Annotated Book of Mormon
Evaluated According To My Current Knowledge

Alma Chapter 30

« Previous Next »

Book of Mormon Annotations

Chapter 30

 

1 Behold, now it came to pass that after the people of Ammon were established in the land of Jershon, yea, and also after the Lamanites were driven out of the land, and their dead were buried by the people of the land—

 

2 Now their dead were not numbered because of the greatness of their numbers; neither were the dead of the Nephites numbered—but it came to pass after they had buried their dead, and also after the days of fasting, and mourning, and prayer, (and it was in the sixteenth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi) there began to be continual peace throughout all the land.

 

3 Yea, and the people did observe to keep the commandments of the Lord; and they were strict in observing the ordinances of God, according to the law of Moses; for they were taught to keep the law of Moses until it should be fulfilled.

 

4 And thus the people did have no disturbance in all the sixteenth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi.

 

5 And it came to pass that in the commencement of the seventeenth year of the reign of the judges, there was continual peace.

 

6 But it came to pass in the latter end of the seventeenth year, there came a man into the land of Zarahemla, and he was Anti-Christ, for he began to preach unto the people against the prophecies which had been spoken by the prophets, concerning the coming of Christ.

Regarding Book of Mormon anti-Christs, it’s been said:
“they are all of one breed and brand; so nearly alike that one mind is the author of them, and that a young and underdeveloped, but piously inclined mind. The evidence I sorrowfully submit, points to Joseph Smith as their creator” (B. H. Roberts, member of the first council of the seventy from about 1888, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought Vol. 26, No. 3, bottom of p. 85).

I couldn’t agree more. Korihor seems a naive caricature of atheists.

7 Now there was no law against a man’s belief; for it was strictly contrary to the commands of God that there should be a law which should bring men on to unequal grounds.

 

8 For thus saith the scripture: Choose ye this day, whom ye will serve.

 

9 Now if a man desired to serve God, it was his privilege; or rather, if he believed in God it was his privilege to serve him; but if he did not believe in him there was no law to punish him.

Yay! Freedom of religion.

But, this contradicts the practices and example provided in verses 19-21 and 29 of this chapter.

10 But if he murdered he was punished unto death; and if he robbed he was also punished; and if he stole he was also punished; and if he committed adultery he was also punished; yea, for all this wickedness they were punished.

 

11 For there was a law that men should be judged according to their crimes. Nevertheless, there was no law against a man’s belief; therefore, a man was punished only for the crimes which he had done; therefore all men were on equal grounds.

 

12 And this Anti-Christ, whose name was Korihor, (and the law could have no hold upon him) began to preach unto the people that there should be no Christ. And after this manner did he preach, saying:

 

13 O ye that are bound down under a foolish and a vain hope, why do ye yoke yourselves with such foolish things? Why do ye look for a Christ? For no man can know of anything which is to come.

 

14 Behold, these things which ye call prophecies, which ye say are handed down by holy prophets, behold, they are foolish traditions of your fathers.

 

15 How do ye know of their surety? Behold, ye cannot know of things which ye do not see; therefore ye cannot know that there shall be a Christ.

 

16 Ye look forward and say that ye see a remission of your sins. But behold, it is the effect of a frenzied mind; and this derangement of your minds comes because of the traditions of your fathers, which lead you away into a belief of things which are not so.

frenzied: feeling or showing great or abnormal excitement or emotional disturbance (Merriam-Webster)

 

Such a mind could lead to irrational or unfounded beliefs, but it is not the only cause. In fact, calm, sane, normal folks believe in all sorts of superstitious, irrational, illogical, unsubstantiated claims. If someone claims Mormons believe in Mormonism because of frenzied or deranged minds, I’d defend the Mormons as generally not having frenzied or deranged minds. Many non-Mormons may think the beliefs of Mormonism are strange or baseless, but I don’t think they generally think Mormons believe what they believe because of frenzied or deranged minds.

17 And many more such things did he say unto them, telling them that there could be no atonement made for the sins of men, but every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was no crime.

