BYU-I student Colby Johnson on the Bible

His article displays misconceptions.

Jesus Christ, the living Word, is the encompassing treasure of the written Word.  Of course, the LORD’s word, written by Spirit-controlled men, glorifies the living Word.  The Bible’s main subject is not us.  It is God.  It is His voice, and not simply man’s voice.  It is an authoritative voice.  A life-transforming voice.

But what modern prophet is there today who is giving a regular message from God on par with scripture that must be recognized as canon for all ages?

11 comments

  1. I may be confused as to what you are identifying as a misconception. I believe whole heartedly that Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, is the central focal point of the Bible. He is who every Old Testament prophet prophesied about who would come to redeem mankind. It is His Gospel taught through out the New Testament by His Apostles.

    As stated in the introductory paragraph, “The purpose of this article is to assess how God’s words have been captured in ink on the pages of a book that we now call The Holy Bible.” My main focus was not addressing what or who the Bible was about (although I clearly stated it), but to discuss how the Bible came about.

    If I am missing what you are calling a misconception, please clarify.

  2. Hi Colby.

    Here is one misconception that I see in your post:

    The Scripture points to Jesus, but over and over Jesus points to the authoritative, inerrant scriptures (e.i. in John’s Gospel), and not to any future modern day prophets.

  3. Todd, you have succintly expressed Evangelical creedalist Bibolatry in this post. It almost seems that the Jesus Christ of the New Testament takes backseat to your Bible itself and the creeds.

    By the way, which Bible are you talking about? The random collection of various and sundry scrolls possessed by the scattered congregations of disciples of Jesus Christ in the century following his death and resurrection? Or the earliest cohesive collections of such scrolls and parchments into a single book referred to as a Bible? (If it is the latter, then where is your Shepherd of Hermas, and where is the Enoch material that is cited internally but not contained in the Bible?

    Or is the Bible to which you refer strictly the King James version, with all of its idiosyncracies, mistranslations, and anachronisms? If so, are we to believe that the earliest Christians were without the proper guidance?

  4. By the way, to answer your question, “But what modern prophet is there today who is giving a regular message from God on par with scripture that must be recognized as canon for all ages?”, I enthusiastically (but reverently) submit: Joseph Smith for our dispensation of time and, specifically for our day, Thomas Monson.

    Pretty crazy that someone with such an ordinary name and background as Thomas Monson could actually be a prophet of God, isn’t it? I wonder how stellar Jeremiah’s resume was to the people of his day. He was probably just too ordinary to be a prophet of God. And, of course, his message was that the religious community of his day was in apostasy — that they had misconstrued the religion that was handed down to them and were abusing it (and that they were severely wresting the scriptures), which is understandably not something any sincere religionist, however misguided, wants to hear. In reflecting on the message of prophets and the reaction of their audiences to them, I suppose I understand the Evangelical creedalist hatred of Joseph Smith and the Mormons after all (just refreshing on a little historical reading and have reread Remini’s and Bushman’s biographies of Joseph Smith — Evangelical creedalist preachers don’t come off so well in either of them in terms of “Christian” behavior. In fact, it seems they took the Romans more as their example than the earliest Christians.)

  5. The Bible is a story about a two-way relationship Todd. Men seeking God and God seeking men. Both subjects are of equal emphasis in the book.

    This seems to be one of those instances where your preconceived ideology is trumping the plain text. Humans feature every bit as prominently in the Bible as God does. Not in a flattering light of course, but they are there as an equal half of the equation.

  6. In our discussion here we have 3 issues at hand:

    1. Who is the Central Focus of the Bible?
    2. Are there prophets on the Earth today that instruct God’s people as there were in days of old?
    3. Where does the authority of God lay, in prophets or in the text of the prophets, the Bible?

    Todd, you are absolutely correct, “The Scripture points to Jesus;” He is the author of our salvation! But I believe Seth has made some excellent points; and to that I will add that The Scripture points to Jesus and because of Christ’s love for us and concern with our relationship with Him , the scripture is also about mankind’s relationship with God (in a roundabout way).

    John, awesome response to issue 2, I believe in modern prophets whole heartedly; for God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, if He has called prophets in the past, why would he not today?

    Seeing that some excellent points have been made on issues 1 and 2, I wish to address issue 3.

    Jesus Christ is the Lord and creator of all things, in Him is all truth. So let us look to Him and the Bible to clarify this issue. I invite each of you to pray for the Spirit of God to reveal to you the truth, as i will do also.

    I will begin in the close of the Gospel according to Matthew. After Christ’s Earthly ministry and horrifying events of the Atonement and Resurrection, Christ appears to His chosen apostles as a glorified, resurrected being. On the mount in Galilee where this appearance transpired, Christ closed with this declaration: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Mat 28:18). From the mouth of the Master Himself we learn where all authority rests, in Christ Jesus!

    Being that Christ is not currently reigning on this Earth, the next question is, In whom or what does Christ share His authority with so that man can find salvation through the Lord?

