Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses by Richard Lloyd Anderson is an absolute must read for anyone even remotely interested in the Book of Mormon. If you haven’t read it, shame on you! Get a copy and read it ASAP! I had read it sometime ago, and enjoyed it a great deal. I recently purchased a copy as a Christmas present for my parents. It makes a great gift because it is fairly short and easy to read. It is, however, a pearl of great price. To give you a taste, let me quote the opening lines here. Plus, they give some great items for discussion.
Joseph Smith’s criticisms of Christianity in the nineteenth century are remarkably like Christian self-criticisms of the twentieth. The youth was confused by multiplying churches and conflicting claims. Christian leaders in recent decades have also repeated their frustration at “the scandal of the divided church.” After long inquiry young Joseph found no answers among quarreling leaders, so he turned to God alone. In past decades world councils and international committees have also sought the “renewal of the spirit.” But the results are less than convincing. Creeds have softened, inter-faith negotiations continue, but competitive Christianity remains. Its tragedy is the confusion of human systems that inadequately direct the faith of innumerable men and women of great commitment. Early Christians were “of one heart and of one soul” (Acts 4:32), but Christianity now better resembles the early world confounded after Babylonian pride “that they may not understand one another’s speech.” (Gen. 11:7.) Religious leaders can quote past prophets, but who can divinely lead God’s people out of the bondage of confusion today?
This question is even more urgent than it was on the spring day of 1820 when Joseph Smith strode into the New York woods and returned shaken by a divine decree: “I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong.” This message may be ridiculed or ignored, but precedents are on Joseph Smith’s side, for few religious systems have escaped the gradual corruption of embracing the world that they originally were called to confront….Who has aspired to God’s presence today? The blunt condemnation of current religions reported by Joseph Smith is a profound mark of credibility when read by the light of past prophets. (pp.1-2)