If you have ever met with Mormon missionaries you know how much they encourage you to read through the Book of Mormon and pray for the Lord to reveal to you that it is true and from God.
Time after time, in my own talks with Mormons I have emphasized how this approach is both unbiblical as well as foolish way to discern a text as scripture. It’s hard to reason with a Mormon on this because they are so convinced that this a Biblical approach, but recently I have taken a different approach that I think I may be more convincing and even unsettling to the Mormons. Instead of arguing with them whether or not this is a good way to discern that the Book of Mormon is from God I have simply conceded that they are right and the Book of Mormon is from God.
Now I know some of you already are feeling very uncomfortable with this approach, but hear me out.
The catch is that if I assume that the Book of Mormon is actually from God it in no way gets me close to becoming a Mormon. Why is that? It is because the the most central and distinctive doctrines of the Mormon Church do not come from the Book of Mormon.
The BOM does not prophesy of Joseph Smith being a prophet of God or that he is supposed to be the leader of the church. It could even be argued that the BOM has no mention of Joseph Smith at all.
The BOM gives no mention to the baptism of the dead or the celestial, telestial and terrestrial heavens that are central to Mormon belief.
The BOM does not establish that a temple must be built where the holy ordinances must be performed or that those ordinances themselves should be done.
It gives no mention to the church structure in which elders, bishops, or high priests must exist in the future church. Nor does it mention a need for the president or the presidency of three or the 12 apostles.
With all this in mind the question of whether or not the BOM is from God suddenly become rather superfluous. Even if I were to accept the BOM, which I don’t, then it by no means would make me a follower of the Mormon doctrines.
So in the end my new response to Mormons when they ask if I have read and believe in the BOM is simply this. Why does it matter? The Book of Mormon is true. . . So what?
If a Mormon wants to convince me to become a Mormon and to accept the Mormon doctrines as true they must prove to me or otherwise convince me that the Mormon doctrines like these are true. But by my acceptance of the BOM I will by no means become convinced that the LDS church is true or that the Mormon faith is true.