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mormon scriptureA few weeks ago, in Gospel Principles Sunday School class, I taught about the importance of scripture.

The conversation was interesting because there were some investigators (people considering joining the Mormon church) as well as some “seasoned” Mormons in attendance.  When I asked questions about the importance of scripture, I noticed that most of the non-Mormons revered the Bible and most of the Mormons in the class acknowledged the Bible, but didn’t hold it as high as the Book of Mormon.

Mormons’ View of Scriptures

For those of you who are not as familiar with Mormons’ view of scriptures, I’ll briefly go over each scripture along with some quotes by LDS prophets on each.

The Bible

If you ask a Mormon if they believe in the Bible the answer will always be “yes”.  However, for most Mormons there is a little asterisk next to that yes because, according to Mormon belief:

We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly (see Articles of Faith 1:8)

Mormons believe that there was an apostasy after the original apostles died and over the years, parts of the Bible were removed, therefore the Bible is not the complete book that it once was.

In fact, the Book of Mormon has scriptures that discuss the “plain and precious truths” that were taken away from the Bible, thus making the Bible an incomplete book as to containing the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Joseph Smith worked throughout his life on what he called the “inspired version” of the Bible, which includes additions to the King James Bible that he received through revelation.  Although he never was able to complete the version, Mormons have the Joseph Smith Translation included in many of their scriptures (they do not claim this to be the official Bible, but have it to offer “insight”.)

The Book of Mormon

In speaking about the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, Mormons’ founder and first prophet, declared

I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book (Book of Mormon Introduction)

Many Mormon Apostles and Prophets have voiced of the importance of the Book of Mormon and even declare blessings that will come into ones’ life when studying the Book.  The late prophet, Ezra Taft Benson said:

It is not just that the Book of Mormon teaches us truth, though it indeed does that. It is not just that the Book of Mormon bears testimony of Christ, though it indeed does that, too. But there is something more. There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book. You will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path. The scriptures are called “the words of life” (D&C 84:85), and nowhere is that more true than it is of the Book of Mormon. When you begin to hunger and thirst after those words, you will find life in greater and greater abundance. (see talk: The Book of Mormon: Keystone of our Religion)

Since this talk was given by Ezra Taft Benson in 1986, I feel that many Mormons have focused heavily on reading the Book of Mormon above any other scripture, which is what I witnessed in the Sunday School class.

Doctrine and Covenants

The Doctrine and Covenants (D&C) are revelations that were given to Mormon prophets (mostly Joseph Smith) dealing with various doctrines and organizational structure of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) that aren’t found in either the Bible or Book of Mormon in detail.

Some of the key revelations (in my opinion) include: how to receive answers to prayer, organizational structure of the Church, Priesthood defined and execution of callings within the priesthood, revelation on the Three degrees of glory (heaven), and The Word of Wisdom (no alcohol, coffee, etc.).

Other revelations that have had some controversy around them are: polygamy, temple ordinances (including eternal marriage) and baptisms for the dead

Pearl of Great Price

The Pearl of Great Price (PGP) has two books (Moses and Abraham) that Joseph Smith translated from papyri that was found.  It contains more details on the first books of Genesis in the Bible.

Joseph Smith’s history is also included here.  The history is mainly his account of his First Vision, or when God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him and told him to reestablish Jesus’ church.

In addition to these books, the PGP has the Articles of Faith (similar to a Creed), a revelation from a later prophet declaring it illegal to practice polygamy anymore, and a revelation extending the priesthood to black members.

Modern Prophets

One of the unique aspects of Mormonism is the claim that their church leaders are prophets, or mouthpieces, for the Lord.  As such, most Mormons believe that the writings of the apostles and prophet found in Church publications such as the Ensign are to be considered scriptural.

Which Scripture is Most Important?

A case can be made for each scripture.  For example, without the Bible, there wouldn’t be any of the other scriptures because Joseph Smith was led to pray for guidance from a scripture he read from the Bible.

