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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.
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”.)
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.
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.).
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.
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.
- 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.
- Washington State legalized marijuana. Not only for medicinal purposes, but also for daily use.
- 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
- 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?
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:
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:
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—
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).
Moroni 10:2-53 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.
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.
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)
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 , 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?