Objection #1: There are too many the versions of the Bible
The number of Bible versions does not negate the efficacy of God’s word. The purpose of the various versions is to make the original text more readable and increase the reader’s understanding of scripture. This is no different than the Mormon Church publishing the children’s “Book of Mormon Reader” in addition to the standard Book of Mormon.
My grandparents’ native language was Czech. As I was growing up I wanted very much to learn the language and frequently asked them what they were saying. Sometimes they paraphrased in English what they had said and other times they told me word for word. Since some Czech words do not have an English equivalent, my grandparents would have to find the best way to explain what they were saying. Czech grammar also varies from the English. The literal word for word translation of “I love you” from Czech to English would be “I you love.”
The same principle holds true for translating the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into English. Because of differences in grammar, style, and language, etymology becomes challenging. Nevertheless, there are several ways to convey meaning without diminishing the original message. Whether I say “I am extremely hungry” or “I am famished” it means the same thing. Here is an example:
King James: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
New American Standard Bible: For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
New International Version: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Different versions are suited for a variety of purposes. For personal, devotional reading, one would use a “paraphrase” translation (thought-for-thought), such as the Living Bible. For in-depth study one would use a word-for-word translation, like the Amplified or New American Standard Bible. For those who enjoy the beauty and majesty of Old English, the King James Version is a good choice. A very good article on the history of the English Bible can be found here.
Are there problems with the new translations? There are good translations and bad ones; however, this does not mean there is only One True Translation.
…we must be very careful to make intelligent and informed decisions about what translations of the Bible we choose to read. On the liberal extreme, we have people who would give us heretical new translations that attempt to change God’s Word to make it politically correct. One example of this, which has made headlines recently, is the Today’s New International Version (T.N.I.V.) which seeks to remove all gender-specific references in the Bible whenever possible! Not all new translations are good… and some are very bad.
But equally dangerous, is the other extreme… of blindly rejecting ANY English translation that was produced in the four centuries that have come after the 1611 King James. We must remember that the main purpose of the Protestant Reformation was to get the Bible out of the chains of being trapped in an ancient language that few could understand, and into the modern, spoken, conversational language of the present day. William Tyndale fought and died for the right to print the Bible in the common, spoken, modern English tongue of his day… as he boldly told one official who criticized his efforts, “If God spare my life, I will see to it that the boy who drives the plowshare knows more of the scripture than you, Sir!”
Will we now go backwards, and seek to imprison God’s Word once again exclusively in ancient translations? Clearly it is not God’s will that we over-react to SOME of the bad modern translations, by rejecting ALL new translations and “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.” (Timeline of Bible Translation, from www.greatsite.com)
Keep in mind that the forty-seven scholars who translated for the King James Bible were working with fewer manuscripts than we have available today. The KJV is certainly an accurate and reliable translation of the Bible, but it is not the only one! Several excellent English translations of the Bible exist. Regardless of which translation a person uses, for study and understanding it is wise to keep a concordance handy, as well as an “interlinear Bible,”
…an edition in which each line of the original biblical text (OT Hebrew or NT Greek) is followed by a line containing a literal English equivalent directly underneath each Hebrew or Greek word; since the word order of the ancient languages is very different from any modern languages, the English equivalents seem very strange, chopped up, and out of order; thus a smooth English translation is usually also provided in the margins (Web definition, retrieved from Google).
The Dead Sea Scrolls contained a complete copy of Isaiah, dated one thousand years older than the earliest manuscript of the day (1947) and was found to be almost word for word the same; the few variations in the text did not change the meaning of any passage. The New Testament is even more astounding because we have over 5,000 Greek manuscripts to work with!
A few existing fragments date back to within 25-50 years of the original writing. New Testament textual scholars have generally concluded that 1) 99.99 percent of the original writings have been reclaimed, and 2) of the remaining one hundredth of one percent, there are no variants substantially affecting any Christian doctrine. With this wealth of biblical manuscripts in the original languages and with the disciplined activity of textual critics to establish with almost perfect accuracy the content of the autographs, any errors which have been introduced and/or perpetuated by the thousands of translations over the centuries can be identified and corrected by comparing the translation or copy with the reassembled original. By this providential means, God has made good His promise to preserve the Scriptures. We can rest assured that there are translations available today which are indeed worthy of the title, The Word of God. (John MacArthur, The John MacArthur Study Bible, Thomas Nelson Inc. 2006, p. xxi)
Let me ask this; if, as Joseph Smith stated, “Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors,” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 1976 Deseret Book, p. 327) then why doesn’t the First Presidency—with the wealth of Hebrew and Greek manuscripts available today—make an accurate translation of the Bible for the use of the Latter-day Saints, or indeed, for the world? The Joseph Smith Translation (copyright held by the Reorganized LDS Church; now known as Community of Christ) is not really a translation at all by definition. Smith did not have any manuscripts at his disposal; rather, he read from the King James Bible, dictating changes to his scribe. So, with all the ancient manuscripts available, thanks to archaeological discoveries, why does the LDS Church not “fix” the alleged errors and come out with its corrected edition of the Bible? Could it be because we already have an accurate and reliable Bible?
