Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Bible and Other Sacred Texts

Before starting today's post, I would like to respond to a few comments from yesterday. Brittany and Alycia kindly corrected me on an error I made.  Catholics do not worship Mary.  I had mistakenly thought from all the small shrines I see in people's yards and from cathedrals I've attended that it was worshipful instead of respectful.  Thank you for your kind correction, and I will adjust my thinking accordingly.

And this is Erika's question from yesterday.  She wrote:
That's very interesting about God and Jesus being flesh and bones. I've never thought of them in that way, but it actually makes sense. Particularly in thinking about Heaven on Earth, or the new Earth. It definitely would be easier to explain them to my children that way as well. What would you recommend reading to understand that belief more? Thanks for this series. I truly respect your willingness to be so open.

I was feeling the exact same way about all of you.  I have been happily surprised at the responses, comments, emails, phone calls and texts I've received about this series.  Thank you for being so accepting, understanding, and truly kind, even disagreeing with respect.  I knew there were people out there that could discuss religion openly and without conflict.  You are amazing. 
In regards to your question, the best place I've found to answer questions about God the Father is this link on  If you have any further questions, feel free to email me, and I'll answer as best I can.

Today's questions:
Do Mormons believe in the inerrancy of the Bible? 
I hope anyone who knows me in real life knows how I feel about the scriptures.  I love them.  I love reading them, I love comparing and contrasting them, I love teaching them, I love searching them, and I especially love finding answers to my life's challenges in them.  I try to study them every day, but I am far from perfect on this.  Sometimes life crowds out my time with the scriptures, and when I find my way back, I feel like I am back in the arms of a friend.  Richard Scott, another apostle for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gave a talk on the subject of scripture study just two weeks ago.  He said, "Scriptures are like packets of light that illuminate our minds and give place to guidance and inspiration from on high. They can become the key to open the channel to communion with our Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ." Read his complete talk here.

The Bible--how I love it.  I love to read about the life of Christ and His apostles in the New Testament.  I feel of His love for others in His parables and stories.  The Old Testament has some of my favorite stories to teach young people of my Church, especially the story of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17.  How many stones did David take for his pouch?  Five.  How many did he need? One.  Why did he take five?  He knew the Lord would help him, but he didn't know when and he needed to be prepared.  Kids can understand this and relate.

As members of my Church, we use the King James Version of the Bible.  There are so many different versions and translations of the Bible that it's hard to know which version is closest to the original, and our Church has decided to use this version.

When I studied Medieval History, I became intrigued with the translation and reproduction process involved with copying scripture.  I know some people believe that truths were maliciously removed by leaders or purposely changed to fit different schools of thought, but my personal belief is that many, many pious and righteous men spent their entire lives meticulously copying or translating these holy words, and I know most tried to do their best to be as accurate (and as beautiful) as possible.  Over as many centuries and editions as the Bible has traveled, I'm sure mistakes were made, however innocently or purposely.  As members of the Church, we believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly.  How are inaccuracies determined?  Individually and through personal study.

Are there any other texts Mormons consider sacred or as God's Word?
If you've heard of the Mormons, I'm sure you've heard of The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. This volume of scripture is what separates us from other Christian denominations. If you would like to read more information on The Book of Mormon, click here for more in-depth answers listed on The Book of Mormon teaches of Jesus Christ from every page.  It contains the record of people who left the Old World, led by God to a New World.  It recounts their history and their church.  It also relates Christ's appearance to them after His resurrection. (We believe that it was to these people Jesus was referring when He said, "Other sheep I have which are not of this fold" in John 10:16.)

We also include two other books as our scripture: the Doctrine and Covenants--a set of revelations given to leaders of the Church since Joseph Smith's time, and the Pearl of Great Price--Joseph Smith's translation of Matthew and writings of Abraham and Moses, and accounts of Joseph's experiences.  These four books make up the canon of our Church.  All four are considered God's Word to His people today, with no book being more valued than another.

It's impossible to know what you think of a book without reading it.  In all honesty, I have only read most of the Old Testament, a hole in my study that I will one day fill.  I have read the New Testament quite a few times, as well as the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price. I have read The Book of Mormon many times in my life, and each time I come away having learned something different and new.  I spent the last year of my life teaching The Book of Mormon to a class of seventy adults, devoting 25-40 hours every week to learning about it and learning to love it. I can wholeheartedly say that teaching that class changed my life.  At the final class last April, I concluded with this:

"To say I've grown to love The Book of Mormon is inadequate.  Since my call to teach this class [in July 2010], I have devoted my time to studying, pondering, learning, applying, living, and loving this book. . . . The Book of Mormon has strengthened my faith in Jesus Christ.  It has deepened my resolve to live His commandments.  It has altered and transformed my prayers.  It has sharpened my perspective. . . . I see that I am forever changed.  I see with new eyes."

Which edition of the Bible do you use and why? Do you consider other writings to be sacred?

If you have any questions about this post, email me or leave a comment.

Fourth post in a series of five:
Tomorrow:  Eternal Families


  1. Hi Jen,
    Would Joseph Smith be described as the founding father of your church? How did this unfold? I have very little knowledge of him. Who wrote the book of Mormon? I have heard about new tablets (writings) being found in the desert... but that is about it. As an aside I saw two young Mormon men walking down the street today as I picked up the girl's and I know so much more about what they are doing. And that is strictly from reading your blog. Thank you. I just want to say also that they looked so darn dashing in their suits.

  2. Another excellent post, Jen. Can't wait to read the one on eternal families tomorrow.


  3. Dana,
    Yes, Joseph Smith is the founder of our Church, like Martin Luther or John Calvin or John Wesley. Three years after seeing a vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ, Joseph was directed to a book of plates that contained the record now known as The Book of Mormon. The full story of how he founded the Church can be found at this link:

    The Book of Mormon was written by a series of prophets, edited by Mormon, who entrusted them to his son, Moroni. Moroni, in turn, buried the plates in a hill in upstate New York, where Joseph Smith found them.

    And thanks for the missionary sighting. I think of my own dashing son and it brings a few tears to my eyes.

  4. Another beautiful and well written post.
    You are very inspiring.

  5. Jen - these posts have been simply fabulous and I can tell you have reached so many people who have wondered about our faith!

  6. I have been computerless for the week and just came to check in... what an amazing find here! Wow! Thanks for making me think and for doing this so very well :)

  7. Another fabulous one--I'm going to send this series to a friend who's had questions. You've explained it much better than I ever had. Also sending it to FB...

  8. Listening to this *fabulous* lecture on translations of the Bible:

  9. Wow, another fascinating post in this series! I always thought that the Book of Mormon was what Mormon's called their version of the bible. I never knew that you also used the King James version and that the Book of Mormon was an entirely separate book. I find this bit of information quite interesting :)

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