The Divine Origins of The Book of Mormon

 I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also known as the ‘Mormon’ Church.

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The prophet Mormon abridging the plates

The nickname ‘Mormon’ was given to The Church because of The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ. The book is named after the prophet that compiled and abridged a lot of records of the Nephite and Lamanite people on the American continent. Mormon is not someone that is worshiped (that is reserved for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ), but we do honor him for his contributions and his life of service to God. The nickname of ‘Mormon’ was used as a derogatory term when the Church began, but we do not mind being called ‘Mormons’ in our time…It is certainly a quicker name to say, and  recognizable over most the world.

The Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religionherman-arch-keystone_1207593_inl

A keystone is the stone that is placed last in an arch. It is what holds up the arch. If the keystone is removed, the arch falls.

The keystone of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is The Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon has a divine origin, Joseph Smith translated it, and The Book of Mormon stands as a true witness to the truthfulness of the Bible and the role that Jesus Christ plays in this world. Our faith hangs on the reality and truth of the keystone- The Book of Mormon.

How did we get The Book of Mormon?

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The angel Moroni visiting Joseph Smith

Joseph Smith had an angel appear to him in his bedroom at the age of 17. He had already spoken with God the Father, and Jesus Christ 3 years earlier, and had been praying to find out what his standing was with the Lord. The angel told him that he was a messenger from God, and that God had an important work for Joseph to do. The angel talked to him about what was to come, and told him about the golden plates that had been prepared for our day. Joseph first saw the plates the next day, and when he had grown and matured for several more years, Joseph Smith was given the golden plates by the angel and translated them by the gift and power of God.

For those that scoff at God’s ability to do such a thing, I offer a couple questions: If you believe in God (and I am assuming that you do believe in God), and that He is all-powerful, all knowing, and has a heck of a lot more abilities than you or I, and If you believe He made this world- not only man, but everything in this world… why would you put a limit on what He can do? Of course God can make an angel appear in a bedroom if He chooses to. Of course He can provide a translator. Just look at the cell phone in your hand and pull up Google Translate if you think such a thing is impossible.  If men can make such things with their puny wisdom and understanding, God with His experience, knowledge and ability can make a simple translator for Joseph to translate a bunch of records full of eternally important writings.

But, you might protest, this was 150 years ago- there were no cell phones back then. Agreed, and there were none 1000 years ago when God gave such stones to the ancient Israelite priests. Remember, He built a world a few billion years ago- God is more advanced technologically than some give Him credit for. And, He has known for a long time that we need The Book of Mormon today, so He made it happen.

What exactly IS The Book of Mormon?

gold-plates-39682-tabletThe Book of Mormon is a collection of writings from prophets that were aware of our day, who were aware that we would need  another witness of the divinity of Jesus Christ. These were prophets that had a personal relationship with God.  Nephi, Alma, Moroni, Enos, and many more prophets of God were involved in writing down the religious history of the people on this continent,  descendants of Jacob and the House of Israel.

We know that Heavenly Father has other plates and records in reserve that are sealed to us at this point but The Book of Mormon is the teachings that we need to know right now, in our day and generation.

Why would God give us another book- we already have the Bible!

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The Stick of Judah and the Stick of Joseph

As a world, we need to know that the Bible has timeless truths in it, that its witness of God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost is true. In 1 Nephi :13, we are taught the reasons that we need this second witness of Christ- because there have been plain and precious things, including covenants, removed from the Bible to keep men without full knowledge of the Gospel of the Lamb.

The Book of Mormon clarifies many of the teachings in the Bible, reaffirms the divinity of the scriptures, and through it, Heavenly Father corrects the translation errors that men have made over the years. There are some verses and teachings in the Bible that have many different interpretations within different sects of Christianity. The Book of Mormon, as a second witness, makes clear where men have strayed from the meaning, by accident, and in some cases by design. Having a second, independent book of divine scripture is a powerful witness to the truthfulness and reality of both the events and people of the Bible.

We need to know what our purpose in life is, what happens after we die, what the consequences would be if we turn our backs on God. We need to know the covenants that God made with His people- the covenants that include us and our day, not just in the Old Testament times. We need to understand that God loves us each as an individual, and desires each one of us to make sacred covenants with Him so that we can go back and live with Him again when our turn on Earth is completed. We need the Holy Priesthood. These are the truths that we learn in The Book of Mormon.

