By Sharon Lindbloom
At a meeting in Baltimore, Maryland in 1998, then LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “I can’t understand why those of other faiths cannot accept the Book of Mormon. One would think that they would be looking for additional witnesses to the great and solemn truths of the Bible.” (The Ensign, 6/00, p. 18) President Hinckley’s puzzle raises a good question. Since the Book of Mormon speaks about Jesus Christ on nearly every page, why don’t Christians accept it?
The answer begins with the fact that we are commanded by God to hold firmly to the truth. Before embracing the Book of Mormon and the things it proclaims we must first put it to the test.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth sharing his pastoral concern over their apparent acceptance of false teachers and false doctrines. Paul painted a picture of the way they had embraced error when he wrote, “For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.” (2 Cor. 11:4) We, as modern-day Christians, must also guard against falling into the Corinthian error which so concerned Paul and our Lord Jesus. (Matt. 7:15; 24:23-25)
If we look in the Book of Mormon to determine the Jesus, the spirit, and the gospel it proclaims, this is what we find:
Another Jesus: “…I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.” (Alma 36:17)
Another Spirit: “…the Spirit hath said…behold, he [Jesus] shall be born of Mary at Jerusalem…” (Alma 7:9-10) “… show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism. And whosoever doeth this, and keepeth the commandments of God from thenceforth, …he shall have eternal life, according to the testimony of the Holy Spirit, which testifieth in me.” (Alma 7:15-16)
Another Gospel: “…we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Nephi 25:23) “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you,…” (Moroni 10:32)
The Bible tells us: Jesus Christ is the Son of God, proclaiming His deity and uniqueness, not merely a son, which denies His unique relationship with the Father. (Matthew 16:16; 26:61-64)
The Bible tells us: The Holy Spirit is omniscient and truthful (1 Cor. 2:10-11; John 15:26). His testimony of the place of Christ’s birth and the requirements for eternal life would be correct and consistent; Jesus was born in Bethlehem, not “at Jerusalem,” and eternal life is gained through faith, which is a gift of God, not the result of baptism followed by perfect obedience. (Luke 2:4-7; Eph. 2:8-10)
The Bible tells us: The Gospel is the Good News that we are saved by God’s grace, which has nothing to do with keeping commandments. In fact, if we seek to win God’s favor and His bestowal of eternal life through obedience to law, Christ will be of no benefit to us. (Galatians 5:1-4)
Therefore, to answer President Hinckley, Christians cannot accept the Book of Mormon because the Book of Mormon proclaims another Jesus, another Spirit, and another Gospel. To embrace it would be to sin against God and disregard His clear warnings to “Take heed that ye be not deceived.” (Luke 21:8)