If I could ask them one question about
the Church’s Book of Mormon, Come Follow Me, Lesson 41
For Oct 19-25, 2020
3 Nephi 27 - 4 Nephi
If I wanted to encourage thought and try to understand devout believers better, I might ask:
“Would it be better if I had not been born?”
Things to consider:
- “[W]hoso receiveth not the words of Jesus and the words of those whom he hath sent receiveth not him; and therefore he will not receive them at the last day; And it would be better for them if they had not been born” (3 Ne 28:34-35).
- In case you haven’t figured it out already, I reject the authority claims of the Mormon Church and its leaders. I reject pretty much all unique truth claims of the Mormon Church, so from a believing Mormon’s point of view, it would seem I receive not the word of Jesus or the word of those who he has sent. But I’m far from alone on this. I doubt many will quibble with the assertion that the vast majority of people do not receive the word of the Mormon Church. Those who receive this word are miniscule by comparison (see pie chart in my If I Could Ask … Lesson 40).
- So I’m left wondering just how horrible it’s going to be for me and almost everybody else. Fortunately, President Nelson gave a talk in the April 2019 conference entitled “Come, Follow Me.” Let’s see if it sheds light on his expectations about the horrific state almost all of us seem to be headed toward.
So, what is required for a family to be exalted forever? We qualify for that privilege by making covenants with God, keeping those covenants, and receiving essential ordinances.
- He’s teaching we’ll be without our families without following him (Jesus or President Nelson; it’s actually the same in this context (read 3 Ne 28:34-35 if you doubt it). For those of us who actually enjoy and love our family members, this would indeed be horrific.
The anguish of my heart is that many people whom I love, whom I admire, and whom I respect decline His invitation. They ignore the pleadings of Jesus Christ when He beckons, “Come, follow me.”
I understand why God weeps. I also weep for such friends and relatives. They are wonderful men and women, devoted to their family and civic responsibilities. They give generously of their time, energy, and resources. And the world is better for their efforts. But they have chosen not to make covenants with God. They have not received the ordinances that will exalt them with their families and bind them together forever.
- The Mormon Church is not unique in hope and belief that we can be with our beloved family members forever. However, it is at least somewhat unique in teaching that God will separate truly good people from their loved ones forever. According to President Nelson, it doesn’t matter how good you are in this mortal life, if you do not receive Mormon Jesus, you may as well kiss your family goodbye.
- Some have complained about President Nelson teaching that we better follow him now for our family’s sake because “Time is running out,” but it almost seems President Nelson sugar coated it compared to 3 Ne 28:34-35 teaching it would have been better had we never been born. The only other scriptural reference I can find declaring it would have been better had someone not been born is Jesus referencing Judas Iscariot, the man who betrayed the Son of God (Matthew 26:24 and Mark 14:21.) It seems pretty grim for almost all of us to be in the same category as Judas, “the son of perdition” (John 17:12).
- I think an alternative question for this lesson could have been, “Do Mormons preach a gospel of hope or a gospel of fear?”
- As a devout believer are you, or would you have been, comfortable telling someone who does not receive the Jesus you profess that it would be better for them had they not been born?
- My closing thoughts on this:
Regardless of your religious belief, your life and dignity matter. Your life and dignity are important. You have so much good to share and experience that you cannot afford to listen to dogma that teaches otherwise. I hope the joy you experience in life, in spite of its ups and downs, is more than you can contain and inspires others around you to make their life wonderful too.
Other observations about this lesson’s reading:
- As President Nelson taught, the Book of Mormon also teaches the Church should be called after the name of Jesus, but Joseph and the Church officially dropped Jesus’ name from the Church for a while (3 Ne 27:8).
- The amazing flip-flopping Nephites … again (3 Ne 28:19-22, see also my If I Could Ask … Lesson 36 about the flip-flopping Nephites).
- References to lambs seem anachronistic (3 Ne 28:22 and 4 Ne 1:33, see also my If I Could Ask … Lesson 22 about Book of Mormon sheep).
- Non-believers are warned of their terrible state if they don’t believe in spiritual gifts. I observe that even most Mormons these days do not believe in these gifts as described in the early 19th century Church or in the Bible (3 Ne 29:6-7).
- I think the condemnation of priestcrafts should have some in the Church worried (3 Ne 30:2).
- The fruit of Book of Mormon disciples seems amazing compared to modern prophets (4 Ne 1:5, 30-33, see also my If I Could Ask … Lesson 24 about amazingly bold prophecies of Book of Mormon prophets).
- Nephi gets way verbose (4 Ne 1:6, see also my If I Could Ask … Lesson 19 about the wordiness of the Book of Mormon).
- The prosperity gospel is preached again (4 Ne 1:23).
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 41