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“We Add Our Witness": Living Prophets Share Their Feelings About the Book of Mormon

Title“We Add Our Witness": Living Prophets Share Their Feelings About the Book of Mormon
Publication TypeMagazine Article
Year of Publication1989
AuthorsBenson, Ezra Taft, Gordon B. Hinckley, Thomas S. Monson, Howard W. Hunter, Boyd K. Packer, Marvin J. Ashton, L. Tom Perry, David B. Haight, James E. Faust, Neal A. Maxwell, Russell M. Nelson, Dallin H. Oaks, M. Russell Ballard, Joseph B. Wirthlin, and Richard G. Scott
Issue Number3
Date PublishedMarch 1989
KeywordsFirst Presidency; Prophet; Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Testimony

The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve share their personal testimonies and experiences concerning the Book of Mormon. This in answer to the request of President Benson to “flood the earth with the Book of Mormon.” This article is filled with heart-warming experiences, strong testimonies, and wonderful insights as prophets of God reveal inner thoughts about the Book of Mormon.


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“We Add Our Witness”

Living prophets share their feelings about the Book of Mormon.

“I have a vision of the whole Church getting nearer to God by abiding by the precepts of the Book of Mormon,” said President Ezra Taft Benson at the October 1988 general conference.

“Indeed, I have a vision of flooding the earth with the Book of Mormon.”

President Benson’s love for the Book of Mormon is shared by his Counselors in the First Presidency and by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Following are their expressions about that “most correct book.”

President Ezra Taft Benson: “The Book of Mormon brings men to Christ through two basic means. First, it tells in a plain manner of Christ and His gospel. It testifies of His divinity and of the necessity for a Redeemer and the need of our putting trust in Him. It bears witness of the Fall and the Atonement and the first principles of the gospel, including our need of a broken heart and a contrite spirit and a spiritual rebirth. It proclaims we must endure to the end in righteousness and live the moral life of a Saint.

“Second, the Book of Mormon exposes the enemies of Christ. It confounds false doctrines and lays down contention. (See 2 Ne. 3:12.) It fortifies the humble followers of Christ against the evil designs, strategies, and doctrines of the devil in our day. The type of apostates in the Book of Mormon are similar to the type we have today. God, with his infinite foreknowledge, so molded the Book of Mormon that we might see the error and know how to combat false educational, political, religious, and philosophical concepts of our time.” (Ensign, Jan. 1988, p. 3.)

President Gordon B. Hinckley: “Brethren and sisters, if there are miracles among us, certainly one of them is this book. Unbelievers may doubt the First Vision and say there were no witnesses to prove it. Critics may scorn every divine manifestation incident to the coming forth of this work as being of such an intangible nature as to be unprovable to the pragmatic mind, as if the things of God could be understood other than by the Spirit of God. They may discount our theology. But they cannot in honesty dismiss the Book of Mormon. It is here. They can feel it. They can read it. They can weigh its substance and its content. They can witness its influence.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1959, p. 118.)

President Thomas S. Monson: “Many years ago I stood by the bedside of a young man, the father of two children, as he hovered between life and the great beyond. He took my hand in his, looked into my eyes and pleadingly asked, ‘Bishop, I know I am about to die. Tell me what happens to my spirit when I die.’

“I prayed for heavenly guidance before attempting to respond. My attention was directed to the Book of Mormon, which rested on the table beside his bed. I held the book in my hand, and, as I stand before you here today, that book opened to the fortieth chapter of Alma. I began to read aloud:

“‘Now my son, here is somewhat more I would say unto thee; for I perceive that thy mind is worried concerning the resurrection of the dead. …

“‘Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection—Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body … are taken home to that God who gave them life.

“‘And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.’ (Alma 40:1, 11–12.)

“My young friend closed his eyes, expressed a sincere thank-you, and silently slipped away to that paradise about which we had spoken.” (Ensign, Nov. 1981, p. 18.)

President Howard W. Hunter: “We are already aware of the strength and the power of the many testimonies of the prophets who have lived in the world, as recorded in the Bible. Our good news is that the words of the prophets who lived in the New World give us not only additional insight regarding spiritual things, but also a confirming testimony that supports and is in harmony with what we already understand from our reading of the Bible.

“To those who may not be familiar with the Book of Mormon but are sincerely seeking truth, reading it will have a profound effect on your life. It will expand your knowledge of the way God deals with man and will give you a greater desire to live in harmony with his gospel teaching. It will also provide for you a powerful testimony of Jesus.” (Ensign, May 1983, p. 16.)

Elder Boyd K. Packer: “No missionary, no member can fulfill that promise [made in Moroni 10:4–5]—neither Apostle nor President can fulfill that promise. It is a promise of direct revelation to you on the condition described in the book. After you have read the Book of Mormon, you become qualified to inquire of the Lord, in the way that He prescribes in the book, as to whether the book is true. You will be eligible, on the conditions He has established, to receive that personal revelation.

