Book review: 'Defenders of Faith' shares how war affected Book of Mormon prophets, modern soldiers

By Mike Whitmer

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, Jan. 13 2013 5:00 a.m. MST

"Defenders of Faith: The Book of Mormon from a Soldier's Perspective" is by Douglas J. Bell.

Cedar Fort

"DEFENDERS OF FAITH: The Book of Mormon from a Soldier's Perspective," by Douglas J. Bell, Cedar Fort, $17.99, 272 pages (nf)

When the Book of Mormon prophet Nephi gathered his faithful followers and left the main group of Lehi’s family, he was forced to accept the fact that he would eventually be required to go to war with his own brothers. In preparation for that day, the scriptures record:

"And I, Nephi, did take the sword of Laban, and after the manner of it did make many swords, lest by any means the people who were now called Lamanites should come upon us and destroy us …" (see 2 Nephi 5:14).

For the rest of his life, Nephi served as a warrior/king, dedicated to the protection of his people and the truths he recorded on the plates that would one day be part of the Book of Mormon.

In his book, “Defenders of Faith: The Book of Mormon from a Soldier’s Perspective,” author Douglas J. Bell examines the effects war and the battlefield have on faithful men in ancient and modern times. With more than 30 years experience in the military and time spent in the war zones of Iraq, the author provides a unique view of the thoughts of a faithful Christian participating in a violent war.

Following the exploits of prophet/leaders like Mormon, Ammon, Alma and both Captain Moroni and Moroni the son of Mormon, Bell looks at war through the eyes of committed followers of Jesus Christ. Each of these leaders was called on to defend the people they loved but were also cognizant of the need to do their best to teach the truths of the gospel as they performed their duties. Each showed that war can be fought with ferocity without losing sight of the tenderness and mercy offered by the Savior.

As a contrast to the faithful, Bell also spends one chapter looking at the tactics, effects and eventual successes of the Gadianton Robbers — the Nephite nation was destroyed by their efforts.

Bell has created an interesting study of war and the righteous men who were required to fight for the freedom of their people. The perspective of a modern warrior is applied carefully and helps readers understand some of the experiences of ancient soldiers.

This book is written about war but has no graphic or objectionable material that might offend younger patrons. Readers should be aware that maps of suggested battlegrounds are only given as possibilities and are not based in any revelatory or archaeological fact.

Mike Whitmer lives in West Valley City and listens to the "Piano Guys" in his spare time. His email is grundelwalken@gmail.com or he blogs at mtwhitmer.blogspot.com.

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