Feast upon the Word Blog

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LDS Institute Class: Rel 121 (Book of Mormon)

Posted by robf on November 13, 2008

This past month I started teaching an LDS Institute class in inner-city Philadelphia. Now that local institute programs are under the direction of Stake Presidencies, there may be more opportunities for volunteer teachers to get involved in teaching these classes. This is turning out to be a great blessing in my life, and my weekly Book of Mormon lessons are a high point in my week.

So far we’ve had three lessons, and we are just now ready to start 1 Nephi 3.

Week 1: What is the Book of Mormon?
We spent the whole time re-thinking this question based on:
1) The Abrahamic Covenant as recorded in Abraham 17.
2) Purpose of fulfilling the covenants as reported in the Title Page of the Book of Mormon
3) Joseph Smith’s teachings about the Book of Mormon being the mustard seed from the New Testament parable.

Week 2: 1 Nephi 1

We started out with the section heading–which is part of the original translated text. Why would Nephi give us the whole story of 1 Nephi right at the beginning? No suspense. No serialization to keep the reader going. Just an up front report. Is it to make us realize that this isn’t a story for our entertainment? Since we know how its going to end, does this allow us to focus more sharply on what is actually happening, rather than wonder what will happen next?

Week 3: 1 Nephi 2
Here’s a chapter we tend to rush through. But what is going on here? We spent a lot of time thinking about our own questioning and answers to our own gospel questions, with Nephi as a model. How does Nephi’s approach to his father’s dreams differ from that of his older brothers? How does his praying for his brothers lead to his own renewing of Abrahamic promises? And how does Lehi’s tent, with its altar and Nephi’s revelation of a) promised seed and b) promised land, compare with what we know about what happens at temples?

Its been fun to take this slowly, to not rush, and see where our questions take us. Tonight, based on the questions at the end of last week, I suspect we will talk about the plan of salvation in light of 1 Nephi 3-4.

Just like Nephi, I have no idea where these lessons are going to take us beforehand. But I relish the Spirit that is present in these classes, and the answers (revelations) that we get as we explore the Book of Mormon together. Just like Lehi and Nephi, I seem to get more inspiration when I’m praying and thinking about others (my students) than when I’m just thinking about my own scriptural thoughts or questions.

5 Responses to “LDS Institute Class: Rel 121 (Book of Mormon)”

  1. robf said

    Last week’s lesson on 1 Nephi 3-4 was fun, we talked about it in terms of walking in faith–Nephi’s faith in the words of his Father and the personal promise he had received that if he was obedient, he and his seed would prosper and receive a promised land, as well as the words of the angel that Laban would be delivered into his hands. At every step, Nephi trusted in the words of the Lord.

    We also talked about the difference between the three attempts to get the plates from Laban–A) reliance on luck (casting lots), B) rational planning, and C) being guided by the Spirit. Profound lessons there. Finally we wondered, from Laman and Lemuel’s perspective, how well they slept in their tents at night knowing how Nephi had dispatched the incapacitated Laban…were there unintended consequences of how Nephi got the plates?

  2. Robert C. said

    I love these reports, Rob—keep ’em coming!

  3. robf said

    I forgot to mention that this last class started out with a question a class member had about God’s foreknowledge and our free will. So after talking about eternal intelligences and our choices, we thought about that question some more from the perspective of Nephi’s response to revelations. No matter what you think of God’s foreknowledge, hard not to believe that Nephi was actually making tough choices.

  4. I want to be in some classes to learn more of the book of mormon. I want to learn, I cannot get enough knowledge of the Book of Mormon or the Holy Bible. So if any classes are atarting In would like ot be involved. I have time and I would get on site at the right time and get involved in learning. If you can’t help me send me to a site that can. Thank you and I hope I will be hearing from you. Sincerly, Donna Vigen

  5. Rob said

    Donna, I’m in Philly. Where are you located?

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