In 2024, Latter-day Saints will study the Book of Mormon for the second time since the “Come, Follow Me” curriculum launched in January 2019.
This week’s study guide kicks off the year with the introductory pages of the Book of Mormon. Church News recently searched the archives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to learn what leaders have said about these pages.
Title page of the Book of Mormon
“If you were to ask someone, ‘Who is the main character in the Book of Mormon?’ they might be confused. The Book of Mormon contains a thousand years of history for the Nephites as well as the history of the Jaredites. It is unlikely that one figure will come to the forefront over such a long period of time. They may say, ‘Well, perhaps it’s Nephi or maybe it’s Alma, or maybe it’s Mormon, or perhaps Moroni.’ It isn’t any of those.
“The principal character in the book is Jesus Christ. From the first page to the last, it was intended to be so. That’s what the title page says. That’s what the book was designed to be — a declaration that ‘Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God’ (title page of the Book of Mormon). Christ is everything in this book.”
— Then-Elder Jeffrey R. Holland in the July 2020 Liahona article, “How the Book of Mormon Is the Keystone of Our Religion”
“In the title page of the Book of Mormon we read, ‘And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ.’
“This is the way it has always been and will be until the perfect day when Christ Himself reigns personally upon the earth.
“It is unfortunate that some have stumbled because of mistakes made by men. But in spite of this, the eternal truth of the restored gospel found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not tarnished, diminished or destroyed.
“As an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ and as one who has seen firsthand the councils and workings of this Church, I bear solemn witness that no decision of significance affecting this Church or its members is ever made without earnestly seeking the inspiration, guidance and approbation of our Eternal Father. This is the Church of Jesus Christ. God will not allow His Church to drift from its appointed course or fail to fulfill its divine destiny.”
“The Book of Mormon sits in the center of the Restoration as part of the great message of the Restoration.
“Ponder this powerful yet frequently ignored quotation from the Prophet Joseph Smith concerning the title page of the Book of Mormon: ‘I wish to mention here that the title page of the Book of Mormon is a literal translation, taken from the very last leaf, on the left hand side of the collection or book of plates, which contained the record which has been translated, … and that said title page is not… a modern composition, either of mine or of any other man who has lived or does live in this generation’ (‘History of the Church’).
“A marvelous testimony! The Book of Mormon is beyond the capacity of Joseph Smith or any other individual to have written. Why? Because it was not only translated by ‘the gift and power of God’; it was written and transmitted by ‘the gift and power of God.’”
— Elder Neal A. Maxwell in the April 2003 Ensign article, “The Wondrous Restoration”
“What is the major purpose of the Book of Mormon? To bring men to Christ and to be reconciled to him, and then to join His Church — in that order.
“The title page of the Book of Mormon states the book is for ‘the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God.’ …
“The Book of Mormon being true, then God did inspire his prophet Joseph Smith to translate it and did call him to do the holy work of restoring His church, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
— President Ezra Taft Benson, October 1984 general conference, “A New Witness for Christ”
Introduction to the Book of Mormon
“The introduction to the Book of Mormon gives us a pattern by which we can know for ourselves that the gospel message is true. The introduction ‘was first published in the 1981 edition of the Book of Mormon. It introduces the Book of Mormon to the modern reader by providing background information and a description of the book’ (‘Book of Mormon Teacher Resource Manual,’ 2004).
“The introduction starts by telling us precisely what the Book of Mormon is: ‘A volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible. It is a record of God’s dealings with ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains the fulness of the everlasting gospel.’ We learn that it ‘was written by many ancient prophets by the spirit of prophecy and revelation’ on golden plates and was abridged ‘by a prophet-historian named Mormon.’
“We also learn that ‘the crowning event recorded in the Book of Mormon is the personal ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ among the Nephites soon after His resurrection. It puts forth the doctrines of the gospel, outlines the plan of salvation, and tells men what they must do to gain peace in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come.’
“One of the most important things we can learn from the Book of Mormon is that the Church restored by Jesus Christ through Joseph Smith is true.
“The introduction invites us ‘to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in [our] hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true.’ We are promised that ‘those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost (see Moroni 10:3-5).’”
“In the introduction to the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, it says that the Lamanites ‘are among the ancestors of the American Indians.’ As I read the Book of Mormon [for the first time], it seemed to me that it was about my American Indian ancestors. …
“The Book of Mormon has a special message for descendants of the Lamanites, a remnant of the house of Israel. Nephi expressed this message while interpreting his father’s vision of these latter days: ‘And at that day shall the remnant of our seed know that they are of the house of Israel, and that they are the covenant people of the Lord; and then shall they know and come to the knowledge of their forefathers, and also to the knowledge of the gospel of their Redeemer, which was ministered unto their fathers by him; wherefore, they shall come to the knowledge of their Redeemer and the very points of his doctrine, that they may know how to come unto him and be saved’ (1 Nephi 15:14). …
“I exhort all people to read the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.
