If I could ask them one question about
the Church’s Book of Mormon, Come Follow Me, Lesson 16
For Apr 20-26, 2020
If I wanted to encourage thought and try to understand devout believers better, I might ask:
“So, without LDS priesthood ordinances, a person does not have moral or spiritual power?”
Things to consider:
- This week I’m following a tangent from the lesson manual. If you would rather focus on the problems in this section of the Book of Mormon itself, read my annotations starting in Mosiah 4.
- In Mosiah 5, King Benjamin stopped preaching to see if the people believed what he taught. They did and express willingness to enter into a covenant with God, and the covenant sounds similar to the baptismal covenant, though baptism isn’t specifically mentioned.
- As quoted in the “Come Follow Me” lesson manual, “Elder D. Todd Christofferson taught, ‘The source [of moral and spiritual power] is God. Our access to that power is through our covenants with Him’ (‘The Power of Covenants,’ Ensign or Liahona, May 2009, 20)” (Come Follow Me manual for members for Mosiah 5:5-15, brackets as found in original). Notice the language here. It doesn’t say “sometimes,” “usually,” or “some of” our access to moral and spiritual power is through covenants with God. According to the manual, if you have not made a covenant with God, you have no moral or spiritual power.
- In “The Power of Covenants” conference talk, it goes on to say, “We enter into covenants by priesthood ordinances.” (If anybody argues that by “priesthood” Elder Christofferson or the Church really means any religion’s version of the priesthood, I’m just going to ignore you because that would either be an assertion from ignorance or disingenuous.) So, according to this prophet, seer, and revelator’s conference talk, without LDS priesthood ordinances, you cannot have a covenant with God.
- Summary: Priesthood ordinances are how we enter into covenants with God. These covenants give us access to moral and spiritual power. The source of that power is God. So, if you don’t make covenants through God’s priesthood in the LDS Church, you don’t have access to moral and spiritual power of God. Or, did I miss something there?
- When I was a devout Mormon, I don’t remember believing that those without LDS priesthood ordinances didn’t have moral or spiritual power, but I think I’ve demonstrated that my thinking would have been contrary to the teachings in a conference talk by a man I had sustained as a prophet, seer, and revelator. These teachings are now being referred to in a current Come Follow Me lesson approved by Church general leadership. I may not have accepted the teaching, but how would I have worked through that if it were pointed out to me that it’s the established teaching of the Lord’s anointed?
- And, doesn’t this contradict the Book of Mormon itself? When Nephi had a vision facilitated by a mysterious spirit-guide angel, Nephi saw the Gentiles that had come to the Americas, and declared that the power of God was with the Gentiles (1 Ne 13:16, 18, and 30). But, as Gentiles they wouldn’t have had the priesthood, let alone priesthood ordinances.
- Nephi also explains that 1,000 years after the Lehites dwindle in unbelief, God will bring other nations to the descendants of Lehi, “and he will give unto them [Gentiles] power, and he will take away from them [the Lehites] the lands of their possessions, and he will cause them to be scattered and smitten” (2 Ne 1:10-11, side note: What kind of God would punish the Lehites for a dwindling in unbelief that happened 1,000 years prior?). Again, Gentiles without priesthood ordinances being given the power of God.
- And, what about the Book of Mormon promise? You know, it says that if you ask with sincerity, real intent, and faith in Christ, you can know the truth of all things by the power of the Holy Ghost (Moroni 10:4-5. Does anyone want to argue that the power of the Holy Ghost is not the power of God? Verse seven of the same chapter even explains how God works by power, and it doesn’t mention covenants, ordinances, or priesthood. “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” (Moroni 10:7, emphasis added).
- If you’re a believing member of the Church, are you comfortable with the teaching that others outside your faith cannot have moral or spiritual power?
Some other problems I see in this lesson’s reading:
- Once again people fall to the earth because they’re so astonished or overtaken by the Spirit (Mosiah 4:1).
- You can’t comprehend what God comprehends (Mosiah 4:9), so how can you conclude you understand the will of God?
- Harmful teaching that you are “unworthy creatures” (Mosiah 4:11).
- “Ass” is yet another anachronistic reference (Mosiah 5:14).
If you could ask believers questions about the scriptures for this lesson, what would you ask?
Have fun studying!
If I could ask them one question, Lesson 16