If I could ask them one question . . .
Come Follow Me, Lesson 37
For Come Follow Me, lesson 37, Sep 14-20, 3 Nephi 8-11
If I wanted to encourage thought and try to understand devout believers better, I might ask:
“Does Jesus’ visit to the Americas present some glaring inconsistencies?”
Things to consider:
- Jesus had recently been crucified, and while on the cross he said of at least the soldiers who killed him, if not also for others around him who mocked him in his suffering, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). They were killing the Son of God, but the Son asked for their forgiveness. This seems to be a defining event regarding Jesus’ moral character.
- Then, perhaps mere days later, the great Jehovah, the Christ, the God who had just sacrificed himself for the sins of all mankind, the Prince of Peace declares he has burned, drowned, and otherwise caused the wholesale destruction of all men, women, and children in various cities. He killed the innocent (does anyone dispute the little children would have been innocent?), and he did it via natural disasters (3 Ne 9:3-12, see also my If I could ask … Lesson 34 about natural disasters caused by God). That sounds a lot like the God of the Old Testament. Or, it’s much too similar to this Westboro Baptists quote for my liking: “At least 5,000 Swedes are dead as a result of the tsunamis which ravaged Thailand and the other lush resorts of that region, and thousands more are unaccounted for. ... Scarcely a family in Sweden has been untouched by the devastation. Bible preachers say, THANK GOD for it all!” (Said regarding the 2004 tsunami that killed hundreds of thousands, Religious Tolerance).
- Regarding another seeming inconsistency, the folks who were faithful enough to have been spared from Jesus’ wrath “were also conversing about this Jesus Christ” when they hear a voice so amazing that, “it did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause their hearts to burn.” The voice tells them, “Behold my Beloved Son” (3 Ne 11:2, 7). Immediately after that they look up and see a man descending from the sky.
- And, then they don’t know who the guy is that came down from the sky (3 Ne 11:8)?
- Apparent inconsistency three: In the 33rd year since the sign of the Savior’s birth, Nephi and others he had ordained had already been baptizing those who repented (3 Ne 7:23-25).
- But then, when Jesus comes down from the sky, He finds it necessary to give Nephi and others the power to baptize and has to teach them how to perform the ordinance (3 Ne 11:21-26). (Side note: It’s also noteworthy that the baptismal words Jesus teaches differ from the words the LDS Church uses for baptism. It might not seem like a big deal to some, but just ask anybody who performed a Mormon baptism but was off by one word from the baptismal verbiage established by the LDS Church.)
- My last observation of what seems like an inconsistency to me: As mentioned, Nephi had been baptizing others since before Jesus came to the Americas (3 Ne 7:23-25), so it would be safe to assume (according to Mormon doctrine) that Nephi had already been baptized. But, Nephi is baptized again (3 Ne 19:11).
Other observations about this lesson’s reading:
- Huge geological cataclysmic events described should have left evidence, but it seems there isn’t any (3 Ne 8:6-19 and 3 Ne 9:3-12).
- Candles seem to be anachronistic (3 Ne 8:21).
- A reference to chickens would have made no sense to Jesus’ audience (3 Ne 10:4-6).
- More falling to the earth out of astonishment (3 Ne 11:12).
- The amount of time it would take 2,500 to touch Jesus seems inordinate (3 Ne 11:15).
- It teaches that whoever declares more or less than repentance and baptism to inherit the kingdom is evil (3 Ne 11:33-40), but the LDS Church declared revelation forbade them from baptizing children of parents in same-sex marriages in November 2015. But, don’t worry; they got that baptismal ban un-revealed in April 2019.
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 37