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Are all Latter-day Saint beliefs fully explained in the Bible?

by W. John Walsh

Are all Latter-day Saint beliefs fully explained in the Bible?

Can you prove [insert the doctrine of your choice] strictly through the Bible?

Latter-day Saints do not derive all of our beliefs and doctrines from the Bible.   While Latter-day Saints consider the Bible to be the word of God, we do not consider it to contain all of God's words.  We accept, in addition to the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price as true scripture. These four scriptural collections are called the Standard Works.  In addition, we believe in continuing modern revelation and believe that Joseph Smith and all subsequent presidents of the church were and are prophets and representatives of Jesus Christ.

Occasionally, someone, usually a person who believes that the Bible is the complete and all-sufficient revelation from God to man, will ask that we prove a certain doctrine using only the Bible as a reference.  While I could most likely give you some Biblical references to support the LDS view of a particular doctrine, I don't think that would be a productive exercise.  First, Latter-day Saints are usually reluctant to engage in the "Bible-bashing" debates that characterize most of the Christian world.  We feel that contention is unchristian behavior:

"For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another." (The Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 11:29)

Second, the entire supposition is based upon flawed premises.  Obviously, if all of our beliefs were fully explained in the Bible, then we would have no need of the additional scriptural sources noted above.  The reason we need these additional scriptures is because the Bible is incomplete regarding God's plan for the human family.  While LDS beliefs are certainly consistent with the Bible, since it is one of our standard works, a person must also use these other sources of God's teachings if he or she wants to understand what Latter-day Saints believe. Furthermore, Latter-day prophets and apostles, equal in authority to prophets and apostles of ancient times, have further clarified and elaborated gospel doctrines beyond what the scriptures explicitly teach.

(See Prayer, Fasting, and Revelation home page; LDS Belief in the Bible; The Canonical or Biblical Exclusion; The Book of Mormon home page; Response to Criticism home page; Accusatory Questions home page)

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