Sunday, September 11, 2011

Speaking Truth To Power

If you’ve ever read the “About Me” box located somewhere down on the right side of this page, you’ll recall that a prime motivator for my starting this website was my interest in the little-discussed LDS scriptures which prophesied of our future apostasy from the foundational truths of the Restoration.

It's been my observation that this prophesied departure is typified by three notable phenomena:

1. For a people who claim a religion based wholly on divine revelation, we seem to have adopted, adapted, and accrued a heck of a lot of beliefs that can’t seem to be traced to any actual revelations or scripture.
 2. Conversely, a great many of the expansive teachings that actually were introduced to the world by revelation through our founding prophet are now largely forgotten, abandoned, or ignored.
3. The very suggestion that the LDS Church, either as a people or as an institution, might be remotely capable of apostatizing from its foundations is so inconceivable to the average member, that the typical reaction is an emphatic denial of the mere possibility. Indeed, anyone attempting to point out the many evidences of the fulfillment of these prophecies is often accused of apostasy himself.

It is the evidences of this drift away from our roots that have often been the subject of my rants here, but I have not been alone in recognizing that something about the Church today seems a little bit askew.  As I mentioned previously,  I often come across articles written by fellow Mormon bloggers that so echo my own thoughts and feelings that I find myself wishing I had produced them myself here.

From the beginning, I’ve intended this forum to be a springboard for open discussion, and that's why the comments are free flowing and uncensored.  Every one is welcome to participate.  Still, I felt the primary voice on the blog itself should be mine alone.

I’m moving away from that idea beginning today. What motivated me was yet another great piece that, though written by someone else, captures my own sentiments perfectly.  As it addresses a specific example of where we as Mormons have gone wrong and describes how we can get ourselves right again, I think presenting it here will advance the dialogue of the main theme of Pure Mormonism.

This post first appeared over at The Mormon Worker two days ago, and I've asked the author, Ron Madson, for permission to repost it here. I’m thinking that in the future I may do the same with posts from other bloggers that I feel are pertinent to the motif of Pure Mormonism. Since I am lately only finding time to post something of my own on this site once a month or so, I’m thinking I’ll spotlight a guest blogger here between times, under a series I’ll call “I Wish I’d Written That.”  When such a piece appears, you can be assured that it is because I consider it essential reading.  I won't waste your time feeding you milk.  For that, we have Sunday School.  Here at Pure Mormonism, our motto is "All meat, all the time."

So, Get On With It
Today, as the government/media establishment is commemorating its version 9/11, Ron Madson has addressed the subject from an angle pertinent to us latter-day Saints.  As Randolph Bourne aptly stated, "war is the health of the State."  Corallary to that is the truism that "the healthier the State, the weaker the nation."

There can be little argument that the the State has enthusiastically latched onto the horrific events of 9/11 and used them as an excuse to increase its power and curtail the liberties of the citizenry. For the past decade, we have been witnessing a fall of the Republic, and in its place an emerging police state that if unchecked, could easily rival those of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia.

But Madson takes us back in time and reminds us of what our role as latter-day Saints should have been immediatley following that tragic event.  By and large, we failed to react as our religion commands, allowing ourselves instead to be led by the nose in doing the devil’s work.

Here then is Brother Madson’s dynamic -and still timely- call to repentance.  I’m putting his words in bold font to distinguish them from my own.

By Ron Madson

In early 1943, hundreds of German women did the unthinkable—they confronted machine gun wielding Gestapo agents and demanded the release of their Jewish husbands who were part of Hitler’s final roundup of Jews that were to be transported to Auschwitz. Even more remarkable, their Jewish husbands (approximately 1,700 in number) were released.

This incident, now known as The Rosenstrasse Protest, was appropriately dubbed “The Day Hitler Blinked.” This story has, until recently, been largely ignored by Germans because the consensus has been and remains that the average German was powerless against their government and its anti-Semitic policies.

Such thinking appears to be confirmed, as a practical matter, when focusing on individual martyrs such as the German latter-day Saint Helmuth Hubener and the occasional principled monk, priest or clergyman who defied his government’s policies of war, torture and genocide. However, what set these acts of civil disobedience apart from the Rosenstrasse protest is that these latter individuals were abandoned by their own faith community, and in particular, their church leaders.  

Then again, the Helmuth Hubeners of this world were responding to a higher authority and an audience unseen in this world.

Christian Nazis

My father told me that he observed that the German soldiers wore a Christian cross on their belt buckles during WWII. Their faith to the church and their country had converged into one. But consider what would have happened if every single Bishop, Priest, Pastor, and spiritual leader in Germany had denounced Hitler’s invasion of Poland? What if every single Sunday the German chapels and cathedrals rang with strident denunciations of even the earliest persecution of the 
Jews under Nazism?

If the united voices of a few hundred women could cause a hardened Gestapo to back down, then what effect could tens of thousands of German spiritual leaders condemning Germany’s wars of aggression have on Germany’s general population—especially if their local clergy were supported by an edict from the Pope and the leaders of all other major Protestant faiths in Germany?                                                                                                
I submit that Hitler and Nazism would have been rendered powerless. The masses emboldened by their spiritual leaders would have isolated and paralyzed the few sociopaths that were at the core of this great evil.

After reading some of my anti-war papers, a good friend asked what I consider a highly relevant question: “What is the point of all your anti-war writings and lectures?"

“Or in other words, at the end of the day, what do you or anyone protesting our nation’s wars expect to accomplish or change as a practical matter—within our nation, our church, or even personally?”

“And how does this help build the kingdom? How does it make you or any of us better members of the church?”

I will attempt to answer that by considering our nation’s war policies during the last decade in light of what I believe could have been, what is, and what I believe will be if we do not repent of our current rejection of Christ’s words to us in our generation as it pertains to the use of violence; and how that will play out for each of us individually as well as collectively. 

What Could Have Been

Imagine it is now Sunday, September 16th,  2001.  It’s been five days since the devastating attacks of what will come to be known as 9/11, and our nation is still in deep shock and in the early stages of mourning over that horrific tragedy.

Holy men who lead our respective Christian faiths search their souls to find the words of Jesus to teach us how to respond to our enemies. While giving comfort, they exhort us to not become the very evil we deplore. Demonstrating a mature faith, they teach us that we must begin to pray for our enemies and even search deep within ourselves for ways to do good to those that hate us.

Week after week, they seek to teach us to not give into our fear and anger which leads inevitably to a desire for vengeance. They exhort us that the price of discipleship is great at such times, but the promises are sure that if we will trust our God enough to follow the example of Christ, He will consecrate such faith and pour out a blessing to us, and even soften the hearts of those who we might believe worthy of our vengeance.

Having laid such a foundation, then when those in our nation insist that we seek vengeance by first invading one nation and its citizens, and then engage in a pre-emptive attack on another nation in order to send a message, how would those tutored on a gospel of non-vengeance respond?

Among faiths that take literally the words of Christ such as the Amish, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Anabaptist sects, and Seventh DayAdventists, there is a top-to-bottom collective belief that they must conscientiously object (ex: how the Amish responded to the massacre of their children recently with charity toward the family of the killer).

But what if all leaders of all the Christian faiths in our nation had renounced any wars of aggression and vengeance as antithetical to one’s claim of a faith in Christ? Could those political leaders -the Neocons and warmongers in high places who insisted on pre-emptive invasions of Afghanistan and then Iraq- have succeeded in marshaling enough public support for such wars?

Not if every pastor and bishop had denounced such attacks, confirmed by an edict from their highest leaders informing that position.

Our nation’s “Decider in Chief,” who had told us during the Presidential debates that Jesus was his greatest hero, would have had to weigh the collective teachings of those entrusted to share the gospel each week against whether there was any popular support for commencing the works of death and destruction among the citizens of two nations who had done us no harm. 

Then let’s suppose we, as a nation, get carried away even further with a Christ-inspired model when it comes to our perceived enemies and we spend just a tenth of what we have squandered in these two wars on direct humanitarian relief to these benighted countries we attacked. How would the narrative have changed? How many schools and hospitals might we have built and how many fewer Madrassahs would have sprung up teaching anti-American hatred for the next generation?
Did the three thousand deaths from this incident...
...warrant taking revenge on hundreds of thousands of innocents like these?
"When moral contempt for a form of violence inspires so explicit a replication of it, there is only one conclusion to be drawn: The moral revulsion the initial violence awakened proved weaker than the mimetic fascination it inspired. – Gil Bailie"

"Therefore, renounce war and proclaim peace..." -Doctrine and Covenants 98:16

"And again, this is the law I gave unto mine ancients [which is still in effect today], that they should not go out unto battle against any I, the Lord, commanded them...And if any nation...should proclaim war against them, they should first raise a standard of peace unto that people..." -Doctrine and Covenants 98:33-34.

So let’s narrow this script and rewrite history as to our Mormon faith community. Suppose that after 9/11, our priesthood leaders instinctively turned to D&C Section 98 and raised the standard of peace and renounced commencing any wars. By “renounce” I do not mean they simply say that war is not nice and we prefer peace to war. Or worse, proclaim that we are peace loving, and like Jesus we believe in peace, while openly responding to an invitation to march to war. 

No! To renounce means to declare an emphatic NO! 

It means one unequivocally rejects a war policy that involves retribution—and especially when it involves pre-emptive acts of aggression.

If the President of the Church and the Apostles had stridently and without reservation renounced our invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, then what would have happened in our faith community?

The main body of our faith community would have heard the clarity of the denunciation and added to the chorus rejecting the call to endorse these wars. Believing parents would have discouraged children from enlisting. Section 98 would come alive to the believing saints and they would recognize the voice of the Lord in that immutable covenant. 

What difference would this make? As far as immediate effect, how many of the more than one hundred LDS soldiers who have perished in Iraq and Afghanistan would not have enlisted, or in the alternative claimed status as conscientious objectors? 

We will never know for sure, but at many of their funerals, friends and family testified that their desire to enlist and "serve their country" had been rooted in their religious faith.

What about those injured physically and mentally? What about the lives of those “enemies”? Do they even count in the equation?

But I believe there is something at risk that goes beyond this sphere of existence. I believe that if we embrace the words of Christ in His revelations, then the heavens are opened for the ministering angels to pour out an even greater blessing as promised not only in Section 98 but in all our revelations. 

What is that blessing? Beyond peace and prosperity, there is the promise of further light and knowledge. There is the unsealing of the heavens as we receive even greater revelations and blessings, which I believe are sealed up until we actually live those revelations which we have been given.

So what would happen if, as a people, whether speaking from the Chief Seats down to the smallest primary class, we were to teach the words of Christ with conviction, utterly renouncing all forms of retributive violence?

I believe we would find our voice.

And I further believe the throngs of heavenly beings would join us. And who knows but that we, like the few hundred women at Rosenstrasse, could cause miracles to occur?

And would our united voices renouncing these wars not give courage to other faith communities and like minded people? Then, like the women at Rosenstrasse would there be enough collective refrain that those who sought moral support for their war plans would have not only “blinked” but frozen long enough to arrest what has proven to be so evil on so many levels?

We will never know.

What Happened?

There is no need to rehearse our unfortunate ten year odyssey in Iraq and Afghanistan at length in this submission. We engaged in wars of aggression against two nations, both of which had never come against us, and both of which raised the standard of peace and we rejected it

We have murdered hundreds of thousands of their civilians over these past ten years, causing an irreparable cost in lives, treasure and the spirituality of our nation.

In our Mormon faith community we have praised, encouraged, and elevated military service in these wars by framing it as a conflict between good and evil when in fact, as the prophet Mormon astutely observed, "it is by the wicked that the wicked are punished.” We have excused and ignored our own wickedness by conflating these wars of aggression into the slogan that by invading and occupying other people's homelands, we are somehow “fighting for our freedoms.” 

Following 9/11, many young LDS men and women enthusiastically enlisted in the military, knowing they had the full endorsement of our church leaders and their faith community.

So what difference did that make? What about those whose lives we placed on our altar of war?

Alyssa Peterson returned from her mission and felt it an extension of her spiritual sacrifice to then enlist in the military, only months later to find herself forced to participate in our government's own program of torture.

Then there is Sergeant Cawley, one of the first LDS casualties in the Iraq war, who served a mission in Japan, married, and fathered two children. We know of his death because President Hinckley made sure we knew that when Brother Cawley was called to serve his nation he did so “without hesitation.” Of course, how could there have been any hesitation when we as a people had once again rejected Section 98 in both word and deed?

How could there have even been a pause to ponder among those of our faith enlisting to serve in these wars, when our authorities invited Dick Cheney and Condaleeza Rice, co-conspirators in fabricating the evidence promoting both wars (as well as endorsing a program of torture), to speak at “The Lord’s University” while rejecting the Dalai Lama’s request to speak at the same forum?

What has happened -and continues to happen- in regard to these wars, and our institutional silence in not renouncing these wars, is reprehensible; yet it is historically predictable once a church has placed its allegiance to empire above the commandments of God. Once that wall is breached, the practice of a people sacrificing their own children on the altar of war inexorably follows. 

So, what are the consequences beyond a few of our children being delivered to the fires of Moloch? No big deal. Let’s move along and stay focused on building the Kingdom of Jesus on earth.

What Follows?

Again, what good does it do to create bad feelings by being critical of our faith community? Of, as some call it, "attacking" Church leadership? What’s the point of spending so much energy diverting us from our “real” mission to share the gospel’s good news, which is that you too can overcome your addiction to coffee, tea, and tobacco. You too can become a holy, chaste, commandment keeper, personally worthy and feeling really, really good about yourself as a member of The All Is Well For You & Me Club.

Yes, you too can know those warm feelings that come from reading the scriptures, praying three times a day, attending church, wearing white shirts, excellent hygiene, home teaching, taking cookies to the new neighbor—all wrapped up in the warm blanket of personal spiritual health.

All these things are nice, but if in the end one’s spiritual development never matures beyond the pharisaical narcissism of “personal” self-righteousness, then what do we have?

What we have are members of a Church, but nothing remotely resembling The Kingdom of God. 

One graduates spiritually when one takes off his or her church training wheels and becomes a contributing member of Jesus’ Kingdom by doing as Jesus did -standing in the breach for the least among us, denouncing the evil done to others, giving voice to His words on behalf of the Samaritan, the sinners, the outcasts and yes, even one’s enemies.

That is the price of admission to his Kingdom and the beginning of genuine discipleship, even if it means unpopularity within one’s religious community or national tribe.

And what is the price if we reject His teachings and support the latest “Christian” crusade? Does it really make any difference to us individually or collectively? 

It made all the difference in the lives of those individuals who have suffered grievously in these wars—even if we only count those of our own faith such as Alyssa Peterson, Brother Cawley and last week’s obituary. That is enough reason to renounce these wars, is it not? 

But there is, in my opinion, something more spiritually cosmic at work here. Latter-day Saints believe that the original church of Christ began to drift into apostasy when they deeded their allegiance to the Roman Empire and engaged in what is referred to as “The Constantine Shift.”

Bishops, priests, and then Popes all began to consistently set aside the words of Christ and endorse nearly every state sponsored war—and in fact taught that it was one’s Christian duty to enlist. Is it any surprise that the heavens became brass, and revelations ceased despite the Catholic church’s claim to legal priesthood pedigree? Why would the Heavens commune with such a church and its leaders lest such manifestations of charismatic gifts be considered lending its imprimatur of approval on such behavior?

 Of course the medieval catholic church continued preserving the truths from its origins but preservation is not the same as “true and living.”

Do we really believe that we latter-day Saints are exempt from the sealing up of the heavens if we engage in our own Constantine Shift? Can we pay lip service to the words of Christ found in our sacred texts, but in actual church policy blatantly reject His “immutable” covenant and expect further endorsement from the same God? 

When we trust in the “horses” and “chariots” of Egypt (Isaiah 31:1) do we not “err in vision” and “stumble in judgment”? (Isaiah 27:7). If we reject His words found in our “doctrines” and “covenants,” can we then expect the same blessings as a church found in the same body of revelations that includes specifically “receiving angels”, “opening up the mysteries of heaven”, “communion with the Church of the First Born,” and “being in the presence of God”?

How can we expect to lift the condemnation that is upon us if we continue to “treat light the things (we) have received” and do not “do according to that which I have written”? (D & C 84: 54- 57).  

More to the point, if we do not repent by renouncing our State sponsored wars, how can we expect the Lord to bless us?  If the Lord were to send through our church leadership ministering angels as well as His direct presence, would we not interpret that as approval of our current actions?  If the gifts of the spirit were again to pour out upon this church as they had in the early years of its founding, would we not assume from observing these gifts that we were on the right path?  Wouldn't such marvelous gifts and healings as were abundantly experienced by the church in the Missouri-Nauvoo period serve to comunicate His approbation on our church and its current leadership?

What does it then tell us when we look around us and notice the near complete absence of these spiritual manifestations in the Church today? 

Does this plunge toward failure we seem to be heading as a nation (not to mention as a faith community) not stand as a witness of God’s disapproval of our new policy of pledging allegiance to empire over His words and teachings as found not only in D&C 98, but throughout the New Testament and Book of Mormon? I believe so.

Like the children of Israel at Mount Sinai, we have rejected the continued presence of God and his ministering angels and have chosen mortal icons to lead us as we seek to conquer Canaan—a conquest that had the audacity to teach that there is spiritual immunity when we kill every man, woman and child who stands in the way of our “freedom”—and that when we commit these abominations, it is God’s will.

Where are we now as a people? 

This past year I was with a group of protestors outside the Marriot Center, protesting Condeleezza Rice’s appearance to speak at BYU (essentially the same group that protested Dick Cheney’s speech at the same forum three years earlier). While we were gathered outside, she was in the Marriot Center telling the full-capacity stadium how our nation "had" to engage in pre-emptive wars. To speak plainly, I interpret such doctrine as “let's get them before they get us”—which includes, if necessary, dubious "evidence" obtained through torture.

Her words were received by what the press called “vigorous clapping”—while our small group of no more then thirty dissidents stood outside in the cold denouncing her message justifying our nations’s unprecedented pre-emptive wars. I believe that the ratio of those applauding her comments to those who protested her remarks no longer reflects the same ratio of those of our faith who endorse our nation’s current pre-emptive war doctrine. In fact, I believe that increasing thousands in our faith community privately believe that it was a great sin to endorse in any way our current State sponsored wars.

I believe that we first need to decide individually where each of us stands as to these State sponsored wars. Then if we believe we must renounce these wars, decide whether we are willing to do so publicly— no matter how few join with us in the renouncement.

For some of us, that personal decision was made a long time ago and it is, in the end, irrelevant as to whether others join in or whether it appears we “made a difference.” We are witnessing to an audience that is beyond this veil—whose approbation means everything in the final spiritual equation.

What is the point of protesting our faith communities’ current relationship to State sponsored wars? What will happen the next time a Dick Cheney is invited to speak or the next time a church leader endorses either our present state sponsored wars or the next wars which will surely come? What if, as the wives in Rosenstrasse, there are hundreds -no, thousands- of outraged mothers in Zion defiantly protesting? What if they, in moral outrage, say “NO MORE of our sons, our daughters, our husbands will be placed on your altar of war.” 

And they do not say it in wilting, primary voice tones typical of church meetings. No, THEY SCREAM IT! 

Could we as a faith community have an impact?  Would we force our leaders (both political and spiritual) to "blink"?  Would our refusal to give the Mormon stamp of approval at least cause some of our fellow citizens to pause before offering up any more of their own children to these false gods? In the words of Martin Luther King, “there comes a time when silence is betrayal.” 

A decade of relative silence in our faith community is enough. We must choose to obey the Lord's commandment and publicly renounce these wars in the most emphatic means. I believe it will make a difference.



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Karl Waterman said...

Just as it applies in ones personal life, so does it apply to a State, Nation, world.
What you sow, so SHALL ( not might), SHALL reap!

Matthew said...


spektator said...

It is hard to see U.S. imperialism from the inside. As this nation approached the launch of the war in Iraq, I told my gun-toting NRA car carrying friend that the ONLY positive thing that will come out of this war is that our 'enemy' won't have to travel as far to kill Americans.

The $3 Trillion debt that this country has taken on to fund these irrational wars has gone a long way to accomplish the original purpose of the 9/11 attacks - the demolition of the United States economy.

Steven Lester said...

When George Washington was at Valley Forge, before the Christmas attack, he would pray a lot for God's help. One evening, alone in his tent, during one of these prayers, he was given a vision. Within this vision the angelic messenger called Washington "Son of the Republic" numerous times and related views of the future.

To her, the establishment of America was a given, for she related that there would be three great tests of that country to come. The first was the Civil War, not named as such by her but rather described. The second was The Great Depression, again only described. The third was considered important enough that it should not only be described but given a date besides: that of 9/11, believe it or not. The last would be the worst of the three.

He had been in the tent a long time and his aids were beginning to worry amongst themselves, when quite suddenly a shaken Washington burst out of the tent and proclaimed that he had just had a vision. He described to them what the angel had said, and later, more calm perhaps, he wrote down the vision in his journal, where it was found after his death.

When the PLANNED DEMOLITION of the three buildings in the World Trade complex occurred I immediately said to myself, "now let's see who will profit from this", and I was not disappointed. The profiting continues to this day.

Part of the profiting involves the accumulation of power not possible before. Goering was once asked how the Nazi's were able to achieve power over the millions in Germany and he answered (paraphrased), "Make the people afraid and then offer them safety, and they will follow you every time." I wonder: Even Today? Interesting as to how quickly the 3000-page Patriot Act showed up in Congress, fully conceived and printed.

I am afraid that this country will not survive 9/11 fundamentally unchanged, even as the angel said. The true purposes are too hidden or won't be seen by fear-hooded eyes, but what is happening to our country was planned out years in advance and is unfolding slowly before us. And the Church sold its soul in 1898 when it was destroyed by the government, in order to continue on. It made a pledge and has honored it ever since.

I will never be a member ever again.

ff42 said...

How? Why? That's easy: All big US religions (including LDS) are creations - 501c - of the state, how can they denounce their creators/masters?

Dave P. said...

I asked this same question on Ron's blog, but I'll repeat it here, regardless of the collective gasps of those who will be utterly shocked that I'd even think of such a thing:

How much has the church profited (in terms of money) from these wars?

Anonymous said...

This post is excellent. I appreciate it and wanted to say so.

LovelyLauren said...

I really enjoyed this. I have felt similar sentiments all my life and very rarely dared to share them, but it's good to know that there are those who agree.

Zo-ma-rah said...

That's a great post. I saw it in the link in the side bar but didn't have a desire to read it. I thought it was just some more of that same old stuff we hear about 9/11. But wow this was good.

In Sacrament Meeting I had to sit through a talk about how great America is and how wonderful our freedoms are. We need to oppose the Godless masses who want to take God out of the pledge of allegiance and off of our money.

The second talks wasn't half bad. He just read from the war chapters of the Book of Mormon.

Steve said...

I have had many of the same thoughts. Thank you -- Ron -- for sharing yours. And Rock for posting this and recognizing the worth of others' words.

I was one of those who probably cheered on our attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan. But no more. I sorrow for the objects of our aggression and for what we have lost ourselves as LDS and Americans.

I heard my son-in-law speak on how 9/11 had affected him and I imagine that when many think of that date and how it affected them, they will echo his sentiments. I think of it as the day we started losing the rest of the liberties we still possessed. The beginning of the end of this great nation.

Perhaps Washington's dream will hold true and we will emerge victorious from this. But before that happens I imagine that we will have to pay the uttermost farthing to atone for the deeds we have done against the Indians, Mormons, Iraqis, Afghanis, Somalis, Libyans and so many others.

Zo-ma-rah said...

I'm curious what you guys thing about this

Steven Lester said...

Well, shoot. Never mind about Washington. Pretend I never said anything.

But the destruction of the World Trade Towers and the side building was still a planned demolition, and could still be nothing but that. I can, at least, prove that.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

In John Ford's famous words, "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."

Anonymous said...

Amid this dark day of almost complete apostasy, save a rare few, it's incredible to hear from one of the few who can still see the light, who shines forth in the darkness to give reassurance & hope to the few who wonder if anyone else sees what is & has happened to our church & nation.

Thank you both so much for such inspired words.

Brett said...

A fantastic educational piece for me. Thank you Ron for writing it and Rock for sharing it with us!

Jon said...

Now I feel bad for doing a "reenactment" of BoM battles with swords and shields with the teachers. I'll have to share an anti-war message while we're building the swords and having the "battle." I'm a big anti-war person and agree with the sentiments in this blog but didn't think what I could be teaching these boys by doing the battle. I guess I turn it into a good thing and teach them how much war sucks.

Hope I'm not released from my calling for doing so! I'll have to figure out how to do it tactfully without talking about the current wars but if they thought about what I was teaching then they would figure out themselves.

Steven Lester said...

This is why the video game can be so violent and almost nobody notices. There is no physical pain, and death can be reversed by the replay button. The enemy has no humanity or personal history; he or she is just a figure that moves and is maintained to be fake-looking so as not to produce any sympathy within the shooter's heart. War-training for babes. Satanized toys.

Then there is the sport franchise which romanticizes what is no less than mock warfare between two enemies. Satanized play that can only create division and anger between human brothers and sisters under God. This exists big-time within the Church.

I was once in charge of running the Stake-level basketball tournaments, and I was in control of the clock and scoreboard device, that rang the buzzer and such. The Stake President gave to me the authority to stop any game flat if it ever got out of hand and one Saturday I almost did. I was amazed at the hate and anger that would erupt between ward parents as their sons were playing their little contests. God and Christ completely walked out of the building. Satan was in every word and every gesture and in every anger-contorted face and hate-filled eye that loudly shouted on every side of the court. I was totally afraid that actual violence would erupt at any moment, but I had not the courage to push the buzzer, and call a recess, because I was cowardly then, so long ago. Fortunately, nothing happened, but it was so close to the line.

Today, I wouldn't have hesitated for a moment, but I was only in my twenties then and generally afraid of everybody. That Saturday taught me of the evil that resides within our souls, our ape-selves, that evolution or adaptation or whatever causes the species to advance physically hasn't had time to change yet. Satan rejoices every time we hate, but it is in our genes, I'm afraid. (So much of what we humans do and say can be found within chimp society. It really can. Except for our frontal lobes and our heavenly but amnesiac spirits, there do we reside.)

Inspire said...

The story of the Rosenstrasse Protest reminded me of what we read in the Book of Mormon about King Noah and his people. Just one generation earlier they had been righteous, and one single man changed all of that. It was as if there was a collective, "Hey, let's party!" going on. The people could have removed Noah, but they went right along with it... some of them to the point of abandoning their families. Let's hope it doesn't take THAT before we figure it out.

Dave P. said...


Sadly, it's already happening. Abinadi prophesied that the situation of King Noah and his 12 priests/apostles would be a type and shadow (ie: parallel) of today.

How did such a thing happen in the Book of Mormon? "O King, we know thou art a righteous man and can do no wrong." What is it today? "Follow the prophet for he will never lead you astray." and "When the brethren speak, the thinking has been done."

Ron Madson said...

to all,
thank you for your comments and sentiments--I/we should not feel alone as much. And I really want to express here my appreciation for all the Rock has contributed to the our faith community.

ff42, well said--"they" cannot renounce their "masters/creators" (btw I am Diogenes in another forum where I appreciate your comments)

dovh49--no need to feel bad--we have all been there. funny though

Steven Lester--you are one interesting person and I mean that in the most positive way. Church bball--where character is not developed but revealed.

