Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Alma 31

(October 8, 2014)
                I had two thoughts as I read through this chapter today.  The first of these thoughts was on the fact that there seems to be a subset of people who don’t believe, or even disbelieve, so much as they hold beliefs in opposition to other beliefs.  I see this most commonly among the anti-Mormon people that I see posting online.  There is little commonality amongst their beliefs (in fact, they have very few strong beliefs of their own) – they are just unified in the belief that whatever ‘truth’ is, the Mormons don’t have it.

                The Zoramites seem to be following that exact same apostate model.  If you read their prayer, you will find very little about their beliefs – instead you find a prayer full of descriptions of how they reject the belief system of the Nephites.  They reject the Christ, they reject prophecy, they reject a physical God – all beliefs of the Nephites and the defining belief of the Zoramites is, in effect, ‘you’re wrong.’

                It is an amazing insight, and one that I don’t think that I would have naturally come to on my own (without seeing it a large number of times), but it seems that when some people leave a faith they define their lives in opposition to their prior faith.  But, ironically, the fact that this was represented so well in this chapter is further evidence that Joseph Smith was the translator of the Book of Mormon rather than its author – as a minor truth buried in a prayer of opposition, it is one more congruent evidence that the book is a recitation of facts rather than authored fiction.

                The other thought that I had from this chapter was on Alma’s prayer.  This always seemed out of place to me, and I didn’t understand why the sins of others would weigh so heavily on him.  Yes, I knew that sin in all cases is a source of sorrow.  But the reaction seemed wrong somehow.

                But as I was reading it today, I realized what was happening.  Alma wasn’t just seeing the wickedness of the Zoramites – he was seeing the need to preach to a people as wicked at the people of Ammonihah.  He was thinking back to the death and destruction of that city, and the abuse that he suffered at their hands.  He was considering that he was now old, and would suffer such abuse.  He also, likely, was considering the fact that his sons were with him, and he didn’t want them going through what he went through.  Remembering that, Alma’s reaction was more understandable.

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