One of my students asked me the following question one day:
“Brother Whitmer, why did Joseph Smith say the Book of Mormon is a perfect book? Haven’t there been lots of changes in the book to fix errors? And if it isn't a perfect book, how can we believe it is true?”
|The Gold Plates of Mormon|
My answer went something like this:
Joseph did not state that the Book of Mormon was a perfect book. What he DID say was:
“I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” (Introduction to the Book of Mormon, Paragraph 6)
Being the ‘most correct’ book does not indicate that it is perfect – in fact, the prophet himself is leaving room for error. But not error in doctrine or revelation from God – he was leaving the door open to account for the challenges mortal man has in recording the words and revelations of God.
|The First Vision|
The writers of all scripture are mortal men and have biases, fears, shortcomings and attitudes that affect the way they see and record the revelations they receive. They are not perfect men!! But they listen and record, as best they can, the things they witness concerning God and Christ and their kingdom.
The Book of Mormon is the “most correct” book because it has had only one translation and the translator was called of God to perform that work. Yes, there were errors in some of the transcribing by scribes and when it went to the printers. There were also some words that were misunderstood and had to be corrected after the printing. But the doctrine and principles of truth that are available to mankind in the Book of Mormon are simple, clear and completely focused on the role of the Savior Jesus Christ in the redemption of man.
|Our only source of Salvation|
Any person who studies the words of the prophets contained in the Book of Mormon will better understand the role of Jesus Christ in the Father’s Plan of Salvation – the vital role that provides a way to overcome all the challenges of mortality -- sin, death, sickness, physical ailments, mental struggles, and all else that comes to mortal men and women (see Alma 7:11-13).
That was the gist of my answer to that student. Now I add something for those who may read this posting.
For 183 years there have been doubters and naysayers all over the world who have declared that Joseph was a fraud or false prophet and that the Book of Mormon was the invention of deceitful men.
Yet, millions who have read the Book of Mormon have come away with a greater appreciation for the Lord and Savior of this world. Jesus Christ is the focus of all Joseph taught and Jesus is the leader and center of the religion Joseph founded. We honor the prophet for that, but we worship the Savior. Any who think otherwise do not understand the Latter-day Saints.
|The Eternal Atonement|
The keystone of our religion remains firmly centered in the arch. And that keystone is another testimony of Jesus Christ – the one true Founder and Finisher of our faith.
I love Him and hope to be with Him one day.