The last chapter of the Book of Mormon is Moroni’s concluding remarks before he forever seals up the record with faith that one day it might be recovered for some benefit to future generations. I can’t emphasize this point enough. Through Moroni we have an example. No matter how pointless, desperate, or hopeless our individual lives might feel, there’s always a hope that whatever we leave behind as we leave this world might be of some benefit to future generations. I think we all want our lives to have some sort of impact. We should live them with hope that they might. Moroni provides such an example.
Verse three, Moroni repeats much of what’s found throughout the book, to remember God’s mercy in our history. Verse four, is an exhortation for the reader to pray about “these things”. I doubt “these things” means the book itself, but its contents and gospel. We should elevate the message over the delivery mechanism.
Verse 8 through 23 echo 1 Corinthians 12, Moroni emphasizes the need for a diversity of spiritual gifts that show up in individual members, that they all are gifts, one is not better than another, that we should rejoice in diversity at that “it is the same God who worketh all in all” (verse 8). What should show up in this diversity, however, what should underly it all faith, hope and charity (verse 20).
The chapter concludes with a reference to Isaiah and a call to the reader to “awake and arise from the dust” (verse 31), to “strengthen they stakes” to build up Zion. It’s a message of gathering all good things and for each of us individually to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him.””” (verse 32).
My Thoughts on the Book of Mormon
This book of scripture loses a lot of resonance and importance outside of Latter Day Saint traditions (Mormonism and its knock-offs). Members of the church view it as sacred scripture, most accept it as a literal historical narrative that has come through us through divine and miraculous channels, just in the way Joseph Smith describes it. There is an enormous amount of apologetics trying to prove the Book of Mormon is empirically historical. I’m not sure anyone outside of Mormonism takes these claims seriously.
Efforts to find archeological evidence for a Jewish/Christian community somewhere in the American continent as a way to prove the Book of Mormon for me seems like wasted effort. I don’t think a Mormon faith should hinge on such a non-religious foundation and the book itself pushes hard against it.
The book is fundamentally a religious not a historical book. I think the book is best read as if it’s historical, but I don’t think it loses its power if at some future date, someone proves incontrovertibly the book was a product of Joseph Smith – some believe we’re already there, but I’m not sure that’s actually true. I suspect, just like the Bible, the further we move away from the Joseph Smith temporally, the more difficult it will be to prove things either way. Much of the Bible’s historical claims are equally as difficult in many ways but because the Bible comes from a fare more ancient period, its claims are harder to validate one way or the other.
There are remarkable, physics defying miracles described in both the Book of Mormon and the Bible that don’t seem to happen today (some people thing otherwise). Perhaps, miracles happened in ancient times that are no longer necessary. More likely, ancient people were more superstitious, less scientifically savvy and believed in and described things in ways that stretched events far beyond actual occurrences. Much of what is scriptural can be viewed as more mythical than historical.
None of that actually matters to faith, though. Does a story, myth or event motivate a person into more alignment with goodness and God? If yes, great.
It is my witness the Book of Mormon has done that for me. And for me that is enough.