The Book of Mormon is not infallible?

ifokus gives another provocative post.  I am all ears.

Mormons do not believe that any scripture is perfect…..including the Book of Mormon.

I am interested in the examples that believing LDS might provide where the Book of Mormon might be in error.

Even more so, I am interested where believing LDS might listen to living LDS apostles (claiming to speak through divine inspiration) but think what they (the apostles) say is in error.

May the Book of Mormon and the modern LDS prophet and apostles be scrutinized and noted publicly for the public statements that are not infallible?

33 comments

  1. I’m a newcomer here but I appreciate your approach to the sometimes difficult blogging world. Lds believe that like all scriptures, the Book of Mormon, was written by men who were recording the workings of God among their people. Men sometimes make mistakes. The only mistakes I know of in the Book of Mormon are funnily worded sentences because they were engraving on plates and had not the luxury of the “backspace” key.

    The prophet Mormon discussed this a bit. In Mormon 8:17 it reads:

    “And if there be faults they be the faults of a man. But behold, we know no fault; nevertheless God knoweth all things;… ”

    There’s more in Mormon 9:

    “31 Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, neither them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been.
    32 And now, behold, we have written this record according to our knowledge, in the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech.
    33 And if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no imperfection in our record.”

    The point is not that we’re constantly looking for the human errors in scripture or modern day prophets/apostles, just that reality indicates men do make mistakes.

    Regarding the Book of Mormon Joseph made a very bold statement: “I told the brethren, [the twelve Apostles] that the Book of Mormon was the most correct book of any on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” JSHC 7 Vol., 4:461

    My personal testimony is that studying the Book of Mormon and striving to follow the teachings and examples contained therein, will indeed lead a person closer to the Savior.

  2. Reggie, some think the Book of Mormon corrects biblical scripture. Why can’t biblical scripture correct the BofM?

  3. Well that is a great and quite deep question Todd.

    We don’t view them as competing products; they both were created by inspired men and they’re both designed to bring the children of men to Christ. The Bible contains wonderful stories, teachings, and prophecies, that are different from those in the Book of Mormon. Not from a different God, or for a different purpose, just about a different people, time, and place. The Bible has the magnificent accounts of Christ’s mortal ministry and other invaluable teachings. To any person I would argue that there is much to be learned from the Bible, no matter how much you’ve learned from the Book of Mormon. So in that sense it’s not so much which one is better, but what can an individual learn from all the scriptures to help them live more like Christ.

    However, there is the issue of the Bible having been altered much over the years, often by men whose purpose was not to bring people closer to Christ. Since the Book Of Mormon was given to us in these days by a more direct route we believe it is in a purer form. In other words, we believe it is the equivalent of the writings from the Bible, before those Biblical writings were altered (whether intentionally or through translation mistakes).

    The great thing about all of this is how it all goes hand in hand. If the Book of Mormon is the word of God, that means it was translated by the power of God through a true prophet of God. If Joseph Smith was a true prophet, it means that the heavens have opened again for the last dispensation, the fullness of the gospel is again on the earth, and the whole earth can rejoice that His Kingdom is rolling forth. With living prophets to guide us in our day we can move forward with faith and purpose, instead of stumbling over the apparent confusion caused by the Bible’s alterations and uninspired interpretations, that have led to the plethora of Christian churches that all have different teachings, yet all claim the same source in the Bible.

  4. Um… In the “Holy Bible”, scripture states that no one should add or subtract anything from the Bible. And if anyone dose, it is a pretty heavy sin, as you are participating in giving and preaching false teachings and testimony.

    I consider the entire book of lds to be man made additions to the Holy Bible. The Holy Bible is infallable, and not one thing contradicts another throughout the entire book. I mean seriously, mormons believe a man that didnt have such a good track record (Legally), who claimed to see an angel that he changed his story about like 4 times, cliamed to have read from “Four golden plates”, note: FOUR (4), that no one saw, NOT ONCE, then when someone finally put him to the test and hid his translated scripture and asked him to do it once more, he couldnt. Do the mormons honestly believe that God/ Jesus, or whoever Joseph Smith cliamed he saw, would allow him to leave out an entire book from the claimed new testament/ golden plates? Sorry, but FFAARRR too many holes in thier book, statements, quotes, and religeon for me to even ponder the thought of converting.

