Thursday, January 26, 2012

Got a prophet? NO BIBLE REQUIRED!

When investigating Mormonism, one is often confronted with conflicting and contradictory information.  One such area of contradiction is regarding the Mormon view of the Bible.  

The LDS Article of Faith #8 states:  "We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly (emphasis added)."  In accordance with this Article of Faith, many Mormons do read the Bible and hold it in a place of esteem.

However, the church's founder, Joseph Smith taught that the Bible had been corrupted and was full of errors (History of the Church, Vol. 1, pg. 245).  The Bible is not in any way viewed as the final authority on matters of faith but is merely the first of the church's standard works.  And the multitude of translations are not to be trusted unless properly interpreted by LDS church doctrine.  Listen to this quote from Apostle James E. Talmage from the book "The Articles of Faith," page 237:

"There will be, there can be, no absolutely reliable translation of these or other scriptures unless it be effected through the gift of translation, as one of the endowments of the Holy Ghost.  The translator MUST have the spirit of the prophet if he would render in another tongue the prophet's words; and human wisdom alone leads not to that possession.  Let the Bible then be read reverently and with prayerful care, the reader ever seeking the light of the Spirit that he may discern between truth and the errors of men."

In Talmage's treatment of the Bible, he makes the Scriptures sound like a mine field of danger that have to be carefully navigated to avoid the many errors of men.  Wary and suspicious, he cautions the faithful to read reverently and to trust - not in the Scriptures - but in the prophet's gift of translation.  Translation does not come by mere natural means (the systematic study of foreign language and translation).  Reliable scripture translation can only come by the power of a spiritual gift.  This is the only type of translation that can be trusted.

This belief explains why Mormons place equal or more trust in the Book of Mormon and their other Standard Works than in the Bible.  However, this fails to explain why Mormons don't openly use the version of the Bible translated by Joseph Smith (The Inspired Bible).  They use to give away free copies of the King James Version of the Bible but you've never seen the church giving away free copies of the Inspired Version. 

Why on earth would Mormons continue to use and promote the King James Version of the Bible (which is allegedly corrupted, missing parts and full of errors) when they have a more reliable version of the Bible translated for them by inspiration of their founding prophet?  LDS general authority Bruce McConkie stated: 
"The Joseph Smith Translation, or Inspired Version, is a thousand times over the best Bible now existing on earth" (The Bible, a Sealed Book,” in A Symposium on the New Testament, 1984, 5 - quoted by Andrew C. Skinner, Ensign Magazine, June 1999).  Yet, a close examination of the Inspired Bible reveals that Smith's translation still lacks many of the plain and precious doctrines that are taught in Mormonism.  That's something to really think about.  

In any case, Mormons use the Bible, read the Bible and even believe the Bible - to a degree.  But is the Bible really absolutely required for Mormonism?  The answer, according to Mormon authorities, is NO.  This is because Mormonism is, admittedly, not based on the Bible.  It is based primarily on "prophetic revelation."  And as long as the church as a prophet to lead it, the church does not have to fully rely on the written word of God.  The Bible is more of a reference manual instead of the final authority.  In Mormonism, the final authority rests with MAN says, not with the word of God.  Listen to what Mormon leaders and authorities have said and taught over the years (emphasis added):   

"The position of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormon Church, will be discussed from the point of view that it is the only Christian church that does not depend entirely upon the Bible for its teachings."  (LDS Apostle LeGrand Richards, "A Marvelous Work and A Wonder," pg. 1).

"This true knowledge of God and of his Son, Jesus Christ, has come again to the world in this dispensation, not through a study of the Bible, but through the actual appearance of these heavenly personages to the young Joseph Smith..." Ibid, pg. 23

"This makes it easy to understand why the everlasting gospel could not be discovered through reading the Bible alone..."  Ibid, pg. 40

"Joseph Smith learned this great truth, not by reading the Bible..."  Ibid, pgs. 88, 89

"He did not get, neither could he have gotten it, by reading the Bible only."  Ibid, pg. 69

"As we have already pointed out, Joseph Smith did not get this information from reading the Bible or any other book written on this subject, but by the revelations of the Lord to him."  Ibid, pg. 100

"The knowledge of all these things, as the reader will note, does not come to us primarily through reading the Bible..."  Ibid, pg. 128

"The biblical account of the responsibilities and functions of the deacon is almost wholly lacking in detail.  Except for meager references... we would have known nothing... if we were compelled to rely upon the Bible alone for guidance."  Ibid, pg. 155

"While the Bible makes plain most of the offices that should be in the church of Christ, it fails to explain the duties of the various offices."  Ibid, pg. 160

"We therefore received it by revelation and not by reading the Bible."  Ibid, pg. 184

"The glorious principle of eternal marriage did not come to the Prophet Joseph Smith by reading the Bible..." Ibid, pg. 190

"Had the Bible, therefore, been correctly translated, much of the present confusion would have been eliminated."  Ibid, pg. 336

"Joseph smith, or any other man, could not have obtained all this information by reading the Bible... It came from God."  Ibid, pg. 411

"Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible.  ...Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written." (2 Nephi 29:6, 10)
[Note: This verse in 2 Nephi is inferring that those who believe in, trust in, adhere to only the Bible... are FOOLS.]  

"...for behold they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away.  And all this have they done that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men" (1 Nephi 13:26-27)

Next, we will share a few other interesting quotes about the Bible from other LDS sources:

"There is not that person on the face of the earth who has had the privilege of learning the Gospel of Jesus Christ from these two books, that can say that one is true, and the other is false.  No Latter-day Saint, no man or woman, can say the Book of Mormon is true, and at the same time say that the Bible is untrue.  If one be true, both are; and if one be false, both are false."  (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 1:39).

