There are 22 thoughts on “Welding Another Link in Wonder’s Chain: The Task of Latter-day Saint Intellectuals in the Church’s Third Century”.

  1. I am personally anti-intellectual. It’s not a bias, it’s a fact about myself; I simply cannot reason, rehearse or discuss one gospel (or secular) topic or principle at length. I certainly cannot ponder, prepare, and produce an important essay or paper such as this one by Nathan Oman.
    So I myself feel very anti- (or un-) intellectual.
    But I know this (and it is stated – often – by the Lord’s Prophets: the Book of Mormon is the means of bringing souls to Christ, and that it will cover the earth.
    BUT – and this is a big BUT – the Book of Mormon is about the promises made to Lehi and his seed. Any New Jerusalem to be erected on this continent is THEIRS (the South, Central AND North American Lehites) to prepare and build. They may allow some of us gentile non-Lehites – as carrying/caring “fathers” and “nursing mothers,” to help – but the work is theirs to direct – somehow, somewhen.
    As Zion is prophesied to be preserved and even flourish on this (American) continent – south to north – we best turn our hearts, time, resources, oblations and prayers to Heavenly Father on their behalf.
    I’m un-intellectual, but at least I can read (and understand) the Book of Mormon.

  2. Excellent article. The author could probably find another cycle like the one he describes looking back further in history. As the church tried to expand beyond Jews in the 1st century it was led and reshaped by Paul and other missionaries to the Gentiles.

  3. “It will become even more important to look beyond our American paradigms and think about what matters to West Africans (among others, of course). What “new” cultural perspectives on the Restoration can they bring to the table?”

    With the understanding that it is cultures and mortal cultural paradigms – not gospel principles and the eternal truths they reference – that must be subject to change, modification, or abandonment – not gospel principles and eternal truths as identified in church teachings, whatever the cultural milieu in question.

    This includes core doctrinal propositions as well as the gospel behavioral and relational standards grounded in them.

  4. And, here’s one more, please, suggesting we need to go up another 10,000 feet in altitude to get an airplane view of the overall work of sharing the gospel, instead of our current narrow focus.

    Generally, our American society has mostly lost the ability to socialize and interact one on one. We text and tweet, we blog and post comments, but we have trouble talking face to face. We don’t talk to strangers, and we rarely _talk_ to friends.

    Our whole _conceptualization_ (at the rank and file level, not the Brethren/GA level) of “missionary work” is off kilter. And here are some thoughts on gaining or regaining a better conceptualization, and rediscovering person to person interaction:

    We need to not only “think outside the box” , but also to realize that with the Lord, THERE IS NO BOX! We should be living in a world of genuine miracles. I know we can, because I’ve seen a few while attempting to share foreign language editions of the Book of Mormon.

    Oh, and one final plug for Robert E Hall’s book “This Land of Stangers”. Get it, and please read chapters 11 and 13.

  5. Intellectuals, if God needs any, he can raise them up from “ignorant ploughboys”. Growth, especially rapid grow, is a risk factor, and not necessarily a good thing. That from a bankers perspective. I’ve often joked that the Church needs to cut back on the missionary effort because I can’t find a parking place at the Temple, even on a weekday! I served a mission in the Andes and marvel at the growth and strength of Peru’s Latter-Day Saints! From this members perspective, the fullness of the gentile has come and gone.
    The “intellectual” evidence is overwhelming. We have enough evidence and we need no more evidence.
    I have watched the leadership of the Church come and go for half a century and am amazed at the consistent excellence in management provided. The Church covers the earth and yet are “few in number”, relatively. That should ring a bell.
    I think that Simon bar Jonah will not be checking footnotes at the pearly gates. Not that the Lord doesn’t love the intellectual.
    Thank you for the essay. Well written and thought provoking.

  6. I notice that the “Come Unto Christ” website places a high emphasis on community. It even goes so far as to invite people to “make us a better church,” and I really like the humility and honesty in that one simple statement. We need to show prospective members that we need them, that they have things of value to contribute. We need to emphasize the advantages and possibilities that organized religion provides by uniting believers instead of just having them each do their own thing. The support we give each other, and the humanitarian aid we do that would be impossible for any one person.

