Things to ponder in the Book of Moroni

The Book of Moroni is an interesting work. Moroni never planned to write it – he  found himself with extra time and space on the gold plates and decided to go for it. Its structure would indicate that Moroni didn’t have a master plan — he documented some practices of the church, included some letters from his father, and wrapped up with some prophetic writing. It jumps from topic to topic without apologies.  It’s a Moroni mishmash, a spiritual smorgasbord, a gospel gumbo. It’s great.

When you examine what Moroni wrote, however, his church functioned differently than the modern church. Below I have listed some of the differences along with some questions. Unlike other posts, there are no explanations or links to other scriptures. Just questions we can all ponder.

Confirmation

Moroni 2
2 And he called them by name, saying: Ye shall call on the Father in my name, in mighty prayer; and after ye have done this ye shall have power that to him upon whom ye shall lay your hands, ye shall give the Holy Ghost; and in my name shall ye give it, for thus do mine apostles.

Why does Moroni teach that before conferring the Holy Ghost, the disciples must call on the Father in mighty prayer? If that was necessary then, why isn’t it necessary now?

Ordination

Moroni 3
1 The manner which the disciples, who were called the elders of the church, ordained priests and teachers—
2 After they had prayed unto the Father in the name of Christ, they laid their hands upon them, and said:
3 In the name of Jesus Christ I ordain you to be a priest (or if he be a teacher, I ordain you to be a teacher) to preach repentance and remission of sins through Jesus Christ, by the endurance of faith on his name to the end. Amen.
4 And after this manner did they ordain priests and teachers, according to the gifts and callings of God unto men; and they ordained them by the power of the Holy Ghost, which was in them.

We have the same issue with ordinations to priesthood office. Why does today’s process differ from the scriptures?

Sacrament

Moroni 4
1 The manner of their elders and priests administering the flesh and blood of Christ unto the church; and they administered it according to the commandments of Christ; wherefore we know the manner to be true; and the elder or priest did minister it—
2 And they did kneel down with the church, and pray to the Father in the name of Christ, saying:
3 O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it; that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he hath given them, that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.

Why doesn’t the church kneel down for the sacrament if the Book of Mormon teaches that it is the true manner?

Baptism

Moroni 6
1 And now I speak concerning baptism. Behold, elders, priests, and teachers were baptized; and they were not baptized save they brought forth fruit meet that they were worthy of it.

Why were elders, priests and teachers baptized if they had already been baptized before being ordained as elders, priests, and teachers? Why aren’t they baptized today?

Moroni 8
4 And now, my son, I speak unto you concerning that which grieveth me exceedingly; for it grieveth me that there should disputations rise among you.
5 For, if I have learned the truth, there have been disputations among you concerning the baptism of your little children.
6 And now, my son, I desire that ye should labor diligently, that this gross error should be removed from among you; for, for this intent I have written this epistle.

10 Behold I say unto you that this thing shall ye teach—repentance and baptism unto those who are accountable and capable of committing sin; yea, teach parents that they must repent and be baptized, and humble themselves as their little children, and they shall all be saved with their little children.

Why would parents among Moroni’s church group need to be baptized if they were already part of the church? If they were part of Moroni’s church group, shouldn’t they have been baptized at the age of 8 and never again?

Moroni 8
22 For behold that all little children are alive in Christ, and also all they that are without the law. For the power of redemption cometh on all them that have no law; wherefore, he that is not condemned, or he that is under no condemnation, cannot repent; and unto such baptism availeth nothing
23 But it is mockery before God, denying the mercies of Christ, and the power of his Holy Spirit, and putting trust in dead works.
24 Behold, my son, this thing ought not to be; for repentance is unto them that are under condemnation and under the curse of a broken law.

If people who have no law are under no condemnation and baptism avails them nothing, why would we need to baptize someone who has died without the gospel? If these deceased people without the gospel are alive in Christ just like little children, why the emphasis on genealogy work and temple baptisms?

Church Meetings

Moroni 6
9 And their meetings were conducted by the church after the manner of the workings of the Spirit, and by the power of the Holy Ghost; for as the power of the Holy Ghost led them whether to preach, or to exhort, or to pray, or to supplicate, or to sing, even so it was done.

Why aren’t church meetings spontaneous? Doesn’t a printed program and rigid agenda prevent us from letting the Spirit lead?

Moroni’s Promise (Moroni 10:3-5)

Why is Moroni’s promise only unto the Lamanites? Why do we teach that his promise is to everyone?

Moroni 10
1 Now I, Moroni, write somewhat as seemeth me good; and I write unto my brethren, the Lamanites; and I would that they should know that more than four hundred and twenty years have passed away since the sign was given of the coming of Christ.
2 And I seal up these records, after I have spoken a few words by way of exhortation unto you.
3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
6 And whatsoever thing is good is just and true; wherefore, nothing that is good denieth the Christ, but acknowledgeth that he is.
7 And ye may know that he is, by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore I would exhort you that ye deny not the power of God; for he worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men, the same today and tomorrow, and forever.
8 And again, I exhort you, my brethren, that ye deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them.

