Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2012, October 5

“Book of Mormon: No Ordinance of Confirmation and Laying on of Hands for the Gift of the Holy Ghost among Nephites before Jesus’ Visit?” by grego

Book of Mormon: No Ordinance of Confirmation and Laying on of Hands for the Gift of the Holy Ghost among the Nephites before Jesus’ Visit?

grego
(c) 2012

It seems that the ordinance of confirmation and the giving of the Holy Ghost were different in the Book of Mormon setting; or, better said, they didn’t exist until after Jesus’ visit. Baptism by water was the ordinance, and the Holy Ghost would come to those who were worthy of it, when they were ready–without ordinance.

I’ll share a little from the Book of Mormon that supports this thought:

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Mosiah 18:10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?
Mosiah 18:12 And now it came to pass that Alma took Helam, he being one of the first, and went and stood forth in the water, and cried, saying: O Lord, pour out thy Spirit upon thy servant, that he may do this work with holiness of heart.
Mosiah 18:13 And when he had said these words, the Spirit of the Lord was upon him, and he said: Helam, I baptize thee, having authority from the Almighty God, as a testimony that ye have entered into a covenant to serve him until you are dead as to the mortal body; and may the Spirit of the Lord be poured out upon you; and may he grant unto you eternal life, through the redemption of Christ, whom he has prepared from the foundation of the world.
Mosiah 18:14 And after Alma had said these words, both Alma and Helam were buried in the water; and they arose and came forth out of the water rejoicing, being filled with the Spirit.

Note that the baptismal prayer includes: “and may the Spirit of the Lord be poured out upon you” as a preface to its happening. Baptism by water allows God to “pour out his Spirit more abundantly”.

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Compare that to this later:
3 Nephi 11:21 And the Lord said unto him: I give unto you power that ye shall baptize this people when I am again ascended into heaven.
3 Nephi 11:22 And again the Lord called others, and said unto them likewise; and he gave unto them power to baptize. And he said unto them: On this wise shall ye baptize; and there shall be no disputations among you.
3 Nephi 11:23 Verily I say unto you, that whoso repenteth of his sins through your words, and desireth to be baptized in my name, on this wise shall ye baptize them–Behold, ye shall go down and stand in the water, and in my name shall ye baptize them.
3 Nephi 11:24 And now behold, these are the words which ye shall say, calling them by name, saying:
3 Nephi 11:25 Having authority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
3 Nephi 11:26 And then shall ye immerse them in the water, and come forth again out of the water.

A very simple ordinance, with no mention of the Holy Ghost.

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3 Nephi 9:20 And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.

This occurs in Helaman 5, where nonmember Lamanites pray with faith and
Helaman 5:45 …the Holy Spirit of God did come down from heaven, and did enter into their hearts, and they were filled as if with fire, and they could speak forth marvelous words.

There was no laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost for these Lamanites, who had not even been baptized.

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3 Nephi 12:1 AND it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words unto Nephi, and to those who had been called, (now the number of them who had been called, and received power and authority to baptize, was twelve) and behold, he stretched forth his hand unto the multitude, and cried unto them, saying: Blessed are ye if ye shall give heed unto the words of these twelve whom I have chosen from among you to minister unto you, and to be your servants; and unto them I have given power that they may baptize you with water; and after that ye are baptized with water, behold, I will baptize you with fire and with the Holy Ghost; therefore blessed are ye if ye shall believe in me and be baptized, after that ye have seen me and know that I am.
3 Nephi 12:2 And again, more blessed are they who shall believe in your words because that ye shall testify that ye have seen me, and that ye know that I am. Yea, blessed are they who shall believe in your words, and come down into the depths of humility and be baptized, for they shall be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of their sins.

Jesus doesn’t give them power and authority to give the gift of the Holy Ghost, but for baptism of water. Jesus says the disciples will baptize with water, and that after that baptism, He will baptize people with fire and the Holy Ghost.

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3 Nephi 27:16 And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.
3 Nephi 27:20 Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.

“Filled”–with the Holy Ghost.
The commandment is to be baptized, not receive the Holy Ghost.

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Moroni 6:4 And after they had been received unto baptism, and were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, they were numbered among the people of the church of Christ; and their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith.

The Holy Ghost comes to them when they are ready.

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Moroni 8:25 And the first fruits of repentance is baptism; and baptism cometh by faith unto the fulfilling the commandments; and the fulfilling the commandments bringeth remission of sins;

Moroni 8:26 And the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God.

The Holy Ghost comes when those baptized by water are ready for it.

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In all the above verses, and everwhere else in the Book of Mormon, there is no reference to the gift of the Holy Ghost as an ordinance, nor to confirmation. I’ve included other “baptism” verses from the Book of Mormon below:

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These are the only references to “the gift of the Holy Ghost” (and variations) in the Book of Mormon:

2 Nephi 28:26 Yea, wo be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men, and denieth the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost!

Jacob 6:8 Behold, will ye reject these words? Will ye reject the words of the prophets; and will ye reject all the words which have been spoken concerning Christ, after so many have spoken concerning him; and deny the good word of Christ, and the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, and quench the Holy Spirit, and make a mock of the great plan of redemption, which hath been laid for you?

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;

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The only references to “baptism of fire”:

2 Nephi 31:13 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism–yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.
2 Nephi 31:14 But, behold, my beloved brethren, thus came the voice of the Son unto me, saying: After ye have repented of your sins, and witnessed unto the Father that ye are willing to keep my commandments, by the baptism of water, and have received the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and can speak with a new tongue, yea, even with the tongue of angels, and after this should deny me, it would have been better for you that ye had not known me.

2 Nephi 31:17 Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.
2 Nephi 31:18 And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive.

2 Nephi 32:2 Do ye not remember that I said unto you that after ye had received the Holy Ghost ye could speak with the tongue of angels? And now, how could ye speak with the tongue of angels save it were by the Holy Ghost?

2 Nephi 32:5 For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do.

3 Nephi 9:20 And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.

Ether 12:14 Behold, it was the faith of Nephi and Lehi that wrought the change upon the Lamanites, that they were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost.

However, there is this:
3 Nephi 18:36 And it came to pass that when Jesus had made an end of these sayings, he touched with his hand the disciples whom he had chosen, one by one, even until he had touched them all, and spake unto them as he touched them.

3 Nephi 18:37 And the multitude heard not the words which he spake, therefore they did not bear record; but the disciples bare record that HE GAVE THEM POWER TO GIVE THE HOLY GHOST. And I will show unto you hereafter that this record is true.

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Others:

1 Nephi 10:17 And it came to pass after I, Nephi, having heard all the words of my father, concerning the things which he saw in a vision, and also the things which he spake by the power of the Holy Ghost, which power he received by faith on the Son of God–and the Son of God was the Messiah who should come–I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him, as well in times of old as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men.

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.

1 Nephi 11:27 And I looked and beheld the Redeemer of the world, of whom my father had spoken; and I also beheld the prophet who should prepare the way before him. And the Lamb of God went forth and was baptized of him; and after he was baptized, I beheld the heavens open, and the Holy Ghost come down out of heaven and abide upon him in the form of a dove.

1 Nephi 13:37 And blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day, for they shall have the gift and the power of the Holy Ghost; and if they endure unto the end they shall be lifted up at the last day, and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb; and whoso shall publish peace, yea, tidings of great joy, how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be.

2 Nephi 9:23 And he commandeth all men that they must repent, and be baptized in his name, having perfect faith in the Holy One of Israel, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God.

2 Nephi 26:13 And that he manifesteth himself unto all those who believe in him, by the power of the Holy Ghost; yea, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, working mighty miracles, signs, and wonders, among the children of men according to their faith.

2 Nephi 28:26 Yea, wo be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men, and denieth the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost!

2 Nephi 28:31 Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost.

2 Nephi 31:8 Wherefore, after he was baptized with water the Holy Ghost descended upon him in the form of a dove.

2 Nephi 31:11 And the Father said: Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son.

2 Nephi 31:12 And also, the voice of the Son came unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father give the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do.

2 Nephi 31:13 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism–yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.

2 Nephi 31:14 But, behold, my beloved brethren, thus came the voice of the Son unto me, saying: After ye have repented of your sins, and witnessed unto the Father that ye are willing to keep my commandments, by the baptism of water, and have received the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and can speak with a new tongue, yea, even with the tongue of angels, and after this should deny me, it would have been better for you that ye had not known me.

2 Nephi 31:17 Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.

2 Nephi 33:1 AND now I, Nephi, cannot write all the things which were taught among my people; neither am I mighty in writing, like unto speaking; for when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men.

Helaman 16:5 Telling them of things which must shortly come, that they might know and remember at the time of their coming that they had been made known unto them beforehand, to the intent that they might believe; therefore as many as believed on the words of Samuel went forth unto him to be baptized, for they came repenting and confessing their sins.

Mosiah 18:17 And they were called the church of God, or the church of Christ, from that time forward. And it came to pass that whosoever was baptized by the power and authority of God was added to his church.
Mosiah 18:18 And it came to pass that Alma, having authority from God, ordained priests; even one priest to every fifty of their number did he ordain to preach unto them, and to teach them concerning the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.

Mosiah 21:32 And now since the coming of Ammon, king Limhi had also entered into a covenant with God, and also many of his people, to serve him and keep his commandments.
Mosiah 21:33 And it came to pass that king Limhi and many of his people were desirous to be baptized; but there was none in the land that had authority from God. And Ammon declined doing this thing, considering himself an unworthy servant.
Mosiah 21:34 Therefore they did not at that time form themselves into a church, waiting upon the Spirit of the Lord. Now they were desirous to become even as Alma and his brethren, who had fled into the wilderness.

Mosiah 25:17 And it came to pass that after Alma had taught the people many things, and had made an end of speaking to them, that king Limhi was desirous that he might be baptized; and all his people were desirous that they might be baptized also.
Mosiah 25:18 Therefore, Alma did go forth into the water and did baptize them; yea, he did baptize them after the manner he did his brethren in the waters of Mormon; yea, and as many as he did baptize did belong to the church of God; and this because of their belief on the words of Alma.

Alma 4:4 And they began to establish the church more fully; yea, and many were baptized in the waters of Sidon and were joined to the church of God; yea, they were baptized by the hand of Alma, who had been consecrated the high priest over the people of the church, by the hand of his father Alma.

Alma 15:12 And Alma baptized Zeezrom unto the Lord; and he began from that time forth to preach unto the people.
Alma 15:13 And Alma established a church in the land of Sidom, and consecrated priests and teachers in the land, to baptize unto the Lord whosoever were desirous to be baptized.

Ether 12:23 And I said unto him: Lord, the Gentiles will mock at these things, because of our weakness in writing; for Lord thou hast made us mighty in word by faith, but thou hast not made us mighty in writing; for thou hast made all this people that they could speak much, because of the Holy Ghost which thou hast given them;

Moroni 3:4 And after this manner did they ordain priests and teachers, according to the gifts and callings of God unto men; and they ordained them by the power of the Holy Ghost, which was in them.

Moroni 6:9 And their meetings were conducted by the church after the manner of the workings of the Spirit, and by the power of the Holy Ghost; for as the power of the Holy Ghost led them whether to preach, or to exhort, or to pray, or to supplicate, or to sing, even so it was done.

Moroni 7:36 Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?

Moroni 7:44 If so, his faith and hope is vain, for none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart; and if a man be meek and lowly in heart, and confesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, he must needs have charity; for if he have not charity he is nothing; wherefore he must needs have charity.

Moroni 8:7 For immediately after I had learned these things of you I inquired of the Lord concerning the matter. And the word of the Lord came to me by the power of the Holy Ghost, saying:

Moroni 10:4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
Moroni 10:5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
Moroni 10:6 And whatsoever thing is good is just and true; wherefore, nothing that is good denieth the Christ, but acknowledgeth that he is.
Moroni 10:7 And ye may know that he is, by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore I would exhort you that ye deny not the power of God; for he worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men, the same today and tomorrow, and forever.

2012, September 28

“Book of Mormon: Parallels among the Nephites between the Birth of Jesus Christ and His Post-Resurrection Appearance” by grego

Book of Mormon: Parallels among the Nephites between the Birth of Jesus Christ and His Post-Resurrection Appearance

grego
(c) 2012

There are a few parallels between the two comings of Jesus Christ; the first coming occurs when he is born, and the second is after he is resurrected and appears to the Nephites.

Here’s the first time:
Helaman 14:7 And it shall come to pass that 1)*ye shall all be amazed, and wonder*, insomuch that 2)*ye shall fall to the earth*.
Helaman 14:8 And it shall come to pass that 3)*whosoever shall believe on the Son of God, the same shall have everlasting life*.

3 Nephi 1:15 And it came to pass that the words which came unto Nephi were fulfilled, according as they had been spoken; for behold, at the going down of the sun there was no darkness; and the people began to be 1)*astonished* because there was no darkness when the night came.
3 Nephi 1:16 And there were many, who had not believed the words of the prophets, who 2)*fell to the earth* and became as if they were dead, for they knew that the great plan of destruction which they had laid for those who believed in the words of the prophets had been frustrated; for the sign which had been given was already at hand.

3 Nephi 1:17 And 4)*they began to know that the Son of God must shortly appear*; yea, in fine, all the people upon the face of the whole earth from the west to the east, both in the land north and in the land south, were 1)*so exceedingly astonished that they fell to the earth*.

3 Nephi 1:18 For 5)*they knew that the prophets had testified of these things for many years*, and that the sign which had been given was already at hand; and they began to fear because of their iniquity and their unbelief.

Here’s the second time:
3 Nephi 11:1 AND now it came to pass that there were a great multitude gathered together, of the people of Nephi, round about the temple which was in the land Bountiful; and they were 1)*marveling and wondering* one with another, and were showing one to another the great and marvelous change which had taken place.

3 Nephi 11:3 And it came to pass that while they were thus conversing one with another, 4)*they heard a voice as if it came out of heaven…
3 Nephi 11:6 And behold, the third time they did understand the voice which they heard; and it said unto them:
3 Nephi 11:7 Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name–hear ye him*.

3 Nephi 11:8 … they saw a Man descending out of heaven…
3 Nephi 11:9 And it came to pass that he stretched forth his hand and spake unto the people, saying:
3 Nephi 11:10 Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.

3 Nephi 11:12 And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words 2)*the whole multitude fell to the earth*; for 5)*they remembered that it had been prophesied among them that Christ should show himself unto them after his ascension into heaven*.

3 Nephi 11:15 And it came to pass that the multitude went forth… and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, 5)*of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come*.

3 Nephi 11:16 1)*And when they had all gone forth and had witnessed for themselves, they did cry out with one accord, saying:
3 Nephi 11:17 Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God! And they did fall down at the feet of Jesus, and did worship him*.

