My Mistake

Mormonism and Islam share a common narrative. It goes like this:

God has spoken through his chosen prophets through the ages in order to inform humanity about how they should serve him and so gain his favor and a place before him in eternity. God’s greatest revelation of himself was through Jesus Christ. Sadly, over time Christ’s message to us became tainted through errors that entered the Bible as it was cobbled together, copied and translated through the centuries. To correct the flaws in the Bible and the pursuant flaws in belief and practice among Christians and Jews, God has sent his angel to give pure revelation of his will in the form of a truly perfect book given in our own language through the hand of a Prophet. While the Bible is still useful for partially discerning the will and nature of God, the new book being entirely perfect, must be deferred to and preferred over the Bible in all places where the two might disagree.

I invite any adherents to one of these faiths please correct me if I got something wrong in this narrative, but that is the way I understand their teaching at this point. This being the case, both religions rather than focusing on fulfilled prophecies or confirming signs within their own traditions, tend to assail the veracity, relevance and consistency of the Bible. I find it endlessly fascinating that Muslim apologists cite liberal bible scholars and atheists. Recently, a friend of a relative of a friend was arrested and threatened by Turkish authorities for releasing a video which demonstrated that the Bible has not be corrupted over time. Nothing the man said violated explicit Turkish law nor did it directly criticize Islam; he simply stated his reasons for trusting the Bible. As a result he has had to flee his home for the time being.

I have not yet been able to view the video since it’s in Turkish, but it may be that defending the Bible as inerrant might not be the best approach anyway. Muslims and Mormons (henceforth M&M’s) make a strong case for their premise and we should acknowledge those places where the biblical text sounds archaic, vindictive, regressive, inaccurate, and inconsistent. Of course all of those things are there because it was written by people, many of whom don’t even claim divine origin for their words. It was written by lots of people who all had their own agendas in what they wrote and who wrote to their specific audiences. With the exception of the book of Revelation, I can’t think of a single book of the Bible that was intended by its author to be read by all people for all time. What’s more, there were lots of books that got excluded by other people who had their own agendas and made no claim on divine inspiration or even divine endorsement over their decisions. But here’s the kicker…it doesn’t matter!

textual

M&M’s make a strong case for their premise but faith according to the Bible is not predicated on that premise. I do not believe that God meant to dictate his will to humanity by means of a book. If he did, he left worthy saints such as Abraham, Job, and Melchizedek woefully under equipped. God has always meant to reveal himself through personal relationship with individuals and communities. The Bible is the story of God’s growing relationship with humanity told in smaller stories of the ways he has related to humans and then finally as a human in the person of Christ. The Bible is a compendium of these stories told from the perspective of flawed flesh and blood. What some might call mistakes in the Scripture are there by design.

The Bible was designed to be the story of us told by us. In those 66 books bound in the skin of an animal, we find a manifestation of what the apostle Paul called, “treasure in an earthen vessel.” The Bible wasn’t meant to be a holy book to be kept off the floor or gilded in gold and left on a coffee table somewhere. Instead the Bible was meant to be printed in softcover and carried around to be read and reread in coffee shops, break rooms, bedrooms, and bathrooms. The Bible will not be a talisman nor will it serve as an owners manual or a rule book. The Bible is not a map to get us to heaven or “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.” The Bible calls itself a mirror and because the image we find there is us, the image must be flawed.

Rather than calling it the Holy Bible, perhaps we should call it the Vulgar* Bible. You might ask, “What good would that do?” Perhaps it would get us to quit expecting it to be the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The Bible will fail that expectation and we will go looking for other books and institutions that claim to offer that age-old ticket to godhood. But God has never wanted us to eat that fruit regardless of how it is presented. God has always wanted us to want life and that must be found in a daily, intimate relationship with him. That’s what the Bible points us toward as we look in its shiny surface at our flaws and his own perfect presence just behind us.

 

*”vulgar”. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 29 Dec. 2015. <Dictionary.comhttp://dictionary.reference.com/browse/vulgar>.
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Finding the way, telling the truth, living the life.

