Clay Christensen’s Testimony of the Book of Mormon

Every now and then I read a testimony from someone else that has such a powerful impactClay Christensen on me that I need to share it.  Such is the testimony of Clay Christensen.  You can read his bio here  I don’t know him personally, but have rubbed shoulders with him in very small ways.  He majored in economics at BYU.  My husband, David, also majored in economics.  They were in the same economics class.  Brother Christensen invited David to study with him.  David soon realized what an amazing person he was and wondered what Brother Christensen was getting out of the study!   Also, he was my daughter’s bishop when she went to school at Wellesley.  He was once a member of the Council of Seventy for the church.  He’s also worked in the nursery. He wrote the book The Power of Everyday Missionaries.  He has had severe health challenges of late.  His faith is such that he says that doesn’t matter which side of veil he serves.  He wants to do missionary work wherever the Lord calls him.  Here is his testimony of the Book of Mormon:

 “I was born into a wonderful Mormon family, and as I grew up I found few reasons to disbelieve the teachings of the church. My parents had deep faith in its precepts, and their example and encouragement were powerful–I believed in my parents, and I knew that they believed the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was not until I was 24, however, that I came to know these things for myself.  I had been given a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University in England. After I had lived there for a few weeks, far away from the supportive environment in which I had been raised, it became clear that adhering to Mormonism in that environment was going to be very inconvenient.  In fact, doing the sorts of things I described in the first part of this essay within the Mormon congregation in Oxford would preclude my participation in many of the things that had made Oxford such a rich experience for prior recipients of my scholarship. I decided, as a result, that the time had come for me to learn for certain and for myself whether Mormonism was true.

I had read the Book of Mormon before – seven times, to be exact. But in each of those instances I had read it by assignment – from my parents or a teacher – and my objective in reading it was to finish the book. This time, however, my objective was to find out if it was a true book or a fabrication.   Accordingly, I reserved the time from 11:00 until midnight, every night, to read the Book of Mormon next to the fireplace in my chilly room at the Queen’s College. I began each of those sessions by kneeling in verbal prayer. I told God, every night, that I was reading this to know if it was His truth.  I told Him
that I needed an answer to this question – because if it was not true I did not want to waste my time with this church and would search for something else. But if it was true, then I promised that I would devote my life to following its teachings, and to helping others do the same.  I then would sit in the chair and read a page in the Book of Mormon. I would stop at the bottom of the page and think about it. I would ask myself what the material on that page meant for the way I needed to conduct my life. I would then get on my knees and pray aloud again, asking the Lord to tell me if the book was true. I would then get back in the chair, turn the page, and repeat the process, for the remainder of the hour. I did this every evening.

After I had done this for several weeks, one evening in October, 1975, as I sat in the chair and opened the book following my prayer, I felt a marvelous spirit come into the room and envelop my body. I had never before felt such an intense feeling of peace and love. I started to cry, and did not want to stop. I knew then, from a source of understanding more powerful than anything I had ever felt in my life, that the book I was holding in my hands was true. It was hard to see through the tears.   But as I opened it and began again to read, I saw in the words of the book a clarity and magnitude of God’s plan for us that I had never conceived before. The spirit stayed with me for that entire hour. And each night thereafter, as I prayed and then sat in that chair with the Book of Mormon, that same spirit returned. It changed my hear and my life forever.”


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Does the LDS Church Lie?

News headlines are notoriously misleading.  They often used “trigger” words to create a certain impression.  Such were the recent headlines concerning the articles published on the church website concerning plural marriage.  The Huffington post headline was Mormon Church Admits For First Time That Founder Joseph Smith Had A 14-Year-Old Bride,”  This post was an AP article which included a short video of an interview with the Reverend Paul Raushenbush.    In the interview the interviewer uses the words that the church’s essays were trying to “justify” Joseph’s actions.  It also included some quotes from the essays on the church website.    Another headline in the UK Telegraph was “Mormon Church Finally Admits Founder Joseph Smith was Polygamist with 40 Wives.”

In both headlines the words “admits for the first time” and “finally admits” imply that this knowledge was never admitted before.   David Grant wrote a post for from which I’d like to quote.  I like the way he says it.

Mormon History Was Never Hidden

“For instance, the word, “admits,” is charged with accusation that there had been a previous denial of some kind. On the contrary. Off the top of my head I can think of three definitive declarations that attest to the practice of polygamy early in church history: Section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants, a 1905 Improvement Era article by Prophet Joseph F. Smith, and a 1992 Ensign article.

In fact, being a student of Joseph Smith and history, I learned of these 14-year-old “brides” (another baggage-laden word) and 30-40 wives in my early twenties as a student at Brigham Young University, as I combed through journals and other documents in a quest to get to know and understand Joseph Smith better.

The events and history of Joseph Smith’s marriage to teenage and other brides have been well known and documented within available resources since there were accounts written of the event way back in history. All anyone had to do was look… and some did.

The information has been readily available for anyone to read. For example, Richard Bushman, in his book, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, has attempted to write more objective historical accounts of Joseph Smith and has included more difficult events in his history. Thanks to Bushman, the names of Joseph’s wives have rested on thousands of Mormon bookshelves since its publication in 2005.

Internet reach and information ease fluidity resulting in the availability and sharability of history have put the Church in the new and sometimes uncomfortable position of having to clarify interpretations of events, statements and doctrines when it would rather testify.”

I love the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  To my knowledge the church has never lied about any of its history.  It pains me to have those insinuations “out there.”  As the church stated in its essays, accurate historical documents have been sketchy:  “Many details about the early practice of plural marriage are unknown. . .  The historical record of early plural marriage is therefore thin: few records of the time provide details, and later reminiscences are not always reliable. Some ambiguity will always accompany our knowledge about this issue. Like the participants, we “see through a glass, darkly” and are asked to walk by faith.”

Shelving Doubts Until Further Light and Knowledge Comes

David Grant goes on to say:

“It may be astonishing to some, and they may think me delusional, dishonest or brainwashed, but I can look at all of the evidence, including Joseph Smith’s marriage to a “14-year-old bride,” and still say without hesitation that his claims are truthful. That he saw the heavenly beings he said he saw and that the Book of Mormon is divine scripture and his role in bringing it forth is reported accurately.

Of the many intervening considerations that have allowed me to get to that conclusion in the face of disparaging and difficult circumstantial evidence, four have been the most useful: deep historical study of primary sources; the return of prodigals; the Book of Mormon; and, spiritual work.”

He cites individuals in Joseph’s time and in our modern times who have “come back” to Joseph.  Individuals who resolved their questions.

“The experiences of these men and many like them have caused me to wonder and have stood in the way of my departure as I have had occasional and sometimes serious doubts and concerns when I have gone so far as to say, “do I need to seek truth elsewhere?”. Their experiences have effectively challenged me to shelve my doubts for a time until further light comes, which it always has.”

I, like David Grant, have shelved my doubts.  I recognize that many haven’t been able to “shelf” with doubts.  I have no criticism of them.   Spiritual work and a testimony of the Book of Mormon have buoyed me up.

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Difficult questions–Plural Marriage

Coming from a Framework of FaithJoseph Smith

I think every woman at some point of their spiritual journey in the LDS church has had to come to terms with plural marriage.  I think most men have also, but I don’t think it’s such a “hot button” for them.  At least, not what I have noticed.   My approach to difficult questions are to always come from a framework of faith and seeking to understand.  Because of I have a firm testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and the restoration of the gospel through the prophet Joseph Smith, I have had questions and a lack of understanding, but not doubt.   Lest one think the journey of faith has been easy, let me assure you the questions have sometimes been HUGE.

