In the “13 Articles of Faith” of the LDS church, article #8 states that Mormons “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.”
In other words, the Mormon church believes that the Book of Mormon is infallible and without error, but believes that the same claim cannot be made of the Bible because errors have been made in the translation of the Bible.
This claim, that the Bible cannot be trusted but the Book of Mormon can, simply does not pass the test of common-sense logic.
Is That A Saw In Your Hand?
The logical inconsistency with which the Mormons defend their Book of Mormon is perhaps best portrayed with an analogy. Just for a moment, picture two friends who are avid street racers (think “Fast & Furious” kind of guys). They meet one day to compare their new cars and brag about who’s going to win the next race. Bob starts off the conversation:
Bob: My car is the fastest thing on wheels, and there’s no way you can beat me in the race this weekend!
Fred: My new 1970 Dodge Charger R/T with the supercharged Chrysler 426 HEMI V8 engine can go from 0 to 60 in 6.5 seconds. What can your car do?
Bob: Well, my car is the fastest one out there, and your car is slow by comparison.
Fred: What do you mean, slow? Can your car go from 0 to 60 in 6.5 seconds like mine? What kind of car are you driving, anyway?
Bob: Well, my car is fast. I don’t have any times to quote you, or even a make and model, but take my word for it. Besides, there’s probably something wrong with your car.
Fred: What are you talking about? My car has worked just fine for years, has been checked out by all the best mechanics, and is a proven winner. You’ve given me zero proof that your car is even fast at all. Can you defend your car at all or prove that there’s nothing wrong with your car?
Bob: Well, there’s probably something wrong with your car.
Like Bob did with his car, the Mormon church claims that the Bible has problems while failing to prove that their Book of Mormon is without error. This is a perfect example of a double-standard argument, where the LDS church holds the Bible to a level of scrutiny that they would never dare use on their own Book of Mormon.
When the Mormons find something in the Bible that they don’t like or that disagrees with the Book of Mormon, they say that this portion of the Bible was incorrectly translated. But the LDS church, on the other hand, does not question the accuracy of the Book of Mormon. When a conflict arises, it is always the Bible that is assumed to be wrong.
To argue that the Bible may in some places contain errors due to translation, and at the same time argue that the Book of Mormon cannot possibly contain errors even though it was also translated, is logically inconsistent. If it is possible for errors to be made in any translation, then it logically follows that it is possible for any translated work to contain errors.
The LDS church is arguing that the most carefully translated book in the entire world may contain errors, but their text cannot possibly contain errors. By using this double-standard to evaluate the Bible, therefore, the Mormon church has sawn off the very branch upon which they sit.
Which Text Is More Likely To Be Free From Error?
According to Bible Truth.org, “The Bible we have today is the same Bible God gave by inspiration to the prophets, apostles and those whom God used to reveal His word to us. Among knowledgeable Bible students and scholars it is well known that our modern King James Bible is an accurate translation of the original “autographs” (The original copies of the Bible). How do we know this? There exist many copies of the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, Old and New Testament manuscripts (mss) from which we can compare the modern translations. For the New Testament we have close to 6,000 Greek manuscripts and manuscript portions, 10,000 Latin Vulgate, 9,300 other versions, plus 36,000 early (100-300 A.D.) patristic quotations of the New Testament-such that all but a few verses of the entire New Testament could be reconstructed from these alone. In addition to these ancient manuscripts of the Bible there exists approximately 2000 lectionaries that contain over 86,000 scripture quotes. Lectionaries are early church service books containing selected Scripture readings usually from the Gospels and sometimes from Acts or one of the Epistles. It is easy to compare these early Scripture quotes of various New Testament passages, written as early as the first century, to our modern Bibles. What is found by this comparison is that our modern Bibles reflect accurately the ancient and original text. It clearly shows that nothing has been lost and we can fully trust that the original text is preserved in our modern English King James Bible.”
Compare these facts about the Bible to the facts about the Book of Mormon. According to Wikipedia, “it was first published in March 1830 by Joseph Smith as ‘The Book of Mormon: An Account Written by the Hand of Moroni upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi’. According to Smith’s account, and also according to the book’s narrative, the Book of Mormon was originally written in otherwise unknown characters referred to as ‘reformed Egyptian’ engraved on golden plates. Smith claimed that the last prophet to contribute to the book, a man named Moroni, buried it in a hill in present-day New York and then returned to earth in 1827 as an angel revealing the location of the book to Smith and instructing him to translate it as evidence of the restoration of Christ’s true church in the latter days.”
