Return to About Mormons home

Accusatory Questions

If the Book of Mormon is true, why is it that when an Indian becomes a Mormon why doesn't he turn white?  ( 2 Nephi 30:6 - prior to 1981 revision)

by W. John Walsh

The Book of Mormon states:

"And then shall the remnant of our seed know concerning us, how that we came out from Jerusalem, and that they are descendants of the Jews. And the gospel of Jesus Christ shall be declared among them; wherefore, they shall be restored unto the knowledge of their fathers, and also to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, which was had among their fathers. And then shall they rejoice; for they shall know that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God; and their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a pure and a delightsome people." (2 Nephi 30:6 states:)

As you noted in your question, the Book of Mormon does not claim in this verse that Lamanites shall become Caucasians.  Prior to 1979, the phrase "a pure and a delightsome people" read "a white and a delightsome people."  This was a printing mistake that was corrected in a later edition.  For more information on various editions to the Book of Mormon, see Changes to the Book of Mormon.

You would probably have been better off quoting an actual verse like the following:

"O my brethren, I fear that unless ye shall repent of your sins that their skins will be whiter than yours, when ye shall be brought with them before the throne of God." (Jacob 3:8)

It's a rather common mistake for uninformed people to think these type of verses in the scriptures mean that righteous people will be Caucasians on the day of judgment.   Certainly that is the conclusion that most of the anti-Mormons want people to draw.   They would like to make people to falsely believe we are racist.

In reality, the word white is being used in an entirely different context.  Keep in mind that when Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ (See First Vision), he did not say he saw two Caucasian men.  He said:

"When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air." (Joseph Smith History 1:17)

In a scriptural context, the term white is being used to denote brilliant, glorious, and freedom from sin.  Here are a few other Book of Mormon examples:

"And these twelve ministers whom thou beholdest shall judge thy seed. And, behold, they are righteous forever; for because of their faith in the Lamb of God their garments are made white in his blood." (1 Nephi 12:10, emphasis added)

"And it came to pass that I saw a [messenger from God], and he was dressed in a white robe; and he came and stood before me." (1 Nephi 8:5, emphasis added)

"And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen." (1 Nephi 8:11, emphasis added)

"O then ye unbelieving, turn ye unto the Lord; cry mightily unto the Father in the name of Jesus, that perhaps ye may be found spotless, pure, fair, and white, having been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb, at that great and last day." (Mormon 9:6, emphasis added)

Surely the critics aren't suggesting that garments, robes, and fruits are being made Caucasian?  To reiterate, the Book of Mormon used imagery, symbolism, and metaphors quite frequently.  The term white is often used to denote holy and pure things, especially things which have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.  When the Book of Mormon refers to someone's skin becoming white, it is a metaphor meaning that they are becoming free from sin through Jesus' Atonement

(See Are Mormons Prejudiced?; The Book of Mormon home page; Response to Criticism home page; Accusatory Questions home page)

All About Mormons