Why a 14 year old, uneducated boy, Joseph Smith?

the-first-vision-82823-tabletThere are examples in the Bible of God using young men to do His work. The boy Samuel , Daniel (of the lions den)and the other boys who were taken by Nebuchadnezzar, even Joseph of Egypt (with the coat of many colors) was a youth when he was taken and begun on his path to being a prophet of God.

Joseph Smith was 14 when he realized he needed to know which, if any, of the religions in his area were true. His family was split between several churches, and Joseph wanted to join the right one, so he approached God in prayer to ask- just as it says to do in the Bible. Now, an important point to understand is that Joseph Smith was not just a random teenager in a random place having a spectacular experience. He was fore-ordained, and guided by God to play the role in returning the Gospel of Jesus Christ back to the world in preparation for the second coming of Christ. He was in the right family with the right lineage,  was born at the time God ordained, and lived in the place that God chose many hundreds, or even thousands, of years before. None of this was random, it was a carefully crafted chain of events by God.

The angel Moroni giving the plates to Joseph Smith

The angel Moroni giving the plates to Joseph Smith

When we are born, we have forgotten our pre-existence in Heaven. That is by design so that we can learn and grow by faith without compulsion, and decide for ourselves who we want to follow for eternity.  Joseph Smith the boy had no idea that he was going to be a prophet and have conversations with God and Jesus Christ. He was just a young man that wanted to know the truth. He found it- or, the Truth found him, ready and willing to do the work of the Lord. Translating The Book of Mormon, and reestablishing the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth was what Joseph was foreordained to do.

Joseph’s wife, many years later, told her son The Book of Mormon is of divine authenticity—I have not the slightest doubt of it. I am satisfied that no man could have dictated the writing of the manuscripts unless he was inspired; for, when acting as his scribe, your father would dictate to me for hour after hour; and when returning after meals, or after interruptions, he would at once begin where he had left off, without either seeing the manuscript or having any portion of it read to him”. < “Last Testimony of Sister Emma,” Saints’ Herald 26 (Oct. 1, 1879), 289–90.>

The 8 witnesses of The Book of Mormon

There were other witnesses to the Golden Plates as well, none of whom ever denied the reality or truthfulness of what they had been privileged to see and handle, even after some left the Church.

The Book of Mormon was translated by Joseph Smith by the gift and power of God. For more information on the translating process, click HERE 

What are the covenants contained in the Book of Mormon? melchizedek-priesthood-given-to-joseph-37721-tablet

A covenant is a 2-way promise between Heavenly Father and His children. It is an “If you do this, then I will do this for you” kind of promise that God makes with us. There are many covenants that God wants to make with each one of us. What He asks in return is that we obey His commandments; That we love God with all our hearts, might, mind and strength; That we follow Christ and be a witness of Him, always remember Him, and that we love and serve Him by loving and serving one another.

In return, God covenants with us that we will be sanctified through Christ, that we will be forgiven of our sins through the atonement of Jesus Christ, that we can be with our families for eternity, and that we will live with Him and our families again. And these are just a few of the covenants.  Read through 1Nephi 13 to identify specific covenants that God made with the prophets, that apply to us today.

My testimony of the truthfulness of this gospel

I was given a testimony by Father in Heaven over 33 years ago, and it has continued to grow and mature through the years. I know that The Church is true, I know without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus is the Christ and that He loves each one of us. I know that God answers our prayers, although sometimes the answer is “No” or “Be patient”. I have had my prayers answered in unmistakable ways and had experiences that have guided me to distinguish truth from false. I know that the Book of Mormon is a divine record, and that we can get closer to God by prayerfully reading this book than we can by any other single action. The Book of Mormon is the true keystone of our religion, and it is a precious Margo and Scriptures (4)treasure for each person.

And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, He will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the HolyGhost.” (Moro. 10:4.)

God does not lie, and He is always reaching out to His children. Prove Him by reading the Book of Mormon with a sincere heart and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. If it is something you truly wish to know and you approach it with an open heart, He will answer you. Nothing important is easy, so put some effort into it.

“To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world. To others it is given to believe on their words.” (D&C 46:13–14.)

I leave this testimony with you, in the name of Jesus Christ, my Savior.