On the other hand, Mormon prophets have declared the Book of Mormon the most important book…but if Mormons only had the Book of Mormon, they wouldn’t know exactly how to run the church and additional components to the faith such as the Word of Wisdom, eternal marriage, etc. wouldn’t exist.

Finally, I can see how some people would feel that Modern-day Prophets’ revelations trump all of the other scriptures (such as doing away with polygamy and using water instead of wine for communion).

Just for fun, I’ll close with a poll for you to rank what you feel is the most important scripture.

For me, as a conservative Mormon guy living in Washington state, the 2012 elections were rough in a number of ways, starting from the top down:

  1. Romney lost the election.  I had spent a year volunteering for his campaign and truly thought he had a good chance of winning.  He nearly pulled it off, but him losing was like me watching the Seahawks lose in Super Bowl 40.  Not fun.
  2. Washington State legalized marijuana.  Not only for medicinal purposes, but also for daily use.
  3. Gay marriage was passed in our state as well.

All of these things hit me like a tidal wave on election night and I had a hard time sleeping as I considered my children and the hearts of people around me in society.  I wondered where we are as a society in putting God first.  Obviously, we’re not where we need to be and it scared me.

As I saw what my friends and family members where writing about on Facebook the next day, I saw quite often comments such as “I’m moving to a different country” or “I like the idea of living like the Amish do” and “Let’s move away from society and have a compound”.  These were written out of frustration and not in complete seriousness (I hope), but it caused me to think.

Do I want to raise kids in this environment?  If not, where and why would we run?

How can I support my new leaders of the country, even though I do not hold the same political views?

What do we do Now?

Other concerned citizens provided great examples of how we should unite as a nation and make the best of the situation.  Also, the scriptures have excellent recommendations too.

2 Examples

My first example is Mitt Romney.  In his  concession speech, he set a very good example of being a gracious person.  He discussed his love for country and the people who had supported him.  He gave some advice and most importantly, he told Obama that he would pray for him.

When he said this, I was very impressed.  This man (Obama) had slandered his (Romney) name up and down and painted him as a beast to the American people for most of 2012.  Obama had attacked Romney as a person, not his policies.  Romney showed what we as citizens should always remember to do and that is pray for our leaders of the country.

The next example I have is a less-known citizen in my state who was running for Congress.  His name is John Koster.  I had supported him in the elections as well.  I’ll quote some of what he said in an email I received from him today:

Like many Americans, I am stunned at the tough night so many on the conservative side had around the country on Tuesday, and that Barack Obama was re-elected as President. Sean Hannity remarked yesterday that he wondered if the “allure and appeal of socialism and redistribution of wealth has taken hold.”

I hope he is wrong.

I am equally stunned that we have legalized marijuana right here in our home state of Washington; and if the slim margin favoring the pro Referendum-74 vote holds up, we will have legalized same-sex marriages as well.

It seems obvious to me that we have swung wildly in the wrong political direction and that we are now at a point where our society WILL suffer the consequences inherent with bad law and liberal representation.

Ben Franklin challenged future generations of Americans when he said “we have given you a Republic if you can keep it”. To heed Franklin’s wise words, it will be important in the coming days that each and every one of us continues to do our part in defending the Republic – as we are likely in for some difficult times!

We must, however, keep the faith and keep our chins up. We must dig down deep and continue the battle for truth wherever possible, working to defend our values and way of life through our community involvement, church outreach, clubs and social gatherings. We must remain in the battle if we intend to win the war.

Hard as it may be at this moment, we must also pray for our leaders at all levels of government as we are commanded in the Holy Scriptures. Pray that they would govern with honesty and integrity; that they would understand and implement justice through constitutional law as endowed by our Creator.

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior…” -1 Timothy 2:1-3

Again, I humbly thank you for your loyal support as well as your continued friendship. It has been an honor to have run for the United States Congress intent on representing people such as you. May God continue to bless this great nation and may we as a people remain worthy of those blessings for many generations to come.