Co-existing with Unanswered Questions

I don’t have all my questions answered, but I can live with that.  Faith can co-exist, in fact, always does, without complete understanding.  Richard Bushman who wrote “Joseph Smith: A Rough Stone Rolling” said that we simply cannot understand plural marriage in our day and time and culture the way Joseph understood it.  That may seem like a cop-out to some, but to me it is satisfying.   I’ve had my soul searching issues that I’ve sought answers for in prayer, temple attendance and increased obedience.  Some I’ve had a resolution with, some not. I’ve relied on the testimonies of prophets, apostles and other respected mentors in my life to get me through those times.  I’ve often felt like Peter when the Lord asked him if he would also desert him as many others had.  Peter said, “Lord to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.”  I sometimes feel the same way about the prophet.Joseph.  He restored all the beautiful doctrines of the restoration that I love.  If I desert him, I lose so much of what I hold dear.  I have a testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.  That I cannot deny.  That has carried me through some rough times.

It’s not the purpose of this blog to go into the details of plural marriage.  The church has done am excellent job of that with their posted essays.   I have always known about plural marriage in the church.  I’m a product of polygamous marriages.  I’ve know that Joseph practiced plural marriage.  I knew that it was a source of great conflict with Emma.  I’m surprised at the people who said they didn’t know these things.   When the church posted the essays of plural marriage, my reaction was this is not new information, only more detail.  Moreover I was encouraged and uplifted by the church’s essays. They were honest. They relied on known facts.  Nothing was whitewashed.  The difficulties were spelled out.  As the record states: “Many details about the early practice of plural marriage are unknown. . . . The historical record of early plural marriage is therefore thin: few records of the time provide details, and later reminiscences are not always reliable. Some ambiguity will always accompany our knowledge about this issue. Like the participants, we “see through a glass, darkly” and are asked to walk by faith.”    It was made clear that those faithful early saints initially abhorred the thought of plural marriage.  Through deep and earnest prayer many gained a testimony of the truthfulness of the principle.   How I admire them!  What a trial of faith!   I can’t think of a greater trial of faith.  Here is what Lucy Walker recorded.

Lucy Walker recalled her inner turmoil when Joseph Smith invited her to become his wife. “Every feeling of my soul revolted against it,” she wrote. Yet, after several restless nights on her knees in prayer, she found relief as her room “filled with a holy influence” akin to “brilliant sunshine.” She said, “My soul was filled with a calm sweet peace that I never knew,” and “supreme happiness took possession of my whole being.”

Do I trust Father?  Living True to Covenants

I  have read and studied many articles and blogs on plural marriage.  People whom I’ve never met have strengthened me with their blogs and websites.   One individual in particular, Greg Smith, influenced me in this regard.  He gave a talk at the 2009 FairMormon Conference.   It’s a lengthy article going into claims made against Joseph Smith, but the most important part of the article, to me, is the account of his personal journey in studying about Joseph and plural marriage.  After he read some disturbing claims about Joseph and plural marriage, and knowing that he had many things yet to learn and understand about the topic, and knowing that he didn’t have years to devote to looking up primary sources he expressed the following sentiments:

“So, I determined then to take that to the Lord and it was one of the most interesting experiences of my life. The scriptures talk about having the Spirit give you words—give you words to pray when you don’t know what you should say (e.g., Romans 8:26, 3 Nephi 19:24). Well, I thought I knew what I was going to say, but apparently that wasn’t what I was supposed to say, so I ended up saying something quite different from what I knelt down intending to talk about.  Somewhat to my surprise, I found myself telling my Father in Heaven what bothered me and instead of begging him for answers or insisting upon them (as I had half planed to do) I found myself telling him that I would not forsake him, that I would not forsake our relationship, that I was not going to turn my back on it or on him. And, that I was not going to abandon my covenants. I told him that come what may, I would do whatever he wanted me to do. And then, I asked him if it would be spiritually dangerous for me to commit the kind of time and energy and effort and intellectual work that this project would probably require.

“I thought this was going to be the first of many struggling prayers over the issue. But God is gracious and he told me very clearly that I was quite free to investigate it, that it would all work out, though he gave me no idea of how or in what way, and that I had nothing to worry about. And here I am, four years later, talking about it—you must be careful what you ask for, you may get it. I almost think he was a little bit unfair! If I had known this was part of the deal—I did not bargain for this. I did not set out to be the person people ask about plural marriage. Anyone out there who wants the title can see me after. . .

“But, the problem was, in that moment, when I first approached God with this, was that my spiritual life did not have four or five years, which is how long I’ve been doing this now, to sit in the church archives. My spiritual life could not be put on hold for that long. How long could I halt between two opinions? If Joseph be Baal or a sexual predator, don’t follow him. Jesus called the apostles and did not tell them to spend three or four years with the primary sources before deciding to answer the call to “Come, follow me.”

And for me, ultimately, the question (I see now) had nothing to do with plural marriage at all. Plural marriage was only the catalyst for a much more fundamental question and that question was, “Do I trust Father?” And I see now, by the grace of God, that my instinctive reaction was to do that, to express my trust and, amazingly, to mean it.

I feel much like Greg Smith.  I have committed to Father that I trust Him and I will be true to the covenants which I have made with Him.

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The Content of the Gold Plates of the Book of Mormon

The Gold Plates were a combination of records

My intent in writing a blog is to introduce sincere investigators to the Book of Mormon.  I want to help others learn about the Book of Mormon.  I hope my readers will begin to read the Book of Mormon on their own and use this blog to help them in understanding it.  In my last blog I talked about the Gold Plates, their appearance and construction.  This blog will continue on with the content of the Gold Plates.  The Gold Plates were a unique compilation of other records put together by Mormon.  The following is a short list of the records which are included in the Gold Plates.  I’ll give a description of each in this blog.

  • Large plates of Nephi
  • Small plates of Nephi
  • The Plates of Brass
  • The Plates of Ether
  • The personal writings of Mormon and Moroni

There were “many records of many kinds”mormonpng

The Title Page of the Book of Mormon starts thus: “An account written by the hand of Mormon upon plates taken from the plates of Nephi.”   As I stated in my one of my previous blogs,  Mormon, a great prophet/military general, lived around 315 to 385 AD.  He had access to the many records written by various other prophets from the time that Lehi and his family left Jerusalem around 600 B.C.  These records were engraved on metal plates.  That’s almost 1000 years of history!   He had a divine commission to select from among those numerous records that which was to comprise the Book of Mormon. This was his life’s work. It is because of this divine commission to assemble the plates that the Book of Mormon is named after him.  His work was a work of love.  It was a work directed by God. Mormon gives us some idea of the extensiveness of records which he had access to when he writes the following:

Helaman 3:13  And now there are many records kept of the proceedings of this people, by many of this people, which are particular and very large, concerning them.
14 But behold, a hundredth part of the proceedings of this people, yea, the account of the Lamanites and of the Nephites, and their wars, and contentions, and dissensions, and their preaching, and their prophecies, and their shipping and their building of ships, and their building of temples, and of synagogues and their sanctuaries, and their righteousness, and their wickedness, and their murders, and their robbings, and their plundering, and all manner of abominations and whoredoms, cannot be contained in this work.
15 But behold, there are many books and many records of every kind, and they have been kept chiefly by the Nephites.

Let’s start at the beginning!

