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Sunday, March 22, 2009

1 Nephi 14

So sorry for being a day late. I had a very sad, sick baby yesterday. Nothing serious, just a fever and cold symptoms, but she hasn't been that clingy for her mom in a long time. She's sitting on my lap now sucking on her blanket.

1 Nephi 14

In this chapter we hear a lot about the Gentiles, Jews, and the great abominable church. This reminds me of a discussion I had with my husband a few months ago, where I asked him whether he thought of himself as a Jew or a Gentile when we read the scriptures. After all, we know that as members of the Church, we are of the House of Israel, but when we read these chapters about the gospel being given to the Gentiles, I always think of myself as a Gentile. Interesting.

In v.1-2 the Lord promises the same blessings to the Gentiles as he gives to the Jews if they accept the gospel. So even if I am a Gentile originally, because I have accepted the gospel, I will receive the same blessings for being faithful.

v. 10-11--We first hear about the great and abominable church, which is spread across the whole earth. I don't know about you, but this imagery always kind of scared me as a kid. And then there's always people that spout Bruce R. McKonkie, who said it was the Catholic church, and then later on rescinded that (after all, the Catholic church as we know it now didn't even exist until several centuries AD). We know it isn't one particular church. Rather, I think it is any church that professes to worship God, but shows by its actions and doctrines that it really brings people closer to the devil.

I found an article by Stephen E. Robinson all about this, called "Warring against the Saints of God." Here is a lengthy quote that I found really enlightening:

"Actually, no single known historical church, denomination, or set of believers meets all the requirements for the great and abominable church: it must have formed among the Gentiles; it must have edited and controlled the distribution of the scriptures; it must have slain the Saints of God, including the Apostles and prophets; it must be in league with civil governments and use their police power to enforce its religious views; it must have dominion over all the earth; it must pursue great wealth and sexual immorality; and it must last until close to the end of the world. No single denomination or system of beliefs fits the entire description. Rather, the role of Babylon has been played by many different agencies, ideologies, and churches in many different times. It should be clear that the great and abominable church that Nephi described in chapter 13 is not the same historical entity that crucified the Savior or that martyred Joseph and Hyrum.

It would be an error to blame some modern denomination for the activities of an ancient great and abominable church. The other error is to go too far the other way, dehistoricizing the abominable church altogether. The term then becomes merely a vague symbol for all the disassociated evil in the world. We cannot, in the face of the scriptural evidence, accept this view. For if we do, we shall not be able to recognize the categories and know who is playing the role of Babylon in our own times or in times to come. Thus, we must, on the one hand, avoid the temptation to identify the role of the great and abominable church so completely with one particular entity that we do not recognize the part when it is played by some other entity. At the same time, we must remember that the role will be played by some entity or coalition, and we must be able to tell by their characteristic fruits which is Zion and which is Babylon."

According to him, 1 Nephi 13 talks about this church as being one among many, whereas this chapter talks about it being the only other church besides the church of God. Brother Robinson says that one use is historical, one is symbolic. Basically, what we can gain from this is that there was once a church that fit these descriptions, and in today's world, the same sort of influences exist, though probably not from the same source.

Moving on. One of my very favorite verses is v.14, which says "And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory." I love this scripture and find it so inspirational. I had a stake president a few years back who created a theme for the stake: A More Covenant People Unto the Lord. The focus was on living our covenants better and becoming closer to God. This verse makes me think of that.

Crying baby, so I need to hurry. The last few verses discuss Nephi seeing John the Revelator, who will have the same vision that Nephi has. Nephi records part of the vision, and John records the other. I think it's really cool to know they go hand in hand.

That's all for today, I don't even have time to proofread! I'm missing church today, so I'm glad I had the opportunity to do this, even though it's a day late. Have a wonderful Sabbath!

1 comment:

Elise said...

Tori, THANK YOU for these thoughts on what the "Great and abominable church" means. You answered this question perfectly, and I learned a lot. Also, I really like how you pointed out the covenant people being armed with the power of God and glory. That is a great promise.