From Darkness Unto Light: Joseph Smith’s Translation and Publication of the Book of Mormon by Michael Hubbard MacKay and Gerrit J. Dirkmaat
Opening the Heavens: Accounts of Divine Manifestations 1820-1844 Edited by John W. Welch
The Amish Way: Patient Faith in a Perilous World by Donald B. Kraybill, Steven M. Nolt and David L. Weaver-Zercher
Approaching Antiquity: Joseph Smith and the Ancient World Edited by Lincoln H. Blumell, Matthew J. Grey, and Andrew J. Hedges (Chapters 3&4)
Many of the questions that I pose, have come from, or are adapted from James E. Faulconer’s book, The Doctrine and Covenants Made Harder
What do we learn about Jesus Christ and how does what we learn change us?
D&C 3 —
Verse 1— Why can’t the works of God come to naught? God’s Foreknowledge—The scriptures clearly teach that God knows all things. The Encyclopedia of Mormonism’s article about the Foreknowledge of God
Cross reference 2 Nephi 9:20; Alma 26:35; D&C38:2; Abraham 2:8
Words of Mormon 1:6-7—Mormon inserts the writings of Nephi—D&C10:43-45
D&C130:7—all things, past present and future are continually before God’s eyes. Is this why God has all knowledge and yet does not impinge our agency–because all things are present before him?
What does it mean that we cannot frustrate them? If we cannot, does that mean that what we do is inconsequential—that if we do not do it, it will get done anyway? If so, why isn’t it irrelevant whether we do them or not?
Why should we pray, then? D&C 10:5
Verse 4: In what ways do we boast in our own strength? Do we ever do so implicitly rather than explicitly, without thinking that we are doing it?
How do we set at naught the counsels of God? Is there a difference between boasting in our own strength and setting his counsels at naught?
What is wrong with following after the dictates of one’s own will?—The Amish Way: Patient Faith in a Perilous World by Donald B. Kraybill, Steven M. Nolt and David L. Weaver-Zercher pg. 14, 35 “Thy will be done”
What do the scriptures mean when they speak of God’s vengeance? According to Webster’s 1828 dictionary definition it is God’s just punishment. That is why vengeance is the Lord’s because only he can mete out just punishment
Webster’s 1828 dictionary definition: The infliction of pain on another, in return for an injury or offense. Such infliction, when it proceeds from malice or more resentment, and is not necessary for the purposes of justice, is revenge, and a most heinous crime. When such infliction proceeds from a mere love of justice, and the necessity of punishing offenders for the support of the laws, it is vengeance and is warrantable and just. In this case, vengeance is a just retribution, recompense or punishment. In this latter sense the word is used in Scripture, and frequently applied to the punishments inflicted by God on sinners.
Verse 6: Do the commandments and laws of God always run counter to the “persuasions of men”? What does that phrase means? Why does the Lord use the word persuasion here?
Webster: The act of persuading; the act of influencing the mind by arguments or reasons offered, or by any thing that moves the mind or passions, or inclines the will to a determination.
Cross reference D&C 5:21-22
Cross reference D&C 20:6-7—how can the commandments inspire us?
Cross reference D&C 59:4—And they shall also be crowned with blessings from above, yea, and with commandments not a few, and with revelations in their time—they that are faithful and diligent before me.
Verse 7: How and when do we fear men more than God? How do recognize when we are doing so?
Verse 8: Notice that the Lord doesn’t promise protection from the fiery darts of the adversary, but support against them. What is the difference?
1 Nephi:15:24—hold fast to word of God and will never perish…fiery darts of adversary will not overpower them to blindness
D&c 27:17 (Ephesians 6:16) shield of faith will quench the fiery darts
Verse 9-10: Had Joseph lost his calling during the time of his sin? What might this tell us about our own callings?
What does it mean to lose one’s calling in the Church? Given what we see here, is it possible for us to do that even without having been released from that calling?
Verses 12-13—Wicked is a strong adjective to use to describe Martin Harris. We would seldom use it to describe a person like him who has been foolish. Why is it appropriate here? (verse 13 answers this question) D&C 93:39—“And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers.”
Satan is the wicked one because he takes away light and truth through disobedience.
