“Why is the Book of Mormon the ‘most correct book’?” Ensign, Sept. 1976, 87
Monte S. Nyman, associate professor of ancient scripture, Brigham Young University It was the Prophet Joseph Smith who said that the Book of Mormon was the “most correct book of any book on earth.” (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 4:461.) Unfortunately, people sometimes believe that the word correct is synonymous with perfect, and they expect the Book of Mormon to be perfect in grammar, spelling, punctuation, clarity of phrasing, and in every other mechanical way. When they discover that there have been numerous changes made in the text since the first edition, they become disillusioned. The changes that have been made are understandable when one considers that the original manuscript was written by dictation and then sent to the publishers without any punctuation. The Prophet himself oversaw two revisions to correct these and other mechanical errors and to clarify certain phrases. (See the article by Stan Larson in this issue.)
So when he said the Book of Mormon was the “most correct book,” he was referring to something far more important than the superficial mechanics, a fact that is underscored by the remainder of his statement. The Book of Mormon, he said, is “the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” (HC, 4:461.) Taken in its entirety, the Prophet’s statement refers to the correctness of the book in its religious setting. It is correct in that it contains the fulness of the gospel.
What is the fulness of the gospel? Some might argue that because the Book of Mormon does not contain every doctrine of the restored gospel (i.e., eternal marriage, the three degrees of glory) it therefore cannot contain the fulness of the gospel.
But the angel Moroni told Joseph Smith that “there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, … that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants.” (See JS—H 1:34.) Furthermore, in the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord says several times that the Book of Mormon does contain the fulness of the gospel. (See D&C 20:9, D&C 27:5, D&C 35:17, D&C 42:12.)
What does the Lord mean by the fulness of the gospel? As defined in 3 Nephi 27:13–22, [3 Ne. 27:13–22] it is that Jesus Christ came to the earth to do the will of the Father in providing the atonement in order that man repent and come unto Him. Therefore, those who meet the conditions set forth by the Savior will be held guiltless before the Father at the judgment day. These conditions are (1) to exercise faith in his atoning sacrifice; (2) to repent of all their sins; (3) to be baptized in his name, which implies the authority and proper method which he has outlined for them; and (4) to be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, which involves being purified and overcoming all evil. Thus, the fulness of the gospel is the plan or the principles and ordinances necessary for man to regain the presence of the Father.
These same principles are taught in the Bible, but not as clearly as they are in the Book of Mormon. President Harold B. Lee said, “There is nothing better that we can do to prepare ourselves spiritually than to read the Book of Mormon. Many doctrines of the Bible that are only partially covered there are beautifully explained in the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.” (Improvement Era, January 1969, pp. 13–14.)
The Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price provide additional understanding of the doctrines that are necessary for man to be exalted within the celestial kingdom. But the basic precepts, the fulness of the gospel, are in the Book of Mormon. We must come to an understanding of these precepts before we can walk the path to exaltation.
Through identification and application of Book of Mormon precepts, I have witnessed great changes in the lives of people. If we will but study the Book of Mormon we will see that it is the most correct book, and it will bring us nearer to God if we will observe and live its precepts.