December 9th, 2006

Embracing the Book of Mormon

BoM

The other night I transcribed a pamphlet by W. Cleon Skousen titled “Do You Really Want the Rest of the Book of Mormon?” If anybody would like the text let me know and I’ll send you a link (I’m not going to link it on my site since I don’t have permission to redistribute it). The following section of the pamphlet struck me as interesting:

Two elements are required to make a breakthrough in Book of Mormon study. First of all, the text of the Book of Mormon must be perceived as highly interesting and inspiriting communications from God, so that it will command our attention.

Second, there needs to be a plan involving thousands of Church members who are consistently studying the Book of Mormon, digging out its hidden treasures and making it an integral part of our daily lives.

That plan was provided by our Prophet last year:

We studied the Book of Mormon in Sunday School this past year. Nonetheless I offer a challenge to members of the Church throughout the world and to our friends everywhere to read or reread the Book of Mormon. If you will read a bit more than one and one-half chapters a day, you will be able to finish the book before the end of this year. Very near the end of its 239 chapters, you will find a challenge issued by the prophet Moroni as he completed his record nearly 16 centuries ago. Said he:

“And I exhort you to remember these things; for the time speedily cometh that ye shall know that I lie not, for ye shall see me at the bar of God; and the Lord God will say unto you: Did I not declare my words unto you, which were written by this man, like as one crying from the dead, yea, even as one speaking out of the dust? . . .

“And God shall show unto you, that that which I have written is true” (Moroni 10:27, 29).

Without reservation I promise you that if each of you will observe this simple program, regardless of how many times you previously may have read the Book of Mormon, there will come into your lives and into your homes an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God.

The Church has nearly 12 million members. If you estimate that one-half of those are active, that leaves us 6 million members of the Church who heard the Prophet’s challenge.

Eight months after issuing the call, President Hinckley said in General Conference:

Last year I asked members of the Church throughout the world to again read the Book of Mormon. Thousands, even hundreds of thousands, responded to that challenge.

Likewise, President Monson said in the most recent General Conferece:

In 2005, hundreds of thousands of Latter-day Saints accepted President Gordon B. Hinckley’s challenge to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year. I do believe December of 2005 would set an all-time record for hours devoted to meeting the challenge on time. We were blessed when we completed the task; our testimonies were strengthened, our knowledge increased. I would encourage all of us to continue to read and study the scriptures, that we might understand them and apply in our lives the lessons we find there.

I’m sure some research and statistical analysis was done into the subject, and here we have the report: hundreds of thousands of people obeyed President Hinckley’s challenge. Let’s be generous and assume that implies 900,000. Even so, that’s less than 10% of the entire Church membership, and 15% of all active members. Are so few willing to obey the Prophet’s voice? What happens when the Prophet begins to ask harder things of us?

Even out of that 10-15% who took the Challenge, how many of those people are still vigorously reading the Book of Mormon, “that we might understand them and apply in our lives the lessons we find there”, as President Monson suggests? How many of us have made such a study a daily habit?

W. Cleon Skousen, in the above-mentioned pamphlet (printed in 2000) suggests that we are not going to receive the rest of the Book of Mormon until we as a Church embrace the book to end the condemnation upon us. Additionally, Skousen proposes (with evidence to back his claim) that the extra plates contain instructions on how to set up a Zion society. If this is true, we clearly need these plates and their teachings before the coming of Christ, so that we will know how best to set up the New Jerusalem.

Whether our aim is to remove the condemnation, becoming worthy of the additional plates, or simply to apply its awesome lessons to our own lives, it is my opinion that we all can do better at integrating the Book of Mormon into our lives. If we really believe it was written for our day, wouldn’t we all benefit from seeking within its pages a application to current events? President Hinckley thinks so:

[I]n its descriptions of the problems of today’s society, it is as current as the morning newspaper and much more definitive, inspired, and inspiring concerning the solutions of those problems.

I love the Book of Mormon. Within its teachings I have found direct application to my own life as well as events taking place today. Studying its background and contents I have received a strong witness that it is true. Others may disagree and disbelieve, and that is their choice. My testimony, however, like President Hinckley’s, is “A Testimony Vibrant and True”. This book is true, and the peoples of the Earth would greatly benefit by reading its teachings and learning more of Christ, of whom the book primarily testifies.

11 Responses to “Embracing the Book of Mormon”

  1. Richard K Miller
    December 9, 2006 at 1:44 pm #

    I like that it doesn’t really matter what I read in the Book of Mormon as long as I read something. The book has the powerful effect of bringing the Holy Spirit into my life in a way I wouldn’t otherwise have, and that brings answers and comfort.

