Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 23, 1967
NUMBER 45, PAGE 11c-12

Authority And False Religions

Wallace H. Little

A host of scriptures, from both the Old and New Testaments, teach us by command, example and necessary inference that God requires religions differences to be discussed - note Prov.25:09; Isa.1:18; Jude 3. One of the major stumbling blocks to any such discussions is a common ground for what constitutes religious authority. Most denominational groups claim to accept the bible as the authoritative voice of God, but only after such acceptance is qualified and hedged about with their own limitations. These qualifications always involve a down-grading of God's word, and a simultaneous exalting of human, in spite of the Lord's warnings against it (1 Cor.2:5; Co1.2:8.). Hence before a profitable discussion can take place, it is necessary to eliminate these human qualifications which they have put on God's word. An examination of the Latter Day Saints position concerning the bible will provide an illustration of this point.

Before getting into the details, several explanations are in order. First, most LDS that I had person — al contact with mean "King James Translation" when they say "bible." Indeed, the Book of Mormon contains large sections copied verbatim from the K. J. Additionally, the very phraseology of the remainder of the B. of M. is a crude attempt to dress LDS doctrine in Elizabethan English. Second, very few Mormons have more than a sketchy idea of what the bible actually says. The seventh article of their creed apparently satisfies them, implying that they would respect the bible IF ONLY THEY COULD GET IT IN ITS PURE FORM. In fact, however, this is simply a dodge to avoid compliance with God's requirements in the pretense that these cannot be established from the bible. At the same time this dodge neatly allows them to substitute man's wisdom in the form of the Book of Mormon for the will of his Creator. Secondly, any Mormon who is knowledgeable in his religion will always attempt to use the Book of Mormon instead of the bible. If this is not possible, he will want to use it along with the bible.

More than three years of living in a predominately Mormon area (Mesa, Arizona) demonstrated a successful way of avoiding the problem of whether the bible or the Book of Mormon is God's word, and hence, authoritative. It works as follows: First-point out that there are many differences between the two. Such examples as the birthplace of Christ and the length of the period of darkness at His death will serve adequately. Any reasonable person will then be forced to admit that both cannot be correct on these subjects as there cannot be divergent opinions on truth and both be right. The problem, then, is to determine which is correct. Second-using both internal and external evidence, show that the bible is without dispute God's word, and that the K. J. is an accurate translation of it. Several years ago, a bro. Arlie Hoover produced a booklet which provides excellent material for this. Also, bro. Ferrel Jenkins for a period of several years published the EVIDENCE QUARTERLY, which also provides a large volume of easy-to-understand evidence on the bible's validity. Such evidence can be amassed to the point where again, no honest individual can reject the fact that the bible is God's word, and likewise, cannot avoid such an admission. Further, by asking the person to show where he believes the bible (to him, usually the K. J.) is not "... correctly translated..." he will be forced to grant that it is an acceptable translation. This nullifies their phrase, "... in so far as it is correctly translated." Third-then inform the person that you are not saying the Book of Mormon is not God's word, merely that in view of his present admission that the bible IS correctly translated and the obvious differences between it and the Book of Mormon, he now sustains the obligation to demonstrate the validity of the Book of Mormon BY THE SAME TYPE OF EVIDENCE (internal and external) which you used to demonstrate the validity of the bible. Then watch the fun. My own experience has been that the Mormons will try to use two primary methods to "show" that the Book of Mormon is God's word. One is to attempt to convince you that the B. of M. has been "proved in court." This was in no sense "in court," but rather in a law school. The prosecutor "trying" the B. of M. was a law student, the defense attorney for the B. of M. and the judge were both played by the same man-the law professor. This hardly qualifies for their "proved in court." The second approach is to claim that geological evidence has "proved" the Book of Mormon to be true. Such a claim falls under the published statement of some of the top LDS geologists. While these men do not publically admit that the B. of M. is wrong (how could they, as they are still faithful Mormons themselves), they have stated flatly that geology has yet to prove the first claim of the Book of Mormon, to say nothing of having "proved it true." In truth these claims embarrass them professionally, and do nothing for them spiritually.

As far as internal evidence is concerned, the LDS people are on equally inform foundations. They generally know that there have been repeated "corrected editions" of the "infallible copy of the plates" - or is it possible that Angels erred? Also they generally know, whether they will admit it or not, that the Book of Mormon is shot through with poor construction and grammatical errors, and will not stand the test of a critical analysis for contradictions. For this reason, the approach frequently used is worded something like this: "Study the Book of Mormon believing God will send you a sign that it is His word," and "I KNOW it is true, because I feel this within me." None of these individuals, however, would be willing to accept this kind of "evidence" against them in a court of law if they were on trial.

Eventually they are reduced to the point of discussing religious beliefs in terms of the bible ONLY, or ending any discussion at all because they will not accept it IN SPITE OF THE PROOF OFFERED, while at the same time, insisting that you accept the Book of Mormon in spite of, rather than because of the evidence. This decision is a positive test of attitude (Jn. 4:24; Jn. 7:16,17).

Let me summarize: Step 1-show differences between the Book of Mormon and the bible and get the admission that both cannot be correct while differing from each other. Step 2-demonstrate the validity of the bible by use of internal and external. evidence. Step 3-ask the LDS people to demonstrate the Book of Mormon by the same type of evidence. Step 4-when they cannot accomplish step 3 (and they cannot), ask seem to discuss religion in terms of the bible only. If they will, good will result; if they continue trying to go back to the Book of Mormon, you are wasting your time.

This same approach, with modification appropriate to the religious source document under consideration, can be used with any false religious group which attempts to use something other than the bible as the word of God.

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