A number of years ago my family and I took a trip to New England with my wife’s parents. On that trip we took the opportunity to visit Boston, Massachusetts. In Boston we took the time to go to the intersection of Devonshire and State Streets. Unlike many historical locations, this “spot” is well documented as the place where the “Boston Massacre” took place. This tragic event that took place in 1770, has been seen as one of the events foreshadowing the breakout of the Revolutionary War some five years later. As a young boy I was taught about this “massacre” and the only thing I took with me to adulthood, from its story-line, was that the British were at fault and that it was a “massacre”. The word massacre implied, to me, the killing of a whole lot of innocent people. Because of this visit I took a closer look into this great historical event and found that I had most of the facts wrong, including that the British shot innocent colonials unprovoked. Only five citizens were killed by British soldiers in this exchange, but not before enduring repeated insults and after being pelted by the colonials with snowballs, oyster shells, and rocks. The “real” story is quite different from what I remember being taught as a kid regarding “The Boston Massacre.”
My above “indoctrination” as to the story of “The Boston Massacre” is also not uncommon regarding religious things. One of the religious points that has dogged me my entire life is that people I know constantly think, and tell me, that I don’t believe in the Bible. They have the impression that “The Book of Mormon” replaces the Bible in our religion. The church is dutifully trying to teach our neighbors about who we are, so that common “misconceptions” can be corrected. In a blog written by Michael Otterson, head of public affairs for the church, and published in the “On Faith” section of the Washington Post, he wrote:
“…where does the Bible fit in Latter-day Saint thinking? The subtitle of the Book of Mormon is “Another Testament of Jesus Christ.” And it works together with the Bible to affirm and teach about him. Mormons believe that both compilations were written under the inspiration of heaven and serve us in profound ways. Most Latter-day Saint homes have at least one copy of the Bible, probably several. In homes where English is spoken, it is almost always the long-popular King James Version.
Like other Christians who have made that sacred scripture a central part of their lives, Mormons are literate and knowledgeable about the Bible. We study it a lot – in our four-year cycle of Sunday school curriculum, two years are devoted to the Bible. In addition, it is read and studied in our homes. We move from a verse in the Book of Mormon to a corresponding theme in the Bible and back again with the same ease and comfort that other Christians flick from Matthew to Mark, or Romans to Hebrews. To us, the word of God is the word of God, and having the Book of Mormon delivers insight and understanding of the Bible in the same way that the revelation to the apostle John enhances the gospel of Luke.”
The above quote is true and should help in teaching our neighbors that we love the Bible and it’s teachings. I think I might have been making a mistake in assuming that people of other religions already know I am a believer in the Bible. Oft times they don’t. I want them to know that we have “common ground” and that they should feel comfortable in knowing that we share their core belief that Jesus is the Christ and that He is our personal Savior and Redeemer. And of our belief, that it is only through His name that we can be saved.
Religion, like history, can be interpreted and told different ways. We need to make sure that our neighbors know that, while we hold the Book of Mormon to be sacred writ, let us not forget to also bear powerful testimony of the Bible and of its fundamental role in the foundation of the church, lest our neighbors make a mistake of biblical proportions regarding our beliefs.