3 Nephi 11:33 3)*And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God*.

2012, September 18

“Book of Mormon: Emotions and Sins Lead to Mental and Physical Anguish—Zeezrom’s Sickness in Alma 15” by grego

Book of Mormon: Emotions and Sins Lead to Mental and Physical Anguish—Zeezrom’s Sickness in Alma 15

grego
(c) 2012

Many people have a hard time with the concept that physical and mental problems can result from emotions and sins (a basic principle of energy healing is not that they can, but they usually~always do). Here’s a little story from the Book of Mormon that should help:

Alma 15:3 And also , for he supposed that Alma and Amulek were no more; and he supposed that they had been slain because of his iniquity. And .

Alma 15:4 Now, when he heard that Alma and Amulek were in the land of Sidom, ; and he sent a message immediately unto them, desiring them to come unto him.

Alma 15:5 And it came to pass that they went immediately, obeying the message which he had sent unto them; and they went in unto the house unto Zeezrom; and ; and when he saw them he stretched forth his hand, and besought them that they would heal him.

“Book of Mormon: Chapter Heading Correction–Helaman 13” by grego

Book of Mormon: Chapter Heading Correction–Helaman 13

grego
(c) 2012

In the chapter heading for Helaman 13, it reads:
“…—They reject and stone the prophets, are encircled about by demons, and seek for happiness in doing iniquity.”

The text reads:
Helaman 13:31 And behold, THE TIME COMETH that he curseth your riches, that they become slippery, that ye cannot hold them; and in the days of your poverty ye cannot retain them.
Helaman 13:32 And in the days of your poverty YE SHALL cry unto the Lord; and in vain shall ye cry, for your desolation is already come upon you, and your destruction is made sure; and then shall ye weep and howl IN THAT DAY, saith the Lord of Hosts. And THEN SHALL ye lament, and say:

Helaman 13:33 O that I had repented, and had not killed the prophets, and stoned them, and cast them out. Yea, in that day ye shall say: O that we had remembered the Lord our God in the day that he gave us our riches, and then they would not have become slippery that we should lose them; for behold, our riches are gone from us.
Helaman 13:34 Behold, we lay a tool here and on the morrow it is gone; and behold, our swords are taken from us in the day we have sought them for battle.
Helaman 13:35 Yea, we have hid up our treasures and they have slipped away from us, because of the curse of the land.
Helaman 13:36 O that we had repented in the day that the word of the Lord came unto us; for behold the land is cursed, and all things are become slippery, and we cannot hold them.
Helaman 13:37 Behold, . Behold, our iniquities are great. O Lord, canst thou not turn away thine anger from us? And THIS SHALL BE YOUR LANGUAGE IN THOSE DAYS.
Helaman 13:38 But behold, your days of probation are past; ye have procrastinated the day of your salvation until it is everlastingly too late, and your destruction is made sure; yea, for ye have sought all the days of your lives for that which ye could not obtain; and , which thing is contrary to the nature of that righteousness which is in our great and Eternal Head.

Samule closes this part by saying:
Helaman 13:39 O ye people of the land, that ye would hear my words! And I pray that the anger of the Lord be turned away from you, and that ye would repent and be saved.

So it’s clear that what he just spoke was a prophecy of future days, not what was going on at the time.

2012, September 14

“A Mormon! A Mormon! Anyone but a Mormon for President!” by grego

“A Mormon! A Mormon! Anyone but a Mormon for President!”

grego
(c) 2012

(I actually wrote this a year and a half ago.)

A 2007 study by Vanderbilt University that researched possible public reaction to a presidential run by Mitt Romney (a Mormon) concluded that political bias against Mormons is significantly more intense than bias against either African Americans or women.

Much of this bias is from “Christians”.

Based on many reports and media evidence, I’ll go further. Even for Christians:
–a bisexual pimping liar is more preferable than a Mormon.
–a cheating party boy with an IQ and intelligence shown lower than a typical junior-high school student homosexual is more preferable than a Mormon.
–a communistic Muslim with few life accomplishments who uses hardcore illegal political tactics yet can’t even prove he is American is more preferable than a Mormon.

Don’t get me wrong: I can dislike Mormon politicians. I don’t agree that a Mormon would be the best choice for President, just because that person is a Mormon. And I have encouraged others to vote against Mormon politicians sometimes.

But I must wonder, why the OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) logic-defying thought and action among many Americans, especially Christians, when it comes to Mormons in political office, especially President?

Does it have to do with intelligence? I don’t know, but I can say that Christians in general aren’t the most intelligent people I’ve met when it comes to actual thinking skills, logic, etc. (The most unintelligent comments I’ve gotten on this blog, other than from stoned/ drunk teenagers, are from “Christians”.)

American Christianity has usually been (and still is) based on emotions and persuasion, not on rational thought.

Here’s a typical argument: “Mormons are evil; they think Jesus and Satan are brothers. (Do you see a logical connection? I don’t.)
They can’t be brothers, because the Bible says Jesus created everything.” So, does that include his mother and God and himself? And… Satan??! Jesus created Satan?? What the heck?!? Is Jesus’ creating Satan better or worse than Satan and Jesus being brothers, like Cain and Abel were brothers? How come about every Christian has no problem with believing that Cain and Abel were both sons of Adam and Eve, and brothers—but not that Satan and Jesus could both be sons of God, and brothers?.”

Anyway, since people wonder what a Mormon presidential political platform might look like, let’s look at the platform of Joseph Smith (yes, THAT Joseph Smith: first Mormon presidential candidate, first assassinated presidential candidate, and for most Christians somewhere between the most evil man to live, to a misguided, delusional guy):

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* “When the people are secure and their rights properly respected, then the four main pillars of prosperity, viz: agriculture, manufactures, navigation, and commerce, need the fostering care of government, and in so goodly a country as ours…it certainly is the highest point of subversion (sic) to protect the whole northern and southern, eastern and western, center and circumference of the realm, by a judicious tariff.” [=import tax]

* “I will adopt in part the language of Mr. Madison’s inaugural address, ‘To cherish peace and friendly intercourse with all nations, having correspondent dispositions; to maintain sincere neutrality towards belligerent nations; to prefer in all cases amicable discussion and reasonable accommodation of intrigues and foreign partialities, so degrading to all countries, and so baneful to free ones; to foster a spirit of independence too just to invade the rights of others, too proud to surrender their own, too liberal to indulge unworthy prejudices ourselves, and too elevated not to look down upon them in others.’”

* “[H]old the union of the States as the basis of their peace and happiness; to support the constitution, which is the cement of the union, as well in its limitations as in its authorities; to respect the rights and authorities reserved to the states and to the people…to avoid the slightest interference with the rights of conscience, or the functions of religion, so wisely exempted from civil jurisdiction; to preserve in their full energy, the other salutary provisions in behalf of private and personal rights, and of the freedom of the press.”

* “Reduce Congress at least one half. Two Senators from a state and two members to a million of population, will do more business than the army that now occupy the halls of the National Legislature. Pay them two dollars and their board per diem; except Sundays, that is more than the farmer gets, and he lives honestly. Curtail the offices of government in pay, number and power; for the Philistine lords have shorn our nation of its goodly locks in the lap of Delilah.”

* “Petition your state legislatures to pardon every convict in their several penitentiaries, blessing them as they go, and saying to them, in the name of the Lord, go thy way and sin no more. Advise your legislators when they make laws for larceny, burglary or any felony, to make the penalty applicable to work upon roads, public works, or any place where the culprit can be taught more wisdom and more virtue; and become more enlightened. Rigor and seclusion will never do as much to reform the propensities of man, as reason and friendship. Murder only can claim confinement or death. Let the penitentiaries be turned into seminaries of learning, where intelligence, like the angels of heaven, would banish such fragments of barbarism. Imprisonment for debt is a meaner practice than the savage tolerates with all his ferocity. ‘Amor vincit amnia.’ Love conquers all.”

* “Petition, also, ye goodly inhabitants of the slave states, your legislators to abolish slavery by the year 1850, or now, and save the abolitionist from reproach and ruin, infamy and shame. Pray Congress to pay every man a reasonable price for his slaves out of the surplus revenue arising from the sale of public lands, and from the deduction of pay from the members of Congress. Break off the shackles from the poor black man, and hire him to labor like other human beings; for ‘an hour of virtuous liberty on earth, is worth a whole eternity of bondage!’”

* “Abolish the practice in the army and navy of trying men by court martial for desertion; if a soldier or marine runs away, send him his wages, with this instruction, that his country will never trust him again; he has forfeited his honor. Make HONOR the standard with all men: be sure that good is rendered for evil in all cases; and the whole nation, like a kingdom of kings and priests, will rise up with righteousness; and be respected as wise and worthy on earth; and as just and holy for heaven; by Jehovah, the author of perfection.”

* “More economy in the national and state governments, would make less taxes among the people.”

* “For the accommodation of the people of every state and territory, let Congress shew their wisdom by granting a national bank, with branches in each state and territory, where the capital stock shall be held by the nation for the mother bank: and by the states and territories, for the branches…which several banks shall never issue any more bills than the amount of capital stock in her vaults and the interest…[t]he net gain of the mother bank shall be applied to the national revenue, and that of the branches to the states and territories’ revenues. And the bills shall be par throughout the nation, which will mercifully cure that fatal disorder known in cities as brokerage; and leave the people’s money in their own pockets.”

* “Give every man his constitutional freedom, and the president full power to send an army to suppress mobs; and the states authority to repeal and impugn that relic of folly, which makes it necessary for the governor of a state to make the demand of the president for troops, in case of invasion or rebellion. The governor himself may be a mobber and, instead of being punished, as he should be, for murder and treason, he may destroy the very lives, rights, and property he should protect.”

* “Oregon belongs to this government honorably, and when we have the red man’s consent, let the union spread from the east to the west sea; and if Texas petitions Congress to be adopted among the sons of liberty, give her the right hand of fellowship; and refuse not the same friendly grip to Canada and Mexico.”
-=

Is any of that worse than what past presidents have done? (And note that with Joseph Smith, it wasn’t political talk to make people happy and get votes, it was a PLAN to put into action.) Seriously, look at where America is nowadays… I see lots of wisdom in his political words, and time has borne them out. Large and dangerous problems facing America and ripping her apart right now would have been solved peacefully long ago had his platform principles been followed.

So what is it that so many people fear about a Mormon president? I believe most people who don’t want a Mormon president think that way because they don’t love and seek truth, and have relied on others’ biases and lies to do their thinking for them. Mormons are often accused of “having their thinking done for them”; let me ask you, who has done your thinking for you on Mormons in political office? If you say, “Myself, after much research, question-asking and answer-getting from others and especially Mormons, and mulling it over, as free as bias as you can get, congratulations! :)

2012, September 12

“Book of Mormon: Idolatry among the Zoramites and Gnosticism (Alma 31-Alma 32-Alma 33-Alma 34-Alma 35; Alma 39-42)” by grego

Book of Mormon: Idolatry among the Zoramites and Gnosticism (Alma 31-Alma 32-Alma 33-Alma 34-Alma 35; Alma 39-42)

grego
(c) 2012

It’s interesting that “dumb idols” are mentioned as the first thing about the Zoramites, but after that it seems there’s no more mention of it. Later in the same chapter (Alma 31), there’s a lot more about why the Zoramites are in apostasy (law of Moses, beliefs about God, praying to God, etc.)… almost like there’s an entire disconnect here. What’s going on? Are there idols? If so, where are they? What religion is going on?

Incredibly, the Zoramites are very similar to another religion from almost 2,000 years ago—the Gnostics. I doubt Joseph Smith knew much about that group… (NOTE: By “Gnosticism” I usually mean the Gnosticism that opposed early Christianity, not semi-modern, modern, or very past. Even then there was not one school of thought and worship, but many, and they sometimes varied greatly from each other. I have tried to quote/ gather from that type of gnosticism; if I have faulted, I apologize; I can’t get to a great university library and research, for example, and even if I could, in all honesty, for this article I wouldn’t. I studied a research book on it years ago, and am limited now to the first few pages of internet search results.) This Gnosticism tangent started off a whole new line, but I can’t follow it far, so I present this more for thought stimulation than a completed article.

With all the references to Gnosticism, there is no proof or even evidence that that is the religion among the Zoramites; it is just a “look at parallels and similar thinking”, that such a religion is not only possible, but has, in parts, existed throughout history.

Here is the introduction we get to the situation:
Alma 31:1 NOW it came to pass that after the end of Korihor, Alma having received tidings that the Zoramites were perverting the ways of the Lord, and that Zoram, who was their leader, was leading the hearts of the people to bow down to dumb idols, his heart again began to sicken because of the iniquity of the people.

In addition, it seems they received reports saying that:
Alma 31:9 But [the Zoramites] had fallen into great errors, for they would not observe to keep the commandments of God, and his statutes, according to the law of Moses.
Alma 31:10 Neither would they observe the performances of the church, to continue in prayer and supplication to God daily, that they might not enter into temptation.
Alma 31:11 Yea, in fine, they did pervert the ways of the Lord in very many instances; therefore, for this cause, Alma and his brethren went into the land to preach the word unto them.

They also later find out:
Alma 31:23 Now, after the people had all offered up thanks after this manner, they returned to their homes, never speaking of their God again until they had assembled themselves together again to the holy stand, to offer up thanks after their manner.

It continues:
Alma 31:12 Now, when they had come into the land, behold, to their astonishment they found that the Zoramites had built synagogues, and that they did gather themselves together on one day of the week, which day they did call the day of the Lord; and they did worship after a manner which Alma and his brethren had never beheld;

Synagogues were not new:
Alma 16:13 And Alma and Amulek went forth preaching repentance to the people in their temples, and in their sanctuaries, and also in their synagogues, which were built after the manner of the Jews.

So why are Alma and his group astonished? Was it because they knew about the idols, and the changes, but maybe they hadn’t realized there was still “religion” in a somewhat recognizable form? There were still synagogues. There was still Sabbath worship; prayer. And, there were no idols in the synagogue.
At the same time, there was no teaching, no discussion, no hymns, no guidance of the Spirit, no sacrifice, no commandments–just one rote prayer.

Here’s about the Zoramite worship:
Alma 31:13 For they had a place built up in the {center of their synagogue}, a place for standing, which was {high above the head}; and the top thereof would {only admit one person} (all things that add to “special”ness).
Alma 31:21 Now the place was called by them Rameumptom, which, being interpreted, is {the holy stand (a holy object, a special place of worship, much like the temple)}.
Alma 31:20 For behold, every man did go forth and offer up these same prayers.
Alma 31:14 Therefore, whosoever desired to worship must go forth and stand upon the top thereof, and {stretch forth his hands towards heaven, and cry with a loud voice}, saying:
Alma 31:15 {Holy, holy God; we believe that thou art God, and we believe that thou art holy}, and that {thou wast a spirit, and that thou art a spirit, and that thou wilt be a spirit forever (doctrine close, but not quite–perhaps this is a jab at the doctrine of Jesus having a body)}.
Alma 31:16 {Holy God}, we believe that {thou hast separated us from our brethren (here’s the “you’re special” part)}; and {we do not believe in the tradition of our brethren, which was handed down to them by the childishness of their fathers (another “you’re special and smart” part}; but we believe that {thou hast elected us to be thy holy children (more “you’re special”, and “don’t worry about commandments”)}; and also {thou hast made it known unto us that there shall be no Christ (special revelation that the believers don’t know)}.
Alma 31:17 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 (gratitude)}; and we also thank thee that {thou hast elected us, that we may not be led away after the foolish traditions of our brethren (before it was “childishness”, now it’s “foolishness”)}, {which doth bind them down to a belief of Christ, which doth lead their hearts to wander far from thee, our God (belief is binding; belief in Christ leads away from God; exactly what Korihor was preaching!)}.
Alma 31:18 And again {we thank thee, O God, that we are a chosen and a holy people (gratitude; yet more “you’re special”}. Amen.

