Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2011, April 25

“Book of Mormon | 1 Nephi 2:6 Putting up a Tent after Three Days in the Wilderness/ Desert?” by grego

Book of Mormon | 1 Nephi 2:6 Putting up a Tent after Three Days in the Wilderness/ Desert?


Here is something I found that I haven’t really thought about before. Lehi travels three days, then puts up his tent:

1 Nephi 2:6 And it came to pass that when he had traveled three days in the wilderness, he pitched his tent in a valley by the side of a river of water.

This is so un-American; everyone knows you pitch your tent every night to sleep in, right?

Un-American, because it’s not an American in America. Is this typical desert travel for a Bedouin? ;)

2011, April 10

“2011 April General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: President Boyd K. Packer on Homosexuality” by grego

2011 April General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: President Boyd K. Packer on Homosexuality


“In another revelation, the Lord’s standard of morality commands that the sacred powers to beget life be protected and employed only between man and woman, husband and wife. 13 To misuse this power is exceeded in seriousness only by the shedding of innocent blood and denying the Holy Ghost. 14 If one transgresses the law, the doctrine of repentance teaches how to erase the effect of this transgression.

Everyone is tested. One might think it is unfair to be singled out and subjected to a particular temptation, but this is the purpose of mortal life—to be tested. And the answer is the same for everyone: we must, and we can, resist temptations of any kind.”

Simple. Beautiful.

2010, June 2

“Another LDS/ Mormon Missionary Fable” by grego

Another LDS/ Mormon Missionary Fable

(c) 2010

(Hey, my problem, quality probably gets lower and lower on these fables as my patience and caring gets lower and lower… Still, to give another idea…)

Welcome to The Club!

To get in, you need to pay a steep membership fee. For higher privileges, you need to pay even more.

The favorite area of the club members is: the Sandbox.

The Sandbox is lots of fun, really. And it’s open to all members.

Of course, there are, on a few occasions, a few things that happen, like:
—it’s far away, and no public transportation passes by there;
—they rush everyone in the door, but then the directions are really hard to follow, and the service people aren’t easy to find sometimes;
—the wind blows and someone gets a little sand in the eyes;
—someone throws a little sand, and it gets on someone;
—someone throws a little sand, and it gets in someone’s eyes;
—cats crap in it;
—the kids get sandy;
—the sun gets unbearable as it beats down directly on you;
—you play by yourself.

So, many club members leave.

Let’s say that in some areas 80 out of 100 people who walk through the door, walk back out *minutes* later, never to come back.

The manager thinks, “Dang, the boss said he wants as many people as can in the sandbox; I guess I need to spend more money to do some more advertising and recruiting.”

So he hires better trained sales staff, and they bring in better members, but still…

What would *you* tell the manager?

Would you suggest anything like:
—more and better-trained staff? better orientation?
—put nets around so cats don’t get in?
—put up a little “wash-up” center?
—put up a white cloth, etc. over part(s) of the sandbox so there’s some shade?
—parties and group activities?
—people to call and invite them back?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is spending US$15,600,000 **MONTHLY** just to support missionaries in the field (52,000 missionaries x US$300). That cost does not include much overhead, leaders, leadership training, etc. Maybe $3,466,667 for plane tickets each month? Total cost: twenty million dollars ($20,000,000)/ month? Two-hundred-and-forty million dollars ($240,000,000)/ year?

If 280,106 new members (from the 2009 Statistical Report)/ year join, that means it costs $856.82/ new member.

If the Church were to have a 20% retention rate, that would mean one-hundred-and-ninety-two million dollars ($192,000,000) is being wasted every year, because people don’t stay once they get in… :-( When you add up lost opportunity costs, lost resource costs, etc., it’s much higher.

If you were the boss…??

If you were the manager…??

Is it really too hard to try a few well-thought-out missionary pilot programs?
Is it possible to make the sandbox a more pleasant place to join and stay around?
Would it be more worthwhile to take some of that budget money, and rearrange/ balance priorities?

But you aren’t the boss/ manager/ etc., and neither am I, nor anyone else. So the question is, what will *I* do to make the Sandbox a funner place to be?

Folks, these aren’t “club members in a sandbox”; they’re souls of Heavenly Father’s children!

2008, December 24

Book of Mormon | Come Know Jesus Christ vs. The Mysteries of God Are Unknowable by grego

Book of Mormon | Come Know Jesus Christ vs. The Mysteries of God Are Unknowable
by grego

Merry Christmas! Years ago I attended another church’s service, and the topic was “The Mystery of God”. The Book of Mormon also talks about the mysteries of God. Yet the similarities stopped there.

The preacher spoke about God, the Great Unknown. “God is a mystery, and that’s why we describe him as we do. Don’t bother thinking about him; just obey the commandments. We cannot know him; no man can. He’s everywhere and nowhere.” What a gloomy message for me…

The Book of Mormon prophets, on the other hand, admit that God is a mystery; but, he is a mystery that every person can solve, so to say. The Book of Mormon is replete with not only teachings about this, but personal examples of this happening, and invitations for all to know for themselves. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes in the words of Jesus, to “come unto [Him]”, to “come follow [Him]”, and to “know God that [we] might have eternal life”. Here is a smattering, since much of the Book of Mormon is actually a great exposition of God making Himself and His will known to man:

Forms of “pray” (pray, prays, prayer, prayers) appear about 178 times in the Book of Mormon.

