The growing dissonance between the pulpit narrative and the scriptures narrative can become disconcerting when you hear ecclesiastical leaders, even at the highest levels, repeat precepts of men and teach things that in reality have no scriptural basis. Things such as “dead prophets” not being as important as living ones; ordination to the Melchizedek priesthood being the equivalent of the oath and covenant the Father makes; magnifying church callings and enduring to the end being all that is needed to make sure your calling and election; divine revelation being possible only in the temple; the Abrahamic Covenant being fulfilled in the temple endowment; being a card-carrying latter-day saint being your ticket to the celestial kingdom; and so forth.
Indeed, quoting the scriptures has over time been giving way to quoting secondary sources such as church leaders themselves, so that the pulpit narrative is turning in on itself and becoming the standard by which all things must be judged. When scriptures are quoted within this swelling milieu, they are often misinterpreted, as if those who quote them don’t understand their true or full meaning. Are we nearing a time when conformity to the pulpit narrative takes precedence to heeding what the scriptures say, which foresaw and forewarned against these very developments? About a time when those who “professed to belong to the church of God” persecuted “those that did not believe according to their own will and pleasure” (Alma 4:8; Helaman 3:33–34)?
Are we missing something significant? “Should ye not hear the words which the Lord hath cried by the former prophets? But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears that they should not hear. Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the Lord of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the Lord of hosts. Therefore it is come to pass, that as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, saith the Lord of hosts: But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom they knew not. Thus the land was desolate after them that no man passed through nor returned” (Zechariah 7:7, 11–14).
Jesus exemplified one who quoted and explained the former prophets: “Now it came to pass that when Jesus had told these things he expounded them unto the multitude; and he did expound all things unto them, both great and small. And he saith: These scriptures, which ye had not with you, the Father commanded that I should give unto you; for it was wisdom in him that they should be given unto future generations. And he did expound all things, even from the beginning until the time that he should come in his glory—yea, even all things which should come upon the face of the earth, even until the elements should melt with fervent heat, and the earth should be wrapt together as a scroll, and the heavens and the earth should pass away” (3 Nephi 26:1–3).
Are we indeed still “treating lightly” the things we have received and thus remain as yet “under condemnation” (Doctrine & Covenants 84:54–57)? Knowing that the Book of Mormon contains but “a lesser part of the things which he [Jesus] taught the people” (3 Nephi 26:8), have we searched and taught them—including the words of Isaiah—to come out from this condemnation? “When they shall have received this, which is expedient that they should have first, to try their faith, and if it shall so be that they shall believe these things then shall the greater things be made manifest unto them. And if it so be that they will not believe these things, then shall the greater things be withheld from them, unto their condemnation” (3 Nephi 26:7–10). Which is us?