Monday, July 29, 2013

Faith and the Truth of the Book of Mormon

From Bruce R. McConkie, "What Think Ye of the Book of Mormon?" Ensign (November 1983)

Two ministers of one of the largest and most powerful Protestant denominations came to a Latter-day Saint conference to hear me preach. After the meeting I had a private conversation with them, in which I said they could each gain a testimony that Joseph Smith was the prophet through whom the Lord had restored the fulness of the gospel for our day and for our time. I told them they should read the Book of Mormon, ponder its great and eternal truths, and pray to the Father in the name of Christ, in faith, and he would reveal the truth of the book to them by the power of the Holy Ghost. . . . All of this I explained to my two Protestant friends. One of them, a congenial and decent sort of fellow, said somewhat casually that he would read the Book of Mormon. The other minister, manifesting a bitter spirit, said: “I won’t read it. We have experts who have read the Book of Mormon, and I have read what our experts have to say about it.” This account dramatizes one of our problems in presenting the message of the Book of Mormon to the world. There are sincere and devout people everywhere who have heard what other people say about this volume of holy writ, and so they do not read it themselves. . . .

Shortly after my experience with these two ministers, two other ministers from the same denomination came to another of our conferences to hear me preach. And, once again, after the meeting I had a private discussion with them. My message was the same. Taking the Book of Mormon as their guide, they must read, ponder, and pray in order to gain a witness from the Spirit as to the truth and divinity of this great latter-day work. I told them of my prior experience with their two colleagues and how one of them had refused to read the Book of Mormon, saying that they had experts who had read the book and he had read what their experts had said. I then said, “What is it going to take to get you gentlemen to read the Book of Mormon and find out for yourselves what is involved, rather than relying on the views of your experts?”

One of these ministers, holding my copy of the Book of Mormon in his hands, let the pages flip past his eyes in a matter of seconds. As he did so, he said, “Oh, I’ve read the Book of Mormon." I had a momentary flash of spiritual insight that let me know that his reading had been about as extensive as the way he had just flipped the pages. In his reading he had done no more than scan a few of the headings and read an isolated verse or two.

A lovely young lady, a convert to the Church whose father was a minister of the same denomination as my four Protestant friends, was listening to my conversation with the second two. At this point she spoke up and said, “But Reverend, you have to pray about it.”

He replied, “Oh, I prayed about it. I said, ‘O God, if the Book of Mormon is true, strike me dead’; and here I am.”

My unspoken impulse was to give this rejoinder: “But Reverend, you have to pray in faith!”

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