Joe and I have both been interested in justice and mercy in the Book of Mormon. Today I finally made sense of what Alma’s soon was misunderstanding (see Alma 40 – 42). Alma talks about “restoration”: 40:22, the resurrection bringeth about the restoration.. v.23, the soul shall be restored to the body.. v.24 “this is the restoration of which has been spoken by the mouths of the prophets…” In chapter 41, he continues: v. 15: “The word restoration more fully condemneth the sinner, and justifieth him not at all.” Apparently, Alma’s son has had some question about this. In fact in 41:1, he says, “My son, I have somewhat to say concerning the restoration of which has been spoken; for behold, some have wrested the scritpures, and have gone far astray because of this thing. And I perceive that thy mind has been worried also concerning this thing.” Corianton is worried about the restoration. He was also “worried” about the resurrection and the timing (40:1 “I percieve that thy mind is worried concerning the resurrection of the dead.” Notice how many times in the next few verses Alma explains that the resurrection is not happening yet, nor do we know when it will be. Was Corianton worried about the resurrection itself? Did it weird him out? Is Alma easing his mind by saying it’s not here yet? Or was Coranton assuming things would be fixed in the resurrection, which was any day now, so he didn’t need to worry about repenting because it was all about to be fixed anyway?)
It appears that the confusion that many are having at the time, and which is causing many to wrest the scriptures (note it is not some outside idea, but a misreading of a doctrine taught in the scriptures), comes from the idea that part of God’s justice is to restore that which was lost. Alma 41:2 “The plan of restoration is requiste with the justice of God; for it is requiste that all things should be restored to their proper order.” Verse 4: “All things shall be restored to their proper order, every thing raised to its natural frame– mortality raised to immortality, corruption raised to incorruption….” I could see how this could also be understood that a sinful man would be raised a non-sinful man. At first glance, it seems that all things are raised to a perfected state – mortality is raised to immortality! If things were restored as they were, then mortality would be raised to mortality, right? So I can see how Alma needs to tell Corianton in Alma 41:10 “Do not suppose, because it has been spoken concerning restoration, that ye shall be restored from sin to happiness.” To us it seems obvious that you “just need to be good,” so I don’t think I’ve ever worked through these verses carefully.
Okay, so what is the difference, really? Why can your body go from a “bad” state to a good one, and not your soul?
Alma 42:9: “Therefore, as the soul could never die, and the fall had brought upon all mankind a spiritual death as well as a temporal, that is, they were cut off from the presence of the Lord, it was expedient that mankind should be reclaimed from this spiritual death.”
This spiritual death is overcome in resurrection: (Alma 42:23) “And the resurrection of the dead bringeth back men into the presence of God; and thus they are restored into his presence, to be judged according to their works, according to the law and justice.” Or is this the temporal death? Verse 9 says that the separation from God is the spiritual death. So, we are reclaimed both temporally and spiritually through the resurrection: our bodies and spirits are reunited, and our spirits are reunited with God. So, what of repentance?
I can see where Corianton and others could wrest the scriptures here to say that we are restored and nothing else needs to be done! I never thought I would understand where he was coming from, but I think I get it. (Not that I agree he’s right 🙂 )
Well, my son is not understanding the justice of me saying he can’t throw the dirt clods in the flower garden against the wall, so I’ll have to finish later.