Why I Believe the Book of Mormon Is True

In response to my recent post about the thief who was converted by a stolen Book of Mormon, one critic (whose comment was deleted for her inarticulate use of profanity) was shocked at my gullibility. It seemed that she thought I based my belief on faith promoting rumors fabricated by others. Not so. My acceptance of the Book of Mormon is the result of my personal pursuit for truth and the experiences I have had with it at a spiritual and intellectual level over the years. The fact that a thief could be converted by it has little to do with whether it’s true or not – that was not my point. In fact, I’m surprised at the ire that little story raised.

Even the most hardened of critics should recognize that the Book of Mormon has touched the lives of millions of people. Deluded or not, many have been converted to the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ (“Mormonism”) by study of that book. Because of that book, many have wanted to become better people, to give up their misdeeds, to gain forgiveness, and even to become Latter-day Saints. That should not be surprising. So if the book can touch so many lives and make so many people wish to follow Christ, why should it be surprising that at least one thief was among the crowd of converts? The story is touching, but is not meant to prove the Book of Mormon is true, and does not even prove any sort of divine presence in the world. It is merely a rather dramatic example of what should be common knowledge: the book changes the lives of many people who read it. Critics can comfort themselves with a belief that it’s all just a foolish delusion, but there’s no denying that lives are changed by whatever is in that book.

Among those lives is mine. Yes, I was born in the Church, but at age 14, I could see that staying a member of the Church would be a foolish thing to do if it were not true. Why pay tithing, why go on a mission, why even go home teaching if it was all fake? Doing such could even be morally wrong (teaching others to believe a lie? – not good!), and I wanted to do what’s right (but, frankly, I especially did not want to pay unnecessary tithing and waste two years of my life). The Church had taught me repeatedly that each individual needed to find out for themselves if the Church was true, and the obvious key to doing that was not attempting to sort out various interpretations of what happened with polygamy or the Mountain Meadow Massacre or puzzling statements in the Journal of Discourses, but to determine if the Book of Mormon was divine or a man-made hoax.

We are very serious about the Book of Mormon: if it is false, then Joseph Smith was not a prophet. If it is true, then he must have been some kind of a prophet after all, and the Church’s claims of divine origins should then at least merit our attention. The Book of Mormon is surely the most obvious place for serious investigation for anyone who wishes to explore the validity of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The last chapter in the Book of Mormon offers an inspired key to exploring the validity of the text. We are counseled by Moroni to ponder the book, to contemplate the great things described therein, and then to ask the Lord with real intent to know if it is true. In my case, at age 14, I decided to read the book. I should say that at that point, there was no doubt in my mind that God was real and that prayers could be answered – I had had many positive experiences with prayer and truly knew of the reality of God. But what of the Church itself? I would read the Book of Mormon and then pray to get an answer.

Unfortunately, my quest was complicated by my adolescent pride (now replaced with a much more wholesome middle-aged pride). With a somewhat cocky attitude, I wanted to see how fast I could get through it (bragging rights of some kind, I guess). I took up the challenge and zoomed through the book over a period of about a week during the summer. “Reached my goal – awesome. Well, that wasn’t so bad. And now I’ll pray. True or not? . . .” Nothing. No answer, nothing came. I was puzzled. I read Moroni 10:3-5 again and realized that I had not done as counseled — there had been little pondering, just rushing through the text, and reading in part for the wrong reason. I didn’t have much more information about the meaning of the book than when I had begun. I realized I would need to take more time, be more sincere, and really think about what I was reading. Whether it was true or not, this made a lot of sense. We should use our own mind as much as possible, and let God fill in the blanks.

With a slightly more humble attitude, I took up the challenge again, this time reading more slowly to ponder the meaning of the text and to consider on my own whether what I was reading was fabricated by man or really represented an inspired, scriptural text. I found richness in the text and many insights into life and Christ and religion – but was it true? After pondering the text, I then approached the Lord in prayer one evening, sincerely asking for guidance about the text and explaining what tentative conclusions I had been able to draw, then asking if this text was true, explaining that it was very important to know, and that I wished to do what was right.

I have shared my experience with others before, but here let me just say that on that night, about 30 minutes later, I walked away with a powerful and profound personal testimony that God loved me, that Christ was real, and that the Book of Mormon was indeed a divine testament of Christ, a second witness for His divinity. And yes, that meant that somehow, Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.

