Holy Scriptures and canonised works

What do we consider sacred?  How can we know who to trust or what instruction is trustworthy, when conflicting opinions are so often promoted with equal passion by opposing parties, in every important matter?  What are the bedrock principles on which we may confidently build our lives?

What is scripture?

Throughout history, God has communicated with his children through prophets.  These prophets have taught correct principles in a language their listeners could understand, using symbols and metaphors they found familiar.  Prophets warn us in advance of the consequences of disobeying true principles, and encourage us to make the choices that will bring us lasting happiness.  The teachings and experiences of prophets and the records of their communication with God are collectively called “scripture.”

The Holy Bible:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints reveres the Holy Bible as the Word of God, as far as it is translated correctly (in other words, as far as it is correctly rendered in our language.)  Since no two languages are directly interchangeable, the translation of all significant works involves a degree of interpretation by the translator.  Despite broad agreement in the overall message, and despite the best efforts of well-qualified and diligent theologians & linguistic scholars, there remain numerous minor differences between modern translations of the Holy Bible, over which the various religious sects and secular authorities sometimes contend.  IN cases of dispute over the meaning of a passage of scripture, Christian ministers often rightly appeal to the earliest possible manuscripts of the earliest possible translations, in their effort to settle such disputes.  This is obviously a very difficult task requiring great care, since one must interpret the oldest (and therefore most authoritative) writings with the same understanding that would have been applied by an initiated person of the same culture and time as the text's original author.

Despite the inherent difficulties of translating these ancient texts, sufficient truth has remained through successive translations to preserve the message of hope that is common to Christianity, that Christ rose from the tomb and provided a way for us all to gain eternal life, and that he will wipe away all the tears of the righteous.  However, many important details (for example details of the Church organisation as it was instituted by Christ, and the correct methods of performing baptisms and other important ordinances) were lost, and have since become controversial points between opposing schools of opinion; indeed, subject to substantial change since the time of Christ.  It is evident by the disputations of the various sects that many such questions may never be wholly settled by an appeal to any version of the Holy Bible; indeed, it is evident from reading the Bible itself that anyone who claims to have a fully correct method of baptising people must have such information from another source than the Holy Bible; so that if anyone preaching anything not contained in the Holy Bible were to be considered as anathema, then the majority of Christendom and all of its converts would certainly be apostate.

It is self-evident from the Holy Bible itself that the Holy Bible cannot be a complete source of information about God's word.  Read, for example, various “it is written” quotations made by Jesus Christ from former prophets (quotations evidently accepted by the scholarly Jews of his era) from scriptural writings which are no longer extant in any biblical manuscripts available today.  Read also the words of Paul written to the Colossians (in Colossians 4:16); in which he instructs the saints at Colossae to forward this epistle to the saints in Laodicia, and likewise read in Colossae the epistle Paul has sent directly to the saints in Laodicia.  Why was this “epistle from Laodicia” so important?  We may never know, because it is nowhere to be found in any Holy Bible we have today.  However, in the infinite wisdom and power of God, a way has been provided for us to overcome these difficulties.

Other sources of Holy Scripture:

Wrote John the Beloved in concluding his gospel,

“...there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.
– John 21:25.  Since God has not done anything that was not worthwhile, and since all his words are valuable (see 2 Tim. 3:16); John's intriguing conclusion leaves open the possibility that other books besides John's gospel, besides the Revelation of John on the island of Patmos, and indeed, outside any of the canonised scriptures of the Holy Bible which are easily contained on my bookshelf; might contain factual and worthwhile accounts of Jesus' ministry among & dealings with God's children; and even if there were no other such books, John discredits the idea of the Holy Bible being a complete record of all of God's dealings with man.

Since God has dealt with his children and spoken to his prophets in diverse times and places, and since scriptural records have been written of these dealings, we may collect and compare sacred writings from different times and places.  All truth is mutually consistent and corroborative, and we may find increased brotherhood among our fellow-men by observing that many of the teachings of non-Christian faiths are compatible with the Holy Bible, and that there are many disputed Christian beliefs for which there is no valid scriptural objection.  In no way would God intend for our disputations about doctrine to become an obstacle to the brotherhood of Man.

The Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ

The doctrinal teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are based on several collections of scriptural books containing accounts of the Saviour's ministry in various times and places, including the times and lands of the Holy Bible (from Jerusalem & surrounding area) and the Book of Mormon (written in parts of the ancient Americas by a people who also saw the resurrected Christ).  A more complete understanding of Christ's teachings is available through studying the Holy Bible and the Book of Mormon in conjunction than may be obtained by studying either work in isolation; in the same way that two eyes may give a more complete picture of the same scene through slightly different perspectives on the same subjects.  By accepting the Book of Mormon as the word of God, we are therefore freed from the controversy surrounding specific Bible translations, by the harmony of multiple accounts from partially independent witnesses.  The Book of Mormon corroborates all the common core beliefs of Christendom, whilst offering additional detail on important doctrines that have previously constituted stumbling-blocks to brotherhood among believers and obstacles to the peace of mankind.

Accuracy of the Book of Mormon

While it is instructive to examine and compare the provenance and heritage of the Holy Bible and the Book of Mormon when deciding the degree to which we may trust the accuracy of these works, one must not confuse accuracy with overall importance.  Far from diminishing the importance of the Holy Bible, the teachings of Jesus Christ contained in the Book of Mormon demonstrate once again why the teachings of Jesus Christ contained in the Holy Bible are so important for our salvation.  The importance of the Holy Bible is assured by its unique contents and by its value as a testament to events of monumental significance to all of mankind.

The writers of the Book of Mormon did not claim their work was perfect.  One of the principal authors of the Book of Mormon wrote,

Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, neither them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been.

One characteristic quality of scripture is that great effort is made to preserve the integrity of its language and/or message.  As the translator of the Book of Mormon into English from its original ancient languages, Joseph Smith once said,

I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.

Joseph Smith would certainly not have been a prophet if he could not say this; for it was by the spirit of prophecy that Joseph Smith claimed to have translated the Book of Mormon.  This statement does not in any way diminish the importance of the Bible as the primary source of information about Jesus Christ's personal ministry on Earth.  The Book of Mormon does not in any way deny those details of gospel instruction that are unique to the Holy Bible, and indeed, corroborates those details common to both accounts.  The authors of the Book of Mormon do not claim that their work is in any way final; on the contrary they stated clearly their anticipation that once sufficient faith was exercised, miracles would continue, there would be further communication from God, and further light would be shed on the Gospel.

What do the Book of Mormon's original authors write about the Holy Bible?

1 Nephi 13:38-40 – Nephi sees a vision (about 592 B.C.)
The Book of Mormon will corroborate the Holy Bible, and clarify those points of doctrine that will be lost e.g. through the interventions of uninspired men.
2 Nephi 3:12 – The Lord's word to Joseph of Egypt (quoted in records made around 580 B.C.)
The Book of Mormon and the Bible corroborate each others truthfulness, settle contentious points of doctrine, and teach the latter-day descendents of Joseph-of-Egypt about their heritage and the covenants of the Lord.
2 Nephi 29:3-10 – (about 550 B.C.)
Many people in the last days will think that the Holy Bible is sufficient on its own, and ignorantly consider it to be a complete transcription of all of God's word to man.
Mormon 7:8-10 – (about 385 A.D.)
All who truly believe the Bible will also believe the Book of Mormon.  (These words might at face value appear pejorative to non-Mormon Christians; however, these are not my words, but the words of an ancient prophet, who foresaw our time.  If we believe in the Holy Bible, why not believe in another work that is harmonious with it, and which corroborates the evidence presented by the Holy Bible?  If we believe in the Holy Bible but NOT in another book of scripture from the same God, a book of scripture that also carries the same spirit of truth; what does this say about our ability to discern that spirit of truth?  What does this say about our manner of “belief” in the Holy Bible?  Is such a belief more likely to be active, considered and contemplative; or might it have arisen merely by the “accident” of birth and training into religious traditions; or else purely out of social convenience?  These words are written for contemplation only; not to insult anyone.)

As one would expect for two mutually corroborative works written by related peoples, there are many more links between the Bible and the Book of Mormon (including prophetic passages in the Holy Bible that are strongly indicative of the Book of Mormon), which the author will at this stage allow the reader to discover for themself.

Related works:

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John 10:16   And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
- Jesus Christ teaching in Judea about A.D.32    {Find out more}
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