Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Helaman 15: Another Prick on the Wall, Part III

Despite all the arrows and soldiers coming at him in that iconic Arnold Friberg painting, Samuel has survived into his third chapter.

God Hates Lamanites
Yes, you read that section header correctly.  No, I am not making this up.  This is explicitly stated in verse 4:
But behold my brethren, the Lamanites hath he hated because their deeds have been evil continually, and this because of the iniquity of the tradition of their fathers. But behold, salvation hath come unto them through the preaching of the Nephites; and for this intent hath the Lord prolonged their days.
According to the primary song, Jesus said "love everyone."  But according to the Book of Mormon, Jesus's dad said he hated the Lamanites because they didn't do what he wanted.  I think that's more evidence that the depiction of God as a loving father is an absurd fabrication of Mormon culture instead of a logical conclusion from Mormon scripture.  You can—and should—love your family members even when you don't approve of their behavior.

How is that Fair?
Riffing on God's terrible parenting style here, verse 11 provides another example:
Yea, even if they should dwindle in unbelief the Lord shall prolong their days, until the time shall come which hath been spoken of by our fathers, and also by the prophet Zenos, and many other prophets, concerning the restoration of our brethren, the Lamanites, again to the knowledge of the truth—
So God is going to destroy the Nephites because they are going to dwindle in unbelief.  But if the currently (and, might I add, temporarily) righteous Lamanites dwindle in unbelief, he'll permit them to survive another fifteen hundred years or so until they can be taught the gospel once again.

God is playing favorites again, although it is admittedly strange that he's favoring the society that he's historically insisted is his least favorite.

Not only is God's poor management of his children on full display in this chapter, but so are his completely screwed-up priorities (verses 12-13):
Yea, I say unto you, that in the latter times the promises of the Lord have been extended to our brethren, the Lamanites; and notwithstanding the many afflictions which they shall have, and notwithstanding they shall be driven to and fro upon the face of the earth, and be hunted, and shall be smitten and scattered abroad, having no place for refuge, the Lord shall be merciful unto them. 
And this is according to the prophecy, that they shall again be brought to the true knowledge, which is the knowledge of their Redeemer, and their great and true shepherd, and be numbered among his sheep.
Oh, those rascally Lamanites will be slaughtered mercilessly, but God's such a virtuous guy that he'll make sure they eventually convert to the true church at some point in the absurdly distant future.  What a pal!

Maybe God's been cooped up in his paradisaical bungalow near Kolob for so long that he can't see the temporal forest for the eternal trees.

A Good, Solid Non Sequitur
Samuel makes a baffling statement to his wicked audience in verse 15:
For behold, had the mighty works been shown unto them which have been shown unto you, yea, unto them who have dwindled in unbelief because of the traditions of their fathers, ye can see of yourselves that they never would again have dwindled in unbelief.
He's explaining to the Nephites that they've been witnesses to much greater miracles than their brethren have.  This makes the Lamanites superior because they've become more pious with less evidence.  But Samuel seems to think that it's readily apparent that the Lamanites would never again have fallen away from the faith if they'd been blessed to see as many miracles as the Nephites have.

How is that supposed to be obvious?

He uses the phrase "ye can see of yourselves" as though the irrefutable evidence of the future behavior of an entire society in a hypothetical situation is laid out before him in perfect clarity.  But the Nephites can't see it, because it didn't happen.  And beyond that, never is a pretty strong word.  Considering that both the Nephites and the Lamanites waffle back and forth between wickedness and righteousness several times over the course of the Book of Mormon, nobody should claim that either group will adopt one philosophy and never again deviate from it.

Not that any of this matters, because the whole thing is entirely theoretical and it never winds up needing to be proven.  But rest assured that Samuel the Lamanite is completely confident that he's right.

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