The Book of Mormon is not regarded as scripture by the New Covenant Church of God though some parts of it are considered to be inspired. It is, therefore, used rather differently from those denominations which either accept it as a work en par with the Bible (Restorationists) or those (the rest of Christendom) who look upon it as a demonic counterfeit. Unlike the Bible, which has considerable direct archaeological evidence in its support, there is absolutely none for the Book of Mormon despite nearly two centuries of intensive investigation in the New World. New Covenant Christians therefore sometimes study this book not for supposed historical interest but for its ethical and theological content.
Amongst Christian commentators, opinion is strongly divided as to the religious importance of the Book of Mormon. It is regarded as being anything between a "devilish fraud" and "the most correct book on earth." On the one hand it is used to establish the legal authority of the denominations that use it and on the other as evidence of heresy. The New Covenant takes none of these positions.
New Covenant Christians always steer clear of such unhelpful debates. We take the view that as the first Christians obtained salvation without the Book of Mormon or any other modern revelation, so too can today's Christian, with the proviso that they are endowed by the same Holy Spirit and led by the same apostolic authority as the New Testament Church. This does not mean, however, that we shall ignore any other scriptures or writings that God may choose to reveal to the world, provided the Church's faith and practice is deeply rooted in the Biblical revelation and not disturbed by such scripture. One of the tasks of the Holy Order is to examine all purported scripture and determine whether or not it is in harmony with the Bible. If it is, even if only in part, it is studied.
The fact that the Book of Mormon is sometimes studied by the New Covenant means neither that it is 100% pure, nor that it is regarded as being historical, nor that it is theologically correct in all the matters it addresses. It is, however, regarded as being ethically pure, wholly Christ-centred, and of spiritual value to the soul seeking to draw nearer to Christ who does not know the Bible. New Covenant Christians do not, therefore, cry "wolf" or "devil" when the Book of Mormon is mentioned or discussed. We view it as a good sermon or parable en par with, for example, a sermon of Spurgeon or another good preacher. We would not, therefore, expect a Mormon coming out of Restorationism and to the New Covenant to renounce it wholesale. We believe in the truth wherever it may be found, even if it is sandwiched between layers of falsehood. Though it is not a work we use in Church in worship or the local colonies generally, it is occasionally studied in the Holy Order.
It is for these reasons -- and these reasons alone -- that it is occasionally studied. We respect the opinions of investigators as to the book's historicity and theological accuracy though we do expect them to have come to the same conclusions as the Church prior to baptism. It must be remembered that the mission of the New Covenant Church of God is not to evangelise the world with the Book of Mormon in part or in whole and it is for this reason that it is never used in public. Our mission is to witness of the living Christ, and Christ alone.
Let us also remember that the first Christians did not try to convert the world to the Bible (which then did not exist) but to the living Christ. It is an interesting question as to whether most of the Christian churches could today witness of Christ without the Bible for the first Christians relied first and foremost on the Spirit of God as their witness and the oral testimony of those who had come to know Christ personally.
This is not, of course, to say that written scriptures are unimportant. Quite the contrary. But we must never forget that it is the Spirit which gives life, not the written word. The latter can never be seen as more than a springboard into the Spirit.
The New Covenant Church of God has many books of scriptures, far more than any other Christian church, but is built upon the premiss that the Gospel of Jesus Christ can be known and experienced with none or all of them, for it stresses the primacy of the spiritual life. It is for this reason that the local colonies use only the Bible in its public ministry. We have ourselves experienced that it makes no difference in your witness whether you have one or ten books of scripture. Jesus used only the Old Testament and set the world on fire.
Many people find it difficult to understand how it is possible for the Holy Order to use parts of a book like the Book of Mormon with apparently liberal ideas as to its historicity and theological accuracy. It is not necessary to believe in the historicity of a book in order to gain spiritual wisdom from it (otherwise what use would parables be?) or to reject a writer simply because some of his teachings are erroneous. Our search for truth is constantly one of sifting like the prospecter panning for gold. If we are honest we will admit that our thinking as Bible-believing Christians is shaped by far more than the Bible. We are formed by our culture and the people we interact with to mention two. Many people, moreover, believe the Bible to be God's Word without ever really checking on its historicity (though perhaps they ought to) for their usage of that book is mainly for the spiritual truths it contains. It is, however, historical, and some of the most (essential) teachings depend in its being historical, such as the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is already established in the Bible.