Allow me to pose another question; why is it that the LDS Church casts doubt on the reliability of the Bible despite all the historical, archaeological, and textual evidence supporting its accuracy, yet wholeheartedly accept the authenticity of The Book of Mormon with NO manuscript, archaeological, or historical evidence at all?
Objection #2: There are too many denominations
Yes, there are many denominations of Christianity, but that is no different from the many denominations of Mormonism. Mormonism spun off many splinter groups since its inception; in fact, the LDS Church split into several branches after Joseph Smith’s death. It is doubtful that Mormons would consider this proof that Mormonism is not true, so why the double standard? Why would many Christian denominations be “proof” that Christianity is not true?
The mainstream Christian denominations differ more in style and ritual than in doctrine. Furthermore, each denomination is not claiming to be the “only true denomination,” as individual LDS denominations assert. I have personally visited dozens of Christian churches from California to Washington, D.C. and never witnessed any “fighting” or contention over denominational issues. The statements of faith for each of the major denominations all agree on the essentials; Who God is, Who Jesus is, and salvation. In Las Vegas, NV and other cities across the country, pastors of various denominations meet on a monthly basis to pray for one another, encourage each other, and discuss issues facing the church corporately. The “church” (the “body of Christ”) consists of those who have received Jesus of the Bible as personal Lord and Savior, regardless of the denomination they attend for worship services.
Objection #3: There are too many arguments over doctrine
There are no more arguments over doctrinal issues in Christianity than there are in the Mormon Church among its members! Is caffeine soda against the Word of Wisdom or is it all right to drink Dr. Pepper? What constitutes Sabbath-breaking: going on a family picnic on Sunday or watching a football game? Should there be absolutely no TV or outdoor activities? Can a person be temple-worthy if they watch R-rated movies? What if it’s only rated R for violence and not nudity? Is it a sin to turn down a calling? Some say yes, others say no.
I’ve heard arguments among LDS over personal revelation versus revelation given to Church leaders: which should be given greater weight? Should a person do what the Bishop or Stake president tells you or what the Spirit tells you? I know someone who was excommunicated over his view on that issue! Which doctrines should be followed and/or believed: those given by deceased LDS prophets or those given by living leaders that contradicts past doctrines and teachings? The strongest arguments are between the mainline LDS Church and the Fundamentalist LDS Church. For example, which one is practicing authentic Mormonism: those who live as conventional Mormons or those who practice Mormonism “Joseph Smith and Brigham Young style” (multiple wives)?
Whenever people with strongly held beliefs get together there are going to be disagreements, regardless of what denomination they belong to. Among mainline Protestant denominations the disagreements are not about essentials, such as salvation. The point isn’t if there is a right or wrong answer for each of the above questions among LDS; the point is that arguments do exist among Mormons, so why is there a double standard? Why are doctrinal arguments among Christians considered “proof” that Christianity has been corrupted, but doctrinal arguments among Mormons is not “proof” that Mormonism has become corrupted?
Objection #4: There is no priesthood authority among Christians
There is no need for centralized or controlled priesthood authority. In Old Testament times, priests acted as intercessors between Israel and God. They offered sacrifices on behalf of themselves and the people. Only the Levites could hold the priesthood and officiate for Israel. In addition, there was only one High Priest at a time that was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies inside the temple to make offerings. The blood sacrifice made on the altar was a type and shadow of Jesus Christ, who was the True Lamb sacrificed as a propitiation for our sins. Once His blood was shed, there was no longer a need for priests because Jesus Himself became our High Priest!
Hebrews 7:23-28 (NASB) tells us that Jesus is the only and final “high priest” we need.
The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.
Old Testament Cities of Refuge provides a perfect illustration of Jesus being the final high priest. There were six “cities of refuge” appointed by God for Israel (Numbers 35:1-34). If a person accidentally killed someone (manslaughter) the victim’s family had a legal right to avenge the blood of their slain relative. The perpetrator could take his chances, so to speak, or flee to a City of Refuge for safety. If he could convince the high priest that he was innocent of murder—that the death he caused was unintentional—he could remain in that city under protection from the “avenger of blood” until the death of the high priest.