DaveP.--the parallel is striking! excellent connection that you and Inspire made. I had not considered that type but it seems that the "church" is always re-inventing itself and becoming the "church in the wilderness"--from the Rebekkites (sp?) that Nibley talks about, the Lehites, the Essenes, John Baptist, restoration, etc. etc. The BOM introduces that same type--a "new" church founded in the wilderness. Isaiah tells us that out of the "mother" will come suddenly the child--a derivative of the larger entity. interesting. what that all means I guess we will hopefully find out.

John said...

Since there are a lot of us who feel the same way as Ron, what can we do individually and/or collectively to renounce the wars. Is simply writing or speaking to our state reps/senators a first step, or is that a useless act getting us no where. Is there an organization that we can lend our voice to that will make a larger impact than doing something individually? Ron protested outside during speaking engagements. How do we get involved with these things. Can anything be organized from the people who read this blog? Just searching on how to sound a voice.

Jon said...


I think the biggest thing we can do is try to influence those closest to us, i.e., the people have most influence over. Then branch out from there. I've gotten my mom, bro-in-law, mother-in-law all on board. It took some time and my bro-in-law isn't 100% yet but little seeds can go a long way.

MarkinPNW said...

I am not against all war, but I am against agressive, unjust war. To me, that is one of the biggest lessons of the Book of Mormon. In fact, my own stance of questioning the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan come primarily from my study and testimony of the B of M, D&C (especially section 98), and other scriptures. What I read on Rock's blog, at libertarian websites such as, articles by Lawrence Vance, etc. only confirms and validates my own conclusions from studying the above latter-day scriptures. In fact, I find it ironic that it is such non-Mormons as Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin, and Lawrence Vance that actually support and try to live by the doctrines and principles of the Prince of Peace taught in these Latter-day scriptures, much more so than most LDS (or so it seems).

Dovh49; perhaps you can emphasize that Captain Moroni, that famous Book of Mormon hero, never did invade Lamanite territory, and only fought in self defense from foreign invasions and against rebellion of secret combinations. Also,that the prophet Gidgidoni promised the Nephites that if they did invade the lands of their enemies that they (the Nephites) would be destroyed, and that Mormon said (though he never directly referred to Gidgidoni)that the Nephites were finally destroyed for that very reason. I don't remember the exact references for Captain Moroni, but you can look in 3 Nephi 3 and Mormon 4 for the later references.

TruthHurts said...


The only problem with your celebrity status - that I'm seeing - is that the discussion following the post isn't as insightful as it once was.

I love what Ron has done here, but the problem with posting it here is that the choir was probably already on board. Ron and Josh have had a profound influence on me... especially Josh's post on a "non-violent reading" of the Book of Mormon. If he ever gets around to publishing his thoughts in long paper form (as he promised to do on his site), I'll be the first to read it. That was a light bulb day.

Funny how it is, but Ron's voice is one of those I follow in the blogosphere. Whereas I might have a tendency to skip over other comments, I always stop and read his when/where I find them. I only wish there was a widget he could put on his site to show where he's posting at any given moment so that I could follow them.

To the substance at hand, I think it's time we had a discussion on the foundation of Nephite society and what that foundation created. Nephi killed a man (the Spirit told him to) because he was assured that what he needed was more valuable than that man's life. I don't really care if Laban deserved it (either from a legal or ethical perspective), but what I do care about is the message it sends... that it's OK to kill some people because we disagree with them.

When Nephi uses the term "the Spirit", especially as contrasted with the chapter prior and the usage of the term "Angel", I wonder if the difference between the two doesn't denote something we should pay attention to. An "angel" scolded his brothers, but the "Spirit" told him to kill Laban. One, in my mind, is a physical being, the other a voice in one's head.

Grant Hardy's work illuminates this issue a little more, and poses some thoughtful questions on why Lehi's commentary on this subject is conspicuously absent, or why the first thing that happens when Nephi returns - after telling Lehi + Sariah about the death - is a discussion on Sariah complaining. I wonder if that's just throwing Sariah under the bus, to redirect the conversation and get us away from what just happened.

Anyway, here's to a more vibrant discussion of the issues instead of just "Hurray, Hurray for Rock". ;)

Anonymous said...

Amen to Truth Hurts. The spirit of this blog is getting lost in paying homage to the flesh. Beware of idolatrous leader worship, whether the leader calls himself a prophet or a blogger.

Jon said...

Why are you guys are harping on Rock so much? Just because there are people that enjoy reading his material and have like minds doesn't make things bad. Like minds attract like minds. Yes, I'm sure everyone disagrees with certain parts with what Rock writes about, including me, but just because I agree with some things doesn't make Rock, nor me, bad. You guys are just being ridiculous.

Andy said...

While I suppose that "Hurray, Hurray, for Rock" and "idolatrous leader worship" is happening a little, I doubt Rock has much to do with it. I think you have misdirected your cautionary statements.

Steven Lester said...

But Mr. TruthHurts, I always thought "The Spirit" was something more than just a voice in one's head.

I mean to say, I can remember the one time the Spirit visited me during the 32 years I was an active member and it wasn't a voice at all. Rather, it was a packet of instant knowing of the will or the mind of something outside of myself, which not only included the complete understanding of the message, but also the confirmation that it was of God. Instant and powerfully given and received, unmistakably different from just a verbalized voice or thought, one knows from whence it came.

In my case, it was that "she" (my wife-to-be) resided with the Father (which is a good thing for us both since my ape body happens to be gay). I knew exactly to whom "she"referred. It was automatically explained within the packet of knowing.

According to the hundreds of reports from experiencers of the NDE, this is exactly how things are communicated between every member of the spiritual cadre to which we all will join once we croak. There is absolutely no speaking out loud over there. There is only the mental aspect of delivery, always offered in complete truthfulness because there, nothing can be hidden from the receiver. Literally, without exception (although there are variations in all other aspects of the NDE), is this condition extent, by the way.

So, if Nephi had to chop off his Uncle's head with that Uncle's own sword, recoiling from the suggestion initially, he did so because he knew he had to because the packet of information gave to him the understanding of the entire situation from the moment of receipt, and the voice with whom he argued was offered to us readers as merely a literary device to clue us in to what was contained within the packet, about which we knew nothing. It hadn't been addressed to us, only to Nephi.

Steven Lester said...

In the spirit of the old-man-in-the-victorius-general's-chariot, "Remember Rock...thou aren't only a man!" No, wait! That's not right...

J Madson said...


To give some heads up as to my paper, I have submitted it for publishing and am awaiting to find out the details (when, etc). Im seriously considering doing maybe a 5 part post on the ideas in the paper as many of my thoughts on this issue have become clearer with time.

As to your mention of the Nephite foundations. Let me add a few additional thoughts. Many if not all of the choices to turn to violence stem from a lack of imagination. The Brother of Jared had a need for light in his boats. The Lord allowed him to work out this problem and Jared came up with the very clever if not magical to our modern sensibilities idea of glowing rocks. The text seems to suggest that the Lord wanted Jared to work this problem out.

Lets look at Nephi for a moment. He is told to get the plates. Are his only options what we see presented in the text? Sure he asks for them, tries to buy them with gold, and then rationalizes killing Laban but what of the other possibilities Nephi failed to imagine. If Joseph Smith can channel the Book of Mormon, the Book of Moses, and other texts; if Angels do actually appear to men and Nephi can have dreams and visions then why can Nephi not copy the plates by the power of God? Is killing Laban really the only way? We know who tells us there is no other way.

And even if we assume Nephi was constrained by the spirit, which I dont, we are still left with the larger text itself. What do we make of the fact that the sword used to kill Laban becomes the emblem of Nephite rule; passed down to each new king and all other weapons modeled on this sword. Indeed, this violent act is foundational; it defines Nephite narratives about themselves and their enemies. Should we not be surprised that following this event visions occur showing the eventual Nephite destruction. We have Nephi taking up the sword and Nephite society perishing by the sword. We have Mormon ending his text with the plea to lay down our weapons and in between these two bookends we have the Nephite and Lamanite narratives reduce each other to caricatures eventually in the form of corpses. Irrespective of whether Nephi is justified (and frankly I feel no need to condemn anyone) the consequences of this act cannot be ignored. It psychosocially traps Nephites into a sacrificial narrative that justifies blood and horror and acts as a barrier (the barrier of a story that Paul describes) preventing them from becoming one with Lamanites. This is of course no different than the narratives of American exceptionalism, liberty, and our founding that allow us to sacrifice "the other" in distant lands in the name of liberty. Unless we abandon such narratives we too will tied to the story of Nephite destruction. We must have the imagination Nephi lacked and the Lamanite converts had. We must rewrite the story lest we too are destroyed.

It is perhaps one of the more significant contrast in the Book that when Lamanites convert, they abandon their narratives, embrace the Christian narrative of Nephites but reject this one foundational narrative stemming from Nephi: it is better another perish than me and my culture. Instead these Lamanites adopt the narrative that I would rather die and lose my own life than kill another. It is this narrative and not the Nephite one that is praised later by Samuel and eventually by the resurrected Jesus of nazareth who proclaims that Lamanite, and not Nephites, were already baptized by fire.

TruthHurts said...

Andy + Dovh49:

Don't miscontrue my statements. I bookended them quite carefully in order to prevent the rebuttals that you've both thrown out, namely that of accusing Rock of eliciting the responses we've seen in this post and the previous one. I think Rock has done a marvelous job with his newfound celebrity status, but that doesn't take away from how some of the discussion has degenerated (IMO) into mere agreement with Rock.

Granted, I did look back and there's not a lot of those comments in this particular thread, but I've been sensing it for some time with those who frequent this blog. Now, it's not as though that's all bad - especially when Rock is the voice that he is - but I'd prefer the discussion of Rock's posts kept pace with how well thought out the posts are. As is, though, I'm sensing a lot more agreement and mere trite statements as a response to the post as opposed to what I would perceive as thought provoking additions to the posts.

Those are largely my perceptions, misapplied though they may be. As a case in point, when I read the posts I am as interested in the discussion that follows as the post itself. So when I read comments that merely say, "Amen!" or "A fantastic educational piece for me" versus what J Madson added, I can't help but notice the difference.

Though I'm sure we all appreciate it when something is added to our knowledge base, it's my hope that we expound on that and provide our individual perspectives, misguided though they may be. I have come, for instance, to greatly appreciate Steven Lester's perspective... something I'd never have been able to do if he didn't share that perspective. I've come to notice Dave P.'s dialed down rhetoric over the past months, even if it's only the perceived dialing down that I view, but that's something I'd never be able to notice if people don't share.

That's all I'm saying... but don't miscontrue my comments as an affront to Rock. I've come to know him (a little) and greatly appreciate both his and Connie's kindness.

J Madson:

That's an interesting point about imagination... especially in light of how the BoM was translated. If Smith can use seer stones (and with no real need for the plates themselves), then why couldn't Nephi use something just as ingenius? If Lehi could be gifted the Liahona for directional + spiritual guidance, why couldn't Nephi have sought something else? And, perhaps Nephi's story of the boat building is an attempt at reconciliation from this front... as it appears as though his imagination was working during the crafting of that boat.

And, in reference to the brother of Jared, I've appreciated the story Nibley shares about the parallels to the glowing rocks of yesteryear. There are apparently stories in antiquity about a rock that could be created, but only after being fired for something like 8+ years continuously, which would then glow at all hours of the day and provide light in the darkness. I'll have to dig up those stories, as I've lost their references.

Call me a sap, but I do lean towards accepting the mystical... those things that people can do or receive which is clearly outside of themselves (seer stones, glowing rocks, liahonas, etc).

And, as always, please keep us abreast of your paper and either when it will be published (and where) or when the 5-part posting will begin on your site.

Steve said...

J Madson said:

"It is perhaps one of the more significant contrast in the Book that when Lamanites convert, they abandon their narratives, embrace the Christian narrative of Nephites but reject this one foundational narrative stemming from Nephi: it is better another perish than me and my culture. Instead these Lamanites adopt the narrative that I would rather die and lose my own life than kill another. It is this narrative and not the Nephite one that is praised later by Samuel and eventually by the resurrected Jesus of nazareth who proclaims that Lamanite, and not Nephites, were already baptized by fire."

My understanding is that the Lamanites, who refrained from killing, were the ones who had taken the oath upon them. While their sons, who presumably had not taken the oath upon them, did resort to violence when protecting their parents and the Nephites, who had given them protection and sanctuary.

On the other hand, the Lamanites, who (unknowingly) received the baptism by fire, were the same ones who had entered the prison to murder Nephi and Lehi. The risen Lord said in 3 Nephi 9:

19 And ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding of blood; yea, your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away, for I will accept none of your sacrifices and your burnt offerings.

20 And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not."

I gather from this is that it was their repentance, which prompted the fiery baptism, as had previously happened to King Lamoni, and Alma, and King Benjamin's people. I see no praise from the Lord in this for the Lamanites who did not defend themselves vs the Nephites who did.


J Madson said...


let me push back on you a little here. Yes their sons did take up swords. They did also suffer the trauma of war and head to the land northward where the text suggests later missionary efforts were unsuccessful. Did they not want to take any more part in Nephite wars? perhaps, we don't know. But lets actually look at who refused to kill their enemies. It is not one isolated group of lamanites.

Early Lamanite converts “took their swords, and all the weapons which were used for the shedding of man's blood, and they did bury them up deep in the earth.” This pattern was followed by later Lamanite converts on at least two more occasions as converts "did lay down their weapons of war, and also their hatred and the tradition of their fathers.” This change was so pronounced that even Gadiantons were destroyed or converted through preaching the word of God rather than violence. Seventy years after the first Lamanite converts, Samuel affirmed that Lamanites would rather “be trodden down and slain by their enemies” than use violence and this “because of their faith in Christ.” This was not an isolated occurrence among Lamanite converts but an article of their faith in Christ.

Like I said before, converted Lamanites did not adopt the Nephite idea: better another should die than me and my culture but instead “Rather than shed the blood of their brethren they would give up their own lives.”

In imitation of Christ they chose to sacrifice self for others; refusing to shed blood and offering instead an acceptable sacrifice, “a broken heart and a contrite spirit,” they were “baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost” long before Nephites received such a blessing. And this occurred “because of their faith in [Christ] at the time of their conversion.”

I think it is a mistake to read the movement away from sacrifice of others to self as only applying to animals. I read this, as I do the words of Jesus in the NT, as denouncing shedding any blood (animal, human, etc) whether it be in sacrifice on altars or in warfare. Even LDS temple rituals point towards this profound truth as men and women move ritually from lower "laws" of sacrifice (animals/etc) to eventual self-sacrifice where they now no longer sacrifice others but take upon them the name of Christ and bear the symbolic marks of a victim. Rather than forming circles of stoning and sacrifice before an altar containing a victim; they form circles of healing and prayer around an altar of those they seek to heal and bless. It is a complete reversal and movement towards becoming saviors for others willing as lamanites to "Rather than shed the blood of their brethren they would give up their own lives"

As to their baptism by fire. This as the NT tells us occurred after Jesus arrived. John was not worthy and could only baptize with water. Likewise in the BoM this did not occur until 3 Nephi 12. What happened to the Lamanites is a unique event. A special dispensation given to Lamanites in connection with their self sacrifice in perfect imitation of Jesus.

Andy said...


My apologies for misconstruing your comment. I read both it and the following comment too quickly and thus missed the point (kind of reminds me of my high school English experience).

Zo-ma-rah said...

How do you interpret the "memorials for your sacrifices by the sons of Levi". Also the prophecy that the Sons of Levi will once again offer an offering in righteousness.

Another reference to continued animal sacrifice is the account(s) of animal sacrifices having been performed in the Kirtland Temple.

Finally there is the Third Temple seen and measured by Ezekiel. This is the temple that will be build in Jerusalem and it will be fitted with necessary alters and tools for the practice of animal sacrifice.

It seems that animal sacrifice will continue at least until the second coming of Christ. The only way I can figure it is that Sin and other offerings which were done for repentance were the ones done away with by Christ. But memorial sacrifices and those sacrifices done to feed and support the Priests were not done away with.

I'm interesting in hearing everyone's thoughts about this.

Steven Lester said...

Is it okay to kill things that don't have blood in them? Plants are okay but nothing possessing a heart? Were you (or Christ) speaking literally? I am, myself, not much more advanced beyond the Lower Laws, and so I need to know whether or not vegetarianism is the only way.

Anonymous said...

"How do you interpret the "memorials for your sacrifices by the sons of Levi". Also the prophecy that the Sons of Levi will once again offer an offering in righteousness."

See D&C 59:8

J Madson said...


I don't want to get to side tracked from what my main contention is (the foundational role of slaying Laban in acting as a prospective guide for Nephite culture and trapping them in cycles of violence) but as to the sons of levi and future animal sacrifice it has always seemed a bit odd to me. I know we explain it as dispensation of the fulness of times and therefore all things must be done but I still have a hard time reconciling what Jesus did in the NT and BoM with this weird future sacrifice event which look backwards and not forwards.

Having said that, and correct me if Im wrong but I believe it says the sons of Levi will offer an acceptable sacrifice. It seems to me that the acceptable sacrifice and the only one Jesus claims to accept is one of a broken heart and a contrite spirit.

I tend to read the OT and NT in a girardian manner (see Rene Girard, Things Hidden from the foundation...) and therefore see a real progression from human sacrifice to animal sacrifice and eventually self-sacrifice. Girard has amazing insights and this is prob one of the most important books I have read. There is a real sense that the sons of Levi may have never offered an acceptable sacrifice and will eventually have the chance to do by not sacrificing an animal but giving a broken heart and contrite spirit. There are some real difficult texts we need to deal with in the OT such as Ex 32 where people receive the priesthood on the basis of murdering their kin. Or the later prophets who never say a good word about animal sacrifice and even Jeremiah who claims that God never told them to do it in the first place.

MarkinPNW said...

Regarding the Jaredite rocks that glow in the dark, I am reminded of the saying (don't remember who said it) that any sufficiently advanced technology appears to be magic to those who are less technically savvy - you can now actually buy "rocks that glow in the dark" right here, using another "magical" technology called the internet;

MarkinPNW said...

Now to actually add to the controversey, rather than just commenting on the miracle of technology;

I believe, based on my own study and testimony of the Book of Mormon and the D&C, that self-defense against aggression is acceptable and often even required of Lord (see D&C 134:11, Alma 43:46, Alma 48:13-15,24 and other references), but that taking revenge after the original self-defense, and pre-emptive violence most decidedly are NOT acceptable to the Lord. It is these last two actions in the US war on terror that makes me fear for my country, and for myself to the extent that I have not been active enough in consistently raising my own voice because of fear of men. If you go strictly by the guidelines set forth in D&C 98, Nephi's killing of Laban is problematic mainly because the Book of Mormon narrative only describes two offenses of Laban trying to kill Nephi and his brothers, whereas D&C98 requires three offences before the Lord allows (not requires, but allows) the vengeance that Nephi committed in killing Laban. Perhaps there were more offenses by Laban that were not recorded? Or maybe Laban trying to take the life of three or more of Lehi's sons in one incident counts for three "offences"? I don't know. The
apparent lack of a third "justifying" offense still confuses me, regardless of Nephi's claim of being constrained by the spirit to commit the deed.

Regarding the Lamanites who buried their swords and weapons of war upon conversion, they were ones who were previously guilty of much killing and murder to get gain, power, and revenge (all unacceptable reasons for killing according to the Lord), and therefore made a covenant not to take any more life to avoid any of their previous sins coming back upon them. Their sons had been too young to participate in their many murders, and were therefore free to volunteer to fight as long as it was strictly for self-defense and defense of their families and loved ones, and not for the aggression, revenge, and murders that their fathers had commiteed before their conversion.

Truthseeker said...

To tell the truth, I have always preached love and non-judgment here- but these comments are ridiculous! I know Rock, and he is the most humble and loving man I have ever met. Idolatry, concerning himself, is not something he would ever condone.

Even if you don't agree with everything Rock has written-I do-this does not make him a prideful man. If his decision was even half as painful as mine. He suffered. It doesn't take much for people to take it to the next level. You should be ashamed.

Anonymous said...

We must remember that despite the sacrifice & love of the Anti-Nephi-Lehi's & other Lamanites, Moroni, a man of perfect understanding, was inspired by God to threaten the death penalty on any man who would not fight & protect freedom & family.

Clearly a single man can decide to sacrifice his own life & not fight back, but one of God's greatest commandments to all men is their divine obligation to protect their families & all women & children from all harm & evil. To choose not to, would bring spiritual death upon the man not blessings.

Head of Shiz said...

"...but one of God's greatest commandments to all men is their divine obligation to protect their families & all women & children from all harm & evil" -


Please re-read above article.

Jon said...

"Moroni, a man of perfect understanding, was inspired by God to threaten the death penalty on any man who would not fight & protect freedom & family."

Um, you should read the BoM again. Those people were threatening to overthrow the government just like the lamanites were, so they were given a choice when captured, death or covenant to help fight for their freedoms.

Facsimilogos said...

While I agree myself with the points made by the post, I can see how many are able to justify their acts of aggression towards their offenders also through the words of Jesus. Jesus said he did not come to unite families, but to divide. He also (somewhat) violently threw the money changers out of the temple. It appears that while war is atrocious, there are apparently times that it would seem to be justified (using as a basis the same source of teachings used to backup the pacifist position advocated here). Again, I wholeheartedly agree with the position presented, I just wanted to point out that things are not as cut and dry as we might like them to be.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I must have missed all that "Hurray, hurray for Rock" stuff, or I would have lapped it up and basked in it all. (Thanks, Truthseeker, for coming to my defense, but I ain't as humble as you've seen me let on.)

Honestly, I don't recall seeing any comments of the kind you are critical of. But then, it's probably evidence of my incomparable righteousness that such words of praise just fly right over my head and don't register in my consciousness.

All kidding aside, I read the comment from Brett that you cited, "A fantastic educational piece for me," in a different light than you might have.

Someone recently linked to this piece on their facebook page, and one of the comments it received was "It was a great blog post. It changed my way of thinking. Thanks."

Comments like this are the ones that really thrill me, because they indicate that Ron's piece has effected a paradigm shift in the way our fellow Saints have been looking at the issue of war. I can't speak for Brett, but I assumed that when he wrote that the piece was educational FOR HIM, that he, like the other commenter, is now rethinking the way he has been viewing the commonly accepted LDS position toward these 9/11 wars.

This is the type of praise I really do look forward to, as it demonstrates that this blog is having some success in changing hearts and minds. I'll take those "Amens" every time.

Ron Madson said...

I appreciate your wrestling with DC 98. For some reason, it took several readings before I was able begin to outline (at least for me) a comprehensive way to make sense of the entire section. I would like to point out a few random thoughts/clarifications I have as to Section 98 :

1) We need to differentiate between the mandates associated with the section pertaining to one’s family/personal enemies and the section pertaining to nation to nation conflicts;
2) I personally do not read into these verses that one cannot defend oneself/family/nation while under IMMEDIATE direct attack/assault. To do so is always, imo, justified under Section 98.
3) I believe Section 98 is addressing primarily retributive warfare (vengeance)
4) Section 98 is structured in such as way to allow us to choose three responses: Telestial (verse 24)-- where if a person or nation responds in kind then said person/nation is no different then one’s enemy even if one’s enemy (in our mind) caused the first offense. Terrestrial: if one follows the “law” set forth in Section 98 then one can take it before the Lord and seek retribution/justice. This level of response is honorable. But it requires revelation. Celestial—one can choose to live the highest law and submit as the early Christians did for two hundred plus years and the Anti-Nephi Lehites (and no I do not believe the Anti Nephi Lehites were a special case, ie, they had done their share of killing already, but rather they were truly born again and that is what happens, as has been experienced by many Christians where they reach a point of sanctification. They then naturally take literally the words of Jesus and follow Him---- they are compelled to make the highest offering--their life rather then harm another even if doing so was "justified").
5) In nation to nation conflicts each and every time the other nation "repents" and says they will not attack anymore you are required to accept their offer of peace (so if Ho Chi Minh says he will keep the Geneva Accords and have a election and no longer fight we must accept it even if we think he will win the election and/or if Saddam or the Taliban say they have not nor will they attack us then we must accept their plea for peace).
6) As to the nation to nation conflicts we are to reflexively raise the banner of peace and renounce war, and then we are "justified" in engaging in war on these conditions--1) the enemy refuses our invitation of peace made multiple times (law of witness times 3) by declaring war despite our invitation AND the 'Lord commands us"--or in other words, we receive a revelation justifying engaging in war OR 2) a nation attacks us, repents, but does it again and then again, then we take it to the Lord and turn it over to Him to receive direction. Even if we are then “justified” in engaging our enemy, we are invited to live, as an option, the highest of law—the law of total submission as Jesus invited us to follow. In doing so we trust that the Lord will sanctify our offering. Faith the transcends the wisdom of this world.
7) When we retaliate and go on the offensive and take the war to our enemy--even if they attacked us first ---then we have become the evil we deplore and we are on our own.
What we as a nation have done since Viet Nam to the present I believe is not justified under Section 98. Section 98 exists to make us slow down and verify the real intentions of our enemy while scrutinizing the evil designs/false intel of the deceivers in our own ranks. It is designed to provide a fail safe system. Applying it we would have never engaged in a war with Viet Nam, Afghanistan nor Iraq. We have, as I have expressed repeatedly rejected the Lord’s covenant of peace in word and deed as a faith community.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

That having been said, TruthHurts, I also note your mention that the discussions following these post aren't as insightful as they once were.

I would submit that a large part of the blame for that could be laid on you. Your own contributions have been missing here of late, and look what happened the moment you returned. You triggered a fascinating discussion regarding Nephi's killing of Laban, which took off as Josh expounded on how that has largely informed the LDS of view of how "the good guys" handle an insult to their national pride.

So welcome back! I was about to call you and ask where you've been. (Someone else has a question for you also, so contact me.)

Speaking of paradigm shifts, you have once again challenged my comfortable assumption that in killing Laban, Nephi was acting under the direction of God. I am now willing to consider that he may have just talked himself into that killing without any actual divine input.

As you point out, in another instance he was visited by an angel, whereas in this one it was (at least what he thought was) the spirit that commanded. I would submit that what we sometimes feel is the spirit talking to us can be wildly unreliable. The test would be whether that voice we hear is telling us to do something contrary to God's usual commandments, which this one violated. As others here have pointed out, there were other possible ways God could have gotten that info to Nephi.

It's entirely possible that Nephi's inner debate about whether he should kill Laban was culturally informed. It was not considered a crime in the ancient middle east to take another man's life for the smallest offense, and after all, Laban did steal Nephi's family's treasure and try to kill him and his brothers. That would be more than enough to justify knocking Laban off when he fell drunk at Nephi's feet.

I recall while watching "Lawrence of Arabia," that a man in that area was justified in killing another man who simply took a drink from his well, even if the owner was not around to ask permission of, and even if the offender was dying of thirst.

We Mormons are susceptible of falling into the same trap as those evangelical Christians who believe that "every word of the bible is true" if we assume the same of the Book of Mormon. We should not presume that Nephi, being the good guy, can not err.

We tend to overlook the fact that Nehpi's brothers found him overbearing and legalistic. Had he demonstrated a bit more of the light of Christ in his dealings, he may have been able to influence his brothers through gentle persuasion, instead of coming off as ancient Israel's version of Bruce R. McConkie.

Ron Madson said...

