Thursday, November 12, 2015

Helaman 7: Nephi Works the Crowd

Now we get into the next dude named Nephi, who I'm pretty sure my old seminary teacher had some kind of a crush on.  Some Mormons rave about the original Nephi or Captain Moroni or Ammon, but her favorite Book of Mormon character was hands-down Nephi III.  I can't remember why, but maybe his story will jog my memory.

Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?
While admonishing his wicked neighbors, Nephi makes this interesting statement:
O repent ye, repent ye! Why will ye die? Turn ye, turn ye unto the Lord your God. Why has he forsaken you?
Here we have a prophet of the Lord admitting that God has actually abandoned some of his children.  That's really not cool.  It also doesn't evoke the benevolent, long-suffering, loving, my-hand-is-stretched-out-still God that we learned about in Sacrament Meeting (although it is pretty consistent with Jacob's Allegory of the Olive Tree).

Nephi Doesn't Follow Current Events
Our current hero demonstrates how out of touch he is in verse 20:
O, how could you have forgotten your God in the very day that he has delivered you?
How is this the very day that God has delivered them?  They haven't been invaded by the Lamanites in a while because the Lamanites are righteous now, and basically their entire society has gone down the tubes over the last few years, what with the murdered judges and the wickedness and the corruption and the Gadianton Robbers running the place like the mafia on steriods.  So why is Nephi referring to the very day that God has delivered the Nephites when he's admonishing them?

Sick Burn, Nephi
This chapter's long-winded divine representative deals the ultimate insult to the Nephite people by explaining how the Lamanites are now actually better than they are (verse 24):
For behold, they are more righteous than you, for they have not sinned against that great knowledge which ye have received; therefore the Lord will be merciful unto them; yea, he will lengthen out their days and increase their seed, even when thou shalt be utterly destroyed except thou shalt repent.
What interests me is that Nephi is implying that the Nephites have received a knowledge that the Lamanites haven't.  He feels the need to specify that he's talking about the knowledge ye—his audience—have received.  If the Lamanites had this knowledge too, there would be no need to clarify.  He could have just said "they have not sinned against that great knowledge" or "they have not sinned against the knowledge of God."  This seems to be something the Nephites have been provided with that the Lamanites haven't.

But the Lamanites have the gospel now and they appear to be living it.  What's this secret bonus doctrine that their sister civilization has yet to share?

Kinda Secret, Only Not Really
Nephi spins more tales of doom and dismay for his people (verse 25):
Yea, wo be unto you because of that great abomination which has come among you; and ye have united yourselves unto it, yea, to that secret band which was established by Gadianton!
Listen, if we know the name of the organization's founder and we're accusing the general population of being in league with said organization, can we really call it secret?

Although, I have to say, a few months ago I spent way too much time watching some so-terrible-they're-magnificent videos from a completely off-the-charts crazy Mormon YouTuber (who in no way exemplifies the average member of the LDS church), and I guess I wouldn't put it past that guy to call, say, the Democratic Party a secret combination.  Somehow in Mormon jargon, secret has inched closer and closer in connotation to the word evil.  Unless, of course, we're talking about the temple, in which case it's become almost synonymous with the word sacred.

There's an interesting dichotomy of cultural vernacular for you.

No comments:

Post a Comment