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For proponents of Sola Scriptura, only the Bible is inspired and authoritative.

For Latter-day Saints, three additional books are inspired and authoritative too: the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price.

According to proponents of Sola Scriptura, are there any doctrines solidly grounded in rigorous biblical exegesis that are in direct logical contradiction to well-established LDS doctrines derived from their holy books?

To use an illustration, let's suppose that book A unambiguously teaches that "all cars are either yellow or blue". Let's suppose also that book B unambiguously teaches that "some cars are green". Then the logical contradiction becomes quite obvious: if book B claims that green cars exist, that logically contradicts the teaching from book A that cars can only be either yellow or blue.

According to proponents of Sola Scriptura, what would be illustrative examples of instances where:

  • we know the Bible unambiguously teaches doctrine X,
  • a LDS sacred book unambiguously teaches doctrine Y, and
  • doctrines X and Y cannot both be true (they lead to a logical contradiction)?

Note: when I say that I want examples of logical contradictions, I'm talking specifically about contradictions between the contents of the books. In other words, something that the Bible says (substantiated by quotation of specific verses) vs. something that a LDS holy book says (substantiated by quotation of specific verses). Thus, the contradiction would need to be grounded in accurate exegesis of the texts: the Bible says X based on exegesis of certain passages, a LDS book says Y based on exegesis of certain passages, and X and Y cannot both be true (logical contradiction).

Therefore, unless Sola Scriptura can be inferred exegetically from the Bible, it would be out-of-scope for this question to appeal to Sola Scriptura itself as an axiom that is contradicted by claims of new revelation by Latter-day Saints. As I said, I want contradictions that are grounded in exegesis of the texts, not in contradictions of a priori axioms which are not found in the texts.

That said, for those interested in the more fundamental debate on whether Sola Scriptura is a reasonable premise to hold, the following related questions may be of interest:

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    Sola scriptura doesn't seem to me to be a relevant scope for this question. Why not just say Trinitarians, or Protestants if you want to exclude the Deuterocanon for some reason?
    – curiousdannii
    Jan 29 at 4:25
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    @curiousdannii - because Sola Scriptura advocates are presumably more specialized in basing their doctrines on biblical exegesis (which is of interest to my question). Scoping the question to Trinitarians in general may open the door to doctrines that may have some biblical basis, but are mostly based on tradition. Jan 29 at 4:34
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    @curiousdannii - in other words, I would like people expert in biblical exegesis to answer this question, and I used Sola Scriptura as a proxy to achieve that goal. Jan 29 at 4:43
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    there are several doctrines in Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price that are more unique/detailed than other scripture (Book of Mormon included)
    – depperm
    Jan 29 at 15:06
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    It would probably be best if members of the LDS church (seeking to defend the doctrines of the Church) avoid this question and commenting on the merits of answers herein.
    – Peter Turner
    Jan 31 at 17:42

3 Answers 3

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Keeping this brief, I'll just point out a couple of things. I'm a supporter of Sola Scriptura, Tota Scriptura (which is also called the plenary inspiration of Scripture) and in the divine preservation of Scripture. The Westminster Confession of Faith (written in 1646) states:

"The Old Testament in Hebrew... and the New Testament in Greek... being immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical." (1.8)

Statements that are equivalent, if not identical, appear in the Savoy Declaration (1658), the Helvetic Consensus Formula (1675) and the London Baptist Confession (1689). The point in mentioning this is to flag up that whatever religious writings the Latter Day Saints came up with from the early 1800s onwards, many of their doctrines automatically clash with those Protestant statements of belief about divinely inspired and preserved Scripture stated 200 years earlier.

This means that the point of the argument of supporters of such Protestant declarations is that any religion coming along later to say "We have divinely-inspired holy scripture that adds to earlier divinely-inspired scripture", has already contradicted Sola Scriptura etc. Their very claim is a contradiction in terms!

Those who know what the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures say know that the final written word from God was that last book in the Bible, the Revelation of Jesus Christ, given in visionary and audible form to the elderly apostle John, before the end of the first century A.D. I am not going to trawl through a list of texts which show that. Anybody claiming to have divine revelation from God thereafter, which they say is equal to, or superior to, what is already in the Bible, must by definition contain some doctrines that absolutely clash with biblical doctrine. Upholders of Sola Scriptura know of examples of that with the LDS religion, but I for one am not going to spend a huge amount of my time detailing such contradictory doctrines.

My second, and fleeting point, is that many books written by LDS founders are swiftly relegated to non-inspired status when things in them that do contradict what the Bible states are pointed out. Yet the LDS religion continues to state in its articles of faith that the Bible is only inspired of God insofar as it has been correctly translated:

"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." Article of Faith No. 1.8

This then allows them to go by Joseph Smith's annotated version of the King James Bible. Helpfully (for them) Smith has noted what 'authentic' verses should have said. If they wish to take that approach to the Bible, they are free to do so, but they need not expect proponents of Sola Scriptura to pay heed to them, for the two groups stand in diametrical opposition, when it comes to many biblical doctrines.

