Periodicals; Mormons; Religious thought; Philosophy and religion
Independent national quarterly established to express Mormon culture and examine the relevance of religion to secular life. It is edited by Mormons who wish to bring their faith into dialogue with human experience as a whole and to foster artistic and scholarly achievement based on their cultural heritage. The journal encourages a variety of viewpoints; although every effort is made to insure accurate scholarship and responsible judgment, the views expressed are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Mormon Church or of the editors.
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Dialogue: Vol 19 No 1
Sign or Scripture: Approaches to the Book of Mormon
Sign or Scripture: Approaches to the Book of Mormon A. Bruce Lindgren does discussion of the Book of Mormon typically tend to focus on questions of its historicity and authorship, on Mesoamerican archeology, chiasmus, and wordprints? These subjects are certainly valid and worth pursuing, but I find a more personally relevant question to be: How does the Book of Mormon present the basic doctrines of the gospel? What role should the Book of Mormon play in our religious and intellectual lives? Is it a sign of the divine origin of the Restoration movement or is it scripture? Do we use it as a weapon to convince doubters of the truth of our position or as a source for our own reflection on the meaning and truthfulness of our religious teaching? When I talk about using the Book of Mormon as a sign, I refer to the tendency to use it to demonstrate the divine origin of the Latter Day Saint/ Latter-day Saint movement or to demonstrate that Joseph Smith, Jr., was a prophet.1 It is not necessarily inappropriate to use the Book of Mormon in this way, provided the claims can be substantiated. Nevertheless, using the Book of Mormon as a sign is different from using it as scripture. The term "scripture" is, at once, more precise and more difficult. In one sense, scripture simply consists of those writings defined as such by the Church (meaning both RLDS and LDS churches). Beyond this rather circular definition, however, the term becomes somewhat murky. The Church defines scripture to establish some kind of ultimate doctrinal authority. The New Testament canon, for example, was initially defined to counter the canon established by the heretic Marcion. Thus, to fix the canon was to establish doctrinal orthodoxy in an authoritative way. A. BRUCE LINDGREN is a staff executive in the Temple School at the RLDS Headquarters in Independence, Missouri. He holds an M. Diu. degree from Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City. 1 Tillich would argue that the Book of Mormon should be classified as a symbol rather than a sign since it can be seen as participating in the reality to which it points (1959, 54-56).