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What Is The Book Of Mormon?

 
Israel Israel God Is Calling
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One of the comments I have heard many times over the years is:  "The Mormons have their own Bible."  It is my testimony that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth in its fullness.  That means that God the Father has again spoken to His children on Earth.  If that is true, and I testify that it is, then it seems reasonable to me that God would also reveal "additional" scripture to accompany that which was given to those during "Bible times".  
Here is what modern day apostles and prophets have to say about the Book of Mormon:
Ricks, Eldin. The Case of The Book of Mormon Witnesses. Deseret News Press, 1971.
Chapter 2: The Background of the Case
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Here is the background of the case. On the night of September 21, 1823, a seventeen year old boy, living with his parents on a farm in up-state New York, had a remarkable experience. His name was Joseph Smith. He later described the experience and certain subsequent developments in the following words:
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"On the evening on the 21st of September, A.D. 1823, while I was praying unto God, and endeavoring to exercise faith in the precious promises of Scripture, on a sudden a light like that of day, only far purer and more glorious appearance and brightness, burst into the room, indeed the first sight was as though the house was filled with consuming fire; the appearance produced a shock that affected the whole body; in a moment a personage stood before me surrounded with a glory yet greater than that with which I was already surrounded. This messenger proclaimed himself to be an angel of God, sent to bring the joyful tidings that the covenant which God made with ancient Israel was at hand to be fulfilled, that the preparatory work for the second coming of the Messiah was speedily to commence; that the time was at hand for the Gospel in all its fullness to be preached in power, unto all nations that a people might be prepared for the Millennial reign. I was informed that I was chosen to be an instrument in the hands of God to bring about some of His purposes in this glorious dispensation.
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"I was also informed concerning the aboriginal inhabitants of this country and shown who they were, and from whence they came; a brief sketch of their origin, progress, civilization, laws, governments, of their righteousness and iniquity, and the blessings of God being finally withdrawn from them as a people, was made known unto me; I was also told where were deposited some plates on which were engraven an abridgment of the records of the ancient Prophets that had existed on this continent. The angel appeared to me three times the same night and unfolded the same things. After having received many visits from the angels of God unfolding the majesty and glory of the events that should transpire in the last days, on the morning of the 22nd of September, A.D. 1827, the angel of the Lord delivered the records into my hands.
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"These records were engraven on plates which had the appearance of gold, each plate was six inches wide and eight inches long, and not quite so thick as common tin. They were filled with engravings, in Egyptian characters, and bound together in a volume as the leaves of a book, with three rings running through the whole. The volume was [p.4] something near six inches in thickness, a part of which was sealed. The characters on the unsealed part were small, and beautifully engraved. The whole book exhibited many marks of antiquity in its construction, and much skill in the art of engraving. With the records was found a curious instrument, which the ancients called "Urim and Thummim," which consisted of two transparent stones set in the rim of a bow fastened to a breast plate. Through the medium of the Urim and Thummim I translated the record by the gift and power of God.
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"In this important and interesting book the history of ancient America is unfolded, from its first settlement by a colony that came from the Tower of Babel, at the confusion of languages to the beginning of the fifth century of the Christian Era. We are informed by these records that America in ancient times has been inhabited by two distinct races of people. The first were called Jaredites, and came directly from the Tower of Babel. The second race came directly from the city of Jerusalem, about six hundred years before Christ. They were principally Israelites, of the descendants of Joseph. The Jaredites were destroyed about the time that the Israelites came from Jerusalem, who succeeded them in the inheritance of the country. The principal nation of the second race fell in battle towards the close of the fourth century. The remnant are the Indians that now inhabit this country. This book also tells us that our Savior made His appearance upon this continent after His resurrection; that He planted the Gospel here in all its fulness, and richness, and power, and blessing; that they had Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Teachers, and Evangelists; the same order, the same priesthood, the same ordinances, gifts, powers, and blessings, as were enjoyed on the eastern continent, that the people were cut off in consequence of their transgressions, that the last of their prophets who existed among them was commanded to write an abridgment of their prophecies, history, &c, and to hide it up in the earth, and that it should come forth and be united with the Bible for the accomplishment of the purposes of God in the last days.…
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"As soon as the news of this discovery was made known, false reports, misrepresentations and slander flew, as on the wings of the wind, in every direction; the house was frequently beset by mobs and evil designing persons. Several times I was shot at, and very narrowly escaped, and every device was made use of to get the plates away from me; but the power and blessing of God attended me, and several began to believe my testimony."1
Chapter 3: The Claim of the Witnesses
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Three of the "several" who began to believe Joseph Smith's testimony were David Whitmer and Martin Harris, farmers, and Oliver Cowdery, a young schoolteacher. There were others, but we shall concern ourselves primarily with these three.
