A Homily on Helaman: Choosing Faithfulness in a Changing Church Culture

In a 1990 address to Regional Representatives, Elder Boyd K. Packer said:

In recent years I have felt, and I think I am not alone, that we were losing the ability to correct the course of the Church. You cannot appreciate how deeply I feel about the importance of this present opportunity unless you know the regard, the reverence, I have for the Book of Mormon and how seriously I have taken the warnings of the prophets, particularly Alma and Helaman.

Both Alma and Helaman told of the church in their day. They warned about fast growth, the desire to be accepted by the world, to be popular, and particularly they warned about prosperity. Each time those conditions existed in combination, the Church drifted off course. All of those conditions are present in the Church today.

Helaman repeatedly warned, I think four times he used these words, that the fatal drift of the church could occur “in the space of not many years.” In one instance it took only six years. (See Helaman 6:32, 7:6, 11:26)

It’s especially interesting that he mentions the book of Helaman as being a prophetic parallel for our day, in addition to Alma.  The superscription to Helaman–the introductory summary between the title and chapter one of the text–is part of the scriptural record, not an editorial study aid by modern church printers, like the individual chapter headings are.  One of the items in that ancient superscription is this:

An account of the righteousness of the Lamanites, and the wickedness and abominations of the Nephites.

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Repost: On America’s Future

As we scrutinize political trends, demographics, and cultural indicators, two prophecies from the Book of Mormon should give us all something to seriously mull over as we ponder America’s future.  Consider:

3 Nephi 16: 7–“in the latter days shall the truth come unto the Gentiles.”  Indeed, the gospel was restored in America in the early 19th century, primarily among Caucasian people (Gentiles).

verse 8–“they have come forth upon the face of this land, and have scattered my people who are of the house of Israel…”  That same population that received the gospel also oppressed some of God’s chosen people.

verse 9–“after all this…”

verse 10–“At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel…I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them.”  (emphasis added)  This single verse should scare the heck out of every Anglo American, especially among the Latter-day Saints.  The prediction there is pretty clear: when our society becomes pervasively unrighteous, rejecting our Christian heritage, God will take that gift of gospel truth away from us. 

It’s not giving away any big secret to share that convert baptisms into the LDS church in the United States have been fairly stagnant over the last decade.  The explosive rate of growth in the second half of the 20th century has largely leveled off. 

So, if the gospel is going to be taken away from us white Gentiles, to whom will it go?

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The LDS Church and Illegal Immigration

I have to change a major opinion. 

A couple of weeks ago, an announcement appeared on the Newsroom of the Church web site, saying that the Church “regards the declaration of the Utah Compact as a responsible approach to the urgent challenge of immigration reform.”  The declaration refered to affirms, among other things, that families should be kept together and that social services should exist for the benefit of “all” children. 

Like many other conservatives, I have said that the most logical, legal solution to the crime, friction, and costs caused by illegal immigration would be the deportation of all illegal aliens.  That position, in light of the above statements, no longer seems tenable to me.  The call for keeping families together and sponsoring universal social services can only be reasonably interpreted to mean some kind of amnesty, like the kind promoted by President Bush, and things like the DREAM Act, promoted by President Obama and members of Congress. 

Surely there’s still room for some disagreement on the subject, but we must agree that the general issue of whether or not illegal aliens should be deported en masse is now settled, as far as Latter-day Saints are concerned.  Continue reading