I love Tad Callister's testimony of the Book of Mormon. It is riveting, inspiring and convincing! I'm grateful for the church that allows and enables him to preach this message.
Unfortunately, he misleads and deceives his audience -- in the very first sentence of his talk, after giving us the title -- by arguing a logical fallacy, namely:
"Because the Book of Mormon is 'the keystone of our religion,' as described by Joseph Smith, the Church rises or falls on the truth of it."
This is only partly true.
If that book is false, the LDS Church CAN'T be true! It would be based on a lie.
But while the LDS Church can fall, it can never stand on the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.
Because many OTHER churches, organizations and people, including non-members of the LDS Church -- like me! -- ALSO regard the Book of Mormon to be their faith's foundational text.
By Callister's logic, are they/we ALSO just as "true" as the LDS Church because the Book of Mormon is true?
No, Callister is using the Book of Mormon as a "prop" standing in for the LDS Church's claim to divine and exclusive priesthood authority -- which it cannot otherwise substantiate and does not have, since it does not manifest the gifts, nor can it identify when, where, or how that authority was effectively received, retained, or transmitted.
For example, Brigham Young was never ordained a high priest. How, then, could he be the "president of the high priesthood"? (He merely got himself elected!) How did Peter, James and John confer priesthood authority on the Saints? (Where is the contemporary record and account of that event?) Joseph ordained his brother, Hyrum (not Brigham), to be his successor, but Hyrum died before Joseph.
Besides, the LDS Church's doctrines, practices and organization HARDLY resemble ANYTHING described in the Book of Mormon -- except as one of the APOSTATE churches teaching FALSE doctrines the book predicts will exist when the book comes forth (see 2 Ne. 28).
For example, regarding race:
The Book of Mormon (published in 1830) teaches that "[the Lord] inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God" (see 2 Ne. 26:33).
Consequently, Joseph Smith ordained blacks to the priesthood and authorized them to receive and administer gospel ordinances.
But after Joseph's death, Brigham Young (Joseph's successor/usurper) stopped that, reversing what Joseph had done. Under Brigham's leadership, the Church denied priesthood ordination and other "essential" saving ordinances to blacks for over100 years, concocting various theories and "reasons" for doing so.
In its published essay "Race and the Priesthood," the modern LDS Church has stated the following:
"Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects unrighteous actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form."
Thus the modern LDS Church has thrown under the bus its own "racist" doctrines, practices, and teachings...and the racist "prophets" who peddled such falsehoods prior to 1978.
Joseph Smith, the translator of the Book of Mormon, and his appointed successor, Hyrum Smith, invariably preached AGAINST polygamy, excommunicating (or otherwise disciplining) anyone they found engaging in the practice.
Both were murdered, however, in 1844...in a room shared with two acknowledged secret supporters and practitioners of polygamy. (One of these "survivors," John Taylor, later became the president of the LDS Church, but remained in hiding from the law throughout his tenure. The other, Dr. Willard Richards, is on record having "doctored" journals and other "official" records of the church, including Joseph Smith's own history, to make these records better conform to and support Brigham Young's teachings.)
8 years after the murders, confessed secret polygamist and would-be next LDS "prophet" Brigham Young introduced polygamy to the general body of the saints who "followed" him to Utah. There he claimed Joseph had received a "secret" revelation not just authorizing but commanding polygamy and that Joseph himself had been a closet polygamist!
Joseph's first and only publicly acknowledged wife, Emma, however, together with Joseph's entire family, vehemently denied this claim. Furthermore, they refused to "follow" Brigham to Utah.
Brigham's claim is further challenged by his own admission that he practiced polygamy BEFORE Joseph received his alleged revelation! (Brigham justified doing so by saying he received his own "revelation," independent of Joseph's, authorizing the practice, while he was in England.)
The "official" revelation Brigham attributed to Joseph (D&C 132) was written in a manner and style unknown to Joseph, but typical of Brigham! It states that the Lord "justified...Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as also Moses, David and Solomon...as touching the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and concubines" (see D&C 132:1).
But this contradicts the Bible. Isaac was a monogamist.
