SLC National Bible City of 2013

SLC National Bible City of 2013

By Eric Johnson

On Saturday, November 16, the Salt Lake Tribune reported the following:

Salt Lake City, heart of Mormonism, is 2013’s National Bible City

By Peggy Fletcher Stack

The Salt Lake Tribune

While many Christians may not see Mormons as Bible believers, the National Bible Association sure does.

The New York-based group has chosen Utah’s capital — headquarters of the LDS Church and the heart of Mormonism — as its National Bible City of 2013.

 The Judeo-Christian association was established in 1940 to “encourage everyone to read the Bible … in every sector of society regardless of religious or political distinction.”

To those who question lumping Mormonism into that tradition, the group’s president, Richard Glickstein, simply asks: “Do Mormons read the Bible? Then they are part of the tribe.”

“Mormons do read the Bible,” explains Philip Barlow, chair of Mormon History and Culture at Utah State University, noting that the Good Book makes up half the church’s four-year scripture-study curriculum.

In fact, the King James Version is part of LDS canon. Of course, members believe in additional scripture as well, including the faith’s signature work, the Book of Mormon.

The National Bible Association (not to be confused with the National Bible Society) has bestowed an interesting honor onto Salt Lake City, the capital of not only the state of Utah (officially, more than 60 percent of its residents claim to be Mormon) but also the Mormon Church headquarters.

 It is certainly true that Mormonism includes the Bible as part of its canon. At the same time, it says that that the Bible is true “only as far as it is translated correctly,” as the Eighth Article of Faith written by Joseph Smith reports.  It is, in fact, the one scripture whose accuracy and authority is doubted by many Latter-day Saints, especially when difficult Bible passages that seemingly contradict LDS teaching are introduced. 

Perhaps a look at how LDS scriptures, leaders, and other sources have approached the Bible would be appropriate:

 Standard Works

“And because my words shall hiss forth—many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible” (The Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 29:3).

“But thus saith the Lord God: O fools, they shall have a Bible; and it shall proceed forth from the Jews, mine ancient covenant peo­ple. And what thank they the Jews for the Bible which they receive from them? Yea, what do the Gentiles mean? Do they remember the travails, and the labors, and the pains of the Jews, and their diligence unto me, in bringing forth salvation unto the Gentiles?” (The Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 29:4.)

“Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews?” (The Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 29:6.)

“Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written” (The Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 29:10).

Joseph Smith

“I believe the Bible as it read when it came from the pen of the original writers. Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or de­signing and corrupt priests have committed many errors” (Teach­ings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 327).

“There are many things in the Bible which do not, as they now stand, accord with the revelations of the Holy Ghost to me” (Teach­ings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 310. See also History of the Church 5:425).

First Presidency

 “The Bible, as it has been transmitted over the centuries, has suf­fered the loss of many plain and precious parts” (Presidents Ezra Taft Benson, Gordon B. Hinckley, and Thomas Monson, “Letter Reaffirms Use of King James Version of Bible,” Church News, June 20, 1992, p. 3).

Apostles

 “What shall we say then, concerning the Bible’s being a sufficient guide? Can we rely upon it in its present known corrupted state, as being a faithful record of God’s word? We all know that but a few of the inspired writings have descended to our times, which few quote the names of some twenty other books which are lost, and it is quite certain that there were many other inspired books that even the names have not reached us. What few have come down to our day, have been mutilated, changed and corrupted, in such a shameful manner that no two manuscripts agree. Verses and even whole chapters have been added by unknown persons; and even we do not know the authors of some whole books; and we are not certain that all those which we do know, were written by inspiration. Add all this imperfection to the uncertainly of the translation, and who, in his right mind, could, for one moment suppose the Bible in its present form to be a perfect guide? Who knows that even one verse of the Bible has escaped pollution, so as to convey the same sense now that it did in the original? Who knows how many important doctrines and ordinances necessary to salvation may be buried in oblivion in some of the lost books? Who knows that even the ordinances and doctrine that seem to be set forth in the present English Bible, are anything like the original? The Catholics and Protestants do not know, because tradition is too imperfect to give this knowledge. There can be no certainty as to the contents of the inspired writings until God shall inspire some one to re-write all those books over again, as he did Esdras in ancient times. There is no possible means of arriving at certainty in any other way. No reflecting man can deny the necessity of such a new revelation” (Orson Pratt, Divine Authenticity of Book of Mor­mon, No. 3 (December 1, 1850), “The Bible and tradition, without further revelation, an insufficient guide,” p. 47).

“In pre-Christian times Old Testament works were copied in the same way on the ‘sticks’ which substituted for books in those days, and which circulated among persons sufficiently educated to read them…Many insertions were made, some of them ‘slanted’ for selfish purposes, while at times deliberate falsifications and fab­rications were perpetrated” (Mark E. Petersen, As Translated Cor­rectly, p. 4).

“As all informed persons know, the various versions of the Bible do not accurately record or perfectly preserve the words, thoughts, and intents of the original inspired authors” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p. 383).

 “The Book of Mormon is translated correctly because an un­learned man did it by the gift and power of God. It took him less than sixty translating days. The Bible abounds in errors and mis­translations, in spite of the fact that the most learned scholars and translators of the ages labored years on end over the manuscripts of antiquity to bring it forth” (Bruce R. McConkie, “The Bible: A Sealed Book,” a BYU speech given to LDS Seminary and Institute teachers, August 1984).

“The Bible that went forth to the gentile nations in the early days of the Christian era, according to the angelic word to Nephi, ‘con­tains the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the hous
e of Israel; and it also containeth many of the prophecies of the holy prophets; and it is a record like unto the engravings which are upon the plates of brass, save there are not so many’ (1 Nephi 13:23). Thereafter the many plain and precious parts were taken away by the servants in the house of that great church which is not the Lord’s Church. Thus our present Bible contains only a fraction of the holy word that once was compiled with and included in it as the acceptable word of the Lord” (Bruce R. Mc­Conkie, cited in Nyman and Millet, Joseph Smith Translation: The Restoration of Plain and Precious Things, p. 16).

“By faulty transmission, many ‘plain and precious things’ were ‘taken away’ or ‘kept back’ from reaching what later composed our precious Holy Bible” (Neil A. Maxwell, “The Wondrous Resto­ration,” Ensign, April 2003, p. 35).

Other Sources

 “From these statements of the Prophet we can ascertain more clearly the meaning of the eighth article of faith, part of which reads, ‘We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly’ (Articles of Faith 1:8). Here the word trans­lated appears to be used in a broader sense to mean transmitted, which would include not only translation of languages but also copying, editing, deleting from, and adding to documents. The Bible has undergone a much more serious change than merely translation from one language to another” (BYU Professor Robert J. Matthews, A Bible! A Bible!, p. 72. Italics in original).

“In a vision of the future, Nephi sees the Bible going ‘forth from the Jews in purity, unto the Gentiles, according to the truth which is in God.’ But the Gentile church takes away ‘from the Gospel of the Lamb, many parts which are plain and most precious.’ The Book of Mormon, in other words, declares the Bible to be deficient” (Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, p. 100).

It is true that Latter-day Saints often speak highly of the Bible. But with Article 8 looming in the background, how sincere could those compliments really be? With these quotes from LDS sources, we find it interesting that the National Bible Association bestowed their 2013 honor to Salt Lake City.