In 1832, Section 84 of the Doctrine and Covenants was revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith. In this great section, the Lord explained one of the reasons why the people of the Church languished in spiritual darkness: "And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received . . ." Members of the Church were told that they would remain under condemnation until "they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments" which had been given to them (D&C 84:54,57)
It is equally important today to take the Book of Mormon seriously. One way is to heed its message spiritually; another is to study it carefully. Both are reflected in the subscript at the top of this Newsletter: ". . . by study and also by faith." This passage challenges us to cultivate balance in our lives between these two dimensions.
F.A.R.M.S. hopes you will use the materials it makes available to enhance your appreciation of the subtlety, precision and beauty of many Book of Mormon texts — that you will approach the book seriously "by study." That will not prove the Book of Mormon, but it will elevate its stature, neutralize some people's doubts, and allay superficial criticisms. At the same time, we urge F.A.R.M.S. participants not to substitute study of the technical materials for faith or for the vital understanding of gospel principles which this divine book can provide.
|John W. Welch|