By Corbin T. Volluz
The Bible teaches that it is the complete and final revelation of God to mankind.
I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints. As such, I believe in continuing, extra-biblical revelation from God to man. Indeed, I have been the recipient of such revelation. What I have to say will no doubt receive an unwelcome response from most of the readers of this publication. Nevertheless, the truth must be championed. And the truth is that Mr. La Coste is wrong, dead wrong, in his assertion that “the Bible teaches that it is the complete and final revelation of God to mankind.”
If the Bible teaches anything, it teaches this: That throughout history, whenever God has had a people on the earth he recognized as his, he has always revealed his will directly to them through living prophets. At no time did God require them to rely solely on the words of dead prophets. This pattern is clear and uncontroverted from Genesis to John to Patmos. Ongoing revelation is the rule. With this in mind, consider the following statement by a latter-day apostle of the Lord: “A doctrine which rejects new revelation is a new doctrine, invented by the devil and his agents during the second century after Christ; it is a doctrine in direct opposition to the one believed in and enjoyed by the saints in all ages. As the doctrine, then, of continuing revelation is one that was always believed by the saints, it ought not to be required of any man to prove the necessity of the continuation of such a doctrine. It would be the great presumption to call it in question at this late date. Instead of being required to prove the necessity of its continuance, all people have the right to call upon the new-revelation deniers of the last eighteen centuries to bring forward their strong reasoning and testimonies for breaking in upon the long-established order of heaven, and introducing a new doctrine so entirely different from the old. If they wish their new doctrine to be believed, let them demonstrate it to be of divine origin, or else all people will be justified in rejecting it and clinging to the old” (Orson Pratt, Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon).
In his preceding article, Mr. La Coste has attempted to demonstrate the divine origin of his doctrine that revelation has been done away, that the heavens are sealed, and that the Bible is the complete and final revelation of God to mankind. In this attempt, Mr. La Coste has failed miserably. My worthy opponent has cited no less than twenty-two Scriptures, not one of which supports his contention. Instead of presenting “strong reasonings” for his doctrine, he has given us three arguments, all of which are non sequiturs. A non sequitur is an argument in which the evidence does not support the conclusion, or in other words, it is an argument in which the conclusion does not follow from the premise. If an argument is a non sequitur, it is not valid. All three of Mr. La Coste’s arguments that he advances to support his cause are non sequiturs, and are therefore not valid. I will treat each of Mr. La Coste’s non sequitur arguments individually.
1. Mr. La Coste quotes a number of Scriptures to show that the first-century Christians possessed a fulness of the gospel. On this point we are in agreement. I, too, believe the first-century Christians possessed a fulness of the gospel. But that is not the issue. The issue is whether the Bible is the complete and final revelation of God to man. To argue that since first-century Christians possessed a fulness of the gospel, the Bible is therefore final and complete is to promote an argument that is a non sequitur. The conclusion does not follow from the premise. The Scriptures cited are therefore immaterial to the issues under consideration.
For the Scriptures cited to be material, Mr. La Coste must first establish a number of intermediate steps, or premises, to get from there to his conclusion that the Bible is final and complete. These intermediate steps that he must establish are: (t) that the first-century Christians, who possessed the fulness of the gospel, actually wrote it all down; (2) that all their writings were collected and put in the Bible; and (3) that God suddenly changed his mind and decided that reading the written word was superior to hearing his own voice from the heavens, the pattern which God had followed religiously since the creation of man.
Only if these three additional premises can be established can Mr. La Coste cogently argue that the Bible is final and complete. Mr. La Coste has not established these three additional premises, neither can he. Therefore his first argument fails.
2. Mr. La Coste’s second argument is based upon the third verse of the epistle of Jude. Mr. La Coste asserts that “once” as used in Jude 3 means “one time for all time.” It is ironic that Mr. La Coste should state at the beginning of his article that the Bible is complete, meaning “lacking nothing,” and then only six paragraphs later, we find him under the necessity of adding words to the third verse of Jude in order to get it to say what he wants it to say.
