Monday, August 29, 2016

3 Nephi 20: More of that Jesus Stuff

Jesus is now in danger of overstaying his welcome and committing a serious ancient American faux pas.

Sacrament Redux
For some reason, unlike the practice of the modern LDS church, Jesus feels it necessary to perform the sacrament ordinance for the second consecutive day.  Perhaps he wants to make sure that everyone in the crowd who wasn't present the day before has the chance to receive it.

But in stark contrast to the last time Jesus did this, he does it miraculously (verses 6 and 7):
Now, there had been no bread, neither wine, brought by the disciples, neither by the multitude; 
But he truly gave unto them bread to eat, and also wine to drink.
This feels a bit reminiscent of the two escapes two chapters apart way back in Mosiah.  The first instance is a straightforward story with a dubious explanation.  The second instance is a strikingly similar story that is directly ascribed to miraculous sources.

Why didn't Jesus do the miracle both times and save those guys the trouble of searching their broken city for sufficient bread and wine?

The Native American Revolution
Jesus goes off on a lengthy, ostensibly precognitive rant about the future of the Nephite people.  It certainly sounds like the game plan was for God to allow the Gentiles to slaughter the Nephites' descendants, and then, if the Gentiles didn't repent, the Native American people would rise up and destroy them to retain the country according to their divine inheritance.

I'm baffled as to why this hasn't happened yet.  European settlers did awful things to the native inhabitants for a long time.  Generations, even.  And it's not like the United States government's dealings with the Native American tribes today are ideal.  So why, exactly, has Jesus's violent prophecy still not come to fruition?

I mean, it's not quite as pointless as one of his recent threats, but it's definitely in the same vein.

Jesus Plagiarizes
A lot of this chapter is almost straight from Isaiah, with a few other biblical quotes mixed in.  Linguistically, it doesn't make sense that after being translated through a couple different languages, Jesus's wording would so closely match Isaiah's.  It also doesn't make sense that Jesus, who preferred to teach plainly and only got fancy by resorting to parables, would prefer to adopt Isaiah's inscrutable, densely poetic approach.  And besides, this stuff is still readily available in the King James version of the Bible.  Why, like all those other Isaiah chapters and the Sermon on the Mount, does it need to be repeated?  Couldn't this space have been used for more important, previously unknown doctrines like eternal marriage and baptism for the dead?

Divine Favoritism
Verse 26 is infuriating to me.  Take a look:
The Father having raised me up unto you first, and sent me to bless you in turning away every one of you from his iniquities; and this because ye are children of the covenant—
So because their ancestors made a covenant, God intervenes to turn them away from their iniquity?  If God can simply choose to make people less prone to sin, why the hell doesn't he all the time?  Is it because that compromises our free will?  Is it because that sounds more like Satan's Plan of Salvation than his own Plan of Salvation?  Then why would he do it at all, even a little?

And being children of the covenant is a really flimsy excuse to give preferential treatment.  What did these people do to deserve preferential treatment?—they were born into a lineage originating from someone to whom God made a promise a really long time ago.  We believe that men will be punished for their own sins and rewarded for the deeds of their ancestors, apparently.  Because that's eternal egalitarianism, right?

As the Book of Mormon progresses, it's sounding less and less like God is the same yesterday, today, and forever and more like God's just making up the rules as he goes along.
Maybe the divinity is in the certainty, not in the action itself.


  1. When I was a kid in primary, and even as a priest to administer, we used to have the sacrament in Primary. Yes, we would also take it in Sacrament meeting. I never understood why we needed it twice on the same day and why the not yet baptized kids even needed it at all. It was nice on fast Sunday, though, when we could have an extra snack. It seems like we also used to take it during adult Sunday School until meetings moved to the block.

    1. Wow, I've never heard of that! That seems really strange to me from a cultural standpoint and from a doctrinal standpoint.