    I think it’s also worth noting that there are some exceptions to the overall trend of stagnant or declining growth. Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria are doing very well. This will undoubtedly alter the demographics and concerns of the Church drastically in the not-too-distant future. It will become even more important to look beyond our American paradigms and think about what matters to West Africans (among others, of course). What “new” cultural perspectives on the Restoration can they bring to the table?

  7. John Wesley allegedly once received a letter saying, “The Lord has told me to tell you that he doesn’t need your book learning, your Greek and your Hebrew.”

    He allegedly responded, “Thank you sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need of my ‘book-learning’ as you put it. However – although the Lord has not directed me to say so – on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance either.”

  8. Be careful of trumpeting intellectualism too much in the church. That’s what the world does. Maybe the real problem is that the intellectuals worry too much about how they and their agendas look to everyone else. Yes, I said _agendas_. The Gospel isn’t rocket science, folks. Maybe the missionary effort is a bit stalled for now, but that’s nothing new. If we have a testimony of the Gospel, we simply need to focus more on living it, rather than worrying what the world’s intellectuals think. If we don’t, all the intellectualism in the world won’t bring us closer to the Lord.

    • Good comment! Ultimately it is the witness of the Holy Ghost which gives a person a testimony, and ultimately it is the possession of the Gift of the Holy Ghost which enables us to be purified and sanctified, and thus to be made Christlike in our nature – all of which is made possible by the Savior’s atonement. I have a Master’s degree in English with a minor in philosophy. I have read several theologians and philosophers about religion, God, the nature of God, the purpose of life, where we came, why we’re here, and where we’re going. And none – NOT ONE – comes close to the profound truths of the Gospel. None – NOT ONE – comes close to the 13 Articles of Faith, which are printed on a small card that can fit in your shirt pocket. I am amazed at how Joseph Smith, who never received an advanced degree in any subject, but who was taught by angels and by the Spirit (always by the Spirit), resolved theological issues that were debated for centuries by theologians and philosophers. If anyone would like examples of Joseph Smith’s resolving such issues, let me know, and I’ll provide them.

      I do think that scholars in the Church can be a great missionary influence because other scholars will respect Church scholars and listen more attentively. I have used Joseph Smith’s resolving century-old dilemmas in conversations, and some people in academia have been impressed. But ultimately gaining a testimony and being converted depends on the witness of the Holy Ghost and the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.

    • I think you missed the point of current church intellectuals and intellectualism in the world? We’re always had many deep thinking, academics in the restored Church, beginning with the prophet Joseph. I believe we have hit a cultural wall as a church. Cultural and tradition are nice when everyone thinks, feels and acts similarly. Remember Christ broke with Jewish tradition over and over and over. Check the box home teaching has now been shot in the head and replaced with becoming true ministering disciples of the Lord. I’m glad for out of the box thinkers (intellectuals) in the church. I hope I am one! And I am anything but of the world! David O. McKay was a radical (not just because he was the first modern day prophet without a beard) but he thought way, way outside the bo, I’m so glad he did. Let me ask you, for instance, your thoughts about eternal progression? If you measure your mortal walk and judge yourself as only being worthy of the Telestial kingdom, of free agency is eternal, what happens if you progress worthily beyond the limitations of that kingdom? Are God’s arms closed to us? Is his invite limited to a line in the eternal sand? Reason would tell us that one could keep eternally progressing, well, through all of eternity if they chose to. It takes intellectual thought to go down this rabbit hole, vs, the usual, “Once you’ve been assigned a kingdom that’s it.” But what of eternal progression? Free agency beyond mortal death? President Nelson’s Book, “The Gateway We Call Death” notates repentance in the next life, which has long been a first of the four principles and ordinances of the (doctrine) gospel of Jesus Christ. I love this whole article. God will accomplish his work and his glory without bookends and limitation.

