It is surprising that an idea can at once be so popular, attracting people to give it passionate devotion, and at the same time be completely false. Why are people so often crazy enough to jump on a trend that is destructive or just plain foolish against their own best interests? The Book of Mormon gives us countless examples.
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Maurine and Scot Proctor have taught Book of Mormon for many years in Institute and have spent extensive time in the Arabian peninsula, following Lehi’s trail. They are the creators of a foundation that has sponsored a multi-year archaeological study of the best candidate for Nephi’s Bountiful in Oman. They have written a book on the Book of Mormon, as well as immersed themselves in the culture, history, and geography. of the scripture.
It is surprising that an idea can at once be so popular, attracting people to give it passionate devotion, and at the same time be completely false. Why are people so often crazy enough to jump on a trend that is destructive or just plain foolish against their own best interests? Again and again, the Book of Mormon presents us smooth talking, powerful, intellectuals whose words corrupt the nation. There is Sherem who “had a perfect knowledge of the language of the people” and could flatter them to turn from their faith. There is Alma, before he repented, who represented the rebellion of youth against the teachings of their parents. There is Nehor who taught them that all could be saved without a Savior. There is Amlici who wanted power and lied to attain it. There is Gadianton, “whose criminal ambitions were masked by intellectual respectability” [from Hugh Nibley], and then there’s Korihor who we will talk about today. Every one of them grabbed power and the hearts of many people, reminding us that there is nothing more dangerous than a lie preached with power.
Welcome friends. We are Scot and Maurine Proctor and this is Meridian Magazine’s Come Follow Me podcast where this week we are studying Alma chapters 30 and 31 titled “The Virtue of the Word of God.” We love to study with you and remind you that you can find the transcripts of these podcasts at latterdaysaintmag.com/podcast. We also invite you to buy my new ebook “Eleven Things You Probably Didn’t Know about the Book of Mormon”. Why would you care to find out 11 things you probably didn’t know about the Book of Mormon? Because you come to see that this book is full of layers of richness that open your mind to new power in your study. It is simply fun to see what you haven’t seen before. You come to understand that there is greater relevance in even small details than you ever supposed. I think you’ll feel inspired to study the Book of Mormon in deeper ways when you see what’s possible. You can buy “Eleven Things You Probably Didn’t Know about the Book of Mormon” by going to latterdaysaintmag.com/Eleventhings with eleven spelled out. E-L-E-V-E-N. That’s latterdaysaintmag.com/eleventhings.
As Alma chapter 30 opens, the Lamanites have been driven out of the land of the Nephites at a very great cost. So great was the cost that the dead were not numbered on either side, and after days of fasting, mourning and prayer, they turn to a time of peace. The remarkable Lamanite converts were settled in the land of Jershon and peace began to prevail. But then, in the very next year, a man named Korihor came into the land of Zarahemla, who was an anti-Christ. The story that follows reminds us that persuasive ideologies are often more destructive than war, in fact, are often the cause of war.
I used to think that “overcoming the world” meant not indulging in the behavior of the natural man, things like selfishness, anger, impure activities or language, but I have come to see it also means something more. It also means not indulging in the thinking of the world which is tied up with the satisfaction of ego, the urge to be important, the drive to be accepted at whatever compromise is required.
Corrupt ideologies, false religion, popular trends, the loudest voices on Facebook can be so damaging to your soul because it leads to the undermining of truth and ultimately to self-destructive behavior. False ideologies created the gulags in Siberia, the Jewish concentration camps of the Holocaust. False ideas lead people to turn from the saving grace of religion, to trust in their own strength or the arm of flesh. False trends lead people to behavior that can ultimately enslave them. This is no small thing.
If we are to dwell in our minds in truth, we must overcome the false ideas and distorted paradigms of a fallen world. Overcoming the world is an imperative if we are ever to be fit to dwell in the presence of the Lord. This is what Korihor demonstrates so clearly.
On a worldwide trip that lasted one year and covered 60,000 miles, Elder David O. Mckay sailed to what is now Western Samoa and on the evening of May 10, 1921 had the following experience.
