Some (very) random thoughts regarding Alma 42 that I hope I can work through tonight at our Saturday Study group! For some reason, Alma’s logic has never quite made sense, even if I like some of his overall statements. I suppose it’s a bit like 2 Ne 2 in that respect – I love it, but there are parts of Lehi’s logic I just haven’t been able to work through in a satisfying way. But anyway, here are my thoughts/questions on Alma 42. I got through verse 10 before the kids got up (and wrote this paragraph with Jonah practically laying on the computer! 🙂 )
- Were they eating the tree of life before this? “as they were cut off from the tree of life they should be cut off from the face of the earth” – will we eat of it in the resurrection? The celestial home will be this earth, correct?
- It’s so interesting that here cut off from earth = cut off from presence. Their presence is described as earthly, not heavenly. “cut off both temporally and spiritually from the presence of the Lord”
- “it was not expedient that man should be reclaimed from this temporal death” – it’s always odd for me to hear this, because I think of the resurrection as doing just this. But I suppose I’d call it overcoming death. Alma must mean that we would be “reclaimed” in a different sense. What would that mean? Death not overcome, so, never happens? Reclaimed. Death claims us, but then we are taken back? I guess it’s true that death does have its way with us, for we do actually die, but then there is a next step. But I can’t help but think of Jacob, who says “And because of the way of deliverance of our God, the Holy One of Israel, this death, of which I have spoken, which is the temporal, shall deliver up its dead; which death is the grave” (2 Ne 9:11). Death is not just a moment but a state, it seems. Are we not reclaimed from death? I think I understand what Alma is saying – we do need to actually die – but still, this seems like odd wording to me.
- This logic really doesn’t make sense to me. I can’t wait for the study group tonight. Here is the next part: “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.” Okay, okay, so I get the idea that the spirit can’t be abolished. But that doesn’t seem to be what spiritual death would mean anyway. So, if the spirit can’t die, it sounds like it is saying the Spirit can’t be separated from the presence of the Lord. Can’t. What does that mean?! The only thought that comes to mind right now is that when we die we are all taken somewhere. Our spirits can’t remain in a grave. They either go to paradise or hell to await the resurrection. We all end up eventually in either God’s presence in a saved state, or we end up in Satan’s presence. But either way we end up someplace – our soul can’t just stay here in the ground. Is that what Alma means by the soul could never die? And if it can’t just stay here, and so has to go someplace, and that someplace by default means Satan, then I can see why God would be a bit concerned and need to expedite some saving plan. 🙂
- “Therefore, as they had become carnal, sensual, and devilish, by nature, this probationary state became a state for them to prepare; it became a preparatory state” – a time when if we over come this then we are saved? Whereas no matter how long we spend on this earth preparing, we aren’t going to undo our dying nature (laying all science fiction/fables of fountain of youth aside)?
- does spiritual death result from being carnal, sensual, and devilish? If so, and “it was expedient that mankind should be reclaimed from this spiritual death,” can we see how Corianton could think that being reclaimed from spiritual death meant being changed from a carnal nature to a godly nature? Apparently he supposed that “because it has been spoken concerning restoration, that ye shall be restored from sin to happiness” (41:10). Following Alma’s logic is a very careful procedure!