LDS people place a lot of confidence in the scriptures. We believe that the answers to most of our questions and challenges can be found in the pages of the canon. If you are faltering in your faith, you need to read the scriptures more. If you are struggling with temptation, read the scriptures more. If you are experiencing difficulties of any kind in your life, you will find guidance in the holy scriptures.
But as I have begun my next cycle through the standard works, something occurred to me, and it is so obvious that I am embarrassed because I am only just now noticing it. In the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants, the wickedest people are the ones who knew the scriptures the best. Jesus reserved his most blistering condemnation for the scribes. The Zoramites created their own special hell to occupy. And the sectarian preachers of the 1830s and 1840s were undoubtedly scriptorians, but they were also mob leaders and some of the most hate-filled persecutors of believers in the Restoration. I think we are forced to recognize that familiarity with scripture isn’t an unadulterated good, at least by itself, and that scripture study can be a giant step on the road to Pharisaism.
If scripture study is so great, why have so many people gone off the deep end with it? What measures can we take to assure that we don’t merit being called whited sepulchres?