Excerpt from In the gospel, faith must come first by Taylor Halverson, For
the Deseret News, Published: Saturday, Feb. 21 2015 9:45 a.m. MST
We know that faith is the first principle of the gospel (Articles
of Faith 4).
However, in our world saturated with “evidence first,” the call to act in
faith first seems difficult, if not outright outlandish.
When I was completing a graduate degree in biblical studies at Yale
University, I gave an invited presentation to fellow students on Mormonism.
I explained the origins of the Book of Mormon and shared highlights from its
the end of the presentation, one thoughtful student raised his hand with a
question. Before I share the interchange that occurred, I’ll provide some
students in an academic biblical studies program, we had spent months poring
over ancient biblical manuscripts to identify the most authentic readings
and the best translations. We had at our disposal thousands of ancient
biblical manuscripts to guide these efforts. Without tangible, ancient
biblical documents to guide our work, making decisions about what was
accurate and valid in the Bible was nearly impossible. With that background,
this was the exchange I had with a fellow student.
Where is the original Book of Mormon today? Where are the gold plates?
They are gone.
What do you mean that the original plates are gone?
When Joseph Smith completed the translation of the gold plates into the Book
of Mormon, he returned the plates to the angel Moroni. So we no longer have
access to them. All that remains is Joseph Smith’s translation of the
I mean no disrespect, but this sounds both incredible and convenient for the
story of the Book of Mormon. (Remember that the word “incredible” means
unbelievable.) We have no way of source checking Joseph Smith’s story
because the plates he claims to have worked with are no longer available.
How can anyone even believe Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon?
Great questions. I have several questions for you.
Are you a Christian?
Do you believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ?
Of course. That is the fundamental foundation of Christianity! Without the
belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ there is nothing for
OK, then show me Jesus’ body.
(Pausing to think with dawning comprehension) Oh, I see.
What is more implausible: That someone claims to have translated a book and
now the original book is missing, or that a physically dead body is now
alive again? Just as Christians throughout the centuries have exercised
faith in the claim that Jesus Christ died and rose again, so too
members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints exercise faith in
that original claim as well as in the claim that God has brought forth
additional scriptural witnesses, such as the Book of Mormon, for the life
and mission of Jesus Christ.