[Note:  This attitude towards the Bible may sadly explain why those ex-Mormons who discover the truth about the LDS church stop believing in the Bible all together.] 

"We are informed in the Book of Mormon that the Hebrew scriptures when "forth from the Jews in purity unto the Gentiles, according to the truth which is in God," and after they went forth from the Jews many changes were made, and "many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away."  (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3:191).

"Many important points touching the salvation of men, had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled." (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Volume 1, page 245 )

"Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg. 327).

"... who in his right mind could for one moment suppose the Bible in its present form to be a perfect guide?  Who knows that even one verse of the Bible has escaped pollution, so as to convey the same sense now that it did in the original?" (LDS Apostle Orson Pratt, Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon, pg. 47).

"The most reliable way to measure the accuracy of any biblical passage is not by comparing different texts, but by comparison with the Book of Mormon and modern-day revelations." (Church News, June 20, 1992, pg. 3, quoting a letter from the First Presidency [Presidents Benson, Hinckley and Monson] dated May 22, 1992, to all the Church).

"That is why our original statement is consistent: that this is the only Christian church in the world that did not have to rely upon the Bible for its organization and government and that if all the Bibles in the world had been destroyed we would still be teaching the same principles and administering the same ordinances as introduced and taught by Jesus and the prophets."  (LeGrand Richards, A Marvelous Work and A Wonder, pg. 40).

In sharing these historical quotes and statements from LDS authorities, we are not asserting that Mormons do not believe in the Bible.  It is very obvious that they do - BUT in a limited capacity.  This is by their own admission.  They must believe that the Bible is corrupt and lacking the fulness of the Gospel because this is how they justify an open canon of on-going revelation.

They can continue to receive ongoing revelations and scriptures because they believe their church is led by a living prophet of God.  And according to Mormon teaching, what the current prophet says IS the final word, regardless of the scriptures or what past prophets have said.  

Below we share several excerpts of the first 4 of the "14 Fundamentals" in following THE PROPHET as given in an address by former church president Ezra Taft Benson on February 26, 1980 at BYU (with emphasis added):

"First: The prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything...

Second: The living prophet is more vital to us than the Standard Works.

...Brother Joseph [Smith] turned to Brother Brigham Young and said, ‘Brother Brigham I want you to go to the podium and tell us your views with regard to the living oracles and the written word of God.’ Brother Brigham took the stand, and he took the Bible, and laid it down; he took the Book of Mormon, and laid it down; and he took the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and laid it down before him, and he said: ‘There is the written word of God to us, concerning the work of God from the beginning of the world, almost, to our day. And now,’ said he, ‘when compared with the living oracles THOSE BOOKS ARE NOTHING TO ME; those books do not convey the word of God direct to us now, as do the words of a Prophet or a man bearing the Holy Priesthood in our day and generation.  I would rather have the living oracles than all the writing in the books.’ That was the course he pursued.  When he was through, Brother Joseph said to the congregation; ‘Brother Brigham has told you the word of the Lord, and he has told you the truth.’” (Conference Report, October 1897, pp. 18–19.)

Third: The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet.

...the most important reading we can do is any of the words of the prophet contained each month in our Church Magazines. Our instructions about what we should do for each six months are found in the General Conference addresses which are printed in the Church magazine.

Beware of those who would set up the dead prophets against the living prophets, for the living prophets always take precedence.

Fourth: The prophet will never lead the Church astray..."  [end quote]

Click here for more information from the LDS church on the 14 Fundamentals of following the prophet.

We can clearly see that when it comes to Mormonism, the Bible is useful but not completely trustworthy and definitely not required.  The Latter-day saints are dutifully instructed to place more trust in the current prophet than in anything else.  

Christians on the other hand place their full trust in Christ and in the Scriptures.  Christians consider the Mormon's allegiance to a prophet to be foolish and cultish.  Although Mormons are doing their best to redefine Christianity, placing one's full trust in the redemptive work of Christ and following Him (and not another man) is what defines Christianity. 

The Bible says: 

"Thus says the LORD:  “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength..." (Jeremiah 17:5)

"And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of MEN."  (Matthew 15:9)

"Jesus said to him, “I AM THE WAY, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except THROUGH ME."  (John 14:6)

God doesn't place any prophet above His Word; on the contrary, He judges all prophets by His Word (Deuteronomy 18:22).  He has magnified His word above His name (Psalm 138:2).  His word is inspired and profitable for doctrine, correction and instruction (2 Timothy 3:16).  God's Word is living, powerful and is sharper than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12, Ephesians 6:17).  His Word will NEVER pass away (Matthew 24:35).   

Christians can take great confidence and comfort in the everlasting Word of God!  All things are subject to judgment by the word of God (John 12:48) and the Scriptures cannot be broken (John 10:35, Luke 24:44).  Christ upheld the Word of God for in the Gospel of John we learn that in the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God and the Word was GodThat Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14).  Later in the New Testament we read:

"His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God."  (Revelation 19:12-13)

Mormons believe that God was not able to preserve His precious Word for all generations.  However, Bible-believing Christians reject such a notion; we believe in an all-powerful God who is able to preserve His Word and His plan of salvation for all generations.  We don't worship the Bible, but in embracing Christ we embrace His Word.  Within the Bible are the words of eternal life; it is not a corrupted addendum.  And our Jesus Christ alone is our Prophet, High Priest, Savior and King.  

"God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son..."  (Hebrews 1:1-2).

For a detailed refutation of the LDS claims that the Bible is corrupted, please visit this helpful article at CARM (Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry):  

(c) 2012 Mormon & LDS Facts

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