Monday, April 12, 2010

We Need to Teach the Actual Promise in Moroni 10:4

In order to get to the promise in Moroni 10:4, one should have read the entire Book of Mormon. I have a hard time when members or missionaries jump to that invitation after just a few select passages; it should be the culmination of reading the entire book. If someone has shown their sincere effort to “investigate” by reading that much, at the very least they have exercised a degree of faith (at least desire, as described in Alma 32:27) in that process.

Next, when you look at Moroni 10:3 the key is to “remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.” The key word is “remember” - and that remembrance can be of the mercies of God in ANY people’s history. Once the reader remembers God’s mercy to others (including their own ancestors/people), they are told to ponder and pray about what they have read - which is FULL of references to and teachings about Christ. Hence, if one exercises enough faith to read the book, then remembers God’s mercy, then ponders the words of the Christ-focused book and prays about it - then they can pray with real intent, having faith in Christ, even if their own ancestral heritage does not include Him.

I believe we short-circuit the process of the exercise of faith by introducing the promise too early and jumping to “pray about it” without inviting the reader to follow the prerequisite steps laid out in the invitation itself - especially if the reader is not Christian.

6 comments:

Christy said...

I love the Book of Mormon because it so clearly portrays Christ's hand in the lives of men (meaning all people). To not read the entire book is to miss out on too much. The one thing about Moroni's promise that bothers me is the expectation of how one will receive that confirmation. There is a very good article in the New Era (March, maybe?) about one person's experience that teaches us that confirmation comes in different ways.

Papa D said...

Actually, Christy, there is no mention of how the confirmation will be received in the Book of Mormon itself. All it says is "by the power of the Holy Ghost" - which could be in many different ways by many different people.

For example, my second point about Moroni 10:3-5 (after the one in this post) is that Oliver Cowdery's "burning in the bosom" is NOT mentioned as how we will receive that answer - but that is the default that too many missionaries teach as "the one true answer method" to investigators.

Rich Alger said...

It never felt quite right to me to focus so soon on prayer over reading the whole Book of Mormon. When I recall the most powerful conversions, Parley P Pratt, Vinchenzo (Both from the "How Rare a Possesion") They both read the whole book through. They then received a witness of its truthfulness.

I know that I received a witness before I read it through all the way on my own. I do not remember it being emphasized to read the whole thing by me leaders.

After reading this article I searched lds.org for "Morni's Promise" The first result was Gene R. Cook, “Moroni’s Promise,” Ensign, Apr 1994, 12

"When we receive the teachings of the Book of Mormon in the way that Moroni intended, we ponder the “things” that we are receiving; thus, as outlined in verse 4, we prepare ourselves to accept answers from our Heavenly Father."

I guess it is possible to receive the teachings of the Book of Mormon without reading the whole thing.

I really liked the way the article talked about receiving the Book of Mormon. I also liked how it distinguished between an academic proof and how we are to seek a confirmation of truth already in our hearts.

Papa D said...

Thanks for that input, Rich.

Just to make this clear, I am not saying people can't pray about the Book of Mormon before reading it cover to cover, nor am I saying the promise shouldn't be mentioned until they are at that point in reading it. I'm saying, more than anything else, that we lose the power of the Book of Mormon when it is used primarily as a doctrinal proof text - rather than as a witness of Jesus, the Christ.

When people are introduced to a few doctrinal passages here and there and then told to pray about it (especially when they also are told they will received a burning in their bosoms when they pray about it), I believe we are short-circuiting and mis-representing the actual promise of the book itself.

Thomas Parkin said...

It's even worse than that. They are expected to pray after the briefest exposure and get an experience so powerful that they can use it to circumnavigate any itellectual difficulty they encounter for the rest of their lives. It's bogus, of course. It totally ignores the reality that, as Jospeh said, one 'grows' into the prcinciple of revelation. And Ray is absoutely right (as usual) that actually reading the scripture is the best place to disarm the bad expectations.

Which, of course, doesn't mean that people can't get answers to prayers, and even remarkable wexperiences, on very little exposure - or even before they've had any exposure.

I'm feeling a little feisty. ~

Rich Alger said...

I agree with you both. As we direct ourselves and others to the Book of Mormon as a witness for Jesus Christ, that is where you see the power.

That witness comes best as you feast upon its words not just nibbles.