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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.
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.
I haven't been on this board for a long time, but I just finished reading _The Lincoln Hypothesis_, and I was wondering how many others had and how many others were persuaded of the truth of the author's inferences. Just a few claims from the book: Abraham Lincoln checked out the Book of Mormon and read it, leading up to the Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln's son died, and he began carrying around a pocket New Testament. He used a term from the BoMormon: "instrument in the hands of God," on at least five different occasions, to describe himself after having read the BoMormon. Lincoln returned the BoMormon to the Library of Congress only a week after he signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln's first name, Abraham, was not a coincidence, just as Joseph Smith's name was not a coincidence. Lincoln had his own Hyrum, who was a target of an assassination attempt along with Lincoln. A miracle occurred after Lincoln covenanted with God that he would commit the United States to liberty, giving the North its first major victory. One Congressman said Lincoln's face "shined like a prophet," as he spoke of the North and South's need to repent and how God's will was that we have a land of liberty. Multiple dog ears were found on Lincoln's BoMormon, marking a passage in Isaiah that suggested that God would heal the land after repentance. Lincoln, when he was sworn in for his second term, had his hand on that verse in Isaiah. Lastly, Joseph Smith specifically said we needed new Amendments to control mobs and end slavery, which is what Lincoln brought about. I think I got much of what I found persuasive listed. Anyone else read it? Should the Church be jumping on board this "hypothesis" and support that Lincoln was doing the work Joseph Smith failed at when he was running for President, i.e. bringing the U.S. to repentance via a covenant with God and special amendments to the Constitution? For a used copy: https://www.alibris.com/search/books/isbn/9781609078638