Posted by: Jay | April 24, 2007

Is the Bible really perfect?

Is the Bible perfect? Now this is a very interesting question that comes up quite frequently among not only LDS, but other faiths as well. There are those that claim the Bible is perfect and nothing should be changed. There are also those that claim the Bible has serious flaws and has been corrupted (not intentionally). I will have to admit to you I tend to side with the latter. There are so many inconsistencies in the Bible that it makes me wonder. I’m not just talking about how Judas died or if the men with Paul heard a voice. I think when the New Testament is taken as a whole those things are of little importance. However, there are things that do matter because they point out that something is missing. For example, is there a prophecy that Christ was to be born in Bethlehem or not? Can man see God or not? Did we live before we were born or not? Does God have a body like us or not? These are all questions that the Bible brings up, but doesn’t answer. In some cases the Bible contradicts itself.

During my mission I learned how to read, write, and speak fluently in Spanish (Though my Spanish was certainly far from perfect). I began to read the Bible and Book of Mormon in Spanish. It was then that I realized something. When translating from one language to another there is not always an equivalent word. Due to this problem, translators must talk around the word trying to convey the original meaning in the new language. In doing so the original text can become corrupted, especially if the “copy” is continually translated instead of the original. I see this going on all around the Christian world. In an attempt to reach different audiences the Bible is “translated” into a language that they can more easily understand. Every time someone decides to do this it corrupts the word again, no matter how well intended.

I am aware that the gospels agree for the most part and this is proof that they must be close to the original text. I am also aware that people painstakingly made sure that every word was copied exactly from the Bible through time. I am also aware that humans are humans and no matter what kind of precautions you take we will always mess up, thus the inconsistencies of the Bible.

The purpose of this post is not to say how wrong the Bible is. I love the Bible. I wouldn’t want to be without it. Truthfully, this is just an extension of what I have been taught growing up and what I have found to be the case in my study of the Bible. What I want to know is, have you had the same experience or do you accept the Bible as a perfect book without error? Is it only LDS (and a few other religions) that acknowledge biblical errors?

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Responses

  1. I recommend a book titled “How To Read the Bible for All It’s Worth”. It answered a lot of these questions for me.

    Most of the “errors” in the Gospels are errors of omission but not contradiction. I think most of your questions are questions brought up by LDS extra-biblical scripture. If you didn’t have the D&C, those questions probably wouldn’t seem like a big deal to you.

  2. Thanks Dando. That’s an interesting thought. I’ll have to check out that book.

  3. Bible perfection is not really a question that you want an answer too because according to the History of the Church, 4:461.

    “The book of Mormon is more correct than the Bible”

    so the question is really pointless from your “worldview” yet you use this book (the Bible) to support your worlview.

    so, in other words a verse like this:

    Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. (Isaiah 43:10)

    means absolutely nothing because the book of Mormon is “more” correct than the Bible; superceding all verses that contradicts your worlview.

    It has to be right? Because if it isn’t how can one become a god?
    They can’t unless they are mormon.

    It gives me the chuckles though because with all the books and the multitude of faith groups the book of mormon is more correct than the “Bible”. There something about that bible that folks just do not like.

    Take care.

  4. Andrew,
    I think your interpretation of LDS biblical belief is a bit too simplistic. Mormons don’t simply throw out scriptures in the Bible that conflict with their teachings. But like with all Christian denominations, we have alternate interpretations. I read Isaiah 43:10 to say there is only one God that we worship. It doesn’t matter if there are other gods (Heavenly or man made) because they have nothing to do with us. There is only one God that created us and that’s Elohim.

    I also don’t think that Mormons are obsessed with becoming gods. They don’t wake up each day thinking, “Wow, today I’d better be good so I can be a god some day”. I think they are much more concerned with returning to God or making it to heaven. People don’t join the Church because it promises to make them gods. They join because they are attracted to the overall doctrine taught. They find answers to questions that orthodox Christianity doesn’t give and clarifications of orthodox Christian doctrine that are confusing even to Christians themselves (i.e. the Trinity).

  5. The bible is perfect and there is NO error or mistake. God will preserve his word. He is omnipotent and he has the power to preserve and make sure the translators will translate it accurately. The translators of the KJB are all faithful believers and I believe God’s word is preserved all the way.

  6. Joe,
    I respect that you believe that, but personally I see too many inconsistencies in the Bible to believe that it is perfect. I know there are many people that disagree with those of us that think this and that’s ok. The Bible, IMO, is far from perfect, but does have so many positive things to offer us.

  7. The Bible is a valuable tool. But I have learned too much about its origins and its reception history (from the fundamentalist Christian college I attended as an undergraduate, no less) to state categorically that it contains no errors. God is perfect, but the human beings who are in charge of things are not. It was human beings who decided what scriptures should be included in the Bible and which should be dropped (there were far more Christian “holy scriptures” before the Council of Trent than afterward); it was human beings who acted as scribes and in the process added or deleted passages; it was faithful human beings who wrote the scriptures, and, as “filters” through whom the Holy Spirit worked, were and are capable of error, as He Himself is not. And it is human beings who interpret scripture, preach them, and teach them. If you don’t think that interpretation of scripture is a complex error-laden enterprise, then you should study Christian history and learn about the different ways particular scriptures have been interpreted throughout the centuries. You might be surprised. It is also human beings who cherry-pick those scriptures that suit them and ignore those that do not.

    The Bible is a valuable spiritual tool, but it has not come down to us in a pristine form. As far as the translators of the King James version of the Bible, “faithful believers” are not without an agenda or a bias. In fact, their very faith can make them unsuitable for something that requires objectivity.

    I love the Bible, and I know it from cover to cover. But it cannot be perfect. It is as much a part of this manifest world as we are, and just as prone to error and inconsistency.

  8. The Bible is the inspired word of God. The Book of Mormon reveals a different gospel, a perverted gospel, when compared to the Bible.

    The Book of Mormon reveals “it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2Nephi 25:23) and the Bible reveals “by grace are ye saved through faith” (Eph.2:8).

    We are saved “according to his own purpose and grace” (2Tim 1:9), we are not saved “after all we can do” like the Book of Mormon reveals.

  9. John,
    I won’t argue with you about the validity of the BOM. I don’t really take it to be some translation of ancient Native Americans, but rather Joseph Smith’s attempt to reform what he thought was wrong with Christianity. Even though I don’t believe the BOM to be a literal history there are stories in its pages that illustrate beautifully aspects of how to be a better person and inspire faith in Jesus Christ. I can understand why some people think it is a great book.

    I could say the same thing though about the Bible. Is it inspired, yes I think it is. Is it an accurate depiction of history, no I don’t believe it is. In other words the message conveyed through the stories inspire one to live a better life, be a better person, but I don’t take it as a blow by blow historical account. It is loosely based on actual history and does contain some real historical facts. On the other hand I’m not convinced the BOM is based on any historical facts but many of its stories are inspired.

    The whole works vs grace argument seems kind of like a smoke screen to me. Mormons don’t believe their works will save them. If you really talk to any Mormon they will tell you without grace they could be baptized 1000’s of times and go to the temple every day and still they would be lost. So really I think evangelicals and Mormons believe the same thing they just have a different way of expressing it.


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