The experience was powerful and beyond wishful thinking, pizza-induced heartburn, or self-hypnosis, though you are all free to dispute that. For you, it proves nothing and should not make you feel threatened. But for me, it was just the beginning of what has been a lifelong series of fascinating spiritual and intellectual experiences and insights confirming that the Book of Mormon is not a work of fiction authored by a nineteenth century fraud, but a sophisticated ancient text with divine origins. I share some of the intellectual reasons for that point of view on my Book of Mormon Evidences page, but there are many more such issues that I would like to discuss.

My personal testimony of the divinity of the Book of Mormon is why I am a member of this Church. It’s why I went on a two-year mission. It’s why I married in the Temple. It’s why I have made many sacrifices for what I believe to be the Church of Jesus Christ. It’s why I can be patient at the foolishness of other members, even occasional Church leaders, who are all mortal like me, for I know it’s not their Church – it’s the Church of Jesus Christ, whom the Book of Mormon has helped me to know and love much better. I love the Bible, especially the New Testament, but you will find no other book more Christ-centered and more able to bring a man to Christ than the Book of Mormon, in my opinion.

My sins, my failings through life, my many weaknesses (some of which are evident in my blogging) make me every bit as guilty as the thief who robbed Sister Cruz of her Book of Mormon. And like the thief, the Book of Mormon has helped me to wish to change, to seek forgiveness, to overcome my many flaws and to (at least occasionally) yearn to follow Christ. If it’s all a delusion, if there is no God and no truth, then I’m puzzled, for it’s been like the sweet meal of a dream that, upon waking, leaves my stomach full, my body strengthened, and my senses enriched by the persistent aroma and delightful aftertaste. (There is even a need to brush and floss.) A nourishing delusion indeed. May you all be so afflicted.

I hope that if I can achieve one thing with this blog it would be to encourage some of you, LDS or not, to actually read and ponder the Book of Mormon. Maybe even pray while you’re at it. Anti-Mormon ministers will plead with you to do anything BUT pray for guidance in this manner, but I hope you’ll always turn to the Lord when you are seeking to understand divine truth. He’s the One Being we can always trust.

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Author: Jeff Lindsay

170 thoughts on “Why I Believe the Book of Mormon Is True

  1. I once enrolled in the Farms organization, hoping that the intellectual side would help my testimony.

    It made no difference whatsoever to me. It is the New testament and Book of Mormon. It is simply the life and example of the Savior that leads one on.

  2. Natalie; I’ve been to your webblog, and I recall a comment you deleted. Also, I’ve read on your site that you’d like Mormon’s to leave you alone…I think you get my point.
    Mike: Noah’s Ark is reported to have had windows (Gen. 6:16). There have been logical responses to all of your criticisms. Also, I know you were writing Jeff, but I was baptised when I was 21 and also served a mission. In both my own conversion and in working as a missionary, the method was always “Pray and find out for yourself.” In sunday school I teach the 16-18 year olds. I tell them to “pray and find out for themselves.” I used to teach 11 year olds. I taught the same thing. My wife felt the same way and when she was 13, was prepared to leave the church if her prayers weren’t answered. Her prayers were answered. My prayers were answered. You may chose not to believe, and I respect that. When good meaning missionaries knock on your door, you don’t have to answer, or can just say “not interested.” We aren’t going to not send more missionaries, because frankly, we’re not that organized. We don’t have a “do not call list.” We probably never will have sucha list. Sorry for the inconvenience. We really do believe this stuff we are pushing. You don’t have to, but don’t yell at Jeff, I for one, think he’s really an honest wonderful faithful man, and a good example to the rest of the church.
    -Matt Witten

  3. I thought I could restore your comment, Natalie, to quote the non-offending parts, but I couldn’t, even though I did not choose the “delete forever” option when I zapped it. Well, feel free to go ahead and make your comment again, but without the profanity – but if it is still as offensive as I recall it being, I’m not sure why I should allow it to stand.

    Profanity merits instant deletion, even if you don’t choose the worse possible words. I also do not wish to give bandwidth to sites that I consider anti-Mormon, so leave the link off. I know you don’t like that, but that’s just me. The internet is filled with anti-Mormon sites, and I don’t have a desire to increase their visibility.

    If I misrepresented the way you took offense at my remarks, or misunderstood your challenge to my belief in the Book of Mormon, I’m sorry.

    Since your latest comment again violates my rule of not providing links to anti-sites, let me reproduce it here but without the link:

    Jeff,

    You are a hypocrite. You keep referring to my comment, now even with a posting all on it’s own, and telling everyone you deleted my comment for “profanity” (There might have been ONE questionable word in there. And it was not one of the major ones.)

    But you sum up what you THINK I was saying in your post. Now, alone, that is not egregious.

