This year’s study for Sunday School will be the Book of Mormon. Many of my family members and friends may be unfamiliar with the Book of Mormon and so this post will be an introduction to the Book itself. In this post I will highlight some of the history surrounding the Book’s publication, why members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints put such value in it, its composition and narrative structure, and my personal feelings about the Book of Mormon.
For most Latter-day Saints, the stories are very familiar, and certain passages are memorized, but this year I hope to look deeper at the actual individuals within the Book of Mormon. To think from different angles about its message and challenge us to truly absorb the purpose of the Book of Mormon…which is to bring us all closer to Jesus Christ. Just like the New Testament witnesses, the Book of Mormon has one primary purpose and that is to declare that Jesus is the Christ.
Joseph Smith famously said that abiding by the teachings of the Book of Mormon will bring a man closer to God and Christ than any other book. I believe that if we spend our time studying the book itself and trying to apply its teachings we can discover if that is true or not. This year is a great opportunity for us to do that and I hope these posts can assist you as you study as individuals, family members and as groups of people seeking to be closer to Christ.
I was recently called to be the Sunday School President in my new ward and so I plan to make the posts oriented more toward a teaching and study aid. This won’t change the posts substantially, but I thought it would be good for people to know. After this post, I will post two week’s worth of content on January 12th so the outlines will be one week in advance of study in church classes. I highly recommend the “New Approach to Studying the Book of Mormon” as the book that you use for your study this year. It is a tremendous version of the Book that has who is speaking broke out to make the book easier to study and follow.
I apologize in advance of this post being long.
CHAPTERS FOR STUDY WEEK 1 – Introduction
Key Resources for Book of Mormon Study:
– Understanding the Book of Mormon
– From Darkness to Light
– The Expanded Canon
– Second Witness: Analytical & Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon
– The Plain English Book of Mormon
– A New Approach to Studying the Book of Mormon
– By The Hand of Mormon
– Glimpses of Lehi’s Jerusalem
History and Context:
– Book of Mormon Origin – The Book of Mormon’s origin and the translation process is one of the most scrutinized and criticized aspects of Mormon History. Believers hold the Book of Mormon to be divine in its origin and detractors devote countless hours to disprove its authenticity. I have studied almost everything I can find – both negative and positive – about the Book of Mormon’s origin. This quote from Richard Bushman, the former Dean of History at Columbia University, sums up my thoughts:
“The facts of the matter do not allow a reader to come down decisively on either side. We must labor on through the text, perpetually asking who wrote these words. The gold plates prevent some readers from even considering the book to be authentic history. But for others, the tantalizing possibility that this marvelous artifact actually existed cannot be eliminated. While one part of the believers mind continues to question, the other finds guidance and inspiration in the book’s pages.”
Ultimately, there is no theory about the origin of the book that does not require faith in something. Faith that the people involved are telling the truth, or faith that they all colluded to dupe the people around them. We may differ on the validity of all of the evidence, but there is no certainty based solely on available information. There is comfort to believers in the fact that every single person who was personally involved in the production of the Book of Mormon held to its divinity until their death, even those who became disenfranchised or enemies with Joseph Smith. They certainly believed it was real, but even that is not proof, only evidence.
The study of the book, the internalizing of the words both from a devotional and an evaluating point of view is the true test for a person to feel whether the book is truly another testament of Jesus Christ, as it claims to be.
Below are key points in the origins and publication:
- In 1823, Joseph Smith claimed to be visited by an Angel named Moroni who had buried the record he and his father, Mormon, had abridged and compiled on a nearby hill called Cumorah.
- Joseph and some of his family members had been involved in treasure seeking over the years and according to Joseph Smith, the Lord would not allow him to take possession of the plates until he had overcome his own temptation to use the plates for his own personal gain. He admits to his personal struggles with this and is denied possession of the plates until he can be trusted in 1827, when with the help of his wife Emma, he was able to retrieve the plates.
- Ironically, for the past 190 years the majority of detractors for Joseph Smith have claimed the plates never existed, yet the historical records of the area at that time highlight the widespread belief that Joseph had the plates and that there was considerable interest in getting them from him.
