Monday, June 23, 2008

Mormon Mythbuster: Mormons do not believe in nor do they read the Bible!

Not true.

On, the Church's principal means of disseminating doctrine on the Web, these are the statistics for Google searches related to the Bible:

"bible" = about 12,100 mentions
"New Testament" = about 9,710 mentions
"Old Testament" = about 12,000 mentions

Together, the total is over 33,800. And that is just for those three sets of keywords. There are many more keywords that appear in the Bible itself that we could analyze, but this is a sufficiently convincing example.

Okay, so we mention the Bible on our web site. But what do we say about it? Do we actually believe it to be true, or are we just mentioning it as a criticism of it?

See for yourself. These search results from (which appear to be more limited as compared to the Google numbers) list all articles in all publications by the Church that refer to the keywords "bible", "new testament", and "old testament".

Look at the page-by-page results and read some of the articles to discover what we actually say. What you see here is what we use in all of our Gospel instruction lessons for Sunday School, Young Women's and Young Men's organizations (teens from 12-18), Primary (children under 12), Relief Society (women 18 and over), and Priesthood quorums (males 12 and over). They also include all of our General Conference sessions and firesides, support materials, magazine articles, and other special talks and occasions recorded for posterity.

We read and refer to the Bible. A lot.

Not once will you ever read of any of our leaders denouncing 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; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God."

That is, when we weigh how the Bible came to be with how the Book of Mormon came to be, there are obvious differences that must be taken into account as we read, study, ponder, and pray. BUT, we believe both to be the word of God.

Our Bible is the King James Version (KJV). We are told by prophets, who are told by God via revelation, to use that version of the many that exist because it is the most correct of all translations. Joseph Smith was commanded to correct the scribal transmission errors and outright changes that were made, which version we call the Joseph Smith Translation (JST), but because Joseph was unable to complete that version and present it before the Church members for their acceptance before he was martyred, we use the King James Version.

As always, when in doubt, check it out. Ask someone who is a faithful member what they believe. There are always lots of people to tell you otherwise, but you'll really only know both sides when you also ask someone who is an adherent.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, Mormons do read the Bible and believe it [with qualification] as you rightly point out. That is not the problem. The problem is one of interpretation. Mormons are notorious for interpreting passages of the Bible out of context. Apparently what happens, and this is just an educated guess, is that the Mormon authorities tell Mormons what they are supposed to believe, and then Mormon laity jams the Bible into that mold.

    It cannot be overstated that the Bible alone, of all the standard works, is only the word of God with qualification. Namely, "so far as it is translated correctly." The 8th article of faith, which purportedly comes directly from the lips of God, says this. However, apparently what God, speaking more clearly through the latter-day prophets, really meant here, was primarily "insofar as it was transcribed correctly." Translation and transcription are two totally different things.

    There are legitimate concerns of translational accuracy. However, people who are fluent in both languages (whether the text in question is that of the Bible or not) are able to produce a reasonably accurate, though not absolutely perfect, translation. In the case of the Bible, in particular, competent scholars have made sufficiently reliable translations.

    What of transcription? Errors have crept in unawares to the Bible as it was copied numerous times exactly as we would expect. This was not a nefarious plot by the early "apostate" church. Read "Misquoting Jesus" if you don't want to believe me. What is more, through the science of textual criticism, the original text of the Bible has been more or less reconstructed. The idea Smith apparently had in mind, on the other hand, was that the Bible was torn to shreds with hopeless intentional mutilations so that we may only know what the originals taught after he told us. I appreciate that textual criticism was not around back then (at least to the extent of development it is now at) but the Mormon of today cannot hide behind the same red herring.

    In summary, the Bible as we have it today, in English, has been translated and transcribed correctly.

    Next, it is a demonstrable fact that the KJV is one of the least accurate English versions available today. If it has been revealed otherwise to the modern day prophets then that is yet another example of their false prophethood and lack of authority. Even this post of yours seems to contradict your claim. While the JST was never voted on to become an official standard work or scripture, Joseph did work, purportedly, under divine ispiration. He did not cocmplete that work, but he did make some corrections under direct inspiration. Wouldn't those corrections make the Bible closer to the original text though the JST was never officially canonised? It seems to me the answer may only be a resounding yes, on your view.

    I break out in a rash whenever I hear someone speak of the martyrdom of Smith but I'll leave that for another post. I am pleased to see, dear Rob, that you are offering your own comments here (as opposed to merely listing countless links to FAIR, FARMS, etc). In my estimation, your thoughts in the above post don't hold up to scrutiny, but, at least you are making a genuine effort. And for this you are to be commended.


We are happy to discuss any and every topic and question. We will give wide berth to a variety of opinions and ideas. The only thing we ask is that you return the favor by respecting our right to believe as we do and by not issuing lengthy, inflammatory diatribes meant to shock and confuse anyone not familiar with LDS teachings. They can certainly get that elsewhere. :)