The Book of Mormon: The Mormons’ Bible?

You know that book the Mormons read?

> Twilight?

No.  Try again.

> The Book of Mormon?

Yes, that’s the one.  How much do you know about it?

> It’s the Mormon version of the Bible.

Um, okay.  We need to talk.  This article is for you.

First, it’d be good to understand what the Bible is.  The Bible comes in two sections: the Old Testament and the New Testament.  I’ll use bullets to summarize as quickly as I can:

Old Testament

  • Begin date: “In the beginning…”
  • Moses writes about creation, Eden, the flood, the tower of Babel, Abraham, the establishment and exodus of Israel.
  • Law of Moses instituted for Israel.
  • Other prophets and historians write about Israelite conquests and generally the lineage history of the  house of Israel.
  • Stories of the Lord’s intervention, prophets foretell Israel’s captivity in Babylon.
  • Israel is taken captive by Babylon (around 600 BC), then eventually set free to rebuild; prophets foretell the coming of the Messiah.
  • End date: About 400 BC.

New Testament

  • Begin date: About 1 BC.
  • Jesus is born and hailed as the Messiah, he grows up and starts teaching and performing miracles.
  • Jesus is crucified for the world’s sins and is resurrected (33 AD); he establishes a Church on the shoulders of his Apostles.
  • An important Jew (Saul) hates this upstart Church and tries to destroy it; he is later visited by Jesus and becomes Paul, an important missionary.
  • Paul travels all over Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome teaching about Jesus; many NT books are letters to his followers.
  • Some writings from other Apostles (Peter, James, John, etc.).
  • Prophesies of the eventual return of the Messiah, Jesus.
  • End date: About 70 AD.

Mormons believe the teachings, visions, and prophecies in the Bible (both testaments) to be the word of God breathed to the prophets who served as scribes and mouthpieces for the Almighty.

> You’re kidding me.  Mormons read the Bible?  The same one I read?

Yup.  We English-speaking Mormons prefer the King James Version.

> So, how is the Book of Mormon any different?

Well, let’s examine the Book of Mormon.  It actually has two major sections, too.  The first one is the main story:


  • Begin date: About 600 BC.
  • Israel is about to be taken captive by the Babylonians (see Old Testament, above); the Lord tells a prophet named Lehi to get his family out before it happens.
  • They travel away from Jerusalem, through the desert, to the sea and build a ship.
  • The Lord brings them across oceans to the American continent (they probably land in Mexico or Guatemala).
  • Lehi’s family breaks apart into Nephites and Lamanites.
  • A lineage history of the Nephites, their kings and the wars with the Lamanites.
  • Prophesies of their future and of the coming Messiah.
  • Signs testify when the Messiah is born (a new star, 1 BC), and when he dies (earthquakes, tempests, volcanoes, 33 AD).
  • The resurrected Jesus arrives and shows crucifixion nail prints in his hands and feet, teaches the gospel, performs miracles, and sets up a Church.
  • Peace reigns for centuries.
  • Wickedness returns.  The Nephite dynasty is destroyed.
  • Mormon summarizes everything by inscribing this whole story on thin sheets of gold, bound in book form (about 400 AD).
  • Mormon gives the gold plates to his son, Moroni, who adds the Jaredite history, journeys to a hill in New York, and buries them in a stone box.
  • End date: About AD 421.


  • Begin date: about 3,000 BC
  • Jared and family are led by the Lord to leave the tower of Babel; they move out and build barges to float to the American continent (probably Mexico).
  • Jared’s brother sees visions of the future and foretells the coming of a Messiah.
  • Lineage history of Jared’s descendants; wars, kings, important events.
  • Jaredites turn wicked and destroy themselves.
  • Ether summarizes the account on metal plates, they are recovered by the Nephites, and added to the gold plates by Moroni.
  • End date: about 600 BC.

> So, wait.  That’s not even the Bible stories or anything.  Instead of Moses and Paul you’ve got Nephi and Jared and Moroni.

Yes.  It’s vital to see the distinction between the Bible and the Book of Mormon.  They are about two completely separate groups of peoples on opposite sides of the globe.  That’s the main difference.  To put it simply:

Bible = Middle East

Book of Mormon = America

> But you mentioned Jesus.  Is that the same Jesus as in the Bible?  How does he show up in America?

Same Jesus, born in Bethlehem, raised in Nazareth: the Son of God.  After he died and was resurrected, he appeared to the peoples of the Book of Mormon.

> I heard that the Book of Mormon replaces the Bible, and I’m not comfortable with that idea.

They are two very different accounts of separate peoples.  They’re like cake and ice cream.  Neither one is meant to replace the other.  In fact, they are enhanced when used together.  Give me both!