“I bear witness that the Book of Mormon is true—that it is another testament of Jesus Christ. I have read the Book of Mormon with a sincere heart, with intent, as a humble serviceman, and thereafter pled with the Lord. I received that revelation.” (Ensign, May 1986, p. 61.)

Elder Marvin J. Ashton: “A new convert to the Church recently shared this story: ‘I was in and out of enforced confinement most of my teen years. It wasn’t so bad being there because the food was pretty good, and we were treated all right. But it did get boring, so when anyone had any reading material, funny books, magazines, or anything, we would trade our food for a chance to borrow those items. One day I saw a fellow with a nice, thick book. I knew it would take a long time to read, so I offered him my pork chops, my potatoes, and all my main course food items for a week. He accepted my offer and loaned me the book. As I read it, I knew I was reading something very special and very true. The book for which I had sacrificed my food was titled the Book of Mormon. When I had a chance, I found the missionaries, changed my habits, and am now finding a new way of life. I love that book for which I traded my food.’” (Ensign, May 1981, p. 23.)

Elder L. Tom Perry: “The Book of Mormon [is a] great and ancient record that offers us special perspective that comes only from studying what is roughly one thousand years of human history. We see the cycles of nations as they turn to and then away from righteousness. We see the unity that comes from a faith in God and a desire to build His kingdom. And we see the dissension that results when the hearts of the people turn to selfish wants and desires, to the pleasures of the flesh, to riches and worldly possessions.” (Ensign, May 1987, p. 33.)

Elder David B. Haight: “The Book of Mormon did not come forth as a curiosity. It was written with a definite purpose—a purpose to be felt by every reader. From the title page we read that it was written ’to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations.’ The message it contains is a witness for Christ and teaches the love of God for all mankind. Its purpose is to bring people to accept Jesus as the Christ. The book tells of the actual visit of Christ to ancient America and records the teachings and instructions he gave in clarity and great power to the people. The Book of Mormon substantiates the Bible in its teachings of the Savior, speaks of Christ more than any other subject, and teaches that our Savior is the Redeemer and Atoner of mankind, constantly emphasizing that he is the central figure in God’s plan of salvation. This divine record makes converts to its message and to his Church, which teaches it.” (“Joseph Smith: The Prophet,” in Brigham Young University 1985–86 Devotional and Fireside Speeches, Provo, Utah: Brigham Young Univ., p. 96.)

Elder James E. Faust: “Some time ago I held in my hand my mother’s copy of her favorite book. It was a timeworn copy of the Book of Mormon. Almost every page was marked; in spite of tender handling, some of the leaves were dog-eared, and the cover was worn thin. No one had to tell her that one can get closer to God by reading the Book of Mormon than by any other book. She was already there. She had read it, studied it, prayed over it, and taught from it. As a young man I held her book in my hands and tried to see, through her eyes, the great truths of the Book of Mormon to which she so readily testified and which she so greatly loved. …

“However, the Book of Mormon did not yield its profound message to me as an unearned legacy. I question whether one can acquire an understanding of this great book except through singleness of mind and strong purpose of heart. We must ask not only if it is true, but also do it in the name of Christ. …

“I can now see more clearly through the eyes of my own understanding what my mother could see in her precious old worn-out copy of the Book of Mormon. I pray that we may live in such a way as to merit and gain a testimony of and abide by the great truths of the Book of Mormon. I testify that the keystone of our religion is solidly in place, bearing the weight of truth as it moves through all the earth.” (Ensign, Nov. 1983, pp. 9, 11.)

Elder Neal A. Maxwell: “Theology and beauty combine, again and again, in the pages provided through Joseph, as when the resurrected Christ appeared in the Western Hemisphere:

“‘And when [Jesus] had said these words, he himself also knelt upon the earth; and behold he prayed unto the Father, and the things which he prayed cannot be written. …

“‘And no tongue can speak, neither can there be written by any man, neither can the hearts of men conceive so great and marvelous things as we both saw and heard Jesus speak; and no one can conceive of the joy which filled our souls at the time we heard him pray for us unto the Father.’ (3 Ne. 17:15–17.)

“Serious study of the blessed Book of Mormon admits one to a wonder world of complexity and beauty, even in the midst of the book’s simple, but powerful, spiritual refrain. We are given that which we most need—yet we are athirst for more!” (Ensign, Nov. 1983, p. 55.)

Elder Russell M. Nelson: “When I was working at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, two professional colleagues, a husband and wife, asked me about the Mormons. I gave them a preliminary overview and lent them my Book of Mormon. After about a week they returned the book to me and said, ‘Thanks a lot.’