It’s interesting that many Mormons believe that atheists commonly think “whatsoever a man did was no crime.” Thing is, this philosophy seems to be like some fringe form of anarchism. I’m sure there are some atheist anarchists, but I don’t think they are common. Alternatively, if by “crime” this verse means “sin” or “immoral act,” then such a person who believes that whatever they do is not bad or immoral is a sociopath. Again, I’m sure there are some atheists who are also sociopaths, but I don’t think they are common.

I remember thinking as a believer about atheists in this way. My reasoning was something to the effect of, “If you believe in no God and no eternal judgment, then there is no purpose to anything, so what’s to stop you from doing whatever you want, even raping or murdering?” This kind of reasoning fails to account for morality without belief in God. It fails to account for the desire to have joy and to help others have joy even if you have no belief in a god. It fails to account for the fact that most atheists realize that joy is in many ways inextricable from pro-social behavior.

The part about faring according to the management of the creature, prospering according to one’s genius, and conquering according to one’s strength seems confirmed as true in Alma 10:4-5,
“I have also acquired much riches by the hand of my industry. Nevertheless, after all this, I never have known much of the ways of the Lord, and his mysteries and marvelous power”
(Amulek explaining that he prospered according to his genius).

Also in Alma 10:32,
“Now the object of these lawyers was to get gain and they got gain according to their employ.”

18 And thus he did preach unto them, leading away the hearts of many, causing them to lift up their heads in their wickedness, yea, leading away many women, and also men, to commit whoredoms—telling them that when a man was dead, that was the end thereof.

 

19 Now this man went over to the land of Jershon also, to preach these things among the people of Ammon, who were once the people of the Lamanites.

Alma 30:19-20

Notice the irony in this.

According to Alma 30:7-9 and 11, Korihor had committed no crime and the law provided that a person could not be punished for their belief. Yet the people of Ammon who “were more wise” took Korihor, and bound him, and carried him before Ammon. Who committed the crime here?

So much for the freedom of religion indicated in Alma 30:9.

Reminds me of this quote by A. C. Grayling:


“Religious apologists complain bitterly that atheists and secularists are aggressive and hostile in their criticism of them. I always say: look, when you guys were in charge, you didn’t argue with us, you just burnt us at the stake. Now what we’re doing is, we’re presenting you with some arguments and some challenging questions, and you complain.”

20 But behold they were more wise than many of the Nephites; for they took him, and bound him, and carried him before Ammon, who was a high priest over that people.

Annotation for Alma 30:19-20 above

21 And it came to pass that he caused that he should be carried out of the land. And he came over into the land of Gideon, and began to preach unto them also; and here he did not have much success, for he was taken and bound and carried before the high priest, and also the chief judge over the land.

He’s taken and bound a second time for no apparent crime.

So much for the freedom of religion indicated in Alma 30:9.

22 And it came to pass that the high priest said unto him: Why do ye go about perverting the ways of the Lord? Why do ye teach this people that there shall be no Christ, to interrupt their rejoicings? Why do ye speak against all the prophecies of the holy prophets?

 

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

 

24 Ye say that this people is a free people. Behold, I say they are in bondage. Ye say that those ancient prophecies are true. Behold, I say that ye do not know that they are true.

 

25 Ye say that this people is a guilty and a fallen people, because of the transgression of a parent. Behold, I say that a child is not guilty because of its parents.

 

26 And ye also say that Christ shall come. But behold, I say that ye do not know that there shall be a Christ. And ye say also that he shall be slain for the sins of the world—

 

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

 

28 Yea, they durst not make use of that which is their own lest they should offend their priests, who do yoke them according to their desires, and have brought them to believe, by their traditions and their dreams and their whims and their visions and their pretended mysteries, that they should, if they did not do according to their words, offend some unknown being, who they say is God—a being who never has been seen or known, who never was nor ever will be.

 

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

He’s bound a third time.

So much for the freedom of religion indicated in Alma 30:9.