Posted in Religion
24 comments on “My Mistake
  1. eugenehunter says:

    Hello,

    My name is Jordan, and I happen to be a Mormon. I appreciate your post, and I actually find many common beliefs between us:

    – Mormons believe in continued/modern revelation from God to man today; both personal revelation to every individual, and revelation to His Church and world by living prophets and apostles.

    – Mormons believe that it is crucial to have a personal relationship with God and Jesus Christ, as we learn to live as and become more like Them.

    Now, to correct parts of your narrative:

    Mormons do not prefer the Book of Mormon over the Bible. We believe both equally to be the word of God. We do not believe that they contradict each other, but that they run parallel to each other. It is true that there were discrepancies in the course of compiling and translating the Bible over the years, and Mormons believe that there were precious, eternal truths that apply to all people in every age of the earth that were either removed, lost, or forgotten. Ironically, prophet in the Book of Mormon acknowledges that his writing is imperfect, but he warns us not to judge his imperfection, but rather seek truth by way of the Holy Ghost and acknowledge the power of God.

    On that same note, Mormons believe that the Book of Mormon was translated through the power of God given to Joseph Smith, His chosen prophet for this dispensation or time. Logically, in that context we believe it to be the most correct book on earth.

    • Do the nearly identical similarities between the Mormon narrative and Islam’s not give you pause? Can you see that Joseph Smith and Mohammed were nearly the same person living in different time periods? A man goes out to be alone, is called by an angel, claims to be a prophet sent by the God of the Bible, is rejected in his home town, flees to another place and gathers ignorant malcontents around his cause, writes and rewrites “inspired” texts throughout his life, denies the Trinity, requires works salvation, becomes a polygamist/pedophile, militarizes his followers with himself as general.

  2. eugenehunter says:

    Both the Book of Mormon and the Bible share the same end goal: to serve as a witness of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, and to convince all people to believe in Him.

    Furthermore, you pointed out the fact that the Bible is a compilation of writings of prophets and other people who had certain audiences in mind, or wrote things that applied to people in a certain place and/or time period. Mormons refer to this as “relative truths”; truths that are relative to a certain people, time, or place. Although this is true, the Bible also contains what we refer to as “absolute truths”; truths that apply to all people everywhere in all ages of the earth, such as Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. His gospel of repentance, and the need to be born again through baptism and by the Holy Ghost are other absolute truths contained therein. Perhaps this what Timothy intended in 2 Timothy 3:16-17: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

  3. eugenehunter says:

    I would challenge you to read both the Book of Mormon and Bible together to see for yourself that they both testify of Christ, and teach us the same principles and doctrines. Even more so, as you do this I challenge you to ask God to reveal to you personally, as you have said that you believe He can, if these books are true and relevant to you today. 🙂

    • I’ve been following Christ for nearly thirty years and I assure you that any addition to the Bible or simple faith in the God of the Bible will always result in loss.

      • eugenehunter says:

        That’s interesting, because I’ve also been a disciple of Christ for nearly thirty years, and I can say that reading and knowing the Book of Mormon will not result in loss. I have read it many times through side by side with the Bible. I get the same feelings of peace, joy, long suffering, faith, and love as I get from reading the Bible, which Paul again refers to those feelings as the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22); and I am a witness that they are both true. How can you assure me of something that you have not tried? That is like telling someone who has eaten apples all their life that apples are bitter and nasty without having tasted one. I again encourage you to read the Book of Mormon to find out for yourself of its truthfulness. In fact, here is a sampler from the ancient American prophets, Jacob in the Book of Mormon:

        And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.

        Wherefore, we speak concerning the law that our children may know the deadness of the law; and they, by knowing the deadness of the law, may look forward unto that life which is in Christ, and know for what end the law was given. And after the law is fulfilled in Christ, that they need not harden their hearts against him when the law ought to be done away.

