Sunday, May 24, 2015

No Man Shall Add to or Take Away

Many discount the idea that there could be more scripture than just the Bible because of Revelations 22:18
18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

Summary of things I have found on this topic:
  • John is referring to the book he was writing, Revelation, not the entire Bible.  (“the words of the prophecy of this book”)
  • The Bible is a compilation of books, which was compiled after John wrote this statement.
  • Many of the books of the Bible were written after Revelation.
    • Shall we deny those books are false, because they were “added” after Revelation?
  • The book of Deuteronomy also says something similar.
    • 2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.
    • Shall we deny the rest of the Old Testament and all of the New Testament because this was stated in Deuteronomy?

Amos 3:7
7 Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.

Elder Jeffrey R Holland, My Words...Never Cease, April 2008 General Conference
“Some Christians, in large measure because of their genuine love for the Bible, have declared that there can be no more authorized scripture beyond the Bible. In thus pronouncing the canon of revelation closed, our friends in some other faiths shut the door on divine expression that we in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hold dear: the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, and the ongoing guidance received by God’s anointed prophets and apostles. Imputing no ill will to those who take such a position, nevertheless we respectfully but resolutely reject such an unscriptural characterization of true Christianity.
“One of the arguments often used in any defense of a closed canon is the New Testament passage recorded in Revelation 22:18: “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of … this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.” However, there is now overwhelming consensus among virtually all biblical scholars that this verse applies only to the book of Revelation, not the whole Bible. Those scholars of our day acknowledge a number of New Testament “books” that were almost certainly written after John’s revelation on the Isle of Patmos was received. Included in this category are at least the books of Jude, the three Epistles of John, and probably the entire Gospel of John itself. 1 Perhaps there are even more than these.
“But there is a simpler answer as to why that passage in the final book of the current New Testament cannot apply to the whole Bible. That is because the whole Bible as we know it—one collection of texts bound in a single volume—did not exist when that verse was written. For centuries after John produced his writing, the individual books of the New Testament were in circulation singly or perhaps in combinations with a few other texts but almost never as a complete collection. Of the entire corpus of 5,366 known Greek New Testament manuscripts, only 35 contain the whole New Testament as we now know it, and 34 of those were compiled after A.D. 1000. 2
“The fact of the matter is that virtually every prophet of the Old and New Testament has added scripture to that received by his predecessors. If the Old Testament words of Moses were sufficient, as some could have mistakenly thought them to be, 3 then why, for example, the subsequent prophecies of Isaiah or of Jeremiah, who follows him? To say nothing of Ezekiel and Daniel, of Joel, Amos, and all the rest. If one revelation to one prophet in one moment of time is sufficient for all time, what justifies these many others?”
“One Protestant scholar has inquired tellingly into the erroneous doctrine of a closed canon. He writes: ‘On what biblical or historical grounds has the inspiration of God been limited to the written documents that the church now calls its Bible? … If the Spirit inspired only the written documents of the first century, does that mean that the same Spirit does not speak today in the church about matters that are of significant concern?’ 5  We humbly ask those same questions.
“Continuing revelation does not demean or discredit existing revelation. The Old Testament does not lose its value in our eyes when we are introduced to the New Testament, and the New Testament is only enhanced when we read the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. In considering the additional scripture accepted by Latter-day Saints, we might ask: Were those early Christians who for decades had access only to the primitive Gospel of Mark (generally considered the first of the New Testament Gospels to be written)—were they offended to receive the more detailed accounts set forth later by Matthew and Luke, to say nothing of the unprecedented passages and revelatory emphasis offered later yet by John? Surely they must have rejoiced that ever more convincing evidence of the divinity of Christ kept coming. And so do we rejoice.”

Moses 1:38
38 And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come; and there is no end to my works, neither to my words.

Alma P Burton, Follow the Brethren, Ensign October 1972
“Ministers of the Christian world have proclaimed that God has ceased to speak from the heavens, that he has ceased to reveal himself to man. This claim is made by some because of a misinterpretation of a statement recorded by John in the book of Revelation,”

“John’s statement is in full force and cannot be denied. But the reader must remember that the declaration by John refers only to the book of Revelation and not to other books written by John or other writers in the Bible.
“When John wrote the words quoted above, the books of the New Testament had not yet been compiled into a single publication. They were separate writings that later became our New Testament as we know it today. There was no intention that John’s words should refer to any other book of scripture than Revelation.”
“Thus one of the great purposes of continuing revelation through living prophets is to declare to the world through additional witnesses that the Bible is true. “This is written,” an ancient prophet said, speaking of the Book of Mormon, “for the intent that ye may believe that,” speaking of the Bible. 8 In one of the earliest revelations received by Joseph Smith, the Lord said, “Behold, I do not bring [the Book of Mormon forth] to destroy [the Bible] but to build it up.” 9
One other point needs to be made. Since it is clear that there were Christians long before there was a New Testament or even an accumulation of the sayings of Jesus, it cannot therefore be maintained that the Bible is what makes one a Christian. In the words of esteemed New Testament scholar N. T. Wright, “The risen Jesus, at the end of Matthew’s Gospel, does not say, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth is given to the books you are all going to write,’ but [rather] ‘All authority in heaven and on earth is given to me.’ ” 10 In other words, “Scripture itself points … away from itself and to the fact that final and true authority belongs to God himself.” 11 So the scriptures are not the ultimate source of knowledge for Latter-day Saints. They are manifestations of the ultimate source. The ultimate source of knowledge and authority for a Latter-day Saint is the living God. The communication of those gifts comes from God as living, vibrant, divine revelation. 12

Articles of Faith 1:9
9 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.

April 1981 General Conference, Howard W Hunter, No Man Shall Add to or Take Away
“A careful reading of each of these admonitions makes it clear that man is not to make changes in the revelations of the Lord: man is not to add to or take from the words of God. There is no indication or intimation that God could not, or would not, add to or take from; nor would any reasonable person with a belief in the divine powers of God consciously believe that God would be so restricted. Without question he would have the right and power to give additional revelation for the guidance of his children in any age and to add additional scripture.”
“May our vision not be so narrow that we would relegate revelation to only the ancients. God is merciful and loves his children in all ages and has revealed himself to this time in history.“

President Hunter’s entire talk deal with the topic of these scriptures and not adding to scripture.

President Ezra Taft Benson, “A New Witness for Christ,” Ensign, Nov. 1984, 8
“When used together, the Bible and the Book of Mormon confound false doctrines”

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