By Corbin T. Volluz
The Bible teaches that it is the final and complete revelation from God to mankind.
I will respond to Mr. La Coste’s third affirmative paragraph by paragraph.
Paragraph No. 1: Mr. La Coste is in error when he says I agreed “to use the Bible to prove it is not the final and complete revelation of God to mankind.” As I said in a previous installment, Mr. La Coste has the burden of proving by the Bible that it is final and complete. All I need to do to fulfill my part of the bargain is to show the faulty reasoning and misinterpreted Scriptures Mr. La Coste uses to support his proposition. Once this is done, Mr. La Coste fails in establishing his propositions as true and I succeed in my mission of negating it. Mr. La Coste must quote Scripture to advance his proposition. To negate it requires, as I said, no Scripture but only common sense.
Next, Mr. La Coste attempts to demonstrate how little I think of the Bible by means of an orgy of word-twisting that would have done the Pharisees proud. Mr. La Coste says I “demeaningly equate the Bible to the ‘sacred book’ of the Pharisees.” Since the “sacred book” of the Pharisees was the Old Testament, which itself comprises fully two-thirds of the Bible, I fail to see how this reference could be styled “demeaning.” What I “demeaned” was not these sacred books, but rather the manner in which the Pharisees and Mr. La Coste view them; as substitutes for ongoing revelation through living prophets. Mr. La Coste then claims I called the Bible “‘inanimate’ which means dull or empty”! Mr. La Coste is really stretching for this one. Whereas I did call the Bible “inanimate,” I did so purely in the commonly understood meaning of the word, “not endowed with life or spirit” (Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, p. 422). And surely the Bible is inanimate in the sense I used the word. At least mine is. Perhaps Mr. La Coste’s Bible struts and frets its hour upon the stage, but mine lies peacefully on the shelf when I set it there. So, contrary to Mr. La Coste’s base allegations, I do revere the Bible, and I think that my reverence is evidenced by the fact that I do not make claims for the Bible which the Bible does not make for itself; a tactic Mr. La Coste engages in regularly.
Paragraph No. 2: Adam and Abraham were indeed prophets. It proved this to be the case using Scripture from the Bible in a logical manner. If this process seems to Mr. La Coste to be “hocus pocus,” I am less than surprised.
Paragraph No. 3: Mr. La Coste states that, if Amos 3:7 is true, I must be claiming to be a prophet myself, since I claim personal revelation. Mr. La Coste may be closer to the mark here than anywhere else in this entire debate. Unfortunately for Mr. La Coste, according to the Bible, the fact that he claims no personal revelation brands him as a false teacher of the gospel. That this is so was made clear by Joseph Smith: “If any person should ask me if I were a prophet, I should not deny it, as that would give me the lie; for, according to John, ‘the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy’ (Rev. 19:10); therefore, if I profess to be a witness or teacher, and have not the spirit of prophecy, which is the testimony of Jesus, I must be a false witness; but if I be a true teacher and witness, I must possess the spirit of prophecy, and that constitutes a prophet; and any man who says he is a teacher or a preacher of righteousness, and denies the spirit of prophecy is a liar, and the truth is not in him; and by this key false teachers and imposters may be detected” (Documented History of the Church, 5:215-216). If I may say so, it appears that by “this key,” a false teacher and imposter has indeed been detected, and it is none other than Mr. La Coste.
Paragraph No. 4: We now deal with Mr. La Coste’s strained interpretation of Hebrews 1:1-2. In his preceding paragraph he claimed the passage in question states that God speaks “not through prophets anymore, but through his Son ” (emphasis in original). Even a cursory examination of the passage, however, shows it says nothing of the sort. Rather, Hebrews 1:1-2 states simply that the same God who spoke to the prophets in Old Testament times had spoken in New Testament times through his Son. This is in no way intimates that God would cease to speak through prophets. Indeed as I said before, Christ himself proclaimed he would send prophets subsequent to his death.