- There are over two dozen accounts of people who claim to have lifted, hefted, or felt the concealed plates, but the pressure profit seekers to see the plates and monetize them forced Joseph and Emma to move to Harmony, Pennsylvania in Dec. 1827. However, Joseph made clear to everyone that the Lord would not allow them to examine the plates in detail and they were constantly covered.
- Martin Harris becomes a key person in the Book of Mormon’s origin. His wife initially tells people that she hefts the plates and has a spiritual experience that they were from God and relates this to Martin who also feels them. After the move to Harmony, Joseph is uncertain as to who should translate the plates and, according to accounts, asks for advice from friends. Lucy Harris begins to second guess her experience and tries to persuade Martin from being involved, but Martin eventually feels as though he needs to go East to find help in determining if the plates are real and how to translate them. He travels to Harmony and Joseph draws some of the characters from the plates and gives them to Martin to take on a journey to confirm the language and seek help translating.
- It was previously believed that Joseph and Martin knew at this point in time the characters were Egyptian, but they only believed they were from ancient inhabitants of the Americas at that time. Martin began his journey in the spring of 1828 and after talking with a Professor Bradish in Utica, NY, Harris thought they were likely ancient Native American writings. This sent him on the journey to Philadelphia where he met with a Professor Mitchill, who reviewed the characters and could not determine the origins. But believing they were of Near Eastern decent, Mitchill sent him to Professor Charles Anton in New York City.
- There are two versions of Harris’s visit with Anton. Harris claims that Anton agreed the characters were true characters similar to “Egyptian, Chaldeak, Assyriac, and Arabac.” Harris asks for a certificate of authenticity and Anton writes it. When Anton asks how Joseph obtained the plates and Martin replies they were from an angel, Anton then takes the certificate back and asks to see the plates for himself. Martin knows this cannot happen and leaves on the journey home.
- Once Anton finds out that his name has been associated with the Book of Mormon, which was damaging his reputation at the time, he writes a letter condemning the Book of Mormon and refuting Harris’s story. This could have been to protect his reputation, or because Harris’s story was not true.
- One of the more compelling arguments for the truth of Harris’s story is one of the main reasons he undertook this journey in the first place: his wondering whether to believe and provide financial backing to the book’s publication. Despite having hefted the book, Martin’s wife still distrusted Joseph and Harris had a lot to lose if he was wrong. Had Anton’s story been true – that he hadn’t verified the characters – it seems like Harris would have acted differently. We know what happened, however: Martin Harris mortgaged his entire farm to publish the book and this trip to the east played a seminal role in building his confidence.
- Emma was the initial scribe for Joseph Smith in early 1828 and, decades later, recounted to her son that she saw the plates “often lay[ing] on the table without any attempt at concealment” and that Joseph had no manuscript to read from as he dictated to her the words of the book.
- Martin Harris began as scribe in mid 1828 and by fall of 1828 there was 116 pages recorded. Martin, eager to convince his wife that Joseph wasn’t a fraud, convinced Joseph to allow him to take them to her. The Lord warned Joseph against this plan, but Joseph did it anyway and Martin eventually lost the pages.
- Interestingly, Lucy Harris was one of the first detractors of Joseph Smith, but she fervently believed he had plates for a long time, and searched for them when she visited Harmony, she just believed he was wicked and what he was engaged in was not from God.
- After the setback of the 116 pages, Joseph ran out of money for supplies and felt God was upset with him. It wasn’t until spring of 1829 that dictation began again and Emma and Samuel Smith (Joseph’s brother) began again as scribes. However, with supplies low and Emma and Sam being uneducated the translation was slow. Oliver Cowdery eventually moved to Harmony in April of 1829 and assisted in completing the translation in about 100 days.
- Oliver, like Martin Harris, is a key figure in the Book of Mormon. When he moved to Palmyra in 1828 as a school teacher he heard about the plates from associates in the area. He was taken by the thought of them and spoke often to many in the community about the plates and wanting to find out for himself.
