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Dear Gramps:

The Book of Mormon refers to other churches as the church of the devil. The Mormon Church uses the King James Version of the Bible, with the caveat “as far as it is translated correctly.” However, if the King James Version of the Bible was translated by men who were members of the Church of England, how can the Mormon Church rely on scripture that was translated by men who were members of the church of the devil?

Shane

 

Answer

 

Dear Shane,

You state that the Book of Mormon refers to other churches as the church of the devil. I think it would be well to examine the Book of Mormon reference a little more closely to determine what the church of the devil really refers to. Let’s look first at 1 Nephi 14:9-10

9. And it came to pass that he said unto me: Look, and behold that great and abominable church, which is the mother of abominations, whose founder is the devil.

 

10. And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.

We must first take into account from verse 9 that the founder of the church of the devil is the devil himself. Did the devil found the Church of England? No, it was founded by King Henry VIII. So the Church of England is not the church of the devil. And of course neither is any other church that was founded by any individual or group of individuals. That thought is powerfully reinforced in verse 10. That verse makes the statement that there are save two churches only. That statement takes out of consideration all of the religious denominations with which we are so familiar. What are the two churches that are referred to in 1 Nephi 14? One is the church of the Lamb of God and the other is the church of the devil. Next comes a very interesting and clarifying statement– whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to [the church of the devil.] The next question to ask is, what is the Church of the Lamb? We find a partial answer in verse 12 of the same chapter—

I beheld that the church of the Lamb, who were the saints of God, were also upon all the face of the earth.

So the church of the Lamb are the saints of God. Next we ask, who are the saints of God? Again, that question is answered in the same chapter, verse 14

And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.

This verse talks about the saints of the church of the Lamb, and the covenant people of the Lord.

The word and in this passage means and in other words, rather than and also, which is a common Hebrew grammatical structure. So the saints of God are the covenant people of the Lord..

Now, who are the covenant people of the Lord? They are the people who make sacred covenants with the Lord that are found in his holy temples, and who faithfully keep those covenants. It now must be stated that in order to be able to go to the temple and there make those sacred covenants, one must be a member in good standing of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. So we may now conclude that the covenant people of the Lord, or the Church of the Lamb, comprise a subset of the members of the Mormon Church, formally known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All other people, according to verse 10, belong to the church of the devil.

Now we must ask, what does that mean? The members of the church of the Lamb, i.e. those who keep the sacred covenants of obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ, are beyond the reach of the adversary. All others are subject to the temptations of the devil to one degree or another, and are thus identified as the church of the devil.

Now to your second question, “How can the Mormon Church rely on scripture that was translated by men who were members of the church of the devil?” In the first place, hopefully we have demonstrated to your satisfaction that the Church of England is NOT the church of the devil. But we could rephrase your question to read, “How can the Mormon Church rely on any scripture that was not translated by one of the prophets of God, as was Joseph Smith?” One may judge the accuracy of at least part of the Bible by the same scriptures that comprise part of the Book of Mormon, which WAS translated by a prophet of God. The Book of Mormon contains 20 chapters of the Book of Isaiah. So a comparison of the Book of Mormon and Bible Isaiahs should give us a good indication of the accuracy of the Bible version of those scriptures. (It is a given that since the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, it contains a true and correct translation of that scripture.)

Comparing the Book of Mormon and Bible Isaiahs, one finds a total 348 differences between the two texts. Of these differences, 67% are stylistic in nature, i.e., they do not change the meaning of the passage. However, 33% are substantive changes, that indeed alter the meaning of the passage. Of these substantive changes 50% of them comprise deletions from the Book of Mormon text. If the ancient scribes or translators saw something that did not fit with their current beliefs, it would be a simple matter to delete a word or a phrase to make the passage doctrinally acceptable to them. If such a deletion were to result in an incomplete sentence or a fractured thought, it would be necessary to doctor the text for it to make sense. That type of modification was made in 34% of the substantive changes. In the fewest cases (16%) it would be necessary to add words or phrases to convey the altered meaning.

When it was necessary for the King James translators to add a word to the text in order to preserve the meaning or to retain the English grammar, all such additions were place in italics so that the reader would know that those words represented modifications of the text from which they were translating. A total of 295 words or phrases were added by the King James translators to the same Isaiah chapters as appear in the Book of Mormon. Of the 295 additions, the Book of Mormon agrees with 173 or 59% of them and disagrees with 122 or 41%. Of those 122 additions with which the Book of Mormon disagrees, 100 are stylistic in nature, and do not change the meaning of the text. Thus only 22 of the 295 additions, or only 7% change the meaning from that given in the Book of Mormon! This is a tremenduous confirmation of the inspiration of the King James translators of the Bible.

In spite of what might be considered to be a large number of changes between the Book of Mormon and Bible Isaiah texts, the two versions are extraordinarily close to one another. As an example of just how close the two versions are, let’s compare a passage of four verses in Isaiah Chapter 5 from the Bible and Book of Mormon with two modern translations of the same passage from the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Dead Sea Scrolls version of Isaiah could be expected to be somewhat different from the Book of Mormon and King James versions, but since the two translators were working from the same text at relatively the same time, one would expect their translations to be identical, or nearly so. Comparing these four verses from the Bible and the Book of Mormon, we find that they are identical except for a single word.

The King James version of Isaiah 5:11-14

11 Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!

 

12And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the LORD, neither consider the operation of his hands.

 

13 Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.

 

14 Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it.

(The Book of Mormon version replaces the word, and, for the word ,til, in verse 11 of the King James version).

The translation by Gassler—

11 Woe unto them that arise early, to go chasing after strong drink, that stay late in the cool of the evening, while wine lights fires within them!

 

12 Those carousals of theirs are but rounds of strumming and drumming, of hooting and tooting–and wine. Quite oblivious they are to what the LORD is about, too blinded ever to see what He is actually doing.

 

13 That is the reason why My people, likewise unconscious, have likewise been ‘carried away’–away to an alien land, their gentry starving for hunger, their masses parched for thirst.

 

14 That too is the reason why it is Hell that now stretches its gorge, and Hell that now holds its mouth limitlessly agape, while down does all their proud show, all their racket and riot, and all that made merry therein. (Theodore Gassler, The Dead Sea Scriptures, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, pp 230-231, 1964)

The translation by Vermes—

11 Woe to those who rise early in the morning to run after strong drink, to those who liger in the evening until wine inflames them.

 

12 They have zither and harp and timbrel and flute and wine at their feasts, but they do not regard the work of the Lord or see the deeds of His hand.

 

13 Therefore my people go into exile for want of Knowledge, and their noblemen die of hunger and their multitude is parched with thirst.

 

14 Therefore my people go into exile for want of Knowledge, and their noblemen die of hunger and their multitude is parched with thirst. Therefore Hell has widened its gullet and opened it mouth beyond measure, and the nobility of Jerusalem and their multitude go down, her tumult and he who rejoices in her. (Geza Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls in English, Penguin Book Ltd. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: p. 227, 1962)

These wide differences between the work of the two contemporary translators compared with the nearly identical wording between the King James and Book of Mormon verses is a clear and profound demonstration of the inspiration of the King James translators. And thus we may use the King James version of the Holy Bible with great confidence. Those parts of the King James version that have not been translated correctly may be discovered through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. As stated in 1 Corinthians 2:11

For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, except he has the Spirit of God. (Joseph Smith Translation)

 

Gramps

 

 

 

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