Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Alma 31: Another Competing Religion

Alma decides that it's time to go to the rescue of the followers of Zoram, who have been swallowed up in some wacky religion or something.

Pre-Columbian Column Inches are Cheap
Two verses (by which I mean several inches of valuable etching space on the gold plates) are expended on describing exactly who Alma invites to accompany him on his mission to the Zoramites and who he decides to leave behind.  He takes three of the sons of Mosiah (Himner was needed on the home front, apparently) as well as his old buddies Amulek and Zeezrom.  The situation among the Zoramites was dire enough to require some new talent, so Alma brings two of his three sons along.

Exciting stuff.  But is it really that scripturally important to describe the lineup of your missionary supergroup in such detail?  If that's not bad enough, just wait until we sit through a verbatim transcription of the Zoramites' heretical ritual prayer (verses 15-18). 

And we're expected to believe that these records were abridged and fine-tuned to apply directly to the modern age?

Oh, the Iniquity!
Here is what Alma observes of the Zoramite religion:
  • They publicly perform memorized prayers from a raised platform
  • They claim to be God's chosen people
  • They only mention God on their days of worship 
  • They believed there would be no Christ

His conclusion? 
Now when Alma saw this his heart was grieved; for he saw that they were a wicked and a perverse people; yea, he saw that their hearts were set upon gold, and upon silver, and upon all manner of fine goods.
Yea, and he also saw that their hearts were lifted up unto great boasting, in their pride. 
What? Who said anything about pride or perversion?  We just read a lengthy description of the Zoramite worship ceremony and with no explanation their behavior is immediately linked to things we've seen no evidence of.  Okay, their prayer is a little arrogant, but no more so than the Nephites, who also think they're God's elite.

News flash, Alma:  having different religious convictions doesn't make you a bad person.  

Real Missionaries Don't Suffer
Alma says a prayer with his croniesa prayer that is suspiciously even more bombastic than the prayer of the apostate Zoramites from atop their Rameumptomand gives them all a Spirit-infused pat on the back. And this happens (verses 37-38):
And after they did separate themselves one from another, taking no thought for themselves what they should eat, or what they should drink, or what they should put on.
And the Lord provided for them that they should hunger not, neither should they thirst; yea, and he also gave them strength, that they should suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ.  Now this was according to the prayer of Alma; and this because he prayed in faith. 
There you have itmembers of Alma's posse suffered no afflictions on their journeys, opting to simply live by the spirit.  And all because of Alma's prayer of faith.

Contrast this with almost every Mormon missionary ever...even after the prayers of their families, the blessings of their priesthood leaders and their own prayers of faith, missionaries suffer sickness, mental illness, and occasionally death.  In this chapter we learn whybecause they and those around them lacked sufficient faith.  They didn't have enough joy in Christ to swallow up their problems.

Good to know.

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