> Okay, but wouldn’t the Bible have mentioned something about the Book of Mormon?

It does!  The Lord told the Bible prophet Ezekiel that the stick of Judah (the Bible) and the stick of Joseph (the Book of Mormon) will be joined together “and they shall become one in thine hand” (Ezekiel 37:16-17).  Also, Jesus Christ taught the disciples that he had other sheep, “which are not of this fold” whom he intended to visit (John 10:16).

In the Book of Mormon, an angel explained to Nephi that “These last records [the Book of Mormon] . . . shall establish the truth of the first [the Bible] . . . and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved” (1 Nephi 13:40).

What they have in common is their devotion to the Savior of all men.  Jesus is the long-foretold Messiah.  We may be saved from our sins and crimes and from death itself through His holy name.  These books of scripture tell us how we can receive this precious gift.  I recommend you read both.  You may order a free copy of each from (the official Church website).

> Alright.  I’m clicking on that link right now!

Was Joseph Smith a Prophet?


Joseph Smith is a very divisive figure in American religion–to found a church is one thing, but to have God and Jesus Christ appear to you is quite another.  Joseph Smith has been maligned time and time again, but his story, his life, and the events surrounding God calling him to be a prophet are not absurd, rather it is all congruent with how God has called a prophet and spoken to his children in all ages of the world.

The crux of any claim or statement that attempts to malign or discredit a Mormon’s belief, or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in general, originates in the validity of Joseph Smith’s testimony of The Father and The Son coming to visit him (Please see Joseph Smith History 1:13-20).  Either They did in fact visit him, or They didn’t.   It is not my wish to convince you that Joseph Smith was God’s prophet, rather it is my hope that you will see that Joseph Smith meets the qualifications of a prophet as found in the Bible.  I urge you to ponder these points as you read them, and please do so with an open mind and heart.


  1. According to the Bible, God has always led His church and people through a prophet.  “Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7, emphasis added).  This doctrine of governing the affairs of the church through a prophet was reaffirmed when Christ established the new covenant and built His church upon prophets and apostles, Jesus, Himself, being the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2:19-22).  This is shown clearly by Christ giving Peter the keys of the kingdom, or the right to direct the affairs of Christ’s church, when Christ himself was not on the earth (Matthew 16:18-19).  Joseph Smith received instructions from Jesus Christ on how to govern His church, and these were compiled into what is now known as the Doctrine and Covenants.
  2. Prophets have always had direct authority from God to act in His name.  They did not just “feel” that they were called of God, they were actually given this right by either God Himself, or by another who could trace his authority back to God.  As clear example of this, before Aaron could officiate in the ordinances of the tabernacle, he was anointed and given the authority to do so by Moses who was a holder of this priesthood.  This same pattern of conferring the priesthood is still employed today in Jesus Christ’s church.  Furthermore,  this practice is in accordance with what Paul teaches the Hebrews, “No man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron” (Hebrew 5:4).  John the Baptist who held the right to administer baptism for the remission of sins visited Joseph Smith in May 1829 and gave this authority to Joseph Smith (D&C 13:1 and section heading); furthermore, Peter, James, and John, Christ’s head apostles, came to Joseph and gave to him the authority to govern Christ’s church shortly after John the Baptist visited Joseph (D&C 27:7-8, 12).
  3. Prophets have always written down their revelations to be handed down to the future generations.  Their writings, however, weren’t to be intended as the end of all revelation (and no where in the Bible does it say there will be no more revelation).  Thus, we now have the Bible–it is the compilation of some 4000 years of God’s revelations and teachings.  Once again, this has been the pattern and will continue to the pattern.  Through Joseph Smith came The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price.  These are physical evidences that God not only spoke to those of his children in Israel and the regions round about, but to others on a different continent and continues to speak to us today through prophets.
  4. Peter himself prophesied that before Christ would come again, all things would be restored (Acts 3:19-21).  Paul taught of a dispensation of the fulness of times when all things would come together (Ephesians 1:10) and he also taught that before the second coming of Jesus Christ there would come a falling away, or a turning from the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:3; 2 Timothy 4:3-4).  Furthermore, there is evidence from the New Testament that this falling away was already beginning to happen (Acts 20:29-31; 1 Corinthians 11:18; 2 Timothy 1:15; 1 John 2:18-19).  This restoration of all things began with Joseph Smith being visited by The Father and The Son.
  5. God has always had only one church that He personally endorses.  Paul taught this to the Ephesians (Ephesians 4:5) and it is clear that Jesus Christ (Jehovah) was leading only one house of Israel.  As another example, if Jesus Christ is the head of multiple churches, then why was Paul not content with letting the wolves enter the flock and lead them astray?  Why was he so concerned that the doctrine is being corrupted and changed by others?  This further underscores that Christ leads only one church.  Yes, there are many good churches who do many good things in Christ’s name and sincerely strive to do what Christ taught-they have many pieces, but not the whole pie.  Through Joseph Smith, Christ declared, “And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually–” (D&C 1:30, italics added).
  6. A prophet of God does not doubt who God is–His character and attributes, because he knows God personally.  This pattern was established with Adam and has been reaffirmed over and over again down through history.  Joseph Smith and his prophetic calling is not out of context, rather it fits perfectly with the pattern that has long been established for God’s calling of a prophet.  He did not doubt if they came or what they looked like, he knew who it was that came to him in the spring of 1820.  He firmly declared the true character of God and His Son, Jesus Christ from that spring day until he gave his life.
  7. The last point is that a prophet giving his life for the Gospel of Jesus Christ is something that has frequently occurred throughout the course of time.  Joseph Smith was true to his testimony–of the restoration of the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ–to his death.   There will always be those that scoff and point the finger of scorn towards Joseph Smith.  There will always be those who try to lay subtle traps and search for supposed loop holes in the teachings and doctrine that Jesus Christ gave to the world through him.  But just as the prophets of old, Joseph Smith’s blood was shed as a final testimony of the validity of Jesus Christ restoring His church and authority once more.  How can a man suffer what he suffered–beatings, being tarred and feathered, whippings, persecution wherever he went, being arrested multiple times and being incarcerated in the worst of circumstances, being rejected and maligned by even some of his closest associates, seeing his fellow disciples be beaten, driven from their homes multiple times, and suffering all manner of cruelty, and then to finally lay down his life, and all the time be living a lie? (Please see Elder Jeffrey Holland’s most recent General Conference address, text and on YouTube.)