The word “angel” appears about 140 times in the Book of Mormon, and most of those references are about making the things of God known unto man.

Forms of the word “reveal” appear about 17 times, and forms of the “revelation” appear about 34 times.

1 Nephi 1:1
I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days.

1 Nephi 1:8
And being thus overcome with the Spirit, he was carried away in a vision, even that he saw the heavens open, and he thought he saw God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God.
1 Nephi 1:9
And it came to pass that he saw One descending out of the midst of heaven, and he beheld that his luster was above that of the sun at noon-day.

1 Nephi 1:14
And it came to pass that when my father had read and seen many great and marvelous things, he did exclaim many things unto the Lord; such as: Great and marvelous are thy works, O Lord God Almighty! Thy throne is high in the heavens, and thy power, and goodness, and mercy are over all the inhabitants of the earth; and, because thou art merciful, thou wilt not suffer those who come unto thee that they shall perish!
1 Nephi 1:15
And after this manner was the language of my father in the praising of his God; for his soul did rejoice, and his whole heart was filled, because of the things which he had seen, yea, which the Lord had shown unto him.

1 Nephi 2:16
And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.

1 Nephi 10:19
For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round.

Jacob 1:4
And if there were preaching which was sacred, or revelation which was great, or prophesying, that I should engraven the heads of them upon these plates, and touch upon them as much as it were possible, for Christ’s sake, and for the sake of our people.
Jacob 1:5
For because of faith and great anxiety, it truly had been made manifest unto us concerning our people, what things should happen unto them.
Jacob 1:6
And we also had many revelations, and the spirit of much prophecy; wherefore, we knew of Christ and his kingdom, which should come.
Jacob 1:7
Wherefore we labored diligently among our people, that we might persuade them to come unto Christ, and partake of the goodness of God, that they might enter into his rest, lest by any means he should swear in his wrath they should not enter in, as in the provocation in the days of temptation while the children of Israel were in the wilderness.
Jacob 1:8
Wherefore, we would to God that we could persuade all men not to rebel against God, to provoke him to anger, but that all men would believe in Christ, and view his death, and suffer his cross and bear the shame of the world; wherefore, I, Jacob, take it upon me to fulfil the commandment of my brother Nephi.

Jacob 4:3
Now in this thing we do rejoice; and we labor diligently to engraven these words upon plates, hoping that our beloved brethren and our children will receive them with thankful hearts, and look upon them that they may learn with joy and not with sorrow, neither with contempt, concerning their first parents.
Jacob 4:4
For, for this intent have we written these things, that they may know that we knew of Christ, and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming; and not only we ourselves had a hope of his glory, but also all the holy prophets which were before us.
Jacob 4:5
Behold, they believed in Christ and worshiped the Father in his name, and also we worship the Father in his name. And for this intent we keep the law of Moses, it pointing our souls to him; and for this cause it is sanctified unto us for righteousness, even as it was accounted unto Abraham in the wilderness to be obedient unto the commands of God in offering up his son Isaac, which is a similitude of God and his Only Begotten Son.
Jacob 4:6
Wherefore, we search the prophets, and we have many revelations and the spirit of prophecy; and having all these witnesses we obtain a hope, and our faith becometh unshaken, insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea.
Jacob 4:7
Nevertheless, the Lord God showeth us our weakness that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescensions unto the children of men, that we have power to do these things.
Jacob 4:8
Behold, great and marvelous are the works of the Lord. How unsearchable are the depths of the mysteries of him; and it is impossible that man should find out all his ways. And no man knoweth of his ways save it be revealed unto him; wherefore, brethren, despise not the revelations of God.
Jacob 4:9
For behold, by the power of his word man came upon the face of the earth, which earth was created by the power of his word. Wherefore, if God being able to speak and the world was, and to speak and man was created, O then, why not able to command the earth, or the workmanship of his hands upon the face of it, according to his will and pleasure?
Jacob 4:10
Wherefore, brethren, seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand. For behold, ye yourselves know that he counseleth in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all his works.
Jacob 4:11
Wherefore, beloved brethren, be reconciled unto him through the atonement of Christ, his Only Begotten Son, and ye may obtain a resurrection, according to the power of the resurrection which is in Christ, and be presented as the first-fruits of Christ unto God, having faith, and obtained a good hope of glory in him before he manifesteth himself in the flesh.

Amaleki says:
Omni 1:25
And it came to pass that I began to be old; and, having no seed, and knowing king Benjamin to be a just man before the Lord, wherefore, I shall deliver up these plates unto him, exhorting all men to come unto God, the Holy One of Israel, and believe in prophesying, and in revelations, and in the ministering of angels, and in the gift of speaking with tongues, and in the gift of interpreting languages, and in all things which are good; for there is nothing which is good save it comes from the Lord; and that which is evil cometh from the devil.

Mosiah 2:9
And these are the words which he spake and caused to be written, saying: My brethren, all ye that have assembled yourselves together, you that can hear my words which I shall speak unto you this day; for I have not commanded you to come up hither to trifle with the words which I shall speak, but that you should hearken unto me, and open your ears that ye may hear, and your hearts that ye may understand, and your minds that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to your view.