Mr. La Coste’s second problem with Hebrews 1:1-2 is trying to make a phrase that is clearly past tense into the present tense. Mr. La Coste wishes the verse to read, “God now speaks through his Son” (emphasis in original), but the plain language of the Scripture is, “God has spoken unto us by his Son.” I am at a loss as to how Mr. La Coste can misinterpret a plainly past tense statement such as this to be present tense. Perhaps the answer lies in necessity, for if the passage is past tense, as it clearly is, then Mr. La Coste’s arguments based upon it is demolished. Necessity is the mother of invention.
Paragraph No. 5: There is nothing much to comment on here except that, if Mr. La Coste thinks that “name calling and innuendo” are reserved only for one “who is in trouble with his position,” I can only assume this charge applies equally to John the Baptist (Matt. 3:7), Paul (Acts 23:3), and Jesus Christ himself (Matt. 16:23; 23:29-32). “Name calling and innuendo” aren’t necessarily the result of one’s having trouble with one’s position. It can also result from extreme frustration caused by the stubborn refusal of pompous individuals to listen to reason.
Paragraph No. 6: Once again, Mr. La Coste is in error. I never suggested he said that “the leadership of the early church wrote all the truth they had down.” I know he didn’t say that. And that is precisely his problem! How can Mr. La Coste rationally expect us to accept that the Bible is “complete” without even trying to show that the leadership of the early church at least wrote down all the truth they had? Unwritten truth certainly cannot be found in the Bible! And it is questionable as to how much good unwritten truth does Mr. La Coste today.
As I’ve said twice previously, in order to successfully prove his proposition, Mr. La Coste must not only demonstrate that the “Holy Spirit led the early disciples into all truth” (a belief we share), but he must also demonstrate that all the truth was written down (which he has failed to prove), that all the written-down truth made it into the Bible (which he has failed to prove), and that God inexplicably chose to change his ways and stop revealing his will directly to men through revelation (which he failed to prove). Mr. La Coste has had three installments in which to prove these essential elements of his proposition, but he has not done so. Since Mr, La Coste is incapable of bringing forth the evidence necessary to establish his proposition that the Bible is the complete and final revelation of God to men, why should any right-minded person feel obliged to believe him?
Mr. La Coste says the early disciples “wrote all the truth that ‘makes men free from sin and the servant of righteousness,”‘ and cites Romans 6:17 as support for his statement. Setting aside the fact that Mr. La Coste meant to cite Romans 6:18, anyone who wishes to take the briefest glance at the Scripture under consideration will immediately note that it does not stand for Mr. La Coste’s proposition at all. It says nothing about the disciple’s having written down all necessary truth. This is purely Mr. La Coste’s wishful thinking. Such has been his pattern from the beginning; to quote half a Scripture here and half a Scripture there in order to give the false impression that his views are biblical. If Mr. La Coste could find enough dupes who are willing to take his word for what the Scriptures say without checking it out for themselves, he could be the minister of a congregation! After all, in the kingdom of the blind, the man with one eye is king.
If anyone will take the time to check Mr. La Coste’s references against his interpretations, they will see what palpable rubbish Mr. La Coste is spouting. I have already given a number of examples of this sort of thing. I am only sorry I haven’t space to expose them all in the detail they deserve.
Before proceeding, I must remark on the humorousness of Mr. La Coste’s referring to the apostolic father, Clement, as “Clementine.” I should have thought one who proclaims to be a minister of Christ’s church would have known Clement was a disciple of the apostle Peter. Clement was therefore in an excellent position to quote Peter, as he did to the effect that the most sacred truths were not written down or vouchsafed to the uninitiated. For Mr. La Coste to dismiss out of hand the Clementine Recognitions as “not of inspired origin” and therefore not worthy of his notice is juvenile and shows he hasn’t done his homework. In short, Mr. La Coste is remaining true to form.
