09 October 2010

1 Nephi 14: There are only two churches - the church of God (the Mormons) and the church of the devil (everyone else)

Nephi's angel finally stops talking in this chapter. But he saved his best stuff for last.
Once again it's important to keep in mind the historical context of the angel's revelations to Nephi. This was 600 BCE, before most of the books in the Hebrew scriptures were written, about 700 years before the Christian New Testament existed, nearly 1000 years before the canon of the Christian Bible was established, and 2423 years before Joseph Smith found his golden plates. Yet the angel refers to, and often quotes from, all of these sources.
The angel starts off by giving all of you "gentiles" out there in "the promised land" a bit of hope. ("Gentiles" are non-Mormons and "the promised land" is the United States in Mormon-speak).
And it shall come to pass, that if the Gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God ... And harden not their hearts against the Lamb of God, they shall be numbered among the seed of thy father; yea, ... and they shall be a blessed people upon the promised land forever. 1 Nephi 14:1-2
All you have to do is become a Mormon and then everything will be cool. Otherwise -- well, you probably know what the otherwise is, but if not, just wait a few verses and the angel will tell you.
Remember the "great and abominable church founded by the devil" (the Catholic church) that the angel went on and on about in the last chapter? Well, it's back. And this time it's dug a pit, with the devil's help, to lead folks down to hell.
And that great pit, which hath been digged for them by that great and abominable church, which was founded by the devil and his children, that he might lead away the souls of men down to hell. 1 Nephi 14:3
So if you're a gentile, you've only got two choices: become a Mormon or fall into the Catholic pit that leads to hell.
And it came to pass that the angel spake unto me, Nephi, saying: Thou hast beheld that if the Gentiles repent it shall be well with them ... [but] whoso repenteth not must perish. Therefore, wo be unto the Gentiles if it so be that they harden their hearts against the Lamb of God. 1 Nephi 14:5-6
Next, the angel tells Nephi that the lamb of God (Jesus) says that the time will come (2423 years later) when a 17 year old treasure digger from New York (Joseph Smith) will find some golden plates and translate them by staring into his hat at some magic rocks thereby producing the "great and marvelous work" that we now know as the Book of Mormon and that you and I now have the great pleasure of reading.
This book is, according to the angel, the best and most important book by far that you, me, or anyone else will ever read. And we'll be tortured forever after we die unless we believe it.
For the time cometh, saith the Lamb of God, that I will work a great and a marvelous work among the children of men; a work which shall be everlasting, either on the one hand or on the other -- either to the convincing of them unto peace and life eternal, or unto the deliverance of them to the hardness of their hearts and the blindness of their minds unto their being brought down into captivity, and also into destruction, both temporally and spiritually, according to the captivity of the devil, of which I have spoken. 1 Nephi 14:7
Then the angel shows Nephi the Catholic church again.
And it came to pass that he said unto me: Look, and behold that great and abominable church, which is the mother of abominations, whose founder is the devil. 1 Nephi 14:9
And then the angel says something completely different. He tells Nephi that there aren't many churches (there weren't any churches at the time, of course), there are only two churches: God's and Satan's. Lutherans, Presbyterians, Jehovah's Witnesses, Unitarians, whatever -- they're all the same. They all belong to "that great church, which is the mother of abominations ... the whore of all the earth that sat upon many waters."
All non-Mormons are God-damned Catholics in the eyes of God.
And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth. And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the whore of all the earth, and she sat upon many waters; and she had dominion over all the earth, among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people. 1 Nephi 14:10-11
Then the angel showed Nephi the Mormon church. There weren't many Mormons, though, because of that fucking whore that sat on many waters.
And it came to pass that I beheld the church of the Lamb of God, and its numbers were few, because of the wickedness and abominations of the whore who sat upon many waters; nevertheless, I beheld that the church of the Lamb, who were the saints of God, were also upon all the face of the earth; and their dominions upon the face of the earth were small, because of the wickedness of the great whore whom I saw. 1 Nephi 14:12
God hated pretty much everyone on earth (they were all just a bunch of Catholics to him) until the Mormons showed up.
And it came to pass that I beheld that the wrath of God was poured out upon that great and abominable church, insomuch that there were wars and rumors of wars among all the nations and kindreds of the earth. And as there began to be wars and rumors of wars among all the nations which belonged to the mother of abominations, the angel spake unto me, saying: Behold, the wrath of God is upon the mother of harlots; and behold, thou seest all these things -- And when the day cometh that the wrath of God is poured out upon the mother of harlots, which is the great and abominable church of all the earth, whose founder is the devil, then, at that day, the work of the Father shall commence. 1 Nephi 14:15-17
Then the angel told Nephi to look over there. You see that guy in the white robe? That's the apostle John who will write the Book of Revelation about 700 years from now. (Which doesn't make a lot of sense since the apostle John didn't write Revelation, but oh well.)
And it came to pass that the angel spake unto me, saying: Look! And I looked and beheld a man, and he was dressed in a white robe. And the angel said unto me: Behold one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. ... he shall also write concerning the end of the world. ... And I, Nephi, heard and bear record, that the name of the apostle of the Lamb was John, according to the word of the angel. 1 Nephi 14:18-22, 27
The white-robed guy will write things that are just and true just like everything else that is written in "the book that proceeded out of the mouth of the Jew." ("The book that prceeded out of the mouth of the Jew" is BoM-speak for the Bible.)
Wherefore, the things which he shall write are just and true; and behold they are written in the book which thou beheld proceeding out of the mouth of the Jew; and at the time they proceeded out of the mouth of the Jew, or, at the time the book proceeded out of the mouth of the Jew, the things which were written were plain and pure, and most precious and easy to the understanding of all men. 1 Nephi 14:23
And that's all Nephi is going to say about that. The angel won't let him say any more. So don't ask. But the angel showed Nephi lots of other cool stuff that he can't tell you about right now.
And behold, I, Nephi, am forbidden that I should write the remainder of the things which I saw and heard; wherefore the things which I have written sufficeth me; and I have written but a small part of the things which I saw. 1 Nephi 14:28
Finally the angel stopped talking and Nephi quit writing down the things that he saw while he got all carried away. But it's all true. And thus it is. Amen. 10-4 good buddy. Over and out.
And now I make an end of speaking concerning the things which I saw while I was carried away in the spirit; and if all the things which I saw are not written, the things which I have written are true. And thus it is. Amen. 1 Nephi 14:30

