Terry Lloyd currently serves as the Sunday School president in the Snyderville Ward in Park City Utah stake. In addition to other callings, he has taught in Primary, Sunday School, priesthood quorums, and early morning seminary. In his professional life he is a financial analyst and occasionally provides training on finance and accounting topics.

Enter Terry…

As leaders in our homes communities and in callings in Church, it is invaluable to recognize the power and impact of the Book of Mormon. With that said ,below is another “testament” of why the Book of Mormon is a writing that was inspired by God and not the creation of a man.

There are many discussion and inspired points regarding the divinity of the Book of Mormon, for this discuss we will just focus on three brief verses in the Book of Mormon  that help us answer the questions of whether Joseph Smith could have written the book and whether it truly is another testament of Jesus Christ.

A Century Old Question

Since the Book of Mormon was first published in 1829, we have been asking ourselves and others, “Could any man have written this book?”

Is it really possible that a poorly educated, semi-literate 24-year-old could have produced a volume of this breadth and depth in such a short space of time even with help from a few friends?

More recently (1982), we have claimed that it is “another testament of Jesus Christ,” formally claiming on the book’s cover that we consider the book equal—or superior—to the Bible.

By looking at only three verses in the Book of Mormon we can begin to answer both questions; could a man have written this and is it another testament of Christ? Of note, there are many other verses, including our own personal favorites that answer those questions. These are completely subjective and personal. We could identify, literally, hundreds of other verses that would help us answer both questions. The extensive availability of such verses is, of course, another evidence of the book’s dual purposes.

A Unique Understanding of The Fall

Lehi summarized the plan of salvation in 2 Nephi 2. Most of us can recite from memory at least two verses from this chapter, including “there must needs be an opposition in all things” (10). The other one we can repeat without thinking is “Adam fell that men might be and men are, that they might have joy” (25).

However, let’s pause to consider this verse. It’s clear these few words capture a deep and radical doctrine that is still at odds with many of our fellow Christians.

We believe that the fall of Adam and Eve—their departure from the garden and God’s presence—was not a surprise that frustrated His plans (and angered Him) but, rather, the fall is an important part of the Father’s plan for His children’s salvation.

What is of note here is that the religious leaders of Joseph’s day taught of an “angry God” and that all would go to hell who did not embrace the Savior at their redeemer. For example, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” was a sermon preached in 1741 by a leading American theologian Jonathan Edwards in Massachusetts and Connecticut. It had wide influence and was part of the First Great Awakening.

The concept of an angry God, surprised by the events in the garden, is still common among many Christians.

A unique doctrine to Latter-day Saints is that the fall was not a mistake but an important first step; Adam and Eve were chosen to take that step.

Unlike other Christians, we do not condemn Adam and Eve but we celebrate and honor them. In contemporary language we can say Adam and Eve “fell up” or “failed forward” and that leaving our Father’s presence was a step down so we could eventually take the many steps back up to be reunited with Him. Adam, Eve (and the rest of us) stepped down, or “fell,” from our first estate to this one so we could eventually climb back into Their presence. Lehi explains this fall and redemption in 2 Nephi.

When the book was published in 1829 this was radical doctrine, contrary to accepted orthodoxy, and even today many of our fellow Christians see the Fall as a great cosmic accident and we, like Adam and Eve, are cursed by an angry god. One of the justifications for baptizing infants is that all humanity is under the curse of “original sin” or “Adam’s curse” and this stain needs to be erased at birth. By contrast, the Book of Mormon teaches us that we, like Adam and Eve, are the children of loving Parents, temporarily separated from them during this school we call mortality.

Most members of the Church take this doctrine for granted but I wonder if we fully appreciate what it means—and what it tells us about the young Joseph Smith. That short verse, when published, contradicted nearly 2000 years of accepted Christian theology. We understand, especially those who have been to the temple, that there is a difference between Adam’s violation [transgression] of one commandment in the garden and a sin. Our first parents took that big step down to make it possible for the rest of us to follow on that path that leads back up.

Back to the two questions. Did this significant theological shift actually come from the mind of that poorly educated frontier farmhand? I sometimes wonder if at the time Joseph was dictating to those scribes he even understood the significance of what he was translating.

Sometimes I wonder if the young, rough Joseph really understood the ideas he was dictating to the scribes. Did he realize how revolutionary was the doctrine there in the plates? We know he became better at the translation as the process went along but did he initially grasp the impact? We know at one point, when describing Nephi going back into Jerusalem, he paused and told Emma he didn’t know there was a wall around Jerusalem. Did he have more of those moments reading about the baptism of infants or the overall plan of a loving Father to get His children into and out of mortality?

The Book of Mormon as A Second Witness of Christ

The second verse for addressing the two questions is in Alma 36. This one explains in vivid detail how Alma—and the rest of us—are rescued from our own personal falls. There we find Alma’s first-person account of what happened after he and his friends were confronted by the angel.

Scholars tell us this chapter is a near-perfect example of an ancient Hebrew writing style called parallelism or Chiasmus.

In this structure, the first idea or theme is mirrored by the last one, the second matches the second-to-last, and so on. In this case the verses match as they describe Alma’s descent and his ascent back up. The key in this structure is in the middle where the verses “turn” and start mirroring one another.