30 And it came to pass that when he was brought before Alma and the chief judge, he did go on in the same manner as he did in the land of Gideon; yea, he went on to blaspheme.

 

31 And he did rise up in great swelling words before Alma, and did revile against the priests and teachers, accusing them of leading away the people after the silly traditions of their fathers, for the sake of glutting on the labors of the people.

 

32 Now Alma said unto him: Thou knowest that we do not glut ourselves upon the labors of this people; for behold I have labored even from the commencement of the reign of the judges until now, with mine own hands for my support, notwithstanding my many travels round about the land to declare the word of God unto my people.

Alma 30:32-35

Again, notice the irony.

I believe modern general authorities do receive money from the Church.

“The living allowances given the General Authorities, which are very modest in comparison with executive compensation in industry and the professions, come from this business income and not from the tithing of the people”
(President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Questions and Answers”, October 1985 General Conference).

First of all “modest in comparison with executive compensation” could easily include 6-figure annual allowances. That’s much more than your average person. But we will never know until the Church discloses its finances. Why would they hide their finances? Not all, but many other Churches voluntarily disclose finances. None of this is in keeping with what Alma argues against Korihor.

I was wrong when I wrote the above. We found out part of what LDS general authorities make even though the Church did not disclose its finances. MormonLeaks provided documentation that as of January 2014, the base living allowance given to LDS general authorities was $120,000 annually
(DeseretNews Article
and
MormonLeaks documents).

33 And notwithstanding the many labors which I have performed in the church, I have never received so much as even one senine for my labor; neither has any of my brethren, save it were in the judgment-seat; and then we have received only according to law for our time.

Annotation for Alma 30:32-35 above

34 And now, if we do not receive anything for our labors in the church, what doth it profit us to labor in the church save it were to declare the truth, that we may have rejoicings in the joy of our brethren?

Annotation for Alma 30:32-35 above

35 Then why sayest thou that we preach unto this people to get gain, when thou, of thyself, knowest that we receive no gain? And now, believest thou that we deceive this people, that causes such joy in their hearts?

Annotation for Alma 30:32-35 above

36 And Korihor answered him, Yea.

 

37 And then Alma said unto him: Believest thou that there is a God?

 

38 And he answered, Nay.

 

39 Now Alma said unto him: Will ye deny again that there is a God, and also deny the Christ? For behold, I say unto you, I know there is a God, and also that Christ shall come.

 

40 And now what evidence have ye that there is no God, or that Christ cometh not? I say unto you that ye have none, save it be your word only.

Alma 30:40-41

 

Alma and his Church are making extraordinary claims of an all-powerful God who intercedes in the affairs of man. Since he and his Church initiate the extraordinary claim, the burden of proof would generally be theirs. However, because the character Korihor has claimed “there shall be no Christ,” as if he knows that, then Korihor would have the burden of proof to claim to know such a thing.

 

The Book of Mormon Student Manual for Religion 121-122 makes a very good point on page 217 that I’ll paraphrase in the rest of this paragraph. In Alma 30:15, Korihor argues, “Ye cannot know of things which ye do not see; therefore ye cannot know that there shall be a Christ.” In verse 22 of this chapter Korihor is accused of asserting “that there shall be no Christ,” and he seems to admit this in verse 23. Yet, by his own reasoning, Korihor cannot know that there shall not be a Christ. By his reasoning, he would have to be able to see all things in the universe to know that there was no Christ. It is a good reminder that proclaiming to know something that is not falsifiable is not rational. It would have been much more rational for Korihor to proclaim that since he sees no evidence for Christ, there is no reason to believe in Christ.

