Getting into the Meat of the Word of Wisdom

Abstract: In verse 13 of the Word of Wisdom, the Lord tells us, “it is pleasing unto me that they [flesh of beasts and fowls of the air] should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine” (D&C 89:13). Judging from the variety of interpretations this single verse has inspired, it would appear to be deeply enigmatic. Interestingly, most interpretations have been put forward with little supporting evidence. This article is the first comprehensive analysis of the diverse explanations for D&C 89:13 that have been suggested since 1833. In this article, I attempt to analyze these various interpretations in light of the available evidence. Continue reading

Reading the Scriptures Geographically: Some Tools and Insights

Abstract: The purpose of this article is to provide several examples of how meaning, understanding, and interpretation of scriptures may be enhanced when scriptures are read in their geographical context.  Many scholarly articles seek exclusively to break new ground in meaning and meaning-making, to essentially produce new knowledge.  This article hopes to break new ground both in terms of new knowledge (insights) as well as in the pragmatics of giving readers additional tools and opportunities for exploring the scriptures in fresh ways.  In particular, this article will also highlight several free geographical tools that can improve one’s learning with the scriptures, with particular focus on Google Earth and the BYU scriptures.byu.edu/mapscrip tool (hereafter referred to as Google Earth Bible or GEB).  The hope is that this article will, through the tools discussed, create opportunities for others to create new knowledge for themselves through scripture study. Continue reading

Restoration: A Theological Poem in the Book of Mormon

Abstract: The distinctive Mormon conception of God makes possible a logically coherent reconciliation of the facially incompatible laws of justice and mercy. The Book of Mormon prophet Alma clearly explains how these two great laws may be reconciled through the atonement and repentance that the atonement makes possible. Alma artfully illustrates the relationship between justice and mercy in a carefully crafted theological poem. Continue reading

Questioning the Comma in Verse 13 of the Word of Wisdom

Abstract: The 1921 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants included an additional comma, which was inserted after the word “used” in D&C 89:13: “And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.” Later authors have speculated that the addition of the comma was a mistake that fundamentally changed the meaning of the verse. This article examines this “errant comma theory” and demonstrates why this particular interpretation of D&C 89:13 is without merit. Continue reading

Dissenters: Portraying the Church as Wrong So They can be Right Without It

Abstract: This essay addresses the reasons many persons have left The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In particular, there are those who publicly assert the Church is not led by inspired leaders so they can feel at peace about their decision to leave it. One common argument used to justify their estrangement is the “Samuel Principle,” which ostensibly would require God to allow his followers on earth to go astray if they chose any level of unrighteousness. Problems with this interpretation are presented including examples from religious history that show that God’s primary pattern has been to call his errant followers to repentance by raising up righteous leaders to guide them. Also explored are the common historical events that dissenters often allege have caused the Church to apostatize. The notion that the Church and the “Priesthood” could be separate entities is examined as well. The observation that Church leaders continue to receive divine communication in order to fulfill numerous prophecies and that a significant number of completely devout Latter-day Saints have always existed within the Church, obviating the need for any dissenting movement, is discussed. In addition, several common scriptural proof-texts employed by some dissenters and their ultimate condition of apostasy are analyzed. Continue reading