Is that the sort of material one would use to silence those who are not convinced the Book of Mormon is the word of God? Hardly!

Benson continued, "We are to use the Book of Mormon as the basis of our teaching." Logically, if the Book of Mormon is to the Mormon what the Bible is to the Christian, that book ought to be the source of their doctrinal stance in the religious community. Not only did Ezra Benson urge this upon Mormons, their own spiritual founder, Joseph Smith, Jr. allegedly had a revelation demanding it. "And again, the elders, priests and teachers of this church shall teach the principles of my gospel which are in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, in the which is the fullness of the gospel" (Doctrine and Covenants, 42:12). But is the Book of Mormon sufficient for learning Mormon doctrine?

Not one single major doctrine of the Latter Day Saints can be found in the Book of Mormon. If there be an exception to this, let the reader of that book produce it. Find in the Book of Mormon anything about the following doctrines.

  1. Mormon Church Organization.
  2. The Melchizedek or Aaronic Priesthoods.
  3. The Doctrine that God is an Exalted Human.
  4. The Doctrine that Men Become Gods.
  5. Three Degrees of Glory.
  6. The Mormon Doctrine of "Word of Wisdom."
  7. The Mormon Doctrine of "Pre-existence."
  8. The Mormon Doctrine of a "Heavenly Mother."

Since not a single major doctrinal tenet of Mormonism is found in the Book of Mormon it cannot be used as a basis of their teaching. The truth is that the contrary is so. The Book of Mormon contradicts their doctrinal views. Here's a clear example.

Mormon 9:9-10: "For do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing? And now, if you have imagined up unto yourselves a god who doth vary, and in whom there is shadow of changing, then have ye imagined up unto yourselves a god who is not a God of miracles."

Mormonism is now made famous (or infamous, as the case may be) for their doctrine of the changeable and progressive nature of their god. The word of the founder himself affirms that their god is not the God that casts no shadow of changing.

Here is his exact statement: "God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by His power, you would seem him like a man in form -- like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of God, and received instruction from, and walked, talked and conversed with Him, as one man talks and communes with another." (History of the Church, Volume VI, page 305). The man who claimed to have received a divine gift for translating some imaginary gold plates into the Book of Mormon contradicted the very doctrine on the most essential religious question one can contemplate -- the nature of God. The Book of Mormon is not the source of Mormon Doctrine.

Mormons think far too highly of their book. Listen to the late Bruce McConkie. "Ponder the truths you learn, and it will not be long before you know that Lehi and Jacob excel Paul in teaching the Atonement; that Alma's sermons on faith and on being born again surpass anything in the Bible; that Nephi makes a better exposition of the scattering and gathering of Israel than do Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel combined; that Mormon's words about faith, hope, and charity have a clarity, a breadth, and a power of expression that even Paul did not attain; and so on and so on." (Ensign, November, 1983, page 73). McConkie wants to put the Book of Mormon and the Bible in a contest to see which is the best or most uplifting aesthetically. Such would be rank foolishness.

If one were to compare the books, you would not find a single contradiction in the Bible, but many in the Book of Mormon. You would not find utterly silly stories in the Bible, but you do in the Book of Mormon. I was once told the Book of Mormon was very precise in the way it revealed facts. To which I replied, "I know -- for instance when the Jaredites built a barge they gave the precise measurement of it -- it was, they said, 'the length of a tree' (Ether 2:17)." - That is only one sample of the so-called accuracy of the Book of Mormon.