As to referencing Captain Moroni. He was an honorable man. However, imo, what he did in killing those who would not submit their conscience was an abomination mimicking the initial hubris of Nephi killing Laban which collective cultural hubris would ultimately lead to their extinction. The BOM is a correct book (authentic in the legal sense, ie, they said what they said) but it does not follow that every time someone, other then Jesus, says something that it was/is the mind and will of God.
I find Captain Moroni's slaying those who would not submit their conscience (even if we deem it evil) a greater evil then what the King Men were engaged in.
And even if it was "justified" the pure doctrine of Christ dictates that in the end only the words of Christ are controlling---not a soldier in the heat of conflict.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Anonymous at 10:38
You write, "one of God's greatest commandments to all men is their divine obligation to protect their families & all women & children from all harm & evil.

You're right, and you're wrong.

I may be mistaken, but taken in context to the rest of your comment, your implication here seems to be that the current wars of our nation have been engaged in to protect us from harm and evil.

It's not uncommon for someone to post a comment here without reading those that came before, so if somehow you missed the doctrinal points raised in Ron's main post above, I would refer you to the discussion going on just prior to your comment.

Also, highly recommended is this video of Ron Madson discussing our responsibilites as Latter-day Saints regarding national defense of our families:

The Book of Mormon proves you right in all those war chapters that show that God's people have a sacred duty to defend their homes, their wives, their children, and their lands.

Where the Book of Mormon proves you wrong is in those chapters that show that when God's people cross the borders into another land, God withdraws his support and leaves them on their own. You may have noticed that what seems to be missing from our current occupations is God's blessing.

For those among us who overlooked the lessons of the Book of Mormon, God lays it all out in one verse of a revelation he gave through Joseph Smith in 1833 in which he makes it clear that taking the battle against any foreign nation is prohibited.

An invasion of a another country is NEVER allowed, and the reason is simple. Even if some of your attackers came from that country (and none of the Sept 11 hijackers were Iraqis, by the way), if you take the battle to the enemy's home, you are likely to kill people who did not come against you.

The killing of any individual who did not come against us can not be considered "collateral damage" in the defense of our wives and children.

What it is, is murder.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I find myself in agreement with you, Ron above. It never sat well with me that someone I so admired like Captain Moroni would stoop to execution of those who refused to go along.

BTW, I want to second the recommendation made by Josh regarding Rene Gerard's "Things Hidden From the Foundation," Which Ron was kind enough to send me a few months back. It is a phenomenal insight into true Christianity.
If every Mormon would read this book, we would be living our religion again.

J Madson said...

One of the major issues I take up in my paper is how we read scriptures. When I see legalisms pop up (Nephi wasn’t ok to kill him if it was two offenses but three offenses – chop away) or I see appeals to Captain Moroni and other figures (Look Captain Moroni scares even Satan and he killed people) as justifications it tells me how someone reads the scriptures. The scriptures are not a constitution but a narrative or a story.

When reading a story or play we do not fully form our conclusions about the work’s theme and intent until the end. The Book of Mormon is a narrative by design and meant to be read as a whole. There is an intent and theme to this work. If we want to understand Hamlet we don’t chop it up and quote isolated statements but we finish the play, the whole play. Likewise, justifications for violence taken from teachings and actions in the third act of the Book of Mormon don’t trump the corrective teachings of Jesus in Act 4 and the results of continuing to live as if he never came in Act 5.

It is folly in my view to form conclusions based on the world of Captain Moroni instead of in light of the larger narrative and subsequent Acts. Captain Moroni is not determinative; he is just one character/person in a larger story.

In Mormon culture, the voices of individuals like Nephi, Alma, and more predominantly Captain Moroni have become our source for understanding and even justifying violence and war. Early Christians moved from the margins of society to the center of the Roman Empire, and “the price the church paid to move from the margins to the centre was that the message of Jesus was moved from the centre to the margins.” Likewise, the price we pay in using individuals such as Captain Moroni to determine our stance on war is that Jesus and his message on violence and conflict is moved to the margins. As a result of this collusion with Empire, the early church, no longer powerless and marginalized, became violent and coercive. To the degree that we have moved Jesus message in the Book of Mormon to the margins, we too, end up supporting violence and coercion.

It is really not that hard to see once we approach the text as narrative. The issue isn’t just whether Nephi should have killed Laban but what followed. What does the narrative say about this event. As mentioned and shown, this event acts as a prospective guide in trapping Nephites in cycles of war and violence. Capt Moroni “defends” himself and lands and he gains what? A few years of peace only to have war break out again. He hacks figuratively at the branches and literally at the bodies of his enemies while the root of the problem remains. In the end, Captain Moroni does not bring peace whereas those like Nephi, Lehi, and Lamanite converts, who rejected their culture’s political narratives and hatred did; giving up war entirely and in the case of Lamanites voluntarily handing over land that could not be retaken through violence. It was not Nephite just war that ended the conflict and brought peace, but the power of the word. It may be a clichéd phrase but it really is hearts and minds being converted that bring peace.

J Madson said...

Now let me say something about the Lamanites who are still being scapegoated. To diminish what the Lamanites did, quite literally sacrificing themselves because of their faith in Christ is to participate in the same false narratives and stories that Nephites told about enemies. Until we show that same level of devotion and willingness to take up the cross we should be wary of casting aspersions. Its analogous to those who take Mormon 7’s plea to lay down our weapons of war and explain it away by again saying that just for the bad guys, Im not one of them.

Lastly, facsimilogos

Yes people justify all sorts of cruelty and violence by reading texts without a context, but kicking moneychangers out of the temple is a far cry from state sponsored warfare, just saying. Not to mention that the whips were used against the animals and not people (per the actual text). I assume again people use this one isolated text must negate the whole gospel narrative. As to the division of families, stating what will happen is not the same as saying you want something to happen. CJ Cadoux wrote a really good book some 80 years ago analyzing every possible pro violence and anti-violence thing said by Jesus and by early Christians. As you can guess, its not even a close call. Early Christians and Jesus sayings, life, and death and almost entirely anti-violence.

Zo-ma-rah said...

The warfare of the Israelites taking over their promised land plays into this as well. According to them God commanded them to kill all the women and children.

Also interesting is that in redeeming Zion we are given to options. One, by purchase. The second, by bloodshed. If we take option number two we are told that "few shall stand to receive an inheritance." D&C 63:31

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Josh, I'm impressed with how much profundity you can fit into a few paragraphs. Put me on the list of people you notify when your book is ready. I'll feature it here.

Zomarah, I'm with you. I don't believe God commanded the Israelites to kill all the women and children. I believe that nonsense was inserted into scripture by the victors after that great sin was committed.

Dave P. said...

Got news for you, Rock.

There's a study underway of orthodox Jewish scholars who are examining the oldest-known copies of texts wherein the Bible comes from, and they've noticed plenty of extra insertions placed in the later copies of the same text, most notably inserting mentions of prophesies that weren't written down until after they were all fulfilled and placed back in the past history.

This is yet another reason why I'm hoping the brass plates will come forth soon, because they may well be the oldest and most accurate copies we'll ever get.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Insertions such as "We killed all the women and children because that's what God commanded us to", I'm guessing, eh Dave?

Steve said...

As a young man Moroni was a hero to me. I wanted to be like a man who "if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men."

I agree that we need to consider all manner of things and not hold to such that are not right, regardless of who said them. But perhaps, in addition to our own powers of reasoning, we should give weight to the opinion of the prophet-warrior who compiled the Book of Mormon. Not only did he "pen" the above words, but he apparently named his son after Captain Moroni.


Jon said...

In the case of the Medianites the scriptures don't say that God told them to kill the women, just Moses. But the attribution to avenge it does say that God said to do it.

Ron Madson said...

There is, imo, some major "taking the Lord's name in vain" throughout the OT. The people do evil and call it God's will, voice, etc. We do it today. There is nothing new under the sun. People that spend a lifetime studying the bible will tell you that the OT is a text in "travail", ie, a document at war with itself. There are the "historians" and the "prophets." The historians seek to justify their war narratives. Then along comes men such as Jeremiah, Micah, Isaiah who even go so far as denouncing animal sacrifice. Jeremiah told the people that God did not want them to offer animal sacrifice (my take is that it was a mortal invention to move them from human to animal sacrifice to satiate their blood lust/scapegoat mechanism):
Jeremiah: 21: Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Put your burnt offerings unto your sacrifices, and eat flesh.
22: For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices:
23: But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.
24: But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward."

Then just before entering the promised land, Moses prophesies:

29 For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt [yourselves], and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days; because ye will do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands.

I believe they did corrupt themselves with the murder of innocent life. They placed on their blood lust altars more victims then the idol worshipping inhabitants that said “God” wanted them to punish. I see the parallels today.

In fairness to the invading Israelites they were simply doing what Asiatic war cultures did then. Enter a country, kill everything that lives except the nice prostitutes who can service the men, and then that becomes their calling card to scare the heck out of everyone else. I personally believe that the oral traditions are grossly exaggerated, but these stories are told/passed on for centuries before recorded to show how awesomely powerful their nation is and you better leave us alone.

It is just that in SS, I wish we would allow us to get out of the straight jacket of correlation long enough to consider alternative explanations rather then God being the baddest bully around. That is why Jesus came to set the record straight as to His real nature.

Dave P. said...

Insertions such as "We killed all the women and children because that's what God commanded us to", I'm guessing, eh Dave?

No clue. The project is nowhere near full completion so I only know of bits and pieces.

J Madson said...


a few observations

1) As Grant Hardy suggested, absent the praise for Captain Moroni most of us would conclude he wasn't someone we should admire. The praise is almost needed to offset the very off-putting things he does. Remember Captain Moroni is not a prophet, receives no revelation, and the one time he claims to receive any such he is absolutely wrong (see letters to Pahoran where he claims revelation but is shown to be wrong)

2) If we are going to pick and choose which individuals to listen to then I would suggest we at least what they say in consideration of the whole narrative. In this particular case, I would ask whose words do we follow, Captain Moroni or Jesus? I personally read all scripture through the lens/prism of Christ and weigh accordingly.

3) Can Mormon change his mind? It seems to me that there are very strong textual reasons that suggest Mormon wisened up with time. Having seen the horror of war firsthand, he moves more and more away from wanting to support violence, to condemning Nephites, and ending his record with Mormon 7 wherein he states we should lay down our weapons of war. As far as I can tell God hasn't commanded any nation states to go to war (despite what George Bush may have claimed).

Facsimilogos said...

@J Madson, I completely agree with you. There is very obviously way more messages in the NT that promote peace and pacifism than violence and vengeance. I guess it is human nature to attempt to justify atrocious acts in some way. My only point was that there is "some" validation in scripture that people who would pursue such actions can look to as justification for their actions. I personally wish those messages were absent, however, I can personally speculate that those verses may have been those that were added later by scribes who were promoting a certain agenda or looking to justify certain social policies. Of course, this idea is seen as heresy to those that view the scriptures as infallible. What are ya gonna do? I am hopeful at least that what you present here is gaining in popularity and I think we may be finally seeing that our government's response to 9/11 was intolerant and intolerable.

Anonymous said...


I am disappointed & amazed to read you believe you know more or are better than Moroni, who the Prophets declared had a 'perfect understanding" & if we would all 'act & be' like him the world would be a peaceful place.

You have some valid points, but when you deny the Holy Scriptures & put yourself & your own reasoning above men like Moroni & others, believing you have greater wisdom then he, that is game over for me with you, for then you sadly become just another one of the many who sets himself above even the best of men.

Joseph Smith warned us that we should not listen to anyone who contradicts the scriptures, especially the BoM & D&C. That is the sure test for how we know if someone is speaking the truth or not.

We will just have to agree to disagree. But I'm sorry for those who believe your philosophies.

For God does require & command men to protect women & children, especially those of his own family. That is one of man's highest duties on earth & what makes him worthy of the blessings & power of God.

To refuse to do so will cost a man his exaltation & eternal life, for that's how he earns that, by protecting the innocent.

Anonymous said...


I agree with you that wars of aggression are wrong, maybe even to protect the women & children in that country.

But what would you do if your neighbor was beating his wife & children & you could hear their cries for help? Would you go over to his house & take control of the situation & help the woman or children being hurt, if you had the power to?

What is the difference between another man's house & another man's country?

Would God really frown upon that?

Now as a nation, if we were strong & righteous enough, we could encourage women to come to our country for protection if needed, & even try to make friends with other countries & help protect their women & children that way.

And I believe if we were that righteous & strong as a country, God may give us added instruction on how to help or rescue women & children being destroyed in other countries.

But sadly we are not in that position as a nation or even as a Church, nor ever have been, for added revelation on this subject.

Ron Madson said...

For clarification, lest it was missed in my previous comments (which I admit are a little too long) I believe the following:

1. That it is perfectly honorable, just and righteous for Captain Moroni to defend himself, his family, his nation. I have argued and will argue that self defense is just and expected, and I interpret DC 98 as addressing retributive violence and not immediate self defense.

2. That what I consider a hubris in Captain Moroni is his executing those who conscientiously disagreed regardless as to whether those he executed were right or wrong. I find no basis for such an act in the word of Jesus.

3. That a prophet expressed an opinion that another man has "perfect" understanding and we should all emulate said man is not controlling in my opinion. I have long since shed any form of human idolatry. Prophets have been, currently are, and will be wrong on some matters and occasionally fundamentally wrong on major issues and I do not conflate the title of "president" with that of a "prophet." Sometimes they intersect, sometimes they do not. Our intelligences are governed by common consent --thankfully and we are not required to agree on all things and heaven forbid we do.

5. It is a very short term protecting of the innocent life through violence. Long term protecting involves changing the paradigm-something only a person such as Jesus who was the only one I would suggest had a "perfect" understanding.

Jesus's words trump over all else. To the extent my words and deeds your words and even Captain Moroni's words and deeds fall short then I feel perfectly comfortable deconstructing the same.

6. I do not "set myself above anyone" . But I do set the words and example of Jesus over everyone else--including Captain Moroni. By comparison the good Captain did not have a perfect understanding and he did, imo, fall very short as we all do when we use force (other then purse self defense) to compel any human. simply an opinion to which we can, as you said, respectfully disagree

J Madson said...

"Joseph Smith warned us that we should not listen to anyone who contradicts the scriptures, especially the BoM & D&C. That is the sure test for how we know if someone is speaking the truth or not."

What of those in the scriptures who contradict the gospel as explained by Jesus? Should we listen to those who contradict Jesus? Again this is the problem I keep repeating, we are taking little pieces here and there (as correlation trained us to do) and using them to represent the whole without ever reading in context. Read the whole narrative of scripture. Its a story and Captain Moroni is one voice among many and he isnt even in agreement with both the history and the words of Christ. Thats not to say he is a bad guy, its just to say that he shouldnt be the center of our faith. Lots of people claim God wants this or that. There is only one I know of who claimed that if you had seen him you have seen the Father. I think they call him the author and finisher of our faith.

So seriously follow Captain Moroni if thats what you want. But don't be surprised when you get the same results. Im not interested in pushing the Lamanites back for a short time until the next war breaks out soon thereafter. You can be justified in that, sure. But, I want the kingdom of God and it can only be established on the principles laid out by Jesus of Nazareth. If you want Zion, if you want 4 Nephi, then you might have to follow a higher level of ethics than those espoused by a military general.

What is this book after all? Is it a success story? or a tragedy? If we really want to end up like the Nephites then we know how to do it, follow their pattern. It worked out great didnt it? The Book of Mormon when read as a whole is a perfect case study on what happens when you try to establish peace through the arm of the flesh. It doesnt work.

Anonymous said...


Christ is 1st & foremost a defender of the innocent & what is right & an applier of consequences for evil, in order to help the guilty repent & to protect the innocent.

Moroni was only following the Holy Spirit, which inspiration comes directly from God & Christ.

Moroni's 'righteous indignation' was a righteous response, one any righteous man would have had, to men who refused to do their most important duty - that of protecting women & children.

Anonymous said...

When Christ returns again, he is going to do exactly what Moroni did & apply fatal consequences for refusing to repent & do right, but on a much grander scale.

I believe you misinterpret & underestimate Christ's teachings.

Anonymous said...

J Madsen,

Where in the BoM or D&C do Prophets contradict the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Not counting D&C 132 & others, for they were not part of the scriptures Joseph Smith said to judge by, for of course D&C 132 contradicts Christ's teachings.

We also can't count the Bible for it is filled with too many errors & deletions.

Dave P. said...

And of course D&C 132 wasn't added to the D&C until nearly 40 years after Joseph Smith died, and Joseph himself burned his copy of 132 prior to his death.

LDS Anarchist said...

You know, I only skimmed the post and the comments, too, so I'm not coming into this discussion all that informed on the various opinions of this or that, but I couldn't help but notice the talk about whether Captain Moroni acted in righteousness by slaying certain people.

Could someone please give me the scriptural references to what we are talking about? I'd like to look over them. Thanks.

LDS Anarchist said...

Okay, I think I found the scripture. Is it Alma 46:35? Is that the scripture that Ron Madsen and J Madsen and also Rock are upset about?

Also, J Madsen, you mentioned that Captain Moroni wrote an epistle to Pahoran in which Moroni "claims revelation but is shown to be wrong," which is found in Alma 60:33. Later, Pahoran wrote back referencing that relevation in Alma 61:19-20. Is the the "false" revelation you speak of?

Are these the verses you guys are up in arms about? Also, just out of curiosity, are you guys (Ron and J) anarchists? If so, are you guys Mormon anarchists, or are you two non-Mormon anarchists examining Mormon scripture?

LDS Anarchist said...

Okay, reading more, it appears that both Ron and J are Mormons, and, given their non-violence stance, I also assume that they are anarchists. But from what I've read so far, these two have a feel of non-Mormon anarchy about them, as if they filter all that they see and read, including the scriptures, using a philosophy of nonviolence. Although I am a believer in nonviolent resolutions, and applaud their promotion of it, adopting a philosophy of man as a filter (the non-Mormon anarchy approach) is not the wisest course of action. Everything should be filtered only through the word of God, not through this or that philosophy. Otherwise plain scriptures become incomprehensible and must be tossed out as false.

Ron Madson said...

LDS Anarchist,

Those are the scriptures that are being referred to. Josh and I are LDS. To bring you up to date, I (and I assume Josh and Rock) are not "upset" or "up in arms" about those scriptures. Speaking for myself, I find them largely irrelevant to the issue as to whether we should have endorsed or not endorsed what I consider two invasions/wars of aggression into the lands of two countries and governments that had never invaded us. It is, however, scripture, that some LDS refer (ignoring Section 98 and the direct words of Christ) to somehow justify our state violence against those nations which has resulted in hundreds of thousands of civilians being murdered in their own homes--and the predator drone bombs fall everyday on the "women and children" of those nations.

Well, maybe I should say those scriptures are not totally irrelevant (though I never use them for any of my arguments as to our current wars). I will make an exception and use for fun following the example of the Nephite/Lamanite/Captain Moroni pattern:

So two nations are invaded by a large nation. The citizens of that large nation are largely ignorant of world affairs, indolent and seek to live off resources of other nations. That invading army has been stirred up by evil and designing men who tell them that the nations they are invading have wronged them and are a threat. They lie and deceive their people to stir them up to anger The invading army kill tens of thousands civilians. There are noble, courageous, spiritual leaders in those nations being invaded by the massive hordes who rally their people to fight for their freedom from foreign occupation. One leader creates a title of liberty, rallies the portion of the country not controlled by the occupiers. Most rally around the charismatic, spiritual and courageous leader of their respective countries. Those military/spiritual leaders in each country are concerned that not all in the area they control are willing to fight for their freedom to govern and to worship their God according to their religion. They make those that will not support them to either support their title of liberty/freedom or be slain. Many of their people join the leader but some refuse. They fear those that will not support the freedom of their people will support the invading/occupying nation. So that wonderful, courageous, spiritual leader executes those who will not believe as he does.

If we follow the text of the BOM as closely as possible the Americans are the invading Lamanites, those fighting back against the invading American/Lamanites are the iNephites, and the spiritual leaders leading the freedom fighters against the occupying American Lamanites are like unto Moroni---even to the point of using force to compel dissenters to support their cause.

Finally, both Josh and I write for the Mormon worker so that should answer your question as to our Anarchist leanings--no force, no compulsion, no state sponsored violence and for sure no pre-emptive wars---Captain Moroni would agree but those that cite him suggest otherwise. Go figure.

Ron Madson said...

LDS Anarchist,

I visited your web page and appreciate what you are doing there. I did not read your last comment before posting my comment above.

I would like to explore your last comment. If you read the opening post my thesis can be summed up as follows: I believe that we should have followed the exact mandate/counsel set forth in Section 98 (scriptures/direct words of Christ) by "renouncing" war and proclaiming peace when confronted with the proposition that we should invade Afghanistan and Iraq. In other words, Section 98 tells us that we MUST not seek retributive justice and go to war against that nation if that nation sues for peace and requests that we not invade them --and they tell us that they are NOT going to attack us. Nor for that matter has that nation state ever attacked us?

So exactly, how would my thesis (despite all the other background noise of this thread) be considered in any way injecting the philosophy of men into that proposition?

I know it is easy to suggest the other person's opinion in our faith community is injecting the philosophy of men while our opinion is free from it, but really how does placing one's allegiance to one's nation above that of Section 98 by supporting these two wars NOT subjugating our sacred texts to the "philosophies" of men such as American Exceptionalism?

And in answer to my filtering through anarchism, I will simply say that my beliefs most closely (or at least I try) to comport with the same radical Christianity practiced by the first Christians before the Constantine shift. Anarchism is not controlling for me, but Jesus of Nazareth's words, life and example seem the most compelling and I try to give his words/example the highest priority in making judgment calls. I think Nephi called it the "pure doctrine of Christ" where His words, ie, Jesus' words trump all other words and interpretations when found inconsistent in any respect.

Anonymous said...

Dave P.,

Judging from Joseph's lifelong fight & testimony against polygamy, it would only be fair & right to give him the benefit of the doubt that he really didn't burn D&C 132, as others said he did. We should honor his testimony & teachings & believe he never heard of it at all.

It's a very serious thing to accuse a Prophet of God of something as vile as polygamy if he testified he never believed in it or lived it.

Dave P. said...

It is my opinion that he did, but that he also repented of it prior to his death. Joseph had his own ego problems as well, the biggest of which was his failing to accept the calling as an apostle and become a prophet/king instead (he was only called to be the former as recorded in the D&C), and he basically hosed himself in doing that, mostly because 2 Corinthians notes that an apostle is greater than a prophet.

LDS Anarchist said...

Ron, as far as I can tell, the OP is spot on. (I'm sorry, but I just skimmed it, but what I saw struck me as consistent with the scriptures.) It is obvious that the American nation did not/is not following scriptural protocol for justification before the Lord.

No, what I was referring to was not the OP and what this nation is currently doing, but to the statements about Captain Moroni's acts in executing the prisoners and his prophecy. In particular, these words of yours:

"However, imo, what he [Moroni] did in killing those who would not submit their conscience was an abomination mimicking the initial hubris of Nephi killing Laban which collective cultural hubris would ultimately lead to their extinction."


"I find Captain Moroni's slaying those who would not submit their conscience (even if we deem it evil) a greater evil then what the King Men were engaged in. And even if it was "justified" the pure doctrine of Christ dictates that in the end only the words of Christ are controlling---not a soldier in the heat of conflict."

These words of yours manifest a lack of understanding of the Nephite system, as well as the gospel of Christ. If you filter these verses through the word of God, as found in the scriptures, you can arrive at a correct understanding of them, as you did in the OP, but if you merely filter them through a philosophy of man, such as the philosophy of nonviolence, which is a philosophy of men, then you end up misunderstanding the scripture and calling righteousness "abomination" and "a greater evil" than what the secret combination of that time was doing. In other words, you end up calling good evil and evil good. Philosophies of men get everything mixed up.

Had you continued as you began, using the scriptures (the word of God) to filter all you see, including what you read in the scriptures, and just leave aside the philosophies of men, you might have been able to come to the understanding that Moroni did no sin, whatsoever, in these acts, but acted righteously.

Again, the philosophies of men confuse the issues. So, when you say, "And even if it was "justified" the pure doctrine of Christ dictates that in the end only the words of Christ are controlling---not a soldier in the heat of conflict," it shows that you have no understanding of the pure doctrine of Christ.

[to be continued...]

LDS Anarchist said...

[continued from above...]

The "pure doctrine of Christ" is a doctrine of justification. So, if Moroni was justified before the Lord, it is because he obeyed the pure doctrine of Christ. You are pitting Christ against Christ without even understanding what you are doing.

Justification means guiltless, and implies obedience to law, so that the law has no hold upon the man. Justification and righteousness go hand in hand. You cannot be justified and unrighteous at the same time. Justification and righteousness both imply that the law cannot inflict the punishment which is affixed.

You cannot equate the Nephite system with our American system. Our American system consists of the laws of man. The Nephite system consisted of the laws of God. When we have a law, such as "do not jay walk," and we break that law, we may be given a citation and have to pay a fine, but we haven't sinned. We break our laws and commit infractions and misdemeanors, but not sins. Only when we break the laws of God do we commit sin. Breaking our laws of man may put us in jail, but they have no power to put us in hell. Only the laws of God have such power.

The Nephite system was not based upon the laws of man. When you broke a Nephite law, you committed SIN, because those laws were revealed by God to them. They had power to put you in hell, unlike our American laws. Those who were put into positions of authority to administer the Nephite laws had to administer the same as the law dictated otherwise THEY would commit SIN and put their own soul in danger of hellfire.

Also, all of the leaders and military commanders of the Nephites were men who had the gift to prophesy. This was standard practice among them. This is mentioned in the record. So, Captain Moroni WAS a holy prophet. He was a champion of the law of God, which was the Nephite law, and was valiant in defending and promoting it among the people, and this is why Mormon took such notice of him.

You cannot compare Captain Moroni and the Nephite system to the American nation, military and laws, because it's like comparing apples to oranges. They had laws of GOD, we have laws of MEN. We can oppose our laws of men, because they are unjust or for whatever reason, and remain justified before the Lord. They couldn't oppose their laws and remain justified, for those laws were the very laws of God given by revelation, through Moses, through Lehi and through Mosiah.

Anonymous said...

That was a great post LDS anarchist, thanks for explaining it better than I did.

J Madson said...

LDS Anarchist

Yes I am referring to Moroni claiming that the Lord told him certain things about Pahoran (and yes people will disagree as to whether it is a false revelation, poor interpretation on Moroni’s part, or find another way to make it work). The larger point is that I believe all the scripture must be read with Christ as the lens or prism through which we interpret them. I am not going to rely on Captain Moroni, a war general, to determine my position on violence but Jesus of Nazareth.

So I am clear, I am not up in arms about any verse here or there, I am simply asking that the text be read literarily and not as a prooftext. By this I mean, as I have said ad nauseum Im sure, that this text is a narrative and we cannot expect to understand the entire message if we take a verse here or there and use it to represent the whole. I don’t know if you read my previous posts, but it pretty clear to me that I am not saying C Moroni is evil or a sinner. I am saying that he is justified but that Jesus demands an even higher ethical position of us, to love even our enemies, turn the other cheek, and be willing to take up the cross. Id gladly take a captain Moroni over the guys running the military, he at least tried to only fight defensive wars and didn’t delight in bloodshed. But again, what was the result? What was the result of all the Nephite wars? Im seeking more than a temporary ceasefire. You cannot kill hate with violence. If you take up the sword, you are going to perish by the sword and the BoM shows that in dramatic fashion.