 

Alma asserts that all things testify that there is a God and that Christ will come. But isn’t that just Alma’s interpretation of all things? What of the cruel and horrific torment of the innocent (even small children) by human depravity and by nature? Many interpret this to show that there is no omnipotent, all-caring God. The argument is that if such a God were omnipotent, then he doesn’t care enough to end unnecessary suffering, or if he cares, then he must be impotent to end the suffering. At any rate, it doesn’t necessarily follow that because of the universe, therefore God exists. A person may feel like the existence, order, or beauty of the universe testifies of this, but feelings lead to all sorts of contradictory conclusions. Look at all the people who have felt the Spirit of God testifying that theirs is the only true Church even though theirs is not the LDS Church (for examples, see this video: My LDS Journey - Follow the Spirit).

41 But, behold, I have all things as a testimony that these things are true; and ye also have all things as a testimony unto you that they are true; and will ye deny them? Believest thou that these things are true?

Annotation for Alma 30:40-41 above

42 Behold, I know that thou believest, but thou art possessed with a lying spirit, and ye have put off the Spirit of God that it may have no place in you; but the devil has power over you, and he doth carry you about, working devices that he may destroy the children of God.

 

43 And now Korihor said unto Alma: If thou wilt show me a sign, that I may be convinced that there is a God, yea, show unto me that he hath power, and then will I be convinced of the truth of thy words.

 

44 But Alma said unto him: Thou hast had signs enough; will ye tempt your God? Will ye say, Show unto me a sign, when ye have the testimony of all these thy brethren, and also all the holy prophets? The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.

Considering all the things on the face of the earth, including the frequent and horrific suffering inflicted on the innocent by other individuals and by nature, I think these things witness of the cold, uncaring universe in which we live. This verse does not provide a robust approach to a serious philosophical concern. This explanation fits the Bronze Age religion of the Old Testament though.

45 And yet do ye go about, leading away the hearts of this people, testifying unto them there is no God? And yet will ye deny against all these witnesses? And he said: Yea, I will deny, except ye shall show me a sign.

 

46 And now it came to pass that Alma said unto him: Behold, I am grieved because of the hardness of your heart, yea, that ye will still resist the spirit of the truth, that thy soul may be destroyed.

 

47 But behold, it is better that thy soul should be lost than that thou shouldst be the means of bringing many souls down to destruction, by thy lying and by thy flattering words; therefore if thou shalt deny again, behold God shall smite thee, that thou shalt become dumb, that thou shalt never open thy mouth any more, that thou shalt not deceive this people any more.

 

48 Now Korihor said unto him: I do not deny the existence of a God, but I do not believe that there is a God; and I say also, that ye do not know that there is a God; and except ye show me a sign, I will not believe.

I have personally been accused of seeking signs because I have expressed that I will not believe in extraordinary claims without extraordinary evidence, but let’s consider what it means to seek for signs in the context of the Book of Mormon. Here are a couple of examples where proof and evidence apparently led to belief in a good way:

 

2 Ne 11:4, 6-7 - Nephi’s “soul delighteth in proving unto [his] people the truth.”

Helaman 5:50 - Prisoners see sons of Helaman, Nephi and Lehi, encircled as if by fire; see angels; and hear voices. When the prisoners told the Lamanites about this, “the more part of the Lamanites were convinced of them, because of the greatness of the evidences.”

 

And, don’t forget that Samuel the Lamanite describes the signs of the death of the savior (Helaman 14:20-27) then tells us that these signs were “to the intent that there should be no cause for unbelief among the children of men—And this to the intent that whosoever will believe might be saved, and that whosoever will not believe, a righteous judgment might come upon them” (Helaman 14:28-29). Doesn’t the explanation by Samuel make more sense? Shouldn’t I be held accountable for following the evidence wherever it leads rather than to be held accountable to extraordinary claims with no substantial evidence?

49 Now Alma said unto him: This will I give unto thee for a sign, that thou shalt be struck dumb, according to my words; and I say, that in the name of God, ye shall be struck dumb, that ye shall no more have utterance.

The contrast of modern prophets to Alma’s boldness seems stark to me.

