Challenge Of The Book Of Mormon
by
John M. Pontius
(Expanded from a talk by Elder Hugh B. Brown)

Written in September 1999
1. 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.

2. You must be 23 years of age.

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

4. Your book must be over 500 pages and over 300,000 words in length.

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

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. You must change your style of writing, word choice and phraseology many times to make the book appear to have been written by several authors, since you will claim that many ancient authors contributed to the book, each with his own style and wordprint. After publication, computer analysis must determine that there are multiple authors of your book, and that none of your book resembles either your own writing, or writers from the period in which you live.

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

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

12. You must include in your book 54 chapters dealing with wars, 21 historical chapters, and 55
chapters on prophecy and visions. Everything you write regarding visions and prophecies must 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, along with every testimony you write in your book, must agree with the New Testament--even though you may not reference it. 
 
13. 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, but eventually be proven true with the passage of time.

14. 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.

15. You will have to properly use figures of speech, similes, metaphors, narrations, expositions, descriptions, oratory, epic, lyric, logic, and parables. Although uneducated, you will have to mimic ancient writing styles and format, including subtle chiastic and poetic structures.

16. 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.

17. 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.

18. You must publish it to every nation and people, declaring it to be the word of God and another witness for the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who read it must come closer to Christ as they do so.

19. 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.

20. Many theories and ideas as to your book’s origin must arise, but after an examination of all the facts, the theories all must fail. You have claimed that your knowledge has come from a divine origin, and this claim must continue to stand as the only possible origin and explanation. The strength of this explanation must not decrease as time passes, but actually must increase, to the point of being the only logical explanation.

21. Your record is to fulfill many Bible prophecies, even the exact manner in which your book shall come forth--to whom delivered, its purpose and its accomplishments.
 
22. 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. The witnesses must remain steadfast in their testimony, not for any profit or gain, but under 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.

23. 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.

24. You must include in your record this bold promise: “And when ye shall receive these things I would exhort you, that ye would as 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.”

25. Millions must bear record to the world for the next 175 years that they know your record to be true because they put your promise to the test and found it to be so, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

26. Over 80,000 salesmen must be so 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 will not only pay their own way during these two years, but return bearing testimony that their time spent is one of the highlights of their lives. They must receive nothing for their journey and efforts but the joy of having shared your book with others.

27. Your book is not only to raise the standards of millions of people, but is to be written in such a way that many of those people become the great moral, ethical and dynamic marvels of their day. 

28. To substantiate your claims, you must for the next 20 years watch those friends who follow you, your family, and your dearest loved ones to 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.

29. You must gain no wealth from your work, but often lose all that you have. Like those who believe your false claims, you must submit yourself to the most vile persecution. After 20 years of this, you must give your own life in a brutal manner for your testimony concerning your book. All this you must do willingly and without remorse, maintaining to the death your false claims.

30. 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. After your book is completed, talk a friend into mortgaging his farm to raise the money to have it printed.

31. Do this all in under 90 working days.

John M. Pontius
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