The Book of Mormon Is a Litmus Test


Stage three is on the horizon

There are three prophesied stages of the church: first, the works of the Father; second, the works of men; and third, the works of the devil. Stage one is attended by miracles, which show the approbation of the Father. At some point in the past, the general membership of the church entered into stage two, which is a state of condemnation, and the work of miracles ceased, except for the occasional individual here and there who was full of faith.

There is only one reason, only one, why the saints of God become condemned before Him. It is because they no longer listen to His voice. Anyone who has a friend and who knows his or her voice and how he or she speaks, is acquainted with the voice and words of that friend. But if you stop listening for a long enough time, the day will come when it is no longer a familiar voice and can no longer be recognized. This occurs with all of us in our dealings with our fellowmen. It also occurs with God.

The word of God, found in the scriptures, allows us to become familiar with His voice. The more of His word we receive, the more familiar it becomes. This is the good Shepherd principle. He calls His sheep and they, being familiar (or acquainted) with His voice, listen and obey. If they do not listen and obey, they are not His sheep and are accounted as the devil’s sheep and upon death are delivered up to him, for the Lord only gathers His own and will not rob the devil of that which pertains to him (see Mosiah 5:14.)

And whoso receiveth not my voice is not acquainted with my voice, and is not of me…And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received—which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written—that they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion. (D&C 84:52,54-58.)

The second stage, then, occurred when the general membership of the church gave lip service to the Book of Mormon without actually doing what was written there, or ignored it altogether and used the Bible or even the words of their living leaders, to guide them. We are living right now in the second stage and there is both good and bad news associated with it, namely, that compared to the first stage, the second stage is not a good place to be, but compared to the third and final stage, it is infinitely better. As long as we do not descend into the third stage, we have reason to rejoice.

The problem is that we are currently nearing the very end of stage two and stage three is about to begin. The defining feature of the end of the second stage is the hardening of the hearts of the church so that they no longer believe the words of the Book of Mormon and eventually end up rejecting the entire thing.

The Lord said of the Book of Mormon, “Those who receive it in faith, and work righteousness, shall receive a crown of eternal life; but those who harden their hearts in unbelief, and reject it, it shall turn to their own condemnation” (D&C 20:14-15.)

So, the first stage church believes the Book of Mormon to be true and lives it, and the second stage church believes the Book of Mormon to be true but does not live it, while the third stage church does not believe the Book of Mormon to be true.

Up until recently, we have weathered attacks on the Book of Mormon from outside the church only. Why the attacks on this book? Because the devil knows that the Book of Mormon is key to the salvation of those living in these days. If they believe it and work righteousness, per the Lord’s words, they will receive eternal life, so it has ever been his plan to destroy belief in it. However, as we near the beginning of the third stage, we are now weathering attacks on the Book of Mormon from within the church.

More and more members are beginning to doubt its truth and accuracy. For example, we have already seen the appearance of the New Order Mormons, who generally do not believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God. But they are not the only ones in the church who have begun to doubt its divine origins. There are many now who secretly doubt in their hearts. All of this means that we are at the end of the second stage and the third stage is about to begin.

Now, I will talk about the third stage and you can take what I write as prophecy, if you want.

The third stage church will be divided, with one faction holding control over the printing of the scriptures. This church will seek to alter the word of God, as found in the scriptures. In particular they will seek to alter the words of the Book of Mormon so that they read contrary to how they read now. This will fulfill the scripture found in Mormon 8:33, in which Moroni asked, “Why have ye transfigured the holy word of God, that ye might bring damnation upon your souls?”

By the way, the last half of Mormon chapter 8 is a prophecy of the future, meaning that it has not yet been fulfilled. It speaks of the third stage church, when wicked members will secretly slay righteous members in order to shut their mouths, because these saints will stand up and speak against the incredible wickedness they will be witnessing. It is after these acts of wickedness that the Lord will send again new prophets and the full Nephite record, with all the Nephite laws, which these wicked churches will reject.

The unchanged Book of Mormon, meaning the version of the Book of Mormon that will exist prior to the transfiguration that the third stage church will perform upon it, will be used by the righteous members to preach to the wicked members, and to show that their wickedness at that time will be in fulfillment of Book of Mormon prophecy.

Now, the seeds to those future, wicked days have already been sown today, among the hearts of the church, by their unbelief regarding the divine origins of the Book of Mormon and its truth. The Book of Mormon, then, is a litmus test, to show us where we are in relation to the Lord and salvation, or in other words, to show us what stage we, personally, are in: stage one, stage two or stage three, depending upon our views and actions regarding it.

Concerning this record the Prophet Joseph Smith said: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” (Introduction to the Book of Mormon)

To understand why this is so, it is necessary to understand how the Book of Mormon came to be.

How the Book of Mormon was translated

When Joseph used the Urim and Thummim, he thought of a word and then asked God in his mind if the word he was thinking of was right. After asking God, he got a feeling about the word. Sometimes the word felt right and sometimes the word felt wrong. If the word felt right, he would speak the word out loud and Oliver would then write it down. If the word felt wrong, he would discard it and then think of another word, always trying to guess what the next word was.

If Joseph went through a bunch of words in his head and they all felt wrong, he would think that perhaps the next word was one that he didn’t know, such as a proper noun (a name of some ancient person or location), so he would think of a letter, such as the letter “a” and ask the Lord in his mind if the word began with that letter. If it felt right, he would think of another letter and ask if that was the next letter of the word. If any of the letters he asked about felt wrong, he would just go to the next letter of the alphabet and ask about it. He would continue in this manner letter by letter until he had the full name. When he did have the name and all of the letters felt right, he would then spell out the name to Oliver, who would then right it down, or he would just pronounce the name or word if he thought Oliver could spell it.

This tedious process is how Joseph translated the Book of Mormon, from beginning to end, because this is how the angel told him how to do it. With practice, Joseph became more adept at guessing the next word or letter and also faster. Eventually he reached the point where he needed no Urim and Thummim to obtain revelation from the Lord, but could easily and quickly feel out the words from the Spirit. But when he first started translating, he had to first figure it out in his head and then ask if his guess was right. No part of the Book of Mormon was given to him as a text that appeared before his eyes, or in his mind, or spoken to him as audible words. Any words or pictures he saw in his mind was just his own imagination as his mind perused the vocabulary he possessed in his attempt to find the right word so that he could ask the Lord about it.

At one point, Oliver desired to translate and got the okay from the Lord. He asked Joseph how to translate and Joseph told him how he did it, as given above. So, Oliver took the Urim and Thummim and followed Joseph’s instructions. He thought of a word and asked the Lord if it was right, and then felt something. He continued in this fashion, until he had a word that he felt right about. Now, we don’t know how many words he got that felt right, because he never spoke them out loud to Joseph, but we know he got at least one word right and perhaps several, but they all remained in his head.

Oliver began to wonder, in his mind, if his feelings were correct. He began to fear that these words that felt right might be his own words and not those given to him by God. So, he pushed Joseph’s tedious process aside and just asked God, in his mind, to tell him what the next words were. After repeatedly asking and not receiving any answer, he gave up and handed the Urim and Thummim back to Joseph. Joseph resumed to translate and Oliver resumed to be his scribe. Later, Joseph asked the Lord why Oliver wasn’t able to translate and received the revelation found in D&C section 9.

You now have the context of D&C 9. When the Lord said,

“And, behold, it is because that you did not continue as you commenced, when you began to translate, that I have taken away this privilege from you.”

it refers to the fact that Oliver actually began translating correctly, for he followed Joseph’s instructions precisely and got at least one divinely inspired word from heaven, if not more. But then he stopped doing what Joseph told him to do.

And when the Lord said,

“Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.”

it refers to the fact that Oliver discarded Joseph’s tedious method and took the easy way out, merely asking that God reveal the words directly without first searching for them, asking about them and feeling them out.

And when the Lord said,

“But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel it is right. But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me. Now, if you had known this you could have translated; nevertheless, it is not expedient that you should translate now.”

it means that Joseph merely couched his instructions in terms of “feels right” and “feels wrong” and nothing more specific than that, which is why Oliver wasn’t sure whether the word(s) he got was/were right, but here, in this revelation, the Lord gives the exact feelings, even a “stupor of thought” and a “burning in the bosom,” and had Oliver known what exact feelings to “watch for,” he would have had confidence in the words he got and could have translated.

And when the Lord said,

“Behold, it was expedient when you commenced; but you feared, and the time is past, and it is not expedient now;”

it means that Oliver feared that the words he had correctly gotten from God were his own imagination and not from God. In other words, he feared to destroy the work of God by adding man-made words of his own invention, for he wasn’t certain that the words he got were right.

The reason why Joseph’s tedious approach worked and Oliver’s altered approach did not is that Joseph worked by faith but Oliver sought to work by knowledge. In other words, Joseph thought of a word and asked God if it was right and then if it felt right he simply had the faith that it was right and spoke it out loud. There were no doubts or fears on his part. The words were spoken by him in full confidence, not because God showed them to him in a vision or spoke them to him, but because he operated on faith, or had faith that the feeling he got was right and given to him of God. Oliver, on the other hand, required a witness, or required knowledge, in order to proceed. He required that God tell him in some fashion, by vision or hearing or mental apparition, what the words were. He operated under the principle of knowledge and could get nowhere with God, whereas Joseph operated under the principle of faith and pulled the divine words down from heaven, easily and speedily.

All gifts of the spirit, including the gift to interpret tongues and translate ancient languages are gifts of faith. You are given faith to do something. Not one of the gifts relies upon knowledge. But I’ve written about this before, so I will return to the subject of this post.

The Book of Mormon was created by the power of God

When the Nephite prophets wrote the text that would come to be known to us as the Book of Mormon, they wrote “by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation” (Book of Mormon Title Page.) The spirit of prophecy and revelation is the same spirit by which Joseph translated the Book of Mormon. Just as he received the Book of Mormon word by word, letter by letter, in a tedious process, so it was written character by character, by the ancient Nephite prophets, in the same tedious manner. They wrote their record in reformed Egyptian, using the characters that they knew, but they did not operate under their own power, but under the power of the Spirit. They searched for the characters, just as Joseph searched for the words, and found the ones that God wanted them to write and put them down in their own language, according to their knowledge of the characters. So, it was written under and by the miraculous power of God and not of man.

Later, Moroni hid the record. Then it came out of the earth in a miraculous way, via an angel. Finally, after delivering the plates and Urim and Thummim to Joseph, it was translated into English under or by the miraculous power and gift of God. In every step of its creation, the operation of God was upon the work.

The plates upon which the Book of Mormon was engraved do not contain the words of Nephite, Lamanite and Jaredite men. Although the record was engraved onto plates by Nephite men, it does not contain their words. It contains their characters and language and speech or writing patterns, but not their words. All the words written under the spirit of prophecy and revelation are God’s words, not man’s. He claims them as His own, for they were inspired by Him and given under His power. The men writing or speaking by His power become His proxies and have no claim on the words as their own. This is why we call it the word of God.

So, God gave words to the Nephites that engraved the Book of Mormon, in their own language, then later when the record came forth via the angel, He gave the interpretation of those words to Joseph in his own language, English. Who gave the words? God did. Who wrote the words down? Man did. Whose words did they write? God’s words.

No faults in the text

Moroni wrote, “We know of no fault” in the record. There is no fault in the record because it does not contain the words of men. The only way faults could be introduced into the record is if one of the writers wrote anything by his own power, or not by the spirit of prophecy and revelation. As far as Moroni and the other prophets knew, there was no fault in the record, for all the Nephite writers wrote under the same spirit. The spirit of prophecy and revelation eliminates human error.

