This post is for an LDS audience, though all are welcome to read it. This is a personal view of some of the doctrines of the LDS church and as such should be viewed solely as my opinion.
Members of the LDS church view the Book of Mormon as a second witness of Jesus Christ and a guide to living a Christ-like life. This is true, but it is more than that. Members of the church believe the Book of Mormon was written for our day, not only to bring the world this witness of Christ, but also to use as a guide in combating the errors of the day.
President Ezra Taft Benson said:
“Not only should we know what history and faith-promoting stories it contains, but we should understand its teachings. If we really do our homework and approached the Book of Mormon doctrinally, we can expose the errors and find the truths to combat many of the current false theories and philosophies of men. 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.” (“Jesus Christ-Gifts and Expectations,” Christmas Devotional, Salt Lake City, Utah, 7 December 1986.)
Unfortunately, for over 150 years, the church has stood under condemnation (D&C 84:54-57) precisely because the members of the church refuse to use the book as it was intended by the Lord to be used. Are we ready to escape that condemnation yet?
President Benson also stated:
“We have not been using the Book of Mormon as we should. Our homes are not as strong unless we are using it to bring our children to Christ. Our families may be corrupted by worldly trends and teachings unless we know how to use the book to expose and combat the falsehoods in socialism, organic evolution, rationalism, humanism, and so forth… And our nation will continue to degenerate unless we read and heed the words of the God of this land, Jesus Christ, and quit building up and upholding the secret combinations which the Book of Mormon tells us proved the downfall of both previous American civilizations. (A Witness and a Warning, p. 6.)
The Book of Mormon exposes several types of characters specifically as a warning to those in the last days. We are to use that information to expose those who would overthrow our religious and political freedoms.
Some members of the church focus on living the faith, hope, and charity of Christ, and forget the other aspect of Christ in cleansing the temple, driving out the moneychangers, and exposing the Pharisees. In becoming like Christ, we have a responsibility to muster the courage to speak out and perform similar duties within our own sphere of stewardship.
I would like to discuss the story of one of these characters, namely Korihor, a man identified as an Anti-Christ and humanist. There are numerous questions that could be asked to help us understand the story and why it was included in the Book of Mormon.
Was it simply to share a story that the prophet has power to address problems with false doctrine being taught in the world, or is there a message for all members of the church? What knowledge can we gain from this story and what are we to do with that knowledge? If Korihor himself were here today, what would he look like? What would he teach? Would you allow your children to be taught by him? Would you allow them to be taught by him even a little? Would he be a danger to our liberty? Would he be a danger to our families? Would he be a danger to our faith? How subtle a message would he espouse to make himself look harmless?
The story starts in Alma 30 with the Nephites just finishing a battle with the Lamanites and Amlicites. After the people had buried the dead and mourned for them, the account says the people were “strict in observing the ordinances of God” (vs. 3) and there was “continual peace” in the land (vs. 5). These were good people trying to live good obedient lives, much like the people in our community. However, within another year, a man came into Zarahemla and the account says “he was Anti-Christ, for he began to preach unto the people against the prophecies which had been spoken by the prophets, concerning the coming of Christ.” (vs. 6)
By this verse we see that an Anti-Christ is simply anyone who teaches that Christ will not come. It is someone who is an atheist, and more specifically, one who is vocal in teaching such false doctrine. Korihor was not a psychotic murderer or petty thief or he would have been put in prison. He was a learned individual who desired to promote his belief that there is no Christ.
The Book of Mormon warns us that if we want to remain a free people we must serve the God of this land which is Jesus Christ.
Ether 2:12 “Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written.”
The corollary is that if we fail to serve Jesus Christ, we will fall into bondage. Is there a danger in ignoring the Korihor story? Personally? As a community and nation? Why would the Lord have inspired Mormon to include this story if it wasn’t to expose modern day Korihors and protect ourselves from Anti-Christs? Do we have any responsibility to our friends and neighbors to warn them when we recognize an Anti-Christ?
I believe when we fail to warn our neighbors of humanist/atheists we fail to use the Book of Mormon as the Lord intended and we further endanger our political and religious freedoms by ignoring the dangers of failing to serve Jesus Christ and failing to heed the warnings of the Book of Mormon.
Ezra Taft Benson wrote:
“Now, that divine duty to be a faithful fighter for freedom requires that those of us who have been warned do our duty to warn our neighbor, for our neighbor’s involvement in this struggle can bless his soul, strengthen his family, and protect him from pitfalls while he helps his country. The blessings far outweigh the burden when we stand up for freedom. With gall comes glory; with a cross comes a crown; with thorns comes a throne, if we will persevere in righteousness. There are still more victories to be won in this fight for freedom, the most important of which is to save our own souls by taking a stand for liberty with the Lord. For amid the encircling gloom, the kindly light of the Lord can lead us on—can help expose and stop evil in some places, slow it down in others, give the forces of freedom the chance to become better entrenched, provide righteous alternatives, and develop faith and hope to keep on keeping on in the divine assurance that in the brightness of the Lord’s coming, the darkness of Satan’s conspiracy will eventually be fully exposed and destroyed.” (God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties, pg. 404)
So what kinds of things did Korihor extol that we should watch out for?
