“Whatsoever Thing is Good is Just and True”

Alan C. Miner

John Welch notes the following:

Over and over again, the Book of Mormon has impressed me not only with its antiquity and artistry, but also with its wisdom. It is a profound source of knowledge and perspective. This scripture teaches the gospel in doctrinal passages that are crystal clear and uncannily pertinent both to the minutiae of personal life and to the megatrends of world affairs. The Book of Mormon has taught me in quiet moments such things as the essential requirements of God's plan of salvation, the errors of many tendencies in modern society, and the spiritual ills of contention and disputation. I find it quite remarkable that of the myriad arguments written against the Book of Mormon, hardly any have been directed against its ethical positions or religious teachings.

Many insights have come when I was least expecting them . . . [for example, one day] I was preparing to deliver a lecture on Alma 32. It suddenly dawned on me that this text says we actually learn by planting within ourselves the seed of faith in Christ (Alma 33:22-23). Alma never says that we learn that the seed is true; rather, we learn that the seed is good. Obviously, it is one thing to know what is true--even Hitler knew a great deal of truth. It is quite another thing to know what is good. As I have become more sensitive to this reality, I have become more aware that truth is worthless if it is not conjoined with a value system. Truth, like any other tool, is morally neutral: a hammer can be used wither to build up or to tear down. For me, the Book of Mormon thoroughly unites the domains of truth and goodness-even explicitly, in Moroni 10:6: "Whatsoever thing is good is just and true." . . .

The Book of Mormon is indeed rich. The book makes clear and abundant sense, despite its complexity: records existing inside of other records, later passages quoting and interpreting earlier passages, loose ends all tied together, presupposed backgrounds that make perfect sense, and character traits of individuals that are true to life and consistent from one episode to another. How could any author keep all the historical, geographical, chronological, personal, textual, literary, doctrinal, legal, political, and military details, strands, plots, and subplots concurrently in mind in order to dictate the Book of Mormon one time through without notes or a rough draft? Try as many have to explain by whom and how this book was written, Joseph smith's explanation is still the most cogent. [John W. Welch, "Good and True," in Susan E. Black ed. Expressions of Faith: Testimonies of Latter-Day Scholars, pp. 237-238]

Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon: A Cultural Commentary