This article is in response to the letter, “Mormon beliefs do differ from other Christians” written by David Nowak (Sept. 2, Viewpoints).
I appreciate Mr. Nowak, a non-LDS Christian, for sharing some of his thoughts concerning the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly called Mormons).
I would also like to thank the Weatherford Democrat for allowing me the opportunity to share my opinion, as a Mormon, concerning what has been written.
The Mormon church does accept the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price as divinely inspired authoritative standard works. Whenever a prophet speaks under the influence of the Holy Ghost, those words are authoritative and represent the mind and will of the Lord (2 Peter 1:20-21). God in all ages of the world communicated with his children through prophets. The prophet Amos taught, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets (Amos 3:7). Just as the words of ancient biblical prophets (and apostles) were authoritative to those early Christians who were privileged to hear them, we also accept the words spoken by prophets whom God has raised up in these latter days to prepare mankind for Christ’s second coming. Since God sent a prophet, John, to prepare the way for Christ’s first coming, wouldn’t it seem consistent that Christ would send prophets to prepare the way for Christ’s second coming?
Yes, we do believe that the Bible is the word of God as far as it is translated correctly. It is a fact that omissions and errors have crept into the Bible as it has been translated down through the ages. However, it is inaccurate to suggest that Mormons believe that the Bible is far below the other standard works because it is full of errors. I have great love for the Bible. I firmly believe that individuals and nations have been and will be greatly blessed by abiding by its teachings and precepts.
Paul taught that “in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (2 Corinthians 13:1). We believe that the Bible is a witness of the divinity of Jesus Christ written by the descendants of Judah living in Palestine. We believe the Book of Mormon is a second witness of the divinity of Jesus Christ written by descendants of the tribe of Joseph that migrated here to America. Ezekiel 37:15-20 describes how these two records will come together in the hands of people in the last days.
From your viewpoint you have stated: “The only authoritative scriptures given by God are the 39 books of the Old Testament and the New Testament of the Bible. God promised to preserve his word and to suggest that the Bible was mistranslated and corrupted would be to call God a liar.”
All of us, Mormons as well as other Christians, need to be careful not to read into the Bible claims which the Bible does not make for itself.
Nowhere in the Bible do I find the apostles or prophets teaching that the current Bible is all the scripture that God will ever give to his children. Nowhere does it teach that the heavens are closed, that God will not speak to his children through prophets and provide additional scripture. Mormons believe that the Bible predicts the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and the restoration of Christ’s church in the last days.
We humans, with our limited understanding, cannot always understand why God does what He does (Isaiah 55:8-9). We sometimes believe that our arguments are so logical that they can’t possibly be flawed.
From the viewpoint of a person who does not believe in God or the resurrection, his arguments may seem quite valid, especially if this life is all there is. He could argue that if there is a God, an all-powerful, all-loving God would not allow such extreme pain, misery and sorrow to fall upon his children. He could argue that evil should not be present in this world since that would thwart the purposes of God. However from the Christian’s viewpoint, a Christian would argue that such a person does not understand man’s free will, that this life was meant as a test of one’s faith. That evil sometimes triumphs, at least for a short time, but ultimately truth will triumph in the end. The Christian understands that all of our losses and disappointments will be made up to us, if we remain true and faithful during this short mortal existence.
God has given man his free will. God knows that man is human and that he will make mistakes and do things contrary to His wishes and desires. However, God made provision for man’s sins and weaknesses through the atonement of Jesus Christ.
God uses men despite their weakness and frailties. Could it be that God realized that through the ages mankind either purposely or by accident would make errors in translating the Bible? From our limited viewpoint, who’s to say that God could not foresee this and make provision for such an event?
The prophet Nephi in the Book of Mormon states, “because of the many plain and precious things which have been taken out of the book (the Bible), which were plain unto the understanding of the children of men, according to the plainness which is in the Lamb of God—because of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, an exceedingly great many do stumble…”
According to the 2000 version of the World Christian Encyclopedia there are over 33,000 Christian denominations world-wide. Among these Christian denominations are different opinions such as what one must do to be saved? What does it mean to be saved? Is baptism essential? What is the relationship between faith and works? and etc.
Ephesians 4:11-14 teaches that apostles and prophets are required in the church to bring people to a unity of the faith.
You have stated, “If God were to give additional revelations they would be consistent with any prior revelations…”
It is true that additional revelation sometimes provide greater insight and clarification to a previous revelation. However, I believe that this is not always the case. Consider the following:
With the atonement of Jesus Christ, the New Testament represented a New Covenant, a fulfillment of the Old Covenant as found in the Old Testament. Believers in this new covenant were no longer required to live under the laws and ordinances of the Mosaic Law. Many of the Jews could not accept these new revelations taught by Christ and his apostles because these new revelations went against their beliefs and traditions.
In New Testament times, the Apostle Peter received a new revelation instructing him that the gospel was to be taken to the Gentiles which was not consistent with previous teachings.
In conclusion, the Latter-day Saints believe that God has raised up prophets in these last days in preparation for the second coming of Christ. That God has brought forth additional scriptures. The purpose of these prophets and scriptures are to testify to the world of the divinity of Jesus Christ, and to help His children come closer to Him.
Neil Newbold is a guest columnist from West Jordan, Utah, who reads the Weatherford Democrat at www.weatherforddemocrat.com.