Amen

To my readers:

I have recently begun my university studies again. This post is an assignment for one of my classes.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints understands the importance of education which is why they have 3 universities- BYU Provo, BYU Hawaii, and BYU Idaho. Unfortunately, there are only so many people that can be admitted to these outstanding universities. To make an education available to members all over the world, BYU Idaho began a program called Pathway. Through this program, a student goes through 3 semesters of preliminary classes to assure that they have the understanding and knowledge necessary to be successful in a degree program. A student earns university credit while working through the Pathway program, and pays only $68 per credit (in the United States- the cost is different in each country. For example, Russians pay only $17 per credit because of the difference in economies and cost of living). Once the student successfully makes it through the 3 semesters of Pathway, he or she then has the opportunity to continue on and work towards a certificate, Associates degree, or a Bachelors degree, all at only $68 a credit or less. These degrees are all online, making it possible for anyone, anywhere to receive a university education.

I will be-finally!- completing my BS through BYU-Idaho, starting with the Pathway program.

 

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6 Responses

  1. Zachary Bailey says:

    Margo,
    I sincerely appreciate your time, your thoughts, and efforts to put something like this together.

    I see this as an instrument used to help readers who do not know of Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon, or Joesph Smith and how the gospel was restored. You wrote in an easy step by step way so that one could quickly get some understanding on several important topicss that will help lead others into searching for them self.

    To readers I would add to you, whether one of faith or just curious, that is truly how it begins. If you can pin point and time in your life where you have felt the presence or love of God, seek that spirit, desire it to go, then read the scriptures. Read the Bible. Pay close attention to certain things discussed then read the Book of Mormon. Compare what you felt, what you thought. If you truly follow the same passage of James chapter 1 that Joseph Smith read and acted upon, having faith with nothing doubting, believing you will have a experience to give an answer to your prayer, I KNOW that God will give to you also. He answers in many ways. He is invested in our interests. The key is learning truths about Him, making covenants with Him, finding out what He wants from you in return, then He will give to you more openly. You establish a relationship of trust. But don’t take my word for it. Read the good books He has provided for us, want to follow Him, then see for yourself how your life will change when you act to follow and obey Him. Nothing can compare to it. As for forgetting before we were born, of that is a knowledge you want, He will give it to you. The knowledge and foundation of remembrance of the purpose of creation has been most valuable to me. I would beg with anyone, no matter your current state, to put God to the test to find your self and watch the change. As you change you will find a greater potential to do good will come naturally for you and you will desire to serve others and you will do so. You will become happier then you ever thought possible.

    To those who think they already tried to follow these steps and now consider them invalid, try again. God is real and He loves you. You have my word that I know that God lives and He can help you.

    Great job Margo! 👍😄

    • Margo says:

      Thank you so much for adding your testimony, Zachary! I have to say that this is the first time I have really studied the origins of the Book of Mormon, and then truly pondered the scriptures specifically to know for myself if I believed in The Book of Mormon. It really IS the keystone of our religion, and if we want to keep growing, we have to quit being lukewarm and casual about the book. It is either true, and we had better take it seriously as God and the prophets have directed, or it isn’t true. One thing I absolutely love about the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that He wants us to feel peace. In order to feel peace, we have to know of a surety that what we are doing is right. Only in the past 3 years have I really understood the power of the Holy Ghost to help us not only understand, but to have a firm understanding of a truth that we need to know. I finally figured out that to have answers takes actual work…that just a casual request does not get the answer- it has to be heartfelt and studied out.

