Book of Mormon “Inspired Fiction”?

Why I Cannot Accept the “Inspired Fiction” Theory of The Book of Mormon

By Ken K. Gourdin

Some, who, apparently, are of a decidedly empirical bent, cannot accept the proffered account of the coming forth of The Book of Mormon.  That account’s supernatural elements are, to them, a bridge too far.  Purportedly, an angel appeared to Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1823, and told him of an ancient record written on metal plates and deposited in a nearby hill.

Joseph later retrieved those plates and, purportedly by the gift and power of God, translated the engravings found thereon and published the resulting text to the world as The Book of Mormon in 1830.  However, some in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have attempted to “save” The Book of Mormon from its supernatural milieu for those who cannot accept the supernatural elements of its coming forth by contending that, although Smith fashioned the thing from whole cloth by dint of his fertile imagination (thus making it “fictional”), nonetheless, it is “inspired.”.

I, by contrast, contend that such attempts to “save” The Book of Mormon render its coming forth even more preposterous than that offered by the official account.  In response to proponents of the “inspired fiction” theory at Mormon Dialogue and Discussion, I write:

At the risk of oversimplifying [another poster’s] excellent analysis of the inspired fiction theory, that theory requires much more of a suspension of disbelief than does the actual account of how the Book of Mormon came to be and how the Gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to the Earth.  It’s as though God said, “Let’s see: What will I need to ‘restore’ my Gospel?  I’ll need a hologram named Moroni, and some ersatz metal plates, and ersatz metal swords, and an ersatz Liahona …”  And pretty soon, there are enough cards in the inspired fiction house that removing just one of them puts the whole house in danger of complete collapse.  As far-fetched as the actual restoration account might be to those who cannot accept it because they are of too empirical a bent, the efforts of inspired fiction proponents to “save” the restoration account are, to me, even more far-fetched.

Interaction with actual beings purporting to be from the world the Book of Mormon describes, as well as interaction with actual physical objects purportedly created by those actual beings, are what throws the gauntlet down with respect to the Book of Mormon.  Well-meaning inspired-fiction proponents attempt to deal with the throwing down of that gauntlet by pretending that the gauntlet simply doesn’t exist, and that simply doesn’t work for me.  To each, his or her own.

For another analysis of the “inspired fiction” theory, see here, this and all other links last accessed August 17, 2016:  For a modern-day Apostle’s witness that The Book of Mormon is exactly what it claims to be, see here:



About kenngo1969

Just as others must breathe to live, I must write. I have been writing creatively almost ever since I learned to write, period! I have written fiction, book- and article-length nonfiction, award-winning poetry, news, sports, features, and op-eds. I hope, one day, to write some motivational nonfiction, a decent-selling novel, a stage play, and a screen play.
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