Chapter 2: Our Living Prophet Has Issued a Warning
Our Living Prophet Says Church Still under Condemnation
On April 5, 1986, Ezra Taft Benson, Prophet, Seer and Revelator cited D&C 84:58-59 and said the Church is still under condemnation for failing to heed the Lords message to do as the Book of Mormon says. He called attention to the scourge and judgment which hangs over us and urged us to study that book with care. He told us to make it the center of our personal study, family teaching, preaching and missionary work. He quoted the words of the prophet Joseph Smith that it is the keystone of our religion, and that a man could get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book. (Ensign, May, 1986, pp. 4-7)
The Prophets Warning Against Pride
In his message, President Benson devoted much attention to the sin of pride. He called it the great sin noting that according to the Book of Mormon those who seem to have the most difficulty with it are the learned, and the rich. He referred to scriptures which state that when the earth is cleansed by burning in the last days, the proud shall be as stubble. He quoted prophecies from the Book of Mormon which tell us that the humble followers of Christ are few.
But the scriptures he cited to which we call special attention, are those which tell us that pride destroyed the Nephites, (Moro. 8:27) and that the Lord has warned us to beware of pride, lest ye become as the Nephites of old. (D&C 38:39)
In this work we shall undertake to show the manner in which pride destroyed the Nephites and how our own nation is being destroyed [p. 10] because of the same sin. In doing so we shall reconcile those statements in the Book of Mormon which attribute the destruction of the Nephites to pride, with those which attribute it to secret combinations, (Ether 8) and the corruption of our laws. (Mosiah 20; Hel. 4, 5, 8; 3 Ne. 7) We shall show that pride led to a corruption of their laws which in turn resulted in a takeover and destruction of their government by secret combinations.
The Book of Mormon Contains a Special Message Regarding Freedom
It is submitted that one of the most important messages the Book of Mormon has for the Gentiles is found in the detailed history it gives of a people who governed themselves under a political system similar to our own. Except for the Nephites who lived under the reign of the judges, and the Gentiles who live under the United States Constitution, history furnishes no other examples of nations having simultaneously, (1) the gospel, (2) the power of self-rule, and (3) a separation between church and state.
The Book of Mormon repeatedly illustrates how essential it is to our eternal welfare that we obey the Lords commandments pertaining to government. Under a government of self-rule, it is in the political area where we vote for the Lords plan of freedom or Satans plan of slavery. Here is where we indicate whether we belong with the just or the unjust, and whether we are able to overcome the disposition to abuse authority.
The Lord has given us the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule and the laws and Constitution of the people, all of which pertain to our political conduct. According to the Book of Mormon our failure to obey these commandments when we act through government, will result in our destruction as it resulted in the destruction of the Nephites.
The detailed description it gives of the events of that period are most fascinating when read with this thought in mind. The political issues, the wars, the continuing attempts by dissident factions to alter the God- given laws and overthrow the Nephite government, can be of immense value to us if we utilize that information as we exercise our own constitutional voting rights.
It cannot be by mere chance that the authors of the Book of Mormon [p. 11] devoted almost one half of it to that brief one hundred and twenty five year period during which the Nephites governed themselves by majority vote. Nor can it be other than by design that Nephite history occupies nearly all of the space, while the Jaredites who lived under monarchies, but were the greater nation (Ether 1:43) receive relatively little attention. Of course there may be other reasons for slighting the Jaredite history.
Prior Warnings by Our Living Prophet
Has there been any prophet of modem times who has dwelt more often and more forcibly on the topics of the Book of Mormon and government than President Benson?
Let anyone who really accepts him as a prophet and desires to know how he feels about secret combinations and the threat they pose to our constitutional system of government, search the record. Over a period of many years he has given speeches and authored a large number of books and articles in which he pointed out the mortal danger this nation faces from this source. In his utterances he quoted Book of Mormon prophets extensively.
But did we listen, or did we treat him, President McKay and others who spoke on these matters, as the people treated Noah? The threat of extermination by nuclear war hangs over us today like the threat of extermination over the world at the time of the deluge. But with this difference: While the people of Noahs day probably could not see a cloud in the sky, the threat of our extinction is so obvious that there is hardly a person in the civilized world who is unaware of it.
Furthermore everyone should be able to recognize the totally evil nature of the source of the danger. Who is there in the bee world who cannot now identify the ultimate wickedness on earth? What member of the Church is still unable to recognize that group which twenty years ago, President McKay called the greatest satanical threat on the face of the earth?
And still, like the people of Noahs day, we tend to ignore the prophets, both ancient and modem. We seem to be so caught up in gratifying our pride and indulging our carnal and sensual appetites, that we refuse to believe that the earth will be cleansed by fire as President Benson reminds us will happen. [p. 12]
Statements by President Benson
I have noted within the Church a difference in discernment, insight, conviction, and spirit between those who know and love the Book of Mormon and those who do not. That Book is a great sifter. (Ensign, December 1988, p. 4)
The Book of Mormon brings men to Christ through two basic means. First, it tells in a plain manner of Christ and His gospel. It testifies of His divinity and of the necessity for a Redeemer and the need of our putting trust in Him . . . . Second, the Book of Mormon exposes the enemies of Christ. It confounds false doctrines and lays down contention. (see 2 Ne. 3:12) It fortifies the humble followers of Christ against the evil designs, strategies and doctrines of the devil in our day. The type of apostates in the Book of Mormon are similar to the type we have today. God, with his infinite foreknowledge, so molded the Book of Mormon that we might see the error and know how to combat false educational, political, religious, and philosophical concepts of our time. (Ensign, January 1988, p. 3)
Two great American Christian civilizationsthe Jaredites and the Nephiteswere swept off this land because they did not serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ (Ether 2:12) What will become of our civilization? (Ensign, November 1987, p. 7) [p. 13]