Jesus is a “type” of a city of refuge. Because of Adam’s fall in the Garden of Eden, we inherit a sin nature, which, in combination with our personal sins, qualifies us for physical and spiritual death. In a very real sense each of us is guilty of manslaughter because our sins put Jesus on the cross! God’s wrath can “legally” be poured out on us, however, we have recourse; fleeing to Jesus Christ, Who is our “city of refuge.” Since Jesus is the high priest Who never dies, we have asylum in Him forever!
Jesus’ blood, shed on the cross, made the final atonement for sin, thus ending the need for the Levitical priesthood of the Old Testament. At the moment of Jesus’ death, the veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom. According to Josephus, the Jewish historian, this veil was 40 cubits high (about 60 feet) and four inches thick! The significance of this event is monumental. The veil separated the Holy of Holies (where God dwelt) from the rest of the temple. Only once a year was the high priest permitted to enter to make atonement for Israel’s sins. The high priest then, acted as intercessor between God and man. When Jesus gave His life as the perfect Sacrifice, the veil between God and man was torn and individuals could now come “boldly before the throne of God.”
Peter speaks of the priesthood of believers, which, by implication, includes women and children.
You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense.” They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;” (1 Peter 2:5-9).
Nowhere in the Bible does it teach that the priesthood is a power or force through which healings, blessings, prophecies, or miracles are performed. These things are done in the power of Jesus’ name, not by a special ability or right bestowed on an individual by “one holding proper authority.” Those who belong to Christ become “priests” in the sense that they offer themselves as “living sacrifices.” Two excellent articles on the priesthood of believers can be found here (gotquestions.org) and here (hismin.com)
It’s all about money
There are literally thousands of pastors throughout the United States and tens of thousands or more throughout the world. Very few of them are “in it for the money.” Countless pastors and ministers labor 24/7 at minimal pay, if any pay at all. They are leading, teaching, visiting the sick in hospitals or nursing homes, preparing in-depth sermons based on examination of Scripture, praying over their congregations, and spending time in community service. Many ministers have side jobs in addition to pastoring in order to provide for their families. They sacrifice long, exhausting hours at the expense of their own comfort to carry on the work of God. Therefore, is it wrong that they should receive compensation for their time and effort?
1 Timothy 5:17-18: The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”
1 Corinthians 9:14: In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.
Numbers 18:21-24, 31: To the Levites, however, I hereby assign all tithes in Israel as their heritage in recompense for the service they perform in the meeting tent. The Israelites may no longer approach the meeting tent; else they will incur guilt deserving death. Only the Levites are to perform the service of the meeting tent, and they alone shall be held responsible; this is a perpetual ordinance for all your generations. The Levites, therefore, shall not have any heritage among the Israelites, for I haveassigned to them as their heritage the tithes which the Israelites give as a contribution to the LORD. That is why I have ordered that they are not to have any heritage among the Israelites…
(v. 31) Your families, as well as you, may eat them anywhere, since they are your recompense for service at the meeting tent.
LDS members are not the only ones who serve without pay! Most Sunday school teachers, nursery workers, Bible study leaders, ushers, and a host of others in Christian ministry serve by volunteering their time and talent without compensation. The Mormon Church may brag about its “unpaid ministry,” but it is only the “rank and file members” who are not paid. LDS Institute teachers and directors get salaries. The General Authorities, LDS apostles, and the LDS Church president “receive a modest living allowance” (Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 2. [Macmillan, 1992], 508 and 510). Note that the Mormon prophet lives in a multi-million dollar home provided by the Church;
The $1.2 million condominium at 40 N. State that is home to the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be exempt from property taxes, Salt Lake County commissioners ruled Tuesday. (Salt Lake Tribune, Dec. 8, 1988) (Editor’s note: The property has substantially increased in value since 1988!)
The Mormon Church employs public relations people, lawyers, secretaries, body guards…and by the way, why does the Mormon prophet need a body guard? Moses, Jeremiah, Elijah, Elisha, John the Baptist, and a host of other prophets of the Bible did not need body guards–God protected them until their time was up…but I digress.
Are there abuses by some so-called Christian ministries? Are there some “Televangelists” getting rich? Sadly, yes. We usually hear about the few that take money shamelessly or prey upon the gullible. We rarely hear about the countless Christian pastors and ministers of the gospel who selflessly and tirelessly serve their congregations and their communities. They don’t make the headlines, but they exist in great numbers!
Why do LDS find it objectionable for Christian leaders to be compensated for full-time ministry, yet they don’t seem to have a problem with their own leaders receiving pay? Again, why a double standard?
Mormons have been taught that there must be a single church that has central authority and power. The Bible does not teach this. Being a member of Christ’s true church is a matter of being “called out” from the world as individuals. Jesus becomes the head of the believer and all power and authority is given by Him directly. Remember, “Religion” is man’s attempt to reconcile himself to God. True salvation is God reconciling man through Jesus Christ alone.