|The Bible & The Book of Mormon:
Why They Can't Both Be Right
“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.”
--From the introduction page of The Book of Mormon
Latter-day Saints who challenge the video The Bible vs. The Book of Mormon frequently ask us, "Why do you have to say The Bible versus The Book of Mormon?" What typically follows are statements like the following:
"The Bible and the Book of Mormon are companion volumes."
"They compliment one another."
"They both teach of Jesus Christ."
"They go hand-in-hand."
"They don't conflict with one another."
Comparable to the Bible?
Mormonism has historically taught that the Bible is corrupt and unreliable, and needed restoration. Article of Faith #8 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." Sounds innocent enough, but that little qualifier, as far as it is translated correctly, gives room for a host of damaging beliefs about the trustworthiness of the Bible. For example:
"...who, in his right mind, could for one moment, suppose the Bible in its present form to be a perfect guide? No one can tell whether even one verse of either the Old or New Testament conveys the ideas of the original author" (Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 28).
"I believe the Bible as it read when it came from the pen of the original writers. Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 327)
"The Bible has been robbed of its plainness; many sacred books having been lost, others rejected by the Romish Church, and what few we have left, were copied and re-copied so many times, that it is admitted that almost every verse has been corrupted and mutilated to that degree that scarcely any two of them read alike." (Apostle Orson Pratt, The Seer, p. 213.)
These are not isolated comments. They are part of a long litany of anti-Bible statements on the part of LDS prophets, leaders, and respected authors.
The Fulness of the Gospel?
The Book of Mormon declares that it contains, “as does the Bible, the fulness [sic] of the everlasting gospel.” This statement brings up several questions.
If the Bible truly does contain the "fulness of the everlasting gospel", then why is the Book of Mormon even necessary? If the Mormon Church claims to be the restoration of the gospel, then what, exactly, needed to be restored?
Also...if the Bible and the Book of Mormon both truly contain the fulness of the gospel, then those gospels should agree, shouldn’t they?
The problem is, those things most commonly called "gospel principles" in Mormonism are absent from the Book of Mormon. It is principally a narrative. It doesn't contain a whole lot of doctrine to begin with. Yet when we take a look at the doctrine that does exist in the Book of Mormon, it doesn't make things any easier, because it either conflicts with other LDS scriptures & revelations, or it conflicts with the Bible.
And the conflicts with the Bible aren't little things, either; probably the most notable example is an attack on the gospel foundation that salvation is by grace alone:
The Bible says in Ephesians 2:8-9: For by grace ye are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.
The Book of Mormon says in 2 Nephi 2:23: for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.
That little phrase, after all we can do, makes all the difference in the world, and robs the biblical gospel of its true power--that salvation is from Jesus Christ and what he has done, and not from us and what we can do. This is no trifling point. This "gospel" message is reflected throughout the Mormon teaching of salvation by grace plus works.
A Record of God’s Dealings?
The number one reason why the Bible and the Book of Mormon can't both be true is that the Book of Mormon has been shown to be historically false, while the Bible has ample historical, archaeological, and textual evidence to support its authenticity.
We won't go into detail here, but the video The Bible vs. The Book of Mormon explores this very issue. (Click here for more information on this video.)
The fact remains that the Book of Mormon is a work of fiction that is posing as truth. This is not just our opinion. This is a conclusion based on the overwhelming evidence that exists. And as such, it cannot be considered the Word of God, unless you are willing to call God a liar.
Having your Cake and Eating It Too...
Mormonism's somewhat schizophrenic view of the Bible brings to mind the phrase, "You can't have your cake and eat it too."
It is true that Mormonism does use the Bible. But where it conflicts with the Book of Mormon, the Bible is seen as in error. Now, most Mormons won't say it quite that way. They'll say something like "The Book of Mormon helps us interpret the Bible" or "The Book of Mormon completes the Bible." But behind the rhetoric is a basic mistrust of the Bible.
In addition, Mormonism will sift through the biblical text to find things that appear to support a particular doctrine or teaching. Quite often they take something out of context or extrapolate a bizarre interpretation out of the text in order to do this.
And yet, in light of Mormonism's teaching about the corruption and unreliability of the Bible, this practice is deceptive, both to people within Mormonism and outside of it. It would seem that it's done for no other reason than to be able to tell their members and the rest of the world, "See? We're a Bible-believing church." But in reality, they only pick and choose what they like from the Bible, and reject what they don't like, or rather, what conflicts with Mormonism's doctrines and teachings.
The very fact that Mormonism does not recognize the authority or reliability of the Bible sets it apart from Christianity.
So in summary:
- Mormonism charges the Bible, but not the Book of Mormon, with corruption and unreliability.
- The Bible and the Book of Mormon conflict on some significant historical and doctrinal issues.
- The Bible has ample evidence proving its authenticity, while there is ample evidence disproving the Book of Mormon's authenticty.
This is why the Bible and the Book of Mormon are not comparable. That is why they are not complimentary. And that is why we can in all good faith say The Bible versus The Book of Mormon.