Are the Mormon Scriptures Inspired?
How should we address the mormon claim that their scriptures are on par with the Old and New Testaments? Here’s a brief sketch of how I’d respond within John Frame’s perspectival model of apologetics:
Normative response: Scripture dictates what God approves. Since the beginning of the canon (let’s use the Torah), God has revealed himself. He tells us of his nature, his actions, and his attributes. With each addition to the canon the biblical vision of God is expanded, stretched, challenged even, but never contradicted. Finally, in the revelation of God in his Son, Jesus Christ, our understanding of God’s Trinitarian nature is born. This could nearly undo all of our previous conceptions of God, except it makes so much sense of God’s activity in the Old Testament (“The word of Lord,” and “the Spirit of the Lord,” etc.).
My point is this: Scripture is the covenant document of God’s people and they cannot tolerate competing claims about who he is. And one important thing to remember is that there is only one God (re: Isa. 41-50)! Likewise, there is only one creator, and he is creator of all things (Gen. 1, John 1, Col. 1-2), and that He is a spirit (John 4). Mormonism on the other hand (as taught in their scriptures such as The Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine and Covenants), teaches that God has a body of flesh and bone. Doctrine and Covenants 130: 22-23 says the following:
The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.
They also teach that the God of this universe is not the creator of all things, but rather was himself created by other gods, and they by other gods, and on and on and on…Which takes us to their belief in polytheism, or, more accurately, henotheism (the belief in the existence of many gods with the reservation of worship only for one). Likewise, Mormonism teaches that Elohim is the Father, and Jesus is Jehovah. And by this, they mean 2 different gods. Contradictions betweens the Bible and the Mormon scriptures abound. A quick example:
The Bible: But if [salvation] is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace. (Romans 11:6, ESV)
The Book of Mormon: Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind, and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you. (Moroni 10:32, emphasis added)
So, holy books that contradict authentic Scripture are disqualified from being God’s word. This isn’t a rule that I’ve made up. No, Mormons themselves accept the same 66 books of the Bible (in the KJV). By their own standards, their former (or earlier) scriptures, contradict their latter scriptures. But this leads us to the next point…
Situational Response: The people of God have never accepted The Book of Mormon. The Jewish people, who were entrusted with the very oracles of God (see Rom. 3:2) have uniformly rejected any additions to the OT, so that stands secure. Likewise, with regard to the NT, the Christian Church has always rejected such books. They do not pass the traditional tests for acceptance into the NT canon (which is where books like The Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrines of Covenants place themselves). They were not written by an authorized spokesperson for Christ, nor where they written by an authorized spokesperson for an apostle. Secondly, they were written much too late to be consider apostolic, and contain internal contradictions.
Existential Response: This builds off of the first two responses. Since they contradict God’s word, contradict themselves, and because they have never been accepted by His people, the Holy Spirit does not testify to Christians regarding the authenticity of Mormon holy books. Those born of the Spirit hear the voice of their Shepherd, and all others are thieves and robbers.
Of course, more could always be said, but I hope that at least helps…