05 August 2015

A Book of Mormon, we have got a Book of Mormon . . .

In a recent discussion on facebook about whether or not the Torah is still important today, I offered the following thoughts:

It's important to mark the difference between the law given to Moses on the mountain, and the law Moses recorded that God had given Adam. The law of Moses has been fulfilled. The law given since the time of Adam stands still, as instruction from God.

The Bible has long been ignored or wrested by Mormons, subvehiculated due to the mentions of it having things taken out of it. Modern translations and hermeneutics faithful to the original texts go a LONG way toward repairing the damage done by various translators whose personal or cultural agendas influenced their work. We have online access to the original Greek & Hebrew through great resources like Blue Letter Bible and Bible Gateway. There is no excuse for us to not make a serious study of the very book of scripture that fueled the Restoration (James 1:5, anyone?), which preserves so much of the religious context of the stories in the Book of Mormon, and which was the primary text for the Lectures on Faith. Some denominations in Protestant Christianity are far closer to the things taught by Joseph Smith than what we call Mormonism today. (This has been a several-year study for me, both from written sources and first-hand experience with actual, real live Christians. ;o)

The Bible has an advantage the Book of Mormon does not: the original languages. The closest we can get with the Book of Mormon is Webster's 1828 Dictionary. (That alone is an amazing key to understanding what Joseph Smith was trying to convey in his translation.) But when it comes to the Bible, we have far more in-depth tools. The word "fulfill", as used in Matthew 5:17, is an important example, as in our modern usage, it means to finish something. Fulfilling a contract means you are no longer bound by that contract. But if you do a word study in the Greek, it's used differently: "to cause God's will (as made known in the law) to be obeyed as it should be, and God's promises (given through the prophets) to receive fulfilment".  Jesus was the fulfillment of the law because He showed us how to live so God's intent, the spirit of the law, could be made manifest (or fulfilled) in our lives. He fulfilled the law in that He lived such that God could bless Him in the way the law was designed to provide. Fulfilling the law is so God the Father can give to us, not because are supposed to give to Him, to satisfy His demands.

The word of God is immutable. The victory of Jesus rent the veil, giving us direct access to heaven. Blood sacrifice was no longer required. The physical anointings of oil were no longer needed to keep priests from being struck dead in the temple. But if we want to touch heaven, if we want to enter into His courts, we must be filled with spiritual oil: the Holy Spirit. The purpose of the laws given since Adam are the same: to lead us to God. Jesus showed us how they are spiritual, and how they should be kept. He didn't abolish them. He allowed His Father to fulfill the promises made in them, in Jesus' life.

Jesus changed the way we see the law; but He did not change the fact that God's words exist independent of time, and never return void, empty, powerless, or ineffectual. God's calendar is a great example. As are His financial laws.

The Bible is made more clear and powerful by the Book of Mormon. Just as the Book of Mormon is expanded and made more clear and powerful by the Bible. They are both the word of God, and therefore we can understand each one in light of the other, because the word of God always agrees with itself. God does not change.

We Mormon-taught all need a great deal of cross-pollination so our assumptions can be challenged, and we can study and seek God's perspective in all things.