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Facts that the Book of Mormon is True | Tad Callister


Tad R. Callister is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Born in December 1945, he has served in various leadership positions within the church throughout his life. He earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Brigham Young University and later went on to earn his law degree from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He practiced law for many years.

Callister has served as a bishop, stake president, and member of the church’s Second Quorum of the Seventy. From 2011 to 2014, he served as the church’s Presiding Bishop, a role in which he was responsible for overseeing the temporal affairs of the church, such as welfare programs and financial matters.

In 2014, he was called to serve as the Sunday School General President, a position in which he provided guidance and direction for the church’s Sunday School program. He held this position until his release in April 2019.

Callister is known for his deep knowledge of church doctrine and history, and he has authored several books on these topics, including “The Infinite Atonement” and “A Case for the Book of Mormon.” He is a well-respected speaker and teacher. He is known for his articulate and thoughtful presentations on gospel topics.


I do believe that the Book of Mormon, combined with the Spirit, is the greatest witness we have of the truthfulness of this church. Accordingly, at some point, the critics must answer the question, how did the Book of Mormon come forth? Was it man-made, as claimed by them, or God-inspired, as claimed by us? The initial argument of the critics in this respect was that Joseph Smith could not have written the Book of Morman. It was just too comprehensive and complex for him. This was based on the premise that Joseph was only 23 years of age at the time, that he was unlearned and uneducated and thus incapable of writing it. Therefore, someone far more intelligent and skilled than he must have done so. One of the proposed candidates was Sidney Regan. After all, he was a minister, a theologian, and an orator, certainly a likely prospect. In order to understand the supreme irony of this argument, however, one needs to remember that the Book of Woman was published in March of 1830. The church was organized in April of 1830, and then in October of 1830, six months later, Pardi P. Pratt preached the gospel for the first time to whom, of all people, Sidney rigged in his former minister, and bears testimony to him of the Book of Morman.

In other words, Sidney was converted by the very book he was supposed to have written. Nancy the daughter of Sidney, and age seven at the time, was a witness of this event. She would later write, I saw them hand my father the book, meaning the Book of Morman, and I am as positive as can be that he never saw it before. He read it and examined it for about an hour, and then threw it down and said he did not believe a word in it. Of course, he later did believe it and joined the church. This is but one of the multiple historical evidences we have that Sidney Wrigdon never came in contact with the Book of Mormon until after it was published. Accordingly, this argument carries little weight today. Another candidate who supposedly wrote the Book of Mormon was Oliver Caldry. After all, he was well educated, a school teacher, and later an attorney. The critics must have forgotten, however, that he was the self-admitted scribe to Joseph Smith. He said, I wrote with my own pen the entire Book of Morman, save a few pages as it fell from the lips of the prophet Joseph Smith, as he translated it by the gift and power of God.

That book is true. In addition, he was true to his testimony as one of the three witnesses to the very end that he saw the angel and the gold plates from which the Book of Morman was translated by Joseph Smith, not himself. With the certain demise of the foregoing arguments, a new argument arose. Joseph Smith allegedly copied the Book of Morman from the Solomon Spalding manuscript, an unpublished account written by a minister named Solomon Spalding in the year 1812. It is a fictional account of ancient Romans sailing for England who were blown off course and landed in North America and raised their civilization. The easy response to this argument of plagiarism was just compare the two books and decide for yourself. But ever so conveniently, the critics claimed the manuscript was lost and therefore no comparison could take place. In the year 1884, however, the manuscript was found in the historical papers of Eberhowe, one of the critics who had previously claimed the manuscript had been lost. Mr. L. L. Rice and James Fairchell, then President of Overland College, knowing of the plagiarism argument, compared the manuscript with the Book of Mormon and wrote, we compared it with the Book of Morman, and could detect no resemblance between the two in general or in detail.

Thus, another explanation for the coming forth of the Book of Morman was discredited. The next argument was even more bizarre. It was that Joseph Smith suffered from a mental disorder, which somehow endowed him with the skills to write the Book of Mormon. Harry Beardsley, a Chicago journalist, wrote, the Book of Mormon is a product of a mind characterized by the symptoms of the most prevalent of mental diseases of adolescence, dementia, precox, sometimes referred to as schizophrenia. The problem with that argument is that there exists no credible evidence that Joseph Smith had a mental disorder, and even if he had no evidence that such a disorder magically bestows upon an untrained writer such as Joseph, the ability to suddenly become a skilled writer. So now let’s discuss the current and real argument being made by critics, namely that Joseph Smith was a creative genius who read numerous books and copied ideas and stories from them, such as the view of the Hebrews and the late war between the United States and Great Britain. This, of course, is a total flip flop, a 180 degree reversal from the original argument that Joseph Smith was incapable, too ignorant to write such a book.