The Book of Mormon starts with the family of Lehi being directed by God to leave Jerusalem around the year 600 BC because of its prophesied imminent destruction.  In 587 BC Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, pillaged Jerusalem, destroyed the temple and carried many Jews captive to Babylon.   That is the beginning setting of the Book of Mormon.   Lehi’s son, Nephi, begins the narrative of his family’s journey into the wilderness close to the Red Sea and their eventual journey to the “promised land” of America.

Nephi writing1 I, NEPHI, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions 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 record of my proceedings in my days.

4 For it came to pass in the commencement of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, (my father, Lehi, having dwelt at Jerusalem in all his days); and in that same year there came many prophets, prophesying unto the people that they must repent, or the great city Jerusalem must be destroyed.

Thus begins the Book of Mormon.   Nephi commences his record on what is simply called the plates of Nephi.  

Nephi is commanded to make two records

Nephi commenced his record on what is simply called the plates of Nephi.   A few years later he was commanded to make an additional record. He describes this commandment in 1st Nephi chapter 9. This additional record was “for the special purpose that there should be an account engraven of the ministry of my people.” The first record was to contain more of a history of the “reign of the kings and their wars and contentions.” For clarity, it is referred to as the large plates of Nephi. The additional record is known as the small plates of Nephi.  Although Nephi  happy to comply with the Lord’s request, he records that he didn’t know the Lord’s purpose in this request. He writes, “Wherefore, the Lord hath commanded me to make these plates for a wise purpose in him, which purpose I know not.” The next verse of scripture typifies Nephi’s faithful attitude.  He writes:

1 Nephi 9:6 The Lord knoweth all things from the beginning; wherefore, he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works among the children of men; for behold, he hath all power unto the fulfilling of all his words.

The Lord indeed had a “wise purpose” in asking Nephi to make two records.  Almost two thousand years when Joseph is translating the plates, part of the manuscript, containing his translated material to that point was stolen.  That story deserves its own blog post!  It will be forthcoming.

The Small Plates of Nephi

The small plates of Nephi, include 1st and 2nd Nephi, Jacob, Enos, Jarom and Omni. In contrast to the “large plates of Nephi” they are not an abridgment. They are included in our current Book of Mormon exactly as they were written by the original authors. Historically the small plates of Nephi cover the same time period as the large plates up to the reign of King Benjamin around 130 BC.  They are 143 pages and cover 470 years, although most of the material is concentrated on the writings of Nephi, his brother Jacob and Jacob’s son, Enos.   Those three books occupy 138 pages and only cover about 200 years.   As you can see 270 years are covered quickly in only five pages.  The small plates of Nephi are a priceless treasure. Along with the historical narrative of Lehi’s leaving Jerusalem and traveling to the promised land of America, Nephi includes some remarkable prophecies, dreams and visions of both himself and his father. Prophecies of the coming of Christ, his ministry, death and resurrection are interwoven skillfully throughout the small plates.  Jacob adds some important doctrinal chapters.  In inspired language he assures us that the Jews worshiped the Father in the name of Christ.

Jacob 4:4-5  For, for this intent have we written these things, that they may know that we knew of Christ, and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming; and not only we ourselves had a hope of his glory, but also all the holy prophets which were before us.

5 Behold, they believed in Christ and worshiped the Father in his name, and also we worship the Father in his name.

The Large Plates of Nephi

The large plates of Nephi contain the books of Mosiah, Alma, 3rd and 4th Nephi. This section of the Book of Mormon begins in 130 BC and covers the very critical years preceding the coming of the Savior into the world. Mosiah, Alma and 3rd Nephi combined are 320 pages, but only cover about 165 years. This is a very concentrated focus on the teachings of the prophets, their missionary labors, the intrigues of war, the political machinations and the faithfulness and apostasy of both the Lamanites and the Nephites, and the preparation of a people to receive the Savior. Fourth Nephi covers the time after the coming of Jesus until the Nephites fall into complete apostasy, about 320 years. It is a very short, but powerful synopsis of these years.  After Jesus three day personal ministry they created a ideal society in which they had their goods in common.  There were “no poor among them,” and the love of God prevailed.

4 Nephi 1:2 – 3
2 And it came to pass in the thirty and sixth year, the people were all converted unto the Lord, upon all the face of the land, both Nephites and Lamanites, and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another.
3 And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift.

This society lasted for almost 200 years!  It shows us that through following the teachings of Jesus Christ perfect society can exist.

4 Nephi 1:15 – 18
15 And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.
16 And there were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.
17 There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in aone, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God.
18 And how blessed were they! For the Lord did bless them in all their doings;

Unfortunately after 200 years the society started to break down through pride love of wealth.  They stopped having the goods in common.  Individual wealth was stressed and class distinctions developed.  These are powerful teachings for our day as we are to prepare for the Second Coming of the Savior.

The Plates of Brass

Although the Plates of Brass do not have their own “book,” they are quoted extensively brass platethroughout the Book of Mormon, particularly by Nephi.  What are the Plates of Brass? Why were they in Lehi’s possession?  Lehi was told in a dream that his life was in imminent danger and that he and his family should leave Jerusalem immediately.  Lehi was one of many prophets living in Jerusalem in this dangerous time.  He has testified of the wickedness of Jerusalem and prophesied of its destruction.  Because his teachings were so unpopular, the Jews threatened to take his life.   Lehi’s family left hastily leaving all their possessions.  They took only their food, tents and bare necessities.   After they had traveled far enough that their safety was secured the Lord spoke to Lehi again in a dream and told him that his sons needed to go back to Jerusalem for the Brass Plates.  The Brass Plates were a record of the Jews and the words of the prophets.  Nephi describes them thus:

 1 Nephi 5:11 – 14
11 And he beheld that they did contain the five books of Moses, which gave an account of the creation of the world, and also of Adam and Eve, who were our first parents;
12 And also a record of the Jews from the beginning, even down to the commencement of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah;
13 And also the prophecies of the holy prophets, from the beginning, even down to the commencement of the reign of Zedekiah; and also many prophecies which have been spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah.
14 And it came to pass that my father, Lehi, also found upon the plates of brass a genealogy of his fathers;

The Brass Plates were their scriptures.  They were essential for their spiritual survival. They were a record of God’s dealings with his children.  They contained the gospel of Jesus Christ.  They contained God’s laws and his words through the words of his prophets.  From these Lehi taught his children.  From these Nephi, his brother Jacob, and later in the Book of Mormon, Jesus himself, taught the people from the words of Isaiah.  Later in the Book of Mormon Alma teaches the importance of the Brass Plates and their other scriptures.

 Alma 37:8 – 9
8 And now, it has hitherto been wisdom in God that these things should be preserved; for behold, they have enlarged the memory of this people, yea, and convinced many of the error of their ways, and brought them to the knowledge of their God unto the salvation of their souls.
9 Yea, I say unto you, were it not for these things that these records do contain, which are on these plates, Ammon and his brethren could not have convinced so many thousands of the Lamanites of the incorrect tradition of their fathers; yea, these records and their words brought them unto repentance; that is, they brought them to the knowledge of the Lord their God, and to rejoice in Jesus Christ their Redeemer.

Nephi also includes several chapters from the book of Isaiah, almost verbatim to our current King James Version of the Bible. Isaiah lived about 100 years before Nephi and was probably the most influential prophet in Nephi’s life. He read and understood Isaiah’s prophecies of the coming Messiah and wanted his people to know and understand them. Nephi wrote:

1 Nephi 19:23 And I did read many things unto them which were written in the books of Moses; but that I might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer I did read unto them that which was written by the prophet Isaiah; for I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning.

