Need to Know

LDS Scriptures

The LDS Church recognizes four books as scripture (called the Standard Works) in addition to the spoken and written words of Latter-day prophets.

The Book of Mormon

Encyclopedia of Mormonism states:

"The Prophet Joseph Smith called the Book of Mormon "the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion" and said that a person "would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book" (TPJS, p. 194), for it contains the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ (D&C 20:8-9). To members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Book of Mormon forms the doctrinal foundation of the Church and speaks the word of God to all the world.

"…Latter-day Saints believe the Book of Mormon to be a record of God's dealings principally with [a] group of Israelites he brought to the Western Hemisphere from Jerusalem about 600 B.C… Their complex, lengthy records were abridged by a prophet named Mormon, inscribed on plates of gold, and buried by his son, Moroni, after internecine wars destroyed all of the believers in Christ in the New World except Moroni (A.D. 385)."

The Book of Mormon today bears the subtitle, "Another Testament of Jesus Christ."

Historic Christianity does not recognize the Book of Mormon as scripture, nor even as a true account of the people it purports to describe. It is filled with errors in the areas of history, science, and prophecy and has undergone thousands of textual changes since it was first published in 1830. Doctrinally, the Book of Mormon teaches another Jesus, another spirit and another gospel than that which the Bible proclaims.

For further information please see articles in the LDS Scripture section of this web site.

The Bible

The LDS 8th Article of Faith (found in The Pearl of Great Price -- see below) states:

"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."

The Book of Mormon, which Latter-day Saints believe HAS been translated correctly, has something to say about the Bible as well. It teaches (and Mormonism affirms):

The Bible has been corrupted -- members of the "great and abominable church…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." (1 Nephi 13:26)

The Bible is incomplete -- "Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible." (2 Nephi 29:6)

Given this view of the Bible, it is not surprising that whenever Mormonism and Christianity disagree, Latter-day Saints believe it is because the truth (as found in Mormonism) has disappeared from the Bible and, consequently, from present-day Christianity.

The LDS Church publishes its own edition of the Bible. Using the standard King James Version text, it is footnoted and cross-referenced uniquely for Latter-day Saints. The LDS edition includes many notes of clarification from Joseph Smith's revision of the Bible (the Joseph Smith Translation or JST)

Doctrine and Covenants (D&C)

Encyclopedia of Mormonism states:

"The Doctrine and Covenants is a compilation of revelations, most of which were received by the Prophet Joseph Smith for the establishment and governance of the kingdom of God in the latter days. It is a standard work of the Church and functions as its open, ever-expanding, ecclesiastical Constitution…

"Of the 138 sections and 2 declarations presently in this collection, 133 were received principally through Joseph Smith, the first prophet and President of the Church."

The LDS Church's clam to continuing revelation notwithstanding, there have been only three additions to their formal scripture since the mid-1800s. These are found in Doctrine and Covenants: a declaration to discontinue the practice of polygamy (1890); a vision of Christ's ministry among the spirits of the dead (1918); and a declaration to end the Church's withholding of spiritual blessings to people of African descent (1978).

As with the Book of Mormon, many of the revelations contained in the Doctrine and Covenants have undergone serious revision since their initial printing in the Book of Commandments in 1833.

Pearl of Great Price

The Pearl of Great Price consists of a collection of various writings that are considered sacred by Latter-day Saints. The documents included are known as "Selections from the Book of Moses," "The Book of Abraham," "Joseph Smith-Matthew," "Joseph Smith-History," and "The Articles of Faith." All of these things came from Joseph Smith, the founding prophet of the LDS Church.

Of note: The "Selections from the Book of Moses" and "The Book of Abraham" give inconsistent accounts of Creation. Moses portrays one, almighty God while Abraham speaks of "the Gods" creating the earth. "The Book of Abraham" was supposedly translated by Smith in the mid-1830s from papyrus found with an Egyptian mummy. However, scholarship of the 20th century showed Smith's translation to be fraudulent.

Words of the Prophets

In addition to the books of scripture, Latter-day Saints recognize the words of their prophets and apostles, spoken under inspiration, as binding and authoritative. The current, living prophet can overrule both past prophets and the things contained in the Standard Works. These inspired pronouncements are found in speeches, books and articles authored by Authorities in the LDS Church. However, some of what LDS prophets and apostles have said is contradictory and/or an embarrassment to members of the Church; in these instances it is claimed that the leaders of the Church were not inspired at the time they promoted these ideas.

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