Now, all of a sudden, Joseph is a skilled creative writer with genius intellect. Why the flip flop? Because all the previous explanations for a man made book had miserable failed. What then are the counterarguments to this current assertion by the critics? First, is there a single reference? Just one. In Joseph’s journals or letters or from Emma or from any independent source, even a critic, suggesting that he, Joseph, might have read or had conversations concerning any of these books or historical sources or visited any of the libraries where these books were supposedly located before translating the Book of Moran. No, none that I’m aware of. Second, is there any record that Joseph had any of these books or related notes present when he translated the Book of Moran? No. In fact, Emma Smith was asked in an interview if Joseph read from any books or notes while dictating. She replied, He had neither manuscript nor book to read from. If he had had anything of the kind, he could not have concealed it from me. Third, is there any evidence that Joseph was a good writer at age 23 and thus could be the author of the Book of Roman?

No. To the contrary, Emma Smith, his wife noted, Joseph Smith, as a young man, could neither write nor dictate a coherent and well worded letter, let alone dictate a book like the Book of Mormon. This is staggering when you think about it. To claim that Joseph Smith, who could not write a coherent letter, wrote the Book of Mormon with all of its historical complexity and profound doctrineal insights in a single dictation draft in approximately 65 working days with no notes in front of him and only minor changes, mostly grammatical. When I finished a book entitled The Case for the Book of Mormon, my secretary unexpectedly asked me, Do you know how many drafts you had? I replied, No. To which she responded, 72. You had 72 drafts. I thought, wow! It took me two concentrated years of writing and many previous years of thinking and collecting ideas with multituned notes in front of me to write a book less than half the length of the Book of Morman and far less meaningful and 72 drafts to do so. It reminds me of the statement of Hank Smith, Someone with an experience is never at the mercy of someone with an opinion.

Accordingly, no one can ever convince me that Joseph Smith at age 23 trying to eke out a living on the edge of the frontier with essentially nothing but primitive writing skills and no notes in front of him, wrote this historical and doctoral masterpiece in a single draft in 65 days, let alone in any time frame. It is beyond rational belief. These are but a few responses to the critics that the Book of Morman was not man made. What positive evidence do we have that it was divinely inspired? In other words, let’s switch from defense to offense. If the critic wants to be credible, he must not only have the privilege of asking questions, but the responsibility of answering them. First, evidence archeology. Well, I believe this is a lesser evidence. It is nonetheless an evidence. Suppose for a moment I told you that I had a magnificent iPhone 11 when I was your age. You would, no doubt, shake your head and say, That’s impossible, brother, call us through because they didn’t have iPhones back in those ancient days. Well, my claim is what we call an anachronism, something out of date, out of place, out of context.

Well, for decades, critics have been looking for anachronisms in the Book of Mormon that would prove it a fraud. But with the passage of time, their allegations one by one have backfired, only providing greater evidence of the book’s truthfulness. What then are some of those alleged anachronism as it pertains to archeology and what is the truth? Allegged anachronism number one, the existence of metal plates. For years, the world laughed at the idea of gold plates as a medium for record keeping. It was a favorite target of detractors. Everyone knew that ancient civilizations recorded their histories on papyrus or parchments. Certainly not metal plates. Then discoveries of ancient metal plates began to unfold and the critic’s myth was shattered. The plates of Emperor Darius I of Persia, written about 518 B. C, composed of gold and silver, were found in 1933 by a German archeologist. They were written during the same time frame as the Book of Mormon and stored in a similar stone-tight box. Since then, numerous metal plates containing ancient writings have been discovered. This once-seeming anachronism has now become a witness of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Alleged anachronism number two, cement in ancient America.

For many years, critics argued that an anachronism was to be found in the Book of Mormon because of its references to the use of cement by the ancient inhabitants of America. Archeologists were certain that cement was not invented in the Americas until years after the recorded history of the Book of Mormon. One critic, a Christian minister, summarized the claim as follows, There is zero archeological evidence that any cement existed in the Americas prior to modern times. But the truth, as it always does, surfaced, and the day of reckoning came. President Hebert J. Grant told him being ridiculed by a peer in his day because he believed in the Book of Mormon, which spoke of an ancient people who built houses of cement. Listen to President Grant’s response as he recounted that experience at a general conference of the church. That criticism does not affect my faith one particle. I read the Book of Mormon prayerfully and supplicated God for a testimony in my heart and soul of the divinity of it, and I have accepted it and believe it with all my heart. I also said to my friend, if my children do not find cement houses, I expect that my grandchildren will.