Mosiah 8:19
And now, when Ammon had made an end of speaking these words the king rejoiced exceedingly, and gave thanks to God, saying: Doubtless a great mystery is contained within these plates, and these interpreters were doubtless prepared for the purpose of unfolding all such mysteries to the children of men.

Alma 9:20
Yea, after having been such a highly favored people of the Lord; yea, after having been favored above every other nation, kindred, tongue, or people; after having had all things made known unto them, according to their desires, and their faith, and prayers, of that which has been, and which is, and which is to come;
Alma 9:21
Having been visited by the Spirit of God; having conversed with angels, and having been spoken unto by the voice of the Lord; and having the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and also many gifts, the gift of speaking with tongues, and the gift of preaching, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the gift of translation;
Alma 9:22
Yea, and after having been delivered of God out of the land of Jerusalem, by the hand of the Lord; having been saved from famine, and from sickness, and all manner of diseases of every kind; and they having waxed strong in battle, that they might not be destroyed; having been brought out of bondage time after time, and having been kept and preserved until now; and they have been prospered until they are rich in all manner of things–

Alma 10:5
Nevertheless, after all this, I never have known much of the ways of the Lord, and his mysteries and marvelous power. I said I never had known much of these things; but behold, I mistake, for I have seen much of his mysteries and his marvelous power; yea, even in the preservation of the lives of this people.
Alma 10:6
Nevertheless, I did harden my heart, for I was called many times and I would not hear; therefore I knew concerning these things, yet I would not know; therefore I went on rebelling against God, in the wickedness of my heart, even until the fourth day of this seventh month, which is in the tenth year of the reign of the judges.

Alma 12:9
And now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying: It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.
Alma 12:10
And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.

Alma 26:22
Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing–unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God; yea, unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed; yea, and it shall be given unto such to bring thousands of souls to repentance, even as it has been given unto us to bring these our brethren to repentance.

Alma 36:5
Now, behold, I say unto you, if I had not been born of God I should not have known these things; but God has, by the mouth of his holy angel, made these things known unto me, not of any worthiness of myself;

Alma 36:22
Yea, methought I saw, even as our father Lehi saw, God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels, in the attitude of singing and praising their God; yea, and my soul did long to be there.

3 Nephi 7:15
And it came to pass that Nephi–having been visited by angels and also the voice of the Lord, therefore having seen angels, and being eye-witness, and having had power given unto him that he might know concerning the ministry of Christ, and also being eye-witness to their quick return from righteousness unto their wickedness and abominations;

3 Nephi 7:21
And it came to pass that the thirty and first year did pass away, and there were but few who were converted unto the Lord; but as many as were converted did truly signify unto the people that they had been visited by the power and Spirit of God, which was in Jesus Christ, in whom they believed.

3 Nephi 28:26
But behold, I have seen them, and they have ministered unto me.
Mormon 8:10
And there are none that do know the true God save it be the disciples of Jesus, who did tarry in the land until the wickedness of the people was so great that the Lord would not suffer them to remain with the people; and whether they be upon the face of the land no man knoweth.
Mormon 8:11
But behold, my father and I have seen them, and they have ministered unto us.

Mormon 1:15
And I, being fifteen years of age and being somewhat of a sober mind, therefore I was visited of the Lord, and tasted and knew of the goodness of Jesus.
3 Nephi 28:25
Behold, I was about to write the names of those who were never to taste of death, but the Lord forbade; therefore I write them not, for they are hid from the world.

Ether 2:14
And it came to pass at the end of four years that the Lord came again unto the brother of Jared, and stood in a cloud and talked with him. And for the space of three hours did the Lord talk with the brother of Jared, and chastened him because he remembered not to call upon the name of the Lord.

Ether 3:13
And when he had said these words, behold, the Lord showed himself unto him, and said: Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall; therefore ye are brought back into my presence; therefore I show myself unto you.
Ether 3:14
Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters.

Ether 3:17
And now, as I, Moroni, said I could not make a full account of these things which are written, therefore it sufficeth me to say that Jesus showed himself unto this man in the spirit, even after the manner and in the likeness of the same body even as he showed himself unto the Nephites.
Ether 3:18
And he ministered unto him even as he ministered unto the Nephites; and all this, that this man might know that he was God, because of the many great works which the Lord had showed unto him.
Ether 3:19
And because of the knowledge of this man he could not be kept from beholding within the veil; and he saw the finger of Jesus, which, when he saw, he fell with fear; for he knew that it was the finger of the Lord; and he had faith no longer, for he knew, nothing doubting.
Ether 3:20
Wherefore, having this perfect knowledge of God, he could not be kept from within the veil; therefore he saw Jesus; and he did minister unto him.

Moroni 10:30
And again I would exhort you that ye would come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift, and touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing.

Moroni 10:32
Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.

2008, July 3

Book of Mormon: Korihor in Zarahemla

Book of Mormon: Korihor in Zarahemla

(for more articles on Korihor, type “Korihor” in the search function–there are many!)

After Gideon, Korihor is sent to Zarahemla:
Alma 30:29 Now when the high priest and the chief judge saw the hardness of his heart, yea, when they saw that he would revile even against God, they would not make any reply to his words; but they caused that he should be bound; and they delivered him up into the hands of the officers, and sent him to the land of Zarahemla, that he might be brought before Alma, and the chief judge who was governor over all the land.