See D&C 10: verses 20-29—What do we learn about Satan from these verses?
Are there occasions when we convince ourselves to treat God’s counsel as nothing, break our sacred promises, depend on our own judgment and boast in our own wisdom without recognizing that is what we are doing? How do we avoid making that mistake?
This is a good segue into section 5 because verses 23-28 are directly spoken to Martin Harris.
D&C Section 5
How has Martin Harris changed since the revelation of section 3? How has Joseph changed? (Consider Romans 8:28—all things work together for good to them that love God)
After the loss of the 116 pages Joseph Smith—“when God commands, do it!”
Verse 7—what does this verse say about the Book of Mormon and attempts to prove it empirically or historically?
Verse 14 cross references to Revelations 12:1-6 which speaks of the Church as being in the wilderness. What might the wilderness, the desert signify? (Is it related to the Israelite stay in the wilderness?) What does it mean that in the Restoration the church comes out of the wilderness?
What does it mean to describe the woman in the wilderness as “clear as the moon, fair as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners”?
cf—This extended metaphor comes from the Song of Solomon 6:10—and is used to describe the writer’s beloved”(Interesting because Joseph Smith said that the Song of Solomon was not inspired scripture and yet it is used two more times in the D&C– D&C 105:31; 109:73. How do I feel about that?
What is the place of the Book of Mormon in bringing the church out of the wilderness?
Verses 11-13, 15-18,24-25—What purposes do the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon serve?
Segue to Doctrine and Covenants Section 17
Verse 1: What does it mean that Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris should rely on the Lord’s word? Why is that a prerequisite for seeing the plates?
Verse 4: How will their testimony prevent Joseph from being destroyed?
Verse 7: When the Lord says the Three Witnesses have received the same power as Joseph, what does he mean? What about when he says they have received the same faith: The same gift: Do we, perhaps, have the same power, faith, and gift if we, like the witnesses, testify of the truth of the Book of Mormon?
D&C Section 10
Verse 4: How does this advice make sense to us? How can we avoid letting it become an excuse for us not to do what needs to be done?
Verses 46-52—According to these verses, what decided the contents of the Book of Mormon?
Does that suggest anything about how we ought to read it?
cross reference to D&C 20:9-12
What are the key elements that describe the Book of Mormon? How are those relevant to the testimonies of the Three witnesses? How are they relevant to our testimonies of the Book of Mormon?
What does it mean to take lightly the Book of Mormon as a covenant?
How is the Book of Mormon a covenant?
What does it mean to now only say but do what has been written? cross reference D&C 17 verse 8—What does it mean to do rather than keep a commandment?
Keep definition: “To practice; to do or perform; to obey; to observe in practice; not to neglect or violate; as, to keep the laws, statutes or commandments of God.”
Do definition:To perform; to execute; to carry into effect; to exert labor or power for brining any thing to the state desired, or to completion; or to bring any thing to pass. We say, this man does his work well; he does more in one day than some men will do in two days. To finish; to execute or transact and bring to a conclusion. The sense of completion is often implied in this verb
Verse 56: Those who do not fear the Lord will be disturbed. In this context, what does it mean to fear the Lord
Why in particular should the people mentioned in this verse fear the Lord?
The verse pairs disobeying the commandments with building up a church to get gain, etc. It is as if the two go together: those who are disobedient build churches for gain; those who build churches for gain don’t obey the commandments. Is that true only for those outside of the LDS Church, or is there some sense in which it also speaks to us: Do we ever build up the LDS church to get personal gain? Nibley’s Leaders and Managers
****Verses 57-70: We have Christ’s testimony of who is and what his work is. Do the things of which he testifies suggest things about which we, too, should bear testimony?
Verse 63 tells us that Christ has revealed the Book of Mormon”that there may not be so much contention” because Satan has created contention about Christ’s doctrines. Can you think of specific doctrinal contentions that the Book of Mormon settles?
Examine verse 70—Why does verse 70 conclude this revelation with an admonition to remember the words your Lord. In our egalitarian culture do we want a Lord, a King of Kings? Are we willing to subject ourselves to him? What does that mean to us? Humility
What did we learn about Jesus Christ and how will what we learned change us?