Foundational Testimony of Book of Mormon Essential, Says Brother Tad R. Callister

Contributed By Marianne Holman Prescott, Church News staff writer

  • 4 November 2016

Brother Tad R. Callister, Sunday School General President, speaks during a campus devotional at Brigham Young University on November 1, 2016.  Photo by Nathaniel Ray Edwards.

Article Highlights

  • A foundational testimony of the Book of Mormon creates faith.
  • Discover the truth of the Book of Mormon through the Spirit.

“Why is it so important for you individually to gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon? Because if you do, it will become your personal iron rod.” —Tad R. Callister, Sunday School General President

PROVO, UTAH

“Once we have a foundational testimony of the Book of Mormon, then any question or challenge we confront in life, however difficult it may seem, can be approached with faith, not doubt,” Brother Tad R. Callister, Sunday School General President, taught during a campus devotional at Brigham Young University on November 1.

Speaking on the topic “The Book of Mormon: Man-Made or God-Given?” Brother Callister said that “the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion” and pointed out the Church rises or falls on the truth of it.

“As a result, if the Book of Mormon can be proved to be man-made, then the Church is man-made,” he said. “On the other hand, if its origin is God-given, then Joseph Smith was a prophet, and if he was a prophet, then The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true. It is that simple.”

A foundational testimony of the Book of Mormon creates faith, he said.

“Why?” he asked. “Because the keystone of our religion—the Book of Mormon and its witness of Jesus Christ—has also become the keystone of our testimony, which keystone holds our testimony securely in place.”

Brother Callister walked listeners through five arguments often cited by critics, discussing the claim from a logical perspective. Whether it is claiming Joseph Smith—or another person—wrote the Book of Mormon without revelation, that the Book of Mormon was plagiarized from other books, a claim that Joseph Smith suffered from a mental illness or that he was a creative genius, Brother Callister shared ways the claims have no hold.

“Even if Joseph obtained historical facts from local libraries or community conversations, for which there is no substantiating evidence, the real issue still remains: where did he get the deep and expansive doctrine taught in the Book of Mormon, much of which doctrine is contrary to the religious beliefs of his time?” Brother Callister said.

Women in a campus choir sing during a devotional at Brigham Young University on November 1, 2016. Photo by Nathaniel Ray Edwards.

Many contemporary Christian beliefs taught doctrines different than the Book of Mormon. Important truths regarding baptism, the Atonement, and complex parables are found in the Book of Mormon.

“The argument that Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon is simply counter to the realities of life,” Brother Callister said. “It is one thing to have creative ideas; it is quite another to put them into a complex but coherent and harmonious whole, inundated with majestic doctrinal truths, all done in a single draft in less than 90 days.”

Brother Callister taught that Joseph Smith’s wife Emma even said that as a young man her husband could “neither write nor dictate a coherent and well-worded letter, let alone dictate a book like the Book of Mormon.”

“To suggest that Joseph Smith, a farm boy with little formal education, produced a synthetic work of God in 1829 that has baffled the brightest of critics for almost two centuries would be a more remarkable feat than the simple fact that he obtained the gold plates from an angel of God and translated them by the gift and power of God,” Elder Callister said.

Although there are other evidences showing the Book of Mormon is not man-made, it is important for a person to discover the truth through the Spirit.

“The Spirit is the decisive, determining factor—not archaeology, not linguistics, not DNA, and certainly not the theories of man,” Brother Callister said. “The Spirit is the only witness that is sure and certain and infallible. …

“Why is it so important for you individually to gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon? Because if you do, it will become your personal iron rod. The mists of darkness may come, the unanswered questions arise, but through it all you will have your iron rod to cling to—to keep you on the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life.”

Brother Tad R. Callister, Sunday School General President, speaks during a campus devotional at Brigham Young University on November 1, 2016. Photo by Nathaniel Ray Edwards.