Am I an anarchist? I guess in the sense that Tolstoy was an anarchist because the Sermon on the Mount was his ethical guide. While I may agree with some political anarchists, my pacifism came first and finds its roots solidly and completely in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. To be honest, I don’t think Ive ever read an anarchist other than Tolstoy and most of my thoughts come from early Christians (who were uniformly anti-violence) and those in the Anabaptist tradition like John Howard Yoder, etc. The filter I use is not some philosophy but Jesus, the word incarnate. He is the word.

Lastly, as to your conclusions. It would be nice if you offered evidence or something to work with rather than your own authority. Saying someone doesn’t get it doesn’t really add to the dialogue and comes off a little condescending. It would be just as easy for me to say you have no idea what you are talking about (which I don’t think) but I fail to see how that adds to the conversation. I am interested however, in hearing why you think it is the philosophies of men and not Christ that inform certain views.

J Madson said...

LDS Anarchist,

I didn't see your follow up comment. Thanks for explaining your position. I will look it over and get back to you. I still think your calling things philosophies of men is pretty unwarranted

Anonymous said...

God said he loves those whom he disciplines.

Loving one's enemies means loving & forgiving them despite what they do, while still applying needed consequences & punishment to help them repent if they refuse to.

Jon said...

After reading the account again I would have to say that the only way Moroni could have been justified in killing the king-men is if the Nephite society was a voluntary society (anarchy), i.e., all the people in the land made a covenant to obey the laws of the land and live by democracy. Then they would be bound by the covenant they made.

The ancient Israelites lived under a voluntary society during the reign of judges since they had to covenant every so often to have as their law the law of the land. They had the option to not make the covenant, of course, they wouldn't receive protection if they didn't.

So, I guess the question is, did the Nephite society require covenants to live under their law?

Ron Madson said...

LDS Anarchist,

I didn't realize that I was "pitting Christ against Christ" but rather I was comparing the words and example of Christ against a very specific action by Captain Moroni which I find very incongruent with the teachings of Christ.

Again, I believe that one is "justified" in pure self defense. But there is a clear invitation by Jesus to live the highest law as set forth as an option in DC 98 and as exemplified by some rare souls that reached the highest level of sanctification. Such total commitment to non-violence I do not consider a "philosophy of man"--far, far from it, but rather as the pure doctrine of Christ--his words, his example, and perfect love of all mankind--even enemies. The philosophy of mankind from the dawn of civilizations is that of the use of violence to compel others even for what we consider righteous ends. Jesus came to declare and exemplify a higher law. We choose how high a law we want to live. In the end, Mormon tells us to be more wise then they were and to bury our weapons of war deep in the earth. In the end when he considers the whole scope of what happened that reference strongly alludes to suggesting that the anti-nephi lehite pacifists had it right all along.

LDS Anarchist said...

dovh49, yes, yes, yes! You are astute in your observations.

J, sure, take a look again. I believe there were three noted instances were Moroni ordered the execution of people who refused to uphold the law. The text is emphatic that in each instance Moroni was acting under legal authorization to apply the letter of the law. He did not go above and beyond the law at any point.

Ron, the law that Moroni was acting under was given by Christ. You are still pitting Christ against Christ. Who gave the law of Moses? Christ did. Who gave the law of Lehi? Christ did. Who gave the law of Mosiah? Christ did. All of these laws ARE teachings of Christ.

There are no higher or lower laws, only expedient laws. And thus, there is no "highest law," either. I once wrote a post on this, found here:

Expediency is the name of the game.

There is also no "highest level of sanctification." You are either sanctified, or you are not sanctified. There are not any higher or lower levels of sanctification. That is an unscriptural imagination on your part.

This is why we find Mormon, who lived under the laws communicated by Christ when He visited the Nephites, extolling the virtues of Captain Moroni, who lived under the laws communicated by Christ through His servants Moses, Lehi and Mosiah. Mormon didn't see those earlier laws as lower, for all the laws of God are expedient. Captain Moroni was obedient to the laws of God and was every much a sanctified prophet of the Lord as one who lived after Christ came in the flesh.

The Anti-Nephi-Lehies were not under covenant, or oath, or vow, as the Nephites were, to defend themselves even unto death (per the commandment of the Lord given to them), therefore they could enter into the covenant to never take up arms again without breaking such an oath. The Nephites could not do this, but were bound by commandment of God to defend themselves, otherwise they would be accounted as sinners.

We are taught that there are commandments of God, doctrines of devils and commandments or philosophies of men. Some are of God, some inspired of the devil and others of men. Nonviolence has its place, but when it conflicts with the laws and commandments of God, it fights against the purposes of the Lord, which always have the big picture in mind, which picture we don't have. There are times when it is EXPEDIENT that we practice nonviolence, and there are times that it is EXPEDIENT that we take up arms. The gospel allows us to choose our own path, but when the laws of God indicate peace and we choose violence (even seemingly justified violence, such as to defend ourselves), or when the laws of God indicate violence and we choose peace (because it seems a "higher law" to our little minds), we end up sinning and becoming unjustified before the Lord. Unless we take the expedient route, our path lies in Satan's direction. This is why reliance upon the Holy Spirit is so essential, for it is the Spirit that teaches what is, and is not, expedient, according to the conditions that exist among men.

(By the way, I don't mean to pick on you two. I'm just bringing this stuff up because it is what I noticed when I skimmed through the comments.)

LDS Anarchist said...

Here is that link to the expediency post. Maybe it will go through this time.

Ron Madson said...

LDS Anarchist,

Going back to the OP, you stated that "the OP is spot on" and that "it is obvious that the American nation did not/is not following scriptural protocol for justification before the Lord." If that is the case here are my questions:

If our church leaders/president of the church support/sustain such a scripturally unjustified wars/invasions, then have our leaders/prophets erred/sinned and are not "justified" in their failure to "renounce" these wars and follow our scriptural mandate outlined in Section 98?

And if so, then does that mean that church leaders/prophets can err in judgment and in fact not be justified?, and

IF SO, then why would we assume that Captain Moroni could not have erred/sinned and not be justified? Is he exempt from error/sin so that all his acts/decisions are free from error/sin?

Or did the Holy Spirit tell Captain Moroni he was justified? I only recall his telling us he was angry a couple of times--once when he made false assumptions as to Pahoran. Or did I miss the part where he said the Holy Spirit told him to: "The Holy Spirit constrained me to kill the SOBS that I have in custody that do not swear an oath?

The logic used to reach the certainty that Captain Moroni's acts were justified involve infallibility of Nephite laws (one and same with God's laws); infallibility of policy decisions growing out of those laws (giving Moroni martial law powers) and the infallibility of Captain Moroni executing those powers which is an extension of your blanket conclusion that "all Nephite leaders and military commanders were prophets." And then “prophets” cannot err/sin. Wow.

Jon said...

@Ron Madson,

I think it really depends on what the original covenant or oath the people made to live in said society (if any was made). Since we don't know this information we can only make assumptions.

So let's assume that the Nephites did covenant to protect their land from invasion in order to be part of the society. In that case, the people were justified to force them to keep their oath.

Now let's assume that their covenant was only to obey the laws of the land as defined by the people. Then Moroni would still be justified in what he did, but then it gets messy since the voice of the people could be evil and at such time it goes against the laws of God and, if so, it doesn't matter what the voice of the people are if it is against the will of God, so Moroni may have technically justified but morally wrong and perhaps would have needed to step down from his position in order to not sin.

But the scriptures say that we need to defend our families unless we covenant otherwise. So, if Moroni didn't force the king-men from defending their families then he would be breaking God's law and the law of the land (which is only just if it were God's law).

But if no oath were ever taken by the people then they wouldn't be justified.

Ron Madson said...

dovh49 you say "the people were justified in forcing them to keep their oath"

So once I or any group of people make an "oath" or "covenant" then my leaders or even military commanders are "justified" in forcing me to keep those same oaths/covenants? Even unto death? Sounds like a great plan.

Jon said...

@Ron Madson,

As the ancient Israelites made a covenant with God and then broke that covenant and were swallowed by the land and devoured by fire. We cannot discount all the scriptures for our own purpose, we have to try and understand them and come to the understanding of God, His way are not always are ways. Oaths and covenants are very serious and shouldn't be entered into lightly, that's probably why BY didn't ask the congregation to make a covenant to obey the word of wisdom a second time.

That's how I make sense of it, at least. Personally, I don't know if I would ever want to enter into a covenant to obey the voice of the people, people get pretty crazy sometimes.

J Madson said...

Im sorry LDS Anarchist and dovh49, but I find this pretty silly.

dovh49, the logic in your last post is dizzying and full of assumptions. Its like the previous poster anon who thinks that it is our place to enforce God's will on others (It's really not that much different than the logic of any fundamentalist society whether it be the Taliban or an alleged Christian one). It is only a modern arrogance and conceit that leads us to sacrifice men, women, and children on the fires of moloch. We want to play the part of the avenging angel when it is our role to forgive even seventy times seven in direct opposition to the cainite creed of vengeance (seventy times seven; the only two times such a phrase occurs in all the bible). Vengeance is the Lords, not mine, not the states, not anyones but his. Just because someone takes an oath does not give you or any other man the right to strike him down.

LDS Anarchist

I've read and reread your posts and Im sorry but I fundamentally disagree and think that is a terrible way to approach the scriptures and leads to pretty bad morality. The God you describe reminds of Henry Kissinger claiming expediency while arguing to drown hundreds of thousands of vietnamese, assassinate Allende or whatever a real politik approach demanded. God in your scenario is willing to use any means so long as it accomplishes his alleged good ends. Again this approach demands alot of assumptions that you seem more than willing to make which the scriptural text itself does not support. The idea that somehow the law of Moses (as you apparently understand it) along with the law Moroni follows, Lehi, etc are all Christ given and on equal playing field is just not supportable.

The text is fairly clear that Moses was given a lesser law. The later prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, and Amos for example) almost universally condemn what Israel was doing and go as far to claim that the whole sacrificial system was set up by men not God. There is very clear progression from baser ways of living including human sacrifice to a better way (animal sacrifice, see the akedah) eventually to self sacrifice. This is the fulfilling of the law that Jesus is doing, giving us the full intent of the law; not playing some expediency game. He intensifies the earlier understandings and actually does demand a higher level of ethics.

He is giving us God's intent and desires for us and enacting them in dramatic fashion in how he lives his live, what he teaches, and how he approaches his death. He is vindicated in this, showing he is the true son and he revealed the true God; this is called resurrection. Jesus was quite literally revealing the meaning of the word 'god' itself. Who precisely is this god of whom the Jewish scriptures had spoken, the god who made himself known to Abraham, Moses, David and the prophets? New claims are being made at this fundamental level. "It is the contention of the New Testament writers that with the coming of Jesus the whole situation of mankind has so altered as to change the semantic content of the word 'God'"

Again, we read the scriptures so fundamentally different that I doubt we will bridge this divide. I do not see all these things as equal. I do believe Jesus came to reveal (literally meaning remove the veil) and show us who God truly is no longer mediated through men who see through a glass darkly. Captain Moroni and all of these BoM heroes were just as in need of this revelation as you or I. C Moroni, you have heard it said....but I say unto you love your enemies, bless them that curse you, turn the other cheek....

To play the game of expediency is to not only ignore the full weight of what Jesus is doing but it is to turn his life and teachings into a contrivance, little more than a sacrificial animal who needs to live just long enough, and piss off enough people, that he can then be placed on the altar to work out some abstract atonement theory.

Jon said...

"dovh49, the logic in your last post is dizzying and full of assumptions"

That's my point exactly. There isn't enough information to really know what is going on and to judge accordingly. I find that what happened to be atrocious myself, not believing in democracy because of the mob rule mentality that it creates. So when I was discussing it I was giving multiple interpretations that it could have, but really we don't know since we don't have all the details. Like were the king-men thinking to overthrow the government of the people once they went off to war? So were the people defending their families from two sides? I don't believe in conscription as a just principle but if you covenant to conscription then it is right for the people to force you to uphold your contract, now they can forgive, but if they choose not to, that is their choice.

When you make an oath or covenant which can be determined as a contract also, you are obligated to keep it. The scriptures say, you should not lie. We have our agency and there are consequences for exercising that agency poorly, so if you choose to sell yourself into slavery, that is your choose, although it seems like a bad idea to me, it is your agency that you get to live by, as long as you are not harming someone else.

LDS Anarchist said...

...which is an extension of your blanket conclusion that "all Nephite leaders and military commanders were prophets." See:

Now it was the custom among all the Nephites to appoint for their chief captains, (save it were in their times of wickedness) some one that had the spirit of revelation and also prophecy; therefore, this Gidgiddoni was a great prophet among them, as also was the chief judge. (3 Ne. 3:19)

Re: the executions. If you voluntarily enter a contract and voluntarily agree to the terms of the contract including the penalties associated with breaking those terms, and then you break the contract, what do you think should happen?

Again, the Nephite laws were not man-made, but were revealed by God. The penalty for what those men did was spelled out in their law and the law of God required that the penalty be executed. They understood what they were doing and the consequences of it, but did it anyway. Had Moroni or any of the other leaders not executed the penalty, they would have also broken the LAW OF GOD. None of those executions were unrighteous, but "they were executed according to the law" (Alma 62:9.) Not the law of man, but the law of God. You may have a problem with that, but those were the revealed laws they received FROM GOD.

You guys are still following the philosophies of men. You are still pitting Christ against Christ.

"The idea that somehow the law of Moses (as you apparently understand it) along with the law Moroni follows, Lehi, etc are all Christ given and on equal playing field is just not supportable. "

Jesus said, when He visited the Nephites, "The law is fulfilled that was given unto Moses. Behold, I am he that gave the law" (3 Ne. 15:4-5.)

Nowhere in the scriptures does it mention any lesser or higher laws. That is an invention of man. The scriptures on the other hand plainly mention expediency. J, you said you read and re-read my posts. You disagree with it, fine, but you can't refute it. Be my guest and try to refute it, if you can.

Ron, no one is saying that prophets are infallible, but don't compare Nephites saints and prophets to Gentile latter-day saints and prophets. The Nephite saints and prophets saw angels, prophesied and did other marvelous works. The latter-day saints and prophets have had their eyes closed, see no angel or vision, and their prophets do not prophesy, their seers to do see, their revelators reveal nothing.

The Nephite record was designed for many purposes, one of them being to unhinge the philosophies of men. All of your assumptions of how the ancient societies were built and maintained and functioned fly to pieces under Book of Mormon scrutiny.

"The later prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, and Amos for example) almost universally condemn what Israel was doing and go as far to claim that the whole sacrificial system was set up by men not God."

See, this is where all this leads, to rejecting truths. The sacrificial system was not set up by men, but by God. We are taught this plainly in the temple, in the Bible, in the Book of Mormon, literally everywhere. But when you hold tightly onto a philosophy of men, filtering everything through it, you must throw out the things of God that do not fit into your worldview.

J Madson said...

LDS Anarch,

Im bowing out here since I don't see this conversation going anywhere.

But I think we can come to an agreement.

Lets form a committee. Everyone who feels its their duty to enforce God's law (as they interpret it of course) can join and monitor from birth too death individuals to make sure they don't violate God's laws or any covenants they voluntarily enter into (watch out you 8 year olds; don't break that covenant or we will make sure you die) and when they inevitably do, you can then play the part of avenging angel and kill whom you see fit in your justified enforcement of the law.

What titanic self-regard anyone must have to think they get to play God and decide who lives or dies based upon their own interpretation of God's will. This is what all murderers have done since the beginning of mankind. Its nothing new.They claim to be acting out in the name of some higher purpose; God in this case. Its not the God of Israel (or the law of Moses for that matter) that allows such barbarity, its Moloch.

As to your posts, yes I disagree and yes they are refutable. Im not sure what you think you've proven other than the lack of a word higher law or lower law in the scriptures means little to nothing. Its not about belittling the law of moses, but understanding its proper place. No one is justified under such a law and it was given because of the people were stiff necked and because of their transgressions. They could not live a higher law (Paul covers this extensively). It is obvious that Jesus asked us to live by something other than the law of Moses. Dare I say a better, higher, more godly way of living.

And as to rejecting truths, take it up with Jeremiah, Isaiah, Amos and Micah. Its not me but them who reject the sacrificial system. Wait I forgot, philosophies of men.

Jeremiah 7:Verses 22-23 read in Hebrew, “I did not speak with your ancestors and I did not command them when I brought them out of Egypt about words/matters concerning burnt offering and sacrifice, but I commanded them this word: Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people; and walk only in that it may be well with you. Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but, in the stubbornness of their evil will, they walked in their own counsels, and looked backward rather than forward.

This is a dialectical negative, i.e., “not so much this as that” or “not this without that” (Ancient Israel, 454-56). For other examples of this same argument see Isa 1:10-17; Hos 6:4-6; Amos 5:21-25.

Anonymous said...

While it's true that vengeance is the Lord's, God can still authorize & give discernment to his true Prophets (like Moroni) to carry out that vengeance, upon those who are so 'past feeling' they have lost the ability to repent anymore in this life.

The only other alternative would be lifelong imprisonment. Both would be considered harsh penalties.

Forgiveness doesn't mean Prophets shouldn't still apply consequences for sins.

And of course Moroni was capable of being wrong, just like any Prophet can be. Some do fall & some are false, but some are true & righteous Prophets.

But, when you realize how hard it is to develop the righteousness required to be a 'true Prophet', which requires developing 'Charity', the greatest virtue of all, then at that point it is very rare for a true Prophet at that level to fall or be very wrong about anything. Tiny errors yes, but not huge errors.

For no man can be a true Prophet without possessing Charity, for that's what enables him to receive true revelation on the scale needed to be a Prophet.

In fact, Joseph Smith said that those with Charity can't be deceived.

Moroni wasn't the one who declared he had 'perfect understanding',(Charity) & 'was so completely righteous that everyone should be like him', it was other Prophets that we 'know' had the Holy Spirit as their guide, like Mormon & Joseph Smith, who declared him to be a truly righteous prophet.

Plus the Holy Spirit can also personally tell us that Moroni was lead by the Spirit & did the most righteous thing in that instance.

The 'fruit' or 'true test' to tell any righteous man or true Prophet is, & has always been, that he will protect & support women & children above any other concern or responsibility he may have.

And true Prophets will also always apply serious consequences to men who fail to fulfill this #1 duty of all men, in order to help them repent, before it's too late & they can't repent anymore.

Also, Moroni admitted that he didn't know the 'cause' of Pahoran's 'neglect', (Alma 60:6) he just let him know with much indignation, what the consequences would be if he had neglected them on purpose.

They didn't have a quick mail system back then & they were in desperate circumstances, so he had to explain his anger & intent if infact Pahoran had neglected them on purpose.

Jon said...

@J Madson,

Don't know if you're still reading these but I think you are misrepresenting my position, which isn't firm (I can't speak for LDS Anarchist).

I'm not saying that these people had a covenant with God, they could have had it with each other, or even had God as a third party. Also, I'm not saying that just because you make a covenant that everything within the covenant is right and true. What I'm also saying, is that there just isn't enough information to make an completely informed decision on the subject. And, lastly, that when people make covenants with each other, of course they are going to be the ones to mete out the agreed upon consequences of breaking said covenant.

LDS Anarchist said...

J Madson,

Funny thing about the Bible, different translations say different things. For example, Jeremiah 7:22-23.

"For when I brought your ancestors out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not JUST give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices, but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you." NIV

"When I brought your ancestors out of Egypt, I did not speak to them and give them commands ONLY about burnt offerings and sacrifices. I ALSO gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Do all that I command so that good things will happen to you." NCV

We'll see what the Chronicle Project reveals when they get to these scriptures. Speaking of which, I appreciate you referencing all those scriptures. I looked them all up at to see what the various different translations say, so when you write:

"And as to rejecting truths, take it up with Jeremiah, Isaiah, Amos and Micah. Its not me but them who reject the sacrificial system."

I get the distinct impression that you don't know what the hell you are talking about. But to each his own, I guess.

THurts said...




I'm admittedly surprised by your antics here. Having read many of your articles, the way you come off in this thread is incredibly pompous. Regardless of your intent, the statements you've made here reflect a deep irony with regards to your tagname... both in content and the snide-ridden oneliners you've managed to toss to-and-fro at those with whom you disagree.

What's more, your willingness to so eagerly put yourself at a higher position than those with whom you choose to debate might be more telling than the words you actually write. (Maybe that makes my remarks even more ironic, as it's entirely possible they'll be entirely ignored and simply redirected my way... such is the lot of this comment).

I found these comments particularly irksome:
You know, I only skimmed the post and the comments, too, so I'm not coming into this discussion all that informed...

...adopting a philosophy of man as a filter not the wisest course of action.

...(I'm sorry, but I just skimmed it...)

...If you filter these verses through the word of God, as found in the scriptures, you can arrive at a correct understanding of them...but if you merely filter them through a philosophy of man...then you end up misunderstanding the scripture and calling righteousness "abomination" and "a greater evil" than what the secret combination of that time was doing. In other words, you end up calling good evil and evil good. Philosophies of men get everything mixed up.... Had you continued as you began, using the scriptures (the word of God) to filter all you see, including what you read in the scriptures, and just leave aside the philosophies of men, you might have been able to come to the understanding that Moroni did no sin, whatsoever, in these acts, but acted righteously. Again, the philosophies of men confuse the issues. ... it shows that you have no understanding of the pure doctrine of Christ.

...(By the way, I don't mean to pick on you two. I'm just bringing this stuff up because it is what I noticed when I skimmed through the comments.)

...You guys are still following the philosophies of men. You are still pitting Christ against Christ.

See, this is where all this leads, to rejecting truths. ... But when you hold tightly onto a philosophy of men, filtering everything through it, you must throw out the things of God that do not fit into your worldview."

Should we continue the dialogue of "how not to talk" to anyone, or should we move on? Would you care to actually do something more than "skimming" before commenting, or are you going to put us through everything and have us wonder whether or not you actually considered the information before firing off with your vitriol?

LDSA, regardless of any point you made in the above comments - and there are many I disagree with - I simply can't get past the language you actually use. Count me as one of those who would simply "shut off" by round 8 or 9 [if not much earlier, but, wait, we're already well past that point] of you seeking to stifle discussion by resorting to the typical "you're spouting the philosophies of men" crap. Perhaps you're doing this on purpose and merely trying to elicit a more favorable light of your rationale for your beliefs, but whatever the motive it compels a belief in oneself that one is free from pollution, free from "philosophies," etc. Go ahead and think that about yourself all you want, LDSA (and all of us, for that matter), but thinking it doesn't create a reality. The minute you begin to believe that someone's divergent viewpoint is a "philosophy of men" is the the minute following which you've already shut yourself off to the world, creating a false dichotomy of "I'm right, they're all wrong," which merely cements your chosenness in your own mind.


THurts said...


I wonder if we haven't erected a few too many idols in our conversations, including making an idol out of the scriptures, using them to buttress all of our distorted views, ideas and logic. Noticeably present in the discussion, above, is an appeal to legalism... a system I want nothing to do with. If y'all want to try and curry favor with the legalist gods you think are present in the scriptures, be my guest... but realize that it'll fail every time. And, in so failing, we fail to realize or recognize that God incarnate revealed an entirely different way to act and relate with our fellow human beings - it might not be coined with the preferred terms of "higher" or "lower" or whatever search term you throw at, but it's there if you look. The God everyone thought to exist in the OT and BoM (pre 3 Nephi) was totally and completely shattered with the God that showed up in the NT and the few brief chapters we have in 3 Nephi of his visit. Ignoring that is fine, should you choose to do so, but please don't label my opinions as a "philosophy of man" simply to disparage remarks that diverge from yours.

Peace simply won't exist so long as we cling to our legalism, doctrines of justification, violent rhetoric and the way we seek to prooftext the scriptures to reinforce our viewpoints. Until we begin to love, truly love unconditionally all around us, we'll continue this madness.

Our treasured knowledge of good and evil is the basis of our self-righteousness. We, like Israel in the days of Paul, seem to feel worthy because of our obedience to many particular laws of righteousness, even while we ignore many others.

This is especially true of those whole believe that their knowledge of good and evil is the result of direct or indirect revelations from God. In their zeal to serve God, people often find it almost impossible to be truly meek and lowly in heart because they feel their zeal to do right is ample evidence of their righteous intent. Such religious souls often think that their only problem is that they should better master the inspired knowledge of good and evil which God has revealed for them. In other words, they believe that more information is all that is needed to eventually become completely perfect, pure and holy is some world to come.

Since pure, unconditional love, however, is the ONLY foundation for righteousness, it may well be that our determined belief and desire to serve the Lord without first obtaining the gift of that pure love is what Jacob called looking beyond the mark.

When Christ asked those who would follow Him to love their enemies, especially those who despitefully used them and were repugnant to them, His disciples must have been greatly mystified. Since it was their natural, human tendency to admire what is perceived as good and to loathe that which is perceived as bad, they were incapable of loving their enemies in the same way they loved their friends. Without a miraculous change in their hearts, Christ’s command to have perfect, unconditional love could only be accepted as a worthy but nearly impossible ideal.

Such is the result, still today.

And, lastly, LDSA:

I get the distinct impression that you don't know what the hell you are talking about. But to each his own, I guess.

You're right. But we now all know that you surely do know what you're talking about [see Isaiah 1:11]. Thank you for giving me a lesson on how not to act around others, especially when I'm trying [emphasis on trying] to persuade [emphasis on persuade] them to my side of the road [emphasis on my].

That said, perhaps this is why I've not frequented your site much these past few months. Maybe it's my shift away from legalism, maybe it's the inerrancy of [all of] your views, maybe it's the focus of your articles... who knows, but you've done little to curry favor for your viewpoint in this thread, that's for sure.

LDS Anarchist said...

J Madson has bowed out, so I guess I'll ramble a bit for Rock's sake. Since he recently spent so much time on my blog, I suppose I can do the same.

The law the Nephites used was the law of Moses, as recorded on the plates of brass. This was a law of God, not of man, revealed directly from heaven, therefore, it was a just law.

"We keep the law of Moses" (2 Nephi 25:24.)

Later, Lehi received revelations and commandments from the Lord which modified the law of Moses.

"For they [the Lamanites] have not forgotten the commandment of the Lord, which was given unto our father [Lehi]" (Jacob 3:5.)

Later, Mosiah changed the kingdom into a system of judges. The new system of judges would judge the people "according to our law"/"according to the commandments of God" (Mosiah 29:11.) Both expressions are synonymous, for the Nephite laws were the commandments of God revealed through Moses and Lehi and now a new way of administering the law through judges, given through Mosiah.

All three men (Moses, Lehi, Mosiah) were seers and the laws given through them were revealed to them from heaven. From the time of Mosiah onward, the Nephite law was attached to Mosiah's name.

"according to the law which has been given us by Mosiah" (Alma 1:14)

"Now it was in the law of Mosiah" (Alma 11:1)

"And that they had altered and trampled under their feet the laws of Mosiah, or that which the Lord commanded him to give unto the people" (Helaman 4:22)

Did you catch that last part of the scripture above? The laws of Mosiah were revealed to him. They were the laws of God, not of man.

Alma categorically stated that the Nephite law in his time (which was the law of Mosiah) was just:

"will our law, which is just" (Alma 34:11)

The people entered into covenants to obey the law of Mosiah.

