“The Book of Mormon” differs from the Bible with its treatment of personal salvation. The Bible does not offer guides to salvation, but the newer Book does. The idea of salvation is mentioned at least 30 times throughout the book. It specifically refers to a “plan of salvation,” a “plan of happiness” and a “plan of redemption.”
The path to salvation begins by allowing people to follow the gospel of Christ and concludes with entering heaven. The final judgment is not terrifying but instead positive growth toward joy, freedom, and responsibility.
But What About the Book?
The Book of Mormon came out seven years after Joseph Smith had his first sighting of an angel (who was named Moroni). Smith said that the Book of Mormon was the detailed new covenant between God and the House of Israel, wrapping around and yet expanding on the “old” covenant of Judaism and the “new” covenant of Christianity.
The book itself is a synthesis of the covenants. It draws upon the Old and New Testaments in its narrative. The book entered into circulation in March of 1830, and since then, it has been published and sold in almost two hundred million copies.
The “Book of Mormon” reads like a prequel to the New Testament. Rooted firmly in American soil, it reveals a never-before-heard story about Jesus Christ. It also portrays reboot versions of such biblical accounts as the Garden of Eden and the Gospel of John. According to the “Book of Mormon,” Jesus fled Israel and took refuge amongst Native Americans in the American wilderness about 600 years before biblical accounts of Christ.
This telling, exclusive to the “Book of Mormon” asserts Christ established another promised land on the American frontier. It claims to be historically accurate, but modern archaeology disagrees.
A Quintessential American Religion
For 19th century Americans, the presence of Mormonism on the North American continent was appealing. Joseph Smith inspired religious fervor with stories of angels sent by God and epiphanies about Jesus Christ. In the early 19th century, a spiritual revival was brewing. Known as the restoration movement, many people were swept up in the religious passion claiming to be prophets of divine revelation.
During this time, Smith’s visions and prophecy sold like hotcakes. Christians flocked to this intriguing new sect, much like Americans of the 21st century moved in droves toward the Christian megachurch movement. It had a certain appeal.
Joseph Smith’s Superstar Appeal
Mormonism was tightly organized with an appealing backstory. But it also came with a galvanizing figure. Smith was known as a prodigy and a prophet. Handsome with bright blue eyes, he had magnetism, he had charisma, and he possessed the ambition to lead. He preached an intriguing new scripture, a brand-new testament of Jesus Christ.
He rounded upconverts with rock star-grade fervor. According to Smith, God and Jesus told him that none of the Christian sects were worth joining, so he founded his own.