Sunday, December 14, 2008

Are We Ripening for Destruction?

For a people to become “ripe for destruction,” the Book of Mormon provides a two-pronged test. First, the majority must choose evil over good, as originally taught by King Mosiah and subsequently reiterated by several other prophets (see e.g., Mosiah 29:27, Alma 10:19-23, Hel. 5:2). Second, the people must “cast out the righteous” from among them. Interestingly, it is the righteous and their prayers that actually save the people from utter destruction until they are ultimately cast out (see Alma 10:22-23, Hel. 13:13-14).

[As a side note, I have jokingly thought that if God doesn’t destroy the city of Las Vegas he will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah. But, nonetheless Las Vegas and other cities continue to thrive. Is it a direct correlation to the righteous individuals residing in those cities?]

But being “ripened for destruction” doesn’t necessarily mean imminent destruction. Instead, Samuel the Lamanite introduces us to the doctrine of having one’s “destruction made sure”; the polar opposite to having one’s “calling and election made sure.” Atop the wall at Zarahemla, Samuel declares to the wicked Nephites that they have ripened for destruction and if they now failed to repent they would have their “destruction made sure” (Hel. 13:32). He continues by prophesying that when the Nephites finally realize they can go no lower, they will cry out the Lord, “O Lord, canst thou not turn thine anger from us?” (Hel. 13:37). Unfortunately, it will then “everlastingly” too late:

But behold, your days of probation are past; ye have procrastinated the day of your salvation until it is everlastingly too late, and your destruction is made sure; yea, for ye have sought all the days of your lives for that which ye could not obtain; and ye have sought for happiness in doing iniquity, which thing is contrary to the nature of that righteousness which is in our great and Eternal Head.” (Hel. 13:38)(emphasis added)

In the Bible, and mainstream Christianity, this is called the Doctrine of the Reprobate, or Reprobation. Reprobation is a corollary to the Calvinistic doctrine of unconditional election which concludes that some of mankind (the elect) are predestined by God for salvation, so the remainder are necessarily pre-ordained to damnation, i.e. reprobation. In Calvinist terminology, the non-elect are often referred to as the reprobate.

As LDS, we do not agree with predestined election, but instead individuals must work to “make your calling and election sure,” and subsequently have that election sealed by “a more sure word of prophecy” (2 Pet. 1:10, 19). Likewise, we do not accept that individuals are predestined to destruction, but must “earn” such a fate by first ripening for destruction (the 2-prong test) and then refusing to repent.

Paul briefly comments on some characteristics of those ripening for destruction:

23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. (Romans 1:23-27)

A few of the obvious characteristics asserted by Paul above include idolatry, prostitution, and homosexuality. Paul continues by introducing the Doctrine of Reprobation, wherein God ultimately allows those ripened for destruction to seal their own fate:

28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient (i.e., appropriate);
29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
1 Therefore thou are inexcusable, O man… (Romans 1:28 – Romans 2:1)(emphasis added)

Paul explains that these people block God out of their lives for so long, that he ultimately just lets them seal their own “reprobate” fate. Notice in verse 32 that these individuals are fully aware of God’s impending judgments, but they nonetheless get pleasure out of doing wickedly. Indeed, they eventually seal their own destruction and become “inexcusable” before God. Those that become “reprobates” have done so by forsaking the healing power of Jesus Christ in their lives:

Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Cor. 13:5).

Similar to the peoples spoken of in the Book of Mormon, we have a system of government that allows the people to establish law. We also, however, are susceptible to the similar pitfalls of such a government. Specifically, we may also “ripen for destruction” ourselves when the majority chooses evil over good and subsequently casts out the righteous. I submit that the United States may be close to this point; although not quite fully there.

In sum, I have often wondered if a specific region of the United States eventually chooses evil over good and then subsequently casts out the righteous from among them, would that region of the United States be susceptible to God’s destructive forces? Will the Church ever remove itself from a region as it has previously done and thereby allow the impending judgments of God to come to pass?