Also, remember that this Alma was Alma the younger, the one who went about trying to destroy the truth and killing believers until he received a sign in the form of an angel speaking as with a voice of thunder and the whole earth shaking (Alma 36:6-7). Now in this verse, this same Alma strikes Korihor dumb (and apparently deaf? Verse 51) as a sign, which ultimately leads to Korihor’s ignominious death (verse 59).

50 Now when Alma had said these words, Korihor was struck dumb, that he could not have utterance, according to the words of Alma.

 

51 And now when the chief judge saw this, he put forth his hand and wrote unto Korihor, saying: Art thou convinced of the power of God? In whom did ye desire that Alma should show forth his sign? Would ye that he should afflict others, to show unto thee a sign? Behold, he has showed unto you a sign; and now will ye dispute more?

Apparently he was struck deaf too?

52 And Korihor put forth his hand and wrote, saying: I know that I am dumb, for I cannot speak; and I know that nothing save it were the power of God could bring this upon me; yea, and I always knew that there was a God.

 

53 But behold, the devil hath deceived me; for he appeared unto me in the form of an angel, and said unto me: Go and reclaim this people, for they have all gone astray after an unknown God. And he said unto me: There is no God; yea, and he taught me that which I should say. And I have taught his words; and I taught them because they were pleasing unto the carnal mind; and I taught them, even until I had much success, insomuch that I verily believed that they were true; and for this cause I withstood the truth, even until I have brought this great curse upon me.

When you stop to think about this one, it’s actually kind of funny. I mean, I wonder how many atheists today cannot believe in God because . . . the devil appeared to them in the form of an angel? This makes no sense at all. Maybe there are some atheists like this, but they have to be an amazingly small percentage of the population of atheists.

 

Regarding Book of Mormon anti-Christs, it’s been said:
“They are all of one breed and brand; so nearly alike that one mind is the author of them, and that a young and underdeveloped, but piously inclined mind. The evidence I sorrowfully submit, points to Joseph Smith as their creator” (B. H. Roberts, member of the first council of the seventy from about 1888, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought Vol. 26, No. 3, bottom of p. 85).

I couldn’t agree more. Korihor seems a naive caricature of atheists.

54 Now when he had said this, he besought that Alma should pray unto God, that the curse might be taken from him.

 

55 But Alma said unto him: If this curse should be taken from thee thou wouldst again lead away the hearts of this people; therefore, it shall be unto thee even as the Lord will.

Does this even make sense? Let’s assume Korihor has such a frenzied or deranged mind that even after being struck dumb (and deaf? See verse 51) by God, and then having the curse lifted, Korihor would decide to go out and again try to lead away the hearts of the people. Couldn’t God just shut him down again?

 

Another problem with this curse is the often used argument regarding the problem of evil. The problem being that if God exists, he allows unspeakable suffering, including that inflicted by sadistic humans. The argument is that God allows this human-inflicted suffering because if he interceded and stopped it, he would be interfering or diminishing the moral agency of the perpetrator. Yet, this curse is a canonized example of God interceding by cursing a would-be evil doer to prevent suffering (in this case suffering caused by being led away from God).

56 And it came to pass that the curse was not taken off of Korihor; but he was cast out, and went about from house to house begging for his food.

 

57 Now the knowledge of what had happened unto Korihor was immediately published throughout all the land; yea, the proclamation was sent forth by the chief judge to all the people in the land, declaring unto those who had believed in the words of Korihor that they must speedily repent, lest the same judgments would come unto them.

 

58 And it came to pass that they were all convinced of the wickedness of Korihor; therefore they were all converted again unto the Lord; and this put an end to the iniquity after the manner of Korihor. And Korihor did go about from house to house, begging food for his support.

 

59 And it came to pass that as he went forth among the people, yea, among a people who had separated themselves from the Nephites and called themselves Zoramites, being led by a man whose name was Zoram—and as he went forth amongst them, behold, he was run upon and trodden down, even until he was dead.

 

60 And thus we see the end of him who perverteth the ways of the Lord; and thus we see that the devil will not support his children at the last day, but doth speedily drag them down to hell.

 

« Previous     Alma 30 Next »