For example, the prophecy I wrote above about the corruption of the scriptures, if written by my own power, may be erroneous. If written by the spirit of prophecy, it must come to pass, even as I wrote it, because they no longer are my words, but the words of God, for there is no fault or error in the word of God.

Again, Mormon illustrated this principle when he wrote:

And now it came to pass that according to our record, and we know our record to be true, for behold, it was a just man who did keep the record—for he truly did many miracles in the name of Jesus; and there was not any man who could do a miracle in the name of Jesus save he were cleansed every whit from his iniquity— (3 Ne. 8:1.)

In other words, since this man operated under the power of God (as demonstrated by the many miracles he did) and he kept the record by the power of God, it means that the record is true, for as long as a record is kept (written) by the power of God, human mistakes are eliminated.

The Book of Mormon, then, is without fault, error or imperfections, because all of those who worked to bring it forth (the Nephite prophets and the Gentile prophet Joseph) did so under the power of God.

And now, behold, we have written this record according to our knowledge, in the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech. And if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no imperfection in our record. But the Lord knoweth the things which we have written, and also that none other people knoweth our language; and because that none other people knoweth our language, therefore he hath prepared means for the interpretation thereof. (Mormon 9:32-34.)

Now, I will reveal a mystery to you. The imperfection spoken of in the above quote does not apply to the English Book of Mormon. It speaks of the limitation of the reformed Egyptian in conveying the full meaning of what was put into the hearts of these prophets by the spirit of prophecy and revelation. Hebrew is a language that has the capacity to convey the full meaning of all things, so, when you translate from one language into Hebrew, nothing is lost. But all other languages are limited in their capacity to convey meaning, so that when you translate from one language into another, inevitably some meaning is lost. So, Moroni only referred to the plates of Mormon themselves, which were written in reformed Egyptian, and not to the English Book of Mormon.

The English Book of Mormon was interpreted by God, through Joseph Smith. God knew the meaning of the words that were in the hearts of these prophets and conveyed that meaning into English, in the best way possible. Therefore, had Moroni and Mormon written in Hebrew, God would have interpreted it into English just the same way, for the English Book of Mormon are the words that God wanted us to have. In other words, had the Nephite prophets written the same text in Egyptian and also in Hebrew, and then God interpreted each version into English, so that there were two English versions, one taken from the reformed Egyptians and one taken from the altered Hebrew, the two English versions would have been identical.

The imperfection in their record, then, only applies to the plates themselves and the limitations of the reformed Egyptian in conveying full meaning. It does not signify that the English Book of Mormon contains errors. When the plates come forth and are read by people in reformed Egyptian, we will see that the same information put into Hebrew conveys much more meaning.

Faults in the text

And if there be faults they be the faults of a man. (Mormon 8:17.)

Everything in the Book of Mormon is prophetic (dealing with things pertaining to the future) and/or revelatory (dealing with things pertaining to the present or past.) The record is perfect insofar as the men working on it were operating under the power of God. At any moment that the text comes under human power, errors can be introduced. We know, for example, that Oliver Cowdery sometimes made errors when writing down the text that Joseph dictated. We also know that the printer made errors. So, from the moment that the text began to be handled by men who operated under their own power, it was susceptible to “the faults of a man.”

About this edition: Some minor errors in the text have been perpetuated in past editions of the Book of Mormon. This edition contains corrections that seem appropriate to bring the material into conformity with prepublication manuscripts and early editions edited by the Prophet Joseph Smith. (A Brief Explanation about the Book of Mormon.)

Opinions given by prophecy

Whenever a man expresses an opinion by the spirit of prophecy and revelation, that opinion ceases to be an opinion and becomes instead a prophecy (if it pertains to the future) or a revelation (if it pertains to the present or past.) For example, Alma said: “I give it as my opinion, that the souls and the bodies are reunited, of the righteous, at the resurrection of Christ, and his ascension into heaven” (Alma 40:20.) Although he expressed it as an opinion, he did so under the power of the Spirit (which is why Mormon included it) and so this opinion concerning the future became a prophecy. In the same fashion, all opinions and assessments expressed by the prophets who engraved the Book of Mormon are prophetic or revelatory, because they operated under the spirit of prophecy and revelation.

Even questions asked by the spirit of prophecy and revelation are no longer just questions, but become accurate assessments of reality. So, for example, in captain Moroni’s epistle “to all those who have been chosen by this people to govern and manage the affairs of this war,” every question he asked of these wicked men concerning what they were or were not doing, or the reasons why they were or were not doing something, was prophetic and revelatory. So, for example, when he wrote, “Do ye suppose that, because so many of your brethren have been killed it is because of their wickedness?” the fact of the matter was that this is exactly what they supposed. In other words, we can remove the question mark and switch the first two words so that it reads as a statement and it would present an accurate picture of what these men were doing and thinking in Zarahemla at that time: “Ye do suppose that, because so many of your brethren have been killed it is because of their wickedness.” The same can be done with all the other questions he asked them. This is why Mormon included captain Moroni’s epistle in the book, because it was written by the spirit of prophecy and revelation.

A prophetic and revelatory history

history, n. 1. A narrative of events connected with a real or imaginary object, person, or career, esp. such a narrative devoted to the exposition of the natural unfolding and interdependence of the events treated; a tale; story. 2. Specif., a systematic written account of events, particularly of those affecting a nation, institution, science, or art, and usually connected with a philosophical explanation of their causes;—distinguished from annals and chronicles, which simply relate facts and events in strict chronological order.

Both of the above definitions apply to the Book of Mormon, which claims to be “an account written” as “an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites” and “an abridgment taken from the Book of Ether also, which is a record of the people of Jared” (Book of Mormon Title Page.) Specifically, the Book of Mormon is a systematic written account of events, affecting the spiritual affairs of the Nephite, Lamanite and Jaredite nations and connected with a theological explanation for their causes.

The Book of Mormon is a theological history that is more concerned with prophecy, revelation and other miracles that occurred among these people, than with secular matters, and can be termed a prophecy that also reveals things about the past, meaning that it is a prophetic revelation. Although the source material is a compilation of books written by various prophets over a long period of time, all of whom were operating by commandment and under the power of God, the interpretation of those ancient words into English were given as a single, but very long, prophetic revelation that took many days to dictate and write down. The Book of Mormon, then, must be treated as a single whole, from beginning to end, even as a divine revelation from God.

Just as God gave the Torah to Moses in a miraculous manner, as divine writ from heaven, so God gave the Book of Mormon to Joseph as divine writ from heaven. If you subtract any part of it or alter it in any way so that its message and intended meaning is corrupted or compromised, the purposes of God in regard to the book will be frustrated. This means that all parts of the Book of Mormon are equally important. It was given as a whole and it is designed to be read as a whole. This is why the Lord states:

This work does contain all those parts of my gospel which my holy prophets, yea, and also my disciples, desired in their prayers should come forth unto this people…And now, behold, according to their faith in their prayers will I bring this part of my gospel to the knowledge of my people. (D&C 10:46,52.)

The Lord did not include superfluous material in the work. It contains everything He wanted it to contain and gives the very teachings He wanted taught.

The Book of Mormon contains many different narratives, taken from diverse sources, but there is no objectivity in any of it. The prophets who wrote the book revealed and judged not only the actions and words, but also the unspoken thoughts and hidden intentions and desires of the hearts of the characters they wrote about. It is entirely subjective material, as if they were God and all people in the account were an open book, so that they could read their minds and hearts and could know what everyone thought and felt. In this sense, it is not a normal history or narrative, for no man can know what is in anyone’s heart. If the word narrative must be used, then it must be called a prophetic and revelatory narrative, not because men with the title “prophet of God” wrote it, but because by using the spirit of prophecy and revelation the men who engraved the record were able to draw out things that cannot be drawn out, except by the power God.

So, for example, when the record states, “And it came to pass that I was constrained by the Spirit that I should kill Laban,” it reads as a revelatory narrative. An objective history would state that Nephi killed Laban and claimed to have done it under command by the Spirit. This prophetic or revelatory narrative, though, states not only that there was a voice that Nephi heard, but identifies it as the Spirit and goes so far as to reveal what the voice said, Nephi’s feelings about it, and his subsequent spiritual struggle and resolution. Not only that, the whole occurrence of Laban’s death at Nephi’s hands is treated as a miracle, for Laban was apparently impossible to kill:

“How is it possible that the Lord will deliver Laban into our hands? Behold, he is a mighty man, and he can command fifty, yea, even he can slay fifty; then why not us?…The Lord…is mightier…than Laban and his fifty, yea, or even than his tens of thousands” (1 Ne. 3:31; 1 Ne. 4:1.)

And then after the act was accomplished, it was used as a sign that God was with Nephi and his group:

Yea, and how is it that ye have forgotten what great things the Lord hath done for us, in delivering us out of the hands of Laban, and also that we should obtain the record? (1 Ne. 7:11.)

So, the Book of Mormon sees all things through a prophetic and revelatory filter and makes no claim to be any kind of secular history. It is a strictly theological history, or a history of God’s dealings with those people, and takes the form of a revelatory prophecy that can see all things as they really are, even if they are inside a person’s head and heart. It can do this because it emphatically declares that it has been written by the spirit of prophecy and revelation.

From its beginning to its end the Book of Mormon makes outrageous claims of knowing what is in the hearts of men, of what men are thinking, of knowing what is of God and what is not of God, of knowing of secret things that no one in the civilization had any knowledge of (such as what the secret combinations were doing), of knowing the plans of the devil, and a host of other things that are impossible to know except by God’s power. Why does it do this? Because it is not a secular history. It is a prophetic revelation (or a revelatory prophecy), meant to give us a peek into how God sees things, by holding up the Nephite civilization under the light of God. It claims to be God’s word, God’s prophecy, God’s revelation, God’s opinion, God’s facts, God’s thoughts, God’s perspective, etc., because “whatsoever [a man] shall [write] when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation” (D&C 68:4.)

If the Book of Mormon were mere fiction, it would be easier to treat as a strictly literary work, but because it presents itself as real events, yet gives a long list of miracles, it does not fit among other books or literary formulas, instead becoming the perfect tool to generate faith in Christ, for which it was designed. There is nothing rational about faith and there is nothing rational about the Book of Mormon. Yet, it expects the reader to believe its miracles without any doubts, whatsoever, and it presents everything as the absolute truth, regardless of its impossibility. So, when it tells us that Nephi killed Laban under the Spirit’s command or when it says that Zeezrom never intended to give the six onties of silver to Amulek, etc., it always means what it says. It does not matter that no man can know what is in another man’s heart, because the work itself proclaims itself miraculous from the get-go. It does not need to submit to the normal rules that man must operate under, for it is not the work of a man or a group of men, but of God. Since God can see into the hearts of men and can communicate what is there to His prophets, as well as performing all the other miracles in the book, there is no problem. The Book of Mormon, then, can only be said to stay true to one thing: its spirit of prophecy and revelation. It is the only formula it follows precisely.

