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Religions Blog
“The Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible”
is a motto that has been around Grace Brethren circles for a long time. While I am conscious of the historical context that gave rise to it – the Grace Brethren group broke off from the Ashland Brethren group in large part because of the perceived weak view the latter had regarding the authority of Scriptures – I now realize that this can also be a narrow way to define one’s principal beliefs.

That the Bible is central to everything we believe as Christians is undeniable, but contrary to Islam and Mormonism, to cite just two, we do not seek to place our religious writings in an exalted pedestal requiring a level of veneration almost akin to adoration. Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church, ascribed to the Book of Mormon a status achieved by no other religious book in the world. It is the most complete, the final authority from God. Muhammad, naturally, also claimed the same about the Koran.

We, Christians, on the other hand, claim that Jesus Christ is the final revelation of God. The author of Hebrews said that in these last days God spoke “in” His Son, not simply “by” or “through.” (Hebrews 1:1-2). Hmmm. Jesus was the walking billboard of God. If for some reason we didn’t have the Bible, God’s ultimate revelation to mankind would still be intact because it lived, breathed, walked and talked among the likes of us. The Christian view permits no quasi-divine status to the Holy Book. We are biblio-centric but never bibliolaters.

Since the claim has been made that the Book of Mormon is the crown of God’s revelation to mankind, then it is reasonable to say that the book will be a bullet-proof case of precision and order, completely insulated from the perils that plague a merely human book or a religious book of less worth (as all others would be, according to Joseph Smith).

But when you apply that test, the Book of Mormon is found wanting. Willfully short of perfection.

Let’s forget the unusual circumstances in which the book was supposed to have been found. Let’s forget the cunning and conniving that seemed to be present during the so-called “translation” from the gold plates. Let’s forget that “Reformed Egyptian” is not even a language any linguist anywhere has ever recognized that it exists. Let’s forget all of that and go to narratives in the book itself.

According to the Book of Mormon, the American Indians are direct descendants from the Hebrews, who immigrated to the New World; but this is contrary to every anthropologist or archaeologist (non-affiliated with the Mormon Church). Even some scientists from Brigham Young university have expressed doubt whether the traditional view espoused in the Book of Mormon can be maintained.

The whole geography of the book appears to be a fiction (not a single town listed in the Book of Mormon has been found — even traces of them– by archaeologists). One is left with only faith in something that the prophet and a few of his followers said about the origin of the book.

Though many Mormons claim that the Smithsonian Institutions have used their book in their research, this has been patently denied by this institution, as you can read here.

The chronology of the book is also off. According to Joseph Smith, the first group of Semites arrived in North and South America between 3,000 and 2,000 B.C., but Archaeology shows conclusively that  western hemisphere was populated at least as far back as 10,000 B.C. by east Asian peoples who migrated across the Bering Strait. For a summary of this argument, go here.

I could go on and on but suffice it to say that even some Mormon scholars have expressed doubt about the overall geography present in the Book of Mormons. Some of them have proposed what is called the “limited geography” theory, but this presents even more challenges to someone who believes the Book of Mormon is the culmination of God’s revelation to mankind. For a detailed analysis of the limited geography theory, go here. Warning: it is somewhat technical…

I am not buying any of it, and if you want to hear more, please join us this Sunday at Grace Church. As I compared the understanding we Christians have about the Bible with how Mormons view the Book of Mormons, I was once again reminded of how radically different our approach is. Christ could never compete for a place of prominence, even against the Bible. Though I like the motto that places emphasis on Scriptures, I for one would rather live by this motto: “Christ alone, all of Him, and nothing but Him.”

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

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Care2Share Blog

There are some people who just don’t seem to get things right when it comes to sharing matters of faith. They are standoffish. They can’t help but come across as judgmental and the “know-it-all type.” And they always carry that air of superiority about them. In one word, they are obnoxious. This type of behavior is so prevalent in our days that it would do us all a lot of good if we read these words about 10 non-obnoxious ways to share your faith.

I find it amazing that Paul, who nowadays is often accused of being somewhat of a bully because of his strong views, was bold but not brash when it came to his witness. He never ran away from telling the truth, but he did it in a way that drew the listeners in. Paul was a genius when it comes to sharing truth with sensitivity to an often hostile crowd.

Two examples. The first one comes from Acts 17. When Paul was in Athens his heart was stirred by the number of idols he saw in the city. The word in the Greek is very strong. You could say that the multiplicity of idols and shrines in the city upset him. He was more than a little annoyed. He was terribly upset.

But when he had a chance to speak to the people, he didn’t start out by saying, “You bunch of idol-worshipers, worthless idolaters Athenians. How can you believe in the sort of nonsense I saw around your city?” Rather, Paul kept his revolting heart in check and said, “People of Athens, I see that you are very religious in all things.” Really? Then he goes on to use the very fact that they had an altar to an “unknown God” to announce to them that this God they worship without knowing is the true God, the creator of the universe. What a lesson in magnanimity that should be to us!

The second example comes from Acts 14 Paul and Barnabas were in the pagan city of Lystra. While there, Paul healed a man who had been crippled. When the crowd saw this, the people rushed to bow before the apostles, worshiping them, and even attempting to offer some bulls in sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas. Being good Jews they were, these two men were outraged. They tore their clothes and started running among the people asking them to stop that nonsense.

When the crowd finally calmed down, instead of engaging in a vituperating speech about how blasphemous their behavior was, when Paul began to speak, the first words out of his mouth were, “Friends, why are you doing these things? We are only human beings like you.” Then he went on to present to them the true God their hearts should go after. Notice, there is not even a hint of superiority in Paul’s opening statement.

The reason Paul could be so kind even in the face of some most egregious religious behavior, I believe, is because the living Christ was living in him. And Paul was interested in presenting the Person of salvation first before he presented the plan of salvation. Paul was displaying the kind of behavior that genuine Christ-followers should show before a world that is skeptical. The plan of salvation without the reality of the Person of salvation living within us is just noise and often that noise is annoying.

Learn how to share the Person of salvation before you present the plan of salvation this Sunday as we continue our series we are calling “Care 2 Share.”

Hope to see you there,

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade