Quick and Powerful

And so another Labor Day comes, bringing the end to summer.  May the next summer bring more jobs to those who need them, and some recovery to the household income of those who do have jobs

Now, back to the BoM. I have been wandering around in the BoM looking, from the perspective of a reader of the NT, at how the BoM uses the biblical text. Those who’ve been around for a bit know that sometimes there’s no change and sometimes there’s some significant change, usually in a fashion that makes the idea in the NT “friendlier” to a modern reader. Here we have a case in which new wine has definitely been poured into an old wineskin — and in a timely fashion, too, as Helaman 1-5 was the GD lesson on Sunday.

When the author of Hebrews wanted to exhort his readers to get with the gospel program, among other things he pointed out that the word of God is not something that can be fooled, or fooled with:

Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account. (Heb 4:12-13 NRS)

And here it is in the KJV, which is closer to the text of the BoM. Note in particular the standout phrase “quick and powerful:”

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. (Heb 4:12-13 KJV)

The basic image is that of a two-edged sword. Now we moderns don’t use swords, two-edged or otherwise, unless we’re in a real bind. And in fact, I’d be surprised if all that many folks who read this blog have ever seen a real, serious, two-edged sword outside of a museum. So you can bet that when the BoM uses this verse, the sword business is changed:

Yea, we see that whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, like a light saber…

Haha, no, that’s not it! If it were, it would be quite amazing. But here it is:

Yea, we see that whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked — And land their souls, yea, their immortal souls, at the right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven, to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and with Jacob, and with all our holy fathers, to go no more out. (Hel 3:29-30)

See, all that sword business is gone! But even more interesting is the matter of by whom this “quick and powerful” word of God is used, and the identity of its target. In the NT, it’s the means by which God determines the kind of folks we are. We’re judged against the word of God, and its power to discern the character of the human heart is metaphorically portrayed by the ability to separate soul and spirit or joint and marrow.   In the BoM, the word of God has not lost any of its power to puncture pretensions or rend rationalizations.  However,  we use it ourselves to judge the thoughts and intents of other people, and in particular those who would exhort us to do some thing or make some choice in their favor.  In short, it’s one of God’s gifts to his children, to enable them to separate serious discussion from empty, deceptive rhetoric, which the BoM always associates with the devil.

And gracious me, it’s Labor Day and the beginning of  open BS Season  the end of the quadrennial American political season! Every four years, too, at just about this same time of the year. Heh.

  • JLMerkling

    Something that has radically altered my understanding of passages like these was reading Dr. Margret Barkers’s book “The Great Angel” where she talks about how “Word of God” was a title applied to Yahweh during Old Testament times. It really changes how this reads if you substitute in “Jesus Christ” instead of “scriptures” for “word of God”. Lehi’s dream is especially interesting when grasping the Iron Rod becomes obtaining a testimony of Christ not just reading the scriptures.

    As it happens the particular usage of the title is always about Yahweh being present with his people so I think “scripture” is still an appropriate reading, as it is the record of the relationship of Christ with us i.e. records of the Testimony of Christ.

  • WVS

    Mogget, the early revelations loved this trope, but they all use the sword: D&C 6, 11, 12, 14, 33. Great fun.


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