Enter search or scripture reference (ie alma 30:24)
1 Now I, Moroni, write somewhat as seemeth me good; and I write unto my brethren, the Lamanites; and I would that they should know that more than four hundred and twenty years have passed away since the sign was given of the coming of Christ.
Past LDS leaders and various references in the Doctrine and Covenants make it clear that the Lamanites Moroni is writing to were the Native Americans (as well as Pacific Islanders according to the leaders). Now, LDS leaders won’t tell us who the Lamanites are. Just who is it that Moroni is writing to?
2 And I seal up these records, after I have spoken a few words by way of exhortation unto you.
3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
Notice that the author of the verse asks the reader to ponder but not to ponder on the evidence or the merits of the material read. Rather the author exhorts the reader to ponder on how merciful the Lord has been. The reader is reminded of a debt of gratitude. As a social being, a normal human will want to reciprocate the mercy spoken of, so if the reader believes this mercy has been extended, it primes the reader to want to do what the Lord desires, and implicit here is that these things are given to the reader in the wisdom of God—that God wants the reader to accept these things. This desire to reciprocate would tend to lead to a desire to believe regardless of the material being presented and its merits. Reasoning motivated by something other than the desire to understand the truth is called motivated reasoning, and motivated reasoning leads to all sort of beliefs that are not justified by reason or evidence and that often contradict one another.
4 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 ask 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.
This verse is the crux of what is referred to as the Book of Mormon promise —that you can know if the things in the Book of Mormon are true by asking God. In other words, rather than relying on your own imperfect reasoning and faulty perceptions, you can receive knowledge about the book directly from the all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-caring God. Since such knowledge would be from the ultimate and infallible source, this would be sure knowledge that could be relied upon beyond the confidence you could have in knowledge obtained by merely human means.
The Book of Mormon and modern Mormon prophets teach to apply all scripture to yourself, so this scripture is used by the Mormon Church as a pattern for all to follow so they may know whether the book, or anything else, is true.
This may seem quite reasonable, especially if you already believe in a God who intercedes in peoples’ lives, but how might this play out in the real world? Maybe it would help to consider who teaches people to ask God like this and why.
See this image with Mormon apostle and First Presidency member, Henry B. Eyring. It shows the Mormon Church teaches that you can pray to know God’s will. But, as stated in the infographic, this teaching is apparently a common technique used among religious cults. Why would a religious cult urge people to ask God His will about following the cult? Surely the ultimate source of truth would help people avoid these high-demand, harmful groups. Well, let’s consider some real-world implications of the Book of Mormon promise.
If this process doesn’t work to let you know that the Book of Mormon is God’s word and will, then (from a beliver’s point of view) it is your fault. Built right into verse 4 are reasons believers can always use to explain why a person didn’t get the “right” answer. According to this verse, a person who doesn’t get the accepted answer didn’t ask with enough sincerity, real intent, and/or faith. So, if you set up any truth claim with this process as the way to gain knowledge of the claim, the believers will always think they know why nonbelievers didn’t get the “right” answer. This type of situation is often called a double bind—a situation in which you are given a choice or dilemma, but there is no good choice. You can conclude their claim is not true, and you will be found guilty by believers of failure of sincerity, intent, or faith; or you can continue trying to believe even though there is no rational reason to continue. Either way, you fail. (see “How to Gain Knowledge ” diagram here )
Consider the effect of Jehovah’s Witness (JW) missionaries teaching a person they will know the JW Church is Jehovah’s only authorized organization if they ask Jehovah with a sincere heart, with real intent, and having faith in Jehovah. What kind of effect or influence might this have on a person studying with the Jehovah’s Witnesses?
The following is a real-life example. Which leader said this about asking God if a teaching is true?
I hope for your sake that you at least ponder this—that you go into the privacy of your closet. Don’t ask your neighbors, your friends what they think of this. You go see if you can connect with the purest, highest source that you might consider God and say, “What about this? Is this for real? Is this for me? If it is, then give me the strength,” because as soon as you tell anyone else, they will be used as the instruments to have you not believe.
