A Different Way of Looking at our Scriptural Canon

I’ve always been very fond of our three volumes of scripture.  For  that reason, I have often wondered if each has a distinct theme, intent,  or purpose.  Beyond the obvious.  After all, we can clearly see that  the Bible introduces us to the person whose church we belong to.  The  Book of Mormon is said to have, at least as part of it’s purpose, the  function of helping to clarify the Bible.  And clearly, the Doctrine and  Covenants provides a lot of instruction on administrative issues; and  it also provides modern guidance.

But is there any other role  that each has?  I finally have come to realize that indeed, there is.   And this realization dawned on me as I noted some common ground in some  things that a few of the pastors in my area have been talking about.   About once every month or so, I participate in a meeting of all the CofC  pastors in my area. And I’ve noticed that one of them keeps talking  about communities. Church communities. Building sacred communities.

And I’ve also noticed that another keeps talking about relationships.  The importance of, and basic need to form real, meaningful relationships  with people.

Now, as I heard both of them talk about these  things, which occurred on different occasions, and not at the same time,  I heard them, as is so often the case, in isolation.

But one  day, I was thinking about a concept that I’ve been talking about a great  deal this year, in my congregation: invitation. The ministry and  blessing of invitation. And then the Holy Spirit brought it all  together. I suddenly recalled what my fellow pastors had mentioned,  often just in passing, so many times at our meetings. And I realized  that the three things that we have each been talking about, form a three  fold model. They go together.

Invitation will of course lead  to relationships being formed. Relationships, as they develop and  multiply, will ensure that community building takes place. And as the  community grows, the more potential there will be to have things to  invite people to.   And this is when I realized, that these three  concepts, invitation, relationships, and community building, form the  backbones of our three volumes of scripture.

You see, at the  heart of the Holy Bible, is God’s invitation. When we consider the  Gospels, and the rest of the New Testament, it is quite clear that the  entire second half of the Bible is all about invitation: To follow Jesus  Christ. That is the continual theme throughout the entire New  Testament: invitation.  But it’s mirrored in the Old Testament. In that  record we see God is inviting people to be civil, to be people of faith,  and to be responsible. The New Testament, by inviting us to follow God  through Christ, invites us to be people of charity, faith, and peace.  So, the entire Bible can be summed up as God’s invitation.

The  Doctrine and Covenants, perhaps more clearly seen in the 160s, but  scattered throughout all the Sections, has ample passages that focus on  how we respond to each other. The Doctrine and Covenants is all about  establishing relationships.

The Book of Mormon is, from start  to finish, a testimony of community building. That is what the Book of  Mormon is all about. Community!  Community building. Quite literally!  That is almost all that the Nephites did. They established spiritual  gatherings, and they physically built camps, villages, towns and cities.  And the spiritual gatherings and the domestic settlements were  generally one-and-the same: they built Zionic communities. And they did  so over and over. They were continually assaulted with hardships,  trials, tribulations, internal corruption, descent and all manner of  setbacks. But, somehow, they kept moving forward.

The church  has no greater scriptural example of community building than the Book of  Mormon. No greater focus on relationships, than the Doctrine and  Covenants. No greater invitation than what is found in the Holy Bible  (and of course, there is some overlap).  As these three themes are so  prominent in our three volumes of scripture, they *must* be modeled in  our discipleship. Our covenants with Jesus Christ must be founded on  these concepts.

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2 comments on “A Different Way of Looking at our Scriptural Canon

  1. John Hamer says:

    I like this focus. In our neighboring congregation, we’re focusing for the next year on the Book of Mormon. Right now in Sunday School, we’re reading Alan Tyree’s new book “Millions Call It Scripture: The Book of Mormon in the 21st Century.” This is in preparation for 2014, when we’ll be reading the Book of Mormon itself as a congregation. I’ll be posting a schedule here and also weekly observations.

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