During 2016, LDS members will be studying the latest manual published by their church, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Howard W. Hunter We will evaluate this book regularly, chapter by chapter, by showing interesting quotes and providing an Evangelical Christian take on this manual. The text that is in boldfaced is from the manual, with our comments following.
Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Howard W. Hunter, 2015
Teachings of Howard W. Hunter
Studying the scriptures is the most profitable of all study in which we can engage.
Before we review this chapter, we must be careful to explain what “scripture” means for both a Latter-day Saint and the Christian. To a Mormon, Scripture begins with the Standard Works and continues with the words and writings of the LDS General Authorities. To a Christian, scripture is found only in the Bible. When a Christian and Mormon engage in a conversation, it is important that this difference is understood.
Central to all truth is the testimony that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Great Jehovah, the Savior of the World, and the Only Begotten Son of the Living God. This is the message of the scriptures. Throughout each of these holy books there is an appeal to believe and have faith in God the Eternal Father and in his Son, Jesus Christ; and from the first to the last of these books of scripture is the call to do the will of God and keep his commandments.
Please understand the differences between a Mormon and Christian’s understanding of these terms:
Regarding “keeping his commandments,” see these articles below:
- Are you keeping the whole law?
- A Gift of Grace?
- Covenants: The (Unkept) Promises
- Sacrament Promises That Will Always Be Broken
- Mercy Cannot Rob Justice
- Aren’t all Mormons procrastinating their repentance? EN Espanol
- The Good News of Repentance? (Blog)
- Reading Between the Lines of Perfection (Part 1) (Part 2) (Blog)
- Thomas Monson’s To Do List (For You) (Blog)
When we follow the counsel of our leaders to read and study the scriptures, benefits and blessings of many kinds come to us. This is the most profitable of all study in which we could engage. …
Those who follow the counsel of leaders teaching heresy will receive no benefits or blessings. Jesus was very clear in his warning in Matthew 7:
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
First John 4:1 states,
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
When you receive counsel from church leaders who are false prophets, my advice is run away as fast as you can!
Scriptures contain the record of the self-revelation of God, and through them God speaks to man. Where could there be more profitable use of time than reading from the scriptural library the literature that teaches us to know God and understand our relationship to him? Time is always precious to busy people, and we are robbed of its worth when hours are wasted in reading or viewing that which is frivolous and of little value.
We hope you are reading and studying the scriptures on a daily basis as individuals and as families. We should not take lightly the command of the Lord, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39). The Spirit will come into your homes and your lives as you read the revealed word.
I agree it’s important to read and study the scripture if we’re talking about the Bible. Unfortunately, Hunter is referring to other scriptures compiled by Joseph Smith, a man whose corrupt teachings about God, Jesus, authority, and salvation classify him as a false prophet.
We ought to have a Church full of women and men who know the scriptures thoroughly, who cross-reference and mark them, who develop lessons and talks from the Topical Guide, and who have mastered the maps, the Bible Dictionary, and the other helps that are contained in this wonderful set of standard works. There is obviously more there than we can master quickly. Certainly the scriptural field is “white already to harvest” [see D&C 4:4]. …
Not in this dispensation, surely not in any dispensation, have the scriptures—the enduring, enlightening word of God—been so readily available and so helpfully structured for the use of every man, woman, and child who will search them. The written word of God is in the most readable and accessible form ever provided to lay members in the history of the world. Surely we will be held accountable if we do not read them.
I would beg for Mormons to know the Bible thoroughly so that, when they look at something in another LDS scripture, they can quickly understand that “something is wrong.”
Studying the scriptures helps us learn and obey God’s will.
Our Church leaders have laid great stress on the matter of reading the scriptures and the words of the prophets, ancient and modern. Fathers and mothers have been asked to read the scriptures so that they may properly teach their children. Our children are reading the scriptures as the result of the example being set by parents. We are studying the scriptures at our family home evenings, and some families are reading scriptures together at an early morning hour. … This is the way we learn to know the will of the Lord, that we might be obedient.
The Bible is a great resource to know how to obey God’s will. Unfortunately, Mormons seem to put more emphasis on the teachings from their other scriptures—especially the Doctrine and Covenants—and acceptance of the false doctrines taught here can be damnable.
There is nothing more helpful than prayer to open our understanding of the scriptures. Through prayer we can attune our minds to seek the answers to our searchings. The Lord said: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Luke 11:9). Herein is Christ’s reassurance that if we will ask, seek, and knock, the Holy Spirit will guide our understanding if we are ready and eager to receive.
I would like to challenge my LDS friends to read the Bible as if they were littel children. Read the words without the colored presuppositional glasses of Mormonism. See if the teachings here coincide with the teachings of the Bible. Start with John and then move over to Galatians, Romans, and Ephesians. I think the honest Mormon will have a difficult time seeing Mormonism in these passages.
The Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants will bring us closer to Christ.
The Book of Mormon
One of the most significant resources the Lord has provided to assist us in accomplishing this divine work is the Book of Mormon, subtitled “Another Testament of Jesus Christ.” [President Ezra Taft Benson] forthrightly admonished us not to neglect reading and abiding by the precepts of this sacred volume of scripture. “Its great mission,” he taught us, “is to bring men to Christ [and thus to the Father], and all other things are secondary.” (Ensign, May 1986, p. 105.) We hope you brothers and sisters are feeding your spirits by regularly reading the Book of Mormon and the other scriptures and using them in your ministries.
There are many problems with the Book of Mormon. I challenge the Mormon reader to look through some of the articles, Podcasts, and YouTube videos that we have written on Book of Mormon.
The Book of Mormon is the word of God. We invite you to read this wonderful record. It is the most remarkable volume in existence today. Read it carefully and prayerfully, and as you do, God will give you a testimony of its truthfulness as promised by Moroni (see Moroni 10:4).
Here are a couple of articles you ought to consider:
It is through reading and studying the Book of Mormon, and prayerfully seeking confirmation of its contents, that we receive a testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that the Church of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth.
Reading [the Book of Mormon] will have a profound effect on your life. It will expand your knowledge of the way God deals with man and will give you a greater desire to live in harmony with his gospel teachings. It will also provide for you a powerful testimony of Jesus.
Regarding what Hunter has said, I suggest looking these up:
The Doctrine and Covenants
The Doctrine and Covenants is a unique book. It is the only book on the face of the entire earth with a preface composed by the Creator himself. Furthermore, this book of scripture contains more direct quotations from the Lord than any other existing book of scripture.
It is not a translation of an ancient document, but is of modern origin. It is a book of revelation for our day. It is a unique and divinely inspired selection of revelations that came through prophets of God in our day in answer to questions, concerns, and challenges they and others faced. It contains divine answers to real-life problems involving real people. …
Did you realize that by reading the Doctrine and Covenants you can hear the voice of the Lord through scripture? [see D&C 18:33–36]. … That voice of enlightenment will usually come into your mind as “thoughts” and into your heart as “feelings” (see D&C 8:1–3). The promise of that witness is … available to every worthy man, woman, and child who prayerfully seeks for such a witness. Should not each of us resolve to read, study, ponder, and pray over these sacred revelations?
Here are a couple of articles regarding the Doctrine and Covenants:
Latter-day Saint, read the Bible, one of your standard works, and see if Mormonism can stand the test.