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By Bernard Gui
At the end of Alma 37, Alma gives his final instructions to his faithful young son Helaman. After encouraging him always to be obedient to God’s commandments and to pray to God continually, Alma uses the Liahona as an object lesson to teach Helaman how to obtain eternal life through following the words of Christ. Using analogy, Alma compares the Liahona, the temporal compass provided by God to Lehi, with the words of Christ, the spiritual guide provided to all by God. In this remarkable passage, Alma, like all good teachers, repeats this image three times, and like a good Nephite teacher, he uses a parallelism to increase the impact.
Alma employs the alternate parallel form, one of the most common and effective forms of poetic parallelism in the Book of Mormon. It appears hundreds of times. An alternate consists of two or more lines that are repeated in parallel order. The simple alternate form is outlined ABAB. Extended alternates are outlined ABCABC, etc.
Alma uses three extended alternates in rapid sequence to instruct his son.
A For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ,
B which will point to you
C a straight course to eternal bliss,
A as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass,
B which would point unto them
C a straight course to the promised land.
The A phrase compares the ease of heeding the words of Christ with the ease of looking at the Liahona. The B phrase describes the purpose of A which is to point the course. The C phrase declares the final destination of those who follow A, salvation and arrival at the promised land.
A For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers,
B by following its course,
C to the promised land,
A shall the words of Christ,
B if we follow their course,
C carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise.
The A phrase again compares the words of Christ with the Liahona, but in reversed order. The B phrase indicates what we should do with A – follow their directions, and the C phrase gives the destination of those who do B – the promised land and a far better place, eternal life.
A for so was it with our fathers;
B for so was it prepared for them,
C that if they would look they might live;
A even so it is with us.
B The way is prepared,
C and if we will look we may live forever.
In this last alternate, Alma personalizes the analogies of the first two. The A phrase compares the Nephite fathers (Lehi and Nephi) with Alma and his son Helaman. The B phrase indicates that God prepared the ways of direction for all of them. The C phrase compares the physical salvation of the Nephite fathers by following the Liahona with the spiritual salvation promised to all of us who will look upon Christ.
Alma concludes his instructions with another impassioned fatherly plea that his son rise to the greatness of his calling.
This passage indicates deliberate logical planning on the part of Alma in giving crucial instructions to his son prior to his death. This is what Alma thought would be of most worth to his son - look to Christ. It gives us insight into the Nephite mind, especially that of a powerful and gifted leader. I am so grateful for the Book of Mormon and the beautiful intricacies that await in its pages for us to discover. (Thanks to Donald Parry for his marvelous edition of the Book of Mormon. Poetic Parallelism in the Book of Mormon: The Complete Text Reformatted. Maxwell Institute, 2007).
Your comments are welcomed.
Here is the passage in context.
By Five Solas
1. Read the Book of Mormon
2. Ask God
3. With a sincere heart
4. With real intent
5. Having faith in Christ
Failure is not an option, if you believe Moroni. First, you must read. Next, you must follow with prayer while meeting his remaining 3 prerequisites. Then the truth of the Book of Mormon will be manifested to you. Full stop.
Therefore if the truth is not manifested, the reason is as plain as the nose on your face: One or more of the prerequisites were not met. There is no alternate possibility. "It’s very simple"—as President Trump is fond of saying in his press conferences.
5 possible ways to fail, and only 5. So here is a question: With LDS Church growth stalling and 70+% of millennials going inactive/leaving the LDS Church by age 20 (courtesy of Mormonleaks), which of the 5 do you think represents the greatest challenge? Or are they all equally challenging? Or do you think it's some combination of them that present difficulty?
And while we’re on the question, how exactly does one go about achieving the last three prerequisites? Would any LDS seriously admonish an investigator to read the Bible first in order to attain “faith in Christ” prior to attempting the Book of Mormon?
For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.
Where did the Book of Mormon come from. I constantly hear this idea argued from both apologetic and critical sides. All in an attempt to explain how Joseph could have produced the Book of Mormon. Yet, when it comes right down to it, both sides should be able to agree on some pretty basic historical facts from the evidence.
Joseph Smith dictated the content of the BoM to some scribes Nearly everyone should be able to agree on that statement, and I think that really explains it in a nutshell. I was thinking about other figures in history that are revered for things they produced. Newton, Einstein, Beethoven, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, etc. Do anyone else spend so much time asking where they came up with their masterpiece works? Where did Einstein get that amazing theory of relativity? Where did Michelangelo get that amazing statue of David. How could they have possibly produced these things? Where did they come from?
I think we spend so much time looking for evidence, trying to find parallels, seeking to understand where the BoM came from, that we are missing the answer right in front of our faces and we should all be able to agree on. The BoM came from Joseph Smith. This is the clear and straightforward answer that both believers and nonbelievers should be able to agree on, and its the simple answer to a highly debated question.
By Robert F. Smith
Annalee Newitz, “Most scientists now reject the idea that the first Americans came by land,” Ars Technica, Nov 4, 2017, online at https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/11/majority-of-scientists-now-agree-that-humans-came-to-the-americas-by-boat/ , with map,
Todd J. Braje, et al., “Finding the first Americans,” Science, 358/6363 (3 Nov 2017):592-594, online at http://science.sciencemag.org/content/358/6363/592 ,
It now appears that coming to America by boat was normal even from earliest times. There is no longer any reason to credit the Beringia Land Bridge hypothesis, except in a much later period.