Compare that to how true Nephite believers worshipped:
Alma 15:17 Therefore, after Alma having established the church at Sidom, seeing … that the people … began to humble themselves before God, and began to {assemble themselves together at their sanctuaries} {to worship God} {before the altar}, {watching and praying continually}, {that they might be delivered from Satan, and from death, and from destruction}–

This Zoramite worship seems to be a perversion of both true believer Sabbath worship, special even worship, and temple worship. (See also “Temple Prayer in Ancient Times”, by John A. Tvedtnes; http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/books/?bookid=21&chapid=105).

The result:
Alma 31:19 Now it came to pass that after Alma and his brethren and his sons had heard these prayers, they were astonished beyond all measure.

Instead of worshiping God before the altar, the Zoramites put themselves on the altar/ holy stand, but there is no sacrifice or holiness in doing so!

See how this could relate to Gnosticism:
“In contrast, gnostics considered martyrdom by orthodox Christians to be an act of suffering for an hour to purchase eternal life an offering to God in the form of a human sacrifice that demeaned God by casting him as a cannibal. It was as if the original Christian ideal of living in the present, for the present, had been perverted into the ultimate pagan sacrifice so that your own life would be sacrificed to buy an eternal afterlife in paradise” (http://milo-books.com/reviews/nonfiction/philosophy_and_religion/the_gnostic_gospels.html).

See also how the doctrine of this prayer matches this of the Gnostics:
“the early Christian Church, which, [the Gnostics] claimed, were only common deceptions, unsuited for the wise (foolishness, childishness of the beliefs of the true believers). The truth was esoteric. Only the properly initiated could appreciate it. It belonged to a secret tradition which had come down through certain mystery schools (revealed to them by God). The truth was, God could never become man (spirit from beginning to end). There were two separate realms — one spiritual, the other material (http://www.naderlibrary.com/lit.godsbeasts.14.htm).”

There are a few similarities with Essenes:
“Cassian tells us that the first prayer precedes the prostration. He calls this the “oratio”. The second prayer following the prostration, he calls “preces”. He says that in it the monks stand with outstretched hands (a symbol of supplication) and offer such until a collect, or group prayer conclusion, is chanted by the cantor on behalf of the whole assembly. All these practices are reminiscent of Gnostic liturgy and ritual” (http://www.essenes.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=275&Itemid=361).

The Zoramite prayer is a Prayer of Thanksgiving:
Alma 31:23 Now, after the people had all offered up thanks after this manner, they returned to their homes, never speaking of their God again until they had assembled themselves together again to the holy stand, to offer up thanks after their manner.

Compare that to this Prayer of Thanksgiving, from the Nag Hammadi:
“We give thanks to You! Every soul and heart is lifted up to You, undisturbed name, honored with the name ‘God’ and praised with the name ‘Father’, for to everyone and everything (comes) the fatherly kindness and affection and love, and any teaching there may be that is sweet and plain, giving us mind, speech, (and) knowledge: mind, so that we may understand You, speech, so that we may expound You, knowledge, so that we may know You. We rejoice, having been illuminated by Your knowledge. We rejoice because You have shown us Yourself. We rejoice because while we were in (the) body, You have made us divine through Your knowledge.
‘The thanksgiving of the man who attains to You is one thing: that we know You. We have known You, intellectual light. Life of life, we have known You. Womb of every creature, we have known You. Womb pregnant with the nature of the Father, we have known You. Eternal permanence of the begetting Father, thus have we worshiped Your goodness. There is one petition that we ask: we would be preserved in knowledge. And there is one protection that we desire: that we not stumble in this kind of life.’

When they had said these things in the prayer, they embraced each other and they went to eat their holy food, which has no blood in it” (http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/prat.html).

It seems Zoram has a plan to: a) change the original religion, and b) add/ substitute another god in place of Jesus Christ. He hasn’t converted everyone all the way, but is leading them in the process. This process, however, seems to be different than the majority of instances of idolatry recorded in the Old Testament (actually Brass Plates) that the Nephites had—perhaps yet another reason for the astonishment.

Many of these people were true believers at one time:
Alma 31:8 Now the Zoramites were dissenters from the Nephites; therefore they had had the word of God preached unto them.
Alma 31:34 O Lord, wilt thou grant unto us that we may have success in bringing them again unto thee in Christ.
Alma 31:35 Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our brethren; therefore, give unto us, O Lord, power and wisdom that we may bring these, our brethren, again unto thee.

Perhaps Zoram (correctly) thought that to “make” someone change religion from a strict form of commandments and ordinances (law of Moses and Melchizedek priesthood) to a more liberal yet custom-filled form, you must either completely destroy what they have learned, or keep some of it, but add in changes and especially a “you’re special” part (this exact method worked for a Seventy on my relative’s relative while he was a missionary).

It seems that the second is what Zoram did, and maybe that was part of the astonishment, too.

And so Alma and the others pray and preach.

Is there anything about idols in all that?? No, I don’t think there is. So what part does idols have to play in all this?

In Alma’s prayer, he says:
Alma 31:29 Yea, and they say that thou hast made it known unto them that there shall be no Christ.
Alma 31:30 O Lord God, how long wilt thou suffer that such wickedness and {infidelity} shall be among this people? O Lord, wilt thou give me strength, that I may bear with mine infirmities. For I am infirm, and such wickedness among this people doth pain my soul.
Alma might see a connection between idolatry and adultery, both of which are infidelity.

Later there is this:
Alma 32:4 Now, as Alma was teaching and speaking unto the people upon the hill Onidah…
Why is Alma (and some Zoramites) on the hill Onida?
I think it was because that is where the idols were, and the Zoramites were there worshiping them.
I don’t think those Zoramites were paying too much attention to what he was saying:
Alma 32:4 Now, as Alma was teaching and speaking unto the people upon the hill Onidah, there came a great multitude unto him…
Alma 32:5 And they came unto Alma; and the one who was the foremost among them said unto him: Behold, what shall these my brethren do, for they are despised of all men because of their poverty, yea, and more especially by our priests; for they have cast us out of our synagogues which we have labored abundantly to build with our own hands; and they have cast us out because of our exceeding poverty; and we have no place to worship our God; and behold, what shall we do?
Alma 32:6 And now when Alma heard this, he turned him about, his face immediately towards him, and he beheld with great joy; for he beheld that their afflictions had truly humbled them, and that they were in a preparation to hear the word.
Alma 32:7 Therefore he did say no more to the other multitude; but he stretched forth his hand, and cried unto those whom he beheld, who were truly penitent, and said unto them…

But why would they have to worship God in a synagogue, if they had idols on the hills? And vice-versa? What was going on with this religion? They were kicked out because they were poor–maybe it wasn’t just that they looked bad, but they couldn’t “put money on the plate”/ buy religious things. (Remember in the end why Alma and his group were rejected:
Alma 35:3 And it came to pass that after the more popular part of the Zoramites had consulted together concerning the words which had been preached unto them, they were angry because of the word, for it did destroy their craft; therefore they would not hearken unto the words.)

Remember, this was a mixed religion–half God, half god(s). Perhaps it was similar to the Taiwanese belief system–Buddhism/ heavenly parents + Daoism/ mysticsim and ritual and other gods + folklore and Earth/ Land God.

Then:
Alma 33:1 Now after Alma had spoken these words, they sent forth unto him desiring to know whether they should believe in one God, that they might obtain this fruit of which he had spoken, or how they should plant the seed, or the word of which he had spoken, which he said must be planted in their hearts; or in what manner they should begin to exercise their faith.

Should they believe in one God, or …? a few gods? a pantheon of gods? a new god, introduced by Zoram, or the Lamanites?

So Alma tells them which god to believe in:
Alma 33:13 Behold, if ye do, ye must believe what Zenos said; for, behold he said: Thou hast turned away thy judgments because of thy Son.
Alma 33:14 Now behold, my brethren, I would ask if ye have read the scriptures? If ye have, how can ye disbelieve on the Son of God?
Alma 33:15 For it is not written that Zenos alone spake of these things, but Zenock also spake of these things–
Alma 33:16 For behold, he said: Thou art angry, O Lord, with this people, because they will not understand thy mercies which thou hast bestowed upon them because of thy Son.
Alma 33:17 And now, my brethren, ye see that a second prophet of old has testified of the Son of God, and because the people would not understand his words they stoned him to death.
Alma 33:22 … cast about your eyes and begin to believe in the Son of God, that he will come to redeem his people, and that he shall suffer and die to atone for their sins; and that he shall rise again from the dead, which shall bring to pass the resurrection, that all men shall stand before him, to be judged at the last and judgment day, according to their works.

This is the crux of this whole problem–Jesus Christ and His atonement don’t lead away from God, as Zoram teaches, but God is directly connected to Jesus Christ, and Christ brings men to God, in unity.

Amulek continues:
Alma 34:5 And we have beheld that the great question which is in your minds is whether the word be in the Son of God, or whether there shall be no Christ.
Alma 34:6 And ye also beheld that my brother has proved unto you, in many instances, that the word is in Christ unto salvation.
Alma 34:7 My brother has called upon the words of Zenos, that redemption cometh through the Son of God, and also upon the words of Zenock; and also he has appealed unto Moses, to prove that these things are true.

Amulek then speaks a lot about blood sacrifice, perhaps including inferences to sacrifice the Zoramites (or Lamanites) were making in their worship:
Alma 34:10 For it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice; yea, not a sacrifice of man, neither of beast, neither of any manner of fowl; for it shall not be a human sacrifice; but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice.
Alma 34:11 Now there is not any man that can sacrifice his own blood which will atone for the sins of another. Now, if a man murdereth, behold will our law, which is just, take the life of his brother? I say unto you, Nay.
Alma 34:12 But the law requireth the life of him who hath murdered; therefore there can be nothing which is short of an infinite atonement which will suffice for the sins of the world.
Alma 34:13 Therefore, it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice, and then shall there be, or it is expedient there should be, a stop to the shedding of blood; then shall the law of Moses be fulfilled…
Alma 34:14 And behold, this is the whole meaning of the law, every whit pointing to that great and last sacrifice; and that great and last sacrifice will be the Son of God, yea, infinite and eternal.
Alma 34:15 And thus he shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name; this being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance.

Is there more about idols? We later find out that Corianton
Alma 39:3: didst forsake the ministry, and did go over into the land of Siron among the borders of the Lamanites, after the harlot Isabel.
We learn more about the land here:
Alma 31:3 Now the Zoramites had gathered themselves together in a land which they called Antionum, which was east of the land of Zarahemla, which lay nearly bordering upon the seashore, which was south of the land of Jershon, which also bordered upon the wilderness south, which wilderness was full of the Lamanites.
Alma knew that Isabel was popular among the Zoramites, and that Corianton was not the only one:
Alma 39:4 Yea, she did steal away the hearts of many…
So why would a harlot, perhaps named after the great idolator Jezebel in the Old Testament, live in what was in all likelihood a wilderness? And what was so special about her (—even though it’s possible she was just beautiful or such—) that allowed her to “steal away the hearts of many”? If she and the idols were connected, this could have been a grove, where mystical idol rites that included fornication could have been carried out.
(All this reminds me of the cult worship of the Gnostics soon after the death of Jesus Christ, including fornication, both of which the act itself and its physical results were part of worship.)

Alma continues with his counsel:
Alma 39:9 Now my son, I would that ye should repent and forsake your sins, and go no more after the lusts of your eyes, but cross yourself in all these things; for except ye do this ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. Oh, remember, and take it upon you, and cross yourself in these things.
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.

The “lusts of your eyes” could easily be harlots, or it could be even bigger, including spectacle worship plus worship harlots; is it that Alma seems to be stressing Isabel is one of a group of harlots?

Right after that, Alma says:
Alma 39:14 Seek not after riches nor the vain things of this world; for behold, you cannot carry them with you.
This was the other problem that the Zoramites had. It is possible—even likely—that wealth and idol worship and fornication were all tied together in this religion, which made it stronger for the rich, but weaker for the poor. The way I’ve seen idol worship work is, you worship and give offerings, and the god blesses you with riches and guidance, whether it be in a very easy and simple way, or in a deeper yet more unclear way.

More about Gnostic idolatry and sex:
“Followers of the Gnostic sect led by Carpocrates were granted even more license and encouragement. Carpocratians believed that the purity of the soul could not be contaminated and made evil, any more than a pearl could be debased by dropping it in the mud; at its center, the pearl would always remain a pearl. Based on this libertine view, the soul ought to experience everything available to it in this world. Carpocratians shared their sexual partners and took part in massive orgies, although males were instructed to practice coitus interruptus not as a method of birth control but as a means of collecting semen to be consumed as the body of Christ, as was menstrual blood. Recruitment methods of the Carpocratians were basic and no doubt successful in attracting male followers. The most beautiful female members were encouraged to offer themselves as bait to draw adherents, and a related group formed a male elite called Levites who practiced open homosexuality.”
“Should a woman become pregnant as a result of these activities, the fetus would be aborted, pounded to jelly in a mortar, mixed with honey and spices, and eaten by sect members, a practice chillingly reminiscent of the most lurid fables associated with early Christians.” -Secret Societies, by John Lawrence Reynolds. pg. 113

“the first Gnostic revisionists emerge from within the earliest circle of Christians. These were men who wanted for themselves the salvation promised by Christianity but who could affirm neither the physical and literal reality of the astounding events attested to by Scripture and by the Apostles nor the moral humbling required to accept substitutionary atonement as a necessity”(http://www.leaderu.com/ftissues/ft9410/satin.html).

