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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

As Far As it is Translated Correctly.

Article of Faith # 8 states that:

"We believe the Bible to be the Word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the Word of God."

The phrase "as far as it is translated correctly" has raised some criticisms from mainly Evangelical Christians who hold to the notion of an inerrant Bible. Some even claim that this means that Latter-day Saints do not appreciate the Bible or somehow think it is not "trustworthy".

Of course, Nephi foresaw that the Bible would undergo many textual and transmission errors. He prophesied that "many plain and precious things" would be taken out of the Bible, which Nephi calls the "book of the Lamb of God" (1 Ne. 13:28). 

Professor John Gee from BYU, in an article entitled The Corruption of Scripture in Early Christianity elaborates on how the New Testament was corrupted by scribes who made the mistakes either by sincere accident or by intentional and deliberate machinations to suit their theological views. New Testament scholar Bart D. Ehrman in his book Misquoting Jesus similarly notes that while most of the changes in the New Testament are minor and were accidental, there were nevertheless deliberate alterations made in order to suppress or create any scriptural validity for certain theological ideas. 

Latter-day Saints reject the notion of an inerrant Bible that is favored amongst Protestants. We acknowledge that there were errors that crept into the text of the Bible as well as the Book of Mormon. However, just because we acknowledge such, this does not in any way mean that we do not think that the Bible is not inspired. As Elder M. Russell Ballard said during the October 2007 session of General Conference:

"My brothers and sisters, the Holy Bible is a miracle!...I am puzzled by any who would question this Church's belief in the Bible and our position as Christians. The name of the Church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In our last general conference, here in this building, our Church leaders quoted from the Bible nearly 200 times. This Church is organized and functions like the Church that Christ and His Apostles established in the New Testament. Seated on the stand today are the prophet and the apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I bear solemn witness that we are true and full believers in the Lord Jesus Christ and in His revealed word through the Holy Bible. We not only believe the Bible—we strive to follow its precepts and to teach its message."

Elder Ballard in Our Search for Happiness elaborates on the "timeless and inspired teachings" of the Bible and how it and the Book of Mormon "serve as companion volumes of scripture, each one reinforcing the doctrines of the other"(Page 44).

Nephi beautifully captured the Latter-day Saint view of the Bible in relationship to the Book of Mormon when he wrote that:

"Wherefore, the fruit of thy loins shall write; and the fruit of the loins of Judah shall write; and that which shall be written by the fruit of thy loins, and also that which shall be written by the fruit of the loins of Judah, shall grow together, unto the confounding of false doctrines and laying down of contentions, and establishing peace among the fruit of thy loins, and bringing them to the knowledge of their fathers in the latter days, and also to the knowledge of my covenants, saith the Lord." (2 Ne 3:12)

We as Latter-day Saints do not favor one book of scripture over the other. While it is true that we consider the Book of Mormon as the "most correct of any book" in terms of laying out the fundamentals of the plan of redemption, we highly revere the Holy Bible and its inspired teachings as far as it is translated correctly.