I wanted to share with you something that I posted to another blog that I’ve been keeping. The purpose of this blog is to share stories from the Book of Mormon, which is a precious book that has changed my life. This post focuses on the very first verses of the Book of Mormon, which have long been some of my favorites. Nephi, one of the prophets who contributes to the Book of Mormon takes this opportunity to explain why he is writing this record. I find that these verses also explain why I share my beliefs with others, including on blogs.
The first few verses of the Book of Mormon are an introduction by a prophet named Nephi. This passage is short enough that I think I can just go line by line and explain what I love about this introduction.
“I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father;”
Nephi gives a lot of credit to his parents. We’ll see later how important Nephi’s relationship with his father is to him – Nephi had a great example in his dad and I think he feels that he owes a lot to him.
I owe a lot to my parents, too, not least my membership in the LDS Church. That’s not to say that I’ve blindly followed in my parents’ footsteps. They taught me the gospel of Jesus Christ through the Bible and the Book of Mormon, they taught me how to live my life, and they taught me what life is all about. As I’ve grown older, I’ve made those beliefs my own, and I’m grateful that my parents showed me this wonderful example.
“and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days.”
I think that the motivations that Nephi lists here are really interesting. He suggests that not only have the good experiences in his life strengthened his belief in God, but the afflictions and rough parts of his life have also contributed to his belief in God. The second part of what he says implies that Nephi feels an obligation to share what he knows about God with others.
I can’t say that I have “a great knowledge” of God, but I can identify with Nephi in that the experiences I’ve had in life, good, bad, and neutral, have all reinforced my belief in God. Like Nephi, I feel like I have an obligation to share that knowledge with others. Simply put, my belief in God, Jesus Christ, and the LDS Church have strengthened me and made me happy. As a human being, I think that if something has made me a better person, I have the responsibility to share that with others.
“Yea, I make a record in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians.”
There are critics of Mormonism as well as Mormon apologetics who will focus on the languages mentioned in the Book of Mormon, but that’s not why I like this passage. To me, this is evidence that Nephi is just writing the best way he knows how. He knows how to read and write, which I imagine is fairly skilled for 600 BC, but he’s not necessarily a scholar or an academic. He’s a man with a powerful belief in God and he wants to share that belief in the way that he knows how to, in the language that his father taught him.
I’m definitely not a scholar, but a blog is one of the “languages” of my generation, and I’m using the means that I know to share the beliefs that are so important to me.
“And I know that the record which I make is true; and I make it with mine own hand; and I make it according to my knowledge.”
Here’s my favorite part of Nephi’s introduction. He assures us that he’s doing this all himself, based on the things that he personally knows, and because he knows that his testimony is true. This is a deeply personal thing for Nephi. It’s his life, it’s his beliefs, it’s an expression of his soul. When I read the Book of Mormon as a personal account of people who really lived, I gain so much more out of it than if I read it as just a religious text full of sermons and commandments. I think that if we remember how personal these stories are for Nephi, their lessons become much more obvious.
That being said, this is a personal effort for me to talk about my own experiences and my own beliefs. I’m doing it myself. I’m doing it because of and according to the personal experiences that I have had with God and the Book of Mormon. I’m doing it because I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.