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What scriptures do Latter-day Saints accept?

The Latter-day Saints accept the following 4 books as canon:

  • The Holy Bible (only the King James version)
  • The Book of Mormon
  • Doctrine and Covenants
  • The Pearl of Great Price

The Introduction page of the Book of Mormon says that it (the Book of Mormon) is "a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible. It is a record of God's dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains, as does the Bible, the fulness of the everlasting gospel."  This is a positive statement about the Bible.

Negative statements about the Bible begin however - later on in the Introduction page, the Bible begins to be degraded when compared to the Book of Mormon. Quote, "I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth."  In a teaching manual by the LDS Church the "Book of Mormon - Gospel Doctrine Teacher's Manual" on page 18 indicates that many plain and precious things have been lost from the Bible. It refers to a passage in 1 Nephi 13:29.

Is the Bible (and even the Book of Mormon) relevant today?

Despite some positive opening statements about both the Bible and the Book of Mormon, it would appear that the answer is no.

The 2008 version of Teachings of Presidents of the Church - Joseph Smith reveals some startling things when it comes to the acceptance of scriptures in LDS theology:

"We are differently situated from any other people that ever existed upon the earth; consequently those former revelations cannot be suited to our conditions."

At a meeting in Kirtland, Ohio, Joseph Smith said, “Brother Brigham, I want you to take the stand and tell us your views with regard to the [living] oracles and the written word of God." Brigham Young said, "When compared with the living oracles those books [the previous revelations] are nothing to me; those books do not convey the word of God direct to us now, as do the words of a Prophet or a man bearing the Holy Priesthood in our day and generation. I would rather have the living oracles than all the writings in the books."

Joseph Smith said to the congregation, “Brother Brigham has told you the word of the Lord, and he has told you the truth" (Teachings of Presidents of the Church - Joseph Smith, chapter 16, 2008, pp. 198-199, online, image, image).

If the Lord tarries, I suppose even the Book of Mormon will become irrelevant in a few hundred years since it cannot be suited to the conditions of the people in that time.

Should Latter-day Saints believe or accept what their leaders say then?

According to Gospel Principles, yes.  Page 52 states, "When the Lord’s servants speak or write under the influence of the Holy Ghost, their words become scripture (see D&C 68:4). The inspired words of our living prophets are also accepted as scripture."

Thus, the Journal of Discourses (which few Latter-day Saints know about) are scriptures. If Mormons cannot trust the words of Priesthood holders at the General Conferences, then the "Shaken Faith Syndrome" is much more widespread than previously thought.

So ... is the Bible relevant for you today?  Can it be suited to your conditions today?

2 Timothy 3:16 states, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:"  Trust that the Bible can be suited to your conditions today.

What does the LDS Church teach about the Book of Mormon?

As of November 2005, the current missionary instruction guide published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is called "Preach My Gospel".  This can be obtained from A local copy can be downloaded here.

Chapter 5, page 104 states, "In the Book of Mormon we will find the fulness of those doctrines required for our salvation. And they are taught plainly and simply so that even children can learn the ways of salvation and exaltation" (image).

But this is not accurate. When one studies the Book of Mormon, one will not find Celestial Marriage, temple ordinances, the Word of Wisdom, nor the Law of Consecration - all critical and necessary ways to obtain exaltation to godhood in the highest division of the Celestial Kingdom. Maybe the LDS Church will remove this erroneous statement in her next edition.

Chapter 5, page 108 states, "Regarding the Book of Mormon, the Prophet Joseph Smith said that "a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book" (introduction to the book of Mormon, image). This would make the Book of Mormon superior to the Bible, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price and greater than anything a living LDS Apostle could ever say.  But oddly enough, Joseph Smith later changed his mind and agreed with Brigham Young in his supposed "truth" that the living words of living Apostles are much more important (image, image).

Since some of the current and critical Mormon Church teachings are not even found in her Book of Mormon, then it really cannot get you nearer to God by abiding by them because they are not even there.

This poses a problem for the LDS Church today, but it does not pose a problem for believers in historical Christianity. For them, the Bible contains all that people need to know in order to be saved and to get nearer to God. The Bible is sufficient and superior to all other books used by any and all groups claiming to be Christian.

How does the LDS Church instruct her missionaries to compare the Book of Mormon with the Bible?

Section 5, page 114 states, "Help missionaries see how the Book of Mormon teaches the doctrines from the missionary lessons. In a second column, have them list side-by-side those same elements as taught in the Bible. Have your missionaries leave blank those elements that are missing or not taught in the Bible. It will become very evident to the missionary how the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our doctrine. This same activity can be done with the other doctrines that missionaries teach" (image).

I feel there is a little bit of trickery going on here.  For an unspecified reason, the missionaries are not instructed to leave blank those elements (doctrines and practices of the LDS Church) that are missing or not taught in the Book of Mormon.

This is not a fair way for Mormons to compare the Book of Mormon with the Bible.

Archaeology and the Book of Mormon

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