  2. Naiah Earhart
    December 10, 2006 at 9:51 am #

    Presdient Hinckley’s challenge had a great deal to do with my coming back to church. It was a pivotal point in my life, my husband’s life, and the lives of our children. I’ll have to blog more specifically about that; it’s too much for a comment. Suffice it to say that it was nothing short of an intensely personal miracle for my family and I, and President Hinckley’s words, of which I was unaware, were fulfilled in our home, in every whit. Promises of prophets are powerful. I am so grateful for that one, specifically. It saddens me that the ample blessings from it were confined to so few.

    It’s easy to forget the sealed plates, and be all “A Bible Book of Mormon! A Bible Book of Mormon! We have got a Bible Book of Mormon, and there cannot be any more Bible Book of Mormon.” You’re right, though; we have to do right by what we have before we can be given more…

  3. Anon
    December 10, 2006 at 11:30 am #

    Very interesting post. I, too, find that the Book of Mormon has helped me in all aspects and all stages of my life: teenager, college student, missionary, wife and mother, senior missionary, grandmother. More than perhaps anything else, it has helped me to center my life on Christ.

  4. fontor
    December 10, 2006 at 6:03 pm #

    I find the publication of more ‘Book of Mormon’ material to be a very unlikely scenario. Why on earth would the Church ever release any more of (what purports to be) the Book of Mormon? The Church is going along well, it’s pretty much self-sustaining. The missionaries go out, the new members come in, things are smooth.

    Then you release some new scripture, and it’s upheaval time. It would make some claims about ancient America, and some of those claims would naturally come under intense scrutiny. It’d be a new generation of controversial literature.

    Also, some members would undoubtably go through a ‘the old stuff was better than the new stuff’ thing; it would test the membership’s ability to accept new scripture, which could only lead to lower membership, not higher. Perhaps you could argue that this could have an eventual strengthening effect, but is lower membership an outcome that Church administrators would relish?

    Examine the trajectory. Over the course of the Church’s history, the publishing curve has been toward less — way less — not more. Why would anyone tamper with a successful formula by releasing new material? It’s not going to happen.

    An extra dimension, which I imagine may offend, but here goes: I hold the opinion that the Book of Mormon has a human origin. That would mean that if there’s more Book of Mormon writings, someone would have to sit down and write more. I don’t think the administrators of the Church are consciously evil enough to carry out such a dishonest act.

  5. Connor
    December 10, 2006 at 6:20 pm #

    Why on earth would the Church ever release any more of (what purports to be) the Book of Mormon?

    Because God said so. [2] :)

    Then you release some new scripture, and it’s upheaval time.

    So? Ever heard of the parable of the tares and wheat? Walking on eggshells, being politically correct, and making sure everybody feels good has never been what the gospel of Jesus Christ is about. Indeed, the word of God is the great two-edged sword that divideth asunder, not a big bowl of fluffy marshmallows to make everybody feel good.

    Over the course of the Church’s history, the publishing curve has been toward less — way less — not more. Why would anyone tamper with a successful formula by releasing new material?

    Again, because God said so. :) It’s his formula to begin with, so who better to do so?

    It’s not going to happen.

    Time will tell which one of us is right! You claim with apparent certainty that it won’t happen, while I claim the opposite. Guess that’s the nature of differing opinions.

    I hold the opinion that the Book of Mormon has a human origin. That would mean that if there’s more Book of Mormon writings, someone would have to sit down and write more. I don’t think the administrators of the Church are consciously evil enough to carry out such a dishonest act.

    Again, we have differing opinions. I believe that the Book of Mormon has a divine origin, further testified by the three and eight witnesses who witnessed and testified of the book’s source, the gold plates, part of which were sealed, containing the remainder of which we were discussing. After Joseph’s translation, the plates were returned to Moroni, presumably to be returned for translation when we are granted the opportunity to have the sealed portion.

  6. fontor
    December 10, 2006 at 7:53 pm #

    Indeed, we come from differing viewpoints! :)

    Time will tell which one of us is right! You claim with apparent certainty that it won’t happen, while I claim the opposite.

    Just a speculation, really. I’m wary of certainty, even on scientific matters, which this isn’t.

    I actually hope I’m wrong on this one, because I’d be interested to see what the new scripture would be like. And while many members would welcome the new scripture (indeed, accept it unblinkingly), I do think it would constitute a bit of a test for the membership in some ways. And then in a few years, it would even out as the new material became accepted.

    BTW, Have you ever thought that Skousen was… you know… sort of ‘out there’?

