If I could ask them one question about
the Church’s Book of Mormon, Come Follow Me, Lesson 8
For Feb. 17-23, 2020
2 Ne 11-25
If I wanted to encourage thought and try to understand devout believers better, I might ask:
“What do you think of the Book of Mormon rendering of Isaiah 9:1?”
Things to consider:
- “Nevertheless, the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun, and the land of Naphtali, and afterwards did more grievously afflict by the way of the Red Sea beyond Jordan in Galilee of the nations” (2 Ne 19:1, emphasis added).
- “A more serious translation error affects Isaiah 9:1, copied into the Book of Mormon as II Nephi 19:1 `...and afterwards did more grievously afflict by the way of the Red Sea beyond Jordan in Galilee of the nations.’ A translation error in this verse of Isaiah has given the text almost the opposite meaning to the original. The phrase `did more grievously afflict’ should be rendered as `honour’ in English. Thus the New International Version reads `...In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles...’” (here and NIV Isaiah 9).
- In fact, the Portuguese Bible used by the Church translates Isaiah 9:1 correctly. It translates to something like this in English: “But the land, which has been afflicted, will not be darkened; in the early days he poisoned the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali; but lately he has ennobled her by the sea.” (Isaiah 9:1 in Portuguese; I checked their Portuguese Bible, because I speak Portuguese. I’d be interested in hearing from others if the LDS uses Bibles in other languages that translate this correctly.)
- “Again, as an aside, the Book of Mormon adds the qualifier `Red’ to the King James Version. A glance at a map of Palestine will show why this rendering is impossible. The Red Sea is located on the Southern border of Palestine, over 250 miles from the Sea of Galilee” (here).
- Notice the proximity of the tribal lands of Zebulun and Naphtali to the Sea of Galilee shown in the map below. Naphtali bordered the Sea of Galilee, and Zebulun was only about 10 miles away.
If you could ask believers questions about the scriptures for this lesson, what would you ask?
An addendum in defense of Mormons (2 Ne 25:23-30)
- Whether someone is a Christian certainly depends on your definition of the word “Christian.” If it is defined as someone who believes in the divine role of Jesus to save humankind from death and sin, then I argue Mormons are Christian by definition.
- But, many Christians claim Mormons are not Christian and claim part of the reason for this is that Mormons believe they are saved because of their works, not by having faith in Christ.
- 2 Ne 25:23 says, “We know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (emphasis added). And, some critics focus on the “after all we can do.”
- But, I don’t think it gets more Christian than the context given just a few verses later: “We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. . . Wherefore, we speak concerning the law that our children may know the deadness of the law; and they, by knowing the deadness of the law, may look forward unto that life which is in Christ” (2 Ne 25:26-27).
- You could argue that in spite of these Book of Mormon verses, Mormons or some Mormons don’t focus on Christ enough. Okay, so isn’t that just arguing that they are not perfect? What religion does it perfectly? “There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matt 19:17).
- And, what of the idea that works have some important part in one’s faith? According to the Bible, Jesus said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt 7:21, read through verse 27 for the parable of the wise man who builds his house upon the rock—Jesus—by doing the sayings of Jesus). Clearly Christian holy texts teach that doing, though insufficient, is essential. This should demonstrate to all Christians that Mormons are on to something when they teach that faith is manifested in works.
- Some might argue that it is the Mormon insistence that certain ordinances are salvific that makes their faith non-Christian. I think Mormons can justifiably argue that these ordinances are necessary because Mormons believe the ordinances to be the will of the Father, but not sufficient without faith in Christ. Again, this would fall under the Matt 7:21 teaching that those who do the will of the Father may enter into the kingdom assuming the rest of their house is built upon the rock.
- I’m no longer Christian, but when I hear other Christians quibbling over Nicene Creed technicalities or other nit-picky points of doctrine to label Mormons as non-Christian, it sure turns me off to their flavor of non-Mormon Christianity. My wife is a devout, believing Mormon. Her faith is a faith of action. She doesn’t just pay lip service to Christian principles. She serves others around her constantly with a faith in Christ and his charity, as manifest in her works.
Have fun studying!
If I could ask them one question, Lesson 8