Samuel the Lamanite preaches repentance or destruction unto the Nephites.
2 Nephi 5:10
2 Nephi 9:30
Luke 6:22, 26
JST Mark 9:42-46
A few thoughts I had about this week’s episode: firstly, the three days of darkness. One of my coworkers grew up in the church, but now is pretty agnostic though his wife still goes. Anyways he’s a geologist and despite not believing the BOM is inspired he says the three days of darkness perfectly describes a massive volcanic eruption. The ash cloud would block out the sun, and apparently would prevent fires from being started as well. It also explains how you could physically feel the darkness. I was in Alaska as a kid when mount spurr erupted in 1992 and it was pretty creepy seeing the sky get dark in the afternoon. Anyways I just thought that would be interesting.
On a more doctrinal issue, this week’s reading also refutes the corporate church’s view of repentance and “worthiness for baptism”, because we literally have people who try to kill Samuel, the only reason the don’t kill him is God intervening not for lack of trying. So they are guilty of attempted murder, but then immediately are converted and go to Nephi to get baptized. The corporate church would make them wait probably a year and go confess to multiple church authorities a billion times before they would maybe let them get baptized. We also read earlier in the year when the lamanites were massacring the anti-nephi-lehis and then were converted when they saw they wouldn’t fight back. They too seem to have been immediately baptized maybe even the same day as murdering in cold blood. It really shows the power of true conversion and how the blood of Christ is able to blot out all sins of those who will simply turn and look to Christ!
You talked a little about the lack of success with converting American Indians to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Would you like to clarify if that is to Christianity as a whole, or just the LDS version? In either case, I think part of the difficulty is the messenger, and confusion about whether you need to convert to the value system of the general culture in order to be considered Christian.
Granted, my experiences are second hand observations, but they are all I have to go on at this point. I don’t live on a reservation to see how branches work in primarily native areas, but I do live close enough to the edges to see what happens when native Americans interact with a regular ward. I know a woman who is full-blooded (maybe Sioux?). She married a white missionary and moved away from that part of the country. When I met them, the family was inactive, but that might be for a variety of reasons, including health or family. I don’t think any of her sons are active, but her daughter started attending a singles ward when she moved away from home, got married in the temple to a returned missionary, and is now raising her family in the church. When I lived in Utah I knew another woman who had also married a white husband and was raising her family actively in the church, so that seems to be one path to “success”, but in neither case were the individuals closely connected to their culture of origin anymore.
In my current ward, there are several Navajo individuals and baptized families. It seems that what usually brings them to baptism is the need for financial help. They are referred to the local ward, particularly if they already have baptized family members. Unfortunately, baptism doesn’t cure their problems, and the ward quickly tires of writing a check to cover emergencies. Even for families that are financially stable by our standards, their culture of helping family gets them in trouble.
Here is a real example… a family owns their home and has a monthly payment just like you do. Their daughter in another town needs help with rent, so they help (that’s part of their culture), but now they don’t have money to pay the mortgage. Unfortunately, the church has a policy to not help with mortgage payments, so the family becomes at risk of losing their home. More than once have I seen a widow wait outside the bishop’s office and leave the building with a look of disappointment on her face afterward, and fail to return. These are families where multiple generations, and sibling family units might be living in a small home together to make ends meet. In one case, after living with his parents and a couple other siblings, a young father with a wife and 5 or 6 kids was able to move into a small, 2 bedroom trailer after several years, giving themselves a tiny place of their own. In any case, a ward might feel like helping a native member is opening the financial spigot to the entire extended family because of how the family helps each other, but the access to financial support is what the church was sold to them on in the first place.
By our standards, you don’t help others if it will make you short on your own bills. They aren’t taught that way. Family is family and you do what you can and look for help yourself when you run into trouble for it. By our standards, you don’t help someone put food on their table if they are able to buy hay to feed their rescue horses. By theirs, how could you let one of God’s creations starve to death when you have the skills to care for it?
There is also a problem with how the doctrine is taught to the native families I know. There are no more gospel essential classes. The kids do fine in primary where they are with the kids they go to school with and can sing songs about Jesus. However, I have seen a grown woman sit through gospel doctrine class, completely lost because it doesn’t make any sense to her. I have been close enough to ask about her experience going to church and she and her sisters all agreed that the gospel taught in church doesn’t compute, and attending church makes them feel stupid. They said they can understand when their father explains it to them, but not in a church class. These aren’t stupid people, some are attending college and others have dropped out of high school, but the message doesn’t fit into their frame of reference. There isn’t even a complete Book of Mormon in Navajo. I don’t know if one exists in any other American Indian languages either.
