Outline and unity of sermon
I love verse three and the use of the word hope. If I didn't believe in Christ and his teachings, if I didn't believe in the Church of Jesus Christ what hope would I have of life after death. What hope would I have of obtaining any source of true happiness here in this life. It is my hope and faith in this life that keeps me going and lifts me up! It gives me the courage needed to face my trials in this life. --Bhardle 18:17, 4 Dec 2005 (UTC)
I'm going to work on Moroni 7 a bit. To start off I want to take a crack at outlining the whole chapter. This interpretation assumes that there is one overarching message but several related mini-messages embedded along the way. The outline below is only trying to capture the overarching message. Others feel free to update this outline. I'm putting this on the talk page because I don't think it is really ready for prime-time.
- v2-v3 Mormon is called to speak. He will speak to the peaceable followers of Christ--those ready to enter into Christ's rest.
- v4-v17 People should be judged by their works; works are only good works if done with real intent. This section serves both as an explanation for how Mormon is able to judge that those he is addressing are ready to enter into Christ's rest and as a lead-in for the next section.
- v18-v19 You must seek diligently to judge righteously so that you can know what is really good. And how will you be able to "lay hold" or acquire all those good things?
- v20-v39. We can lay hold on every good thing by asking God for it with faith in Christ. If we ask for a good thing, he will give it to us.
- v40-v43 To have faith you have to have hope. To have faith and hope we have to be meek and lowly of heart.
- v44-v48 If you really are meek and lowly of heart then you will have charity. If you don't have charity then nothing else is of value, but if you do have charity then at the last day you will be judged well. So pray to get this charity.
Comments/suggestions welcome. --Matthew Faulconer 15:22, 8 Feb 2006 (UTC)
I've been working on this chapter--which I love--but having a hard time in getting my mind around the whole thing. Is this several sort of related sermons with different points? Or is everything sort of making the same point. So on that vein I want to write up, for myself at least, but I'll write it here in case others find it useful my ideas around what I see as two other mini-sermons in this chapter. And then some thoughts around their relation to the overall sermon. The point of doing this is for me to work through in a very rough-draft way some of my thoughts before I post them to the commentary pages. Comments/edits welcome.
The first is on real-intent comprising about verses 4 to 17. I wonder if this mini-sermon isn't really a small sermon that is saying the same thing as the whole sermon from a different angle. The point of the small sermon is to tell us that if you don't do something with real intent than it is worthless. To me that is very much the same point that the entire chapter is making, namely, that without charity nothing else is of value. In other words, I think doing good with real-intent and having charity, or love like Christ has, be the motivation for your actions are really two ways of saying the same thing.
The second mini-sermon is on miracles. ooops. I have just run out of time. I'll have to take this up again later. --Matthew Faulconer 14:26, 10 Feb 2006 (UTC)
I've been thinking about this more and found a small chapter written on this by Monte Nyman in a compilation of essays about scripture (I'll add the source here later, when I have the book in hand). It was a little bit helpful, but mainly in getting me to think about the unity of the sermon here rather than offering any particular or specific insight.
I've also been reading and thinking a bit more about chiasmus and parallels in the scriptures. I think this is more common and less far-fetched than I had previously thought. I know I always try to tie in my opening point in my conclusion when giving a talk. So I don't think it's too much of a stretch to see an over-arching chiastic structure here, Moroni talking about real intent in the beginning of this sermon and then again at the end, as pertaining to charity.
It's understanding how the middle sermon on judging, faith and hope that seems more tricky. Having thought about this more, I appreciate your outline above better. I think you're description of vv. 20-39 is a good way of linking the first two mini-sermons.
Where I would disagree would be how to understand how charity fits in. I think charity is helping answer the question in v. 20 of how to lay hold upon every good thing. If this is the central question of the sermon, then having true charity and real intent are the ways to do the good that we know is right. And we obtain true charity, which is the pure love of Christ, by having faith in Christ. Mormon doesn't seem to tell us how this occurs (perhaps it is like 1 John 4 says, we love b/c he first loved us), but that we must have faith in Christ with hope and meekness, then we will have Christ's love (the love of Christ) in our hearts, which will ensure we have real intent to serve others. This all seems to hinge on how we read "he must needs have charity in verse 44:
- "If so, his faith and hope is vain, for none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart; and if a man be meek and lowly in heart, and confesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, he must needs have charity; for if he have not charity he is nothing; wherefore he must needs have charity." (Moro 7:44, emphasis added)
I'm suggesting the causality is reveresed, that if we truly are meek and have faith in Christ, we will (therefore) have charity. I'm not sure yet if this view really makes sense, but I thought I'd try putting it out there.
