If I could ask them one question . . .
Come Follow Me, Lesson 32
For Come Follow Me, lesson 32, Aug 10-16, Alma 53-63
If I wanted to encourage thought and try to understand devout believers better, I might ask:
“Does He protect the righteous or not? Which way is it?”
Things to consider:
- Alma 60:12-13 teaches that sometimes the righteous die or otherwise suffer to condemn the wicked. Lest anybody argue this is a false teaching by Moroni because he was in the middle of a temper tantrum, this teaching is confirmed in Alma 14:10–11, D&C 103:3, and Luke 13:1–3.
- However, at least a few verses just in this week’s Book of Mormon reading alone seem to contradict the idea that the righteous will not necessarily be preserved. Each of the following verses teaches that in spite of the 2,000 stripling warriors being involved in horrific battle, “there was not one soul of them who did perish.” And, it goes on to explain this miracle saying, “we do justly ascribe it to the miraculous power of God, because of their [the 2,000 stripling warriors’] exceeding faith in that which they had been taught to believe—that there was a just God, and whosoever did not doubt, that they should be preserved by his marvelous power.”
- One could quibble over the fact that Alma 60:12-13 says sometimes the righteous suffer or die in battle whereas the verses I listed from Alma 56, 57, and 58 teach that it is the faithful who are preserved in battle. I could imagine someone saying these do not contradict one another because one reference is about the righteous and the other is about the faithful.
- But, I think if you argue that the righteous of the first scriptures were not faithful you’re arguing against apostle Bednar and the prophet Joseph Smith.
True faith is focused in and on the Lord Jesus Christ and always leads to righteous action. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “faith [is] the first principle in revealed religion, and the foundation of all righteousness” and that it is also “the principle of action in all intelligent beings” (Lectures on Faith , 1). Action alone is not faith in the Savior, but acting in accordance with correct principles is a central component of faith. Thus, “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20).
(Elder Bednar, “Ask in Faith” from the April 2008 General Conference of the Church).
- Previously I have referred to scriptures teaching that divine intercession because of faith demolishes a certain defense against the problem of evil (If I Could Ask … Lesson 23 about the problem of evil), but that’s not my point in this post. My point is, in this instance, the book claimed to be the most correct on earth does not seem internally consistent. If this book is supposed to be the most correct of all books on earth and brought to you by the power of God, why would it have any apparent internal inconsistencies? Wouldn’t God want to make things plain to us, to be unambiguous? If it is difficult to figure out which side of this apparent inconsistency is reality, doesn’t that throw into question how accurately any part of the book reflects reality?
Other observations about this lesson’s reading:
- Swords seem anachronistic (Alma 54:6, Alma 56:51, Alma 57:9, 15, 23, 33, Alma 58:18, 39, eleven times in Alma 60 starting with verse 2, Alma 61:11, 14, Alma 62:5; see also my If I Could Ask … Lesson 31 about Book of Mormon swords).
- Moroni demonstrates he has quite the temper (Alma 54:11).
- More than 500 years after Lehi and Co. left Jerusalem, there are claims of descent from Zoram and Lehi, so lack of DNA evidence is a challenge (Alma 54:23 and Alma 56:3).
- Moroni’s search for a descendant of Lamen to trick the other Lamanites seems to confirm that the curse God gave the Lamanites altered their physical appearance (Alma 55:4).
- The Lamanites fall for the old “get ‘em drunk so we can defeat ‘em” trick, again (Alma 55:16).
- Apparently the Nephites were much
brighter more faithful than the Lamanites because they never fell for the “get ‘em drunk so we can defeat ‘em” trick (Alma 55:30-31).
- Apparently God thought liquors were cool as long as they were not poisoned (Alma 55:32).
- I note there are some interesting similarities between the 2,000 stripling warriors in Alma 57 and the soldiers at the Battle of Trenton led by General George Washington on 26 Dec 1776. It seems that if parallels can be evidence for the Book of Mormon, we would also have to address parallels that seem to undermine its claims. It would seem that figurative Book of Mormon swords can be double edged.
- Moroni, an allegedly great leader, seems like a dangerous, loose cannon to me.
- He just assumes his boss is negligent and “in a state of thoughtless stupor,” and addresses the Governor thusly (60:5-7). The rest of the chapter goes on like this, with Moroni basically threatening insurrection if the Gov. doesn’t deliver on provisions and men
- The Governor responds explaining he hasn’t sent men or provisions because of a rebellion so serious that it forced him to evacuate (61:2-6). This context underscores the irresponsibility of Moroni’s threat of insurrection. Consider what might have happened if the Governor had not been able to get a communication to Moroni.
incredibly unlikely event miracle occurs (62:23).
- Though (63:5-10) seems to be the scriptural basis for prophets claiming Lamanite ancestry in New Zealand (and those on other South Pacific islands), the extraordinary claim is unsupported by available evidence.
- More unnecessary and redundant language seems unlikely for a record engraved on metal plates (63:11, see also my If I Could Ask … Lesson 19 about Book of Mormon wordiness).
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 32