To deny the Book of Mormon is to deny the revelations of God

And again I speak unto you who deny the revelations of God, and say that they are done away, that there are no revelations, nor prophecies, nor gifts, nor healing, nor speaking with tongues, and the interpretation of tongues; behold I say unto you, he that denieth these things knoweth not the gospel of Christ; yea, he has not read the scriptures; if so, he does not understand them. (Mormon 9:7-8)

I would go further and say that if he denies the revelations but has read the scriptures and does not understand them it is because he does not believe them. There is a wo pronounced upon all those who reject the Book of Mormon, in whole or in part, and assign a man-made source to it. Paraphrasing Moroni, whoever condemns it as man-made, “let him be aware lest he shall be in danger of hell fire” and he that judges it rashly, “shall be judged rashly again.”

The Lord is very sensitive about the Book of Mormon and about how we treat it. It pleased Him to see the immense amount of faith that went into its creation. The prophets who engraved the words or were quoted in the work also pleased Him. He loved them, their faith and their works, which were works of faith in Jesus Christ. He loved their prayers and their desires. And it pleases Him when we receive and believe the book and live its teachings. On the other hand, it incites Him to anger when we disbelieve and reject it.

We LDS typically think of the brother of Jared as one of the mighty ones, of unbelievable faith, and all other prophets among the Nephites as on a lower faith level than him. But this is only because we do not understand the scriptures and have no spirit of prophecy ourselves. Nephi, Jacob, Alma, Mosiah, Amulek, Mormon, Moroni, etc., even all these men and many others like them had faith like unto the brother of Jared. They all could move mountains with their faith. And this is why the Lord chose them to write the record and speak to us.

Why the Book of Mormon is the most correct book on earth

It is the most correct in the sense that it was entirely written and interpreted by the spirit of prophecy and revelation (the power of God) and has been the least touched by man-made operations as have other books that have been sent forth by God, such as the Bible. It was written to us, in our day, so its prophecy has direct application to us. The theme of the book has always been the same: if you keep God’s commandments (whatever they happen to be, see Mosiah 12:33) according to the law of expediency, He will prosper you and if you do not keep them, you will be cut off from His presence.

Again, its correctness has nothing whatsoever to do with the reality of the history of the Nephite civilization or the accuracy of its narrative, but on the simple fact that the Book of Mormon is a work of prophecy and revelation that has had minimal input from men operating under their own power. It presents to the world a prophecy and revelation-based reality that contradicts the assumptions under which the works of men and the works of the devil operate.

It is impossible to understand the Book of Mormon from the perspective of the works of men, or through a filter of the philosophies of men, because it contradicts in every fashion those works and philosophies. The only way to make it compatible with modern philosophies of men, which are based upon the works of men, is by altering the text itself so that it reads contrary to how it reads now.

The Book of Mormon as a tool of discernment

Because of these facts, one who is guided by the Spirit can use the Book of Mormon to discern another’s spiritual state, simply by finding out the person’s beliefs about it. If they are members of the church and they believe the Book of Mormon to be true, live its teachings and manifest the spirit of prophecy and revelation, then they are part of the stage one church. If they are church members who say they believe the Book of Mormon to be true, but treat it lightly, preferring other scriptures or the philosophies of men to guide them, and do not live its teachings but merely give lip service, then they are part of the stage two church. And if they are church members who say that they don’t believe the Book of Mormon to be true and reject it in its prophetic and revelatory claims, and seek to alter the text or its meaning, they are part of the stage three church.

Thus, we see that the Lord has made the Book of Mormon a litmus test and He will use it to filter the masses and gather out His elect from the four quarters of the earth, for only the elect will gather around it. All others will end up rejecting it.

Now, in closing, I will prophesy again, for there are “other books” that will be coming forth during the third stage of the church, even the rest of the “last records” that Nephi saw in his vision, and many are thinking, or putting their hopes, on those last records. And this is my prophecy, that no one, at that day when those other records appear, will accept those last records as the word of God while rejecting the Book of Mormon as His word. They will either believe the Book of Mormon is true and also that the other records are true, or they will believe that the Book of Mormon is not true and also that the other books are not true.

So, only those who accept the claims of the Book of Mormon will end up accepting the fulness of the gospel which will be in those last records. And this will be true for all church factions and splinter groups that currently exist, or that will exist in that day, for the elect will accept the new volumes because they also accept the Book of Mormon, while the rest will reject them because they will have already rejected or denied the spirit of prophecy and revelation, as well as the Book of Mormon, which is a product of that spirit.

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45 Comments

  1. I appreciate this article to an extent. However, there are glaring omissions of knowledge due to ignorance. I have been guided by the Spirit of God throughout my pure but not perfect life as even witnessed by many others and I have married my true love who had a three day near death experience (similar to Saul/Paul, Alma, and Lamoni) preceded by his mother’s three prophetic dreams. Everything that he was told (vast) has come true so far. This is my authority as I have a God given mission to assist in the cleansing of the Lord’s House which is NOT LDS Inc. until the church repents.

    Errors in your thinking:

    1) As you mention, as soon as the Book of Mormon came into the hands of men (Oliver Cowdery, publisher) there were errors caused from these “learned men”.

    At the second printing of the Book of Mormon over 3,000 significant alterations occurred. The removal of the “plain and precious truths” from the Book of Mormon (and the Bible by the “great and abominable church”) was done by the MOST great and abominable church”. 1 Ne 13 describes three “great and abominables” with the LDS church, since we were given so much, as the MOST G&A church/Babylon until we repent. We had the PURE Book of Mormon/Book of the Lamb and we altered it in 1837!

    These abominable changes were made which “transfigured” the identity of God as foretold in 1 Ne 13 and warned of in Mormon 8:33 as you mentioned.

    The main “plain and precious truth” “transfigured” was to add in the words “the son of” numerous times to transfigure and alter the clear understanding of the identity of God.

    This change in identity was contrary to the teachings of Abinadi (Mosiah 15:1-5) ~”God came to this earth as a man” ~ and Amulek (taught by an Angel) that Jesus Christ IS the Eternal Father.

    This knowledge of God, (“Mary was the mother of God” not “the son of” which is a title for His incarnation only) we know will in the future cover the earth. This will occur after the church repents and gets back to the original Book of Mormon without all of the changes.

    We know these changes were NOT of God as stated by Moroni and Mormon since they gave a stamp of approval of “We know of no fault”…

    These alterations were much more than grammar or punctuation as we were told and blindly believed and requires today “much restoration” (2 Ne 3:24).

    In addition to the Book of Mormon’s henious alterations, we also have alterations to the First Vision. Only the first hand-written account by Joseph Smith is correct, in that he saw ONE personage; the Lord!

    There is ONLY ONE God and God is a jealous God!

    Pure revelation teaches us that Jesus came to this earth as a man with HIS SPIRIT still in Heaven as God the Eternal Father as understood by the Cherubim and the Flaming Sword of the separation of spirit and soul with Adam and Eve ~only one wife ever~ cast out of the Garden of Eden.

  2. Continued Errors in your thinking as a “learned man”:

    You wrote:

    The third stage church will be divided, with one faction holding control over the printing of the scriptures. This church will seek to alter the word of God, as found in the scriptures. In particular they will seek to alter the words of the Book of Mormon so that they read contrary to how they read now. This will fulfill the scripture found in Mormon 8:33, in which Moroni asked, “Why have ye transfigured the holy word of God, that ye might bring damnation upon your souls?”

    2) THIS HAS ALREADY HAPPENED AT THE 2nd PRINTING.

    (caps used for comments ~ I’m NOT shouting, preferably I’d use italics and color)

    The church IS condemned as stated several times in the scriptures: D&C 3:1-11, 124, 112, 64, Mormon 8:33, 1 Ne 13, 2 Ne 28 “All is Well in Zion” stated in General Conference by G.B.Hinckley~ and then edited out due to uproar by those who heard him say it prophetically and infamously.

    You then wrote:

    By the way, the last half of Mormon chapter 8 is a prophecy of the future, meaning that it has not yet been fulfilled. It speaks of the third stage church, when wicked members will secretly slay righteous members in order to shut their mouths, because these saints will stand up and speak against the incredible wickedness they will be witnessing.

    3) THIS HAS ALSO ALREADY HAPPENED!

    We had the “Danite Warriors” of the Brigham Young era who KILLED apostates or members that murmured. (Also note the Mountain Meadow Massacre by avowed Danite Warrior John D. Lee who states he was under the order of Brigham Young.) The murders were then blamed it on the Indians as recorded in many historical accounts.

    For instance, the Journal of Discourses with Brigham Young and Jedidiah Grant preaching over the pulpit “Blood Atonement” which mocked the Atonement of God and taught the need to murder those Saints who sin!

    Also, Ann Eliza Young’s 1876 historical account, “Wife No. 19″, describes how any member that murmured against the dictatorship of Brigham were or in the danger of being killed,

    Also, please read BYU most popular Professor, D. Michael Quinn, award-winning LDS historian, excommunicated for writing TRUE history versus “faith promoting” lies,

    The publication that got Quinn ex’d was regarding the priesthood of WOMEN (and blacks, albeit politically restored due to government sanctions) which they HELD equal to MEN during the early PURE years of the church (D&C 10:67 describes the doctrine of God’s church ~ it is simple and without elitism or sexism with everyone receiving the priesthood upon Baptism).

    The “visitation” of Peter, James, and John was a fabrication! Please research the historical documentation by the RLDS.

    Joseph Smith was WARNED againt “following his own will and carnal desires or he would fall” much like King David (2 Jacob 23-24 with polygamy an abomination or you do NOT understand the scriptures)…

    Today, we still have the “Danite Warriors” as evidenced by police records of sabotage to vehicles to create “accidents” to take out those telling the truth! Research the “timely and convenient” death of the son-in-law of GBHinckley after Alan Barnes confessed to the FBI of his signing the bribery checks to the Olympic Committee. He died weeks after his confession since he would have been an “embarrassment” to the church. See “The Silent Witness” Salt Lake Tribune article!

    You then wrote:

    It is after these acts of wickedness that the Lord will send again new prophets and the full Nephite record, with all the Nephite laws, which these wicked churches will reject.

    The Lord HAS sent those with the spirit of prophecy OUTSIDE of the Hierarchy exactly as was needed during the reign of church president King Noah. The Lord sent Abinadi to give his great message of repentance and that Jesus Christ IS the Eternal Father (not two Gods). The Book of Mosiah describes this “type and shadow” of this day.

  3. I am amazed how you are saying things which happened 50 years ago concerning your THIRD PHASE of the LDS Church. In 1960, “Every Member A Missionary” was incorporated for all the members after President McKay sold out all the members by removing the 1873 wholly-owned LDS Bank (Zions First National Bank).

    When I took out my personal endowments in August, 1969, after being called to serve on a full-tiime mission to Sao Paulo, Brazil, my escort was Apostle Howard W. Hunter. I raised my arm up to the square opposing every Masonic Oath. Each time Elder Hunter had to take me outside and I showed him every scripture of that oath being of Lucifier.

    At the end of the ceremony I objected to give everything to the “church”. I then met President McKay and showed him Exodus 20:3-5 and told him I had already consecrated everything to the Lord. I obtained written permission to do that.

    1969 was 9 years after Phase three was finished.

  4. Hi, Steve. I received my endowments in 1971 prior to leaving for the Brazil Central Mission. Ended up serving in Sao Paulo (city and state) and Parana.

