August 20, 2011
Thank you for the DVD. I also enjoyed our conversation and I appreciate your thoughtful study, prayer and concern. As you focus on “God's word” for guidance, I would caution you about what other “anti-Mormon” sources you rely upon for information. Many of these sources contain much misinformation and half-truths. I thoughtfully watched the DVD and made a few notes. The DVD warns about “cognitive dissonance” and seems to try to diagnose LDS as suffering from some kind of mental disorder. I believe that we should beware of false arguments like we should beware of false prophets.
BOOK OF MORMON TESTIFIES OF THE BIBLE
First, to answer your question, “is the Bible inerrant or not?” Yes, the Bible is inerrant. To support this belief, let's read what the Book of Mormon actually says about the Bible. This is the part the DVD producers failed to include.
In this first example, we see at the opening of the Book of Mormon, God reaffirms His pattern of revelation. God has a plan for the salvation of His Children and revels that plan to prophets who record His word in scripture. A prophet Lehi is commanded of God to preach repentance to the people at Jerusalem. God then warns Lehi that he must flee Jerusalem or be killed. Nephi has faith in his Father, and seeks a his own spiritual witness through prayer after reasoning things out. While on their way out of town, Lehi sends his sons back to retrieve the family Bible from a wealthy yet wicked relative so that they could carry the laws, commandments, and covenants of God with them to their new home. After retrieving what is called, the Brass Plates; Lehi prophesies that those words [Old Testament] would go forth to all nations and that they would not “be dimmed any more by time.”
1Nephi 5:18-19 That these plates of brass [Old Testament] should go forth unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people who were of his seed. Wherefore, he said that these plates of brass should never perish; neither should they be dimmed any more by time. And he prophesied many things concerning his seed.
The DVD uses the Great Isaiah Scroll, which dates to 100 BC, as a proof against the Book of Mormon. In actual fact, the Great Isaiah Scroll is a vindication and validation of the prophecy by Lehi. Whether you believe this prophecy in the Book of Mormon was made by Lehi 600 BC or by Joseph Smith in 1830 AD, the prophecy predicts that the Old Testament would go forth to all nations undimmed from 600 BC. Now we have the Great Isaiah scroll that supports the Book of Mormon claim that the Old Testament books that we possess today has not changed significantly since at least 100 BC.
Next we can read in the Book of Mormon what Lehi's son, Nephi, says about the Old Testament. Nephi does not say that there is anything “corrupt” about the Bible. On the contrary, Nephi clearly says that the Old Testament would come from the Jews to the Gentiles “in purity.” And again, Nephi rightly predicts that although the portion of the Old Testament we would have would be “pure”, some books and prophecies would be missing. Several notable examples of lost books include the Book of Jasher and the Book of Enoch.
1Nephi 13:23-25 And he said: Behold it [Old Testament] proceedeth out of the mouth of a Jew. And I, Nephi, beheld it; and he said unto me: The book [Old Testament] that thou beholdest is a record of the Jews, which contains the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; and it also containeth many of the prophecies of the holy prophets; and it is a record like unto the engravings which are upon the plates of brass, save there are not so many; nevertheless, they contain the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; wherefore, they are of great worth unto the Gentiles. . . 25 Wherefore, these things go forth from the Jews in purity unto the Gentiles, according to the truth which is in God.
Now, here is part of Nephi's prophesy that the DVD does discuss:
1Ne 13:29 —because of the many plain and precious things which have been taken out of the book, 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, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them.
In context, when one considers the many lost books of the Bible, the pseudo-pigripha, the Apocrypha, the example of the “Comma Johanneum,” the hundreds of Bible translations, and the innumerable ways in which people interpret the Bible; it is not difficult to see how Nephi's prophecy accurately describes our lack of a “unity of faith” in the Last Day (Eph 4:11-13).
Joseph Smith, by request, wrote to John Wentworth of the Chicago Democrat a series of articles of faith detailing some of the core LDS beliefs. The 8th article of faith declares that the LDS believe that “the Bible is the word of God as far as it is translated correctly”. Or it could also be said, “interpreted correctly.” This statement is in no way demeaning or degrading the Bible, but is a commentary on the reality of how perception and tradition shape what is considered the “generally accepted” or “scholarly accepted” interpretation of the Bible. There is nothing “corrupt” about the Bible. What has been corrupted is our understanding of it and our living it.
ALMA AND JERUSALEM
The DVD goes on to attack Alma's prophecy that Jesus Christ would be born “at Jerusalem, which is the land of our forefathers” instead of specifying Bethlehem exactly.
Alma 7:10 And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God.
Despite the DVD's appeal to authority, I am not sure what the big deal here is. When people ask me where I am from, I say “Augusta, GA.” I usually do not specify Evans exactly unless they are familiar with the area. And this is in spite of the fact that the city of Martinez lies in between Evans and Augusta. The scholar's reaction to Alma's prophecy stems from an assumption that most people are familiar with the specific geography of Israel. However, this was not the case with the Nephites. Nephi tells us that he did not teach his children “after the manner of the things of the Jews.” Therefore, in reality, Alma saying that Jesus would be born “at [the land of] Jerusalem” is more of an internal consistency and not a false prophecy.
