“He Inviteth All to Come unto Him”
2 Nephi 26–30
LDS manual: here
We’re nearly done with Isaiah. Hang tight.
Main ideas for this lesson
Joseph Smith (or whoever) retcons the Book of Mormon into the Bible.
We’ve already seen how Joseph talks about Joseph in Egypt, and then digresses into talking about his father Joseph, and how Joseph’s son Joseph was going to be the Prophet Joseph.
(I actually think this is an open-and-shut case for Joseph Smith being the author of the Book of Mormon. If someone else were writing it, would they try so hard to make Joseph Smith sound so awesome? If Sidney Rigdon had anything to do with it, you can bet there would something in there like “O, but his friend Sidney will be super-awesome as well.”)
Well, he’s not done. He’s also stuck this reference to the Book of Mormon in.
2 Nephi 27:26 Therefore, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, yea, a marvelous work and a wonder, for the wisdom of their wise and learned shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent shall be hid.
That’s some chutzpah to be writing a book, and to write that the book you’re writing is “a marvelous work and a wonder” in that very same book.
He also managed to drag professor Charles Anthon into the fray. Mormons will no doubt be familiar with the story: Martin Harris took a transcription of some characters to Anthon, a professor at Columbia University, requesting him to verify that the characters were genuine. According to Harris, Anthon thought they were legit, but changed his mind when told that they were brought by an angel. He said that he would try a translation himself, only to be told that part of the book was sealed. He was reported to have said, “I cannot read a sealed book.”
Latter-day Saints say that l’affair Anthon fulfilled a prophecy.
2 Nephi 27:6 And it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall bring forth unto you the words of a book, and they shall be the words of them which have slumbered.
27:7 And behold the book shall be sealed; and in the book shall be a revelation from God, from the beginning of the world to the ending thereof.
27:15 But behold, it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall say unto him to whom he shall deliver the book: Take these words which are not sealed and deliver them to another, that he may show them unto the learned, saying: Read this, I pray thee. And the learned shall say: Bring hither the book, and I will read them.
27:16 And now, because of the glory of the world and to get gain will they say this, and not for the glory of God.
27:17 And the man shall say: I cannot bring the book, for it is sealed.
27:18 Then shall the learned say: I cannot read it.
27:19 Wherefore it shall come to pass, that the Lord God will deliver again the book and the words thereof to him that is not learned; and the man that is not learned shall say: I am not learned.
27:20 Then shall the Lord God say unto him: The learned shall not read them, for they have rejected them, and I am able to do mine own work; wherefore thou shalt read the words which I shall give unto thee.
Dear Sir — I received this morning your favor of the 9th instant, and lose no time in making a reply. The whole story about my having pronouncd the Mormonite inscription to be “reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics” is perfectly false. Some years ago, a plain, and apparently simple-hearted farmer, called upon me with a note from Dr. Mitchell of our city, now deceased, requesting me to decypher, if possible, a paper, which the farmer would hand me, and which Dr. M. confessed he had been unable to understand. Upon examining the paper in question, I soon came to the conclusion that it was all a trick, perhaps a hoax….
The farmer added, that he had been requested to contribute a sum of money towards the publication of the “golden book,” the contents of which would, as he had been assured, produce an entire change in the world and save it from ruin. So urgent had been these solicitations, that he intended selling his farm and handing over the amount received to those who wished to publish the plates. As a last precautionary step, however, he had resolved to come to New York, and obtain the opinion of the learned about the meaning of the paper which he brought with him, and which had been given him as a part of the contents of the book, although no translation had been furnished at the time by the young man with the spectacles. On hearing this odd story, I changed my opinion about the paper, and, instead of viewing it any longer as a hoax upon the learned, I began to regard it as part of a scheme to cheat the farmer of his money, and I communicated my suspicions to him, warning him to beware of rogues. He requested an opinion from me in writing, which of course I declined giving, and he then took his leave carrying the paper with him.
Who had the right story? The venerable professor, or the mark? Who had more to gain?
This reading has a lot of information about what Satan is going to do in the last days.
The concept of Satan is kind of messed up. A totally evil being, who God allows to tempt and ensnare people? As a dad, there’s no way I’d allow an evil being to have access to my kids, while I do nothing.
But then I’m a much better dad than God is. In fact, has anyone noticed that Satanism is actually more moral than many religions?
Whatever. So what’s Satan getting up to? Here’s the LDS manual.
• What is an illusion? (Something that deceives or misleads.) What are some illusions that Satan uses to lead people astray? How can we discern between these illusions and the truth?
Explain that the chapters discussed in this lesson contain powerful prophecies concerning the last days. Nephi prophesied about people who would be deceived by Satan and fall away from the truth. However, he also foresaw the Restoration of the gospel and the blessings that would be given to the righteous. This lesson discusses these prophecies and helps us understand how to avoid being deceived by Satan’s falsehoods and remain faithful to the truth.
This is awful. According to the church, not being “faithful to the church” is automatically Satanic. Which means that there’s never a good reason to leave. And if someone does, they’re being acted upon by satanic agency.
No wonder Latter-day Saints feel afraid when they read any material that contradicts their beliefs. And then they interpret that feeling as evidence that the material is wrong, regardless of how much sense it makes. Because the church is always right! Yay!
2 Nephi 28:20 For behold, at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good.
28:21 And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well — and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.
28:22 And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none — and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance.
Me: So if I say there’s no Satan…
Church: That’s what Satan wants you to think.
Me: That is quite the mindgame you’ve got there.
So what is Hell like? Let’s ask the Book of Mormon.
2 Nephi 28:23 Yea, they are grasped with death, and hell; and death, and hell, and the devil, and all that have been seized therewith must stand before the throne of God, and be judged according to their works, from whence they must go into the place prepared for them, even a lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment.
That sounds like the traditional fire-and-brimstone conception. Now let’s ask the church website.
Latter-day revelation speaks of hell in at least two senses. First, it is the temporary abode in the spirit world for those who were disobedient in mortality. In this sense, hell has an end. The spirits there will be taught the gospel, and sometime following their repentance they will be resurrected to a degree of glory of which they are worthy. Those who will not repent, but are nevertheless not sons of perdition, will remain in hell throughout the Millennium. After these thousand years of torment, they will be resurrected to a telestial glory (D&C 76:81–86; 88:100–101).
Second, it is the permanent location of those who are not redeemed by the atonement of Jesus Christ. In this sense, hell is permanent. It is for those who are found “filthy still” (D&C 88:35, 102). This is the place where Satan, his angels, and the sons of perdition—those who have denied the Son after the Father has revealed him—will dwell eternally (D&C 76:43–46).
We see again that the Book of Mormon seems to come from a different time, and that LDS doctrine has mellowed out over the years. When I read this, it amazes me that I was unable to see how unformed the Book of Mormon is, and how little it has to do with Mormon thought and belief.
Until next week.