The Latter-day Saints and their Scriptures

A lot is being written about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints these days since Gov. Mitt Romney has (almost) nailed the Republican nomination for president. There probably never has been more attention given to the LDS Church — sometimes called Mormon — in modern times.

Latter-day Saints share some beliefs with Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants, but they are not a Protestant church. The church’s teachings are drawn from its founder, Joseph Smith Jr., in the 1820s. While the Latter-day Saints have the Bible (the King James Version) as one of their foundational books, they also consider three other books core to their beliefs: the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and The Pearl of Great Price.

Outside of LDS and academic circles, not much is known about how these three books and how they are regarded in the daily lives and religious practice of Latter-day Saints.

In an Aug. 8 essay, “The Bible Plus,” in The Christian Century, Kathleen Flake, associate professor of American religious history at Vanderbilt University, explains the three books of LDS Scripture, how they came to be and how they relate to the Old and New Testaments of the Christian Bible.

A Latter-day Saint herself, Flake is no stranger to the Catholic Church. She holds a masters degree in religious studies from The Catholic University of America.