Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 11, 1968

What Mormons Teach About The Bible

Kent Ellis

This lesson is not meant to be a complete study of Mormon doctrine and practice. It is an exposition of only one phase of Mormon teaching; namely, what they teach about the Bible. By setting forth these facts, and upon the basis of the axiom that all truth is harmonious, we hope to establish only one basic contention, which is that Mormonism and Christianity are neither identical nor compatible. They are contradictory to and exclusive of one another.

There is only one way for Joseph Smith to be a true prophet, and that is for Jesus Christ to be a false one. There is only one way for Mormonism to be right, and that is for Christianity to be wrong. One can have the Bible or the books of Mormonism, but not the Bible and the books of Mormonism. He can have one or the other, but not one and the other; not both. A person can be a Mormon or a Christian, but not a Mormon and a Christian, nor a Mormon Christian.

In order to show the significance of what the Mormons teach about the Bible, it is necessary first to see what the Bible teaches about itself. In seeing what the Bible teaches about itself, and what the Mormons teach about the Bible, we shall also see by necessary inference what the Bible teaches about the Mormons.

What The Bible Teaches About Itself

The Bible teaches:

I. That the complete truth of God for man was revealed in the first century.

a. Jesus promised his apostles that the Holy Spirit would guide them "into all truth" (John 16:13). That does not leave out any truth.

b. Evidently this promise was fulfilled, because Paul said to the elders of the church at Ephesus that he had declared to them the "whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27). God has no counsel for man that was not declared by Paul in the first century.

c. Peter said that in the knowledge given them, they had been granted "all things that pertain unto life and godliness" (II Peter I:3).

d. James described the gospel that men heard and did at that time as "the perfect law" (James 1:25). That which is perfect is "complete in all respects; without defect or omission" (Webster).

e. Jude Speaks Of "The Faith Which Was Once For All Delivered Unto The Saints" (Jude 3). The Word Translated "Once For All" Is Said To Be Used "Of What Is Of Perpetual Validity, Not Requiring Repetition" (Expository Dictionary Of New Testament Words, W. E. Vine). This Is Confirmed By The Fact That Any Departure From It Is Induced By Wicked Men And Displeasing To God (I Timothy 4:1-5).

f. All this is further illustrated and enforced by Paul's declaration that any man or angel who preached any gospel different from that already proclaimed rests under the curse of heaven (Galatians 1:6-10).

2. That this revealed truth was written in the scriptures, which formed a complete guide for the man of God.

a. Luke wrote to give a certain written record by which to confirm oral instruction (Luke 1:1-4).

b. John wrote that men might believe and have life (John 20:30,31). Neither he nor any other Bible writer sought to give a complete record of every detail that happened, but simply a sufficient amount to accomplish their purpose, which was to secure the salvation and faithfulness of men. (Compare John 21:23).

c. Paul wrote that men might know how to behave themselves in the house, or church of God; or, in other words, how to conduct themselves as Christians (I Timothy 3:14,15).

d. By following the teaching, reproof,correction, and instruction of these inspired scriptures, the man of God is made "complete, furnished completely unto every good work" (II Timothy 3:16,17).

3. That this revealed, written truth would not pass away, but would live and abide forever.

a. Jesus stated: "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away" (Matthew 24:35). This is further explained by the fact that we will be judged by Christ's words which are written in books after the heaven and earth has passed away (John 12:48; Revelation 20:11,12).

b. In addition to this, Peter said that the word by which men are begotten, the gospel which was preached was to live and abide for ever (I Peter 1:23-25).

4. In summation, the Bible teaches that the complete truth was revealed in the first century; it was written in the scriptures, making them a complete guide to man; and, this revealed, written truth was to live and abide forever.

What Mormons Teach About The Bible

The basic assumption and presupposition of Mormonism denies this Bible teaching. The very idea of new and additional revelations and guides implies and necessitates imperfection and insufficiency in the old ones. Such implies either that (1) all truth was not revealed, or (2) was not recorded, or (3) was lost in transmission. There is only one possible excuse for the supposed revelations of Mormonism — if they supply some deficiency in the Bible. This the Bible denies; this the Mormons affirm. Both cannot be right. Every individual must make a choice as to which he believes.

When Mormon "elders" come to your door professing to be friends of the Bible, they are either deceived or deceivers, or both; that is, deceived deceivers. This is true because the following quotations from Mormon leaders prove that the Bible has never had a more open enemy than Mormon doctrine and those who propagate it. Mormons teach that the Bible is:

1. Incomplete in content. "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.

"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?

"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" (II Nephi 29:3,6,10).

Joseph Smith knew that before he could convince men to accept his supposed additional revelations, he would have to destroy their confidence in the Bible as a complete guide. Hence, he said the Bible did not contain all of God's word, and the man who thought so was a fool. Evidently if Joseph was right the apostle Paul was a fool (II Tim. 3:16,17).

2. Mutilated in transmission. "And the angel of the Lord said into me: Thou hast beheld that the book proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew; and when it proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew it contained the plainness of the gospel of the Lord, ... Wherefore, these things go forth from the Jews in purity ... And after they go forth ... thou seest the foundation of a great and abominable church, which is most 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 also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away ... Wherefore, thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God" (I Nephi 13:24-26,28). Thus, according to Mormon doctrine, since the incomplete Bible was first written many precious parts and covenants have been removed from it. It did not abide (remain, continue) forever.

3. Uncertain in canon. Orson Pratt, an early and leading "apostle" of the Mormon church, taught that we do not know which books belong in the Bible or how many have been lost which should be there, in the following words: "Indeed, no one, without further revelation, knows whether even one-hundredth part of the doctrines and ordinances of salvation are contained in the books of Scripture which have descended to our times; how, then, can it be decided that they are a sufficient guide?

"What shall we say, then, concerning the Bible 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. Who knows that even one verse of the whole Bible has escaped pollution, so as to convey the same sense now that it did in the original?" (Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon, pp. 204, 205, 218). It is not my purpose here to answer such charges, which have been made and answered in a satisfactory manner many times, but simply to show what the Mormon attitude and doctrine is regarding the Bible. To demonstrate this, it is sufficient to say that this is exactly the argument often made against the Bible by infidels and atheists.

4. Incorrect in translations. Number eight of "The Articles of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints" states: "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 without reservations. If the Bible is as unreliable in translation as Mormons would have you to believe, then doubt is cast upon the reliability of the Book of Mormon as well, for it contains hundreds of verses verbatim from the King James Version of the Bible. Furthermore, it is really the Mormon, rather than the Christian, who is "on the spot" about translations. This is true because the informed Christian knows and freely admits that the translations of the Bible are made by men who are not infallible, and therefore, for this and other reasons it is possible at times to make improvements in our versions. However, from the Mormon accounts of how Joseph Smith "translated" the Book of Mormon, there was no possibility of error whatever, and yet it is a fact that numerous changes have been made in that volume since it was first published. On the title page of the latest editions is found this statement: "And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ. "If there are mistakes in the Book of Mormon they are either the product of Joseph Smith or the printers. If the former, he should not be accepted as a specially guided prophet; if the latter, they should not be employed as printers, or their work should not be accepted by Mormons until corrected. Either way, if there is a great difficulty concerning translation, it is a problem for the Mormon, not for the Christian.

(The concluding section of this study will be published in a subsequent issue. The entire study has been put in mimeographed form, and Brother Ellis will mail it to any who may desire. Please send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to him at the address below if you wish to receive a copy of this fine treatise. - JDT.) 417 E. Groesbeck, Lufkin, Texas 75901