Praying About the Book of Mormon - Is it Biblical?
"And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost."
It is indeed a rarity to finish a discussion with a Mormon without being challenged to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. Following numerous discussions regarding the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, I have been asked by the zealous Latter-day Saint to forget what I have learned in order to pray about truth. On several occassions I have asked my LDS acquaintance if praying about the book is going to remove all the evidence which clearly shows this book is not from God.
When I refuse to pray about the book's authenticity, I am often accused of not believing in prayer. The truth is, it is because I do believe in the sacredness of prayer that I don't pray about what I believe to be nothing more than a 19th century novel. Nowhere does the Bible ever direct the believing Christian to pray about the truthfulness of any book, religious or otherwise. This however, does not mean that it is wrong to pray and ask God for guidance regarding any truth-claim, but because the Holy Spirit will only confirm that which is true, it is erroneous to assume the Spirit's confirmation if reality conflicts with the assumed conclusion.
I recall a conversation I had with a sincere Mormon missionary in my home. He told me he knew the Book of Mormon was true and invited me to pray and know this for myself. I asked him when he came to this conclusion. He said the Holy Ghost revealed this to him when he was eight years old. I explained to him that I was amazed at how he could discern when the Holy Ghost was speaking at such a young age. I am sure many would agree that discerning the will of God can be tricky at times for even the most spiritual of adults. Still, I proceeded to ask if his mother believed the Book of Mormon was true. He said yes. In fact, it appeared that just about everyone close to him believed this as well. I then queried, "How do you know it was not your mother's faith in the book that led you to this conclusion and not the Holy Ghost as you presumed?"
Is it not possible that this Mormon's decision could have been based in wanting to be accepted by his peers rather than a genuine experience with the Holy Ghost? On a broader scope, could it be that many people embrace the Book of Mormon because those they love and trust also believe it? If not, what evidence is used to come to such a conclusion other than pure subjective feelings?
In essence, the test of Moroni 10:4 is a no-win situation. The one who is challenged must accept the book as true otherwise his integrity is placed under suspicion. If a person does accept the challenge (albeit unbiblical as it is) and concludes that the Book of Mormon is not of God, it is obvious to the Mormon that the person who prayed Moroni’s prayer either did not have a sincere heart, real intent, or perhaps even their faith in Christ was somehow inadequate. Mormons are convinced that if these three ingredients are used properly the test will yield positive results. Since it is not possible (in their mind) for the book to be wrong, the one who prayed must have done something wrong. To prove my point, ask your Mormon acquaintance if he/she will renounce Joseph Smith and the LDS Church if you were to pray about the Book of Mormon and, as a result, felt that God told you it was not scripture. If they will not agree to this condition they unwittingly confirm the fact that this is not a fool-proof method for determining truth. If it is possible for you to get an erroneous "negative" answer, why is it not possible for them to get an erroneous "positive" answer?
I have even been told that if a testimony of the Book of Mormon is to be gained, the person must want it to be true. This strikes me as odd given the fact that my personal faith in the Bible did not come in such a manner. In fact, because of the strong message the Bible had for me as a lost sinner, I didn't want the Bible to be true.
Of all people, the Christian should know that the heart of man is desperately wicked and cannot be trusted (Jeremiah 17:9). Because we are sinful creatures, we can be swayed by our emotions and sinful desires. Sincerity does not necessarily determine what is true because our sincerity is borne out of preconceived notions. If our preconceived notions are in error, our sincerity will be misguided. Proverbs 14:12 tells us, "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." Clearly, God's Word demonstrates that feelings can be deceptive. Because of this, the sincere truth seeker must base his decisions using more objective means.
Does it not make sense that if Satan wants people to believe the Book of Mormon is sacred scripture, he would incorporate an unbiblical method in order to come to such a conclusion? The Bible never says to pray about the matter. Instead, I John 4:1 reads, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world."
Some Mormon missionaries have erroneously told prospective converts that this means we should pray concerning the Book of Mormon. To assume such an interpretation is to ignore the Greek language used by the Apostle John. The word "try" in this verse is the word dok-im-ad-zo which means to examine, prove, or test. When it comes to making a decision whether or not the Book of Mormon is from God, we are to test what it has to say. If it contradicts what God has already revealed, it fails. The real Holy Spirit will not contradict the Words of the True God. Unfortunately many sincere people fall for this ploy, not heeding the warning set forth by the Apostle John, and have, in essence, "gained a testimony of the Book of Mormon" in an unbiblical manner. It makes perfect sense that the father of lies would employ a false testing standard in order to seduce a person into believing a lie.
Let us look at this from another angle. Ask your LDS friend if it would it be proper to pray whether or not it is permissable to commit murder? adultery? theft? "Of course not," they might answer. "Why?" you ask. "Because the Bible already speaks out against such sins." Exactly. God has already given us His revealed will regarding such matters, and therefore no amount of prayer is going to change that fact. No matter how sincere a person may believe otherwise, anyone who claims God gave him permission to murder, steal, or commit adultery only proves to the one familiar with the Bible that this man did not hear from God.
Why should it be any different when it comes to the Book of Mormon? What difference is it to pray concerning the Book of Mormon if the Bible has already spoken out against it? Do you think the all-knowing God of the Bible is so inept and forgetful that He would approve a book and religion which is diametrically opposed to what He has already revealed? Never! In violating the rules of sacred writ, The Book of Mormon, and Mormonism as a whole, meets the criteria of being 'another gospel.' No amount of semantics or prayer will change the matter.
Though I would not go so far as to charge every Mormon missionary with premeditated deception, I will say that it is highly deceptive of the Mormon Church to use the Book of Mormon as a lure to get people to join the LDS Church. Using the Book of Mormon is the classic bait-and-switch. Many people assume that if the Mormon Church promotes the Book of Mormon, it must surely adhere to its teachings. This is not always the case. There are numerous passages in the Book of Mormon that conflict with modern Mormon thought.
A person could read the book from cover to cover and never read about the unique doctrines that should depict the alleged Nephites as "ancient Mormons." A person could read the Book of Mormon from 1 Nephi to Moroni and not get an accurate picture of what modern Mormon doctrine really entails (See our "Test Your Knowledge of the Book of Mormon"). Because of this, we strongly urge prospective converts to closely examine every aspect of Mormonism before making a decision to join this organization. To do less would be foolish.
For a podcast titled "Book of Mormon: Is It a Book from God?" go here.