“John attributes the ‘spirit of the antichrist’ less to actual unbelievers than to the ‘false prophets’ who arose among the early Christians. These were of a certain ‘spirit’ and are believers, as it were, of a kind: believers in a merely spiritualized (non-fleshly) ‘Christ.’
To all Gnostic redemptive schemes (wherein salvation can be attained through knowledge), atoning sacrifice by another is both meaningless and useless.”(http://www.leaderu.com/ftissues/ft9410/satin.html)

  As one might expect of any mystery rite, the Gospel of Philip (NHC II,3: 82,7-26 makes it clear that the mystery of the bride chamber is reserved for the pneumatic members of the Valentinian community alone. The intercourse of bride and bridegroom is private, pure and undefiled; the pneumatic bride may reveal her true nature only to those who may enter the bridal chamber every day: her father, mother, and the friend and sons of the bridegroom. http://jdt.unl.edu/ritual.htm

“other groups rejected such as practice as ineffective and deceptive, transforming the moral indifference typical of its libertine opposite, free sexual exchange, into sacred ritual. According to Irenaeus (Adversus Haereses I, 23.4), the Simonians worship images of Simon Magus and Helen, as well as engage in various occult practices, including exorcisms, incantations, philters, and erotic magic. Hippolytus, (Refutatio VI, 19.5) specifies further specifies that this erotic magic took the form of sexual intercourse as a means of experiencing spiritual union…” (http://jdt.unl.edu/ritual.htm)

According to Epiphanius (Panarion 26.3-12), the later Sethians, whom he calls Borborites, Barbelites, Phibionites, Stratiotici and Coddians, engaged in a thorough-going sexual sacramentalism…  According to Stephen Gero,[50] “the central, distinguishing feature of the sect, its devotion to the so-called sperma cult, described by [Epiphanius] in vivid detail, can hardly be dismissed as a prurient invention. In the simplest of terms it involved the extraction, collection and solemn, sacramental consecration and consumption of bodily fluids, male and female, which contributed to the further propagation of the human race, and thus to the continued entrapment of the divine substance by the evil archons. In these fluids is concentrated the spiritual element, found scattered in the world, in particular in food-stuffs (including meat!), of which the initiates can and should partake. The mythology proper is a version of the Barbelo-gnostic myth, as known from Irenaeus and the Apocryphon of John.” Although Epiphanius does not say that they called this rather unrestrained ritual sex a “mystery” or rite of the bridal chamber, it seems clear that its intent was the same, effecting a restoration of the lost primordial unity by physical coupling and attempting to reverse the natural course of the propagation of the species” (http://jdt.unl.edu/ritual.htm).

Even more about sexual worship rites can be found in the Gnostic Mass (later developed) at http://hermetic.com/egc/mass-analysis.html.

If the Zoramite worshiping by fornication was similar to gnostic worship, it is possible that one man was chosen for the honor of fornicating with the main harlot in the worship ritual, and it seems Corianton got his turn. This might especially be so if he were a virgin, which was likely the case at the time.
As with the Rameumpton, it might have been a perversion of true believer temple rites and worship.

And we understand that Corianton had the same problem the Zoramites had about believing that Christ should come, and what that entailed:
Alma 39:15 And now, my son, I would say somewhat unto you concerning the coming of Christ. Behold, I say unto you, that it is he that surely shall come to take away the sins of the world; yea, he cometh to declare glad tidings of salvation unto his people.
Alma 39:16 And now, my son, this was the ministry unto which ye were called, to declare these glad tidings unto this people, to prepare their minds; or rather that salvation might come unto them, that they may prepare the minds of their children to hear the word at the time of his coming.
Alma 39:17 And now I will ease your mind somewhat on this subject. Behold, you marvel why these things should be known so long beforehand.
Corianton was to preach salvation through Christ, but worshiped an idol, following the Rameumpton prayer doctrine of the Zoramites.

And the counsel of Alma to his wayward son continues, heading off even more the doctrine of the Zoramites heard in their Rameumpton prayer and idol worship: about disobedience and spiritual death, becoming “carnal, sensual, and devilish” and how that leads to being “miserable”; how that is overcome by the incarnation and atonement of Jesus Christ; salvation and its requirements, especially keeping the commandments.

Perhaps the worship is two-sided because of who they were worshiping. On one hand you have the worship of the heavenly father through prayer on the Rameumptom, especially for the rich; on the other the worship of the heavenly mother through ritual including fornication in the grove. Day to day remembrance—if any—is of the earth god, especially for the lower-class.

While this sounds a little stupid to some, imagine if Lady Gaga had a visitor center where she gave free concerts and indulged a few young men afterwards. Do you think any missionaries might get caught up in that? Right.

“…all these flourished underground during the great ages of the Church, providing a secretive, psychic, human-oriented, polytheistic, and morally relativistic counterpoint to the God-oriented ethical monotheism being carried forward by Christianity… In fact, the Gnostics devolved quickly into the embrace of evil, inevitably the consequence of an “inclusivist” position toward it. Modern “nature” and “goddess” theologies are following the same path” (http://www.leaderu.com/ftissues/ft9410/satin.html).
Paul relates a similar adventure with idol worship:
Acts 17:23 For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. What therefore ye worship in ignorance, this I set forth unto you.
24 The God that made the world and all things therein, he, being Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
25 neither is he served by men`s hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he himself giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
26 and he made of one every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, having determined [their] appointed seasons, and the bounds of their habitation;
27 that they should seek God, if haply they might feel after him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us:
28 for in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain even of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
29 Being then the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and device of man.
30 The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent:
31 inasmuch as he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked; but others said, We will hear thee concerning this yet again.
33 Thus Paul went out from among them.

Idol worship is a good business. Acts attests to it:
Acts 19:22 And having sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while.
23 And about that time there arose no small stir concerning the Way.
24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Diana, brought no little business unto the craftsmen;
25 whom he gathered together, with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this business we have our wealth.
26 And ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they are no gods, that are made with hands:
27 and not only is there danger that this our trade come into disrepute; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana be made of no account, and that she should even be deposed from her magnificence whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.
28 And when they heard this they were filled with wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesus…

This is what happens with the Zoramites:
Alma 35:3 And it came to pass that after the more popular part of the Zoramites had consulted together concerning the words which had been preached unto them, they were angry because of the word, for it did destroy their craft; therefore they would not hearken unto the words.

And I can attest to it, too, having lived in an idol-worshiping land. There can be lots of money made with idol worship. As Demetrius says, not only do people make money from their crafts, but the whole town/ city benefits from the tourism money, not to mention the pride the inhabitants have of being from there. (There was made with Jehovah worship in the New Testament, too! A big difference is that one is often set up by man for the express purpose of gaining money, while the other is men profiting from something God has set up.)

I guess the main thing about this is, it’s not very clear from surface reading, but there’s a lot in the story of Alma and the Zoramites that makes for a strong case about religion and idols based on history, though there’s nothing I know of that is exactly like it.

It’s beyond most authors’ abilities to put something in all over, but hide it so no one can see it. It’s unlike most of the idol scenes in the Bible (Old Testament and New Testament), where the big picture is clear, but the little pictures might not be there; here, it’s the little pictures that are clear, while the big picture doesn’t seem to exist. I believe there’s still more to be found.

2012, September 6

“Book of Mormon: Hope for Miracles through Faith” by grego

LDS/ Mormon: Hope for Miracles through Faith

grego
(c)2012

The Book of Mormon is clear about many things having to do with miracles. I want to put a few up, hopefully to encourage you.

* Miracles follow those that believe. If there are no miracles, it is because there is no faith.
This is true ALL the time. No, not as in every second of the day (though that’s true, too, when you think about it; but those miracles are open to all of God’s children, not just the believers), or every instance, or on call; they might not come immediately and continuously, but they come when needed and more. This doesn’t necessarily mean “righteousness”, nor does it mean “faith–to change the situation”; it might mean “faith to trust in the Lord and in His ways”.
Moroni 7:37 Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain.
Moroni 7:38 For no man can be saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have faith in his name; wherefore, if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also…

Alma 37:40 And it did work for them according to their faith in God; therefore, if they had faith to believe that God could cause that those spindles should point the way they should go, behold, it was done; therefore they had this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God, day by day.
Alma 37:41 Nevertheless, because those miracles were worked by small means it did show unto them marvelous works. They were slothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey;
Alma 37:42 Therefore, they tarried in the wilderness, or did not travel a direct course, and were afflicted with hunger and thirst, because of their transgressions.

* Greater miracles follow those that believe more greatly.
All believers can have miracles occur in their lives, including non-LDS. Prayer from all people can facilitate miracles. When there is greater faith because of truer teachings, that power to facilitate increases.

*Through faith, all things can be known.
Ether 3:26 For he had said unto him in times before, that if he would believe in him that he could show unto him all things–it should be shown unto him; therefore the Lord could not withhold anything from him, for he knew that the Lord could show him all things.
Moroni 10:5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

* Some miracles are unobservable to outside eyes. Think of all the prayers, the fasting, the quiet faith, etc. and the miracles they brought:
Alma 19:16 … save it were one of the Lamanitish women, whose name was Abish, she having been converted unto the Lord for many years, on account of a remarkable vision of her father–
Alma 19:17 Thus, having been converted to the Lord, and never having made it known, therefore, when she saw that all the servants of Lamoni had fallen to the earth, and also her mistress, the queen, and the king, and Ammon lay prostrate upon the earth, she knew that it was the power of God; and supposing that this opportunity, by making known unto the people what had happened among them, that by beholding this scene it would cause them to believe in the power of God, therefore she ran forth from house to house, making it known unto the people.

* Some miracles are unobservable to your own eyes, righteous or unrighteous.
Note that Nephi and Lehi had no clue a miracle was coming, and the wicked Lamanites were aware of it before they were:
Helaman 5:22 And after they had been cast into prison many days without food, behold, they went forth into the prison to take them that they might slay them.
Helaman 5:23 And it came to pass that Nephi and Lehi were encircled about as if by fire, even insomuch that they durst not lay their hands upon them for fear lest they should be burned. Nevertheless, Nephi and Lehi were not burned; and they were as standing in the midst of fire and were not burned.
Helaman 5:24 And when they saw that they were encircled about with a pillar of fire, and that it burned them not, their hearts did take courage.
Helaman 5:25 For they saw that the Lamanites durst not lay their hands upon them; neither durst they come near unto them, but stood as if they were struck dumb with amazement.

Also, Amulek needed an angel and Alma to show him the miracles he couldn’t see because of his wickedness:
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.

* Eyes of faith and understanding, opened by the Spirit, allow you to see the miracles you’d otherwise have missed, at the time, or later.
Other than my parents (who had never talked about it), all the rest of the children in the car never knew (until I told them recently) that we had a clear miracle on a roadtrip that otherwise would have resulted in certain death for all of us.

Another time, my sister and I both saw a small pile of leaves on the side of the road a ways in front of us get smashed and carried away by a gust of wind, coming out of a dangerous canyon (ravines, tight rock walls) in a van known for rolling; we were able to slow down immediately (we were already going slower than the speed limit) but still got shaken pretty good. That wasn’t just chance that there was a pile of leaves as a clear signal marker, that we both saw it and realized what it meant, and reacted well to it.

After a long, dark, seemingly God-lonely period of my life, I was told in a blessing that angels had been around me lifting me up.

There are so many times things happen and we don’t take the few minutes or even seconds of contemplation needed to understand our blessing/ what just happened. As Amulek says:
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…
Remember: just because YOU aren’t aware of miracles happening, doesn’t mean they aren’t happening.

* No calling or authorization is needed for miracles to occur.
They do occur to help us fulfill our callings and missions, true, but no calling, position, ordination, rank, social status, etc., and sometimes even worthiness, is needed for us to have miracles. You don’t get “called” to miracles.

* Miracles sometimes come after we are in trying situations, have done our best and failed, should have no earthly hope, etc. Try, try again, and keep trying. Evaluate. Use wisdom. God really does help those who do their best, at their level, to help themselves.

* * God helps those who do their best to help others; charity, love in action, helping others greatly enhance the occurrence of miracles. As mentioned in another post, dedication to God and a desire to serve others increases the miracles in our lives.
Alma 34:27 Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you.
Alma 34:28 And now behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you, do not suppose that this is all; for after ye have done all these things, if ye turn away the needy, and the naked, and visit not the sick and afflicted, and impart of your substance, if ye have, to those who stand in need–I say unto you, if ye do not any of these things, behold, your prayer is vain, and availeth you nothing, and ye are as hypocrites who do deny the faith.
Alma 34:29 Therefore, if ye do not remember to be charitable, ye are as dross, which the refiners do cast out, (it being of no worth) and is trodden under foot of men.

* Miracles CAN CHANGE SITUATIONS, and/ or change our views towards situations.
Some people in the church, even in leadership positions, preach that prayer (read: faith) can’t change situations, but it can help us deal with them–this is only partly true. These people need to read the Book of Mormon more to understand this important doctrine–it is FULL of stories of situations that are changed by faith!! One small verse that shows both:
Alma 31:38 And the Lord provided for them that they should hunger not, neither should they thirst; yea, and he also gave them strength, that they should suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ. Now this was according to the prayer of Alma; and this because he prayed in faith.

* There is no limit on the size of a miracle–it can be huge, or tiny. A miracles is a miracle.

*You don’t have to know everything about the solution/ answer (especially the HOW?), as long as you know the giver of the solution/ answer is God.
Alma 32:21 And now as I said concerning faith–faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.

*Faith leads to repentance.
Alma 34:15 And thus he shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name; this being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance.

*Miracles through faith come by faith AND righteousness.
3 Nephi 8:1 AND now it came to pass that according to our record, and we know our record to be true, for behold, it was a just man who did keep the record–for he truly did many miracles in the name of Jesus; and there was not any man who could do a miracle in the name of Jesus save he were cleansed every whit from his iniquity–

*Performing/ being involved in miracles often cleanses us.

* Though all miracles come through faith, it’s likely not just our faith that’s involved.
Mosiah 27:14 And again, the angel said: Behold, the Lord hath heard the prayers of his people, and also the prayers of his servant, Alma, who is thy father; for he has prayed with much faith concerning thee that thou mightest be brought to the knowledge of the truth; therefore, for this purpose have I come to convince thee of the power and authority of God, that the prayers of his servants might be answered according to their faith.
Mosiah 27:16 … And now I say unto thee, Alma, go thy way, and seek to destroy the church no more, that their prayers may be answered, and this even if thou wilt of thyself be cast off.

*Seeing miracles can help our faith, or condemn us.
Helaman 16:2 … but the Spirit of the Lord was with him, insomuch that they could not hit him with their stones neither with their arrows.
Helaman 16:3 Now when they saw that they could not hit him, there were many more who did believe on his words, insomuch that they went away unto Nephi to be baptized.

*Satan and man have explanations for even the greatest and clearest of miracles.
Moroni 7:17 But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.

Helaman 16:15 Nevertheless, the people began to harden their hearts, all save it were the most believing part of them, both of the Nephites and also of the Lamanites, and began to depend upon their own strength and upon their own wisdom, saying:
Helaman 16:16 Some things they may have guessed right, among so many; but behold, we know that all these great and marvelous works cannot come to pass, of which has been spoken…
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.
Helaman 16:23 And notwithstanding the signs and the wonders which were wrought among the people of the Lord, and the many miracles which they did, Satan did get great hold upon the hearts of the people upon all the face of the land.

