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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Do Mormons Prize Book of Mormon Over the Bible?

I realize that this is not a religious blog, but a recent question came up in the all-too-famous push-polling claiming that LDS think that the Book of Mormon is superior to the Bible:
In another part of Iowa, Ralph Watts got a similar call the next day. Are you aware, the caller asked, that Mormons consider the Book of Mormon superior to the Bible? Would that make you more or less likely to vote for Romney?
Is this true?

Well, I'll admit that there is a lot of confusion regarding this even among LDS circles.

I'll let the words of one of the highest current church authorities, Elder M. Russell Ballard, speak for themselves (From April 2007):
I am sure many of you have had the experience of hearing people say that "Mormons are not Christians because they have their own Bible, the Book of Mormon." To anyone harboring this misconception, we say that we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior and the author of our salvation and that we believe, revere, and love the Holy Bible. We do have additional sacred scripture, including the Book of Mormon, but it supports the Bible, never substituting for it. [editorial insert: notice that Elder Ballard is not trying to claim a Trinitarian commonality with Christianity or trying to get into a theological discussion of why Mormons believe we're Christians]

. . .

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that "all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable" (2 Timothy 3:16). We love the Bible and other scriptures. That may be surprising to some who may not be aware of our belief in the Bible as the revealed word of God. It is one of the pillars of our faith, a powerful witness of the Savior and of Christ's ongoing influence in the lives of those who worship and follow Him.

. . .

You young people especially, do not discount or devalue the Holy Bible. It is the sacred, holy record of the Lord's life. The Bible contains hundreds of pages more than all of our other scripture combined. It is the bedrock of all Christianity. We do not criticize or belittle anyone's beliefs. Our great responsibility as Christians is to share all that God has revealed with all of His sons and daughters.

Those who join this Church do not give up their faith in the Bible—they strengthen it. The Book of Mormon does not dilute nor diminish nor de-emphasize the Bible. On the contrary, it expands, extends, and exalts it. The Book of Mormon testifies of the Bible, and both testify of Christ.

The first testament of Christ is the Bible's Old Testament, which predicted and prophesied of the coming of the Savior, His transcendent life, and His liberating Atonement.

The second Bible testament of Christ is the New Testament, which records His birth, His life, His ministry, His gospel, His Church, His Atonement, and His Resurrection, as well as the testimonies of His Apostles.

The third testament of Christ is the Book of Mormon, which also foretells Christ's coming, confirms the Bible's account of His saving Atonement, and then reveals the resurrected Lord's visit to the earth's other hemisphere. The subtitle of the Book of Mormon, the clarifying purpose statement printed on the cover of every copy, is "Another Testament of Jesus Christ."

Each of these three testaments is a part of the great, indivisible whole of the Lord's revealed word to His children. They contain the words of Christ, which we have been admonished to feast upon as a means of qualifying for eternal life (see 2 Nephi 31:20). Those who think that one part is more important or more true than the other parts are missing some of the beauty and completeness of the canon of ancient scripture.

The counter-argument that LDS do believe in the Book of Mormon's "superiority" comes mainly from two sources:
  1. A famous quote by Joseph Smith saying that the Book of Mormon was "the most correct" book on earth.
  2. An "Article of Faith" that states that we believe the Bible "as far as it is translated correctly"
However, something tells me that Elder Ballard has maybe read/quoted those two points a few hundred times before his 2007 address. He obviously finds plenty of room to maintain a healthy respect for the Book of Mormon without claiming any type of "superiority."

I realize that this type of religious discussion actually distracts from the Romney message in general . . . but sometimes I feel a need to clarify an issue that can and has been used as a political weapon against him.


Anonymous said...

This was a thoughtful posting. Thank you JF.

Anonymous said...

How come all of Romney's supporters on the Internet are Mormons?

Anonymous said...

They're not.

Anonymous said...

Just like Islam Morman radicals that practice radicalism give Mormanism a bad name. Unfortunately as well as Islam I am completely opposed spiritually to the Mormon faith. This is to also include paganism and Buddhism. This great country was founded on Christian principles before the Mormans massacred thousands in Utah. Religion has no place in politics however it speaks highly of the character of the individual which Mr. Romney can not buy. I support McCain and I think others should as well seriously consider him. Here in Iowa although he does not have thousands of paid propaganda pieces we are getting sick of the lip service in Romney's campaign

Nealie Ride said...

Now, it's becoming clearer what guides your bias against Romney: his LDS faith.

You sound like an internet-trained historian the way you powerfully provide pronouncements about the LDS Church's murdering of 1000s in Utah. You need to grow up and spot spewing unsupported facts.

Reasonable-minded Christians, as well as all kinds of believers, realize Mitt's Mormon. Yet, he's the most competetent guy in the field, despite his Mormon faith. To not vote for him based primarily on his faith is not only ridiculous politics and application of faith in our society, it's juvenile.

I've come to deal with this issue more clearly by reading what other thoughtful evangelicals have written on this issue:

If this doesn't help, you're beyond hope.

Anonymous said...

You are right to some degree nealie I have crossed the taboo line not only by speaking politics but religion as well. Mr. Romney's religion has absolutely nothing to do with who I support as president. I do not believe I said anything derogatory about Mormanism in general but I believe it is being used as a "tool" for Mitt's campaign. The only thing I know about "LDS's" is our arguments when they knock on my door and Mitt's military "pass" for mission service. My bias is about Mitt's millions in self donations and flip-flop lip service politics which is why I tend to stay away from such said subjects however now is the time where we need to choose our president "wisely". God Bless.