Thursday, January 23, 2014

Is Doctrine More Important Than Book of Mormon History?

Now there are those who say, “I believe that doctrine is all that is important in the Book of Mormon; we do not need to worry about the history.” We are faced, however, with the fact that most of the Book of Mormon is history. It is not doctrine; that is, it’s not doctrine in the sense of quotable proof texts–things that we can memorize and quote. Instead, history is a kind of container for doctrine. We do not understand the form of the doctrine, the substance of the doctrine, without knowing the substance of the history. We cannot know all the meaning of all those wars and migrations, the destructions, the ups and downs and the social fate of the peoples in the Book of Mormon unless we interpret it doctrinally. Doctrine and history are two sides of the same coin. We cannot have one without the other. Now, doctrine as such can be learned by careful reading and investigation and study and prayer in regard to the text of the Book of Mormon as we have it. The matter of history, however, deserves equal care and exhaustive examination. It, itself, the history, is a convincer of the authenticity of the book as much as doctrine is.

John Sorenson, “The Book of Mormon in Ancient America,” (1994), 4.

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