On the Nature of Scripture

I have explored many religious traditions, which are all lovely, but the Restoration is my spiritual home. The Restoration has traditionally had a rather fundamentalistic approach to scripture, but I simply do not. I have often described my relationship with scripture as being similar to my relationship with the stories in Star Trek, Star Wars, and Doctor Who: they are stories that can teach us valuable lessons about ourselves and humanity, but they don’t double as history.

I searched for a way to describe this through language that the Restoration has developed, and I think this is absolutely no better articulated than within the Reform Mormon book of scripture “The Book of Michael“, particularly chapter 5. With the impending release of The Book of the Lavens, I wanted to touch on the nature of scripture in general, and this chapter has been particularly pivotal for me.

I haven’t seen this book of scripture talked about very often, let alone this chapter, so I would like to recount it in full:

The Book of Michael, Chapter 5

Scripture as art; art as a similitude of creation; idolatry examined; all scripture of value.

  1. It has been taught that scripture is the Word of God.
  2. People write all scripture. Scripture is art.
  3. Art is a creation that signifies something greater than the sum of its material composition.
  4. The act of creating art involves creative decision; creative decision is faith.
  5. The artist believes that by making the choice to organize material in the present, a point in the future will arrive when the efforts of their work can be experienced by other people as something greater than the original organization of material.
  6. Faith that the future moment will arrive in which the artist’s organization can be realized in the present is the galvanizing force that brings about creative decisions.
  7. Faith that at a future moment a world would be realized is the galvanizing force by which God organized this existence.
  8. When people engage in creating art, they are organizing material that already exists, but the result of the organization creates something that did not exist.
  9. That element of art that is truly created rather than organized, but as a result of the organization, is a reflection of the veil; it offers a view of the eternal.
  10. People progress at different rates. All people are at different states of progression; no two are in the exact same state of progression.
  11. Different people, based upon their state of progression, interpret that part of art that is more than the sum of its material organization – the part that reflects the eternal – differently. This is why some art will appeal, or be understood, or provide a view of the veil, to some people while at the same time seem little more than material organization by others.
  12. God is in all art, as God is in all things.
  13. If the phrase “Word of God” is meant to suggest the literal speaking of God, then art is not the Word of God. If the phase “Word of God” is meant to suggest a means by which a view of the eternal may be explored, and new knowledge thereby obtained, then art is the Word of God.
  14. When the artist engages faith and organizes materials such that they result in the creation of a view of the eternal for those who are at a particular level of progression, the artist has engaged in a similitude of the creative act of God. With every such act an individual becomes more like God.
  15. Those who compose scripture organize material such that its result creates something new – a view of the eternal not experienced prior to the organization. All scripture created historically was organized in this manner.
  16. One may choose to simply view and understand art for the view of the eternal it provides, or one may attempt to view art with an understanding of the intent of the artist. Both views offer knowledge.
  17. It has been taught that idolatry is to be avoided.
  18. Idolatry is a condition based upon the length of time someone chooses to limit oneself from new knowledge by choosing to select a particular piece of art or concept for exclusive study or devotion.
  19. The act of focusing on a particular object, conceptual or literal, for study and acquisition of knowledge, can be useful. The limitation of new knowledge is not useful.
  20. The decision to limit exposure to new knowledge is individually made based upon a person’s moral construct. When it is taught that idolatry is to be avoided, what is meant is that we must individually judge when such limitation has become unhealthy, and choose to pursue new knowledge when such limitations no longer are to our benefit.
  21. It has been taught that scripture contains laws that people must obey, and that scripture must be treated with reverence.
  22. God does not give laws to men through art. People may choose to influence other people by infusing elements of control over others with the art they organize. While such creations may fulfill the role of art, and are of God in that God is in all things, they may also inspire idolatry. The view of the eternal created by art can have a powerful impact.
  23. Take care to treat art as man-made. Those who organize art have no inherent right or power to declare law or demand obedience, nor right to declare their art as exclusively sanctioned by God.
  24. Your view of art and its interpretation can have a powerful impact upon your knowledge and understanding of the eternal. Gain wisdom as to how your view changes over time and the proper role of those who create art.
  25. It has been taught that some art is worthy of designation as scripture, and that such designation makes that art superior to other forms of art.
  26. Designation of some art as having significance to people based upon their level of progression is appropriate so long as it does not become idolatry and begin to limit their progression. Such selection may be based upon tradition, historical interaction, communal experience, and personal ability to view the eternal. Individuals must make their own decision as to when new knowledge has been limited due to such designations and seek to continually progress by not allowing designations to inhibit their acquisition of knowledge.
  27. For some people certain designations of scripture may offer continual knowledge acquisition throughout their lifetime without approaching levels of idolatry. For others, some scripture may not offer what is needed for a view of the eternal, and exploration of any and all other scripture may be needed.
  28. People have created all scripture and all art. All art is an expression of faith. It is all therefore available for you to explore and use, to view the eternal and gain new knowledge. Choose to designate that which is important to you carefully and do so without limiting yourself from all of the other forms of organization and creation available to you.
  29. We are that we might have joy; explorations of the eternal through the similitude of God’s creative act bring more joy into this existence.