Many members of the Church are reading the whole Book of Mormon again before the end of the year, which is great. But I am convinced that the Church as a whole still takes it “lightly” as described in Doctrine and Covenants 84:
49 And the whole world lieth in sin, and groaneth under darkness and under the bondage of sin.
50 And by this you may know they are under the bondage of sin, because they come not unto me.
51 For whoso cometh not unto me is under the bondage of sin.
52 And whoso receiveth not my voice is not acquainted with my voice, and is not of me.
53 And by this you may know the righteous from the wicked, and that the whole world groaneth under sin and darkness even now.
54 And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received�
55 Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation.
56 And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all.
57 And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written.
This is a call for action, not just reading. Until we live by the teachings of the Book of Mormon, we are still taking it lightly.
One example of how lightly we take it involves the issue of “secret combinations.” This topic is one of the most frequently discussed topics in the text. The editors wanted to press upon our minds that power-hungry secret combinations among the elite and powerful caused the utter destruction of two different civilizations, and would be a critical threat to the liberty of all lands and nations in our day. Yet this topic, more than any other in the text, is treated with supreme superficiality. Esteemed commentaries on the Book gloss over the issue with a vague reference to evil in general. Sunday School discussions briefly mention the Mafia as bad actors to avoid, and then move on (the class will nod in agreement – yeah, those secret combination Mafia guys sure are nasty). Members have been trained to think of anything touching upon “conspiracy theories” as the work of nut cases, and instantly shift gears to some other topic.
But what is the threat to liberty in our days? What are the things that we are supposed to use every means to root out? Are there secret societies and combinations in our world our nation that should cause us grief? This is an off-limits topic – a sign of our unwillingness to take the Book of Mormon as seriously as its editors did, or as seriously as we are commanded to, IMO.
To me, one of the most powerful evidences of the divinity of the Book of Mormon is its amazingly prophetic nature. It was edited for our day, and it is becoming more relevant as we move forward in time, not less. The role of secret combinations, the usurpation of power, the intrigues among the movers and shakers of society, the rise of exorbitant taxes and corrupted political structures, the menace of elite and atheistic “dissenters” who aid external enemies and corrupt internal politics, the networks of lawyers and merchants seeking gain and pleasure at the expense of others, the suppression of religious liberties, the guerrilla tactics of external enemies, and many other details in the Book of Mormon are much more relevant in this century than they were in 1830. These prophetic elements are so accurately described as to be far beyond anything Joseph could have synthesized out of his environment. The book has profound implications for our day and the dangers we face. If we ignore it, we will lose our liberties and suffer greatly in the future. If we listen to its message, then there is a chance that we can fulfill the mandate in Ether 8. But ignorance and inaction will cost us dearly.
So what do all the warnings about secret combinations really mean? Well, the answer is — oh, dinner time, got to run.