"[Mosiah] had established laws, and they were acknowledged by the people; therefore they were obliged to abide by the laws which he had made" (Alma 1:1)

The law of Mosiah (which was revealed by God) contained the death penalty:

"Therefore thou art condemned to die, according to the law which has been given us by Mosiah, our last king; and it has been acknowledged by this people; therefore this people must abide by the law." (Alma 1:14)

Shall I continue with this?

Ron Madson said...

(This will be in two comments--too long for one post)

Let me offer an Olive Branch of sort before I also withdraw from this thread.

Richard Bushman in his essay "Faithful History" wrote: "So long as men change, their understanding of the past must also change. Even from a religious perspective, at least from a Mormon point of view, there can be no lasting history for mortals."

My father died at 93 years of age. He lived a hard, colorful life but consistently read the BOM and all religious material he could get his hands on. I remember late in life his telling me that the BOM, and all scriptures are like unto a Liahona--they change their meanings as we change. In other words, how we read the scriptures (what we emphasis, what we proof text, what priorities, how we frame it) tell us more about ourselves then the text itself. My father fought in Patton's infantry in WWII, lived the depression, saw men use the scriptures to justify just about any nefarious or violent act known to man. My father said the meanings of the scriptures changed for him as he changed. In the end he, like Thomas Jefferson, pretty much only focused on the words of Christ and pretty much show as largely irrelevant all the legalisms and proof texting to justify condemning others, and in particular, the use of violence to enforce others to our thinking. Like many bible scholars (NT Wright/Yoder) he marginalized as lesser inspiration much of the OT as being filtered through imperfect men and/or made up/change by men with agendas.

I also think of Ann Lamotte's great quote: "When you find that God hates all the people you hate, then you can be pretty sure that you have created God in your own image." I would apply that to the concept that when you use the scriptures to show that God judges/hates/ needs to destroy those you believe need destroying you can be pretty sure you have proof texted what is necessary to confirm a reflection of your own soul.

Ron Madson said...

(part two and conclusion)

Does everyone proof text? Heck yes, but to what degree? And do each of us prioritize certain passages, scriptures and voices--heck yes. Bible scholarship shows us many translations, many words added or deleted depending on the translator's agenda. And are there inconsistencies? Of course, but then what we choose and how we read the complete narrative and whose voices/words predominant tell us more about us then the scriptures.

LDS Anarchist, I would suggest you listen to Josh Madson's BOM lecture at Claremont as to "how" to read for example the BOM or any scriptures. You might learn something and might pause before saying he "does not know what the hell" he is talking about.

I submit that in the cosmic sense NONE of us really know a hell of a lot. We read, we think, we pray, we evolve (hopefully) in our understanding. I can and have the read the scriptures very literally when younger trying to find some perfect consistency, black and white, taking all voices/words at face value. The more one learns I submit the less one can do so. I grew out of that for various reasons which would be too long to discuss here. BUT, here is what works for me--"by their fruits ye shall know them."
When I see harsh judgment of "others", pointing the finger of scorn at those that do not measure up, a desire to cast stones at sinners even unto death, those that seek to justify violence on other human beings, then I do not see the reflection of Jesus of Nazareth but the very scribes and pharisees that felt it the mission to justify condemning even Jesus who they "knew" was violating the laws of God with scriptural support. I also see someone who has applied a very narrow minded reading of the scriptures, severely limited by a failure to see the bigger, or dare say biggest picture of the evolving text. Even the BOM evolves as does Mormon. But that is another thread for another time.

In conclusion, like my father I have placed the words and example of Jesus of Nazareth in the center and His life and words become the lens through which I judge what I consider all lesser words/opinions/acts of others. And I do not take without scrutiny the words of any lesser mortals including prophets who do err, do fall, and whose understanding is also evolving as our should be.

anyway, if anyone is even reading this thread now other then you and me and possibly dovh39, I part with the words said to Billy Madison (Adam Sandler) when he rambled his answer to a test: "I believe we are all the dumber for having to listened" to all this exchange as to whether Captain Moroni was justified in offing those who disagreed with him--as if anyone could do that now given the law of Christ we now have.

Anonymous said...

LDS Anarch et all


You cited the NIV and NCV and bolded ONLY, JUST, and ALSO. These are not in the text but additions made by people who didn't like the Hebrew reading or as you call them philosophies of men.

The Hebrew for Jeremiah 7:22-23 reads: (22) For I did not speak to your fathers nor did I command them in the day I brought them [lit: in the day of bringing them] out of/from the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offering or sacrifice. (23) Rather [the Hebrew here is explicit on the "rather"], this is what I commanded them: ‘Obey my voice, that I may be your God and you may be my people; walk only in the way which I will command you, that it may go well with you.’

The Hebrew does not justify the NIV’s rendering.

Perhaps you shouldn't be so quick to judge when you don't know what you are talking about.

LDS Anarchist said...

Tom, I don't know where to start. There's so many reactions I got from what you wrote...

First of all, I started LMAO when I read your comment.

Second, I get the feeling you must be going through tough times. (Maybe I'm wrong on this point?) Drop me an email if you wanna talk.

Third, so you are in the man-made sacrifice camp, huh?

Fourth, it sounds like you got offended by what I wrote. That's not surprising. Doesn't everyone get offended by what I write?

Fifth, good to see you are still alive and kicking.

Sixth, you wrote [...CONT]. Uh, where's the first part?

Seventh, legalism shmeegalism! Geez, I start quoting scriptures and right away I'm labelled a legalist! Let's just throw away our scriptures and become Buhddists, shall we? I mention that horrible word "law" and now we are into legalism. Heaven forbid we would want to conform to law.

Eight, what the hell did you mean by "especially when I'm trying [emphasis on trying] to persuade [emphasis on persuade] them to my side of the road [emphasis on my]"? Who is "them" and what is your side of the road?

Ninth, something tells me you don't like it when I use the word "hell." Hell if I know why.

Lastly, tenth, maybe you haven't visited much because I haven't written much? I've been busy with the GEMTAM project, you know. I doubt it's because you don't like what I write. You know you like it, even when you don't like it. It's like a drug and you're an addict. Who else will speak candidly about how concubinage is coming back into vogue? Can't get that type of stuff anywhere else, man. ;)

LDS Anarchist said...

"I submit that in the cosmic sense NONE of us really know a hell of a lot."

Ron, amen to that. I wouldn't mind listening to Josh's lecture. Where do I find it?

Anonymous, yeah, I picked those two translations on purpose. Lol. But like I said before, we'll see what The Chronicle Project comes up with when they get to those parts. At any rate, though, I have heard that there are four levels of Hebrew interpretation. What we have in all the translations is a first or, at most a second level rendering.

So maybe I know what the hell I'm talking about after all.

LDS Anarchist said...

Okay, continuing on with my previous comment about the Nephite laws, we are brought down to 67 B.C, in chapter 51 of Alma. (I'm going to expound this regardless of no one reading it, since I'm in the mood. Rock can read it if he wants to.)

"there were a part of the people who desired that a few particular points of the law should be altered" (Alma 51:2.)

Now, this was a big deal because they weren't laws of man, that could be and were changed by a legislature from time to time, according to the whims of the people, but they were laws of God revealed by king Mosiah the seer.

"Pahoran would not alter nor suffer the law to be altered" (Alma 51:2.)

This, again, is an understandable reaction. The men who wished to alter the laws were WICKED. This has no counterpart in American culture. We can alter our laws whevener we see fit, because they are laws of man, and it is not accounted to us as wickedness. The king-men had this plan put into their hearts by Satan, for it is the same plan Satan used with the 116 lost manuscript pages.

"And, behold, Satan hath put it into their hearts to alter the words which you have caused to be written, or which you have translated, which have gone out of your hands. And behold, I say unto you, that because they have altered the words, they read contrary from that which you translated and caused to be written" (D&C 10:10-11.)

Or, the same plan that the devil used with the Bible.

"They have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away" (1 Ne. 13:26.)

So, this is the same satanic plan to mess with the revealed word of God. A vote was taken, the king-men lost the vote and...

"durst not oppose but were obliged to maintain the cause of freedom" (Alma 51:7.)

Now, it was the law of Mosiah that everyone must defend the land against the Lamanites.

"And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed. Therefore for this cause were the Nephites contending with the Lamanites, to defend themselves, and their families, and their lands, their country, and their rights, and their religion." (Alma 43:47.)

So, when the Lamanites came in and the king-men were glad and refused to take up arms, they broke the law. The penalty for rebellion or sedition was death, according to the law of Mosiah, which was given by God.

[To be continued...]

LDS Anarchist said...

Moroni then sends in a petition with the people's voice to be given executive power to apply the law's penalty to the king-men, or to immediately into the army to defend the land, and the people approve of it and grant him the authority.

He then takes his army to the king-men and they resist arrest, in the which 4,000 king-men are killed, the rest decide to enter the army and fight for the country and the king-men leaders who are still alive are thrown into prison, awaiting their trials.

Later, in chapter 61, we find Pahoran saying that king-men have taken over Zarahemla, appointed their own king, established an alliance with the Lamanites and stopped the flow of provisions and men to the armies defending against the Lamanites.

Now, this is sedition, treason, rebellion. Again, the Nephites were under commandment of God to defend themselves, otherwise, they would subject themselves even as the Anti-Nephi-Lehies. Said Pahoran:

"We would not shed the blood of our brethren if they would not rise up in rebellion and take the sword against us. We would subject ourselves to the yoke of bondage if it were requisite with the justice of God, or if he should command us so to do. But behold he doth not command us that we shall subject ourselves to our enemies, but that we should put our trust in him, and he will deliver us." (Alma 61:11-13)

So, Moroni takes some of his army and goes to Zarahemla, gathering free-men, and then battles Pachus and the king-men, some of whom were killed and the rest put into prison, where they were tried according to the law of Mosiah, and whoever would take up arms was spared and those who refused were executed "according to the law" (Alma 62:9.)

"And thus it became expedient that this law should be strictly observed fro the safety of their country" (Alma 62:10.)

There's that pesky law of expediency again. But what the hell do I know, I'm just into legalisms.

So, we see from this that Moroni's action were not "abominations" and "a greater evil" than the men who were guilty of treason. He was upholding the laws of God and they were trying to destroy them. They were in no way, shape or form "conscientious objectors." These men had tried to corrupt the word of God, then sought to aid and abet the enemy.

Okay, one more comment after this and then I'll finish.

[To be continued...]

LDS Anarchist said...

Btw, I think it's ironic that Ron Madson was on the side of the king-men on this issue. I realize that he doesn't consider himself an anarchist, but the Mormon Worker is kind of an anarchist publication and he writes for it... Also, as an anarchist myself, did anyone really think I'd be defending the king-men?

Anyway, to continue... In chapter 46 of Alma we find Amalickiah and the king-men desirous to establish him as a king over the land so that he would make them rulers. So Amalickiah and the king-men were members of God's church who had dissented and they desired to kill the other church members, the ones who stood firm in the faith. So, these wicked men sought to destroy the church of God and also the laws of Mosiah, which were given of God.

So, Moroni gets pissed with these idiots and go around with his title of liberty, gathering free-men who enter into a covenant with a penalty of death affixed should they break it. Amalickiah and the king-men, seeing that they are outnumbered, bolt to the Lamanites to join forces with them. But "Moroni thought it was expedient that he should take sis armies" (Alma 46:31) and cut off the king-men. (Btw, there's that damn law of expediency again!)

Moroni's army stops the free-men, all but a few escape to the Lamanites, including Amalickiah, and they are brought back to Zarahemla to be tried according to their law.

These king-men are given a choice: keep the covenant that you took to uphold the law of Mosiah, which was given by God, or suffer the penalty affixed for breaking it, even death. The vast majority re-new their covenant and are let go, only a few refuse to covenant and are executed according to the law. (See Alma 46:35.)

Now, these men were guilty of many crimes. They sinned against God in their church by breaking the covenants they had made in the church, against the brethren of the church in their determination to slay them, against God in seeking to destroy the laws of Mosiah (which were given by God), and against the Nephite peope in general in seeking to unite with the Lamanites against the Nephites. That's conspiracy to murder, treason and a host of other crimes.

Again, Amalickiah and these king-men were not conscientious objectors. They were murderers in their hearts that sought to rule over people. Moroni ordered their executions because it was the law and he had been duly appointed with executive power to enforce the laws of the land, which were the laws of God.

Anyway you look at it, Moroni's actions can hardly be called an "abomination" and "a great evil," since he was supporting the law of God against a group that was trying to destroy the works of God.

I said I would stop with this comment, but now that I have fully addressed Ron's Moroni comment, I want to more fully address Josh's Moroni comment. So, to be continued...

LDS Anarchist said...

Okay, so on to chapter 60 of Alma, Moroni's epistle whom?

"Behold, I direct mine epistle to Pahoran, in the city of Zarahemla, who is the chief judge and the governor over the land, and also to all those who have been chosen by this people to govern and manage the affairs of this war." (Alma 60:1)

So, he directed his epistle to the chief governor Pahoran AND to all the other governors and managers of the war.

Towards the end of his epistle, he writes down a revelation he received of the Lord:

"Behold, the Lord saith unto me: If those whom ye have appointed your governors do not repent of their sins and iniquities, ye shall go up to battle against them." (Alma 60:33)

What was the situation? The OTHER GOVERNORS rose up against Pahoran and the free-men who were with him and they drove them out and they fled to the land of Gideon. These OTHER GOVERNORS and the rest of the king-men take over Zarahemla, appoint Pachus as king and stop sending provisions and men to the army (remember, these men are the govenors and managers of the war, so they have control over these assets.)

Pahoran is afraid of what to do. Should he and the freemen go out and battle Pachus and the king-men? But Moroni's revelation puts his mind at ease:

"And now, Moroni, I do joy in receiving your epistle, for I was somewhat worried concerning what we should do, whether it should be just in us to go against our brethren. But ye have said, except they repent the Lord hath commanded you that ye should go against them." (Alma 61:19-20)

And we know the rest of the story. The king-men don't repent, Moroni comes in and kicks their collective butts. The epistle of Moroni and Pahoran show the prophetic and revelatory gifts of Moroni, but if you just think he's directing his epistle to Pahoran alone, and not to the other governors, I suppose you could make the mistake that Moroni got a lot wrong. But he didn't. Read it with the understanding of to whom his epistle was directed and what these wicked men were actually doing at that time and then you'll understand that he got everything right.

Okay, I'm done expounding.

LDS Anarchist said...

Here's some Bible commentary on that Jeremiah scripture from

Jeremiah 7:22

Even though animal sacrifices were used in the worship of God from as early as Cain and Abel, when God made the covenant with Israel, only one sacrifice was required. Exodus 23:18 shows that it was the Passover sacrifice, which God calls "My sacrifice." He further confirms here that He added the sacrificial system later. Sacrifices were not added, but the sacrificial system was added. Obviously, they were sacrificing before the Old Covenant was made.

He gives a very definite time marker, "when you were brought out of Egypt," which is just prior to the making of the Old Covenant. He is undoubtedly referring to the Covenant. God did not speak to them nor command them about making burnt offerings and sacrifices at this time. That came later.

John W. Ritenbaugh

And here's page on this topic, that mirrors what Ron, Josh and Tom believe:

Of course, this theory is using the Bible alone. The BoM still poses a problem to it, but it's interesting, nonetheless.

Jon said...


You pose a strong argument. It would be interesting to hear the contrarian view discussing each point you made.

Also, I still think part of the argument hinges on a covenant made with the other Israelites to obey these laws (up until they do and try and overthrow the government).

I don't remember the scripture in Mosiah that says the law was given by Mosiah, could you post it? If it is God's law then I would assume that it was each individual would have to covenant to keep said law.

Anonymous said...

LDS Anarch,

you have put words down on a page, but have really said nothing. Ramblings and a self constructed legalistic framework of a frenzied mind. You have not even touched what Thurts, ron, josh, etc have said, you haven't even understood it.

The issue isn't whether you can construct a long rambling defense of your position that you think proves something. It is your inability to realize that you are criticizing what you don't understand. You are focusing on minutia here or there and knocking it down and thinking you have done something. And even when you do that you are still wrong

You cite NIV as proving someone doest know what they are talking about and then when you are shown to be completely and utterly wrong by actually looking at the hebrew and not an evangelical reconstruction of the text you lamely suggest that was your intent. You can't refute what the text says. its irrefutable. You are doing apologetics. You don't care about truth, you care about being right. And you want to make damn sure everyone knows you are right.

Even when you are shown in error, rather than admit it you retreat further into error.

THurts said...


I'll try and respond to your post, but excuse me while I use your words to preface what I say:

...(By the way, I don't mean to pick on you two. I'm just bringing this stuff up because it is what I noticed when I skimmed through the comments.)

...(I'm sorry, but I just skimmed it...)

You know, I only skimmed the post and the comments, too, so I'm not coming into this discussion all that informed...

So, without having read what you wrote (I prefer, like you, skimming...saves me the time and hassle of trying to understand people or really grasp what they're saying), I'll just state:

You have no idea what the hell you're talking about. Both about me, and this post. You can assume what you want about my life, but you'd be wrong and all accounts. I, likewise, have no idea where the hell my first post when that preceded the [...CONT], but I'll give you a cribnotes version since it appears as though you'll only be skimming anyway: it had everything to do with the angle from which you speak to people - i.e. calling everyone's ideas the "philosophies of men", whereas yours are impervious to the same, having the same amount of tact as an elephant in a china closet, etc.

Your responses have largely been a course in "how not to interact with people and expect them to understand you." Whatever the reasons, you've come across as incredibly pompous and arrogant in this thread. Maybe that's not the intention, but in analyzing the precise words you read, that's the image I get.

As for the legalism argument, it's not just this thread, but in looking at many of your old articles it's an undercurrent to what you wrote. Mere focus on the law, and seeking little more than justification, is a route you're welcomed to take... but don't presume that that's the route I want to take. You can pull all the "law" terms you want out of, but that doesn't give them any lasting sway in my opinion. All scripture was written according to the understanding of men at that time, if I have a different understanding and read the text differently, I'm just as able to do so as they were. Perhaps my reading is inherently wrong and, if so, I'm sure I'll come around to the right perspective with time... but I'm not about to go accusing those I disagree with (like you) of "pitting Christ against Christ," preaching the "philosophies of men," but perhaps I'll just say what you wrote, since you have the knack for tactfully saying incredibly brilliant things:

Philosophies of men get everything mixed up.... Had you continued as you began, using the scriptures (the word of God) to filter all you see, including what you read in the scriptures, and just leave aside the philosophies of men, you might have been able to come to the understanding that Moroni did no sin, whatsoever, in these acts, but acted righteously. Again, the philosophies of men confuse the issues. ... it shows that you have no understanding of the pure doctrine of Christ.

You're right, I (or we or whoever) have no "understanding of the pure doctrine of Christ." I'm so glad you're here to correct all the errors of my ways and show, through persuasion, kindness and the like that I'm so swayed by these philosophies.

Anonymous said...

Well this has been fun to read [I'm talking more about LDSA and Tom than the war, Book of Mormon, and justification, etc.]


Dave P. said...

I know I'm late on this, but Laban's 3rd offense according to Nephi's account was not hearkening to the Lord's commandment to give them the brass plates. This was serious because Laban was part of the covenant people just as much as Nephi. Plus, wasn't this the primary reason why Jerusalem was sacked by Bablyon 10 years later?

LDS Anarchist said...

I'm LMAO once again.

We went from "you pose a strong argument" to "you have put words down on a page, but have really said nothing. Ramblings and a self constructed legalistic framework of a frenzied mind."

Wow, talk about a contradictory assessment, huh? So, which is it? Or, perhaps it is both? Perhaps I have written "ramblings and a self-constructed legalistic framework of a frenzied mind, putting words down on a page, but not really saying anything except a strong argument"? Lol.

Tom, you know, quite recently some guy called me (in real life) "full of pride" and then a few days later he called me "the most humble man" he's ever met. Which is it? I don't know. Everyone seems to give contradictory assessments of me. One says I give a "strong argument", another says I've got a "frenzied mind." One woman called me a "prophet" and then later she called me "a sinner."

But really, who cares about me? Since no one can figure me out anyway, let's drop the subject of me and just focus on the scriptures, shall we? Or, would that be too legalistic an appoach for you?

Now, I know you don't like the term "philosophies of men." That's as bad as any cuss word, isn't it? We know there ARE philosophies of men but we aren't allowed to CALL anything a philosophy of men, are we now, Tom? Because that is bad form and without tact. Is that it?

Listen, I call everything as I see it. If I see something as a philosophy of men, that's what I call it. If you don't see it that way, disagree, but don't get your panties in a bunch for me calling things as I see it. That is my privilege. You can call me and my approach legalistic, incredibly pompous and arrogant, if you will. (You ought to add "ass" to pompous, it sounds better.) That is your prerogative. I don't mind.

If I see something AS a philosophy of men would you rather me LIE and say it isn't what I see it as? I see a computer before me but I shouldn't call it as I see it, right? I should just say, "I believe I see a computer before me." Everything should be couched in belief, right? Well, that's not how I work, Tom. If I have doubts about what I see, then I'll couch it in terms of belief. But if I recognize something as this or that, I call it this or that. You can insert your own "I believe" statement before each of the statements of certainty that I say which you yourself aren't certain are true, if you want. But allow me the privilege of calling things as I see them. And if you don't allow me that privilege, well, I'll do it anyway.

[To be continued...]

LDS Anarchist said...

[Continued from above]

Tom, I also don't care about ruffling feathers. In my experience, it doesn't matter how tactfully I say anything, people simply don't like what I say, period, and they ALWAYS reject it. With or without tact. So I use tact as a tool. Sometimes I'll say something tactfully, sometimes without it. Now, you may say that it wasn't EXPEDIENT that I wrote without tact above, or even in this comment, and perhaps you are right. Or perhaps you are wrong. I let the circumstances and Spirit guide me.

It wasn't my intention to convince Rob and Josh that their view was wrong, only to contradict them. Only they can convinve themselves that they are right or wrong. I think it is a good bet that they are still firm in their beliefs about Moroni, as ever. So, it was only my intention to fully counter their argument. I suppose I could have been diplomatic and couch all my words in "I believe" and "my understanding," but what I wrote above was created on the spot, in response to something I DISCERNED was wrong. It wasn't a previous belief or understanding.

Perhaps my discernment wasn't given of the Spirit and perhaps my reading of the scriptures is off. Perhaps I need to learn how to read the Book of Mormon at the feet of Josh by listening to his lecture. Or perhaps my reading is spot on and my calling of their doctrine a philosophy of man (PoM) is the truth. YOU decide. If it is the truth, and it is a PoM, can I call it that, Tom? Please? Do I need to ask you permission to call things what they actually are? What exactly are the rules concerning talking about PoM's?

P.S. You're right that I don't know anything about you and your life. But you still come across as Rodney King, but in an offended kind of way. I kept waiting to read, "Can't we all just get along?" Your words remind me of a companion I used to have in the mission field, who would cry all the time with worry about my eternal salvation and plead with me in tears that I needed to repent of my rebellious ways. (He wasn't aware that I was an anarchist.)

LDS Anarchist said...


"It would be interesting to hear the contrarian view discussing each point you made."

I highly doubt anyone will address point by point what I've brought up. They will just call me "incredibly pompous and arrogant" and "legalistic" and a "frenzied mind" and without tact (spot on on that one!) without actually showing why my argument is wrong.

LDS Anarchist said...


Please don't construe my quoting of those two Bible translations as proof of error. I was just showing that there are contrarian views when it comes to everything, including how the Bible text actually reads. I mentioned The Chronicle Project and said let's see what they come up with. If you are not familiar with that, look it up. You'll see that they believe that ALL Hebrew translations are screwed up, anyway.

LDS Anarchist said...


Once again, you are as sharp as a tack. You wrote:

"I don't remember the scripture in Mosiah that says the law was given by Mosiah, could you post it? If it is God's law then I would assume that it was each individual would have to covenant to keep said law."

Exactly. When God gives commandments (laws), He always has the people He expects to obey them under covenant to obey the same. If the laws of the Nephites were the laws of God, then they would have been put under covenant to obey them. This is how God operates.

Man's laws are different. We are born American, under a system of laws of men, and are expected and forced to obey them despite never having entered into any covenant to obey the same, nor acknowledged with our consent that we agree to all the consequences of disobeying the same.

Okay, here, I think, are the scriptures you wanted:

"according to the law which has been given us by Mosiah" (Alma 1:14)

"Now it was in the law of Mosiah" (Alma 11:1)

"And that they had altered and trampled under their feet the laws of Mosiah, or that which the Lord commanded him to give unto the people" (Helaman 4:22)

LDS Anarchist said...

A few more thoughts from a frenzied mind:

I want to address Ron's words about Mormon's assessment of Captain Moroni as having a "perfect understanding." I'll probably need a couple of comments to do it, so bear with me or just skip over these words if they start breaking your china by their lack of tact.

Here are Ron's words:

3. That a prophet expressed an opinion that another man has "perfect" understanding and we should all emulate said man is not controlling in my opinion. I have long since shed any form of human idolatry. Prophets have been, currently are, and will be wrong on some matters and occasionally fundamentally wrong on major issues and I do not conflate the title of "president" with that of a "prophet." Sometimes they intersect, sometimes they do not. Our intelligences are governed by common consent --thankfully and we are not required to agree on all things and heaven forbid we do.

5. It is a very short term protecting of the innocent life through violence. Long term protecting involves changing the paradigm-something only a person such as Jesus who was the only one I would suggest had a "perfect" understanding.

Jesus's words trump over all else. To the extent my words and deeds your words and even Captain Moroni's words and deeds fall short then I feel perfectly comfortable deconstructing the same.

6. I do not "set myself above anyone" . But I do set the words and example of Jesus over everyone else--including Captain Moroni. By comparison the good Captain did not have a perfect understanding and he did, imo, fall very short as we all do when we use force (other then purse self defense) to compel any human. simply an opinion to which we can, as you said, respectfully disagree.

[To be continued...]

LDS Anarchist said...

[Continued from above]

Okay, so those are Ron's words, not mine. Where Ron goes wrong is that he is again equating Mormon with latter-day prophets and apostles. So, what do we know about Mormon?

1. He lived after Christ had visited the Nephites. Christ, when He came "expounded all things...from the beginning...even unto the great and last day" (3 Ne. 26:3-4.)

2. Mormon had access to all the records, including those that contained this exposition.

3. Mormon had read the Plates of Ether, which contained the revelation given to the Brother of Jared, which was "a revelation from God, from the beginning of the world to the ending thereof" (2 Ne. 27:7), which reveals "all things from the foundation of the world unto the end thereof" (2 Ne. 27:10.)

Jesus "ministered unto [the brother of Jared] even as he ministered unto the Nephites" (Ether 3:17.) So, the brother of jared received the same exposition of all things that the Nephites received when Jesus came among them.

Before a person can have a "perfect understanding," they need to first have all the facts. Mormon had all the facts, from the beginning of the world to the ending thereof. He was uniquely qualified, having a perfect understanding himself, to make an assessment as to who else had such a perfect understanding. You cannot compare our modern, Gentile prophets and apostles, who have limited knowledge of things, to Mormon, whose eyes were completely open. There is a good reason why the Lord chose him to write this book and chose his name to be put onto it. And what can be said about Mormon can also be said about his son Moroni, for Moroni also read the plates of Ether.

[To be continued...]

