The Bible opens with a depiction of creation and relationship. With nothing but his words, God brilliantly crafted the universe, planets, seas, skies, and all the creatures found within. His breath gave life to Adam, the first human being and only creation bearing God’s image. Adam was charged with caring for the garden he lived in, and was warned to not eat the fruit of one specific tree among countless others. From there, the Father of all creation lovingly created a companion for his child, a woman named Eve. The first man and woman were free to enjoy deep relationship with one another, as well as with the God who created them. Then the serpent enters the picture. His first order of business is attacking the dependability of God’s word. He finds the first woman and poses a question that seems benign on the surface: “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” With this question the serpent was able to sow a seed of doubt in Eve’s mind about God’s word and its truthfulness. With the reliability of God’s word in question, the temptation to disobey and eat the fruit was an easy sell. “You will not surely die,” the serpent promises Eve—“you will be like God.”
Swindled by the enemy, Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s instruction and ate from the forbidden tree. Sensing their disobedience, they hid from God in panic and shame, but were inevitably found. The Father curses both the man and the woman for their disobedience, and the once close relationship they enjoyed with God was now separated by a chasm called death.
The first recorded divergence from the word of God led to the deception of the first humans, as well as their spiritual separation from the Father. All of mankind experienced the effects of this transgression until generations later when Jesus, the Word made flesh, was crucified then raised to life.
Talking snakes and ancient stories can make it difficult to relate to the events described in Genesis, but Adam and Eve’s story is my story too.
My Experience With the Mormon Church and Sola Scriptura
Eight years ago, I was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormon church. Mormons believe church authority was disrupted by a great apostasy, that the Old and New Testaments were not preserved from corruption, and that the book of Mormon (in addition to other LDS texts) are inspired scripture. As a Mormon, I considered the Bible to be insufficient and unreliable without the additional doctrine and history delivered by Mormon prophets.
Like Eve, I evaluated the trustworthiness of God’s word and found it to be lacking. And, like Eve, I experienced deception and separation from God. As a Mormon woman, I simply did not believe that God’s promises, instructions, exhortations, and prophecies were authoritative and complete within the Bible.
That is, until I read it.
What the Bible Says About Itself
When a concerned Christian invited me to address a handful of passages in the New Testament, I accepted the challenge with vigor. After all, Mormons do own Bibles and I wasn’t afraid of some misinformed Baptist boy. From there began a several-month excursion through the Bible to try and support my Mormon theology. Little did I know that this would be the undoing of my faith in Mormonism, and the beginning of my conversion to Christianity.
The more I attempted to refute his concerns by studying the Bible, the clearer the truth became to me. I discovered that the Bible declares itself to be God’s word (Heb. 4:12; 1 Thess 2:13), that all teaching can be tested against the Bible (Acts 17:11), and that there were grave warnings for those who sought to change or add to the Bible (Rev. 22:18; Gal. 1).
Suddenly I was confronted with the idea that the Bible alone was the final authority on all things; that it was more reliable than personal revelation, and more dependable than any instruction I had received from a Mormon Prophet or Bishop.
This was a distressing realization for me, to say the least. I was coming to conclusions that were contradictory to everything I had believed as a Mormon. In fact, Mormon scripture specifically teaches its readers that a belief in Sola Scriptura is for “fools” (2 Nephi 29). But the more I read the Bible, the more I felt like a fool myself.
I can relate to Eve hiding behind fig leaves upon realizing her error. Not only did I feel ashamed of my folly in an intellectual sense, but I was also suddenly aware of the profound distance between myself and God. I had no trust that he was who he said he was. I had no confidence in his promises, and I only paid lip service to his commands. And because I had no trust in his word, I had no relationship with him. This was a shocking revelation for me.
Accepting God’s word as trustworthy was the catalyst that led to my rejection of Mormonism and the beginning of my new life in Christ. This single realization has continued to shape and reform my theology and practice as a Christian today, and so it should for all Christians.
Every Believer’s Struggle
Mormons aren’t the only ones who distrust the authority of the Bible. In a larger sense, all humans wrestle with the authenticity and importance of God’s word, and all of us have heard (or spoken) the same inquiry Eve heard in the Garden of Eden:
- “Did God really say that there is only one way to eternal life?”
- “Did God really say that sin sends people to Hell?”
- “Did God really say that lust is as bad as adultery?”
- “Did God really say that we must love our enemies?”
- “Did God really say?”
For those who are separated from God by disbelief and heresy, it is difficult to arrive at a solid answer to these questions. But for Bible-believing Christians, we can answer the question, “Did God really say?” directly with God’s own word in the Old and New Testaments. Christians are uniquely equipped by their creator to answer tough questions about God’s work, plans, and character because we’ve been given the answers in the Bible. The Father did not leave his children empty-handed, unable to provide a rebuttal to temptation and confusion.
Understanding the trustworthiness of of the Bible allows me to continually cultivate a deeper relationship with God like Adam and Eve experienced before the fall. After all, if the Bible’s history and instruction is authoritative, then so are God’s promises to me. If the Bible is trustworthy, then so is the comfort and encouragement I that I can find there. If the Bible is complete, then there is no waiting for further instruction on how I am to conduct myself as a Christian. God’s word not only saves sinners and equips the saints, but it reconciles men and women, drawing them near to their creator once again.
Rachelle Cox converted from Mormonism six years ago and is now passionate about helping women understand God’s good word and good theology. She is a women’s ministry intern at Karis Church, and is beginning her theological education at Boyce College. She loves serving her husband and two children, and writes at http://eachpassingphase.com