People continue to ask about the Gospel Topics Essay on Book of Mormon Translation.
Some people cite the essay (and the other Gospel Topics Essays) as if they were official Church doctrine, but that's not the case, as we can see in the introduction.
People who cite the Gospel Topics Essays as doctrine or statements of the First Presidency but may not have read the introduction to those essays.
Nowhere have Church leaders stated, suggested, or implied that these essays were ever intended to replace the scriptures, the teachings of the prophets, or authentic historical documents. Furthermore, they are subject to change at any time without notice, they have been changed in the past, and they will likely be changed in the future.
Gospel Topics EssaysIn the early 1830s, when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was less than three years old, the Lord invited members of the Church to seek wisdom by study and by the exercise of faith: “And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118).
This is more than a simple exhortation to learn about the gospel. It is an invitation from the Lord to recognize that not all sources of knowledge are equally reliable. Seeking “out of the best books” does not mean seeking only one set of opinions, but it does require us to distinguish between reliable sources and unreliable sources.
Recognizing that today so much information about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can be obtained from questionable and often inaccurate sources, officials of the Church began in 2013 to publish straightforward, in-depth essays on a number of topics. The purpose of these essays, which have been approved by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, has been to gather accurate information from many different sources and publications and place it in the Gospel Topics section of ChurchofJesusChrist.org, where the material can more easily be accessed and studied by Church members and other interested parties.
The Church places great emphasis on knowledge and on the importance of being well informed about Church history, doctrine, and practices. Ongoing historical research, revisions of the Church’s curriculum, and the use of new technologies allowing a more systematic and thorough study of scriptures have all been pursued by the Church to that end. We again encourage members to study the Gospel Topics essays cited in the links below as they “seek learning, even by study and also by faith.”