The Plates of Ether

The book of Ether in the Book of Mormon is a unique contribution to the Book of Mormon in that it is a history of an entirely different group of people than the rest of the book. It is a record that was found on this continent during the explorations of a group of Nephites during the reign of King Mosiah. During their explorations they found “a land which was covered with dry bones; yea, a land which had been peopled and which had been destroyed.” Searching among the ruins they found a record of this people engraved on plates of ore. After the explorations they returned to their king and presented the record to him. It is a fascinating account of a group of people who were directed by God to migrate to this continent around the year 2200 BC.  This record was included with the Nephite records which were handed down through the prophets. Moroni, Mormon’s son, later abridged this record and it is know as the book of Ether.

The personal writings of Mormon and Moroni

The Book of Mormon concludes with the personal writings of Mormon and Moroni, each with a separate book. Mormon witnesses and records the final destruction of his people, the Nephites. His record is a sad account of a once righteous people who were prepared for the personal ministry of Jesus Christ to a violent, degraded, uncivilized people who delighted in bloodshed. It has much to teach us about the effects of seeking revenge and refusing to call upon God.

Mormon is killed by the Lamanites and his son, Moroni finishes his father’s record with some firm admonitions for our day.  He writes Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.”  He bears witness of him who is to bring this record forth in our day, Joseph Smith,  And blessed be he that shall bring this thing to light; for it shall be brought out of darkness unto light, according to the word of God; yea, it shall be brought out of the earth, and it shall shine forth out of darkness, and come unto the knowledge of the people; and it shall be done by the power of God.”   He bears witness of Jesus Christ, miracles and faith, encourages his readers to Doubt not, but be believing, and begin as in times of old, and come unto the Lord with all your heart, and work out your own salvation with fear and trembling before him.”  

Moroni adds his abridgment of the Plates of Ether to the record, then adds some precious additional writings of his father in the form of letters and sermons.

Moroni buries the platesMoroni burying the plates

Moroni wanders for some years before he buries the plates.  The heading to the book of Moroni suggests that he was alive for 20 more years.   It was a time of bitter war among the remaining Lamanites.  It must have been a lonesome time for Moroni.  He records:

Moroni 1:2 – 3
2 For behold, their wars are exceedingly fierce among themselves; and because of their hatred they put to death every Nephite that will not deny the Christ.
3 And I, Moroni, will not deny the Christ; wherefore, I wander whithersoever I can for the safety of mine own life.

Before he buries the plates he closes the record with an invitation to his readers to pray and find out for themselves the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.

Moroni 10:4 – 5
4 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.
5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

Come unto Christ

If the Book of Mormon is another witness of Jesus Christ, which it is, then you would expect its opening and closing words to bear witness of Christ.  The very first chapter of the 1st Nephi begins with a vision which Lehi has of Christ.

 1 Nephi 1:8 – 10
And being thus overcome with the Spirit, he was carried away in a vision, even that he saw the heavens open, and he thought he saw God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God.
9 And it came to pass that he saw One descending out of the midst of heaven, and he beheld that his aluster was above that of the sun at noon-day.
10 And he also saw twelve others following him, and their brightness did exceed that of the stars in the firmament.

The Book of Mormon closes with Moroni’s eloquent and urgent plea for his readers to come unto Christ.

 Moroni 10:32 – 33
32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
33 And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.

I bear testimony that I have put Moroni’s promise to the test.  I have read the Book of Mormon many times.  I have asked God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if it is true.  I have received confirmations to my heart, mind and soul that it is true.  I invite my readers to do the same.


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What Are the Gold Plates?

WHAT ARE THE GOLD PLATES?  gold plates official image

One may wonder just what does the LDS church mean by the Gold Plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated.   I have grown up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I grew up singing about the “Gold Plates.”  There is a Primary song that goes like this, “The golden plates lay hidden deep in the mountain side.”   Joseph Smith was directed by a heavenly messenger to a place on the Hill Cumorah in upstate New York to dig up a metal box containing metal plates and other artifacts.   These are referred to as the Gold Plates.  From those plates, under divine inspiration, he translated the Book of Mormon.  This is my heritage.  Yet, I recognize that to others, this idea of finding metal plates with ancient writing, dating back to 600 BC, might seem like a far-fetched idea.  Is that plausible?

Many ancient records have been found throughout the world

The world of archeology is always filled with new discoveries.  That’s the passion of archeology.  Have there been other discoveries an ancient plates?   To answer to that question is a resounding, yes!  There has been a treasure trove of ancient records written on both papyri and metal plates discovered in both the New and Old Worlds.  Research and documentation has been extensive.  Paul Cheesman, a noted archeologist, wrote the following in an LDS Ensign article.

The Plates of Darius I, ruler of Persia from 518–515 B.C., are the closest parallel to the Book of Mormon yet discovered. Two tablets, one of gold and one of silver, were placed in each stone box to be buried at the four corners of his palace. They describe the boundaries of his kingdom, praise Ahuramazda, “the greatest of all the gods,” and pray protection upon Darius “and my royal house.” They were discovered by an archaeological team in 1938. (National Archaeological Museum, Tehran, Iran.)

Extensive research has been done on the archaeology, the geology, and the culture of the Book of Mormon, knowing that if such a society existed there would be a trail of evidences left in the earth.   All research is extremely interesting and valuable, but to members of the LDS church, the validity of the Book of Mormon does not lie in external sources.   External sources do not prove that the Book of Mormon is true.  A testimony of its truthfulness comes through study and prayer.   As Paul Chessman writes, “Archaeological evidences which support The Book of Mormon do not convert, but we would hope that these thought-provoking discoveries might inspire and excite the reader to the point where they would want to study The Book of Mormon with real intent and gain a testimony of its truth.” (ibid)

What did the Gold Plates look like?

When collecting historical data various sources are often put together to form a more complete picture.  It is the same when the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated.  Many people made statements describing different aspects of the plates, their appearance, size and weight.  In court, testimonies that vary slightly from each other are often seen as more truthful than when they match precisely. If all the statements are exactly the same, it can indicate that the witnesses have compared notes to fabricate a story that is too perfect.   Here is some of what we do know.  Much of this material is taken from an article in the New Era Magazine of the LDS church.

  • They had the “appearance of gold.”  It is never stated that they were made of pure gold.

“Many critics have been quick to point out that if the record was made of solid gold it would have weighed much more than a person could lift. Besides being too heavy, thin plates of pure gold would not function well as a book. The metal would be so soft that it could easily tear from the rings, and engraving would be limited to one side.

The text of the Book of Mormon itself refers to Nephi’s seeking “ore” from which to make his plates. Metal ore usually has a mixture of various metals in it. Gold and silver are often mixed together in an alloy called electrum. Logically, the Book of Mormon plates could have been composed of these two metals. Some have suggested a combination of copper and gold.”

  • They were about 6 inches by 8 inches and about 4 inches tall.
  • “They seemed to be pliable like thick paper, and would rustle with a metalic sound when the edges were moved by the thumb, as one does sometimes thumb the edges of a book.” (quoted by Emma Smith)
  • They weighed from 40 to 60 lbs.
  • They were bound by three “D” shaped rings.
  • A portion of the plates  were sealed to the point that they looked solid.

The plates were sealed by Moroni after he had separated from the rest of his people. He would have used materials that were readily available to him at that time. The descriptions say they were “securely bound” and “appeared solid.” The statements indicate a complete encapsulation of the plates to protect and preserve them for the future.” (Ibid)

  • There were fine engravings on both sides of the plates stained with a black, hard stain to make them more readable.
  • The writing was from right to left, consistent with the Hebrew language.