19 comments:

Hans said...

I don't know if the church can remove itself quite the way that we could in the 19th Century. Stakes of Zion are established throughout the country, as well as temples being in a majority of states. It is certainly possible still that the righteous could be cast out, but it doesn't have to be in the way that it happened in the Book of Mormon (i.e. physical). We can be physically cast out of the political process or lose human rights. Their are countless other ways that I could think of but perhaps we are closer than we think.

The Book of Mormon ultimately promises that the Gentiles will eventually reject the restoration and then the remant of Israel will then have its chance at restoration. Have we reached that point? Or are we somewhere in the grey area?

Nate said...

I could see the "cast out" phenomenon happening in many ways. I believe it has already started in some respects. Look at the examples of places that try to prevent military recruiting. Have they not cast out the military in a way...even thought the military is still present.

I also look at the random stories of things taught in public schools which are insanely offensive. If you can't participate "public" activities, such as schooling your children, you are probably slowly being cast out.

I don't think the church will need to say: Okay stakes of Zion, walk away (at least not until the very end). What will happen is, little by little, the stakes will simply diminish. No one will want to live in a place where they can't raise their children with their own values and beliefs.

Jeremy said...

I have always envisioned a time when the Church will consolidate its numbers in specific areas around the country. I beleive that things will get so bad in some areas that by necessity we will have to surround ourselves with like-minded individuals or be swallowed up by the wicked influence.

I really doubt the Church would officially abandon a region. But, like Nate said, righteous individuals may just reach a point where they feel it better to leave.

Then they will all move to Texas where the stars at night are big and bright.

Hans said...

Re: Moving to Texas, that's happening to some as we speak. Maybe Brigham Young was right to look there before going west.

spektator said...

Hans mentioned that the Gentiles are to reject the restoration. Even after that, they are still being encouraged by the Lord to "repent and return." This would allow them to be "numbered with His people.

The real challenge is know what we must repent of... I think that we are rejecting the fulness of the gospel when we fail to understand what the gospel really is and how it is defined in the scriptures.

Hans said...

I agree with spektator on Gentiles still being able to repent. The Israelite vs. Gentile distinction is really ambiguous considering that most people have the blood of both.

I only wish to add one additional point to spektator about understanding what the Gospel is and how to reject it. I believe that it is also understanding the Gospel as taught through the scriptures and through living prophets who clarify those scriptures. Ultimately Jesus gives the Book of Mormon as the sign of the marvelous work and wonder in his teachings to the Nephites. I think that it is safe to say that if one rejects the movement that advocates the Book of Mormon and the restored church, then one is rejecting the Gospel.

Nate said...

Don't you hate it when you see typos in your own comments...grr.

The population expansion, and the expansion of the church, in Dallas is remarkable. You have young professionals looking across the country for big markets to work in, and now they are choosing not to go to big east/west coast cities because of the crap that they'd have to put up with there.

Maybe that is another way for God to gather people away from harm. All it takes is a generation relocate away from their parents and then start families.

re: Dallas, at least two new stakes were made here last year. My ward just split, and my new ward still needs to use overflows, has 3 nursery classes, and almost enough kids for 2 primary sections. (which is way too many kids, but oh well) Plus there are something like 10 pregnant women due soon --thankfully not my wife.

I imagine Houston and Austin have the same thing going on too.

There's an idea for a post Hans. What did BY say about TX, and how are things forming.

DeweyOlsen said...

I found a Wonderful site on Isaiah!
http://www.isaiahexplained.com/
The site has free lessons on every chapter.
Very well done and in the author’s own voice.
Every Isaiah Chapter has the Analytical Commentary of Isaiah. Enjoy this personable verse-by-verse commentary of Isaiah by well-known Hebrew scholar Avraham Gileadi.

