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Dave: Where are going with this? The D&C singles out the Book of Mormon and says the Church is under "condemnation" if they do not study that particular book. It also says the Book of Mormon "throws greater views" upon the gospel than the Bible. Since Pres. Benson's time, a new pattern has emerged in General Conference. Some of the apostles actually cite the Book of Mormon more frequently in their talks than they do the New Testament or the D&C. I take this as a sign that, since the late 1980s, the Church has been giving the Book of Mormon more weight than the Bible.

Sterling, thanks for the comment. If there was really "a new pattern" and if individual members of the Church were really under "condemnation" for not studying the Book of Mormon as regularly as you have in mind, I'm sure that would be reflected in the temple recommend questions. And I think the Articles of Faith accurately depict both the Bible and the Book of Mormon as equally important scripture for the Church.

Just as 2 Ne. 29:6 warns against overreliance on the Bible, so one can swing to the other extreme and place overreliance on the Book of Mormon to the detriment of the Bible. That approach also strengthens the hand of those who depict Mormons as not Christian.

Dave,

I agree with you that the keystone commentary is only a metaphor. Clearly the Book of Mormon is a book and not a keystone; but, I believe the rest of the Prophet Joseph's statement:

1. It is the most correct Book on the earth;

2. A person can get closer to God by following its precepts than by any other Book.

can be taken literally. What do you make of the Church's modification in the Book of Mormon introduction deleting the reference to the Bible containing the fullness of the Gospel?

Dave: What do you think of these "keystone" quotes?

Ezra Taft Benson: "There will be more people saved in the kingdom of God—ten thousand times over—because of the Book of Mormon than there will be because of the Bible."

Bruce R. McConkie: "Almost all of the doctrines of the gospel are taught in the Book of Mormon with much greater clarity and perfection than those same doctrines are revealed in the Bible. Anyone who will place in parallel columns the teachings of these two great books on such subjects as the atonement, plan of salvation, gathering of Israel, baptism, gifts of the Spirit, miracles, revelation, faith, charity, (or any of a hundred other subjects), will find conclusive proof of the superiority of the Book of Mormon teachings."

For what it's worth, Noel Reynolds has documented the "new pattern" that Sterling talks about in "The Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon in the Twentieth Century," BYU Studies 38, no. 2 (1999): 6-47.

Guy, that's interesting. I missed that part of the recent discussion on changes to the BoM Introduction in the Doubleday edition.

The could have made the change to the "fulness of the everlasting gospel" claim just to avoid raising the contrast between the Bible and the Book of Mormon in the edition that is, seemingly, targeted at readers who are not LDS. FWIW, the Introduction posted at LDS.org has not been updated for either of the noted changes.

Dave: FWIW, only the English Intro has not been updated. Foreign-language intros on lds.org do not contain the phrase "as does the Bible." See here and here.

Sorry, my links should take you to comments #2 and #13.

Sterling, I think those quotes fail to reflect the LDS belief that we believe the Bible to be the word of God.

I enjoy Elder McConkie's direct and confident style of address, but often he seems to make the scriptures conform to his opinions rather than the other way around. Rather than quote Elder McConkie on the "superiority" of the Book of Mormon, present LDS leaders would simply talk about how central Jesus Christ is to the LDS faith and how the Book of Mormon can bring a person closer to Jesus Christ. If there's a "new pattern" in LDS discourse, Elder Ballard is the best example of it, not Elder McConkie.

Guy,

while I think those two claims by Joseph Smith can be taken literally, what those claims 'literally' mean can be all over the place, and become just as ambiguous and problematic as the keystone claim.

Hello,

I think that some of the dissatisfaction with the metaphor is that it is often (usually?) used as the lynchpin of the truth claims of the Church. I do not think this use is incorrect, but it doesn't seem to be the point that Joseph Smith was making when he used the metaphor. A more powerful reading is that this keystone helps bridge various gulfs--between us and God, between who we are and who we should be, between what is important and what is not in our lives. I think different people have had different experiences, but mine is that the Book of Mormon is very powerful at bridging these gulfs in my life.

The main fallacy with the Keystone metaphor is the interpretation. Joseph didn’t mean without it the church would crumble. In fact that interpretation is flawed. In an arc, if you remove any stone, the whole thing crumbles. The keystone in a arc has no more importance or weight bearing capacity than any other stone.

The Keystone (Book of Mormon) acts as a bridge. This metaphor is beautiful in it's simplicity. It brings the Bible and the current dispensation together. The fallacy is how it’s interpreted.

I find that when I have a problem with something a prophet said, either he was misquoted or I misunderstood.

Dave--I enjoy your post, however, on this particular one I think you've moved onto thin ice. The declaration that the church is under condemnation for treating lightly the BoM is not so easily set aside by merely stating that if it were so important it would be part of the temple recommend interview. I would say the temple recommend interview holds less weight than the statement in the D&C. Maybe it needs to be redone.

The Book of Mormon is central to the restoration. My experiences with the Book of Mormon have had a profound impact in my life. I see the Book of Mormon prophets as our role model in that they invite us to know Christ as they did. This message is all of the pages of the BofM. And that is why I think Joseph made the statement that a man could get nearer God via the BofM than any other book

Dave,

I do not agree that AOF 8 gives as much weight to the Bible as the Book of Mormon. It states that the Bible is the word of God "as far as it is translated correctly." That statement which is purposely seperated from the Book of Mormon casts immediate doubt and skeptisism on the Bible. It also allows one to feel that they could read the Book of Mormon without worrying about mistranslation and (as stated in the BOM) plain and precious truths being taken out.

But overall I agree that this metaphor is overstated and overused.


The frustration I have with the keystone metaphor is some gospel doctrine teachers spend half their class explaining a keystone and what its function is in architecture. After wasting up to 30 minutes explaining this they end with a short statement that the Book of Mormon is just as important.

In the end, more time is spent on describing a keystone then explaining or testifying of the Book of Mormon. And if I had a penny for everytime someone has expounded upon the keystone metaphor in the Church I would be a rich man.

Dave, using your reasoning of the temple recommend interview to weight importantance of gospel principles would lead me to assume you give more weight to tithing than service? I think your reasoning is flawed.

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