The Keystone of our ReligionA keystone is a wedge-shaped piece of masonry at the crown of an arch that locks the other pieces in place, allowing the entire structure to bear weight. Once the keystone is set in place, all the other pieces become stronger.
The term is also used figuratively to refer to the central supporting element of any structure, such as a theory or an organization. Without “the keystone” the whole structure would collapse.
After translating the Book of Mormon, the Prophet Joseph Smith explained: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book” (History of the Church, 4:461; Book of Mormon introduction). Indeed, the Book of Mormon is the keystone of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
President Ezra Taft Benson, the 13th president of the Church, called the Book of Mormon ‘one of the most significant gifts given to the world in modern times.’ “A powerful testimony to the importance of the Book of Mormon is to note where the Lord placed its coming forth in the timetable of the unfolding Restoration. The only thing that preceded it was the First Vision,” said President Benson in his October 1986 general conference address. “In that marvelous manifestation, the Prophet Joseph Smith learned the true nature of God and that God had a work for him to do. The coming forth of the Book of Mormon was the next thing to follow. Think of that in terms of what it implies. The coming forth of the Book of Mormon preceded the restoration of the priesthood. It was published just a few days before the Church was organized. The Saints were given the Book of Mormon to read before they were given the revelations outlining such great doctrines as the three degrees of glory, celestial marriage, or work for the dead. It came before priesthood quorums and Church organization. Doesn’t this tell us something about how the Lord views this sacred work?” (“The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion”).
President Thomas S. Monson, today’s prophet and Church president, said from the pages of the Book of Mormon come precious promises, including promises of truth, peace, freedom, and blessings: “From its pages comes the promise of ‘never-ending happiness’ to ‘those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual’ (Mosiah 2:41). From its pages comes the promise of ‘incomprehensible joy’ to those who become ‘instrument[s] in the hands of God’ in rescuing His precious sons and daughters (Alma 28:8;29:9). From its pages comes the promise that scattered Israel will be gathered — a work in which we are engaged through our great worldwide missionary efforts (3 Nephi 16; 21–22). From its pages comes the promise that as we pray unto the Father in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, our families will be blessed (see 3 Nephi 18:21). And from the pages of the Book of Mormon comes Moroni’s promise that through prayer, real intent, and faith in Christ, we may know the truth of these promises ‘by the power of the Holy Ghost’ (see Moroni 10:4–5). With other latter-day prophets, I testify of the truthfulness of this ‘most correct of any book on earth,’ even the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. Its message spans the earth and brings its readers to a knowledge of the truth. It is my testimony that the Book of Mormon changes lives. May each of us read it and reread it. And may we joyfully share our testimonies of its precious promises with all of God’s children” (“Precious Promises of the Book of Mormon,” Ensign, October 2011).
In August of 2005, President Gordon B. Hinckley, the 15th president of the Church, promised members that if they would study the Book of Mormon, “there will come into your lives and into your homes an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God. Today, a century and three-quarters after its first publication, the Book of Mormon is more widely read than at any time in its history,” wrote President Hinckley. “Whereas there were 5,000 copies in that first edition, about 5 million are currently distributed each year, and the book or selections from the book are available in 106 languages. Its appeal is as timeless as truth, as universal as mankind. It is the only book that contains within its covers a promise that by divine power, the reader may know with certainty of its truth. … The Book of Mormon narrative is a chronicle of nations long since gone. But in its descriptions of the problems of today’s society, it is as current as the morning newspaper and much more definitive, inspired and inspiring concerning the solutions of those problems” (“A Testimony Vibrant and True,” Ensign, August 2005).
The Book of Mormon is as important to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and its members as a keystone is to an arch. “It is not just that the Book of Mormon teaches us truth, though it indeed does that,” said President Benson during his October 1986 general conference address. “It is not just that the Book of Mormon bears testimony of Christ, though it indeed does that, too. But there is something more. There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book. You will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path. The scriptures are called ‘the words of life’ (Doctrine and Covenants 84:85), and nowhere is that more true than it is of the Book of Mormon. When you begin to hunger and thirst after those words, you will find life in greater and greater abundance.”
May we all remember President Benson’s closing words to Latter-day Saints a quarter of a century ago: “This is my prayer,” he said, “that the Book of Mormon may become the keystone of our lives.”