    Steve Graham

  5. Hi Steve G.,
    In 1969 I had 5,000 Book of Mormons in Portuguese sent to the distribution center and would pick up a bunch every month and would distribute them. Did you know about the Expo Mormon Displays that I created that were set up in various plaza to obtain interest. I worked in the interior of Sao Paulo state and enjoyed not being around Pres. Sherman Hibbert of Bountiful. What did you think of him? I thought he was a lousy Mission President without any spirituality and with a lot of prejudism (a typical LAWYER/liar in the church). I ended my mission in September 1971 with the highest baptismal records and knowing the corruption of the church including the significant alterations of the Book of Mormon, but I played the role until it was time to speak out for truth over tradition. The Lord allows free agency and today we have lawyers/liars and business men as false prophets and apostles as warned against in D&C 64.

    Steve Davis ~ also son of a top Mason/Mormon (over five departments of the LDS Inc with David B. Haight working under my Dad at BYU, etc.) who confessed all of the “Danite Warrior” extreme blood-oath corruption of the GA/Profit & Apostles church leaders..

  6. LDSA-

    Interesting and thought provoking, thanks.

    As I was reading what you wrote:

    The third stage church will be divided, with one faction holding control over the printing of the scriptures. This church will seek to alter the word of God, as found in the scriptures. In particular they will seek to alter the words of the Book of Mormon so that they read contrary to how they read now. This will fulfill the scripture found in Mormon 8:33, in which Moroni asked, “Why have ye transfigured the holy word of God, that ye might bring damnation upon your souls?”

    my mind shot back to over a year ago when I was reading The Book of Mammon by Daymon M Smith. If you are not familiar with it, he worked at the Church Office Building for many years, and this book is a satire, of sorts, of his time there. One of the things he discusses in length is the current edition of scriptures and how it came about.

    He says:

    As part of the religious revitalization carried out by Correlation…,sacred Mormon texts were appropriately revised…By stretching lines of interpretive guides (e.g., footnotes, summaries, cross-references) throughout the text, new interpretations became vaguely orthodox, guessed at, hinted, and unspoken. (The Reformation was conducted by similarly covert textual operations, at least in part). One’s own meaning was provided for by these devices, in part because the texts were violently fragmented.

    Whatever “orthodox” interpretations emerged, did so through social practice, rather than from the text itself, however.
    (pg 45)

    He says later:

    Formatted..and pre-interpreted by “scholars” from Brigham Young University,…and also approved by “Priesthood leaders”. Interpretation is a tricky thing,…as testamented to by decades of philosophy of language…and it is the text’s inherent trickiness the new scriptures aim to diminish; To fix a correct meaning to individual words – by footnotes, to buttress meaning across instances of words and passages – by cross-referencing. By…cross-referencing to render passages from the Bible “with-in” verses from the Book of Mormon, as though spoken by a single voice, and visa-versa, creating a modern lattice-work,…and,…by summarizing entire chapters with new introductions,…[giving] the rightful meaning for readers…
    (pg 49)

    I am a little curious as to why you believe we are still in the second phase. Are there other things that will happen to know we are solidly past the transition and in the third phase? A new version of the BoM, maybe? Do you think an actual, physical division in the church will occur (splitting in two) or just sub-groups within, like the New Order Mormons? I am not sure if these subtle, yet profound, changes he implies came through the current format could be substantial enough to fulfill what you say will happen, but could not help but think, as I read your post, that if they are not the changes you see, they are a good foundation for such changes.

    BTW, Another item he points out that goes along with other posts on your blog:

    The new Quad Correlated Scriptures were announced, rather than presented for approval…the Quad’s roll-out violated policies established by the very Doctrine & Covenants therein reformatted!
    (pg50 emphasis in the original)

    .

  7. PallasAthena,

    “Are there other things that will happen to know we are solidly past the transition and in the third phase?”

    Yes. When the prophecies are fulfilled, there will be no doubt in anyone’s mind. For example, as I wrote the above post, I suspected that there would be people who would disagree and say that the Book of Mormon has already been transfigured, since it has gone through various editions and revisions, already. Some people refuse to use anything but the 1830 edition, etc. Others believe the church is apostate already for other reasons. (See the posts by truthrestored and Former Bishop Steven above, for example.) But, the prophecies often have shadow fulfillments that precede the literal fulfillment which the prophet had in mind. These shadow fulfillments can mix people up as to the timeline. But when the actual fulfillment of a prophecy occurs, everyone will know it, for it will be fulfilled in plainness, with no need for anyone to “interpret” it as being fulfilled.

    So, the third stage of the church will be inaugurated by an event that will put the church into turmoil and draw out the unexpressed rottenness that is in our hearts so that it is plainly manifest in all its iniquitous glory before the Lord and mankind. The third stage consists of the works of the devil. The church does not secretly or openly kill members, yet. It has not yet put forth the doctrine of forgiving sins for money. It doesn’t engage in whoredoms and orgies and every other conceivable wickedness as a part of its worship services. It doesn’t set up graven images to be worshipped. It doesn’t actively rob the poor and cater to only the rich. Etc. All these things and more will be the “works of the devil” that will attend the church during its third and final stage.

    “A new version of the BoM, maybe?”

    Yes. A new version vastly different than anything previous to it. It may not even be called the Book of Mormon anymore. That is what transfigure means, after all, to change the appearance of. It is going to be a very obvious change.

    “Do you think an actual, physical division in the church will occur (splitting in two) or just sub-groups within, like the New Order Mormons?”

    The church is going to be split into many churches. I wrote about these prophecies on the An alternate view of the keys post, I think. The current sub-groups and splinter groups are just the shadow. The New Order Mormons are a manifestation of the seed of doubt which has already been planted in the hearts of the members concerning the truths of the restoration, and in particular, the veracity of the Book of Mormon.

  8. I think I could have expressed better language in writing this post, but as I read through it after composing it, I liked its prophetic spirit, despite my stumbling over words, and I decided to keep it as is.

    Still, I’d like to try to express what I was trying to say in the post a little better:

    The Book of Mormon is a prophecy that also reveals things (a revelatory prophecy) or a revelation that also prophesies (a prophetic revelation). In other words, it is a manifestation of the spirit of prophecy and of revelation. As such, it can only be understood by the person reading it if 1) it is believed to be true and 2) the spirit of prophecy and revelation is upon the reader. This is because the Book of Mormon is a thing of God and the things of God can only be understood by the Spirit of God. All attempts to understand and interpret the Book of Mormon by man-made methods are futile and erroneous. Although the Book of Mormon contains items of interest to academics, scholars and intellectual circles, because it seems to contain historical narratives, Hebrew word patterns, multiple speech patterns, etc., no scholarly or intellectual method of examining it as a piece of literature and interpreting it according to those methods will allow a reader to arrive at the correct meaning and message of the work. This is because you cannot approach the Book of Mormon as a man-made work of literature, for no man made it.

    To illustrate, if I write a book in English and then hire a company to translate my words into German, which I don’t know, and they assign one of their employees that knows both English and German to the task, the output in the German will be that man’s words, not mine. This is because I don’t know German and never wrote in German. He wrote those words in German, not me. It is true that he used my words as a base, but the interpretation or translation is always put into the words and speech patterns of the translator.

    In the case of the Book of Mormon, who is the interpreter/translator? Did Joseph know reformed Egyptian? No. So Joseph never translated or interpreted anything. All he knew was English, making him useless as both a translator and interpreter. So, who performed the translation/interpretation? God did. And whose words did He interpret/translate, or whose words did He use as His base? The Nephite prophets’ words? No, because they didn’t write their own words either, but got those words from Him. So, God interpreted into English His own words that He had given to some mortals to write into their reformed Egyptian language. This scenario is akin to me writing a book in English and then me, myself, translating it into German. Just as I did everything, so God performed every task in the process of the creation of the Book of Mormon.

    Because of this, you cannot approach the Book of Mormon as man-made and use man-made methods of interpretation upon it, otherwise you wrest it to your own destruction. It must be understood by the spirit of prophecy and revelation, the same spirit which manifested it in the first place.

    So, in conclusion, my advice to everyone is to chuck all opinions of scholars, academics, intellectuals, authors, fireside speakers and the like, who attempt to interpret the Book of Mormon using man-made methods, into the trash. They will lead you astray. Unless they themselves have the spirit of prophecy and revelation, and are expounding the book using that spirit, they don’t know what the hell they are talking about.

  9. Yesterday, after writing this post, I found myself in the company of an LDS woman and took the opportunity to ask her some questions about her belief in the Book of Mormon. I asked her if she read it everyday. She said she did. I asked if she knew it was true and she replied, “Yes.” I asked how she knew it was true and she said she had prayed about it and learned of its truth. At this point I was elated at her answers. Then I asked her if the Book of Mormon were ever radically changed by the church, so that it read contrary to how it reads now, would that be a problem to her? She asked me if I meant by that that the prophet himself had authorized a change to it and I said, “Yes, if the prophet were to authorize a radical change to the Book of Mormon, so that it read contrary to what it reads now, would that be a problem?” She then gave me an answer I didn’t quite understand. It was a mix between following the Spirit and following the prophet, but the impression I got was that even though she believed the Book of Mormon to be true, she also believed in the “follow the prophet” mantra and that such indoctrination might actually put her on the side of those who approved of the transfiguration. Time will tell.

  10. Your comments that the changes to the Book of Mormon (BoM) will be obvious reminds me of the warning regarding the (BoM) secret combinations which requires a secret blood oath as taken by every LDS member who has gone through the LDS Temple. We all swore an OATH contrary to the teachings of Christ to “never swear an oath…as it comes of evil” and we have sworn to keep everything SECRET or “suffer your life to be taken”.

    We have also been commanded by Christ to be truth seekers. Why? Answer: Because it requires seeking truth to find it due to the political facade of “all is well in Zion” HIDDEN in plain sight which is apparent today.

    Why do you think Moroni warns us to “AWAKEN to our awful situation” because it has already happened and it IS AWFUL!

    The Book of Mormon has already had over 3,000 changes by the “Secret Combinations” which altered the identity of God, in that, as Amulek stated clearly as told by an Angel; “Jesus IS God the Eternal Father” and will be the Savior of the world! Now WHY do we not believe this truth today? Many witnesses of this truth is seen with the teachings of Abinadi who DIED only after he proclaimed this great message: God himself will come to this earth as a man!. There is only ONE God and it is Jesus Christ while his Spirit remained in Heaven as God the Eternal Father! Yet, due to the changes to the Book of Mormon and the social teachings, headings, footnotes, and cross-references and the false “First Vision” officially presented we believe in multiple Gods. This is a seriously significant alteration CHANGE to the Book of Mormon solidified by altering the Book of Mormon and sticking in “the son of” all over the place to “take out the plain and precious truth” of the Book of Mormon.

    So much for the prideful, prophetic voice by those who those who can’t see what is already in place.

    It is historically documented the role of the “Danite Warriors” as assassins of even those who murmured against the tyrannical rule of the Anti Christ and the “Kings without a country” as prophesied by the PROPHET Daniel beginning with Brigham Young (see Daniel’s prophecy at http://www.mormontruth.org ~ interesting read).

    Danite Warriors aka LDS CIA hit men are alive and well today as there are many who have been taken out due to embarrassment to the church or opposition to the church. And the CIA has the documented technology to induce untraceable artificial heart attacks with a gun with frozen bullets filled with a chemical not detected in the body even upon penetration by the victim as presented in a Congressional Hearing available on the internet.