“Toward evening, the reflection of the afterglow of a beautiful sunset was most splendid! … Pondering still upon this beautiful scene, I lay in my [bed] at ten o’clock that night. … I then fell asleep, and beheld in vision something infinitely sublime. In the distance I beheld a beautiful white city. Though it was far away, yet I seemed to realize that trees with luscious fruit, shrubbery with gorgeously tinted leaves, and flowers in perfect bloom abounded everywhere. The clear sky above seemed to reflect these beautiful shades of color. I then saw a great concourse of people approaching the city. Each one wore a white flowing robe and a white headdress. Instantly my attention seemed centered upon their leader, and though I could see only the profile of his features and his body, I recognized him at once as my Savior! The tint and radiance of his countenance were glorious to behold. There was a peace about him which seemed sublime—it was divine!
Elder McKay said, “’The city, I understood, was his. It was the City Eternal; and the people following him were to abide there in peace and eternal happiness.
But who were they?’
“As if the Savior read my thoughts, he answered by pointing to a semicircle that then appeared above them, and on which were written in gold the words:
‘These Are They Who Have Overcome the World—
Who Have Truly Been Born Again’
Overcoming the world means we can’t be snagged by its ideas that would lead us far from God and from true freedom. We can’t be caught in their disdain for religion and for truth.
So Korihor is described as an anti-Christ and there are many in the scriptures and in the world who are anti-Christs. What does that mean? It means that they are a false Christ, assuming His power the way Satan does in the beginning of Moses when he ranted and said, “I am the only Begotten worship me” (Moses 1:19). They assume the guise of Christ, but they actually oppose him. Anti-Christs claim to replace the Savior and His gospel with their own idea of a better way. They have alternate ideas of virtue and a constricted view of who we are as individuals. They seek to replace freedom with coercion, truth with lies, and they have their own idea of salvation, which is usually transforming the world to give them more control. Instead of heaven, they demand unattainable utopias here and now, and every day is judgment day as people are controlled, judged and shamed.
You would think that if someone were an anti-Christ it would be clear to you. I remember walking across campus when I was in college and saw a man dressed up as Jesus in the middle of the square. He was ranting and passing out pamphlets. Ah, that’s obvious, you might think–an anti-Christ. In reality anti-Christs are not so visibly dressed up and clear to see. It takes discernment to see that the principles of anti-Christs are pervading the very world you live in.
So why do the ideas of anti-Christs have any power? The ideas of an anti-Christ are clever and appeal to our vanity. Everyone wants to be elite and smart. We want to be regarded as important. The devil, as Hugh Nibley notes, is devilishly clever. False ideas often appeal to that. They say, you don’t want to be so stupid as to be a believer. None of the really smart people believe. It’s so foolish to believe in angels or answered prayers. And the most foolish thing of all he suggests, is to believe in a being you cannot see or who hasn’t yet come to earth. That is just childish, wishful thinking. You don’t want to have to obey a bunch of stupid rules that just hold you down, Korihor asks.
He says, “O ye that are bound down under a foolish and a vain hope, why do ye yoke yourselves with such foolish things? Why do ye look for a Christ? For no man can know of anything which is to come” (Alma 30:13)
Doesn’t he sound so surprisingly modern here with arguments against God and religion we’ve heard our entire lives? He comes right out of a materialistic world view, where things you cannot see or measure do not exist. You can hear the disdain in his voice and it is very hard for humans to be disdained. We hate that withering criticism coming our way. We are afraid to be disliked or belittled.
Korihor says of prophecies, “How do ye know of their surety? Behold, ye cannot know of things which ye do not see; therefore ye cannot know that there shall be a Christ” (Alma 30:15)You can almost see the sneer on his face as he says these accusing words.
Korihor continues, “Ye look forward and say that ye see a remission of your sins. But behold, it is the effect of a frenzied mind; and this derangement of your minds comes because of the traditions of your fathers, which lead you away into a belief of things which are not so” (Alma 30:16).
Foolish, frenzied, deranged. This is what he calls believers. And that is particularly hard to swallow coming from someone who comes across with such intellectual polish. We don’t like to be called names and half believe it is true because of our own insecurities. They appeal to the part of us that believes we are not lovable or smart and we somehow need their approval or the crowd on social networks. We are not confident enough to hold on to the truth. Or they appeal to the part of us that is proud and think these ideas are better or more righteous or more socially just than the gospel. Or perhaps they are just plain easier.
There are other names that the so-called elite call believers in our world. Bigoted. Hateful. Oppressive.
While it seems strange that we would be persuaded by the Korihors of the world, they are surprisingly effective because they come across as the elite, the wise, the learned.
We learn in 2 Nephi, “O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness and the frailties, and foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.”
