I am going to have to fight some criticism with curiosity because that is sort of a problematic statement for me. Hello, Saints. My name is Jeff. I’m a Christian pastor exploring everything I can about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints. And after being on this journey for many, many months, I’m finally at the stage where I will be reading through the Book of Mormon for the very first time.
Now, I’m not going to be reading through the Book of Mormon in one video because that would take forever, ever. So in this one, I’m just going to do the introduction.
Now, I’ve had a lot of Latterday Saints giving me tips on how I should read it, that I should read it in this order versus that order, that I should be using this companion guide or using certain apps. So here’s what I’ve decided to do. I’ve decided just to read it. So at the request of many of you, I’m actually going to be reading through the Book of Mormon in different sections. And after each section, I will provide my reaction over a series of videos.
And I know that some of you are asking that I turn the camera off and I just read it cover to COVID and then to pray and ask whether it’s true. But I think it’s really important to keep in mind that I am an evangelical pastor, and I’m not necessarily taking the same approach that one would take, say, if a missionary showed up at someone’s door and gave them a Book of Mormon. I’m in a process of learning about Latterday Saint faith, and I am wanting to pursue what is true. But a lot of this is more out of a desire to understand than it is necessarily out of a desire for me to consider whether or not I’m going to embrace the Book of Mormon or not. That being said, you have my word that all throughout this process, leading up to it, during and after, I have been and will continue to pray that the Lord would guide me in truth.
And I’m going to apply the same techniques to reading and understanding the Book of Mormon that I apply whenever I’m reading the Bible. I’ll get into the details of that in a later video. But for now, here’s the format that I’m going to take as I read through the Book of Mormon. In each video, I’m going to read it, then I’m going to recap, and then I’m going to react. I’m a pastor, and if you know anything about evangelical pastors, we like three point sermons, and it’s really good if you can have each point start with the same letter.
So the three Rs I’m going to read, recap, and react. So let’s start reading.
Okay, so I haven’t gotten to the actual introduction yet, but I have read sort of this cover page here, the Book of Mormon, an account written by the hand of Mormon upon plates taken from the plates of Nephi. So this is giving a little bit of background information, a couple of notes I took here that written to the Lehmanites. I don’t know exactly who the Lemanites are, though I sort of have an idea based on some of the videos I’ve watched that I’ve reacted to on this channel. The purpose is to know the covenants of the Lord that they are not cast off forever. So that’s an important purpose statement there and also to convince the Jews and Gentiles that Jesus is the Christ, the eternal God, manifesting Himself unto all the nations.
That statement right there is sticking out to me because I’m seeing that through my trinitarian lens. So it’s hard for me not to see that as seeing Jesus as the God where we believe in mainstream Christianity that Jesus is the eternal God. So that statement right there is interesting, but I’m sure that lighter day saints might have an answer as to how Jesus can be a distinct being from Heavenly Father would still be the eternal God. I don’t know, maybe that’ll be more clear as I keep reading. So I’m going to move on to the actual introduction.
Okay, I’ve read through the introduction, which is basically everything in the Book of Mormon leading up to the first Book of Nephi, which I will not be covering in this video. First of all, the introduction is four main sections. It’s an actual introduction sort of opening page. And then there’s the testimony of the witnesses, then the testimony of Joseph Smith. And last but not least, a brief explanation about the Book of Mormon.
So let’s start first with the introduction page. In fact, I’m probably going to spend most of my time here because this was very rich with information. It’s made pretty clear here that the Book of Mormon was written by many ancient prophets, by the spirit of prophecy and revelation and that they were written on gold plates. And it gives the account of two great civilizations, one that came from Jerusalem around 600 BC. And the other one a little bit later.
So this is the Nephi and the Lehmanites. And then there’s another civilization that’s referred to that predated the Nephi’s and the lemonites from the time of the Tower of Babel. And this is the Jaredites. And the introduction goes on to explain that all of them were destroyed except for the lemonites and that the lemonites are among the ancestors of the Native Americans. Now one thing I have heard in my initial exploration of all things Latterday Saint, I know that that sentence right there was adjusted at some point to say that the Lehmanites are among the ancestors of the Native Americans, that it might have been more direct to be all inclusive at one point, but that’s recently been changed.
