Scripture is writing inspired by God’s Spirit and accepted by the church as the normative expression of its identity, message, and mission. As a prophetic people who regularly add to the canon through continuing revelation, scripture provides divine guidance and inspired insight for life when responsibly interpreted and faithfully applied. Scripture articulates a vision of peace, challenges unjust conditions, and comforts and grounds us during difficult times.
Community of Christ affirms the Bible as the foundational scripture for the church. In addition, Community of Christ uses the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants as scripture.
Community of Christ members hold a variety of perspectives on scripture. For example, the Church does not take a position on Book of Mormon origins, whether it is Mesoamerican or a product of the nineteenth century, and individual beliefs are not a test of faith or fellowship. In the midst of diverse views, however, scripture provides a common fund of stories and promises, messages and morals. Regardless of historicity, we are connected by scripture's content, as our common language.
The statement entitled "Scripture in Community of Christ", reminds us that the meaning of scripture does not hinge on whether it is literally true in every sense or instance. We do not read scripture as a history book. From a reading of Genesis, some might insist that the world was literally created in six days, or humans have only lived on the earth for six thousand years. A non-literal reading of the same passage might consider that God called everything "very good" (Gen. 1:21), revealing there is beauty and worth in everything, especially when we reflect and restore God's vision for creation.
Moving beyond literal, black-and-white readings of scripture can be frightening and liberating. When we read scripture with new eyes, we can find hope for transformation and new life in the miracle stories—even as we encounter our own doubts. Responsibly interpreting difficult readings which portray violence, racism, and sexism forces us to wrestle with the text and ultimately learn from it.
Reading outside of a literal framework helps us discover the overarching message of scripture, rather than proof texting doctrines by stringing together verses from different books of scripture. When we read scripture in its totality, we find that the message is love realized through justice. Reading all scripture through the lens of God's love as revealed in Jesus Christ and affirmed by the Spirit liberates the meaning of the text.
From a recent revelation, Doctrine & Covenants 163 tells us this about scripture:
7 a. Scripture is an indispensable witness to the Eternal Source of light and truth, which cannot be fully contained in any finite vessel or language. Scripture has been written and shaped by human authors through experiences of revelation and ongoing inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the midst of time and culture.
b. Scripture is not to be worshiped or idolized. Only God, the Eternal One of whom scripture testifies, is worthy of worship. God’s nature, as revealed in Jesus Christ and affirmed by the Holy Spirit, provides the ultimate standard by which any portion of scripture should be interpreted and applied.
c. It is not pleasing to God when any passage of scripture is used to diminish or oppress races, genders, or classes of human beings. Much physical and emotional violence has been done to some of God’s beloved children through the misuse of scripture. The church is called to confess and repent of such attitudes and practices.
d. Scripture, prophetic guidance, knowledge, and discernment in the faith community must walk hand in hand to reveal the true will of God. Follow this pathway, which is the way of the Living Christ, and you will discover more than sufficient light for the journey ahead.