Occasionally, there have been funerals for Native Americans held in the ward chapel here. It helps them defray the cost of needing to rent a large assembly place, but the conditions are that the bishop needs to preside and give a talk about the plan of salvation. You can see from the previous paragraph why that practice which makes sense to a missionary oriented church might not be a particularly welcome condition added to their traditional services.
I guess to get to my point, maybe there is just too big of a disconnect right now between what the church is offering and what the native Americans need, at least where I live. There is probably a really good reason why the people of Ammon kept to themselves when they converted. They didn’t need to become actual Nephites in order to live the gospel and believe in Christ. Maybe the day will come when there is a “Lamanite” prophet who teaches us about treating others the way we want to be treated, to care for the stranger and poor among us, or even to share without the expectation of getting anything in return.
I don’t think the LDS Church offers the true gospel of Jesus Christ (please refer to episodes 001 through 089 and any future episodes!). In several aspects traditional Christianity is closer to the true gospel of Jesus Christ than what SLC offers, but lacks other critical aspects. So the lack of success in converting Native Americans isn’t because they won’t listen to what we say–it’s because what we say isn’t what they need to hear. When God is ready to fulfill his promises, the fullness will be shared with the Native Americans by servants with power and authority. At that time the Lamanites will be redeemed, and their acceptance of the gospel will be accompanied with the signs and miracles that we read about in the Book of Mormon.
As your stories highlight, the corrupted teachings of the LDS Church are yet another yoke upon any of the descendants of Lehi that might accept it. I also think the family/community-based Native American culture is far better prepared to live the law of consecration than our hyper-individualistic Gentile culture. They might have to teach us how to live certain aspects the gospel of Jesus Christ.
3 Nephi 21 is the best summary of what will happen:
7 And when these things come to pass that thy seed shall begin to know these things—it shall be a sign unto them, that they may know that the work of the Father hath already commenced unto the fulfilling of the covenant which he hath made unto the people who are of the house of Israel.
8 And when that day shall come, it shall come to pass that kings shall shut their mouths; for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.
9 For in that day, for my sake shall the Father work a work, which shall be a great and a marvelous work among them; and there shall be among them those who will not believe it, although a man shall declare it unto them.
10 But behold, the life of my servant shall be in my hand; therefore they shall not hurt him, although he shall be marred because of them. Yet I will heal him, for I will show unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil.
11 Therefore it shall come to pass that whosoever will not believe in my words, who am Jesus Christ, which the Father shall cause him to bring forth unto the Gentiles, and shall give unto him power that he shall bring them forth unto the Gentiles, (it shall be done even as Moses said) they shall be cut off from among my people who are of the covenant.
12 And my people who are a remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles, yea, in the midst of them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he go through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.
13 Their hand shall be lifted up upon their adversaries, and all their enemies shall be cut off.
14 Yea, wo be unto the Gentiles except they repent; for it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Father, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots;
15 And I will cut off the cities of thy land, and throw down all thy strongholds;
16 And I will cut off witchcrafts out of thy land, and thou shalt have no more soothsayers;
17 Thy graven images I will also cut off, and thy standing images out of the midst of thee, and thou shalt no more worship the works of thy hands;
18 And I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee; so will I destroy thy cities.
19 And it shall come to pass that all lyings, and deceivings, and envyings, and strifes, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, shall be done away.
20 For it shall come to pass, saith the Father, that at that day whosoever will not repent and come unto my Beloved Son, them will I cut off from among my people, O house of Israel;
21 And I will execute vengeance and fury upon them, even as upon the heathen, such as they have not heard.
22 But if they will repent and hearken unto my words, and harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them, and they shall come in unto the covenant and be numbered among this the remnant of Jacob, unto whom I have given this land for their inheritance;
23 And they shall assist my people, the remnant of Jacob, and also as many of the house of Israel as shall come, that they may build a city, which shall be called the New Jerusalem.
24 And then shall they assist my people that they may be gathered in, who are scattered upon all the face of the land, in unto the New Jerusalem.