    But, see, NO ONE can look at what I said, aside from what YOU want them to believe. And that is where you have erred.

    There is no longer a point of reference.

    You could have, for example, addressed my comment, like I do when I get negative comments. Perhaps even deleted the offending word.

    But I NEVER delete the original comment. Anyone can always reference it.

    No one has that option here. They just have to take YOUR word for it. What does THAT sound like?

    You’re a hypocrite. You are doing exactly what you accuse the “anti” Mormons of doing, including “taking things out of context.”

    Of course, you had a great teacher. Delete and hide what you don’t want people to know. That’s the Mormon Church motto.

    While I don’t take issue with you deleting the comment, (and I even apologized for using a “profanity” on your blog) once you DID that, you lost the right to comment on it, or to try and make me look bad by paraphrasing it.

    YOU owe me an apology. I know I will never get it. Natalie, you’re right that I should have edited your comment and posted it again. I’m sorry for not doing that. When I saw the profanity, I was already late and had to rush, so I just deleted it. I referred to it later when I had more time, but your comment was already gone. Sure, call me a hypocrite and all that – you seem to enjoy calling me names, which is cool, I guess – but let me remind me that as the owner of this tiny spot of the blogosphere, I am sensitive to offending comments and reserve the right to delete them for profanity, inappropriate links, or just because I’m in a bad mood. And I reserve the right to comment on them even if they are deleted. Those rules may seem severe and unfair, but the effort I’ve oput into this blog or my Web pages was not meant to give equal voice to the already incredibly noisy anti-Mormons of the world.

  4. Norton, get thee to a museum. Elephants – OK, mastodons and mammoths – were on this continent hundreds of years before Columbus, contrary to your claim. Though long extinct, a legitimate issue is whether pockets of them survived into Jaredite times or not. It’s not impossible.

    Steel? Sure – meteoric iron alloys that modern scientists call “steel” (especially iron-nickel alloys) were present in the Americas. Meteoric iron deposits were mined and used by the Olmecs for mirrors, for example.

    Barley? Verified recently.

    The French farewell? My goodness, Norton, the use of “adieu” – like all the other modern words in the Book of Mormon – is the result of TRANSLATING the text. The Book of Mormon doesn’t suggest that French or English was being spoken in 600 B.C.! Haven’t you noticed all the puzzling English words in the King James Bible?

    Fossil horses are well known in the Americas, and again the issue is whether pockets of them survived or whether another species of animal was referred to in the text. Not a clearcut issue, certainly, but not one for rapid dismissal of the book.

  5. Mike Norton made the following post which I deleted because of his violation of my previously stated policy: links to anti-Mormon sites will generally not be allowed. I’m not here to give more bandwidth to the nastier side of the Web. But for your enlightenment, here is what Mike had to say:

    Ha ha…Jeff, you’re so dang funny. You said, “The Church had taught me repeatedly that each individual needed to find out for themselves if the Church was true…”

    Now, is this before or after they baptise you at the age of 8? Kinda pointless to encourage people to “find out if it’s true” years after they have joined, isn’t it?

    Also, the number of anachronisms in the Book of Mormon alone prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the book is not what it claims to be.

    For example, imagine I showed you a hand written journal and claimed it was from General George Washington and it was written during the Revolutionary War yet it contained the following passage,

    “I faxed instructions to Thos. Jefferson and told him to meet me at the Rail Road station at midnight…”

    Would you honestly believe for one second that this journal was what I said it was? Could a journal from George Washington really make reference to things that wouldn’t be invented (fax machines, rail roads) for many, many years?

    Likewise, the Book of Mormon is so full of anachronisms that NOBODY that has even the slightest grasp of pre-Columbian America can take it seriously. I mean really, ELEPHANTS in America hundreds of years before Columbus? Horses? Wheat? Barley? Steel weapons? A certain French farewell? How about those WINDOWS on the Jaredite SUBMARINES?!?!?!

    Need I go on?

    Jeff, you remind me a lot of Joseph Smith. He too liked to dabble in magic and his specialty was getting people to believe his outlandish lies. You two have quite a bit in common.

    Norton

    My response is given in my comment directly above, with further details documented on my LDSFAQ page about alleged problems in the Book of Mormon.

