To be honest, it is astonishingly long and detailed, and you can definitely tell the guy put a lot of time into it. It's something like 668 pages total but not all of it is scripture. Page 596 in the pdf. includes a letter sent by the translator to the First Presidency. However, he did preface the letter with the following:
By way of commandment I wrote the following letter to the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and had it delivered in late March 2004 along with a copy of The Book of Lehi, certified and registered by way of United States Postal Service.Does the Lord then command us to use USPS for our mail delivery or would you not FedEx something that important? All kidding aside, the point of the post is not to really to discuss the contents of the translation nor its merits, but to discuss how we as a church:
1) Encourage and require that all members receive personal revelation, whether by grandiose visions or simple inspiration; and,
2) Keep any personal revelation subject to the priesthood lines of authority and its right to obtain revelation for the church as a whole
By cutting off personal revelation, a church would become dead as its members would have to rely on texts that, while somewhat relevant, might not address the problems of that particular time and would not provide for revelation that has been lost (Zenos, Zenock). Priests and early Fathers would interpret the scriptures and theological debates would continue for centuries. Moreover, without priesthood organizational authority, we would encounter splinter groups claiming personal revelation more often, as this brother so easily demonstrated. Polygamous groups are an easy example as well but how many times have we heard about a seminary teacher who broke off and was treating a barn in Manti like a temple or some other strange story?
We as LDS and Christians are not limited to this conundrum. Islam is divided into two major groups (Sunni and Shi'a), with each group having multiple varieties internally. A Sunni can be a Wahhabi Sunni in Saudi Arabia, which is generally more conservative or a Dervish in Turkey could be a Sunni, but have a different understanding of Islam as a mystic. I will talk more about this in a future post.
How have we been successful in overcoming this apparent contradiction while others have not been as successful? (Bonus points for mentioning Hiram Page. Any one that can work a seer stone into an argument on a blog called The Seer Stone certainly deserves extra credit)
Prop 8 Note: I guess the Brother of Jared knew that the California Supreme Court would rule that same sex marriage discrimination was going to be a major issue for our day. According to our good friend the translator of the Sealed Portion, the Book of Mormon condones same sex marriage. Check out this press release. Apparently two of Jesus' apostles were openly gay. So the Pharisees relied on criticising Jesus on the shaky doctrinal ground of healing on the Sabbath instead but ignored the basics of Mosaic law?