What Mormons Mean When They Say “Scripture”
Travis has done an exceptional job discussing various approaches to scripture. As a guest author, I though I would share a cultic approach to scripture. So let’s turn our focus specifically to Mormonism’s redefinition of Scripture.
For Orthodox Christianity, Scripture is the ultimate standard for understanding doctrinal truth. One of the primary tenants of the Protestant reformation was “Sola scriptura.” As Wayne Grudem notes, “It is Scripture alone . . . that must function as the normative authority for the definition of what we should believe.” One observes that the LDS church, functioning with an open cannon and believing in a living prophet, does not honestly believe in the authority of scripture. If Mormonism is to be considered Christian, then it is expected for their view of Scripture, or discussion of Scripture within their confessions of faith, to uphold the same standard as other Christian denominations. However, when a Mormon refers to scripture they mean something entirely different from the cannon of the New Testament church.
In The Articles of Faith of The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints the ninth article states,“We believe all that God has revealed, all that he does now
reveal, and we believe that he will yet reveal many great and important things
pertaining to the kingdom of God.” Notice again how Mormonism
cloaks the claim of a living prophet
next to an Orthodox Christian statement. What Christian would not agree with
the statement “We believe all that God has revealed”? To the Mormon, however,
this means believing “The Standard Works” and the words of the LDS prophets
from the past. As Doctrine and Covenants section 68 verse 4 states, “And whatsoever
they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be
the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the
Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.” It is clear that the
Mormon faith makes two claims that contradict one another in regards to
Scripture. First, Mormons claim that the Bible is foundational to their
religion by including it in their list of “The SacredWorks.” The LDS church would likewise contend that the Bible is
true, but in a rather limited way. They argue that this makes
them Christian, but the Christian faith has never allowed for further
revelation in the manner the LDS church does, nor has the Christian faith allowed
for an open cannon since Athanasius’s
39th Festal Letter. While using terms like
“moved upon by the Holy Ghost,” “the written word of God,” “living oracles,”
“Holy Priesthood” etc., Mormonism devalues the Bible to a position below any
Protestant denomination. Therefore, the LDS church presents a surface level
similarity to the Christian faith concerning Scripture, but underlying the thin
veneer of veiled language is the reality that Mormonism is not Christian.
Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones, Proof: Finding Freedom Through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace (Grand Rapids: MI: Zondervan, 2014), Kindle Location 2759.
Grudem, p. 25.
Joseph Smith, The Pearl of Great Price: The Articles of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City, UT: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1880), https://www.lds.org/scriptures/pgp?lang=eng (accessed 3 September 2016).
Joseph Smith, Doctrine and Covenants (Salt Lake City, UT: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1981), section 68, https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/68.4?lang=eng (accessed 7 September 2016).
“Inerrancy of the Bible,” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, last modified September 1, 2016, https://www.lds.org/topics/Bible-inerrancy-of?lang=eng (accessed 3 September 2016).
Grudem, p. 58.