This only formalizes the interest which Elder Ballard has placed on this subject. In 2001, he spoke to the faculty and student body at BYU Hawaii. He felt inspired to throw out the text for the address he had prepared, and to speak to them extemporaneously for several hours about his love for the Bible and his profound appreciation of and familiarity with the reformers and preservers of the Bible. He told them to “never forget these things because they were the most important things they would hear from him.” The organizers of the Sidney Sperry Symposium on the Scriptures at BYU in 2004 determined that they would use that as the theme of their symposium that year. Many outstanding LDS scholars contributed, and published their work in the book called “Prelude to the Restoration: From Apostasy to the Restored Church” (see it at Amazon at this link). Any time I talk with anyone about the apostasy and the reformers, this is my text of choice now. So I was thrilled that Elder Ballard, by making its main points in a general conference talk, made it something of a current belief in the Church.
Love & Thanks,
Steve St. Clair
Apostle M. Russell Ballard
Address at General ConferenceChurch of Jesus Christ of Latter-day SaintsApril 1, 2007 (transcript by Steve St.Clair)
My brothers and sisters,
The Holy Bible is a miracle. It is a miracle that the Bible, with its 4000 years of sacred and secular history, was preserved by apostles, prophets, and inspired churchmen. It is a miracle that we have the Bible’s powerful doctrine, principles, poetry, and stories. But most of all, it’s a wonderful miracle that we have this account of the life, ministry, and words of Jesus, which were protected through the dark ages and conflicts of those countless generations so that we may have it today. It is a miracle that the Bible literally contains within its pages the converting, healing, spirit of Christ, which has turned men’s hearts for centuries, leading them to pray, to choose right paths, and to search to find their Savior.
The Holy Bible is well-named. It is holy because it teaches truth; holy because it warms us with its spirit; holy because it teaches us to know God and understand His dealings with men; and holy because it testifies, throughout its pages, of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Abraham Lincoln said of the Bible, “This great book is the best gift God has given man. All the good the Savior gave to the world was communicated through that book. But for it, we would not know right from wrong.”
It is not by chance or coincidence that we have the Bible today. Righteous individuals were prompted by the spirit to record both the sacred things they saw, and the inspired words they heard and spoke. Other devoted people were prompted to protect and preserve these records. Men like John Wycliff and the courageous William Tyndale and Johannes Gutenberg were prompted, against much opposition, to translate the Bible into language people could understand, and publish it in books people could read. I believe that even the scholars of King James had spiritual promptings in their translation work.
The dark ages were dark because the light of the Gospel was hidden from the people. They did not have the Apostles or Prophets, nor did they have access to the Bible. The clergy kept the scriptures secret and unavailable to the people. We owe much to the many brave martyrs and reformers, like Martin Luther, John Calvin, and John Huss, who demanded the freedom to worship, and common access to the Holy Books. William Tyndale gave his life because he believed so deeply in the power of the Bible. He said, “The nature of God’s word is that whosoever readeth or heareth it reasoned and disputed before him, beginneth immediately to make him every day better and better, til he be grown into a perfect man.”
Honest, diligent study of the Bible does make us better and better, and we must ever remember the countless martyrs who knew of its power and who gave their lives that we may be able to find within its words the path to eternal happiness and the peace of our Heavenly Father’s kingdom.
Although these early Christian reformers agreed on many things, they ultimately disagreed on many points of doctrine. This resulted in the organization of numerous Christian denominations. Rodger Williams, an early champion of religious liberty, wrote, “There is no regularly-constituted church on earth, nor any person qualified to administer any church ordinances. Nor can there be, until new apostles are sent by the Great Head of the church, for whose coming I am seeking.”
Tens of millions of individuals have come to a faith in God and in Jesus Christ through seeking truth through the Holy Bible. Countless numbers of them had nothing but the Bible to feed and guide their faith.
Because of the efforts of the Reformers, the Bible became a household possession. The word of God was read around the family fireside of the lowly, as well as in the parlors of the great. Millions of families have come together seeking to find the Church of Jesus Christ through the study of the Bible.
One of those families, in the early 1800’s in upstate New York, was the family of Joseph Smith, Sr. One of his sons was Joseph Smith, Jr, who SEARCHED THE BIBLE seeking to know which of the many denominations was the same as the Church that Jesus Christ had organized. He was prompted by the BY THE BOOKS OF THE BIBLE to pray for further spiritual light and knowledge from God. Determined to seek the wisdom promised in the Holy Scriptures, Joseph knelt in humble prayer early in the spring of 1820.
O, what marvelous truth and light were shed upon him that day, as he beheld the glorious manifestation of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. And once again, God called a prophet, as he did in the days of Noah, Abraham, and Moses.
