As Christians, the LDS Church accepts the Old Testament and the New Testament. They believe the Bible is the word of God, both a historical and a divinely inspired record, “as far as it is translated correctly” (Article of Faith number 8). Mormons tend towards literalism, though with important exceptions in that the Adam and Eve story, the six-day creation story, and the universal flood are not necessarily read literally (although there is debate within the LDS Church about this). The Bible and the Book of Mormon are the principal sources of Church sermons, gospel study, and proselytizing. As an additional testament of Christ, the Book of Mormon complements the Bible. The Book of Mormon is a history of God’s dealings with certain peoples in the Americas from Babel to the 5th century CE. It was published in 1830 by Joseph Smith, who proclaimed then the restoration of priesthood authority and re-establishment of the true church of Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon is seen as the true and literal word of God and has a central place in Mormon doctrine and devotional life. It is where the unofficial name ‘Mormons’ comes from. The Book of Mormon affirms key principles of the Bible such as that Jesus is the Christ, the gospel of faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of Holy Ghost. However, it differs from the beliefs of many mainstream Christians in its account of the fall of Adam and Eve, described as fortunate and part of the divine plan, because it provided for the birth of humanity. It also teaches that Christ’s atonement negated the effect of ‘the Fall’, i.e., Adam’s and Eve’s original transgression, meaning subsequent believers need only repent for their own sins. A key part of the Book of Mormon is an account of the resurrected Christ visiting North America and meeting the continent’s ancient inhabitants and establishing a Christian church there with 12 disciples.

Two additional works of scripture stem from the revelations of Joseph Smith. The Doctrine and Covenants, originally called the Book of Commandments, was published in 1833. It contains Joseph Smith’s other revelations, with a few subsequent additions, the most recent being in 1981. It includes LDS teachings that are distinctive from other forms of Christianity including tithing, a health code against drugs and alcohol use and promoting good nutrition, the non-Trinitarian godhead, the offices and duties of the priesthood, and the three distinct Kingdoms of Glory. The Pearl of Great Price is Smith’s revelation of ancient writings attributed to Abraham, and a selection of writings from Moses absent from or corrupted in the Old Testament, the personal history of Joseph Smith, a revision of Matthew 24, and the Church’s 13 Articles of Faith. Joseph Smith also produced a partial recension of the Bible, adding changes and extra passages as he felt divinely inspired to, but this was not officially adopted by the Church, which instead includes his revisions as footnotes to the King James Version of the Bible that is used by the Latter-day Saints.

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