“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.” Moroni 10:4
I was talking with a Mormon elder the other day. He challenged me to read the Book of Mormon (I have) and put the Moroni 10:4 promise into practice. Elder A. had just commented on the importance of LDS missionaries making an effort to understand, from a non-member’s perspective, what they tell investigators; therefore, I tried to explain a problem I have, as a non-Mormon, with the Moroni 10:4 challenge.
“Elder, this doesn’t seem like a valid test for me to use and here’s why. The Book of Mormon promises that if I ask God (while meeting certain criterion) whether the book is true, He will tell me it is true by the power of the Holy Ghost. But in order for me to believe the promise, I must already believe that the Book of Mormon is true. Because, if I don’t already believe the Book of Mormon is true, why would I exercise the promise given in Moroni 10:4? Why would I trust something that I don’t yet know or believe is true?”
Elder A. said, “You don’t need to believe the promise; you just need to do it.”
I explained that the book I do believe — the Bible — does not tell me to discover truth in the way the Book of Mormon suggests.
Elder A. quoted James 1:5.
I talked about the difference between praying for wisdom (as the Bible passage instructs) and praying to know if something is true (as the Book of Mormon instructs). I told Elder A. that I had prayed as I read the Book of Mormon some years ago, and that I believe God answered that prayer. With wisdom and discernment given by God, I came to the conclusion that the Book of Mormon is not true.
Elder A. informed me that of course I would reach a negative conclusion if I doubted or wondered if the book might be false. He said the honest investigator must pray with an open mind, with no preconceptions regarding the validity of the Book of Mormon.
“But Elder,” I said, “what you suggest is impossible. In order to use the Moroni 10:4 test, an investigator must begin with confidence that the Book of Mormon is true and Moroni 10:4 is an actual promise from God. Therefore, he cannot pray as prescribed in Moroni 10:4 with a completely open mind while bearing no preconceptions about the validity of the Book of Mormon. He is unable to do that because he must already believe the book is true enough to impart true promises from God.”
Elder A. disagreed. He did not want to discuss the matter further, so we let it drop.
But as explained by Elder A. this is really an impossible situation. Either an investigator believes the Book of Mormon and so “tests” its truthfulness according to Moroni 10:4, or the investigator questions the Book of Mormon, including the Moroni 10:4 promise, and thereby loses any ability to discover the truth.
Friends, the Moroni 10:4 truth test is a stacked deck. As good as it may sound, it’s simply not viable. I encourage you to consider instead the commended method for discerning truth as described in Acts 17:11.
For further reading:
Burning in the Bosom
Praying About the Book of Mormon – Is it Biblical?