How grateful we should be for the Holy Bible!!! In it, we learn not only of the life and teachings and doctrines of Christ. We learn of His church, and of His priesthood, and of the organization that He established, and named “The Church of Jesus Christ” in those former days. We believe in that Church; and we believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that same church, restored to earth complete with the same organization and the same priesthood.
Without the Bible, we would not know of His church then, nor would we have the fullness of His Gospel now.
I love the Bible, its teachings, its lessons, and its spirit. I love the Old Testament’s compelling, profound stories, and its great prophets testifying of the coming of Christ. I love the New Testament, with its apostolic travels and miracles, and the letters of Paul. Most of all, I love its eyewitness accounts of the words, example, and atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ. I love the perspective and the peace that comes from reading the Bible.
Brothers and Sisters, I’m sure that many of you have had the experience of hearing people say, “Mormons are not Christians, because they have their own “Bible, the Book of Mormon.” To anyone harboring this misconception, we say that we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, and the author of our salvation; and that we believe, revere, and love the Holy Bible. We do have additional sacred scriptures, including the Book of Mormon. But it supports the Bible, never substituting for it. Jesus taught that we should “search the scriptures, for they are they which testify of Me.” These words provide insight and inspiration to all who sincerely seek to know and understand the truth about Jesus Christ.
The scriptures are rich in history, doctrine, stories, sermons, and testimonies, all of which ultimately focus on the eternal Christ, and his physical and spiritual mission to Heavenly Father’s children. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable.” We love the Bible and other scriptures. That may be surprising to some who may not be aware of our belief in the Bible as the revealed word of God. It is one of the pillars of our faith, and a powerful witness of the Savior’s ongoing influence in the lives of those who worship and follow Him. The more we read and study the Bible and its teachings, the more clearly we see that it is the doctrinal underpinnings of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
We tend to love the scriptures that we spend time with. We made need to balance our study, and love ALL and understand ALL scripture. You young people, especially: DO NOT DISCOUNT OR DE-VALUE the Holy Bible. It is the sacred, holy record of the Lord’s life, The Bible contains hundreds of pages more than all of our other scriptures combined. It is the bedrock of all Christianity.
Now, we do not criticize or belittle anyone’s beliefs. Our great responsibility, as Christians, is to share all that God has revealed with all of His sons and daughters. Those who join this church do not give up their faith in the Bible; they strengthen it. The Book of Mormon does not dilute nor diminish nor de-emphasize the Bible. On the Contrary! It expands, extends, and exalts it! The Book of Mormon testifies of the Bible, and BOTH TESTIFY OF CHRIST. The first testament of the Bible is the Old Testament, which predicted and prophesied of the coming of the Savior, His transcendent life, and liberating atonement. The second Bible testament of Christ is the New Testament, which records His birth, his life, his ministry, His gospel, his Church, his atonement, and His resurrection, as well as the testimonies of His apostles. The third testament of Christ is the Book of Mormon, which also foretells Christ’s coming, CONFIRMS the Bible’s account of his saving atonement, and THEN reveals the resurrected Lord’s visit to the earth’s other hemisphere.
The sub-title of the Book of Mormon, the clarifying purpose statement printed on the cover of every copy, is “Another Testament of Jesus Christ.” Each of these three testaments is part of the great indivisible whole of the Lord’s revealed word to His children. They contain the words of Christ, which we have been admonished to “feast upon” in order to qualify for eternal life. Those who think that one part is more important or true than another part are missing some of the beauty of the canon of ancient scripture. And those who think that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do not believe in Jesus Christ or in the Bible should take time to understand the Church and the significance of its name, and the power of its message.
I am puzzled by any who would question the Church’s belief in the Bible, and in our position as Christians. The name of the church is the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” In our last general conference, here in this building, our church leaders quoted from the Bible nearly 200 times. The Church is organized and functions like the Church that Christ and his apostles established in the New Testament. And seated on the stand today are the Prophet and the Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ. I bear solemn witness that we are true and full believers in the Lord Jesus Christ and in his revealed word, the Holy Bible. We not only believe the Bible, we strive to follow its precepts and to teach its message. The message of our missionaries is Christ and His gospel, and His atonement, and the scriptures are the text of that message.
We say to all people: We extend our love to you, and invite you to come and let us share all that God has revealed.
My brothers and sisters, we must help all people, INCLUDING OUR OWN MEMBERS, understand the power and importance of the Holy Bible. The Bible is scripture that leads us all, and ALL MANKIND, to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior. May God grant us the desire and capacity to accept and live His teachings, is my humble prayer in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.
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