I’m addition to its radical Christology, the other major innovative contribution of the Book of Mormon seems to be its democratization of revelation. In the Book of Mormon, revelation from God is not the exclusive domain of certain individuals. At the start of the book, God appears to Lehi with a vision, but then that same vision is opened up to Nephi when he asks. Even more dramatic however is Nephi’s promise that each of reading his vision can come to know the same eternal truths with certainty:
17 And it came to pass after I, Nephi, having heard all the words of my father, concerning the things which he saw in a vision, and also the things which he spake by the power of the Holy Ghost, which power he received by faith on the Son of God—and the Son of God was the Messiah who should come—I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him, as well in times of old as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men.
18 For he is the same yesterday, today, and forever; and the way is prepared for all men from the foundation of the world, if it so be that they repent and come unto him.
19 For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round.
Nephi doesn’t promise that everyone whom asks will get the same vision a that he got. We may not all “see, and hear, and know.” But he does promise that all men who seek diligently shall find. And by the power of the Holy Ghost we can understand the mysteries of God. And though Nephi’s vision is extraordinary in its scope and revelatory power, we have access to that same eternal source.
Nephi’s promise is born out of deep personal conviction and experience. Years after the fact he almost effortlessly describes the process by which he received his vision. And yet I imagine Nephi agonizing on his knees and pouring his heart out in prayer until he came to know. I don’t think this was easy or painless for Nephi and it can’t be easy or painless for us either. Diligence and repentance are the price that we must pay to get knowledge by the power of the Holy Ghost.