What is Scripture for you? Once I was asked this in a Bible as Literature class by the professor. My gut reaction was to spout off the LDS canon of scripture, The Bible, The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price, yet something caused me to reflect and consider what I truly consider scripture and what makes something scriptural. Scripture for me is a source of truth. I am reminded of Nephi’s words in 2 Nephi 25:26 describing why they wrote and compiled records, “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.”
Those purposes detail what makes things scriptural. That may seem limiting to some, but I find it to be rather inclusive and liberating. Alma 30:40-44 and Moses 6:63 expand the idea of what testifies of Christ and the reality of God by saying that “all things denote there is a God”. Hence, scripture for me has expanded to include works of literature, art, film, etc. I generally have rankings or categories for scripture that designate the weight given to them. The Canon is top, with words of prophets next, viewed as a commentary on or extension of the Canon, sometimes with disastrous implications, that I discount as scripture. Other religious texts, such as The Quran, form another category. The Bloggernacle and articles written for various Mormon or other religious studies’ journals provide perspectives and insight that I may not otherwise receive. However, the largest and for me most expansive and powerful supplement to scripture is great works of literature and film.
Some works that resonate strongly with me include the Harry Potter series, The Man Who Was Thursday, Trinity, A Tale of Two Cities, Ender’s Game, Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “Ulysses”, “Ode: Intimations of Immortality”, “O, Captain, My Captain”, “Invictus”, Star Wars Saga, The Dark Knight Trilogy, The Lion King, The Fountain, Les Miserables, etc.
These works have gained their personal scriptural status by the spiritual experiences that I have had interacting with them. The witness that I have felt from the Spirit helps me to better understand Truth. Perhaps this occurs because I have a deep abiding love for literature and film. Perhaps because the exploration of doctrinal truths in a different context causes new revelation to be had. Again, this is not to say that I value such works as greater than canonized scripture, but simply supplement the canon with works that I have interacted with and felt a deep, moving connection to the divine. I feel that as long as I am grounded in Canon, it is possible and beneficial to seek truth anywhere it can be found.
Ultimately, scripture is that which brings us closer to God, that teaches of truth. The truth may be expressed in a variety of ways, perhaps literature and film are not your thing, but you feel the majesty of God in nature or in a busy city. Maybe it’s art that touches you or photography or language. I seek for truth and embrace it, wherever it may be.