Is the Book of Mormon really the keystone of Mormonism?

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):

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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.

Book of Mormon Bankruptcy Exemption

Though perhaps slightly esoteric in nature, I found this tidbit of information about Illinois law mildly interesting. (Perhaps the most interesting part is how she acquired the book in the first place.)

The U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a rare and valuable first edition copy of the Book of Mormon was eligible for bankruptcy exemption under a personal property exemption statute which allows “exemption for a bible”.

On February 25, 2013 Ms. Anna F. Robinson filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition seeking to reprieve $23,834.00 in debt. Among her personal property, Ms. Robinson included an “old Morm[o]n bible” of unknown value which she acquired while cleaning a storage area at work and was given permission to keep any of the old books she found. From the Seventh Court’s ruling:

Ms. Robinson testified that, in 2003, while employed at the local public library, she made an agreement with the library director that, if she cleaned out a storage area, she could use the area as an office and keep any books she found. While cleaning, Ms. Robinson found the Book of Mormon and later had it authenticated as an 1830 first edition Book of Mormon, one of only 5,000 copies printed by Joseph Smith. At the time, it was valued at $10,000.00. Ms. Robinson explained that she stores the Book of Mormon in a Ziploc bag to preserve it. She does not use it regularly, but does take it out occasionally to show her children and fellow church members.

The bankruptcy court denied the exemption citing the fact that she had other copies of the Book of Mormon, but the district court reversed the ruling:

RIPPLE, Circuit Judge. Anna F. Robinson filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition in the Southern District of Illinois seeking a discharge of unsecured debts. Ms. Robinson claimed an exemption for a rare, first edition Book of Mormon under the Illinois personal property exemption statute, 735 ILCS 5/12- 1001(a), which provides an exemption for a bible. The bankruptcy court denied the exemption, but the district court re- versed. Because we agree with the district court that the plain wording of the Illinois personal property exemption statute allows the exemption for Ms. Robinson’s Book of Mormon, we affirm the district court’s judgment.

The thought that expensive bibles (or in this case a rare Book of Mormon) can be used to disrupt bankruptcy laws made me wonder if it’s possible to skirt the law by running up debt, moving to Illinois, buying up tons of expensive bibles and then declaring bankruptcy.

Nope, at least not if it’s done less than 6 months before the filing, according to the Illinois Legislative Reference Bureau:

If a debtor owns property exempt under this Section and he or she purchased that property with the intent of converting nonexempt property into exempt property or in fraud of his or her creditors, that property shall not be exempt from judgment, attachment, or distress for rent. Property acquired within 6 months of the filing of the petition for bankruptcy shall be presumed to have been acquired in contemplation of bankruptcy.

The image above from wikimedia is a photograph of the 1841 First European (London) edition of the Book of Mormon, at the Springs Preserve museum, Las Vegas, Nevada.

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27 things in the Mormon Church’s new articles I never learned growing up

Over the past year or so, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been releasing articles on particular topics through their website.

I have personally found several of the articles encouraging because they cover things I never learned growing up: things I learned only as an adult and only through blogs, podcasts, and anti-Mormon websites.

I don’t know why I never learned these things. What I do know is that I never learned them in Primary, Sunday School, Aaronic Priesthood classes, Seminary, or Institute, or even on my mission. I never read them in a church magazine (although recently a handful of them have appeared in Ensign issues) or lesson manuals.

I present below several recent articles and direct quote from each showing facts and ideas I had to learn through non-official channels. Continue reading 27 things in the Mormon Church’s new articles I never learned growing up

You’ll never view the strait and narrow path the same again

I gave the lesson in Family Home Evening tonight. I decided to use the opportunity to show our children how they had been looking at the strait and narrow path from the wrong perspective.

It’s not their fault. After all, they view it the same way as most everyone does and how it is portrayed in popular LDS art. A careful reading of the scriptures, however, shows us that the most popular conception of the strait and narrow path is an assumption we have made, which has no scriptural support.

To see the strait and narrow path from a new perspective, we must use a scripture chain.  Continue reading You’ll never view the strait and narrow path the same again

What about the Samites?

Before the Book of Mormon prophet Jacob popularized the terms Nephites and Lamanites to refer to the two Book of Mormon peoples, various names were used to refer to the peoples.

>”Now the people which were not Lamanites were Nephites; nevertheless, they were called Nephites, Jacobites, Josephites, Zoramites, Lamanites, Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites.” (Jacob 1:13)

So why isn’t Sam listed? Jacob and Joseph are. Laman and Lemuel are. All of Nephi’s brothers are except for Sam.

Any thoughts?

This people

While reading last night in the Book of Mormon, I came across two interesting verses.

“For behold, we will not have him to be our ruler; for it belongs unto us, who are the elder brethren, to rule over this people.” (2 Ne 5:3)

“I, Nephi, did take my family, and also Zoram and his family, and Sam, mine elder brother and his family, and Jacob and Joseph, my younger brethren, and also my sisters, and all those who would go with me.” (2 Ne 5:6)

Does it seem odd to anyone else that Laman and Lemuel would refer to their family, which amounted to fewer than 20 adults and a handful of children, as “this people”? Why would Nephi add “and all those who would go with me” when he had already listed everyone we would have thought would go with him.

Isaiah and Hypocrisy

You know, reading through Isaiah can be intimidating. Downright slogging even. Which is why I was not looking forward with anticipation as I finished reading 1 Ne 19 a couple of weeks ago. I was confident my new method of scripture study would help me through the Isaiah chapters of the Book of Mormon. And have they.

Take 1 Ne 20:1-2 for example.

Hearken and hear this, O house of Jacob, who are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, or out of the waters of baptism, who swear by the name of the Lord, and make mention of the God of Israel, yet they swear not in truth nor in righteousness. Nevertheless, they call themselves of the holy city, but they do not stay themselves upon the God of Israel, who is the Lord of Hosts . . .

Prior to this, I would have slogged through it. I am glad I didn’t though. What a strong statement on hypocrisy. Made me cringe just thinking what possibly I might have been doing hypocritically.