Location: 2 Nephi 4
Situation: Nephi is led by the Spirit, and finds Laban fallen to the earth and drunken with wine. The Spirit tells him to kill Laban. Nephi doesn’t want to do it. So the Spirit explains that the Lord has delivered Laban into his hands and he has to go through with it.
Money quote: “the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes. It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief.”
–Ouch. It’s okay to kill people as long as some vague future good will come of it?
–This sets a terrible precedent. Think: Lafferty brothers. Having God not just command people to kill, but also include justifications as to why it’s okay, can get you into trouble in that it’s easier to talk yourself into it. I’ve met people who not only say that the Spirit has told them wacky things, but include the Spirit’s justification for said wacky things. Not usually a good sign.
–God can override his own laws, hmm? What about this whole being steadfast and unchanging and therefore trustworthy?
–Is this a God who is even good?
Location: Alma 14
Situation: Those who were converted by Alma and Amulek are cast into a fire. Alma and Amulek are forced to watch. Amulek proposes that they do something about it.
Money quote: (from Alma): “the Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory, and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day.”
–Huh? The wicked have to be allowed to be wicked so that God can judge them fairly, to the extent of the righteous getting tortured to bring that about? Everyone loses: the righteous suffer in this life, and wicked suffer in the next one.
–Whatever happened to calling people to repentance? Evidently God will sometimes encourage you to stay in your wicked ways so that he can be just in his plan to punish you.
–Once again, we start to wonder: is God even good?
Location: Alma 34
Situation: Amulek is explaining the atonement.
Money quote: “Now there is not any man that can sacrifice his own blood which will atone for the sins of another. Now, if a man murdereth, behold will our law, which is just, take the life of his brother? I say unto you, Nay. But the law requireth the life of him who hath murdered; therefore there can be nothing which is short of an infinite atonement which will suffice for the sins of the world.”
–This is less disturbing and more just confusing. How can it be fair to punish someone for someone else’s sins? That’s always something I’ve found problematic in vicarious satisfaction theories of the atonement, that when it comes down to it, they’re actually not just. So how is justice getting satisfied?
— Amulek seems to see the problem here, but instead of grappling with it, he leaps to an infinite atonement. I’ve never understood how this resolves anything.
Location: Moroni 8
Situation: Mormon is talking about infant baptism. He’s pretty worked up. It’s a “gross error”, as children are not capable of committing sin. It’s “solemn mockery before God.” In fact, it’s so bad that even thinking it can send you to hell.
Money quote: “I say unto you, that he that supposeth that little children need baptism is in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; for he hath neither faith, hope, nor charity; wherefore, should he be cut off while in the thought, he must go down to hell.”
–Really? You happen to die while having the wrong belief about this, and you’re doomed?
–It also seems a little extreme to say that a belief in infant baptism means that you lack faith, hope, and charity.
–Okay, to be fair, I think this is likely hyperbole. But still.