You may recall a few weeks ago I pointed out the publication by Eerdmans of a book by Robert Millet, A Different Jesus? Today a friend from Salt Lake reminded me of a book I have had on my shelf since 1991, but I had forgotten that it was co-authored by Millet. For some reason I had associated the book in my memory only with Joseph Fielding McConkie. In any case, Sustaining and Defending the Faith is a wonderful example of Mormonism in 1985, which, of course, was the Mormonism I was responding to in Letters to a Mormon Elder, my first book on Mormonism.
I think a lot of folks would be just a bit uncomfortable having one of the co-authors of this book writing for Eerdmans, unless, of course, Millet has come out and repudiated this work. In any case, the contrast between the statements in this work and those found in A Different Jesus? is startling to say the least. I will be posting material from the chapter called “The Bible Fraud.” In this chapter McConkie and Millet refer to those who believe in the infallibility of the Bible as “Bible cultists.” Some of the sub-titles in this one chapter include, “The Bible Is Not Infallible,” “Not All Scripture Is Equal,” “Bible Prophets Were Not Infallible,” and “The Bible Does Not Have All the Answers.” I would encourage the reader to compare this unvarnished work with what is being produced by BYU today and ask a question: have these men repudiated their former works, or, do they still believe the same things, but they are more careful in how they express themselves?
Here is the first paragraph. I really wonder if Richard Mouw ever read this stuff before he apologized on our behalf?
The Bible is the most misused and misunderstood book ever written. It has been used to justify all manner of impropriety, wickedness, and falsehood. Every spiritual fraud ever perpetrated in the history of Judaism or Christianity has claimed support from the Bible. On the authority of the Bible the Jews crucified Christ, stoned Stephen, and imprisoned and beat the Apostles. With the Bible as justification Paul persecuted Christians unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women (Acts 22:4). After the death of the Apostles the Bible was taught by the authority of the whip and the sword. To the Reformers it became the source of priesthood authority and the final will and testament of their mute God.
Yes, you read it right. Amazing, no? The reasoning in this book is consistently very poor, the arguments easily refuted (the Jews did not crucify Jesus, of course, the Romans did; they did seek His crucifixion, and they did so out of dedication not to “the Bible,” but to their traditions, that the Lord said nullified the Scriptures–just an example of how easily this kind of argumentation is refuted). But note as well the description of the Bible as the “last will and testament of their (the Reformers’) mute God.” To call this a low view of Scripture is an understatement, of course, and it shows that McConkie and Millet have never considered what Christ, Paul, and Peter, taught about the nature of Scripture. But, they do attempt to provide replies to certain passages, and as time allows, it will be very useful to review these statements from two BYU professors.