- There are many skeptics who believe Oliver provided the true source of the Book of Mormon and that when he arrived he brought manuscripts and sources from which to plagiarize to write the book. Oliver was an educated man and acquainted with contemporaries of Joseph that had written books with themes similar to the Book of Mormon (Israelites coming to America, and ancient American prophets) and so the theory is that his assistance produced the Book of Mormon. However, there is no contemporary historical evidence that suggests Oliver was interested in anything but the plates prior to traveling to Harmony, ever possessed or spoke to others about those themes, and all accounts of the translation process with Oliver were the same as the accounts with Emma and other scribes that there were no source materials and dictation came from Joseph word after word.
- Joseph used “Urim and Thummim” which were either spectacles or seer stones for the translation process according to all the scribes. He could not read other languages, and so he received the dictation as inspiration from the Lord through those instruments. This has always been a question for many people and Emma’s son, Joseph Smith III also questioned her on this point, but her response about the Book of Mormon was clear.
“He was sitting with his face buried in his hat, with the stone in it, and dictating hour after hour with nothing between us….The Book of Mormon is of divine authenticity – I have not he slightest doubt of it. I am satisfied that no man could have dictated the writing of the manuscripts unless he was inspired; for, when acting as his scribe, your father would dictate to me for hour after hour’ and when returning after meals, or after interruptions, he would at once begin where he had left off, without either seeing the manuscript of having any portion of it read to him.” – Emma Smith
- In June of 1829 the translation had to move to the Whitmer farm in Fayette, New York. Oliver Cowdery had become friends with David Whitmer and David had helped with supplies for the Book of Mormon. The opposition against Joseph was increasing, led by Lucy Harris, and Martin was desperate to see the full plates with his own eyes to refute lawsuits that had been threatened by Lucy and others against him. Between June of 1829 and the end of July 1829 the Lord allowed 11 men to see and handle the plates in full according to their sworn and signed testimonies. Three of the witnesses were also visited by an angel who confirmed to them Joseph’s mission and the origins.
- Each of the three witnesses to the angel and the plates, including the primary scribe Oliver Cowdery, left the church and became disaffected with Joseph Smith at some point. All through their lives, when asked by reporters, historians, and anyone who was curious if their witnesses were the truth, they not only never wavered, but they were demonstrative that the book was divine and their experiences were real. Two of the men eventually came back to the church.
- In August of 1829, Martin Harris mortgaged his property to the printer of the Book of Mormon and the first books were bound in March of 1830, with the church being formally organized on April 6, 1830. The Book of Mormon has one of the strangest stories and, on the surface it defies belief. I think it is healthy and rewarding to read and study the book with the questions in our mind of its divinity. Jesus said clearly of prophetic voices, “by their fruits you will know them.”
- A final essential thought on the Book of Mormon: there are some believers who hold that every word is in the manuscript are the words that were written by the ancient authors; there are other believers who hold that Joseph necessarily added to the abridgment by adding to or adjusting things to fit his modern audience. Others may believe it is all from Joseph’s mind but divine nonetheless. In any case, like the Bible before it, the weaknesses of scribes, translators, authors, and readers isn’t necessarily a cause to doubt divinity, but rather a cause to investigate the words and the stories and teachings in our lives to discover for ourselves the value and inspiration that are behind the words.
– Narrative Structure and Chronology – Although the Book of Mormon is a compilation like the Bible, it is different in a number of respects structurally. First, it is an abridgment by three different authors. So, there are three distinct sections and the stories are summarized and compiled by those authors. Each “book” is a compilation of stories and quotations, with interjections from the author, that center around certain themes. Typically the Books are named after the main prophetic leaders of the time period that is covered in the book.
Below is a quick summary of the Narrative Structure, synopsis of each book, its author.
- Primary Author 1 – Nephi (600 BC-560 BC)
- 1st Book of Nephi
- Nephi’s account of his life in Jerusalem and his family fleeing to the wilderness. Eventually leading them to the American continents.
- Nephi is the son of a prophet in Jerusalem who is a contemporary of Jeremiah and other prophets just before the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC.