Both of these men are excellent examples of how we as concerned citizens should support our leaders.  I intend to heed their advice and pray for our leaders, even if I do not support all of their views politically.

The Scriptures

As I pondered things on election night, my thoughts were turned to the scriptures.

Although society is not even close to the events that happen in the Book of Mormon, during the prophet Mormon’s life, I thought about him.  His whole society was collapsing and his people were being wiped out.  He was tempted to leave them, but he chose to fight with them and pray for them and he even gave his life along side them, never giving up hope that they would repent and turn towards God.

I also looked up scriptures in the Bible and there are numerous scriptures that talk about our role as citizens is to support our leaders of the nation, yet continue to lead moral lives and be a “light on the hill” as Jesus says.

Conclusion

While it is tempting to through up our hands when we see our society choosing paths that are not consistent to what we believe to be true, the scriptures and others around us give us good examples of what our roles truly are.  I believe that we should do all we can to raise our children up in truth and we need to do all we can to keep ourselves in line with the Lord.  At that point, we can then be used as an instrument in God’s hand to provide light and guidance to those around us.

 

Recently we had a very good discussion on whether or not the LDS church believes in Universal Salvation.  One of the key doctrines of the LDS faith is that everyone will have a chance to at least hear about Jesus and accept Him as their Savior whether that be in this life or the next.  This concept is unfamiliar to many Christians, and one of my fellow Christian friends asked where scriptures supporting this can be found in the Bible.  In response to his question, I will provide Biblical scriptures that support this doctrine and also will provide additional LDS doctrines given from moder-day prophets.

Biblical Scriptures Supportind Jesus Preaching to the Dead

There are quite a number of scriptures found in the Bible that discuss Jesus visiting the “dead” spirits and also spirits in prison. Some of the scriptures that discuss Jesus preaching to the “dead” spirits can be viewed in two ways.  The first way I can see people interpreting these scriptures is that the verses are discussing those who are spiritually dead, and not people who have literally died.  This interpretation could be viewed by most of the scriptures I referenced in the link with the exception of those found in 1 Peter.

1 Peter 3:19-20 discusses Jesus preaching to the spirits in prison who had lived during the time of Noah.  This scripture can not be interpreted as merely preaching to those who are spiritually dead because of the reference to Noah. 

LDS Revelation on Jesus Preaching to those who have Died

Joseph F. Smith, the sixth prophet and president of the LDS church, and nephew of the churche’s first prophet, Joseph Smith, received a revelation on Jesus visiting spirits who had died in order to preach the gospel of salvation to them (a complete reading of this is in the LDS Doctrine and Covenants, section 138)

In this account, Joseph F Smith explains of how he was “pondering over the scriptures” about Jesus’ great atonement and his mercy for all of humankind.  He writes:

I opened the Bible and read the third and fourth chapters of the first epistle of aPeter, and as I read I was greatly bimpressed, more than I had ever been before, with the following passages:

  7 “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
  8 “By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in aprison;
  9 “Which sometime were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.” (1 Peter 3:18—20.)
  10 “For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” (1 Peter 4:6.)
He goes on to write that while he was pondering, he recieved a vision from God.  In this vision, he witnessed that after Jesus’ death, he went and visited those who had died who had been faithful in their testimony of Jesus.  He goes on to write:
28 And I wondered at the words of Peter—wherein he said that the Son of God preached unto the aspirits in prison, who sometime were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah—and how it was possible for him to preach to those spirits and perform the necessary labor among them in so short a time.
  29 And as I wondered, my eyes were opened, and my understanding aquickened, and I perceived that the Lord went not in person among the bwicked and the disobedient who had rejected the truth, to teach them;
  30 But behold, from among the righteous, he aorganized his forces and appointed bmessengers, cclothed with power and authority, and dcommissioned them to go forth and carry the light of the gospel to them that were in edarkness, even to fall the spirits of men; and thus was the gospel preached to the dead.
Conclusion
 
When reading the Bible, especially what is written in 1 Peter, it is clear that spirits who had died did receive a chance to learn of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Some Christians believe that Jesus personally visited these spirits.  Further revelation on the subject by LDS prophet, Joseph F. Smith clarifies who Jesus visited personally.  Jesus visited the righteous people who had died and he appointed angels to visit the wicked who had died and were waiting to receive the gospel.

