Book of Mormon Not the Word of God

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So many people think the Bible is the word of God. For that matter, many people consider the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price to be the word of God. Are they really?

First, we need to ask what the phrase ?¢‚Ǩ?ìword of God?¢‚Ǩ¬ù means. Does it mean that the book was written by God? Does it mean the things within are spoken by God? Does it mean the things within are statements by prophets saying what God would say if He were there? Is ?¢‚Ǩ?ìword?¢‚Ǩ¬ù more figurative, referring?¢‚Ǩ‚Äùas John did in the first chapter of his gospel?¢‚Ǩ‚Äùto Jesus?

Second, if we are to assume that ?¢‚Ǩ?ìword of God?¢‚Ǩ¬ù refers to the words in the scriptures to be words spoken of God or His prophets, then I think a semantics problem arises.

Take for example, Nephi?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s words in 1 Ne 2:15.

And my father dwelt in a tent.

If we were to take the common claim that ?¢‚Ǩ?ìthe Book of Mormon is the word of God?¢‚Ǩ¬ù to be true, then how do we classify such a statement? Was it God saying Nephi?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s father dwelt in a tent? Is it a prophetic statement spoken by Nephi?

Frankly, the Book of Mormon and other scriptures are filled with language that does nothing more than provide historical or situational information. Various passages contain no literal doctrinal exposition. Granted many passages taken as a whole?¢‚Ǩ‚Äùlike the last dozen chapters in Alma for example?¢‚Ǩ‚Äùcould be representative of spiritual advice. The point is though, that to say the Book of Mormon or any other scripture is the word of God is a literary fallacy.

Certainly, the Book of Mormon and other scriptures contain the word of God. I do not argue that point at all.

6 thoughts on “Book of Mormon Not the Word of God

  1. I have followed your blog (you can thank John @ KZION for the link) for long enough now to understand that you are something of a purist when it comes to the use of language. I’m wondering, though, if we acknowledge that the Book of Mormon contains the word of God, isn’t that really the bottom line? I believe it is. That being said, I submit that the Book of Mormon IS the word of God because each and every word in the book was prepared, approved, edited, compiled, revealed and translated under His direction. We have these words because He wants us to have them, even those that are seemingly there only for context. Important doctrine can be learned by knowing the context in which something was said or done.
    Thanks.
    Rex (racattorney@yahoo.com)

  2. “I have followed your blog”

    Oh crap! A stalker.

    “you are something of a purist when it comes to the use of language”

    Oh, crap, again! This notion has escaped my familial bounds and the world is on to me. I am really going to have to watch myself now. I bet someone will take me to task the first time I slip in a double negative.

    “if we acknowledge that the Book of Mormon contains the word of God, isn’t that really the bottom line”

    Absolutely.

    The difference though is that we can say the Book of Mormon contains the word of God and believe it and leave it at that; while we can say it is the word of God and eventually think it is inerrant. It is not inerrant; Mormon alluded to this very point in the Title Page.

    “I submit that the Book of Mormon IS the word of God because each and every word in the book was prepared, approved, edited, compiled, revealed and translated under His direction.”

    I disagree. Actually, I disagree to a point. I agree that God oversaw the translation of the Book of Mormon. I do not believe that He necessarily oversaw how every single word was prepared, edited, compiled and translated. I am very doubtful that the language of the Book of Mormon translated word for word into English easily. I am confident that Joseph Smith had thoughts or ideas come into his mind and through the spirit was able to express those thoughts or ideas into words with which he was familiar.

    Translation, from what I understand, is very similar to how blessings are given. The voice in a blessing does not receive every single word by revelation. If he did, there would be far fewer brethren who struggle with what to say in a blessing. Rather, the Spirit causes ideas and thoughts to enter our minds and we express them as words.

    “We have these words because He wants us to have them”

    Absolutely.

  3. I can honestly say that your father has missed these conversations or debates or whatever you want to call them where you take things apart. I for one do not miss them lolol. I don’t especially miss the ones that came AFTER your lovely wife came into the picture and she tried to referree you two :)

  4. You never yourself define what the phrase word of God means. You ask questions relating to the phrase but… that is not a definition.

    Then you use the phrase “contains the word of God” as if that is not what people mean.

  5. Anonymous,

    The purpose of my post was not to try and come up with an absolute definition of the phrase “word of God”. The purpose of my post was to try and determine what others mean when they say “word of God”, and then depending on that assumed meaning explain how it is semantically incorrect.

    I am not the one who uses the word of God to describe the Book of Mormon, so the onus to define the phrase does not lie with me. Since no one was here with me at the time of my post, I simply tried to extrapolate that definition by asking numerous questions and then addressing some of the definitions those questions imply.

    Whether people actually mean specifically “contains the word of God” still remains to be seen since users of the phrase “word of God” do not qualify their usage of the phrase with a definition. That being said, even if that is their precise meaning, then why not simply say that. Why use a phrase instead that takes us down the dangerous road of inerrancy?

  6. I understand the distinction you’re making but I’m not sure we should expect everyone to make a distinction that our own scriptures don’t make: See Article of Faith 8. We believe the Book of Mormon “to be” the word of God because it contains His words in as pure a form as we get them through Prophets.

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