Saturday, January 24, 2009

Study of the LDS Church - 7.1 What LDS Members are Taught about the Bible

The next three sections will be taken largely from Ron Rhodes book. It has provided a wealth of information throughout this study and is the best reference for the information contained in the next three sections of this study in my opinion.

So what do LDS members think about the Bible? Well, it is one of the books in their canon of works, correct? Doesn't that mean that they must hold it in high regard? Well, sort of. However, the Bible is only to be trusted "as far as it is translated correctly." (Articles of Faith #8). It does not compare to the validity and sacredness of the Book of Mormon, which they feel is complete and the "fulness of the everlasting gospel."

The Bible, they are told, has been corrupted throughout the ages via possible lost books, intentional additions and omissions, and poor transmission of the original texts. Therefore, the original transcripts of the Bible were correct, but today's version of what is accepted as the Bible has been tainted. The Book of Mormon supports this belief in 1 Nephi 13:26 by teaching, "And after they go forth by the hand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of that great and abominable church, which is most abominable above all other churches; 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." Since the Book of Mormon is a directive from God to Joseph Smith, it therefore is more reliable than this book that has been altered.

They also believe that there are entire books missing from the original scriptures and use the Bible to attempt to defend these beliefs. Verses they use include Luke 1:1 (Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,), the mentioning of the book of Jashar in both Joshua 10:13 and 2 Samuel 1:18, and Numbers 21:14, which mentions the "book of wars of the LORD."

It seems that in the 1830s, Joseph Smith attempted to correct the flawed King James Version of the Bible, as it is stated in the History of the Church (vol. 1, p. 368), "this day finished the translating of the Scriptures." This is known as the Inspired Version of the Bible. It has not, however, been canonized as part of the LDS scripture, which seems a bit peculiar for a correct version of the Bible. In this version, there were several thousand changes to the KJV at what the LDS members believe to be a directive from God to Smith. It must be noted that Smith did not study any manuscripts, but simply rewrote passages as directed by God. Although the LDS church still prints the KJV Bible, it must be noted that their published versions have footnotes included that point out some of the changes via the Inspired Version.

LDS apostle Orson Pratt even once said, "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?" (Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon, p. 47).

There is much evidence to support the currently published (unaltered) KJV Bible. We will look at this evidence in the next two sections. For now, lets debunk what the LDS members are taught about the Holy Book even before getting into the hard details.

Yes, there are books mentioned in the Bible that are not books of the Bible. The fact that a book is referenced by the Bible does not necessarily mean that it was even meant to be part of the Bible. In fact, if they did belong in the Bible, why weren't they restored when Joseph Smith was inspired to change the KJV?

It took Joseph Smith three years of "listening to God" to rewrite the Bible. It took Bible scholars who referenced manuscripts and spoke Greek and Hebrew years to complete the original text of the King James Bible. Note that Smith had no knowledge of ancient languages.

Smith claimed an impossible ability--the authority to alter the text of scriptures. Jesus stated in Matthew 5:18, "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." You can find reassurance of Jesus' belief in the absolute authority of scriptures by pointing out that when Jesus was tempted for 40 days in the wilderness, satan misquoted scripture in an attempt to hinder Jesus. Jesus responded however by using the phrase, "It is written..." (Matthew 4). Other scripture backs up this emphasis on the everlasting nature of the Word of God such as Isaiah 40:8 and Matthew 24:35.

You can also note that some of the changes to the KJV Bible by Smith were in the book of Revelation. For example compare the KJV of Revelation 19:15 to the Inspired Version (or Joseph Smith Translation-aka JST). He even changed the number of horns and eyes of the Lamb representing the Spirits of God in Revelation 5:6, a change that cannot be passed off as insignificant. He therefore, brings himself under the judgement cited in Revelation 22:18-19, which states, "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."

Although all of these alterations are noteworthy, I want to specifically point out one interesting addition via Joseph Smith. In Genesis 50, it seems that the JST predicts the coming of Joseph Smith himself! It seems incredible to me that of all of the people mentioned throughout the Bible that this one person would be omitted and later would be the one to restore it himself. In the JST version of Genesis 50:33, you can find this verse: And that seer will I bless, and they that seek to destroy him shall be confounded; for this promise I give unto you; for I will remember you from generation to generation; and his name shall be called Joseph, and it shall be after the name of his father; and he shall be like unto you; for the thing which the Lord shall bring forth by his hand shall bring my people unto salvation. Don't try to compare this to your KJV, as it stops at verse 26. You can read the entirely altered text of Genesis 50 here. Note the non-italicized words are the same as the KJV that Christian faiths use.

You can view the JST footnoted changes to the KJV here.


Questions for your LDS friends:

  1. Do you read the Bible? Why?
  2. Do you agree with Pratt (see quote above) that not even a single verse of the Bible may be reliable? (If yes...) How can the LDS church publish its own version of the KJV for use in good conscience? (If no...)So do you, as a member of the church, have the freedom to disagree with your own general authorities?
  3. Since the Book of Mormon quotes the Bible extensively, what does Pratt's statement say about the Book of Mormon? Do you see the conflict here? Is it possible to say this without saying something negative about the Book of Mormon?
  4. Are there lost books of the Bible? (If yes...) Why didn't Joseph Smith then restore them when he was writing the Inspired Version? Why aren't these lost books then compiled into the Book of Mormon, which is the "most correct of any book on earth"?
  5. Does it strike you odd that Joseph Smith was able to completely rewrite the Bible (he was done according to the quote above from the History of the Church) in three years what it took scholars who knew ancient languages years to do?
  6. Do you find it peculiar that Joseph Smith inserted a prediction of his own coming into the Bible? Why was this particular prophecy left out so long ago if it is original?
  7. If the Inspired Version was completed, why has it never been published?
  8. Why were changes made to the Bible when Jesus himself said that nothing would be changed till all be fulfilled?
  9. What do you think about Revelation 22:18-19 in regards to Joseph Smith altering the book of Revelation?

Study of the LDS Church - 7.2 How to Know/Defend the Bible is True - Part 1

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