‘ He then said, And now since that time, houses made of cement and massive structures of the same material have been uncovered in the Americas. ‘ They made mention of his counselor, who had visited the ancient site of TeuateuacΓ‘n, Mexico, and had seen the cement mortar of the pyramids and cement drain pipes, which my wife and I have also seen. Another seeming crisis had become one more confirmation of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Alleged anachronism number three, Barley in pre-Columbian America. Barley is referred to in the Book of Morman on multiple occasions. But for years, the critics were ruthless in their attack against this Book of Morman claim. One such critic alleged that Barley never grew in the New World before the white man brought it here. Dr. John Lund tells of the student working on his PhD in Horticulture, who came to him in the 70s, keep that date in mind, and explained that he couldn’t believe in the church anymore because he had learned in his academic studies that domesticated barley didn’t exist in Book of Morman times. Accordingly, he left the church. Then the shoe dropped. The 1983 came. A nightmare for the critics.

Barley was discovered in Hocombe Indian archeological sites in Arizona, other southern US states, and Mexico. These Indians were believed to have existed between 300 B. C. And A. D. 1450, thus overlapping with Book of Morgan Times but predating any European migrations to the Americas. Thus, another striking clock myth was disposed of. If only this PhD student had patiently endured a few more years, this dilemma would have resolved itself. It reminds us of the truth. Don’t lose faith in the many things you know because of a few things you don’t know. Alleged anachronism number four, names, places and events not yet confirmed. With the demise of the foregoing arguments, the current critics claim, there are many items referred to in the Book of Morgan which have not yet been discovered with certainty in archeological excavations. That’s true. And that all these references must, of necessity, be anachronisms. One such critic, well-known, wrote, quote, Anachronisms: Horses, cattle, oxen, sheep, swine, goats, elephants, chariots, wheat, silk, steel, and iron did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times. Why are these things mentioned in the Book of Mormon as being made available in the Americas between 2,200 B.

C. And 421 A. D? What the critics have failed to mention, however, a monumental omission is that archeological scholars, not members of the church, have opined that only two % or less, probably much less, of ancient American ruins have been excavated. George Stewart, a leading Maya scholar who worked for National Geographic for almost 40 years made the following revealing comment, and we hardly know anything really about the Maya, believed to have existed during a portion of Book of Mormon times. You know, there’s almost 6,000 archeological sites, and we’ve dug at 40 of them. That is less than 1 % and only partial diggings. Suppose for a moment, I were to tell you that a man surveyed 2 % of the geography of the United States, represented by the circle on the screen. And that’s all he saw. And then he made this unequivocal assertion to you that there are no large lakes in the US, no Everglades, no mountains above 10,000 feet, no redwood forests, no volcanoes, and no gold mines. Because in his two % survey, he did not see any such things. You would likely respond, How foolhardy. To categorically state, there were no such things when 98 % of the US had never even been seen by him.

Likewise, How foolhardy. To unequivocally claim there were no horses, cattle, steel and nephite names and Book of Mormon lands and times when at least 98 % of archeological remains in ancient America have not yet been unearthed. Suffice it to say, time and science are great allies of the Book of Mormon. In fact, they are best friends. The second evidence Bible prophecies. A number of years ago, someone asked me if the Book of Morman is such a critical witness of the savior, why isn’t the Book of Morman prophesied of by name in the Bible? I responded, Do you believe Jesus Christ is the savior of the world? Of course, he replied. I then said, Can you find the name of Jesus Christ prophesied in the Old Testament? He hesitated and replied, in essence, Well, the Old Testament does not mention Jesus Christ by name. I admit that. But it does of him in such a way that any reasonable person should know that it’s referring to Jesus Christ. I thought, Thank you very much. I then responded, and so it is with the Book of Mormon. The Bible prophesies of its coming forth and its purpose, not by name, but by events and descriptions that are sufficiently clear and precise that honest seekers of the truth who are familiar with the Book of Morman can discern their fulfillment.

What then are some of these prophecies? The Bible prophesies that a branch of Joseph, referring among others to Lehi and his family, would inherit a promised and precious land, meaning the Americas. The Joseph’s descendants would have a numerous posterity, the Nephite, Lamanite civilization, that they would speak from the dust, referring to the gold plates buried in the earth containing their history; that this book would be given to one who was unlearned, meaning Joseph Smith; that this book would open the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf, as it is currently doing; that Christ would personally visit his sheep in another fold than Jerusalem, which he did in the Americas; and that together with the Bible, these two books would be one in God’s hands. These are all descriptions of the Book of Mormon, its people, and their promised land is found in the Bible. Third evidence, the Book’s divine eloquence. The Book of Mormon speaks of the divine language and eloquence that rings of divinity. It invites us to ponder its phrases, to highlight them, or place them on a mirror or refrigerator door. These are truly messages with a heartbeat, messages that live and breathe and inspire.