All according to the law, it seems, right? Except some critics cry foul: what is Alma doing there?! See, it’s the priests and the Church meddling in civic affairs! And he’s the one–not the judge–that’s even questioning and arguing with Korihor! Ok, everyone, remember: Alma is the defendant in this case–the chief high priest under whom all priests that Korihor has been speaking against operate. Not only is it his right to be there to defend his side and answer the charges, it might even be required for him to be there. Also, in at least one country’s court where I have been before, the defendant actually has the right to interview/ question the accuser in the presence of the judge without a lot of dilly-dally lawyer and judge stuff–which is very possibly what happens next.

Alma 30:30 And it came to pass that when he was brought before Alma and the chief judge, he did go on in the same manner as he did in the land of Gideon; yea, he went on to blaspheme.
Alma 30:31 And he did rise up in great swelling words before Alma, and did revile against the priests and teachers, accusing them of leading away the people after the silly traditions of their fathers, for the sake of glutting on the labors of the people.

Once more, he makes accusations. But Alma proves the charge of glutting on the labors of the people to be false, and therefore a lie:
Alma 30:32 Now Alma said unto him: Thou knowest that we do not glut ourselves upon the labors of this people; for behold I have labored even from the commencement of the reign of the judges until now, with mine own hands for my support, notwithstanding my many travels round about the land to declare the word of God unto my people.
Alma 30:33 And notwithstanding the many labors which I have performed in the church, I have never received so much as even one senine for my labor; neither has any of my brethren, save it were in the judgment-seat; and then we have received only according to law for our time.
Alma 30:34 And now, if we do not receive anything for our labors in the church, what doth it profit us to labor in the church save it were to declare the truth, that we may have rejoicings in the joy of our brethren?
Alma 30:35 Then why sayest thou that we preach unto this people to get gain, when thou, of thyself, knowest that we receive no gain?

Alma continues:
Alma 30:35 And now, believest thou that we deceive this people, that causes such joy in their hearts?
Alma 30:36 And Korihor answered him, Yea.

At this point, Alma understands clearly–if he hadn’t already–that Korihor is a wicked liar, not just an innocent atheist or unbeliever, and I believe that Alma has a few revelations about Korihor, which lead to the next part:
Alma 30:37 And then Alma said unto him: Believest thou that there is a God?
Alma 30:38 And he answered, Nay.
Alma 30:39 Now Alma said unto him: Will ye deny again that there is a God, and also deny the Christ? For behold, I say unto you, I know there is a God, and also that Christ shall come.
Alma 30:40 And now what evidence have ye that there is no God, or that Christ cometh not? I say unto you that ye have none, save it be your word only.
Alma 30:41 But, behold, I have all things as a testimony that these things are true; and ye also have all things as a testimony unto you that they are true; and will ye deny them? Believest thou that these things are true?
Alma 30:42 Behold, I know that thou believest, but thou art possessed with a lying spirit, and ye have put off the Spirit of God that it may have no place in you; but the devil has power over you, and he doth carry you about, working devices that he may destroy the children of God.
Alma 30:43 And now Korihor said unto Alma: If thou wilt show me a sign, that I may be convinced that there is a God, yea, show unto me that he hath power, and then will I be convinced of the truth of thy words.
Alma 30:44 But Alma said unto him: Thou hast had signs enough; will ye tempt your God? Will ye say, Show unto me a sign, when ye have the testimony of all these thy brethren, and also all the holy prophets? The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.

Alma goes to the other part of Korihor’s lying–that the priests don’t and can’t know, yet Korihor can. It doesn’t seem to be about Korihor not being able to believe the religion he wants to; it’s about his imposing on others, that they can’t know, and therefore they are liars by saying they can; yet he’s not a liar by saying he can know that they don’t know, or that there *won’t* be a Christ, etc.

Most critics completely miss the point of Alma’s arguments here. Alma could have presented strong evidence of God that the Nephites and Anti-Nephi-Lehies/ people of Ammon were familiar with (I did that in the “Korihor in Jershon and Gideon” section). I believe the evidence would have held in court, and Alma could have won by doing so. But he doesn’t.

Korihor had no evidence or proof to back up his accusations about the priests, and Alma showed it. Korihor doesn’t have any evidence or proof to back up his other accusations, either, and Alma knows it; he will create a parallel to let that point sink in.

Alma just shows that the other side of the coin of not seeing God in anything, which is seeing God in so many things; and that the other side of not having proof that God exists, is not having proof that God doesn’t exist. Korihor preaches that the doctrine of Christ is foolish traditions; that’s not the first time that accusation had been made (see 2 Nephi 25:26, Jacob 7:7, 9, 11-13; Alma 8:11, Alma 28:7-8). Alma says, you say they are foolish; but I say, where is evidence or proof that yours aren’t? As Elder McConkie says: “All false doctrines are fables. That is, they are stories which have been imagined, fabricated, and invented as opposed to the gospel which is real and true. Apostasy consists in turning from true doctrine to fables” (McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3: 114).

