It is apparent that slanderous and deceiving anti-Mormon documents were the prevailing source in the preparation of these articles, although the sources are rarely cited. In the technologically and socially advanced age we live in, it is a shame that limitless resources are so often ignored. Anyone interested in what Mormons believe can visit the official website of the church and find at their fingertips all of the scriptures that we use, every issue of the church magazines through the early 1970's, talks and speeches given by current leaders, and all of our teaching manuals including one containing all of our basic beliefs1. We are not ashamed of our religion. We strive to make it as accessible as possible, so as to avoid situations like the following:
Rigmor Heistø, a convert of just a few years, found herself in the office of Norway's leading theologian. "Good morning, Mrs. Heistø," he greeted her. "I can understand people converting to Catholicism, to Methodism, or to Baptistism. But how can anyone convert to Mormonism?"
With her typical disarming and good-humored candor, Rigmor replied, "If I hadn't known any more about the Church than you do, it would be the last thing I would have done." She then asked, "Where did you get this nonsense in your book?" When Professor Molland explained he had found it in books in the university library, she told him that he could have easily received correct information from the mission president, whose office was just a hundred meters down the road. Then she explained the damage that misinformation had done in her home.
Professor Molland was saddened and promised to correct the section about the Church in the next edition2.
I have to believe that Jehovah's Witnesses are earnest in their desire to spread what they believe is true. I have known several of them, and know that they are good people. Now that I have clearly shown that the information in this Awake! magazine is false, I hope that Jehovah's Witnesses will seek to correct the damage they have done in slandering members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and cease to spread these lies any further.
Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue.
As discussed in Section 2: Golden Plates and a Prophet, Robert Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary spent a great deal of time with LDS leaders, eventually coming to the conclusion that Evangelicals were guilty of distorting Latter-day Saint beliefs. He even discovered that Mormons believe many of the same things as Evangelicals and other Christians, they just use different terms to describe them. From personal experience on the doorstep with Saturday visitors, I know that Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses share many of the same beliefs.
That is not to say, though, that we don't have peculiar doctrines. Of course we do! However, it is false to say that we only believe these things because we are ignorant of the Bible. I hope that my own use of the scriptures in responding to this magazine has demonstrated that. In fact, the Book of Mormon and Bible teach the same doctrines, and Mormons who read their scriptures regularly know that because they study them both! We love the Bible, but we emphasize the Book of Mormon because it is, as its cover suggests, "Another Testament of Jesus Christ." Another witness for Christ! Who can find offense in that?
Among the amazing facts about the Book of Mormon is the astonishingly short time Joseph took to translate it. Recent research into the historical record shows it unlikely that any more than 65 to 75 days were invovled in the actual translation…
These were busy days. From April to June, one must also allow Joseph time to reveal several sections of the D&C; to restore the Priesthood; to baptize others; to give personal instructions to Oliver, Hyrum and Samuel Smith, and Joseph Knight; to move on buckboard from Harmony to Fayette (3 to 4 days); to obtain the copyright; and to eat and sleep.
In practical terms alone, this is an impressive feat: 7 to 10 current book pages per day, final copy, day after day. Imagine, on average, only a day and a half to compose King Benjamin's speech, or a week to do 1 Nephi, or a couple of hours for Alma 36! No wonder Oliver wrote in 1834, "These were days never to be forgotten."3
The work of Joseph Smith is even more amazing when we compare the compilation of the King James Version of the Bible and the translation of the Book of Mormon. Consider these additional facts:
The Bible was translated by six companies of scholars consisting of fifty-four members. The Book of Mormon was translated by one relatively unlearned farm boy.
The translation of the Bible required four years of labor (from 1607 to 1611). The translation of the Book of Mormon required from sixty-five to seventy-five days (April to June, 1829).
The average production rate for the Bible was one page per day. The average production rate for the Book of Mormon was seven to ten pages per day, final copy. (See Bible Dictionary, p. 625.)
No one, however learned and skilled, could have, without divine assistance, done what Joseph Smith did in bringing forth the Book of Mormon. But, with the help of the Lord, Joseph Smith produced a work rightfully referred to as a marvelous work and a wonder. Each page shouts aloud, "This is a book of divine origin!" Of a surety, the Book of Mormon is not a man-made publication. It is another witness of Christ and his prophet, even the Prophet Joseph Smith."4
The test of the book is in its reading. I speak as one who has read it again and again and tasted of its beauty and depth and power. Could Joseph Smith, I ask you, the young man reared in rural New York largely without schooling, have dictated in so short a time a volume so complex in its nature and yet so harmonious in its whole, with so large a cast of characters and so extensive in its scope? Could he of his own abilities have created the language, the thought, the moving inspiration that has caused millions over the earth to read and say, "It is true?"6
I remember one day, many years ago, a friend and I were walking and came upon a copy of the Book of Mormon. Handing it to my friend, I urged her to take it. She said no, and commented that she did not believe in it. I asked her if she had ever read it, to which she responded she had not. I asked: "How can you know whether or not you believe in it IF YOU HAVE NEVER EVEN READ IT?" I didn't shout at her, of course, as the capital letters imply, but I was somewhat offended that something so important to me could be brushed aside so easily! Having read the Book of Mormon, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints know what message it contains. We know what answers lie within its pages, and the benefits that await its readers. Isn't it interesting that the most adamant opponents of the Book of Mormon are those who have never even picked it up?! Those who know it, also love it and seek to share it. You will never know until you pick it up! So, I urge you: open its' pages and see for yourself. Sample its message with your own eyes, feel its spirit with your own heart, and then pray about it. Ask God. If it came from Him, He will know, and He will tell you!
- The Power of One–The Example of Rigmor Heistø, Jan U. Pinborough and Marvin K. Gardner, Liahona, June 1998, 11. (https://www.lds.org/liahona/1998/06/the-power-of-one-the-example-of-rigmor-heist?lang=eng)
- "How Long Did It Take Joseph Smith to Translate the Book of Mormon?" Insights 6/1: An Ancient Window [Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies], February 1986, p. 1. (http://publications.maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/fullscreen/?pub=1351&index=1)
- In the Lord's Service, by Carlos E. Asay, pg. 23-24. (http://www.amazon.com/In-Lords-Service-Spiritual-Development/dp/0875793908)
- "My Testimony." Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, Nov. 1993: 51-52. (https://www.lds.org/ensign/1993/11/my-testimony)