Tuesday, April 19, 2016

3 Nephi 9: A Voice in the Darkness, a Knock at the Door

In the midst of the blanket of blackness that seems to have befallen this post-apocalyptic ancient world, the survivors hear a mysterious voice.  This voice seems to be extremely long-winded.

The Sliding Scale of Righteousness
The disembodied speaker makes an interesting point that only serves to confuse some issues (verse 2):
Wo, wo, wo unto this people; wo unto the inhabitants of the whole earth except they shall repent; for the devil laugheth, and his angels rejoice, because of the slain of the fair sons and daughters of my people; and it is because of their iniquity and abominations that they are fallen!
Here I thought it was God that caused all that destruction as both a punishment for the wicked and a sign of the crucifixion for the righteous.  But if the devil is laughing, it sounds like the universe's supreme personification of evil is pretty jazzed about things.  Did God do something that Satan likes?  Doesn't that mean that one of those two beings is not as absolute on the spectrum of good and evil as we thought?

Where Does God Draw the Line?
During its long explanation of all the destruction, the speaker repeats this reasoning three times:
...that the blood of the prophets and the saints...should not come up unto me any more against them.
Well, why now? What was the tipping point?  After many of his fellow believers were murdered, the prophet Nephi finally got motivated to act, but the loving creator of the universe lags behind even that lazy reactive guy.

Contrast this with Alma's reassurance to Amulek that God permitted the deaths of the converted citizens of Ammonihah so that their blood may testify against the sinners who burned them.  This time, God decides he doesn't require any more sanguine testimonials, and he just wipes out a whole bunch of people in one three-hour killing spree.  Is God just making this stuff up as he goes?  Where's the divinely consistent policy?
This town deserves a better class of deity.  And I'm gonna give it to 'em.

Too Soon, God, Too Soon
Verse 14 deserves a quick mention:
Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life.  Behold, my arm of mercy is extended toward you...
Mercy?  That's rich, coming from the guy who just bragged about killing thousands of people by scrambling the topography like a Boggle board.  I don't know how any of those survivors believe his claim of mercy after the ordeal they'd just endured.

Interesting Wording
In the fifteenth verse, the voice finally identifies itself as Jesus Christ.  Then, while sharing his resume, the Savior of mankind makes a problematic statement (verse 17):
And as many as have received me, to them have I given to become the sons of God;
Of course, the first bit that my skeptical-of-all-things-Mormon mind latches onto here is...why not daughters? Wouldn't a more inclusive neutral word like "children" be better?

But the second—and possibly more troubling—thing is...weren't we children of God already? Isn't that the most central and significant aspect of our eternal identities?  I'm guessing the apologetic response to a charge like this is probably about "sons of God" meaning something slightly different in this context.  But you'd think that, when it came to a concept so simple and so essential as our status as his children, he'd want the godhead to remain consistently clear about things.


  1. The people who knew, associated with, were taught by, or were within the influence of Jesus were not punished as severely as the ones on a different continent. How is that fair? If they heard prophecies about him and rejected following someone that could be a figment of someone's imagination, how is that as bad as or worse than those that rejected him, didn't believe him, and killed him? At least the people that walked among him could see he existed, even if they doubted who he was.

    I have heard people bear testimony of something that sounded crazy to me many times. They were always so passionate about what they believed. They knew it was true, but I didn't. I used my own judgement to believe or not, like a person should and naturally does.

    1. But using your own judgement means you can't feel the spirit testifying to you!

    2. But aren't we supposed to think it out in our own mind's first? If we think it out, then ask god if "these things are not true" like the BOM says, then we should technically get no confirmation meaning it's true. Or is my thinking all screwed up from decades of indoctrination?

    3. Holy shit. When I got no answer about the Book of Mormon, that was because I was praying if "these things are not true." The lack of confirmation that it was false is implicit confirmation that it's true! I've been looking at it wrong this whole time!