And Still It Stands: The Truth About the Book of Mormon
By Kathy Penrod
I am sure you have heard of it. Whether through the infamous Broadway Musical or the missionaries who travel the world sharing its message, chances are, you have heard of the Book of Mormon. So, my question to you is, what have you heard? What are your questions about the Book of Mormon? As you think about that, let me offer my thoughts on the Book of Mormon.
Before the Broadway Musical, this sacred work of scripture had already seen great controversy (JS-H 1:59-65). I am not here to argue about that controversy and I am not here to debate the rightness or wrongness of such a musical, nor do I want to give it any more fame that it already seems to have. One of the glorious freedoms we have in this country is the right to free speech, even if that speech is degrading, incorrect, irresponsible and hurtful. So, I completely recognize that Broadway performers and producers have the right to belittle things that others may hold sacred. I DO want to discuss what the Book of Mormon actually is - from one who holds this book so close to her heart.
The Book of Mormon is a religious record of the people who lived on this continent long ago. The story of the Book of Mormon actually begins about 600 years before the birth of Jesus Christ with a family fleeing for their lives from Jerusalem. The dad, Lehi, was a prophet who had been trying to preach repentance to the unrighteous people in his city – and it made the people very angry. God warned Lehi that he would be murdered if he did not take his family and escape into the wilderness. God then promised Lehi that, if he remained faithful, He would take his family to the Promised Land.
After a long and arduous journey through the wilderness, Lehi and his children finally made it to the seashore. A ship was built and, trusting God to lead their way, the family sailed to an unknown land. After another long journey, they landed their ship in the Americas.
Long story short, the family was divided – brother against brother – they grew in number, civilizations were built and destroyed. Just like in Jerusalem, prophets were sent to guide the people back to God’s path. Then after Jesus Christ was crucified and resurrected Jerusalem, He came to visit His believers here in the Americas. It is the crowning event of the Book of Mormon, the most sacred and pivotal event.
A Book of Mormon prophet, named Mormon, abridged all these ancient records, consolidating them onto plates of gold, so the record would survive the elements. Incidentally, he is the reason the book bears the name Mormon and why our church is nicknamed the Mormons. Centuries later, a young man by the name of Joseph Smith, under divine direction, would find this record and translate it into the scripture we have today.
Inside the pages of the Book of Mormon, you will find a beautiful explanation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You will find that it testifies of the divinity of our Savior. You will read about an ancient people who had struggles similar to what we have today. But mostly, you will feel the love of God and have your testimony of Jesus Christ strengthened.
The Book of Mormon is not to replace the Holy Bible. They are to be used hand in hand, one complimenting the other. There is a great deal of misunderstanding about how the LDS church views the Book of Mormon and what it is – so let me set the record straight.
The Book of Mormon IS the word of God. It records a fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we recognize this book to be sacred. For many of us, it brings great peace and hope in troubling times. We believe that God has given us this book as a guide to help us return to Him. We are a proselyting church and have taken this sacred scripture to many, many countries. We love the message so much that we WANT to share it with others, in an effort of spreading peace and hope.
Because this book is the cornerstone of our religion, as a people, we have been mocked, ridiculed, tortured, bullied and chased from our homes. What some may see as harmless Saturday night musical entertainment mocks the lives that were lost defending the religion that holds this book so sacred. This “entertainment” mocks those who were forced from their homes. It mocks the men who lost jobs because they believed in this book. It mocks the children who lost their fathers to the mobs and it mocks the women who were violated by cruel mobs – just for believing in this book.
A few years ago, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gave an incredible talk in General Conference about the Book of Mormon. I wish I could quote it all here. It so masterfully explains the history and story of the Book of Mormon. I plead with you, if you want to understand why we hold this scripture so dear, read his talk here.
One point Elder Holland makes in this talk is this: “For 179 years this book has been examined and attacked, denied and deconstructed, targeted and torn apart like perhaps no other book in modern religious history—perhaps like no other book in any religious history. And still it stands.“
“And still it stands!” This is more than JUST a book. It is more than JUST a musical. It is so much more… And, quite frankly, the only way to find out what the Book of Mormon is all about is to read it. If you do not have a copy, you can read it online, download it for free to kindle or even order your own, free, hardcopy.
From this point on, when some one speaks of the Book of Mormon, it is my hope that you will think of it as sacred scripture which members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hold so dear to their hearts.