Four years ago, Danny Kofoed made discoveries in the Book of Mormon that have radically changed his views about it. As he re-read the book from cover to cover in preparation for lessons he would teach in Gospel Doctrine class, he found in there much greater richness, especially with regard to what it says about God and the type of relationship God is calling us to, than he had ever imagined. In the many years between the previous times he’d studied the book, really difficult circumstances that were far beyond Danny’s control led to his being able to see more clearly than ever just how loving and accessible God really is, and it was this centering that had unfolded in his life that allowed him to see this God presented over and over again within that the Book of Mormon pages. It is so easy to think about the portions of the Book of Mormon that talk about performance of ordinances and other more mechanical ways that we too often feel we must do or follow in order to approach God, as well as the warnings we find of “if you don’t do x, y, and z you’re not going to make it,” and similar rhetoric. Yet in every conversion story, and in much of the reflections by prophets and leaders found in various places, the key idea is God’s absolute merciful and loving nature and that we are all invited to experience the Divine directly, for ourselves, without organizational or behavioral hoops.
In this two-part episode, Danny joins Latter-day Faith host Dan Wotherspoon to talk about his journey and all that led him to a place to appreciate the wonderful theology present in the Book of Mormon. And, most specifically in this conversation, Danny takes us into one of the most powerful sections of the book: Alma and Amulek’s encounter with Zoramite worship and their message to those who had been left out of it, not allowed to join in the worship that they had been taught to think was the only way they could approach or please God. Crestfallen and despondent, they were able to open up their hearts to the messages of God’s character as merciful and desiring communion with them in every place, on any day, and in all moments of their lives.
By emphasizing the Zoramite context, Alma’s “experiment” about planting a seed allows us to see what the seed actually is (and what it IS NOT) in a way we likely would miss otherwise, and how seeing this expands the power of these Book of Mormon passages far beyond what we taught as missionaries and/or encounter in Sunday School. The seed is not about truth claims that relate to a church or ordinance or anything as small as that. The seed spoken of is a seed that, if well attended to, can spring up into a full tree that will nurture and sustain us ever and always. It’s the kernal and experiences held within its casing that can truly transform us from inside out.
Listen in! Danny’s passion is inspiring and infectious, and even if you might not always decide to listen to shows related to the Book of Mormon, the message in this episode far transcends the book’s stories and settings. Give it a try. You won’t be sorry.
Dan Wotherspoon, “On the Death of Nephi,” Sunstone, March 2005.
David Brisbin, The Fifth Way (theeffect, 2014)