Thursday, April 1, 2010

Bible Wars

One of the well known theological disagreements between Christians and Latter Day Saints is the Book of Mormon. Revelation 22:18 is often cited by Christians as biblical "proof" that there can’t be a Book of Mormon because of the belief that nothing should be "added to" or "taken away from" the Holy Bible.
Yet, there is a Bible war among Christians over which Bible is the correct one. 
For example, there is the King James Only movement in which some Christians believe that the King James Version (KJV) is the only true version of the Bible. In fact, some even go far as to argue that only the 1611 version of the Bible is the only true Bible and that other versions of the KJV, such as the New King James Bible (NKJV), are not.
Yet, other Christians don't believe in the idea that the KJV is the only true Bible. Pastor Steve Weaver, in his criticism of the KJV only movement, said something that caught my eye:
"One of the favorite verses used by advocates of King James Onlyism is Revelation 22:18-19..."
Hmmm. I've heard Revelations 22:18-19 being used against the Book of Mormon. But this is the first I've ever seen that passage used against...the Bible.

For a Mormon, its fascinating to see debates over which particular bible translation is "adding" or "taking away" from the Bible.
Adding Or Taking Away: Bible Translations
The reason why I find this amusing is because the criteria for accepting or rejecting a book is based on Revelations 22:18-19, then critics of the Book of Mormon are unfair and intellectually dishonest. Why? Because most Christian denominations are united or are in agreement in their rejection of Book of Mormon based on the same passage of the Bible, but are not united in agreement which version of the Bible is true.
Although all Christians accept the Bible, they're just not sure which one does or doesn't "add" or "take away" from the Bible.
Looking around the Internet, its clear that the debate over the which Bible edition or translation is the correct one is quite fierce. For example, you'll find that some believe that the New American Standard Bible (NASB) is "corrupt."

Others do not like the New International Version (NIV) and believe that it is a "perversion" of the Holy Bible. There are those who believe that The New American Standard Version (NASV) is not the "true" word of God.

The Today's New International Version (TNIV) is under criticism because it attempted make the Bible gender neutral and as a result, this is a distortion of the Bible.

There are those who are just unhappy with the Message Translation.

Even translations that have been offered by different faiths are under criticism.
For example, there are some who have issues with the Jehovah's Witness translation of the Bible, the New World Translation (NWT). A Christian website wonders aloud if the New World Translation is "valid" version of the Bible while another site claims that the Jehovah's Witnesses have changed the Bible to "suit its own theological bias."
Another example would be the criticism towards Joseph Smith's treatment of the Bible. The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (now called the Community of Christ) calls it the Inspired Version of the Bible (I.V.) where as the the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints call it the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST).

As you can see, no Bible is safe from Christian critics. 
The truth is that the Old Testament and New Testament has always been under constant revision ever since the beginning of recorded scripture. For example, the earliest known editing of the Bible comes in the form of the Documentary hypothesis which  holds that the first five books of Moses were later edited and redacted by unknown scribes or writers.

 Even Liberals and Conservatives Have Their Own Books!
Furthermore, its not just different religious groups that have their own Bible. Even people with certain political or social beliefs have their own "Bible". For example, some environmentalists have the Green Bible.

On the other side of the political spectrum, there is a small minority of conservatives who believe that the Bible has been edited with a liberal bias. As a result, the Conservative Bible Project was born because they want go back to a more politically pure Bible by making it more "conservative." Naturally, there are some Christians who aren't amused by the idea that the Bible needs to be "edited" for its proper political slant.

Even a famous politician such as president Thomas Jefferson edited his own Bible.
Adding Or Taking Away: How Many Books In The Bible?
Not all Bibles are the same. Some denominations have "extra" books in their Bibles. For example, Jeff Lindsay, an LDS apologist points out that
"the Roman Catholic Bible now has about twelve books more than the Protestant Bible, meaning that about 200 pages of text have been "subtracted" - one could say - from the Protestant Bible relative to the "traditional" Catholic Bible."(Source.)
There are other Bibles that have extra books that are not found in most European versions such as the Armenian Bible or the Ethiopic Bible.
Missing Books In The Bible: Adding Or Taking Away?
A final issue is that the Bible as we know it today may not be complete. In fact, there is a long list of non-canonical books referenced in the Bible. This means that there are books, prophecies, quotes and allusions that are not in the Bible. As a result, there is a fierce debate over missing Bible verses or how many books are in the Bible.
I came across a website created by a Christian named Dr. Paul Richardson who made this statement about the missing Books in the Bible:
 "I really wish I had these missing books. I would love to read them, wouldn't you?"
The Book of Mormon is just like the Bible. There are sacred writings mentioned in Book Of Mormon that are not found in the text. Here are a few examples: the teachings of King Benjamin, the words of Amulek and Alma. These words, along with some other writings, are missing from the Book of Mormon. 
Only God Edits The Scriptures
Only God can edit the scriptures. It is authorized under the direction of the Lord himself through prophets.  For example, King Jehoiakim had "taken away" from the scripture by burning a roll written by Jeremiah . Yet, the Lord instructed him to rewrite the words that were destroyed. (See Jeremiah 36: 27-28).

We see clearly that the King had "taken away" from the Bible, and yet, the Lord told Jeremiah to "add" to the scriptures by restoring what the King had destroyed. Not only did God have Jeremiah to restore what was lost but the Lord told him there were more things to write!

The Book of Mormon is like the Bible in which God tells His servants what to write down or what not to write down. (see  2 Ne.4: 15, 2 Ne. 29: 11-12, 3 Ne. 27: 23-24 and 3 Ne. 28: 25)

Another example can be seen when God, foreknowing that Joseph Smith would lose 116 pages of translation of the Book of Mormon, inspired Mormon to include the small plates with the other golden plates. Once Joseph Smith lost the manuscript, the Lord simply restored that which was lost by instructed Joseph to translate those small plates since it had the same period of time as contained in the lost manuscript.
It is fascinating how some Christians criticize others about which Bible they are using and  yet, somehow, the Book of Mormon cannot be accepted because it is an extra scripture that violates Revelation 22:18-19
If Revelelation 22: 18-19 is the standard for which we judge the authenticity of scriptures and if the Bible can be accepted despite the various translations, editions, additions as well as subtractions, then the Book of Mormon should be accepted based on the same standard too because The Book of Mormon is just like the Bible.
Just a postscript: the dividing of the text into numbered chapters and verses as in the King James is “adding to” the Bible, as the original manuscripts do not have them. ;)

1 comment:

60's Guy said...

We can, of course, point out that Revelation 22:18-19 refers only to the Book of Revelation and not to the entire Bible, which did not exist in its current form when Revelation was written.

But the real answer is in the text of the verses itself: "If any MAN shall add or take away." The point made by the LDS Church is that MAN did not write the Book of Mormon.