    Interestingly, “embarrassments” and/or opponents or those who broke their serious Masonic Satanic blood oaths of secrecy died of heart attacks: Paul H. Dunn (exposed as a liar), Alan Barnes (son-in-law to Gordon B. Hinckley who admitted to signing the Olympic bribery checks to the FBI (see “The Silent Witness” aka The Silenced Witness at the Salt Lake Tribune archives), Harold B. Lee (went into the hospital with simple back problems and died of a heart attack after signing a dissolution of the Corp. of the President ~ see copies on internet with head nurse at LDS hospital interrogated by FBI as testified by Dr. Mel Fish, therapist and hundreds of others…As HBLee warned prior to his demise ” if they can’t get to you they get to those around you” HBLee stated in an impromptu testimony in his ward taken down in shorthand and recorded as a warning of the seriousness of the “blood oath”/Secret Combinations of the GAs), Daryl Geiger (church security who found out too much and talked), State official Doug Johnson (died in “accidental” car accident after judgment against him), Howard W. Hunter didn’t live long after disclosing the “serious blood oath taken by all GAs that cost them their life if they tell the secrets”, etc.

    All three levels that are proclaimed as “prophesy” have already happened. Just seek for truth without thinking that “all is well in Zion” as it is NOT! (2 Ne 28 as declared prophetically and ominously by GBHinckley in Gen Conf. 1996 and edited out but heard by thousands with a spiritual warning felt by the pure in heart)

    Pride is well in Zion as Pres. Benson proclaimed in his famous Pride talk about how “we are a condemned church”…and then he was silenced…by Mammon/Secret Combination/Danite Warriors or whatever name as it all stems from Moses 5:29 with the evil of secrets…

    God is truth and full disclosure with no need for Masonic Satanic temples filled with secret handshakes, secret names, secret blood oaths of penalties of death like slitting your throat, cutting out your heart, cutting out your intestines as ways to “suffer your life to be taken” if you tell the SECRETS of Satan. Enactment of penalties taken out of all LDS Temples in 1990 but still “assumed” today!

    Masonry IS secret combinations and the LDS church is full of SECRETS and “third stage” corruption. Masonry stems from Satan requiring Cain to keep a secret for the murder of Abel.

    Good luck ~ You’ve been warned!

  11. Great post. I actually liked the description of the translation process the most. It makes me want to try it myself. Though I have nothing to translate. Maybe the Voynich manuscript. :)

  12. To whomever believes we are already in the third stage,

    Wicked and conspiring men have been in the church since the beginning, and also men who only manifest the works of men in their lives. None of this indicates the stage of the church. Only the actions and hearts of the general membership put the church in any particular stage. I think everybody can agree that the works of the Father are not manifest in the church, so the only question is, “Are we in the second or third stage?” There are many indications that we are in the second stage, for example, the church still collects fast offerings and gives to the poor and the needy. The third stage church will not do such a work of men, instead grinding upon the faces of the poor and catering to the rich. Any iniquities you see nowadays, then, are merely the seeds of the third stage. When we enter the next phase, these will have sprouted into mature tares and we will witness all manner of abominations by the majority of members.

  13. I think that those who feel that the church is already in the third stage are just looking at the same information we are — just from a left-brain perspective.

    For them, things are either on-or-off, up-or-down, etc. The works of the Father aren’t manifesting — therefore, the whole thing is of the devil.

    For example, Zomarah writes a post saying Pres. Monson is clearly not a prophet [from a scriptural definition of the word]. And some people get upset and think that he’s saying Pres. Monson or the church is evil or devil-inspired.

    There’s a range of existence in the middle between God-works and Satan-works — where people are just trying to do the best they can as human beings. Many others churches and religious systems do that. The current LDS church is no different.

    Now — orgies in the temple, saying the Book of Mormon is not true, etc. — that’s starting to get into the third stage, which we clearly aren’t at yet.

  14. I was discussing the scriptures with my brother and his wife yesterday. During the course of the discussion I mentioned I rarely read the LDS version of the scriptures anymore, stating that I preferred other translations of the Bible to the King James Version and for the Book of Mormon, I preferred either Royal Skousen’s or Grant Hardy’s. His wife began to admonish me and tell me that I should not read any scriptures that do not come from SLC. Recalling your post, I asked her what I should do if SLC made drastic changes to the scriptures, the Book of Mormon in particular. She told me that “the Truth comes from Church Headquarters”. So there you have it, I think I may have found at least one person who would about face upon orders from SLC.

  15. You know, recently on another Mormon blog three people mentioned Grant Hardy’s views on the Book of Mormon, one of them quoting extensively from one of his books (I think it was his latest book). I’ve never read anything of Hardy’s except for the excerpts that that particular person quoted. It was material dealing with captain Moroni, casting him in a negative light, essentially disbelieving what Mormon wrote about him and misinterpreting captain Moroni’s recorded epistle. Also, another mentioned that Hardy cast doubt about whether Nephi’s slaying of Laban was legitimately done under the directions of the Holy Spirit. Now, just based upon the reading of the excerpts on captain Moroni, and assuming they were copy-pasted correctly, my current estimation of Hardy’s ability to understand the spirit of prophecy and revelation, and thus the scriptures, is right about at zero.

  16. This topic reminds me of a conversation I had recently with my daughter. I was telling her that people rely upon experts in all fields except when it comes to the word of God. Also, that people consider it immoral for someone to pretend to be an expert in a particular field in which they are unqualified. So, if there’s a doctor, a surgeon, a dentist, an automobile mechanic and a carpenter, each expert qualified in their respective field, people will not ask the mechanic to remodel their house, or the carpenter to perform open heart surgery. And if they find someone who is pretending to be a dentist or doctor or lawyer, who is unqualified in that field, they consider that fraud.

    So, I was telling her that people understand this principle and organize their entire lives around it except when it comes to the scriptures. If they did, they would seek out someone with the spirit of prophecy and revelation to unfold the scriptures to their understanding. But they don’t. They seek out people with church titles and/or university degrees, such as pastors, preachers, bishops, stake presidents, missionaries, reverands, priests, scholars, popes, historians, etc. Other times, they will listen to anyone that claims to have some sort of hidden knowledge or thought or idea on what the scriptures mean. They will listen to all of these people and hear their interpretations on the scriptures and then believe whatever they say as long as it appeals to their way of living.

    But this is not what they do for all other fields. For all other fields, they demand to listen to only an expert. And who are the experts on the scriptures? Does your church title give you expertise on the scriptures? Do the letters that come after your name give you expertise on the scriptures? No college degreee or church title can give anyone knowledge on the scriptures, only the spirit of prophecy and revelation can. The scriptures were written by this spirit and must be understood by the same spirit. Only a prophet and a revelator can give anyone understanding of the word of God, which is the most important subject that there is, for it concerns our eternal salvation. So, given the utter importance of the subject matter, why in the world are we trusting people who do not possess this spirit to explain it to us?

    It is immoral to give advice on a subject that you are not qualified to speak on. I am unqualified to do a great many things. I am not an auto mechanic, so I would not instruct a person on how to rebuild an engine. If I did, I’d ruin the car. If I attempted to operate on someone, I’d probably end up killing him. In the same way, it is immoral for anyone who does not have this spirit to “unfold” the scriptures, because you might end up ruining the person’s spiritual life. This is why the Lord has said, “If ye receive not the Spirit, ye shall not teach” (D&C 42:14.) If you know the scriptures are true, but are not a prophet or revelator yourself, then when talking to others about it, testify that you know the scriptures are true and then hand them a copy and invite them to read and come to a proper interpretation of them by wrestling with the Lord in the Spirit until He unfolds the same to their understanding through the same spirit that caused the word to be written. Don’t give them your own false understandings about it, because that just creates problems.

    So, I told my daughter, do what all men do in all fields of skill, and listen only to the experts, but do not do what men do when it comes to the word of God. Instead, follow the same protocol of listening only to the experts when it comes to the scriptures. If men don’t have the spirit of prophecy and revelation, and they are interpreting the scriptures for you, stop them and don’t listen to their interpretation, for it is BS. If you are unsure whether they have that spirit or not, ask them. Are you a prophet? Are you a revelator? Are you a seer? Do you have the spirit of prophecy and revelation? Does this interpretation of yours come by way of the spirit of prophecy and revelation, or is this your own idea? If they say it is their own idea or guess, stop listening. You can learn nothing from them about the scriptures. Perhaps they are useful for carpentry or dentistry, but not for unfolding the true meaning and mysteries of the word of God to your view.

    If they say that they do have the spirit of prophecy, then listen closely to what they say, for it can only be one of two things: either they are true prophets sent from God or they are false prophets who are trying to deceive the people. A true prophet, when asked if they have the spirit of prophecy, will always answer affirmatively. (See Alma 5:47.) A man just giving his non-prophetic opinion on the scriptures, will not say that he has the spirit of prophecy, for no man wants to speak a false prophecy and be shown to be an imposter. However, a deceiver, sent forth to deceive the people, will say that he has the spirit of prophecy. So, only true prophets and deceivers, will claim prophecy and revelation.

    Once the man claiming the spirit of prophecy has spoken, perform the Berean principle and search the scriptures, comparing what the word of God says to what the professed prophet has said and whatever the Spirit indicates, do. And if you discover the man is a bona fide prophet, then continue listening to that man and continue to apply the Berean principle, but if you discover anyone to be a false prophet, stop listening to him.

    I told my daughter to search the scriptures herself and petition the Lord for understanding, relying solely upon His Spirit for understanding, and listening to no one’s interpretation unless she knows for certain that he or she possesses that spirit and can properly expound the scriptures. That rule applies to all men, including me, I told her.

    I mention it here because there seems to be many books, written by a great many people, interpreting the scriptures and it makes me wonder just how many of them, if any of them, at all, have the spirit of prophecy and revelation, yet so many read their words, believe them and quote them to others. I am basing this assessment on my own personal experience, for I have met very few prophets in my lifetime. Then again, perhaps I just need to meet more people. Perhaps there are many prophets out there and I just haven’t met them, yet, like the situation with Elijah (see 1 kings 19:18, 9-18.)

  17. Ahh — but wouldn’t the standard response be, “Whom the Lord calls, He qualifies“?

    I think the people who consult with the non-experts on the scriptures would say that it’s apples-to-oranges — and they would challenge your claim that church calling does not qualify someone to speak as an expert on the scriptures.

    But — just playing Devil’s advocate really — I agree with what you wrote — and I like the idea of just asking anyone who discusses the scriptures with me whether they have the spirit of prophecy and revelation — cause I think most in a church setting will always answer “no”.

  18. Lol. I had forgotten about that saying. I also wonder what people in church would say. The scripture says that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy and I believe Joseph appealed to that scripture when he was asked if he was a prophet. I think a lot of people have heard of that and some might be tempted to say yes, since they have testimonies of Christ. But the trend is to place all prophecy upon the First Presidency and Twelve Apostles, so I suppose if someone was asked if he or she was a prophet or a revelator, the response would be no. I need to do some experimentation and find out what the typical responses are. I think you are probably right that they would say no.

  19. I have considered reading Grant Hardy’s commentaries on the Book of Mormon, but never have and now probably never will. I generally try to read the book myself instead of read what other people say about it. If what you say is true, I’m not interested. If what you say is not true, well, I am still interested enough to find out. The Book of Mormon; A Reader’s Edition is the 1920 text of the Book of Mormon reformatted. It is written in paragraph’s, with quotation marks, poetic stanza’s, etc. He does not offer any commentary in the text. He has a few Appendixes in the back but I have yet to read them so I do not know if he tries to offer interpretation there.

    Royal Skousens is the one I tend to read the most, it is the culmination of all of his work on the Critical Text of the Book of Mormon project. He explains his motives in a piece he wrote for Times and Seasons.

