Following closely on from the first commonly held misunderstanding that ‘Mormons do not use the Bible’… a number of other Christians - despite recognising that we use the Bible - wrongly assume that we diminish its worth! One of the reasons for this is that they have heard that we use the “Book of Mormon” (and not understanding what it is and represents) then wrongly assume, or are wrongly informed that as a consequence of us using the Book of Mormon, the Bible is devalued.. and the Book of Mormon deemed to be more important.
A similar misunderstanding to this, is that Mormons have ‘replaced’ the Bible with the Book of Mormon. Neither of these are true.
In my earlier post, I explained that we definitely do use the Bible – in its entirety. It is the word of God – it is scripture. Here, I’d like to take the opportunity to dispel the myth that we have devalued its importance, and consider the Book of Mormon to be more important than it.
As part of my church responsibilities, I teach two ‘sunday-school-type-classes’ on a Sunday morning before our main ‘worship service’. The first is with a group of boys aged from 12-18, and the second class following that is to a group of adults who for the most part are either ‘visiting the church’ because they are interested in learning more of the teachings, or are ‘recently baptised members’. In all, this class is for adults who are ‘relatively new’ to the church, and here I teach the basic principles.
When attending church on Sundays I always bring my Book of Mormon… and wait for it… my Bible too!! Throughout the classes I teach, we use both books, and in fact, within the adult class in particular, I tend to quote from the Bible far more than the Book of Mormon!
Within the ‘articles of faith’ (merely a statement of beliefs) of the church, the eighth one 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“.
Within our church, we accept the Bible as scripture, and we also accept the Book of Mormon as scripture. I will be explaining the Book of Mormon – what it is, what it represents, why we use it etc – in a separate posting. For now, it will suffice to say that we accept it as scripture.
We do not however consider the Book of Mormon to be more important than the Bible! - we believe they are both books of scripture. They are both the word of God – and which word of God is of any greater value than another? Is the Old Testament less important than the New Testament? We believe the Book of Mormon to be ‘another testament of Jesus Christ’, and being the word of God, it is of the same importance as any other.
That said, I can appreciate that it might appear that we place more importance on the Book of Mormon. This however amounts to a misunderstanding.. as I will explain further.
Missionaries of our church do emphasise the Book of Mormon more than the Bible – I did it myself when I served a mission – but that is not because we believe it to be more important than the Bible. Missionaries place more emphasis on the Book of Mormon because of the context in which they are serving – as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints – and teaching the gospel with the intent that not only will people embrace Christ as their Saviour, but also, that they will accept and be baptised into the church.
So why emphasise the Book of Mormon?
I explain it simply like this: both books act as a ‘compass’ - a guide. To a much greater extent, the Bible leads us to Christianity! It teaches of Christ, and it is the founding book of scripture that has built up the faith of many thousands and thousands of Christians throughout the world. It is in effect, a compass that directs us to Christianity. It does not however lead us any further ‘within Christianity’ as in, to any particular church.
All Christian churches use the Bible! – ourselves included. Although one may know that the Bible is the word of God, they know nothing of which church to join. Methodists, Baptists, Pentecostals, Anglicans, Presbyterians, Catholics…. which one? They all use the Bible.
The Book of Mormon however acts as an additional compass, to direct us to a specific church within Christianity. None of the churches mentioned above accept the Book of Mormon – but we do. Thus, if the Book of Mormon truly is the word of God (something that ought to be tested by each individual who reads it).. it is a clear guide – that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints is the church of Christ. (again, I will explain further on all these points through separate posts!!)
Thus quite simply…
The Bible leads us to Christianity in general.
The Book of Mormon leads us to a specific church within Christianity.
As a missionary therefore, sharing the Book of Mormon enables the missionary to testify which church within Christianity we all ought to attend. It is quite reasonable in this context, for a missionary to emphasise the Book of Mormon.
In summary and conclusion, I can personally confirm that both books are valued – equally. Both are as important as each other.
As a church we use the Bible no less than we do the Book of Mormon (whether individual members choose to focus on the Book of Mormon more or not themselves.. is not for my comment).
The Book of Mormon is not more important than the Bible. They are both the word of God, and no word of God is of any greater value than another! Another myth dispelled…