I recently was sent a link to the worlds oldest Christian Bible that was written over 1600 years ago.  It is written in Greek and is called “Codex Sinaiticus”.  I found some things very interesting about this Bible and will share some quotes from the website that stick out to me.

  1. The Original Bible included some books from the Apocropha not included today.

By the middle of the fourth century there was wide but not complete agreement on which books should be considered authoritative for Christian communities. Codex Sinaiticus, one of the two earliest collections of such books, is essential for an understanding of the content and the arrangement of the Bible, as well as the uses made of it.

The Greek Septuagint in the Codex includes books not found in the Hebrew Bible and regarded in the Protestant tradition as apocryphal, such as 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, 1 & 4 Maccabees, Wisdom and Sirach. Appended to the New Testament are the Epistle of Barnabas and ‘The Shepherd’ of Hermas.

2.  The Original Order of the Books is different than it is today

The idiosyncratic sequence of books is also remarkable: within the New Testament the Letter to the Hebrews is placed after Paul’s Second Letter to the Thessalonians, and the Acts of the Apostles between the Pastoral and Catholic Epistles. The content and arrangement of the books in Codex Sinaiticus shed light on the history of the construction of the Christian Bible.

3. This is the Oldest known Complete Version of the Original Bible

Codex Sinaiticus is generally dated to the fourth century, and sometimes more precisely to the middle of that century. This is based on study of the handwriting, known as palaeographical analysis. Only one other nearly complete manuscript of the Christian Bible – Codex Vaticanus (kept in the Vatican Library in Rome) – is of a similarly early date. The only manuscripts of Christian scripture that are definitely of an earlier date than Codex Sinaiticus contain small portions of the text of the Bible.

4. The Original Transcript is Viewable with a Greek to English Translator

             Check it out by clicking here.

 

I found this very interesting.  What do you find interesting about these points and possibly other points as you visit the site?

I was reading the blog “The Vissisitudes of Life” this morning about Gay Rights vs. Civil Rights

He brings up a point that for some reason I’ve never thought of before in that when God creates man he creates them male and female and commands them to have children.  This scripture is common to Jews, Muslims and Christians and therefore a majority of world religions.

This led me to ponder the question of if one is gay can they truly believe in not only the Bible, but other scriptures from the aforementioned faiths as well. 

As I thought about this I can see how people can feel strongly in a variety ways.

1. One may argue that they are gay because they are born that way.  If you truly believe that you can be born gay, please explain how you can still believe in the Bible.

2. Others will probably come from the camp that you choose to be gay.  Please support your opinion on this as well.

3. I can also see how one could say you can be gay and believe the bible, but that being gay is a sin since God commands against it.

What are your thoughts?

Today in church some words from the Hymn “In Humility our Savior” stuck out to me.  The verse is the end of the second verse and reads as follows:

…Then, when we have proven worthy
Of thy sacrifice divine,
Lord, let us regain thy presence;
Let thy glory round us shine.

“When we have proven worthy” stuck out to me.  I thought to myself how none of us are really worthy of Christ’s sacrifice, but he did it for us anyways and it is through his Grace that we are saved.  I decided to look at the scriptures and see what they have to say. 

I looked in Romans, chapter 10 verse 4 to start with, which reads:

For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

According to this scripture alone it appears that all one needs to do is believe in Jesus since he’s the end of the law to be saved. 

The next scripture that came to mind was James 2:19 that states the devils also believe in God.

So if the Devil believes in God and belief is all that one needs why then isn’t the Devil saved?

The answers are found in the Bible and the Book of Mormon.

Later in Romans 10:10 we read:

For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

It appears that there is a difference between merely believing in God and believing with one’s heart. 