        (FUN FACT: Joseph Smith did not write the Book of Mormon; he merely translated it by the gift and power of God. The true authors of the Book of Mormon were the ancient inhabitants of the American continent from approximately 600 b.c. – 400 a.d. This means that the Book of Mormon was being written during the same time as much of the Bible, which I’m sure you’re aware was written by the ancient inhabitants of the Middle East and Europe. Surely you would agree that God loved both peoples, and would have therefore communicated His word to both as well.)

      • I have read some of the Book of Mormon. To me, it read like a farce. I guess if we’re going on our feelings, then that would make it so. But we don’t have to go on our feelings. We can look at facts most of which you will not find “fun.” You say that Joseph Smith translated the book. I’m sure that you are aware that most people would not agree that his methods would deserve the term, “translated,” since he actually wasn’t even looking at the “page” but rather had his head planted into a hat where his peep stones…er I mean, Urim and Thummim were. I’m sure you won’t view this video since you are thought controlled by an institution that tells you what to believe and profits from your unquestioning allegiance, but it’s pretty interesting and was produced by folks who have been on both sides. We don’t really need to discuss things any further since you have no case and are unwilling to consider other viewpoints. I will pray for you. https://youtu.be/G1mFdO1wB08

    • Tom Bartlett says:

      Jordan said “I would challenge you to read both the Book of Mormon and Bible together to see for yourself that they both testify of Christ, and teach us the same principles and doctrines. Even more so, as you do this I challenge you to ask God to reveal to you personally, as you have said that you believe He can, if these books are true and relevant to you today”
      Jordan, why do we need two books that witness of Jesus Christ since the whole world already has the Bible For centuries before the BoM. The BoM teaches us nothing new that is not already in the Bible. Why is there even a BoM. Very curious. Please explain in detail and not just coined mormon phrases.

  4. Question for each of you…

    What is the foundation/origin/source of your faith?

  5. Tom Bartlett says:

    Jordan/Eugene,
    I was a Mormon for many years and I have read the BoM many times while also studying it in SS, Priesthood, and hearing it referred to many times in sacrament meeting. The one thing we did not hear in these classes was about all the changes that had actually taken place from the time the BoM was first printed by JS up until this date (yes changes are still being made to the “most correct book”). You make reference to the “eternal truths left out of the bible, removed or not translated correctly”. Why then were there about 4,000 changes made to the BoM if it is the most correct book on earth and could you explain why they are still making changes today. Also since you have a prophet on this earth today and have since 1830, why will the Mormon church not tell us exactly what was left out of the Bible (the doctrine) and where it was originally written in the Bible. I actually have the JS translation of the complete Bible which was used by the RLDS, (when they were the RLDS, the Mormon church and their break-offs have a tendency to change the name of the TRUE church quite often), and JS actually makes no reference to any of the major doctrines of the LDS church in his translation. I suggest you do your homework before making false statements about the bible. Even your first prophet did not show us where the bible was translated incorrectly. Not even in his own translation. And no “prophet of yours since has ever tried to take on the subject, something I think a prophet would do since it is so important that members know what is wrong with the bible.You as well as all TBM mormons just repeat what you were told in SS class. THE BIBLE WAS NOT TRANSLATED CORRECTLY. Been there done that, without any information as to why, I just repeated it as you do, bah,bah,bah. Kind of like a sheep wouldn’t you say. Mormons don;t need facts they have a prophet and apostles to believe. I included your statement below so I could address the issues I have with it.
    First, Mormons do prefer the BoM and if you claim they don’t you are lying. I KNOW that to be true. If the Bible is not completely correct you have a problem. Whenever we studied the Bible we always had to refer back to the BoM in class and make the correct connection. I have the manuals as well Jordan/Eugene. Stop being deceptive. The typical mormon, lying for the Lord”. By the way, the BoM and the Bible DO contradict each other, that is why Mormons need the BoM. And would you please show me in the BoM the truths that the BoM has given you that the BIBLE doesn’t”. Since the BoM has all the truth could you please show me/us by chapter and verse the actual doctrine that the BoM has and the Bible doesn’t because no one has ever found it. In fact 25% of the BoM was copied word for word from JS’s family, KJV of the bible mistakes and all.
    Where in the BoM are these as you say “that there were precious, eternal truths that apply to all people in every age of the earth that were either removed, lost, or forgotten”. Could you please show these to me, yet to be found eternal truths in the BoM that are not in the Bible.

