Some Latter-day Saint critics who deny the historicity of the Book of Mormon seek to make their proposed approach persuasive to Latter-day Saints by praising or affirming the value of some of the content of the book. Those who take this approach assume the significant burden of explaining how they can praise the contents of a book they have dismissed as a fable. I have never been able to understand the similar approach in reference to the divinity of the Savior. As we know, some scholars and some ministers proclaim him to be a great teacher and then have to explain how the one who gave such sublime teachings could proclaim himself (falsely they say) to be the Son of God who would be resurrected from the dead.
The new-style critics have the same problem with the Book of
Mormon. For example, we might affirm the value of the teachings recorded in the
name of a man named Moroni, but if these teachings have value, how do we
explain these statements also attributed to this man? "And if there be
faults [in this record] they be the faults of a man. But behold, we know no
fault; nevertheless God knoweth all things; therefore, he that condemneth, let
him be aware lest he shall be in danger of hell fire" (Mormon 8:17). "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?" (Moroni 10:27). There is something strange about accepting the moral or religious
content of a book while rejecting the truthfulness of its authors'
declarations, predictions, and statements. This approach not only rejects the
concepts of faith and revelation that the Book of Mormon explains and
advocates, but it is also not even good scholarship.
[Dallin H. Oaks, "The Historicity of the Book of Mormon." This talk was given at the annual dinner of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies in Provo Utah and has been subsequently published in Historicity and the Latter-day Saint Scriptures, ed. Paul Y. Hoskisson (Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, 2011, 237-48 and reprinted in the Journal of Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture 21/1 (2012): 66-72].