Alma’s arguments have nothing to do with proving God’s existence and aren’t meant to be taken that way! In fact, Alma has no intention whatsoever of proving God, to anyone–especially to Korihor. Alma is just showing: if neither side has proof that anyone and everyone can see, how then can Korihor claim knowing there is no God? And how then can Korihor claim to be certain that others can’t know there is a God? Alma just proves that Korihor’s arguments are baseless; no proof or even evidence is needed. Korihor’s universe is one of anarchy and disorder, where the strongest wins and anyone can do anything they want; yet the universe apparent–in the sky and everywhere, that anyone and everyone can see–is one of order and function. So, in essence, Alma shows that, based on what can be known through the senses and the physical world around–nature–his argument is just as strong–well, even stronger–than Korihor’s argument of survival of the fittest, found in nature.

There is no need for Alma to “show a sign” or “convince” in court; it is good enough to show that Korihor’s charges are false and he is guilty of them. Alma knows that when a wicked, adulterous, and lying [person] seeks a sign and gets one, it remains as having no significant meaning or a cause to repent (see Helaman 9, 10; Helaman 16:6, 23; 3 Nephi 2:1-3, 3 Nephi 1:4, 5). So why bother? The faithful receive signs to their favor, and the faithless receive signs to their condemnation (Alma said that in Alma 29)–and we’re going to see this in a minute. Alma has also let Korihor off somewhat easily–look, you want proof for God, I’m not going to give you any; you don’t have proof God doesn’t exist; you lied; it’s over with your preaching. Korihor knows that even without Alma presenting evidence, he has lost. However, I imagine that Korihor doesn’t like how it just ended, and is angry. So now he backpedals on some previous statements of belief, and changes the argument from one of belief, to one of proof. Very importantly note here that Korihor, not Alma, changes it from a legal questioning/ trial about belief, to a religious confrontation based on proof.

Alma 30:45 And yet do ye go about, leading away the hearts of this people, testifying unto them there is no God? And yet will ye deny against all these witnesses? And he said: Yea, I will deny, except ye shall show me a sign.
Alma 30:46 And now it came to pass that Alma said unto him: Behold, I am grieved because of the hardness of your heart, yea, that ye will still resist the spirit of the truth, that thy soul may be destroyed.
Alma 30:47 But behold, it is better that thy soul should be lost than that thou shouldst be the means of bringing many souls down to destruction, by thy lying and by thy flattering words; therefore if thou shalt deny again, behold God shall smite thee, that thou shalt become dumb, that thou shalt never open thy mouth any more, that thou shalt not deceive this people any more.
Alma 30:48 Now Korihor said unto him: I do not deny the existence of a God, but I do not believe that there is a God; and I say also, that ye do not know that there is a God; and except ye show me a sign, I will not believe.
Alma 30:49 Now Alma said unto him: This will I give unto thee for a sign, that thou shalt be struck dumb, according to my words; and I say, that in the name of God, ye shall be struck dumb, that ye shall no more have utterance.

Alma gives Korihor four chances to admit he is lying. Korihor doesn’t take them.

Alma 30:50 Now when Alma had said these words, Korihor was struck dumb, that he could not
have utterance, according to the words of Alma.
Alma 30:51 And now when the chief judge saw this, he put forth his hand and wrote unto Korihor, saying: Art thou convinced of the power of God? In whom did ye desire that Alma should show forth his sign? Would ye that he should afflict others, to show unto thee a sign? Behold, he has showed unto you a sign; and now will ye dispute more?
Alma 30:52 And Korihor put forth his hand and wrote, saying: I know that I am dumb, for I cannot speak; and I know that nothing save it were the power of God could bring this upon me; yea, and I always knew that there was a God.

Well, what do you know!! Korihor really *was* a liar from the start.

Alma 30:53 But behold, the devil hath deceived me; for he appeared unto me in the form of an angel, and said unto me: Go and reclaim this people, for they have all gone astray after an unknown God. And he said unto me: There is no God; yea, and he taught me that which I should say. And I have taught his words; and I taught them because they were pleasing unto the carnal mind; and I taught them, even until I had much success, insomuch that I verily believed that they were true; and for this cause I withstood the truth, even until I have brought this great curse upon me.
Alma 30:54 Now when he had said this, he besought that Alma should pray unto God, that the curse might be taken from him.
Alma 30:55 But Alma said unto him: If this curse should be taken from thee thou wouldst again lead away the hearts of this people; therefore, it shall be unto thee even as the Lord will.
Alma 30:56 And it came to pass that the curse was not taken off of Korihor…

Here’s where the critics cry and whine: “I’m an atheist, but I’m not a liar! Really!” First of all, Korihor is not an atheist, and he never was. Remember, he just said that. He preached atheism, but he was never an atheist. Are there atheists? If someone says they are atheist, I believe them–after conversation. I say that not through bigotry but because of experience. I’ve met many proclaimed atheists; most were scared agnostics who had been hurt before by religion. That’s ok. That’s cool. I can understand, just like I understand people who don’t want to get married because they were hurt in past relationships. And that doesn’t mean there really aren’t atheists, and if someone doesn’t want to believe, or won’t allow themselves to believe, well, that’s where they are, too. “See, all Mormons believe all unbelievers and atheists are liars!” Does this story show that? Does this story say that all atheists are liars? No. Or all unbelievers? No. Does it mean that liars might have no problems blaspheming? Yes. Does it mean that someone *might* be lying when they say things to build themselves up, even if it means destroying God’s work in the process? Sure. And notwithstanding the plethora of ex-believers who say they aren’t liars, many ex-believers I’ve met have admitted that they really did know when they said they didn’t know and said all sorts of lies. Not only that, but baptsimal requirements mean that if someone is baptized, they have had a spiritual witness of the truth, a testimony from the Spirit. So either they didn’t have one and lied during the baptism; the interview wasn’t conducted properly or the interviewer allowed them to be baptized unproperly; or they had one and now say they don’t and didn’t (lying), to some extent. (What does often happen to unrepentant sinners is that one forgets or avoids (consciously or subconsciously) knowledge and the Spirit/ witnesses received.) Does that mean all ex-believers are liars like Korihor? Of course not. In fact, no true atheists and very few ex-believers could be like Korihor–Korihor had a testimony that God existed, he was personally visited by Satan, he listened to Satan and his doctrine and chose to preach and follow it, and he chose to follow Satan to the end, due to continual choosing of wrong rewards over right.