People might say they buy the lines of the Korihors because they are just seeking knowledge or that they want to be free. Hugh Nibley notes, “When they say they are asking God, men prefer to tell him; rather than ‘take counsel from his hand,’ they ‘seek…to counsel the Lord’ (Jacob 4:10). They are invincibly reluctant to ‘believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend’ (Mosiah 4:9), and firmly opposed to consider for a moment their own nothingness and the greatness of God. (Mosiah 4:11).
Honestly, I would feel extremely insecure if the supreme source of knowledge in my life was my own ideas. I’ve seen too often how limited they are. We’re not even sure of how to best help someone we love who is floundering or read their thoughts. We don’t know how to negotiate the land mines inherent in every day and every project we undertake. That I have God’s wisdom and strength to rely on is what gives me confidence in this life. How naked and fragile we are if we are left on our own.
What Korihor says about who you rely on is one of the most modern moments in the Book of Mormon. He sounds like a man of today. Telling the people “that there could be no atonement made for the sins of men”, Korihor said that instead, “every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was no crime” (Alma 30:17).
What does this mean? The most obvious phrase to look at is that whatsoever you do is no crime. Whatever you do is no sin. It really says, have your fun now because this is it. There is no more. It suggests there are no consequences for behavior so, what you will is what you can have. You have no one but yourself to account to.
It’s a mentality that suggests that the one with the most power wins, no matter what it takes to get there. It says that to get the ends you desire, any means will do, however immoral or whomever you trample on the way. It suggests that my cause is so important that I will do whatever it takes to get it and that the most vital thing I can be is willful, focused and use my muscle toward obtaining power because that’s what matters in the end.
This describes what we call social Darwinism, an idea that was adopted long after the Book of Mormon was published. That’s why we call it a modern philosophy. Just as in the physical world where Darwin says, the most fit species are the ones who survive, social Darwinism argues that people who fail do so because of their own weakness and unfitness. It suggests that only some of us can succeed and there is not enough to go around so you better go with all your might to grab the goods.
This is a harsh philosophy and one that completely discounts any belief in God.
If Korihor were alive today, he’d have a highly regarded blog or podcast to reach the masses. He’d show up on the news. Panels of journalists would attempt to analyze his appeal. What I’m saying, is we know his type and Korihor is not just in an ancient time on the pages of the Book of Mormon.
Because Korihor is so successful, you have to ask why he is allowed to preach and lead people away? Why not just shut him up so he won’t disturb the believers? Surely the Nephite leaders had the power to do that?
That is explained for us. Among the Nephites, there is no law against what a person believes and speaks, but only what they do that is against the law. Alma, who is now the chief judge, was once that younger man who used his great facility with words to destroy the church. Even in the pre-mortal world, Satan was allowed to preach his false gospel without God stopping him for He surely could have. It appears that agency matters that much. The first thing that totalitarians impose on a population is the muzzling of free speech. Only certain views are allowed and given air. You can be punished and severely so for saying something different, than the narrative demands. We are seeing this today as people are canceled, lose jobs or are suddenly relieved of their teaching duties for an idea that is different than the script. This is coercion, tyranny, bondage, and it is not God’s way.
His children can only grow not by forced compliance that withers their souls, but by having to discern truth from error, and day by day take responsibility for what ideas they consider, take into their souls and embrace. Believing a lie and living a lie exact a heavy cost. And we’ll finally see with Korihor that there are some limits to what is allowed.
And isn’t it ironic that Korihor who is free to preach what he will, says that the people are not really free.
He says, “Ye say that this people is a free people. Behold, I say they are in bondage. Ye say that those ancient prophecies are true. Behold, I say that ye do not know that they are true” (Alma 30:24).
Where did he learn his brilliant script that is so corrosive to the human spirit? He tells us. Let’s describe how that comes to be.
He preaches with great success in Zarahemla, then on to the land of Jershon. Remember Jershon is the land where the Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s live and they are solid, more wise than the Nephites who have been swayed in Zarahemla. They bind him and take him to Ammon and then drive him out of the land. Next Korihor is in the land of Gideon and he continues his rant.
He harangues against the priests to Giddonah, who is the high priest there, that the people,
“durst not make use of that which is their own lest they should offend their priests, who do yoke them according to their desires, and have brought them to believe by their traditions and their dreams and their whims and their visions and their pretended mysteries, that they should, if they did not do according to their words, offend some unknown being, who they say is God—a being who never has been seen or known, who never was nor ever will be” (Alma 30:28).