3 Nephi 1:18 For they knew that the prophets had testified of these things for many years, and that the sign which had been given was already at hand; and they began to fear because of their iniquity and their unbelief.
3 Nephi 1:19 … and they knew that it was the day that the Lord should be born, because of the sign which had been given.
3 Nephi 1:20 And it had come to pass, yea, all things, every whit, according to the words of the prophets.
3 Nephi 1:21 And it came to pass also that a new star did appear, according to the word.
3 Nephi 1:22 And it came to pass that from this time forth there began to be lyings sent forth among the people, by Satan, to harden their hearts, to the intent that they might not believe in those signs and wonders which they had seen; but notwithstanding these lyings and deceivings the more part of the people did believe, and were converted unto the Lord.

3 Nephi 2:1 AND it came to pass that thus passed away the ninety and fifth year also, and the people began to forget those signs and wonders which they had heard, and began to be less and less astonished at a sign or a wonder from heaven, insomuch that they began to be hard in their hearts, and blind in their minds, and began to disbelieve all which they had heard and seen–
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.

*Even if just one person has faith, miracles will occur.
Moroni 7:36 Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?

*One person can perform might miracles, even in the face of great opposition.
Helaman 8:11 … have ye not read that God gave power unto one man, even Moses, to smite upon the waters of the Red Sea, and they parted hither and thither, insomuch that the Israelites, who were our fathers, came through upon dry ground, and the waters closed upon the armies of the Egyptians and swallowed them up?

3 Nephi 7:17 …Nephi did minister with power and with great authority.
3 Nephi 7:18 And it came to pass that they were angry with him, even because he had greater power than they, for it were not possible that they could disbelieve his words, for so great was his faith on the Lord Jesus Christ that angels did minister unto him daily.
3 Nephi 7:19 And in the name of Jesus did he cast out devils and unclean spirits; and even his brother did he raise from the dead, after he had been stoned and suffered death by the people.
3 Nephi 7:20 And the people saw it, and did witness of it, and were angry with him because of his power; and he did also do many more miracles, in the sight of the people, in the name of Jesus.

*Witnessing miracles can bless or curse, depending on the attitude and faith of the observer.
(See my article on believing through seeing: https://bookofmormonnotes.wordpress.com/2011/07/13/book-of-mormon-does-belief-come-through-faith-and-the-holy-ghost-or-also-through-seeing-by-grego/.)

2012, August 30

“Book of Mormon: Does ‘Ceremony’ Fit in Mosiah 19:24?” by grego

Book of Mormon: Does ‘Ceremony’ Fit in Mosiah 19:24?

grego
(c) 2012

In “The Archaic Vocabulary of the Book of Mormon” (Volume 25 – Issue 5 – Insights) (http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/insights/?vol=25&num=5&id=436), Royal Skousen says:
“If the original vocabulary of the Book of Mormon text dates from Early Modern English, one might wonder if there are any archaic words or expressions that were unrecognizable to Joseph Smith and his scribes, thus leading them to misinterpret and change the language during the early transmission of the text… The first one deals with the word ceremony in Mosiah 19:24: “and it came to pass that after they had ended the ceremony that they returned to the land of Nephi.” The problem with this passage is that the word ceremony seems out of place. The larger context implies that their discourse was simply over:
‘and it came to pass that they were about to return to the land of Nephi and they met the men of Gideon and the men of Gideon told them of all that had happened to their wives and their children and that the Lamanites had granted unto them that they might possess the land by paying a tribute to the Lamanites of one half of all they possessed and the people told the men of Gideon that they had slain the king and his priests had fled from them farther into the wilderness and it came to pass that after they had ended the ceremony that they returned to the land of Nephi rejoicing because their wives and their children were not slain and they told Gideon what they had done to the king (Mosiah 19:22—24).'”
Trying to find a word that works better than ceremony works is not easy. Skousen and Bangerter’s proposal that ‘sermon’ was spelled as ‘cermon’ and then miscopied to ‘ceremony’ by the printer seems a little far-fetched.

Ceremony is only out of place because the beginning of the ceremony isn’t mentioned; but that shouldn’t mean much to Book of Mormon students, as that’s not rare in the abridged record.

As Skousen does suggest, there might have “involved some kind of cere­monial aspect in recounting the execution of King Noah”.

Or, as John Tvedtnes suggests: “I assume that he has not read my chapter on “the Nephite Purification Ceremony,” in which I explain that the Nephites mentioned in this passage had just killed King Noah, an act that would have called for purification under the law of Moses” (Reconstructing the Book of Mormon, FARMS Review, Volume 15, Issue 1, Pages 1-3, http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=15&num=1&id=461&cat_id=259 ).

It could have been a ceremony of accepting the rule of the Lamanite king and his 50% tax.

It could have been a ceremony of accepting Limhi as their new king, seeing as they had separated themselves from the main group and especially killed the old king.

Though it’s not the best fit time-wise, it could have been a ceremony of killing their own king instead of just mob attacking and killing him. (Perhaps someone with greater knowledge and research can follow that one.)

Ceremony needn’t imply a long, drawn-out, complicated ritual; even greeting/ shaking hands can be a ceremony in some instances.

So ceremony does work, and in my opinion, much better than ‘sermon’ (‘discussion’) -> ‘cermon’ -> ‘ceremony’.

2012, August 24

“Book of Mormon: Alma’s Use of Sexual Imagery to Corianton in Alma 42” by grego

Book of Mormon: Alma’s Use of Sexual Imagery to Corianton in Alma 42

grego
(c ) 2012

This might not seem very strong, but…

At the end of Alma’s talk to his son Corianton, he says:
Alma 42:30 O my son, I desire that ye should deny the justice of God no more. Do not endeavor to excuse yourself in the least point because of your sins, by denying the justice of God; but do you {let the justice of God, and his mercy, and his long-suffering have full sway in your heart}; and {let it bring you down to the dust in humility}.
Alma 42:31 And now, O my son, {ye are called of God to preach the word unto this people}. And now, my son, go thy way, {declare the word with truth and soberness, that thou mayest bring souls unto repentance, that the great plan of mercy may have claim upon them}. And may God grant unto you even according to my words. Amen.

Wow. Ok, it’s not very explicit, but remember how Alma started this talk:
Alma 39:2 For thou didst not give so much heed unto my words as did thy brother, among the people of the Zoramites. Now this is what I have against thee; {thou didst go on unto boasting in thy strength and thy wisdom}.
Alma 39:3 And this is not all, my son. Thou didst do that which was grievous unto me; for {thou didst forsake the ministry}, and {did go over into the land of Siron among the borders of the Lamanites}, {{after the harlot Isabel.
Alma 39:4 Yea, she did steal away the hearts of many}; but this was no excuse for thee, my son. Thou shouldst have tended to the ministry wherewith thou wast entrusted}.
Alma 39:5 Know ye not, my son, that {these things} are an abomination in the sight of the Lord…
Alma 39:6 … and , it is not easy for him to obtain forgiveness…
Alma 39:7 And now, my son, I would to God that {ye had not been guilty of so great a crime}…
Alma 39:8 But behold, ye cannot hide your crimes from God; and except ye repent they will stand as a testimony against you at the last day.
Alma 39:9 Now my son, I would that ye should repent and forsake your sins, and {go no more after the lusts of your eyes, but cross yourself in all these things}; for except ye do this ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. Oh, remember, and take it upon you, and {cross yourself in these things}.
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}.
Alma 39:12 And now the Spirit of the Lord doth say unto me: {Command thy children to do good, lest they lead away the hearts of many people to destruction}; therefore I command you, my son, in the fear of God, that ye refrain from your iniquities;
Alma 39:13 That ye turn to the Lord with all your mind, might, and strength; that ye {lead away the hearts of no more to do wickedly; but rather return unto them, and acknowledge your faults and that wrong which ye have done}.

Corianton’s pride and lust in his heart brought him to leave the ministry and go to Siron and… down with Isabel. His creating life with Isabel was also the same process that destroyed the lives of many Zoramites, spiritually. Adultery was directly related to idolatry.

On the other hand, “the justice of God, and his mercy, and his long-suffering (are to) have full sway in your heart; and let it bring you down to the dust in humility.” And, in this condition, you are called to the ministry and can give spiritual life to many. Sexual faithfulness is equal to spiritual faithfulness.

2012, August 23

“Book of Mormon: The Zoramites’ Idols vs Alma’s God (Alma 31)” by grego

Book of Mormon: The Zoramites’ Idols vs Alma’s God (Alma 31)

grego
(c) 2012

There is a little comparison in Alma 31:
Alma 31:1 NOW it came to pass that after the end of Korihor, Alma having received tidings that the Zoramites were perverting the ways of the Lord, and that Zoram, who was their leader, was leading the hearts of the people to bow down to dumb idols, his heart again began to sicken because of the iniquity of the people.

vs.

Alma 31:36 Now it came to pass that when Alma had said these words, that he clapped his hands upon all them who were with him. And behold, as he clapped his hands upon them, they were filled with the Holy Spirit.
Alma 31:37 And after that they did separate themselves one from another, taking no thought for themselves what they should eat, or what they should drink, or what they should put on.
Alma 31:38 And the Lord provided for them that they should hunger not, neither should they thirst; yea, and he also gave them strength, that they should suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ. Now this was according to the prayer of Alma; and this because he prayed in faith.

Dumb idols: without life; cannot provide; must be given food, clothes, etc. by their worshippers; no amount of faith in them works.

Alma et. al.: living, and filled with the Holy Spirit; provided food, clothes by the Lord; works according to faith.

2012, August 14

“Book of Mormon (Alma 40; Alma 39-42): How Alma’s Talk to Corianton about ‘Not Knowing’ Shows How Those with Faith Seek Revelation and Continue in Faith versus Those Who Use or Allow Doubts to Excuse Unfaithfulness and Sinful Behavior” by grego

Book of Mormon (Alma 40; Alma 39, Alma 41, Alma 42): How Alma’s Talk to Corianton about ‘Not Knowing’ Shows How Those with Faith Seek Revelation and Continue in Faith versus Those Who Use or Allow Doubts to Excuse Unfaithfulness and Sinful Behavior

grego
(c ) 2012

A major part of Corianton’s problem seems to be that he lets his lack of gospel understanding/ testimony interfere with his faithfulness.

First, here are some verses that show his lack of understanding/ testimony:
Alma 39:17 And now I will ease your mind somewhat on this subject. Behold, you marvel why these things should be known so long beforehand. Behold, I say unto you, is not a soul at this time as precious unto God as a soul will be at the time of his coming?
Alma 40:1 NOW my son, here is somewhat more I would say unto thee; for I perceive that thy mind is worried concerning the resurrection of the dead.
Alma 41:1 AND now, my son, I have somewhat to say concerning the restoration of which has been spoken; for behold, some have wrested the scriptures, and have gone far astray because of this thing. And I perceive that thy mind has been worried also concerning this thing. But behold, I will explain it unto thee.
Alma 42:1 AND now, my son, I perceive there is somewhat more which doth worry your mind, which ye cannot understand–which is concerning the justice of God in the punishment of the sinner; for ye do try to suppose that it is injustice that the sinner should be consigned to a state of misery.
Alma 42:29 And now, my son, I desire that ye should let these things trouble you no more, and only let your sins trouble you, with that trouble which shall bring you down unto repentance.

Here are some verses that show how he used this lack of understanding/ testimony as an excuse to sin:
Alma 41:9 And now behold, my son, do not risk one more offense against your God upon those points of doctrine, which ye have hitherto risked to commit sin.
Alma 41:10 Do not suppose, because it has been spoken concerning restoration, that ye shall be restored from sin to happiness. Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness.
Alma 42:29 And now, my son, I desire that ye should let these things trouble you no more, and only let your sins trouble you, with that trouble which shall bring you down unto repentance.
Alma 42:30 O my son, I desire that ye should deny the justice of God no more. Do not endeavor to excuse yourself in the least point because of your sins, by denying the justice of God; but do you let the justice of God, and his mercy, and his long-suffering have full sway in your heart; and let it bring you down to the dust in humility.

On the contrary, in this same talk to his Corianton, Alma shares the following:

Alma 40:3 …Now, I unfold unto you a mystery; nevertheless, there are many mysteries which are kept, that no one knoweth them save God himself. But I show unto you one thing which I have inquired diligently of God that I might know–that is concerning the resurrection.
Alma 40:4 Behold, there is a time appointed that all shall come forth from the dead. Now when this time cometh no one knows; but God knoweth the time which is appointed.
Alma 40:5 Now, whether there shall be one time, or a second time, or a third time, that men shall come forth from the dead, it mattereth not; for God knoweth all these things; and it sufficeth me to know that this is the case–that there is a time appointed that all shall rise from the dead.
Alma 40:8 Now whether there is more than one time appointed for men to rise it mattereth not; for all do not die at once, and this mattereth not; all is as one day with God, and time only is measured unto men.

Alma 40:6 Now there must needs be a space betwixt the time of death and the time of the resurrection.
Alma 40:7 And now I would inquire what becometh of the souls of men from this time of death to the time appointed for the resurrection?
Alma 40:9 Therefore, there is a time appointed unto men that they shall rise from the dead; and there is a space between the time of death and the resurrection. And now, concerning this space of time, what becometh of the souls of men is the thing which I have inquired diligently of the Lord to know; and this is the thing of which I do know.

Alma 40:10 And when the time cometh when all shall rise, then shall they know that God knoweth all the times which are appointed unto man.

Alma 40:11 Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection–Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel… (and Alma goes on to explain what happens.)

Alma 40:15 Now, there are some that have understood that this state of happiness and this state of misery of the soul, before the resurrection, was a first resurrection. Yea, I admit it may be termed a resurrection, the raising of the spirit or the soul and their consignation to happiness or misery, according to the words which have been spoken.
Alma 40:16 And behold, again it hath been spoken, that there is a first resurrection, a resurrection of all those who have been, or who are, or who shall be, down to the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
Alma 40:17 Now, we do not suppose that this first resurrection, which is spoken of in this manner, can be the resurrection of the souls and their consignation to happiness or misery. Ye cannot suppose that this is what it meaneth.
Alma 40:18 Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but it meaneth the reuniting of the soul with the body, of those from the days of Adam down to the resurrection of Christ.

Alma 40:19 Now, whether the souls and the bodies of those of whom has been spoken shall all be reunited at once, the wicked as well as the righteous, I do not say; let it suffice, that I say that they all come forth; or in other words, their resurrection cometh to pass before the resurrection of those who die after the resurrection of Christ.
Alma 40:20 Now, my son, I do not say that their resurrection cometh at the resurrection of Christ; but behold, I give it as my opinion, that the souls and the bodies are reunited, of the righteous, at the resurrection of Christ, and his ascension into heaven.
Alma 40:21 But whether it be at his resurrection or after, I do not say;
but this much I say, that there is a space between death and the resurrection of the body, and a state of the soul in happiness or in misery until the time which is appointed of God that the dead shall come forth, and be reunited, both soul and body, and be brought to stand before God, and be judged according to their works.

Points Corianton could learn from Alma:

*there are many things we don’t know, but God knows all things.

