Several years ago at a news conference, the Prime Minister looked at me and called me a smart aleck journalist. I was pleasantly surprised by the label and thought it well worth the effort I’d taken in challenging him in a newspaper column in the country’s largest daily over some “fuzzy truths” he’d been spreading on the election campaign trail, truths he later grudgingly set right.
Not many years later I took this “smart aleck” approach and decided I would set out to disprove the Book of Mormon. After all, I surmised, a cynical writer like me should be able to see right through it. If I was going to have to face my deceased Mom again I could at least say: “I read your book and while I admit that it did some good for our family of seven kids, it just wasn’t for me.”
That’s not quite the premise our Apostles would encourage as a reason for reading the sacred book of scriptures, but it was mine. So, off I went to read the Book of Mormon chapter by chapter and verse by verse, always looking for holes and elements that just didn’t ring true. It was a lonely struggle usually done late at night after my wife and children had gone to bed. I was a lapsed Mormon, if there’s such a term for being “inactive but worried” about one’s spiritual future.
As I struggled through the pages, I found my appetite for reading grew and my enjoyment factor rose with every session. And suddenly I found myself down on my knees with the Book of Mormon in my hands and tears in my eyes. I had finished the last page and I had failed. My attempt to disprove this book was in shambles. Instead, the book had left me with a clear conviction of its truthfulness and a strong impression of its power. It had converted me!
No wonder Moroni offered his great challenge in Moroni 10:4. There, he exhorted us all to ask God ourselves “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.”
My reason for reading of the Book of Mormon may not have been as my Mom or Moroni would have desired, but there was no denying the result. I knew it was true scripture, I could not deny the witness I was given.
Since that fateful night of tears back in 1973, I have converted my wife; raised four missionary sons, all who married in temples of the Lord; and am enjoying 14 grandchildren who are being raised in the gospel of Jesus Christ. All of this makes me wonder whether the Book of Mormon should carry a bold warning label: “Warning: This book can change lives for the good.” It certainly changed my life and will impact my family for generations and eternities to come.