Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Purpose of the Book of Mormon

From Mark Brown's "On Re-reading Scripture":

"The title page announces that the purpose of the book is to convince its readers to believe in Jesus Christ. It seems to me that this obvious point nevertheless gets overlooked, even by believing latter-day saints. The book can be understood in many ways, yes, but the more time we spend looking for modern day parallels to the Kingmen, for instance, the more we will miss the message of Christ’s grace and the hope and redemption that he offers.

That is the central message and it is so huge that everything else must be seen as something of a sideshow.
Sideshows can be interesting and instructive, but they can also be distracting. The book consistently seeks to persuade us to believe and repent, and we just as consistently want to talk about something else. We cannot blame other Christians for missing the point of the Book of Mormon when we Mormons often seem intent on missing the point, too."


javelin19 said...

That is the second stated purpose of the Book of Mormon. The first stated purpose of the Book of Mormon is to show the people (remnants) of the house of Israel the covenants of the Lord.

The first purpose is for the members of the church to know about their baptismal covenants found in Mosiah 18- bare one another's burdens. Also, Moroni 6- to repent daily after baptism.

The second purpose is for the whole world to know that God speaks to other tribes-2 Nephi 29.

Tom said...

Haha...good point. I like what Elder Holland says about the small plates of Nephi:

All but 10 pages of the small plates are written by Nephi, Jacob, and Isaiah, all of whom had seen the premortal Messiah (see 2 Ne 11). As these 3 authors return to the subject of Christ over and over again, we are reminded with a 2 x 4 between the eyes what the purpose of the Book of Mormon is, just in case we are obtuse in the reading.


And yet some people miss that it is a Christ-centered book.

Papa D said...

Mormon also says twice, very clearly and concisely, that the purpose is to convince the readers of the truthfulness of the Bible. Personally, I think that includes an openness to receiving inspiration from the Holy Ghost that makes it possible for someone who has read incorrect meaning into the Bible to see new meaning as it is read again after a witness of the Spirit from reading the Book of Mormon - but it is obvious in Mormon's words that he was intent on convincing people to take the Bible as seriously as the Book of Mormon.

That also is something that is missed totally by too many members. It wasn't intended as a proof-text by its authors; it was intended as a witness and as a support.

Rich Alger said...

There are quite a few things I am less sure about than I was a few years ago. My feelings about Jesus have not changed. It was through the Book of Mormon that I first started my testimony of Jesus. It is vivid in my memory, my freshman year. I was studying the Book of Mormon in Seminary. I remember the testimony of King Benjamin, of Alma the younger. I knew that they spoke the truth about Christ. That confidence remains. The warmth inside, the clarity of mind. The doctrine taught in the LDS church is compelling.

Ryan said...

Rich: thanks for that testimony. There's really not much more that we need to be sure of, to come out all right in the end (assuming we honor what we do know).

Like Nephi said in his vision when asked whether he understood the Atonement... "I know [God] loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things."

I suspect that's a correct answer more often than we might think. God will teach us the rest in His own good time.