25 And then shall the power of heaven come down among them; and I also will be in the midst.
26 And then shall the work of the Father commence at that day, even when this gospel shall be preached among the remnant of this people. Verily I say unto you, at that day shall the work of the Father commence among all the dispersed of my people, yea, even the tribes which have been lost, which the Father hath led away out of Jerusalem.
27 Yea, the work shall commence among all the dispersed of my people, with the Father to prepare the way whereby they may come unto me, that they may call on the Father in my name.
28 Yea, and then shall the work commence, with the Father among all nations in preparing the way whereby his people may be gathered home to the land of their inheritance.
29 And they shall go out from all nations; and they shall not go out in haste, nor go by flight, for I will go before them, saith the Father, and I will be their rearward.
Notice that the gentiles will assist the children of Lehi in building the New Jerusalem. Not the other way around. The gentiles who believe are counted as Abraham’s seed so that we all become one family in Zion but the original promise was to his seed and then all who believe on the Messiah afterwards. So yea I think most of the gentiles are going to be the ones having the hard time giving up all of the things Christ lists that they are guilty of. Whereas the meek shall inherit the earth.
I love the book called “He Walked the Americas”. It was compiled by a non-LDS anthropologist who went to various tribes and interviewed their elder generation about their tribal myths of a great white God. It’s a beautiful compilation of how Jesus fits perfectly into the native American story.
Here’s someone on YouTube (also non-LDS) who reads various chapters out of the book. This link is to part 1 of 18… All of them are excellend and have brought tears to my eyes. The Lord certainly has a work yet to do among these wonderful people.
I believe there’s some truth to the notion that the events in the Book of Mormon leading up to the Savior’s birth are a parallel to events happening in our days. I don’t think it’s a one for one, exact match, but it was given to us to understand how our own country can fall apart the same way the Nephite’s did.
Of course, predictive prophecy is difficult and it’s easy to miss the mark by the way we see the events in real time. Most often, the details become much clearer in hindsight. For example, the true nature of Joseph Smith and the fall of the church can be seen today and so many scriptures in the Old Testament, Book of Mormon and D&C point it out. Yet many are still blind to it and no one at the time could see how all those prophecies were about the events happening in the 1800s.
I think the same applies today. We have many scriptures telling us about events that will be happening and we are told to be watching for the signs. Yet it’s often hard to know exactly what the signs are and what events we are living through are or are not the actual fulfillment of the prophecies.
Will we get a modern day Samuel the Lamanite who will give very specific, timed warnings of what will take place? It’s hard to say. I think we are to search the scriptures to try to find those truths God has already given us. We may not always get the exact outcome correct, but we can get the general direction of events.
The chapters you’ve been covering go over the murders of rulers, plots to overthrow the government, civil war, invasions and wars. I think it’s fairly appropriate to see those as warnings of events we will likely go through. If interpretations of Esdras’ Eagle vision is correct, it also outlines rulers being taken out and that nation going through distress and destruction. These events may or may not be in our lifetime, but it sure seems like we are getting close to the fulfillment of many of the events leading up to the last days.
The secret combination from old is that through murder one can get gain (JST Genesis 5:16). We see a lot of that happening among the Nephites in the years leading up to Christ’s birth. The chief judge is murdered until they can get one of their own on the judgement seat. Any system that has a succession plan, would be susceptible to this secret combination. A lot of people are looking at the US system and how it might be used by this combination to place one of their own in the position of power.
Isn’t it also interesting that God set up the Quorum of the Twelve with a similar succession plan? Everyone knows who is in line and who is next and so on. That system is also susceptible to secret combinations. One doesn’t need to necessarily assassinate the one in the top seat, but could see to it that those in between are dispatched until the “right” person is lined up to take the top spot. I’m not saying this has happened, but it’s really interesting that it is set up this way.
I think it’s to our benefit to try to understand the messages God has sent and be watching for their fulfillment while knowing that it will become much easier to see in hindsight. God has given us the warnings and His word to help prepare us, so hopefully we can see some of what will come before it overtakes us.
I agree with most of what you say, however, God never set up succession in the quorum of the 12. The quorum of the 12 decided to do it that way. They even changed the rules of succession so Brigham Young’s son wouldn’t become “prophet”. But yes all systems without revelation are susceptible to infiltration.
Thanks for the correction! I’ve still got a lifetime of indoctrination I need to get rid of…