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Post blog considers Mormon belief in Bible, Book of Mormon

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 13 2011 6:18 p.m. MDT

One of the original 5,000 copies of the Book of Mormon, right, is on display at the Grandin Building Saturday, July 31, 1999, in Palmyra, N.Y. On the the left is a Bible from the same era. (Associated Press) One of the original 5,000 copies of the Book of Mormon, right, is on display at the Grandin Building Saturday, July 31, 1999, in Palmyra, N.Y. On the the left is a Bible from the same era. (Associated Press)

The love and reverence felt by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for both the Book of Mormon and the Bible are clearly articulated in Michael Otterson's latest contribution to the Washington Post's "On Faith" blog site.

Both books of scripture, Otterson notes, "are read and studied in our homes. We move from a verse in the Book of Mormon to a corresponding theme in the Bible and back again with the same ease and comfort that other Christians flick from Matthew to Mark, or Romans to Hebrews. To us, the word of God is the word of God, and having the Book of Mormon delivers insight and understanding of the Bible in the same way that the revelation to the apostle John enhances the gospel of Luke."

Otterson begins his careful explanation of what the Book of Mormon is by noting a few things that it is not.

"It isn't a book about Mormons," he wrote. "Neither is it a 'Mormon Bible' — a substitute for the Bible of the Christian world. It is not allegory. Nor is it primarily a history."

In describing what it is, Otterson draws similarities between the Book of Mormon and the Bible. "Other than the differing geography and timeline, the idea of the Bible and the Book of Mormon are the same — they are both a collection of prophetic writings set against the historical backdrop of their day, and passed down through generations because of the value of the religious teachings and witness that they embody."

Orrin Herterich, of California, and kailee Thompson of Orem look over the many translations of the Bible and Book of Mormon in the North Visitors Center on Temple Square during the Sunday morning session of the 175th Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City Sunday, October 2, 2005. (Jason Olson) Orrin Herterich, of California, and kailee Thompson of Orem look over the many translations of the Bible and Book of Mormon in the North Visitors Center on Temple Square during the Sunday morning session of the 175th Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City Sunday, October 2, 2005. (Jason Olson)

Otterson stresses the point that Mormons cherish the Bible just as other Christians do.

"When I have an open Bible in my hand, it's like connecting with a friend," he wrote. "The language is familiar, the spirit of it embracing and the content both motivating and humbling. When I'm reading the Book of Acts or the synoptic gospels — particular favorites of mine — I feel I could never tire of them."

While Otterson makes it clear that Latter-day Saint belief in the Bible "allows room for human errors of translation or omission, or indeed of interpretation," he notes that they feel a debt to "those who in many countries and languages have sacrificed, even to the point of death, to bring the word of God out of obscurity. We owe them all a great debt of gratitude."

Speaking of the Bible and the Book of Mormon, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the LDS Church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles testifies of the two books of scripture in this Mormon Messages video, "God's Words Never Cease."

"Continuing revelation does not demean or discredit existing revelation," Elder Holland observes. "The Bible is the word of God. It is always identified first in our canon, our standard works. Indeed it was a divinely ordained encounter with the fifth verse of the first chapter of the book of James that led Joseph Smith to his vision of the Father and the Son, which in turn gave birth to the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in our time."

EMAIL: jwalker@desnews.com

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