A Bible, A Bible

In 2 Nephi 29, The Book of Mormon is almost, “speaking from the dust”, justifying its own existence to those who reject any additional Christian Biblical scripture, right here:

And because my words shall hiss forth—many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible.

But thus saith the Lord God: O fools, they shall have a Bible; and it shall proceed forth from the Jews, mine ancient covenant people. And what thank they the Jews for the Bible which they receive from them? Yea, what do the Gentiles mean? Do they remember the travails, and the labors, and the pains of the Jews, and their diligence unto me, in bringing forth salvation unto the Gentiles?

O ye Gentiles, have ye remembered the Jews, mine ancient covenant people? Nay; but ye have cursed them, and have hated them, and have not sought to recover them. But behold, I will return all these things upon your own heads; for I the Lord have not forgotten my people.

Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews?

Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?

Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.

I think these verses make two distinct arguments, the first is an accusation. Those who claim the Bible often don’t appreciate it, its heritage or the people who produced it. The second is to point out how limiting a closed canon can be, that God works with and through all of his children, all over the world and as such we should expect books of scripture to spring forth from all across the globe. In fact this multi-ethnic witness of Christ and goodness essentially shows God’s unconditional love for all of us no matter where we live. Inspired Muslims, Hindus, Christians of all denominations, and even scientists, secularists and atheists, teach us that God is willing to speak to us in the language we understand the best – God speaks science, secularism, Hindi, Muslim and Christian.

This idea of an open cannon, of continued revelation, of a God who speaks to and through all of us is a gift that Mormonism has given to the world. If the Book of Mormon had come out of the Muslim tradition, I could imagine the Book of Mormon changed to say: “A Kuran, a Kuran, we have got the Kuran.”

What I’m afraid of, though, is that Mormons often reject this very idea and are in danger of making the same mistake, assuming an only slightly more open God and cannon to include scriptures given to us from Joseph Smith and from Salt Lake. For some of us, perhaps we are in danger of falling into the same trap and might be tempted to say… “A Book of Mormon, A Book of Mormon, we have got a Book of Mormon.” I hope not. Deeply embedded within Mormonism is a wonderful paradox. We claim to have the fullness of the everlasting gospel, but we also have a theological humility and openness littered throughout our theology. In the Articles of Faith 9 & 13:

 13 We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

In D&C 88:118:

 118 And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teachone another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the bestbooks words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.

I believe revelation comes from everywhere, from all sources and we should be open, both heart, hand and mind to receive it. And receive it we must. The Book of Mormon gives us this warning – quoting Isaiah in 2 Nephi 15:20

20 Wo unto them that call evil good, and good evil, that put darkness for light, and light for darkness, that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Here I believe we have been called to be sophisticated consumers of goodness. Not only shouldn’t we accuse another who is aspiring to goodness evil, but I think we should embrace, work with, learn from, and appreciate goodness and light wherever we find it. And light is shining from more sources than we realize.