Friday, October 14, 2011
I support scripture study. I have one memory of an actual scripture study by a church leader. It was by Elder Todd Christofferson when I was a missionary in Paraguay. Strangely, I don't recall many other instances of church leaders doing a scripture study with an audience. We like talks, we love touching stories, but scripture studies are less common than fuzzy stories it seems. Large scale teaching methods by the church oddly do not include much scripture reading or study. We more talk about them. Or take some isolated verse and then use it to back up the point WE are attempting to make.
I think an old fashioned scripture study would be enjoyable in General Conference, or any group setting. Anyone agree? Maybe where the speaker begins with one scripture, and spends the entirety of the talk on the words, doctrine, phrases, of perhaps just one verse of scripture. Using the scripture and it's words to teach the principles, rather than teaching a principle, doctrine, or idea and then using various scriptures as support or evidence for their chosen topic. Perhaps this is done to a small degree, but not as directly as I'm talking about. What if we had a weekly "scripture study with an apostle" broadcast? We have the "Music and the Spoken word". I personally would be excited for a "Scripture study, and the Written Word".
Lots of approaches can be beneficial, but I see hardly any plain scripture study. I suppose the thinking is that scripture study is for smaller settings like Seminary, Sunday school, or Institute. But very few of us get to hear any of the General Authorities in such settings. Even in those settings the outline has sometimes large segments of scripture or entire books lumped into one lesson which again has it's own agenda to get through. I for one think it would be very very interesting and enjoyable to see maybe two or three from the Quorum of the 12 at conference do an actual scripture study in front of everyone. Ask us to open our scriptures right then and there, and show how one can read the scriptures with the Spirit, finding depth, and joy in them. Identifying the light that exists in the scriptures themselves. I don't recall ever having been invited to open my scriptures in such settings.
I wonder what the response would be if there were a particular segment of the conference sessions designated to this. Imagine a 2 hour block of speakers reading one or two verses word by word, carefully, pausing to talk, discuss, and learn. Maybe the Saturday afternoon session. Living prophets opening up the scriptures to us with a direct scripture study session.....what a great thing that would be.
Studying the words and phrases and historical context of the scripture itself could never be a bad thing. Citing scriptures that simply relate to a chosen topic is good, but what if we did it the other way around once in a while? Taking the scripture as the guide. It's kind of the same as current trends, but also very different. I think this could show how exciting and life giving the Book of Mormon and God's word really can be.