Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The case for continuing revelation

PHOENIX — The hallmark of any good writing, in my opinion, is something that makes people talk about it, think about it, and even get irritated about it. It's something that creates conversation on both sides of a given issue, and is rarely one-sided. One of my favorite blogs that I put in this category is a religious blog called "On Faith".

It started out as a forum for religious leaders and writers, housed in an opinion page of the Washington Post. Elizabeth Tenety, the editor and a person I've become friends with, did a masterful job weaving issues and articles from many different religions as well as from the irreligious. It always has been enjoyable to learn new things about various faiths, and of course, it's a source of pride when I see my faith featured.

I saw an article tweeted earlier in the week, where a man says the Bible needs to be changed, or "amended", the same way the US Constitution was. It got me thinking for a second, with raised eyebrows, what exactly he meant.

"The Constitution allows for do-overs," Herb Silverman, a Jewish Atheist, writes.  "Its authors understood the document to be imperfect and made provisions for future generations to amend it.
"Alas, there is no such biblical escape clause. What you see from way back then is what you get."
It is an issue: how do you believe and live by a book where the people who received the revelations from God did so thousands of years ago, without the technological, academic and social advances we have today? What is relevant for us in our first-world societies, when the book was written in a very third-world setting?

Silverman says the Bible could be amended. But before Christians freak out over the idea of "adding to or taking away" from the book, he reminds us that it's been done before.

"Who should write this new bible? Perhaps a committee of God believers who view the traditional Bible as inspired, but not inerrant, along with scientists and ethicists as advisors. After discussion, they could vote on what to include and exclude.
"Is this heresy? No, it’s tradition! Roman Emperor Constantine in the 4th century brought church leaders together at the Council of Nicaea, and they voted the “word of God” into existence."
Do we need a "new" bible? Does it need amendments, like this writer says?

The answer is yes and no.

Yes, I believe the Bible to be the word of God... as far as it is translated correctly. But no, I don't think a committee can do that. But God can do it himself, and actually, he has.

Since the beginning of time, God has called prophets on the earth to teach the people His will. We read in Amos that the Lord won't do anything unless he tells his prophet first, and the proof of that is in holy writ. Whether it was Adam, Noah, Moses, Abraham, Isaiah or any of the others, God always called his prophets to deliver His message.

It was the same in the New Testament. God sent His Only Begotten Son to teach the people, and ultimately to atone for the sins of the world. Like the prophets of old, the people rejected Jesus Christ. Jesus' Apostles tried to keep the doctrine Christ taught pure and unstained by mere human thoughts, and wrote letters to sort things out among the Saints in the different areas. These letters, mostly written by Paul, would encompass the majority of our New Testament. In a very real way, this was continuing revelation from God to an apostle to the people.

Later, they ended up killing his Apostles, until none of them were around. The priesthood, which is the authority to act in the name of God — and is the very power that Christ himself and his apostles used to perform miracles — was nowhere on the earth.

Of course, this was prophesied, in the Old Testament (Amos 8:11-12) as well as the New Testament
 (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3). This is where Joseph Smith comes in: a need for another Prophet to speak with God and continue his revelations to men.

Today, God speaks through His Prophets. And actually, we get to listen to them this weekend at the General Conference of the Mormon Church. 

Does the bible need amended, especially with so many errors it it? We believe the answer is that he already has, through the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants and modern prophets.

I know that the only way to know this is by listening to prophets, or reading the Book of Mormon, and then asking God what is true. No one else can convince another of spiritual truth as much as the Holy Ghost can.

God loves us enough to keep speaking to us today, despite how far our societies have removed Him from them. If we have an issue with ancient scripture, chances are, it's been addressed or at least asked about by prophets now.