In Alma 30:14 Korihor mocks prophecies of Christ and calls them the “foolish traditions of your fathers.” Applying that to our local situation, we’ve seen Korihors clearly identify similar “foolish traditions” in the humanist agenda that denies Christ and exalts man. This comes from John Goodlad and John Dewey. Both humanists like Korihor. We’ve also clearly seen that William Meyers wrote that our divinely inspired Founding Fathers initially gave us a republic, but Mr. Meyers was grateful we were moving toward democracy. A shift from God’s law, to man’s.
Verse 16 Korihor mocks the righteous people again expressing that their belief in Christ is the effect of a “frenzied mind” and says “this derangement of your minds comes because of the traditions of your fathers.” Again he is trying to tear down their righteous heritage.
Verse 17 Korihor commends the humanist religion preaching “that there could be no atonement made for the sins of men, but 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.” This dangerous doctrine is the same doctrine espoused in the Humanist Manifesto, signed by John Dewey and taught by his disciple John Goodlad.
In the April 2010 General Conference, Elder D. Todd Christofferson emphasized this modern day problem saying:
“The scriptures, for example, discredit an ancient philosophy that has come back into vogue in our day—the philosophy of Korihor that there are no absolute moral standards, that ‘every man prosper[s] according to his genius, and that every man conquer[s] according to his strength; and whatsoever a man [does is] no crime’ and ‘that when a man [is] dead, that [is] the end thereof’ (Alma 30:17–18).”
Verse 18 expresses the sad success Korihor had in getting many people to believe what he was teaching and many of them fell away from their beliefs in God.
Now the story gets applicable. After Korihor was successful in areas of Zarahemla, he travelled to the land of Jershon to preach this same doctrine to the people of Ammon who were converted Lamanites. Verses 20-21 say when he arrived, these people “were more wise than many of the Nephites; for they took him, and bound him, and carried him before Ammon, who was a high priest over that people. And it came to pass that he caused that he should be carried out of the land.” These people knew how to deal with Korihor. They rejected his teachings and cast him out.
Korihor then travels to the land of Gideon and thankfully these people also show wisdom and take him to their high priest Giddonah where Korihor again preaches his doctrine of the foolish traditions of the fathers in believing in Christ. He mocks prophecy, and says the priests glut themselves on the labor of the people thus keeping them in bondage so they cannot enjoy their “rights and privileges.”
Giddonah recognized the hardness of Korihor’s heart and orders him sent to Alma in Zarahemla. There, Korihor again preaches his doctrine and the account says he proceeds to blaspheme God. Alma then corrects the notion that the priests are glutting themselves by identifying their ministry as a lay ministry. Then Korihor asks for a sign and Alma strikes him dumb by the power of God so that he may not promote his lies any further.
Korihor expresses regret and sorrow and says that the devil came to him and taught him what he should teach the people. He then wrote Alma “I have taught his words; and I taught them because they were pleasing unto the carnal mind; and I taught them, even until I had much success, insomuch that I verily believed that they were true…”
So Korihor taught the devil’s doctrines because they are pleasing to the carnal mind, and once he had success convincing others, he was convinced they must be true.
I believe the application of this account is, don’t give Korihor a voice. We should reject his words just as the people of Jershon and Gideon did. In the end, the Lord struck him dumb to silence his voice. When we give voice to the Korihors of today, we receive the sermons of the devil, the teachings of an Anti-Christ, truth mixed with lies that will lead us away from Christ and away from the safety of our homes and the righteous traditions of our fathers.
Certainly, not everything Korihor ever said was false. Truth mixed with falsehood makes it tough for people to discern if they are not firmly rooted in the truth. Hearing truth opens the heart and then when lies are presented to an open heart, they may hit fertile ground and begin to grow unless that person knows to reject the seed.
In the October 1970 General Conference, Elder Ezra Taft Benson said:
“As a watchman on the tower, I feel to warn you that one of the chief means of misleading our youth and destroying the family unit is our educational institutions. President Joseph F. Smith referred to false educational ideas as one of the three threatening dangers among our Church members. There is more than one reason why the Church is advising our youth to attend colleges close to their homes where institutes of religion are available. It gives the parents the opportunity to stay close to their children; and if they have become alert and informed as President McKay admonished us last year, these parents can help expose some of the deceptions of men like Sigmund Freud, Charles Darwin, John Dewey, Karl Marx, John Keynes, and others.“
John Dewey and John Goodlad are modern day Korihors teaching there is no Christ and that children should be separated from the foolish traditions of their parents and taught by the state who they teach has rights to our children.
These false doctrines will destroy families and give rise to a generation that struggles to believe in Christ. Regardless of how much truth these Anti-Christ’s may espouse, all their words must be rejected because their Agenda is to open the hearts of people and plant the seeds of the destruction of their faith. They must not be given a voice of authority in our community and schools. We must not let their lies be entertained here.