The Book of Mormon is one of four books accepted and promoted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) - the Mormon church - as scripture. "It is also accepted as Scripture by the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and dozens of other LDS splinter sects" (Note 1) (The other books considered to be scripture by the LDS Church are: Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, and - to a certain extend - the King James Version of the Bible.)
[Note: This entry deals specifically with the Book of Mormon. For other issues related to the Mormon Church, see our entry on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints]
The Book of Mormon is subtitled and presented as "Another Testament of Jesus Christ." The LDS church claims that it is a "companion volume of scripture to the Holy Bible and contains the account of the Savior's appearance in ancient America following His Resurrection." (Note 2)
Christian apologist Robert Bowman, in an article about the Book of Mormon's internal problems, describes the storyline as follows:
"Another Testament of Jesus Christ."
Such is the modern subtitle of The Book of Mormon, a book first published in 1830 but purporting to be a translation of an ancient Scripture penned in the Western Hemisphere between 600 B.C. and A.D. 421. The main story line of the Book of Mormon tells of a migration of an Israelite family from Jerusalem shortly before the Babylonian Exile to a land across the ocean (somewhere in the Americas), and of the history of two peoples, the Nephites and the Lamanites, descended from that family. The most famous part of the Book of Mormon story is of the appearance of Jesus Christ after His resurrection to preach to the Nephites.
The Book of Mormon was produced by Joseph Smith, who claimed to have been led by an angel to the spot where the golden plates on which the Book of Mormon had been written were buried.
Mormons state that they "believe the Bible to be the word of God, insofar as it is translated correctly." (Note 3) The cop-out is used whenever the doctrines of the LDS church contradict the teachings of the Bible.
There also is a Joseph Smith Translation of the King James Version of the Bible (JST), which the LDS church claims was produced "to restore truths to the Bible text that had become lost or changed since the original words were written" (Note 4) (See this article regarding the problems with Smith's 'translation.'
An official LDS church press release states:
The Book of Mormon, whose full name includes the subtitle "Another Testament of Jesus Christ," is considered the foundational religious text and scripture for 12 million Latter-day Saints worldwide. It is regarded as a companion volume to the Bible.
Source: "Doubleday to Publish Book of Mormon in New Edition." Official LDS news release, last accessed online
on July 11, 2004.
Joseph Smith, who founded the Mormon Church, claimed that the Book of Mormon was "the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book"
But even Mormons who take a closer look at those claims are not conviced:
Incredible as it may seem
to many Latter-day Saints, Brigham H. Roberts (1857-1933), an LDS General Authority widely considered Mormonism's greatest apologist and historian,1 expressed the grave doubt that the Book of Mormon is a translation of ancient scripture. Elder Roberts reached this conclusion after his research uncovered extensive evidence that Joseph Smith borrowed the basic plot and many details from other books. This evidence — long suppressed because it is considered harmful to the Mormon Church — is presented in detail in three essays by Roberts, now published as Studies of the Book of Mormon
(Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1992).
Christians reject the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price - in the first place because they consider the Bible to be the only legitimate written, revealed Word of God.
In addition, the Mormon scriptures have significant problems. Not only do they contradict the Bible, but they also include errors, have frequently been edited and updated, and contain plagiarized material.
Take a look at some of the many problems facing the Book of Mormon.
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