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November, 2018

  1. Naming Rights to the Book of Mormon

    November 27, 2018 by Ryan

    The following is a private letter to Hank Smith.

    Dear Hank from Utah,

    I recently listened to your talk on CD titled “Scripture Power.” At the end, the gravelly-voiced guy from Covenant Communications said that the author would like to hear from his listeners. So if you don’t like what I have to say, remember that it’s his fault!

    At the end of your talk, you presented a theory that Mormon named The Book of Mormon after the place called Mormon.

    Recognizing that I am not an authority on this topic, and knowing that the correct answer to this particular question ultimately does not matter to our eternal salvation, I respectfully disagree with your philosophy and wish to present my own counter-claim.

    First, let me recap what I understand your position to be. You quoted the following verse in support of your opinion.

    And now it came to pass that all this was done in Mormon, yea, by the waters of Mormon, in the forest that was near the waters of Mormon; yea, the place of Mormon, the waters of Mormon, the forest of Mormon, how beautiful are they to the eyes of them who there came to the knowledge of their Redeemer; yea, and how blessed are they, for they shall sing to his praise forever.

    The Book of Mormon, Mosiah 18:30

    Your conclusion was that the prophet Mormon named “The Book of Mormon” after this place which he had a great reverence for.

    It is worthwhile to wonder why Mormon made such a big deal over, and wrote such a clumsily worded musing about the place of Mormon. In 3 Nephi 5:12, he let readers know that he was named after the place. It would be easy to conclude that being named after a place would plant a tender love for the scene in the Prophet Mormon’s sentimental heart.

    With that, I could almost go along with your theory about the naming of The Book of Mormon. Except that Mormon wrote something else that convinces me otherwise.

    I look to a passage in the Book of Helaman, which was also a moment when Mormon interrupted his narrative with commentary, to show that (I believe) Mormon intended for the overall book to be known as “The Book of Nephi.”

    And behold, in the end of this book ye shall see that this Gadianton did prove the overthrow, yea, almost the entire destruction of the people of Nephi. Behold I do not mean the end of the book of Helaman, but I mean the end of the book of Nephi, from which I have taken all the account which I have written.

    The Book of Mormon, Helaman 2:13-14

    In this verse, Mormon clearly makes a distinction between discussing a small section he was abridging (“the end of the book of Helaman”) and the total tome (“the end of the book of Nephi”). If I am reading this right, if Mormon had gotten his way with naming rights we would today be trying to undo from our vocabulary the “Nephi Tabernacle Choir” and looking for a replacement URL for the website “nephi.org”

    Perhaps supporting this, when Ammaron gave Mormon charge of the plates, he called the sacred engravings “the plates of Nephi” (Mormon 1:4).

    Therefore, I hold my opinion that the book was supposed to have been named “The Book of Nephi,” but probably Moroni called the book after his father’s name instead.

    Of course, it is entirely possible that we are both wrong. Mormon or Moroni may have wanted the publication named after Mormon’s father and Moroni’s Grandfather, Mormon (Mormon 1:5). He is only mentioned briefly, but he must have been an exceedingly strong and mighty man to have carried his eleven-year-old son all the way to Zarahemla! I get exhausted carrying my six-year-old up the stairs at my house. (See Mormon 1:6 and smile)

    At any rate, again, the name of the book is not important in the overall scheme of things (though it is fun to contemplate now and again). The message of the book is what counts. Thank you for your work to impart that message to the world.

    Your brother in Christ,

    Ryan from Utah


  2. Only One Plan

    November 15, 2018 by Ryan

    The sister said something from the pulpit on Sunday that has really bothered me. It was not unique. I’ve heard it many times before. I’m certain I will hear it many times again. 

    In describing the “war in heaven” before this earth was formed, she implied that we all met together in a grand meeting and we heard two plans presented – Satan’s plan and Jesus’ plan. 

    Well, I respectfully disagree. There were not two “plans.” There has only ever been one plan, the plan of the Almighty Father in Heaven. There was never a second option. As He counseled from the beginning, He would send His “Beloved and Chosen from the beginning” (Moses 4:1). Jesus Christ was the Guy. There was never a second thought or runner-up choice. 