It was Marshall Applewhite, leader of the UFO cult Heaven’s Gate who convinced himself and 38 others to commit suicide in March 1997. The quote starts at about 56:14 in this video.
5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
If the power of the Holy Ghost were a reliable way to discern the truth, why are there many examples of the Spirit of God convincing people that their Church is God’s only true church? (click here for a video with many examples.
(Click here for more thoughts about the Book of Mormon promise and for a better alternative)
6 And whatsoever thing is good is just and true; wherefore, nothing that is good denieth the Christ, but acknowledgeth that he is.
7 And ye may know that he is, by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore I would exhort you that ye deny not the power of God; for he worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men, the same today and tomorrow, and forever.
8 And again, I exhort you, my brethren, that ye deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them.
9 For behold, to one is given by the Spirit of God, that he may teach the word of wisdom;
10 And to another, that he may teach the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
11 And to another, exceedingly great faith; and to another, the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
12 And again, to another, that he may work mighty miracles;
13 And again, to another, that he may prophesy concerning all things;
14 And again, to another, the beholding of angels and ministering spirits;
15 And again, to another, all kinds of tongues;
Gifts of the Spirit
This is one of my favorite gifts of the Spirit as far as how its understanding has evolved in the Church. In Joseph Smith’s day, it was as described in the Bible, people talking spontaneously in a language they have no prior knowledge of. Now of days the term is used to describe those who train extensively in a language, speak it, and people may or may not understand what they are saying. Even when I was a true blue Mormon, I had to resist rolling my eyes when other believers would talk about how the missionaries had the gift of tongues when they spoke the language they had been training in for weeks or months.
16 And again, to another, the interpretation of languages and of divers kinds of tongues.
17 And all these gifts come by the Spirit of Christ; and they come unto every man severally, according as he will.
18 And I would exhort you, my beloved brethren, that ye remember that every good gift cometh of Christ.
19 And I would exhort you, my beloved brethren, that ye remember that he is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and that all these gifts of which I have spoken, which are spiritual, never will be done away, even as long as the world shall stand, only according to the unbelief of the children of men.
20 Wherefore, there must be faith; and if there must be faith there must also be hope; and if there must be hope there must also be charity.
21 And except ye have charity ye can in nowise be saved in the kingdom of God; neither can ye be saved in the kingdom of God if ye have not faith; neither can ye if ye have no hope.
22 And if ye have no hope ye must needs be in despair; and despair cometh because of iniquity.
Sometimes despair comes from bad behavior, but other times despair comes because of mental health conditions which have biological causes or physical catastrophe that no one had control over.
Because this teaching is so simplistic and often presented without further nuance, I think it causes a lot of harm.
25 And wo be unto the children of men if this be the case; for there shall be none that doeth good among you, no not one. For if there be one among you that doeth good, he shall work by the power and gifts of God.
This seems to appeal to fear and to blame the observer if no miracle is seen.
26 And wo unto them who shall do these things away and die, for they die in their sins, and they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God; and I speak it according to the words of Christ; and I lie not.
This seems to appeal to fear and to blame the observer if no miracle is seen.
27 And I exhort you to remember these things; for the time speedily cometh that ye shall know that I lie not, for ye shall see me at the bar of God; and the Lord God will say unto you: Did I not declare my words unto you, which were written by this man, like as one crying from the dead, yea, even as one speaking out of the dust?
28 I declare these things unto the fulfilling of the prophecies. And behold, they shall proceed forth out of the mouth of the everlasting God; and his word shall hiss forth from generation to generation.
29 And God shall show unto you, that that which I have written is true.
30 And again I would exhort you that ye would come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift, and touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing.
31 And awake, and arise from the dust, O Jerusalem; yea, and put on thy beautiful garments, O daughter of Zion; and strengthen thy stakes and enlarge thy borders forever, that thou mayest no more be confounded, that the covenants of the Eternal Father which he hath made unto thee, O house of Israel, may be fulfilled.
32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
33 And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.
34 And now I bid unto all, farewell. I soon go to rest in the paradise of God, until my spirit and body shall again reunite, and I am brought forth triumphant through the air, to meet you before the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah, the Eternal Judge of both quick and dead. Amen.