Continuing my brief and simplified explanation of the Book of Mormon – to address common misunderstandings – I have chosen to take this entry to address a question: Why the Book of Mormon? My simple answer to this one would be “Why not?” – but I think I need to explain.
To understand why we have the Book of Mormon, I feel it helps to go right back to basics.
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved”. (Acts 4:12)
“And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent”. (Mosiah 3:17)
These are just two examples – one from the Bible, one from the Book of Mormon – and throughout the scriptures, the message is clear. Salvation is only through the name of Christ, the Son of God. There is simply no other way that we can be saved. We are all sinners, and are unclean. The only way to return to the presence of God is through the atonement of Christ.
So now that’s clear, let’s look at the process through which we can be saved through Christ..
The Apostle Paul said (as recorded in Romans 10:13-15 & 17)
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? ..So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
I love these words because they are so clear and straightforward. Here Paul reminds us that salvation is through Christ and goes on to ask four important questions, which I will address briefly.
- How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?
- How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?
- How shall they hear without a preacher?
- How shall they preach except they be sent?
A man will not call on the name of Christ unless he believes in Christ, and he will not believe in Christ, unless he has heard of Christ. Take a Muslim for example. If this Muslim has never heard of Christ, then how would he believe in him? It doesn’t make sense. And how would he hear about Christ without the message being relayed to him e.g. through a preacher? a messenger?
It is simple logic. Why do we Christians believe in Christ today? – most likely because we have been taught the message by our parents, friends, or other individuals such as a teacher or pastor of some sort. Perhaps we stumbled on the message of the Gospel through literature? Perhaps even the scriptures? Would we believe in Christ if we knew nothing of him – had never heard of him? How would that affect our chances of attaining salvation through him? quite severely!
Throughout the history recorded in the Old Testament, God has shown how he revealed the message of Christ, and that was through his prophets. He would call a prophet e.g. Moses, and reveal his message to him, and command him to go and preach to the people. He did this to enable the people to return again to his presence – to enable them to believe in Christ, and thus by believing, be able to call on his named and be saved. Had he not revealed the gospel… if there were no prophets, and if we did not have the scriptures, how could we be saved?
As Paul said, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. We need the word of God.
Okay, have I lost you? – hope not. Allow me to link this back to the Book of Mormon, and to do that, let me take you through an example with the Bible. Let’s imagine for a moment, that a God loving people – who knew him and served him – were commanded by him to journey to China. That’s a pretty wild situation, but it’s just an example. If these God loving people went to China, how would they hear his word? It is important that they do, because otherwise, pretty quickly they would lose their way and wouldn’t know of Christ.
It is not unreasonable to suppose that perhaps God would treat these people the same way as he would have treated them had they remained in and around Israel. It is not unreasonable that he would call a prophet among them, after all, he did this continually throughout the Old Testament. The people (now in China) have the same need for a prophet as the people in Israel. So, God calls a prophet among them.
Now they have a prophet, is it unreasonable to suppose that this prophet might preach to the people? – of course he would. Could he write the teachings of God also? – umm, pretty sure God wouldn’t stop him. Again, this is quite normal behaviour of a prophet. Do you realise what happened here.. in our little example we now have the word of God (writings of his prophets) in China also!
Now that we have the word of God in China, would it be unreasonable for God to reveal these writings to the world? They are after all, his word revealed to us through his prophets. What would this other record be like? well, like the Bible of course. Teachings of Christ – the teachings that will enable the people of the world to hear of Christ, believe in him and call on his name. This is not unreasonable at all.
Too many people have chosen to limit God and say ‘we have the Bible’ – and that ‘is enough’. What if God had called prophets in other lands? These prophets would have been just as authoritative as his prophets (as recorded in the Bible) throughout the Middle East. Their words would have been just as authoritative too, and were God to reveal the records of the prophets, would we reply to him and say “no thank you, I already have the Bible”? – No? well that is exactly what many do with the Book of Mormon.
Taking you back to my example when I spoke of China, I can tell you that God did command a people to journey out from the lands that we typically associate with the Bible. These people under his direction journeyed to the American continent (the exact place is unknown, but generally assumed to be MesoAmerica). These people loved God, and his word was taught among them – by his prophets. These prophets recorded their writings, and their writings have been revealed to the world. This record is the Book of Mormon.
So going back to the initial question – Why the Book of Mormon? I reiterate, why not? It is simply another record of the writings of prophets of God. Like the Bible, it teaches of Christ. It describes the history and lives of these people in the land in which they lived, and through their experiences, we see the love of God and how he helped them. In simple terms (as I have said before) it is the same as the Bible – a record of God’s dealings with his people. The major difference is it is written by different prophets (to those recorded in the Bible) and the bulk of it occurs within another land. However, like the Bible, it is the word of God.
We don’t need there to be a ‘reason’ for us to accept the Book of Mormon. We accept it because of what it is – the word of God. We certainly shouldn’t reject it, saying that ‘we already have the Bible, and need no more of the word of God’. Within the New Testament, we have four ‘gospels’ – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Each re-tell the same story, but each differently. If we have the gospels of Matthew, Luke and John, do we really need Mark? probably not. After all, the other 3 are sufficient to teach us of Christ and enable us to call on his name. However, and regardless of this, we still find the gospel of Mark in the New Testament too! We accept it as the word of God.
Many Christians misunderstand the Book of Mormon. Some think we (Mormons) are replacing the Bible – we are not. Some think we believe the Bible is insufficient – we do not. We accept the Book of Mormon because God revealed it. He wants us to have it, to use it. It is his word.
Why the Book of Mormon? – because God gave it to the world.. and we ought to consider it on the same level as we do the Bible. It is scripture. Do not reject it.