There is a difference in practice between Mormonism and Evangelicalism that I was generally unaware of. I do not at all think it is a foundational difference, but I would like to contrast the LDS use of scripture in sermons against that of Evangelical churches.
LDS Wards were sent this clarification on how Sacrament Meeting speakers should handle the scriptural passages in their talks.
“In order to maintain an atmosphere of reverent worship in our sacrament and stake conference meetings, when speakers use scriptures as part of their talks they should not ask the congregation to open their own books to the scriptural reference. Also, members should not use visual aids and their sacrament meeting or stake conference talks. Such teaching methods are more effective in classroom settings and leadership meetings. We believe these adjustments will enhance the spirit of our worship services.”
Aquinas explained in another thread the context and purposes for this instruction.
Some people confuse a talk with a lesson. In a lesson, it is common to ask people to look up a scripture so that people can discuss it. Discussion is expected. The sacrament meeting talk is not a designed as a forum for asking people to have a back and forth discussion from the pulpit. Talks and sermons likewise are not appropriate for the format of a class room environment that includes discussion. Some people confuse fora and need guidance.
I don’t think I have ever heard a sermon in an Evangelical church in which the pastor did not instruct the congregation to open their Bibles and turn with him to the text. Aquinas explained in the LDS context this would indicate a desire to discuss the text. Evangelicals pastors do not have their congregation open their Bibles in order to engage in a discussion, but rather to encourage people to read scripture for themselves.
The general attitude among Evangelicals is that the most important thing that can be said on any particular topic is going to be said by the Bible. What the pastor has to say should fall in line with the passage and only serve to support its truth. So the time and distraction caused by pausing to open the Bible is worth it. There is a general attitude that the Bible is powerful and just by reading it people become more open to the Holy Spirit. Not that the binding and pages are magical, but that the thoughts and ideas are weighty and inspired.
I once heard a pastor explain “Open your Bibles, that way you’ll know if I’m not telling you the truth about the passage”. The implication being that a personal study of the Bible is the surest way to ensure that theological corruption is kept out of our churches. So anything a pastor can do to encourage people to read the Bible for themselves is important.
One Mormon explained that Sacrament speakers should not allow their authority to be shifted away from them. In an Evangelical context, the Bible holds the highest authority in a worship service and nothing should be done to undermine it.
Would Mormons say that the Prophet (and the Priesthood) have a higher authority than scriptures? Is this practice an evidence of that belief working its way down to the congregational level?