      • My only point was that, as time goes on and the world goes further and further down the proverbial toilet, _some_ of the intellectualizing I see going on in the church is more worldly than it should be. Having a testimony of the Gospel is no guarantee we’ll never start thinking in ways that are detrimental to our (or others’) spirituality. An example is the “Book of Mormon in the Heartland” theories some like to adhere to. Be as free-thinking as you like about it, but to me it feels like some are pushing a movement in the church, wanting the brethren to proclaim that their theories are correct. Sorry, but if the Lord hasn’t revealed it, they’re not going to say it. The church doesn’t need movements – the church IS a movement. That’s all. Just the same old tired but vital counsel we all get, to weigh our intellectualizing against our testimonies of the Gospel.

  9. Nathan Oman’s description of the ideal raison d’etre for the existence and function of LDS intellectuals reminds me of something the late Elder Neal Maxwell once said:

    “I believe much of the vindication that will come to the Prophet and to this work of the Restoration will come by scholars who are committed to the Kingdom, who are unequivocally devoted to it.” Maxwell, Interpreter, 7 (2013):xiii

    On the other hand, we have a notion from Brother Brigham which seems to throw cold water on the value of that approach:

    “If all the talent, tact, wisdom, and refinement of the world had been sent to me with the Book of Mormon, and had declared, in the most exalted of earthly eloquence, the truth of it, undertaking to prove it by learning and worldly wisdom, they would have been to me like the smoke which arises only to vanish away. But when I saw a man without eloquence, or talents for public speaking, who could only say, ‘I know, by the power of the Holy Ghost, that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of the Lord,’ the Holy Ghost proceeding from that individual illuminated my understanding, and light, glory, and immortality were before me.” Young, Journal of Discourses, I:90.

    Seems to me that Oman has missed a couple of very important distinctions. On the one hand, the epistemologies of the intellectual and of the ordinary believer could not be more different. On the other, a faith-promoting “clerisy” is probably not the best descriptive category in which to place LDS intellectuals – who tend to cover a very broad range of specialties, of educational levels, and of predilections.

    Elder Russell Ballard has recommended to LDS seminary and institute instructors (CES) that they exercise better methods and content in their teaching of young LDS students in order to prepare them for an increasingly hostile internet world in which students may be unprepared to confront false or out-of-context statements about their LDS faith.* He would no doubt agree with Oman that this should be carried out in a celebratory manner, and that LDS teachers (intellectual or no) should be dedicated to that approach.

    The question I would raise, however, is whether LDS academicians can afford to place themselves in thrall to confirmation bias, or to tendentious arguments typical of dishonest evangelical apologetics. Such a priori nonsense is inimical to the communal interests which all true intellectuals share in ferreting out truth in their chosen fields of interest – including many non-LDS intellectuals who took or now take a strong interest in some aspect or other of the “Mormon” phenomenon: Thomas F. O’Dea, Sarah Barringer-Gordon, Jan Shipps, Margaret Barker, Wallace Stegner, Stephen Webb, Ernst Benz, Krister Stendahl, Larry Foster, Richard Mouw, Carl Mosser, Paul Owen, Harold Bloom, and many others. We have made some good friends and earned a great deal of respect among non-LDS scholars precisely because we did not stack the deck, nor did we engage in special pleading. We need to continue to adhere to that dedicated effort.

    We also need to gratefully accept the existence of a vociferous anti-Mormon community (as Hugh Nibley did), simply because there must “be opposition in all things” (2 Ne 2:11-13),

    “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, . . , righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.
    “Wherefore, it must needs have been created for a thing of naught; wherefore there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation. Wherefore, this thing must needs destroy the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes, and also the power, and the mercy, and the justice of God.
    “. . . . And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.”

    That is a stark reality of which we should constantly be aware.
    * Marianne Holman Prescott, “An evening with a General Authority: Elder Ballard introduces new initiative for seminary students,” LDS Church News, Saturday, Feb. 27 2016, online at ; the February 26 broadcast itself can be seen at watch/evening-with-a-general-authority/2016/02?lang=eng ; cf. Ballard, “Opportunities and Responsibilities of CES Teachers in the 21st Century,” Salt Lake Tabernacle, Feb 26, 2016, online at .