So Korihor admits he knows his words never were true at the start–he only started to believe them later (this also happens to many ex-believers); and notwithstanding all his excuses, he does recognize that he brought the curse on himself (something most ex-believers don’t do, which is why the story of Korihor gets many of them really riled up). This is also evident when Korihor doesn’t ask Alma to take the curse from him, but he asks Alma to ask God to take the curse from him.

Does Korihor repent? No! Contrary to what many critics say, he doesn’t repent. Alma makes it clear he hasn’t, and won’t–that’s why the curse isn’t taken off him. Korihor just wants his voice back so he can keep going. Making an admission of being wrong and asking for a blessing is not repentance. I’ve seen it myself many times–people asking for mercy from others just so they can continue to do their own evil things. (You know, like “Get off of me and let me up–so I can try to hit you again…”) If Korihor had really repented, maybe instead of asking for his voice back, he might have said he’s done with preacing and withstanding the truth; he might have asked for repentance and baptism; he might have asked about restitution. He could have done many of the things that other repentant people in the Book of Mormon do (like Alma himself and the sons of Mosiah, Amulek, Zeezrom, etc.). Korihor does nothing of those things–look, I just confessed, so you should give me my voice back. And what was his confession? Mostly one excuse after another, blaming others for his problems.

In the end, it says that Korihor is cast out, and went about from house to house begging for his food (Alma 30:56). Is that “cast out” from the presence of the chief judge, or from the Nephites? Either way, his judgment seems to be according to the law. It says, in Alma 11:2: Now if a man owed another, and he would not pay that which he did owe, he was complained of to the judge; and the judge executed authority, and sent forth officers that the man should be brought before him; and he judged the man according to the law and the evidences which were brought against him, and thus the man was compelled to pay that which he owed, or be stripped, or *be cast out from among the people* as a thief and a robber.

One of the penalties for owing another is being “cast out from among the people”. What is the penalty for accusing others of being complete liars to control, exert dominion over, and monetarily gain from others, and all his other crimes? I don’t know, but casting out doesn’t seem a far stretch…

In the Book of Mormon, when some are questioned–even by judges–they retain what seems to be their right to remain silent or to answer as they please. Korihor clearly gave away this right, in order to be able to speak against the church leaders. So, to say that he was forced to respond, is too strong.

Some might say that the charges were still too weak to arrest and question Korihor in the first place. Maybe, just maybe, it *was* somewhat uncertain about whether his crimes were enough to be punished for, at first. Ask most police officers if most arrests don’t start out with a small matter of a few questions and maybe something that sounds fishy, or a small “mistake”/ crime. After arrest and more questioning, or at the trial, if the defendant chooses to speak, more comes out… busted! But from what Korihor was telling the judge of Gideon, it appears he just might have been saying more than what was just recorded. Still, even if that came out only later to the judge of Gideon, that would be more than enough to send him to the chief judge and the main defendant of his accusations, Alma. No doubt he was a public nuisance to the people of Ammon, but I imagine that when he was taken before Ammon he might have said much of the same things that he said to the priest of Gideon (Korihor seemed to have not been able to pass up a chance to rail on those priests!).

So, what crimes might Korihor have been charged with and condemned for, based on some current criminal concepts? How about: continued public nuisance, lying, inciting others to commit crime, sedition, insurrection, slander/ defamation/ malicious falsehood (with intent to monetarily gain from it), (fraudulent) misrepresentation (lying to get others to follow his teachings), etc.

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Next: Korihor vs. the Nephite Social Contract; The Law of War

2008, June 10

Filters of Reality: Perceiving Life through Frames in the Book of Mormon

Filters of Reality: Perceiving Life through Frames in the Book of Mormon

by grego

(Some quick thoughts on the topic, not a peer-reviewed paper, eh.)

Reading the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon, through the eyes of frames and filters, such as understood by NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) and EFT (emotional freedom technique), has given new insight (at least to me) into many of the stories that I want to share.

We have all met the (possibly unknowing) hypocrite–the person who talks endlessly about the negative in others, while ignoring the same (or worse) negative in themself–the person who defends their child when they’re getting beat up, then defends their child when the child beats up other children; the drunk person talking about how stupid smokers are; the person who believes stories only if they are on the TV news, but not the internet news; etc. As we listen to and observe them, we wonder how they could be so blind. What’s more interesting, is that you can talk to them until you’re blue in the face about their hypocrisy, and it will have no impact on the way they feel about and see it.