Paragraph No. 7.- Mr. La Coste gives us another example of twisting Scriptures to suit his ends. If anyone is deceived by Mr. La Coste’s lame attempt to fuse Matthew 22:32 and Hebrews 11:4 into a good reason for rejecting living prophets, they may pick up their Pharisee membership-card at the door on the way out. I have nothing more to say to them.
Then, Mr. La Coste again misuses Hebrews 1:1-2. He says he tries “to follow Jesus Christ; whom God ‘speaks through today. “‘ Mr. La Coste is still confusing his past with his present tense. Further, Mr. La Coste has made it abundantly clear he doesn’t believe that God speaks through Christ today. He believes God speaks through the Bible instead! Hardly the same thing at all. The Mormons are the ones who believe God still speaks through Jesus Christ, not Mr. La Coste. Mr. La Coste must have become confused in the heat of battle as to which side of the debate he was representing.
Paragraph Nos. 8, 9, 10.- Here, Mr. La Coste attempts to use my own statement against me. By means of a small miracle, he correctly quotes my statement that one would have to make the mistake of equating the faith/gospel of Jude 3 with the Bible in order for Mr. La Coste’s argument to make any sense. After having seized upon my statement, Mr. La Coste almost pops a vein showing not that the faith/gospel is equivalent to the Bible as I said he must, but instead that the faith is equivalent to the gospel! I am perfectly aware that the faith may be equated with the gospel. Mr. La Coste has evidently been debating too long and has entirely missed the point of my argument. I refuse to waste space here repeating that argument, but refer the reader back to my second installment where I originally set it forth. Though he took a mighty swing, Mr. La Coste did not even so much as lay a glove on that argument.
Paragraph No. 11: There are two things overlooked in Mr. La Coste’s quote from Frederic Kenyon: (1) None of the “hundreds and even thousands” of the “manuscripts of the New Tesatment” are originals. They are copies of copies of copies, and thus their reliability is put into question. (2) None of these “thousands of manuscripts” are identical. Thev all differ from each other to some extent, some to a substantial degree. Now, whether it was Mr. Kenyon who withheld this information from the reader, or an injudicious quote from Mr. La Coste did the trick I do not say. Nevertheless, both the above factors contribute heavily to our lack of certainty as to the accuracy of the text of the Bible in its present form.
Paragraph No. 12: Mr. La Coste cites I Corinthians 13:8-10, about which he earlier said that I “observed the passover,” and gave his interpretation of that passage as meaning that once the disciples “revealed the complete revelation (read: “Bible”) then prophets and prophecy would cease” (Paragraphs 4,5). 1 trust that no one will be shocked at this late date to find that Mr. La Coste is once again reading into the Scriptures things that are not there. (“The other night upon the stair, I saw a man who wasn’t there. “)
The Scripture cited states, “When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part (prophecy, etc.) shall be done away” (1 Cor. 13:10). The key question is, “What is meant by ‘that which is perfect’?” Mr. La Coste jumps to the erroneous conclusion that it must mean the Bible. But this not the case. The above verse must be taken in context with verse 12, “Now we see through the glass darkly, but then face to face. ” Having the gifts of prophecy and revelation is not the perfect order. It is like “seeing through a glass darkly.” The perfect order is not, as Mr. La Coste thinks, to have a book which becomes the last will and testament of a mute God, but to have the Savior here personally; to be in his presence; to behold him “face to face.” When the Savior comes, there will be no more need for revelation and prophecy. He will tell us all things personally. But revelation and prophecy are to continue in the Lord’s church until the return of the Son of God; until we “see face to face”; until “that which is perfect (i.e., Christ himself) is come.” Inasmuch as the Savior has not yet returned, we should still expect to find the gifts of prophecy and revelation in God’s true church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints professes to have these gifts of the spirit. The Church of Christ does not.
The Rest of the Paragraphs.- I’m afraid that, as with his lack of knowledge of Clement, Mr. LaCoste’s ignorance of “The Assumption of Moses” does him no credit. It wouldn’t be so bad if he simply hadn’t heard of these things. It’s the way in which he flaunts his ignorance that is so disquieting.
