Tag Archives: Moroni 7

“Manner” in Alma 8-13


*(I’ve tried to think through this before, so a lot of this might be redundant. I’m trying again because Joe is at a Mormon Theology Seminar on Alma 13 right now.)

Despite being fairly clear elsewhere, Alma’s discussion of “manner” in Alma 13 seems so muddled! It’s apparent that he is trying to explain what this “manner” is that points people to Christ, but it’s hard to understand what exactly he means by it.

(1)It is possible that rather than a particular manner of priesthood ordination bringing people to Christ, that it is simply that there are priests who are ordained and preaching that brings people to Christ. That is, if people are going around preaching and saying, “I come after the order of the Son,” that alone would point people to ask more about who the Son is. Whatever they learned from priests, and whenever they felt the Spirit, they would know that this has something to do with the Son / with Christ.

If you try out that reading of “manner” in Alma 8-13, it works pretty well. He ends Alma 13 by saying that there are angels coming right then to declare things to the Nephites. He also says when Christ comes on earth, the knowledge of that will be given to a few worthy people. This is a pattern of how God interacts with his people, and it justifies Alma’s actions of coming to preach to this paricular city even though he is no longer the chief judge, and even though they are no longer members of “Alma’s” church.

(This reading of manner, by the way, fits great with Moroni 7:31-32)

(2)Or, another possible reading that would be consistent with other verses in Alma 8-13 is that those who are righteous are chosen to do his work and those who are not, are not. This concept applies much more broadly than priesthood. He compares the Nephites and the Lamanites, saying that the only reason that the Nephites have knowledge of God, or have won wars, or have been delivered out of bondage is because they have been humble and repented. If they don’t, then the Lamanites are going to destroy them. The people don’t believe this is possible, so this is obviously a point Alma is trying to get through to them: repenting = God works with you, not repenting = no help.

In Alma 12, Alma is asked how it is possible that we could live forever, since clearly there is an angel blocking access to the tree of life. As Alma answers this question, it centers on faith and humility. They received knowledge according to their faith.

Then in Alma 13, this theme continues. Those who had faith and humility were chosen to preach that knowledge to the people. That is, faith and humility opened a way for them to work with God, and for God to work with the people.

He emphasizes this point strongly. In the first place everyone was on the same standing with God. But some chose to work righteousness, so they were chosen. But what were they chosen for? Just blessings for them? No, they were chosen to preach to others so that the rest of the people would also work righteousness and be happy.

So I think it is possible to read “manner” as “if you are humble and have faith, God will talk to you and help you.” If priests come to you telling you that if you repent you will be close to God, and if these priests are claiming that God spoke to them, then they are evidence that what they are saying is true. Of course, the Spirit would have to confirm to you that they are telling the truth, but if it did, then you would have evidence that if you have faith and repent, that God will commune with you as well.

(3)If you read more closely around Alma 13’s initial verses, where he starts talking about this “manner” (rather than throughout Alma 8-13 like I’ve been doing), then it would appear that manner is a more technical term for a process of ordination. Something like 1, chosen/called by God, 2, receive an ordinance, 3, receive a commission to preach to others.

Now that I type that out, I don’t see that conflicting with the other readings of manner. Being ordained in a manner that thereby the people might know to look to God — chosen by faith (faith leads you to commune with God, like a priest), received an ordinance (priests come saying they are after the Order of the Son of God, which already teaches you who they are coming from and who they are leading you towards), and received a commission to preach (their job is not to sit and receive glory, but to work so others can have joy with God too).

I think I want to let the complexity and confusion of Alma 13 be something that only really bothers me when I get close into the verses. I think if I step back I can see a message that is consistent over several chapters. And I think when I get into the verses of Alma 13 closely, it holds up. I think. 🙂

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Faith is faith on a word about Christ


I was rereading Moroni 7 today, and verses 20-34 seemed to have such a clear logic and flow that I wonder why I hadn’t seen this so clearly before! I guess that’s why we keep reading over and over and over again! So many things yet to be noticed that are right in front of us.

Mormon says his speech is going to be about faith, but he has some groundwork to lay down first. Mormon says that without Christ, none of us could have any good thing. “Otherwise men were fallen, and there could no good thing come unto them” (verse 24). But how do we lay hold upon good things then? “Thus by faith, they did lay hold upon every good thing” (verse 25). Faith is also what gives us power to do good things: “If ye have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me” (verse 33). And most importantly, along with repenting and being baptized, Christ says, “have faith in me, that ye may be saved” (verse 34).

So we see know that faith is necessary to lay hold upon good things, to do good things, and even to be saved. But how does faith come about? What is faith? Does God have a plan to make all of this possible?

Well, of course, he does. “For behold, God knowing all things, being from everlasting to everlasting, behold, he sent angels to…make manifest concerning the coming of Christ (verse 22). “And God also declared unto prophets, by his own mouth, that Christ should come” (verse 23). “Wherefore…men began to exercise faith in Christ” (verse 25). We get a little more detail on angels in verses 31-32:

“And the office of their ministry is to call men unto repentance, and to fulfill and to do the work of the Father, which he hath made unto the children of men, to prepare the way among the children of men, by declaring the word of Christ unto the chosen vessels of the Lord, that they may bear testimony of him. 

“And by so doing, the Lord God prepareth a way that the residue of men may have faith in Christ, that the Holy Ghost may have place in their hearts, according to the power thereof; and after this manner bringeth to pass the Father the covenants which he hath made unto the children of men.”

This is all so remarkably clear to me today. God creates the possibility of faith by sending messengers (either by calling prophets or by sending angels to chosen men, women, and children who then bear testimony). The possibility of faith is conditioned on God sending words and messages about Christ into the world. That is faith. Faith is believing on a word, and that faith creates a place for the Holy Ghost to empower, teach, sanctify, etc. It all seems to start with faith, and faith seems to start with a message, and that message seems to start when God speaks or sends angels.

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I was very impressed with the idea laid out here that the work of the covenants (the Abrahamic Covenant being the big example) is accomplished through speaking! I knew that angels ministered and that they did the work of fulfilling covenants, but for some reason I had separated those as two different jobs. But I think verses 31-32, quoted above, are clear that ministering messages is how they fulfill the covenants. They teach, which brings the Holy Ghost, which changes people, and that gathers Israel or whatever other promise is given through a particular covenant. Teaching. Teaching. Teaching. Wow. I’m again shocked at the value and power of teaching.