How would you respond to this feedback that I receive from a good friend who is Christian. “I would be interested in discussing at your leisure with you Mormonism as we have briefly in the past. Christianity and Mormonism, as most religions, are exclusive in that each claims that there is one way to God. Consequently, each doctrine teaches all other religions are wrong. I’m convinced the truth can be determined beyond a reasonable shadow of a doubt by evidences not feelings. Feelings lie. I know at times I feel like I don’t love my wife when we disagree. But just because I don’t feel love doesn’t mean I don’t love her. I’m sure you get the point. Judgments, particularly regarding religion and faith, cannot be based on feeling. Devout people in every religion have experiences they feel confirm their beliefs. I am particularly interested in if there is any significant archaeology that supports Mormonism.” Do you know of any?” Thanks.
I think that the first thing you need to do is to help your friend get over a very gross misunderstanding about “Mormonism.” What does he mean– “Christianity and Mormonism?” You might point out to him that any meaningful discussion of the doctrines of the Mormon Church–Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints–is completely fruitless until he gets rid of that blasphemous, sectarian notion that Mormon Church is not “Christian.” It is the most fundamentally Christian of all the churches. It’s true that we don’t subscribe to the nearly 1800-year-old tradition of the sectarian view of Deity. If he believes that the truth can be established by evidence, he should spend some time studying the history of Christianity, where he would find enough changes, modifications and contradictions in doctrine and authority to make your head swim. Then he might look at the evidence, which is not just preponderant, but overwhelming, that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ personally appeared to Joseph Smith, and that subsequent to that marvelous visitation the Savior appeared on several occasions to Joseph Smith and several of his associates.
Then have him examine the Book of Mormon. If he believes that the truth can be established by evidence, HE MUST STUDY THE EVIDENCE!! There is more evidence, both internal and external to support the authenticity of the Book of Mormon than there is of any other book ever printed. The evidence is absolutely overwhelming. It fills volumes. As a matter of fact, I have written a couple myself. They are rather technical, but apparently that is what your evidence-seeking friend is after. The books are called, “A New Witness For Christ,” and “The Legacy of the Brass Plates of Laban.”
Next let’s look at his contention that “I’m convinced the truth can be determined beyond a reasonable shadow of a doubt by evidences not feelings.” That’s the approach people have been taking for the last 2000 years, and rather than discovering or establishing the truth they have come to one wrong conclusion after another, with such conflict between them that we have ended up with over 450 different Christian denominations in the United States alone, all somehow believing in the same Bible, yet conflicting with each other. Does he think that he has some corner on the scientific method, or on the deductive or inductive processes, or some great intuitive power that he can rationalize eternal truth from the “evidence” at hand? GIVE ME A BREAK!! He has already stumbled on the pebble of the concept that Mormons are not Christians and has fallen on his face.
While it’s true that the truth is not established by feelings, the evidence on which the truth is established is so powerful that it is almost always accompanied by deep feelings. Part of your friend’s problem, who is convinced that he can determine the truth by evidence, is that he is blind to any evidence to which there is an emotional attachment. GIVE ME ANOTHER BREAK!!
Concerning archeological evidence to support the claims of the Book of Mormon, again it is so preponderant that even a lengthy summary here could never do it justice. Suffice it to say that in the last 170 years since the publication of the Book of Mormon, although every attempt has been made by its detractors to discredit it, not one shred of evidence supports their views. On the contrary, archeological evidence in support of the Book of Mormon now fills volumes. But more than archeological evidence, the internal consistency of the book, such as the language structure, the terms and concepts found therein, it historical consistency and its prophetic nature are incontrovertible evidences of its authenticity.
Perhaps a final approach to learning the truth could be mentioned to your friend. If there is a God, and if he did restore his Kingdom through the Prophet Joseph Smith, and if the Church that he established is indeed the true and living Church with the Savior at it’s head, all your friend needs do to find out those things for himself is to ask God if they are not true, and if he will ask with sincere intent, having faith in Christ, the truthfulness of those things will be revealed to him by the Holy Ghost. That will be an emotional experience, but he will be able to understand the difference between the knowledge that he receives by revelation and the emotion associated with it because God is able to make Himself understood.
Now, if your friend wants to consider a scientific experiment, let’s look at an experimental procedure and the predicted results that is outlined in the Book of Mormon, Moroni 10:4
Here is the procedure–
1. “And when ye shall receive these things,”– i.e. WHEN YOU READ THE BOOK OF MORMON
2. ” I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true;” PRAY ABOUT IT- a simple and direct procedure.
3. “and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent,” This experiment has a psychological component. The prayer must be with a sincere heart and with real intent. In other words, THE PERSON MUST REALLY WANT TO KNOW IF THE BOOK IS TRUE.
4. “having faith in Christ” Another psychological element. There must be on the part of the supplicant an abiding confidence that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and the Redeemer of mankind that his Father does hear and answer prayers that are proffered in his name.
If those conditions are fulfilled, the results are—
“He will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.”
Now, one of the tests of a scientific experiment is repeatability. There has been no scientific experiment in the history of the world that has been performed as many times as this one— all with the same positive results. Everyone who has a testimony of the Book of Mormon (up to about 15 million now) has performed this experiment and has verified the results.
If your friend has any sincerity at all in what he is asking you, he will try the experiment under the published conditions. If he is not willing to try the experiment, then you may know that he is a false person, and only wants to dissuade you from the truth.