Wednesday, March 14, 2012

1 Nephi Chapter 14

Chapter 14 continues, unsurprisingly, with Nephi's vision. He still has an angel on his shoulder to direct his attention and explain what Nephi sees.

Us versus Them
Among the things the angel tells Nephi about the world after the Gentiles come in and take over the land of Nephi's descendants is this little gem (verse 10):
Behold, there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.
So despite what many LDS members will tell you about how lots of churches are good because they have some truth but Mormonism is the only true church because it has all the truth, their own book of scripture dictates otherwise: If you're not in God's true church, you're in the abominable church. You know, the one that's the whore of all the earth and stuff.

This verse also helps bolster the church's sense of superiority and it's unspoken but pervasive "us versus them" mentality...the mentality in which the word "them" means "the entire world."



Joseph Smith: A Master of Textual Efficiency
Nephi wants us to believe that his vision was so sweeping, so comprehensive, so intense and so freaking epic that it included much more than what he could describe in three chapters. So he makes the comment that he would have written more, except that part of his vision included John, who was the one who was supposed to write the parts about the end of the world. I find two things about this amusing.

1. The angel says that when John wrote his books, they were "plain and pure" and "easy to the understanding of all men." This appears to be an acknowledgement to claims made in the previous chapter (amid the madness of the Chiasmic Chaos) that early agents of the great and abominable church had altered the Bible and taken out many important doctrines (I mean...plain and precious truths). Which means that the angel is telling Nephi not to write down what he's seeing because someone else will write it down, only for it to be changed so that nobody can understand it. What's the point of that? The Book of Mormon purports itself as another testament of Jesus Christ, untainted by man's meddling, containing correct doctrine. Why not have Nephi write this stuff down so that when the Book of Mormon is revealed it can clarify some of the confusing things found in the sabotaged books of John?

2. If it wasn't necessary for Nephi to make a record of the entirety of his vision because someone else would cover that subject, why didn't that stop Nephi from quoting huge chunks of Isaiah later on? Why, when Mormon was abridging centuries of religious texts into one record for Joseph Smith to discover, was he not prevented from repeating the Sermon on the Mount in the book of Third Nephi? Somebody already wrote that stuff down!

Good job, Joseph. In one chapter, you've made Nephi, an angel, and God all look like idiots. Unless, of course, you just made the whole thing up.

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