  2. Zachary Bailey says:

    It definitely does not come easy and we don’t get to make all the choices of what kind of experience we have…at first. But I remember when I had a desire to know for myself. It took the event of September 11, 2001 to open up my eyes to know that life had a purpose. We don’t know when or who or how we will lose a loved one(s) or when our time will come that we will die but one thing is for sure, what remains is our influence. I believe that influence is not just what is left with the living but with the deceased, from our relationships and impressions we make. I know that with our influence it is a choice. A choice to influence for good, bad, or not at all. The Book of Mormon helps put life in perspective by giving us examples of how to live, warning us of consequences to choices, and of course telling us where we came from, why we are here, and where we may go… With that direction, and guidance on choices to be made, along with the atonement of Jesus Christ and the priesthood ordinances restored with His gospel, our life becomes focused. A pattern is learned and a path is set for the rest of our life so that when we fall, if we do, we will know exactly how to get back up. I am grateful for the Holy Ghost because we can eliminate the concentration of human flaws and understandings, differences, etc, and we can have peace in knowing what is right and what we should do. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is unlike any other organization on earth. It is literally the Kingdom of God on earth administering and ministering to us and by us through the Holy Ghost and direction of Jesus Christ through His line of authority, to the world. It is truly the manifestation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. It will be the last kingdom standing.
    I am proud to live in the times we do and I thank God for the Book of Mormon and a living prophet of God and that the Holy Ghost dwells in us as we live the gospel.
    I can’t really say more then that. But again to the reader, whether you have experience or not with this church, the Book of Mormon, or not. All you have to do is try it. There is a certain recipe that must be followed, mentioned by Margo quoting Moroni from the 10th chapter of his book, but it’s more then that. It is personal. It is about using the belief of a little child, submissive, lowly in heart, and meek. Follow Jesus’s sermon on the mount and you will learn many recipes of success and happiness. But this book should not be ignored. It is unlike anything. To seek God you must come to know Him. If you come to know Him you can come to know yourself. If you choose to become like Him, as His child, you will come to know others… And if you question life, the world, and the universe, seeking not just for your own understanding and benefit but for others, willing to give, THEN God will give it to you. Not an easy process, but a worthwhile one. It is like a science project. Life is our laboratory. We have unlimited resources to tap into.
    Enjoy your quest!
    Again, thanks for sharing Margo!

  3. Autumn says:

    Hi Margo,

    I’m going to play devil’s advocate, from a secular point of view. Your arguments for why the Book of Mormon is true are all sound, however, they rest on a couple of assumptions that many people may not agree with or believe in, which would make the argument fall apart for many who are not Mormon. First, you say “If you believe in God …. why would you put a limit on what He can do? ” That first assumes that whoever you are trying to convince 1. Believes in God and 2. believes in God in the same way that you do. I believe in a force greater than ourselves as individuals, but I am agnostic in the way I do purport to know the exact nature of that force. And I’m ok with that. I do not put limits in what that force can do, so that’s not the issue for me. To make things simpler for this discussion I will call this force God. I have no problem believing that God may exist and may have inspired the Book of Mormon, but I do not put limits on God by saying that He could not have inspired other texts that are considered spiritual texts to people of other religions. So many religions purport to be the ONLY path to God. I feel like that’s man’s ego misinterpreting what God is trying to tell us, because at the heart of most religions are the same principals, such as some form of the Golden rule. So, getting back to Joseph Smith, who claims to be inspired by God many years ago, as many other prophets have, is it also not possible, that as a fallible human being that he did not work perfectly in tandem with God when doing the translation, or, even further, that it was made up? I personally did not witness this event happening, so a lot can be lost in translation, or be changed throughout time, or be fabricated. I’m not saying that it’s not true, but I’m not going to believe it’s exactly true either because I live by the principals of “know what you know and know what you don’t know.” I simply don’t know, and I’m okay with that. As far as my understanding of God is concerned, deep in my heart I feel that we are on good terms. No Book of Mormon necessary. Yikes, I hope I didn’t say too much! So, my question is, what would you say to convince someone who either 1. does not believe in God or 2. believes that God has had a hand in inspiring many texts, however imperfectly, throughout time and throughout various cultures.

    • Margo says:

      Autumn, thank you so much for your reply! You have really added to the conversation in a respectful and thoughtful way. I appreciate the time and consideration that you put into your comments. Nope, you did NOT say too much- you said what you believe, from your heart! Who wouldn’t love that?! Also, I do not for a minute believe that you are a devils advocate =-)

      This particular post was definitely addressed to someone with similar views about God as I have. Mormons do have a unique perspective on God, even within Christian denominations. We believe that not only does God exist as a being, but that He created this world for a purpose- for His children. We further believe that each of us on Earth are literal sons and daughters of God, in His image- in other words, He looks like a glorified human, and not just a formless force, and we look like God, as a child looks like her parents. He set out a plan for us to grow and progress, and gave us the option to come to earth to get mortal bodies- for a good reason, but we won’t go into that today.

      So, as most Christians believe in God and in His son, Jesus Christ, I started with what most Christians are comfortable with: with God as an all-knowing, all-powerful being that created heaven and earth.

      Now, on to the Book of Mormon and Joseph. I have read some of the anti-Mormon literature that purports to expose their version of ‘truth’. Much of their argument lies in the same vein- Joseph wrote the book and those that claimed to be witnesses were just a victim of mass hallucinations. I cannot begin to go into the mechanics of the translation in this medium, but if you are interested in more of that story, here is a good link .