A Model of the Plates

At the top of this blog I’ve included an image of the official facsimile made by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the Church History Museum.   Here is the statement by Kirk Henrichsen concerning the making of the facsimile.

“In an attempt to be as accurate as possible, all known statements about the plates were compiled and compared. Unfortunately, there was not space in this article to include all of the descriptions.

“The process of making and using the model of the plates taught us more about them and led to some logical deductions. The difficulty in making the plates would encourage a scribe to be careful to fill the whole page and not waste any space. We learned how difficult it is to turn soft metal plates over loose metal rings. You have to lift each one carefully or they bind against the rings. Pliable metal changes with the pressures of movement; it becomes brittle and breaks. The holes have to be an elongated shape larger than the rings and cannot be too close to the edges or they tear out.” (Ibid)

The Value of the Gold Plates

We do not know the monetary value of the Gold Plates, but it is certain that such an archaeological find would be highly sought after.  Joseph could have sold them for monetary gain, and in fact, was cautioned by the angel Moroni that he would tempted to do so.  The following is from Joseph Smith’s history.

 (the angel Moroni) “added a caution to me, telling me that Satan would try to tempt me (in consequence of the indigent circumstances of my father’s family), to get the plates for the purpose of getting rich. This he forbade me, saying that I must have no other object in view in getting the plates but to glorify God, and must not be influenced by any other motive than that of building his kingdom; otherwise I could not get them.” JSH 1:46)

Thanks be to Joseph that he was true to his calling!  To honest truth seekers the value of the plates is in the eternal truths that it contains, the testimony of Jesus Christ that permeates it pages.

A testimony of the Book of Mormon comes through faith, not sight

Would actually seeing the plates increase the likelihood of one believing that it is true? Perhaps it would motivate one to investigate further, but that investigation must be done with a sincere heart, with real intent, and with faith in Christ.  For me I do not have to see, to believe.  As Jesus said to Thomas,”Blessed are those who have not seen, yet have believed.”  Truly that is the beginning of a testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.

“Seeing the plates would not necessarily motivate someone to accept the restoration of the gospel and make changes in his or her life. That motivation comes from reading and accepting the teachings of the Book of Mormon. What really matters is the spiritual witness that is promised to those who humbly seek to know the truth of these things. A true testimony of the Book of Mormon comes from reading it and, as counseled by Moroni in a promise he left to us in Moroni 10:3–5, praying about it.” (Ibid)

I think the information about the appearance of the plates is fascinating.  I like to picture them and picture Joseph translating them.  I love the story of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, but this is not where my testimony comes from.  I have read the Book of Mormon many times and have had a spiritual witness that it is true.   I invite all who read my blog to do the same.

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Overview of the Book of Mormon


My goal in writing about the Book of Mormon is to present its truths in a clear and concise manner to those not of the LDS faith.  I have a firm testimony, born of the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true and it is a second witness of Jesus Christ and his gospel.  This is my anchor.  Monday evening we had the privilege of attending a Family Home Evening in the home of our good friends Paul and Cindy Middleton.   Paul grew up in the same ward as Gracia Jones, who is a direct descendant of Joseph Smith.  She told us her conversion story.  She said that when she first held the Book of Mormon she heard a voice in her mind telling her that it was true.   As she said that, the spirit bore witness to me again that it is true.  Because of that testimony I am writing this blog and hope to eventually publish an e-book.  My blogs are going to be part of that book.


The front cover of the Book of Mormon tells us exactly what it is.  It is another testament or testimony of Jesus Christ, that he is the Son of God, our Savior and Redeemer.   The title page of the Book of Mormon tells that it was “to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that JESUS is the CHRIST, the ETERNAL GOD, manifesting himself unto all nations.”  It also tells us that it was “written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation—Written and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed—To come forth by the gift and power of God unto the interpretation thereof.”

So, we learn the following about the Book of Mormon:

  • It was written to convince the world that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God.
  • He manifests himself to all nations.   He is no respecter of persons.  His ministry is not limited to one people or one time
  • The Book of Mormon was written under the command of God
  • It was written by the spirit of prophecy and revelation.
  • It was translated by the gift and power of God

When a person “bears testimony” that the Book of Mormon is true, they are bearing testimony to the above truths.


Much has been written about the more secular aspects of the Book of Mormon such as the historical record that it presents and the geographical setting, but President James E. Faust said the following about the Book of Mormon:

“It is important to know what the Book of Mormon is not. It is not primarily a history, although much of what it contains is historical. The title page states that it is an account taken from the records of people living in the Americas before and after Christ; it was “written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation. … And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations.”  President George Q. Cannon (1827–1901), First Counselor in the First Presidency, stated:  “The Book of Mormon is not a geographical primer. It was not written to teach geographical truths. What is told us of the situation of the various lands or cities … is usually simply an incidental remark connected with the doctrinal or historical portions of the work.”
What, then, is the Book of Mormon? It is confirming evidence of the birth, life, and Crucifixion of Jesus and of His work as the Messiah and the Redeemer. “(Ensign, Jan. 2004)


To understand the Book of Mormon it is important to understand its organization, and the times and the context in which it was written. Into this context we will fit the major writers and teachings of the Book of Mormon. We will come to know each writer and hear their specific testimony. They all testified of Christ, but each writer has their individual style and their particular emphasis.


Joseph Smith was not the author of the Book of Mormon. He was simply the translator. Multiple writers contributed to the Book of Mormon. The title page of the Book of Mormon states the following: “An account written by the hand of Mormon upon the plates taken from the plates of Nephi.” Mormon lived around 315 to 385 AD. He had access to the many records written by various other prophets from the time that Lehi and his family left Jerusalem around 600 BC. The records had been engraved on metal plates. He had the onerous task of abridging these records into a manageable size. During this abridgment process he quoted verbatim several other writers.   After Mormon’s death, his son, Moroni, completed the record, adding a few of his own words.

There is a science of measuring literary style called “wordprintingor stylometry.” According to an article on, a website dedicated to answering questions about the Mormon Church, the “main assumption underlying stylometry is that an author has aspects of literary style that may be unconsciously used, and be used to identify their work. Stylometrists analyze literature using statistics, math formulas and artificial intelligence to determine the “style” of an author’s writing. If wordprinting is a valid technique, then this analysis suggests that it is “statistically indefensible” to claim that Joseph Smith wrote the 30,000 words in the Book of Mormon attributed to Nephi and Alma. The Book of Mormon also contains work written by more than one author. Critics who wish to reject Joseph’s account of the Book of Mormon’s production must therefore identify multiple authors for the text, and then explain how Joseph acquired it and managed to pass it off as his own.” Though not scientific, it has been my personal experience in reading the Book of Mormon to recognize these different styles. I have felt the spirit and testimony of each one. It is as if they had become real. I have felt the “power” of their words. They have been to me as a “voice speaking from the dust.”

My focus is to be true the purpose of the Book of Mormon to bear witness that the Book of Mormon is another witness of Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon is unique in that though it is built around the history of a people, it is interspersed with doctrine, prophesies and a witness of Jesus Christ.  That testimony is a “golden thread” running throughout the book.  The story provides the frame work and lends continuity to its structure. The history and geography help put the Book of Mormon in the time and context of the Bible, both the Old and New Testament.

In the next blog I’ll discuss in more detail the various records from which Moroni compiled the Book of Mormon



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The Mediator

MediatorIn my last blog I wrote about the gospel of Jesus Christ–that it is the power of God unto salvation as Paul states.   As the angel Gabriel told Joseph when he visited him instructing him to take Mary as his wife, Jesus was to save his people from their sins.  The “how” of that particular concept, that Jesus can save us from our sins, cannot be fully comprehended by our mortal minds.  It is a matter of faith.  President Ezra Taft Benson of the LDS Church said the following:

“We may never understand nor comprehend in mortality how He accomplished what He did, but we must not fail to understand why He did what He did.

