A large part of faith in Jesus Christ is assurance that he is there and always has been there for us. This means remembering.

It’s an uphill battle, remembering. Not only are dark forces working to weaken our mental agility with mind-numbing TV fare and internet sites, but our own mortal brains purposefully forget things every night in our sleep! I bet it takes you a few seconds to recall what you had for breakfast yesterday, let alone the quietly-answered prayer from the Holy Ghost you felt two years ago. Against such odds, what hope do we have?

Keeping a journal is a great way to remember.

You can try to develop a photographic memory. Or, you can write things down. I encourage the latter. A journal is an amazing memory-extending device, like a flash drive for your brain. You might wonder about the connection between journal-keeping and worshiping God, but it is a perfectly natural relationship. In fact, most of my journal consists of events in my life that have served to strengthen my faith. When I read entries from years ago, it amazes me how much of my life has been forgotten by the very mind that lived it.

President Henry B. Eyring, a counselor to the Prophet Thomas S. Monson, recently spoke on the importance of remembering:

“I wrote down a few lines every day for years. I never missed a day no matter how tired I was or how early I would have to start the next day. Before I would write, I would ponder this question: ‘Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?’ As I kept at it, something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done.” O Remember, Remember; Oct. 2007

We are commanded not just to recall what has happened to us in our lives, but to “remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.” (Moroni 10:3) This is one reason Mormons soak up family history stories. We can relive with admiration the great faith of and blessings dispensed upon the pioneers as they crossed the plains to Utah. It helps to believe in the gift of healing when you can point to an ancestor who had that ability. We can go back further and examine the righteous examples of the early Christian saints who lived by the words of Peter and Paul. And we all have a heritage leading back to Noah and Adam and Eve.

scrollMany books of scriptures were originally journals of prophets replete with inspired writings. It would be impossible to remember the great words of Isaiah or Ezekiel or Paul if they had not been recorded with good old-fashioned pen and paper. Isn’t it conceivable that your own journal will influence future generations as well?

Throughout earth’s history, we can see the hand of God working in ordinary peoples’ lives. By recognizing and remembering His hand in your life, you will bolster your assurance that He is watching and helping you overcome your own trials. When He speaks to you, write these experiences down. If your faith in Christ begins to waver, your journal might be the thing that buoys you up, reminding you of that time He answered an important prayer.

Shalt thou kill?

Q. I was reading 1 Ne 4:13 last night and have a question. “Killing in the name of religion” is a popular topic amongst religious naysayers. This verse talks about how God only commands killing with the “kill one, save a thousand” mentality. Did God only command this in Bible & Book of Mormon days, or does he still do it now? If not, why? Why not for 9/11? My question is… what’s the answer to someone who fires in at me with, “Thou shalt not kill!? Such hypocrisy! More killing has been done in the name of religion than anywhere else.” – Molly M.

This is a good question. Molly, thank you for bringing it up. I’ll quote the verse you mentioned:

13 Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes. It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief.

nephi_labanIn this chapter the Lord commands Nephi to slay Laban to obtain the brass plates (basically the Old Testament up to that point in time — approx. 600 B.C.), so Nephi’s descendants would have the Law of Moses. But why kill Laban? He was passed out in the gutter; Nephi might have taken his clothes and his sword and left the drunk tyrant naked in the street. The short answer is ‘because God commanded it.’ I’ll get to a plausible long answer in a moment.

God’s view is much different than ours. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8-9). Jesus Christ can see into eternity. He knows each of us by name, by face, and by who we are and what we will become. Any time He issues a command, it is with infinite foresight (see D&C 29:34), and with the intent to help and protect His sons and daughters (see Moses 1:39). On rare occasions this might mean dispatching one of His children for the greater good of many. We must remember that to Him, death is not the end of anyone. Laban lives on as a spirit, and perhaps this is for his ultimate betterment.

Has God ever issued such a command in modern times? Not to my knowledge, and it would surprise me if He did. John Welch writes in Legal Perspectives on the Slaying of Laban that Nephi was justified under Jewish law (as set forth in the Torah) to take Laban’s life. The Spirit’s persistent whisper of “the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands” is a nearly verbatim quote from Exodus 21:13, which outlines an exception to “Thou shalt not kill” in the previous chapter. Since we are now subject to different laws, and God has encouraged us to abide by the laws of man (see Articles of Faith 12), it is unlikely He will command it. (But I can never rule it out).

But doesn’t that possibility open the floodgates for villains to falsely claim divinely inspired violent crimes? Yes. Unfortunately, Satan and his followers have the uncanny ability to twist true, godly practices toward their own ends. We can avoid being deceived by receiving the Holy Ghost and praying for the gift of discernment. This is yet another important reason to be baptized by the water and the Spirit.