Mr. La Coste writes, “Mormonism is notorious for creating books which never existed.” Well, Mormonism did not create all the books of Scripture that are missing from the Bible. The Bible did that all by itself, as I demonstrated at length in my previous installment.
Then, Mr. La Coste gives us the heartening statement, “Let’s clear up this ‘missing book’ mystery shall we?” Sad to say, Mr. La Coste does not follow through on his suggestion. He does not clear up the mystery at all. Save for the missing epistle of Jude, he doesn’t even attempt to give an explanation to this problem. Since Mr. La Coste doesn’t even mention any of the other many missing books from the Bible, I can only conclude that he concedes the issue and is at a loss to give a satisfactory answer to this problem that is so devastating to his proposition. As to Mr. La Coste’s attempt to solve the mystery of the missing epistle of Jude by showing that no such epistle existed, he once again falls into his own snare of confusing past tense with present tenses. He quotes from Jude, “I gave all diligence to write,” and then has the audacity to label this as “present tense”! I do not know where Mr. La Coste attended school, but it, might be in order to fire the English teacher at that institu tion, since he or she was apparently unable to teach Mr. L.a Coste that “gave” is the past tense of the verb “give.” Without this missing epistle of Jude or any of the other missing epistles and books mentioned previously, the Bible can in no sense be considered “complete” as Mr. La Coste claims, and his attempt to solve this mystery has only left the waters more muddied than at the outset.
Finally, we get to Mr. La Coste’s last question; the question he thinks is the death-knell to continuing revelation: “Were the Romans saved in Romans 6 and can we be saved like them today by obeying what we can read and know they obeyed?” Of course, this question has nothing to do with whether God continues to reveal his will to men from heaven. However, the straight answer to the proposed question is an unqualified, “No.” This is so because we don’t know that what we are reading is all the truth the Romans had, and Mr. La Coste has failed to bring forth one iota of evidence to show that it is. Further, we cannot “know” what “they obeyed” from the Bible alone, although Mr. La Coste likes to think he does. I think this is most clearly shown by the fact that there are over three hundred denominations of Christian churches in this country alone, all of them differing as to what the Bible says. The reason these sects are so hopelessly divided is because their interpretations of the Scripture come not from God, but are their own private inventions. This in spite of the admonition of Peter, “No Scripture is of any private interpretation” (2 Pet. 1:20). In order for an interpretation to be correct, therefore, it must be given of God. Mr. La Coste’s interpretation cannot be from God, since he claims no revelation. His interpretation can therefore only be “private,” showing that not only does he proceed contrary to Peter’s warning, but also that Mr. La Coste cannot know what the Romans obeyed, and the means whereby they were saved solely by means of his private interpretation of the Scriptures. Indeed, this has been the problem with Protestantism all along. They pick up the Bible and try to recreate what their private interpretations tell them once existed. They then proclaim their new “church” to be the true church of Christ. This is foolishness. It is as if to say that one could attempt to duplicate Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper,” and once completed, to claim to have created an original work by Da Vinci! No, Mr. La Coste, the only person who can create the Church of Christ is Christ himself, not Alexander Campbell or any other man. Men, through searching, cannot find out God. God must reveal himself to mankind or remain forever unknown. How long will it take for Mr. La Coste to understand the deep import of the Psalmist’s declaration, “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it” (Psa. 127:1)? But the Lord has built his house again, and restored his true church to the earth. He did it himself, through a prophet of God, the same way he always operated in biblical times. That church is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his prophet was Joseph Smith.
Mr. La Coste has failed to establish his proposition that “The Bible is the complete and final revelation of God to mankind.” He did not establish all the necessary elements of his case, and the few meager arguments he did bring forth have been completely controverted. I am grateful for this opportunity to defend the true gospel of Jesus Christ, and to the editor of this publication for allowing me the opportunity to share my views. I welcome any comments and questions.
Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 23, pp. 722-725
December 6, 1990