  5. Todd,

    I don’t believe that one scripture “corrects” the other unless one of them is incorrect due to translation, mistakes, etc.

    The Gospel is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and while God may deal with his children differently depending on their willingness to keep the commandments — it was for a wise purpose that God told multiple prophets to write down His revelations to them — it has to do with the law of witnesses — in the mouth of two or three witness shall my word be established. (Matt 18:16, 2 Cor. 13:1)

    Correction of the Bible was needed because many plain and precious truths were removed “on purpose” by those whose hands the books passed through.

  6. Seth,

    “As the product of human writing, it is impossible for the Bible to be infallible.”

    By that logic, wouldn’t that apply to the Book of Mormon, and the D&C and the Pearl of Great Price? Heck can we trust anything at all? I mean Smith was human and he scribed the words and he clearly didn’t know the first thing about Egyptian, so why trust what he said?

    The very premise is flawed, because the Scriptures are the product of both humans and God.

    For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:21)

    One would think that the God who created the world would be able to keep His revelation of Himself to His people from being tinkered with by monks and scholars.

  7. “By that logic, wouldn’t that apply to the Book of Mormon, and the D&C and the Pearl of Great Price?”

    Yes, it would.

    I do not consider those books inerrant either.

  8. “One would think that the God who created the world would be able to keep His revelation of Himself to His people from being tinkered with by monks and scholars.”

    One would also think God could have created a universe without evil and suffering.

    Yet, here we are.

  9. But Seth, don’t mormons pray to see if the book of mormon is true?

    As usual, your problem is the whole concept of a God who refuses to conform to your idea of what God should look like.

  10. A book can be “true” without being inerrant Arthur. I wholeheartedly believe the Book of Mormon is true. But that doesn’t mean I’m closed to the possibility that Mormon screwed up on occasion in translating or conveying concepts. A few mess-ups from Mormon or Nephi would not render the Book of Mormon untrue.

    As usual Arthur, your problem is the whole concept of a God who refuses to conform to your idea of what God should look like.

  11. Seth, who decides what are the mess-ups? And have there been any LDS prophets since Joseph that have publicly named a messup by Mormon or Nephi?

  12. Todd,

    The problem we have today isn’t whether or not there are mess-ups in the Book of Mormon — it’s whether or not we are willing to believe that the Book of Mormon is actually another testament of Jesus Christ and “that a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” (Introduction page of the Book of Mormon)

    Rather than trying to find mess-ups, why not focus on applying the precepts and teachings found on its pages. Let’s plant the seed, exercise the faith, and taste the fruit to see if it is good or bad.

    I have read the Book of Mormon many times, but it wasn’t until I began to really abide by the precepts taught did I begin to understand its contents and the wise purpose for why it was preserved and given for our day.

  13. Rob, the LDS church has apologists who talk about BoM mistakes.

    And I want to know if the the apologists and apostles jive with one another on very important scriptural details.

    I fully believe in inerrant scriptures.

    I believe in fully trustworthy inspiration direct from heaven for us in 2008.

    And this very word is going to judge all in the last day. The Book of Signs in John’s Gospel concludes this way in sweeping, climactic fashion.

  14. Rob,

    That’s primarily how I view the book as well. And the Bible, for that matter.

    I do not decide what the mess ups were Todd. But I allow for them just the same. It’s only inevitable that Mormon would make mistakes as record keeper. Likewise, it is inevitable that the assumptions of the original writers would have crept into their records as well.

    In fact Todd, we have a flat-out admission by no less a figure than Mormon himself that there may be errors in the Book of Mormon:

    Mormon 8:17 – speaking about the finished product of his compilation efforts (our current Book of Mormon):

    “And if there be faults they be the faults of a man. But behold, we know no fault; nevertheless God knoweth all things; therefore, he that condemneth, let him be aware lest he shall be in danger of hell fire.”

    There you have it – possible faults in the Book of Mormon.

    He also gives some reason for this in Mormon 9:33:

    “And if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no imperfection in our record.”

    There is no Mormon doctrine of inerrancy. In fact, these scriptures seem to indicate quite the contrary.

    Which is just as well. I find that relying on holy books – or holy men – too much results in weak commitment to the Gospel – as many ex-Mormons I have encountered online have proven time and again. Place your trust in the arm of the flesh, and you risk falling when that flesh proves not as impressive as you naively thought.