  7. Paul
    December 10, 2006 at 9:13 pm #

    Define “out there”.
    Personally I wouldnt define someones views or teachings “out there” just because it was unpopular, but rather based on the merits and of the message and to some degree integrity.
    My concern is that we are indeed slothful servants if we need to be prompted by the prophet to read. I hope I personally can improve in my study. A strong desire for the interesting material is essential. As I learn more it becomes more interesting on many levels. The Book of Mormon clearly shows the history of civilizations and the behavior and nature of man.

  8. Connor
    December 10, 2006 at 11:18 pm #

    fontor,

    I do think it would constitute a bit of a test for the membership in some ways.

    I do as well. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The coming forth of the Book of Mormon was and has been a test for many people, who claim (as the scripture Naiah cited points out) that they’re fine with they already have, and see no need for me. I’m sure that when the sealed portion is revealed, we’ll hear the same thing from differing sources.

    Have you ever thought that Skousen was… you know… sort of ‘out there’?

    Nope. I admire what a great man Skousen was, and love his teachings. He’s wasn’t a Prophet or apostle and hence speaks without authority, but doesn’t make his teachings and organized thoughts any less valid. I’ve loved what I’ve read of his.

    Paul,

    My concern is that we are indeed slothful servants if we need to be prompted by the prophet to read.

    I agree. One would hope that the Church membership, and people in general, would be proactive enough to make serious scripture study a regular part of their daily life. Alas, this is not the case. Many people are preoccupied with less important trivialities and so push their spiritual studies down the priority list. I’ve been culpable of this before, and still am at times. I think there is room for improvement for each of us. That’s why we have Prophets to encourage and prompt us to do better.

  9. Bookslinger
    January 14, 2007 at 8:40 pm #

    There is also much spiritual power associated with giving out copies fo the Book of Mormon. Mere possession, coupled with the desire and intent to give it away, opens the windows of heaven, and creates oportunities to do so. And when a believer goes out and creates opportunities, those acts are rewarded by the Lord who then provides even more opportunities in response.

    Excuse me for being a one-note-Johnny, but I can personally testify to the above, and have documented many such occurances at my blog, Flooding the Earth with the Book of Mormon.

  10. Joe
    December 26, 2007 at 1:39 am #

    Very interesting speculation about how, when and why the LDS movement will see more of the Book of Mormon. The Church of Jesus Christ based in Pennsylvania has some particular speculations on this topic.

    Apparently, amoung other things Sidney Rigdon thinks that the Salt Lake church, and maybe other factions in the LDS movement is wrong about who the ‘choice seer’ is. They are apparently waiting for the choice seer, and also for additions to the Book of Mormon.

    Its kind of strange, but I asked God to help me over some personal matter. I wasn’t even thinking of the LDS god, but I seemed to have been helped immensely. Since that time a friend has been asking me a lot of questions about the LDS faith, as I used to be involved. I felt somewhat annoyed because I wasn’t particularly interested in having a discussion, but some questions made me curious. I started to look up somethings and that is when I found the ‘choice seer’ comments by Sidney Rigdon. There was something about his comments, and especially about reading the text of the Bom Directly that I found very unsettling. I had very severe insomnia that night. Its also consumed much of my thought, and I feel very distracted.

    I feel that I have had some personal revelation that I would be involved in the process of bringing the contents of the rest of the plates to the world. I wrote my impressions down, as I felt inspired to do so. Part of my impressions had to do with some of the contents. I honestly had no idea what other people thought it might contain. Curiously there is an amazing degree of agreement with what I read above and what I wrote down.

    I am still doing some research about some of the rest of my impressions. I was honestly hoping that I would quickly find that these impressions were just that, impressions. But so far, they validate, at least about some of the contents of the new additions to the BOM.

    The other parts of my impression, I will really have to confirm. I think these will be easier to dismiss, as they don’t seem to fit conventional ideas about the usual church process of bringing about new scripture. My impression was that the LDS church would actually NOT welcome its contents, because of some commonly held ideas which have crept into the LDS faith. Cultural ideas which do not have a foundation in scripture. So this addition would come outside of any current lds organization. Thats the part that is really quite skeptical for me. It doesn’t sound right on a number of levels. For one I don’t feel like I am the best candidate for the job, second its outside of the usual process. Doesn’t it make sense that it would go to one of the leaders of one of the LDS factions?

  11. Joe
    December 30, 2007 at 5:02 pm #

    Isn’t the actual records more of the PLATES? Isn’t it just LDS culture that states it as the Book of Mormon? The cultural naming could limit the posibilites and understanding of that record.

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