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Mormon: Ministering Prophet and Historian

Updated on July 13, 2019
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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 is revealed as a Christian because he is simply a man who believed in Jesus Christ. He wrote a record that became a book with his name, i.e. The Book of Mormon.

In this part will be discussed the declining years of Mormon's life as he saw the civilization that he had studied for decades as a historian suffer. Mormon knew of prophecies from the records he used to make the Book of Mormon foretelling of the destruction of his people.

Mormon's Lamentations

It is evident from Mormon's writing that he lamented the lack of unity and the wickedness that plagued his generation. His inadvertent commentary throughout the anthropological library illustrates his nostalgia regarding the days of Nephi.

Nephi became a special witness or Apostle of the resurrected Christ in his day, which was nearly three hundred years before Mormon. Not only did he reference that Nephi, but another Nephi from the beginning of the record 900 years prior to capture his feelings.

Expressing his longing through Nephi, Mormon included a prayer of Nephi, a descendant of the Nephi of the exodus from Jerusalem 900 years prior, who lamented because of the wickedness of his fellow citizens. This Nephi said:

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

Reading of the days of Nephi we can gather that this other Nephi was better off in his own time because Exodus Nephi's days were perilous indeed with his brothers misunderstanding the messages of God and seeking to destroy his life! Read about that saga in the books 1 Nephi and 2 Nephi. Mormon was aware of this, meaning that he read and abridged the Plates of Nephi into his work, that we call The Book of Mormon.

If this other Nephi had lived during 600 B.C. he would have felt disadvantaged, but so pitiful were Nephi's sorrows that he longed for things to be simpler--falsely glorifying days of the past like all humans tend to do.

Mormon included that in the record by no mistake after reviewing the histories of his ancestors--a moment he took to identify with a fellow prophet about his own experience, which, by comparison, was much worse than at any time in the hundreds of years of history of his people.

This is important because it shows the humanity in the record. Why is that important? It is essential because it is not the historical accuracy of every aspect of the book alone that makes it a testimony of Christ, but that real people etched the markings who in truth recorded Christ's physical appearance to the people.

Another explanation of Nephi's lamentation, in comparison, could center around the fact that during the time of the Nephites of Exodus Nephi's day there existed no civil strife among them as in later times in history. Nephi could have meant that particular aspect of the days of Exodus Nephi that he (and Mormon) longed to experience.

Mormon Sees Seeds of Apostasy

Mormon recorded two great divisions of people: 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 they, unlike at the time of Exodus Nephi and there about, are not ancestrally linked to a specific group.

In the record, Mormon provides commentary throughout the history he prepared--providing perspective about the socio-cultural shifts. Mormon's purpose was and is 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.

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 year A.D. toward the end of the year to show Himself to them so that they could bear record of His glorious resurrection and world application.

The recording of their testimonies was paramount, for Mormon was shown in vision that people would disbelieve and dissuade others from his account as facetious. The climax of his work, Mormon's work, was the visit of the Savior.

When Christ visited the people, He stayed with them for three days only. He taught them the same sermon He preached in mortality in and at Jerusalem. He explained certain doctrines that caused 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 pride, similar to modern classism.

After Christ taught them personally, and for 200 years afterward, there were no national divisions reported. There were no Nephites or Lamanites, and all people held life in common together. Mormon implies that the races of the Book of Mormon did not matter following Christ's visit, but that genealogy still existed--being that Mormon writes he is a pure descendant of Lehi.

The unity that existed for 200 years ended in civil war among the people starting in the grand City of Zarahemla, capital to all in the region. Mormon wants us to understand that this was the destruction of society--the splintering of groups away from a unity of faith and nation.

Mormon recorded earlier in books 3 Nephi and 4 Nephi that 200 years after the personal appearance of Christ, people started to wear costly apparel and to establish classism again, which effectively ended the collective community of Christ that existed for those two centuries.

Jesus Christ Visits the Americas


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.

It should be remembered Mormon abridged the record of Nephi almost a thousand years after it was written. He had plenty of opportunities to read over the vast histories of his nation to pick and piece stories together to meet God's purpose for the record.

It is plausible that Mormon drew from the vast library of records to help piece stories together that would not have been relatable at the time they were written to make the stories fit smoothly. Mormon, inspired as he was to do it, took liberties to finish out the stories philosophically--to give perspective for today's cultures.

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

When the record was recorded, scribes and historians did not logically put all the parts together of Nehor's institution of another set of beliefs and how his pride led to the killing of another man and his execution.

Mormon, or some other historian since the occurrence, implanted the logical conclusion using his 20/20 hindsight. The spirit helped, but historians write the histories within the context of their culture, knowing the readers as Mormon knew us through revelation. Mormon attempted and succeeded in capturing modern cultural context, as the record he wrote has changed the spiritual nature of millions of its readers.

The Book of Mormon

You saw the musical, now read the book!

If you read the book that Mormon put so much work in as a prophet and historian, do so with a heart open to revelation. Mormon indeed testifies that his ancestors knew of Christ hundreds of years prior to his birth and worshiped using the Law of Moses as a guide to Christ the way it was meant to be used.

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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