Blogging the Book of Mormon
Next episode -- 1 Nephi 15: Nephi explains his dad's magic tree (again)


Anonymous said...

I love your style-you're hilarious. And this is the first study I've done of the Book of Mormon, so it's pretty interesting. I've got a lot to learn.

Thanks for all you do! Also the Skeptics Annotated Bible is the coolest resource.

Steve Wells said...

Thanks, Lynn. It's fun to read the Book of Mormon, but you have take your time and savor each bat-shit crazy verse. When I did the SABoM I just flew through it and missed some of the best stuff. So blogging it helps me to re-do the notes and capture more of the bizarre bits. I just wish blogging the Quran was as much fun!

Matthew Blanchette said...

Steve, did I post a comment on here? Can't remember if I did or didn't... :-S

Anonymous said...

I also gotta say thanks for the years of personal research on both the BOM and the Bible. I think I've been using the annotated scriptures since 2002. I still use it today when I debate religion in chatrooms. I'm not talking just about the comments on verse, but also the topics.

Seriously, keep up the good work.

Steve Wells said...

I'm not sure what might have happened to your comment. Lately I've noticed a few times where I thought I'd published it, but it didn't show up. I don't know whether it was me or blogger that messed up. If it was me, though, I apologize.

And thanks, zickeyzouse. I'm glad the SAB and blog have been useful. If I had a few more lifetimes, I'd waste one or two doing a more thorough job.

Matthew Blanchette said...

No problem, Steve; shit happens. ;-)

RJ said...

The book of Mormon is true. Man I hope you and the other people reading this blog have found that out by now. It's Oct 2015.

Dave said...

RJ - Yes, there is truth to be found in the Book of Mormon. There are also truths and wisdom to be found in the Bible and in the Quran as well. There are many good lessons, helpful ideas and beautiful principles that we can apply in our daily lives and that can help us be better, more compassionate people. I have felt the spirit of God confirm many truths in the Book of Mormon, but I've also felt the Spirit warn of false ideas as well. As a universalist, I believe there are a large number of sources of spiritual wisdom, and that it is best to be open to the various experiences and ideas, rather than closed. The Spirit of God will then help you to discern what is true to your heart.

The idea that there are only 2 churches - "the right one" and "the devil's" - is one of those false ideas. It sets up a poisonous "us versus them" dichotomy that prevents us from sharing wisdom across cultural lines. We all have something to contribute to the human conversation, and we establish our cultural values by having those conversations across cultural lines. The truth is that there are - in fact - a wide variety of churches, all of which take different approaches to the same idea: Helping us gain spiritual wisdom and understanding. Some do it better than others. Some are more tolerant than others. And yes, some (like ISIS) have few redeeming qualities at all. We need to fight dangerous ideas, but not with false dichotomies.

For example, I do love Nephi's other takedown of the abominable church in 2 Nephi 28. Especially 2 Nephi 28:13 where he talks about robbing to poor to build their fine sanctuaries and their fine clothing. Take one look at City Creek Center and some of the gaudiness of newer temples and ask yourself "Why is the modern LDS corporation building things like City Creek? Isn't that against our own scripture?"

Food for thought and may God bless you with a spirit of openness and understanding.