Monday, October 31, 2011

Book of Mormon Month - Day 31: A Testimony, a Covenant, and a Witness

By Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Jeffrey R. HollandReading the book was the beginning of my light. It was the source of my first spiritual certainty that God lives, that He is my Heavenly Father, and that a plan of happiness was outlined in eternity for me. It led me to love the Holy Bible and the other standard works of the Church. It taught me to love the Lord Jesus Christ, to glimpse His merciful compassion, and to consider the grace and grandeur of His atoning sacrifice.

Because I learned for myself that the Book of Mormon is a true witness—another testament and a new covenant—that Jesus is the Christ, I also learned that Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of God. As my great-great-great grandfather said in the early days of the Restoration, “No wicked man could write such a book as this; and no good man would write it, unless it were true and he were commanded of God to do so.”  Read More or Listen
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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Book of Mormon Month - Days 29 and 30: Did Joseph REALLY translate the Book of Mormon?

Painting by an unknown painter, circa 1842. Th...Image via Wikipedia
Painting by an unknown painter,
circa 1842. The original is owned
by the Community of Christ archive
Have you ever tried to write a book?

I mean a real good book, like what you hope will be the next Great American Novel, or at least something that people might read and feel a compulsion to share with others so that word-of-mouth is a primary driver of its propagation. It would have to be a book with plots within plots and a multitude of characters playing their roles over long periods of time and across a landscape of cultural differences and story twists. It would have to be internally consistent as far as time sequences, place names and relationships, and the overall treatment of the subject matters it discusses. To add even more interest, it would need to be written as a true-life, perpetual journal handed down over thousands of years from author to author, and it would need to read differently according to which author is speaking.

Not me. I have tried only to write a simple, entertaining fiction novel or two which, of itself, is not easy by any means. (As you can see from the title of this post, it's taken me at least two days to even produce this short article. Even then, I've only succeeded in standing on the shoulders of other giants in quoting their work.)

I'm not uneducated, though. I've been reading and writing stories, poetry, prose, and novels starting from my earliest memories of going to the library after school and on weekends with my librarian mother and holding a pencil to some discarded Xerox paper to the present. In high school, I won as runner up in an English Language Arts scholarship competition against many other schools in my state. In addition, I won a scholarship given out to only four students in my state for space sciences engineering (mostly due to my talent in persuasive writing and not really due to any skill as an engineer). I later switched my major to computer science and ended up graduating with a Bachelor of the Arts degree in business education and Spanish. Now I work for a publishing company.

1851 lithograph of Smith's body about to be mu...Image via Wikipedia
1851 lithograph of martyred
Joseph Smith's body about
to be mutilated by a mob
(Library of Congress).
Yet, even with my relatively broad array of educational and career experiences and my many blog posts and traditional writing, it still requires much effort for me to put very many words onscreen or on paper. I've never even been published for all my efforts, nor had my name "for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people" as has Joseph Smith! (And, thank goodness for that, judging by what he went through because he simply wouldn't deny what God had wrought through him!)

For example, during the November 2010 National Novel Writing Month, on a good day, writing for about two hours, with a burst of pure, unstoppable inspiration, and with an unhealthy amount of self-confidence, I can barely manage between 1,000 and 2,000 words of manuscript.

Oh, and that's on my iPad with a detachable keyboard, spell check, and the ability to look up anything I desire on the Web for my research. I can also instantly delete and retype something that doesn't work. And, that is raw text that will have to undergo several major revisions before it ever is shown to an editor...IF I pretend to become so brave as to submit it.

If one of my kids, my job, or some random, menial task around my modern, centrally heated, 21st century household interrupts this flow of inspiration, it all comes crashing down.

I've never completed any novel I've undertaken to write. I just can't seem to pull together enough quiet time and coherent thinking to produce more than 150 pages before I lose interest or some other project or crisis distracts me indefinitely. At some point, I just abandon my efforts on one manuscript and start another a year later with the same results.

Ask any writer and they will all agree! It's that hard!