Remember “Johari’s window”? It’s that concept of there are things others can see, that we can’t/ don’t/ don’t want to; and vice-versa.

We see life through our own eyes. How we perceive it, is dependent on who we are, and all that went/ goes into that. This is called a “frame”. Talk to two involved people about something that just happened, and a third disinterested person, and you might very well get three very different stories. Well, of course, you might say, the bad people are lying, right? Not always.

There is a perfect way to see things, a perfect truth. This is how God sees things. We, however, don’t the way God sees; we see less than perfect.

There are two main reasons that we are less than perfect in the way we view the world. In Doctrine and Covenants 93, it says:
38 Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God.
39 And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers.
40 But I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth.

In other words—in addition to being individuals—we see things differently than God because we:
1. are disobedient/ sin
2. have incorrect things taught to us/ learn incorrect things.

Even many in LDS/ Mormon families can see it in the reality of their lives. For example, a family that is generally skinny might show that anyone fat is less than them. Or a family that is generally large might show that anyone thin is weird. Or that someone with a different color of hair is not as good, or that someone of another religion is not honest.

These incorrect teachings are not just about religion; they can be about anything and everything, literally. They can come from about anywhere and everywhere, too. We receive it, and it becomes part of us. It’s like we are like computers; the first program installed, is written on a blank slate, and becomes dominant; when another program comes up that conflicts with it, or wants to overwrite it, we protect the first program—usually without logically understanding why (if there even *is* a logical ‘why’…).

We see this in the scriptures in many examples; it seems that our having less-than-perfect perception and frames are a big part of what God teaches us.

Doubting Thomas. Witnesses, even the other eleven, in all solemnity, and he still doubts. Why? Alma the Younger, the prophet’s son, and he still doubts. Why? King Lamoni; his father; the brother of Jared; Saul/Paul; many investigators in the Church… the list is far from finished. Why?

I imagine that somehow, Thomas could not believe that Christ could resurrect. Something inside him said, “No way”. Obviously that didn’t come from God. So where did it come from? Maybe he grew up with his parents teaching him that. Maybe he heard it in the synagogue. Maybe his friend expressed unbelief. Maybe he read it in a book, or a respected adult told him. Maybe when he was three years old his pet died, and he was told it just couldn’t come back to life. Who knows; the point is, somehow, that unbelief was planted in his heart, and it took root, and stayed.

It took the Savior appearing to him to jolt his unbelief. He now had two opposing thoughts—his learned unbelief, and the Savior standing in front of him, with a body. Something had to go, or be rationalized.

We are all like him in some respect. We all have incorrect beliefs in us. We probably picked them up in a similar way.

It often takes an experience that jolts/ jogs us, which then allows us to understand and accept new truths. That’s what happened with Alma the younger. It took an angel appearing in power to convince him that something was amiss with his current belief system. For Paul, it was similar. For king Lamoni, it was Ammon, the testimonies of his servants, the arms, and Ammon’s obedience. For king Lamoni’s father, it was the experience of meeting Lamoni and Ammon and interacting with them. For the brother of Jared, it was seeing Jesus seeming to have a body. When these experiences happened, it caused the person experiencing them to be astonished, and marvel.

What one had never even considered as possibly true, was now a strong choice. The evidence, even proof, was clear; to deny it would mean to be a liar.

Alma, it seems, had never considered that his father’s teachings were true. The impact was so low, that the words he uses to describe remembering Jesus—
“And now, for three days and for three nights was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul. And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world (Alma 36:16-17)–seem to say, three days of the most intense pain, and finally I recalled one time when I (over?)heard my father talking about *one* Jesus Christ, a certain someone…

King Lamoni believed that: “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” (Alma 18:5). It seems that the thought that he had killed someone might be wrong/ bad had never even occurred to him before the experience with Ammon!

His father was not lying about his deepest convictions when he said: “…Lamoni, thou art going to deliver these Nephites, who are sons of a liar. Behold, he robbed our fathers; and now his children are also come amongst us that they may, by their cunning and their lyings, deceive us, that they again may rob us of our property” (Alma 20:13). His father also seriously believed what he told Ammon: “I know that if I should slay my son, that I should shed innocent blood; for it is thou that hast sought to destroy him” (Alma 20:19). He truly believed that Ammon was wicked, and there for only bad reasons. He thought he was protecting his son and the Lamanite kingdoms.

The brother of Jared had never considered that God had a body. It took a minor appearance and questioning to start things rolling.

When they all found out differently, they marveled. After those experiences, it still took teachings and the Spirit for them to come to correct understandings. Ammon preached to king Lamoni, and Lamoni had further experiences that witnessed to him that the new belief system being taught him was correct. Aaron preached to Lamoni’s father, and he had similar experiences of having more witnesses. For the brother of Jared, it took a further appearance with explanation, clarification, and more teachings, to learn more truths about God. Of king Lamoni’s father, the Book of Mormon says: “And when he saw that Ammon had no desire to destroy him, and when he also saw the great love he had for his son Lamoni, he was astonished exceedingly” (Alma 20:26).

If those experiences had never happened, wouldn’t it be likely that they would have continued in their way of believing? Isn’t that what usually happens with us? Doesn’t it usually take an experience to shock us back into reality, into searching for deeper meaning in existence and more purpose to life?