  15. The definition of “Inspiration” is not “place your trust in the arm of the flesh”. 😉

    And will there ever be an LDS prophet who will publicly acknowledge the messups of another LDS prophet’s words?

  16. Todd,

    What causes my reply to “discarded”? Are there certain words (besides profanity) that aren’t allowed?

  17. Seth — thanks for reminding us of what it says in Mormon 8:17 and 9:33.

    Todd — what do you mean that you “fully believe in inerrant scriptures”? Do you believe there are no errors in the Bible? Are you unwilling to believe in the Book of Mormon because there are possible mistakes?

    How does this “fully trustworthy inspiration direct from heaven in 2008” work? Is it given to you? me? everyone? I just see and hear a lot of mixed messages in the world? Who is right? wrong? Is one more right than the other?

  18. Inerrancy usually refers to the belief that the “original autographs” of the Biblical texts were without flaw.

    This is sometimes confused with the much dumber American Christiaqn view that you’ll encounter occasionally that the NIV or JST or whatever is ITSELF inerrant – which is not really what the Evangelical idea of Biblical inerrancy is all about.

    That said, I don’t even see any reason to believe the original autographs were without flaw either.

  19. Rob, sometimes you have to rework your internet link in a comment. When you have multiple links, it automatically goes into moderation, and eventually when I notice it, I fish it out.

    Concerning apologists, I am thinking of the unpaid, volunteer LDS that write for F.A.I.R., etc.

  20. Todd,

    So what is the difference between an apologist and an apostle?

    An apostle is a called and chosen special witness of Jesus Christ through which He authorizes and directs the affairs of the Gospel. An apologist is *anyone* who defends the doctrine. They aren’t authorized to receive revelation or interpret scripture for the Church. They can provide possible insights and ideas, but that is based on existing scripture and the words of past and current apostles and prophets.

    If the words of apologists don’t “jive” with those of the apostles, then it should be a warning to us that we need to be careful about what is being said. Do you trust in the words of the apologists (arm of the flesh) or the words of the apostles as authorized mouthpieces for God?

    While the apologists will defend the doctrine, it is the witness of the Holy Ghost that we must seek and receive in order to know the true doctrine.

  21. When I read something an apologist says, I think “oh, that’s a neat take on things. I’ll have to remember that.”

    When I hear an apostle say it, I know I need to take it very seriously, pray about it, and see how it fits into the larger pattern of scripture and other prophetic utterance.

    I rarely feel this urgency or need with the words of apologists. Apologist writings and theories get filed away for when they may be of use in explaining something. Apostles’ words live with you in the here and now.

    You also seem to be operating on the common Evangelical misconception that the words of apologists and the words of apostles are somehow “at odds.”

    I find that it is very rare that they are.

    This is purely a tension of counter-cult ministry manufacture.

  22. Do you trust in the words of the apologists (arm of the flesh) or the words of the apostles as authorized mouthpieces for God?

    LDS Apostles = authorized mouthpieces for God

    Good.

    I need to engage them more.

  23. “As usual Arthur, your problem is the whole concept of a God who refuses to conform to your idea of what God should look like.”

    Luckily what I think God should look like is irrelevant because God has revealed who He is in His Word, and it is that revelation in His Word that stands opposed to what mormon leaders have taught. As a sinner, I think God should look a lot like what mormons teach: a lot like me, not eternal, just a guy who worked hard and got ahead. A god impressed with my works. So actually the mormon god looks a lot like what a sinner would design a god to look like. Certainly not the infinitely just and holy God of the Bible, the God that Isaiah saw and was undone. Certainly not a God who punishes sin but sent His own Son to make propitiation for the sins of His people. Certainly not a God who sees my own righteous works as nothing but filthy rags.

  24. God has revealed Himself in his Word Arthur?

    Great. Now if you could just correct your mistaken reading of the Bible, we’d be all set.

  25. Arthur,

    Are you sure that you just didn’t understand what was being taught? I haven’t ever heard of a description like that before. We do not impress God with our works.

  26. Seth, all those church steeples throughout the I-15 corridor remind me every day of our historical heritage of seeing the revealed God in the Word. 😉

    And every time I pick up my KJV, I am thinking exactly what those translators were thinking about God.

    Seth, your disagreement moves far beyond Arthur. You need to rebuke the KJV translators for their false views that they put forth in the full KJV preface.

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