    Jesus understood this very well, and accepted the status with humility. He said, “Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.” 

    Then Lucifer interrupted.  

    Satan jumped up and with dramatic and boisterous effort attempted a coup to derail our Heavenly Father’s wisdom and authority. “Behold,” the insubordinate commanded, “here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor” (Moses 4:1). 

    I say call it what it was – an open rebellion against God, right there in His immediate presence. 

    Yet we, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have this revealed knowledge, often try to retell this scene more politely: We talk about the events as if they were a political debate. Following the debate, we stuck posters in our lawn clouds, talked about it with our neighbors, posted about it on our social media feeds, and showed up the polling stations on election day and filled in our ballots for our preferred candidate. 

    No, this wasn’t an option up for debate. This was a chaotic hostile takeover attempt happening right under the Father’s celestial roof. 

    Let’s be real here. Lucifer didn’t have a “plan” of any sort. What he had a narcissistic complex. He wanted himself on top, with that annoying “Beloved Son” and His Daddy out of the picture. Satan promised things he couldn’t possibly deliver, and wanted the power and glory and praise and recognition heaped upon himself – all for the small price of giving up our ability to choose for ourselves. 

    (Well, on second thought, I suppose I can see similarities to how many modern politicians behave.) 

    God Himself described to Moses what was wrong (see Moses 4:3): 

    • ‘Satan rebelled against me’ 
    • ‘[Satan] sought to destroy the agency of man’
    • ‘[Satan wanted] that I should give unto him mine own power’ 

    Satan was persistent enough that the Father had to completely banish Lucifer from His presence. He did so by asking Jesus Christ to cast him out. “By the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down” (Moses 4:3). It was an act which I’m certain did not cause any endearing loving feelings toward Jesus to stay in Satan’s heart. 

    Isaiah gave us a glimpse of this scene in his vision: 

    How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

    Isaiah 14:12-14

    To all this, Abraham added another critical detail. “And,” added Abraham, “at that day, many followed after him” (Abraham 3:28). 

    What was the reaction in the heavens to this event? Did they cheer or sneer at the departure of their political foes? Did we yell and taunt after Satan, “Don’t let the pearly gates hit you…?” No, our Heavenly Father and His Son did not do this out of vindictive or vengeful or jealous or prideful hearts. Joseph Smith described that “the heavens wept over him” and the many who were cast out with him (Doctrine and Covenants 76:26). 

    The heavens wept over Satan’s departure!

    Satan sealed his fate. It had already been counseled and made known in the heavens – I don’t believe only at one single meeting, but many times – that “They who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate;” while “They who keep their first estate shall be added upon” (Abraham 3:26). 

    Joseph Smith, Junior, the Prophet and Seer, described his and Sidney Rigdon’s joint vision of the event, which included a glimpse of the continuation of Satan’s rebellion to this day. They wrote: 

    And this we saw also, and bear record, that an angel of God who was in authority in the presence of God, who rebelled against the Only Begotten Son whom the Father loved and who was in the bosom of the Father, was thrust down from the presence of God and the Son, And was called Perdition, for the heavens wept over him—he was Lucifer, a son of the morning. And we beheld, and lo, he is fallen! is fallen, even a son of the morning! …For we beheld Satan, that old serpent, even the devil, who rebelled against God, and sought to take the kingdom of our God and his Christ—Wherefore, he maketh war with the saints of God, and encompasseth them round about. And we saw a vision of the sufferings of those with whom he made war and overcame.

    Doctrine and Covenants 76:26-30 

    So please, don’t try to make it sound nice and pleasant. It was a rebellion, a war, a fight for our souls. It still continues today, as Satan calls good evil and evil good (see Isaiah 5:20) while trying to confuse and entice us to act out and rebel against our Father in Heaven’s plan. What Lucifer doesn’t tell us is that, as Isaiah saw, if we join his side, his “side” is actually the side of the pit of Hell. One day, when we see Satan for ourselves, we shall narrowly look upon him, and consider him, and say, “Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms?!” (See Isaiah 14:15-16) 

    Who’s on the Lord’s side, who? Now is the time to show!