One-Minute Answers by Stephen R. Gibson

Contents of One-Minute Answers

Do Latter-day Saints Tear Down the Bible?

Question: Why do Litter-day Saints tear down the Bible?

Latter-day Saints don't tear down the Bible--they hold it in high esteem and regard it as the recorded word of God. However, a few well-meaning members, in an effort to help people sense the importance of the Book of Mormon, have a tendency to elaborate on the books that are missing in the Bible, the Biblical doctrines that are not clear, or they focus on erroneous translations in parts of the Bible, to the exdusion of what is so priceless about the Bible. Detractors, building on that tendency and trying to bolster their erroneous notion that Latter-day Saints aren't Christian, often attempt to give the impression that Latter-day Saints are anti-Bible. This just isn't true. We believe the Bible is the word of God, and we study it, cherish it, and use it so we may better understand God's will. Joseph Fielding Smith said that the Bible "has had a greater influence on the world for good than any other book ever published." Regardless, some try to extract the idea that we don't value the Bible from the eighth Article of Faith, which states, "We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly." When detractors take this to mean that we feel the Bible is of little worth, the conclusion they draw just isn't true, and it is diametrically opposed to the central message of the Article of Faith they are attempting to explain away. We don't have a problem with the Bible only with occasional mistranslated passages found in various Bible translations.

Latter-day Saints do not believe that any one translation of the Bible is without error, but detractors twist this to mean that Mormons do not accept the Bible as the word of God. However, from this author's experience with numerous Christians, Latter-day Saints seem to accept the Bible more literally than all other denominations!

Fundamentalists or Evangelical Christians, which make up the majority of our most vocal detractors, generally believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, which means that they believe it is without error of any kind. The Book of Mormon, while testifying to the truthfulness of the Bible, does inform us that many plain and precious things were purposely taken out of the Bible centuries ago (1 Nephi 13:26-27). Even in the last decade, clerics of some of the more liberal Christian groups have continued to remove precious truths from the Bible. In one of the more recent translations, for instance, some have gone so far as to change the gender of God.

Latter-day Saints generally would agree with Elder Bruce R. McConkie and others who have stated that the Bible is the foremost of the Standard Works of the Church; that it is the first of the accepted, approved, canonized volumes of scripture used by the Saints as a standard by which all doctrine and procedures are judged (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, p.390).

The LDS Church unwaveringly testifies of the divine nature of the Bible. The Doctrine and Covenants teaches, through a revelation from the Lord found in the 20th Section, that one of the reasons for the coming forth of the Book of Mormon is to prove to the world that "the holy scriptures are true" (D & C 20:11). Obviously the Lord was speaking of the Bible as the holy scriptures, as it was the only Judeo-Christian scriptures that the world had prior to the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.

While critics sometimes focus on 1 Nephi 13 and its declaration that the plain and precious truths were taken from the Bible, they fail to cite the hundreds of Biblical truths which are testified to by Book of Mormon prophets. These prophets provide a second witness to the truthfulness of such Biblical occurrences as the fall of Adam, the building of the Tower of Babel, and the dividing of the Red Sea incidents which some Bible scholars doubt. Bible renditions of miracles, parables, and even the greatest of events--the resurrection of our Savior--are further born witness to in the Book of Mormon. Clearly the Book of Mormon strengthens the witness of the Bible rather than weakening it.

When critics do mention any Biblical reference found in the Book of Mormon, it is usually accompanied by the accusation that Joseph Smith copied from the Bible. But what could make more sense than the Lord inspiring additional prophets in later dispensations to testify to his words given to prophets in earlier dispensations? Surely the Book of Mormon is a second witness, not only to Jesus Christ, but to the truth of the Bible itself.