To illustrate that thinking the scriptures apply to us is “magic” thinking and that the church basically teaches a form of divination through it.
Imagine that you saw an old woman in a turban, with stars on pleated purple curtains, at a fair. She offers to tell you your future for a price. Curious, you walk in and are somewhat surprised that instead of a crystal ball, or playing cards, she has a book.
The woman flips to a random page and has you select a paragraph, and then reads it to you. It seems eerily accurate to your life and future.
Now imagine the same situation, but instead of an old woman in a turban, it is a man in a suit and tie. Instead of a fair, an institute class.
This practice is called “Bibliomancy”.
Although Leviticus forbids divination, early Jewish rabbinical studies actually approved the use of scriptures for this purpose.
Divination via scripture or great literary works (such as Vigil’s Aeneid) is not unique to Jewish or Mormon tradition.
By stripping away context, and simply “applying a few verses” to our own lives, members are encouraged to participate in bibliomancy.
People ignore irrelevant passages, and focus on vague ones naturally.
Psalm 137:9 “Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.”
Let that sink in.
2 Kings 18:27 “But Rabshakeh said unto them, Hath my master sent me to thy master, and to thee, to speak these words? Hath he not sent me to the men which sit on the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you?”
Um… yeah, apply that one to your life, but hopefully you aren’t on the ward’s activities committee.
Deuteronomy 23:1 “No one whose testicles are crushed or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the Lord.”
And yet, not a temple question.
D&C 3:11 “Except thou do this, thou shalt be delivered up and become as other men, and have no more gift.”
Depends on how a person reads this, but given the sheer number of “repent now or else” scriptures compared to overall content, odds are, anyone using the D&C for divination/guidance is going to come away feeling guilty, ashamed, and like God is about to strike them at any moment.
Though one could use this kind of bibliomancy to illustrate that Joseph Smith was a fallen prophet, members have excuses to get out of that kind of thinking.
D&C 19:25 “And again, I command thee that thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife; nor seek thy neighbor’s life.”
That pretty much goes against the numerous married women Joseph Smith proposed to. The fact that he married a large number of them, and that at least one thought her child was the offspring of Joseph, indicates that there was some degree of “coveting” involved.
In D&C 132, it is specified that all women to be engaged in polygamy should be virgins; however, the married women engaged in polyandry clearly violate this rule.
Somehow, when members are selecting verses for divining (or applying the scriptures unto themselves), these verses, and their implications, are always excluded.
Please note that the official lesson manual only describes Joseph and Emma in this lesson under the title “husbands and wives should respect each other.” Yeah.
We should be meek and avoid pride.
Except where the lesson mentions Emma needed to be humble. Again… yeah.
Let’s look at why the correlation committee picked the pride examples they did:
1) Emma – If she didn’t fall, then Joseph Smith III might, in fact be the true successor.
2) Oliver Cowdery – Fell away from the church and denied the Book of Mormon, despite being so key to the church.
3) The saints in a conference of the Church- This is really about Joseph Smith going treasure hunting again, with a promise that the church’s debts would be relieved by gold, and that Mormons would be the “richest of all people.” Failed prophesy, but it’s just fine to take scripture out of context.
4) D&C 90:17 (first presidency) – Specifically Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams. Sidney was another possible successor to the church.
5) D&C 98:19-20 (The saints in Kirtland) – Joseph Smith’s attempt at taking consecrated lands and turning them into liquid assets via the safety society (an illegal bank, for which he was fined $1,000 for violating the law) was failing, and so God blames the members.
Why did the correlation committee skip context and select the individuals they did to discuss pride?
Why are there no scriptures telling Joseph or Brigham to avoid pride? Did Joseph and Brigham ever sound proud?
God is in the still small voice. In all these affidavits, indictments, it is all of the devil–all corruption. Come on! ye prosecutors! ye false swearers! All hell, boil over! Ye burning mountains, roll down your lava! for I will come out on the top at last. I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I (Joseph Smith History of the Church, Vol. 6, pp. 408-409).
He has told you that he is an old man. Do you think that I am an old man? I could prove to this congre[ga]tion that I am young; for I could find more girls who would choose me for a husband than can any of the young men (Brigham Young).
Pride existed in all the leaders of the church, and yet only those who started off-shoot religions are selected, and context is removed from situations for the others.
The correlation committee appears here to be intentionally deceiving the student by quote mining, something so evil, that FAIR has an entire page devoted to it.
The trick to bibliomancy is to ask the “right kind of question.”
Imagine asking the D&C what the 17th element on the periodic table is, or using D&C 93 to teach you about the electromagnetic spectrum, or using D&C 88 as a guide for French recipes.
The reason bibliomancy works is that the person understand intuitively that the book can only answer some questions, and they want the answer so badly that they both select only questions that are likely to be answered, as well as push for the scripture found to fit what they need.
And if they find a “junk verse,” they are likely to repeat the experiment.
Conclusion – We should rejoice and be of good cheer.
We don’t need bibliomancy. We have airplanes created by science. Men have walked on the moon. We have wiped some diseases off the face of the Earth. The progress of science means that we can predict weather far better than any book could ever do.
This is a great day and age to live in because the scriptures don’t apply to you. Science applies to you, and you get to use it every day.
Now go play on your smart phone.