Sunday, August 24, 2008

Why I (Rob) am a Book of Mormon Apologist

Steve posted his reasons for being a Book of Mormon apologist, and I now feel compelled to do so as well.

I had the privilege of serving an LDS mission in Guatemala. About 8 months into my mission, I purchased a children's copy of the Popol Vuh (if only to match my limited Spanish reading comprehension at the time). One of my district leaders, a fellow from Chiquimula, Guatemala, saw the book and asked me why I had purchased it instead of the full version. When I told him why, he asked me if I understood what it contained. I told him that it looked like any other Native American legend book to me and that I had read many like it in my rural Southwestern U.S. hometown.

He then proceded to school me in what the Popol Vuh means, or should mean, to Latter-day Saints who want to know more about Book of Mormon history. He said that contrary to what his Catholic and secular school teachers had taught when he read it in school, it wasn't just a book of random legends, writings, and mythologies. When read in the context of the Restoration of the Gospel, it was quite literally a fragment of the Gospel knowledge that remained of a post Nephite and declining Lamanite society. Its seemingly esoteric (rather, exoteric) ramblings actually corresponded to real and basic Gospel principles, but in a corrupted and apostate form.

With that in mind, I re-read the Popol Vuh book, with notes my district leader wrote in it to help with the translation into English and possible Gospel concepts, and was astonished at what I had missed. I have plans to make that the subject of another post (or two, or five) because it really is that interesting. But for now, let's just say that this was the catalyst that compelled me to study the Book of Mormon in more depth than ever before.

Toward the end of my mission, an Elder with whom I had come into the mission showed me a book called "The Title of the Lords of Totonicapan" that a local member had given him. I opened it, and with my considerably improved Spanish reading comprehension, was excited to find that it was another local Maya tribe's version of many of the same events and symbols found in the Popol Vuh. The "Title"'s author, during the Spanish conquest of the 1550s, made direct (but today often disputed) claims to a direct descendancy of his people from Israel.

The common linkages I began to see between these two books and Biblical and Book of Mormon concepts and doctrines began to galvanize my desire to fully study the additional physical evidences that must surely exist.

Since then, even though I make no claims to be any kind of professional or experienced anthropologist/archaeologist/ethnographist/etc., I have kept an eye out for anything and everything that might point to evidence of the Book of Mormon's claims. I marvel at the knowledge that has come to light and that experienced scholars such as Daniel Peterson and John Tvedtnes are able to build a solid foundation upon which these evidences can rest.

I want to categorically and undeniably state, at the same time, that I have a firm knowledge, completely independent and antecedent to the above experiences, that the Book of Mormon is true and exactly what it claims to be. Even if the Conquistadores had burned and destroyed every last vestige of Mesoamerican literature and monuments, the hard and simple truths of the book stand on their own, brilliantly testify of the Bible's authenticity, and teach and prophesy correctly of Christ. It is, as Joseph Smith taught, "the most correct of any book on earth". I testify that I have grown closer to God because of it.


  1. Great comments, Rob. Thanks for sharing.

    "Even if the Conquistadores had burned and destroyed every last vestige of Mesoamerican literature and monuments."

    Which, of course, they almost did. ;-)

  2. Yeah, I sometimes fantasize about going backwards in time and trying to talk some sense into those guys. Can you imagine if we had even a 10th of what was burned? It would be astounding!

    Though, I also have to remind myself that in all likelihood there would have been so many proofs of the Book of Mormon's authenticity that we would probably not benefit from the concept of accepting God's word based on faith. It'd be like getting a copy of every original document used to compile the Bible.

    Ironically, that much direct knowledge could actually turn against our benefit in that God has told us that even if an angel comes to visit and tell us the truth of all things, our human nature would rebel and we would condemn ourselves in denial of pure truth. Look what happened to Laman and Lemuel after the angel stopped them from beating their brother, Nephi. Or, in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man where Abraham tells the rich man in hell that if his brothers won't listen to the words of the prophets, an angel won't be able to convince them either.

  3. Oops. that last comment was from me, not from my wife. I forgot she was logged in at this computer and not me. Heh.

  4. Hey Rob, er, Shannon, er, Rob! ;-)

    I thought you had some interesting comments. For sure we would know a lot more about the Book of Mormon's contextual historical background, not ot mention Mesoamerica, if we had more than just 4 pre-Columbian Mayan texts. Too bad, huh? How much fun would that be!

    You are also right that having these texts would prove little for the critics. They would surely just find more things as a diversion to harp about. The evidence, which is abundant, does not convince them, so would all of the rest? I seriously doubt it.

    Still, it would be cool to have all of those texts. Oh well, I guess we can always have our dreams... ;-)


We are happy to discuss any and every topic and question. We will give wide berth to a variety of opinions and ideas. The only thing we ask is that you return the favor by respecting our right to believe as we do and by not issuing lengthy, inflammatory diatribes meant to shock and confuse anyone not familiar with LDS teachings. They can certainly get that elsewhere. :)