To be honest with you, I don’t fully know. It’s just something that’s in my memory from something I heard at one point, but I’m going to move on. It also says here that the crowning moment of the Book of Mormon is when Jesus ministered to the knee fights soon after his resurrection. And not only have I heard a lot of individuals tell me they want me to read certain passages, which I’m assuming has to do with Jesus’s appearance or ministry to the knee fights after his resurrection, but it’s also what I see depicted in so many paintings and artwork as I’ve gone to various historical sites and visitor centers and even in the conference center on this introduction page, there’s also the encouragement that when someone reads this, that they should ponder in their hearts whether the message it contains is true. So I know that that’s incredibly important, which is why so many Latterday Saints tell me when I read through the Book of Mormon, I need to pray and ponder and ask whether it is true.
And this introduction is capped off by pointing to Joseph Smith, who is called the revelator and prophet in these last days. Now, the one thing that I want to go back to in this introduction that really stuck out to me is something that I heard at General Conference whenever I was there and it’s sitting right here steering me in the face and I have to react to it. And it’s this statement here that says concerning this record, the prophet Joseph Smith said, I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth. Which I heard. One of the speakers at general conference quote this but there’s a little bit more here that’s really jumping out at me that I want to speak to.
It says that it is the keystone of our religion and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts than any other book. All right. I’m sure this isn’t going to take you by surprise, but as an evangelical who very much holds to sola scriptura, to have this statement that goes beyond saying it’s the most correct book, to saying that a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts than any other book is a little bit of a showstopper for me. Now, there’s many reasons why that statement is so problematic to mainstream Christianity and it has to do with what we believe about the Bible. Now, we don’t worship the Bible, but we do believe, according to two Timothy, that it is inspired.
It comes from the mouth of God, that the Holy Spirit inspired 40 authors over a course of 1500 years. These individuals who wrote in three different languages, many of which didn’t even know each other, who lived even in three different continents over the authorship of the scriptures and the thousands of manuscripts that have been found all over the world to verify the accuracy of the translations that we have, not to mention the amount of archaeological evidence that continues to prove the events of the Bible. So that just gets into an evangelical belief of why we believe the Bible is authoritative and trustworthy. So to say that this book that came so much later is the most correct book is going to be difficult for me to overcome. I’m not saying I’m going to stop reading this, but that is a big sticking point for me as an evangelical pastor who has spent so much time reading the Scriptures, which I believe is really full of the precepts specifically in the teachings and the person of Jesus in the New Testament.
To say that this almost trumps it more than any other book is where it seems as though Latterday Saints would regard the Book of Mormon as greater than the Bible. And anytime I’ve sort of meandered into that way of thinking, I’ve had a lot of Latter day Saints stop and say, no, we believe it’s just a companion to the Bible. But this statement right here makes it seem more than a companion, but superior in a lot of ways. And I don’t feel the need to really say much more about that. But if I’m going to be reading the Book of Mormon through that lens, I am going to have to fight some criticism with curiosity because that is sort of a problematic statement for me.
Some of the other sections here in the introduction, the testimony of the witnesses was helpful. I’m seeing these names of individuals that I’ve studied through the history of the church oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, Martin Harris. So it’s very interesting to me to see their words captured here in the introduction because I’ve studied so much about them. I don’t really think I need to get into the testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith, because if you watch the video I did in palmyra, New York, I actually, unbeknownst to me, went through a lot of the information. That’s here in the testimony of Joseph Smith as I was sort of tracing his footsteps through the different sites and visitor centers in Palmyra, New York, when I did that in a previous video.
And then the last section here was a brief explanation about the Book of Mormon. I don’t know if I got all of it or if I captured all of it, but it’s essentially talking about how there’s four main types of plates that contain the record of Latterday Saint teaching and a little bit more of the history of when, in 421 Ad. Moroni sealed the last record until he appeared to Joseph Smith and instructed him to go and get the plates and the tools that he would need to translate the Book of Mormon. All right, so if you’ve been watching a lot of my videos on this channel, hopefully you’ll be able to resonate with me as to why this was really helpful because I’ve gotten little pieces of this as I’ve reacted to different videos put out by the church or like I said, going to different historical sites. But a lot of the history and the individuals and the key groups of people were all captured on just a few pages, which is really helpful because it’s helping sort of set the stage and clarify the backdrop that’s necessary historically for me to read the rest of the Book of Mormon, which is really important, because anytime I study the Bible, historical context is incredibly important.
I’m always looking to understand the historical background, the background of the author and of the audience. So this sort of sets the stage for me to really dive in and begin reading the Book of Mormon, starting with First Nephi, which I will read in a future video. So until next time, Him. I’ll see you later, Saints.