I wish to emphasize that it cannot be proven empirically by me or any other human being that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.  There will always be those who want this type of proof, but God does not work this way.  He teaches his children truth when they are willing to hear it and when they are willing to believe, and act accordingly.  God does not confirm his words through complex philosophical methods, rather through the undeniable feelings of the Holy Ghost, a burning in the heart so to speak.  In this way, I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God.  I cannot deny those feelings–I know it and I know that God knows I know.  You, too, are free to embrace the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and you are free to accept Joseph Smith as one of God’s prophets.  This will take belief and action, pondering and sincere prayer, but the answers will come.  Please feel free to contact me through the question box by leaving your e-mail address, or by contacting the missionaries of our church through the link on the side bar of our website.

The Prophet Joseph Smith- Alvin Gittins

Open Book Test

Open bookIn August, I arrived in Des Moines, for medical school.  Since I’ve been here, I’ve had a test just about every week.  They’ve sure kept me busy and I’m always studying for the next exam.  One morning as I was about to run out the door to school I noticed a card on my dresser.  It was a picture of the scriptures with a little saying, “Life is an open book test.  Find your answers in the scriptures.”  And then it quoted from 2 Nephi in the Book of Mormon.

I thought about that saying all day.  I’ve always liked open book tests in school.  If you were ever unsure of an answer, you could flip through the pages and find it.  It also seemed that professors only gave open book tests on the hardest of materials.

Life truly is a test.  We are tested every day, to see if we are willing to choose Christ and follow him.  He has given us the scriptures to show us the answers for our life’s test.

The Fall of Adam and Eve

garden-of-edenIn terms of doctrinal subjects, the case of Adam and Eve can be one of the more difficult to explain and understand.  The Biblical story can seem confusing.  I have found myself in the past studying this complex and important part of the Plan of Salvation because I plainly did not understand it.  The ‘whys’ didn’t seem to line up.  But with some time, I began to understand the importance and need for this event.

Before the fall, there was the creation of Earth.  Before that, there was a council.  Our Heavenly Father presented a plan for us to progress from our spiritual state to one where we could be like Him.  For this to be accomplished, we needed to come to Earth and gain a body, experience life, and learn to use the agency given us to submit our will to His through doing all that he would command us to do (Abraham 3:24-25).  This plan encompassed all these things.  God knew what would happen on Earth.  He knew that Adam and Eve would eat the forbidden fruit and would have to leave His presence, He knew of wars among His children, He knew of the pain and suffering they would pass through and He knew that left alone, His children could never return to Him.  That is precisely why the Atonement of Jesus Christ is the key part of this plan.  God planned that once the fall of Adam and Eve occurred, He would teach them about the Atonement so that they could live and grow in spite of being separated from God.