If Korihor were blogging today, he would belittle the truth claims of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. Despite mounds of evidence to the contrary, he would claim that there is not one shred of evidence that the Book of Mormon came from an ancient document. This is in part because he would be unwilling to accept anything that smacked of angels, gold plates or miracles as being the foolish traditions of your fathers. He would show you what he claimed were problems and take them out of context.
His blog might read, “Can’t we just talk about your foolish doctrines? Can’t we revise your old, repressive sexual morality?”
Finally, Korihor is brought to Alma, the chief judge, and “he did rise up in great swelling words” to revile the priests. Accusations against people and institutions, even when false, carry so much weight, and that is what happens here. He says the priests teach “the silly traditions of their fathers”for the sake of living off the labors of the people. (Alma 30:31). Since the priests, including Alma, work with their own hands for their support and do not receive anything from the church, it is a complete lie. How Korihor can make this accusation without trembling in shame is amazing, but he does.
Lies are, after all, what Satan trafficks in. When Alma and Korihor discuss the existence of God, the anti-Christ finally asks for a sign. Alma is reluctant but acknowledges that “it is better that thy soul should be lost than that thou shouldest be the means of bringing many souls down to destruction”(Alma 30:47).
Korihor is struck dumb as a sign that God exists, and makes this surprising statement: “I know that nothing save it were the power of God could bring this upon me; yea, and I always knew there was a God” (Alma 30:52)
Why? How can this be? Korihor tells us, saying, “the devil hath deceived me; for he appeared unto me in the form of an angel, and said unto me: Go and reclaim this people for they have all gone astray after an unknown God. And he said unto me: There is no God; yea, and he taught me that which I should say” (Alma 30:53). Korihor was flattered with his success and that so many followed him. He brought his curse upon himself.
Though he asked Alma to remove his curse, Alma would not, saying if it were removed, he would just continue leading away the hearts of the people.
Word spread and Korihor’s evil was largely undone as the people saw what he became. He is reduced to begging for food from house to house and finally finds himself among the Zoramites, where he is trodden upon and trampled to death.
It is actually the perfect introduction to the Zoramites, but before we leave Korihor, we must be grateful for the gift of the Holy Ghost which teaches us to discern between truth and error. We do not need to be taken in by beguiling people or ideas. The Holy Ghost is light and truth and helps us pick our way through the many voices that shout at us. We read and study the scriptures so that truth resides in our minds and gives us a benchmark by which to weigh all else. When we feel far from the Spirit, we can pick up the scriptures and begin to find the light renewed in us. We seek never to offend the Holy Ghost so we can have this constant companion. We must have it.
In a speech at BYU, President James Faust said, “A moral blackness is settling in. You are in many ways the hope of the future, and I remind you that valuable diamonds shine better against a dark background.”
He said, “’Give ear to the voice of the living God’ (D&C 50:1). The voice of the Spirit is universally available to all. The Lord said, ‘The Spirit enlighteneth every man [and every woman] . . . that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit’ (D&C 84:46).
Then President Faust added, But we hear other voices. Paul said, “There are . . . so many kinds of voices in the world” (1 Corinthians 14:10) that compete with the voice of the Spirit. We have come here to hear just one voice.
“Imagine, however, what would happen if all of a sudden a heckler in the back of this hall started to yell obscenities; another on my left began to contend with him; another on my right began to debate with his neighbor; someone in the center turned on a recording of some loud music. Soon a chorus of raucous, rival voices would smother my voice, and it would be difficult, if not impossible, to deliver a spiritual message to you.
“The adversary tries to smother this voice with a multitude of loud, persistent, persuasive, and appealing voices:
“Murmuring voices that conjure up perceived injustices.
“Whining voices that abhor challenge and work.
“Seductive voices offering sensual enticements.
“Soothing voices that lull us into carnal security.
“Intellectual voices that profess sophistication and superiority.
“Proud voices that rely on the arm of flesh.
“Flattering voices that puff us up with pride.
“Cynical voices that destroy hope.
“Entertaining voices that promote pleasure seeking.
“Commercial voices that tempt us to “spend money for that which is of no worth” and/or “labor for that which cannot satisfy” (2 Nephi 9:51).
“President Heber J. Grant stated:
“The trouble is, the adversary of men’s souls blinds their minds. He throws dust, so to speak, in their eyes, and they are blinded with the things of this world.” (James E. Faust “The Voice of the Spirit” https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/james-e-faust/voice-spirit/#byu
President Faust said the solution is here. “And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you. (D&C 88:67).
