Tuesday, July 23, 2013

"Regulating" the Church

The Nephites were a "church of anticipation," looking forward to the coming of the Messiah. As such, they could be expected to share a common scriptural language with Old World churches of anticipation, such as the sectaries of Qumran, of whom John the Baptist may be the most famous member. In the Book of Mormon, few chapters exemplify this so profoundly as Alma 5.

The English word "regulation" appears nowhere in the Bible. It derives from Latin roots meaning to make straight. It does, however, appear four times in the Book of Mormon, including Alma 6. Three of those appearances are specifically in reference to Alma the Elder, his son Alma the Younger and Helaman, son of the latter. Specifically, it is in the context of "regulating" the Nephite church.

So here we have father, son and grandson each tasked with regulating, making straight, the church of anticipation preparatory to the coming of Christ. Who else spoke of "making straight?" John the Baptist, of course, quoting Isaiah.

It is anticipatory language, somewhat hidden by the English translation and a nice test of authenticity.

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