*if you don’t know, ask God. This is a message found all throughout the Book of Mormon, from Nephi:
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 15:11 Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said?–If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you.
all the way to Moroni:
Moroni 10:4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

*opinions are not the same as revelations, and you don’t build testimonies on them.

*sometimes it’s almost impossible to even have an opinion (not that it stops some people).

*God reveals what we need to know, now. Alma asked, and God answered–not all, but what was needed, especially to help this situation.

*it’s ok to not know something. Even for prophets.

*many people, including church members, have opinions. Many of those opinions are wrong/ misleading/ have been wrested from the scriptures.

*not knowing is not an excuse for sinful behavior.

*some things–like our faith and faithfulness–are much more important than knowing everything.

*also, some things–like what we do affects our salvation, an important part of the gospel and life–are much more important to know than other things less important to our salvation, like philosophical ponderings (“How is it possible to apply the Atonement to our lives when it hasn’t happened yet?”)

*in the end, you’ll know God knows, and you can’t be other than satisfied with all His.

*there are many things we DO or CAN know if we are diligent and humble and apply ourselves to learning, and we should remember and hold on to them much more than think about the things we DON’T know (yet).

Unfortunately, humility wasn’t one of Corianton’s strengths:
Alma 39:2 For thou didst not give so much heed unto my words as did thy brother, among the people of the Zoramites. Now this is what I have against thee; thou didst go on unto boasting in thy strength and thy wisdom.
Alma 39:7 And now, my son, I would to God that ye had not been guilty of so great a crime. I would not dwell upon your crimes, to harrow up your soul, if it were not for your good.
Alma 39:10 And I command you to take it upon you to counsel with your elder brothers in your undertakings; for behold, thou art in thy youth, and ye stand in need to be nourished by your brothers. And give heed to their counsel.
Alma 42:29 And now, my son, I desire that ye should let these things trouble you no more, and only let your sins trouble you, with that trouble which shall bring you down unto repentance.
Alma 42:30 O my son, I desire that ye should deny the justice of God no more. Do not endeavor to excuse yourself in the least point because of your sins, by denying the justice of God; but do you let the justice of God, and his mercy, and his long-suffering have full sway in your heart; and let it bring you down to the dust in humility.
Alma 42:31 And now, O my son, ye are called of God to preach the word unto this people. And now, my son, go thy way, declare the word with truth and soberness, that thou mayest bring souls unto repentance, that the great plan of mercy may have claim upon them. And may God grant unto you even according to my words. Amen.

which dad prophet Alma foils nicely with his humility in Alma 40.

2012, June 24

“Book of Mormon: Chapter Heading Correction in Mosiah 28: Who Does ‘They Shall Have Eternal Life’ Refer to?” by grego

Book of Mormon:  Chapter Heading Correction in Mosiah 28:  Who Does “They Shall Have Eternal Life” Refer to?

 

grego

(c) 2012

 

The chapter heading to Mosiah 28 reads:

“*The sons of Mosiah shall have eternal life*—They go to preach to the Lamanites—Mosiah translates the Jaredite plates with the two seer stones. About 92 B.C.”

 

The text reads:

Mosiah 28:6 And king Mosiah went and inquired of the Lord if he should let his sons go up among the Lamanites to preach the word.
  7 And the Lord said unto Mosiah: Let them go up, for many shall believe on their words, and they shall have eternal life; and I will deliver thy sons out of the hands of the Lamanites.
“Let them go up, for many shall believe on their words, and they shall have eternal life. “
So who is the antecedent to “they”:  his sons, or the people who believe on their words?
I believe it’s those who listen to his sons’ words, not his sons, and therefore the chapter heading should read “Many Lamanites will have eternal life because of the sons of Mosiah’s preachings.” or such.
Mosiah’s sons already have eternal life.  And why would anyone believing in their words have to do with them having eternal life?
But not only will the Lamanites believe, but they’ll believe unto eternal life.

2012, June 11

“Book of Mormon: “Clap” in Alma 31:36″ by grego

Book of Mormon:  “Clap” in Alma 31:36

grego

(c) 2012

Alma 31: 36 Now it came to pass that when Alma had said these words, that he CLAPPED his hands upon all them who were with him. And behold, as he CLAPPED his hands upon them, they were filled with the Holy Spirit.

So, what does “clap” mean here, and where does it come from?

Luckily, it’s one of those words the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary helps us understand (http://1828.mshaffer.com/d/search/word,clap):

CLAP, v.t.

1. To strike with a quick motion, so as to make a noise by the collision; to strike with something broad, or having a flat surface; as, to clap the hands; to clap the wings.

2. To thrust or drive together; to shut hastily; followed by to; as, to clap to the door or gate.

3. To thrust or drive together; to put one thing to another by a hasty or sudden motion; followed by to, on or in; as, to clap the hand to the mouth; to clap spurs to a horse; to clap on a saddle.

4. To thrust; TO PUT, PLACE OR SEND; FOLLOWED BY IN, INTO, UNDER, OVER, ETC.; as, to clap one under the hatches; to clap one into Bedlam; to clap a board over a pit.

5. To applaud; to manifest approbation or praise by striking the hands together; as, to clap a performance on the stage.


To clap up, to make or complete hastily; as, to clap up a peace.
To imprison hastily, or with little delay.

CLAP, v.i.

1. To move or drive together suddenly with noise.
The doors around me clapt.

2. To ENTER ON WITH ALACRITY AND BRISKNESS; to drive or thrust on; as we say to reapers or mowers, clap in, or clap to, that is, ENTER ON THE WORK, BEGIN WITHOUT DELAY, begin briskly.

Its use was a lot different than nowadays!  Definition number four works well for this scripture, and likely just means that Alma placed his hands on their heads, or perhaps following definition number two, right afterward, without waiting around.

2012, May 30

“Book of Mormon: The Establishment of the Church by Alma in Zarahemla (and More)” by grego

Book of Mormon: The Establishment of the Church in Zarahemla

grego

(c)2012

There is an interesting situation in Zarahemla when Alma and his people return. King Benjamin had done this:
Mosiah 6:1 And now, king Benjamin thought it was expedient, after having finished speaking to the people, that he should take the names of all those who had entered into a covenant with God to keep his commandments.
3 And again, it came to pass that when king Benjamin had made an end of all these things, and had consecrated his son Mosiah to be a ruler and a king over his people, and had given him all the charges concerning the kingdom, and also had appointed priests to teach the people, that thereby they might hear and know the commandments of God, and to stir them up in remembrance of the oath which they had made, he dismissed the multitude, and they returned, every one, according to their families, to their own houses.

and King Mosiah continues it.

King Mosiah was both the secular and religious leader at the time—king and high priest; like his father Benjamin and his grandfather Mosiah, and Nephi at the beginning.

Alma’s people want him to be king, but he refuses; he’ll just be their high priest:
Mosiah 23:6 And the people were desirous that Alma should be their king, for he was beloved by his people.
7 But he said unto them: Behold, it is not expedient that we should have a king; for thus saith the Lord: Ye shall not esteem one flesh above another, or one man shall not think himself above another; therefore I say unto you it is not expedient that ye should have a king.
16 And now, Alma was their high priest, he being the founder of their church.
17 And it came to pass that none received authority to preach or to teach except it were by him from God. Therefore he consecrated all their priests and all their teachers; and none were consecrated except they were just men.
18 Therefore they did watch over their people, and did nourish them with things pertaining to righteousness.

When Alma and his church (but possibly not the full law of Moses) come back, they are now under the secular and ecclesiastical authority of King Mosiah:
Mosiah 24:24 And it came to pass that they departed out of the valley, and took their journey into the wilderness.
25 And after they had been in the wilderness twelve days *they arrived in the land of Zarahemla; and king Mosiah did also receive them with joy.
King Mosiah sees Alma and his church, and I imagine he believes it best to allow Alma to be in charge, once more splitting the secular and religious leadership of the Nephites:
Mosiah 25:14 And now it came to pass that when Mosiah had made an end of speaking and reading to the people, he desired that Alma should also speak to the people.
15 And Alma did speak unto them, when they were assembled together in large bodies, and he went from one body to another, preaching unto the people repentance and faith on the Lord.
19 And it came to pass that king Mosiah granted unto Alma that he might establish churches throughout all the land of Zarahemla; and gave him power to ordain priests and teachers over every church.
21 …every church having their priests and their teachers, and every priest preaching the word according as it was delivered to him by the mouth of Alma.
22 And thus, notwithstanding there being many churches they were all one church, yea, even the church of God; for there was nothing preached in all the churches except it were repentance and faith in God.
23 And now there were seven churches in the land of Zarahemla. And it came to pass that whosoever were desirous to take upon them the name of Christ, or of God, they did join the churches of God;
24 And they were called the people of God. And the Lord did pour out his Spirit upon them, and they were blessed, and prospered in the land.

King Mosiah later gives all the religious relics to Alma the younger:
Mosiah 28:20 And now, as I said unto you, that after king Mosiah had done these things, he took the plates of brass, and all the things which he had kept, and conferred them upon Alma, who was the son of Alma; yea, all the records, and also the interpreters, and conferred them upon him, and commanded him that he should keep and preserve them, and also keep a record of the people, handing them down from one generation to another, even as they had been handed down from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem.

But then, Alma the high priest is elected the chief judge:
Mosiah 29:41 And it came to pass that they did appoint judges to rule over them, or to judge them according to the law; and this they did throughout all the land.
42 And it came to pass that Alma was appointed to be the first chief judge, he being also the high priest, his father having conferred the office upon him, and having given him the charge concerning all the affairs of the church.

Shortly after, due to heavy problems in the church, Alma gives up the office of chief judge, and the secular and ecclesiastic powers are once more separated:
Alma 4:15 And now it came to pass that Alma, having seen the afflictions of the humble followers of God, and the persecutions which were heaped upon them by the remainder of his people, and seeing all their inequality, began to be very sorrowful; nevertheless the Spirit of the Lord did not fail him.
16 And he selected a wise man who was among the elders of the church, and gave him power according to the voice of the people, that he might have power to enact laws according to the laws which had been given, and to put them in force according to the wickedness and the crimes of the people.
17 Now this man’s name was Nephihah, and he was appointed chief judge; and he sat in the judgment-seat to judge and to govern the people.
18 Now Alma did not grant unto him the office of being high priest over the church, but he retained the office of high priest unto himself; but he delivered the judgment-seat unto Nephihah.
19 And this he did that he himself might go forth among his people, or among the people of Nephi, that he might preach the word of God unto them…
20 And thus in the commencement of the ninth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi, Alma delivered up the judgment-seat to Nephihah, and confined himself wholly to the high priesthood of the holy order of God…

Later, Alma the Younger offers the religious plates/ records to Nephihah, but he refuses, perhaps because this would signify the reunification of the secular and religious leadership:
Alma 50:37 And it came to pass that in the same year that the people of Nephi had peace restored unto them, that Nephihah, the second chief judge, died, having filled the judgment-seat with perfect uprightness before God.
38 Nevertheless, he had refused Alma to take possession of those records and those things which were esteemed by Alma and his fathers to be most sacred; therefore Alma had conferred them upon his son, Helaman.

(And until the coming of Christ, when it is likely that the government was once more together with the religion.

It then seems to split; after that, secular and ecclesiastic authority seems to come back together at the end—with Mormon and Moroni.)

2012, May 25

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints/ LDS/ Mormon: Are Ward Units Too Big for Real Growth?” by grego

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints/ LDS/ Mormon: Are Ward Units Too Big for Real Growth?

grego

(c) 2012

If the LDS Church is interested in real growth, would it help to make the wards much smaller? With some of the wards I’ve been in being over 200 active members (according to the church’s definition of “attending once a month”), and student wards having even more; and total membership on some ward rolls being over 600 names, I wonder: are LDS wards too big?

This led to some searching on social numbers, and this is what I found.

From http://www.marksdailyapple.com/dunbars-number-group-size/#ixzz1vSUsD2rm:

“…A British anthropologist named Robin Dunbar figured the same principle ought to apply to all primates – human and non-human alike… He then followed suit (abstract) for human primates and came up with a human maximum “mean group size” of 150 and an “intimate circle size” of 12. Hypothesis in hand, he then compared his prediction with observed human group sizes, paying special attention to the anthropological literature and reports from hunter-gatherer societies…

For the most part, his predictions held true. The upper limit for human social cohesiveness was groups of about 150, and this tended to occur in situations involving intense environmental or economic pressure – like war (Roman maniples contained around 160 men) or early agriculture (Neolithic farming villages ran about 150 deep, and 150 members marked the point at which Hutterite settlements typically split apart). Any higher, and it’d be too costly and require too much social “grooming” to maintain the group.

The hunter-gatherer existence self-regulates tribal size, really… A large, ranging, sloppy group would mean more weak links, and in a social framework where every member was integral to the success of the whole, it simply wouldn’t work out. As we see with the Hutterites, a hunter-gatherer tribe that got too big for its britches would simply become two hunter-gatherer tribes rather than languish and fail.

(Overstepping Dunbar’s number might also increase stress. We clearly see that in farm animals. Increasing group size past optimal levels increases damaging behavior indicative of stress: feather pecking in hens and tail biting in pigs. No, we are neither pigs nor chickens, but we’re still sensitive to our environments.)”

From http://www.mdaniels.com/dunbar-s-number/ :


What is “Dunbar’s Number?” And is the Internet raising it?

Apr 11, 2009

…Recently, academics began focusing on “Dunbar-like” relationships that have proliferated on social networks and MMORPGS (Massively multiplayer online role-playing games), many well above 150…

How did Dunbar arrive at 150 relationships per person?

In 1993, Robin Dunbar studied the social habits of primates. After reviewing 36 primates and the average social group size, he found a strong correlation with the size of the neocortex region of the brain. Through extrapolation, he concluded that human social groups are limited to about 150 people.

In short, it is our brain that constrains the size of our social circles. This limit is only for groups that are physically dependent, paralleling his study of primate group sizes. The real eye-popper is when Dunbar studied historical examples of human group sizes…

Does Technology Raise Dunbar’s Number?

The Economist asked this same question to Facebook. Do to our friends’ news feed, status updates, etc., does Facebook reduce the friction of socializing and increase the size of our social circle?

Facebook reported that the average number of friends per account is 120. But those friends with which you heavily interact (write on wall, comment on photos) is only 7-10. But for even those with over 500 Facebook friends, the number only increased to 17-30.

MMORPGs, such as Warcraft, do not suggest an increase either. Average guild sizes are well below 150 for World of Warcraft and Ultima Online, with an average of 17 and a median of 9. There’s a very interesting graph of satisfaction with guild sizes, which peaks at 7 and 50 members. This level of satisfaction has a lot to do with group complexity. Life with Alacrity writes that simple groups will peak at 7 and complex groups at 60, eventually fractioning well before they reach Dunbar’s number.”

What might happen when “social acceptance” numbers are exceeded?