Now let’s turn to a people whose wickedness astonishes Alma. In fact, “his heart began to sicken because of the iniquity of the people” and he was very sorrowful (Alma 31:1)
Those are strong words to describe Alma’s concerns when he has already been exposed to such wickedness in his life—such as watching the believers in Ammonihah burn at the hands of the rulers.
The people who are causing Alma such anguish are the Zoramites who live in a place called Antionum. Now, it is helpful here to understand a bit of the Book of Mormon geography. The land of Antionum is in the south of the Nephite lands, right near the border of the Lamanite land. Like other apostate Nephite groups, it is always a danger that they will create a correspondence with the Lamanites and flip to their side and become the arch enemies of the Nephites. No groups were consistently an enemy to the Nephites as much as apostate Nephites.
“And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God.”
So Alma assembles his A-team of missionaries to go preach to the Zoramites. He took three of the sons of Mosiah: Ammon, Aaron, and Omner, and Amulek and Zeezrom, as well as his sons Shiblon and Corianton. High-powered talent indeed.
Now the Zoramites were dissenters from the Nephites , had turned away from the true and living God, but saw themselves as very religious. They knelt down to dumb idols and utterly perverted the ways of the Lord, creating, instead their own brand of faith.
The Book of Mormon tells us, “Yea, in fine, they did pervert the ways of the Lord in very many instances” (Alma 31:11)
Perverted means to take some few elements of the Nephite faith, but then to twist and distort them so that it was a corruption of the original course.
Though they had built synagogues, worshipped one day of the week which they called the Lord’s day, “they did worship after a manner which Alma and his brethren had never beheld” (Alma 31:12).
They had created a place built up in the center of their synagogue, called the Rameumptom, and those who wanted to worship would stand upon this tower and say:
15 Holy, holy God; we believe that thou art God, and we believe that thou art holy, and that thou wast a spirit, and that thou art a spirit, and that thou wilt be a spirit forever.
16 Holy God, we believe that thou hast separated us from our brethren; and we do not believe in the tradition of our brethren, which was handed down to them by the childishness of their fathers; but we believe that thou hast elected us to be thy holy children; and also thou hast made it known unto us that there shall be no Christ.
17 But thou art the same yesterday, today, and forever; and thou hast elected us that we shall be saved, whilst all around us are elected to be cast by thy wrath down to hell; for the which holiness, O God, we thank thee; and we also thank thee that thou hast elected us, that we may not be led away after the foolish traditions of our brethren, which doth bind them down to a belief of Christ, which doth lead their hearts to wander far from thee, our God.
18 And again we thank thee, O God, that we are a chosen and a holy people. Amen (Alma 31).
The idea that Alma and his brethren were astonished is used a second time here only this time, it is “astonished beyond all measure” (Alma 31:17).
This self-idolatry, this worship of their own esteem, this sense of superiority to all others, was to Alma as wicked as it gets. It is dividing the world between them and us. It is making a religion of yourself.
By the way, the word Rameumptom is intriguing, because the prefix “ram” in nearly all Semitic languages means high. Another interesting bullseye for the Book of Mormon.
From this stand they did offer up the same prayer, week after week, thanking God that they were superior to others, then return to their homes and never think of Him again, but turned their hearts to material gain and amassing gold and silver.
I wish this didn’t all sound so familiar to our world where we are almost conditioned to worship ourselves and divide people into groups based on wealth and importance and status.
Alma’s plea is so heart-felt. “O Lord, wilt thou suffer that thy servants shall dwell here below in the flesh, to behold such gross wickedness among the children of men? Behold, O God, they cry unto thee, and yet their hearts are swallowed up in their pride. Behold, O God, they cry unto thee with their mouths, while they are puffed up, even to greatness, with the vain things of the world.
“We thank thee, O God, for we are a chosen people unto thee, while others shall perish” (Alma 31: 26-28).
What this means is that they are heedless of others, cannot see people who are different than they, cheer for the destruction of others as long as it props up their own pretended superiority.
Yet, here is a look into Alma’s soul. Astonished at their wickedness, he acknowledges their importance to the Lord, saying, “O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our brethren; therefore, give unto us, O Lord, power and wisdom that we may bring these, our brethren, again unto thee” (Alma 31:34).