Daniel C. Peterson, Ph.D. (I actually had to look up how to spell "Ph.D." just now, which indicates the large gap in intellect between he and I) has written a number of books at this point in his career. I'll let him tell it in his own words as given in a speech at a Book of Mormon symposium:
I might just add that I had a fairly productive period in terms of writing over the past two years, and I have kept daily records of the number of words I had written. I've averaged just over 3,000 words a week over the past two years of what I would consider publishable prose. Some of it has been published and has resulted so far in at least one very bad book and several articles, in any event, that's a fairly good level of productivity in that I'm not working at it full-time but I'm working fairly consistently at it...
That's a lot of words per week compared to what yours truly can output per week as a hobbyist writer. Then again, Dr. Peterson has actually chosen this unique form of torture for himself as part of a real-life academic career.

The Book of Mormon: An Account Written by the ...Image via Wikipedia
The Book of Mormon: An Account
Written by the Hand of Mormon
upon Plates Taken from the
Plates of Nephi
Now, I'd like you to consider the word count that was required for Joseph Smith to dictate all 500+ pages, in translation even, to a scribe over the slightly more than 2 months it took to produce the all 260,000+ words of the Book of Mormon. Again, from Dr. Peterson's speech:
...the production of the Book of Mormon is a process that's resulting in almost 5,000 words a day for a period of just little over two months. To me that's breathtaking, that's really astonishing. Especially for a person with Joseph Smith's level of education, and people who just say, well he just had a great level of imagination gushed out of him, need to try it. Books don't gush, at least in my experience, I wish they did.
Did you catch that? Dr. Peterson, who has a Ph.D., was prone to writing 3,000 words per week (while juggling his other duties at the university, which include teaching and primary research in his field, and, presumably, more work at home as a husband and father and at church). Yet Joseph Smith, in 1829, with barely above an elementary grades education, taking whatever meager temporal work he could find to barely scrape up a living wage for his wife and family, all while starting an ambitious (to say the least) restoration of the original Christian church, building cities and temples, and being chased by mobs from one end to another of whatever state he happened to reside in, was somehow still capable of producing 5,000 words of text per day.

I'm out of breath just in writing that!

Now, to those who insist that the Book of Mormon is false, I challenge you here and now to explain how Joseph was able to produce it. Was he a literary prodigy? Could he somehow stop or slow down time to make it work in his favor? No. One must first consider that, like other prophets chosen in Biblical times to perform great feats and miracles, Joseph was likewise called of God to perform a "marvelous work and a wonder". Everyone who knew him insisted he was nothing less than a prophet, seer, and revelator (because they, among other reasons for believing, literally had no other explanation for the amazing words and works that came out of him).

Even Joseph's own beloved and devoted wife, Emma, couldn't explain it in any other way. In an interview with her son, who had asked whether his father could have written it beforehand, then somehow memorized or dictated it to her and to Oliver Cowdery, she replied,
Joseph Smith could neither write nor dictate a coherent and well-worded letter, let alone dictating a book like the Book of Mormon. And, though I was an active participant in the scenes that transpired, and was present during the translation of the plates, and had cognizance of things as they transpired, it is marvelous to me, 'a marvel and a wonder,' as much so as to any one else.
Did the devil Beelzebub prompt him to write it? Not likely, as the Savior taught in Mark 3:22-27:

 22 ¶And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils.
 23 And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan?
 24 And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.
 25 And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.
 26 And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end.
 27 No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.

In other words, we only need to take Christ's word for it. Just as Satan would not prompt Jesus to cast out Satan's own demons in the name of God, who Satan is fighting against, Satan would likewise not prompt Joseph to write a book of scripture that glowingly speaks of his nemesis, Jesus Christ, on nearly every page and which denounces Satan's own kingdom at every turn.

In 2002, the work of tracking down every extant version of the Book of Mormon and critically analyzing and comparing each text resulted in the following conclusion:

Ultimately we must realize that the original English-language text [Oliver Cowdery's transcription] of the Book of Mormon is not fully recoverable by human effort. Textual errors are generally not found except by discovering the correct reading in the manuscripts. Unfortunately, only 28 percent of the original manuscript is extant. Conjecture based on internal analysis of the Book of Mormon text has largely been unsuccessful in recovering the correct reading. Still, some conjectures are probably correct. Another important point to keep in mind is that even if we had the entire original manuscript, there would still be errors in the text, mainly because the original manuscript itself has some [grammatical and spelling] errors.

The systematic nature of the original text supports the theory that the text was revealed to Joseph Smith word for word. On the other hand, all subsequent transmissions of the text appear to have been subject to human error. Errors have crept into the text, but no error significantly interferes with either the message of the book or its doctrine. These textual errors have never prevented readers of the book from receiving their own personal witness of its truth.

