by Roy A. Cheville
Scriptures from Ancient America endeavors to see what place there is for the Book of Mormon in the world's library of scriptures.

The basic guide in this treatise is, "Let the book speak for itself!" The Bible is accorded this right. There is no way to prove the Bible by external evidence, by dissection, by assembling proof texts. We have to live it out. We check on textual structure and history. We search for historical settings. All this can validate and explain; it does not prove. In like manner the Book of Mormon is going to speak for itself.

I believe there are passages of inspirational beauty in the Book of Mormon. A few of these are presented here as selections with literary and spiritual quality. I believe the book witnesses of the eternal God and the ever living Christ and that this is its central message, its unifying motif. I believe there are theological materials to assist us and guide us. These are to be seen in their Jewish historical setting. Their essential concepts have to be put into thinking that is meaningful to our day. I believe we do well to be humble in our statements about the history of ancient America and about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. There is so much we do not know. A true scholar is humble about what he knows in relation to the knowable.

The preparation of this text comes out of many years of concern. I have tended to steer away from working in this field. During the recent 20 years several situations not of my own choosing have drawn me into it. It is good that it has been so. Now my exploration rises out of the larger setting of world religions and world scriptures. Today the Book of Mormon needs this larger setting.
During these years of searching and reviewing my approach to the Book of Mormon, I have had growing pains. Any worthwhile spiritual exploration involves these; through such experiences we come to sound foundations. There are still many things to be discovered. The book would not be worth much if it were not so.

I consider the Book of Mormon indispensable in the Restoration movement. I consider it a "distinctive." Take this out and the movement wobbles. Keep it in on unsound interpretation and it wavers. The book is worthy of our best studentship and our best utilization. It is full of resources for our life today.

I invite you to join me in the great venture of letting the Book of Mormon speak for itself.