In the Book of Mormon in 2 Nephi 2 we read how our hearts should be in order to have the type of belief that will result in salvation.  Verses 6-10 read as follows:

6 Wherefore, aredemption cometh in and through the bHoly cMessiah; for he is full of dgrace and truth.

  7 Behold, he offereth himself a asacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto bnone else can the cends of the law be answered.
  8 Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, asave it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who blayeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the cresurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.
  9 Wherefore, he is the firstfruits unto God, inasmuch as he shall make aintercession for all the children of men; and they that believe in him shall be saved.
  10 And because of the intercession for aall, all men come unto God; wherefore, they stand in the presence of him, to be bjudged of him according to the truth and choliness which is in him. Wherefore, the ends of the law which the Holy One hath given, unto the inflicting of the dpunishment which is affixed, which punishment that is affixed is in opposition to that of the happiness which is affixed, to answer the ends of the eatonement
Verse 7 is the one that stands out to me as what the real difference between believing in Jesus is and how our hearts should be to have belief unto salvation.  Broken hearts and contrite spirits.  In other words, humility. 
So to answer the question of why isn’t the Devil saved even though he believes I would say the scriptures are pretty clear.  The Devil doesn’t have humility and doesn’t believe with his heart.
I pray that we can all have this type of humility to accept Jesus into our hearts, which will result in salvation.

One of the key components to LDS theology is that of scripture being an open canon.  According to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Bible Dictionary, scripture is defined as follows:

The word scripture means a writing, and is used to denote a writing recognized by the Church as sacred and inspired. It is so applied to the books of the O.T. by the writers of the N.T. (Matt. 22: 29; John 5: 39; 2 Tim. 3: 15). For an account of the process by which the books of the O.T. and N.T. came to be recognized as scripture, see Canon. Latter-day revelation identifies scripture as that which is spoken under the influence of the Holy Ghost (D&C 68: 1-4).
According to this definition, this leaves things pretty wide-open as to what scripture really is and can be difficult for many people, especially those from other faiths to comprehend.  Basically anything that is spoken by someone under the influence of the Spirit can be interpreted as scripture.  However, this also places great responsibility on everyone to be in tune with the Holy Spirit so they can interpret by the spirit and know if things spoken are essentially the word of God. 
As I pondered this, I thought about the scriptures that the LDS currently use commonly called the “Standard Works.”  These scriptures include the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price.
Most Christians claim that the Bible is infallible and that every single word written therein is exactly what God wants us to have and there can be no more scripture.  This is very hard for LDS people to fathom because they believe otherwise.  Why are such scriptures as the Song of Solomon considered to be considered infallible scripture? Who was it that had the authority to declare that the Bible should be the only scripture?  If the experiences and prophecies in the Bible are the only authorized scripture, what scriptures were the apostles and prophets of the Bible using at the time?
On the other hand, Christians firmly believe that it is heretical to have any additional scripture other than what is in the Bible.  They may have questions and concerns about anyone else who claims to add scripture is a false prophet and therefore their writings and words should be avoided.
Athiests and Agnostics choose to avoid the scriptures altogether because of flaws and condradictions found within the scriptures.
As I contemplate these issues and questions, I’m very grateful for the following scriptures about the Holy Ghost:
Moroni 10:2-5
2 And I seal up these records, after I have spoken a few words by way of exhortation unto you.
  3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
  4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
  5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
John 16: 7;13
7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
In the first scripture, there is a promise given that one can know if the things written in the Book of Mormon are true.  However, the promise extends further in verse 5 in that the Holy Ghost will not only help one receive a witness of the Spirit if the Book of Mormon is true, but also know the truth of all things.  Also, in the Bible Jesus says when he leaves the Holy Ghost will show them the truth of all things as well.
If one is to read certain parts of the Bible (such as the Song of Solomon) and if one is to read certain parts of the Doctrine and Covenants (such as the polygamy revelation) it can be hard to feel the Spirit confirm it as truth.  Also, Joseph Smith’s Lectures on Faith used to be “cannonized” scripture but were removed in the early 1900′s.  Furthermore, when Joseph Smith spoke about the Book of Mormon he said that it was the most correct book of scripture written.  But didn’t say it was completely flawless.  I’ve read that the Book of Mormon has been changed and edited over 4,000 times. Also, authors within the Book of Mormon acknowledge their weakness in writing
Acknowleding flaws and/or errors in scripture can be a huge thing for both LDS and Christians to accept.  They both believe that scripture is flawless. Due to the weaknesses of men in writing and translations, etc. and the LDS view of having an open cannon, it is very important–essential–that one maintains a close relationship with the Lord so they can be led by the Holy Ghost to know the truth of all things that are found in the scriptures.
However, this can lead to discrepencies and to people claiming that “the Spirit told them” to say and/or do certain things and believe certain doctrine.  The LDS comeback for this answer would be “that’s why we have prophets and apostles.”  However, the questions then arise: How are we to know if they are indeed prophets and called of God?  How can we know if what they’re speaking is truth?  The answer: the Holy Spirit.
It would take a whole other post to write about how to recognize the Holy Spirit speaking truth to you, but some posts I’ve previously written on this topic include:”Effectively Using the Sword of the Spirit,” “Learning the Mysteries of God,” and “Questions to Know if you’ve Experienced the Holy Ghost.”
I especially like this quote by Gordon B Hinckley:
How do we know the things of the Spirit? How do we know that it is from God? By the fruits of it. If it leads to growth and development, if it leads to faith and testimony, if it leads to a better way of doing things, if it leads to godliness, then it is of God. If it tears us down, if it brings us into darkness, if it confuses us and worries us, if it leads to faithlessness, then it is of the devil” (Jordan Utah South regional conference, 2 Mar. 1997)
I would like to let those who read this know that I’ve felt the Holy Spirit confirm truth to me on numerous occasions throughout my life and that I’m grateful for this.  As I’ve prayed about various scriptures I have felt the Spirit witness truths to me that are found in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and other writings both LDS and otherwise.  I know that I’ve felt the Spirit confirm that there is a God that watches over each one of us and that cares for us.  I’ve felt His love and Spirit as I’ve prayed about big and small decisions in my life and know that he will lead us into the right paths and help us find truth in all things.  I know that God will reveal the truth of all things to everyone if we ask in humility and faith.

