Building Faith with the Book of Mormon

Review of Glenn L. Pearson and Reid E. Bankhead, Building Faith with the Book of Mormon. Provo, Utah: Joseph Educational Foundation, 1994. xi + 163 pp. $2.60, paperback.

Reviewed by Richard I. Winwood

The cover of this book has a small note that reads: “Extensively enlarged and revised edition of the book Teaching with the Book of Mormon.” It adds, “A penetrating guide to the recommended daily study of the Book of Mormon.” Having never read Teaching with the Book of Mormon, I’m not sure how extensively enlarged or penetrating this volume is, but I liked this book and I learned from it. I even feel that it could be used in daily study of the Book of Mormon; however, rather than a study guide, I see it more as a book of catalogued and cross-referenced gospel topics to be used periodically as a study aid—particularly as a pointer to specific study questions.

The contents section contains an index to no less than 87 study topics from Book of Mormon teachings (such as “We Can Avoid Many Errors by Taking Counsel,” “The Foreknowledge of God Is Infinite,” “Works Are Necessary Even When We Are Saved by Grace”). These indexed pages take the reader to an expanded statement of the topic with supporting scriptural references and study questions. Also included in each study topic is a “Take-off Passage,” which can be used for a variety of reasons, including a starting place for a scripture-marking system—a system the authors describe in some detail.

As a nonacademic student of the Book of Mormon, I was impressed by the variety of approaches suggested for Book of Mormon study and the perspectives provided on Book of Mormon messages. The section entitled “Studying the Book of Mormon” is an especially well-ordered and concise overview of study principles that would be well used by any beginning student of the Book of Mormon. On the critical side, I found the acronyms (a system designed to help the reader identify and tag subject matter in the book) to be awkward, and, for me, unusable. Likewise, the scripture-marking system suggested by the authors, while certainly of some merit to a beginning student, was unworkable for me—I wouldn’t trade my current system of scripture marking for this one. Perhaps that statement reveals my own stubbornness to change. However, I think it safe to say that most people who have labored in their scriptures, marking and notating, would not be up to starting over—even for what may be described as a “superior” system.

In the introduction, Pearson and Bankhead identify their main purpose in writing this book as “to help the reader begin to fill up his “bag’ with treasures of knowledge out of the Book of Mormon.” As one who has gleaned many such treasures, I commend the authors for their objective and for their work. To the student of the Book of Mormon, I recommend the inclusion of this book in a personal scripture study library.