Joseph Smith, Jr.'s signature.Image via Wikipedia
Joseph Smith, Jr.'s Signature
Critics of the Book of Mormon can rail against Joseph's character (what they think they know of it), the events of his life, the doctrines he revealed, and anything else they can concoct to discredit the man. But there is one thing they have not, can not, and never will be able to do. They will never be able to explain how we got the Book of Mormon using any other account than the one Joseph, his family, his associates, and church members have produced and testified to in blood, sweat, tears, and persecution...that he dictated it from the ancient metal plates by the Holy Spirit of God.

If you are an anti-Mormon writer or you like to read anti-Mormon literature, and if you want anyone to take your arguments against the LDS Church seriously, you need to do the work of scholars rather than the "work" of scholarly poseurs. You need to actually study and publish your own intellectually and logically satisfying counter-arguments to the points made by even this small handful of LDS scholars.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Book of Mormon Month - Day 28: Book of Mormon's consistency, complexity still amaze

Dan Peterson, a professor of Islamic Studies and Arabic in the Department of Asian and Near Eastern Languages at Brigham Young University and a lifelong scholar of the Book of Mormon, wrote an article that helps outline the uniqueness of the Book of Mormon. Here is a short excerpt from the article:
Joseph smith figure north visitors center slc utah
Joseph Smith, by contrast, a Yankee farm boy with only a few weeks of formal education, dictated the Book of Mormon in slightly more than two months, and published it without significant revision.
To those who don't find this impressive, I say: Dictate an original manuscript of approximately a quarter of a million words between now and New Year's Day, and then get back to me. (I'm being generous. According to one count, the English Book of Mormon actually contains 268,163 words.) And anybody who attempts this feat, don't forget, will almost certainly be far better educated than Joseph Smith was.
The intricate structure and detailed complexity of the Book of Mormon seem far better explained as the work of several ancient writers using various written sources over the space of centuries than exploding suddenly from the mind of a barely educated manual laborer on the American frontier.
A good brief statement on this topic, from which I've drawn for this column, is Melvin J. Thorne's 1997 article "Complexity, Consistency, Ignorance, and Probabilities," which is available online."
"It is too complex," says Dr. Thorne of the Book of Mormon, "to have been written by Joseph in the manner and in the amount of time described by witnesses. Indeed, it is too complex to have been written by Joseph in the manner hypothesized by his enemies or critics. Ultimately, it appears to be too complex to have been written by Joseph or any of his contemporaries in the early nineteenth century under any conceivable set of circumstances other than the one Joseph describes — the translation by miraculous means of an authentically ancient document."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Book of Mormon Month - Day 27: A Witness

First Counselor in the First Presidency

From a talk given during the October 2011 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
I was once invited to speak at graduation services at a university. The university president had wanted President Gordon B. Hinckley to be invited but found that he was unavailable. So by default I got the invitation. I was then a junior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

The person who invited me to speak became anxious as she learned more about my obligations as an Apostle. She called me on the phone and said that she now understood that my duty was to be a witness of Jesus Christ.

In very firm tones she told me that I could not do that when I spoke there. She explained that the university respected people of all religious beliefs, including those who denied the existence of a God. She repeated, “You cannot fulfill your duty here.”

I hung up the phone with serious questions in my mind. Should I tell the university that I would not keep my agreement to speak? It was only two weeks before the event. My appearance there had been announced. What effect would my failing to keep my agreement have on the good name of the Church?

I prayed to know what God would have me do. The answer came in a surprising way to me. I realized that the examples of Nephi, Abinadi, Alma, Amulek, and the sons of Mosiah applied to what I was. They were bold witnesses of Jesus Christ in the face of deadly peril.

So the only choice to be made was how to prepare. I dug into everything I could learn about the university. As the day of the talk grew closer, my anxiety rose and my prayers intensified.

JOPLIN, MO- JUNE 18: Members of the Church Of ...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
Members of the LDS Church
assist with cleanup in the
aftermath of the Joplin, MO
In a miracle like the Red Sea parting, I found a news article. That university had been honored for doing what the Church has learned to do in our humanitarian efforts across the world. And so in my talk I described what we and they had done to lift people in great need. I said that I knew that Jesus Christ was the source of the blessings that had come into the lives of those we and they had served.