  10. Thanks so much for this thoughtful essay. My wife and I faithfully attend, worship, fellowship, minister, clean toilets and vacuum carpets in an LDS ward for over two years now. Our bishop, with tongue-in-cheek introduces us to folks as members of the ward, but not of the church. The questioning looks we then get in the words of the MasterCard commercial are “priceless.”

    As I think of your essay I have one dominant reaction. If a Saint is to demonstrate the importance, power, and potency of a unique and irresistible restoration to folks like us, there must be a concomitant reality that such a radical event has created a radical spirituality (hunger and thirst) in its followers. If there is no physical, visible, and tangible difference in the spiritual life and daily testimony of the elder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and an elder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance or the Plymouth Brethren church, then the LDS insistence on a unique relationship with God the Father and the Holy Spirit via their unique ordinances and priesthood authority is less convincing.

    My wife and I have searched in vain to ascertain a spiritual difference between our church of origin and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the closer walk with thee (Christ) that each church creates and sustains. Psalm 42:1 states “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.” We are looking for that panting, that hunger for God in the very souls of the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To be sure, it can be found, but not in a differentiated way from Christians in other Christian groups.

    I am afraid that is the needed element if the church is going to draw other Christians like us to its bosom. Something in the teaching and self-inflicted wounds has to change. Our 70 year old hearts break listening to the testimonies of those who weep because they simply can’t keep up with the workload, the performance requirements, the focus on “doing” that seems dominant in LDS culture and psyche. Where is God’s grace, the celebration of the “gift” of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord?” In their passion to not be like other Christians they seem to have abandoned grace. I think the way to celebrate the restoration and appeal to a hurting world is to celebrate and demonstrate Christ and Christ-likeness.

    We didn’t begin coming to the ward to encounter an institution; we came to encounter Christ. We will be drawn to the validity of the restoration and the unigénito (unique, one of a kind) priesthood that is claimed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when we see a hunger, thirst, and piety that separates its members from members of other Christian communities. To use your metaphor, until then, the Church of Jesus Christ is just another undifferentiated link in the chain of Christianity.

    For folks like us, it isn’t about the virtue, the uniqueness, or the truth claims of the institution. It is all about a hunger and thirst after righteousness. That is what will inexorably draw us to its ministry. Thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts as a faithful non-member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    • I find this comment one of the more interesting ones because I agree with its premise and because it comes from a faithful non member. Nate’s article is thought provoking and I appreciate his effort and all the well considered comments. Thank you all.

    • Former Mormon, now Anglican speaking here.

      The wheat and the tares will grow together in all denominations. You will not find what you are looking for anywhere. It never existed anywhere. Not in Corinth, nor in Jackson County.

      I believe that the culture of religious communities is simply “applied doctrine.” The culture is the practical expression of that doctrine. If for some reason the message of the grace of God is not getting through in the LDS community, it is very likely that the doctrine does not really contain the message of grace. LDS grace doctrine is essentially identical to the doctrine of grace within Catholicism. Yet the LDS community grew up within a Protestant environment in its formative years and adopted some of the Protestant language of grace. It has never yet fully formulated precisely what it means by “grace.” Sometimes, leaders sound like Protestants. Yet they often qualify those statements with Catholic-esque caveats. It is very confusing. It plays games with one’s mind.

      For the message of the Restoration to catch on again, it needs to offer something new. It once did offer something new. It offered the idea that men could become gods and that by acquiring wives in this life, one was building up his eternal kingdom in the next. It offered a Yankee-inflected understanding of the concept of the Adam-Kadmon from Kabbalah, thanks to Brigham Young. I was truly quite unique. But over the decades, the Restoration has aligned itself more and more with mainstream Christianity, that same ideology that was at first declared an abomination and a corruption.

      Mormons are giving up their “peculiarities.” Any legitimate claim to stewardship of the “Restoration” is going to follow. Frankly, with the increasing interest among younger generations in the occult and alternative, esoteric spiritualities, the original Mormonism of Jupiter talismans, seer stones, and Adam-God might actually be the message that would catch on in the 21st century.

