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Mormon: Ministering Prophet and Historian

Leaders of integrity or infamy found in The Book of Mormon provide the fodder for spiritual growth and self-improvement. It was made for us.

Mormon, a Christian, a philosopher, military genius, and historian, led a powerful life of choice and sacrifice, lamenting the lack of unity and wickedness plaguing his generation, evident by The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ's inadvertent commentary throughout.

This article highlights the declining years of Mormon's life, seeing the civilization he studied for decades as a historian suffer, decline, and disappear. Mormon knew of prophecies from records he used to author The Book of Mormon, foretelling the destruction of his people, the Nephites.


Gold Plates at a Glance

The Book of Mormon has several sections: the Plates of Nephi, the writings or abridgment of the more extensive history of the people of Lehi by Mormon, the writings of Moroni, and the abridgment of Mahonri Moriancumer, affectionately referred to as the brother of Jared in the abridgment by Moroni. That anthropological library illustrates Mormon's nostalgia, the chief contributor to the record, regarding the days of Pre-Meridian Nephi.

The reference to Pre-Meridian Nephi indicates others called Nephi existed, and the prefix is the differentiator.... Three men called Nephi in different eras: Exodus Nephi, Pre-Meridian Nephi, and Meridian Nephi (covered further in Three Men Called Nephi). Pre-Merdian Nephi fathered Meridian Nephi who met the resurrected Jesus Christ becoming an especial witness, or Apostle, of the resurrected Christ in his day, which was nearly three hundred years before Mormon. Exodus Nephi began the record approximately 800 years before Mormon etched his feelings into the Gold Plates.

Mormon's Lamentations

Mormon included a prayer of Pre-Merdian Nephi, a descendant of Exodus Nephi, lamenting the wickedness of his fellow citizens:

Oh, that I could have had my days in the days when my father Nephi first came out of the land of Jerusalem, that I could have joyed with him in the promised land; then were his people easy to be entreated, firm to keep the commandments of God, and slow to be led to do iniquity; and they were quick to hearken unto the words of the Lord...! Helaman 7:7

Pre-Meridian Nephi fared better in his time due to Exodus Nephi's days of peril with his brothers misunderstanding the messages of God and seeking to destroy his life! Mormon read and abridged the Plates of Nephi into his work, The Book of Mormon.

As did Mormon, Pre-Merdian Nephi longed for simpler times, glorifying days of the past like all humans tend to do. Mormon included in the record, after reviewing the writings of past historians, a moment to identify with a fellow prophet about his experience, which, by comparison, reads much worse than any time in the hundreds of years of history of his record.

This "moment" shows Mormon’s humanity. Why is that important? The historical accuracy of every aspect of the book does not make it a testimony of Christ. Human flaws exist in the record (the history) due to its compilation by two historians, flawed humans: Mormon and Moroni. Real people etched the markings into records, recording Christ's physical appearance--real people with real experience, not abstract thought or brilliant allegory of one or a few individuals.

Another explanation of Pre-Meridian Nephi's lamentation, in comparison, could center around the fact that during Exodus Nephi's time, no civil strife existed within their community as it did in Mormon’s day. Pre-Meridian Nephi could have meant that particular aspect of the days of Exodus Nephi he and Mormon longed to experience.

Any nation experiencing difficult times has people who look back to the fortunate times to enjoy the successes and flourish of those past days, forgetting that strife existed. Exodus Nephi recorded strife in his record, but he kept most of his etchings positive, pointing people towards the coming Christ. Mormon, in the portion of the record he wrote (everything up until "Mormon Chapter Seven"), attempted successfully to continue Exodus Nephi’s tradition--despite a total civilization collapse into lasciviousness, war, and genocide!

Joseph Brickey's "Mormon Prophet Warrior"

Mormon Records

Mormon recorded two great divisions of people in his day, the Lamanites and the Nephites. All smaller groups either supported or kowtowed to one of these major divisions. The significance of the division during the time of Mormon is that (unlike during the time of Exodus Nephi) no ancestrally link existed to a specific group in Nephite history (or Lamanite history).

In the record, Mormon provides commentary throughout the 1000-year Nephite history, providing perspective about the socio-cultural shifts from family history connections. Because one man provided the history from King Benjamin to his own, there is no anthropological distancing involved to accentuate the differences in culture among the Nephites or the Lamanites. Mormon's purpose remains to persuade every person to believe that Jesus is the Christ. When he explained the divisions among the people, he wanted to emphasize that Christ was no longer commonly accepted among the people, not to provide a treatise on the crumbling civilizations of his people and their enemies.

An august account in 3 Nephi 11 captures the witness of thousands of ancient Americans who testify that Jesus Christ visited them in the 34 A.D. toward the end of the year to show Himself to them so that they could bear testimony of His glorious resurrection and world application.