“I said, ‘What do you mean, “Thanks a lot?”’ As one who deeply loves this book, I felt that was an inadequate response. ‘Perhaps you didn’t really read the book,’ I said. ‘Please take it back and read it. When you have read it, I would very much appreciate knowing of your feelings and insight.’

“They retrieved the book, acknowledging that they had only thumbed the pages. About three weeks later they came back with tears in their eyes and said, ‘We know this book is true. How can we learn more?’

“Then I said, ‘Now I know you’ve read the book. Now we can proceed.’ In due course, they were baptized.

“The Book of Mormon has great convincing power as another witness for Jesus Christ. There is no other explanation for its existence than that which the Prophet Joseph Smith gave.”

Elder Dallin H. Oaks: “[The Lord has told us] that the Book of Mormon contains the fulness of the everlasting gospel in greater clarity than any other scripture. (See D&C 20:8–9; D&C 27:5.) In a day when many are challenging the divinity of Jesus Christ or doubting the reality of his atonement and resurrection, the message of that second witness, the Book of Mormon, is needed more urgently than ever.

“President Ezra Taft Benson has reminded us again and again that the Book of Mormon ‘was written for our day’ and that it ‘is the keystone in our witness of Jesus Christ.’ (See Ensign, Nov. 1986, pp. 5–6.) I believe that the reason our Heavenly Father has had his prophet direct us into a more intensive study of the Book of Mormon is that this generation needs its message more than any of its forebears. As President Benson has said, the Book of Mormon ‘provides the most complete explanation of the doctrine of the Atonement,’ and ‘its testimony of the Master is clear, undiluted, and full of power.’ (Ibid.)” (Ensign, Nov. 1988, p. 66.)

Elder M. Russell Ballard: “The Book of Mormon, above all other books that I know of, is the greatest source we have for answers to real-life problems. I remember as a young man serving my mission in England and visiting a nonmember family who were suffering great grief because an infant son had unexpectedly died. The minister of their church taught them that their son was hopelessly confined to everlasting damnation because he had not been baptized.

“When my companion and I arrived on the scene and saw the awful grief that the mother of this little boy was suffering, we read to her from Moroni 8:8: ‘Listen to the words of Christ, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God. Behold, I came into the world not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; the whole need no physician, but they that are sick; wherefore, little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin.’ [Moro. 8:8]

“When she heard these words, she wept tears of relief, and peace came to comfort her grief.

“How many times peace has come into the lives of those who are struggling with real problems when they read the Book of Mormon! The examples of spiritual guidance that emanate from the book are without number. My love for the Book of Mormon is ever-increasing. It seems that every time I read from it, new light flows to me from its pages. I love this sacred and choice book.”

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin: “Fortunately, my introduction to the Book of Mormon came at an early age. My parents loved this divinely written book and used it often in our home to explain the principles of the gospel in such a way that each one of us in the family could understand these principles.

“I used my own Book of Mormon every day while in the mission field. This sacred book, which meant so much to me, was my constant companion. Today, its leather is worn and the edges are shredded. As I look inside to again read the contents, my mind takes me back to the inspired words of the Nephite, Lamanite, and Jaredite prophets. What a thrilling, sacred scripture I found it to be when I first read it in my teenage years! The knowledge I have gleaned concerning its priceless, spiritual teachings means even more to me today. The emphasis our Prophet, Seer, and Revelator has placed on this sacred volume gives it even greater meaning to me.

“I would hope that each member of the Church will not fail to read this sacred scripture, for it will bring them a more thorough knowledge of the gospel.”

Elder Richard G. Scott: “During the dedication of the Mexico City Temple, I had one of those singular experiences that readjusts the course of a life. It occurred during the eighth dedicatory session where many of the men and women leaders of Mexico and Central America were present. When unexpectedly asked to speak, I attempted to convey the strong impressions that poured into my heart. I spoke of those beyond the veil who, in fulfillment of prophecy, had served, suffered, and given greatly to form the foundation which permitted the opening of a new era of the work.

“I expressed a feeling to plead in behalf of former prophets who had prepared and protected the sacred records of the Book of Mormon. I sensed that they were saddened as they see us walk from place to place with an unopened Book of Mormon under our arm or see it kept in homes where it gathers dust and is not read, pondered, nor its contents applied. …

“The Book of Mormon contains messages that were divinely placed there to show how to correct the influence of false tradition and how to receive a fulness of life. It teaches how to resolve the problems and challenges that we face today that were foreseen by the Lord. In that book he has provided the way to correct the serious errors of life, but this guidance is of no value if it remains locked in a closed book.

“I witnessed that it is not sufficient that we should treasure the Book of Mormon, nor that we testify that it is of God. We must know its truths, incorporate them into our lives, and share them with others. I felt an overwhelming love for the people and an urgent desire that all would comprehend the value of the Book of Mormon.” (Ensign, Nov. 1988, pp. 76–77.)