--RobertC 18:39, 15 Mar 2006 (UTC)
- The essay by Monte S. Nyman referred to above is "Hope, Faith, and Charity (Moroni 7-8)", chapter 26 in Studies in Scripture, v. 8: Alma 30 to Moroni edited by Kent P. Jackson (1988, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, ISBN 0875791662), pp. 293-303.
- Here are a few quotes whose from that chapter ideas I think could/should be incorporated into the commentary pages at some point:
- "Doing something for the right reason is doing it not only because it is what God would want us to do, but also because it is what we want to do." (p. 294, re. Moro 7:12)
- "Through a hope in Christ, we produce good works in this life and gain the right to receive the Spirit in our lives. This is one criterion for the judgment for every individual. By following the directions of the Spirit of Christ, given to everyone who is born into this world, we can make the proper selection of which good works to accomplish." (p. 295)
- "[One of the] basic purposes for which angels come . . . [is] to fulfill and to do the work of the covenants of the Father. . . . The appearance of angels to fulfill and to do the work of the covenants of the Father is the work of providing ordinances for salvation. For ordinances to be efficacious, they must be done by the authority of the priesthood. The keys of the priesthood are the directing power of the priesthood. When apostasy has occurred and the keys of the priesthood have been lost, making it necessary to restore these keys again, God has used angels to restore them. In our own dispensation, John the Baptist restored the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood (D&C 13); Peter, James, and Joh restored the keys of the Melchezidek Priesthood (D&C 27:12-13); Moses brought back the keys of the gathering of Israel, Elias the keys of the Abrahamic covenant, Eligjah the keys of the sealing power (D&C 110:11-16); other kangels from Adam to the present all declared their dispensation, their keys, and so on (D&C 128:21). Thus the way is once more prepared for individuals to attain salvation through the exercise of faith to receive the ordinances of the priesthood. The chosen vessels of the Lord (priesthood leaders) bear testimony of Christ, and the ordinances necessary for salvation through him (baptism, etc.), and the covenants of the Lord are fulfilled. (Moro 7:31-32). By faith, miracles are performed and angels minister to God's children. Without faith, these ordinances are not performed, angels do not minister, and individauls are not fit to be numbereed among the people of the Church. (Moro 7:37-39.)" (p. 296)
- --RobertC 15:55, 21 Mar 2006 (UTC)
I've been thinking about this chapter more in the last couple of weeks. If I just sit down and read it--I find it wonderfully motivational. If I try to outline it I find it amazingly difficult. For me the experience is similar to reading a talk by President Monson (at least some of them have this quality). If you just listen and take it all in it's wonderful. If you try to outline it and fit it all together into a single argument you end up having a really tough time of it.
One thing I think Mormon is pointing out along the way is that all of these different aspects of the gospel (i.e. judging good from evil, real intent, faith, having miracles, hope, being meek and lowly of heart and having charity) are in some sense the same--or to put it another way are completely interdependent when it comes to living any of them well. If someone has real faith, then of course they must have hope and if they have hope then they must be lowly of heart and have charity. It might be a mistake to look for causality in the way Mormon ties these principles together or to worry about which one comes first in it.
And I wonder, if this is how someone looks at gospel principles--as them all sort of being the same in some sense--if that doesn't effect how they give sermons. The sermon becomes something more like a family of related points that all work together vs a single point made at the beginning and the end with supporting evidence in between.
..Enough random thoughts for tonight...
--Matthew Faulconer 08:24, 6 January 2009 (CET)
Matthew, sorry I haven't been following the work you've been doing on these verses very closely--now I'd like to help. First, I have a bit of a nit-pick regarding the exegesis of verse 5: It currently reads "this phrase describes how we should attempt to understand other people". However, it seems at first blush that Mormon is just explaining why and how he is judging others in vv. 3-4. It's not until vv. 14-15 that he starts to talk about how these verses should be applied by his listeners. Of course, it seems common now-days that speakers tell personal stories and it's implicit that we should be applying the lessons to ourselves, and that is how we should be reading Mormon's sermon.
On a related note, it seems we could read vv. 3-18 as simply a tangent to the main sermon that starts in v. 21 where Mormon says "now I come to that faith which I said I would speak", which is what Moroni says Mormon will be speaking about in v. 1. Nevertheless, I think we can find a better reason than simply a tangent for why this mini-sermon preceeds the discussion of faith, hope and charity.
--RobertC 18:32, 21 Feb 2006 (UTC)
I like what you did. I agree with your claim about the exegesis on verse 5. I think that text was written by Chickenpig--but it is true I hadn't addressed it. In any case, I like the way you have updated things. --Matthew Faulconer 07:32, 22 Feb 2006 (UTC)
works ye shall know them
Robert, do you think what you write about works is the same or different than what I identify above in my outline of the chapter? I feel like there is some difference and wanted to revise what you wrote to suggest two alternatives but I wasn't able to clearly express the alternatives in my mind. I think I need more clarification in terms of how you are reading this first before I should attempt to revise what you wrote.