So what do we say to the charge that religion causes widespread death and dying? Yes. Religion has done some of that, but not all religions are owned and operated by God (see above paragraph). It is just as careless to say that all foods cause obesity or the internet is basically pornographic. Just because many religions have bloodied their hands, does not imply that God’s are stained. The instances in which God has legitimately called for mortals to put someone to death are few and far between. They get written up in scripture mainly because of their highly exceptional status. “Thou shalt not kill” remains the rule in full force for Jews, and Christians alike.

But religion is not even nearly the biggest culprit when it comes to rampant killing. “More killing has been done in the name of religion than anything else” is one of the most absurd claims ever made. Sure, it’s easy to see, particularly in light of the conflict in the middle east, that leaders sometimes use religion as a way to inspire people to mindlessly kill others (maybe with promises of a glorious afterlife). But leaders act for political reasons, and they will use anything to inspire the masses to war. Sometimes it’s religion (crusades, jihads), but more often it’s nationalism or race or political ideology with the exact same result.


You don’t even need to look outside of the 20th century to see that the most brutal killing has nothing to do with religion. There are three leaders that are far and away responsible for the most deaths in human history. They are (in order) Mao Tse Tung, Joseph Stalin, and Adolf Hitler. All three were atheists who promoted atheist regimes, and who are responsible for about 100 million deaths among the three of them. After them come Pol Pot in Cambodia, Kim Il Sung in North Korea, Menghistu in Ethiopia, and Kambanda in Rwanda. The claim that “more killing has been done in the name of religion than anything else” is patently false. If anything, it’s just the opposite.

Now, for the long answer. (Yeah, turns out my short answer got pretty long).

God is not the only one to employ the “kill one, save a thousand” mentality. That doctrine is used by almost every head of state. This is the basis for life sentences and capital punishment, as well as sending soldiers to war to protect the freedom of civilians at home. Making such decisions is difficult for leaders, especially those who govern responsibly. This concept becomes even more important in light of Nephi’s intended audience. First Nephi, along with the next five books of the Book of Mormon come to us unabridged, and (in contrast to Mormon’s writings, which were for our benefit) were likely also written for the Nephite people.

Nephi was their first king, and a revered one at that. He wrote the book of First Nephi as a narrative of his rise to the throne. Val Larsen, a contributor to FARMS, wrote an amazing paper detailing this take on the scripture called, Killing Laban: The Birth of Sovereignty in the Nephite Constitutional Order. It is worth reading. Before discovering it (in researching this question), I naïvely thought I understood the Book of Mormon pretty well, but this is a testament to me that there is always more to learn.

Pearl of Great Price, Doctrine and Covenants

A question was input into the illustrious question box (that rectangular thing on the right there) as to what the Pearl of Great Price and the Doctrine and Covenants are. Well, A) they’re books and B) having perused both of them multiple times I feel qualified to explain the following:

monson_mediumFirstly and foremostly, in order to understand these books it must be understood that we believe that God still speaks to man. There is a prophet on the earth today (Thomas S. Monson by name, as seen in the lovely picture) who receives revelation directly from God for the people of our day and age.

Ok. The Pearl of Great Price is a sort of hodgepodge of articles and publications that concern our faith and doctrine. It contains, among other things, Joseph Smith’s account of his First Vision when God and Jesus Christ appeared to him in the spring of 1820. It also contains the Book of Abraham: a translation of some ancient Egyptian papyri that Joseph Smith acquired, which contain writings fascof the ancient patriarch Abraham. This book sheds fascinating new light on pre-earth life and the creation (click here). Way cool times three. It’s also got some nifty facsimiles like this one on the left.

The Doctrine and Covenants is a collection of revelations from God to the Prophet Joseph Smith as well as to some of his successors. It also contains inspired declarations made by these same men. We regard it is as a book of scripture like the Bible because it is the writings of prophets inspired by God. It’s a truly remarkable book in that we can hear the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ speaking to man in our modern day. Some of my favorite passages from the book include this, Joseph Smith’s testimony of Jesus Christ and this here, a trio of verses that keep me motivated.

But, as Reading Rainbow would remind us, you don’t have to take my word for it—be your own judge, read from the Pearl of Great Price here, the Doctrine and Covenants here.

More Than the Bible?

Q. How do you explain Revelation 22:18-29 (KJV) in conjunction with the addition of the Book of Mormon (and others) to Holy Scripture?

I can handle verses 18-21, but 22-29 are beyond me. I’d love to hear what you think of those.

Mormon scriptures include the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price

Chapter 22 of Revelation is the final chapter of the New Testament, verses 18-29 (KJV) are shown below:

18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

The implication is that since these verses close out the Bible as we know it today, God will not allow any more prophecies. My response to this would be a long series of quotations from a talk given recently by the Apostle, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, but I think it would be more sensible for you to read it or listen to it or watch it (below) yourself.