  20. PallasAthena, these are the excerpts from that book that were posted in that other blog and you can come to your own conclusion on them:

    In Grant Hardy’s recent book on understanding the Book of Mormon, Hardy goes to great length to discuss each of the narrators of that Book. Principally related to this discussion, Mormon becomes a fascinating case study. I’ve pulled a Mormon and given just bits and pieces (pages are missing because I copied it from my Kindle, so you’ll have to dig the exact pages out yourself)… but what precedes this discussion in the actual book is quite beneficial to the story as a whole.

    In a section on analyzing significant phrases
    in said book, Hardy notes:

    …it is important to keep the conventions of the text in mind. For instance, at Alma 48:11-18, Mormon interrupts his narrative to insert a highly unusual, resounding endorsement of Captain Moroni’s spiritual stature. It is a good thing he does so, because otherwise readers might get the wrong idea from the narratives that follow. Moroni is stubborn and hot-tempered, he is never depicted as praying for assistance or relying solely upon God, and – justified though it may be – he ends up with a lot of blood on his hands. Mormon’s comment helps us read Moroni’s story in a particular way, and it is remarkable what lengths he goes to in order to ensure that. The culmination of Mormon’s praise is the assertion, “Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had …” (Alma 48:17). This is as strong a statement as Mormon can possibly make; the only other instances of “verily, verily I say unto you” in the Book of Mormon are spoken by the resurrected Christ himself.”

    And, elsewhere, this:

    In the 17 years in which we follow the career of [Captain] Moroni closely, we only observe him praying once (Alma 46:16), citing scriptures twice (Alma 46:24-26, 60:23-24), and claiming one revelation (Alma 60:33), which turns out to be mistaken…

    The trouble starts, apparently, as a schism within the church, which becomes a political movement to restore the monarchy. Captain Moroni “angry with Amalickiah” raises a militia of believers – evidently quite separate from the army under his command – that he rallies around the “Title of Liberty,” a banner of his own devising. He and his followers pursue the fleeing Amalickiah and summarily execute those who refuse to join with them (…though Mormon hastens to assure us that these killings were not extralegal). Amalickiah escapes to the Lamanites and, while he is stirring up trouble there, Moroni makes extensive military preparations for the invasion he knows is coming.

    At this point, Mormon fudges things a bit, telling us that “Moroni planted the standard of liberty among the Nephites … and thus they did maintain peace in the land until nearly the end of the 19th year of the reign of the judges” (Alma 46:36-37). This sounds like a considerable achievement unless readers are keeping track of the chronology themselves, in which case they realize that we are already well into year nineteen, so this peace lasts only a matter of months. But even more surprisingly, Mormon inserts a paean to Moroni that is unlike anything else in the Book of Mormon (see Alma 48:11-13, 17-18).

    Again, this is remarkable. Not only does Mormon employ language elsewhere reserved for deity (“verily, verily I say unto you”), but the rarity of these sorts of direct comparisons makes one sit up and take notice. Nevertheless, a little reflection may suggest that Moroni is not, in the end, very much like Ammon or the sons of Mosiah, who were missionaries rather than warriors, renounced power, humbled themselves, suffered willingly, and reached out to the Lamanites. Moroni brings a very different temperament and set of skills to the challenges of his own day and circumstances. If they are all “men of God,” it must be because God has rather eclectic tastes; he seems to honor very different types of people.

    Over the next 14 chapters we see Moroni at war – defending, maneuvering, strategizing, threatening, and attacking. We could cite several passages where his actions seem questionable. During a lull in the fighting he clears out Lamanite villages and establishes fortified cities in their stead (Alma 50:7-16), a particularly aggressive form of keeping the peace, which seems contrary to the articulated ideal of engaging only in defensive warfare (Alma 43:46-47, 48:14). (This is the moment that Mormon, somewhat jaw-droppingly, pronounces to be the happiest in all of Nephite history; see Alma 50:23.) at one point Moroni slaughters some four thousand political opponents, thus “breaking down the wars and contentions among his own people, and subjecting them to peace and civilization”(!) (Alma 51:17-22). His negotiating skills are a bit weak. When he responds to a Lamanite offer of a prisoner exchange, his letter starts out well, but his temper gets the best of him by the end (“I am in my anger… (Alma 54:13)). In such situations, it is generally not a good idea to refer to the commander of the opposing forces as a “child of hell” (Alma 54:11). Ammaron, the Lamanite leader in question, is offended, not surprisingly, but he nevertheless agrees to the conditions Moroni sets forth. Unfortunately, by this time Moroni is so exercised that he breaks off negotiations entirely.

    The most dramatic example of Moroni’s temper comes in a letter to Pahoran, the chief judge in Zarahemla responsible for sending provisions, arms, and reinforcements, none of which had arrived. Moroni begins “by way of condemnation” (Alma 60:2) and over the course of his epistle becomes more and more sure that he has been betrayed by the civilian government. He accuses them of neglect, indifference, and slothfulness. He wonders if they have become “traitors to [the] country” and threatens to overthrow them unless things change fast. By the end he boldly asserts, “Ye know that ye do transgress the laws of God, and ye do know that ye do trample them under your feet”; perhaps an allusion to Mosiah, and he claims a revelation to that effect. It turns out that Moroni was mistaken in this. Pahoran had not been able to send supplies because there had been a coup against him and he was now heading a government in exile. He was actually quite gracious in the face of such unjust criticism, responding, “And now, in your epistle you have censured me, but it mattereth not; I am not angry, but do rejoice in the greatness of your heart.” He even offers a face-saving reinterpretation for Moroni’s off-the-mark revelation: “I was somewhat worried concerning what we should do, whether it should be just in us to go against our brethren. …”

    On the other hand, there are also instances where Moroni can be seen giving quarter to his enemies (Alma 52:37, 55:18-19, 62:16-17, 27-29) and proving that he was indeed a reluctant warrior (Alma 48:22), … . Mormon seems quite sincere in his admiration of Captain Moroni, even though his account of the Amalickiahite Wars is uncharacteristically secular. God and religion are mentioned in the quoted letters, but hardly at all by the narrator, who seems content to explain causation in naturalistic terms. Perhaps this is the respect of one professional soldier to another. Whatever the success the Nephites have at this time is credited to Moroni’s skill as a general. If his blunt manner, quick temper, aggressive posture, and hasty suspicions would have made him a poor missionary, they are nevertheless qualities that serve him well on the battlefield. (Even so, Mormon’s account glosses over the fact that under Moroni, the Nephites lost a whole string of heavily fortified cities, including, for a time, the capital Zarahemla itself; Alma 51:11, 22-28, 52:12.)

    Because the Book of Mormon is primarily a religious history, we are accustomed to seeing religious virtues – humility, self-sacrifice, kindness, and relying upon the Lord. Mormon never criticizes Moroni for his lack of such qualities, but he does provide a counterexample of a very different type of military leader, one who boasts no particular martial skills or background. This is Helaman (the son of Alma), the high priest over the church. During the first years of the conflict, Helaman and his brothers do their part for the Nephite cause by preaching (Alma 48:19-20, 49:30). When the people of Ammon (the converted Lamanites) want to support the war effort, he talks them out of it. … we learn the fate of these young men (the sons of the Lamanites he persuaded not to fight), from a long, retrospective letter that Helaman wrote to Moroni several years later (Alma 56-58). There he describes narrow escapes, clever strategems, and surprising victories, but success comes from God’s intervention rather than his own expertise. He marvels at the faith of his soldiers … and reports they fought with “miraculous strength” (Alma 56:56). In their first battle not one of them fell. In their second batter the results were even more marvelous. (Alma 57:25-26).

    Over and over we hear of the their faith (Alma 57:21, 27, 58:40) and prayers (58:10), how they trusted in the Lord (58:33, 37), and how they have been preserved by the “miraculous power of God” or the “goodness of God” (57:25, 36). They suffer from a shortage of supplies, but Helaman has a better sense of the situation than Moroni (“we fear that there is some faction in the government”; 58:36).

    Nevertheless, Helaman and his soldiers continue to retake cities along the western front that had been captured by the Lamanities in their initial invasion, usually with minimal bloodshed on either side. At the same time, the army of Moroni lost one of the biggest prizes in the east, the city of Nephihah – a turn of events that led Moroni to “be exceedingly sorrowful, and [he] began to doubt, because of the wickedness of the people (Alma 59:11).

    Thus once again we see a contrast between ordinary success – the result of diligent effort and personal skills – and the sort of miraculous accomplishments that can occur when humble people put their trust in God. Both types of service are praiseworthy and acceptable (which may be an interesting lesson for a modern church that relies on a lay ministry). Indeed, in this last case, Mormon goes out of his way to ensure that his readers to not quickly dismiss Moroni’s very human strivings.

    Based on an analysis of form – taking into account Mormon’s selection, arrangement, and phrasing – it appears that what interests him is not mundane events or astonishing miracles so much as the contrast between these two modes of existence. Over the course of two hundred pages, Mormon constructs a repeating sequence of three sets of parallel stories, organizing them into narrative blocks of similar size and importance, one right after the other. Even though the two tales within each set take place at nearly the same time – so the narrative order is a matter of choice – the second story is always the more miraculous. What is more, the second tale connects with the next set: the church founded by Alma, whose members escape to Zarahemla, is the same organization that Alma attempts to reform and the sons of Mosiah take to the Lamanites; the converts made by the sons of Mosiah, who join with the Nephites, are the parents of Helaman’s stripling soldiers. It is a clever design that highlights Mormon’s literary craftsmanship, but such large scale patterns are easy to miss. Mormon himself does not draw attention to them; instead he simply professes that “I know the record which I make to be a just and true record” (3 Ne. 5:18). His message is that God will respond in predictable ways both to those who serve him competently and also to those who seek blessings beyond their capacities. Mormon suggests that the facts of history demonstrate this, even if the point is a little clearer when he is the one telling the stories.

  21. Thank you. An edit to my previous comment in which I seem to have left out an important word:

    If what you say is true, I’m not interested. If what you say is not true, well, I am still not interested enough to find out.

    I really have no interest in reading commentaries on the Book of Mormon but would rather read it itself. The quotes you just cited from Grant Hardy are a good reason why.

  22. To me this is a beautiful and powerful testimony of The Book of Mormon and its truthfulness, It truly is the word of God unto us.

    Thank you for sharing.

  23. Dear LDSA, I was intrigued by the idea that every single word in BoM is from God. My I keep it in mind as I read it.
    Here is a passage that I read (Ether 10:10-12). Morianton eases the tax burden.

    10 And after that he had established himself king he did ease the burden of the people, by which he did gain favor in the eyes of the people, and they did anoint him to be their king.
    11 And he did do justice unto the people, but not unto himself because of his many awhoredoms; wherefore he was cut off from the presence of the Lord.

    If the Lord is actually saying “he did do justice unto the people” and the only way of doing justice is have 0% tax, will you agree with me that the Lord is saying that Morianton abolished taxation? But then we have

    12 And it came to pass that Morianton built up many cities, and the people became exceedingly rich under his reign…

    When it says “built up many cities” I cannot help but think of taxes being used for building/

    Could you please offer your insight?

  24. I think there are a couple of ways of reading this text. One way is to read “easing the burden of the people” as meaning reducing the rate of taxation, as opposed to eliminating it. In that case he would still have tax revenue with which to “build up many cities.” Another possibility is that he eliminated taxation, allowing instead for donations to “build up many cities.” Since the people prospered under his reign and were happy with him, they may have voluntarily donated to his kingdom from their surplus.

