Why are essential Mormon doctrines not found in the Book of Mormon?

Q: If the Book of Mormon is the “most correct book of any on earth” (History of the Church, vol. 4:461), then why does it not contain essential Mormon doctrines such as…

  1. Church organization
  2. Plurality of Gods
  3. Plurality of wives doctrine
  4. Word of Wisdom
  5. God is an exalted man
  6. Celestial marriage
  7. Men may become Gods
  8. Three degrees of glory
  9. Baptism for the dead
  10. Eternal progression
  11. The Aaronic Priesthood
  12. Temple works of washings, anointing, endowments, sealing.

The founder of Mormonism said the Book of Mormon was the most correct book of any book, including the Bible (History of the Church, Vol. 4, page 461), and that a man could get closer to God by following it than any other book. Yet, essential Mormon doctrines aren’t even found in it.

This is because the Book of Mormon is nothing more than a fictional account made up by Joseph Smith. It wasn’t until after the book had been printed that the additional heretical doctrines of Mormonism started to develop. That is why the Book of Mormon sounds so Christian — at first.

A: First, when Joseph Smith said the Book of Mormon was “the most correct book of any book” he wasn’t referring to grammar or punctuation, he wasn’t referring to whether it had been printed correctly, and he didn’t mean that the historical accounts in the book were more accurate than historical accounts in other books. What he meant was that the Book of Mormon contained more clear and pure truths of God than any other book, and that those truths are easier to understand as they are written in the Book of Mormon than in any other book. If you want the evidence, just read the Bible and the Book of Mormon and tell me which is easier to understand. The truth in the Book of Mormon isn’t any more true than the truth in the Bible, but because of the way it’s written it might be easier to understand in the Book of Mormon, and a person will get nearer to God by reading something they understand than something they don’t understand.

For example, have you ever read Isaiah? Not too easy to understand, right? And there isn’t too much in the Bible that helps you understand Isaiah. But in the Book of Mormon it quotes Isaiah and also has other prophets explaining what Isaiah meant by certain things. So by reading those parts of the Book of Mormon you come to better understand the Bible and the Book of Mormon confirms that the Bible is true.

In other words, it helps to understand what Joseph Smith meant when he was “the most correct”.

Second, it helps to understand God’s purposes with the Book of Mormon. His intent wasn’t to communicate 100% of his truth and doctrine, it was to “show unto the remnant of the House of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever—And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations”. God included what needed to be included to accomplish that mission, and apparently those doctrines didn’t need to be in the Book of Mormon for it to do what it is intended to do.

Third, you might ask “But wouldn’t some of those doctrines just naturally occur in the Book of Mormon if they are that important?” Maybe, but maybe not. The Book of Mormon is an abridgment of many other books, potentially hundreds of other books. It’s a Cliff Notes version of 1,000 years of history. Obviously not everything could be included and Mormon, the prophet/abridger of the Book of Mormon, had to be very picky about what to include.

Imagine you were writing a history of the United States over the past 100 years, and you were limited to 500 pages. What would you include? What would be most important to you. You’d probably talk about Presidents, wars, economic troubles, economic booms, technology, etc. It wouldn’t be hard to fill up 500 pages with just those few things, and in fact you’d probably have to leave a lot of important things out. There’s a good chance you wouldn’t mention fast food. It wouldn’t seem important to you. And yet fast food has had an enormous impact on American society in terms of economics, health, and lifestyle. But would it be reasonable for someone reading your history to say “Hey, you didn’t include anything about fast food, so how do I know the rest of this is true?”

Fourth, it’s important to understand the principle of continuing revelation. If you believe the Bible is the final word of God and contains all his truth, then it might be tempting to apply that mindset to the Book of Mormon and assume that it must contain all the truths the Mormons believe in. But for Mormons, we don’t believe the heavens are closed. We believe God still speaks to man today through his prophets, just as he did in ancient times. There’s no need for God to pack everything into one book, because he can talk to his prophets and reveal to them whatever it is they need to know. That’s where these other doctrines came from, and they came in God’s own time and according to his plan.

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