Sunday, May 24, 2009

1 Ne 8 - 11
These are big chapters in the Book of Mormon. Lehi's vision (which is amazingly similar to a vision received by Joseph Smith Senior), and the Cliff's notes version of the Gospel of Jesus Christ revealed to Nephi.

I'm certainly not going to post about this every day, but it's interesting to consider the "feel" of the Book of Mormon, just starting out. It's a little jarring to ping between General Conference, which focuses so much on modern prophets and micro-organizing our personal behavior, and the Book of Mormon, which is ultimately about our personal relationship with God and how we respond to him. Do we turn towards God, repent, and keep the commandments, or do we go our own way?

These four chapters are vintage "restoration" chapters. Not about the restoration of priesthood authority, as we like to spin it today, but they center on God talking to man through the spirit and through the visitations and teaching of angels. The initial missionary message of the church was on God speaking to man again, the heavens being opened, and the advent of visions and angelic visitations, and we get all that here. God talks directly to Nephi and Lehi with a message of salvation and the big-picture themes of the gospel. He's not concerned with authority, empowering institutions, how many times a day we pray and what language we use, paying tithing, looking at pornography on the emerging metal plate technology, or the wearing of modest animal skins and tunics. The global scope of this whole thing are communicated, and then they can figure out the small stuff on their own.

It's also interesting to consider the clarity with which Nephi is instructed relative to John the Baptist, Mary, and the details of the life of Jesus. It's like, once again, the Cliff's Notes version of Matthew. We get bits and pieces of this in Isaiah and Jeremiah, but nothing like this.

Does that mean Joseph Smith made it up? Does that mean he was inspired to record this as confirmation of the biblical account? Does that mean there really was a guy named Nephi who really had these visions? If so, why don't we get this clarity in the Old Testament? Were the accounts really corrupted in transmission? Interesting to think about.

It's really enlightening to read the Book of Mormon this way, because these are themes I can relate to that I think really do work together with the Bible to increase faith. I still don't think the modern LDS church really presents the gospel this way anymore. Sad, because it's the one I want.

1 comment:

C. L. Hanson said...

You should really check out the Community of Christ. I'm not a member of that church, but from what I know about it, I think it's very close to the LDS experience that you're looking for.

Have a look at their new blog!