I have already answered a related question over a year ago, What evidence does the LDS Church offer regarding claims of degradation of Biblical texts?

EDIT as requested: Additional example: The Jehovah of the Old Testament was created by the god Elohim and his wife as their firstborn spirit baby who later became the man, Jesus. But that's not in the Book of Mormon. And when quotes are made from the speeches / writings of the founding LDS members who taught it, denials come from LDS people. Then my second point is rolled out: “Oh, but those claims are of non-inspired status so it’s no use referring to them!” This may be viewed as a bit of a dodge by some, but this is what people can be up against when they point out an LDS belief that is in print, but which seems to directly contradict orthodoxly Christian, biblical doctrine. “This is not a doctrine!” comes the reply. It then turns into a futile argument which I have no intention of engaging in.

My already stated example (of LDS belief in needing extra-biblical literature and revelations) shows why those who believe in Sola Scriptura have problems with some LDS teachings / beliefs that are found in their extra-biblical literature, and why nobody can get anywhere trying to thrash that out. You asked for answers from believers in Sola Scriptura; let there now be another question asking for why LDS people reject Sola Scriptura. Readers can read both sides of the ‘case’ and weigh matters up for themselves.

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    @Anne - I edited the OP to add emphasis on my interest in concrete examples. I hope it doesn't invalidate your answer too much. Jan 31 at 15:26
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    @Spirit Realm Investigator The example I have provided seems to be the elephant in the room, here. The LDS teaching stated in that Article of Faith 1.8 shows direct opposition to Sola Scriptura. Perhaps LDS people, who don't believe in Sola Scriptura, would dismiss that, yet the logical run-on question, "Why must we have additional, written revelation/doctrines?" might need the answer, "Because we have some doctrines that clash with orthodoxly Christian, biblical doctrine." I've already given an example but I’ll add a second one at the end of my answer.
    – Anne
    Feb 1 at 11:50
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    Anne, I added a note at the end of my question about Sola Scriptura and the kind of contradictions I'm looking for. Feb 1 at 14:03
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    @Spirit Realm Investigator You only added that list of what you are looking for 2 hours after I posted my edit. I protest! I am not here to form answers in accordance with the POs perception of what kind of answers are prefered. My two examples are relevant. If you or others disagree, do so and mark my answer down if you like, and certainly don't select it as your chosen answer, but I am not going to mold by answer around ever-changing parameters of a fluid question.
    – Anne
    Feb 1 at 14:09
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    Sola Scriptura is solidly grounded in rigorous biblical exegesis except for the fact that it excludes 7 books of Scriptura 😉 (But that won't get resolved here) Feb 2 at 21:02
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It is difficult to answer this question on a theological basis, as proponents of Sola Scriptura may agree on Sola Scriptura yet disagree on many other issues, coming to a variety of different exegetical conclusions from the same Biblical text.

As discussed in other answers to this question (and the comments responding to them), even doctrines of grace or canon are not universally agreed upon by Christians whose sole source of scriptural authority is the Bible.

Arguments that a Book of Mormon (or D&C or PoGP) passage contradicts a Biblical passage lose their force if believers in Sola Scriptura themselves disagree on the meaning of said Biblical passage.

As such, rather than addressing this question via theology, I will focus on a matter of uncontroversial history.

--

Where was Jesus born

Micah 5:2, Matthew 2:1-6, and Luke 2:4-7 all agree that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. This is not controversial.

In Alma 7:10 (in the Book of Mormon) the prophet Alma, in prophesying about Jesus, states:

And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers

In discussing the place of Jesus' birth, the Biblical texts refer consistently to Bethlehem; the Book of Mormon refers to Jerusalem.


A Latter-day Saint response to this argument is available here.

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In addition to Anne's in-depth answer, I'll give a specific and important difference between what the Scriptures teach and what the LDS texts teach.

On the topic of salvation, 2 Nephi 25:23 states that

For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do

Only "after all we can do" are we saved by grace, according to the LDS. But this is contrary to the Scriptures.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our wrongdoings, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the boundless riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:4-9)

But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, since otherwise grace is no longer grace (Romans 11:6)

We see through the Scriptures that it doesn't depend on our works in the slightest, but the LDS holy text specifically requires our works. The Scriptures have our works coming as a result of our salvation, and not the other way around, which is contradicted in the LDS sacred books.

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  • It would be interesting to know how Latter-day Saints interpret 2 Nephi 25:23. Do they believe in works-based salvation? Do they believe in Synergism? Feb 1 at 14:10
  • Welcome to the site, and for your answer. It might be worth noting here that there is no obligation for anyone to respond to comments that try to get any kind of discussion or debate going, because that is not what this site is for. It would be up to LDS people to answer the Qs put to you in the comment above. I observe that you are not an LDS person.
    – Anne
    Feb 1 at 14:58
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    related answer on how 2 Nephi 25:23 fits with bible
    – depperm
    Feb 2 at 15:23
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    We see through the Scriptures that it doesn't depend on our works in the slightest Not strictly true. See James 2:26 Feb 2 at 21:03

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