- 2nd Book of Nephi
- Nephi’s account of his experience and the division among his family after being in the new land and his father’s death.
- There is a lot more teaching and instruction for his posterity in this part of Nephi’s writings. His brother Jacob and Isaiah are quoted heavily.
- Book of Jacob
- Nephi’s brother recounts his time as leader of the family and the division and conflicts with the peoples around them.
- Book of Enos
- Jacob’s son recounts his conversion story.
- Book of Jarom
- Jarom is the son of Enos and he writes very little about his people.
- Book of Omni
- Multiple Authors talk about things devolving in their society and they have little room on the plates so very little is written to cover 300+ years of history.
- 1st Book of Nephi
- Author 2 – Mormon (120 BC-385 AD)
- Words of Mormon
- An interlude from the small plates that make up the first part of the Book of Mormon and transition to Mormon’s abridgment.
- Mormon is a prophet and military leader who witnesses his people fall away from God and destroy each other in wars with other indigenous cultures. He is given the charge to abridge their history into plates that will be brought forth in the future to help people believe that Jesus is the Christ.
- Book of Alma
- Important selections in Nephite history chosen by Mormon that show the continuous rise and fall of people as they struggle to follow the gospel in the face of new philosophies, political struggles, and wars.
- Alma and his son Alma are the primary prophetic leaders during the time period so the book is named for them.
- Book of Helaman
- Selections by Mormon that focus on the prophesied coming of Christ’s birth and his atonement and visitation to the American continents.
- Helaman and his son Helaman are the primary prophetic leaders during the time period.
- Book of 3rd Nephi
- Selections that highlight the final days and persecution against believers in Christ before his birth, death, and resurrection. Also, an account of Christ’s visit to the people and His teachings.
- Nephi and his son Nephi are the prophetic leaders during the time period.
- Book of 4th Nephi
- A brief account of the happiness and peaceful society that existed after Christ visited the people before their falling away.
- Nephi is the primary prophetic leader.
- Book of Mormon (Chapters 1-7)
- Mormon’s personal account of the falling of his people from the Lord and the war that eventually destroys their society completely.
- Mormon is the leader of the people.
- Words of Mormon
- Author 3 – Moroni (401 AD -420 AD)
- Book of Mormon (Chapters 8-9)
- Mormon’s on Moroni completes his father’s teachings with some of his letters before seemingly finishing the book and burying it.
- Book of Ether
- A decade or more after Moroni completes the abridgment, he is inspired by the Lord to add to the book the stories of a people who lived in the Americas thousands of years before Nephi came and how their faith began a peaceful society and their rejection of prophets, Christ, and faith led to their destruction as well.
- Book of Moroni
- The final teachings and testimony of Moroni before he buries the abridgment on the plates.
- Moroni challenges the readers of the Book of Mormon to have faith, hope, and charity and seek to come to Christ by reading the words of the Book of Mormon and they will know from the Lord that it is divine.
- Book of Mormon (Chapters 8-9)
– One of the more compelling aspects supporting the divinity of the Book of Mormon are the three primary authors themselves. They have clear distinctions in how they speak, write, explain things, and when they interject. In linguistic analysis they are clearly different people at different times. They also ask for forgiveness in their writing ability and admit there are imperfections and weakness in the book (1 Ne. 19:6, Ether 12:23-26). We cannot look at the book as if there is no human failing within it or that there is no bias or errors. It is scripture and it is less edited and tampered with than some scriptures, but nonetheless it is still the experiences of others written down for our inspiration and guidance with all the limitations that come with that.
Why is the Book of Mormon Important?:
The Book has one primary purpose – to be another witness that Jesus is the Christ. So the point of the Book is to convince us that Christ is real, that He is resurrected and alive, and that He will redeem us. It is meant to supplement the Old and New Testaments to demonstrate the reality of Jesus Christ.
The book also has the added benefit of showing us that God still speaks to mankind, despite the secular tidal wave of logic and reason as the only methods for learning, spiritual revelation is still an important and active component.