      • I agree in principle that a degree of “peculiarity” is something which we should not be afraid of, but my study of church history has not left me with the impression that “men becoming gods and building their kingdom by acquiring wives” were the points of peculiarity that drew in the early members of the Church. Certainly they weren’t in play during the mission of the 12 to England, which featured perhaps the most successful exercise of missionary work in this dispensation. Though Joseph Smith had likely recieved the first principles of those teachings by that time, they were not yet in public circulation and would not have factored in the mass baptisms and life-changing migrations we observe from that era. Adam-God, likewise, was never widely adopted as church doctrine, Brigham Young notwithstanding. There is no evidence of it having been taught in a missionary context.

        You’re right about grace. The Latter-day Saint understanding of “grace” appears to attempt to bridge the divide between Protestant and Catholic perceptions of grace, but that divide is made stark by hundreds of years and even more tracts debating the issue. More work is needed on our end, and that is one of the main thrusts of our theological efforts in the academy.

        That said, confusion over the technical nature of grace notwithstanding, there are still stark doctrinal differences between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and mainstream Christianity. Our community culture may have skewed toward mainstream Christianity, but in fairness, we have pretty much agreed with mainstream Christianity from the beginning on the basic meaning of virtues, the commandments, and Christian personal and communal behavior. If the application of those doctrines skews our culture towards mainstream Christianity, so be it, but that doesn’t erase significant doctrinal differences with regard to priesthood authority, biblical reliance, the nature of God and Christ, and myriad other tenets. I don’t think that cultural similarities with mainstream Christianity at all surrenders our stewardship of the Restoration.

  11. Theodore Brandley, JasonB, and Louis Midgley wrote excellent comments. I wish to add one thought:

    Theodore Brandley correctly said: “The presentation of the message always has to be adjusted according to the audience.” Knowing the best way to approach anyone about the Gospel, requires having a list of options, talking with the non-member to find out what the non-member’s most pressing needs or interests are, and praying and getting a witness of the Holy Ghost on which approach to use. For example, years ago I hometaught a family in which only the mother was a member, and she was inactive. The family consisted of the inactive mother, the non-member father, a non-member 12-year old boy, and a non-member pretty, outgoing (which proved to be very important) 15-year old girl. First, I prayed about inviting the family to church, but I got a stupor. Second, I prayed about inviting the family to an upcoming ward party; I got a stupor. Third, I prayed about inviting the family to my home for dinner; I got a stupor. Fourth, I prayed about inviting (with the parents’ approval) the 12-year old boy to a deacons’ quorum activity; I got a stupor. Because I thought such an invitation to the 12-year old boy was a great idea, I pondered why I had gotten a stupor. As I pondered, I realized that the boy was very shy and had trouble fitting in at school, and thus would not have enjoyed being with the deacons in his first encounter. Fifth, I prayed about another option (which I don’t remember); I got a stupor. As I pondered, I remembered that a ward roadshow was going to be put on. Sixth, I prayed about inviting (with the parents’ approval) the pretty, outgoing 15-year old daughter to be in the roadshow. After 5 stupors, I finally got a good feeling on my 6th option: invite (with the parents’ approval) the pretty, outgoing 15-year old daughter to be in the roadshow. I asked the parents if I could invite their 15-year old daughter to be in the roadshow. The inactive mother remembered what a roadshow was. The parents approved of such an invitation, leaving it up to their daughter to decide whether to accept the invitation. I asked the daughter if she would like to be in the roadshow after explaining what a roadshow was. She enthusiastically accepted. She went to the roadshow rehearsals and after a while began attending Sunday School. Then she wanted to hear the missionaries. The whole family listened to the missionaries, were baptized, and became active members of the church. We don’t know the best approach for a specific individual, but we know someone – the Lord – who does know the best approach.

    I got it wrong 5 times, but finally got it right the 6th time. I’ve had other similar experiences. In those experiences a few times my first option got a good feeling, but usually it was my 2nd or 3rd option that got a good feeling.

    I repeat: Theodore Brandley correctly said: “The presentation of the message always has to be adjusted according to the audience.” Knowing the best way to approach anyone about the Gospel, requires having a list of options, talking with the non-member to find out what the non-member’s most pressing needs or interests are, and praying and getting a witness of the Holy Ghost on which approach to use.

