I will have a new book out soon and want to clarify a few things in advance of its release.
First, this is not a book for everyone. Some people have become aware of problems in church history. They have struggled with what they’ve learned. As a result there have been crises of faith among some of the brightest and most inquisitive among us. This is a tragic loss. The new book is written to help those who are already aware of problems to come to grips with the issues and see how it all still makes sense. There are those who are perfectly content with the oftentimes fanciful accounts of our history which gloss over problems and ignore contradictions. For such people reading the new book will be startling and perhaps a faith challenging experience. The book will perhaps upset them more than reassure them. I do not want to do that for any Latter-day Saint. I would hope they would decide to pass on reading the book and continue to be content with whatever assumptions please them about our past.
Second, I am very concerned that many of the most important points of the book will be taken completely out of context and shared by overeager readers who want to show off their new understanding. That can be destructive. The book is prepared carefully, with precepts constructed, historic proof gathered, explanations crafted with care and an overall harmony between parts. Taking some of the information out of context and blurting it out as an isolated event, quote or idea will not help anyone. The unkind person doing so may get to show off, but they tear down rather than build up. None but fools will trifle with the souls of men. (TPJS p. 137.)
The book will not read like the traditional accounts of what has happened. The point of departure for the book is the scriptures. No historian’s theme is used to substitute a retelling of events. Instead the book relies on the scriptures, primarily the Book of Mormon, as the basis from which to construct the events of our dispensation. So far as I know, this is the only time our history has been told with an eye on what the scriptures say about us instead of our own vanity and pride. Therefore, it is quite different than what you’ve been reading about us in other accounts.
There isn’t going to be any man or group of men who save you. There is literally a single way, and a single source. That is Christ. (Mosiah 3:17
.) Whether you are able to receive salvation or not is entirely dependent on how you respond to Him, not to other people. (2 Ne. 9: 41
There are no magic ordinances that will reconcile you to Him. (2 Ne. 25: 23
.) Ordinances may be mandatory, but they do not save. They are evidence we are willing to submit to Him (2 Ne. 31: 5
), but they are not the full scope of submission required for salvation. (Luke 6: 46
It has never been enough to attend meetings, perform outward ordinances and be part of a group that meets to discuss the scriptures from time to time. Every one must individually accept responsibility for coming to Christ and doing what He asks. (Luke 6: 45-49
The relentless message of the Book of Mormon is that we must all repent. We are not secure in our standing before God until we repent, come down in the depths of humility and become accepted by Him. When He ministers to us, we can know our standing before Him. Until then, we cannot know. (JS-H: 1: 29
There is no “boss” who will bring you along to salvation.
There are no comforting words you need to hear that will make you secure in your sins. (2 Ne. 28: 21
There is no hopeful message that needs to be shared about how everyone will probably be saved at the last day. (2 Ne. 28: 22
You don’t need me, nor any other man. You need to reconcile yourself to Christ. Anyone who wants to place themselves between you and the Lord will, if you let them, bring you and them to hell.
I had an interesting question asked about the “remnant” I thought worth addressing here.
There should be no confusion about the identity of the “remnant” spoken of in the Book of Mormon. It refers to the descendants of Lehi (at times further divided into those descended from Nephi, Jacob and Joseph– all Lehi’s sons). The European stock who migrated to North America and dispossessed the indigenous people are invariably referred to as “gentiles” in the Book of Mormon. Throughout it is the case that the European descendants are “gentiles” and never anything else.
You can start in 1st Nephi and go through the end. The “gentiles” are us– the Latter-day Saints (to the extent we are primarily European-descended and not Native American).
Joseph Smith received the dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland Temple by revelation. In the prayer he refers to the church as being “identified with the gentiles.” (D&C 109: 60)
It does not matter if we descend from Israel. Nor if we have actual genetic markers which would make us Ephraimites, or Levites, or of the tribe of Judah, or any of the other tribes of Israel. Unless we are Native American, we are not the “remnant” discussed in the Book of Mormon.
There are many references to early church leaders being descended from Israelite bloodlines. Even if that is the case, however, the Book of Mormon usage refers to us as “gentiles” unless descended from Lehi.