Question: What about those who pray and don't receive a confirmation the Book of Mormon is true?

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Question: What about those who pray and don't receive a confirmation the Book of Mormon is true?

There is more required than simply praying in order to receive a confirmation of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon

Moroni's gives us the requirements that need to be fulfilled in order to obtain a confirmation:

Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts. And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. (Moroni 10:3-4)

It is not enough to simply ask: One must ponder the mercies of God and then ask God in the name of Christ, exercising faith in Christ, and ask actually wanting to know that the Book is true. You must also be ready to act on the knowledge you receive (i.e. be ready to make covenants through ordinances such as baptism). Finally, you must demonstrate a sincere effort to understand what is contained in the Book of Mormon. It is useful to recall Oliver Cowdery's experience when he attempted to translate,

Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me. But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. (DC 9:7-8)

One should also seek to make themselves worthy to receive the Spirit's influences.

The Book of Mormon also provides some additional insight into how the Spirit works--that we have to be worthy of its influence by sincerely coming unto Christ through faith in him and his atonement and repentance (Mosiah 2:37; Alma 34:36). This should be taken into consideration as well.

The Gospel provides some more generous epistemic doors to walk through

It should be noted as well that the Gospel provides other doors for those to walk through if they don't receive the witness of the Holy Ghost. For some, they are going to continue to need to seek knowledge "by study and also by faith" (D&C 88:118). This is for those that don't have faith. Others may receive a different spiritual gift: to believe on others who claim to have received the Holy Ghost testifying to them of Christ's divinity and the truthfulness of the Church (D&C 46:13-14).

What about those that receive a witness that the Book of Mormon is not true?

Some have wondered if its possible that someone can receive a witness that the Book of Mormon is not true. In the author's immediate experience and the experience of other acquaintences, this has not happened. It's likely that in situations such as this that the person is either lying to stump missionaries, honest investigators, and members of the Church , that they've misinterpreted an experience, or not understood Latter-day Saint pneumatology and/or epistemology correctly. Though, for those that might hypothetically exist, it may be possible that the Lord wishes for that person to perform the work of Salvation within their own sphere. As Orson Whitney stated:

Perhaps the Lord needs such men on the outside of His Church to help it along. They are among its auxiliaries, and can do more good for the cause where the Lord has placed them, than anywhere else. … Hence, some are drawn into the fold and receive a testimony of the truth; while others remain unconverted … the beauties and glories of the gospel being veiled temporarily from their view, for a wise purpose. The Lord will open their eyes in His own due time. God is using more than one people for the accomplishment of His great and marvelous work. The Latter-day Saints cannot do it all. It is too vast, too arduous for any one people. … We have no quarrel with the Gentiles. They are our partners in a certain sense.”[1]

Or as the Savior taught (Luke 9:49-50):

49 ¶ And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us.

50 And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.

This may be surprising to some Church members; but we learn from the scriptures that not everyone will be converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in this life. Going back to Moroni 10:3

Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.

We often overlook this crucial verse from the Book of Mormon when considering this question.

In sum, we need to follow Moroni's promise exactly if we really want it's promised blessings, we have other epistemic doors to walk through, and not everyone is meant to receive a witness of the Book of Mormon's truthfulness in this life.


Notes

  1. Elder Orson F. Whitney, Conference Report (April 1928): 59. This was cited in Elder Ezra Taft Benson, "Civic Standards for Faithful Saints," General Conference (April 1972). He offered Thomas L. Kane and Alexander Doniphan as examples of people who would pray about the Book of Mormon but not be converted in this life.)