So about 12 years ago, I had one of the coolest experiences and then one of the worst experiences of my mission… both within about 20 seconds of each other. My companion and I were in our car, sitting at a stop light in Michigan. We saw some people in the car next to us looking our way, and like any good missionaries, we took it as an opportunity to attempt to get the Book of Mormon into their hands.
We started making hand gestures, pointing to the Book of Mormon and asking if they’d be willing to give it a read. They seemed interested, and so with outstretched hands, we successfully completed a mobile handoff of the Book of Mormon as the cars were all taking off. My companion and I began freaking out with excitement. We couldn’t believe that we’d just placed a Book of Mormon (which is a hard thing to do in Michigan by the way) without even needing to get out of the car.
We kept on driving down that same road, happy as can be, and on to our next appointment. We eventually came to a stop light at an intersection. As the light turned green again, a few cars flew by us, and we also began to move. But as we began to move forward… we heard this massive thud hit the window. It was loud. We didn’t know if we were being shot at or what, but we jumped out of our seats. We saw a blue object sort of roll down the side of the car… and then we knew. Those Michiganders whom we just previously and successfully handed off a thousand years of sacred scripture just chucked it back at us in the middle of a busy intersection. We went from elated missionaries… to dejected missionaries.
So we pulled over to chill out and consider what had just happened. And in the distance, there was that Book of Mormon being smashed, run over, and desecrated over and over again by each car that cruised on by. We couldn’t leave it. We just felt bad. So we waited until the traffic stopped and ran out into the middle of the street and rescued it. When we picked it up, it was in bad shape. Bent, dirty, and permanent tire tracks caused us to call this book… “The Wounded Soldier.”
We took the book back to our apartment and retired him on the shelf for future missionaries to behold.
Those people that chucked the Book of Mormon out the window that day probably did so ignorantly. We weren’t mad at them. We were just sad. They had probably heard something really bad about the “Mormons,” while they were in church or on the internet and decided that the book they were holding in their car was nothing but garbage to be tossed out the window.
When someone slams or disrespects the Book of Mormon, it doesn’t do any good to be mad about it. The best thing we can do is calmly share the substantial evidence of its authenticity while giving a personal testimony of the effect the book has had on our own lives. The Book of Mormon will speak for itself when the person studying it does so with an open heart. But until then, the key is to provide a logical case for the Book of Mormon in order to help open their hearts and brains to the remote possibility that it could be true. Those that have written it off prematurely have done so because of worldly hype and nothing else. If only I had the opportunity to talk with those drive by Book of Mormon chuckers so that I could have properly explained what it was they were actually throwing out the window. If I had the chance, I would have explained the following eight reasons why they should have given the book a chance:
- The book they just threw at us has unequivocally made every individual who reads it and applied its principles, a better man or woman.
- That book has as much or more life wisdom contained within its pages as any other book that has ever existed. Many non-Mormon historians, theologians, and philosophers have conceded that fact. They just consider Joseph Smith a genius instead of a prophet.
- The book exists, and it was either fraudulently written or truthfully translated. It would take a more far-fetched faith to believe that Joseph Smith could have produced a book that was years in advance of the research available to him.
- The people that surrounded Joseph Smith were just as skeptical as anyone else in our day. They themselves tried on multiple occasions to determine if there was any fraudulent activity in translating the Book of Mormon. Each of them came away more convinced than ever that Joseph was a prophet.
- If Joseph Smith was smart enough to write the Book of Mormon as some have suggested, then he would have had no need of a scribe. He would have carried it out on his own in order to minimize any chance of being exposed.
- None of the witnesses of that book ever faltered in their testimony, even in the face of public scrutiny and humiliation.
- The Book of Mormon is not the work of a creative genius. It’s not fantasy, and it’s not a novel. It’s the complex history of a bunch of concerned parents and prophets. You don’t just sit down to write something like that, and scientific analysis of the text enforces the fact that there were different ancient writers with different styles of writing.
- In a world that is rejecting the Bible as fiction, the Book of Mormon reinvigorates belief in the Bible and reinforces belief in the Savior Jesus Christ.
In almost 200 years, no one has been able logically explain how the book might have come into existence. But there are millions of people throughout the world that gave the Book of Mormon a chance and can tell you without a doubt that it has had a positive impact on their life. For someone who has given the Book of Mormon a careful study, with and open heart – it’s too difficult to write off as a fraud.
That day in Michigan, my companion and I had a Book of Mormon literally thrown out the window at us. The tire tracks across the bent front cover of that book will forever remind me that there are people out there that could really use the teachings found within the same book they chucked at us.
Joseph Smith wrote from Liberty Jail in March of 1839 that we should “waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven.” (D&C 123:12-13) About two weeks later, Joseph was released from Liberty Jail on April 6th. Go figure. April 6th. Think he could have orchestrated that too?
The Book of Mormon is a miracle in and of itself, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg in this restoration that is still taking place on the earth in our days. All a person needs to do is give the Book of Mormon a chance. That’s the starting point… and doing so will open up a whole new world of wonder and possibility.