Everything He did was prompted by His unselfish, infinite love for us. Hear His own words.”

“For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; …

“Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink.” (D&C 19:16, 18.)

One of the best stories to illustrate our need for a Savior, the “why” and the “how,” is a story entitled “The Mediator” (this link is to the video available on , told by Elder Boyd K. Packer, apostle in the LDS Church.  I’ve included it here in its entirety.  The idea of the balance between divine justice and mercy can be difficult to understand.  Some believe that since God loves us all we have to do is to say “I’m sorry” and everything is okay, yet divine justice requires that a penalty must be paid.  This may sound harsh, but just as in a court of law, simply apologizing does not mitigate the penalty imposed by the law, so it is in the eternal courts.  I believe that our true self, our eternal spirit self knows this and acknowledges it as fair and just.  Our true self wants to live by the law of divine justice.  It feels right and good.  Here is Elder Packer’s story:

“Let me tell you a story—a parable.

There once was a man who wanted something very much. It seemed more important than anything else in his life. In order for him to have his desire, he incurred a great debt.

He had been warned about going into that much debt, and particularly about his creditor. But it seemed so important for him to do what he wanted to do and to have what he wanted right now. He was sure he could pay for it later.

So he signed a contract. He would pay it off some time along the way. He didn’t worry too much about it, for the due date seemed such a long time away. He had what he wanted now, and that was what seemed important.

The creditor was always somewhere in the back of his mind, and he made token payments now and again, thinking somehow that the day of reckoning really would never come.

But as it always does, the day came, and the contract fell due. The debt had not been fully paid. His creditor appeared and demanded payment in full.

Only then did he realize that his creditor not only had the power to repossess all that he owned, but the power to cast him into prison as well.

“I cannot pay you, for I have not the power to do so,” he confessed.

“Then,” said the creditor, “we will exercise the contract, take your possessions, and you shall go to prison. You agreed to that. It was your choice. You signed the contract, and now it must be enforced.”

“Can you not extend the time or forgive the debt?” the debtor begged. “Arrange some way for me to keep what I have and not go to prison. Surely you believe in mercy? Will you not show mercy?”

The creditor replied, “Mercy is always so one-sided. It would serve only you. If I show mercy to you, it will leave me unpaid. It is justice I demand. Do you believe in justice?”

“I believed in justice when I signed the contract,” the debtor said. “It was on my side then, for I thought it would protect me. I did not need mercy then, nor think I should need it ever. Justice, I thought, would serve both of us equally as well.”

“It is justice that demands that you pay the contract or suffer the penalty,” the creditor replied. “That is the law. You have agreed to it and that is the way it must be. Mercy cannot rob justice.”

There they were: One meting out justice, the other pleading for mercy. Neither could prevail except at the expense of the other.

“If you do not forgive the debt there will be no mercy,” the debtor pleaded.

“If I do, there will be no justice,” was the reply.

Both laws, it seemed, could not be served. They are two eternal ideals that appear to contradict one another. Is there no way for justice to be fully served, and mercy also?

There is a way! The law of justice can be fully satisfied and mercy can be fully extended—but it takes someone else. And so it happened this time.Balance scales

The debtor had a friend. He came to help. He knew the debtor well. He knew him to be shortsighted. He thought him foolish to have gotten himself into such a predicament. Nevertheless, he wanted to help because he loved him. He stepped between them, faced the creditor, and made this offer.

“I will pay the debt if you will free the debtor from his contract so that he may keep his possessions and not go to prison.”

As the creditor was pondering the offer, the mediator added, “You demanded justice. Though he cannot pay you, I will do so. You will have been justly dealt with and can ask no more. It would not be just.”

And so the creditor agreed.

The mediator turned then to the debtor. “If I pay your debt, will you accept me as your creditor?”

“Oh yes, yes,” cried the debtor. “You save me from prison and show mercy to me.”

“Then,” said the benefactor, “you will pay the debt to me and I will set the terms. It will not be easy, but it will be possible. I will provide a way. You need not go to prison.”

And so it was that the creditor was paid in full. He had been justly dealt with. No contract had been broken. The debtor, in turn, had been extended mercy. Both laws stood fulfilled. Because there was a mediator, justice had claimed its full share, and mercy was fully satisfied.

Each of us lives on a kind of spiritual credit. One day the account will be closed, a settlement demanded. However casually we may view it now, when that day comes and the foreclosure is imminent, we will look around in restless agony for someone, anyone, to help us.

And, by eternal law, mercy cannot be extended save there be one who is both willing and able to assume our debt and pay the price and arrange the terms for our redemption.

Unless there is a mediator, unless we have a friend, the full weight of justice untempered, unsympathetic, must, positively must fall on us. The full recompense for every transgression, however minor or however deep, will be exacted from us to the uttermost farthing.

But know this: Truth, glorious truth, proclaims there is such a Mediator.

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Tim. 2:5.)

Through Him mercy can be fully extended to each of us without offending the eternal law of justice.

Jesus Gethsemane

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What is the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Jesus GethsemaneWhat is the gospel of Jesus Christ?  We know that the word gospel means “good news.”  So, is the gospel of Jesus Christ simply good news that is meant to uplift and inspire us?  Yes, it does uplift and inspire us.  As we apply the teachings of Jesus Christ to our lives we  are better people.  Those who consistently apply the teachings of Jesus in their lives , that of love, compassion, service and charity radiate a light in their countenance.  Yes, the gospel of Jesus Christ is all this and more.  Paul teaches that” it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” (Romans 1:16)  The gospel then is an actual power that can save us.  From what are we saved ?  The angel who appeared to Joseph explained to him that the baby Mary was carrying was of the Holy Ghost and that he would “save his people from their sins.”

Matthew 1:22 Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21  And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Not only are we saved from our sins, but we are also saved from death.  John’s oft-quoted scripture in John 3:17 explains the dual nature of salvation.

John 3:17 16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

Shortly before his death Jesus explained to Mary in even more explicit language that he has overcome death.

John 11:25  Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

26  And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.  Believest thou this?

Sin and death are the two irresolvable dilemmas of mankind.   Death is the common lot of all mankind, indeed all living things, animals and plants.  We are born to die.  Our world is in a constant state of decay.  We also all make mistakes.  We each have regrets.  Sometimes our actions are hurtful to others.  We get angry.  We say things we do not mean to say.  Unintended accidents happen that are not our fault, yet cause harm to others.  Our hearts may break because of pain we cause others.  We may break the trust that someone else has in us.  In a myriad of ways we may do things against our conscience or our higher self.   Sometimes our actions are even more egregious.  On a larger scale there are truly evil acts.  What can compensate for man’s inhumanity to man?  How do we undo the harm we may have done to others?  How do we restore that which cannot be restored?

Man’s dilemma of sin

One of the things that distinguishes man from beasts is that we moral reasoning.   Instinctively man knows that it is wrong to murder, steal, lie or have another’s spouse.  He knows this “instinctively”.   We call it man’s conscience.   Interestingly a new study by the Infant Cognition Center of Yale University revealed that infants may be born with a moral code hard-wired in their brains.  (Read more at:  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints calls this the “Light of Christ.”

Doctrine and Covenants 84:46 “And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit. And every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto God, even the Father.”