Once all the future of the Earth was planned according to God’s power, He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to create the Earth.  And create it, He did (Ephesians 3:9).  He created it beautifully and perfectly and placed the plants, animals, and man there.  Once Adam and Eve were there, God commanded them to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28).  Furthermore, they were told that they could eat of any plant or tree in the Garden of Eden, except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  God told them that if they were to eat of this tree that they would die (Moses 3:17), however He gave to them agency and expressly told them that it was given to them to choose.  Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden in a state of innocence, not knowing good or evil, nor did they know what happiness or sadness were (Moses 5:11). They existed, and little more.

The book of Moses tells us that Satan did not know the mind of God (Moses 4:6) and wanted to destroy God’s plan for his children.  Through a serpent, he told Eve that she ought to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil so that her eyes could be opened, to know good from evil (Moses 4:11).  Now, eating this fruit was something that God had warned them against because of the consequences.  Eating this fruit would cause them to become mortal and therefore imperfect.  They would eventually die.  Mortal man, stained with his own sins, cannot withstand the presence of God in a permanent setting, so this also separated them from God.  God never allows us to make decisions that separate us from Him without first warning us, hence the commandment He gave Adam and Eve.

Eve saw that the result of knowing good from evil was indeed a desirable thing so being deceived by Satan, she ate the fruit.  As evidenced by Adam’s confession to God a few verses later (Moses 4:18, Genesis 3:12), Adam was commanded to remain with Eve.  Once Eve had eaten the fruit, Adam saw that he must either partake of the fruit or be separated from Eve.  It is a good thing that he chose the first or none of us would be here.

Adam and Eve’s world changed then.  It no longer was a paradise that grew all sorts of foods without effort.  It became a place where Adam and Eve had to work to live.  Aside from being a reference to the separation of God from the world, it provided an environment where mankind had to work, be humble towards God and rely on His mercies.  According to the plan, Adam learned the gospel of Jesus Christ and knew that the Atonement was coming.  He taught his children this truth and rejoiced in the knowledge of his Lord and Savior.

While the Fall of Adam and Eve may seem like a tragic event, it isn’t.  It’s true that they transgressed the commandments of God, but that event provided an opportunity for all of the spirit children of God to come to a place to receive a body and have the opportunity to become like God himself if they chose to do so.  Even though Adam and Eve disobeyed, God is merciful.  He provided a way for them to be forgiven of that transgression through His Son–the only sinless person who has or ever will live on this earth.  Likewise, all of the posterity of Adam and Eve, us, have claim upon this wonderful opportunity of forgiveness of sin through Jesus Christ if we will choose to receive it into our lives.

Baptisms for the Dead

Q. What happens to people who die without being taught/accepting baptism in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

Heavenly Father has prepared another chance for them to hear the gospel and choose to accept or reject it.

The official Church website explains:  “Jesus Christ taught that baptism is essential to the salvation of all who have lived on earth (see John 3:5)  Many people, however, have died without being baptized.  Others were baptized without proper authority.  Because God is merciful, He has prepared a way for all people to receive the blessings of baptism.  By performing proxy baptisms in behalf of those who have died, Church members offer these blessings to deceased ancestors.  Individuals can then choose to accept or reject what has been done in their behalf.”

Baptism is the first ordinance of the gospel.  It is so important that even Jesus Christ asked to be baptized in order to fulfill all righteousness.  Because Heavenly Father desires for us all to return to Him, He has made it possible for the dead to have the same opportunities as the living through the temple ordinances.

Some have the misconception that this temple work forces the deceased persons into covenants against their will.  This is entirely false.  All spirits maintain their free will after death and can opt to accept or refuse the ordinance of baptism.  When a living person is baptized and receives the Gift of the Holy Ghost in behalf of a deceased person, it is only to give the deceased person the opportunity – the option of redemption. also reveals:  “Many in the spirit world embrace the gospel. However, they cannot receive priesthood ordinances for themselves because they do not have physical bodies. In holy temples, we have the privilege of receiving ordinances in their behalf. These ordinances include baptism, confirmation, Melchizedek Priesthood ordination (for men), the endowment, the marriage sealing, and the sealing of children to parents. The Lord revealed this work to the Prophet Joseph Smith, restoring a practice that had been revealed to Christians shortly after the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 15:29).

Part of the mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is to Redeem the Dead.  Because of this, we participate in genealogy/family history work to find our ancestors who were not able to hear and accept the gospel while on earth.  Many in my family are involved in this work because of our desire to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to their fathers as mentioned at the very end of the old testament.

I love going to the temple.  There is such a special feeling that accompanies me when I’m in the House of the Lord.  Doing the physical ordinances for my ancestors who have passed on is an amazing experience because I know that many of them have been waiting for hundreds of years to finally have their baptism performed.  Being a part of their spiritual progression is remarkable.  I know that God is merciful and mindful of each of us because He gives everyone a fair chance at accepting or rejecting the message of the gospel.