    MORE TO COME

    Jordan/Eugene said -“Mormons do not prefer the Book of Mormon over the Bible. We believe both equally to be the word of God. We do not believe that they contradict each other, but that they run parallel to each other. It is true that there were discrepancies in the course of compiling and translating the Bible over the years, and Mormons believe that there were precious, eternal truths that apply to all people in every age of the earth that were either removed, lost, or forgotten. Ironically, prophet in the Book of Mormon acknowledges that his writing is imperfect, but he warns us not to judge his imperfection, but rather seek truth by way of the Holy Ghost and acknowledge the power of God.

    On that same note, Mormons believe that the Book of Mormon was translated through the power of God given to Joseph Smith, His chosen prophet for this dispensation or time. Logically, in that context we believe it to be the most correct book on earth.”

  6. Tom Bartlett says:

    Jordan/Eugene, I would suggest you checkout this information. Lay IT side by side with the BoM and see what happens after you pray about it.

    http://www.CESletter.com

    This information is the real truth regarding the Mormon Scriptures. If you truly brlirvr your church can withstand all scrutiny be authentic and do some actual real world study regarding your doctrine and church community..

    • Awww, it looks like Jordan stepped in it this time. Oh well, I’m sure he’s moved on by now. Anyone who reads this blog, please pass it on to anyone you know who’s stuck in Mormonism. Lots of good resources here from Tom Bartlett.

      • eugenehunter says:

        None of your material persuades me. I am already aware that there have been changes in the Book of Mormon, a lot of it being grammatical. I believe those and any other changes to be inspired, just as the book itself is.

        I already knew that Joseph Smith was a polygamist. So were Abraham, David, and many other prophets of the Old Testament. There is reasoning behind that.

        The LDS church teaches from all our acclaimed Standard Works, namely the Old and New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price. Each year the Church focuses on one of these works to study throughout that year, and not just in Sunday School. We have a seminary program for the youth, and institute program for adults, where each individual is also encouraged to read every verse of the specified standard work.

        Tom – The Book of Mormon contains the specific prayers that Jesus instituted for baptism, and sacrament, which are not found in the Bible. We consider both of these ordinances necessary for our salvation of our believers. The Book of Mormon also contains additional/clarified doctrine as to our eternal existence (pre-earth life, purpose of mortality, and post-death). We gain more understanding of the Fall of Adam and Eve, and the need for Christ’s Atonement. These are just a few examples. You are right that the Bible touches on each of them, but what’s wrong with gaining more supporting evidence of these truths? If you want actual scriptural references I can put that together for you.

        From my very first comment I have not desired to condemn nor contend with any person or religion. I simply was trying to offer clarification/correction of Nathan’s narrative about what I know of Mormonism as I feel it is my duty to do so as a mormon. What I don’t understand is why you feel the need to break down or destroy Mormonism or Islam. There is nothing wrong with Mormonism. We preach the same Jesus that you believe in, and that we can only be saved by His grace. We do believe that our works matter, in the fact that they are evidence of our faith in Christ, but we know we cannot save ourselves, or rid ourselves of sin. Only Christ can to that.

        God bless you both. I guess all I can say at this point is that we will find out what’s real in the end.

  7. Tom Bartlett says:

    Anyone needing resources regarding the fraud of Mormonism, just contact me at tom.bartlett53@gmail.com

  8. Jews find their decisive revelation of God in the Torah.
    Muslims find their decisive revelation of God in the Quran.
    Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons and 7th Day Adventist and Fundamentalist Christian sects find their decisive revelation of God in the Bible.
    But Christians, we find our decisive revelation of God in a person, and that of Jesus of Nazareth.

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