Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Praying About the Book of Mormon

Anyone who has taken “the discussions” (they are now called lessons) with Mormon Missionaries will have met the challenge of the Book of Mormon; “Will you pray about this book and ask God if it is true?”

They will have heard Moroni’s promise, “ … ask God, the Eternal Father in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

(Moroni 10:4-5)

This is the experience on which the Mormon “testimony” is based, the starting point of someone’s involvement in the Mormon Church.

In principle Moroni’s promise extends beyond the Book of Mormon, encompassing “all things” in which we seek enlightenment. In practice I doubt you will find a Mormon today who has read, and prayed about, the Bible. Of course Mormons pray about many things as they seek that inner affirmation that tells them they are being led correctly, confirms that the church is true, and confirms their leader as a living prophet. They don’t, however, pray about the Bible. This is hardly surprising since the Mormon Church has by-passed God’s word in those very missionary discussions that are meant to teach God’s truth.

The Bible – A Book of Apostasy

The whole thrust of the missionary discussions is their account of apostasy and restoration. The Bible is the book of the apostasy, the Book of Mormon the instrument of God’s restoration of truth through Joseph Smith. References to the Bible are restricted to questionable interpretations of texts that,

a) confirm apostasy (Acts 20:29-31) But This, and other texts, e.g. Matt.24: 9-11; 1Tim.4: 1-3, cannot mean a complete falling away from the truth. This would contradict Jesus' promise in Matt.16: 18 that the gates of Hell would not prevail against the church he built.

b) confirm Mormon doctrine (John 10:14-16) But this is a misuse of scripture to confirm their claim that Christ visited America after his resurrection (3 Nephi: 15). However, Jesus earthly mission was to the Jews (Matt.15: 24). The other sheep are those outside Judaism. This reference pictures the future, world wide, scope of the Church.

While the Book of Mormon is presented as “Another Testament of Jesus Christ” and a companion volume to the Bible, in truth this book of the restoration delivers the final blow to the Bible:

Thou hast beheld that [when] the book proceeded forth from the mouth of the Jew; …it contained the fulness of the gospel of the Lord…Wherefore these things go forth from the Jews in purity unto the Gentiles…And after they go forth by the hand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of that great and abominable church, which is abominable above all other churches; for behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious…and all this they have done that they may pervert the right ways of the Lord, that they may blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men.

(1 Nephi 13:24-27 cf. Joseph Smith-History 1:18-19. Here is the true heart attitude of the Mormon Church to Christian Churches. Christians are portrayed as corrupt and abominable.)

A Translation of a Translation….

The Bible is relegated to only a remnant of truth. A book into which many errors have crept, whose dependability is confined to those bits that agree with the words of the Mormon prophets.

No, Mormons don’t pray about the Bible. They already “know” that it has been corrupted in its transmission, altered by profane and uninspired translators, and misinterpreted by “corrupt professors” whose creeds are “an abomination in the sight of God” who “draw near [to God] with their lips, but their hearts are far from [him].” (Joseph Smith-History 1:19) They even have a ridiculous and thoroughly dishonest phrase they use to dismiss the Bible as, “a translation of a translation of a translation”, evidence, if it was needed, that they haven’t the first idea how Bible translation works.

They know this because the book they have prayed about has told them so. By the end of the first missionary discussion the Bible has been effectively dismissed,

Without revelation and priesthood authority, people relied on human wisdom to interpret the scriptures and the principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ. False ideas were taught as truth. Much of the knowledge of the true character and nature of God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost was lost. The doctrines of faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost became distorted or forgotten.

(Preach My Gospel, Official Missionary Guide, p.35)

When you consider that it is not uncommon for people to receive the first few discussions within a week or two of meeting the missionaries it is clear that they waste no time in destroying any confidence that might have been had in the Bible.

By the time the typical Mormon has a Bible in their hands they know that it is wrong without ever having read it. Now the path is clear for establishing Mormon authority in its place. Mormons do read the Bible but their reading is punctuated by commentary from church leaders through manuals and study guides, magazines and conference talks, and church meetings. The Bible is never allowed to speak for itself because it is not considered reliable; because it doesn’t contain Mormonism They need someone to guide them and to teach them what it really means. Typically a piece of practical advice to Christians on how to deal with suffering (James 1:5) becomes a key formula for discovering truth much like Moroni's promise.

Wont you Please Pray about this Book?

If Moroni’s promise is to be taken seriously, however, we should pray about all things that are presented to us as truth and the Bible should be no exception. Here is a book, much of which, Jesus and the apostles quoted extensively. It contains the most comprehensive account we have of the life and ministry of the Saviour, and the establishment of the church. A book which, contrary to Mormon claims, has been miraculously preserved and extensively authenticated by archaeological, historical and cultural evidence.

Written over a period of 1500 years by more than 40 authors from all walks of life, from shepherds and fishermen to patriarchs and kings. Written in different places and differing circumstances across three continents and in three languages. Yet written with harmony and continuity from Genesis to Revelation, telling one story. Any person seeking truth would surely consider a book with such qualifications. Surely, no one would dismiss it on the word of two strangers whom they have just met. Sadly many do.

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