  25. Thanks, LDSA.
    Using the key to reading the BoM that you proposed, we may know that it is not Mormon’s opinion that Morianton “did do justice unto the people”, it is in fact the Lord’s words. Would the Lord call any rate of compulsory taxation “justice”?

  26. No. So, if Morianton merely reduced the rate of taxation, instead of eliminating it altogether, it must have been taxation by voluntary covenant, for he is contrasted with Riplakish, his ancestor, whose reign was noted for the compulsory nature of its taxation. If so, I wonder why a person would opt to pay taxes instead of opting out of it? Perhaps there were benefits derived from covenanting to pay taxes?

    Whatever he did insofar as the people was concerned (his public life), was obviously patterned after the gospel and approved by the Lord, although his personal life was iniquitous. So, yes, Morianton doing justice to the people was not just Mormon’s opinion, but was an assessment given by the Spirit.

  27. My thought was that — it’s not that:
    taxation = unrighteousness
    no taxation = righteousness

    but that:
    consent = righteousness
    coercion = unrighteousness

    So, in addition to the either lessing the tax burden or operating by free donations — my thought when first reading over that was that the government was so structured so that the voice of the people could directly vote yea or nay to a certain level of annual taxation, and that the people voted for some level of tax.

    “Doing justice” to the people doesn’t mean that they don’t pay taxes — but that the people are allowed to manifest their will [whether that's for or against paying taxes]. It would be unjust to remove taxation from a people who would be in favor of paying some tax to their government.

  28. Wow lots of comments great. I do have a witness that I know was from God regarding the truth of the Book of Mormon. I don’t claim the spirit of prophecy. I might have it. I know the Spirit of God works through me. I know when something I read is from God or not. I can feel the spirit of a person’s words even in a little sample some times.

    I don’t say the following by way of being a prophet. I just make my own observation. I kow you will take it or leave it as you wish. I hope you will take the holy Spirit as your guide. That’s what I try to do.

    So my views on a few things here.
    Hey truthrestored and http://www.originalbookofmormonrestored.com you sound like the same person or a broken record. Your first comment stated so much of your “authority” for being right that it put me on my guard. Jesus didn’t do that. He spoke truth as one having authority. He didn’t need to tell them why they should listen to him as did the scribes. And then your “credentials” coupled with your doctrine put me at ease. I know you are wrong about somethings at least and possibly well let’s just leave it at the fact that I won’t rely on your words because some of them contradict the actions of God in the Bible. So you are not interpreting the scripture with the Spirit of God.

    And regarding Grant Hardy. That guy is so far off I shudder to think of what those people who believe him believe. I was going to describe his ideas using a word which refers to human waste. But I decided not to.

    In both these examples I see a recurring pattern in many uninspired and yet seemingly very fervent and “knowledgable” people. They form an opinion of what God is like than interpret all scripture to prove their idea correct. I see this as making a image of God graven according to their hearts desires. Rather than looking at what the scriptures say about HIm and then forming their concept of him.

    Well there I go accusing others of not being objective in forming their opinions while considering myself to be objective. But by their fruits ye shall know them. So if you knew my fruits maybe you would think I can be trusted. But I am not going to state any fruits. I know we can look at people’s actions and view them for good or evil according to our desire.

    But I will say that I agree with LDSA regarding the fulfillment of prophecy. When God makes a prophesy know unto men He will also see that they receive a clear knowledge of its fulfillment. Samuel the Lamanite prophesied of a day and a night and a day without darkness. It was so powerfully fulfilled It even convinced (or at least stopped completely for a time) people who were so devilish they had passed a law to kill tens of thousands (perhaps many more) or their own country men because they believed in Christ.

  29. I was not aware that there are now apparently varying “Books of Mormon” people can use for their gospel study??

    I had never took time to think which Book of Mormon I was going to read [Except maybe the current LDS published version vs. the original 1830], I’d always just read and studied the Book of Mormon.

    Then I saw this post, which asks, “2012 is Book of Mormon year in Gospel Doctrine class. Which Book of Mormon are you going to read? … What other references, tools, or apps have you found helpful when reading?”

    The post mentions Grant Hardy’s books — which Pallas Athena brought-up in the comments above.

    I don’t attend Gospel Doctrine classes — but is that what most people do? Read these commentaries about the Book of Mormon — talking about which “Book of Mormon” you are going to study — etc. I’ve never heard of Grant Hardy before — who is he and why do LDS talk about him in regards to their Sunday School study of the scriptures?

  30. I’ve been re-doing the scriptures, as you are aware from the Fastpencil project, and organizing everything in sense lines, without punctuation and capitalization, whatsoever. In the case of the Book of Mormon, I’ve been using the original chapter divisions which were found on the plates themselves, which were the same chapter divisions found in the first edition of the Book of Mormon. None of the chapters have paragraphs, but are one, continous thought split into sense lines. Also, I have used line indentation to indicate quotations. I have also put line numbers on all the lines, for ease of finding specific text. Finally, I have also numbered all chapters sequentially, without restarting the numbers with each specific book of the Book of Mormon. All of this is in an OpenOffice document which I am composing and printing out for use in our family scripture study sessions. I am still trying to figure out whether I can get the Fastpencil project to resemble the OpenOffice document, so it’s not an exact match.

    I will attempt to illustrate what the text looks like in this comment section, and I’m not sure if it will allow me to do it here. But here it goes:

    1 the book of mormon

    2 an account written by the hand of mormon
    3 upon plates taken from the plates of nephi

    For the most part, each sense line contains a verb, so “written” and “taken”, etc. Sometimes, though, the sense lines don’t follow that pattern. Basically, as one reads the text, you get a sense of how it is divided into phrases and clauses that go together, and each one of those are put on a separate line.

    The line numbering only applies to the text itself of the book of mormon, not to anything else added, so, for example:

    275 amen

    chapter three

    1 and now i nephi proceed to give an account upon these plates

    I have found that indenting quotations is super helpful and has allowed certain things I never noticed before to come out of the text, for example:

    571 and it came to pass that the angel spake unto me nephi saying [Nephi]

    576 if it so be that they harden their hearts against the lamb of god [Angel]

    577 for the time cometh [Jesus]

    578 saith the lamb of god [Angel]

    579 that i will work a great and a marvelous work among the children of men [Jesus]

    587 both temporally and spiritually [Jesus]

    588 according to the captivity of the devil [Angel]
    589 of which i have spoken [Angel]

    Now, I’m not sure if that will show up, but essentially, it shows that the angel gave his own interpretation of the words of God as he quoted God’s words, which thing I had never noticed before because it was arranged in verses. I added the text above in [] so that you can understand who is doing the talking on that line. If I could show you the whole text, you’d understand what I’m trying to demonstrate.

    Here is an example of the sequential numbering of the chapters:

    1 the book of jacob
    2 the brother of nephi

    3 the words of his preaching unto his brethren
    4 he confoundeth a man who seeketh to overthrow the doctrine of christ
    5 a few words concerning the history of the people of nephi

    chapter twenty-three

    So, chapter 23 of the Book of Mormon is found in the Book of Jacob. Etc.

    Now, the reason why I left all puntuation and capitalization out is because the text was dictated without it. Afterward, Joseph, scribes and publisher tried to make the text fit the “book form” that men typically write in by adding punctuation, capitalization and paragraphs. Later, it was divided into chapters that didn’t follow the chapters on the plates, and also put into verses.

    Perhaps you are wondering why I didn’t even bother to capitalize the first word of a chapter, the titles, or even put a period at the end of a chapter. The reason why I didn’t do this is because the word of God is continuous. It has no beginning and will have no end. So, when we pick up a book of scripture, we are always tuning in to a broadcast already in progress. There are words that preceded that revelation and there are words that follow. It’s like turning on a radio and tuning into a talk radio station whose broadcaster is continually speaking. You always enter into the middle, never the beginning. If you turn the radio off, the broadcaster is still speaking. So, all chapters begin with lower case letters, for they are merely a continuation of thought and concept, and end without periods, showing that more is coming.

    This principle is shown in the following scriptures:

    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
    but not all
    for my works are without end
    and also my words
    for they never cease
    (Moses 1:3-4)

    but unto myself my works have no end neither beginning (D&C 29:33)

    So, God has no beginning or end, His works have no beginning or end, and His words have no end (never cease) and thus must also have no beginning, for God works by His word. So, the word of God is like unto a mathematical line, extending eternally in both directions. Whenever we read any of it, even when it is composed as a chapter or book of scripture, we are only getting a segment of that eternal line of words.

    By arranging the text in this manner, we can see the never-ending nature of God and His words and His works, and can see that our commandments to always remember Him and always look to Him and always pray to Him is patterned after Him. There are certain things that He does continually and there are certain things He commands us to do continually, that we might become like Him.

    Also, the arrangement of the text in this manner allows chiasmus to more easily be noticed. Now, admittedly, it is a strange way to read it, but that makes it peculiar and it sets it apart from the way man composes his literature. Mark Twain criticized the Book of Mormon because it was arranged as a book, such as how a man would write it, and with paragraphs all beginning with “and it came to pass”, etc. Viewing it as human literature, in the format it was published in, it really does come across as very poorly written. Had he seen it in this format, he probably would have said, “What the hell is this?!”, for it shows itself as something completely foreign to the ways of men, and thus possibly of God.

    One last thought on this really long comment: Royal Skousen’s The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text is probably the most accurate version we have, as close to the words dictated by Joseph as we can currently get to.

  31. Here is a link to that Fastpencil project, in case anyone wants a looksie.

  32. That’s an awesome project. Are you using extant portions of the Original Manuscript or are you basing it off Skousen’s work?

    I like you ideas about the punctuation, capitalization, and chapter numbering.

    Any idea when the Book of Mormon will be done? And could I get a copy of it in OpenOffice?

  33. Skousen’s version would be the best one to use, but I still have to find out about all the copyright issues. Obviously, his book is based upon the manuscripts, which I imagine are in the public domain, so I’m not sure that lifting his text right from his book is infringement, owing that these were the words that Joseph dictated nearly two hundred years ago. I’ll have to talk to an expert on that before I do anything.

    In the meantime, I’m using the Project Gutenburg online books version, which it states is in the public domain. So, my plan is to first organize this text into sense iines and chapters and then make changes to it if it turns out I can use Skousen’s corrections.

    Some parts of the FastPencil project already contain some of Skousen’s corrections, since I wanted to see what it looked like. I started this as a family/tribal edition of the Book of Mormon, to be used for my immediate family in family scripture study, and by any members of the tribe that want it. I can easily print out the OpenOffice Document and bind it, but I wanted to see what it looked like in a real book form, so I started uploading it into a FastPencil project. Also, I thought it might be good to show others what it looked like, and FastPencil allows that. Whether I end up publishing it in book form using FastPencil depends upon the copyright restrictions. It is not my intention to sell this, but obviously, if someone wants a copy, they’ll be able to get one from FastPencil.

    However, it doesn’t look like FastPencil allows me to list line numbers like the OpenOffice program does, so I like OpenOffice better. Plus, I can reduce the font size considerably and put a lot of text into a small area. My printer can even take a text down to 2 points at 1200 dpi, which I am able to read, if I want. When I’m done with the OpenOffice document, I will send you a copy and you can modify it as you wish. I don’t have a deadline to finish this project. I do a little bit each day ’cause, like I said, it’s really just meant for family consumption.

