Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2009, December 16

“Lessons from the Book of Mormon: Tradition, Pride, Hypocrisy, and the Downfall of Peoples” by grego

“Lessons from the Book of Mormon: Tradition, Pride, Hypocrisy, and the Downfall of Peoples”

grego
(c) 2009

How does it work?

We’ve recently changed YSA leaders about three or four times over the past year. Interestingly, each time I interview the new one, I inevitably hear something like this:
“I will be better than the last leader, who wasn’t that good.”
The reason we keep switching? After about one month, that new leader starts… going… downhill… FAST. Hmmm… Soon, they are at the same level, if not lower, than the previous leaders they had criticized and resented…

When a bishop was released, he had problems. One of his main things to talk about was the mistakes and problems the branch president/ bishop who had served before him had made–all the while ignoring any mistakes he himself had made (which might have also led to his release). Would it surprise you to know that the former leader was now a counselor in the stake presidency, who had counseled with him about the ward and agreed with the stake president to his release as bishop–perhaps even bringing it up?
Of course, the ex-bishop claimed he was released for only one reason, which he felt was right (and probably was) in holding on to his course for; however, he ignored the many other possible reasons (claiming that the stake presidency counselor’s wife was not worthy to hold a calling, for releasing the Relief Society president for disagreeing with him and questioning him against the Church Handbook of Instruction as to why the sisters didn’t get home teachers, for causing disunity in the ward, etc.–which basically boiled down to, he wasn’t leading the ward by the Spirit).
By the way, after being released, his second main focus was on the lack of leadership provided by the new bishop, who of course wasn’t like him…

Another brother has continually borne testimony of the priesthood since his release from a calling where he worked with a bishop, then has continually critiqued/ criticized/ “reminded” the new bishop for over a year. Recently he answered questions during Sunday School as if he and his family were perfect, and the light to look up to.
Well… Sunday night, his sons got in a fight, and one ran away from home. Gone, overnight. His cries and pleas for help were heard and answered by the bishopric; and the lesson about the dangers of pride and hypocrisy were also seen by the bishopric.

And last but not least for this post… Just after writing that while feeling negative emotions, I went outside in the courtyard to watch my children ride bikes. A guy came out of a home, spit on the ground twice right where they were riding. What a jerk! So I walked by his home, and spit on the pavement outside his door. Wow! I haven’t done something like that for a very, very long time, even in much worse situations. Then I started thinking…
Mormon 3: 15 Vengeance is mine, and I will repay…
Mormon 8:20 Behold what the scripture says—man shall not smite, neither shall he judge; for judgment is mine, saith the Lord, and vengeance is mine also, and I will repay.
I saw his parents inside. Perhaps the man didn’t even live there, it was his older parents’ house. Perhaps they didn’t approve of his behavior, either. Perhaps they would “pay” for what he did instead of him.
Maybe he wasn’t feeling good, had had a rough day, had family problems, etc. Maybe he had even been the recipient of injustice, too.
Maybe he had mental problems.
Maybe my bad example would be seen or felt by others, and influence them negatively.
Come to think about it, maybe I even got the wrong house!
Perhaps someone walking by would step in it/ slip–maybe even an old person.
Finally, the irony of it all came into mind: my hypocrisy!!

I’ve noticed a pattern in the Book of Mormon.

The apostates in the Book of Mormon almost always start out with this criticizing of church leaders, and this pride is also a form of hypocrisy. There’s one word in particular that is often used that shows this pride while criticizing: “foolish”, which often goes along with “traditions”. Let’s look at some of the examples of apostates/ apostate groups in the Book of Mormon.

Laman and Lemuel:
1 Ne. 2:11 Now this he spake because of the stiffneckedness of Laman and Lemuel; for behold they did murmur in many things against their father, because he was a visionary man, and had led them out of the land of Jerusalem, to leave the land of their inheritance, and their gold, and their silver, and their precious things, to perish in the wilderness. And this they said he had done because of the foolish imaginations of his heart.

1 Nephi 17:17 And when my brethren saw that I was about to build a ship, they began to murmur against me, saying: Our brother is a fool, for he thinketh that he can build a ship; yea, and he also thinketh that he can cross these great waters.

20 And thou art like unto our father, led away by the foolish imaginations of his heart; yea, he hath led us out of the land of Jerusalem, and we have wandered in the wilderness for these many years; and our women have toiled, being big with child; and they have borne children in the wilderness and suffered all things, save it were death; and it would have been better that they had died before they came out of Jerusalem than to have suffered these afflictions.