After the meeting the audience rose to applaud, which seemed a little unusual to me. I was amazed but still a little anxious. I remembered what happened to Abinadi. Only Alma had accepted his witness. But that night, at a large formal dinner, I heard the university president say that in my talk he heard the words of God.

Now, such a miraculous deliverance is rare in my experience as a witness of Christ. But the effect of the Book of Mormon on your character, power, and courage to be a witness for God is certain. The doctrine and the valiant examples in that book will lift, guide, and embolden you.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Book of Mormon Month - Day 26: The Power of Scripture


Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

From a talk given during the October 2011 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

"Scriptures are like packets of light that illuminate our minds and give place to guidance and inspiration from on high."

In my judgment, the Book of Mormon teaches truth with unique clarity and power. For example:

“And now I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive.
“And see that ye have faith, hope, and charity, and then ye will always abound in good works” (Alma 7:23–24).
And another:
“And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—
“But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure” (Moroni 7:45–48).
My precious wife, Jeanene, loved the Book of Mormon. In her youth, as a teenager, it became the foundation of her life. It was a source of testimony and teaching during her full-time missionary service in the northwest United States. When we served in the mission field in Córdoba, Argentina, she strongly encouraged the use of the Book of Mormon in our proselytizing efforts. Jeanene confirmed early in her life that those who consistently read the Book of Mormon are blessed with an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a greater resolve to obey His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the divinity of the Son of God.1 For I don’t know how many years, as the end of the year approached, I would see her sitting quietly, carefully finishing the entire Book of Mormon yet another time before year’s end.
In 1991 I wanted to give a special Christmas gift to my family. In recording the fulfillment of that desire, my personal journal states: “It is 12:38 p.m., Wednesday, December 18, 1991. I’ve just concluded an audio recording of the Book of Mormon for my family. This has been an experience that has increased my testimony of this divine work and strengthened in me a desire to be more familiar with its pages to distill from these scriptures truths to be used in my service to the Lord. I love this book. I testify with my soul that it is true, that it was prepared for the blessing of the House of Israel, and all of its component parts spread throughout the world. All who will study its message in humility, in faith believing in Jesus Christ, will know of its truthfulness and will find a treasure to lead them to greater happiness, peace, and attainment in this life. I testify by all that is sacred, this book is true.”

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Book of Mormon Month - Day 25: Fires of Faith

The title page to the 1611 first edition of th...

Without the Christian martyrs who helped bring forth the King James Version of the Bible, the Book of Mormon would be a lone witness to the Divinity of Jesus Christ. Put together with the Bible, both become an irrefutable testimony that Jesus lives and will save us from our sins if we put our faith in Him.

To pay tribute to the noble people who gave all to preserve scripture, BYU TV presents the "Fires of Faith" series. In three parts, this documentary walks us through the history of how the King James Version of the Bible was gathered, compiled, and published over centuries, and how it has influenced our world today.

You can watch the first two "Fires of Faith" episodes right this moment!

Part 1: Martyrs For A Book
Part 2: Yearning For The Word (also airs Wednesday, October 26: 9:00 p.m. and midnight eastern daylight time/7:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. mountain daylight time)
Part 3: Fires of Faith: The King James Bible airs Sunday, October 30: 8:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. eastern daylight time/6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. mountain daylight time as well as Wednesday, November 2: 9:00 p.m. and midnight eastern standard time/7:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. mountain standard time.

Once all "Fires of Faith" episodes have aired, you can watch them on demand.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Book of Mormon Month - Day 24: Who are the Mormons?

While it is not the purpose of this blog to engage in debates about politics, you will be hearing a lot about Mormons in the coming year. More than that, if a Mormon happens to be elected to the highest office in the land.

There are a lot of poorly constructed opinion pieces out there that try to define what a Mormon is and believes, but their descriptions are only gleaned from the worst of the anti-Mormon web sites. One would rightly ask whether such treatment of a Jewish, Hindu, or Buddhist, or Sikh candidate's religious beliefs would be acceptable.

It is better to balance out one's knowledge of another's religion with what that religion actually says about itself, is it not? With that in mind, I present to you, "Who are the Mormons?".

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Book of Mormon Month - Day 23: Adam and Eve Gave Us the Gift of Choice

You may know the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, but did you know it was they who paved the way for the rest of us to come to earth, make choices, and become like our Heavenly Father? The Book of Mormon explains more about their mission as the first husband and wife on Earth.

