For quite some time now, the bulk of my personal scripture study has been dedicated to an in-depth investigation of the Book of Mormon, its origins, and doctrines. A lot of my work is somewhat scattered across several notebooks, which, having recently discovered I have ADD, explains why I could never keep it organized.
The purpose of the bulk of my work has been to find and research evidences of the truth of the Book of Mormon – in short, to develop a library of research “in defense of truth”, hence the title of my little project. But as I said, most of what I have is scattered, and doing all the research is a bit useless if I don’t have some way of keeping track of it. And even if I did keep track of it, what’s the use of having it if nobody knows it? I’m a firm believer that knowledge is best shared when possible.
And so, after a rather long period of thought, I’ve decided to do something a bit unorthodox. In addition to sharing my own personal scripture study, to a certain extent, I’m going to crowdsource it.
That’s right. I’m going to be publishing my work here, and getting input from readers with respect to what to study next. If nobody has suggestions, well, I have a mountain of my own to work through, and I’ll continue to do so.
Down to Business: What I’m Saying
The argument I wish to provide defense and support of:
If the Book of Mormon is true, Joseph Smith was a prophet, and received power and authority from God to translate it. If Joseph was a prophet, then the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is what it claims to be, and must also be true.
Transitively, then, if the Book of Mormon is true, then the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is also true.
Ultimately, the purpose of this body of work is to provide a defense of the truth of the Book of Mormon. The reader is free to do what they will with the information.
Let me take a moment to state here, once and for all, that I am not attempting to prove the Book of Mormon to be true. Not only is this beyond my capability, but I do not believe it can be done with present knowledge, as we know that we must walk by faith in this life, and an absolute knowledge would remove the need for faith.
If the reader wishes to know beyond doubt that the Book of Mormon is true, they must follow the counsel of Moroni:
3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, 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.
In plain language:
As you read the Book of Mormon:
1. Remember the mercy of God from the creation of Adam until your time
2. Ponder God’s mercy
When you receive the Book of Mormon:
1. Ask God in the name of Christ if it is true.
2. Ask with a sincere heart and real intent
3. Ask having faith in Christ
Target Audience and Ground Rules
As I hadn’t originally intended to share much, if any, of this, I’d like to make it clear now who my intended audience is. I write to the willing and honest enquirer, who searches for truth. In saying “willing and honest”, I mean two things:
1. The reader comes to the text with an open mind, with a desire to learn, willing to put forth the effort to understand things from another point of view, and acknowledging that while they are entitled to their own opinions, and they may potentially be relevant, this does not give them right to attack or belittle the author or work.
2. If the reader has questions, the motivation behind them is a sincere desire to understand the doctrine, text, or relevant history, and not to nitpick imperfections, actual or perceived.
I will be writing as much to myself as to anyone else, because I include myself as a “willing and honest enquirer”.
Since this is essentially a giant research project, odds are I’ll probably go back, update, and revise articles from time to time. For the sake of transparency, I’ll try to make it clear when I do this, what changes I made, and why.
This brings me to my ground rules. If you are reading, I ask:
1. You honestly try to understand the doctrine and relevant historical details.
2. You refrain from ad hominem attacks. I will not tolerate them, and all they do is make you look like an angry child who wants their ice cream.
In return, I promise:
1. To recognize that my word is not definitive on any subject. I am not an expert on Semitic languages, United States history, Church doctrine, or ancient scripture.
2. To cite my evidences as often and consistently as I can, and do the best that I can to write clearly and understandably.
3. To use sources that are as neutral as possible. (In practice, this means I’m going to be referring you to Wikipedia a lot.)
4. To accept your honest and sincere input, direction, and critique, and respond to it to the best of my abilities.
5. To admit when I have no answer to a perceived issue.
My Method: The Book of Mormon and Other Sources
The bulk of my arguments and evidences will be based directly on Book of Mormon text, commentary, and analysis. This includes addresses and published materials by the LDS Church and Brigham Young University. I will try to use online, publicly accessible material, as much to allow the reader to verify my information as because I’m a poor college kid and don’t want to spend $300 to order a book about the history and current status of the public library in the United States – perhaps at some point I’ll write about why I choose that particular example, but I’m trying to prioritize my time.
Attacks have been historically made upon the character of the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon itself, various doctrines of the Church, and the notion of the Church as a cult. While many of these arguments may seem persuasive and convincing, the reality is that the central message of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that the true Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored by the latter-day prophet Joseph Smith, and the Book of Mormon is proof of this Restoration. Many proffered criticisms are completely irrelevant to this. You can know the truth of the Book of Mormon by the power of the Holy Ghost (Moroni 10:3-5, quoted above).
Breaking down the work, the task is to determine whether or not the Book of Mormon is “true”. This means:
1. translation of the work was performed with divine aid and direction, that
2. the work is a true history of an offshoot of Israel upon the American Continent, and that
3. the doctrine and promises it contains are consistent with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I’m going to be presenting my arguments from a logical standpoint, hence why I specifically said I’m not trying to prove the Book of Mormon itself to be true. That requires faith, which, unfortunately, is somewhat outside the realm of modern computability theory. At the very least, it lies beyond my understanding of computability theory.
Conclusion: What I’m Not Saying
The goal of my work is to present convincing evidences to the reader with respect to the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, and allow the reader to come to their own conclusions. For future reference, I will keep a running record of these evidences, and where possible, rebuttal of objections to them (including indication of whether or not they’re relevant to my work) on this article.
However, I am not writing to rebut others’ arguments. I am also not writing to brainwash anybody, or to be a source of antagonism. I’m also not writing for the sake of idle debate. I’m not writing about the need for the Restoration, the evolution of the modern Church, or anything that does not pertain directly to my central argument. In the course of writing, some of these topic may be touched on, and I may even write some articles to give some historical background, but they are not my main focus.
I write to present and elaborate upon what evidence exists within the Book of Mormon and within our own body of knowledge. Ultimately, I write in an effort to expand the breadth and depth of the reader’s faith in Jesus Christ, and invite them to “come and see“.
If you wish to contact me feel free to use my contact form.