The Challenge of the Book of Mormon John M. Pontius(Condensed from a talk by Elder hugh b. brown)

Write a history of an ancient Tibet covering a period of 2200 B.C. to 400 A.D. Why ancient Tibet? Because you know no more about Tibet than Joseph Smith (or anyone else) knew about ancient America.

You must be 23 years of age.

You must have no more than three years of formal education and must have spent your life in a backwoods farming community

Your book must be 522 pages, and over 300,000 words in length.

Your history must be written on the basis of what you know. There was no library, and no published works on Ancient America for Joseph Smith to reference, so you must use none. There is to be no research of any kind.

Other than a few grammatical errors and corrections, you must make no changes in the text. The first edition you dictate to your secretary must stand forever.

As you dictate to your secretary you may not make corrections to your text. You may not ask to have the last sentence or paragraph reread. When you stop for a break, even for days, you may not reread your manuscript to pick up where you left off.

This book is to contain the history of two distinct and separate nations, along with histories of different contemporary nations or groups of people.

You must describe their religious, economic, political, and social cultures and institutions. You must cover every phase of their society, including the names of their coins, weights and measures.

You must change your style of writing many times to make the book appear to have been written by many authors since you will claim many ancient authors contributed to the book, each with his own style.

You will weave into your history the religion of Jesus Christ, and the pattern of Christian living, and the Mosaic law.

You must claim that your narrative is not fiction at all, but a true and sacred history.

You must include in your book 54 chapters dealing with wars, 21 historical chapters, 55 chapters on prophecy and visions, and remember when you begin to write on visions and prophecies you must have your record agree meticulously with the bible without being able to reference it. You must write 71 chapters on doctrine and exhortation, and here again, you must check every statement against a flawless memory of the Bible (since you can have no resource documents,) or you will be proven a fraud. You must write 21 chapters on the ministry of Christ, and everything that you claim He said and did and every testimony you write in your book must agree absolutely with the New Testament even though you may not reference it.

Many of the facts, claims and ideas and statements given as truth in your writings must be entirely inconsistent with the prevailing beliefs of the world. Some of your claims must prove to be the direct opposite of the prevailing worldly beliefs of the time.

Included in your narration will be authentic modes of travel; whether or not those ancient people used fire; descriptions of their clothing, crops, animals, roads, war strategies, mourning customs, and types of government. You must invent about 280 new names that will stand up under scrutiny through the years as to their historical roots and derivations.

You will have to use properly, figures of speech, similes, metaphors, narrations, expositions, descriptions, oratory, epic, lyric, logic, and parables.

You must invite the ablest scholars and experts to scrutinize your text with care, and you must strive diligently to see that your book gets into the hands of those eager to prove it a forgery, and those who are most competent to expose every flaw in it.

Through investigation, scientific and historical evidence, and archeological discovery for the next 175 years, your critics must verify your claims and prove detail after detail to be true; for many of the details you put into your book are still buried beneath the soil of Tibet and won’t be discovered until after your death.

You must publish it to every nation, kindred, tongue and people, declaring it o be the word of God, and another witness for the Lord Jesus Christ.

The book must not contain any absurd, impossible or contradictory statements. Your history must not contain any statement that will contradict any other statement elsewhere in the volume.

Many theories and ideas as to your book’s origin must arise, and after examine all the facts, they must all fall. You have claimed that your knowledge has come from a divine origin, and this claim continues to stand as the only possible origin and explanation. The strength of this explanation must not decrease as time passes, but actually increase to the point to where it becomes the only logical explanation.

Your record is to fulfill many Bible prophecies, even the exact manner in which it shall come forth, to whom delivered, its purpose and its accomplishments.

You must call down from heaven an angel in the middle of the day and have him bear witness to four honest, dignified citizens of your community and the world. They must remain steadfast in their testimony, not for profit, or gain, but under the great sacrifice and severe persecution, even to their death beds. You shall put their testimony to the test by becoming enemies to these men, and yet have them never recant their words.

Thousands of great men, intellectual giants, national and international personalities, and scholars for the next 175 years must accept your history and its teachings even to the point of laying down their lives rather than deny their testimony of it.

You must include in your record this promise, “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 it unto you by the power of the Holy Ghost.”

Millions must bear record to the world for the next 175 years that they know the record to be true because they put your promise to the test and found it to be true. The truth of it was manifested unto them by the power of the Holy Ghost.

Over 80,000 competent salesmen must be convinced of the truth of your book that they gladly give up two or more years of their lives to take it to all parts of the world for distribution. They not only pay their own way during these two years, but return bearing their testimonies that their time spent will remain as one of the highlights of their lives. They receive nothing for their journey and efforts but the joy of having shared your book with others.

Your book is not only to raise the standards of millions of people, but do it in such a way that those people may become one of the great moral, ethical and dynamic marvels of the day. They must become known and receive world renown for this.

To substantiate your claims you must for the next 20 years watch those that follow you, your family, and dearest of your loved ones be persecuted, driven time after time from their homes, beaten, tortured, starved, frozen and killed. Tens of thousands must undergo the most extreme hardships in your presence just because they believe your claims concerning the origin and content of what you have written to be true.

You must gain no wealth from your work but many times lose all that you have. Like those that believe you, you must submit yourself to the most vile persecutions. And after 20 years of this, give your own life in a very savage and brutal manner for your testimony concerning your book. All this you must do willingly and without remorse.

Start right now and produce this record, which covers 2700 years of history, doing it, not in the peaceful atmosphere of your community, but under the most trying of circumstances, which includes being driven from your home several times, and receiving constant threats upon your life. Please have your book completed; talk a friend into mortgaging his farm to raise the money to have it printed, and do it all in under 60 working days

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