Mormon 7:16  “For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil. . . “

With our God-given free will or moral agency, sometimes we choose wrong and experience remorse of conscience.   (It is beyond the scope of this blog to discuss the criminal mind and those who apparently don’t have a conscience.)  Man  has an instinctive need to want to “get things of his chest.”  to confess, to want to make things right.  In her book “Guilt is the Teacher, Love is the Lesson,” psychologist, Joan Borysenko, writes the following:

“Holding onto dark, guilty secrets is similar to repressing trauma–it takes physiological work that leads to increased stress and illness.  I was at a conference once where Dr. James Pennebaker presented studies on the health benefits of confession.  His interest of first picqued by lie detector technicians who told him about all the birthday and Christmas cards they get from grateful prisoners who still remember the vast relief of confessing their crimes!”

This is man’s dilemma of sin.  How does one make up for those things which we have done wrong?  How is that searing conscience soothed?   How are these wrongs absolved?  Our conscience seems to require that a price be paid.   Our conscience seems to be connected to what is called Divine Justice.  Because we can’t completely pay the price that justice requires we need a Savior.   Jesus Christ came to earth to be our Savior.

Elder Boyd K. Packer, an apostle for the LDS Church said the following:

“But sometimes you cannot give back what you have taken because you don’t have it to give. If you have caused others to suffer unbearably—defiled someone’s virtue, for example—it is not within your power to give it back.

There are times you cannot mend that which you have broken. Perhaps the offense was long ago, or the injured refused your penance. Perhaps the damage was so severe that you cannot fix it no matter how desperately you want to.

Your repentance cannot be accepted unless there is a restitution. If you cannot undo what you have done, you are trapped. It is easy to understand how helpless and hopeless you then feel and why you might want to give up, just as Alma did.

Restoring what you cannot restore, healing the wound you cannot heal, fixing that which you broke and you cannot fix is the very purpose of the atonement of Christ.

When your desire is firm and you are willing to pay the “uttermost farthing,”the law of restitution is suspended. Your obligation is transferred to the Lord. He will settle your accounts.”

The above is one of my favorite quotes.  What a wonderful thought!  What a relief!  There is a way to restore, heal and fix our mistakes.

How does Jesus save us from sin?

The next valid question to ask is, “Lord, how is it done?”  While we can never understand exactly how Jesus paid the price for our sins there are some things we can understand.  Jesus is the Son of God.  He lived a perfect, sinless life.  His life embodied pure love and forgiveness for everyone.   In a way inexplicable to us, throughout his life and in particular his suffering in Gethsemane and on the cross, he absorbed all of mankind’s misery, guilt and suffering.  He “descended below all things.”  He paid the price to divine justice for our sins.  Through his infinite love he conquered evil and death.  The Book of Mormon gives us some of the clearest scriptures about the atoning sacrifice of Jesus.

Alma 7: 11  And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

12. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to csuccor his people according to their infirmities.

13  Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.

Elder Merrill  J. Bateman, a general authority for the LDS Church said the following in a general conference, October, 2005

For many years I thought of the Savior’s experience in the garden and on the cross as places where a large mass of sin was heaped upon Him. Through the words of Alma, Abinadi, Isaiah, and other prophets, however, my view has changed. Instead of an impersonal mass of sin, there was a long line of people, as Jesus felt “our infirmities” (Heb. 4:15), “[bore] our griefs, … carried our sorrows … [and] was bruised for our iniquities” (Isa. 53:4–5).

The Atonement was an intimate, personal experience in which Jesus came to know how to help each of us.

The Creator of the universe has the power to become intimately acquainted with each of us. He learned about your weaknesses and mine. He experienced your pains and sufferings. He experienced mine. I testify that He knows us. He understands the way in which we deal with temptations. He knows our weaknesses. But more than that, more than just knowing us, He knows how to help us if we come to Him in faith.”

I, too, want to add my testimony that Jesus is my Savior.  I am infinitely and eternally indebted to him for enabling me to overcome my sins and weaknesses so that I can return to live with Him again someday.  In subsequent blogs I post about how Jesus overcame death and more about what the atonement means to me.

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How Did Mankind Learn of the Existence of God?

adam and EveGod Reveals Himself to Adam

We know that some kind religion and religious observation has been part of man’s existence from the very beginning of man’s history.  How did man first come up the idea that there was a God?  There have been many scholarly books written about the “evolution” of God or the “history” of God.  Knowing that I approach this subject rather timidly because it is only a  blog post, but I have been thinking about this and have some thoughts that I hope add to the discussion.

Although there is much archeological evidence about the beginnings of man on the earth, the first written information of the history of man is the book of Genesis by Moses.  Since Moses wasn’t alive during the time period of the book of Genesis, it is fair to ask how Moses knew of the those events before he was born.   Again there is much discussion on this subject.  He undoubtedly had access to some kind of record of the historical events he wrote about after the creation and Fall of Adam and Eve, but how did he know about the creation which happened before man came upon the face of the earth?  The following statement is from the website

“This section, [meaning Genesis 1-4] describing the initial Creation and the work of the six days,  has no human name attached to it, for the obvious reason that no man was present   at the time to record what happened. It must either have been written directly  by God Himself and then given to Adam, or else given by revelation to Adam, who then recorded it.

Moses, as the writer of the book of Moses, either had access to Adam’s record or the Lord revealed it to him, anew.  Either way, it if clear that the only way for mankind to learn of the existence of God is for God to reveal himself.  Man did not create or invent God.  God created man.  Much has been said about the “evolution” of God as if God were in a process of change, but scriptures teach us that God is from “everlasting to everlasting.”  He is the same, “yesterday, today and forever.”   At various and sundry times through the ages, it is man who has removed himself from God.

“LORD, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God (Psalms 90:1-2)

We know that God communicated with Adam in the Garden of Eden.  He also communicated to Adam after he left the Garden.  In the last post I discussed the book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price.  It sheds great clarity on this subject.

“And Adam and Eve, his wife, called upon the name of the Lord, and they heard the voice of the Lord from the way toward the Garden of Eden, speaking unto them, and they saw him not; for they were shut out from his presence.  And he gave unto them commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord.  And Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord.  And Adam and Eve blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and their daughters.  (Moses 4:4-, 12)

God, in his infinite mercy, continued to communicate to Adam and Eve.  They knew and worshipped God.  He gave them commandments for right living and he was obedient to those commandments.  They taught their children about God because they had personal experience with Him. Joseph Smith discusses this topic in his book Lectures on Faith.”

[We have discussed] the way by which mankind were first made acquainted with the existence of a God; that it was by a manifestation of God to man, and that God continued, after man’s transgression, to manifest himself to him and to his posterity; and, notwithstanding they were separated from his immediate presence that they could not see his face, they continued to hear his voice.  Adam, thus being made acquainted with God, communicated the knowledge which he had unto his posterity; and it was through this means that the thought was first suggested to their minds that there was a God, which laid the foundation for the exercise of their faith, through which they could obtain a knowledge of his character and also of his glory. (Lectures on Faith, #2)

Adam communicates a knowledge of God to his posterity

As the above quotes states, “Adam, thus acquainted with God, communicated the knowledge which he had to his posterity.” The idea of God is first presented to each of us by another human being, usually our parents, but, certainly not always.  It is by human testimony that we have the first thoughts presented to us that there is a God.  Joseph continues:

“From this we can see that the whole human family in the early age of their existence, in all their different branches, had this knowledge disseminated among them; so that the existence of God became an object of faith in the early age of the world. And the evidences which these men had of the existence of a God, was the testimony of their fathers in the first instance. Let this class mark particularly, that the testimony which these men had of the existence of a God, was the testimony of man; for previous to the time that any of Adam’s posterity had obtained a manifestation of God to themselves, Adam, their common father, had testified unto them of the existence of God, and of his eternal power and Godhead.”  (Lectures on Faith, #2)

All through the ages faith comes by hearing the word of God

Paul teaches the same thing when he says that faith comes by hearing the word of God.