Sherem:
Jacob 7:6 And it came to pass that he came unto me, and on this wise did he speak unto me, saying: Brother Jacob, I have sought much opportunity that I might speak unto you; for I have heard and also know that thou goest about much, preaching that which ye call the gospel, or the doctrine of Christ.
7 And ye have led away much of this people that they pervert the right way of God, and keep not the law of Moses which is the right way; and convert the law of Moses into the worship of a being which ye say shall come many hundred years hence. And now behold, I, Sherem, declare unto you that this is blasphemy; for no man knoweth of such things; for he cannot tell of things to come. And after this manner did Sherem contend against me.

Nehor:
Alma 1:3 And he had gone about among the people, preaching to them that which he termed to be the word of God, bearing down against the church; declaring unto the people that every priest and teacher ought to become popular; and they ought not to labor with their hands, but that they ought to be supported by the people.
4 And he also testified unto the people that all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble, but that they might lift up their heads and rejoice; for the Lord had created all men, and had also redeemed all men; and, in the end, all men should have eternal life.
6 And he began to be lifted up in the pride of his heart, and to wear very costly apparel, yea, and even began to establish a church after the manner of his preaching.
7 And it came to pass as he was going, to preach to those who believed on his word, he met a man who belonged to the church of God, yea, even one of their teachers; and he began to contend with him sharply, that he might lead away the people of the church; but the man withstood him, admonishing him with the words of God.
9 Now, because Gideon withstood him with the words of God he was wroth with Gideon, and drew his sword and began to smite him.

Ammonihahites:
Alma 8:11 Nevertheless, they hardened their hearts, saying unto him: Behold, we know that thou art Alma; and we know that thou art high priest over the church which thou hast established in many parts of the land, according to your tradition; and we are not of thy church, and we do not believe in such foolish traditions.

Amalekites:
Alma 21:8 And the man said unto him: We do not believe that thou knowest any such thing. We do not believe in these foolish traditions. We do not believe that thou knowest of things to come, neither do we believe that thy fathers and also that our fathers did know concerning the things which they spake, of that which is to come.

Korihor:
Alma 30:13-14, 23, 27
13 O ye that are bound down under a foolish and a vain hope, why do ye yoke yourselves with such foolish things? Why do ye look for a Christ? For no man can know of anything which is to come.
14 Behold, these things which ye call prophecies, which ye say are handed down by holy prophets, behold, they are foolish traditions of your fathers.

23 Now the high priest’s name was Giddonah. And Korihor said unto him: Because I do not teach the foolish traditions of your fathers, and because I do not teach this people to bind themselves down under the foolish ordinances and performances which are laid down by ancient priests, to usurp power and authority over them, to keep them in ignorance, that they may not lift up their heads, but be brought down according to thy words.

27 And thus ye lead away this people after the foolish traditions of your fathers, and according to your own desires; and ye keep them down, even as it were in bondage, that ye may glut yourselves with the labors of their hands, that they durst not look up with boldness, and that they durst not enjoy their rights and privileges.

Zoramites:
Alma 31:16 Holy God, we believe that thou hast separated us from our brethren; and we do not believe in the tradition of our brethren, which was handed down to them by the childishness of their fathers; but we believe that thou hast elected us to be thy holy children; and also thou hast made it known unto us that there shall be no Christ.
17 But thou art the same yesterday, today, and forever; and thou hast elected us that we shall be saved, whilst all around us are elected to be cast by thy wrath down to hell; for the which holiness, O God, we thank thee; and we also thank thee that thou hast elected us, that we may not be led away after the foolish traditions of our brethren, which doth bind them down to a belief of Christ, which doth lead their hearts to wander far from thee, our God.

22 Now, from this stand they did offer up, every man, the selfsame prayer unto God, thanking their God that they were chosen of him, and that he did not lead them away after the tradition of their brethren, and that their hearts were not stolen away to believe in things to come, which they knew nothing about.

