When I was LDS I never understood why so many “anti-Mormons” tried to prove the Book of Mormon was false. Now, as a Christian I still don’t understand the majority of arguments used as evidence against it. When asking the question “Is the Book of Mormon true?” one needs to clarify “in what way?” Is it a “true” historical account of peoples who lived in the Americas; or are the beliefs expressed in it “true” to God’s Word?
It’s apparent that some apologetics are merely trying to prove that the Book of Mormon is a false historical account. They claim the Book of Mormon can’t be true because horses or steel weren’t supposed to have yet arrived in the Americas during the time the Book of Mormon peoples lived. Or they claim that DNA testing of Native Americans is proof that the Book of Mormon is false. But even if one could prove that the Book of Mormon is a true historical account, this proof doesn’t verify that the beliefs expressed in it are God’s inspired Word.
In the Bible God promised that there would be false Christ’s, false prophets and apostles, and false spirits. We have been warned about such deceivers many times by the Prophets of the Old Testament as well as by Jesus and His Apostles. Thankfully, God told us how to determine if a prophet, spirit, or in this case a book; is truly from God. We are told to “test” their fruits. The “fruit” of anyone (or any book) claiming to speak for God is their words. The “test” is to compare their words with already revealed scripture. Do their teachings agree with it?
I was thrilled to read this same thought in the Relief Society Lesson:
“We talk about the philosophies of men and hold them up sometimes as a pretty picture, but when they conflict with the teachings of our Heavenly Father as contained in Holy Writ, they are valueless. They will never lead anybody into eternal happiness, nor help him to find a place in the kingdom of our Heavenly Father.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, Chapter 10: The Scriptures, the Most Valuable Library in the World, p.105)
Anything a false prophet taught would be man-made philosophy and be in conflict with God’s Word. Even if an angel appears to us and preaches another gospel than the one taught by Christ’s Apostles, we are not to believe him:
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:6-9).
God wants us to use revealed scripture to test any new words. Jesus is a shining example of using scripture to test if words are true or false. Here are just a few examples:
In the dessert Satan tried to tempt Him by twisting scripture. Jesus used scripture to test Satan’s words by saying “It is written…”. He used the same words with the false money changers who bought and sold in the Temple. When the Pharisees accused His disciples of breaking the Sabbath, Jesus said “Have ye not read…” to prove them wrong. He also used these words with them when they tested Him about divorce. When the Sadducees asked him a doctrinal question about marriage in Heaven, Jesus said “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures…”
There is another shining example of using scripture to test a person’s words in the book of Acts. Luke tells us that the Bereans used scripture to test if Paul and Silas’ words were true. He claims that they— “were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:11)
I am sure that during the time following Christ’s death many Israelites would have “tested” the words of the Apostles to see if they were true. Today, every Christian should use this “test” on anyone claiming to speak God’s Word, even their church leaders.
Is the Book of Mormon truly God’s holy scripture inspried by the Holy Ghost? Using Christ’s method of testing, we find that it fails the test! One simple example can be found using the topic of Salvation. In the Book of Mormon we read:
“for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Nephi 25:23b)
Compare this with already revealed scripture found in the New Testament:
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Both books claim that a person is saved by grace. But the Book of Mormon declares a person is saved by grace, plus works. The Third Article of Faith summarizes this LDS doctrine: “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”
Comparing this Book of Mormon verse with already revealed scripture, we find that it fails the test! God’s truth claims that a person is saved by grace, through faith, and not works. Scripture also explains that you can’t add your “works” to God’s “grace”:
“And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” (Romans 11:6)
You won’t hear me say this very often, but I ask you to follow this advice given in your Relief Society Lesson:
“Now, I want to say, my brothers and sisters, that the advice of Jesus Christ, is still in force with us wherein he said, “Search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me.” [John 5:39.] Do not neglect the old family Bible; do not put it away upon the shelf and forget it. Find out, if you do not already know, what it says, and if you have read it before, read it again often to your children and to your children’s children.” (p. 108)
Follow Jesus’ advice and His example! Test the Book of Mormon with God’s already revealed scripture—the Bible. When you do you will find that the Book of Mormon fails the test–it is not God’s inspired Word!
“How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:103-105)