As we know, Adam and Eve succumbed to Satan’s temptations to eat the fruit and disobeyed God who had commanded them not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. As a consequence, they were separated from God’s presence physically and spiritually—an event we refer to as the Fall. They became mortal—just as we are—subject to sin, disease, all types of suffering, and ultimately death. But it wasn’t all bad because they could now feel great joy. “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” (2 Nephi 2:25) But as they were obedient to the Gospel of Jesus Christ Adam and Eve were able to receive God’s inspiration, revelation, and even visits from heavenly messengers.

Once out of the garden, they were able to progress and learn to become more like our Heavenly Father. In addition, they could have children, which meant the rest of God’s spirit children (all of us) could come to Earth, experience physical bodies, and be proven by our daily choices. Just like Adam and Eve, there are consequences to all our choices, good or bad. Lasting happiness and progression come from choosing to do what God wants us to do. The key word is “choosing.” Generally God does not step in and prevent us from making the poor choices Satan tempts us to make. He will, however, offer his love, divine guidance, and warnings when we open our heart to Him.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Book of Mormon Month - Day 22: The Book of Mormon Draws People Closer to God

Some descriptions of God make Him sound abstract and unapproachable, or angry and vengeful, but we learn in the Book of Mormon that “God is mindful of every people” (Alma 26:37) and that like the Book of Mormon prophet Lehi, we can be “encircled about eternally in the arms of his love” (2 Nephi 1:15).

Friday, October 21, 2011

Book of Mormon Month - Day 21: Weights and Measures

Weighing and Measuring in the Worlds of the Book of Mormon

Midway through one of the most heart-wrenching accounts in the Book of Mormon, when Alma and Amulek were on trial for their lives and Amulek's faithful women and children were put to death by fire, the story is interrupted with an explanation of King Mosiah's system of weights and measures (see Alma 11:3–19). It is a strange interruption, a mundane hiatus, but at least a relieving diversion as the tension mounts in Alma and Amulek's showdown with Zeezrom and the legal officials in Ammonihah. Why would one bring up these incidental economic nuts and bolts at such a point in the record?

Several reasons might explain why this information was included at this point in the Book of Mormon. For one thing, these short metrological details are not only intertwined with the debate between Amulek and Zeezrom (see Alma 11:21–25), but they alsoprovide an important building block in Mormon's grand narrative. By abusing the justice system and misusing the lawful weights and measures, the wicked people of Ammonihah effectively opened the floodgates of God's judgment upon themselves, a pattern that would apply later to Nephite civilization as a whole.

Read More

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Book of Mormon Month - Day 20: Common Questions about the Book of Mormon

  1. What is the Book of Mormon, and how does it compare to the Bible? 
  2. Who wrote the Book of Mormon? 
  3. What happened to the original record—the golden plates? 
  4. Who else saw the golden plates? 
  5. Is there physical evidence that the Book of Mormon is true? 
  6. How can I know the Book of Mormon is true? 
  7. I’m confused by Revelation 22:18–19, which tells us not to add anything to the word of God. 
  8. I have heard that changes have been made to the Book of Mormon since it was first published. What was changed and why?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Book of Mormon Month - Day 19: To Every Tongue and People

To Every Tongue and People

Internet and Mobile Editions

The Book of Mormon can now be read on the Internet ( and on mobile devices ( Currently, 21 languages are available online with more soon to come. Online cross-referencing and search features make it possible to study the scriptures in a different way, resulting in new insights.

Audio Editions
Currently, there are audio editions of the Book of Mormon in English, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, and Spanish. You can download the recordings from at no cost or purchase CDs through Distribution Services ( Select chapters are also available on audiocassette in Cakchiquel, Mam, Navajo, Quiche, and Tzotzil. Work is under way to produce audio editions in other languages.

Other Editions

Featuring colorful illustrations and simplified text, Book of Mormon Stories emphasizes visual learning for those who are learning to read. It is printed in more than 70 languages. Book of Mormon Stories is also available online at

Also available through Distribution Services are a set of DVDs in American Sign Language, a large-print version (in English, Portuguese, and Spanish), and an English Braille edition.

The first edition of the Book of Mormon had a print run of 5,000.