“Dr. Gileadi is the only LDS scholar I know of who is thoroughly competent to teach the words of Isaiah”—Professor Hugh Nibley, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. (1. 6. 2003)

“It is my testimony that this man has been brought forward and trained at this time to help those inside the Church into Isaiah, and those outside the Church, Jew and Gentile, through Isaiah into the Church” —Arthur Henry King, author, former BYU professor and London
Temple President.

“Dr. Gileadi has achieved a major breakthrough in the investigation of a book of such complexity and importance as the Book of Isaiah”—Professor David Noel Freedman, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

“Dr. Gileadi’s work will render obsolete almost all the speculations of Isaiah scholars over the last one hundred years . . . enabling scholarship to proceed along an entirely new line . . . opening new avenues of approach for others to follow”—Professor Roland K. Harrison, Wycliffe College, Toronto, Canada.

“Only one who is truly at home not only with the Hebrew but with the ancient manner of biblical thought could have produced such an insightful and ground-breaking book”—Professor S. Douglas Waterhouse, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan.

“Avraham Gileadi’s unsealing of the Book of Isaiah will forever change people’s
understanding of Judeo-Christian religion, lifting it to heights hitherto known only to prophets and saints”—Arie Noot, corporate executive, Edmond, Oklahoma.

“Isaiah Decoded is a huge breakthrough for the seeker of truth—Jew, Christian, Moslem, and agnostic. From an ancient writing, Gileadi has brought to light eternal truths about the nature of God and our relationship to him that have lain buried for centuries in the dust of time”—Guy Wins, fifth-generation Jewish diamond dealer from Antwerp, Belgium.

“Gileadi is the only scholar I know who has been able to express the Jewish expectation of the Messiah in relation to the life and mission of Jesus of Nazareth”—Daniel Rona, Israeli tour guide, Jerusalem, Israel.

“Dr. Gileadi has clearly demonstrated his mastery of the Book of Isaiah and of the scholarly literature dealing with it”—Professor Ronald Youngblood, Bethel Theological Seminary, San Diego, California.

“Avraham Gileadi’s books and tapes take the casual observer of Isaiah’s words and transform him into an enlightened and lifelong student of the Word of God”—Allan and Nancy Pratt, LDS mission president, Toulouse, France.

“Dr. Gileadi has awakened a whole new depth of my understanding of Isaiah’s prophetic message. His books and tapes illuminate the urgent relevance of Isaiah’s writings to our own day”—Becky Douglas, supervisor and sponsor of three orphanages in India, Atlanta, Georgia.

“Dr. Gileadi’s translation [of the Book of Isaiah] is clear and smooth, allowing the reader to appreciate the power and beauty of Isaiah as conveyed in the Hebrew original”—Professor Herbert M. Wolf, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois.

“Gileadi has uncovered an amazing message written in a divine code by the prophet–poet Isaiah. This will give comfort, hope, and joy to masses of people as they cope with the perplexing events now unfolding before their eyes”—Fenton Tobler, thirty years elementary school principle, Las Vegas, Nevada.

Hans said...

Dewey, as you seem to have posted the same thing in every other post, I would dare say you are heading into "tool" territory. A one time comment wouldn't have been quite as annoying.

Nate said...

Isaiah spam?

Hans said...

I doubt that Isaiah would have predicted that his words would be used for spam.

Nate said...

I'm not sure Hans, he saw our times really well. If you don't know about these teachings...I heard that there was some book somewhere that you could read.

Hans said...

Isn't it a website about something like isaiahexplained.com?

Hans said...

Where did Jeremy disappear to? I haven't seem him around here for a while.

Jeremy said...

I'm still here. But, I've run out of ideas for posts.

Nate, you need to write one about the WofW for us. If you give it a controversial title, that should will bring in some good traffic.

Hans said...

A controversial post would be good. Perhaps something on whether Diet Coke is against the WoW. We talked about this in EQ last week and the opinions were all over the map.

Nate said...

I'm going one better than Diet Coke Hans.

You'll see.

Hans said...

I can't wait to see. WoW debates usually bring up our numbers here.

Rob Watson said...

please, don't let it be about chocolate.