Not Based on the Bible
Ross Baron, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, set up what he called Community Firesides in his community of southern California. Their purpose was to respond to anti-Mormon activities in the area. His firesides were so successful that he has boiled his method down to ten principles others can use to be successful.
He made a very important point in one of these firesides, a point that has great pertinence to the posts on this blog. There is a premise, he says, that members of the Church often accept incorrectly. He continues,
[This] premise that oft-times we get drawn into is exemplified by a guy from the Christian Research Institute. He stands up [during a question and answer session] and he says, “The Church bases their work for the dead on John 3:5, 1 Corinthians 15:29, 1 Peter 4:6, 1 Peter 3:18-20…”
He starts this way, and I said, “Excuse me; stop. That’s incorrect.”
“What do you mean?”
“The Church doesn’t base the work for the dead on the Bible.”
“Now, I’m going to say something, and I want you to take very close note. The Church is not based on the Bible. The Church is based on what the Bible is based on: revelation, through prophets.”
Commenting on that experience, he continued,
“Even Latter-day Saints kind of go, “Khhh! What?” But do you understand how true that is? We get drawn into this battle because we accept that premise… If Joseph Smith was a Hebrew expert, Egyptologist, Greek, Latin, and came up with all these things, that would not make the Church true. He did not base any of the things we do on the Bible. He didn’t come up with– “Quorum of the Twelve, oh yeah, twelve in the Bible– Yeah, okay! Perfecting the saints: Ephesians four. Yeah, okay.” There’s nothing in that. The Church is not based on the Bible. The Church is based on what the Bible is based on. Okay, that’s hard-core.”
The Foundation of the Church
In defending the position of the Church I may often refer to the scriptures, both ancient and modern. These scriptures may help clarify or exemplify a principle, but the scriptures are not the final authority for what is done in the Church (see “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet”). What, then, is the authority?
Ephesians 2:19-20 speaks of the “household of God” – the church – and its’ unique foundation. The church and its’ membership are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone. The LDS Church today claims that same foundation – revelation, from Jesus Christ and through the apostles and prophets.
When discussing the Church, this point is crucial. The final authority for the Church of Jesus Christ is the revelation through modern prophets; I do not feel bound to using only the Bible, or any other set of scriptures, to explain the positions of the Church.