Monday, April 27, 2015

Moroni's Promise: "True" Doesn't Have to Mean" "Factually Accurate in Every Detail"

Based on the wording of Moroni 10:3-5, Moroni's invitation is about gaining a spiritual witness, not an intellectual one. That is an important distinction, and it is worth considering carefully.

Verse 3 focuses intensely on looking back in time and recognizing how merciful God has been to his children throughout time - then pondering that mercy.  It doesn't ask the reader to ponder what the Book of Mormon has said up to that point; rather, it asks the reader to ponder God's long-suffering mercy.

Focusing on God's mercy puts the reader's prayer directly into the realm of asking if the Book of Mormon is "true" in a spiritual sense - more like "true north" than "factually inerrant". Given how often the book includes comments about overlooking the mistakes in it and the weakness of its writers, I think that's not accidental. Thus, the prayer request becomes less, "Tell me if this book is historically accurate," and more, "Be merciful to me, as you have been to others throughout time, and answer my prayer." It's more of a connection to the divine than receipt of a factual answer - and I believe too many members and missionaries approach it as more of an intellectual question that asks if the details in the book are "accurate / right".

I think that simple difference is more than just significant.


Clean Cut said...


I also like this thought:

“Completely verifiable facts can always be combined into narratives that produce false ideas. We call this propaganda. Conversely, acknowledged fictions can be assembled into narratives that convey profound – and true – insights to those who read them."

-Dr Michael Austin, “Re-reading Job,” pg 19, 20

Rosalie Erekson Stone said...

You put it so well, Papa D. I also agree with the Austin quote Clean Cut posted. I’ve been musing about “truth” lately, and how we use that word to mean many things--so much more than just “facts.”