Book of Mormon, The
by Joseph Smith
Either we do not carry this resource or it is out of print. It is available here.
There are more far-fetched “scriptures” than the Book of Mormon—including The Pearl of Great Price, another Mormon holy book—but based on the excerpts I assign to my students, that’s hard to imagine.
The last time I invited Mormon missionaries into my home, they gave me a Book of Mormon and recommended that I read the Introduction, 3 Nephi 11 and Moroni 10:3-5. This is roughly what I assign to students, although we read more of 3 Nephi to get a better idea of the story. And what a story it is!
In Joseph Smith’s book, Jesus visits America shortly after His death and resurrection, where he finds two tribes of Israelites—the Nephites and the Lamanites—that traveled to America around 600 BC. Christ conducts his American ministry among the Nephites, because the Lamanites are too wicked. Jesus tells the Nephites in 3 Nephi 15:21, “And verily I say unto you, that ye are they of whom I said: Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”
Unfortunately, as the story turns out, the Nephites eventually fall into unrighteousness and are wiped out, leaving only the Lamanites in America. You say you’ve never run into a Lamanite? That’s easily explained by the Introduction to the Book of Mormon: “the Lamanites . . . are the principal ancestors of the American Indians.”
Needless to say, students who have read a little bit of the Book of Mormon feel much more capable of responding to Mormon missionaries. Mormons keep saying that they’re just like Christians, so many Christians believe it—but a brief introduction to Mormon “history” dispels that myth.
Of course, there really is such a thing as Mormon history—beginning with Joseph Smith in the early nineteenth century. For an excellent account of the history of the Mormon church, readers with a strong stomach should pick up Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven. But you’ve been warned: the book is filled with abductions, polygamy, and violence.
by Jeff Baldwin