  • People don’t bother learning much about others.
  • People aren’t really interested in others.
  • People gravitate towards those who are like them the most, and who they like the most–more cliques and ostracization.
  • People actually don’t like new members (unless they are like them more than others)!
  • There is more impetus for negative social disorder–stress, strife, backbiting, etc.
  • Bishops and other leaders have a rough time taking care of everyone.
  • Newer (and older) members go inactive more and faster, building the burden of the active members.

Is there anything in the Book of Mormon about numbers?

There is, just a little—and it’s quite interesting.

Mosiah 18:16 And after this manner he did baptize every one that went forth to the place of Mormon; and they were in number about <two hundred and four souls>…

18 And it came to pass that Alma, having authority from God, ordained priests; even <one priest to every fifty of their number did he ordain to preach unto them, and to teach them concerning the things pertaining to the kingdom of God>.

35 And they were in number about four hundred and fifty souls.

So here’s the church: Alma is the high priest over 450 people, possibly 204 of them being above the age of 8; and one priest for every 50 people. In current terms, that would be stake president, and bishops. It might be argued that because stake presidents and bishops have two counselors, then that could well be 1,500 people in a stake and 150 in a ward. Even so, 150 is much less than most wards, especially on the rolls! On the other hand, would home teaching make up for it?

Later, there are seven churches in Zarahemla; for the people already there, Alma’s people, and Limhi’s people combined:

Mosiah 25:21 Therefore they did assemble themselves together in different bodies, being called churches; <every church having their *priestS* and their teachers, and every priest preaching the word> according as it was delivered to him by the mouth of Alma.

22 And thus, notwithstanding there being many churches they were all one church, yea, even the church of God; for there was nothing preached in all the churches except it were repentance and faith in God.

23 And now there were <seven churches in the land of Zarahemla>. And it came to pass that whosoever were desirous to take upon them the name of Christ, or of God, they did join the churches of God;

It seems like there are many units in each of the seven churches, each with its own priest, and teachers under the priest, as shown here:

Mosiah 26:7 And it came to pass that they were brought before the priests, and <delivered up unto the priests by the teachers>; and the priests brought them before Alma, who was the high priest.

I wonder if the same 1 priest to 50 members ratio was still in effect.

Especially if/as societies break down, would it be better for the LDS Church to prepare now by making the units smaller to stimulate real growth? If each ward had 150 TOTAL members on its roll (or ideally 50-60 adults?), would that encourage the members to bring the less-active members back into full fellowship?

-=-=-=

Extra:

(Soldiers are grouped in 50’s:

1 Ne. 3:31 And after the angel had departed, Laman and Lemuel again began to murmur, saying: How is it possible that the Lord will deliver Laban into our hands? Behold, he is a mighty man, and he can command fifty, yea, even he can slay fifty; then why not us?

2 Ne. 13:3 The captain of fifty, and the honorable man, and the counselor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator.

Mosiah 11:19 And now, because of this great victory they were lifted up in the pride of their hearts; they did boast in their own strength, saying that their fifty could stand against thousands of the Lamanites…)

When Jesus comes, there are 2,500 people there:

3 Nephi 17:25 And the multitude did see and hear and bear record; and they know that their record is true for they all of them did see and hear, every man for himself; and they were in number about two thousand and five hundred souls; and they did consist of men, women, and children.

Then, more come:

3 Nephi 19:3 Yea, and even all the night it was noised abroad concerning Jesus; and insomuch did they send forth unto the people that there were many, yea, an exceedingly great number, did labor exceedingly all that night, that they might be on the morrow in the place where Jesus should show himself unto the multitude.

How many? I don’t know.

But, the group is split into 12, according to the chosen disciples, in order to teach them better:

3 Nephi 19:5 And behold, the multitude was so great that they did cause that they should be separated into twelve bodies.

6 And the twelve did teach the multitude…

2012, May 15

“Book of Mormon: Mosiah 4: What Have You Borrowed from God?” by grego

Book of Mormon: Mosiah 4: What Have You Borrowed from God?

grego

(c) 2012

Mosiah 4:28 And I would that ye should remember, that whosoever among you borroweth of his neighbor should return the thing that he borroweth, according as he doth agree, or else thou shalt commit sin; and perhaps thou shalt cause thy neighbor to commit sin also.

This verse seems pretty weird, stuck here all by itself. But it balances out the whole preceding section on beggars, and it gives those who can pay back, a reminder to do so. While we are all beggars (v.19, 20), we are also all borrowers.

It also makes me think about how much I’ve “borrowed” from Jesus, and that I should try to return what I’ve borrowed, or to give what I’ve been given; or as Jesus said, “When thou art converted, convert they brethren”. When I covenanted with God at baptism and in the temple, I “borrowed” my salvation, and agreed to return it for myself and help others to do so also, and to do other things, according to those covenants. If I fail to live up to my covenants, I will commit sin; and though God won’t, it’s a nice reminder that it’s not a light thing to fail to live up to my part of the bargain.

2012, May 11

“Book of Mormon: When Were the Jaredites Destroyed–Moroni’s Clue?” by grego

Book of Mormon: When Were the Jaredites Destroyed–Moroni’s Clue?

 

grego

(c) 2012

I’ve seen all kinds of dates for when the Jaredites were destroyed. I’d like to present something here that I can’t believe I’ve missed for so long, I guess you could say I didn’t know I knew it.

Ether 12:5 And he spake also concerning the house of Israel, and THE JERUSALEM FROM WHENCE LEHI **SHOULD** COME…

There it is. That’s it. Moroni writes that when Ether preached about Jerusalem, Lehi hadn’t left Jerusalem yet.

So where does that put the Jaredites, timewise?

According to the record of Ether, there are about 14-16 years between the time he preaches about Jersualem (and Lehi hadn’t left yet), to the destruction of the Jaredites. So, with Lehi in the desert for eight years, on the shores for a short time, and traveling across the sea for less than a year, at the most the record allows that the Jaredites still lived in the land for six years after the Lehites landed. At the least, the Jaredites and the Lehites lived “nearby” for four years. For the Mulekites, it might have been even less–thus it’s very possible that Coriantumr might have met them almost right after they arrived.

If Moroni wrote correctly, and the interpretation is correct, this conclusion is very different than the hundreds of years of nearby co-existence that others have estimated.

2012, May 4

“LDS/ Mormons: Borrowing to Get Ahead—Is It Worth It?” by grego

LDS/ Mormons: Borrowing to Get Ahead—Is It Worth It?

grego

(c)2012

I’ve been thinking about a lot of things lately: the economy, jobs, all the PhD’s and M’s that don’t have work, the history of companies being built by low-education people, youth, our students, other students I/ we know, my children, etc.

And especially, the youth in our church (my wife works with the Young Women), of which not very many make it from baptism to Relief Society. There are many problems, but one that I’ve really thought about recently is “education”. Most of the young women who stay in the Young Women program the longest drop out by the time they get into the second year of high school. And, the smarter they are (or better said the better the grades they get), the more probable that they’ll drop out.

I’ve noticed a few problems with the youth and getting ahead:

1. Faith becomes less and less a factor as time goes on.

2. Many school teachers encourage the youth to do something that conflicts with the gospel/ church, and they often do it. The youth put the counsel of their school teachers over the counsel of their church leaders.

3. They often accept the praise of their school teachers (and fellow students) over the praise of their church leaders, fellow youth, and even parents.

4. BIG ONE: and here’s what’s wrong with the world. Everyone borrows to get ahead! Why is Europe in trouble? Why is America in trouble? Everyone’s been borrowing money to get ahead.

Let’s say there are four children (Abe, Bob, Cal, Dan) of average intelligence. If they all pay to learn, they’ll all probably continue to learn at pretty much the same pace. Ouch–that doesn’t help, does it? So they keep paying, until Dan has no more money and the pressure with his family has boiled over into problems (of course, that could happen with any one of them…). Now, Dan is out of “the race”, unless he can find another way. The other three keep paying, until Cal has no more money and is out of it, unless he can find another way. Then Bob finally has no more money and is out, so Abe wins! All he had to do was spend and borrow more than the others, which increased the distance between him and his competitors!

Will Abe continue to study now? Probably not much, but he doesn’t have to… (Why are some Asian students often smarter in 9th grade than at university graduation? Because they’re so tired from winning earlier, they can’t go on strong anymore.)

What will Abe do now? What does he win? Does he win money, a job, a happy career, a guaranteed great life? Nope–none of that. He just wins getting into a school, where it might… start all over again!

Or let’s say that at the end, Abe wins the top job. Now he becomes as many professionals–hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt to get the top-notch education, and in debt for 20 years (if things go well).

So let’s say Abe stays on top… When he graduates, he will go to work for… Aaron? Adam? Likely not! He will go to work for Bob, Cal, or even Dan–if they are able to get a loan to start a company.

Another question–when everyone is moneyless, who will buy products? Buy on credit? Or was all that work and money spent on “winning”, not worth it?

But since everyone else is trying to borrow too, if you don’t borrow, you’ll get left behind. Is that so bad?  Are there no other options for “success” in life?  Are there no other skills–work, relationship, communication, creativity, etc.–that can compare with “studies” or a university degree?  Would it be wiser to invest in these skills?  Many countries now have plenty of people with graduate degrees who are unemployed and collecting state money.

There was a pretty faithful girl from a pretty faithful family whose greatest dreams and goals when she grew up were to be a wife, mother, and homemaker. She could likely pick her husband without much problem, and they would be willing in a moment. In just a short time, she went from that to staying at school till 9pm three times a week, and studying all day on Saturday. Why? So she could get into a better college—not in a few months, but in OVER a year. Not only is it impossible for her to attend any Young Women activities now, the family is going into debt to pay for these extra preparation classes.

Sure, that is great “planning ahead” and “being prepared”. But as with other things: at what cost? Will it be worth it? Is this what all the time and money should be put towards?

Yes, women have been encouraged to get an education/ prepare for the future. But I feel the church leaders have stressed this too much.

Here’s an example of what can happen when it gets out of hand: sex exchanged for school loan payments. Dana goes to an expensive college, graduates, and gets a job at $30,000 (not bad for starters). She looks at her $100,000 debt, and figures out that that’s going to take over three years of straight work to pay it off. Ouch. That usually also means a nosedive in her style of living. Whoops, the math isn’t working! So she turns to other “assets” to pay off her debt. (Do an internet search on “sugar daddy college university debt sex” and read more about this situation and the plenty of websites popping up to meet this “need”.)

When we bought our first car, I was very worried about what would happen if something happened to me and I couldn’t work (especially at my cushy job—that’s as in “physically not-very-demanding”, not “high-paying”), or if we didn’t have money one month to make a payment.

So, please consider, very carefully, whether what you’re investing your money, time, and effort in—not just buying—is worth it or not.

I’d love to be smart and spiritual, and for my children and others to be like that, too. But I see too many who go into debt and lose their faith because they put “getting ahead” ahead of everything else, including the commandments and church.

I’ve always said, “Better the dumbest guy in heaven, than the smartest guy in hell.”

2012, May 3

“Baptism in the Book of Mormon: Pushed by Missionaries or Requested by Investigators?” by grego

Baptism in the Book of Mormon: Pushed by Missionaries or Requested by Investigators?

grego
(c)2012

I decided to take a look at the circumstances around a person being baptized in the Book of Mormon, and compare that to what happens nowadays with most investigators.

I do not want to get into the doctrine of baptism very much (there are many more verses that talk about baptism that I didn’t list), nor deeply discuss investigators preparing for baptism through belief, faith, repentance, and works, as I’ve done that a little before, anyway; however, I do note this in the verses that are here, if they go along with my main purpose.

Book of Mormon verses:

Mosiah 4:1 And now, it came to pass that when king Benjamin had thus spoken to his people, he sent among them, DESIRING TO KNOW of his people IF THEY BELIEVED the words which he had spoken unto them.
2 And they all CRIED WITH ONE VOICE, saying: Yea, WE BELIEVE ALL THE WORDS which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we KNOW OF THEIR SURETY AND TRUTH, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has WROUGHT A MIGHT CHANGE IN US, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.
3 And we, ourselves, also, through the infinite goodness of God, and the MANIFESTATIONS OF HIS SPIRIT, have great views of that which is to come; and were it expedient, we could prophesy of all things.
4 And it is the FAITH WHICH WE HAVE had on the things which our king has spoken unto us that has brought us to this great knowledge, whereby WE DO REJOICE WITH SUCH EXCEEDINGLY GREAT JOY.
5 And WE ARE WILLING TO ENTER INTO A COVENANT with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, ALL THE REMAINDER OF OUR DAYS, that we may not bring upon ourselves a never-ending torment, as has been spoken by the angel, that we may not drink out of the cup of the wrath of God.

Mosiah 18:10 Now I say unto you, IF THIS BE THE DESIRE OF YOUR HEARTS, what have you against being BAPTIZED in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?
11 And now when the people had heard these words, THEY CLAPPED THEIR HANDS FOR JOY, and exclaimed: THIS IS THE DESIRE OF OUR HEARTS.

Mosiah 21:33 And it came to pass that king Limhi and many of his people WERE DESIROUS TO BE BAPTIZED; but there was none in the land that had authority from God. And Ammon declined doing this thing, considering himself an unworthy servant.
34 Therefore they did not at that time form themselves into a church, waiting upon the Spirit of the Lord. Now they were DESIROUS to become even as Alma and his brethren, who had fled into the wilderness.
35 They WERE DESIROUS TO BE BAPTIZED as a witness and a testimony that they were willing to serve God with all their hearts; nevertheless they did prolong the time; and an account of their baptism shall be given hereafter.
Mosiah 25:17 And it came to pass that after Alma had taught the people many things, and had made an end of speaking to them, that king Limhi WAS DESIROUS THAT HE MIGHT BE BAPTIZED; and all his people WERE DESIROUS THAT THEY MIGHT BE BAPTIZED also.
18 Therefore, Alma did go forth into the water and did baptize them; yea, he did baptize them after the manner he did his brethren in the waters of Mormon; yea, and as many as he did baptize did belong to the church of God; and this because of their belief on the words of Alma.

Alma 8:4 And he began to teach the people in the land of Melek according to the holy order of God, by which he had been called; and he began to teach the people throughout all the land of Melek.
5 And it came to pass that THE PEOPLE CAME TO HIM throughout all the borders of the land which was by the wilderness side. And they WERE BAPTIZED throughout all the land;

Alma 15:3 And also Zeezrom lay sick at Sidom, with a burning fever, which was caused by the great tribulations of his mind on account of his wickedness, for he supposed that Alma and Amulek were no more; and he supposed that they had been slain because of his iniquity. And this great sin, and his many other sins, did harrow up his mind until it did become exceedingly sore, having no deliverance; therefore he began to be scorched with a burning heat.
4 Now, when he heard that Alma and Amulek were in the land of Sidom, his heart began to take courage; and he sent a message immediately unto them, DESIRING THEM TO COME UNTO HIM.
5 And it came to pass that they went immediately, obeying the message which he had sent unto them; and they went in unto the house unto Zeezrom; and they found him upon his bed, sick, being very low with a burning fever; and his mind also was exceedingly sore because of his iniquities; and when HE saw them he stretched forth his hand, and BESOUGHT THEM THAT THEY WOULD HEAL HIM.

