Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2011, June 15

“Book of Mormon: Alma 20:17-18: What Does Ammon Mean (Especially in Light of Baptism for the Dead and More)?” by grego

Book of Mormon: Alma 20:17-18: What Does Ammon Mean (Especially in Light of Baptism for the Dead and More)?

grego
(c) 2011

For years this verse has been a little troubling to me:

Alma 20:17 But Ammon stood forth and said unto him: Behold, thou shalt not slay thy son; nevertheless, it were better that he should fall than thee, for behold, he has repented of his sins; but if thou shouldst fall at this time, in thine anger, thy soul could not be saved.

Well, what about baptism for the dead? Lamoni’s father clearly didn’t understand the gospel and would be a candidate for it.

But at that time, there was no baptism for the dead; not only that, it was likely this doctrine/ part of the plan of salvation was unknown.

Note that the spirit world is not brought up until Alma touches on it in Alma 40 (years later), and even then, there is an incomplete understanding.

Also, at that time, there was no bridge/ connection between what we now refer to as paradise and spirit prison, or which Alma terms (as we still do also) paradise and hell; and there wouldn’t be until the resurrection of Christ.

This has happened throughout Christian history; especially since the time of Moses much was “lost”.
I believe that Peter himself had no clue about saving ordinances for the dead until much later in his life. (His unwillingness to preach to the Gentiles in Acts, compared to a few parts of 1 Peter 3:18-20, possibly 1 Peter 1:12, lead me to believe that.)
Each dispensation and prophet has certain knowledge, and, as Jesus, grows in knowledge and understanding. This is something LDS often forget, and other Christians hardly know in the first place (especially many anti-Book of Mormon critics).

In the next verse, however, Ammon says something interesting:
Alma 20:18 And again, it is expedient that thou shouldst forbear; for if thou shouldst slay thy son, he being an innocent man, his blood would cry from the ground to the Lord his God, for vengeance to come upon thee; and perhaps thou wouldst lose thy soul.

Ok, in the previous verse he says: “but if thou shouldst fall at this time, in thine anger, thy soul could not be saved”;
now he says: “…if thou shouldst slay they son… perhaps thou wouldst lose thy soul”.

Verse 18 really throws a new context and light on Ammon’s meaning in verse 17. Ammon goes from “no” to “perhaps”, and from “thy soul could not be saved” to “lose thy soul”. What’s going on here?

It also seems as if Ammon speaks not to expound lots of doctrine in this situation, but to effect a cause on the king; and he does:
Alma 20:27 …thou and thy brethren may come unto me, in my kingdom; for I shall greatly desire to see thee. For the king was greatly astonished at the words which [Ammon] had spoken, and also at the words which had been spoken by his son Lamoni, therefore he was desirous to learn them.

and: Alma 22:3 …And the king said unto them: …I will insist that ye shall administer unto me; for I have been somewhat troubled in mind because of the generosity and the greatness of the words of thy brother Ammon…

Did that little number unintentionally throw a little confusion into the king’s mind? I believe it might have.

I think Ammon wants to impress on the king a few things in Alma 20:17-18:
1. repentance saves.
2. God does not save everyone.
3. killing has consequences with God.

These points are in direct contradiction to what Lamoni believed and his father believe:
Alma 18:5 Now this was the tradition of Lamoni, which he had received from his father, that there was a Great Spirit. Notwithstanding they believed in a Great Spirit, *they supposed that whatsoever they did was right*; nevertheless, Lamoni began to fear exceedingly, with fear lest he had done wrong in slaying his servants…

and in direct contradiction to what that the other ex-Nephites among the Lamanites—most of those belonged to the Order of Nehor, who had built synagogues—believe:
Alma 1:4 …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.
(Alma 22:7 And Aaron answered him and said unto him: Believest thou that there is a God? And the king said: I know that the Amalekites say that there is a God, and I have granted unto them that they should build sanctuaries, that they may assemble themselves together to worship him. And if now thou sayest there is a God, behold I will believe.)

I believe that repentance in the spirit world and ordinances for the dead were not known by the Lamanites at the time; even still, in a sense—short-time—Ammon’s words would be true.

I believe Alma 20:17 means if he died in his sins he would go to hell; and that Alma 20:18 means if the king killed his son and did not repent, he would also go to hell.

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