“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?  and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?  and how shall they hear without a preacher?And how shall they preach, except they be sent?  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:14-17)

If the faith of others could be dependent on my communication of my faith, how great is my responsibility to communicate that faith to others, to let my light shine.   I have been in the presence of great men and women of faith who have communicated their faith to me in ways that have burned into my heart.  I  had no doubt that they knew.

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The Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price

Last night we had the missionaries from our church over for dinner.  After dinner we gathered our in the living room for a message from them and a prayer.  Since it’s Thanksgiving we have two of our daughters here with us and their families, there about 15 of us gathered round.  There was a sweet spirit there as the missionaries asked each of us to express gratitude for some aspect of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  When we speak of our church as being the restored gospel, we mean that through the prophet Joseph Smith many parts of the church in Jesus’ time, which had been lost over time, were again restored to his church.  When it was my turn I expressed gratitude for the Book of Mormon and our other modern-day scriptures.  As I read them I know that Joseph, an uneducated, backwoods farm boy, could not have written such sublime, inspired words

The Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST)

One of the many contributions which Joseph Smith made to the religious world is a revision of many parts of the Bible. Some might take umbrage that the Bible might need revisions, but the Bible has been translated over a hundred times by various individuals and religions. With every translation of the Bible revisions have been made and attempts made to clarify the more obscure passages.  One of the more common Bibles in use in many Protestant churches in the USA is the New Revised Standard Version which is a revision of a revision.  It was revised by a committee of scholars representing Catholic, Protestant and Jewish groups.  The mandate given the committee was summarized in a dictum:  “As literal as possible, as free as necessary.” (Wikipedia article, “New Revised Standard Version of the Bible”)  This revision attempted to please as many groups as possible and in the process watered down many doctrines, including changes to gender-specific language.

The official Bible of the LDS church is the King James Version.  Soon after the church was organized Joseph was commanded to go through the Bible making revisions or additions as he was directed by the spirit.  Robert J. Matthews, a professor of ancient scripture at BYU, said the following:

“We should be appreciative of the great spiritual heritage and source of inspiration that has come to us through the Bible, yet readers the world over have recognized for many years that the Bible has not come to us in its original purity and plainness. . . The thoughtful reader of the Bible soon observes that there are many passages that are vague and hard to understand and that seem to be incomplete. Some passages also appear to be contradictory. We understand that there are not so many things in the King James Version of the Bible that are incorrect, but rather, because of faulty transmission and missing parts, that which remains is often unclear and devoid of its full meaning. Joseph Smith’s work with the Bible restores some of the missing parts and causes what we have to be more meaningful.” (Ensign/1972, Joseph Smith’s Inspired Version of the Bible, Robert J. Matthews)

The verses that Joseph clarified are footnoted with the changes appearing in the footnotes.  More lengthy changes are included in the appendix.  Joseph didn’t translate per se, in that he didn’t work from texts of the original languages.  As he read the Bible and prayed for understanding, he was inspired to make the changes.   As I read the JST verses I’m amazed at how changing a few simple words adds so much to the clarity.  For instance the first four verses of John read as thus in the King James Version of the Bible read as thus:

 IN the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.  In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

Here are the same verses in the Joseph Smith Translation.  The changes are in bold lettering.   One can readily appreciate the additional understanding the Joseph Smith Translation gives to these verses, identifying the “Word” as Jesus Christ.

 In the beginning was the gospel preached through the Son. And the gospel was the word, and the word was with the Son, and the Son was with God, and the Son was of God.   The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made which was made.  In him was the gospel, and the gospel was the life, and the life was the light of men;

The Book of Moses

The book of Genesis is our introduction to God.  The LDS Guide to the Scriptures emphasizes the importance of the book of Genesis.  It states:

“It is the true and original birthplace of all theology.  It contains those ideas of God and man, of righteousness and judgment, of responsibility and moral government, of failure and hope, which are presupposed through the rest of the O.T. and which prepare the way for the mission of Christ.   In latter-day revelation we find many sources of information that clarify and substantiate the record of Genesis.   Of particular importance is the book of Moses. (

The Book of Moses  is among the greatest contributions of the Joseph Smith Translation.  It gives an account of some visions and experiences of Moses previous to and in preparation for writing Genesis.  As Joseph began studying the book of  Genesis, he was inspired to add a vision of Moses as a prologue to the story of the Creation and the Fall of man.  In this most remarkable vision Moses sees God face to face.   Moses is called to his great life work, not only as the one who would deliver the children of Israel from the bondage, but the one who is commissioned to write an account of the creation of the earth.  Moses is considered to be the author of the book of Genesis.   How did he get access to a knowledge of the creation of the earth?  Clearly God would have had to communicate this knowledge to him.  This vision contains God’s revelation to Moses of the creation and his instruction to him to write it down as dictated directly by God.

Moses burning bushMoses chapter 1 contains the first recorded words of God to man.  What does he want us to learn?   In the very beginning verses we are taught through Moses who God is and our relationship to Him.  God speaks to Moses very personally, calling him his son.  To me, this chapter is like a concentrated beam of truth and light shed on the nature of God and our relationship to him. Each of us can take comfort in this scripture and know that we are all sons and daughters of God.  God knows our name.  He is our personal, loving Father.  Moses is also taught about Jesus Christ, that he is the Only Begotten of the Father and our Savior.   What precious knowledge this is!   These truths are the foundation of Christianity.

THE words of God, which he spake unto Moses at a time when Moses was caught up into an exceedingly high mountain.  And he saw God face to face, and he talked with him, and the glory of God was upon Moses; therefore Moses could endure his presence.  And God spake unto Moses, saying: Behold, I am the Lord God Almighty, and Endless is my name; for I am without beginning of days or end of years; and is not this endless?  And, behold, thou art my son; wherefore look, and I will show thee the workmanship of mine hands. . .  And I have a work for thee, Moses, my son; and thou art in the similitude of mine Only Begotten; and mine Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior, for he is full of grace and truth; but there is no God beside me, and all things are present with me, for I know them all.

Moses is then shown an expansive vision of the earth and all its inhabitants.   Afterwards he is so overcome by the spirit that his natural strength leaves him.  He is left to himself for several hours.  Moses then has an encounter with Satan and overcomes him through calling upon God.  After this test with Satan Moses is given his call to deliver Israel and is shown another vision of all of God’s creations.   Moses’ wonders at the majesty of God’s creations and desires to know more about its creation.  God tells Moses that he will show him concerning this earth and then commands him to write of the creation of the world.

 “And it came to pass that Moses spake unto the Lord, saying: Be merciful unto thy servant, O God, and tell me concerning this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, and also the heavens, and then thy servant will be content.”   And now, Moses, my son, I will speak unto thee concerning this earth upon which thou standest; and thou shalt write the things which I shall speak. Moses 1:36, 40)

This is an amazing chapter!  It has so many concentrated truths that it’s best to divide it up into sections to study it.  In subsequent blogs I’ll discuss  more in depth some of these topics.

Personal application in my life:  God is real!  He communicates to his children.  He wants us to understand our relationship with Him.  He loves his children.  The gospel of Jesus Christ is the same through the ages.   Joseph Smith is an instrument in the hands of God to bring forth modern-day revelation.


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