What are “second witness” readings?
“Second witness” scripture readings are inspired by the principle that “in the mouth of two or three witnesses, shall every word be established” (D&C 7:13b). This principle is cited in the Book of Mormon to explain why the Latter Day Saint tradition accepts scriptures beyond the Bible (2 Nephi 12:58-62).
When I propose a “second witness” reading, it is typically a passage from the Book of Mormon or the Doctrine and Covenants that is thematically related to the biblical text which the church’s worship resources designate as the recommended preaching text for that week (based on the Revised Common Lectionary). The point of the “second witness” reading is to show how themes from the Bible are developed in the scriptures of the Restoration. In other words, the “second witness” readings show how principles from texts written thousands of years ago (the Bible) have continued to resonate for members of our specific tradition, in the less distant past (early Latter Day Saints), as a prelude to our thinking about how these same texts speak to us in the present.
Congregations might use these “second witness” readings in different ways, of course. But I create these readings envisioning a scenario something like this: Before the spoken word (sermon), two readers move to the front or center of the worship space. The first reads the designated preaching text from the Revised Common Lectionary. The second reads the “second witness” text. The spoken word follows.