The post below is a reprint from Mormon Matters. The discussion that followed was intriguing. Most of the posters that no longer believed in the historicity of the Book of Mormon openly admitted that when the Book of Mormon lost it’s historicity for them, it also lost it’s value as scripture worthy of study. There was at least one notable exception of someone that still studied it as scripture regularly, if perhaps a reduced level overall, though he admitted that he felt the same way about the Bible as well. Also intriguing was John Hamer’s concerns that the wording was biased because the word ‘fiction’ might be a loaded term. I had not intended it to be so, but I compromised by adding a ‘revised wording’ version at the bottom.
I’m intrigued by those on the bloggernacle that see The Book of Mormon as fiction but inspired by God. It’s common to hear someone that holds that belief say that it doesn’t really matter if The Book of Mormon is historical or not.
In the past, Clay asked me if I thought that someone who believes The Book of Mormon to be fiction lost their salvation. My answer was, no, I do not believe such a belief causes a person to lose salvation in and of itself. [12/22/2010: At this point in time, I had not admitted to people that I was just shy of a universalist.] DougG asked me if I believe people that believed the Book of Mormon was inspired but not historical should be rooted out of the Church. My answer to that question was, no they shouldn’t be.
Both of these questions made me think of some counter questions for those that believe The Book of Mormon is inspired of God but just a work of fiction:
- Do you still study The Book of Mormon as a guide to your life on a regular basis?
- Do you still prayerfully seek for truths in The Book of Mormon to apply into your life?
- Did you do any of the above types of study when you thought The Book of Mormon was also historical?
- Do you limit your study of The Book of Mormon to only finding 19th century patterns now or are you open to finding unique eternal truths there for our day?
- Do you limit your study of The Book of Mormon to only what you need to do to fulfill a calling? (Like say preparing for lessons.)
- Did coming to believe The Book of Mormon was only inspired fiction cause you to reduce your efforts to study it in any way?