A vision given to Nephi in chapter thirteen of the first book that bears his name contains a statement that has raised the eyebrows of critics. It reads in verse 28:
“Wherefore, thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and aprecious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God.”
Critics challenge Latter-day Saints to itemize those plain and precious items that are found missing in the Bible and that are unique to the Book of Mormon. Believing that this challenge will be impossible to meet, these critics seek to undermine the confidence of Mormon’s in this keystone book of scripture. Such an approach becomes a “catch 22″ trap. Whatever doctrine that is mentioned in the Book of Mormon that is unique is used against us to prove that we do not believe in Biblical teachings. Whatever is pointed to as evidence in the Book of Mormon that is also in the Bible is dismissed, because it proves the same plain and precious truths are also in the Bible, undermining this passage.
For example, try and think of teachings that are core to LDS teachings which are unique to the Book of Mormon but that are not in the Bible. It is difficult to actually amass such a list. Some of the teachings we believe are precious and plain are found in the Doctrine and Covenants, such as proxy work for the dead, eternal families, and three degrees of glory, but they are not spelled out in the Book of Mormon. So, how do we answer our critics?
As I read this chapter, I was struck by verse 40 which reads:
“And the angel spake unto me, saying: These alast records [meaning the Book of Mormon], which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall bestablish the truth of the cfirst, which are of the dtwelve apostles of the Lamb [meaning the Bible], and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them; and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the eSavior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved.”
I was particularly impressed with the notion that the purpose of the Book of Mormon is to establish the truthfulness of the Bible. How can the Book of Mormon establish the truth of the Bible if the Bible does not contain the same teachings as the Book of Mormon? On considering this notion, it occurred to me that what is missing from the Bible in many instances is not the kernal of truth, but the plainness and preciousness of the simple truths that we take for granted as Latter-day Saints.
For example, the Book of Mormon has clear and concise teachings regarding the covenant status of Israel as the earthly lineage through whom Heavenly Father adopts us into his eternal family such that we become heirs to all that the Father has. Consider Jacob 5 and the parable of the olive branches, grafted into the wild plants and restored later to the original roots, all that the Lord of the Vinyard might store up fruit unto himself. Taught in a parable, it is still a plain and precious truth that seems so much more clear to me compared to what is in the Bible on the subject.
Consider the plain and precious teaching of priesthood responsibility in Chapters 1 & 2 of Jacob, specifically Jacob 1:19. Is there an equal to this teaching in the Bible?
Consider the precise and precious teachings of the role of faith building to knowledge, as is taught in the parable of the seed in Alma 32. Consider how plainly it teaches us to care for and nurture what we know as we build our knowledge and confidence in things we hope for and believe.
Consider the supernally plain and precious teachings of King Benjamin relative to our responsibility to care for and serve those who struggle, and our personal need to view ourselves in proper light at beggars before God, as taught in Mosiah 2 – 4. I cannot recall any other place in scripture that so fully and completely teaches me the kindness I should show my fellow man so that I might become a Son of Christ.
Consider the teachings of the supreme role of Christ in fulfilling the Mosaic law, and the simplicity of our need to simply look to Christ to find our salvation, as taught in 2 Nephi 25 & 26.
Consider the firm establishment of Christ’s doctrine as the principles of faith, repentance, baptism, and reception of the Holy Ghost as the means of salvation, as taught in 2 Nephi 31, and 3 Nephi 11.
It is in Moroni 6 that the qualifications for baptism are plainly taught.
It is in the Book of Mormon that the plain and precious instructions concerning the manner of administering the Lord’s supper is taught, as in Moroni 4 & 5.
Consider the simple instruction by Moroni in Chapter 7 of the book that bears his name on how to know truth from God?
These examples constitute a small sampling of things which are introduced in the Bible, but are made more plain and precious by the teaching in the Book of Mormon. As you read these, consider what other teachings have become plain and precious to your understanding because of the teachings in the Book of Mormon. Can any of us read these things and not be compelled to admit that, while many of these things can be found in the Bible, they become so much more clearly understood and placed more firmly in the proper eternal perspective precisely because of the teachings in the Book of Mormon?
What are the teachings in the Bible that have become more plain and precious to your understanding because of how it is taught in the Book of Mormon?