      I will address, however just a few problems with the anti-Mormon ideology. First is Joseph himself. He had no formal education. He was from a poor family that did not have the financial resources to allow their sons to go to school. He was taught to read and write, but that was about the extent of his education. Now, if you have read the Book of Mormon, it is pretty clear that someone with vast knowledge of the Bible, ancient Israel, and the histories of the families of Jacob and Joseph (the Joseph of the coat of many colors from the Old Testament) wrote the book. Joseph did not get to go to university or a seminary. As for the mass hallucinations, I suppose I could counter argue that that is reaching for straws- there is nothing to support such a fabrication.

      I like your “Know what you know, and know what you don’t know”. I would have to say that is what I believe as well… but, there is a lot I don’t know but want to know, and I have put considerable time, effort -and prayer- into finding out the things I do not know. Which turns them into things I know  . I have never been one to rest on what I already know. I want to KNOW more. I want to learn and grow until the day I die!

      This is definitely a long answer, so I had better get to your questions.
      To your first question- what would I say to someone who does not believe in God?- I would say “Do you want to know if God is real?” if the answer is “No”, I wouldn’t say anything except (at least in a family case) I love you just the way you are, and I will always love you no matter what. Arguing with someone who does not want to learn is only contention, not discussion. If the person, however, said “Yes, I want to know if God is real”, I would tell them that the only way to know is to ask God Himself- and then be willing to listen intently for the answer, because as much as we might like an answer on chat, or a visit from an angel, that’s not going to happen. That would frustrate the entire purpose for being here on earth, it would frustrate the plan of happiness that is part of our turn on earth. No, finding out that God is real takes a sincere effort- a sincere heart and real intent. And a whole lot of asking (which means prayer) It takes truly wanting to know, and being open to the possibility that God is truly ‘real’.

      Your second question- What would I say to someone who believes that God has had a hand in inspiring many texts, however imperfectly, throughout time and throughout various cultures. I would say: I agree!

      God has helped all of His children who would listen to Him, throughout the entire history of man. He did not just wait for our day to inspire good people. He has inspired good people throughout history. He has worked with what each person was. Now, you did say the important word- imperfectly. There is a portion of truth in many religions on earth. But, other texts are imperfect. Some have been written or changed by those that desired power. Some were inspired by God but the plainness of the truth was edited out of them over time. More than anything, The Book of Mormon serves as a witness of Jesus Christ, and next it clarifies those imperfect texts that exist in every corner of the world. This is the time when the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ is needed.

      Here is the thing. IF it is true that Jesus Christ is divine and created this world, and IF he intends to come back in person, wouldn’t it make sense that He would like to have the world a bit better prepared than it is? How about a bit more love for each other, how about learning to serve instead of take? Wouldn’t He like to give humanity a chance to get to know Him before he suddenly comes back and ‘Boom! Hi guys, this is Jesus talking, and I have a few things that need to change now.” What if it IS true…

      Well, Autumn, this is a long-reply. I hope you have gotten this far! I want you to know that one of the things that I know- not just believe, but know- is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true. God is a real being that actually answers prayers and takes an interest into each one of his children, individually. There are things I take on faith, that I believe because I know the backstory is true. One thing I do not doubt, can never doubt, is the existence of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. And, I know that the Book of Mormon was not written by Joseph Smith or anyone in the 1800’s. Sometimes the easiest answers are the ones that are true.
      This little excerpt is from the book (chapter) of Moroni, chapter 10. Moroni was that angel that had the one-on-one with Joseph Smith:
      3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things (he is talking about the Book of Mormon), if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
      4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
      5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

      Autumn, I have no doubt at all that you and God are on good terms- you are a fantastically wonderful, loving, caring person who exemplifies the love that Christ has for us all. I think that God is very happy with you and many of the choices you have made through your life. I also have no doubt that He has a purpose He wants you to fulfill- and that you will figure out what that is when you are ready. God loves you, and so do I!
      Love you forever, Margo

  4. Zachary Bailey says:

    I expected that more people would participate in this blog. I just LOVE how careful and considerate you both are in questions and answers. I certainly could not explain better. You are a great missionary, friend, and mother Margo. And Autumn, I’ve always known you are incredible! I am proud to call you both family!

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