BYU (Brigham Young University) is operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often mistakenly called the “Mormon Church.” BYU students take nearly a semester of spiritually uplifting, stimulating religion classes.
In this series (see below), students enrolled in scripture study classes have shared their thoughts, insights, and reflections on the Book of Mormon in the form of letters to someone they know. We invite you to take a look at their epiphanies and discoveries as they delve into the scriptures.
In publishing these, we fulfill their desire to speak to all of us of the relevance, power and beauty of the Book of Mormon, a second witness of Jesus Christ and complement to the Bible. The Book of Mormon includes the religious history of a group of Israelites who settled in ancient America. (The names they use are those of prophets who taught the Book of Mormon peoples to look forward to the coming of Christ—Nephi, Lehi, Alma, Helaman, and other unfamiliar names. We hope those names will become more familiar to you as you read their inspiring words and feel the relevance and divinity of their messages through these letters.)
Let us know if you’d like to receive your own digital copy of the Book of Mormon, and/or if these messages encourage and assist you spiritually as well.
Mormonism: Faith without Evidence
There are many ways and things that we doubt in this world. As a culture, we are drifting from trust to evidence. Earlier on in history we had to take more things on faith, because our understanding was limited to what we had lived and experienced. However, now in the information age, where opinions and facts spread virally, we tend to trust in our own research more than in what others say. There’s both promise and danger in such a culture. Promise in that it becomes harder to be deceived by someone who is wrong, and danger in that it becomes easier to deceive ourselves. I would like to refer us now to the Book of Mormon where it talks about a similar cycle that is happening there.
In Helaman 9 contains some of the admonitions given by Nephi to the people gathered round his garden tower, who came because they heard him lamenting their fallen people. Nephi states that the chief judge is going to be murdered and five of the listeners run to the judgment seat to verify it. For they said amongst themselves:
Behold, now we will know of a surety whether this man be a prophet and God hath commanded him to prophesy such marvelous things unto us. Behold, we do not believe that he hath; yea, we do not believe that he is a prophet; nevertheless, if this thing which he has said concerning the chief judge be true, that he be dead, then will we believe that the other words which he has spoken are true. (Helaman 9:2)
They arrive at the judgment seat and find the chief judge murdered just as Nephi had said, and they are convinced of the truth of his words. This brings a fear over them that causes them to fall to the ground in shock. The servants of the king having found him first ran and told all that the chief judge was dead, and when the people arrived they found the five and accused them of being the murders.
With little evidence, we jump to such large conclusions sometimes. As we read on later Nephi is brought in also being charged with conspiracy. (Else how would he have known about the death of the judge?) Nephi then tells them who (the chief judge’s brother) and exactly what he’s going to say. Every word that Nephi prophesied is fulfilled yet even after all this evidence that Nephi is a prophet, the people still reject him.
Now why would “logical” people do that? I’ll tell you why. When you don’t believe something and don’t want to believe, you will always find a way to explain away whatever happens. Look at the House of Israel; when they were saved from the Egyptians, they later doubted the capability of that same God to defeat a lesser force, when they first spied upon the Promised Land. We need to have more faith in God, and less of this we’ll prove it attitude. Belief is a choice not a fact.