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Monday, April 18, 2011

Mormon Theology no. 30 - Continual Revelation

The main complaint of the critics of the Book of Mormon as well as the LDS Church in regards to revelation is that one cannot add or take away from scripture and also that no other revelations will be given anymore.  This is not true, and is contrary to the scriptures.  President John Taylor taught, "We believe that it is necessary for man to be placed in communication with God, . . . not revelation in former times, but present and immediate revelation" (“What the Gospel Teaches,” February 1, 1874, in Journal of Discourses 16:369).  We will examine the need for immediate revelation in our day.

Do Not Add to or Take Away
The critics quote Revelation 22:18-19, which read, "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:  And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book (emphasis added)."  Notice herein that the phrase "this book" is used in some form or another four times.  John the Seer is here stating that if anyone adds unto (or takes away from) the book of Revelation, then shall the plagues not be stayed.  Moses said the same thing in Deuteronomy chapters four and thirty, but the Bible is much longer than just Deuteronomy.
One must also remember that the Bible (the Old and New Testament) was not completely compiled into what we know today until well after John the Revelator's translation.  Dr. Bruce M. Metzger stated that of the entire library of 5,366 known Greek New Testament manuscripts, only 35 contain the whole New Testament as we now know it, and 34 of those were compiled after A.D. 1000 (see Bruce M. Metzger, Manuscripts of the Greek Bible: An Introduction to Greek Paleography (1981), 54–55). 

The Word of God
When I was on my mission in California, I had nearly identical experiences within the same week.  When my missionary roommates and I went to Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, we were told (although incorrectly) that the Bible was the Word of God and nothing else, or in other words the Bible is all the revelations of God and God would send no more revelations.  Later that week, my companion and I were told by a ten-year-old kid that the Bible was the Word of God and no other scripture exists.  Both the Pastors at Saddleback Church as well as the child were wrong .  In John 1:1, John the Beloved calls Jesus Christ the Word of God: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."  The Joseph Smith Translation of John 1:1 states it differently, but clear enough to agree with my position.  "In the beginning was the gospel preached through the Son.  And the gospel was the word, and the word was with the Son, and the Son was with God, and the Son was of God."  We learn from both these verses that Christ is the Word of God; the Gospel of Christ is also the Word of God, which Word of God is revealed anew in each new dispensation of time.

Revelation 19:13 states that Jesus' "name is called The Word of God."  Again is Christ mentioned as the Word of God - not the Bible or the Book of Mormon - but Jesus the Christ, the source of the Word of Eternal Life, the source of all revelation, past, present, and yet future. 

Now, when Mormons state that they know the Bible, Book of Mormon, etc., are the word of God, they are saying that God inspired those books.  The meaning of the phrase " . . . is the word of God" is not the end-all be-all to what God will reveal to His people, but rather that God gives His word (the Gospel) to His people and that He will give more if they will receive His teachings.  Nephi put it plainly when he wrote, 

And because my words shall hiss forth—many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible!  A Bible!  We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible. . . . Know ye not that there are more nations than one?  Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?  Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word?  Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness  unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another?  Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.  And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure.  And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.  Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written. (2 Nephi 29:3, 7-10)

In other words, revelation from God is continual, and will never cease as long as God has a prophet on the earth.

I know that the Bible and the Book of Mormon are true; that they teach of Jesus Christ the Word of God, our Savior and Redeemer.  They also both teach the principle of continual revelation.  I know that if we truly receive the Bible and Book of Mormon as they are, they will lead us to the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  In the name of Jesus Christ the Word of God, amen!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

JESUS says I AM THE WAY,THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE. I HAVE ALL POWER IN HEAVEN AND EARTH. the book of REVELATION declares his truth,deity and power.our relationship with him is paramount to our eternal destiny and must take presidence over all other endevours and inquiries into the concept and precepts of truth its self. without faith it is impossible to please GOD.salutations.

Clark Herlin said...

I agree. Follow if you would like :)