Lesson 4

The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion

“Lesson 4: The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion,” Foundations of the Restoration Teacher Manual (2015)


Introduction

The Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion and evidence that God has restored the gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth in our day. President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) taught that the Book of Mormon “is the keystone in our witness of Christ. It is the keystone of our doctrine. It is the keystone of testimony” (“The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 5). As students deepen their testimonies of the Book of Mormon, they can become fortified against those who seek to disprove its authenticity.

Background Reading

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 17:6; 19:26; 20:5–12

The Book of Mormon is evidence that God has restored truth in our day

Before class, write the following dates and events on the board.

1820 First Vision received

1823 Moroni’s visits began

1829 Priesthood restored

June 1829 Book of Mormon translation completed

April 6, 1830 Church organized

  • What can we learn from the sequence of these events about the role of the Book of Mormon in the Restoration of the gospel? (The Book of Mormon had to be completed before the Church could be restored. It would play a significant role in the spreading of the gospel.)

Explain that when the Church was organized in April 1830, the printing of the Book of Mormon had just been completed, and the book had been advertised for sale less than two weeks before. Ask students to read Doctrine and Covenants 20:8–12 silently, looking for what the Book of Mormon contains and what the Book of Mormon proves. You may want to suggest that students mark what they discover. (Note: Throughout this course, you might encourage students to mark important truths they discover in their scriptures.) As students are reading, write the following incomplete statement on the board:

The Book of Mormon proves to the world that …

After sufficient time, ask students the following questions:

  • Based on what you read, how would you complete the statement on the board? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following truth: The Book of Mormon proves to the world that the scriptures are true, that God inspires and calls people to do His work in our day, and that God is unchangeable.)

  • How does the Book of Mormon prove that God inspires and calls people to do His work in our day?

  • When a person comes to know that the Book of Mormon is true, what knowledge does he or she gain about the Prophet Joseph Smith?

Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 17:6 and 19:26 silently, looking for what the two verses have in common.

  • What do these two verses have in common? (The Lord’s declaration of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.)

  • Of what value is it to you to know that the Lord has declared His testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon?

The Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion

Write the following truth on the board: The Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion.

  • What do you think this statement means?

Display the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994), and invite a student to read it aloud:

President Ezra Taft Benson

“There are three ways in which the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion. It is the keystone in our witness of Christ. It is the keystone of our doctrine. It is the keystone of testimony” (“The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 5).

handout iconDivide the class into small groups. Assign each group to discuss one of the following topics: how the Book of Mormon is “the keystone in our witness of Christ,” how it is “the keystone of our doctrine,” or how it is “the keystone of testimony.” (You may need to assign each topic to more than one group.) Provide each group with a copy of the following handout and ask them to use the statement that corresponds to their topic in their discussions.

handout, Keystone of Our Religion

The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion

Foundations of the Restoration—Lesson 4

“The Keystone in Our Witness of Christ”

President Ezra Taft Benson

“The Book of Mormon is the keystone in our witness of Jesus Christ, who is Himself the cornerstone of everything we do. It bears witness of His reality. … Its testimony of the Master is clear, undiluted, and full of power. … Much of the Christian world today rejects the divinity of the Savior. They question His miraculous birth, His perfect life, and the reality of His glorious resurrection. The Book of Mormon teaches in plain and unmistakable terms about the truth of all of those. It also provides the most complete explanation of the doctrine of the Atonement” (Ezra Taft Benson, “The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 5).

“The Keystone of Our Doctrine”

President Ezra Taft Benson

“In the Book of Mormon we will find the fulness of those doctrines required for our salvation. And they are taught plainly and simply so that even children can learn the ways of salvation and exaltation. The Book of Mormon offers so much that broadens our understandings of the doctrines of salvation. Without it, much of what is taught in other scriptures would not be nearly so plain and precious” (Ezra Taft Benson, “The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 6).

“The Keystone of Testimony”

President Ezra Taft Benson

“The Book of Mormon is the keystone of testimony. Just as the arch crumbles if the keystone is removed, so does all the Church stand or fall with the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. … If the Book of Mormon be true … then one must accept the claims of the Restoration and all that accompanies it” (Ezra Taft Benson, “The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 6).

After sufficient time, invite groups to share with the class what they discussed.

Conclude this portion of the lesson by asking students to share how they feel about the Book of Mormon and to share how it has been a keystone of their own testimonies.

Enemies attempt to disprove the Book of Mormon

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

“For [more than 180] years this book has been examined and attacked, denied and deconstructed, targeted and torn apart like perhaps no other book in modern religious history—perhaps like no other book in any religious history. And still it stands. Failed theories about its origins have been born and parroted and have died—from Ethan Smith to Solomon Spaulding to deranged paranoid to cunning genius. None of these frankly pathetic answers for this book has ever withstood examination because there is no other answer than the one Joseph gave as its young unlearned translator. In this I stand with my own great-grandfather, who said simply enough, ‘No wicked man could write such a book as this; and no good man would write it, unless it were true and he were commanded of God to do so’” (“Safety for the Soul,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2009, 89).

  • Why is it important to remember that modern enemies of the Church frequently attempt to discredit the Book of Mormon?

  • How does the statement by Elder Holland’s great-grandfather support the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon?

As an example, you may want to explain that one way modern enemies of the Church attempt to discredit the Book of Mormon is by using DNA evidence to try to discredit any link between Book of Mormon peoples and Native Americans. If students have questions about this issue, encourage them to read the Gospel Topics article “Book of Mormon and DNA Studies,” which can be found at lds.org/topics.

Hold fast to what you know is true

Ask students to imagine that a friend has said that he or she has heard something that seems to contradict the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.

  • What counsel would you give to your friend?

  • How can your witness that the Book of Mormon is true help you when you are confronted by criticisms of the Book of Mormon?

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

“In moments of … doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited. … When those moments come and issues surface, the resolution of which is not immediately forthcoming, hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes” (“Lord, I Believe,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2013, 93–94).

  • How might you apply Elder Holland’s statement when you encounter questions about the authenticity of the Book of Mormon? (Students may suggest a variety of answers, but you may want to emphasize the following principle: When we face questions or doubts about the gospel, we should hold fast to what we already know to be true and trust that we can either find an answer through further study or that God will reveal the answer at a future time.)

  • What truths do you already know about the Book of Mormon and the principles it contains? How have you come to that knowledge?

Conclude the lesson by displaying the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson and inviting a student to read it aloud:

President Ezra Taft Benson

“Every Latter-day Saint should make the study of this book a lifetime pursuit. Otherwise, he is placing his soul in jeopardy and neglecting that which could give spiritual and intellectual unity to his whole life. There is a difference between a convert who is built on the rock of Christ through the Book of Mormon and stays hold of that iron rod, and one who does not” (“The Book of Mormon Is the Word of God,” Ensign, Jan. 1988, 5).

  • How has regularly studying the Book of Mormon protected you against those who want to destroy your faith?

Testify of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Invite students to consider how the Book of Mormon has influenced their lives. Ask them to think about what they could do to give greater priority to studying the Book of Mormon. Remind students of Moroni’s promise, found in Moroni 10:3–5, that those who desire to strengthen their testimony of the Book of Mormon can do so by studying the book and praying about its truthfulness.

Student Readings