The Bible was originally translated by scholars from the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. The Book or Mormon was originally translated by Joseph Smith, and man who had no scholarly credentials at all.
The Bible can even now still be translated from the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek text by any scholar who wishes to do so. The Book of Mormon cannot because the so-called original text (the golden plates) cannot be produced by the Mormon church. There is no original text to be found.
The Bible was originally translated, and can still be translated today, by those who can read Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. The Book of Mormon, even if the original text could be found by the LDS church, still could not be translated because no scholar has ever encountered ‘reformed Egyptian’. According to Princeton University, “Scholarly reference works on languages do not, however, acknowledge the existence of either a ‘reformed Egyptian’ language or ‘reformed Egyptian’ orthography as it has been described in Mormon belief. No archaeological, linguistic, or other evidence of the use of Egyptian writing in ancient America has been discovered.”
The Bible was originally translated, and can still be translated, by standard translation methods and logic. The Book of Mormon was originally translated in one of two ways, with either a ‘seer stone’ or with ‘magical glasses’. According to LetUseReason.org, “David Wittmer one of the three witnesses of the book of Mormon writes in his book addressed to all believers in Christ telling us how Joseph Smith placed the ‘seer stone’ into a hat to translate the Book of Mormon: ‘I will now give you a description of the manner in which the book of Mormon was translated. Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat. Drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine a piece of something resembling parchment would appear and on that appeared the writing one character a time would and under was an interpretation in English.’ (An Address To All Believers In Christ, by David Whitmer, Richmond, Missouri, 1887, p. 12)
Some scholars claim that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon using magic glasses, as can be seen in this quote from MormonInterpreter.com: “In his 1916 book, The Birth of Mormonism, John Quincy Adams provided this rather colorful description of the Book of Mormon translation method. ‘The process of translating the “reformed Egyptian” plates was simple though peculiar. It was all done with the Urim and Thummim spectacles, but it was instant death for anyone but Joe to use them. Even when he put them on, the light became so dazzling that he was obliged to look through his hat. Moreover, when so engaged, no profane eyes were allowed to see him or the hat. Alone, behind a blanket stretched across the room, Joe looked into his hat and read the mystic words.’
The Bible translation we have today can be compared and contrasted to the stunning archeological find known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. Indeed, anyone with a computer can examine these original texts by visiting http://www.deadseascrolls.org.il/. The Book of Mormon, on the other hand, can never be compared to the original text because the original golden plates have not been available for almost 200 years. According to BYU, “After the Prophet Joseph Smith’s original translation of the Book of Mormon from the gold plates into English in 1829 and the return of those plates to the angel Moroni….”
The Mormon Church To The World: The Dog Ate My Homework…..
There are many other methods that may be used to evaluate the accuracy of the Book of Mormon, including an analysis of linguistics. Unfortunately, the Mormon church has made such analysis impossible. According to Wikipedia, “The problem with linguistic reviews of the Book of Mormon is that the claimed original text is either unavailable for study or never existed. Joseph Smith said that he returned the Golden Plates to an angel after he finished the translation.”
Indeed, more than one observer has commented that the LDS church has effectively made it impossible for scholars or scientists to evaluate their Book of Mormon because, when questioned about the original text, they simply answer with an adaptation of the old ‘the dog ate my homework’ excuse.
‘No, really, an angel took our original text.’
So, Which Text Is More Likely To Be Free From Error?
The teachings of the Book of Mormon are very different from the teachings of the Bible, just as the teachings of the LDS church are very different from the teachings of the Christian church. You cannot believe both the LDS tradition and the tradition of the Christian church, because they are contradictory. Both cannot be true. To help determine which of these is worthy of your faith, it makes sense to examine the validity of the text.
So, which text is more likely to be free from error, the Bible or the Book of Mormon? Which is more likely to have been translated correctly? For many reasons, the Bible is more likely to be accurate than the Book of Mormon. What does this mean for you and your faith?
Well, that’s a good question…..and one to which you should seek an answer.