If I could ask them one question about
the Church’s Book of Mormon, Come Follow Me, Lesson 21
For May 25-31, 2020
Mosiah 29 - Alma 4
If I wanted to encourage thought and try to understand devout believers better, I might ask:
“Doesn’t Alma the Younger seem like an Incredible?”
Things to consider:
- You know, the superhero movie characters? “Known to the world as superheroes [the Incredibles] were among the world’s greatest crime fighters, saving lives and battling evil on a daily basis” (Incredibles official site). They have super powers, get into crazy situations, and always come out on top in the end.
- Let’s see how Alma compares. Alma’s father conferred to him the office of high priest of the Church, and then the people appointed him to be their first chief judge (Mosiah 29:42, previously they had been ruled by kings).
- He also had the title of governor of the Nephites (Alma 2:16).
- Alma wins the voice of the people after a political contender, Amlici, challenges him for rule of the people (Alma 2:2-7).
- Alma seemed to be a good military strategist. After Amlici and his followers start a war with Alma and the rest of the Nephites, Alma sent out spies who ended up saving the Nephites from a surprise attack from the Amlicites (Alma 2:21-26).
- It seems Alma was a capable warrior. “Alma fought with Amlici with the sword, face to face” (Alma 2:29).
- And, isn’t this a crazy unlikely event that the leaders of these two factions would actually do one-on-one battle with each other during a war? Consider the size of these armies - the previous day there were 12,532 Amlicites killed in battle and 6,562 Nephites killed in battle (Alma 2:19). These extensive fatalities indicate armies of massive numbers, yet these top leaders of each faction end up doing direct, one-on-one battle with each other.
- Then, when Alma has killed Amlici, he goes on to actually battle directly, one-on-one with the King of the Lamanites (Alma 2:32).
- Alma is such a great military leader, “notwithstanding they [Amlicites and Lamanites] were so numerous that they could not be numbered,” Alma defeats the enemy (Alma 2:35-37).
- Alma could have received a Nephite equivalent of a Purple Heart if there had been one because he was wounded in battle (Alma 3:22).
- After the war, many joined their Church, and Alma himself baptized them (Alma 4:4-5), and according to the Church’s chapter summary for Alma 4, he baptized thousands.
- After all of these incredible events, the Church is struggling, so Alma magnanimously turns over his seat as chief judge to another (Alma 4:20). Consider the caliber of person it takes to give up that kind of political power.
- “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 [in the church]” (Alma 30:33, but read verses 32-35 for context of the evils of priestcraft).
- But nobody’s perfect right? I mean, if only Alma had the example of modern profits (homonym choice intended), he might have understood that the power of a six-figure income combined with compounding on investments righteously justifies priestcraft (Deseret News and Mormon Leaks).
- All kidding aside, what do you think? Is Alma the Younger a credible character?
- Historian, member of the LDS first counsel of the seventy, and a staunch defender of the Book of Mormon, B. H. Roberts admitted this about the book.
[T]here is a certain lack of perspective in the things the book relates as history that points quite clearly to an undeveloped mind as their origin. The narrative proceeds in characteristic disregard of conditions necessary to its reasonableness, as if it were a tale told by a child, with utter disregard for consistency...
Is this all sober history ... or is it a wonder-tale of an immature mind, unconscious of what a test he is laying on human credulity when asking men to accept his narrative as solemn history.
(as found on this FAIR page, 2 Aug 2021)
Other observations about this lesson’s reading:
- After establishing a democratic government, Alma is made chief judged while still being the high priest of the Church (Mosiah 29:42). I don’t think that’s a problem for truth claims of the book. I just think it’s interesting.
- Swords seem to be anachronistic (Alma 1:9, 12, Alma 2:1, 12, 20, 29, and 31, and Alma 3:2).
- The prosperity gospel is taught (Alma 1:29 and 31).
- Silk is an anachronism (Alma 1:29 and Alma 4:6).
- Harmful blanket assertion that those not of the Church practice all sorts of superstition and evil (Alma 1:32).
- Dark skin was a curse (Alma 3:6-10).
- Tens of thousands killed in battle in one year, yet there’s no evidence battles were ever fought with such technology in pre-Columbian America (Alma 3:25-26).
- The apparently ambiguous or misleading term “eternal” is used to describe happiness and misery (Alma 3:26).
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 21