As translation work moves forward, members around the world, such as Lea and Flora Lotrič in Slovenia, experience the joy of holding for the first time a copy of the Book of Mormon in their own language.

After a translation is completed, Church members who speak the language are asked to review the text.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Book of Mormon Month - Day 18: How the Book of Mormon Changed My Life

Where Could I Find Answers?

Olga Ovcharenko, Sverdlovsk Oblast, Russia

"I had been raised in the predominant religion of my country, but I had lots of unanswered religious questions. The missionaries and the members of their Church had answers to questions that no one in the past had been able to provide to my satisfaction." Read More or Listen

I Felt a Fire Inside

Claudia Williams, Florida, USA

"I set the book on top of the TV and went to bed. But in the middle of the night, I was awakened by a strong feeling I later recognized as the Holy Ghost. I felt prompted to start reading, so I read for an hour and a half before returning to bed. A short time later, I reawakened with the same feeling, so I read some more." Read More or Listen

The Book of Mormon Spoke to Me

Gina Baird, Utah, USA

"On our first visit to the hospital for a checkup after returning home, doctors again found leukemia cells in Amanda’s blood. The transplant had failed. Hearing the news, I felt as though I were sinking right through the floor. Our family had been through a lot of worry, work, separation, and difficult times. Now we would lose our daughter anyway. I returned home that afternoon to my two sons. While we waited for my husband to come home from work, we got out our copies of the Book of Mormon and began to read. We were in 2 Nephi 9." Read More or Listen

I Put Moroni’s Promise to the Test

Francesco Ferraresi, Lombardy, Italy

"One day in June 1995 while I was alone at home, I knelt at the foot of my bed and asked Heavenly Father, “Is the Book of Mormon true, and if so, when should I be baptized?” Suddenly I felt in my heart and in my mind a clear voice that told me, “The Book of Mormon is true.” I then had a clear impression when to be baptized. A week later I prayed again and received the same answer. My heart was bursting with joy. I now knew that God had spoken to me: the Book of Mormon was inspired of God and Joseph Smith was a true prophet." Read More or Listen

Monday, October 17, 2011

Book of Mormon Month - Day 17: A Fire Burning within Me

On Day 17, read "A Fire Burning within Me" and the true story of a Eduardo, who had a miraculous encounter with the Book of Mormon...even though he couldn't read.
With a prayer in his heart, Eduardo sat down one hot summer day in a shady spot in the backyard of his home. “There,” he says, “I determined to make the attempt.”

María says she never would have imagined what happened next. As she worked in the kitchen, she listened off and on as Eduardo attempted to sound out letters and words. “Suddenly I heard him speaking rapidly,” she says. “I listened and realized that he was reading—fluently. Less than half an hour had passed, and he was reading!”

Eduardo was so immersed in his attempt that he hadn’t realized he was reading. But as he read, he recalls, “I felt a fire burning within me.” Frightened and surprised, Eduardo called to his wife, “Mami, what is happening to me?”

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Book of Mormon Month - Day 16: If You Really Want to Know, You Will Know

If You Really Want to Know, You Will Know

By Elder Walter F. González
Of the Presidency of the Seventy

I feel everlasting gratitude for the Book of Mormon. It changed my life forever, and I know it can change yours.
I was 18 years old when I became a member of the Church. The Book of Mormon played a key role in my conversion. At the time, I was searching for new ideas that could explain the world around me. I remember my college professors taking very materialistic approaches in their teaching. I started to lean toward agnostic ideas about the existence of God.

One day I noticed a sky-blue book that a couple of missionaries had left in our home about six years before. It was the Book of Mormon. Along with the book, they had left a pamphlet about the Prophet Joseph Smith and also some instructions about how to pray to God.

I started reading the Book of Mormon. I was only a few verses into the book, in 1 Nephi, when I felt something different. I began to debate between my feelings and my intellect. So I decided to ask God in prayer.
Read More or Listen

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Book of Mormon Month - Day 15: A Sacred Work

A Sacred Work

One evening my missionary companion and I knocked on the door of a young man who was an international student studying at one of London’s many universities. He invited us in, and we explained that we were missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He seemed eager to learn more about the Restoration of the gospel, so we testified of the Prophet Joseph Smith and told him about a sacred book from our Heavenly Father called the Book of Mormon. We emphasized that it was sacred because it testifies of Jesus Christ.