This has been our charge to seek out others since the Lord told us to take the gospel to all the world. We don’t presume to say some people aren’t worth it or some people are too hardened. All of God’s children are precious to Him and the most unlikely people are sometimes the first to join the Church.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland told a story that speaks of how precious even old sinners are to the Lord. He said:
“As you know, the Brethren used to announce in general conference the names of those who had been called on missions. Not only was this the way friends and neighbors learned of the call, more often than not it was the way the missionary learned of it as well. One such prospect was Eli H. Pierce. A railroad man by trade, he had not been very faithful in Church meetings—’even had my inclinations led in that direction, which I frankly confess they did not,’ he admitted. His mind had been given totally to what he demurely calls ‘temporalities.’ He said he had never read more than a few pages of scripture in his life and that he had spoken to only one public gathering (an effort which he says was no credit to himself or those who heard him). He used the vernacular of the railroad and the barroom with a finesse born of long practice. He bought cigars wholesale—a thousand at a time—and he regularly lost his paycheck playing pool. Then this classic understatement: ‘Nature never endowed me with a superabundance of religious sentiment; my spirituality was not high and probably even a little below average.’
“Well, the Lord knew what Eli Pierce was, and he knew something else. He knew what I’m pleading for today. He knew what Eli Pierce could become. When the call came that October 5 in 1875, Eli wasn’t even in the Tabernacle. He was out working on one of the railroad lines. A fellow employee, once recovered from the shock of it all, ran out to telegraph the startling news. Brother Pierce writes, ‘At the very moment this intelligence was being flashed over the wires, I was sitting lazily thrown back in an office rocking chair, my feet on the desk, reading a novel and simultaneously sucking on an old Dutch pipe just to vary the monotony of cigar smoking.’ (For my friends in the English Department I would just hasten to add that the novel reading was probably a more serious transgression than the pipe smoking.)
He goes on. ‘As soon as I had been informed of what had taken place, I threw the novel in the waste basket, the pipe in a corner [and have never touched either to this hour]. I sent in my resignation . . . to take effect at once, in order that I might have time for study and preparation. I then started into town to buy [scripture].’
‘Then these stirring words:
“Remarkable as it may seem, and has since appeared to me, a thought of disregarding the call, or of refusing to comply with the requirement, never once entered my mind. The only question I asked—and I asked it a thousand times—was: ‘How can I accomplish this mission? How can I, who am so shamefully ignorant and untaught in doctrine, do honor to God and justice to the souls of men, and merit the trust reposed in me by the Priesthood?’
‘With such genuine humility fostering resolution rather than defeating it, Eli Pierce fulfilled a remarkable mission. His journal could appropriately close on a completely renovated life with this one line: ‘Throughout our entire mission we were greatly blessed.’ But I add one experience to make the point.
“During his missionary service, Brother Pierce was called in to administer to the infant child of a branch president whom he knew and loved. Unfortunately, the wife of the branch president had become embittered and now seriously objected to any religious activity within the home, including a blessing for this dying child. With the mother refusing to leave the bedside and the child too ill to move, this humble branch president with his missionary friend retired to a small upper room in the house to pray for the baby’s life. The mother, suspecting just such an act, sent one of the older children to observe and report back.
“There in that secluded chamber the two knelt and prayed fervently until, in Brother Pierce’s own words, ‘we felt that the child would live and knew that our prayers had been heard.’
Arising from their knees, they turned slowly only to see the young girl standing in the partially open doorway gazing intently into the room. She seemed, however, quite oblivious to the movements of the two men. She stood entranced for some seconds, her eyes immovable. Then she said, ‘Papa, who was that . . . man in there?’
“Her father said, ‘That is Brother Pierce. You know him.’
“‘No,’ she said, matter-of-factly, ‘I mean the other man.’
“’There was no other, darling, except Brother Pierce and myself. We were praying for baby.”
“Oh, there was another man,’ the child insisted, ‘for I saw him standing [above] you and Brother Pierce and he was dressed [all] in white.’
Elder Holland concluded: “Now if God in his heavens will do that for a repentant old cigar-smoking, inactive, swearing pool player, don’t you think he’ll do it for you? He will if your resolve is as deep and permanent as Eli Pierce’s. In this Church we ask for faith, not infallibility.” (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “For Times of Trouble” https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/jeffrey-r-holland/times-trouble/
That’s all for today. Thank you for joining us. For the podcast notes go to latterdaysaintmag.com/podcast and thanks to Paul Cardall for the beautiful music that begins and ends this podcast and to Michaela Proctor Hutchins who is our producer. Next week we’ll study Alma 32-35 “Plant this Word in Your Hearts”. See you then.