LDS Anarchist said...

[Continued from above]

Now, let's talk about king Mosiah. Mosiah translated the Plates of Ether and thus Mosiah had all the facts. Mosiah, then, was a man of perfect understanding, like Mormon and Moroni and the brother of Jared. But there are more than these three who have been given this perfect understanding, for there are "others who have been, to them hath he shown all things" (1 Ne. 14:26.)

Now, let's talk about Alma the younger. Mosiah conferred everything he had upon Alma the younger, including all the records, interpreters, etc. (See Mosiah 28:20.) Alma the younger, then, having the interpreters, was called a seer. (See Mosiah 28:16.) Alma, then, having the plates of Ether and the interpreters, could read them. Now Alma gained a perfect understanding, but like Mosiah and all the others, was "laid under a strict command that" he "not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him" (Alma 12:9.) "For this cause did Mosiah keep" (Ether 4:1) these records and the revelation given to the brother of Jared from the people, and Alma did the same. However, not everyone was kept from reading the revelation that revealed all things from the beginning. Helaman, son of Alma, was also given the records and things and he, too, became a man of "perfect understanding."

So, the plates of Ether were available to those who showed forth great faith, so that they also would become men of perfect understanding.

Finally, we come to Captain Moroni. Mormon said Captain Moroni was "like unto Ammon, the son of Mosiah, yea, and even the other sons of Mosiah, yea, and also Alma and his sons, for they were all men of God." Now what did all these men have in common that gave them this perfect understanding? They all read the plates of Ether and learned of the revelation given to the brother of Jared.

Can I make this any clearer? In the modern church, certain people get the Second Anointing, certain people get the more sure word of prophecy, certain people have their calling and election made sure. The rest do not. In the ancient Nephite world, the Jaredite revelation was kind of like that. Some got to read it, most did not. Captain Moroni, was one of those people who got to read it. Now, I will rest my frenzied mind and allow bigger and better minds to set me straight.

LDS Anarchist said...

Btw, Rock. I appologize for essentially writing a couple of LDS Anarchy posts on your own post, but I wanted to get the thoughts out and figured this was as good a place to write them as any other.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

No apology necessary for that, Anarchist. This forum is completely open to all ideas and points of view, and there is no limit on number or length of contributions. Though I have so far had the opportunity to read only a portion of your posts at LDS Anarchy, those I have been able to get to have inspired me and given me much food for thought.


I'm concerned that the LDS Anarchist I know has been kidnapped and hog-tied, and is even now being held in a dungeon somewhere by the young flamer Derek P. Moore, so that Derek could capture LDSA's nom de plume and use the Anarchist's good name to insist that only his own smugly self-assured points of view are the correct ones.

How else to explain an attitude that seems, to me, quite uncharacteristic of you? Our mutual friend THurts has already perfectly expressed my feelings on this matter above. This just doesn't sound like you, Anarchist. Or have I simply overlooked this abrasive side of your personality up until now?

Nevertheless, setting aside the lack of respect you seem to have for other's points of view, I will say that your assessment of the controversy has been well presented by you, and there is much within to recommend your position.

I am, however, better persuaded by the arguments set forth by Ron and Josh, that the narrative as a whole, and the actual words of Christ, are far more binding than the actions of His prophets, regardless of how obedient they may have been to the Law. As I arrive in my dotage, I'm inclined to the view put forth by Ron's father, that our emphasis and interpretation of scripture changes as we ourselves change and grow.

I agree with those who have said that all scripture should not be held as equally authoritative or controlling. Some is history, some is narrative, and some is the word of God. Some things in scripture are more valid than others. Some things, for instance are just good counsel.

Others are commandments that must be obeyed at all costs, but I submit that even some of those are less rigid than we often think, particularly if they involve imposing what could be mistaken as our will upon others.

I now recognize, for example, that when looking at the big picture, all of the Book of Mormon chapters on war can be distilled into two simple lessons:

1. We have a sacred duty to defend our families and our lands, and 2. We are not permitted to carry that battle inside another's borders.

In case we overlooked those lessons, we have the voice of the Lord himself distilling those rules of engagement into two short verses of the D&C, section 98, in verses 32 and 33.

I have been following the comments here with great interest, and have learned things I haven't even thought about from all the participants in this fascinating exchange. This is just the type of stimulating discussion that I envisioned here; to see great minds sharing their thoughtful insights with the rest of us.

That having been said, I don't see the object of a dialogue like this to be a competition to prove who is right and who is wrong. Rather, the goal is to provide to all, in the words of the great Dave Emory, "food for thought and grounds for further research.

Well done, everyone! Keep 'em coming!

P.S. The missing Part One of THurt has been found and inserted into its rightful place. It can be found dated September 16 at 11:38P.M.

P.S.S. For those unfamiliar with the work of Derek P. Moore and are interested in slogging through an endless array of it, see the comments section at LDS Anarchy here:

Jon said...


I forgot that I'm signed in with my google account here so you probably don't recognize me from Wheat and Tares. I'm Jon (I should try and change my name over to that somehow) the guy that's always trying to convince them of liberty and not to go to war, unfortunately those two messages are offensive to so many.

Another thought on Israelites slaughtering the people of their promised land. The Lord told them they had to wait to slay them at one point because they hadn't "ripened in iniquity." I think it's dangerous to throw out all the parts we disagree with since it might be teaching us lessons on the ways of God and if we only look at it from man's perspective it looks repulsive, but if we try and gain the perspective of God then we could understand what is happening better. It is difficult though, since all the actions, as said in the discussion, could be distorted by man also and we could be reading false narratives.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

You can magically transform yourself back into Jon here, Dovh49. At the dropdown menu, select Name/Url. Put in your name, ignore the URL box, and you can be anyone you want.





LDS Anarchist said...

Rock, I thought you might have had flashbacks of Derek with my presence here! Lol.

Honestly, I don't see why everyone thinks what I wrote is so bad. I didn't call anyone a name, at all. I honestly stated that I think that certain people didn't know what the hell they were talking about. Is that abrasive to say? Is that a put down? I don't see that as a put down. I see that the same as saying that I think they are wrong, ignorant, misinformed, etc. in what they are saying. Is saying that someone is wrong, wrong? Is it a put down? What if they really are wrong/lacking understanding? In other words, what if calling them wrong is the truth? Is it sinful to speak the truth? Did Jesus ever say someone else was wrong? The Savior taught, "And whoever shall speak contemptuously and insultingly to his brother, shall be in danger of the council, and whoever shall say, "You fool," shall be in danger of hell fire." Did I call anyone a fool? A moron, an idiot, stupid? Did I speak contemptuously or insultingly to anyone? Is calling what I see a philosophy of men contempt or an insult? People might get offended by it, yes, but it's not an insult. It is a mere observation. I don't see these things as violating the Savior's commandments. People might want others to never say someone else is wrong, never label a false doctrine as false, never use the word "hell" in a sentence, etc., but I don't see these as being morally wrong.

So, be my guest and comb through my comments above and see if there is anything, at all, that fits the description of contempt or insult. Did I write authoritatively? Yes. But I didn't assume to be the authority here. I held up the scriptures as the authority. Did I back up what I said with just my thoughts? No. I backed them up, as best I could, with the scriptures, to show my reasoning.

[To be continued...]

LDS Anarchist said...

[Continued from above]

Now, my reasoning may be crap, but I haven't seen anyone yet reason against it, save to say that I'm reasoning in an abrasive way and that I shouldn't be using the scriptures, 'cause that is proof-texting and legalism. Also, I've been called names: arrogant, abrasive, incredibly pompous, a frenzied mind, and on and on. Go ahead, look over the comments again and see who has been dishing out the contempt and insults, Rock.

So, when you go over and read all my comments, if you do so, notice that the only reason why I even got into this discussion was because the author of the OP said that captain Moroni committed an "abomination" and "a greater evil" in ordering the execution of the king-men traitors than the king-men in their actions, who he called "conscientious objectors." This was a LIE. Also, his brother (I'm assuming) claimed that Moroni's revelation and letter was full of false assumptions. This was also a LIE. So, what I saw were two LDS men, giving opinions which destroyed faith in the word of God, because their opinions were lies.

Now, normally I'm content to let everyone believe what they want, I don't care if they believe lies or not, but I also saw that they arrived at these false conclusions (lies) because of this philosophy of men that they were using through which to view the scriptures.

For whatever reason, I was struck with the urge to dismantle these lies. When you read over what I wrote, consider whether what I wrote engenders faith in the word of God and in Christ, or destroys it. Also, consider what the opinions that I wrote against, whether those opinions engender faith in the word of God or destroy it. Finally, compare my words to Derek's words. Was I insulting and contempuous? Was Derek insulting and contemptuous? Are you sure my words are a parallel to Derek's words? Look them over again.

LDS Anarchist said...

"I am, however, better persuaded by the arguments set forth by Ron and Josh, that the narrative as a whole, and the actual words of Christ, are far more binding than the actions of His prophets, regardless of how obedient they may have been to the Law."

Rock, all of the words of Christ have come to us through prophets and apostles. You cannot separate the words of Christ from the prophets and apostles, except in the instances of personal revelation, which come directly to us. The Book of Mormon is the word of God, not of man. It was written by men, but by the spirit of revelation and prophecy (the power of the Holy Ghost), so it is not a man-made thing.

It was written in a miraculous manner, it was brought forth in a miraculous manner (an angel), and it was translated in a miraculous manner. The Nephites who wrote it said that they know of no error in the record. They were much more familiar with Nephite society than we are. If they knew of no error, what makes you or me or any other Gentile more qualified to say there are errors in the book?

Again, all the words of Christ have come to us through prophets or apostles. If these men made mistakes, what makes you so sure that these words of Christ (that came through them) that you are comparing to the actions of the prophets, which the prophets wrote, are any more reliable? Must I continue in this logic? Can you not see how absurd this all is?

3 Nephi which contains the "words of Christ" was written by Mormon. Why do you trust what he wrote about those words and that visit more so than what he wrote about Moroni? Rock, you seem to be a reasonable man, and certainly far more educated that I am, so how is it that you cannot see the fallacy of this argument that the "words of Christ" written by a prophet is more trustworthy than the other stuff written by the same prophet? Am I in the twilight zone? Can you not see that Ron and Josh's views are completely devoid of even a shred of logic?

Since I have mentioned those two again, I guess I'll bring up yet another thing one of them wrote that is not consistent with the gospel.

[To be continued, yet again...]

LDS Anarchist said...

"It is folly in my view to form conclusions based on the world of Captain Moroni instead of in light of the larger narrative and subsequent Acts"

See, it's stuff like the above quote that is just so blatanly false and deceptive, and that would lead people along the wrong path should they follow such nonsense, that causes me to respond to posts like this.

At the last day, will Moroni be judged according to the laws of God that we have now, or according to the laws of God which he had then? All things in the gospel are based upon the conditions among men and will be judged by the laws THEY were given, not those that some other group was given.

The truth is you must form conclusions about Moroni based upon the world of Moroni, just as we must form conclusions about you based upon your own world, and so on and so forth. I cannot apply the ancient Nephite world to you and you can't apply your world to the ancient Nephites. It would be morally wrong to form conclusions on someone based on some law of God they were never given. Such an act would be unjust. God is not unjust and so forms His opinions based upon the truth that has been imparted to the person in question. That is how He operates. WE are to do the same. If we do not do the same, in what camp are we?

The above doctrine will lead people astray and into temporal and spiritual destruction. Do you think God is done revealing? If He brings forth the Nephite laws and tells us to live them, people who follow such nonsense will end up rejecting the new scriptural laws and condemn themselves to hell. We know at some point the Gentiles will reject the fullness of the gospel. Can you guess what the trigger will be?

The principle to take away from the Book of Mormon is if you keep God's commandments (no matter what those commandments are) you will prosper in the land, and if you reject those commandments, you will be cut off from the Lord. To draw a line and say, "Only pacifist commandments will I obey. Anything else that appears to be Old Testament stuff I won't do," you set yourself up to reject and fight against the word of the Lord, for the Nephite laws WILL come back, as well as other scriptures, and we will be expected to obey them, for only the law of Moses was fulfilled.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Well, Anarchist, I hope you understood that my comparison of you with Brother Derek was hyperbolic in the extreme. In a contest of who can be the most insufferably arrogant and unbearably smug, he would beat you every time. So that was a facetious comparison, and not meant to be taken at its face.

Still, the judgment that someone else is wrong while you are right seems to me a subjective call. Let's face it, scriptural interpretation is not always met with consensus, even among us children of light (and I mean that term a bit facetiously also).

In recent years, I have come to realize that not everything I once firmly "knew" to be true, may have actually happened as supposed. That's why I don't declare to "know" anything of a surety; I'm open to learn, and ready to hold fast that which is rings true for me, letting the rest go. I prefer now not to cling to any fixed beliefs, as doing so tends to make one reject knew truth that may contradict those fixed beliefs.

Perhaps rather than declare the other guy to be wrong and accuse him of lying, you might say something like "that's not the way I see it," and then lay out your argument as to why. Being abrasive and confrontational about it not only isn't likely to get your opponent to see your point of view, it also turns off the spectators. You end up turning people against your position, even if you happen to be right.

You may recall that after my arguing that rental trucks do not qualify as "commercial vehicles" in any instance, Derek showed me that in some states they do. Since those statutes had been passed in the years SINCE I had studied the law in the matter, I conceded he was right on that point. But he was such a giddy ass about it that no one cared that he won the point.

As to the prophets speaking the words of Christ (at least the ancient ones; modern LDS prophets have shown little provlivity), that becomes kind of sticky. Even when Mormon is quoting Jesus directly, we can only hope he got it exactly right, and that the translation into English was spot on.

Nevertheless, I assume that what we have as exact quotes from Jesus as being the MOST authoritative, although we can't even be sure what's what there; for instance it's thought by some scholars that the last stanzas of the Lord's prayer, were added by monks years later ("For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever, etc).

Anyway, even assuming the quoted words of Christ in the BofM are accurate, the words and decrees of the prophets have to take secondary status in importance, in my opinion, as they are not precise quotes, but decrees filtered by man.

And then the further down the line you go, the worse things get. Look at how mucked up our own government's interpretation of the Supreme Law has become and many of those corruptions have come from the high court, which we assume has a working grasp of the core document and history.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Anyway, at the risk of raising your ire over a topic that is clearly dear to you, I'm not sure the argument that has been debated here is of earth-shattering importance in the first place; certainly not worth all the "ink" that has been used up over it, and certainly not worth calling the other guys liars because they see things differently.

Contrary to what someone above inferred, this isn't a subject I'm worked up about or upset over. It seems an academic question at best.

think I've pretty well spelled out what my hot button issue is in several places on this blog. That is the dismissal by, or ignorance of, the majority of the Saints regarding God's "Rules of Engagement" against whoever we may deem to be our enemies, as He set forth in the Book of Mormon and D&C 98. This to me is THE key evidence of the rejection of His gospel as Jesus referred to in 3rd Nephi 16, and the primary reason the light is going out in the LDS Church.

That's what I get worked up about, not whether Captain Moroni was justified in executing the unrepentant Kingmen. For me, whether that act was something Jesus would have condoned or not is a matter of curiosity, not a deeply held conviction.

Personally, I hope to live to see the day when the modern globalist secret combinations who have been working feverishly to convert my republic into a dystopian police state are properly tried and finally executed. So I'm not opposed to justice meted out on those who have mercilessly promoted mass murder to advance their agenda of tyranny. Not by a long shot.

LDS Anarchist said...

Rock, I do not view Ron and Josh as liars. Let's be clear on that. I never called them that so please don't say that I did. I don't believe that they had any intent to deceive anyone, nevertheless, their ideas about Moroni ARE lies and WILL end up deceiving people that believe them. I hope you can see that distinction. Many of the things we actively believe are lies, even though we, ourselves may not be lying nor have any intent to deceive.

You may not see the Moroni points as much of a big deal, and perhaps they are not a big deal right now, but later on they will be a VERY big deal. If we get stuck on what Christ said when He was in Jerusalem and while visiting the Nephites in the records we have right now, and view everything He said through Lehi, Mosiah and other prophets as second rate or "lower laws," we set up ourselves to be deceived.

The prophecy is that the Gentiles will sin against the gospel AND also will reject the fulness of the gospel (see 3 Ne. 16:10.) The Gentiles currently have the gospel, but not the fulness. The fulness of the gospel are all the laws of Christ that He ever revealed (or will reveal) to any people from the time of Adam to the end of time, sans the law of Moses which was fulfilled (or embodied) by Christ.

The Book of Mormon prophets wrote what they were commanded to write, specifically, they were not to include even the hundredth part in their record. This means that everything (outside of the law of Moses) that was given to anyone, including the law of Lehi and the law of Mosiah, the laws given to Lost Tribes and the laws given to anyone else, must be restored and lived by His people, as part of the restoration of all things. This will include many uncomfortable things that pacifists will refuse to accept. If you narrow your window down to only the doctrine found in a few books of scripture, you are going to be among the Gentiles that reject the FULNESS of the gospel.

[To be continued...]

LDS Anarchist said...


So, these things ARE important (or, as you said, "earth-shattering"), because if Moroni's actions cannot not be properly understood and are rejected because of a standard of calling one set of God's laws the "law of Christ" and the other sets of revealed laws of God "lesser laws," the other, future stuff will surely be rejected, too. The rejection of the fulness IS a big deal. If we do not prepare ourselves to understand and accept the word that has already gone forth (the less than a hundredth part), the next stuff will surely damn us to hell.

(Now in case anyone wishes to counter and say, "Ah, but we already have the fulness!" I will ask some questions. Has the restoration of all things occurred? Have all things been restored? Have the brass plates been revealed? Have the "greater things" been revealed? Are not all these things part of the gospel of Christ? If they are part of the gospel of Christ and we do not have them, can it really be said that we have the fulness of teh gospel? No, it cannot. We have a gospel that has been given to us, but it is not the fulness. That will come later, which almost all of us will end up rejecting.)

LDS Anarchist said...

Anyway, Rock, as this is "an academic question at best" to you, and as Ron and Josh have stopped commenting, and as no one will take up a contrarian view and address what I wrote point by point, I will stop expounding on this topic. Besides, I know you probably would like to keep attention firmly fixed to the OP and not diverted to other areas.

I don't believe that I turned off any spectators by what I wrote. One in particular wrote, "Well this has been fun to read." Another wrote, "It would be interesting to hear the contrarian view discussing each point you made." (Which contrarian view never came.)

I also don't believe that I ended "up turning people against [my] position." I think those who were against my position were against it from the start, and would have remained against it regardless as to how I couched the words. And those who were undecided one way or another got some food for thought.

I know that you didn't like the confrontational approach I took, but sometimes confrontation is the best medicine. If you look at this post and my comments, I got to put up a lengthy exposition, and it sits there alone without anybody shooting it down. For as long as you have this blog, that information will sit there, a one-sided argument, because the other side chose not to attempt a refutation.

And I got to introduce a couple of new concepts that no one had thought of before now. All in all, I call it a successful debate. (I don't care who wins a debate, I only care if something new was learned.) So I ruffled the feathers of Ron, Josh, Tom, and Anonymous (and perhaps yourself.) Big deal. Their feathers were already ruffled, even before I started writing. Let me ask you, would you have rathered that I had shut up and not put that stuff up or are you glad it's here, even in the "abrasive" form it's in? Come on, be honest, were you or were you not presented with some concepts that you had never before considered?

Now, if you can honestly answer that you would rather it not be here, that you would rather have never have read it, than by all means, I will personally request that you delete all my comments on this thread and I'll just present these and other concepts on my own blog where people are expected to get offended by what I write. Lol.

LDS Anarchist said...

dovh49, consider these definitions:

oblige, v. t. 1. To constrain by physical, moral, or legal force; to put under obligation to do or forbear something. 2. a To pledge as security; to pawn or mortage. Obs. b To bind as subject to a penalty, as by a bond. Obs.

obligation, n. 1. The act of obligating, or binding, one's self to a course of action. Now Rare. 2. Law. A bond with a condition annexed, and a penalty for nonfulfillment. In a larger sense, it is a formal and binding agreement or acknowledgment of a liability to pay a certain sum or do a certain thing. 3. That which a person is bound to do or forbear; any duty imposed by law, promise, or contract, by the relations of society, or by courtesy, kindness, etc. 4. The agreement, promise, contract, oath, or the like by which one is obligated or bound. 5. That which obligates or constrains; the binding power of a promise, contract, oath, or vow, or of law; that which constitutes legal or moral duty; as, the obligations of conscience, of affection, or of ideals. 6. State of being indebted for an act of favor or kindness; also, the act itself; as, to place others under obligations; his aid was a great obligation.

Now, with those definitions in mind, read this scripture:

"Now it came to pass that in the first year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi, from this time forward, king Mosiah having gone the way of all the earth, having warred a good warfare, walking uprightly before God, leaving none to reign in his stead; nevertheless he had established laws, and they were ACKNOWLEDGED by the people; therefore they were OBLIGED to abide by the laws which he had made." (Alma 1:1)

Is it not evident that the Nephites entered into covenants to abide by the law and agreed to the penalty affixed for breaking the law? In particular, notice this definition of oblige: "To bind as subject to a PENALTY, as by a BOND." And notice this definition of obligation: "A BOND with a condition annexed, and a PENALTY for nonfulfillment. In a larger sense, it is a formal and binding AGREEMENT or ACKNOWLEDGMENT of a liability to pay a certain sum or do a certain thing."

Now notice this scripture:

"And it came to pass that this matter of their contention was settled by the voice of the people. And it came to pass that the voice of the people came in favor of the freemen, and Pahoran retained the judgment-seat, which caused much rejoicing among the brethren of Pahoran and also many of the people of liberty, who also put the king-men to silence, that they durst not oppose but were OBLIGED to maintain the cause of freedom." (Alma 51:7)

A society based upon such agreements with conditions and penalties affixed would be justified in meting out the penalties affixed, would it not?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

"I know that you didn't like the confrontational approach I took..."

No, I really don't mind how anyone else presents his arguments, I gave you an example of a more diplomatic way of presenting your ideas because I think you asked me how I thought you should have done it differently (probably asked rhetorically, now that I ponder it). But I don't mind a verbal scrap, if that's the style you prefer. I just don't find it effective for me.

But to each his own, so if you want to be in everyone's face, Anarchist, have at it. I just don't feel it's an effective approach, is all.

The obvious downside of it is that the rest of us remain deprived of that point-by-point refutation you yourself seek because the two guys most qualified to present it threw up their hands in frustration; not because they agreed with your position, but because in their view the discussion did not appear to be going anywhere due to the "Your're wrong, I'm right" attitude typified by your responses.

I do appreciate your viewpoint and consider your words food for thought. But I feel the same toward Ron and Josh's viewpoints (as well as the others who have jumped in here) and agree that having all these words posted here and hanging in the air for eternity (let's hope!) will be for the mutual benefit and edification of us all.

Anonymous said...

Well I think Tom got his wish -- "The only problem with your celebrity status - that I'm seeing - is that the discussion following the post isn't as insightful as it once was."


Jon said...

Interesting stuff LDSA, thanks for sharing it.

I think this has been an interesting discussion, much better than the ones we get over at Wheat & Tares. There's one king-men over there that really kills the discussion because of he is so obstinate - also, some of the posters, instead of arguing ones points will just call what you write "silly, stupid, ridiculous, etc." makes it difficult to have real discussion when only name calling is used to counter arguments "because they're too stupid to actually counter". It is nice to read a true discussion with less fighting and confrontation. So, even though everyone agrees more over here I think the discussion is still more productive.

Ron Madson said...

Rock, LDS Anarchist, Justin, et. al.

(this will be two parts)

I would like to circle back to my OP which Rock was generous in allowing to be posted with Pure Mormonism. I concluded the OP with a request that we (as the Mormon faith community) no longer remain silent as to protesting what many of us consider an immoral/unjust invasion of two nations. Also, by way of information I am working on preparing a Petition to sign which will essentially be "I am a Mormon, and I renounce these two wars" as being inconsistent with our gospel/our sacred scriptures (DC 98) etc. I haven't figured out a title yet--any suggestions?

Once I prepare a rough draft I would like to circulate it among those like-minded Mormons for editing/suggestions, etc. and then let the signing (with comments would be nice if short) begin. Any suggestions? And LDS Anarchist since you agreed at least with the OP would you be one of the first to sign it?

LDS Anarchist,
I am not in the least offended. And I am relieved that you do not consider me a "liar" but just deceived--especially in light of how even lying could get the death penalty under the "law" of Moses and recognizing that there are still those who believe such laws will, of necessity, need to be restored and lived, and those that feel it their duty to enforce the same. I have learned from your posts. The truth of Shakespeare's words are made manifest by contraries--"the quality of justice is strained." It is hard work to live by the law and having to sacrifice others, but the yoke of Christ, as more fully articulated by Paul, is light and does not even require counting one, two, three offenses-- so now I am "justified" in requiring my pound of flesh.

Rather then a proof texting battle of isolated scriptures about the law being dead in Christ and what to "fulfill" means, I am inviting you in the words of Jesus "go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice" (Matthew 9:13).

Ron Madson said...


I would like to invite you to listen, read, consider the following:

1. First, you mentioned that you would like to listen to Josh M's lecture at CLaremont. I am linking it here:

btw, Josh M. is my son and not brother

2. I would recommend reading, if you have not, Leo Tolstoy's "The Peaceable Kingdom" for his take on the gospel and violence. As an anarchist I am sure you would appreciate his insights.

3. strongly recommend reading Rene Girard's works: "Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World" and "I see Satan Fall like Lightning". Like yourself we have spent considerable time in our scriptures and outside reading, at least for me, allowed me to return to the text with a new perspective.

4. Read Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice which I allude to above. I think Shakespeare is a prophet of the human experience.

Finally, here is what I have learned. Rock is correct--how we present something, if we seek to persuade, is important. The next chance I have to comment on Captain Moroni, I do not think it is persuasive for those that adore him for me to use such words as 'abomination" . I think I should have said that, in my humble opinion, Captain Moroni, as did the Nephites in general, suffered perhaps from a lack of imagination. In the words of one of my all time great authors, Wendell Berry, "violence/war is a result of a failure of imagination." Those trapped in cycles of justice/retribution, violence suffer from an incredible lack of imagination. They believe it is either A or B--kill or be killed. Whereas, a pacifist (and there are dozens of variant forms of pacifism) is, of necessity creative. For example, someone truly born again in Christ might do something as outrageous as going to the Lamanites and become their servants. Defeating their enemies by descending below their enemies rather then confronting them with the iron fist of justice.

anyway, we do not see eye to eye for the time being on certain points, but as Rock indicated the issue of how to interpret Captain Moroni's act of executing dissenters is not, in my opinion also, a huge issue in relation to our current wars endorsed by our faith community. And from what I read we agree that we should dissent as to these current wars. So will you sign a Petition denouncing those wars?

And then if there ever comes a time that all the laws of Moses are restored (thought the Handbook of Instructions would be huge) then we will take up the sword, I mean pen, and contend over whether we should execute those in our church that do not keep the law.

Courtney said...

I'm sorry I don't have time to read all the comments before I leave one, but I really need to leave for class. I like to be a better contributor to the conversation than this but it's all I have for now:

As an Oklahoman, the main thing that came to mind was something that was painted on the wall in April 1995 by one of the search and rescue teams at the rubble of the Murrah Federal Building:
"We search for the truth,
We seek justice.
The Courts require it.
The victims cry for it,
and GOD demands it!!"