We explained that he could know for himself of its truthfulness and offered to give him a copy. As I handed the Book of Mormon to him, he got up from his chair and left the room without saying a word. I held the Book of Mormon in my hand momentarily, and my companion and I looked at each other in puzzled silence, wondering what to do. I put the book down on the table.

We could see our young friend in the kitchen washing his hands and drying them on a fresh towel. He came back into the room and picked up the Book of Mormon from the table and simply said, “My people always wash their hands before they touch something sacred.” Tears came to my eyes as I watched this young man open the Book of Mormon for the first time and turn its sacred pages with his clean hands.
Alma taught that the scriptures are sacred and are preserved to bring souls to salvation. He declared to his son Helaman, “God has entrusted you with these things, which are sacred, which he has kept sacred, and also which he will keep and preserve for a wise purpose in him, that he may show forth his power unto future generations” (Alma 37:14).

I was sent on a mission to teach the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, yet I was the one being taught by this young man with his clean hands. In many cultures—including my own—it isn’t necessary to wash our hands before reading the scriptures, but his simple gesture of respect was a reverent and powerful reminder of the sacredness of the Book of Mormon.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Book of Mormon Month - Day 14: The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion

The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion

President Ezra Taft Benson
"The gift I am thinking of is more important than any of the inventions that have come out of the industrial and technological revolutions. This is a gift of greater value to mankind than even the many wonderful advances we have seen in modern medicine. It is of greater worth to mankind than the development of flight or space travel. I speak of the gift of the Book of Mormon, given to mankind 156 years ago."

Photograph of President Benson by
Busath Photography

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Book of Mormon Month - Day 13: Teachings for Our Day

The Book of Mormon is full of teachings for our day. Moroni saw our time in prophetic vision and wrote directly to us about what would happen. On Day 13, look around you as you read and notice how many of those prophecies are actually coming true.

Teachings for Our Day

We learn from ancient prophets that the Book of Mormon contains many “plain and precious things” that were preserved to instruct us in our day (see 1 Nephi 13:40; 19:3). These truths provide clarity and increased understanding of the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and help students of the Book of Mormon navigate through life’s challenges with hope and strength. In the following quotes, modern prophets and apostles testify of these important teachings.
Read More or Listen

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Book of Mormon Month - Day 12: If We Do Not Doubt

On Day 12, take a moment to read the exceptional account of a band of 2,000 young men which the Book of Mormon calls stripling warriors.

They're the original momma's boys!

If We Do Not Doubt

In the Book of Mormon we read about exemplary young men who were exceedingly valiant, courageous, and strong. “Yea, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him” (Alma 53:21). These faithful young men paid tribute to their mothers—their examples and teachers.

Read More or Listen

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Book of Mormon Month - Day 11: Columbus Prophesied in the Book of Mormon

On Day 11, we look back on the Day 10 celebration of Columbus Day in the United States of America.

Did you know that the voyage and work of Christopher Columbus was shown to the prophet Nephi in the Book of Mormon approximately 2,000 years before Columbus made his voyage?

10 And it came to pass that I looked and beheld many waters; and they divided the Gentiles from the seed of my brethren.
11 And it came to pass that the angel said unto me: Behold the wrath of God is upon the seed of thy brethren.
12 And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.

Today, Columbus is revered by some, yet reviled by others. Is criticism of the man warranted? I guess that depends on one's point of view, cultural history, and/or ethnic background. You can read more about how we might see a wider perspective of the interpretation of those events and their significance in our day.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Book of Mormon Month - Day 10: The Book of Mormon: Strengthening Our Faith in Jesus Christ

Day 10 and we're 1/3 of the way through our 30 day reading challenge. Again, don't worry if you're not matching the 17.1 pages per day to actually finish. Stop and smell the flowers in this great book of scripture. Today's topic is using the Book of Mormon to strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ.

