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Book review: 'In Search of Truth' is guide to Christian history

Published: Sunday, Aug. 5 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

"IN SEARCH OF TRUTH," by Robert L. Smith, Cedar Fort, $15.99, 248 pages (nf)

Many books have been written about the history of Christianity from the beginning of the Bible to the modern day, but only a handful contain an LDS perspective, keep the text in layman's terms and were written recently.

A recently-released book by Robert L. Smith called "In Search of Truth" describes the history of Christianity from the Creation to the Restoration. The content is fresh, interesting and thought-provoking without being too scholarly.

The book weighs in at 240-plus pages and is by no means a thorough and in-depth study of Christianity. However, it is not a quick reference either. The book offers nuggets of information drawn from historical records like the Apocrypha, Nag Hammadi library and the Dead Sea Scrolls as well as the standard works of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Multiple sources are given at the end of each chapter.

The author feels that several principles of the gospel were lost over the years. These are discussed in the book, and historical context is given about how changes developed over hundreds of years that caused these precious truths to be lost. For example, the book covers salvation for the dead, baptism, priesthood offices and gospel ordinances.

Several graphs, maps and charts are interspersed throughout the book that help keep track of the information presented. One of the most helpful was a list that showed a breakdown of all the missing books of the Bible and what scriptures reference them. Another helpful graph shows in great detail the missions and martyrdom of the apostles.

The weakest part of the book is contained in the final chapters of the book that describe the restored gospel. For example, the author tries to tie the Jaredites to the ancient Tultecas, the Mayas to the Lamanites and Nephites and the Mulekites to the Zapotecs. These things are fun to think about but more often than not are fairly speculative. Another weak point in the text is the author's attempt to relate expensive Guatemalan women's clothing to the "costly apparel" worn by proud people from the Book of Mormon in Alma 4:6.

Overall, "In Search of Truth" is a fascinating study of Christianity throughout the ages from a variety of perspectives. This will make a great reference book for a personal library, and I learned many new interesting historical and gospel points. For a veteran gospel scholar, there might not be much here that isn't already known. For beginning and intermediate students, this might be a nice addition to their gospel studies.

Ryan Morgenegg is a multimedia specialist for the Deseret News.

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