Hinckley Challenge

The Hinckley Challenge



     A couple of years ago the late LDS President Hinckley gave a challenge to the members of the Mormon Church.  In July of 2005 he encouraged everyone to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year.  Every Mormon and ex-Mormon that I have spoken with, who was an active member at the time; I have asked if they took heed of Hinckley’s challenge and what, if anything, they learned.

     Sadly enough every response I’ve received to date has been eerily similar.  Most kept their “scriptures” on their nightstands but no one could remember anything of significance about their experience other than the pressure of not obeying the words of the prophet.  Most have told me that they found that reading it through in that fashion brought confusion and sleepiness.  Only a few were able to retain and understand the information they had read the day before.

     Now in light of all this, today I received an e-mail from one of LAM’s co-laborers,  Melissa Grimes, with a link to a Mormon website; The Hinckley Challenge.  http://www.hinckleychallenge.com


     In part here is what their front page says;


“I take in my hand the Book of Mormon. I read its words. I have read Joseph Smith’s explanation of how it came to be. To the unbelieving it is a story difficult to accept, and critics for generations have worn out their lives writing books intended to refute that story and to offer other explanations than the one given by Joseph the Prophet…Praise to the Man,” Ensign, Aug. 1983, 4”


     Putting aside the fluff talk about Smith, I am most saddened by Hinckley’s analysis of the Christian world.  “And critics for generations have worn out their lives…”  I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I can assure everyone that in the thirteen years I’ve been in ministry for the Mormon people, I haven’t “worn out my life”.  As for the others that I’ve worked with in this field, I personally have never met anyone that has felt their lives were worn out “just to refute the Book of Mormon”. 

     You see what Hinckley didn’t grasp is that those of us who aren’t LDS rely upon the Lord to refresh us every day as our “other explanation”.  The Lord God of Israel is our hope, not a book and certainly not a created man.  Ps. 61:1-4 says;


“Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.  2 From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  3 For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.  4 I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.”


     The other thing that saddens me about Hinckley’s challenge is where the focus is for the Mormon people.  As I mentioned earlier not a single Mormon or ex-Mormon I’ve spoken with was able to gain any spiritual ground or comfort by participating in this challenge.  The Bible on the other hand provides us with comforting promises cover to cover. 

     As we’ve heard before, the Mormon Church claims the Book of Mormon is the keystone of their religion.  Those are very powerful words and with it should hold a promise for the believer.  (More on this in the next newsletter!) The LDS Prophet Ezra Taft Benson said this in the monthly publication of Ensign:


Ezra Taft Benson, “The Keystone of Our Religion,” Ensign, Jan 1992, 2;

“A second powerful testimony to the importance of the Book of Mormon is to note where the Lord placed its comings forth in the timetable of the unfolding Restoration. The only thing that preceded it was the First Vision…There are three ways in which the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion. It is the keystone in our witness of Christ. It is the keystone of our doctrine. It is the keystone of testimony.”


     We see that when God introduces Himself in scripture He doesn’t have to explain Himself.  God is God; He just is.  Genesis 1:1 begins by telling us that “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” and from that time forward it is evident that God, His power and purpose are the main themes throughout Scripture.  His intimate interaction with His creation of man portrays His love for us through providing all our needs.  He sealed His testimony when He sent His Son Jesus as our Redeemer.  Notice how Jesus comforted His disciples when they realized He would no longer be with them.  In John 14:16-19 says;


“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.  18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.  19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.”


     Now compare our beloved word of God with what Benson said.  The only thing that preceded the coming forth of the Book of Mormon was Smith’s vision?  For some 1,400 years God didn’t communicate with His creation according to the Mormons.  What kind of god would do this?  Additionally, the only way the world would ever hear this god speak again was through an experience of a fourteen year old boy in a grove of trees.  If we believe Benson’s story, we are left with only one plausible question.


Why would Jesus lie to us?


     Of course if we believe the Bible, the question above is unconscionable.  If you’re LDS, the question becomes something to think about in depth.  There are three plausible scenarios.


1 – Joseph Smith lied.

2 – The experts who translated the Bible lied.

3 – Both God and Jesus lied.


     Interestingly enough the Lord has placed me in a position to see many evidences that He has not forsaken His people.  Each day I have the pleasure of meeting someone new that is a Christian.  We receive e-mails from all over the country and the world from Christians and each time we do I am reminded of Jesus’ words in the scripture I used above.

     Comparatively speaking I was reminded of a few false prophecies about the Book of Mormon this week.  The first example comes from the prophet Lehi in 1 Nephi 5:19; 


“Wherefore, he said that these plates of brass should never perish; neither should they be dimmed any more by time. And he prophesied many things concerning his seed.”


     The second false prophecy comes from Elder Russell Nelson;


Russell M. Nelson, “A Testimony of the Book of Mormon,” Ensign, Nov 1999, 69;
“The Book of Mormon is the most important religious text to be revealed from God to man “since the writings of the New Testament were compiled nearly two millennia ago.” Joseph Smith declared the Book of Mormon to be “the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion.” It is the only book that the Lord Himself has testified to be true.”


    The third false prophecy comes from Smith himself when he claimed there were no Greek or Latin words in the Book of Mormon.  He said;


“There was no Greek of Latin upon the plates from which I, through the grace of God, translated the Book of Mormon.” – Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg. 299


     If being buried for 2,400 years isn’t being dimmed I don’t know what is.  (Remember, this prophecy was made in 600 BC and Smith’s vision took place in the early 1800’s.)    

     Secondly, where exactly in the Bible does the Lord say that the Book of Mormon is the only book that is true?  The third false prophecy will be examined in next month’s newsletter.  We’re working on an exciting project for LAM regarding how correct Smith’s work was.  So far the total number of Greek words we’ve found in the Book of Mormon is up to 1,034.

     Now back to the Hinckley challenge.  Why would you choose to put your spiritual well-being into the hands of people who lie?  The challenge is to read the Book of Mormon in 97 days and the end date is fast approaching – May 10, 2008.

     Another major factor to consider is archaeology.  While not all of the towns and villages mentioned in the Bible have been found, it is safe to say that when you look at evidences, historical records and testimonies of those living at that time we can see that these things really did take place.  As Christians we don’t look to these things to prove our faith, but we can look at the findings for verification of places.  The Holman Bible Dictionary says this about archaeology and Bible study;


“The purpose of archaeology is not to “prove the Bible.” This lies outside the scope of archaeology and, in any case, the Bible does not need to be “proved.” Archaeology can, however, make considerable contribution to one’s understanding of the Bible. It can help clarify and illuminate the Bible in many important ways.”


     The LDSChurch has yet to find even one shred of evidence to verify the people or the cities in the Book of Mormon existed.  The only testimonies that we find about the Book of Mormon are the testimonies of modern-day men, nothing from the time when those things supposedly took place.

     We ask the Mormon people that before you finish reading the Book of Mormon in 97 days; what will you learn from this and how will this affect your spiritual eternity?

      We’re praying for you, the Mormon people.  Please know that we don’t do this out of animosity or with a contentious spirit.  Our hearts our broken for you and are convinced that you deserve to hear and know the truth!


With Love in Christ;


1 Cor. 1:18  V

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