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!

The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ

In 1830, a young man named Joseph Smith published a book that he claimed was sent from God.  That book, the Book of Mormon, contained teachings and prophecies centered on Jesus Christ.  It was written for the purpose of “convincing Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting Himself to all nations” (Title Page).  It continues to be published to this day and is distributed worldwide in every major language.  To me, the Book of Mormon adds an extraordinary amount of spirituality, peace, and insight to my life.  It is through the Book of Mormon that I came to understand more clearly the Bible and the role of Jesus Christ.

The Book of Mormon is about a people who left Jerusalem and lost their connection to the prophets of the Bible that lived there.  In order to teach this separate people, God called prophets among them.  Through their history, each wrote down their own experiences, prophecies and sermons.  All the writings were condensed and compiled  into a single volume a thousand years later by a prophet named Mormon.  That volume, written on gold plates, was buried anciently and retrieved by Joseph Smith by commandment of God.  He translated the work though the power of God into English and worked to distribute the book to as many of God’s children as would receive it.

It is through the Book of Mormon that we can more clearly see that Jesus Christ has been known to all of His followers, no matter where or when.  The power of the Book of Mormon comes from its witness that Jesus is the savior and redeemer of the world.  That witness is given by every one of the prophets in the Book of Mormon.  One of those prophets, named Nephi, expressed his reason for writing of Christ.

And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophecy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins (2 Nephi 25:26).

Nephi’s brother, Jacob, expressed similar feelings.  “For this intent have we written these things, that they may know that we knew of Christ, and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming; and not only we ourselves had a hope of his glory, but also all the holy prophets which were before us” (Jacob 4:4).

With such a purpose of this book, it is important to understand clear what it is.  I’ve seen that some people refer to our scriptures as the Mormon Bible.  This term is confusing because it implies that the Book of Mormon replaces the Holy Bible, which it doesn’t.  We believe in and study the Holy Bible (in English, we usually read the King James version) along with the Book of Mormon.  The two are inseparably combined and go hand in hand.  With both of these resources available, a greater clarity of the scriptures can be understood by those willing to study it out.

For example, in the gospel of Matthew we read that Christ went to John the baptist to be baptized.  John realized that if there was anyone ever who never needed baptism for remission of sins, it was Jesus.  Yet Jesus was supposed to be baptized, saying, “Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15).  What exactly does it mean “to fulfill all righteousness”?  A prophet from the Book of Mormon explains it for us: “And now, I would ask of you, my beloved brethren, wherein the Lamb of God did fulfil all righteousness in being baptized by water?  Know ye not that he was holy? But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments” (2 Nephi 31:6-7).  This is just a single example of many such topics.  We learn about Christ’s sacrifice and suffering, the priesthood, faith, the purpose of the law and many others in this book.

The Book of Mormon also teaches us that a testimony of Jesus Christ will protect us.  It demonstrates very vividly the promise that the Lord has made to His people as He said, “If ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper in the land, but inasmuch as ye do not these things, ye shall be swept off the face of the land.” (See 2 Nephi 1:9-11)  This seems to be the overarching theme that is shown by periods of prosperity followed by periods of war and famine, ending ultimately in the complete destruction of a people that had fully rejected Christ in their lives.

In short, every single prophet taught the people about Christ, His mission on earth, His atonement and our eternal indebtedness to Him.  They were taught to humble themselves before Him, to learn of Him, to pray to Him, to do His will, and above all, to be as He is.  We too can learn the lessons the people of the Book of Mormon were taught, with the added benefit of perspective.  Consequences of embracing or leaving behind the gospel of Christ are put in plain view in scripture.

Any way you look at it, the Book of Mormon is phenomenal.  In just over 500 pages, a history of a people, spanning about a thousand years, is presented.  It is complete with personal stories of its authors, societal issues of an ancient people and above all, prophecy after prophecy and principle after principle relating to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  If you have not yet read it, please do so at your first possible chance.

“Hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, . . . and they teach all men that they should do good.  And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye—for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day.” 2 Nephi 33:10-11

See also: Safety for the Soul by Jeffrey R. Holland

What is your great question of the soul?

I read an interesting quote the other day, about how people in our church “need to know how to use the Book of Mormon to arouse mankind’s interest in studying it, and they need to show how it answers the great questions of the soul” (Ezra Benson).

That quote made me think: what are the great questions of the soul? I thought of several and I want to show you how the Book of Mormon answers them. Many of the questions I thought of are below, along with a specific passage in the Book of Mormon to help answer that question. There are many more questions and many more passages, but this is just a small glimpse into the book I love so much. I hope this helps some of you orient yourselves to the Book of Mormon, which has helped me answer my own soul’s greatest question.

Is there a god? (2 Nephi 2:14; Alma 30:43-44)

If so, how can I know? (Alma 22:16-18)

What is God like? (2 Nephi 26:23-24, 33, 27:23)

Does life have a purpose? (Alma 42)

Can I know that purpose? (Mormon 9:21, 27-28)

Is there life after death? (Alma 11:45, Alma 40)

I know that although this site is targeted to people who want to know more about what Mormons believe, it is frequently visited by members of our church. I encourage all of you who have read this far to leave a comment in this section. Tell about a great question of your soul, or simply ask it here. If you have found your answer in the Book of Mormon, put the scriptures that helped you. If you know of any scriptures to help anybody out, put them there. We can all gain something from this experience if you share your thoughts in the comments right now, and we need your contribution.

Missionaries Knock On Your Door: What to Expect

You have probably already met a couple of LDS missionaries.  They’re the young men in dark suits and bicycle helmets, or the young ladies wearing skirts; they all have black name tags.  Maybe it was at your front door (or your back door, if you live in Wisconsin), or it could have been on the street, or a gas station, or at a friend’s house.  They waste no time searching for people to declare the gospel to.

Odds are, you didn’t hear their message.  Maybe you were in the middle of repairing your truck, or you were in a bad mood from a long day at the office, or you thought they were Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Could be you were curious of what they had to say, but didn’t want to let on.  Mostly, you didn’t know what to expect.

It’s understandable.  I hate being blindsided by unexpected surprises; not knowing what’s coming or how to control it.  Missionaries approaching you out of the blue is the epitome of being caught unaware.  My hope with this article is 1) to teach you what you can reasonably expect from these young men and women and 2) to give you some ideas of how to act the next time they arrive.

The Greeting

A missionary’s purpose is to share a vital message with you; it’s so important that they dedicate two years of their lives on their own dimes to come present it to you and your neighbors.  When they are new to being a missionary, they learn quickly how important trust is.  In order for their message to change lives, it must first be heard; for the message to be heard requires a person’s trust.  Establishing trust within 15 seconds at a complete stranger’s doorstep is a truly daunting feat!

From my own experience, I can testify that most missionaries are trustworthy.  They are typically honest, clean, kind, and very respectful of other’s beliefs.  It’s difficult to establish all of this in the first few moments of introduction, but they will try.  They will shake your hand,  introduce themselves as representatives of the LDS Church, give their names with a smile, and ask to be invited inside for a discussion.  The hope is that you will see or feel in them some spark of goodness that will persuade you to give them just one fair hearing.  Sometimes it happens, often it doesn’t.

Imagine that you are at this moment of decision: consider your options.  If you are like me, your gut will tell you to avoid the hassle, avoid the awkwardness of meeting new people and turn them away.  But, if you had a few minutes to weigh the consequences, your sense of adventure might say, “What the heck!  They’re no threat; I’ll listen to ’em.  I can TiVo American Gladiators tonight.”

I hope that wherever you are, you will decide right now to invite them in next time.  Give them a chance.  If not, at least be civil.  A polite “No, thank you” is exactly as effective as a tirade of verbal abuse at keeping them from returning, so save your energy.