The Book of Mormon: Strengthening Our Faith in Jesus Christ

Compiled from the teachings of prophets through several centuries, the Book of Mormon was written for a future time when a restoration of priesthood keys, along with a great gathering of the house of Israel, would prepare the world for the Savior’s return to the earth (see 2 Nephi 25; 27; 3 Nephi 21). Nephi described the sacred text as “the voice of one crying from the dust” (2 Nephi 33:13). Moroni declared: “Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me” (Mormon 8:35). Read more or Listen

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Book of Mormon Month - Days 8 and 9: How to Study the Book of Mormon

Day 8 came a bit late.
The sidebars were absent, you see.
Day 9 is now here,
we combine them in cheer
so you and I, caught up can be. :)

Day 8 - How to Study the Book of Mormon 

D. Todd Christofferson Twenty-five years ago, President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) detailed “three great reasons why Latter-day Saints should make the study of the Book of Mormon a lifetime pursuit.”1 The reasons were these:
  • First, the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion—the keystone of our witness of Jesus Christ, of our doctrine, and of our testimony.
  • Second, the Book of Mormon was written for our day.
  • Third, the Book of Mormon helps us draw nearer to God.
These reasons for studying the Book of Mormon also suggest some ways we might go about studying this unique scripture. Read More or Listen

Day 9 - Lehi’s Dream: Holding Fast to the Rod

The central feature in Lehi’s dream is the tree of life—a representation of “the love of God” (see 1 Nephi 11:21–22). “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Thus, the birth, life, and atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ are the greatest manifestations of God’s love for His children. As Nephi testified, this love is “most desirable above all things” and, as the angel in his vision declared, “most joyous to the soul” (1 Nephi 11:22–23; see also 1 Nephi 8:12, 15). Chapter 11 of 1 Nephi presents a detailed description of the tree of life as a symbol for the life, ministry, and sacrifice of the Savior—“the condescension of God” (1 Nephi 11:16).

Read More or Listen

Friday, October 7, 2011

Book of Mormon Month - Day 7: The Book of Mormon: A Witness with the Bible #bookofmormon

On Day 7, we will not rest from reading the scriptures. Nor will we wrest them to take only what we want to hear from them. We'll read by the light of God's knowledge.

The Book of Mormon: A Witness with the Bible

In harmony with the biblical law that “in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (2 Corinthians 13:1), both the Book of Mormon and the Bible testify of Jesus Christ and teach the principles of His gospel. Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that “scriptural witnesses authenticate each other. This concept was explained long ago when a prophet wrote that the Book of Mormon was ‘written for the intent that ye may believe [the Bible]; and if ye believe [the Bible] ye will believe [the Book of Mormon] also’ [Mormon 7:9]. Each book refers to the other. Each book stands as evidence that God lives and speaks to His children by revelation to His prophets.”1
Here is a list of fundamental doctrines taught in the Bible for which the Book of Mormon adds an additional witness. Read More or Listen

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Book of Mormon Month - Day 6: Who Wrote the Book of Mormon? #bookofmormon

You're now 6 Days into the challenge. Almost a whole week! Don't give up now!

Who Wrote the Book of Mormon?

Ancient prophets, historians, and leaders engraved their testimonies and history on golden plates. Later, the Prophet Joseph Smith, by the gift and power of God, translated an abridgment of those original plates. See how it all came together over centuries of pre-Columbian American civilization.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Book of Mormon Month - Day 5: Book of Mormon Time Line #bookofmormon

Hi there. It's now Day 5. If you're just finding out about Book of Mormon Month, where we challenge ourselves to read the Book of Mormon front to back in 30 days, but feel like you're too far behind, not to worry. Simply jump in and start reading.

Book of Mormon Time Line

Need more help piecing all the time elements of the Book of Mormon together? Here's a handy reference for that. Print it out and keep it near you when you read.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Book of Mormon Month - Day 4: The Story of the Book of Mormon #bookofmormon

So, now it's Day 4! Lots to learn today. Be sure to say a prayer before and after reading and ask Heavenly Father to help you understand and apply the scriptures in your life.

The Story of the Book of Mormon

What happens in the Book of Mormon? Use these pictures to learn about the prophets and stories in this marvelous book of scripture.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Book of Mormon Month - Day 3: What the Book of Mormon Teaches about the Love of God #bookofmormon

Day 3 is upon us! Time to get reading. If you're behind because you got sorta lazy, make sure to catch up. If you're behind because you mean to feast upon the words of Christ, then carry on at your own pace.

What the Book of Mormon Teaches about the Love of God

Most Christians are familiar with the attributes of Jesus Christ as reported in the Bible. They marvel at the love He demonstrated for the poor, the sick, and the downtrodden. Those who consider themselves His disciples also strive to emulate His example and follow His beloved Apostle’s exhortation: “Let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. … For God is love” (1 John 4:7–8). Read More or Listen