“You’re still Mormon, I see…”
Why yes, I am. And I don’t see that changing anytime soon, which, from a certain perspective, is quite bittersweet. Hear me out:
Being a Mormon is demanding. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not a church of convenience. In all reality the Church will ask you for your time; it will ask you for your money; it will ask you for your entire heart, might, mind and strength to live its teachings. The point is, I would not be here if I didn’t firmly believe the teachings of the LDS Church to be true. I’d be one of those people diving behind the couch when the missionaries knock at the door.
So, why do I stay? Despite the sacrifices, why do I love it so much? What’s so special about those Mormons? Read on, dear friend.
1. That pesky Book of Mormon
For me, this is what it really comes down to. Don’t get me wrong, I have a firm belief in God, the Holy Bible and plenty more, but The Book of Mormon is intricately and permanently woven into everything else I believe to be true.
A church claiming to have extra-biblical scripture is a risky thing, because if that additional scripture is clearly not of God, then the whole organization would quickly crumble. I believe it is of God. So, I owe the foundation of my testimony to the namesake of Mormonism: The Book of Mormon.
Quick summary for those unfamiliar with The Book of Mormon
If you’re not familiar with The Book of Mormon, you’re in for a treat. But I warn you: If you take the time to truly, open-heartedly, sincerely and honestly discover whether or not it’s true, you might just irrevocably end up a Mormon. So, in a nutshell, what is The Book of Mormon?
Let’s start with something that’s probably very familiar to you: the Holy Bible. At its most basic, the Bible is a compilation of books written by ancient prophets (i.e. Moses, Samuel, Peter, etc.) in the Middle Eastern region of the world. It tells the story of God’s dealings with men, and chronicles Christ’s life and works. The Book of Mormon is essentially the exact same thing, with a few minor differences.
At its most basic, The Book of Mormon is a compilation of books written by ancient prophets (i.e. Mormon, Nephi, Moroni, etc.) in the ancient Americas. It tells the story of God’s dealings with men in that region, and chronicles Christ’s teachings to the people there in a special visit He makes after his death, and resurrection (which occurred in Jerusalem).
“Why do we need more than the Holy Bible?”
That’s a question I often hear when I tell people that The Book of Mormon is a big deal to me. It seems to be one of the main reasons why others choose not to even give the BoM a chance. The words of the prophet Nephi from The Book of Mormon run like movie credits through my mind:
Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?
Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.
And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.
Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written.
For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written.
Just as the New Testament supports and supplements the Old Testament, The Book of Mormon testifies of them both. In fact, it gives some very much needed clarification.
Why the Bible needs to be clarified
Instead of getting up on my soapbox on this subject, I’ll redirect you to someone who explains it better than I ever could: Elder Tad R. Callister, one of the leaders of the LDS Church. Here’s a short video of his explanation (and here’s a link to the full talk in case you’re reading this late at night, just barely got the baby to sleep and can’t risk a video).
This isn’t to say that the BoM in any way diminishes the authority or authenticity of the Bible, but the extensive and varied interpretations of the Bible are apparent and often problematic. The Book of Mormon helps.
“Is there physical evidence of The Book of Mormon?”
That’s a tough question, and the answer is, of course, yes and no. To me, evidence definitely exists, but whether nonbelievers consider it enough or viable is a constant talking point.
I could spend hours talking about the geography, authorship, names, linguistics, chiasmus, translation and contextual evidence suggesting the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon, but that’s not the point I want to make here.
If you’re interested in a more in-depth look at this topic, check out this article or this incredibly interesting video made by a passionate YouTuber (not speaking for the Church). As for me, I don’t see much point in attempting to use hard evidence to confirm matters of a spiritual nature. It seems a bit like trying to use scissors to cut water.
Hopefully this isn’t seen as an attempt to dodge the issue (the links provided suggest otherwise), I simply accept that there may never be as much evidence as one would like pertaining to the things of God. The same goes for any religion. Is there extra-biblical evidence that Moses actually spoke to a burning bush? Is there evidence that Noah actually built an ark? Is there evidence that Christ actually turned water into wine? Not really, yet we believe it (and rightly so).
But just because I didn’t live amongst the prophets of The Book of Mormon doesn’t mean I can’t know they existed.
Is there spiritual evidence of The Book of Mormon?
YES. The last prophet of The Book of Mormon, named Moroni, challenges readers to find out for themselves if the record is true or not:
Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
In essence, he challenges us to find spiritual evidence. That is exactly what I, and millions of others, have done. I know it’s true because I have read it, seriously pondered its teachings and I’ve asked God through prayer for some much-needed revelation on the subject. I didn’t receive my answer through a heavenly lightning strike, but rather through the soft, peaceful impressions of the Holy Ghost.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
That’s what Paul says to the people of Galatians, and that’s what I’ve felt in response to my quest to know the truth. The Book of Mormon is either an elaborate hoax, or the word of God. I don’t believe the Spirit of God would accompany a book concocted by a charlatan. The same principles apply to all other aspects of Christianity in general, or regarding guidance to life decisions, or when you’re struggling with an addiction and seeking peace.
I’m not going to lie—I’m not the best Mormon. Sometimes it’s difficult for me to pull myself out of bed at 7:45 AM on a Sunday to get to church. Sometimes I forget to read my scriptures. Sometimes I think it would just be easier if I left the LDS Church. But I can’t. It’s not an option for me. Why? Because The Book of Mormon is really real. And that means The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is exactly what it claims to be: The restored Church of Christ Himself. Led and directed by Him. That’s a bold statement and one that rubs a lot of people the wrong way. But, again, I know what I know, and I know that I have no choice but to be a Mormon.