Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Book of Mormon Challenge

The Book of Mormon claims to be the word of God, translated from ancient plates made of Gold, transcribed and maintained anciently by descendents of people of the tribes of Israel, brought by the hand of the Lord to the Americas.
Joseph Smith claimed that he received the plates from an Angel, a resurrected prophet from this ancient culture and was instructed in how he, as a modern day revelator could translate the record contained on the plates into the English language, to be published to the world today in millions of copies in more than 60 languages.

Below is the Book of Mormon Challenge, an assignment that Professor Hugh Nibley at BYU sometimes gave to students in a required class on the Book of Mormon. Though it is several decades old, it still offers a challenge worth pondering.
The challenge the Book of Mormon makes to the world is that of duplication; because the Book of Mormon complies with every one of the following conditions.

Here is the challenge. CAN YOU MEET IT?

1. You must write a history of ancient Tibet covering a period of 2200 B.C. to 400 A.D. This is because Joseph Smith, in 1827 knew as much about ancient Central America as you do about Tibet.

2. At the time you write, you must be 23 years of age.

3. You can have had no more than three years of formal education and must have spent your life in rural backwoods communities.

4. Your history is to be written on the basis of what you know. As with Joseph Smith there is no library available to provide background information. You must use none. You are to conduct no prior research of any kind.

5. Your book must be 522 pages and over 300,000 words in length.

6. Other than a few grammatical errors, you must make no changes in the text. The first edition, as you dictate it to your secretary must stand forever.
7. The record is to contain the history of two distinct and separate nations, along with histories of different contemporary nations or groups of people.

8. You must describe their religious, economic, political and social cultures and institutions.

9. Change your writing style many times. Examination of the Book of Mormon reveals widely diverging writing style, attributable to different authors, written over thousands of years.

10. Weave into your history the religion of Jesus Christ and the pattern of Christian living.

11. You must then claim to the world that your smooth narrative is not fiction with moral value, but a true and sacred history

12. You must include in your book fifty-four chapters dealing with wars, twenty-one historical chapters, fifty-five chapters on visions and prophecies, and remember when you begin to write on the visions and prophecies, you must have your record agree meticulously with the Bible.
The only Bible you will have at your disposal is an old 18th century family Bible, without concordance or index.

13. You must write seventy-one chapters on doctrine and exhortation, and here too you must check every statement with scriptures or you will be proven a fraud. You must write twenty-one chapters on the ministry of Christ, and everything you claim He said and did and every testimony you write us your book about Him must agree with the New Testament.

14. Many of the facts, claims, ideas, and statements given as absolutely true in your writings must be entirely inconsistent with the prevailing beliefs in the world. Some of these worldly beliefs must prove to be direct opposite of your claims.

15. Included in your narrative must be authentic accounts regarding modes of travel, the use by these ancient people of such advancements as the wheel; descriptions of their clothing, crops, customs, and types of government. You must invent 280 new names that will stand under scrutiny through the years as to their proper application, citation and derivation.

16. You must invite the ablest scholars and experts to examine the text with care, and you must strive diligently to see that your book gets into the hands of those eager to prove it a forgery, and who are most competent to expose every flaw in it.

17. Thorough investigation, scientific and historical evidence, and archeological discovery for the next 125 years must verify its claims and prove detail after detail to be true, for many of the details you put in your history are still buried beneath the soil of Tibet.

18. You must publish it to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people declaring it to be the word of God and another witness for the Lord Jesus Christ.

19. The book must not contain any absurd, impossible, or contradictory statements. Your history must not contain any statement that will contradict any other statement elsewhere in the volume.

20. Many theories and ideas as to its origin must arise, and after discovering and examining the facts, they must fail. You have claimed that your knowledge had come from divine origin, and this claim continues to stand as the only possible explanation. The strength of this explanation must not decrease as time passes, but actually increases to the point where it becomes the only logical explanation.

21. Your record is to fulfill many Bible prophecies, even in the exact manner in which it shall come forth, to whom delivered, its purposes, and its accomplishments.

22. Call down an angel from heaven in the middle of the day and have him bear testimony to three honest, dignified citizens of your community that the record is the word of God. These witnesses must bear the angel's testimony to the world, not for profit or gain, but under great sacrifice and severe persecution, even to their death beds. You must put that testimony to the test by becoming an enemy to these men.

23. Thousands of great men, intellectual giants, national and international personalities, and scholars for 125 years must accept your history and its teachings even to the point of laying down their life rather than deny their testimony of it.

24. You must include within the record this promise: "And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, He will manifest the truth of it unto you by the power of the Holy Ghost."

25. Missionaries must bear record to the world for the next 125 years that they know the record to be true because they put the promise to the test and found it to be true. The truth of it was manifested to them by the power of the Holy Ghost.

26. Over 60,000 plus competent salesman must be so sold on your book that they gladly give up two or more years of their lives to take it to all parts of the world for distribution. They not only pay their own way during these years, but return bearing testimony that the time spent will remain as one of the highlights of their lives. They receive nothing in return for their efforts but the joy of having shared your book with others.

27. Your book must not only raise the standards of millions of people but do it in such a way that they become one of the great moral, ethical, and dynamic marvels of the day. They must become world renowned for this.

28. For the next 20 years you must watch those that follow you, your family, and the dearest of your loved ones persecuted, driven time after time from their homes, beaten, tortured, starved, frozen and killed. Tens of thousands must undergo the most extreme hardships in your presence just because they believe you claims concerning the origin and content of what you have written on ancient Tibet.

29. You must gain no wealth from your work, but many time lose all that you have. Like those that believe you, you must submit yourself to the most vile persecution. And finally after 20 years of this, give your own life in a very savage and brutal manner, for your testimony concerning your history book. This must be done willingly on your part.

30. Start right now and produce this record which covers 2600 years of history, doing it, not in the peaceful atmosphere of your community, but under the most trying of circumstances which include having to work hard agrarian labor to raise your own food, being driven from your home several times, and receiving constant threats upon your life. Please have your book completed, talk a friend into mortgaging his farm to raise money to have it printed - all in 60-70 days.

The point of all this is that all 30 of these factors are aspects of the translation, publication and distribution of the Book of Mormon, in a small farming community on the rural frontier of Western New York state in 1828. Of course, the power and majesty of the Book of Mormon in changing lives, come because of a witness borne to honest, sincere seeking individuals through Faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ.

1 comment:

Loralee said...

That's incredible. What an interesting way of looking at it.