Joseph Smith restored a literal interpretation, belief and reliance on scripture. Though many in the world today incorrectly believe “Mormons” do not believe in the Bible, every teaching, doctrine and principle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is firmly rooted in the Bible. In addition to turning our foundation back to scripture, Joseph Smith was inspired to restore doctrines that had been lost from mainstream Christianity. His translation (LDS, RLDS) clarified doctrine and improved the true meaning of the original authors of scripture. Additionally, the Prophet Joseph Smith received revelations clarifying portions of the Bible (such as D&C 76, 77, 91, and 132).
In the Joseph Smith Forum, we are pleased to present the Papers Project, a compilation of some of the best research of the time on gospel subjects. One paper of interest is entitled “A Letter To My Christian Friends.” This letter courteously addresses the question asked by many in the Protestant world, i.e. “Are Mormons Christians?” This timely response to that question shows the evidence of our belief in and practice of the teachings of the Bible. If you’ve ever felt awkward explaining this to friends, this explanation may give you confidence. Another paper, “Book of Mormon Passages for Biblical Christians” is a concise and comparative parallel study of teachings from the Bible side-by-side with companion principles as found in the Book of Mormon. This enlightening research assists in clarifying the fact that the teachings of the LDS faith are founded in and concur with those of the Bible.
1 Thessalonians 5:19-21
Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
Doctrine and Covenants 20:35
“And we know that these things are true and according to the revelations of John, neither adding to, nor diminishing from the prophecy of his book, the holy scriptures, or the revelations of God which shall come hereafter by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost, the voice of God, or the ministering of angels.”
He then took up the Bible. “I believe,” said he [Joseph Smith], “in this sacred volume. In it the ‘Mormon’ faith is to be found. We teach nothing but what the Bible teaches. We believe nothing, but what is to be found in this book. I believe in the fall of man, as recorded in the Bible; . . . . In the Bible a rule of conduct is laid down for him; in the Old and New Testaments the law by which he is to be governed, may be found. If he violates that law, he is to be punished for the deeds done in the body. 1
We believe the Bible to be the Word of God, as far as it is translated correctly. 2
O ye Twelve and all Saints! profit by this important Key—that in all your trials, troubles, temptations, afflictions, bonds, imprisonments and death, see to it, that you do not betray heaven; that you do not betray Jesus Christ; that you do not betray the brethren; that you do not betray the revelations of God, whether in the Bible, Book of Mormon, or Doctrine and Covenants, or any other that ever was or ever will be given and revealed unto man in this world or that which is to come. Yea, in all your kicking and flounderings, see to it that you do not this thing, lest innocent blood be found upon your skirts, and you go down to hell. All other sins are not to be compared to sinning against the Holy Ghost, and proving a traitor to the brethren. (HC 3:385.)
(Joseph Smith, Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith, compiled by Alma P. Burton [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1977], 226.)
Other LDS Presidents
I believe the words of the Bible are just what they are; but aside from that I believe the doctrines concerning salvation contained in that book are true, and that their observance will elevate any people, nation or family that dwells on the face of the earth. The doctrines contained in the Bible will lift to a superior condition all who observe them; they will impart to them knowledge, wisdom, charity, fill them with compassion and cause them to feel after the wants of those who are in distress, or in painful or degraded circumstances. They who observe the precepts contained in the Scriptures will be just and true and virtuous and peaceable at home and abroad. Follow out the doctrines of the Bible, and men will make splendid husbands, women excellent wives, and children will be obedient; they will make families happy and the nations wealthy and happy and lifted up above the things of this life. 13:175.
We take this book, the Bible, which I expect to see voted out of the so-called Christian world very soon, they are coming to it as fast as possible, I say we take this book for our guide, for our rule of action; we take it as the foundation of our faith. It points the way to salvation like a fingerboard pointing to a city, or a map which designates the locality of mountains, rivers, or the latitude and longitude of any place on the surface of the earth that we desire to find, and we have no better sense than to believe it; hence, I say that the Latter-day Saints have the most natural faith and belief of any people on the face of the earth. 3
Take up the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter-day Saints with it, and see if it will stand the test. 4
Howard W. Hunter
The Old Testament unfolds the story of the creation of the earth and mankind by God. Should we now disregard this account and modernize the creation according to the theories of the modernists? Can we say there was no Garden of Eden or an Adam and Eve? Because modernists now declare the story of the flood is unreasonable and impossible, should we disbelieve the account of Noah and the flood as related in the Old Testament? Let us examine what the Master said when the disciples came to him as he sat on the Mount of Olives. They asked him to tell them of the time of his coming and of the end of the world. Jesus answered: “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”5.
In this statement the Master confirmed the story of the flood without modernizing it. Can we accept some of the statements of the Lord as being true and at the same time reject others as being false? When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, and they discussed the matter of the death of her brother and the resurrection. Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.”6. Both of these statements, the one regarding Noah and the fact of the flood and the one in which he declared himself to be the resurrection and the life, were made by the Lord. How can we believe one and not the other? How can we modernize the story of the flood, or refer to it as a myth, and yet cling to the truth of the other? How can we modernize the Bible and still have it be a guiding light to us and a vital influence in our beliefs? There are those who declare it is old-fashioned to believe in the Bible. Is it old-fashioned to believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God? Is it old-fashioned to believe in his atoning sacrifice and the resurrection? If it is, I declare myself to be old-fashioned and the Church to be old-fashioned. In great simplicity, the Master taught the principles of life eternal and lessons that bring happiness to those with the faith to believe.7
- Joseph Smith, Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith, compiled by Alma P. Burton [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1977], 11 – 12.
- Article of Faith #8
- 13:236. Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 125.
- Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot, 1854-1886], 16: 46 – 47
- Matt. 24:36–39
- John 11:25
- Howard W. Hunter, That We Might Have Joy, p. 23.