10 And then Alma cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord our God, have mercy on this man, and heal him according to his faith which is in Christ.
11 And when Alma had said these words, Zeezrom leaped upon his feet, and began to walk; and this was done to the great astonishment of all the people; and the knowledge of this went forth throughout all the land of Sidom.
12 And Alma BAPTIZED Zeezrom unto the Lord; and he began from that time forth to preach unto the people.
13 And Alma established a church in the land of Sidom, and consecrated priests and teachers in the land, to baptize unto the Lord whosoever WERE DESIROUS TO BE BAPTIZED.

Alma 19:35 And it came to pass that there were many that did BELIEVE IN THEIR WORDS; and as many as did believe WERE BAPTIZED; and they BECAME A RIGHTEOUS PEOPLE, and they did establish a church among them.

Alma 32:16 Therefore, blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble; or rather, in other words, blessed is he that believeth in the word of God, and is BAPTIZED WITHOUT STUBBORNNESS OF HEART, yea, without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before they will believe.

Helaman 5:16 …and from thence into the land of Zarahemla, among the Lamanites.
17 And it came to pass that they did preach with great power, insomuch that they did confound many of those dissenters who had gone over from the Nephites, insomuch that THEY CAME FORTH and did CONFESS THEIR SINS and WERE BAPTIZED unto repentance, and IMMEDIATELY returned to the Nephites to ENDEAVOR TO REPAIR UNTO THEM THE WRONGS WHICH THEY HAD DONE.

Helaman 16:1 And now, it came to pass that there were many who heard the words of Samuel, the Lamanite, which he spake upon the walls of the city. And as many as believed on his word WENT FORTH AND SOUGHT FOR NEPHI; and WHEN THEY HAD COME FORTH AND FOUND HIM they CONFESSED UNTO HIM THEIR SINS and DENIED NOT, DESIRING THAT THEY MIGHT BE BAPTIZED unto the Lord.
2 But as many as there were who did not believe in the words of Samuel were angry with him; and they cast stones at him upon the wall, and also many shot arrows at him as he stood upon the wall; but the Spirit of the Lord was with him, insomuch that they could not hit him with their stones neither with their arrows.
3 Now when they saw that they could not hit him, there were many more who did believe on his words, insomuch that THEY WENT AWAY UNTO NEPHI TO BE BAPTIZED.

3 Nephi 26:17 And it came to pass that the disciples whom Jesus had chosen began from that time forth to BAPTIZE and to TEACH AS MANY AS DID COME UNTO THEM; and as many as were baptized in the name of Jesus WERE FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST.

4 Nephi 1:1 And it came to pass that the thirty and fourth year passed away, and also the thirty and fifth, and behold the disciples of Jesus had formed a church of Christ in all the lands round about. And AS MANY AS DID COME UNTO THEM, and did TRULY REPENT OF THEIR SINS, were BAPTIZED in the name of Jesus; and they did also RECEIVE THE HOLY GHOST.

Mormon 9:29 See that ye are NOT BAPTIZED UNWORTHILY; see that ye partake not of the sacrament of Christ unworthily; but see that ye do all things in worthiness, and do it in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God; and if ye do this, and endure to the end, ye will in nowise be cast out.

Moroni 6:1 And now I speak concerning baptism. Behold, elders, priests, and teachers were baptized; and they were NOT BAPTIZED SAVE THEY BROUGHT FORTH FRUIT MEET that they were WORTHY of it.
2 NEITHER DID THEY RECEIVE ANY UNTO BAPTISM SAVE THEY CAME FORTH WITH A BROKEN HEART AND A CONTRITE SPIRIT, and WITNESSED unto the church that they truly repented of all their sins.
3 And none were received unto baptism save they took upon them the name of Christ, HAVING A DETERMINATION TO SERVE HIM TO THE END.
4 And after they had been received unto baptism, AND WERE WROUGHT UPON AND CLEANSED BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY GHOST, they were numbered among the people of the church of Christ; and their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith.

Conclusion: investigators usually sought out the preacher and were desirous of baptism (or covenant-making) and willing to show it. There was no such thing as just agreeing to set a date, especially because the missionaries pushed them. The investigators also fully understood the meaning and intent of baptism.
The new members did not receive just the GIFT of the Holy Ghost, but the Holy Ghost itself (something most new members here can’t attest to–not because they’re bad, but because they’re unprepared and not fully committed).

I invite any comments that show the Book of Mormon shows otherwise.

2012, May 2

“LDS/ Mormons: Problems with ‘Real Growth’ in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” by grego

LDS/ Mormons: Problems with “Real Growth” in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

grego
(c)2012

One of our area goals, set by our area presidency (70′s), for this year is “real growth”.

Finally, someone was starting to see it!! I have no idea where this is coming from, but in general conference Brother Edgley spoke on “The Rescue for Real Growth”, and I realized maybe it was higher than just our area presidency.

A few weeks ago in a meeting with the high councilor we were looking at numbers, and he mentioned that numbers are going down all across the stake, and had been for a little while. (For example, ward temple attendance has spiraled from 40/ month to less than 10.) Then he asked for input as to why. I rose my hand. “This is the culminating fruit of at least 15 years of numbers games instead of real growth…” and continued to speak for a few minutes.

It seems that for years the leaders have been worrying about and measuring good things, while not worrying about or measuring much better things.

Things being measured:
-Sacrament meeting attendance
-Home teaching
-Temple attendance

Ok, but… Things that SHOULD be measured more than most others:
-Book of Mormon reading
-Prayer
-Family Home Evening

I’ve always wondered why so much prophetic and leadership counsel gets “forgotten” in the process, like this:
Often we spend great effort in trying to increase the activity levels in our stakes.
We work diligently to raise the percentages of those attending sacrament meetings.
We labor to get a higher percentage of our young men on missions.
We strive to improve the numbers of those marrying in the temple.
All of these are commendable efforts and important to the growth of the kingdom.
But when individual members and families immerse themselves in the scriptures regularly and consistently, these other areas of activity will automatically come (The Power of the Word, Ezra Taft Benson, President of the Church, April 4, 1986).

But it’s not just the members, it’s also the missionaries. In fact, it starts with and is largely pushed by the missionaries.

For the past 15 years (at least), “real growth” has had no meaning to the missionary work here. It’s all been about numbers, numbers, numbers. That pressure comes from the mission presidents and from the missionary leaders (assistants to the president, zone leaders, district leaders) who have also ignored church leaders’ teachings and about all the scriptures when it comes to missionary work and goals. Just a few years ago (three?), Elder Nelson gave a talk and asked the missionaries to measure their personal efforts, not other goals they had no control over. How many mission presidents are doing that? But is it their fault, or their leaders they report to (and what numbers are being reported)? (I’ve gone into numbers and goals before in other missionary posts.).

I find it a little ironic that you have this in “Preach My Gospel”:
“A Successful Missionary
Your success as a missionary is measured primarily by your commitment to find, teach, baptize, and confirm people and to help them become faithful members of the Church who enjoy the presence of the Holy Ghost.
Avoid comparing yourself to other missionaries and measuring the outward results of your efforts against theirs. Remember that people have agency to choose whether to accept your message. Your responsibility is to teach clearly and powerfully so they can make a correct choice (p. 10).”
but then there’s also a section on number goals (“Use Time Wisely” chapter). Is this sending a mixed message to missionaries?

I gave rides to the missionaries recently, and as the missionaries read their district goals (another big problem! But I didn’t discuss that with them.) in the car, I had a few comments … “Our goals are to have 50 people come to church, 100 teachings with members, and 10 baptisms. Cool! That’s a little low, though.” They were all excited and talked for a minute about them. Then I chimed in.
“These are all ‘result’ goals, not ‘effort’ goals. What if you do nothing, and a member brings 50 people to church? What if you do everything you can, and no one shows up to church?” Silence. “I suggest you concentrate on goals that you can control, see your results, and use the results to make your methods better. For example, instead of having a goal that 50 people come to church, why not a goal to invite everyone you meet that week to come to church? Instead of having a goal of 100 teachings with members, why not have a goal to visit 10 members, and invite them to help you teach an investigator that month? Instead of having a goal that 10 people get baptized, why not a goal to invite everyone you teach, unless otherwise noted, to get baptized?” Silence. Then the leader spoke up–”Hey, I really like that!” I continued. “Then, if you’re putting forth the effort, but your numbers aren’t good, you know you need to work on that item.”
“Also, while goals that test limits are great, you’re looking for sustainable goals more than anything. Maybe those numbers are low when that’s all you’re concentrating on, but are those goals sustainable–can you reach them for the rest of your missions?” Silence.
They asked me about the possibility of being able to speak in a school, about which three seemed to be really excited; I said I had nothing against it, but… “at least make it high school!” Why? Almost every non-adult that has gotten baptized has the extra burden and complication of fighting with their parents over church attendance vs. studies, and it’s bad enough when long-time families have this same problem and studies often win. The same missionary agreed, adding they should probably concentrate on family baptisms and not teenagers.
I then asked, “In the church we often speak about the leadership skill of delegation; what missionary activity should missionaries delegate?” Silence. Then a few answers. I reminded them that my nephews were going to be baptized in May or most likely June. I suggested that missionaries should delegate the task of finding to members. “How would you like to have 10 members helping you find people to teach?” “That would be great!! But… Brother grego, how do we do that?” Right, because the new missionary handbook says, oh, about NOTHING about working with members (2.5 pages, about which 2 pages is about it, and .5 pages how), and NO mission leaders have stressed or even really mentioned it for the past YEARS in this area. I asked if they had ever heard of the “How Great Shall Be Your Joy”? “No.” So I told them to ask their mission president, and then dropped it, as we were getting close to our destination, anyway.

A few weeks ago I had given the missionaries a printout of 2 Timothy 1:7-8 (slightly modified), which reads:
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, nor of [his servants].”
As I handed it to them, they asked, “What’s this?” and I said it was a section that President Hinckley suggested in a general conference talk that we read every morning. “Really??” I can’t think of members who need this help more than the missionaries, but I wonder how many mission presidents have remembered this counsel and followed it? Which goes back to an idea I’d really like to see implemented: a handbook of ideas for mission presidents. I think it’s unbelievable that mission presidents receive nothing (except what might be left over in the mission office) to help with their callings. Would it be possible to give each mission president at least a “book of ideas”?

Due to recent happenings, more (in addition to previous posts) about rushed baptisms… I wonder if the mission president and missionaries remember a few things:
1. “There is a difference between a convert who is built on the rock of Christ through the Book of Mormon and stays hold of that iron rod, and one who is not” (Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, May 1975, p. 65).
How many converts build on the rock of Christ through the Book of Mormon? I don’t want to guess…

2. D&C 20:37 Qualifications for Baptism
• Humble themselves before God.
• Desire to be baptized.
• Come for th with broken hear ts and contrite spirits.
• Repent of all their sins.
• Are willing to take upon themselves the name of Jesus Christ.
• Have a determination to serve Christ to the end.
• Manifest by their works that they have received the Spirit of Christ unto the remission
of their sins.
After worthy converts are baptized…
I’d like to particularly note the “manifest by their works…” part–how is that being manifest? By quitting smoking two days before the baptism? By showing up for church once? I wonder how much emphasis is being placed on “worthy converts” being baptized?

3.”Establishing the Church
When people have been baptized and confirmed members of the Church, continue to work with ward leaders and members to help these new converts adjust to their new life and continue their spiritual growth. The Church is established as people who have testimonies are baptized and confirmed, keep their covenants, prepare actively to go to the temple, and help strengthen the ward or branch.
Missionaries, ward leaders, and Church members should not turn away from their responsibility to nourish and strengthen new members.”

Perhaps that’s why we have less than a 20% retention rate? (Talked more about that in other missionary posts.)

I like to ask missionaries , “When can you stop working with investigators?” I get all kinds of answers. Then I ask them to open “Preach My Gospel” to page 210:
“After the Baptism and Confirmation
Under the direction of the bishop, missionaries may continue to fellowship new members. Continue to teach them and review what they have been taught. Encourage and support them, read the Book of Mormon with them, and help them share the gospel with family members and friends. As appropriate, continue throughout your life to communicate with those whom you have taught and to encourage and support them.
After the confirmation, continue using the Teaching Record to record your progress in teaching lessons 1-4 again and in teaching lesson 5. Work closely with the ward mission leader and ward leadership to help the new convert stay active and receive all the blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”
Then I ask them again, and a few will say, “after they receive all the blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.” Great, when is that? After some thought, some will say, “After they have been to the temple.” Right, for baptisms or…? “When they are sealed (or endowed for singles).” YES, YES, YES!! Ok, that’s the answer I hope they understand, because so much of the problem with real growth in our ward/ stake/ country rests on this one point. And frankly, unfortunately, that is when the members here will begin receive the converts as true members with testimonies (–the effect of years of non-”real growth”).
See, it’s been more than once that I’ve seen missionaries looking for people to baptize while many of the people they themselves baptized in the same ward are already inactive!! Whenever missionaries ask me, “What can we do?” I almost always say, “GO GET THEM AND BRING THEM BACK”.

“Those who exercise faith in Christ, repent of their sins, and are baptized in Christ’s name can be sanctified by the Holy Ghost. If they endure to the end, they will stand spotless before Christ at the last day and will enter into the rest of the Lord. Christ will hold them guiltless before the Father. He will be their Mediator and Advocate. Those who do not endure in faithfulness to the end will be “cast into the fire . . . because of the justice of the Father.” (See 3 Nephi 27:13–22; compare 2 Nephi 31:10–21; 3 Nephi 11:31–41; D&C 76:40–42, 50–53.)”
By baptizing but not following up and helping converts convert and endure to the end, are we just damning people we should be trying to save?

Elder Dallin H. Oaks had some “real growth” in the Philippines when he was presiding there–*extremely* high retention rates… I’ve wondered why, in the ensuing five(?) years since, nothing has come of what he did. I’ve asked leaders (ward, stake) on numerous occasions if they can get the program, but it was usually met with the same answer: “No (or, on one occasion, “Maybe”)–if our leaders want us to have it, they will give it to us”.

Please, LDS church leaders, can we get it?

I wonder if the talk about “real growth” will ever include down-to-earth discussions and changes in a broken system instead of always seeming to putting a new cover on a worn-out book, or rewriting old information. Actually, no, I don’t. I know that one day, it will. It’s just a matter of when that day will be, and who will make it happen.

I just got some stuff off my back, now I’m sure I’ll get chastized for it, but even that will help me feel better, I guess! I’ve just been watching this whole thing go in a big spiral downward that keeps getting bigger and faster for years, and it seems like no one’s listening… I do hope that someone out there will read this and it will help the work to go forward! Good luck, God bless.

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