“A Bible a Bible We Have Got a Bible”

Bryan Richards

Most missionaries who have served in a Christian country have heard this argument from someone. It is the main argument against the Book of Mormon.

“The argument is, as the Lord suggests, most foolish. It is our modern counterpart to those of Jesus’ day who rejected him in the pretense of being loyal to the Law of Moses, the irony being that loyalty to the Law of Moses demanded acceptance of Jesus as the Christ. The purpose of the Law of Moses was to teach and testify of Christ. Such is also the purpose of the Book of Mormon, it being the most Christ-centered book ever written. Yet it is rejected in the name of loyalty to the Bible. The logical extension of such reasoning would be to reject the Gospel of Mark in the name of loyalty to Matthew or to reject the witness of Peter in the pretense of loyalty to Paul and his teachings.” (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 1, p. 347)

Most people who cry, we have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible, have no idea why they believe that. Some will quote the passage in Rev. 22:18-19:

’For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.’

They argue that John was declaring that nothing could be added to the Bible or taken away from the Bible. This is their proof that the heavens closed after the Bible was written.

This argument implies that John was writing the book of Revelation as the last chapter of the New Testament. It is in this context only that the passage above can be construed to refer to the entire Bible. This thought process is false for the following reasons—first the books that we know as the New Testament were not compiled at the time of John’s writing. They were scattered epistles gathered together sometime later. Second, John is thought to have written the epistles of John after writing the book of Revelation—demonstrating that the passage does not mean that there can be no more revelation. Third, the context of the passage itself demonstrates that John was talking about the book of Revelation not the entire Bible. When John says, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book he is referring to the plagues discussed in Revelation 15 &16 not the plagues written in the New Testament. The New Testament is not a book of plagues, the book of Revelation is. Fourth, a very similar passage is found in Deuteronomy 4:2:

’Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.’

If such a passage is meant to imply that there cannot be any more scripture, then everything in the Bible after Deuteronomy must be false.

The real meaning of the scripture is that the commandments of God should not be altered. Nevertheless, they were altered for we know that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book (1 Nephi 13:28). When Joseph Smith altered passages of the book of Revelation in the Joseph Smith Translation, it was to restore those plain and precious things that were lost.

Those who declare that the Bible is the only revelation that God ever intended for his children also claim that the Bible is perfect. They contend that all man ever needs to know regarding God and salvation is contained in its pages. McConkie and Millet comment on this view:

"The fundamental error of Bible cultists is the doctrine of Bible infallibility. This tenet holds that the Bible must be ’completely authoritative and trustworthy in all that it asserts as factual, whether in matters of theology, history, or science.’ The Bible, it is held, ’does not contain error of any kind.’
"It has to be significant that the Bible makes no such claim for itself: There is not a single passage of scripture that can properly be used to sustain such a view. For is there any agreement among those maintaining such a position as to what version of the Bible should be used or what the Bible is saying on a host of matters.
“…To claim for the Bible what it does not claim for itself is to misuse the Bible. The Bible does not claim to be the constitution of the church, it does not claim to be infallible, nor does it claim to be the answer in all things. What the Bible does claim is that whenever God had a people that he acknowledged as his own he spoke to them through living prophets who then added those words to the canon of scripture. The purpose and spirit of the Bible is to open the heavens, not to seal them.” (McConkie and Millet, Sustaining and Defending the Faith, pp. 40, 50)