There are people who purport that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently referred to as the “Mormon” Church by the media and others) are not Christians. One of the main arguments that they use to substantiate their claim is that Latter-day Saints use another volume of scripture, the Book of Mormon, instead of the Holy Bible. In fact, Mormons use both the Holy Bible and the Book of Mormon in their teaching, as well as for personal study, and revere both volumes as the Word of God. The 8th Article of Faith of The Church of Jesus Christ states,

We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.

The National Bible Association Recognizes Mormons as Bible Believers

Boy Reading Bible MormonThe National Bible Association, a New York based group, is a Judeo-Christian association which was established in 1940 to “encourage everyone to read the Bible … in every sector of society regardless of religious or political distinction.”  [1] Some may question whether or not Mormons should be included in that group of Bible believers. To answer this question, Richard Glickstein, the group’s president, replied, “Do Mormons read the Bible? Then they are part of the tribe.” [1] In fact, the Association chose Salt Lake City, Utah, headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ, as the 2013 National Bible City.

“Mormons do read the Bible,” explains Philip Barlow, chair of Mormon History and Culture at Utah State University, noting that the Good Book makes up half the church’s four-year scripture-study curriculum. [1]

The Bible, particularly the King James Version, is part of Mormon canonized scripture. It is one of four such books, including the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price. The Bible is used in classroom discussions, quoted in sermons and essential to missionary outreach. [2]

Although a 2010 Pew survey on biblical literacy indicated that Mormons excelled above all other Christians, Barlow commented,

The Bible’s place among the LDS faithful has been slipping in the past 20 years.

Ever since the later 1980s, when then-church President Ezra Taft Benson urged members to read and study the Book of Mormon, that work has been quoted and cited more often in LDS meetings.

“The Book of Mormon has eclipsed the Bible,” Barlow says, “in the consciousness of the Mormon people.” [1]

However, the Sunday School teaching curriculum for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is standardized all over the world.  It is a four year course of study for all members that rotates through the scriptures.  Two years are devoted to Bible study, one to Book of Mormon study, and one to the Doctrine and Covenants (the collection of revelations to modern prophets) in conjunction with a study of the history of the Church. In the meantime, Bible stories are often-read favorites in Mormon homes, and the stalwarts of Bible times are heroes in the minds and hearts of Latter-day Saints.

How Salt Lake City Was Chosen as the National Bible City

Some time ago, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ approached the National Bible Association and asked that Salt Lake City might be considered for the honor. Glickstein did some initial research into the possibilities, and the trustees made the final decision. Ahmad Corbitt, a trustee and an LDS Stake President, removed himself from the decision making process.

Roma Downey and Mark Burnett MormonA Concert of Praise – to praise and honor God for the gift of His Word, the Bible – was held in the Salt Lake Tabernacle on Temple Square on Saturday, 23 November 2013. It was hosted by Roma Downey and her husband, Mark Burnett, producers of “The Bible” miniseries for the History Channel. Included as part of the concert were an inner-city children’s choir from Baltimore, a Jewish cantor singing ancient melodies that were sung in synagogues at the time of Jesus Christ, the Brigham Young University Singers, the Salt Lake City Mass Choir (a group of evangelical Christian singers), and dramatic readings from the Bible by Downey and Burnett.

Public Reading of Scriptures MormonA second event held in honor of Salt Lake City being chosen as the National Bible City for 2013 took place on Monday, 25 November 2013, in the Utah State Capitol Rotunda. Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert was the first reader at what was called a “free speech gathering.” He was followed by several local and national business, political, and religious leaders to include Utah Jazz president Randy Rigby, Elder S. Gifford Nielsen of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Quorum of the Seventy, Pampered Chef founder Doris Christopher and National Bible Bee competitor Tia Thomas. There was no commentary or explanation given for the selected scriptures that were read. Participants were only asked to bring their favorite Bible scriptures to read and to share, not to preach sermons.  Glickstein remarked that the purpose of the event was “to honor God for what he did for us in giving us his word.” [2]

“I see this as an amazing opportunity for all Bible-believing people to come together to celebrate the importance of the Bible,” the Rev. (Gregory C.V.) Johnson [director and president of Standing Together, a ministry aimed at “uniting the Utah Christian community through relational efforts of prayer, worship and strategic evangelism] said. We’re not holding prayer meetings or worship services that are distinctive to our respective faith communities. We want this to be inclusive and open. We can set aside whatever differences we may have long enough to affirm our common appreciation for the Bible.

And that’s important, he said, because of the Bible’s power to change and inspire lives, individually and collectively. [2]

About Keith L. Brown
Keith L. Brown is a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having been born and raised Baptist. He was studying to be a Baptist minister at the time of his conversion to the LDS faith. He was baptized on 10 March 1998 in Reykjavik, Iceland while serving on active duty in the United States Navy in Keflavic, Iceland. He currently serves as the First Assistant to the High Priest Group for the Annapolis, Maryland Ward. He is a 30-year honorably retired United States Navy Veteran.

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