“I especially ask the remnant of the house of Israel, the descendants of the people of the Book of Mormon, wherever you may be, to read and reread the Book of Mormon. Learn of the promises contained in the Book of Mormon. Follow the teachings and example of Jesus Christ. Make and keep covenants with the Lord. Seek for and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”
— Elder Larry Echo Hawk, October 2012 general conference, “‘Come unto Me, O Ye House of Israel’”
“[Joseph Smith] testified that ‘the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion’ (‘Introduction to the Book of Mormon’). A keystone is the central stone in an arch. It holds all the other stones in place, and if removed, the arch crumbles. …
“The Book of Mormon is the keystone in our witness of Jesus Christ, who is Himself the cornerstone of everything we do. It bears witness of His reality with power and clarity. Unlike the Bible, which passed through generations of copyists, translators and corrupt religionists who tampered with the text, the Book of Mormon came from writer to reader in just one inspired step of translation. Therefore, its testimony of the Master is clear, undiluted and full of power. But it does even more. Much of the Christian world today rejects the divinity of the Savior. They question His miraculous birth, His perfect life and the reality of His glorious resurrection. The Book of Mormon teaches in plain and unmistakable terms about the truth of all of those. It also provides the most complete explanation of the doctrine of the Atonement. Truly, this divinely inspired book is a keystone in bearing witness to the world that Jesus is the Christ.”
— President Ezra Taft Benson, October 1986 general conference, “The Book of Mormon — Keystone of Our Religion”
Testimony of Three Witnesses
“As a young Aaronic Priesthood boy, I received a firsthand confirmation of the remarkable testimony of the Three Witnesses concerning the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. My stake president was President Henry D. Moyle, and his father was James H. Moyle. In the summertime, Brother James H. Moyle would visit his family, and he would worship with us in our little ward in the southeast of the Salt Lake Valley.
“One Sunday, Brother James H. Moyle shared with us a singular experience. As a young man he went to the University of Michigan to study law. As he was finishing his studies, his father told him that David Whitmer, one of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon, was still alive. The father suggested to his son that he stop on his way back to Salt Lake City to visit with David Whitmer face-to-face. Brother Moyle’s purpose was to ask him about his testimony concerning the golden plates and the Book of Mormon.
“During that visit, Brother Moyle said to David Whitmer: ‘Sir, you are an old man, and I’m a young man. I have been studying about witnesses and testimonies. Please tell me the truth concerning your testimony as one of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon.’ David Whitmer then told this young man: ‘Yes, I held the golden plates in my hands, and they were shown to us by an angel. My testimony concerning the Book of Mormon is true.’ David Whitmer was out of the Church, but he never denied his testimony of the angel’s visitation, of handling the golden plates, or of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Hearing with my own ears this remarkable experience directly from Brother Moyle’s lips had a powerful, confirming effect upon my growing testimony. Having heard it, I felt it was binding upon me.”
— President James E. Faust, October 2000 general conference, “A Growing Testimony”
“While Joseph Smith was translating the Book of Mormon, the Lord revealed that, in addition to the Prophet’s testimony, the world would have ‘the testimony of three of my servants, whom I shall call and ordain, unto whom I will show these things’ (Doctrine and Covenants 5:11). …
“The three men chosen as witnesses of the Book of Mormon were Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris. Their written ‘Testimony of Three Witnesses’ has been included in all of the… copies of the Book of Mormon the Church has published since 1830. These witnesses solemnly testify that they ‘have seen the plates which contain this record’ and ‘the engravings which are upon the plates.’ They witness that these writings ‘have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us.’ They testify, ‘We declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true.’ …
“Measured against all of these possible objections, the testimony of the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon stands forth in great strength. Each of the three had ample reason and opportunity to renounce his testimony if it had been false, or to equivocate on details if any had been inaccurate. As is well known, because of disagreements or jealousies involving other leaders of the Church, each one of these three witnesses was excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by about eight years after the publication of their testimony. All three went their separate ways, with no common interest to support a collusive effort. Yet to the end of their lives — periods ranging from 12 to 50 years after their excommunications — not one of these witnesses deviated from his published testimony or said anything that cast any shadow on its truthfulness.”
Testimony of Eight Witnesses
“Let us remember that 12 modern men saw and handled those same plates after Moroni had delivered them to Joseph Smith. In describing this experience, eight of them said that they handled them with their hands and added, ‘We have seen and hefted and know of a surety that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken’ (‘The Testimony of Eight Witnesses’).
“They handled the plates with their hands. …
“They turned over the pages, one by one. …
“They examined the engravings on those plates, some of which were made by Moroni 1,500 years ago.
“So the published Book of Mormon is a physical witness to the fact of immortality, to the resurrection from the dead, and to the reality of God and His Son, Jesus Christ.
In this day of doubt and criticism, should we not be grateful for physical evidence of unseen things? Then shall we not accept the Book of Mormon as such evidence?”
— Elder Mark E. Petersen, April 1978 general conference, “‘Evidence of Things Not Seen’”