02) CONTEMPORARY LANGUAGE: Should we employ contemporary language or social science terms when teaching the Gospel? Is there power in using only the words found in scripture while describing doctrinal issues?

Prophetic Statements

Ezra Taft Benson


It is important that in our teaching we make use of the language of holy writ. Alma said, “I … do command you in the language of him who hath commanded me” (Alma 5:61).

The words and the way they are used in the Book of Mormon by the Lord should become our source of understanding and should be used by us in teaching gospel principles.
God uses the power of the word of the Book of Mormon as an instrument to change people’s lives: “As the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God” (Alma 31:5). 1


In April 1982, Elder Bruce R. McConkie spoke to the regional representatives about the priority the scriptures should take in our labors. He said: “We are so wound up in programs and statistics and trends, in properties, lands and mammon, and in achieving goals that will highlight the excellence of our work, that we have ‘omitted the weightier matters of the law.’ … However talented men may be in administrative matters; however eloquent they may be in expressing their views; however learned they may be in the worldly things—they will be denied the sweet whisperings of the Spirit that might have been theirs unless they pay the price of studying, pondering, and praying about the scriptures.” (In Regional Representatives’ Seminar, 2 Apr. 1982, pp. 1–2.)

Today the world is full of alluring and attractive ideas that can lead even the best of our members into error and deception. Students at universities are sometimes so filled with the doctrines of the world they begin to question the doctrines of the gospel. How do you as a priesthood leader help fortify your membership against such deceptive teachings? The Savior gave the answer in His great discourse on the Mount of Olives when He promised, “And whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived.” (JS—M 1:37; italics added.) 2


Mosiah 18:19

And he commanded them that they should teach nothing save it were the things which he had taught, and which had been spoken by the mouth of the holy prophets. 

Supporting Statements

Neal A. Maxwell

“The Lord has told us that “the sword of the Spirit . . . is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17); it can facilitate communication and penetrate as nothing else. Thus holy scripture and the words of living prophets occupy a privileged position; they are the key to teaching by the Spirit so that we communicate in what the Prophet Joseph Smith called “the language of inspiration” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], p. 56)

Perhaps the special, evocative powers of scriptures are bound up with our flashes of memory from the premortal world or at least call forth our predispositions nurtured for so long there.

Inspired scriptures involve sanctified words.” 3

  1. Talk: The Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants, Ezra Taft Benson. https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1987/04/the-book-of-mormon-and-the-doctrine-and-covenants?lang=eng
  2. The Power of the Word, Ezra Taft Benson. Priesthood Leadership Meeting, 4 April 1986.
  3. Teaching by the Spirit — “The Language of Inspiration”, 1991 Old Testament Symposium
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