  12. I really enjoyed my first reading of Nate’s essay. He has again called my attention to the ways in which the situation and expectations of those we seek to bring into the Kingdom of God has forme and shape both our own mode of presentation and also our own understanding of the message we believe has been and still is being restored both to us and through us to the larger world.

    My own sense is that we have prospered most in teaching others when we have found peoples prepared for our message. This has resulted in a cultural exchange that benefits everyone. What seems to us to be a providential preparation yielding an openness to the Restoration has often taught or called our attention to crucial things about what is being restored.

    I have long been obsessed with what began suddenly in New Zealand on 25 December 1882, when we discovered that some Maori in New Zealand were prepared for what we had to offer by their own Seers. I have been engaged in preserving that remarkable story at least in part for what it can still teach us about the contents and grounds of our own faith. Our scriptures, including especially the Book of Mormon both often and strongly urges us to remember so we can genuinely enjoy the fruits of the mighty acts of God on our behalf.

    Even when Joseph Smith was alive, providential preparation seems to explain what took place in the United Kingdom, and portions of northern Europe, and even in the South Pacific. Now the sea of faith in virtually all of Europe has receded. Only to rise elsewhere. These events seem to me to have profoundly shaped our own understanding of the restoration–including the understanding of those first Apostles who ended up in portions of England. But the restoration did not just end there.

    I admit to being stunned when a window opened with the collapse of the Soviet Union. This has allowed us to put down some roots in Russia and Eastern Europe. I never expected anything like that to happen in my lifetime.

    At least for me, an even more dramatic instance of providential preparation has been what has taken place in portions of Africa. Those events have, I believe, subsequently modified and enhanced the content of the faith of Latter-day Saints everywhere. It seems we must constantly look back and remember in order to be properly prepared for the next windows of opportunity that open up, or to face the demonic that is at work in this world.

    I noticed and was delighted by Nate’s willingness to follow the very strong urging of the current President of the Church of Jesus Christ to cease thinking of ourselves as Mormons and talking about Mormonism. What I now long for is what I hope will be a self-conscious focus on the word Saint. Why? That word, which we have from Latin, enters Christian understanding with a Greek root word meaning “Holy,” as in Holy Spirit. Hence in English we also have sanctification and Saint, and also Holy Spirit, which are all linked in crucial ways. So I am pleased to see more frequent us of the long title of the Church, and hence what I hope will be a self-conscious awareness that we should be seeking sanctification and holiness.

    I must now read Nate’s engaging essay more carefully. I urge others to do the same.

  13. Nate, two thoughts:

    1- While other authors hit on a very similar theme to yours (see Adam Miller “Future Mormonism” or listen to Terrell Givens), what I enjoyed about this article was the novel (at least to me) hypothesis that the church will ultimately adapt to success.

    2- While I do think rethinking the message will be part of the process, I actually think what will be equally or more important is mobilizing behind that message. Put another way: I think writing a missionary tract is one thing, getting your branch or ward to develop outreach programs that result with actual butts in seats is something on a whole other level. When those butts start getting in seats I’m sure the church at all levels will be quite interested in seeing what is bringing them there. But making that a reality will be as much about techniques and programs as it will be about a message.

    That said, I did find your article an inspiring call to action in my own life to think how I can articulate what I find most meaningful about the gospel.

  14. Nathan,

    Your article is very thought provoking. The presentation of the message always has to be adjusted according to the audience. Paul taught the Jews differently than he taught the Gentiles. You rightly point out that our audiences are changing. As evil increases in the world the audience that will even listen to any message about Christ is shrinking. On the other hand, those who want to eschew evil will become more receptive to an allied message.

    The key to conversion is still The Book of Mormon. Very few join the Church without a testimony that The Book of Mormon is true. Isaiah said, “Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth: thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff.” (Isaiah 41:15) The Book of Mormon is the “new sharp threshing instrument.” “A great and marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men. Behold, I am God; give heed to my word, which is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword…” (D&C 12:1-2)

    The Book of Mormon sharply divides people between those who believe it and those who do not. Perhaps the most effective way to apply your thesis would be to develop better ways of introducing and encouraging people to read The Book of Mormon.

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