I am just another member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints airing my personal opinions.
This "hands-on" is in the form of what we call a personal testimony.

My personal ideas and interpretations.

I hope it's useful. If not, I hope you'll forgive me for wasting your time.

Above all, don't take my word for the things I write. Look the scriptures up yourself. Your opinion of them is far more important to you than mine.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Mosiah on Freedom

Reading in the hospital, I felt unusually impressed about the last three chapters of Mosiah.

These are among the parts of the book of Mormon where I began, as a teenager, to recognize my heart and my brain telling me, there is serious truth here. This book is not just about some egomaniac immortal claiming control over my life.

Bacground: In Mosiah 23, we see Alma strongly advising his little congregation not to seek to have a king. In v. 7, it is not expedient to have a king. In v.8, just kings are okay, but it doesn't last. Vs. 9-12, how bad things are under an unjust king, and how hard it is to get rid of an unjust king. 

In v. 13, "... stand fast in this liberty wherewith ye have been made free, and ... trust no man to be a king over you."

And not just government: in v. 14, "... trust no one to be you teacher nor your minister unless he be a man of God, walking in his [God's] ways and keeping his [God's] commandments.

How does this work? V. 15, love neighbor as self, for starters.

Some might complain that v. 17 is a loop-hole for an autocrat, but we must remember that the people had been asking him to be their king. Also, Alma does not behave as an autocrat.

On the other hand, if we have read this before, we might wonder whether such doubts about such things were part of the cause of Alma's namesake son's later rebellions.

A side note from ch. 24, we see that it becomes the effective duty of the dead wicked king's wicked priests to teach the Lamanites enough language skills that, when the four sons of the last Nephite king come preaching, some of the Lamanites can hear and understand.

Now we come to ch. 27.

Alma's people have had to escape from those wicked priests again and have rejoined the main body of Nephites. Alma has set up a church organization that is recognized by Mosiah, the last Nephite king.

Alma's namesake son has joined with Mosiah's four sons in trying to undo their fathers' work in teaching the people, by persecuting and trying to destroy the Church, when he and his buddies see an angel. This angel helps them to see that they have been working against themselves, and they begin to repent and try to undo their work.

One particular thing he says to Alma, "... remember the captivity of your fathers in the land of Helam and in the land of Nephi; ... for they were in bondage, and [the Lord] has delivered them." (This may provide a clue as to which group Alma's mother came back with. Maybe not.) The argument is that the Lord's purpose is to save his people from bondage -- including, from the high taxes and forced immoral behavior of a corrupt and society-corrupting government.

(The younger Alma's being snatched, etc., are important in a separate but not unrelated context, so I'll mention Alma 38: 8, that he had to decide he wanted to be saved before the Lord could rescue him. The Lord gives us opportunities to be saved, but does not force us, unless you insist that His failure to force is force, in which case, how could we ever be free?)

In ch. 28, the four sons of the king decide to go preach to the Lamanites. If you wonder where Ammon gets his skill with a sword, here you have it. He's been thoroughly trained as a prince. Mosiah knows he will not live for their return, but is inspired to let them go.

But Mosiah now no longer has a successor. So he cleans up some of his affairs.

Then we have ch. 29.

Mosiah knows he must be the last king, but the people in general do not. He knows the form of government has to change, but he must get his people to see that it is so. He begins by taking some surveys. Then he sends around an explanation of the problem, using pretty much the same arguments the elder Alma used.

Then he adds some interesting bits.

It is not the usual case that the voice of the people should choose evil. And when the larger part of the people choose evil, destruction awaits that society. These twin principles completely undo all elitist arguments.

And he doesn't stop there.

He lays out some rules of structure that provide accountability, including a failsafe of making the higher judges ultimately accountable to the lower. Rough checks and balances.

Then he lays out another important principle showing the fallacy of elitism. To lay the moral burden of a people on their king is an inequality, and not right. All the people should bear the moral burden of their own decisions and behavior, and the combined social burden should come on all equally.

Flat political structure.

Democracy may have been something of an invention of the Greeks, but the underlying principles have been known to God's people for a long time. Those principles are real and true.

The gospel is not just a feel-good warm-fuzzies philosophy.

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