I have to wonder what kind of justice will await the leaders who have remained silent and/or impartial in reaction to acts of pure evil.

But I digress. I especially liked the statement "we are witnessing to an audience beyond the veil." I think that if more LDS folks were conscious of that belief they'd be more apt to stick to their guns (so to speak), even if it flew in the face of their leaders. I'll be honest, I don't count myself a member anymore, but even I was filled with complete shame when I saw how the church failed to support Hubener's courage during the Holocaust. Even more, I had never contemplated the church's lack of action as MILLIONS of God's children were tortured and murdered in cold blood. Surely that would have been worth a little stress to the PR department to stand and say "NO." But that Nazis were serving as church leaders in Germany was an utter revelation to me. I don't know how I've made it my entire life without contemplating it.

Anyway, this was an excellent piece and I hope its message begins to resonate with a church that (I believe) has lost sight of what's really important. "The victims cry for it and God demands it."

LDS Anarchist said...


Why don't you first write the petition and show it to me and then I'll consider signing it. Also, to whom are you petitioning? The federal government? The U.N.? The church? And what exactly are you asking and expecting to accomplish with it?

Now, Ron, you wrote just now: "For example, someone truly born again in Christ might do something as outrageous as going to the Lamanites and become their servants. Defeating their enemies by descending below their enemies rather then confronting them with the iron fist of justice."

I'll quote this again, this time using all caps in case you still miss it:

"We would not shed the blood of our brethren if they would not rise up in rebellion and take the sword against us. WE WOULD SUBJECT OURSELVES TO THE YOKE OF BONDAGE IF IT WERE REQUISITE WITH THE JUSTICE OF GOD, or if he should command us so to do. But behold he doth not command us that we shall subject ourselves to our enemies, but that we should put our trust in him, and he will deliver us." (Alma 61:11-13)

In other words, the righteous Nephites WERE pacifists. That's what you don't seem to get. But they were under covenant to defend themselves even unto bloodshed. That is what God commanded them. Ron, if God put you under covenant to defend your country even unto bloodshed and you were faced with having to do it, what kind of "creative options" would you have? How could you submit yourself to bondage without breaking the commandment of God? Or would you merely break the covenant of God and claim that it really wasn't a covenant of God after all? Is that being creative? What is your solution?

{To be continued...]

LDS Anarchist said...

[Continued from above]

I'll will try to listen to Josh' presentation and give my thoughts here about it, if anyone is interested in knowing them. I'm on a dial-up, so I don't know if I'll be able to listen to it, though, but I'll try.

You also wrote, "if there ever comes a time that all the laws of Moses are restored...then we will take up the sword". Well, although it is true that the law of Moses will be restored, you still seem to have missed my point. The law of Moses has been fulfilled. If we get the whole enchilada, we won't be required to live it. But OTHER laws of God, given to other people, need to be restored to us, that all things, or all scriptures, are gathered in one, both things on earth and things in heaven, to be lived by the saints. There is not just the law of Moses over here and the law of Christ over there. The Gentile church, for example, was given a Nephite law that was not a part of the law of Moses, which you like quoting in the OP, all the while not recognizing that this was a non-law of Moses law given prior to Christ that we now must live. In other words, the very OP is based upon a false understanding, but still gets it right. Do I need to explain myself and expound on this, or are we understanding one another?

Jon, I don't go to Wheat & Tares much anymore. I stay out of politics and W&T seems awfully political of late.

LDS Anarchist said...

Here, I'll make it easy for you.

D&C 98:21-22 says: "Verily I say unto you, that I, the Lord, will chasten them and will do WHATSOEVER [this is the law of expediency] I list, if they do not repent and observe all things WHATSOEVER [expediency] I have said unto them. And again I say unto you, if ye observe to do WHATSOEVER [expediency] I command you, I, the Lord, will turn away all wrath and indignation from you, and the gaetes of hell shall not prevail against you."

So then in D&C 98:23-32 the Lord reveals a law He gave to Nephi. This was not part of the law of Moses, so it didn't get fulfilled like the law of Moses did. To whom was it given? To Nephi. Therfore, this is is a Nephite law he is revealing, a non-law of Moses Nephite law given PRIOR to Christ, that now we must live.

Then, in D&C 98:33-48 the Lord gives the battle law for justification that was given to the Nephites, which was not part of the law of Moses (it didn't get fulfilled), yet was given before Christ came, and which we Gentiles are now required to live.

Now, are these laws that are recorded in D&C 98 part of the so-called "higher laws" of Christ? If you say they are part of the "higher law" of Christ, do they not conflict with your Lamanite scenarios? Also, how are you arriving at the conclusion that these laws are "higher" and other Nephite laws are "lower?" Or, perhaps you will say that they are part of the law of Moses? Where do they fit and why must we live these ancient Nephite laws today? What do you say, Ron, Josh, Rock or anyone else who wishes to respond? Anyone care to respond?

LDS Anarchist said...

And while we are at it, any of you care to comment on your opinions about Moroni's epistle to Pahoran in light of what I wrote? Here is what you guys wrote and notice how each of you mistakenly applied the letter to only Pahoran and completely missed the point of the letter as being directed to the others who governed and managed the war:

"Remember Captain Moroni is not a prophet, receives no revelation, and the one time he claims to receive any such he is absolutely wrong (see letters to Pahoran where he claims revelation but is shown to be wrong)" J Madson

"Yes I am referring to Moroni claiming that the Lord told him certain things about Pahoran (and yes people will disagree as to whether it is a false revelation, poor interpretation on Moroni’s part, or find another way to make it work)." J Madson

"Or did the Holy Spirit tell Captain Moroni he was justified? I only recall his telling us he was angry a couple of times--once when he made false assumptions as to Pahoran." Ron Madson

"Also, Moroni admitted that he didn't know the 'cause' of Pahoran's 'neglect', (Alma 60:6) he just let him know with much indignation, what the consequences would be if he had neglected them on purpose.

"They didn't have a quick mail system back then & they were in desperate circumstances, so he had to explain his anger & intent if in fact Pahoran had neglected them on purpose." Anonymous

Now compare that to what I wrote above about Pahoran.

I mention this because this is the same problem I'm seeing and listening to now (in Josh's presentation.) You miss a vital bit of information and go off on strange paths, unable to make any sense of things. I bring it to your attention and what do I hear? Silence. No one wants to talk about Moroni's epistle. Are you guys willing to learn new things? What do you say? Do you still stand by your quoted words above after I expounded the epistle to you? Or will you still remain in your strange path? This isn't an I'm right and you're wrong thing, this is a test to see if you guys are truly open-minded. I've shown where you are in error. If you show me where I am in error, I change ON THE SPOT. I've never been accused of being closed-minded and fixed. If anything, my accusers say I am too open-mineded, and that I learn too many new things too rapidly. What about you? Will you correct yourselves or remain in your opinions?

I ask because if you cannot see where you are in error in the Pahoran affair, after I have shown it to you, then I'm not going to waste words talking about Josh's presentation.

Jeremiah Stoddard said...


If you're still reading this thread, where can I find Tolstoy's "The Peaceable Kingdom" which you mentioned? Tolstoy's "The Kingdom of God is Within You" was my introduction to Christian pacifism, which I stumbled on at a time when I had become very disturbed by noticing that the Sermon on the Mount contradicting many of the views I had held deeply since my youth and which had been reinforced by other members of the Church. Shortly thereafter I read "My Religion - What I Believe" and "A Confession." All three of those works by Tolstoy have profoundly influenced how I think, so I'd be interested in reading yet another if you haven't mistaken the author -- and even if you have, I'm interested in reading whatever I can on Christian ethics...

Ron Madson said...

You are correct, I meant "The Kingdom of God is Within You" by Tolstoy. THe "Peaceable Kingdom" are essays about Tolstoy. I noticed that you put up what I consider a well reasoned, thoughtful post regarding Tolstoy on your web site. I agree that Tolstoy articulates a higher law that the churches do not abide. Again, I see the church as a necessary means to an end to prepare kingdom like people. Out of the churches come those that chose to move beyond the law/justification to a higher law. Well said. Here is your link commenting on Tolstoy:
As to Christian ethics I enjoy Yoder, Hauerwas (sp?) and NT Wright.

Ron Madson said...

Doctrine Covenants Section 98….for those still following:

In two or three parts/comments—I am sorry this is so long so you are invited to read it all or just skim:

LDS Anarchist has cited Section 98. Without trying to reframe his words, I will simply address verses 23 through 32 which he asserts is the law given to Nephi, and point out where I believe the text explicitly provides for "justification" with the invitation to choose to live a higher law—“righteousness”:

Verse 24 consists of one retaliating against an attack and if one does then one is the equivalent of those that were the aggressors and one is left on their own and “it (what happened to you) is meted out as just measure.” I call this a telestial law.

Now verses 25 through 27 outline attacks number two and three upon us (note: this refers to “attacks” and not threats or one is simply not following a UN mandate and/or choosing to swear an oath, or fly the American flag or even a Title of Liberty, etc.). So in response we are invited to bear it patiently with blessings in doing so. Then if we have the faith to bear it patiently, we are then to bring these testimonies before the Lord. It does not say we are to attack and seek vengeance now. So we turn it over to the Lord. For simplicity sake I will now simply insert verses 28 through 32 and then briefly comment.

“28 And now, verily I say unto you, if that enemy shall escape my vengeance, that he be not brought into judgment before me, then ye shall see to it that ye warn him in my name, that he come no more upon you, neither upon your family, even your children’s children unto the third and fourth generation.

29 And then, if he shall come upon you or your children, or your children’s children unto the third and fourth generation, I have delivered thine enemy into thine hands;

30 And then if thou wilt spare him, thou shalt be rewarded for thy righteousness; and also thy children and thy children’s children unto the third and fourth generation.

31 Nevertheless, thine enemy is in thine hands; and if thou rewardest him according to his works thou art justified; if he has sought thy life, and thy life is endangered by him, thine enemy is in thine hands and thou art justified.

32 Behold, this is the law I gave unto my servant Nephi, and thy fathers, Joseph, and Jacob, and Isaac, and Abraham, and all mine ancient prophets and apostles.”

commentary on the above in the next comment:

Ron Madson said...

(Continued from above)

So this is how I read the above verses-- which I find fairly plain. If after being attacked three times, and the Lord Himself has not fought our battles (think Isaiah telling Hezekiah to let the Lord fight one’s battles and not rely on arm of flesh) then we are to simply WARN our enemy to no longer come upon us. THEN, if the enemy ignores that warning THEN the Lord says He will deliver our enemy into our hands. We have power and control over them. But now, pay close attention to verse 30 that now tells us IF “thou wilt spare one’s enemies who are now under your control then what happens? Generational peace breaks out! Congratulations you have passed the highest test and you have the Zion of 4 Nephi. You have the peace King Ashoka obtained. You have lived a Celestial law. It was your choice and you passed.

But then the Lord in verse 31 (in case you have not chosen to spare those who have been delivered up to you) says you are “justified’ in delivering up justice to your enemy. I suppose you can line them up, shoot them or whatever. Make them fly your flag. Make them pledge allegiance--like the Japanese did to their prisoners during WWII. This is justice. You have fulfilled the LAW.

Then verse 32 which LDS Anarchist refers to says, “behold this is the law” given to Abraham, Nephi, etc. which antecedent is verses 24 through 31.

So, I submit there are choices and levels of choices. Now at risk of having a reactionary diatribe from a skimmer, go back to Alma 51 and answer the following questions:

1. When did the King Men actually attack Moroni and his army one, two, three times, BEFORE Captain Moroni came upon them with the sword in Alma 51? Or did he simply see them as a potential future threat and needed to engage in a pre-emptive strike? Then if you can identify those attacks and show that it was not Captain Moroni that initiated the attacks without first following verses 24-32, THEN

2. When Captain Moroni has these King Men prisoners delivered (actually some had been in prison for some time—see Alma 51) into his hands did he CHOOSE to follow verse 30 and exercise mercy by sparing them and thus show “righteousness” and not simply “justice” when he executed those King Men in his custody that were placed in prison?

If not, then assuming Captain Moroni had been attacked by the King Man three times and he raised the warning then he was “justified” but did he obtain as set forth in verse 31 “righteousness”?

BTW, the Anti Nephi Lehites only submitted to one attack and the miracle occurred. Arguably this law set forth in Section 98 is such that it is essentially a pacifist law (I know there are those that squeal in pain when they hear that word, but “pacifist” is from Latin “pacis” which means “peace” which the Lord endorses when he says “Blessed the Peacemakers (pacifist) for they shall be called the children of God.” They are not of this world anymore then Jesus was of this world or the Christians who heard him for 200 years.

So if LDS Anarchist is correct and this is the Nephite law (98: 22-33) then one could argue that Captain Moroni was not attacked even once by the King Men let alone three times before warning them, and then even if we make up the three attacks and warning, then he was "justified" but did not choose mercy for them as invited in Verse 30 but choose justice and thus did not obtain "righteousness."

No, I do not use Captain Moroni as my action hero that I must emulate. That the Nephites did build their cairns over such mortal icons trapped them in a national narrative that lead them inexorably to destruction. They picked a mortal icon to emulate. The question is whether we will continue to do so and not be more wise?

Toni said...

But the kingmen took control of Zarahemla, killing people, making a pact with the Lamanite king even if they didn't attack Moroni personally. Of course, when they were battling it out later, it may be a different story. Any kingmen already in prison didn't do this, but who knows what they were able to incite from the prison.

The kingmen were guilty of treason.

(ya gotta enable third party cookies to comment here, or is that just my browser?)

Anonymous said...

I think the larger point is regardless soy what anyone did or didn't do, you have a choice being these two:

30 And then if thou wilt spare him, thou shalt be rewarded for thy righteousness; and also thy children and thy children’s children unto the third and fourth generation.

31 Nevertheless, thine enemy is in thine hands; and if thou rewardest him according to his works thou art justified; if he has sought thy life, and thy life is endangered by him, thine enemy is in thine hands and thou art justified.

So at the end of the day which choice is better?

Ron Madson said...


Start with Alma 51. The King Men (albeit dissenters) had not used violence. At this point their crime was "they refused to take arms" against the invading Lamanites. Captain Moroni received a "martial law" edict (suspending all laws) that said that the King Men dissenters must defend their country by "taking up arms" or be put to death. Captain Moroni "marched" against the King Men (became the aggressor) and the King Men when they raised their weapons to defend themselves they were cut down and those remaining were imprisoned without trial and others were "compelled" (forced) to take up arms. This act of aggression (suspending the law and using force) I submit created a blowback that we see later.
Now, the story of the King Men picks up in chapter Alma 61 and 62. The King Men we learn in verse 4 of Alma 61 used "great flattery" and "led away the hearts of many people" and in so doing have persuaded the people to not support the war effort (anti-war activists for sure). They in turn drive out Pahoran (not kill) from Zarahemla and the Free men and take control of Zarahemla. They have a correspondence with the Lamanites and in this case committing treason.
So we have established that they had engaged in at least one attack so that under verse 24 of Section 98 they are living a telestial law because now they are doing to their people what was done to them in Alma 51. But then they confederate with the Lamanites. Treason, yes, but I get the desperation given their situation. The text does not say again that they are "killing people" just driving them out. Killing is what Captain Moroni did to them first in attacking them in Chapter 51. I suppose that attack and the imprisoning them without trial caused many to defect to the Kingmen and the Kingmen were now mimicking the Freeman in their own martial law (see Girard to learn of mimetic rivalry and how both sides end up in each conflict pretty much doing the same to each other). So now rather then raise the banner of peace and seek diplomatic resolution or turn it over to the Lord, Captain Moroni does what he does best---attack and seek justice. Is he just in doing so? I believe so in an OT sense, but not according to Section 98 btw if we are going to conflate that law with Nephite law. So then Captain Moroni wins and has them under his control and he does what? He executes prisoners who will not take up arms and fight with him---rather then spare them (see DC 98: 30) and allow them to exercise their conscience--NO matter how wrong they might be.
In the end the King Men and Captain Moroni pretty much seem the same to me personally. They are engaged in a mimetic rivalry that always ends the same---both sides exacting revenge on the other, both feeling justified and as Mormon said "the wicked killing the wicked" in the end.

Jesus comes later to try to give them a higher law to put and end to the lesser law that Captain Moroni seems to be employing which does not rise to the level of Nephite law if we are going to say it is the same as DC 98: 22-33.

Ron Madson said...


Bingo! All the lesser choices in the end perpetuate more violence. Someone has to choose to live a higher law to end the madness

Anonymous said...


The thing you are skipping over is that those who choose to allow people to continue to do evil, usually don't survive it. For most people who are use life threatening violence are 'past feeling' & won't soften even in the face of one's passiveness or even love.

The miracle you talked about, with the Anti-Lehi-Nephi's, (ALN) when some of their attackers softened & repented, was not a sufficient miracle to save them. For probably 'none' of the ALN's would have survived if they hadn't been protected by those who 'wouldn't just bow to evil.

But the ALN's didn't seem keep their firm stand for long anyway, for they didn't seem to have a problem with allowing others to defend them for them, which is like the same thing as doing it yourself.

And maybe they allowed such protection because they realized that their families would all be destroyed next, after them of they didn't.

Now it may not be a sin to allow yourself to perish, but it is a sin to allow your family & others to perish if you could have stopped it.

As I said, if a man wants to lay down his life & not fight, that is one thing, but God's 1st & foremost commandment to men is to love their wife & children & that means, above all else, in God's eyes, 'protecting them'.

Above all, love means protecting. That's how love & righteousness is proven, by Christ, by God, by leaders, or by a man. God & Christ protected us eternally, even if agency doesn't allow them to totally protect us from evil in this life physically. But men do have the agency & obligation by God to protect their family & others from all evil & harm.

And if the men & leaders refuse to protect their families or others, from all forms of evil, they don't get rewarded nor go to heaven for it, but just the opposite.

Ron Madson said...

I recognize your point and concede that one should defend themselves, their family, children, tribe. That is just, honorable and the I believe, for example, that Section 98 never says one cannot defend oneself from a direct, immediate attack. It addresses retributive violence, imo.

However, there is great little book called "What would you do If"? By John Paul Yoder written I believe in 1968 during the height of the Viet Nam war. It is a quick read and shows numerous examples of how people under direct assault were able through creative pacifism diffuse the violence entirely thus protecting "women and children" in ways they would not have been had they retaliated or even sought self defense. It is a brilliant little book .

So, in my opinion, I, lacking the faith, would probably always defend against immediate aggression and I believe would be justified. However, there was an entire faith community under constant assault/violence by those that sought to destroy them in the flesh for the first two hundred years after Christ and all that did was grow their numbers exponentially and the Lord did sanctify their offering.

Ron Madson said...

It is historically undeniable that the Christians that knew Jesus firsthand, heard his sermons, witnessed his example were all pacifists, and that left such a mark it continued for two hundred years.
And ironically, it was their pacifism that saved them in the end. I believe that if they had taken up the sword and engage in even violent self-defense they would have been crushed literally and their message lost in the dust bin of history. They thrived spiritually and left a permanent mark that spread christianity through the world by their example which included complete pacifism.

Anonymous said...

I agree that often pacifism & loving our enemies can soften their hearts & would be the best 1st choice to see if it would work.

I actually have a very firm testimony on what you are talking about also, but there does come a time when 'loving an enemy' means to not let them get away with continued evil, if they refuse to repent.

MarkinPNW said...

To me there is an essential line between self-defense and defense of your family, your freedom, and perhaps your tribe or country, which according to Alma 43:46-47 and Alma 48: 13-15, 24 is a commandment of God, and taking revenge or making a pre-emptive strike or invasion, which according the prophet Gidgiddoni in 3 Nephi 3 and the prophet Mormon in Mormon 4 is expressly forbidden, and continues to be forbidden no matter how many offenses your enemy commits, unless you can meet the requirements of D&C 98, which includes taking it before the Lord and getting his consent through revelation before taking any action of punishment or revenge. If he is a criminal psychopath (modern word for "past feeling" - amazing that ancient prophets and their translator Joseph Smith could describe a "modern" psychological phenomenon so well), then either in strict self-defense, or after meeting all requirements of D&C 98 including consent from the Lord through revelation, it may be necessary to destroy him. The terrible history of the Nephites was, of course, that when they rejected the requirement of strict self-defense and went on the offensive, they became "past feeling" (Moroni 9:20), or in modern terms criminal psychopaths themselves, fit only for the Lord to allow them to be destroyed by their enemies.

Hardly said...

In Grant Hardy’s recent book on understanding the Book of Mormon, Hardy goes to great length to discuss each of the narrators of that Book. Principally related to this discussion, Mormon becomes a fascinating case study. I’ve pulled a Mormon and given just bits and pieces (pages are missing because I copied it from my Kindle, so you’ll have to dig the exact pages out yourself)… but what precedes this discussion in the actual book is quite beneficial to the story as a whole.

In a section on analyzing significant phrases
in said book, Hardy notes:

…it is important to keep the conventions of the text in mind. For instance, at Alma 48:11-18, Mormon interrupts his narrative to insert a highly unusual, resounding endorsement of Captain Moroni’s spiritual stature. It is a good thing he does so, because otherwise readers might get the wrong idea from the narratives that follow. Moroni is stubborn and hot-tempered, he is never depicted as praying for assistance or relying solely upon God, and – justified though it may be – he ends up with a lot of blood on his hands. Mormon’s comment helps us read Moroni’s story in a particular way, and it is remarkable what lengths he goes to in order to ensure that. The culmination of Mormon’s praise is the assertion, “Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had …” (Alma 48:17). This is as strong a statement as Mormon can possibly make; the only other instances of “verily, verily I say unto you” in the Book of Mormon are spoken by the resurrected Christ himself.”

And, elsewhere, this:

In the 17 years in which we follow the career of [Captain] Moroni closely, we only observe him praying once (Alma 46:16), citing scriptures twice (Alma 46:24-26, 60:23-24), and claiming one revelation (Alma 60:33), which turns out to be mistaken…

Hardly said...

The trouble starts, apparently, as a schism within the church, which becomes a political movement to restore the monarchy. Captain Moroni “angry with Amalickiah” raises a militia of believers – evidently quite separate from the army under his command – that he rallies around the “Title of Liberty,” a banner of his own devising. He and his followers pursue the fleeing Amalickiah and summarily execute those who refuse to join with them (…though Mormon hastens to assure us that these killings were not extralegal). Amalickiah escapes to the Lamanites and, while he is stirring up trouble there, Moroni makes extensive military preparations for the invasion he knows is coming.
At this point, Mormon fudges things a bit, telling us that “Moroni planted the standard of liberty among the Nephites … and thus they did maintain peace in the land until nearly the end of the 19th year of the reign of the judges” (Alma 46:36-37). This sounds like a considerable achievement unless readers are keeping track of the chronology themselves, in which case they realize that we are already well into year nineteen, so this peace lasts only a matter of months. But even more surprisingly, Mormon inserts a paean to Moroni that is unlike anything else in the Book of Mormon (see Alma 48:11-13, 17-18).

Hardly2 said...

Again, this is remarkable. Not only does Mormon employ language elsewhere reserved for deity (“verily, verily I say unto you”), but the rarity of these sorts of direct comparisons makes one sit up and take notice. Nevertheless, a little reflection may suggest that Moroni is not, in the end, very much like Ammon or the sons of Mosiah, who were missionaries rather than warriors, renounced power, humbled themselves, suffered willingly, and reached out to the Lamanites. Moroni brings a very different temperament and set of skills to the challenges of his own day and circumstances. If they are all “men of God,” it must be because God has rather eclectic tastes; he seems to honor very different types of people.
Over the next 14 chapters we see Moroni at war – defending, maneuvering, strategizing, threatening, and attacking. We could cite several passages where his actions seem questionable. During a lull in the fighting he clears out Lamanite villages and establishes fortified cities in their stead (Alma 50:7-16), a particularly aggressive form of keeping the peace, which seems contrary to the articulated ideal of engaging only in defensive warfare (Alma 43:46-47, 48:14). (This is the moment that Mormon, somewhat jaw-droppingly, pronounces to be the happiest in all of Nephite history; see Alma 50:23.) at one point Moroni slaughters some four thousand political opponents, thus “breaking down the wars and contentions among his own people, and subjecting them to peace and civilization”(!) (Alma 51:17-22). His negotiating skills are a bit weak. When he responds to a Lamanite offer of a prisoner exchange, his letter starts out well, but his temper gets the best of him by the end (“I am in my anger… (Alma 54:13)). In such situations, it is generally not a good idea to refer to the commander of the opposing forces as a “child of hell” (Alma 54:11). Ammaron, the Lamanite leader in question, is offended, not surprisingly, but he nevertheless agrees to the conditions Moroni sets forth. Unfortunately, by this time Moroni is so exercised that he breaks off negotiations entirely.
The most dramatic example of Moroni’s temper comes in a letter to Pahoran, the chief judge in Zarahemla responsible for sending provisions, arms, and reinforcements, none of which had arrived. Moroni begins “by way of condemnation” (Alma 60:2) and over the course of his epistle becomes more and more sure that he has been betrayed by the civilian government. He accuses them of neglect, indifference, and slothfulness. He wonders if they have become “traitors to [the] country” and threatens to overthrow them unless things change fast. By the end he boldly asserts, “Ye know that ye do transgress the laws of God, and ye do know that ye do trample them under your feet”; perhaps an allusion to Mosiah, and he claims a revelation to that effect. It turns out that Moroni was mistaken in this. Pahoran had not been able to send supplies because there had been a coup against him and he was now heading a government in exile. He was actually quite gracious in the face of such unjust criticism, responding, “And now, in your epistle you have censured me, but it mattereth not; I am not angry, but do rejoice in the greatness of your heart.” He even offers a face-saving reinterpretation for Moroni’s off-the-mark revelation: “I was somewhat worried concerning what we should do, whether it should be just in us to go against our brethren. …”

Hardly said...

On the other hand, there are also instances where Moroni can be seen giving quarter to his enemies (Alma 52:37, 55:18-19, 62:16-17, 27-29) and proving that he was indeed a reluctant warrior (Alma 48:22), … . Mormon seems quite sincere in his admiration of Captain Moroni, even though his account of the Amalickiahite Wars is uncharacteristically secular. God and religion are mentioned in the quoted letters, but hardly at all by the narrator, who seems content to explain causation in naturalistic terms. Perhaps this is the respect of one professional soldier to another. Whatever the success the Nephites have at this time is credited to Moroni’s skill as a general. If his blunt manner, quick temper, aggressive posture, and hasty suspicions would have made him a poor missionary, they are nevertheless qualities that serve him well on the battlefield. (Even so, Mormon’s account glosses over the fact that under Moroni, the Nephites lost a whole string of heavily fortified cities, including, for a time, the capital Zarahemla itself; Alma 51:11, 22-28, 52:12.)

Because the Book of Mormon is primarily a religious history, we are accustomed to seeing religious virtues – humility, self-sacrifice, kindness, and relying upon the Lord. Mormon never criticizes Moroni for his lack of such qualities, but he does provide a counterexample of a very different type of military leader, one who boasts no particular martial skills or background. This is Helaman (the son of Alma), the high priest over the church. During the first years of the conflict, Helaman and his brothers do their part for the Nephite cause by preaching (Alma 48:19-20, 49:30). When the people of Ammon (the converted Lamanites) want to support the war effort, he talks them out of it. … we learn the fate of these young men (the sons of the Lamanites he persuaded not to fight), from a long, retrospective letter that Helaman wrote to Moroni several years later (Alma 56-58). There he describes narrow escapes, clever strategems, and surprising victories, but success comes from God’s intervention rather than his own expertise. He marvels at the faith of his soldiers … and reports they fought with “miraculous strength” (Alma 56:56). In their first battle not one of them fell. In their second batter the results were even more marvelous. (Alma 57:25-26).

