Wednesday, January 19, 2011

We have a duty to defend ...

Latter-day Saints have a duty to defend their faith, not by strife but by knowledge and gentle persuasion. We ought to know our scriptures, including the Bible, well enough not to falter at every sling and arrow of attack. Consider:

On a certain website devoted to creating a "crisis of faith" for Mormons in order to save their souls, one of the first suggestions is to assert that every Biblical theophany had witnesses. Joseph Smith had no one with him in the grove when he purported to receive his First Vision. Therefore, his story violated Biblical precedent.

Seems to me this theory falls apart with even a cursory reading of the Bible. Is anyone besides Noah reported to have heard God's direction to build the Ark? Who was with Abraham when he was called to be a father of many nations? Who witnessed the marvelous vision of the Lord to Isaiah, when "His train filled the temple"? Surely, there are many, many more of these.

It is sad, very sad to me, that any of my brothers and sisters in the Church could be so ignorant of the Bible and so weak in their faith as to actually fall prey to such silly attacks. But they do.

The Bible is the word of God as far as it is translated correctly. We take so much heat for such a self-evident statement. Can the Bible be translated incorrectly? Of course! Anyone with a pen and paper could accomplish that task! Are incorrectly translated passages still the word of God and therefore binding upon us? Did not someone many centuries ago mistakenly translate one of the Ten Commandments?

I have just read a chapter in St. Augustine's City of God in which he struggles for quite a few paragraphs to reconcile differences between the Hebrew manuscripts and the Septuagint version of the Bible regarding the lifespan of Methusaleh. If the great Christian Augustine could concede that copyists of the Bible before his day could introduce errors into the text -- even dare to consider that some were malicious -- can a Latter-day Saint be faulted for the same belief?

Latter-day Saints do not believe the Bible is corrupt or unreliable, as our critics claim we do. It is precious. It is beautiful. It is living word for our daily lives. But just as it was wrong of uninspired men to close the "Old Testament" canon with Malachi (as the Samaritans do after the Pentateuch), so it is wrong of man to close the lips of God after the Revelation to St. John.

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