Experiences of this sort, however, do not require a change in belief, or reframing. It is only an opportunity for such. For example, when Alma and Amulek preached in Ammonihah, Zeezrom was first astonished at Alma and Amulek; after a reframing, he is astonished with the people who still believe as he did moments ago. These people had heard the same words, but there was a very different outcome of that experience.

The Lamanites that fought against Ammon were astonished, twice:
“But Ammon stood forth and began to cast stones at them with his sling; yea, with mighty power he did sling stones amongst them; and thus he slew a certain number of them insomuch that they began to be astonished at his power; nevertheless they were angry because of the slain of their brethren, and they were determined that he should fall; therefore, seeing that they could not hit him with their stones, they came forth with clubs to slay him. But behold, every man that lifted his club to smite Ammon, he smote off their arms with his sword; for he did withstand their blows by smiting their arms with the edge of his sword, insomuch that they began to be astonished, and began to flee before him; yea, and they were not few in number; and he caused them to flee by the strength of his arm” (Alma 17:36-37).
However, we see that even though they were astonished, they didn’t allow that to change them:
“And they were also rebuked by those men who had stood at the waters of Sebus and scattered the flocks which belonged to the king, for they were angry with Ammon because of the number which he had slain of their brethren at the waters of Sebus, while defending the flocks of the king. Now, one of them, whose brother had been slain with the sword of Ammon, being exceedingly angry with Ammon, drew his sword and went forth that he might let it fall upon Ammon, to slay him; and as he lifted the sword to smite him, behold, he fell dead” (Alma 19:21-22).

How about the five with the chief judge?
They didn’t believe Nephi at first; it took the experience of beholding the fulfillment of the prophecy of the chief judge lying in his blood for them to consider that he might be right:
“Behold, now it came to pass that when Nephi had spoken these words, certain men who were among them ran to the judgment-seat; yea, even there were five who went, and they said among themselves, as they went: Behold, now we will know of a surety whether this man be a prophet and God hath commanded him to prophesy such marvelous things unto us. Behold, we do not believe that he hath; yea, we do not believe that he is a prophet; nevertheless, if this thing which he has said concerning the chief judge be true, that he be dead, then will we believe that the other words which he has spoken are true. And it came to pass that they ran in their might, and came in unto the judgment-seat; and behold, the chief judge had fallen to the earth, and did lie in his blood. And now behold, when they saw this they were astonished exceedingly, insomuch that they fell to the earth; for they had not believed the words which Nephi had spoken concerning the chief judge. But now, when they saw they believed, and fear came upon them lest all the judgments which Nephi had spoken should come upon the people; therefore they did quake, and had fallen to the earth (Helaman 9:1-5).
Later, we learn that this was not the end of them; it was just an opening for further things:
“And it came to pass that the five were liberated on the day of the burial. Nevertheless, they did rebuke the judges in the words which they had spoken against Nephi, and did contend with them one by one, insomuch that they did confound them” (Helaman 9:18). Also, “And there were some of the Nephites who believed on the words of Nephi; and there were some also, who believed because of the testimony of the five, for they had been converted while they were in prison” (Helaman 9:39).

Not everyone changes that big, that fast. Changes in our frames can come over time and through many minor experiences.

This is often the case for many investigators of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Many grow up thinking, any church but *that* one. Everyone knows it’s the church of the devil, a cult, its leaders were charlatans, etc. Then, often, it starts when they get uncomfortable with life in some way. They start to feel uneasy, like there is more but they don’t know what; they feel led to imagine more to religion and spirituality and life; they have a tragedy, major or minor, that opens them up to deeper thinking; etc. Maybe they (unknowingly) become acquainted with or friends with a Mormon; they hear a few things. They can’t believe anyone that kind and smart, could be so misled. They ask questions. They open the scriptures. They go to church, just to see. They sing the hymns. They pray. They talk to the missionaries. They read the Ensign. Little by little, what was impossible, becomes probable, and then even undeniable. Without that first big step, though, chances are they might not have even begun the journey.

The more distorted our filters, the more distorted our perceptions of truth and life will be, and the more it will require to jolt us and change them. (Most of the people just spoken of had very distorted filters.)

One thing that really had to be reframed for me was appearances and judging. I have had many experiences that have taught me to let go of untruth and accept new truth regarding those things. Most of the experiences have shocked me and my beliefs in one way or another, and caused me to rethink some things.

One day, if we are to see God as he is, face to face, eye to eye, we will have to have all of our filters of “reality” fall from our eyes, and see things as He sees them. It is interesting that Saul/Paul was struck blind, and had scales fall from his eyes. The Book of Mormon says of king Lamoni:
“Now, this was what Ammon desired, for he knew that king Lamoni was under the power of God; he knew that the dark veil of unbelief was being cast away from his mind, and the light which did light up his mind, which was the light of the glory of God, which was a marvelous light of his goodness—yea, this light had infused such joy into his soul, the cloud of darkness having been dispelled, and that the light of everlasting life was lit up in his soul, yea, he knew that this had overcome his natural frame, and he was carried away in God…” (Alma 19:6).

As we continue to be open to the truth and the Spirit and its teachings, the experiences we have—even very small and seemingly insignificant ones—will continue to reframe our perceptions and make them (and us) more godlike.

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