Recording their testimonies and the events that led to that event empowered Mormon to etch. God showed him in visions that people would disbelieve and dissuade others from his account as facetious. Jesus' visit to the Nephites and Lamanites, ancient Americans, climaxed Mormon's work.


Jesus Christ Visits the Americas

When Christ visited the people, He stayed with them for three days, teaching the same sermons He preached in mortality in and at Jerusalem. Christ explained certain doctrines that caused a contention among them--such as the mode and manner of baptism. He taught them unity, which destroyed the tribal natures of the Nephite and Lamanite "prides" or socio-political groups of power, similar to modern classism.

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After Christ taught them personally, and 200 years thereafter, no national divisions appeared. No Nephites or Lamanites existed, and all people held life in common together.

Mormon implies that the races of the Book of Mormon no longer mattered following Christ's visit. However, genealogy still existed--being that Mormon writes he is a pure descendant of Lehi, which also implies other groups of people existed along with them, at least the Mulekites and at most the Maya and other ancient American peoples.

No Longer in Common

Readers of The Book of Mormon get caught up in the stories it contains. Mormon included those stories to demonstrate the teachings of Christ. He abridged the record of Nephi and a storied amount of other records nearly a thousand years before “I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents…” [ I Nephi 1;1] left the mind of Exodus Nephi for the etching.

Mormon drew from vast libraries of records to help piece together stories not relatable at the time of their writing to make history fit smoothly. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, he took liberties to connect portions of history philosophically, adjusting perspective for today's cultures as closely as a 4th-century historian-prophet could.

An example is recorded when Nehor introduced priestcraft--the act of men preaching and setting themselves up for a light to the world, getting gain and praise from the world--to the people in the Book of Alma.

Scribes and historians may not logically have put parts together of Nehor's institution of beliefs, and how his pride led to killing another man and his execution. Mormon, or some other historian, implanted the logical conclusion of Nehors influence in history using 20/20 hindsight. The Spirit helped historians write the histories within the context of their culture. Knowing the readers as Mormon did through revelation, he attempted and succeeded in capturing modern cultural context. Not all of what he etched fits into modern context at first glance, but the record he wrote changes the spiritual nature of millions of its readers.

Mormon Catered to Modern Christians

Readers of the Book of Mormon get caught up in the stories it contains. Mormon included those stories to demonstrate the teachings of Christ.

Mormon, abridging the record of Nephi from its earliest point, almost a thousand years before his time, drew from vast records to help piece stories together not relatable at the time of their writing to fit smoothly. Mormon, inspired by the Holy Spirit, took liberties, bringing stories together philosophically and spiritually to moral conclusions--connecting history and prophecy into perspective for today's cultures.

One such example occurred when a man called Nehor introduced priestcraft, the act of preaching false teachings as if having authority from God for financial or personal gain and praise from the world deceiving the people and found in the "Book of Alma."

Scribes and historians who firsts recorded the events surrounding Nehor’s exploits possibly did not logically conclude his institution of beliefs and pride, leading to a man’s death and Nehor’s execution, Mormon’s 20/20 hindsight into the matter.

Mormon provided the perspective of an eagle, seeing all the events in the history of the Children of Lehi from a concluding vista. Nehor’s priestcraft vexed the societies of Lehi’s descendants from the time of its introduction until the death of the last record keepers.

Nehor "suffered an ignominious death. Nevertheless, this did not put an end to the spreading of priestcraft through the land; for there were many who loved the vain things of the world, and they went forth preaching false doctrines ... for the sake of riches and honor," Mormon interjected into the history.

Mormon, through revelation and historical vantage, attempted and succeeded in capturing the proper modern cultural context to warn against supporting priestcraft. What he etched and now exists in many languages helps change the spiritual nature of millions of its readers. Queen, the legendary band, may have an inkling of what Mormon felt in their song The Prophets Song. Mormon's contemporaries definitely would not listen to the "mad man!"

The Book of Mormon

You saw the musical, now read the book!

Mormon put so much work in as a prophet and historian. Read with a heart open to revelation. Mormon indeed testifies that his ancestors knew of Christ hundreds of years before His birth and worshiped using the Law of Moses as a guide until He revealed otherwise--which happened in a fantastic pentecostal manner, following an apocalyptic event and prior to Christ's resurrected appearance.

Christ taught them,

in Me is the law of Moses fulfilled. I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. And ye shall offer up unto Me no more the shedding of blood; yea, your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away, for I will accept none of your sacrifices and your burnt offerings. And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto Me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. [3 Nephi 9:17-20]


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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Rodric Anthony

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