Part 8: To the Investigators
Part 9: To the Missionaries
"We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost. (See Moroni 10: 3-5.)"
But why should anyone want to believe the Book of Mormon to be true in the first place? And why should the 'want to believe' be a prerequisite in making something believable... if that something is in fact true? Being an avid opera fan I am well acquainted with willful suspension of disbelief, but opera is not a religion, at least not one that requires the monthly membership due of 10% of my gross personal income along with a lot of time and labor answering church callings (having been around the Mormons and their church for just a month and I already get a strong feeling that this is one really intrusive church that doesn't have much respect for anyone's privacy). Truth is truth regardless of whether one wants to believe it or not, and the same goes for untruth.
Alas... the aptly if unfortunately named angel Moroni took the plates with him back to heaven, leaving us with no physical proof whatsoever of the existence of the plates let alone the writing on it. We are back to square one with being asked to take it on faith that the claim of Joseph Smith Jr and his then inner circle (all the witnesses later fell out with him and were ex-communicated. Some rejoined the church and some never turned back) is true basically because Joseph Smith claims it to be true...
"1 I, Nephi, having been aborn of bgoodly cparents, therefore I was dtaught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many eafflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a frecord of my proceedings in my days.
2 Yea, I make a record in the alanguage of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians.3 And I know that the record which I make is atrue; and I make it with mine own hand; and I make it according to my knowledge.4 For it came to pass in the commencement of the afirst year of the reign of bZedekiah, king of Judah, (my father, Lehi, having dwelt at cJerusalem in all his days); and in that same year there came many dprophets, prophesying unto the people that they must erepent, or the great city fJerusalem must be destroyed.5 Wherefore it came to pass that my father, Lehi, as he went forth prayed unto the Lord, yea, even with all his aheart, in behalf of his people.6 And it came to pass as he prayed unto the Lord, there came a apillar of fire and dwelt upon a rock before him; and he saw and heard much; and because of the things which he saw and heard he did bquake and tremble exceedingly. (1 Nephi 1:1-6)"
Not only that (and the obviously odd details like how Nephi's Jewish father could have Egyptian as his language when he supposedly spent 'all of his days' in Jerusalem - this supposedly happened 600 or so years before Jesus came along - when the language spoken there at that time would have been Hebrew), the stories in the books are far from original. The sisters got all enthusiastic in telling me about the conversion of Alma the Older this week without seemingly realizing how the story is nearly exactly the same as the conversion of Saul into Paul the Evangelist in the New Testament. Whenever a story is cited from the BoM, I've heard an earlier version of it from somewhere in the Bible. I'm not talking about similarity in pathos or teachings here, but on actual stories that seemed lifted wholesale with only minor changes (sometimes only the names of people involved and the setting were changed)! This seems to me more a case of plagiarism than one of divine revelation.
|Joseph Smith Jr being tarred and feathered by an angry mob led by dissenting Saints (Mormons) in 1832. Picture from Harper's Magazine (Public Domain)|