Huzzah! Another question in the inbox! This one comes from my friend Andy.
I’ve recently become hooked on the Book of Mormon musical. Have you listened to it? It’s certainly offensive, given the writers, but in a fairly general sense. It didn’t really come off to me as Mormon bashing. I think you might like it… or at least the first half of it.
Anyway, having listened to this so many times I’ve become a bit more intrigued and somewhat confused by LDS theology. I figured you can fill in the gaps – but please don’t send missionaries to my house.
I’m mainly trying to understand what is insufficient about the gospel as presented in the Bible that necessitates the Book of Mormon at all? And why would Jesus need to come here to teach the gospel if he left his Apostles to do that job with the Great Commission?
Even the LDS website seems primarily focused on the Bible and the death and resurrection of Christ – so what do people need the Book of Mormon for? I tried reading more about it from their website, but that sort of information seems kind of buried… or I just might not be looking hard enough.
I’ve found some answers elsewhere, but they seem to primarily be from ex-Mormons or on fundamentalist Christian websites – so I’d be interested to hear an opinion from someone on the pro-Mormon side.
Do I get a prize for the longest question?
Essay Question! Clearly this question is too in depth for me to answer here on the blog, so I’ve sent some missionaries over to your house to tell you all about it. They’ll be there Thursday at 4:00. I told them you’d feed them dinner.
JOKE! Ha! Just kidding.
So.. why do people need the Book of Mormon? I thought I’d bring in a little help to answer this one, so I asked my friend John how he would answer. Here’s part of his answer:
From an LDS perspective, it isn’t the teachings or message of either the Bible or Book of Mormon that make salvation possible. It is our covenant with a living God, embodied in priesthood, in ordinances, and in the gifts of the Spirit.
For Mormons, the Book of Mormon — and other texts in the LDS canon! — embodies the principle of continuous revelation. Mormons believe that where we find a “true church,” we will also find God actively communicating with human beings. […] For Mormons, the primary value of the Book of Mormon is it’s witness to this fundamental principle. Most Mormons would also insist that the Biblical witness is made stronger if it is confirmed by other witnesses — such as the witness of the Book of Mormon and of living, modern-day prophets. […]
John confirmed exactly what I was thinking. The content and teachings of the Book of Mormon aren’t nearly as remarkable as the fact that it exists at all. Believing specifically in the Book of Mormon or its teachings is secondary to a belief in a God that still can and does reveal things to us, be it through modern prophets or through ancient texts. Note, for example, that the temple recommend questions (more or less a litmus test for orthodoxy) don’t mention the Book of Mormon (or Bible) at all.
As to the Bible being insufficient… I’d use the word incomplete instead. With the LDS emphasis on allowing our understanding of God and His gospel to grow and be continuously evolving, the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or any other text will, by definition, be incomplete. That’s not to say that new revelations can’t be gleaned through the study of old texts, but the new revelations are much more important in Mormonism than static texts. Much the same way Mormons believe that the gospel taught by Joseph Smith or [insert your favorite LDS President here] was also incomplete. In fact, it means the current gospel, as taught in our churches every Sunday is incomplete.
Oh, and I’ve only heard portions of the Musical (which I enjoyed), but haven’t gotten around to listening to all of it yet.
Any More Questions?