|A very old Bible|
My life has been deeply affected by the reading and pondering of scripture. As a young boy I was taught to honor the scriptures as the guide for a powerful and positive life. My parents set a wonderful example of the value they found in the recorded messages of God to His prophets, both past and present. Eventually, my own studies led me to choose a career that was based on the scriptures found in the Standard Works of the Church.
As I have often reminded folks (and have often been reminded by others), I am not a scholar of the scriptures, I am a teacher. I have not studied, to any great depth, the historicity of the different volumes available, nor do I really desire to do so. Such is not my attraction to these pages.
I love the scriptures because they help me understand the workings of God, our Heavenly Father, and His Majestic Son, Jesus Christ. I believe that these two are the most important individuals we can acquaint ourselves with in the hopes of emulating their way of life. The words they give to modern and ancient prophets are the foundation for living a better life and finding eternal peace. Whatever modicum of success we achieve in the application of the truths in the scriptures will result in an astounding change in our personal lives. The value of these written words cannot be overemphasized.
There is a movement, many years in the making, which seeks to adjust the significance of the written records used by most Christian religions. I don’t know its origin but the purveyors of the doctrine are primarily scholars who, wittingly or unwittingly, water down the value of the Word of God as written in the Bible (and to some extent the Book of Mormon). Often the conversation they initiate begins something like this:
* The Bible is the product of two historical communities, ancient Israel and the early Christian movement.
*The Bible is created by man and therefore is human centered, and not a divine product. We are not denying the reality of God. But we see the Bible as the reaction/record of men as they experience God (whatever form that may take).
It seems to me that this method of study is designed to focus on the cultural, historical, and mortal nature of the written word of God.
|Experiences of religious value.|
What, then, is the experience of God?
Does it include visions and visitations or is it just the “musings of the elders” as they try to deal with the struggles of the community?
Can spiritual experiences be included, even when they may violate some precept of society?
Did the ancients actually have communications with God and hear His voice?
And what if a person is bold enough to state that the words they are speaking have come from God and need to be recorded as given?
Are words still human centered because they came from the mouth of a man?
Scholars sharing this definition of scripture claim that their views do not alter the place of scriptures or completely deny their sacred nature, but should be used as a way of seeing scripture for its real value.
In my mind, these ideas are opening doors to unneeded doubt or something slightly (?) more insidious in nature. IF the scriptures are just an historical response to what people believed about God, and are not really a divine product/inspired record of God’s dealing with His people, what value do they have? Scripture becomes no more than a tale used to teach moral values as believed by those in charge of the culture. That would seem to elevate modern works like The Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter to the same standing as the Bible.
A further step to the changing view of scripture pushes more toward the lack of divinity in their creation.
* As their response to God, the Bible tells us the view of the ancients. It is a record of how they lived with God as the focus of life. Their scriptures contain their stories about God’s involvement in their lives, their laws and ethical teachings they thought God would share, their prayers and praises, their wisdom about how to live, and their hopes and dreams. It is not God’s word as recorded by man (divine product), but their interpretation of what God had said (a human product).
Historical scholars would have us believe that any response to God says more about the people that it does about their interactions with God. Stories they tell are to show God’s involvement in their lives, teachings, traditions, and every aspect of their lives. But if these are simply the reactions to events that they perceive as being from God and not the literal words of God, spoken to men on earth – again, what value do they have?
I am not smart enough to make all the arguments I would like on this subject but I AM smart enough to recognize a devaluing of the Holy Scriptures of God. I am confident that the Bible, The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price are exactly what they say they are. These books are records of man’s interactions DIRECTLY with God and Christ. Prophets, called of God were instructed, literally, by God to do things for the benefit of their people.
Moses DID lead Israel out of Egypt, even if there is no archeological evidence to prove it.
Abraham DID take his son, Isaac, to Mt. Moriah and offer him as a sacrifice, as commanded by God. He was restrained by an angel from completing the sacrifice but was counted worthy because of his faith.
Jesus Christ DID live and teach in the Holy Land. He called disciples to be Apostles and continue His work after His crucifixion and resurrection (which was also a literal experience).
Nephi and Lehi DID build a boat and sail to the Promised Land to begin a new culture. The record of their experiences can be found in The Book of Mormon.
Joseph Smith DID see God and Christ in the Sacred Grove and was directed by Moroni to translate The Book of Mormon from plates with the appearance of gold.
These experiences are NOT just the cultural reminiscences of a people who believed in a supreme being and found ways to include that in the records of their culture. These were actual events and are valued because they show the love of God for His children.
God is real and His words are real.
They are in the scriptures and come from prophets and will change lives for the better.