Another common objection I have encountered in my dialogs with some who visit my essays can be summed up in the phrase, “But that’s not Biblical!” Similar to those who don’t understand what Mormons mean when we refer to our testimony, this common complaint also never ceases to amaze me. They just don’t get it.
I wrote in a previous essay about why the LDS personal testimony means so much more than most Christian apologists admit. I got to thinking about it and decided that I was giving them too much credit. Maybe they really do understand what our testimonies represent and it worries them because they don’t have that certainty.
People mock what they don’t understand. Some of our Christian evangelist friends are apparently no different. They claim that we base our religious convictions on mere feelings to draw attention away from the fact that the testimony is not in the feelings but in the knowledge revealed directly to our spirits in answer to prayer.
The Bible as the last word
Likewise, I think I have been much too lenient in dialogs with my visitors when they respond that my point is invalid because it cannot be found in the Bible. I always have to stop and remind myself of how important this foundation is to them. It’s all they have and they are conditioned to discard anything not in there.
I shouldn’t be surprised when this point comes up again and again when discussing the doctrines of the LDS Church with those not of our faith. Just as we Latter-day Saints can always return to the safety of our personal testimonies, they fall back to the idea of the completeness and infallibility of the Bible as their last safety net.
But after a year or more of reading the same responses to some of my basic essays about our unique revealed doctrines, the claim that we don’t understand the truth on some doctrine because it’s not in the Bible is beginning to wear a little thin. This essay is intended to make it clear that yes, we have much more than the Bible.
We have new scriptures
If you want to discuss doctrines with members of the LDS faith, it would be very helpful to understand right away that we’re going to throw all kinds of things at you that you’ve never heard of. We’ve got new stuff and that’s a big part of our religion. We do not base our doctrines solely on what is found in the Bible.
I understand that this can be discomforting, especially when we tell you that some of the very basic doctrines of salvation are erroneously taught in most Christian churches today because they are based solely on the Bible. That can be difficult to accept if you’ve believed all your life that the Bible is the last word on the truth.
One of the primary messages that the LDS Church has been declaring to the world for the last 180 years is that God has revealed new scriptures that clarify and bring light to some of the obscure teachings of the Bible. Many of the doctrines found there have been misinterpreted because of books that have been lost or taken out.
A Bible, a Bible
So strongly do some feel threatened by the idea of additional scripture that they become extremely defensive. They adamantly announce that since they accept the Bible as the word of God that they cannot accept the Book of Mormon. The Lord saw these individuals who think the Bible contains all and pronounced them fools.
“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. 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.” (2 Nephi 29:3-4)
“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? 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.” (2 Nephi 29:6, 10)
So much more to offer
Just as I concluded while on my mission, I’ve decided once again that there are just some individuals who will never accept the idea of modern revelation to prophets and apostles. I have met many thousands of good Christian people who have been conditioned to believe that religion can be found solely in the words in the Bible.
Why do they limit themselves when there is so much more available if they only would open their eyes, soften their hearts and entertain the possibility that God could reveal his will to man again in our day and age through men that he called as prophets and apostles to lead his church in these last days before he returns again?
On more than one occasion someone has taken offense at my assertion that we have so much more to offer the world than what can be found in Christianity as taught in the world today. It’s so true! That’s the heart of our message. We offer more revelation and direction from God than what you have received already.
Modern prophets and revelation
I guess it has been that way from the beginning of the restoration. This has been the primary objection to our message by those who are opposed to the work of the Lord in the last days. A living prophet who speaks for the Lord and brings forth modern scripture just really upsets so much of their tradition and their comfort.
It is a marvelous thing that God would call a prophet from among the uneducated as to the things of this world. Joseph Smith had not studied theology and did not know what the doctors of religion in his day were struggling with. All he knew is that they could not agree with each other about how to interpret the Bible.
That has not changed in our day. There are so many denominations that interpret the Bible differently. Even among the same churches there are disagreements on basic and fundamental concepts that every LDS primary child understands clearly. We have this unity in our church because God has revealed it to a living prophet.
Summary and conclusion
It saddens me to realize that there are many otherwise good followers of Christ who will not entertain the idea that God could call a prophet in our day and bring forth scripture through that prophet for our benefit. They will not accept the idea that God speaks to man again and that the Bible does not contain all of his words.
The idea that the Bible is complete and infallible is ludicrous to me. Anybody who has studied how we got our Bible knows that it is simply a collection of books and letters put together by man. God did not place the limiting constraints on his word that man did when he compiled the Bible. The Bible is simply not complete.
The Bible is also not the last authority of what God has to say about something. It is silly to think that everything that God wanted us to know is found in the Bible. I am so grateful to have the Book of Mormon and the canonized revelations to the prophet Joseph Smith that we have in the Doctrine and Covenants and elsewhere.
For more information, see these FAIR Wiki articles:
1. Bible completeness
2. Open canon vs. closed canon
3. Adding to the Bible
4. Bible inerrancy
5. Lost scripture