He eventually does talk to everyone, but that’s about twenty verses later in the chapter. And the message is a less cheerful.

24 And now I speak unto all the ends of the earth—that if the day cometh that the power and gifts of God shall be done away among you, it shall be because of unbelief.
25 And wo be unto the children of men if this be the case; for there shall be none that doeth good among you, no not one. For if there be one among you that doeth good, he shall work by the power and gifts of God.
26 And wo unto them who shall do these things away and die, for they die in their sins, and they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God; and I speak it according to the words of Christ; and I lie not.
27 And I exhort you to remember these things; for the time speedily cometh that ye shall know that I lie not, for ye shall see me at the bar of God; and the Lord God will say unto you: Did I not declare my words unto you, which were written by this man, like as one crying from the dead, yea, even as one speaking out of the dust?

 

 

 

8 thoughts on “Things to ponder in the Book of Moroni

  1. Great post. All good points.
    Another thing to ponder: Why does Jesus say nothing about the Sabbath when visiting the Nephites? Nephi said they obeyed the law of Moses but that when Jesus would come his descendants should do what He taught and Jesus said “Meet together oft”. In 4 Nephi Mormon says they no longer kept the law of Moses but kept the teachings of Jesus and met together oft. Moroni also describes the church as meeting together oft. How often is oft?

    1. That’s an interesting observation. The absence of the sabbath is pretty big once you notice it. When I was looking at “oft” I noticed it used in 3 Nephi 26. In verse 13 it says that after his three day ministry Jesus showed himself unto them oft, and oft broke bread, blessed it, and gave it to them. Even if oft is just once a week, that’s a lot of visits from Jesus!

  2. For baptisms for the dead with regards to condemnation under the law, you’re mixing two ideas.

    Baptism is for the remission of sins, not just the ones you committed when you were taught the gospel.
    If that was the case, you wouldn’t baptize a convert for the remission of sins because they never had the gospel and would be considered without sin.

    Moroni 7:16 says: 16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil;

    So every man, not just members of the church are given the spirit of christ so that they can know how to choose good and evil.

    If sinning is when you choose the evil, then yes, a person born without the law can still sin and as such would need baptism, even if they’ve died.

    An interesting thing to consider, why give an explicit law if we’re all expected to act according to the spirit and not sin against what we know to be good and wrong…
    Is that what is meant when we’re expected to live the higher law?

    Discuss… lol

    1. Hi Andy. Thanks for visiting and commenting. I want to make sure I understand your point about remission of sins. Are you saying that baptism is for remission of sins both before baptism and after baptism?

      As for your later point about everyone having enough Spirit of Christ to sin…who do you think are these people that Moroni says are without the law, who are not condemned, cannot repent, and it is a mockery before God to baptize?

  3. Hi MD!
    I see the baptism for remission of the sins that you’ve committed up to that point. You can’t be forgiven of a sin that you haven’t committed and more importantly, that you haven’t repented of.

    For the question, you asked who I thought it was referring to, my belief comes from Romans 2:14-16

    14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

    The “By nature” I would consider what Mormon was stating that the spirit of Christ is given to all men to know good from evil.

    So even without the law you still “by nature” figure out the law. And the parts that you haven’t figured out, you aren’t held accountable to that.

    James 4:17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

    So now that you’ve figured out what is right and you don’t do it, you have sinned and as such, need baptism for the remission of sins.

    This also leaves the door open to those with mental illness that don’t have the cognitive abilities to follow the law.

    That’s my take on it. I’m curious to hear yours.

    1. I think you and I are in agreement that those outside the law will still be held accountable for the things they did that they knew to be wrong – a murderer is still a murderer, even if he never heard of YHVH or Jesus.

      But Romans 2:12 says “For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law.” Mormon declares that “redemption comes on all them that have no law”. D&C 76:72 states that “they who died without law” are brought back during the terrestrial period. Read my post D&C 76: Terrestrial to see my explanation of that.

      So we have this mysterious group of people who are without the law, and Mormon says it is a mockery of God to baptize them. This obviously isn’t regular converts – the scriptures are clear that they need to be baptized.

      I’ve begun working on a series of posts about baptism. I think it would be best to go through that series to establish a solid baseline before we try to tackle this specific issue. Can you sit tight for a bit?

  4. Actually (even though it weakens my argument but that’s ok because we’re trying to get down to the truth, not win an argument), the big one you’re leaving out is Section 137. Given in 1836 before the any talk of Baptisms for the Dead, Joseph already sees his brother in heaven and is given the explanation that he would have accepted the gospel anyways so he’s fine.

    Um, wouldn’t that have a been a really good time to talk about and reveal temple work and all that fun stuff…???

    Or maybe in a later revelation say something like: “So when you saw your brother up here in heaven, here’s how that works, you have to baptize him for the dead and because I know everything and I see that you’ll be doing that, I just went ahead and let him in”

    Instead we don’t get that.We’re left to wonder if that’s what happened or is Joseph going off on his own path.

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