Why I am not an Evangelical - Part 6


The Book of Mormon.

I grew up with the Bible alone as scripture and assumed, as do many Christians, that the canon of scripture is closed. After Revelation was written God wrote "The End", put down his pen and closed the book. And that's it. We have a Bible and there cannot be any more Bible. (See 2 Nephi 29:3)

However, Biblical Studies at A level showed me that actually the canon of Scripture has only recently stopped changing and evolving, and there was much debate over which books to include and exclude. In fact, the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox churches use different books in their Bibles. Even then I found myself wondering who drew the line under the Bible. Who said "God has finished speaking to man" and decreed that no-one else was permitted to write down what God had said to them and call it scripture? Why is something God said to an apostle in 75AD called scripture, but something He said fifty years later not called scripture?

I am studying the Book of Mormon this year with my Seminary class. I don't know it as well as I should. I have read the Bible daily for 30 years and studied it at an academic level (including learning some Greek), so I'm pretty good on Biblical knowledge, but I've only read the Book of Mormon through about 3 or 4 times.

However, it is an amazing book, rich and complex and with some really profound sections, powerful imagery and beautiful lessons. Even anti-Mormons - who have never been able to satisfactorily explain where it came from - admit that it doesn't contradict the Bible. What it does is complement, complete and clarify the Bible. 

Reading the story of Nephi's broken bow with my Seminary students, I gained so much knowledge and insight just from that short section that I found myself feeling pity for those who don't have this wonderful scripture to enrich their lives. Since then we've read further, and I found myself feeling the same sorrow as I read Jacob's advice to the pure in heart, and many other passages. The Book of Mormon is such a strong and powerful book; I'm lucky to have it, and I'm eager to learn all I can from it, and I wish everyone else could read it too. I suspect that were I to leave the LDS church and ally myself with an evangelical congregation in another denomination I would be required no longer to read, study, refer to or quote from the Book of Mormon. I'm not able to do that.

Here are a few of my favourite verses:

"And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. (2 Nephi 25:26)

"...when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God." (Mosiah 2:17)

"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." (Ether 12:27)

"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the father: Ye shall have eternal life." (2 Nephi 31:20)

"Wickedness never was happiness" (Alma 41:10)

"O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever." (2 Nephi 4:34)

Conclusion

In this series (see sidebar for previous posts) I have listed five reasons why I do not subscribe to the doctrines of the evangelical Christian movement. Swift recap, they are:

1. The doctrine that anyone who doesn't make a confession of faith in Jesus will got to hell, including little children too young to do so, and those who live in parts of the world where they never have the opportunity to hear the gospel of Christ. So toddle Jamie Bulger is in hell, but his killers can repent and confess Jesus as Lord and go to heaven. That's not fair, and I don't want to worship a god who isn't fair.

2. The fact that by Evangelical doctrine I am already saved, and thus I don't need to leave the LDS church or subscribe to their philosophies.

3. The antagonistic and often downright hostile attitudes of some individual Evangelical Christians, and sometimes whole church groups, against Mormons, which seems to me unchristian and divisive.

4. The doctrine of the trinity, which I don't see in the Bible.

5. The Book of Mormon, which is self-evidently scripture.

Those aren't the only reasons, there are many others. I could never belong to a church which doesn't forbid alcohol, for example, and I love having a living prophet at the head of my church. I was an evangelical for many years, and struggled to get to grips with certain things – the Pentecostal movement, the trinity, the inerrancy of the Bible, and especially my own lack of a spiritual witness. I’m not saying it’s easy being a Mormon either. My evangelical friend told me that her "Why I'm not a Mormon" blog would start with "The possiblity of being called to teach early-morning Seminary"! Mostly it's very tough being a Mormon. It requires far more commitment than many other churches, and you get a lot of flak.

But I have a testimony - that spiritual witness - that my Heavenly Father wants me in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That it is Christ's true church, and where I can get closest to him. So with apologies to all those who, with evangelical zeal, try to persuade me to return to the mainstream Christian path, I'm staying put.

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