Changed LDS Scripture/Part 1

By: Marvin W. Cowan; ©2009
Mormonism has four books of scripture, but the only one they express reservations about is the Bible. The eighth LDS Article of Faith says, “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.”

Mormonism has four books of scripture

Mormonism has four books of scripture, but the only one they express reservations about is the Bible. The eighth LDS Article of Faith says, “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.” Mormons believe poor translation is just one problem that makes the Bible less reliable. First Nephi 13:24 and 26 in the Book of Mormon says this about the Bible:

And the angel of the Lord said unto me: Thou hast beheld that the book [Bible] proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew; and when it proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew it contained the fullness of the gospel of the Lord, of whom the twelve apostles bear record; …And after they go forth by the hand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of that great and abominable church which is most abominable above all other churches; for behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away.

First Nephi 13:34-41 say that the Book of Mormon will restore the plain and precious parts that were taken out of the Bible. The Book of Mormon dates I Nephi 13 between 592 and 600 BC, which was long before any of the New Testament was written! Could anyone take away from the gospel before it was even written? And exactly what parts of the gospel and what covenants of the Lord were taken out of the Bible but are now found in the Book of Mormon? LDS need to answer these questions.

Joseph Fielding Smith, Jr., the son of the tenth LDS Prophet by the same name, referred to the above text in I Nephi 13:24 and 26 when he wrote,

The Bible alone is an insufficient guide because the “plainness of the gospel” has been removed…The early “apostate fathers” did not think it was wrong to tamper with inspired scripture. If any scripture seemed to endanger their viewpoint, it was altered, transplanted or completely removed from the biblical text. All this was done that they might keep their traditions. Such mutilation was considered justifiable to preserve the so-called “purity” of their doctrines. (Religious Truths Defined, pp.175-176)

Those are very serious charges, but Smith didn’t provide any evidence to support his charges because there is none. Smith wrote like he knew the thoughts and motives of the early church fathers that lived hundreds of years ago. But, no man knows the thoughts and motives other men unless they state them or there are reliable records that show what they are. Ironically, the charges Joseph Fielding Smith, Jr. made against the Christian Bible are what Joseph Smith did in the “Joseph Smith Translation,” otherwise known as the “Inspired Version of the Bible.” Smith added, changed or deleted things so that it said what he wanted it to say and there is clear evidence in the Joseph Smith Translation that shows such changes!

While Mormonism expresses reservations about the Bible, they express no reservations about their other three LDS books of scripture. LDS Apostle, Bruce R. McConkie said, “The other three [the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price], having been revealed in modern times in English, are accepted without qualification” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 764). But, with the exception of a few short articles in the Doctrine and Covenants, Joseph Smith produced all three of those LDS books of scripture between 1823 and 1843. Do most people living today consider those dates to be “modern times”? And do most people in the world today speak English? When Mormon missionaries go to foreign lands they take translations of LDS scriptures in the language spoken in that land. Are such translations of LDS scripture to be accepted without qualification too? Furthermore, all three of the Mormon books of scripture have had numerous changes in them since Joseph Smith first published them. So, is it the first edition that Smith published or the current edition that is to be accepted “without qualification”?

The Christian Bible was written by about 40 inspired men over a period of around 1600 years and was completed over 1900 years ago. Yet there are thousands of copies of both Old and New Testament documents in their original languages that can be used to verify our translation of the Bible. Thousands of translators have translated the Bible for hundreds of years, yet the same meaning comes through even when different words are used. By contrast, with the exception of a few short items in the Doctrine & Covenants, all three Mormon books of scripture were completed by Joseph Smith about 165 years ago during a 20 year period of time. Since then many changes have been made in all three LDS books of scripture without any original documents to support the changes! In 1827 Smith claimed he began translating the Book of Mormon which was written on gold plates in the “Reformed Egyptian” language. But no gold plates exist to verify his claim nor is there even one copy of the Book of Mormon in the original “Reformed Egyptian” language. No other “Reformed Egyptian” document of any kind has been found in North, Central or South America and Egyptologists claim there is no such language! And not one name, event, place or anything else has been found in the Americas that supports the story in the Book of Mormon.

Smith also said he translated the Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price from an Egyptian parchment purchased in 1835. That Egyptian document was “lost” and then rediscovered and turned over to the LDS Church on November 27, 1967, and it is the only original document available to test Joseph Smith’s translating abilities. But no Egyptologist supports Joseph Smith’s “translation” of the Book of Abraham because they say the document Smith used is a common burial document found in many Egyptian tombs! Yet, that is the only original document Mormonism has for any of its translated scriptures! Does that raise any questions about Smith’s “translation” of the Book of Mormon?

Even though they don’t have documents in original languages for their scriptures, LDS have made numerous changes in their scriptures even after Joseph Smith’s death. Why were changes made if they weren’t based on original documents? If the Book of Mormon is an inspired historical document, as Smith claimed it was, can inspired history be changed?

More can be read about changed LDS scripture in my book Mormon Claims Answered. Next time we will continue our discussion of altered LDS scripture.

Read Part 2


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