The Authority of the Word of God
TBC’s second volley continues the trend of wresting the scriptures. They write,
“Is there any absolute way to know the truth? Yes! The prophet Isaiah has said, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20). Here the only reliable testimony is identified as the written Word of God. That certainly explains why the Apostle Paul commanded his readers to study the Bible, the Word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).”
The Circular Argument
Can you see the problem with their argument? I’ll give you another chance. TBC argues,
“Is there any absolute way to know the truth? Yes! The prophet Isaiah has said, “To the law and to the testimony….” Here the only reliable testimony is identified as the written Word of God.”
Do you see it? I’ll give you some more help.
- Christian – “The Bible is the Word of God!”
- Non-Christian – “How do you know?”
- Christian – “Because it says in the Bible that the Bible is the Word of God!”
- Non-Christian – “?”
Anything? Maybe it would help to see things from a different perspective.
- Mormon – “The Book of Mormon is the Word of God!”
- Christian – “How do you know?”
- Mormon – “Because it says in the Book of Mormon that the Book of Mormon is the Word of God!”
- Christian – “Oh! I want to be baptized!” 😉
See it now?
This is an unfortunately frequent, and horribly circular, argument used by mainstream Christians. One Latter-day Saint, speaking of how many Christians today practice what could be referred to as “Bibliolatry”, said, “The Bible is not the object of our faith; it is one of the sources of our faith.” This “Bible Worship” at the center of Christianity may be why mainstream Christians cling so tightly to this fallacious argument.
Unless we can first know whether or not the Bible is true, we cannot know if anything it says it true, including that it is God’s word.
So how do we know that the Bible is true? What can confirm the truthfulness of God’s word?
Certainly we have physical evidence to support the people and places of the scriptures. We can find evidence that Moses lived and wrote what the Bible says he did. Yet this does not prove that what he wrote was true. We can find evidence of the historical Jesus, but how can we know that Jesus is the Son of God?
Only God can confirm his word, and he has chosen to do this through the Holy Ghost. Matthew writes,
“When Jesus came into the coasts of Cæsarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
“And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
“He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
“And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
“And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven“ (Matthew 16:13-17).
What does Isaiah say about confirming truth?
He does not say that the only source of truth is the Bible (the Bible was not even compiled in his day!). He does not say that the only way to confirm truth is to see whether or not it is in accordance with other revealed scripture. Much like Paul in Galatians, Isaiah is only saying that God is consistent, and that, for example, the truth he reveals in the New Testament will be according to what he revealed in the Old Testament. He says,
“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20).
For Latter-day Saints, what God revealed in the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, and the Doctrine and Covenants is according to what was revealed in the Bible. Silly, misinformed Christians may contradict this claim, but obviously we would have to investigate these objections on a case by case basis, and it’s not my purpose to do so here.
Clearly, Isaiah does not help TBC’s argument in this case.
2 Timothy 2:15
What does Paul teach Timothy about confirming truth?
He does not really teach anything about confirming truth. He doesn’t really teach anything about studying the scriptures, either, as TBC suggests. Instead, he teaches about using the scriptures. Paul says,
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth“ (2 Timothy 2:15).
The last phrase, “rightly dividing,” could be translated, “setting forth without perversion, distortion”. It’s unfortunate TBC does not heed Paul’s counsel, and set forth the truth without perverting it or distorting it.
Clearly, Paul does not help TBC’s argument in this case.