Let’s assume you invite them in.  Once inside, they won’t usually dive right into a religious discussion.  They will chat politely about your family, your job, hobbies, etc.  They will also be glad to answer questions you have about their backgrounds.  Ask them where they are from, what they plan to study in college, how long they have been missionaries, etc.  Again, they hope to establish a good relationship of trust with you.  This isn’t merely a gimmick; they really are interested in you because they hope eventually to become your friends.  If there’s one thing Mormon missionaries believe in (besides their message), it’s that everyone is a potential friend.  There are people I met on doorsteps as a missionary that I grew to love and I still keep in contact with.

Their Presentation

At some point, the missionaries will change the topic to religion and begin the presentation they arrived on their missions to give.  They may request to begin with a prayer in order to invite the Holy Spirit.  Because they are guests in your house, they will allow you to decide who should say the prayer and it’s just fine to pick one of them or to say it yourself.  Do whatever you feel most comfortable with.

Many people assume that the message they have to share will basically mirror a typical sermon from their local pastor, about Jesus suffering on the cross and how we can be saved if we believe in Him.  This is central to our beliefs and essential to understand; it will take a prominent role in the lesson, but the missionaries will go deeper into what makes the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unique.  The message is not only that Jesus saves, but that Jesus speaks.

The lesson is known as the Restoration of the Gospel.  Just as this is the first thing the missionaries teach, it was the first thing we published on this website two years ago.  Go read it! With more familiarity on the topic beforehand, you will have better comments and questions.  You’ll also be better able to listen to the whispering from the Holy Spirit during the meeting.

During the presentation, the missionaries will take turns discussing each topic.  It may sound somewhat rehearsed (because they do rehearse it; the rehearsals help them cover the essential points within a reasonable time-frame; their visit will probably last no longer than 20 minutes unless you invite them to stay longer), but I hope you will recognize that the missionaries really believe it.  They are committed to it.  You can also help them out of rehearsal mode by showing interest and asking them questions along the way.

Future Visits

The missionaries will end their talk by asking you to read from the Book of Mormon, ponder over the message, and pray to God about it.  They really don’t expect you to believe them at their word (you are still essentially strangers after all), but they have full confidence that Heavenly Father will confirm the truth through the Holy Ghost.  They will want to follow-up and see how He answers you, so they will request a return appointment, usually within a week.

My advice is to take their commitments seriously: read, ponder and pray all week.  Asking God if their message is true can do no harm, and it will do plenty of good.  Also, get their phone number so you can contact them if you need to reschedule or if you have questions or concerns that just can’t wait.

They have several more lessons, so they hope you will keep inviting them back after each visit.  Each subsequent lesson will resemble this first one except a bit longer (maybe up to an hour), they might bring along someone from the local congregation, and every visit you’ll move steadily from complete strangers to solid friends.  In fact, I’d wager it won’t be long before you’re asking them to come for dinner.

I’d like to open the comment section to stories of when the Elders or Sisters came to your house for the first time.  What was the experience like?  What did you learn from it?  Have they been back since?  If you don’t have a story to share, invite the missionaries over by clicking here!

Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon–An Apostle’s Testimony

The addresses delivered at the most recent general conference (a world-wide meeting of church leaders and members) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints were fantastic, as Jan pointed out in her most recent post.

Today, I want to share with you a talk given by Jeffrey R. Holland, one of the 12 apostles. His testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon is powerful. I invite all to listen to this address, “Safety for the Soul”, and ponder what is taught and then study the Book of Mormon for yourself (you can get a free copy by following this link).   If you do so with a sincere heart and pray to know, with intent to act, if the book is from God, God will tell you in your heart and mind by the Holy Ghost that it is from Him.   The validity of Joseph Smith as one of God’s prophet goes hand in hand with knowing that the Book of Mormon is from God–if the book is from God, the man by whom God brought forth the book must also be of God.  Enjoy.

(I have embedded the talk from YouTube and included a link as well if you want the video to load faster.)

Safety for the Soul, Part 1

Safety for the Soul, Part 2