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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often inadvertently referred to as the Mormon Church) is distinct from other Christian denominations in several ways, one of the most important being that our scriptural canon contains scripture in addition to the Holy Bible. The scripture most distinct to the restored Church of Jesus Christ is the Book of Mormon. The existence of the Book of Mormon as scripture akin to the Bible is controversial in the Christian community, and is even grounds for some denouncing Mormons as non-Christian all together. The truth is that the Book of Mormon is true scripture that complements the Bible, rather than competing with it.

Where did The Book of Mormon come from?

Book of Mormon and candle with scripture quote from Moroni.The Book of Mormon is a collection of writings that chronicle the course of some people living in the ancient Americas from about 600 BC to 400 AD. Most were of Israelite descent through Joseph and his son, Manasseh. These words were passed from prophet to prophet, eventually ending up in the charge of Mormon, the next-to-last Book of Mormon prophet. Mormon compiled all the records he had into one set of plates and, per divine guidance, hid them in the ground.

The golden plates weren’t unearthed until 1823, when an angel guided Joseph Smith to the site.[1] The plates weren’t taken from the site until 1827 when Joseph began his translation. The translation of the Book of Mormon was made possible by divine tools and revelation; Latter-day Saints believe the translation of the Book of Mormon to be more perfect than any other book.

Why is the Book of Mormon important?

The Book of Mormon serves several purposes, the most important being that it testifies of Jesus Christ, just as the Bible does. The purpose of the Book of Mormon is to “persuade [us] to come unto Christ, and partake of the goodness of God” (Jacob 1:7). The Book of Mormon illustrates that two witnesses are more powerful than one. The Lord prophesied of the resistance the Book of Mormon would endure:

Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews? . . . Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? . . . I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever (2 Nephi 29:6–9).

The Book of Mormon is no different from the Bible: its purposes and doctrines are the same.  Both are God’s revelations to ancient prophets with contextual history.

The Book of Mormon and Bible work together

Both sets of scripture testify of Jesus Christ. Jesus actually visited the Book of Mormon peoples after His resurrection. The Bible supports this theology. In John 10:16 Jesus Himself explains that “other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”

The doctrines of both the Bible and the Book of Mormon support each other. The Book of Mormon actually acts as clarifying scripture for several doctrines presented in the Bible. Because the Bible has undergone so many translations and versions, it only makes sense that key gospel truths could be lost or distorted in those processes.

For instance, the Book of Mormon clarifies and expands on the doctrine of baptism. Jesus Christ Himself was baptized and showed by way of example that we all must be baptized. Other Christian denominations have misinterpreted this doctrine; some faiths do not baptize by full immersion and many practice baptizing infants. The Book of Mormon provides insight into the baptismal ordinance: baptism must be done by immersion, being “buried in the water” (Mosiah 18:14), and baptism should be performed only on those able to comprehend the ordinance and its covenants—“unto those who are accountable and capable of committing sin” (Moroni 8:10)—, not infants.

We need both books

The Bible and Book of Mormon rely on each other. Not only do we learn of how the gospel of Christ worked in two different societies, we also learn more about the doctrine of Christ when we allow the Bible and Book of Mormon to work together. Both books testify of Christ, and both show us the processes we need to follow to return to Him. When you combine the Bible and the Book of Mormon, you see that the gospel of Jesus Christ knows no bounds—it transforms and exalts souls.

[1] Joseph Smith is the first prophet called by God since the days of the ancient apostles. Joseph Smith is the prophet who restored Christ’s church to the earth today.1

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