    Todd has suggested that “over and over Jesus points to the authoritative, inerrant scriptures (i.e. in John’s Gospel), and not to any future modern day prophets.” There is no doubt that the scriptures are vital to our salvation and vital that we read them (Duet 17:19, 2 Kings 23:2, Isa 34:16, Mat 22:29, John 5:39, Acts 17: 11, Rom 15:4, 2 Tim 2:15, 2 Tim 3:16), but they alone can’t save us! We must receive the saving ordinances such as baptism by one holding authority, or priesthood, “as was Aaron” (Heb 5:4).

    Continuing with the close of Matthew immediately following Christ’s declaration that “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Mat 28:18), Christ continues, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” (Mat 28:19). Putting this together Christ is in effect teaching that ‘Because (replacing “therefore”) Christ has all power in heaven and earth, the apostles were expected to teach and baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.’ “In the name of”… or in other words ‘as if God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost did the baptism themselves!’
    If I ask you to do something in my name (as in granting a power of attorney), I share with you the powers and authorities I have; this is the very command that the apostles received from our Lord!

    Through my prayerful study of the Holy Bible, I have found that Christ does not point us to the ‘authoritative and inerrant’ scripture as having authority over our personal salvation, but He points to His chosen Prophets. In analyzing the New Testament alone I invite you to prayerfully study these passages of scriptures: Matt. 10: 1, Mark 13: 34, Luke 22: 29, John 5: 27, John 5: 43, John 15: 16, John 20: 21, Acts 13: 3, Acts 14: 23, Eph. 4: 11. These are just a few references where Christ points us to His authoritative Apostles and teaches how they received that Authority.

    Throughout the history of this Earth, God has always called prophets; through which we learn the Gospel and receive the authority for ordinances such as baptism. Our faith is in the Lord Jesus Christ, prophets clearly point us to Him (as in the writings of the prophets in the Bible). I have come to the testimony through the Holy Ghost that God has indeed called prophets in these last days, beginning with the calling of the prophet Joseph Smith in the early 1800’s and continuing today with Thomas S. Monson!

    Amos 3:7 “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”

    Colby S. Johnson

  7. First to answer Colby’s questions:

    1.) It is God. If I believed that other things eternally existed with God, I would say otherwise. But I am taken back by the first three words in the English Bible. Of course, I easily see Joseph Smith’s cross outs and additions in his revisions right from the beginning. It is in plain sight for everyone. He desired the ancient near eastern religions more than the KJV’s take on God. And, friends, I simply refuse to accept Joseph Smith’s restored take of the ANE’s ideas of Gods.

    2. In 2008? No. I didn’t see anyone in 2008 say anything new. Or in 2007. Or in 2006. Or in 2005, etc. Has there been anything that a prophet foretold or predicted and that was binding authority on the world? Again, the answer is no. Thomas Monson is not prophesying anything. He doesn’t even compare to an Isaiah or Jeremiah.

    3. Colby, Jesus Christ placed authority on the text. The Scripture cannot be broken. Thomas Monson is as uninspired as I am. Regeneration and sanctification come through the Spirit and the word. Not me. Not Thomas.

    And John, God doesn’t speak to me through the Enoch material or the Shepherd of Hermas. But if it seems to do the trick for you, then push that to your First Presidency that they accept it into your standard works.

  8. These kinds of discussions always disturb me. It simply isn’t the case that traditional Christianity is pro-scripture and Mormonism is anti-scripture. To frame the issue that Jesus was pro-scripture and Mormons are not pro-scripture and thus not following Jesus is founded on a flawed and incomplete conception of Mormonism.

    Consider, for example, the actual narrative in the Book of Mormon. In the Lehi and Nephi narrative, Lehi is after all, a prophet and yet in his vision he was given a book and told to read it. (1 Nephi 1:11). When Lehi took his family into the wilderness, his sons risked their lives to return to the land of Jerusalem for the very purpose of obtaining the scriptures. (1 Nephi 3:19-20). If Mormonism taught that the scriptures didn’t matter, then what is the point of this narrative? The Nephites are constantly talking about the importance of the scriptures, having them, writing them, and what would happen if they didn’t have them. (Mosiah 1: 3-5). In fact, when Christ actually visits the Nephites in the culminating chapters of the Book of Mormon, he expounds all the scriptures. He is quite concerned about the scriptures, asks that they be brought before him. (3 Nephi 23:5-14). How ironic to be under the impression that Mormons are somehow anti-scripture when Moroni, the last character of the Book of Mormon, essentially owns nothing more than the Nephite scriptures and one of his last deeds is to preserve the records that they perish not. (Mormon 8:1-5). The Nephite saga is saturated with a concern for the records and preserving the Word of God.

    Even when Moroni visits Joseph Smith, he quotes scripture and the prophecies given therein. What concerned the young Joseph Smith was that the religious scene of his day didn’t match what he read in the scriptures. Again, it is simply inaccurate to characterize Mormonism as somehow downplaying the scriptures. You can disagree with Joseph’s interpretation of the scriptures, but to argue that Joseph and Mormonism is somehow antithetical to the written word of God would be like arguing water has nothing to do with wetness or that fire has nothing to do with heat.

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