The Bible and the Book of Mormon

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Reality or fairytales?

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Many critics of the church claim we believe in fairytales. A fairytale is a story that usually begins with the phrase “Once upon a time.” However, critics claim that our fairytale begins with “In the spring of 1820 Joseph Smith went to a grove to pray.” This is where Joseph Smith had a vision of God the Father and His Son in a grove of trees on his father’s farm. The fairytale continues with the story that later an angel gave Joseph Smith a book made out of gold that was hidden in a nearby hill more than a thousand years earlier which Joseph Smith magically translated. Later he was visited by ancient people such as Peter, James, John, Elijah, and John the Baptist.

How can we determine whether this story is a fairytale or if it really happened? Fairytales are illusions. Even though they may contain a good moral, they are totally make-believe stories.  A fairytale is something that it is a pure invention of the mind. On the other hand, reality is based on facts. It is part of real life. Was the first vision of the prophet Joseph Smith, real or was it just an illusion made up by a young 14 year old boy?

According to Joseph Smith, the vision he had in the spring of 1820 was the basis for his knowledge as well as his assurance that God does listens to and answers prayer. Therefore, it would not be unusual for him to pray again to obtain more answers. That first vision was the beginning of a chain reaction which came as an answer to his prayer. The visit by the angel Moroni came as a consequence of that first vision. Although some might feel that such a story was a fairytale, the reality is that it did produce a book that has inspired faith in millions of people throughout the world and has withstood intense scrutiny for almost 200 years.

From these events came the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which began with a group of just six people in a small obscure town in New York state and has grown to a membership of nearly 12 million people who are found nearly everywhere in the world. That is an undisputed fact and a reality of today’s life

As a result of the visions which Joseph Smith had, came a number of prophesies. Are these real prophecies or are they imagined? Let’s take a look.

From the very beginning Joseph Smith declared that the church he organized would expand throughout the entire world. Was such a pronouncement merely an illusion, the result of an inventive mind? The reality is that it has happened and has continually happened ever since its beginning. Even today the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is growing rapidly at a time when other churches are losing membership.

Joseph Smith prophesied that his name would be known for both good and evil. Was this just wishful thinking? Was he being delusional when he made this statement? The reality is that it was true while he was alive and it is even truer since his death!

Joseph Smith prophesied that the saints would be safe in the rocky mountains. At the time he made that prophecy there were no plans by the church to move its members there. In fact, just the opposite was true. They had built a city on the banks of the Mississippi River called Nauvoo which they believed was to become the permanent center of Mormon life. Was Joseph delusional when he made this prophesy?

The reality of history shows that the Saints did indeed flee to the rocky mountains, not because they planned to but because they were forced to. In fact, their exodus from Nauvoo and their settlement in the great Salt Lake valley was almost a miraculous event. So, what seemed in the beginning as a fairytale became a truly great reality.

In 1840 the Saints struggled to build a magnificent temple in Nauvoo. Joseph Smith prophesied that the time would come when temples would dot the land. Was this a fairytale? Back then it would certainly have seemed that way because it took great sacrifice and effort just to build one. However, the reality is that today there are 114 temples located throughout the world and many more of these magnificent structures are currently in various stages of construction. 

When Jesus walked upon the earth, He faced the same problem of credibility. People accused Him of being delusional. In Matthew 9:2-3 we read, “And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.” What was the reaction? The Bible records, “And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth.”  In other words, they didn’t believe Him. They thought it was a fairytale that a man could forgive sins. They believed that only God could do such a thing. When Jesus declared that He was the Son of God, they thought that that too was a fairytale.

But, to illustrate the reality of His words Jesus told them, “Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?  For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. And he arose, and departed to his house. But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.” (Matthew 9:4-8)

Another example is found in Matthew 11:16-19 which reads, “But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her works.”

How can we determine what is real and what is an illusion when there is no evidence? Jesus gave us the answer when He said, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17).

To believe in a reality that we cannot see or know requires FAITH. And even though faith is something many people believe is an intangible, it is still a reality. Paul explained, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is SUBSTANCE AND EVIDENCE!!!!!!! IT IS SOMETHING TANGIBLE EVEN THOUG H IT MAY NOT SEEM TO BE.

An example of this is miracles. It is true that sometimes miracles cannot be explained, but that doesn’t mean they are not real! Of course there are many people who do not believe in miracles. They think that all such occurrences are fairytales. From the world’s point of view the Bible itself is a great fairytale with its stories of visions of God and angels, miracles, God becoming a man and the resurrection. I can understand that kind of criticism coming from unbelievers, but certainly such criticism shouldn’t come from believers. Therefore, I find it hard to understand how those who believe in the Bible can consider the vision which Joseph Smith said he had to be a fairytale. These critics say that we must have evidence to support our claims, yet belief in the Bible is not based so much on evidence as it is on faith. Fortunately for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have both.

Last Updated on Monday, 17 May 2010 10:44  

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