Is the Bible Inferior?

For today’s reading I asked the kids to read 1 Nephi 13: 19-29, 40; 1 Nephi 14:23 and Mormon 7:8-9. Our discussion today was on whether the Bible was inferior scripture or not. They’ve heard all their lives that “plain and precious parts” have been removed, and the difficulty of reading the Bible sometimes means it gets less attention in the Church. I wanted to debunk that idea and give them tools for answering nonmembers questions about our thoughts on the Bible. This lesson is based on something that was presented at inservice meeting, but that I altered and cut down. That version was more lecture style; mine was discussion and I used fewer passages.

I had gone over the passages the day before and found 9 verses (luckily) that I felt had important things in them — things worth underlining, if that makes sense. After instructing the kids to bring out their marking pencils and open their scriptures to last night’s reading, I brought out a silicone caterpillar that the kids named “Delilah”. For our review activity the kids tossed Delilah to each other and whoever caught her, took the next verse. They read the verse to themselves or aloud and then told the class what they’d underline.

This activity went surprisingly well again. I provided some extra commentary, but the kids picked out the important stuff themselves every time. Once or twice they pointed out stuff I hadn’t marked myself, so it was a good learning process even for me. I pointed out or underscored a few things, like who made the changes to the Bible (great and abominable church) and why (v 26-7 as I recall) and made some points about the “other books” and what that means. There were a few kids who didn’t even pick up their pencils to mark anything at first, but I think the combination of the caterpillar — which kept their attention — and their peers pointing out what was important in the verses — instead of me — caught and kept their attention. By the end, every kid had marked several essential passages in their scriptures, without me prompting them at all. I call that success. They marked what was important to THEM, not what I told them was important.

I think the best part was when we read Mormon 7:9 and talked about what “this” and “that” meant. After one student figured it out, I said let’s use her words and reread the verse, and so I read “the Book of Mormon was written for the intent that ye may believe the Bible, and if ye believe the Bible you will believe the Book of Mormon also…” etc.

I wrapped up by telling them that when their friends ask or tell them that Mormons ignore or don’t believe the Bible they know that to be false. They also can say they know that the Book of Mormon was never intended to usurp or replace the Bible in any way and that we love and revere the Bible as the first witness of Jesus Christ. Bore my testimony of the truth of both books.

I hope they learned about what kind of questions to ask when they read the scriptures and how to mark them without me giving formal instruction on it, too. I’m fairly certain that did happen, based on what I observed, but I suppose that’s not quantifiable without intrusive questioning or monitoring. We will do a lot of this type of activity. I hope I can keep it fresh :)

I had figured we’d stay in the scriptures as long as the kids could handle it and do posters, but we played our Delilah game almost until the end of class, so I didn’t have time to start the kids on the posters. Instead I had them choose scripture masteries that they would use on their posters later next week. I should have time for them on Wednesday or Thursday.

You know, the teaching part of Seminary has been remarkably easy. Today’s lesson went about 30 minutes of solid digging in the scriptures, but I didn’t get any “I’m getting bored” vibes at all. It’s almost too easy! I’m feeling kind of perplexed, honestly. I’ve been waiting for a lesson to bomb, but so far I’m doing okay. I suppose I’m more likely to crash after I’ve been teaching a while and am not obsessing about it as much. But really, this is exactly the kind of teaching that I do with my own kids. Well, sans caterpillar, I guess. But the rest is just the same. And the kids seem to be eating it up. Hopefully next week goes as well.

I stained the hand rail going to the basement. The fumes are killing me. Now it’s off to the Post Office and to run several errands.