In the past, when I still used scriptural footnotes, I often had the experience of following the footnotes only to discover that important scriptures that threw a lot of additional light upon the subject were left out of the loop. By loop, I mean, for example, let’s say that there are 20 verses that speak of the same subject, but only 10 of them are footnoted and referenced, while 5 of them are only referenced. This means that when you come to five of them, there will be no footnotes in them nor references pointing to them, whereas another five have no footnotes but there are references pointing to them and the other 10 have both footnotes and references pointing to them. When a person comes across a footnoted scripture, the footnote will reference other scriptures, which, when followed, will also have footnotes referencing other scriptures, which if followed may cause you to end up at the beginning scripture. This is a loop. As long as all scriptures relative to that topic are referenced, allowing you to footnote surf through all of them, such a loop is helpful. But if 5 verses are out of the loop, not being referenced or footnoted, the loop becomes a method to keep information out.
Human minds, when writing learning books, do things in sequential order, building from basic knowledge to more advanced subjects. No so with the mind of God. His scriptures contain both the basic and advanced subjects all over the place, a piece here, a bit there, with apparently no rhyme or reason to it. This means that to understand any part of it, one has to read all of it and use all of it to understand any part of it. So any human endeavor, no matter how well intentioned, that tries to direct the human mind to only parts of it, will inevitably cause that mind to misunderstand the information, or misinterpret it.
It is my view that the modern edition scriptural helps, although well-intentioned, have created more mental laziness and more scriptural ignorance than ever before. The helps have become a crutch upon which the people lean for understanding, but due to the limited nature of the crutch, it is insufficient to allow scriptural comprehension.
The Topical Guide is not immune to these accusations, as it, also, limits the scriptures that a researcher has access to. The TG opens up by giving a disclaimer:
It is based primarily upon the biblical text, supplemented by information from the other books of scripture accepted as standard works by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
“This Topical Guide, with selected concordance and index entries, is intended to help the reader find scriptures most often used in gospel classes and study. Because of space limitations, the guide is not intended to be comprehensive. It is also recommended that the reader look up each scripture and examine it in its context, in order to gain a better understanding of it.”
The problem is that unless it is comprehensive, or exhaustive, it is of value only as tool of exclusion (excluding those scriptures it fails to mention, scriptures that may throw sufficient light upon a topic as to make the understanding of it substantially different.) The Index falls into the same category as the Topical Guide.
Many of the items have been drawn from the best available scholarship of the world and are subject to reevaluation based on new research and discoveries or on new revelation
“This dictionary has been designed to provide teachers and students with a concise collection of definitions and explanations of items that are mentioned in or are otherwise associated with the Bible. It is not intended as an official or revealed endorsement by the Church of the doctrinal, historical, cultural, and other matters set forth. The topics have been carefully selected and are treated briefly. If an elaborate discussion is desired, the student should consult a more exhaustive dictionary.” (Emphasis in bold type mine.)