It gives us important insight into experiences with God, human beings, and our relationships with them. Particularly it shows that living the gospel brings prosperity and wealth. This almost always follows with intellectual and social pride and separation. This then brings the downfall of the society until humility and faith return and the cycle starts over. This is a warning for our own lives that can be seen so easily. The teachings of the Book of Mormon can help us live the gospel and notice when we are on the path to rejecting Christ and God.
Key Moment or Scripture: Alma 32:26-43
26 Now, as I said concerning faith—that it was not a perfect knowledge—even so it is with my words. Ye cannot know of their surety at first, unto perfection, any more than faith is a perfect knowledge.
27 But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than adesire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.
28 Now, we will compare the word unto a aseed. Now, if ye give place, that a bseed may be planted in your cheart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your dunbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to eenlighten my funderstanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.
29 Now behold, would not this increase your faith? I say unto you, Yea; nevertheless it hath not grown up to a perfect knowledge.
30 But behold, as the seed swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, then you must needs say that the seed is good; for behold it swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow. And now, behold, will not this strengthen your faith? Yea, it will strengthen your faith: for ye will say I know that this is a good seed; for behold it sprouteth and beginneth to grow.
31 And now, behold, are ye sure that this is a good seed? I say unto you, Yea; for every seed bringeth forth unto its own alikeness.
32 Therefore, if a seed groweth it is good, but if it groweth not, behold it is not good, therefore it is cast away.
33 And now, behold, because ye have tried the experiment, and planted the seed, and it swelleth and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, ye must needs know that the seed is good.
34 And now, behold, is your aknowledge bperfect? Yea, your knowledge is perfect in that thing, and your cfaith is dormant; and this because you know, for ye know that the word hath swelled your souls, and ye also know that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doth begin to be enlightened, and your dmind doth begin to expand.
35 O then, is not this real? I say unto you, Yea, because it is alight; and whatsoever is light, is bgood, because it is discernible, therefore ye must know that it is good; and now behold, after ye have tasted this light is your knowledge perfect?
36 Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither must ye lay aside your faith, for ye have only exercised your faith to plant the seed that ye might try the experiment to know if the seed was good.
37 And behold, as the tree beginneth to grow, ye will say: Let us nourish it with great care, that it may get root, that it may grow up, and bring forth fruit unto us. And now behold, if ye nourish it with much care it will get root, and grow up, and bring forth fruit.
38 But if ye aneglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers away, and ye pluck it up and cast it out.
39 Now, this is not because the seed was not good, neither is it because the fruit thereof would not be desirable; but it is because your aground is bbarren, and ye will not nourish the tree, therefore ye cannot have the fruit thereof.
40 And thus, if ye will not nourish the word, looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the atree of life.
41 But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with apatience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree bspringing up unto everlasting life.
42 And because of your adiligence and your faith and your patience with the word in nourishing it, that it may take root in you, behold, by and by ye shall pluck the bfruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst.
43 Then, my brethren, ye shall areap the brewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffering, waiting for the tree to bring forth cfruit unto you.
This is the scripture set I picked for this introduction because it is the combination of what I believe is the key to true knowledge and wisdom. We must combine the scientific method of study and knowledge with the spirituality of revelation. When they are combined in determining what is good and right in our lives we will be directed to good and holy things. The Lord Jesus Christ will be revealed in our hearts and minds.
The Book of Mormon is a chance to add a greater portion of the light of Christ into our hearts and minds. It has the power to heal, guide, inspire, and humble ourselves. I hope that as we study it this year you will feel closer to the Lord, more inspired to be a disciple, and more confident that God loves you and wants you to be happy.
About a year ago I was asked to share my experience of believing in the Book of Mormon. I will share it here to close out this post. Future posts will not be this long, and I hope this is a good primer for the study this year.
I have always had an interesting relationship with the Book of Mormon and the early history of the church. From a young age, there were a few things, specifically relating to the origins of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith’s history, with which I had a hard time. My faith, at that time, was built around a lot of the teachings that sprouted out from the restoration; eternal families, salvation for the dead, multifaceted heaven, nuanced perspective on hell, and a belief that revelation wasn’t reserved only for ancients. I believed these things made more sense than any other version of Christianity and so I just assumed the other stuff was ok. My spiritual experiences at that point were things that confirmed to me God was there, and that Jesus Christ really did live and was resurrected.