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In the month of June, 1829, Joseph Smith finished his translation of the Book of Mormon. He was then staying at the home of David Whitmer's parents in the township of Fayette, a few miles south of Waterloo, New York. Immediately after completing the task, he sent the good news to his own parents in Manchester township near Palmyra, New York, and asked them to join him. They promptly responded to his invitation; and, accompanied by Martin Harris, who earlier had assisted Joseph in a secretarial capacity, they journeyed to the Whitmer home. Here they met their son Joseph and also David Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery. These three were young men in their twenties. Martin Harris was forty-six.
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It was the day after the arrival of Joseph's father and mother and Martin Harris that it happened. That was the day that the "three witnesses" claim that they, in company with Joseph Smith, viewed the sacred plates. Such an assertion might not be exciting if it weren't for the additional fact that they say they were shown them by an angel of God and heard the voice of God declare that they were correctly translated.
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At this point, of course, the superficial investigator, who is trying his hand at the riddle of the Book of Mormon's origin, turns away muttering something about some people's astonishing gullibility. But the man whose curiosity is not so easily satisfied and lingers after the crowd has gone home presently finds that the show has just begun.
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Now, inasmuch as we are going to interrogate people whose recorded statements give evidence of some knowledge of the circumstances connected with the viewing of the plates, it seems to me that this is a good place to begin. Let's commence by calling upon Joseph Smith's mother.
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Lucy Mack Smith, will you kindly come to the "witness stand."
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Mrs. Smith, I note, in an account of your son's life which you once wrote, that after your arrival in Fayette you and your friends spent the evening reading the Book of Mormon manuscript and that you greatly rejoiced. Will you please now tell us the details of anything that afterwards happened at or near the Whitmer residence which you consider pertinent to this inquiry?
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"The next morning, after attending to the usual services, namely, reading, singing and praying, Joseph arose from his knees, and approaching Martin Harris with a solemnity that thrills through my veins to this day, when it occurs to my recollection, said, "Martin Harris, you have got to humble yourself before God this day, that you [p.5] may obtain a forgiveness of your sins. If you do, it is the will of God that you should look upon the plates, in company with Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer.'
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"In a few minutes after this, Joseph, Martin, Oliver and David, repaired to a grove, a short distance from the house, where they commenced calling upon the Lord, and continued in earnest supplication, until he permitted an angel to come down from his presence, and declare to them, that all which Joseph had testified of concerning the plates was true."2
Mrs. Smith, that is very interesting. Since you do not claim to have been yourself an eyewitness to the angel's visit, however, I trust you won't mind if we ask you to step aside while we call upon someone else to tell us what took place there.
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Joseph Smith, Jr., will you take the "witness stand."
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Mr. Smith, will you kindly explain to us precisely what occurred in the woods that morning in 1829.
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"According to previous arrangements, I commenced by vocal prayer to our Heavenly Father, and was followed by each of the others in succession. We did not at the first trial, however, obtain any answer or manifestation of divine favor in our behalf. We again observed the same order of prayer, each calling on and praying fervently to God in rotation, but with the same result as before."3
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In other words, you are saying, Mr. Smith, that you prayed aloud, and after you had prayed each of the other three prayed aloud in turn. Then all four of you prayed aloud once more. What happened then?
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"Upon this, our second failure, Martin Harris proposed that he should withdraw himself from us, believing, as he expressed himself, that his presence was the cause of our not obtaining what we wished for. He accordingly withdrew himself from us, and we knelt down again, and had not been many minutes engaged in prayer, when presently we beheld a light above us in the air, of exceeding brightness; and behold, an angel stood before us."4
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What did he do? What did he say?
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"In his hands he held the plates which we had been praying for these to have a view of. He turned over the leaves one by one, so that we could see them, and discern the engravings thereon distinctly. He then addressed himself to David Whitmer, and said, 'David, blessed is the Lord, and he that keeps His commandments,' when immediately afterwards, we heard a voice from out of the bright light above us, saying, 'These plates have been revealed by the power of God, and they have been translated by the power of God. The translation of them which you have seen is correct, and I command you to bear record of what you now see and hear.'"5
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I see. What did you do then?
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"I now left David and Oliver, and went in pursuit of Martin Harris, whom I found at a considerable distance, fervently engaged in prayer. He soon told me, however, that he had not yet prevailed with the Lord, and earnestly requested me to join him in prayer, that he also might realize the same blessings which we had just received. We accordingly joined in prayer, and ultimately obtained our desires, for before we had yet finished, the same vision was opened to our view, at least it was again opened to me,…"6
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That's right, Mr. Smith, we want you to tell us precisely what you saw and what you heard.
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"…and I once more beheld and heard the same things; whilst at the same moment, Martin Harris cried out, apparently in an ecstasy of joy, 'Tis enough; tis enough; mine eyes have beheld; mine eyes have beheld;' and jumping up, he shouted, 'Hosanna,' blessing God, and otherwise rejoiced exceedingly."7
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Thank you, Mr. Smith. You may step down.
    The Book if Mormon is here upon the earth today and stands as a second witness for Jesus Christ.  This is my testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Next question has to do with "why a "second" Bible.
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