Mormon Scripture – The Articles of Faith/Part 19
|By: Marvin W. Cowan; ©2003|
|Mormons claim the Book of Mormon is “Another Testament of Jesus Christ,” but is that a valid claim? What is a “testament”? Mormons further claim the Book of Mormon is a “second witness” for Christ. But it can’t be that either. Marvin Cowan explains.|
Our last discussion of the eighth Article of Faith underscored the fact that Mormons claim that the Book of Mormon is superior to the Bible, but no evidence for that claim exists. We listed seven popular LDS claims for the Book of Mormon and showed that they are not valid claims. In 1981 the Mormon Church officially added “Another Testament of Jesus Christ” as a subtitle to the Book of Mormon. But that subtitle is also erroneous because the Book of Mormon is not “another testament” of Jesus Christ.
If the Book of Mormon was a true history of real people it might be called “another testimony” or “another witness” of Jesus Christ, but not “another testament” because it is not a “new covenant” that God made between the ancestors of the American Indians and Jesus Christ. The word “testament” comes from the Greek word diatheke, which can mean a “covenant” and it is often translated that way.” So, the Old Testament was a covenant that God made with ancient Israel and the New Testament was a later covenant that God made with those who believe in Jesus Christ for salvation. The Book of Mormon is not a new covenant with anyone. It is only a mixture of Old and New Testament teachings which it claims were taught to the ancestors of the Native Americans.
Mormons also frequently hold the Book of Mormon together with the Bible and call it a second witness for Christ. But the Book of Mormon can’t be a second witness for Christ because long before anyone knew about it, there were 27 books in the New Testament that testified of Christ! And before the New Testament was written, Jesus declared the Old Testament testified of Him when He said, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they that testify of Me. And ye will not come to Me that ye might have life” (John 5:39-40). Before the New Testament was written the Apostle Paul also said that the Old Testament testified of Christ when he wrote, “From a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Tim. 3:15). These verses show that in addition to the 27 New Testament books which testify of Christ, many Old Testament books also testified of Him. The Old Testament was the only scripture known before the New Testament was written. Because many books in the Old and New Testaments testified of Christ before the Book of Mormon, it can never be a second witness for Christ.
Furthermore, there is absolutely nothing new about Christ in the Book of Mormon that is essential to know in order to have eternal life with Him. Some LDS claim that it tells about such things as Christ’s visit to America after His resurrection in Jerusalem. There is no evidence to support such a visit by Christ, but even if it were true, it isn’t essential to anyone’s salvation. But why would Christ come to America to deliver His message when He had just given the command to His disciples to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15)? If He personally visited the people in America did He also visit every continent? If not, why did He only visit America?
Mormons often claim that the ancient inhabitants of America needed the Book of Mormon because Christ is the Savior of the whole world. Using that same logic, books of scripture would also be needed for Africa, Asia, Australia and other areas. The Book of Mormon even declares, “Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written…. For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites (in America) and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it” (II Nephi 29:10, 12). But no scripture like the Book of Mormon has been found in any other nation and the Mormon Church probably would not accept it if any was found because they have defined their scripture as their own four standard works. And even though the Book of Mormon teaches that God will speak to all nations just like He did to the ancient Americans, LDS missionaries are taking translations of the Book of Mormon to all of the other nations they can! Why are they doing that if each nation wrote God’s messages to them as the Book of Mormon teaches?
The Book of Mormon claims to be a sacred history of a few ancient Israelites who came to America and their descendants divided into two nations. The “Lamanite” nation was evil and dark skinned while the “Nephite” nation was a righteous, white skinned people that believed in Christ. They fought constantly with each other until the Nephites were annihilated by the Lamanites about 421 A D, leaving only the dark skinned ancestors of the Native Americans for Columbus to find in 1692. But before their demise, a few Nephites record their history on gold plates. That history included messages of their prophets as well as Christ’s visit to them after His resurrection. Moroni, the last Nephite, buried that record in a hill in New York State just before he was killed. That is the story in the Book of Mormon.
Joseph Smith claimed he was 17 in 1823 when Moroni appeared to him as an angel and showed him the record on gold plates which he later translated as the Book of Mormon. But there is no historical or archaeological evidence that support the existence of the people found in the Book of Mormon. Nor is there any evidence that ancient Americans were visited by Jesus Christ, or that they believed in Him or even knew about Him! Archaeological evidence shows that some of those ancient Americans offered human sacrifice, which is not very good evidence that they were believers in Jesus Christ as the Book of Mormon claims!
For those wanting to know more about the Book of Mormon, see the chapter on it in my book Mormon Claims Answered. Next article we will consider the ninth Article of Faith which deals with revelation.