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Book Review: 'From the Heart: Charity in the Book of Mormon'

Published: Saturday, May 28 2011 2:00 a.m. MDT

"FROM THE HEART: Charity in the Book of Mormon," by Marilyn Arnold, Cedar Fort, $13.99, 167 pages (nf)

The central message of the Book of Mormon is about Jesus Christ, but other messages can be found throughout that powerful book. In her book, “From the Heart: Charity in the Book of Mormon,” Marilyn Arnold, a scholar and an emeritus professor of English at Brigham Young University, gives readers a closer look at the message of charity, which permeates the Book of Mormon from cover to cover.

Arnold starts her book by introducing the reader to the words of President Ezra Taft Benson, one of the prophets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. President Benson wanted to help church members focus on the Book of Mormon, and Arnold declares her desire to do the same. She then helps the reader understand her motive for undertaking this book and work.

The book is divided into three sections, each focusing on a different aspect of charity. The first section, “Charity, the Greatest of These,” takes us into the minds of the men who start and end the Book of Mormon — the first and last prophets of this book.

Arnold emphases how each of the last two prophets felt in their last days, that charity needed to be written about and expressed to future generations who would receive the Book of Mormon, and the prophet's warnings regarding pride and its pernicious cycle.

Proceeding through the first section of this book, readers follow up the words of the last prophets of the Book of Mormon with those of the first prophets. Once again, the words of Nephi, Jacob and Enos are filled with the message of charity, what it is and its importance in everyone's life.

In the second section of the book, "Moments of Grace, Christ's Love Showered on Earth," the reader is taken through different examples of Christ's love, exemplified throughout the Book of Mormon. Some of these examples include the story of the Brother of Jared and his personal visitation with the Lord, and the Lamanite conversion through the hands of Alma and the Sons of Mosiah. Each of these illustrations provides a good example of charity in action.

In the final section of the book, "Climactic Events," the reader is taken through the personal visitation of Jesus Christ to the Americas. The final section, appropriately titled, enables the reader to see and feel of the magnificent event that was the visitation of Jesus Christ to the inhabitants of the Book of Mormon and of his powerful love for all people.

Arnold's book, “From the Heart: Charity in the Book of Mormon,” opens a reader to a new way of looking at the Book of Mormon. Not only is the book about the message of Jesus Christ, but it is also about the pure love of Jesus Christ, which is charity.

Jordan Morrow lives in Bountiful, Utah, and concentrates his work on music and literature.

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