It also directly contradicts the Book of Mormon -- which Brigham rarely quoted in his sermons and, almost certainly, seldom read -- denouncing David and Solomon's practice of polygamy:
"24 Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.
25 Wherefore, thus saith the Lord, I have led this people forth out of the land of Jerusalem, by the power of mine arm, that I might raise up unto me a righteous branch from the fruit of the loins of Joseph.
26 Wherefore, I the Lord God will not suffer that this people shall do like unto them of old.
27 Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none;
28 For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts." (Jacob 2.)
It's highly unlikely Joseph would receive a revelation from God authorizing polygamy, contradicting the very book he called the "keystone of our religion."
Brigham and his followers went on to claim that polygamy was not only authorized, but preferred(!) by heaven, and that the practice was ETERNALLY "essential" for salvation. (As "proof" that Brigham was lying, the modern LDS Church no longer preaches or practices polygamy, but condemns and excommunicates all who do.)
Curiously, the LDS Church STILL contends that polygamy is a divinely-ordained "principle" and that God will "destroy" any woman who rejects it when it is taught and offered to her by a man having priesthood authority (like Brigham Young). No intimidation there! (See D&C 132:37, 64.)
About paid ministers:
The Book of Mormon teaches that ministers of the gospel, as a rule, should not be paid for their services. (See Mosiah 18:24-28; Alma 1:3, 5, 12, 26-27; 30:32-35.)
But by monopolizing the economic activity of the saints, Brigham Young, as president and "prophet" of the LDS Church, amassed a personal fortune, becoming Utah's first governor and millionaire, and the richest man west of the Mississippi.
Today's current LDS "prophet," Russell M. Nelson, -- as "corporate sole" owner of the LDS Church -- sits atop a vast empire valued at over $200 BILLION! Top leaders of the Church receive a "modest stipend" (salary) of six figures and have access to private cars, planes, resorts, and "unlimited" expense accounts (to be "tapped" at their discretion).
Over $100 billion of that wealth is comprised of real estate, including meeting houses (costing millions of dollars each), ornate temples (costing tens of millions of dollars each) and luxury condo complexes and shopping malls (costing BILLIONS of dollars each).
By contrast, the Book of Mormon condemns building "fine sanctuaries" at the expense of the poor (see 2 Ne. 28:13). A recent lawsuit revealed that the LDS Church gives less than 1% of its tithing receipts to the poor and 0% of its business proceeds go to charity.
Nephi's temple was humble in comparison to Solomon's. Nephi wrote that he would have used more "precious" materials to build it, had they been available. (Old customs and expectations die hard! See 2 Ne. 5:16.)
Wicked Nephite king Noah not only "restored" Solomon's "condemned" practice of polygamy (having many wives and concubines himself), but also built "many elegant and spacious buildings," including a temple, at the people's expense. (See Mosiah 11:1-10.)
Brigham Young used LDS Church funds (including the profits from many LDS Church businesses he controlled) to build a mansion for himself and his many wives. (No similarity there!)
The Book of Mormon teaches NOTHING in support of temple endowments, blood atonement for one's own sins, revenge oaths, taking multiple wives, secret societies or other works of darkness, Masonic rituals, "following a prophet," exercising priesthood "keys," denying ordinances or priesthood to anyone because of race or the sexual orientation or activity of one's parents, Etc.
The Book of Mormon simply contains the fullness of the gospel: that Jesus is the Christ, the Living God, the Eternal Father of heaven and earth, who made Himself flesh, taking upon Himself our infirmities, and atoning for our sins upon condition of our repentance, by obedience to Him, exercising faith in His ability to save, cleanse, and ultimately perfect us, receiving His Holy Spirit.
The LDS Church today disavows the teachings of its former "prophets" Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Etc. Its leaders have changed, done away with, or reversed the Church's doctrines, practices, ordinances, teachings, covenants and histories MANY times, even in my lifetime! (How doesn't that make them "false prophets"? I don't know.)
Precisely BECAUSE the Book of Mormon is true, the LDS Church CAN'T be true. It MUST be false.
That's a sad irony.