I will not, however, waste valuable space refuting Mr. La Coste’s interpretation of Jude 3, though it is a temptation. The reason? Even if I were to concede to Mr. La Coste’s interpretation of this verse – that the gospel was once and for all delivered to the saints – his argument amounts to nothing more than another non sequitur. The conclusion does not follow from the premise. The three intermediary steps, or premises, that would need to be established in Mr. La Coste’s first argument to make it valid would similarly need to be established here to make his second argument valid. Without those intermediary premises, Mr. La Coste’s assertion that the gospel was “one time for all time” delivered to first-century Christians is logicalfy distinct and rationally unconnected from his conclusion that the Bible is final and complete.
Further, to adopt Mr. La Coste’s interpretation of Jude 3 creates an internal inconsistency within that Scripture. Mr. La Coste argues that once the gospel was delivered, no more revelation was necessary. The Bible was then complete and final. Now, Jude 3 says the gospel was once “delivered. Note that the past tense of the word is used: “Delivered. It is clear from this that the epistle of Jude was written sometime after the faith was delivered. So, what is the inconsistency? Simply this: If Mr. La Coste’s interpretation of Jude 3 is correct, that once the faith was delivered there was no more need of revelation and the Bible was final and complete, then the epistle of Jude could not be revelation, since it was written after the faith was delivered, and therefore could not be in the Bible! But such is not the case. The epistle of Jude is in the Bible. The fact that Jude’s epistle was written after the faith was once delivered to the saints and is yet still found within the Bible completely refutes Mr. La Coste’s interpretation of Jude 3.
3. The final non sequitur argument advanced by Mr. La Coste is based on Matthew 24:35 and 1 Peter 1:22-25. Mr. La Coste argues that if the word of God “lives and abides forever,” the Bible is the complete and final revelation of God. Once again, the conclusion does not follow from the premise. To demonstrate this, let us apply Mr. La Coste’s reasoning to the book of Genesis. Is the Book of Genesis the word of God? Yes, surely. Does it therefore, “live and abide forever”? Yes, it does. Then, according to Mr. La Coste’s argument, the Book of Genesis is the final and complete revelation of God! Everything else from Exodus to Revelation is not really revelation at all, but merely a gross imposture! When viewed in this light, the speciousness of Mr. LaCoste’s third argument becomes self-evident.
In conclusion, Mr. La Coste has presented three arguments to support his theory. None of his arguments, however, are able to withstand scrutiny. Mr. La Coste has in reality not advanced one scintilla of evidence that supports his position. In the words of Orson Pratt, since Mr. La Coste has not been able to demonstrate his new doctrine of no-revelation to be of divine origin, all people are justified in rejecting it and clinging to the old, biblical doctrine of continuing revelation.
To claim that the Bible is the complete and final revelati on of God to mankind is to claim something for the Bible w hich the Bible does not claim for itself. No, Mr. La Coste, try as you might to prove otherwise, the fact is that your proposition is wrong. The Bible does not teach that it is the complete and final revelation of Go6 to mankind.
It might be well at this point to briefly examine why Mr. La Coste, as a Church of Christ minister, maintains that the Bible is the complete and final revelation of God, in spite of the Bible’s silence on the matter. The answer is that the Bible is all he has. He receives no revelation from God. This is the true reason Mr. La Coste asserts that the Bible is complete and final. If it is not, and if he himself receives no revelation, it is because he is not a true minister of Jesus Christ.
As a minister of the Church of Christ, Mr. La Coste has a difficult position to defend. We might ask Mr. La Coste, “Do you claim to be the same church as that established by Christ two-thousand years ago?” “Why, yes, of course I do.” “Do we not read in the Bible that the church Christ established received ongoing revelation?” “Yes, that is true.” “Does the Church of Christ receive ongoing revelation too, then?” “No.” “Why doesn’t it?” “Because all revelation was done away with. The Bible is now the complete and final revelation of God.” “Oh. Does the Bible say that?” “Well, no, it doesn’t. But you must believe it anyway. “
We, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, believe that the Bible is not the complete and final revelation of God. We do not worship the Bible, but rather the God who gave it. We believe that God is loving enough to want to continue to speak to us today, that he is powerful enough to continue to speak to us today in the same manner he has always spoken to his people throughout the ages: By direct revelation through living prophets and apostles. For surely, “The Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7).
Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 23, pp. 714-715
December 6, 1990