On my Mormon Answers Page of Facetious Questions, I’ve recently updated my answer to the question, “Why should people pray to know the Book of Mormon is true? That’s like praying to know if they should commit adultery.” Here is a partial excerpt from my response:
It’s amazing how often anti-Mormons beg people NOT to pray about the message of the restored Gospel and our other testament of Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon. Here’s one example from a page at Catholic.com, brought to my attention by a sincere investigator who later joined the Church:
In these “latter days,” there are few people who haven’t been visited at least once by Mormon missionaries. At some point in your doorstep dialogue, these earnest young men will ask you to accept a copy of the Book of Mormon, read it, and pray about it, asking the Lord to “send the Holy Ghost to witness that it is true.” . . .
Tell the Mormon missionaries: “Look, it is foolish to pray about things you know are not God’s will. It would be wrong of me to pray about whether adultery is right, when the Bible clearly says it is not. Similarly, it would be wrong of me to pray about the Book of Mormon when one can so easily show that it is not the word of God.”
That Web page offers two sure-fire reasons to discard the Book of Mormon without any further study and certainly without any further prayer:
- First, Alma 7:10 says that Christ was born in Jerusalem, when we all know it’s Bethlehem – such a blunder! In fact, Alma 7:10 offers serious evidence of authenticity for the Book of Mormon, as I discuss on my page about alleged Book of Mormon problems and a page about the term “land of Jerusalem.” One simple point to remember: Bethlehem is virtually a suburb of Jerusalem, just 5 miles away. To people long removed from the Old World, knowing of ancient Jerusalem but probably not the details of other places, it’s exactly how a Book of Mormon writer would refer to the area of Christ’s birth. It’s not how Joseph Smith would have described it if he made it up, for he and every school child of his day knew Christ was born in Bethlehem, but probably didn’t know how close it is to Jerusalem.
- As a second killer argument, we are told that the Book of Mormon speaks of honeybees being brought to the Americas in Ether 2:3, when scientists supposedly know they were introduced to the New World after Columbus. This issue is discussed on my page about Book of Mormon problems with plants and animals. Ether 2:3 refers to honeybees during travels in the Old World only; the list of things they brought to the New World in Ether 6:4 does not include bees. So the Book of Mormon does not explicitly say that honeybees were introduced to the Americas. What’s the problem? But in fact, honeybees were known to the ancient Mayans. In Michael D. Coe’s excellent book, The Maya (4th ed., London: Thames and Hudson, 1987), Coe discusses Mayan life based on the Spanish missionaries’ “first-class anthropological accounts of native culture as it was just before they came” (p. 155) and states that “the Maya farmer raised the native stingless bees . . . but wild honey was also much appreciated” (p. 156). For further information, you can also read that ancient Mesomaericas traded honey at regentsprep.org/Regents/global/themes/economic/mes.cfm and read another note on honey from stingless bees in Mesoamerica at ancientsites.com/aw/post/384974. Also see a Dutch page on stingless beekeeping that states, “Since pre-Hispanic times the Mayan and Nahua ethnic groups of Central America bred stingless bees for their honey and wax.” (Thanks to Joseph Barbados for pointing out the last two URLs.) Talk about an attack lacking sting!
So what about the issue of prayer concerning the Book of Mormon? Do we trust our salvation to warm, fuzzy feelings while putting our mind into deep freeze? No! (See my page on testimony for a more complete discussion.) The Book of Mormon (Moroni 10:3-5) doesn’t simply say to pray about the Book, but to ponder it, to study it, and then with faith in Christ to seek divine understanding of it through the power of the Holy Ghost. It’s sad to see fellow Christians demeaning the quest for revelation from God through the power of the Holy Ghost as a “warm fuzzy feeling” that can lead to great deception. How can anyone have a testimony of Christ as the Son of God unless the Father reveals it? (See Matthew 16:15-17; Rev. 19:10; 1 Cor. 2:10-11.) Such prayer and inquiry is part of what all Christians should do in their quest to understand the truth. Relying on human logic and reasoning alone is guaranteed to be fallible, for people get things completely wrong, like the multiple errors in the rather silly attack about honeybees in the Book of Mormon. Those who seek revelation from the Father, combining thought and study with faith in Christ and the influence of God’s Spirit, will be able to know the divinity of Jesus Christ in spite of all the arguments against Him, and just might be able to withstand the many human arguments against the divinity of the Bible – and the Book of Mormon.
Do you remember what Christ said when he praised Peter for his testimony of the Savior? It’s in Matthew 16: 15-17:
15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
Peter’s knowledge of Christ as the Son of God was not based on a factual analysis of Old Testament scriptures; it was not based on archaeology or genetic science or the opinions of learned scholars of his day; he did not survey the rabbis to find of there was consensus among leading authority figures about the divine status of Christ; it was not based on impressive miracles or other tangible evidences. Flesh and blood had not revealed the divinity of Christ to Peter. Then where did Peter gain that testimony? Through REVELATION from God the Father.
The critics of Christ during His ministry demanded “flesh and blood” evidence, refusing to listen to he Spirit – and ultimately sought the very flesh and blood of Christ Himself. Today our critics ask their victims to rely only on flesh and blood and NOT to seek revelation from God the Father to know if the Book of Mormon is true. Whose voice are they echoing?
Some anti-Mormons sometimes go so far in their efforts to stop prayer as to say that we open ourselves to demonic influence if we pray about the Book of Mormon. But Christ, who is faithful and true, tells us to “Ask and it shall be given” (Matt. 7:7) and assures us that since we, “being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matt. 7:11). Please, have faith in God, not in the unreliable analysis of anti-Mormon critics, who would have you trust them more than the Father. If people tell you there is no need to pray because the Book of Mormon mentions honeybees, tell them to buzz off.