The Role of Scripture in Mormonism

Richard Mouw is a prominent Evangelical scholar who has engaged Mormonism at a scholarly level and in a scholarly manner. He currently serves as president of Fuller Theological Seminary in California.

This quote from Mouw about the role that scripture plays in Mormonism is very insightful, and I find myself agreeing with it. Thanks to Ben S. for showing me this.

“It is important to underscore here the way in which the Mormon restoration of these ancient offices and practices resulted in a very significant departure from the classical Protestant understanding of religious authority. The subtlety of the issues at stake here is often missed by us Evangelicals, with the result that we typically get sidetracked in our efforts to understand our basic disagreements with Mormon thought. We often proceed as if the central authority issue to debate with Mormons has to do with the question of which authoritative texts ought to guide us in understanding the basic issues of life. We Evangelicals accept the Bible alone as our infallible guide while, we point out, the Latter-day Saints add another set of writings, those that comprise the Book of Mormon, along with the records of additional Church teachings to the canon- we classic Protestants are people of the Book while Mormons are people of the Books.

This way of getting at the nature of our differences really does not take us very far into exploring some of our basic disagreements. What we also need to see is that in restoring some features of Old Testament Israel, Mormonism has also restored the kinds of authority patterns that guided the life of Israel. The old Testament people of God were not a people of the Book as such- mainly because for most of their history, there was no completed Book. Ancient Israel was guided by an open canon and the leadership of the prophets. And it is precisely this pattern of communal authority that Mormonism restored. Evangelicals may insist that Mormonism has too many books. But the proper Mormon response is that even these Books are not enough to give authoritative guidance to the present-day community of the faithful.The books themselves are products of a prophetic office, an office that has been reinstituted in these latter days. People fail to discern the full will of God if they do not live their lives in the anticipation that they will receive new revealed teachings under the authority of the living prophets.”

-Richard Mouw, “What does God think about America?” BYU Studies, 43:4 (2004):10-11.

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2 comments on “The Role of Scripture in Mormonism

  1. Jettboy says:

    I want you to know that I have enjoyed reading this blog and have included it in My personal list of Faithful blogs. Thank you.

  2. James says:

    Thanks Jettboy. It’s nice to hear from my silent readers from time to time.

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