At the start of the year, one of our Gospel Doctrine lessons touched on the Book of Mormon introduction. Of course, significant discussion revolved around the following quote from the introduction:
Concerning this record the Prophet Joseph Smith said: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”
Specifically, we discussed the idea of what a keystone is. If you haven’t seen a keystone before, here’s what one looks like (it’s at the centre of the arch):
The usual discourse involves something like removing the keystone will make the entire arch fall. But that’s not quite accurate. After all, if you remove any stone, the arch will likely fall.
What the keystone actually does is turn the arch into a load-bearing structure. Because the keystone and each voussoir (the stones of the arch) are all wedge shaped, they each transfer the thrust of the stone above it until the thrust finally transfers to the vertical supports.
When Joseph Smith said the Book of Mormon is the keystone of Mormonism, he wasn’t suggesting that the church would fall apart without it; he was suggesting that the Book of Mormon allows all the components of Mormonism to work together to support and sustain the religion.