2 Nephi 25:5-6 Yea, and my soul delighteth in the words of Isaiah, for I came out from Jerusalem, and mine eyes hath beheld the things of the Jews, and I know that the Jews do understand the things of the prophets, and there is none other people that understand the things which were spoken unto the Jews like unto them, save it be that they are taught after the manner of the things of the Jews. But behold, I, Nephi, have not taught my children after the manner of the Jews; but behold, I, of myself, have dwelt at Jerusalem, wherefore I know concerning the regions round about; and I have made mention unto my children concerning the judgments of God, which hath come to pass among the Jews, unto my children, according to all that which Isaiah hath spoken, and I do not write them.
JOSEPH SMITH TRANSLATION
The DVD criticizes Joseph Smith for his attempt at translating the Bible. While Joseph Smith never, considered this project complete, what is called the “Joseph Smith Translation” is not a translation in the scholarly sense. Joseph Smith did not have access to ancient texts. Instead, LDS consider Joseph Smith's translation more of an inspired commentary, which does not replace or supplant the King James Version.
Why would Joseph Smith feel to change the wording of verses? As time passes, the meaning of the words can change even if their translation does not. Faith is a good example. Today, the word 'faith' has become almost synonymous with the word 'hope.' People often say they have “faith” that their loved one will be healed from a terminal medical condition. However, what they really mean is that they are trying to “maintain hope.” Therefore, in preserving the original meaning and intent of the New Testament writers, Joseph Smith felt it necessary to emphasize that salvation through the grace of Christ involves both faith (belief) and works (action or obedience). It is also important to point out that Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon and the LDS Church recognize and testify of the divinity of Jesus Christ.
JOSEPH SMITH AND ZION
Doctrine and Covenants 84:4 records “Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation.” First, the word “shall” and not “will” means this is a command and not an immediate prediction. It is regrettably true that the Saints in that day were not faithful enough to obey this command. Consequently, the church in a sense is wandering in the dessert waiting a more faithful rising generation to realized the blessings of this prophecy. However, when one takes the time to read this command in context, Joseph Smith prophesies in D&C 58 that the wicked would criticize the Saints inability to fulfill God's commandments as unfulfilled prophecy.
D&C 58:31-33 Who am I, saith the Lord, that have promised and have not fulfilled? I command and men obey not; I revoke and they receive not the blessing. Then they say in their hearts: This is not the work of the Lord, for his promises are not fulfilled. But wo unto such, for their reward lurketh beneath, and not from above.
Second, “in this generation” was said in the same spirit as Matt 24:34. Here Christ foretold many signs which would mark both the destruction of the Temple as well as the Last Day. However, Christ said that all these signs would be fulfilled in “this generation.” The phrase, “In this generation” is found throughout the D&C; and in every case this phrase is used in a broader sense: D&C 6:8, 11:22, 10:33, 11:8, 84:31,
While it is important to not cast Logic out the window, these anti-Mormon propaganda “hit” pieces are carefully crafted tools of the devil to divert you from doing a productive and truthful investigation of the Book of Mormon. Instead of reading the Book of Mormon and focusing on what the Book of Mormon teaches, this DVD distracts you from the true message of the Book of Mormon that Jesus is the Christ.
The Bible equates the sin of Idolatry with Adultery. Pornography and Infidelity like false religion have become a terrible plague that is destroying marriages and families. And it is this demoralization that has led to our complete ideological subversion away from Constitutional principles of self government and personal responsibility. Fixing this nation must begin with a return to traditional family and moral values.
Just like the days of Isaiah and Micah, people are attracted to false prophets and teachers because those teachers do not make the same moral demands, nor do they have the same high expectations that a covenant relationship with God requires. Most people have an inherent appetite for spirituality as well as intimacy. However, many will settle for a counterfeit version if the path appears easier. When it comes to a marriage relationship, the Internet is rarely ever sick or too tired, and never expects you to help wash the dishes. In the same way, many faiths let people go through the motions of religious observance without empowering them to keep the high standards of righteousness a true relationship with Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ requires. Paul details these standards in 1 Cor 5:11 (1 Cor 5:7-12).
The end of the DVD talks about freedom. But what the presenter means is freedom from God's high expectations and freedom from any moral requirements. Yes, Christ accepts us as we are (justification), but he doesn't leave us that way (sanctification). Remember the story of the rich young man? This parable reveals the covenant requirements for sanctification and exaltation. “If thou will be perfect [sanctification], sell all that thou hast, give to the poor, and come and follow me [consecration].”
For me, being LDS helps me and my family live the gospel of Jesus Christ better then any other religion. The LDS allows me to consecrate myself to God and empowers be to live up to the high covenant expectations and moral requirements that a relationship with our Heavenly Father requires. Lastly, the Bible promises that those who add or subtract from scripture will suffer the plagues detailed in the Book of Revelation. Thus far, living the LDS faith has saved me any my family from numerous spiritual and temporal plagues and pitfalls. Part of true religion is its ability to “care for the fatherless and widows” and to keep us “unspotted from the world”. This is another critical test of true religion.
Your brother in Christ,