Mormons would argue that a "second witness" (Book of Mormon) is a good thing for Christianity and which is why, for them, its historicity is important; yet it must be remembered that the Bible is not itself one single historical entity -- it is many books written by many authors. There are four Gospels, so why the need for a fifth (the Book of Mormon)? The central historical events are testified to in the Bible by many hundreds of witnesses, sometimes thousands. From a lawyer's point-of-view the historicity of the central Christian events is established, therefore why a need for a "second witness"? In the end it is the Spirit which convicts, not legal arguments, because that is the only way to come to Christ.
Many would then argue, on this basis, that we do not need the Book of Mormon at all. This is true. We don't need it. The first Christians didn't, so why should we? On the other hand, good preaching is always needed. Whether the Book of Mormon is historical or not does not mean to say that it does not contain much of spiritual worth. Some of Jesus's deepest teachings in the Bible were conveyed through parable. Few believe there was a literal rich man and a literal poor man called Lazarus yet the story conveyed beautiful Gospel truths. Many do not believe Job was an historical person (though we do). Whether or not there are literal Nephites or Lamanites does not detract from the Book of Mormon's spiritual value. In fact, the Book of Mormon is a mine of theological and ethical truth. Many have been brought to the living Christ through it. I myself was brought to Christ through a film which contained alot of the producer's interpretation of the Gospel. God uses many media. Even the Bible sometimes contains the authors' interpretation of events.
The Book of Mormon (also known by some as the Nephite Record) belongs to a 19th century Protestant mind-frame. Whereas, as we might expect, the New Testament deals chiefly with the doctrinal controversies of its time -- the gnostic heresies and the tendency on the part of many Jewish Christians to return to the ordinances of the Old Covenant -- the Book of Mormon is a microcosm of the theological questions that were hotly debated by Protestant denominations in the early nineteenth century when it was written. One prominent Protestant minister of the time, Alexander Campbell, correctly commented that the Book of Mormon "solved" all the theological questions of the time, such as those relating to infant baptism, the necessity or not of the spiritual gifts, the nature of the Godhead (a unique form of Trininitarianism called "Modalistic Monarchism" in which God is one Person -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit -- manifesting Himself in different ways), and so on, making it an ancient record most unlikely.
Indeed, the "Old Testament" part of the Book of Mormon is more "Christian" than the New Testament of the Bible. It is quite unlike the Bible Old Testament. Its writer(s) clearly had a well developed Christology quite beyond what was possible for an Old Testament people unless they had prophetic access to a copy of the 17th century King James New Testament!
One commentator, in closely studying the Book of Mormon, declared its doctrine to be essentially a form of "refined Presbyterianism." As the author of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, Jr., evolved his "Mormon Church" in new directions, so the presbyterianism of the foundational book of Mormonism gave way to the distinctly Mormon doctrines of the Doctrine & Covenants.
The official position of the New Covenant Church of God is that the Book of Mormon is semi-inspired fiction -- a living parable.
The Book of Mormon, even if it does contain some great truths, is sufficiently tainted as to be extremely dangerous if looked upon as holy scripture. It is of no interest to the New Covenant whose five commissions do not include taking the Book of Mormon -- in part of whole -- to the world or in making known a purported tribal record to American Indians who have supposedly forgotten who they are. Its message is to bring the living Christ to souls, irrespective of their tribal origin. The Bible is for all tribes.
The Book of Mormon is, therefore, treated as a parable of God's dealing with men. That it contains ethical, moral and theological truth of great value is affirmed; that it is one of the most Christ-centred books in existence is not denied. It's simple style is often an attraction to people who are put off by the complexities of Biblical theology and this poses a danger to those thinking they can obtain a short-cut revelation of the Bible through it.
The Bible is the central historical, moral, ethical and theological work of the New Covenant in all its degrees. It contains the fullness of the Gospel, saving millions of souls before the Book of Mormon ever made its appearance. It continues to save millions today.
For the Mormon investigator, "letting go" of the Book of Mormon as it presents itself and as presented by LDS leaders, can be difficult, for they fear that in doing so they are somehow "denying the truth". As New Covenant Christians we do not want anyone to deny truth; however, an honest study of the Book of Mormon will reveal that it is not all it purports to be. May you, the investigator, honestly look into Book of Mormon orgins, discarding that which is false and holding firm to that which is true. Amen.
1. Book of Mormon Problems: Why it can't be an Historical Document
2. Official Statement on the Book of Mormon and Mormonism
3. Official Statement II: The Latter-Day Saint Scriptures