In Part 1 of this essay I included the excerpt below from the LDS Church’s Teacher Manual for seminary (i.e., high school aged) students. This excerpt is taken from the Book of Mormon lesson wherein the content of Jacob 2 and 3 is addressed. Readers may wonder why I didn’t include material from the lesson covering Jacob 2 and 3 in the Church’s Book of Mormon Teacher Manual for Institute (i.e., college aged) students. (I truly do hope readers wondered that. It would mean the reader is intellectually engaged in the discussion of this topic, for one thing, and that question naturally inheres in a discussion about how the LDS Church teaches difficult subjects. But in this case, the question also leads to a very interesting answer.) Continue reading
In Part 1, I argued that the specific messages of 2 Nephi 4 in the Book of Mormon go almost completely ignored in the writings and teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (hereafter, “the Church”). This chapter, which is accurately called the psalm of Nephi, contains, among other things, Nephi’s lament over his repeated susceptibility to sin and temptation, and the depression and loss of self-esteem he suffers as a result. The reader is surprised to read his words, since Nephi’s stature as a prophet of God is almost unparalleled in both the Bible and Book of Mormon. And, no part of the Book of Mormon, outside of this chapter, informs the reader of any sinfulness on his part, much less the nature of such sinfulness. Since this chapter is unique in all of scripture, and the messages in it are so crucial to our understanding of how major, persistent weaknesses and exceptional spirituality can co-exist in the greatest of individuals, one would think that its substance would be the focus of much discussion among the lay membership, church leaders and scholars of the LDS Church. It should be one of the most famous passages of scripture, and by itself, should be the subject of lessons and talks. Below, I’ll attempt to not only delve into the vital messages of this chapter that I feel have escaped public discussion, but also explain why I think the LDS Church purposely shies away from those messages.