A Book of God?

Shihong asked me whether the Book of Mormon is also a book of God and whether believers of Mormon are also Christians. Here is my reply.

I know the Book of Mormon only superficially; it is written in a literary style copied from the bible, but much more long-winded, and it didn't breath the spirit of God in a way recognizable to me. The Mormons are kind of Christians but with more of what they consider revelations added, and they differ from traditional Christianity in some of their moral code.

But who is a real Christian? This is not decided by the book someone carries around but by the heart someone possesses (Rom. 2:25-29: Jesus said this about the pious people of his time; today we have to apply it to us and to those we meet by picking the natural analogy).

The only real tests for Christianity are John 13:35 and Gal. 5:22. Don't look at the labels, look at the fruits of the spirit! Matth. 7:15-23; Luke 6:43-46.

My advice for you on such matters is to stick to the basics, getting your own faith rooted well enough that your soul prospers, Psalm 1:3, and not caring much about the attempts of sectarians to draw you to their own special version.

What Jesus says to his disciples, Matth. 10:11, about spreading the Gospel is valid similarly for growing in the gospel; if you have found a place where you can grow in God's ways, stay until God gives you a sign to move on, in a way that you can understand without doubt. Don't look for other sources of revelation unless your heart compels you. Then you'll grow in peace and God will lead you to the right people or books at the right time. And you'll know when the time is right.

In German we have a saying: Many cooks spoil the meal. In the same way, giving your attention to teachings drawing you into different directions will spoil your development and only create unrest and irritation.

There are many, many teachings that claim to be from God, but most of them don't carry His signature, Jer. 23:28-29. If you really want to know you'd have to test with your life, John 7:17. But you only have one life, and if you already have a path to God, why waste your time and try alternatives?

It is typical of many prophecies that they use I - but any voice can use I and suggest to be God. The proof is not in the form of words used, but whether the contents conforms with reality. According to the bible, false prophets speak their own words in the name of God. To say I and imply God speaks is a way of trying to give oneself more authority; this may be out of a desire to deceive, or unconsciously with a conscious motive to give weight to some urgently felt message. Hence all prophecies must be checked for their quality, 1 Thess. 5:19-22.

Study the way people in the bible ascertain that the voices they hear are from God; this will give you a basis for discriminating for yourself. Here are some relevant stories: Jer. 32:1-8; 2 Chron. 18; 1 King 22; 1 King 13; Jer. 28; Amos 3:3-8; Deut. 18:14-22; Jer. 23:16-32; Judges 6; Acts 8:26-40; Acts 10:1-33.

On the other hand, you don't need to be afraid of a book like the Book of Mormon - if you simply read it as one person's personal impressions of how he understood God. Never be afraid to read and understand; but always be cautious not to trust too early.

Check things out in prayer with God as long as you are uncertain. God's answer will be clear and reliable; before you have clarity, don't trust.

John 10:27-28 is the statement of a fact - His voice will be understandable to you, in a way that gives peace to your heart, not unrest, even when the circumstances are not peaceful. John 14:27.

The only thing you need to care about is to remain free to judge the contents of books claiming to be from God by comparing with what you already know about God. Trust Him to reveal to you the truth.

Remember, God is not in a book, not even in the bible; He is alive, and any book can only be a pointer to the reality, a help to discover for yourself who God is, by cultivating the friendship with Him.

And I am glad that you made friends with God, that He appears no longer fearful to you but you experience His gifts of love, peace and joy.

Remain on the path that lead you there, and don't follow every turn of the winds people create, Eph. 4:14-15.

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Arnold Neumaier (Arnold.Neumaier@univie.ac.at)