Over and over we hear of the their faith (Alma 57:21, 27, 58:40) and prayers (58:10), how they trusted in the Lord (58:33, 37), and how they have been preserved by the “miraculous power of God” or the “goodness of God” (57:25, 36). They suffer from a shortage of supplies, but Helaman has a better sense of the situation than Moroni (“we fear that there is some faction in the government”; 58:36).

Nevertheless, Helaman and his soldiers continue to retake cities along the western front that had been captured by the Lamanities in their initial invasion, usually with minimal bloodshed on either side. At the same time, the army of Moroni lost one of the biggest prizes in the east, the city of Nephihah – a turn of events that led Moroni to “be exceedingly sorrowful, and [he] began to doubt, because of the wickedness of the people (Alma 59:11).

Hardly said...

Thus once again we see a contrast between ordinary success – the result of diligent effort and personal skills – and the sort of miraculous accomplishments that can occur when humble people put their trust in God. Both types of service are praiseworthy and acceptable (which may be an interesting lesson for a modern church that relies on a lay ministry). Indeed, in this last case, Mormon goes out of his way to ensure that his readers to not quickly dismiss Moroni’s very human strivings.

Based on an analysis of form – taking into account Mormon’s selection, arrangement, and phrasing – it appears that what interests him is not mundane events or astonishing miracles so much as the contrast between these two modes of existence. Over the course of two hundred pages, Mormon constructs a repeating sequence of three sets of parallel stories, organizing them into narrative blocks of similar size and importance, one right after the other. Even though the two tales within each set take place at nearly the same time – so the narrative order is a matter of choice – the second story is always the more miraculous. What is more, the second tale connects with the next set: the church founded by Alma, whose members escape to Zarahemla, is the same organization that Alma attempts to reform and the sons of Mosiah take to the Lamanites; the converts made by the sons of Mosiah, who join with the Nephites, are the parents of Helaman’s stripling soldiers. It is a clever design that highlights Mormon’s literary craftsmanship, but such large scale patterns are easy to miss. Mormon himself does not draw attention to them; instead he simply professes that “I know the record which I make to be a just and true record” (3 Ne. 5:18). His message is that God will respond in predictable ways both to those who serve him competently and also to those who seek blessings beyond their capacities. Mormon suggests that the facts of history demonstrate this, even if the point is a little clearer when he is the one telling the stories.

THurts said...


I can't say that I've really enjoyed the banter all that much. It seems more akin to this, than anything else (which is unfortunate).


I'm only going to raise this one issue with you, mostly bc I'm not in the mood for a pissing match.

...[N]otice how each of you mistakenly applied the letter to only Pahoran and completely missed the point of the letter as being directed to the others who governed and managed the war

You're jumping to conclusions. Nowhere in the record does Moroni even come close to asserting that his epistle was directed [only] to those who governed and managed the war. Go back and read the record. He specifically states it was to both Pahoran (chief judge) and ["also to all those"]. Seeing as how this epistle would first fall into the hands of the chief judge, it's erroneous to assume that it was only directed to those governing the war.


Anonymous said...

Ammon & Moroni were equally righteous & almost surely would have responded in the exact same way as the other did, if they had been in the other's very different circumstance, which called for different kinds of responses.

Sometimes 'pure love' calls for service & sometimes it calls for righteous indignation & consequences.

I believe Ammon, or even Christ, would have acted the very same way as Moroni did 'in every thing he did'. (Except Christ, being so perfect, would have known that Pahoran was not neglecting them on purpose.) But there was nothing Moroni did that anyone can call wrong & not Christ-like, if that person possesses & understands pure love.

TH said...

In fact, Pahoran's response in the next chapter (61:9) indicates that he very much thought that it was largely directed [if not solely] at him.
"in your epistle you have censured me, but it mattereth not; I am not angry..."

Nowhere in Pahoran's response does he allude to the "others" you cite to. In fact, Pahoran goes very much out of his way to focus the letter on himself, using either "I" or "my" or "me" or his own name no less than 6x in one verse. While you appeal to the idea that Moroni's letter was principally directed to some unknown "others", Pahoran should rightfully redirect your thoughts. He's focusing the letter on himself, taking direct ownership of it. Whether you accept that focus is another matter entirely.

In this particular instance, I'm much more inclined to take Pahoran's word on who was the focus of this epistle, especially when you cherry-picked the words from Alma 60:33.

THurts said...


You provide the words where Moroni is telling Pahoran to reprimand the governors he's selected, but fail to provide the opening phrase to that verse [the part you left out is conveniently italicized]:

"... Ye know that ye do transgress the laws of God, and ye do know that ye do trample them under your feet. Behold, the Lord saith unto me: If those whom ye have appointed your governors do not repent of their sins and iniquities, ye shall go up to battle against them."

I'll grant the benefit of the doubt and assume you were doing this out of expediency, but forgetting to include that first phrase is mindboggling. Moroni had just laid into Pahoran - telling him the he was transgressing the laws, that he was trampling them under foot. If you can't tell that by the use of the word "ye" in that verse, including how it's used throughout the verse and not just the selection that you decided to include, then I'm not sure any of us could help.

This verse alone perhaps explains 61:9 and Pahoran's reaction where he felt the letter was explicitly directed at him.

But I'm done. I love beating my head against the wall and all, but I don't have a horse in this race. You've complained enough that no one has refuted any of your arguments, but I don't have the desire to do any more after this one, so I'll leave that to someone else. But, in the future, I would ask you not to cherrypick the verses you use. Include all that is pertinent to the discussion, not just the part that you like, if for no other reason than to maintain credibility.

Now, if that makes me a liar [or the more PC term of merely spreading a "lie" for not agreeing with your expose], call me a "closed-mind" buffoon or what have you - you're full of the terms lately - but your incredibly concise treatise has done precious little to sway me to your side of the argument.

The rightful focus, IMO, is to focus on how both Moroni + Helaman approached their situations. Neither is wrong, per se, but one is more palatable to the audience. Same goes for the way this conversation - and all 170+ comments - have rolled on.

End of My Epistle.

THurts said...

P.S. When I stated, "Nowhere in Pahoran's response does he allude to the "others" you cite to", I'm referring specifically to 61:9 and nothing more. There are reasons for that, principally the way the verse is (a) worded, (b) bookended and (c) directly references the epistle.

***Awaiting the Moroni'c ire that is now known as LDSA, for no other reason than daring to disagree with He Who Shall No Longer Be Named***

TH said...

P.S.S. Just to raise your ire a little more, I'd also like to add [without providing you with more detail] that I am in staunch disagreement with your assertion that:

For whatever reason, I was struck with the urge to dismantle these lies. When you read over what I wrote, consider whether what I wrote engenders faith in the word of God and in Christ, or destroys it.

What you wrote, in carefully (not just skimming) reading through it, engenders little more than a focus on "law". Seriously, do a search of all the uses of the word "law" in this thread and it will shock you. What you think engenders "faith" in God or Christ, or their words, is little more than the evangelical view that the "word" of God is the Bible (as opposed to the "Word" of God). Any focus on the "law" at the expense of the "lawgiver" is going to fall incredibly short. Your postings have done little (for me, at least) to engender any faith. That's not to say they don't have a purpose in someone's life, because someone may need that hardcore law preaching done for them because they don't know how to react to Jeremiah's (or Hebrews) prophecies, but all I see is an incredible focus on the "law." Ask S/Paul just exactly where that got him...

And, further, without much exposition, to call J's or Ron's words as destroying faith in God or Christ is reprehensible. It's not much different than the status quo in mainstream Mormonism (i.e. "faith promoting truth" is the only useful kind). Deconstructing idolatrous readings might hurt someone's faith, but if that faith is placed on a faulty foundation (i.e. hero/prophet worship or, as you term it, "Nephite Saints") then it deserves to crumble.
I highly, highly doubt that anyone in the BoM would be comfortable with us calling them "Saints" in the way which you use the word.

Just because we have 180 years of tradition read into the BoM such that all we truly seek out of it are prooftexts doesn't mean that there aren't - as Hardy's book suggests and points out - other readings that are definitely against the grain. I welcome those readings. You call them a way to destroy faith, I call them a way to destroy faulty faith and rebuild true faith.

I guess that makes me a facetious spreader of deceit, falsehoods, lies, and all the like. So be it.

Steven Lester said...

Any story that creates this much verbiage must surely be true. No? Even if there is not one scrap of direct archeological finding to support its existence? Joe Smith was a genius, or else somebody was.

LDS Anarchist said...

Ron, you wrote above:

~So if LDS Anarchist is correct and this is the Nephite law (98: 22-33) then one could argue that Captain Moroni was not attacked even once by the King Men let alone three times before warning them, and then even if we make up the three attacks and warning, then he was "justified" but did not choose mercy for them as invited in Verse 30 but choose justice and thus did not obtain "righteousness."~

Ron, D&C 98 contains A Nephite law, not ALL of the Nephite laws, and it was not the law that applied to the king-men situation. The Nephites bound themselves by covenant to obey the laws of the land with affixed penalties if they broke their covenant. You know how in the temple there used to be penalties affixed? Well, that was how the Nephite system was. Notice, in Alma 46:19-22 that when Moroni raised the title of liberty, they didn't just covenant to obey the laws of God, but they did so under penalty of death, or with a penalty affixed if they broke their covenant. All Nephites did this. This is how they “acknowledged” their laws (see Alma 1:1), by entering into an obligation (covenant) to obey them with agreement as to the penalties affixed.

[To be continued...]

LDS Anarchist said...


The king-men were guilty as charged because they broke their oaths and covenants and the penalty for their actions, according to the agreed upon conditions of the covenant they had previously and voluntarily entered into, was death. In other words, the law of Mosiah contained penalties affixed to every crime and when the king-men (or any other Nephite) broke the laws they were subject to the penalty that was affixed to the law they broke, according to the conditions of the covenant that they had previously made. Nevertheless, they were given the opportunity to renew their covenants and be spared the penalty. So, you are mixing up the Nephite laws when you try to apply D&C 98 to the king-men situation.

The system of judges established by Mosiah had no legislature. These judges gained jurisdiction through the covenants that people freely entered into and judged them according to the conditions and penalties affixed to those covenants. The whole system was covenant-based because all of their laws were given of God through three seers (Moses, Lehi and Mosiah) and this is how God works (through covenants.) Voting or the voice of the people merely chose who would would arbitrate. And they judged according to the law of God (the laws of the land), the covenants of the accused (which gave jurisdiction) and the witnesses and evidence, even according to the prescribed manner written in their laws and acknowledged by the people.

LDS Anarchist said...

Ron, you also wrote:

~Captain Moroni received a "martial law" edict (suspending all laws) that said that the King Men dissenters must defend their country by "taking up arms" or be put to death.~

No, there was no martial law edict and no suspension of laws. Although principally a captain in the Nephite army, Moroni was also a duly authorized judge. See Alma 46:34 and Alma 15:15. He had full authority from the judges and the voice of the people to administer the laws. Moroni went to arrest those men and they resisted arrest.

LDS Anarchist said...

Tom, the only word that comes to mind about the "only" governors comment of yours above is:


I never said he "only" addressed the epistle to the other governors. Don't read more into it than what I said. The fact is that no one seems to have understood that the letter is addressed to a group of people: "ye yourselves" (Alma 60:2). Moroni didn't know which of them were responsible, so he addressed the letter to all of them. He only knew, per his revelation in verse 33, that "those whom ye have appointed your governors" were doing something bad and (prophetically) "guessed", rightly, what they were doing. The idea that the letter only was directed to Pahoran, who was guilty of nothing, and thus the letter was baseless in its assumptions, is systemic throughout the church (for even YOU believed it before I brought it to your attention), yet, this very interpretation is FLAT OUT WRONG, because either everyone needs reading glasses, or they just WANT Moroni to be wrong and so they read the text that way, or some other unknown reason. The letter, though, is proof positive of Moroni's prophetic and revelatory gifts, contrary to what the peace-niks are saying.

Perhaps you ought to spend more time at my blog and less time listening to those guys...

LDS Anarchist said...

Tom, I just read the rest of the comments you left about the epistles.

First of all, see the above comment about "ye yourselves." Also see all the "my beloved brethren" (plural) instances in the epistles. Second, get some damn glasses. Third, the word "ye" is a plural form of "you" meaning "you all." He was addressing a GROUP. Are you drunk, Tom? Cause, I never expected you to say that "ye" means a singular "you." Third, you are grasping at straws. You are trying to find a way to interpret the epistle in a way in which it is going to only Pahoran. Can't be done. He is addressing the group, as I said above. Read every word with glasses on, Tom, and stop fighting a losing battle. The plain meaning has been given to you, by me, and by the text itself. You don't want to be wrong, fine, I understand that, but don't act like a schoolkid and try to find anything at all that will allow you to save face. Just admit that you and everyone else in the church have misinterpreted this Moroni epistle, perhaps because no one has the spirit of prophecy and revelation anymore and can't understand prophetic writ when it is written in prophetic plainness.

Just concede my point and let's move on. I won't hold it against you. Now, concerning Pahoran's epistle. Let me ask you, how did Pahoran get the epistle? Moroni sent his epistle to ZARAHEMLA where Pachus and the king-men were, but Pahoran was in hiding in THE LAND OF GIDEON. Why is that important, Tom? Must I expound every little damn detail to you? Can't you figure out anything on your own? Get yourself sober and figure it out.

LDS Anarchist said...

Finally, concerning the law comment. I know you are on some kind of anti-legalism/anti-law trip, and have been going that way for awhile (since that is what you said, I don't presume to *know* anything about your life), so, I'm not sure I really want to get into it with you. If I present scriptures to show you what the law is, why it is important, etc., well, you'll just say I'm being legalistic.

I'll tell you what, I'll give you just one scripture to chew on, then you can say it's a proof-text and doesn't apply, etc. and we'll leave it at that. Here it is:

"Yea, blessed are they whose feet stand upon the land of Zion, who have obeyed my gospel; for they shall receive for their reward the good things of the earth, and it shall bring forth in its strength. And they shall also be crowned with blessings from above, yea, AND WITH COMMANDMENTS NOT A FEW, and with revelations in their time--they that are faithful and diligent before me." (D&C 59:3-4)

So, Tom, if you are faithful and diligent before Christ, and you expect to be in Zion, guess what you're going to expected to live a lot of? Hint: it begins with the letter "l" and ends in the letter "w." And why is that, Tom? Because the Lord is going to gather all things from every dispensation in one, including His pesky little l-ws, so that His saints can live it all. But don't you worry about that minor detail. You just continue down your anti-l-w path and see if it leads you to the yellow brick road of Zion.

Steven Lester said...

Gosh, Mr. Anarchist. You're so smart! I wonder how many lifetimes I will have to live before I, too, have your thousand gifts of understanding and persuasion. I'm probably only a quarter of the way there, so, at the moment, I can only look upon you with awe and wonder. You are as a God among us.

TH said...

Thanks, LDSA.

Like others, I'm done here. Twist the words, ignore the essence of my [and every other one, ftm] comments, add extraneous, unrelated info where convenient, subtract words in scripture where inconvenient and keep pontificating all you want. Hope you find peace in your tirade against humanity.

Enjoy the playground. You are now alone to enjoy all the equipment by yourself.

Jon said...

I wish you guys were all nicer to one another then we could just read the actual debate rather than everything else. It was interesting to read all the different views, leaves much to be thought about for those of us that have no firm opinion on the matter.

Anonymous said...

Well that ended badly...


Ron Madson said...

okay, this in one interesting group.
I thought to make a few more comments.
One, I agree with THurts that in the end the issue is about pure, unconditional love--the pure love of Christ. That which moves us towards that is godly and that which hardens us towards others needs re-examining, deconstructing and if necessary even discarding.
two, Steven Lester is priceless. I agree that the BOM lacks much, if any, concrete historical evidences. So unlike bible studies this leaves us largely to wrestle with only the text that was channeled. How the BOM is interpreted and then used/applied is largely a matter of how we read, how we see the world. The book is remarkable in allowing us evolve in our understanding and mirrors back to us who we are based on how we read it. It allows, imo, for levels of readings--some I consider higher and some relatively immature/ even base. Personally, if my 15 year old loves the battles scenes and loves to have a Captain Moroni as an action hero, then I am good with that--I was that way when I first read it when I was 15. I am not interested in saying my son is deceived, misreading, or stupid in how he reads it. During one stage of life I too was caught up in "Law" with a capital L, but then I went to college and learned to read more critically and understand humanity, to see the world from other's points of view---so now it was possible to even have empathy in theory for others and their worldview. I returned to the BOM with appreciation for the "others"--even the "filthy" Lamanites. Then the decades passed by, and human suffering/experience then caused me to return again to the BOM and see the grace expressed in the words of Christ and how as Mormon pointed out we needed as a people to “be more wise" and not think as they thought, do as they did, which in the end creates enmity--all which ends badly. And that the law of Moses, as Paul learned on another continent, does not redeem and is dead in Christ. And that in the end only by emulating Jesus can we find real peace and reconciliation with our enemies.

anyway, this is kind of off topic, but I saw the movie, Tree of Life a couple of nights ago. It spoke to my soul. There truly is two ways through life--"nature or grace"--we choose. Nature demands justice/law/and punishment while grace is full of mercy and seeketh not its' own. I am less and less interested in Laws as I age that are not rooted in the person of Jesus ("Search the scriptures for ye "think" they contain eternal life (scripture mastery, proof texting, justifying all sorts of things), but they do not--it is in Jesus, the person and his father that we find eternal life--as THurts expressed the scriptures do not give life and we can mistakenly even idolize them over the person of Jesus.

Here is the link to that movie:

I have no ill will towards anyone here. I appreciate the passion of everyone even if we cannot agree on all things...I am not in competition with anyone to prove a point, except as Yossarian said in Catch 22 that "the enemy is anyone who is going to get you killed."

Dave P. said...

Of course historical evidence of the Book of Mormon won't be found in meso-America, because the Nephites lived on the eastern shores of the Mississippi in North America and the Mississippi River is the River Sidon.

It's also evident that the Nephites were this group:

Inspire said...

I rarely post on these things, and when I do it's usually pretty lame, but I would like to venture an observation.

LDS Anarchist, you were one of the first "LDS disestablishment" blogs I read. Your earlier postings were helpful to me in seeing the bigger picture. While I do not practice it as you do, I very much enjoyed your ideas about a tribe and the "rights and authority" contained therein. In my mind you have paved a way out of the "main stream," for many of us into free-thinking possibilities, and I am thankful.

That being said, I now have to ask...

WHAT IS YOUR DEAL, BRO? Maybe you should take a short vacation from yourself, because I'm seeing vindictiveness and venom in your words as of late. Isn't that a bit counter-productive? I mean, is there such a need to be right that you have to personally attack others or heap such disdain on their ideas?

Anyway, I have no cards in this game, so I felt it would be an objective perspective (as objective as any flawed human perspective can be). I'm just holding up a mirror, so take it for what it's worth. But I do hope the open-minded LDS Anarchist returns sometime soon.

I know there are others who feel as I do, but will not post. There is no need to respond, as this is all I intend to post on the matter.

LDS Anarchist said...

Now that all the offended ones have left, some food for thought:

The Book of Mormon was “written by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation” (BoM Title Page). It is impossible to write by the spirit of prophecy and revelation and give non-prophetic (incorrect) opinions. When you write by the spirit of prophecy and revelation you write “that which cometh form above” (D&C 63:64), even “that which is sacred” (D&C 9:9), which is given of God. This includes any opinions expressed by the prophet who is writing by the power of God. The Book of Mormon is a single, but very long, prophetic revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith by the same spirit of prophecy and revelation that the original writers operated under, making its creation a double-layer prophetic process, God first giving the words to the Nephite prophets in their language and then giving the same words translated into English to the Gentile prophet Joseph.

[To be continued, as usual...]

LDS Anarchist said...


So, you cannot pick and choose which parts of the Book of Mormon are true and which are false, which are facts and which are opinions, which are prophetic and which are non-prophetic and which are revelatory and which are non-revelatory. The whole thing is true, factual, accurate (including all opinions and assessments expressed in the work), prophetic and revelatory. This is why Moroni wrote “we know of no fault” (Mormon 8:17) in the work. When you operate under the power of God human mistakes are eliminated. This is why Mormon wrote that they know that their record was true, because the man who wrote it operated under the power of God. (See 3 Nephi 8:1.)

LDS Anarchist said...


Applying this principle to the captain Moroni chapters, all of the opinions expressed by Mormon about Moroni are prophetic, for you cannot disassociate the spirit of prophecy and revelation from the work. Thus, what Mormon wrote in Alma 48 about captain Moroni is true, accurate, factual, prophetic and revelatory. If you say that it isn't all of those things, you deny the spirit of prophecy and revelation. In fact, if you say that any part of the Book of Mormon is not true, factual, accurate, prophetic and revelatory, such as Moroni's epistle in Alma 60, you deny the spirit of prophecy and revelation.

The Book of Mormon, then, is a prophetic test, to see if we accept this spirit or deny it. The peace-niks ascribe the captain Moroni chapters to human error because they deny the spirit of prophecy and revelation and thus do not understand the scriptures, neither do they believe them. Whatever prophetic material that does not fit into their world-view and man-made philosophy is labeled not prophetic and summarily dismissed. This might work with the Bible, which has been tampered with by humans not operating under the spirit of prophecy and revelation, but it does not work with the Book of Mormon. The entire work must be treated as a prophetic and revelatory whole. There is no room for picking and choosing what is and is not word of God. It is a single, prophetic revelation.

LDS Anarchist said...

Mr. Lester and Tom, you are both very welcome and thanks for the comments and encouragement.

Inspire, the written word is very limited. All is written with a smile on my face, with no vindictiveness, disdain or venom intended. But trust me, were you to see me in real life smiliing, you'd just add the smile as yet another thing that pisses you off about me.

The guys I was arguing with do not believe the Book of Mormon to be true: Said Ron, "One, I agree with THurts that in the end the issue is about pure, unconditional love--the pure love of Christ. That which moves us towards that is godly and that which hardens us towards others needs re-examining, deconstructing and if necessary even discarding. two, Steven Lester is priceless. I agree that the BOM lacks much, if any, concrete historical evidences. So unlike bible studies this leaves us largely to wrestle with only the text that was channeled."

They are content with discarding whatever passages suit their fancy and philosphy. They seek to alter the meaning of the passages so that they read contrary to how they were written. Does that sound familiar? Do you know of any other group of men that did that? How would you like me to respond to that?

Jon, I have yet to see a debate on this thread and I don't expect one to occur.

Justin, personally, I think it was a good ending.

Anonymous said...

Are you just messin' with everyone here? Is this some sort of "experiment" to show how far the Natural Man will go to be "right?" If so, bravisimo!! I think we all get it now. You can take off the mask.

I don't know about the others, but the clincher for me was your lack of long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, and the increase of love. Oh yes, and then there was the hypocrisy... well done!

Who can forget how the "law of attraction" played out so well in your discussion. For example, I didn't get any hint of Inspire being "pissed off," but you put it out there as if he/she was, almost as if that was YOUR attitude, not his/hers.

Oh, and the pièce de résistance... your incessant contending with anyone who had thoughts contrary to yours. Of course, that was to point out that Christ's first emphasis when arriving to the Nephites (what He called His DOCTRINE) was that there be no contention among us. Showing yourself as RIGHT, no matter what (including some witty personal attacks) with the Diatribe of Eternal Words created an environment in which peace and a respectful conversation was impossible, thus presenting the contrast in the teachings of the Book of Mormon (to which you held so strongly), and the actions you displayed.

It has been a great show, but it's time to move on. I think I'll go watch Sponge Bob.

Anonymous said...

I don't know LDSA -- I still might call this "bad". Mainly because I've always liked Tom and what he's given as input on discussions -- and to essentially mirror his sentiment, what good is being correct [which I think you were], if everyone got pissed off?

I think, on this discussion, I like the point you made:
"Now, you may say that it wasn't EXPEDIENT that I wrote without tact above, or even in this comment, and perhaps you are right. Or perhaps you are wrong. I let the circumstances and Spirit guide me."

And I'd say [from my perspective] a lot of the harshness wasn't expedient. Whereas, on someone like Homingdove, using the sword may be a bit more expedient -- I didn't see it as being that necessary here, and see it as a bad ending that everyone here got such a bad taste in their mouth after this whole thread has wound down.

But again, that's from my perspective -- as someone who does agree with what you were saying -- and who's worked with you long enough to get the smiling, tactless approach you were choosing to go with.


LDS Anarchist said...

Justin, I like Tom, too. I'll drop you a private email and we'll talk more about this.

Anonymous said...

Glad I refreshed this page before heading on into bed -- I'll be looking for your message.


P.S. Rock -- I'd comment here more if I didn't have such an issue with blogspot's comment form -- but Toni about fixed it for me. I can get Anon. comments posted if I accept third-party cookies.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Justin, I don't know why the system is requiring third party cookies for you when you try to leave a comment, but try this:

In the dropdown menu, choose Name/URL. Put your name in the Name box, and leave the URL box blank. That's all there is to it. Oughta work.

I think that URL thing throws people because they think it's required, so they end up choosing "anonymous."

Alan Rock Waterman said...

LDS Anarchist, my Beloved,

I share the befuddlement of Inspire above when he asks, "WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH YOU, BRO?"

But I think I finally figured out the deal. According to your comment above, you believe in the inerrancy of the Book of Mormon.

"The entire work must be treated as a prophetic and revelatory whole," you declare. "There is no room for picking and choosing what is and is not the word of God. It is a single, prophetic revelation."

I don't see it that way. I think that when Joseph Smith said the Book of Mormon is "the most correct book on earth," he was referring to it as being factual. Like in the sense that "this thing happened, then that thing happened." The stories, the narrative is factually correct.

As in when Captain Moroni said or did something, that was true. He actually said or did what the book says. But whether what he said or did was absolutely condoned by God in every single case; well maybe, maybe not.

I think your statement above smacks of those evangelicals who insist that every word of the bible is the word of God. That's a narrow way of looking at it, and locks a person into a parochial view of the scriptures. It leaves you unable to consider or give validity to even a little of Josh and Ron's suggestions, because you are locked into that narrow way of looking at the message.

Anyway, I think that by now I fully understand your point of view, but I'm not so sure your challenge that someone stand up and debate your findings will advance the dialogue further.

If anyone wants to pick up the gauntlet, I won't stop 'em, and I don't mind if you can't help responding to what I've just said here. Still, I'm ready to pose this question:

Anybody here want to talk about something else?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I very much appreciate those excerpts from Grant Hardy's book; you've motivated me to finally get around to ordering it the first chance I get (meaning: as soon as I can spare the cash.)

I was particularly struck by Hardy's observation that, had Mormon not endorsed Captain Moroni so effusively, the reader might come away from it all thinking this Captain Moroni character was a bit of a prick. (My words, not Hardy's.)

I presume that, being a military man himself, Mormon read the histories of those times and battles through the eyes of a fellow General. I'm resolved to read those chapters tomorrow and look at General Moroni with new eyes.

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