The word "contention" has a range of meanings in English. Because Latter-day Saints typically focus on the teachings in the Book of Mormon, we can start with the 1828 Webster's Dictionary, which focuses on a strife connotation.
The Book of Mormon most likely applies these definitions when it uses the term in the text.
Modern dictionaries seem to expand the meaning into less confrontational nuances, such as equating a "contention" with a mere "assertion put forward in argument."
This list draws on several dictionaries to flesh out the alternatives.
from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.
from The Century Dictionary.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.