    But Mike, as a friendly tip, when regurgitating anti-Mormon attacks, please don’t repeat the lamest arguments ever devised. There are plenty of legitimate questions one can raise, but the thing about “adieu” in the Book of Mormon really qualifies as one of the top 10 silliest attacks ever. It won’t help your cause. The point is that “adieu” – which is a perfectly valid English word found in the 1828 Websters Dictionary, obviously borrowed brom French, of course – was used by a translator to convey in modern language what an ancient writer said. To those who understand that the Book of Mormon is a translation – which is 99% of Latter-day Saints, I hope – the use of that argument immediately calls into question the credibility of the attacker. Not that I want you to have any more credibility, but I can’t help passing on some constructive criticism.

  6. Dear Anonymous,

    The ONLY comments I have EVER deleted from my blog were those posted by someone who called me a word that starts with C (can’t write it here, according to Jeff’s blog rules, and frankly, don’t really WANT to, since it is probably the ugliest word ever) and asked me how large my breasts were–and not that nicely. Other than that, they all stand.

    Anything that comes from a REAL Mormon, I keep. I know that Mormons aren’t always going to like what I have to say, and I respect that. They have the right to post it. They do NOT have the right to ask me about my sexual preferences (married, heterosexual, children) or question my chest size.

    Geez, anon, could you be the twisted ….

    Eh, better stop now.

  7. Jeff,

    Thank you for your apology. You are a gentleman. While I wish I could repost my comment, I cannot. It was spur-of-the-moment impassioned prose that I cannot recapture.

    I wish you had seen it for what it was. It was an honest desire to say, to an obviously intelligent man, “How can you fall for this? How can you be so duped?”

    I wish that I could get across to you, and other Mormons, that I am not trying to be mean, snide or cruel. Rather, I am as bewildered by your propensity to believe what I see as unfathomable as you are by my inability to embrace what you see as the only truth. As desperate as you are to bear your “testimony,” so am I desperate to say, “But wait…” But we are of a different breed. You will never listen to my reasoning, because you are a man of reason in some things, but of the heart in so many others. You believe your heart.

    Should I fault you?

    Probably not.

    I see you falling into a trap, just as you see ME falling into a trap.

    It’s sixes, except I don’t believe I have the only real thing in life, and you do.

    Well, good luck on that journey.

    Godspeed.

  8. OK, thank you Natalie. And I actually enjoy many of your comments, so I’m really quite sorry for offending you.

  9. Nat:
    I certainly am not the sick twisted… but the comment I was referrig to, you actually did post later on, to be fair. I found it quite funny. It was really long and weird. From a Mormon…
    -Matt Witten

  10. Matt,

    Thank goodness you aren’t Sicktwisted. That guy was a MAJOR pain in the, er, patootie. The FBI agreed he was just trying to scare me. Good thing I don’t scare easily.

    I think I remember the post you are referring to, but I didn’t delete it. I changed my posting method from Blogger to Haloscan after Sicktwisted started taunting me with personal details of my life, along with those nasty words and questions, and so all old comments were lost. At least I think that’s what happened.

    That was a strange post. I think he was smoking the ganja while he was defending the truths of Mormonism. Never a good combo.

  11. That’s the sort of thing that most influenced me against having my own blog. I’m sorry too, Natalie.

  12. Good news! I forgot that I signed up for comments to be sent to an e-mail account, so I do have a record of Natalie’s deleted comment that I found tonight. Out of respect for her (disagreements notwithstanding), I post it below (minus one little word):

    Jeff,

    I never realized how gullible you really were. It’s almost sad. No, it IS truly sad. Some of your postings gave me so much hope that you were flexible, that you realized life just ain’t so easy to explain.

    But I was wrong.

    Why would you fall for this? Are you really so desperate to believe there is ONE TRUE THING that you will latch onto anything?

    I know life isn’t easy. I wish there was an easy answer, but believing things that aren’t plausible is NOT that answer.

    Jeff, please, I know you are a good man. I know you truly believe you are doing a good work here. I see that from your postings.

    But you are so, so deluded. You have been led astray. I wish I had the truth to offer UP to you, like so many would do, but I don’t. I’m not recruiting for any other religion, for any other truth, except for the ONE that you owe yourself.

    There is no ONE TRUTH. Sad. But, maybe that’s the only truth in life.

    You’re a smart man. And if you look deep inside, and if you open up your thinking and LOOK at what you’re seeing here, you’re going to figure out that this Mormon story is all just, well, ****. Sorry for the profanity. I know you don’t like it, but you need to hear it.

    http://www.nataliercollins.com/weblog

    Well, there you are. Actually, it wasn’t as bad as I thought, and admit that my recollection of it was not completely accurate when I responded to my memory of it later. OK, Natalie thinks I’m a hopeless fool, and is trying to help me out with her comments. She hopes I’ll change. Guess that’s mutual.