Amalickiah:
Alma 45:23 And now it came to pass that after Helaman and his brethren had appointed priests and teachers over the churches that there arose a dissension among them, and they would not give heed to the words of Helaman and his brethren;
24 But they grew proud, being lifted up in their hearts, because of their exceedingly great riches; therefore they grew rich in their own eyes, and would not give heed to their words, to walk uprightly before God.
Alma 46:1 And it came to pass that as many as would not hearken to the words of Helaman and his brethren were gathered together against their brethren.
2 And now behold, they were exceedingly wroth, insomuch that they were determined to slay them.
3 Now the leader of those who were wroth against their brethren was a large and a strong man; and his name was Amalickiah.
4 And Amalickiah was desirous to be a king; and those people who were wroth were also desirous that he should be their king; and they were the greater part of them the lower judges of the land, and they were seeking for power.
5 And they had been led by the flatteries of Amalickiah, that if they would support him and establish him to be their king that he would make them rulers over the people.
6 Thus they were led away by Amalickiah to dissensions, notwithstanding the preaching of Helaman and his brethren, yea, notwithstanding their exceedingly great care over the church, for they were high priests over the church.
7 And there were many in the church who believed in the flattering words of Amalickiah, therefore they dissented even from the church; and thus were the affairs of the people of Nephi exceedingly precarious and dangerous, notwithstanding their great victory which they had had over the Lamanites, and their great rejoicings which they had had because of their deliverance by the hand of the Lord.

Nephites:
3 Nephi 2: 2 Imagining up some vain thing in their hearts, that it was wrought by men and by the power of the devil, to lead away and deceive the hearts of the people; and thus did Satan get possession of the hearts of the people again, insomuch that he did blind their eyes and lead them away to believe that the doctrine of Christ was a foolish and a vain thing.

Giddianhi, Gadianton robber:
3 Nephi 3:3 And it seemeth a pity unto me, most noble Lachoneus, that ye should be so foolish and vain as to suppose that ye can stand against so many brave men who are at my command, who do now at this time stand in their arms, and do await with great anxiety for the word—Go down upon the Nephites and destroy them.

There is much more, but that’s a good start, I think.

Lessons:
don’t criticize the teachings of the prophets.
don’t criticize and hate your leaders, even if they aren’t the best.
receive instruction from your leaders.
don’t believe the words of the prophets are “foolish traditions”.
don’t prophesy foolishness.

On the other hand, it is God who tells us who the true fools are:

2 Nephi 9:28 O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.

2 Nephi 9:42 And whoso knocketh, to him will he open; and the wise, and the learned, and they that are rich, who are puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches—yea, they are they whom he despiseth; and save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them.

2 Nephi 26: 10 And when these things have passed away a speedy destruction cometh unto my peo ple; for, notwithstanding the pains of my soul, I have seen it; wherefore, I know that it shall come to pass; and they sell themselves for naught; for, for the reward of their pride and their foolishness they shall reap destruction; for because they yield unto the devil and choose works of darkness rather than light, therefore they must go down to hell.

2 Nephi 28:9 Yea, and there shall be many which shall teach after this manner, false and vain and foolish doctrines, and shall be puffed up in their hearts, and shall seek deep to hide their counsels from the Lord; and their works shall be in the dark.

2 Nephi 29:4 But thus saith the Lord God: O fools, they shall have a Bible; and it shall proceed forth from the Jews, mine ancient covenant people. And what thank they the Jews for the Bible which they receive from them? Yea, what do the Gentiles mean? Do they remember the travails, and the labors, and the pains of the Jews, and their diligence unto me, in bringing forth salvation unto the Gentiles?

2 Nephi 29:6 Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews?

Alma 37:6 Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.

Alma 39:11 Suffer not yourself to be led away by any vain or foolish thing; suffer not the devil to lead away your heart again after those wicked harlots. Behold, O my son, how great iniquity ye brought upon the Zoramites; for when they saw your conduct they would not believe in my words.

Helaman 9:21 But Nephi said unto them: O ye fools, ye uncircumcised of heart, ye blind, and ye stiffnecked people, do ye know how long the Lord your God will suffer you that ye shall go on in this your way of sin?

Helaman 12:4 O how foolish, and how vain, and how evil, and devilish, and how quick to do iniquity, and how slow to do good, are the children of men; yea, how quick to hearken unto the words of the evil one, and to set their hearts upon the vain things of the world!

Helaman 13:29 O ye wicked and ye perverse generation; ye hardened and ye stiffnecked people, how long will ye suppose that the Lord will suffer you? Yea, how long will ye suffer yourselves to be led by foolish and blind guides? Yea, how long will ye choose darkness rather than light?

Helaman 16:22 And many more things did the people imagine up in their hearts, which were foolish and vain; and they were much disturbed, for Satan did stir them up to do iniquity continually; yea, he did go about spreading rumors and contentions upon all the face of the land, that he might harden the hearts of the people against that which was good and against that which should come.

3 Nephi 12:22 But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of his judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council; and whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

3 Nephi 14:26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them not shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand—

Ether 12:26 And when I had said this, the Lord spake unto me, saying: Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness;

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