The church has given only one real help, and that is the online scriptural search feature, or the downloadable search features. It is exhaustive and comprehensive and permits a person to use all the scriptures to interpret any one particular verse. That is the only true help that should be used by LDS.
Additionally, the Bible Maps, the Church History Maps, the Scriptural Photographs and the Church History Photographs are likewise truly helpful. The maps and photographs do not interpret anything, but give additional information that allows us to come to better conclusions.
The JST, although it is interpretative and non-canonical, is important to know nonetheless because the Lord gave Joe out of it. Although it doesn’t necessarily belong in the scriptural editions (it being non-canonical), having it there makes it easier to compare it to the scriptural text and see what changes have been made. The changes give views on the Prophet’s vision of the gospel and these views expand our own, so in my estimation, it is as okay to leave it in the edition as it is to remove it. Nevertheless, there is still the tendency of the LDS to use any and all interpretation as a crutch upon which to understand scriptures which they refuse to read or refuse to understand by the power of the Holy Ghost, so it may be wiser to remove it, too, until such time that it becomes canonized.
So, in conclusion, the LDS may be better off ignoring all chapter headings, verse summaries, footnotes, the Topical Guide, the Index, the Guide to the Scriptures, the Bible Dictionary and even the Joseph Smith Translation when studying their scriptures. They ought to just use the scriptures themselves and the Holy Ghost to figure it all out.
1–9, Use of wine, strong drinks, tobacco, and hot drinks proscribed; 10–17, Herbs, fruits, flesh, and grain are ordained for the use of man and of animals; 18–21, Obedience to gospel law, including the Word of Wisdom, brings temporal and spiritual blessings.
Anything that points the mind in one direction or another, to the exclusion of all the other directions, conditions it to look at the scripture from only one vantage point, which is not the correct way to understand scripture. The entire scriptural canon needs to be used to interpret correctly any portion thereof. This is why even footnote scriptural references can be interpretative and thus, bad or misleading. To give an example of how footnotes can condition a person into thinking one way, and one way only, consider the following:
It is unfortunate that although it was never intended to be official, the BD is often considered definitive by the LDS. The LDS are naturally quite zealous, but are also mentally lazy, so the inclusion of the Bible dictionary in the standard work editions practically guaranteed that no LDS would consult a more exhaustive dictionary. This ensured that LDS remained scriptural retards, to put it bluntly.
Another example of this doctrinal dilution trend is the web site , to which we are instructed to refer investigators. I, personally, can’t visit that site without cringing. A click on the Glossary link at the bottom of the home page and a selection of any of the topics brings up the most shallow and concise definitions I’ve ever heard. If I were investigating the church today (instead of decades ago), and was given these bits, I would spiritually starve to death. Luckily, the scriptures are still there to sup from and feast upon, but with all the emphasis on “helps,” it’s a wonder if anyone actually reads their scriptures anymore.
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