The introduction to the Book of Mormon was not a part of the original plates; it was first published in the 1981 edition of the Book of Mormon. It introduces the Book of Mormon to the modern reader by providing background information and a description of the book.
Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For
The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book” (the introduction to the Book of Mormon).
Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, pp. 2–3.
Suggestions for Teaching
Introduction. The Book of Mormon is “the keystone of our religion.” (25–30 minutes)
Draw on the board a picture of an arch (see the accompanying diagram), or make a model of one from wood or other materials.
Ask students how the keystone of this arch represents the Book of Mormon in relation to the restored gospel. Ask them to find the “keystone” statement in the Book of Mormon (see the sixth paragraph of the introduction). Read the keystone statement and tell students that the Prophet Joseph Smith made this statement on 28 November 1841 (see History of the Church, 4:461).
Ask: What purpose does a keystone serve? Explain that the keystone is the central stone at the top of an arch. When an arch is constructed, the two sides are built up with supports to hold them. The space at the top of the arch is carefully measured, and then the keystone is cut to fit it exactly. When the keystone is put in place, the arch can stand without supports. Ask: What happens to the arch if the keystone is removed? (If you are using a model, demonstrate by removing the keystone.)
Now that the students have a better understanding of the importance of the keystone in an arch, ask them again how the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion. List responses on the board. (For additional insights, see the commentary for the introduction to the Book of Mormon in Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, pp. 2–3.)
“The Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion. This was the Prophet Joseph Smith’s statement. He testified that ‘the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion’ (History of the Church, 4:461). A keystone is the central stone in an arch. It holds all the other stones in place, and if removed, the arch crumbles.
“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 is the keystone in our witness of Jesus Christ, who is Himself the cornerstone of everything we do. It bears witness of His reality with power and clarity. Unlike the Bible, which passed through generations of copyists, translators, and corrupt religionists who tampered with the text, the Book of Mormon came from writer to reader in just one inspired step of translation. Therefore, its testimony of the Master is clear, undiluted, and full of power. But it does even more. 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. Truly, this divinely inspired book is a keystone in bearing witness to the world that Jesus is the Christ (see title page of the Book of Mormon).
“The Book of Mormon is also the keystone of the doctrine of the Resurrection. As mentioned before, the Lord Himself has stated that the Book of Mormon contains the ‘fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ’ (D&C 20:9). That does not mean it contains every teaching, every doctrine ever revealed. Rather, it means that 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” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1986, 4; or Ensign, Nov. 1986, 5–6).
Invite students to write the second paragraph of President Benson’s statement in their copies of the Book of Mormon at the top or bottom of the first page of the introduction. Encourage them to watch for the three ways the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion as they read the book.
Introduction. The Book of Mormon is “the most correct of any book on earth” and we can get “nearer to God by abiding by its precepts.” (20–25 minutes)
Display several recent books of science, mathematics, fiction, and history. Include in the display a copy of the Book of Mormon. Ask:
Which of the books in this display is the most correct?
How is one book more correct than the others?
In what way is the Book of Mormon the most correct book?
Read the Prophet Joseph Smith’s “keystone” statement from the sixth paragraph of the introduction to the Book of Mormon.
Point out that in each new edition of the Book of Mormon since the first, the Church has included corrections of spelling and typesetting errors. Ask: How could the Book of Mormon be the most correct book if it contained these kinds of errors? Write responses on the board. These might include:
The Book of Mormon contains the “fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ” (D&C 20:9).
“A man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book” (introduction).
“There were bound to be some typographical errors in the first edition [of the Book of Mormon], and perhaps an omission of a word or two. Those who have published books under the most careful and favorable circumstances, have, to their dismay, found errors, typographical and mechanical, some of which occurred after the final examination of proof has been made.
“… A careful check of the list of changes … shows there is not one change or addition that is not in full harmony with the original text. Changes have been made in punctuation and a few other minor matters that needed correction, but never has any alteration or addition changed a single original thought. As it appears to us, the changes … are such that make the text clearer and indicate that they were omitted. I am sure that the mistakes or omissions in the first edition were in large measure the fault of the compositor or the printer. Many of these mistakes which were in the first proofs were caught by the Prophet Joseph Smith himself, and he made the corrections” (Answers to Gospel Questions, 2:199–200).
Point to the display of books and ask: Does owning these books on science, math, and history make me a great scientist, mathematician, or historian? Discuss their responses. Refer to the Book of Mormon and ask some of the following questions:
How could this book help me become a true Christian?
Why isn’t owning it or even reading it enough?
What are precepts? (Instructions, teachings, commandments, and principles.)
According to the Prophet Joseph Smith, what must we do with these precepts before we can draw nearer to God? (We must abide by them.)
What does the phrase abide by mean? (To live by or obey.)
Why is it so important to live by the precepts in the Book of Mormon?
If we can become mathematicians by studying math books and scientists by studying science books, what can we become if we study and apply the teachings of the Book of Mormon?
“I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity—the pure love of Christ—will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1980, 90; or Ensign, May 1980, 67).
Bear your testimony of the Book of Mormon.
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