Here the first half (verses 12 to 17) is the pain, sorrow, and horror Alma feels as he realizes the damage he has done to himself and others. The chapter changes in every way as Alma then describes (verses 19 to 24) his relief, joy, and the light of his redemption. But focusing on the structure may cause us to miss the point—literally the central point of the chapter. And what do we find there in the middle (verse 18)? Alma in the depth of despair, reaches up and out. And what does he find? The Savior Jesus Christ. It is the Savior who rescues him from the darkness, the misery, the pain and leads him up and out into the light, the relief, the joy. The chapter’s message is that Jesus Christ lifts Alma out of his darkness and despair and turns it into relief, joy, and forgiveness

Back to the two questions. Is it possible that the poorly-educated Joseph Smith, even with the help of close friends, could have created something of this depth and complexity in the midst of the translation process? And what better explanation of how the Savior lifts Alma (and us) from his (and our) awful state. Nephi told us to treat the book as a user’s manual (1 Ne 19:23) and tells us Alma’s experience can become ours if we also reach up and out.

All of us, like Alma, have made mistakes, suffered despair from sin or circumstances and the loss of faith, the loss of a job, the loss of a spouse and all the other pains of this world. And, like Alma, if we reach up and out, we can find the Savior there. Alma 36 may be the single best summary of the entire book’s message.

When read in this way, Alma 36 may be one of the briefest—and best—explanations of Christ’s Atonement in all of scripture, comparable to the parable of the Good Samaritan, which tells the story of another traveler, wounded and apparently abandoned. When read together, they tell us that not only is there One waiting and watching for us to come back, but He sent His Son, to lead us—or carry us—back into His presence. In Nephi’s approach you and I—and Alma—are the traveler. The Savior, Jesus Christ, is the Good Samaritan who treats our wounds and pays the price of our recovery. He lifts and heals Alma, you, and me. That offer is open to all.

The Reach of Divine Love

The Father’s plan not only sent us down to go along the path in this rough and dangerous place we call mortality, but it also gave us a way to recover from the fall and come back out of the hole we’ve fallen—or dug ourselves—into. Few have dug a hole for themselves as deep as Alma’s but the message is the same: if we reach up and out, there is someone waiting there for us to lift us out. Elder Holland summarized it this way,

“However late you think you are, however, many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don’t have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines.”

Most of us know by now that, on average, the Savior is mentioned twice in every three verses in the Book of Mormon. We also know He is identified by 100 different names and titles.

Even numerically the Savior is the central figure in the book.

Uniqueness of the Sermon on the Mount T

he third verse, 3 Nephi 12, comes near the end, in 3 Nephi after the resurrected Savior descends from the sky to teach the Nephites. Among the many things he taught, including a succinct summary of how the old covenant, the law of Moses, had been fulfilled in Him, He delivered a version of the sermon on the mount.

The one delivered on the temple mount has some small variations but a significant one appears right at the end.

In the old world the Savior told the disciples to

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48).”

In the new world He said,

“Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.” (3 Nephi 12:48, emphasis added)”

Did a 24-year-old Joseph Smith just decide to slightly edit that wording or was he faithfully translating what someone else had written down verbatim 1,800 years before?

Since 1830 scholars studying the New Testament have told us that the Greek word “perfect” there can be better interpreted as “finished” or “whole” or “complete.” We, like other Christians, believe Jesus led a sinless life but apparently, He didn’t consider Himself “completed” until after the events of Easter week in the garden and in the tomb. Only then, His mortal ministry ended, was He finished enough to consider Himself “perfect.”

Following Nephi’s approach to scripture study, that simple word change also tells us that we have a mission to complete while here in mortality. Only One of us led a sinless life but even though we are fallen and imperfect, the Atonement can cover our sins and make us clean and acceptable to reunite with our Heavenly Parents.

Like Alma, we can climb out of whatever holes we find ourselves in. The Savior Jesus Christ has not only given us the path back, but an example of continuing onward until our mission is complete.


Three short verses teach us about the fall, the Savior’s role as Redeemer, and the importance of persevering in the journey. These—and many more—help answer the questions of ancient, inspired authorship and the book’s additional witness of the Savior.

The more we look, the more we realize a young, raw Joseph Smith could not have produced this complex, revolutionary book from his imagination or limited education in those circumstances.

Hugh Nibley, teaching at BYU for decades, issued a challenge to the students in his Book of Mormon classes: write a 700-page book in one semester (about the same amount of time it took for Joseph to translate the record) with comparable depth and breadth of characters, story lines, doctrines, writing styles, and all the rest.

Few ever tried and no one has ever been able to come close. Maybe some ambitious student wrote something comparable to King Benjamin’s sermon or Alma 36 but I haven’t heard of it.

Elder Holland once pointed out that

“The only thing more miraculous than an angel providing him with those plates and him translating them by divine inspiration would be that he sat down and wrote it with a ballpoint pen and a spiral notebook. There is no way, in my mind, with my understanding of his circumstances, his education, … [he] could have written that book.

Things like Chiasmus and other evidences are interesting and gratifying but do they “prove” the book is true? I’ve never met anyone who joined the Church—or stayed in it—because of Chiasmus or archaeological or historical evidence or textual analysis or any other academic approach.

The Promise is True

More important than all the external, academic evidence is the spiritual confirmation of the book’s authenticity and applicability. We all know the invitation, there at the end, where the compiler-editor asks us to read, ponder, and pray (Moroni 10:3-5). That is the most conclusive test and I know that promise to be true.

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