The Book of Mormon is filled with such golden nugget, scores of them, each a divine masterpiece in its own right. On the screen are some inspired masterpieces from the Book of Mormon that answer questions of the soul and give direction in life. Men are that they might have joy. What a beautiful and succinct statement on the purpose of life. Feast upon the words of Christ. For behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things that you should do. I imagine that if we took the time today, we could list scores of such phrases that have had meaning in our lives. I think most of us would be happy if in a lifetime we were to have two or three memorable phrases that truly resonated with and touched our family and friends. The burning question then becomes, how did Joseph Smith at age 23, who lacked formal education and could not write a coherent letter, as attested to by his wife, produce this remarkable list of memorable phrases and sage counsel and approximately 65 working days? The answer, he didn’t. The Lord did. Fourth evidence, the divine doctrine. For me, this is the greatest evidence of the truth of the Book of Mormon, separate and apart from the Spirit.

At some point, the honest searcher of truth must ask, where did Joseph get the deep and expansive doctrine found in the Book of Mormon? Much of which is contrary to or clarifies the religious beliefs of his time. For example, where did he get that stunning sermon on faith in Alma 32, where he compares faith to a seed? Or Jacob’s sermon on the allegory of the olive tree. When I read this, I have to map it out to understand it. Does anyone honestly believe that Joseph has dictated this complex allegory off the top of his head? But most remarkable are the insights the Book of Mormon gives us into the atonement of Jesus Christ. Not only clarifications to Bible passages, but completely new understandings of this supernal doctrine. It uses the phrase infinite atonement, not found in the Bible, to help us know that the saviour’s atonement is not only perspective, but retroactive in time. That Christ’s powers are not only redemptive, and that he redeemed us from death and sin, but they are also enabling, and that he has the power to sucker us in our afflictions and transform our weaknesses and imperfections into Godlike strengths.

In other words, he can not only cleanse us, but perfect us. These are all majestic truths not clearly found in the Bible. Palvin did this inexperienced, uneducated young man so clearly articulate these profound, doctrine truths? Why hadn’t some theological geniuses in the 1800 years following Christ’s ministry done so? Because it was not brilliance, but revelation that was the source of these teachings. Fifth Corinthians, the testimony of the eleven witnesses. When I grew up, I was aware of six or seven statements by the eleven witnesses confirming the truth of what they saw and heard. Little did I know that history has preserved about 200 such statements, which in totality comprise a formidable witness of the Book of Morman. For the sake of time, I cite but one such statement by David Whitmer, one of the three witnesses. After he learned that had been reported in two encyclopedias that he had denied his testimony of the Book of Mormon, he responded with this unequivocal correction. Quoted as recorded in the America Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia Britannica, that I, David Whitmer, have not denied my testimony as one of the three witnesses to the divinity of the Book of Morgan.

And that the two other witnesses, Oliver Calgary and Martin Harris, denied their testimony to that book. I will say once more to all mankind that I have never at any time denied that testimony or any part thereof. I also testified to the world that neither Oliver Calgary nor Martin Harris ever at any time denied their testimony. They both died affirming the truth of the divine authenticity of the Book of Morgan. The testimonies of the eleven witnesses often born into the most of circumstances, even under threat of life and reputation are compelling, even irrefutable evidence of the divine origin of the Book of Mormon. And the sixth and final witness, the witness of the Spirit. As wonderful as the foregoing evidences are, there is none more certain or sure than that of the Spirit. It is the witness of all witnesses, the evidence of all evidences. Moron, I confirm this truth. And when you shall receive these things, I would exhort you that you would ask God, the eternal Father in the name of Christ, if these things are not true. And if you 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.

Hopefully, we will never underestimate the power of that promise. President Boyd Kiepecker, once told of two frivolous girls, clattering through a great museum and then flippantly remarking as they left the building that it really hadn’t impressed them very much. One of the door keepers standing by commented to them, young ladies, this museum is not on trial here today. Its quality cannot be contested. You are the ones who are on trial. And so it is with the Book of Mormon. It is not on trial. Its divinity cannot be contested by the honest and heart. It is we who are on trial to see if we will read it with a sincere heart and real intent to discover its truth. I add my witness to that of many others that the Book of Mormon is of divine origin, that is God’s crowning witness of the divinity of Jesus Christ, the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith, and the absolute truth of this church in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. Amen.


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