Monday, October 15, 2018

Feasting on the scriptures (updated)

Although the following concepts progressively increase in complexity, they are all important to some degree:

I.  Big picture level – Choose which scriptures to feast on:
  • Randomly: Open to a random page and start studying.
  • Sequentially: Study a book of scripture from beginning to end.
  • Topically: Choose a gospel doctrine, principle, or topic; and then study the related scriptures.
  • Search for connections between certain words or ideas (see “A Reservoir of Living Water” by David A. Bednar).
  • Search for patterns repeated throughout the scriptures (Ibid.).
  • Search for overarching themes repeated throughout the scriptures (Ibid.).
  • Search for 2 or more concepts (especially ones that do not superficially appear to agree) to synthesize into a “higher” unifying concept (see below).

II.  Detailed level – After the scriptures are chosen (from the above step), decide how to feast on them:
  • Access (read) the scripture.
    • Memorize it. Mark it. Take notes. Record it in your journal.
    • Read it silently, read it aloud, and/or listen to it multiple times.
    • Decide whether you will read in silence, or with background noise (such as hymns).
  • Understand the scripture.
    • Determine the context and content of the scripture (the “who, what, where, when” questions).
    • Determine what doctrines and principles are being taught by the scripture (the ultimate “why” questions).
    • Summarize or restate the scripture in your own words.
    • Draw or diagram the scripture, if it can be expressed visually.
  • Apply (liken) the scripture.
    • You may understand the material; but therefore, what? (“So what?”)
    • Determine how the scripture and/or doctrine relates to the Savior. Any good qualities exhibited by someone in the scriptures are symbolic of the perfected qualities of the Savior.
    • Apply the scripture and its associated doctrines and principles to your life.
  • Analyze the scripture, word-for-word if necessary.
  • Evaluate the scripture.
    • Assess the scripture in light of other scriptures.
    • Determine what other scriptures support the scripture’s concepts.
    • Determine what other scriptures superficially do not appear to agree with the scripture.
    • Determine what connections, patterns, or themes the scripture might be associated with (see “A Reservoir of Living Water” by David A. Bednar).
  • Synthesize/organize, or “gather together in one” using the scripture. David A. Bednar said, “the power of the Savior’s gospel to transform and bless us flows from discerning and applying the interrelatedness of its doctrine, principles, and practices. Only as we gather together in one all things in Christ, with firm focus upon Him, can gospel truths synergistically enable us to become what God desires us to become” (“Gather Together in One All Things in Christ,” October 2018 General Conference).
    • Ponder how the scripture can be interpreted on other levels of symbolism (see the Gather Together in One All Things in Christ table).
    • Joseph Smith wrote, “ ‘by proving contraries, truth is made manifest’ ” (History of the Church 6:428). (He wrote this phrase in quotation marks, so he may have been quoting someone else.) Ponder what higher doctrines or principles can be derived from synthesizing the scripture with concepts from other scriptures.