If you browse the self-help section of a bookstore, you’ll see hundreds of books geared toward “fixing” the reader— books that ask all the same questions and profess to provide the answers. If you go online, you’ll find tens of thousands of books on spirituality and the meaning of life. We, as a global community, are seekers of truth. We ask, Why am I here? What is my purpose? Where do I fit? Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often inadvertently referred to as the “Mormon Church”) say they have the real answers. And they do—they have the Book of Mormon.
What Is the Book of Mormon?
The Book of Mormon is a book of scripture that complements and supports the Bible. Etched onto golden plates by ancient prophets in the Americas, the Book of Mormon was translated by Joseph Smith, the prophet who was implemental in restoring the fullness of the Church of Christ to the earth in 1830. The Book of Mormon serves as a second witness of Christ, and the doctrine it espouses both directly supports and clarifies the truths Jesus Christ taught in the Bible.
The Book of Mormon underwent only one translation from the origin text. Because of this single translation, the truths discussed in the Book of Mormon cannot be distorted or misrepresented in other versions, a challenge that confronts the modern-day Bible.[i] The language in the Book of Mormon is plain and simple, its doctrine straightforward. This simplicity allows the Book of Mormon to be a conduit to personal revelation and discovery, an ideal place to find answers to life’s questions.
The Book of Mormon and the Bible
The Book of Mormon and the Bible teach the same things and answer the same questions; the Book of Mormon is just a little easier to figure out. Take the doctrine of baptism, for example. In John 3:5 we learn that we must be born of water and of the spirit to enter the kingdom of God. In the Book of Mormon, we learn that baptism by water means full immersion, being “buried in water”(Mosiah 18:14). The promises made at baptism are also explained more fully in the Book of Mormon than they are in the Bible.
The Book of Mormon teaches eternal doctrine
Answers to life’s eternal questions are in the Book of Mormon. Lehi, the first Book of Mormon prophet, taught his family that “men [and women] are that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25). How many of us have pondered the reason of our existence, the eternal course of our souls? The Book of Mormon contains answers to all of the deep questions of our existence. We learn that we were sent to earth to choose: “Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself” (2 Nephi 2:16). We were sent here to choose and to find joy in our existence. Isn’t the idea that God created us for joy thrilling?
The relationship between justice and mercy is discussed at length in the book of Alma in the Book of Mormon. Through Alma’s teachings we learn about Jesus Christ and what His sacrifice means for our mortality: “Thus we see that all mankind were fallen, and . . . in the grasp of justice. . . . There God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, to bring about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice” (Alma 42:14–15). Here we learn of Christ and His role in satisfying the “demands of just ice.” Such answers are integral in our understanding of life’s purpose and our personal mission.
The Book of Mormon provides answers for day-to-day life
The Book of Mormon may address those existential and eternal questions, and it can also operate as a resource for the questions we have from day to day: How should I handle this situation at work? What should I do about my relationship? Should I take a leap and move? Because the Book of Mormon is a holy book, it invites the presence of the Holy Spirit, which can inspire us about the more practical course of our lives.
The Book of Mormon invites us to question its truth
At the end of the Book of Mormon, the ancient warrior-prophet Moroni includes a promise to the reader:
And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall as with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things. (Moroni 10:4–5)
When you read the Book of Mormon, you are left to determine for yourself whether or not you believe its answers. Moroni invites each reader to seek God on his or her own to confirm the verity of the doctrines taught. Answers to all of life’s questions can be found within the pages of the Book of Mormon, and the reader can always take those answers to the Lord in prayer for confirmation.
That’s the beauty of the Book of Mormon: Not only does it provide answers, but it gives you a way to validate and confirm those answers. It sends you to the highest authority for peace, knowledge, and understanding.
[i] Mormons use the King James Version of the Bible in their scriptural canon.