In full disclosure, when I was a youth, I never read the Book of Mormon in full, or with any sort of dedication when reading in sections. I also never really studied the history of Joseph Smith. Half of my family were not members of the church and even though I was exposed to a lot of things that made me question, my faith in the teachings of the church were strong enough that I still decided to serve a mission when I turned 19. Once I got on the mission, however, it did not take long to realize that I needed to have my own testimony of the more specific pillars of our faith. I read the Book of Mormon in full while I was in the MTC, and loved what it taught, but felt no special confirmation like those around me claimed. I started praying about Joseph Smith, since many of my doubts were specifically directed toward him, and I felt nothing there either. On the other hand, I was having a lot of spiritual experiences related to Jesus Christ and God.
Two weeks into my first area, we were teaching a family the discussions. The husband had been raised an atheist and wasn’t sure if God was real, and the wife had been raised in a Christian church that taught mostly antagonistic things about Mormons (we were called Mormons back on my mission). I had started to get a feeling that Kory (the husband) was going to ask me how I knew what I was teaching was true, and since I really didn’t know I began feeling the pressure. I decided to fast about it, and nothing happened. I was really discouraged but decided to have faith that something would come to me. That night we started teaching Kory and his wife the 3rd discussion and my section was the section of the first vision account. After recounting it to them, Kory asked me point blank, “How do you know [Joseph’s first vision] experience happened?” I was scared because I wasn’t going to lie to him, so I started talking to him about my feelings about Joseph Smith and the most incredible presence filled the room. Kory and I connected, we were both filled with this feeling that is hard to describe and we both new in that moment that God was speaking to our hearts. We were in tears and could barely breathe the feeling was so intense. I have never felt the spirit so powerfully since that time, but I knew that Joseph Smith had seen God and that he was a prophet.
Now, according to most circles, this experience should have been enough to give me a testimony of the Book of Mormon. We all know the deal, “If Joseph Smith was a prophet then the Book of Mormon is true, or if the Book of Mormon is true then Joseph Smith was a prophet.” We have all heard that logic, or even feel it now. Unfortunately, for a “Doubting Thomas” like myself, that logic only appeased me for the short time I was a missionary. When I began interacting with real life, exploring the details of church history in detail, and studying the Book of Mormon and what people assumed it to be, I started to feel that my mission experience was not adequate to overcome the dissonance I was experiencing. An implicit testimony was not going to work for me.
I spent many years working on that testimony, resolved many doubts and questions, but through all that searching and discovering I never had that spiritual experience with the Book of Mormon that so many others had. I had almost become convinced that I would never have it, and that I didn’t need it since I had built the other parts of my testimony instead. Then, after I read a book called “Understanding the Book of Mormon,” I started to view the Book of Mormon differently. I started to look at what the authors were trying to say, instead of reading each verse like it was a meme for Instagram. I started to see the author’s admitted weaknesses, and they became real people to me. Their stories started to impact my soul in a different way. I was becoming closer to Jesus Christ. I wanted to be a better person.
At some point, I was reading Alma chapter 32, of which we have all read many times before, and I realized that I was experiencing the growth of my faith the way Alma explains. As I came to verse 35, I read the following:
“O then, is not this real? I say unto you, Yea, because it is light; and whatsoever is light, is good, because it is discernible, therefore ye must know that it is good; and now behold, after ye have tasted this light is your knowledge perfect? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither must ye lay aside your faith..”
I was overcome with emotion when in my mind and heart I realized IT IS REAL. The power of the Book of Mormon is real. Exercising faith to live by its teachings brings real goodness into my life and in the life of so many I love. The Book of Mormon was given to us, strangely yes, but somehow, by the grace of God. It is real that its authors were imperfect yet faithful men, and that if we learn from their experiences, we will be closer to Jesus Christ. I am thankful for the winding road that brought me this testimony, and I believe that if anyone will put it to the test, they will discover it is real as well.