Monday, February 10, 2014

The Most Correct Book Ever Ignored

I've been reading Daymon Smith's "A Cultural History of The Book of Mormon". Very interesting, and highly relevant if your interested in the Book of Mormon, and Gospel studies. Here is his site.

So much of what is regarded as "fact" universally by latter day saints are actually traditions.  And often they are traditions not fully based on the book they claim to be based on. What is believed about the text, and what the Book of Mormon text actually says are often different. Latter Day Saint word usage and vocabulary has come to mean something almost entirely different than the words meant to early saints.

Words in the Book of Mormon have had modern traditional definitions overlaid on top of them to the point when we read the book we are hardly reading anything other than our own traditions. The text is essentially still "sealed" due to the stone we are stumbling over which we are blind to. All the while thinking it's some other "gentile" group who are the unenlightened stumbling folks who are in need of repentance and the Book of Mormon.

An example of this is the word "dispensation". The term is meant by Mormons is to mean "age" or "epoch". The bible dictionary (which is not scripture, yet somehow found it's way into scripture..) seems to confirm this. Typically in speech we all are familiar that we live in the "last" dispensation which of course in the mind of the saints refers to the time from Joseph Smith until "now" and it's the last one, meaning there can't be any more dispensations.  

However that too is more tradition and culture than fact or history. In the minds of early saints and likely scripture authors by “dispensation” they generally meant, “something dispensed,” rather than an “age” or “epoch”. Joseph Smith did have "something dispensed" to him, and doesn't each saint have the same privilege? Albeit on a personal level. This changes the entire picture. Rather than sitting back and enjoying "our dispensation", it suddenly puts all the responsibility on each individual to actually have something dispensed to them from heaven.

And "last" isn't required to men "concluding" and "absolutely cannot be another one" as tradition in LDS culture would have us believe.  The word last may just mean "last" as in "most recent". We read our traditions into the text and then ascribe meaning to it and then consider it commonsense fact. In most cases it seems this causes us to stumble rather than become enlightened.

As Daymon sums it up:

"I suspect that what was true of them (referring to the early saints) is also true of most Latter-day Saints today. They did not often sit down and read the Book of Mormon; but instead scrounged around in it for parts to plug or jam into whatever system, theology, tradition, institutional program, or personal agenda they were running across its pages."

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