Monday, October 2, 2017

What's the Big Deal About the Book of Mormon?

Even though it's not really the nickname we prefer, sometimes members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are called "Mormons." 

Although at first glance it seems to make about as much sense as Peggy being a nickname for Margaret, it's because members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints read scriptures called the Book of Mormon in addition to the Bible.

For many years I didn't grasp the real value of the Book of Mormon. And it goes beyond just having a cool name.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
The least-torn-up copy I could find in the house. At least it has all the pages.

What's in the Book of Mormon? It's a record of God's interactions with the people in ancient North and South America. Stories and sermons were written down on metal plates and passed down, until a prophet named Mormon abridged it all and buried it sometime around 400 A.D.

In the 1800s, we believe that God called another prophet  his name was Joseph Smith  to translate the Book of Mormon into English and re-establish His church.

As we tell it, this event restored religious truths that had been lost or misunderstood for centuries. So yeah, it was kind of a big deal.

Back in those days, people who read and believed the Book of Mormon usually called each other "saints" or "brother/sister." People who thought they were just a bunch of cuckoos, however, called them "Mormons." You know, to mock their belief in the Book of Mormon. (It's okay. That was a long time ago, and we're over it.)

The point is, the Book of Mormon has been a defining feature of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from the very beginning, and we talk a lot about how important it is.

Joseph Smith said that the Book of Mormon was "the most correct of any book on this earth." Doctrinally, that is, not grammatically. (When Joseph translated the Book of Mormon, his scribes wrote down the entire thing without any punctuation and it was added at the printer's later.)

Latter-day Saint leaders and prophets have said similar things ever since: that a serious study of the Book of Mormon will transform your life, that it can answer your most important questions, and that nothing else can help you become closer to God than reading it every day.

Recently, our prophet Elder Nelson said that "when I think of the Book of Mormon, I think of the word 'power.' The truths of the Book of Mormon have the power to heal, comfort, restore, succor, strengthen, console, and cheer our souls."

However, I have to admit something to you: I didn't use to get all the fuss over the Book of Mormon.

Of course I believed it was the word of God, and I recognized how useful it was in expanding on and clarifying concepts that were kind of murky in the Bible (like infant baptism, for example.)

But at the same time, the Book of Mormon seemed to me like a simple collection of fairly straightforward stories, and I didn't quite get what the big deal about the Book of Mormon was.

Then in 2009, I had a 4-year-old who still desperately needed naps but refused to take them unless I was sitting in her bedroom.

Well, people say that when life hands you lemons you should make lemonade, so I decided to look at this as an opportunity in disguise and use the time to improve my scripture study habits.

I would literally be a captive audience for the word of God, sitting in her room unable to leave until she fell asleep, and I decided I'd start with the Book of Mormon.

Slowly, I started to re-read from the beginning and take notes every time I saw a reference to Christ.

For many years I didn't grasp the real value of the Book of Mormon. And it goes beyond just having a cool name.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

I was surprised to see that this time it was like reading a different book. I never noticed before how the Book of Mormon explains so clearly how Jesus is woven in, around, and through the entire gospel narrative.

(I guess that should've been fairly obvious, given that the full title is The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, but sometimes I can be pretty dense.)

In short, Jesus is the gospel, and he is God's plan. Reading the Book of Mormon helped me to see the whole picture more clearly, with Jesus Christ right in the center of it.

And that to me, is the value of the Book of Mormon. That year of Book of Mormon study deepened my understanding of the Savior and finally made me understand what all the fuss had been about.

It really is a life-changing book.

If you're interested in getting a copy of the Book of Mormon (or watching a cute animated video that sums it up in 60 seconds) you can click this link and have one delivered to you.

Or if that sounds like too much work you can read it online in its entirety right here.

On the surface it doesn't make sense that the Book of Mormon could change my life, but that year waiting in my daughter's room waiting for her to take a nap, it absolutely did.

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Queen Mom Jen said...

Oh how that book has changed my life too. Love it.

Marilyn said...

Amen sister! I'm going to try specifically reading it for references to Jesus Christ. I've never tried that!

AnneMarie said...

I had wondered how y'all came to be called "Mormon." That's so interesting!
Also, I'm curious-you mention the Book of Mormon clarifying concepts that are "murky" in the Bible; do y'all also look to early church history to clarify things? I personally find it really helpful that there are both Christian and non-Christian primary sources from the 100s and 200s A.D. that talk about how Biblical truths were put into practice in the lives of the early Christians.

Jenny Evans said...

Aside from the New Testament in the Bible, not really. This is probably because we believe that the president of our church today is a prophet of God, and one of the great things about having a living prophet is that God is giving us the doctrinal clarification and instruction we need in real time. That's especially helpful when we're trying to figure out how to live the gospel when we're dealing with things that didn't even exist a thousand years ago (social media, pornography, credit cards, the Internet in general, etc.)

But actually, I personally have thought it would be interesting to read about what happened with the Christian world at that time period. Do you have any good recommendations? I once started a book called Christianity: the First 3,000 Years, but when it became apparent that it was going to take me 3,000 years to finish I gave up. I thought the writer was too invested in telling me what to think about the history than just letting me read it and come to my own conclusions, anyway.

Jenny Evans said...

You won't be sorry.