Last Sunday I went with my family to an exhibit at the Tacoma Art Museum called “Illuminating the Word.”  It was very, very interesting.  This project was a re-creation of the St John’s Bible as it would have originally been created with colligraphers.  In addition, there were artists who depicted their feelings from the Bible in paintings and writings on the pages next to the colligraphy as well.  I was very impressed and inspired as to how many people the Bible has touched and continues to touch and how the Lord has preserved His word through the Bible.

The translation the artists chose was the New Revised Standard Version because it most accurately alligns with the King James Version but is written in modern-day language.  I thought it was very interesting how the artist who wrote Genisis chapter 2 decided to include on the side an excerpt from 2 Corinthians 3:18 as written in the NRSV version.  It reads as follows:

…and all of us with unveiled faces seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another…

Now, for those of you who have been through the temple, this will be very interesting.  First, I found it interesting she decided to insert this verse in the Adam and Eve story and secondly the verses themselves reflected the temple ceremony and purpose as well.

Most LDS people use the King James Version of the Bible, so I decided to take a look and see what the KJV said in this verse.  It reads as follows:

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

If you’re feeling really ambitious, I also found a site that has about 10 other translations of this particular verse here.

Personally, I like the NRSV version best because it has such clear imagery and accurately describes one of the main purposes for me in attending the temple.

What are your thoughts?

