Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints not only love the Book of Mormon but believe it to be the word of God. That doesn't take away from their belief in the Holy Bible and its timeless and inspired teachings. Rather, the two books serve as companion volumes of scripture, each one reinforcing the message and doctrine of the other. I should also mention that Latter-day Saints recognize two other volumes of scripture: the Doctrine and Covenants, a compilation of revelations given through Joseph Smith and other presidents of the Church, and the Pearl of Great Price, which contains other prophetic translations and historical records, including Joseph Smith's autobiographical account of his experiences, from which I have quoted within these pages.
That brings us to the second thing you should know about the Book of Mormon. One of the great difficulties many Christians have with the Book of Mormon and other scriptures of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stems from a sincere belief that the Bible contains all the truth they'll ever need. I understand that concern and share their deep affection for the Bible. But I must tell you in all sincerity that my love for my Savior and my commitment to Christianity have been intensified and strengthened by the Book of Mormon, in part because it helps me understand many of the doctrinal questions the Bible leaves unanswered.
For example, the New Testament makes it abundantly clear that baptism is an essential gospel ordinance. Even Christ was baptized "to fulfil all righteousness." (Matthew 3:15.) But there seems to be some confusion in the Christian world today about who needs to be baptized. Some churches teach that little children are born in sin, and therefore need to be baptized immediately. Others cite Christ's teaching regarding children that "of such is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 19:14), and believe that baptism is strictly an adult ordinance.
As inspired—and inspiring—as the Bible is, you won't find a definitive answer to this dilemma there. But you will find one in the Book of Mormon.
"Behold I say unto you that this thing shall ye teach—repentance and baptism unto those who are accountable and capable of committing sin," the prophet Mormon taught his son Moroni. "Yea, teach parents that they must repent and be baptized, and humble themselves as their little children, and they shall all be saved with their little children.
"And their little children need no repentance, neither baptism. Behold, baptism is unto repentance to the fulfilling the commandments unto the remission of sins.
"But little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world; if not so, God is a partial God, and also a changeable God, and a respecter to persons; for how many little children have died without baptism!" (Moroni 8:10-12.)
The issue is further clarified in a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith found in the Doctrine and Covenants, wherein the Lord indicates that children should be baptized at eight years of age. (See D&C 68:27.)
What a blessing it is to have additional understanding about divine doctrine that can increase our knowledge of Heavenly Father and enhance our relationship with Him!
And infant baptism is just one of many issues and doctrines that receive illumination within the pages of the Book of Mormon. Have you ever wondered exactly what it means to be resurrected? While the subject is mentioned in the Bible, there isn't much elaboration. But a Book of Mormon prophet named Amulek explained it this way:
"The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time; and we shall be brought to stand before God, knowing even as we know now, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt.
"Now, this restoration shall come to all," Amulek continued, "both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame. . . . " (Alma 11:43-44.)
Similar enlightenment can be found with regard to the fall of Adam (see 2 Nephi 2), the atonement of Christ (see Alma 42), and even the Book of Mormon itself, including an explanation of how you can know for yourself whether or not the book is the word of God (see Moroni 10:3-5). The Book of Mormon offers pure, concise doctrine that hasn't been tampered with by religious philosophers, councils, panels, and kings. Unlike the evolutionary process that has given us our Bible, the Book of Mormon underwent only one translation between its original imprinting on plates of gold and its appearance in 1830 as the paper-and-ink manifestation of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.