What do Mormons believe about the King James Version of the Bible?
On September 21, 1823, Joseph Smith had a second encounter with a spirit being. A messenger, allegedly from the presence of God and named Moroni, appeared beside Smith’s bed. He told Smith that God had a special work for him to do and that a book had been written on golden plates containing “the fullness of the everlasting Gospel.”
Moroni also indicated that there were two stones—the Urim and Thummim—that had been deposited with the plates. These stones had been prepared by God to help with translating the gold plates.
The Bible mentions the Urim and Thummim, but it never says they are to be used in translating gold plates. The Urim and Thummim indicated the will of God in certain judicial matters affecting ancient Israel. In 1 Samuel 28:6, King Saul was confronted by the armies of the Philistines. Saul inquired of the Lord but “the Lord answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.”
But that discrepancy between what they believe about the Urim and Thummim and what is taught in the Bible is no problem to Mormons. They believe that the Bible needs to be “corrected,” and that God has provided Mormon prophets with revelations and messages so that they can do the “correcting.”
Will Mormons disagree with the Bible?
Yes, Mormons will disagree with the Bible. A very good illustration of that is a statement by Mormon apostle Bruce R. McConkie, found in Mormon Doctrine, pgs. 383–384. He is writing about “The Book of Moses” in The Pearl of Great Price:
… at the command of the Lord and while acting under the spirit of revelation, the Prophet corrected, revised, altered, added to, and deleted from the King James Version of the Bible to form what is now commonly referred to as the “Inspired Version of the Bible.” … As restored by the Prophet the true rendition contains about 400 verses and a wealth of new doctrinal knowledge and historical data. … The marvelous flood of light and knowledge revealed through the “Inspired Version of the Bible” is one of the great evidences of the divine mission of Joseph Smith.
Mr. McConkie is claiming that God led Joseph Smith to correct, revise, alter, add to, and delete from the King James Version to come up with the “Inspired Version of the Bible.” That is a consistent Mormon belief. Article 8 of the Articles of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints states the following, “We believe the Bible to be the Word of God in so far as it is translated correctly.”
In 1 Nephi 13:26–27, the Book of Mormon blames the Catholic Church for the corruption of Scripture: “… many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away. … And all this have they done that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord.” Because of the alleged corruptions in Scripture and in practice, Mormons claim that they are “the restored Church of Jesus Christ.”
Adding human opinions and ideas to the Bible is always dangerous. Mormon prophets, for example, have taught that there are men on the moon. In a sermon preached by Brigham Young and delivered at the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City on July 24, 1870, Young said this:
… Who can tell us of the inhabitants of this little planet that shines of an evening, called the moon? … When you inquire about the inhabitants of that sphere you find that the most learned are as ignorant in regard to them as the ignorant of their fellows. So it is in regard to the inhabitants of the sun. Do you think it is inhabited? I rather think it is. Do you think there is any life there? No question of it; it was not made in vain (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 13. pg. 271).
Moreover, in the past, Mormon apostles, speaking authoritatively, claimed that polygamy was a holy practice, but that teaching was changed in 1890. How can a divine principle be right and proper in one century and then become sin in another?
This shows the absolute horror of going beyond Scripture and then claiming that the pronouncements of mere men have some kind of special sanction from Heaven. There are just so many tragic examples of this in church history, where vain, arrogant, and pompous men have literally terrorized their followers with unscriptural doctrine.
But aren’t Mormons doing a lot of good things, like helping the poor and destitute, and don’t they support the family and other time-honored practices?
No doubt, Mormons have done and are doing many works of charity and mercy. However, we must not forget the importance of Bible truth and Bible doctrine. Truth must always be paramount. The question is not, “Have Mormons done many kind things?” but rather, “Do Mormons teach and preach what is true?”
The Bible is our only infallible standard of faith and practice. Anything else is not from God.