The student of the New Testament should be primarily an historian. The centre and core of all the Bible is history. Everything else that the Bible contains is fitted into an historical framework and leads up to an historical climax. The Bible is primarily a record of events. (History and Faith by J Gresham Machen)

In the previous quote Mr Machen defines history as a main framework for building faith.  Similarly, the people over at Living Hope Ministries in Brigham City Utah feel the same way.  They recently made a video that strives to discredit the Book of Mormon due to lack of historical evidences found to support the Book vs. the Bible that has many historical evidences to support it.  

As a counter-attack, people at the FAIR LDS site have put out a video on how many things in the Bible can not be historically proven while acknowledging that most things in the Book of Mormon can not be supported historically. (As a side note, there is an interesting site called The Nephi Project where George Potter traces Lehi’s trail through the Arabian desert by using the Book of Mormon as a reference.)

The question then is: Does one need historical evidence to believe and have faith?

My initial response is that one doesn’t need to have historical evidence to believe.  The definition of faith, according to the Bible in Hebrews 11:1 is that it is the “substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.”  The Bible doesn’t support history as something needed to build faith.

Secondly, I feel that Even if something can be historically proven, one still has to have the witness from the Spirit in order to believe on it.I’m reminded of the classic Book of Mormon scripture in Moroni 10 that says “by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”  Therefore, it appears that a witness from the Holy Spirit is the most essential element to one’s faith. 

I’ll admit that I’ve struggled with my faith when I try to reason with both Bible and Book of Mormon stories that seem to have no “evidence.”  However, I always fall back on the witness I’ve received from the Holy Ghost that both books are true and they come from God.  I know they are both true because I’ve felt and seen the fruits of the Spirit in my life as I’ve read and applied principles found in both books.  As historical “evidences” appear they are an added bonus to my faith, but not the main source.

What has your experience been with either the Bible or the Book of Mormon?  Do you feel historical evidence is necessary to have faith?

Because of the recent media on the Fundamentalist LDS group that “got busted” in Texas for abuse and polygamy the LDS church has made efforts to distance itself from this sect.  Below is a recent interview with the LDS public affairs representative regarding the churches current stance on polygamy and how it wants the world to view the LDS church:

 

Polygamy is a huge issue and it is a great concern still for members of the LDS church.  Some have concerns with polygamy and say the LDS church still “practices” polygamy in the sense that it is still a revelation in the Doctrine and Covenants section 132.  In addition, people are still married in temples for eternity to spouses after one spouse passes away, so polygamy is technically still a part of LDS doctrine. 

Depending on the Christian you speak with, they will either denounce or embrace polygamy.  Generally speaking, the Christian world claims the Bible to be the only word of God.  The Bible contains polygamy all throughout it’s text and depending on which Christian denomonation you speak with, they can argue for or against it.  Here’s a christian website discussing the issue: http://www.gotquestions.org/polygamy.html.  Here’s another website that has people, including pastors arguing for polygamy and that true Christianity should allow polygamy with other Christians arguing against it: http://www.answering-christianity.com/ntpoly.htm.  As you can see in many cases interpretations of scripture are a matter of semantics as to whether God truly “approved” polygamy in the Bible or not and are up for interpretation.

Those who follow the LDS faith could have an easier time answering the polygamy question than their fellow Christians due to the fact they believe in modern, continuing revelation. 

Joseph Smith stated “I have constantly said no man shall have but one wife at a time, unless the Lord directs otherwise.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 324). The LDS website also says polygamy isn’t allowed unless God directs it.  Therefore, God can take away polygamy or ordain it through his prophets as he did through Nathan in the Bible (2 Samuel 12:8).  Currently the LDS church doesn’t practice polygamy on grounds of a reveleation from a prophet named Wilford Woodruff that is contained in the Doctrine and Covenants in the “Official Declaration 1.”

However, there are still some questions that remain for both LDS christians and other Christians who believe in the Bible:

If the LDS church wants to take such a strong stance against polygamy, shouldn’t the church completely take it out of it’s doctrine, since it is still supported in D&C 132?  Why or why not?

Also, if one is to consider himself/herself a true Christian, should they believe in polygamy because it is supported in the Bible?  Why or why not?

 

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