  34. I’ve given up on FastPencil. It won’t let me do what I want to do. Instead, I’m now doing this (click the link):

    why do ye smite your younger brother with a rod | know ye not | that the lord hath chosen him to be a ruler over you | and this | because of your iniquities | (BOM 1:72)

    Btw, that’s just a random scripture.

  35. A fine read indeed!
    I would kindly ask someone who subscribes to the idea “BoM verbatim from God” to explain
    Mosiah 21:28,

    And now Limhi was again filled with joy in learning from the mouth of Ammon that king Mosiah had a gift from God, whereby he could interpret such engravings; yea, and Ammon also did rejoice.

    where the initial manuscript reads “Benjamin”, whereas the current LDS scriptures read “Mosiah”.
    So God meant it to read “Benjamin”? If so, what should we make of this verse knowing that Benjamin was dead at the time of Limhi+Ammon reunion?

  36. Going on the assumption that Mormon did not make a mistake when he engraved “Benjamin” in the record at that place, here is an explanation that may fit:

    Zeniff, the grandfather of Limhi, left Zarahemla and came to the land of Nephi at the time of king Benjamin. Limhi’s people, then, knew the history of the Nephites up until the reign of king Benjamin only. After Zeniff left, Benjamin’s son reigned, who was Mosiah, who was unknown to Limhi and his people.

    Keeping in mind that the record that we have is truncated, or an abridgement, Ammon may have been informing Limhi that Benjamin–the Nephite king that Limhi would have been familiar with, according to the record of Zeniff, his grandfather–possessed interpreters and therefore the Nephites had means to translate the record of Ether. So, the verse read originally:

    And now Limhi was again filled with joy in learning from the mouth of Ammon that king Benjamin had a gift from God, whereby he could interpret such engravings; yea, and Ammon also did rejoice.

    And as it stands, that is correct, for it is true “that king Benjamin had a gift from God, whereby he could interpret such engravings.” It is also true what Ammon told Limhi in Mosiah 8:13-14.

    He says, “I can assuredly tell thee, O king, of a man that can translate the records; for he has wherewith that he can look, and translate all records that are of ancient date; and it is a gift from God.” He uses the phrase “of a man” because he is talking to Limhi of someone that Limhi is unfamiliar with. Later, he says, “And behold, the king of the people who are in the land of Zarahemla is the man that is commanded to do these things, and who has this high gift from God.” So, he identifies the man as the Nephite king, but still, Limhi is unfamiliar with him, or doesn’t know the guy.

    But Limhi is familiar with Benjamin. So, Ammon, in the non-truncated version, may have traced these interpreters back to someone Limhi was familiar with, namely, king Benjamin. In other words, in the unabridged account of the conversation between Ammon and Limhi, both king Benjamin and king Mosiah may have been mentioned in connection with the interpreters.

    We get, though, the abridged version, and we find Mormon writing in Mosiah 8 about Mosiah having the interpreters and in Mosiah 21 about Benjamin having the interpreters, and we cry, “An error! Falsehood! It must either be this or that, therefore, someone screwed up, either Mormon or Joseph!” But another approach is to see both chapters as being accurate, and just put it down as something that happens when you get a truncated account. As the interpreters were passed down from one person to the next, it is reasonable to believe that Mosiah got the interpreters from his father, Benjamin, and that Benjamin got the interpreters from his father, Mosiah, who we know from the book of Omni was a seer in possession of the interpreters.

    So, the word “Benjamin” was revealed to Joseph Smith in that verse and that is the word that ought to be used. However, it is understandable that after it was revealed, Joseph or Oliver or whoever it was that made the change to Mosiah, being confused with its place there, changed it to “Mosiah.” Either way the verse is written, with either Benjamin or Mosiah, it is still true, for both men did have the interpreters and the record makes it clear in Mosiah 8 that Ammon did tell Limhi of Mosiah. So, the change doesn’t falsify the record, but we get a clearer picture of all that was discussed between Limhi and Ammon with the original word “Benjamin.”

  37. Thank you LDSA, I actually was beginning to come close to the conclusion similar to the one you suggested.

    I’m really struggling with reconciling the following:

    On page 353 of the first edition this statement appeared:

    “… the cause of diseases which was subsequent to man, by the nature of the climate.”

    In the 1964 reprint (Alma 46:40) this has been changed to read:

    “… the cause of diseases, to which men were subject, by the nature of the climate—”

    “subsequent to man”? what on earth is that? this phrase seems so odd and random. It doesn’t look at all like a printer’s omission
    man->men
    was->were
    “to” in the wrong place

    So, what is your take on this one, then?

  38. and there were some | who died with fevers | which | at some seasons of the year | was very frequent in the land | but not so much so with fevers | because of the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots | which god had prepared to remove the cause of diseases | which was subsequent to man by the nature of the climate | (BoM, Royal Skousen version)

    What an interesting construction. Look at the 1828 definition of subsequent. It means that the nature of the climate caused diseases to follow man in time. Whereas the modern edition means that the nature of the climate subjected men to the cause of diseases. There doesn’t appear to be much of a change in meaning between the two versions, but the modern version is obviously easier to process, which is probably why the original wording was changed.

  39. Given the constant evolution of human language — I’m wondering what it would mean to ever refer to a translation as “most correct”.

    As this highlighted use of “subsequent” would suggest — “most correct” could only apply to the translation at the time, place, and circumstances under which the translation took place.

    Once the language evolves — doesn’t the translation become “less correct”?

  40. Yep. But once a language is “bound” into a writing (D&C 128:8), as long as the people continue to read and re-read a text, teaching their children to understand what is written there (Mosiah 1:4), the meaning will always be understood. The reason why the original Book of Mormon text is no longer fully understood is, I believe, because we stopped reading it, substituting different words (in subsequent editions) for the originals.

    At any rate, even if the Book of Mormon had remained in a pristine condition, with every word exactly recorded and printed without error, and every person understood and taught their children and all investigators to understand its words, generation after generation, the spoken word always evolves more rapidly than the written word, so in a short time there would be a marked difference between the two.

    The Book of Mormon is an interesting case in that it didn’t really use 19th century, but 16th century English. So, it started off with outdated language. But, interestingly enough, 16th century language has persisted in various works, while 19th century language has more or less gone out of use. So, perhaps the Lord knew what He was doing when He put it in that language?

    At any rate, the phrase “subsequent to” is still in use today. It’s just that the construction, “the cause of diseases | which was subsequent to man by the nature of the climate” is awkward to our ears. Not because we no longer use “subsequent to,” but because this construction, which is likely a Hebrew way of speaking, is foreign to English speakers. So, it’s possible that the modern editions are easier to read merely because they are eliminating the direct Hebrew to English expressions found all over the place.

  41. Craig J. Ostler gives some commentary on how the Book of Mormon was translated. Here are the links:

    DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS 6-9
    DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS 6
    DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS 7
    DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS 8
    DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS 9

    Of particular note is that Ostler categorically states that the evidence is in favor of the Book of Mormon being translated using the Urim and Thummim, as the Book of Mormon states it was, and not by use of any seer stone being placed into a hat.

    According to William Smith, Joseph’s younger brother, “A pocket was prepared in the breastplate on the left side, immediately over the heart. When not in use the Urim and Thummim was placed in the pocket, the rod being of just the right length to allow it to be deposited. This instrument could, however, be detached from the breastplate when away from home, but Joseph always used it in connection with the breastplate when translating, as it permitted him to have both hands free to touch the plates” (Smith, Rod of Iron 1, 3 [February 1924]: 7).

    William also stated, “The instrument caused a strain on Joseph’s eyes, and he sometimes resorted to covering his eyes with a hat to exclude the light in part” (Smith, Rod of Iron 1, 3 [February 1924]: 7).

    Lucy Mack Smith also described the Urim and Thummimm. Ostler wrote:

    Lucy Mack Smith recorded that Joseph told her he had “a key” by which he translated. She said she did not know what he meant, but he placed the “article in [her] hands and, examining it with no covering but a silk handkerchief, found that it consisted of two smooth three- cornered diamonds set in glass, and the glasses were set in silver bows connected with each other in much the same way that old-fashioned spectacles are made” (Smith, History of Joseph Smith, 1996, 139).

    According to Ostler, the story of translating in a hat with a singular seer stone comes from David Whitmer, who does not give a reliable, credible testimony. Ostler also states, “Spanning a period of twenty years (1869-1888), some seventy recorded testimonies about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon claim David Whitmer as their source.” In other words, those entire seventy testimonies concerning translating with a seer stone in a hat all bank on Whitmer’s testimony being accurate.

  42. I have made a change to this post.

    The original sentence read, “When Joseph stuck his head in a hat, with the seer stone in it, so that the stone shone in darkness, he thought of a word and then asked God in his mind if the word he was thinking of was right.”

    I have changed that to read, “When Joseph used the Urim and Thummim, he thought of a word and then asked God in his mind if the word he was thinking of was right.”

    Also, the sentence,

    “Eventually he reached the point where he needed no Urim and Thummim, or seer stone, to obtain revelation from the Lord, but could easily and quickly feel out the words from the Spirit”

    now reads,

    “Eventually he reached the point where he needed no Urim and Thummim to obtain revelation from the Lord, but could easily and quickly feel out the words from the Spirit.”

    In light of the previous comment, I am now back to my original belief, namely that Joseph Smith used the Urim and Thummim to translate the Book of Mormon, as he and others said he did, and not a separate seer stone, as claimed by David Whitmer.

  43. As I was reading BoM with the idea in mind that all the words are the words of God, I became puzzled with this:
    Mosiah 13:29-30:
    …it was expedient that there should be a law given to the children of Israel, yea even a very strict law; for they were a stiffnecked people, quick to do iniquity, and slow to remember the Lord their God; Therefore there was a law given them, yea, a law of performances and of ordinances, a law which they were to observe strictly from day to day, to keep them in remembrance of God and their duty towards him.

    The Lord calls them “a stiffnecked people”. I as an individualist who doesn’t label groups of people as this or that, I I’m having a hard time understanding how God can label a million+ individuals as “stiffnecked”. Surely there were some individuals among them of noble character who were not stiffnecked.
    Are we to understand that literally all of them were stiffnecked? If not, then what follows is that only the stiffnecked were given the law of Moses. So if the law of Moses was applicable only to the stiffnecked people, were not all the non-stiffnecked justified in the eyes of God in not keeping the law of Moses?

  44. Your question made me think of:

    and also
    those to whom these commandments were given
    might have power to lay the foundation of this church
    and to bring it forth out of obscurity
    and out of darkness
    the only true and living church
    upon the face of the whole earth
    with which I
    the lord
    am well pleased
    speaking unto the church collectively
    and not individually

    for I
    the lord
    cannot look upon sin
    with the least degree of allowance

    [D&C 1:30-31]

    and

    and your minds
    in times past
    have been darkened
    because of unbelief
    and because you have treated lightly
    the things you have received
    which vanity and unbelief
    have brought the whole church under condemnation
    and this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion
    even all
    and they shall remain under this condemnation
    until they repent
    and remember the new covenant
    even the book of mormon
    and the former commandments
    which I have given them
    not only to say
    but to do
    according to that which I have written

    [D&C 84:54-57]

    Which makes me think that the Lord does indeed refer to groups of people generally — with the individual exceptions here-or-there.

  45. As the post mentioned Oliver Cowdery’s experience attempting to translate, the following information may be of interest:

    A case for Cowdery’s Rod as the “gift” of D&C 6 (SS #5)

    Also,

    Oliver Cowdery’s Gift


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