As I read this the point here is to explain how to know what is good so that you can have as a goal to acquire the good. Once your goal is to acquire the good, you will need faith to do that. Is that the same as what you are saying? --Matthew Faulconer 14:59, 22 Feb 2006 (UTC)
- Yes, I think we are basically in agreement. I'm not sure my thoughts here is very well thought-out. I was simply thinking about Alma's sermon on faith in Alma 32 and how there's a parallel in Mormon's sermon. Alma discusses how to see if a seed is good, then explains how to continue nourishing faith in that good seed. The parallel is that Mormon is discussing how to judge before he talks about faith. However, I use the term "teaching" in the exegesis which seems appropriate in the context of Alma's sermon (what else do the seeds symbolize?), but not so appropriate for Mormon's sermon here (Mormon says "by their works ye shall know them"--it seems a bit funny/awkward thinking about teachings having works...). This is why I don't think the exegesis I added was very well thought-out.
- What seems vague here is what Mormon's discussion of how to judge good from evil should be applied to. Should it be applied to judging prophets and angels (verses 22-23), or the teachings of prophets and angels? Or should it be applied to judging other people, or the teachings of other people? If other people, why is it important that we are able to judge other people? Or should it be applied to ourselves, or our own actions?
- I think a key question Mormon is trying to answer in this sermon is expressed in v. 20: "how is it possible that ye can lay hold upon every good thing?" In the light of this question, perhaps all the questions I pose above are addressed: We need to judge our own actions and intents, and those whom we allow to influence us in order to "lay hold upon every good thing".
- Out of time, I'll have to try and develop this thought later.
- --RobertC 06:43, 23 Feb 2006 (UTC)
Matthew, I really like all the improvements you've made on this page. I was little concerned your writeup overstated the difference between Alma and Mormon's views on faith and judgment. I'm not particularly pleased how I worded the point I was trying to make, but I trust you understand where I'm trying to go with the revision. It could surely be made more concisely or more clearly. Also, the reason I changed "alternately" to "another" is that I wanted to have less of an either-or connotation, since I don't see the interpretations as mutually exclusive. I don't have a particularly strong preference on either of these changes.... --RobertC 13:06, 2 Mar 2006 (UTC)
- I like what you did. Thank you. I agree that in this particular case and generally when different interpretations are given those interpretation should be presented in a way that doesn't suggest they are mutually exclusive since more often than not, they are not. In this case changing "alternately" to "another" accomplishes that nicely. --Matthew Faulconer 17:36, 2 Mar 2006 (UTC)
I like 'em. --Matthew Faulconer 15:01, 22 Feb 2006 (UTC)
The footnote connects Moroni's calling with 3 Ne 5:13. I think of an ecclesiastical leader as someone more than a person called to preach. For that reason, I'm going to remove the ecclesiastical leader bit and refer instead to 3 Ne 5:13. Feel free to re-edit. --Matthew Faulconer 07:27, 27 Feb 2006 (UTC)
I may've weakened Eric's point about doing good works in my effort to add to his commentary. Please feel free to edit or delete my additions. --RobertC 23:19, 15 Oct 2005 (CEST)
- I think you strengthened it. That's kind of the flip side of the concept. --Eric 22:14, 15 Oct 2005 (UTC)
There are 3 answers I can think of to the question I posted.
- pray for charity. This seems to be Mormon's answer in the concluding verse of this chapter.
- do the good work anyway--you learn to love those whom you serve. I'm not sure off hand of any scriptures that say this, but it is common advice. I think it is good advice so long as you really work at working in a way that leads to love. If you don't really work at that, acting without real intent can lead to resentment.
- do every good thing you do feel like doing. See my experience on this here.
I don't think of these as mutually exclusive. In fact, I think we should try to do all three. Of course, when talking about doing good things it is also good to remember King Benjamin's advice to these good things in wisdom and order--not to run faster than we have strength Mosiah 4:27. --Matthew Faulconer 06:20, 21 Feb 2006 (UTC)
- I don't really thing #2 is a case of acting without real intent. I mean if you really don't want to do something--but you wish you did--and you go do it anyway and the whole time you tell yourself that you want to learn to love the people you are serving better so that it isn't such a task, then I think you are doing good with real intent--maybe it isn't the best version of real intent but it is a version of real intent. --Matthew Faulconer 06:22, 21 Feb 2006 (UTC)
The commentary compared what is said here of prayer to what is said in Matthew 6. As it was written the commentary seemed to focus on the question of whether the two verses were giving the same message or whether one message should be seen as a subset of the other. In my mind, it was clear that to pray to be seen of men is one way, among many, to pray without real intent. So I deleted the other interpretation. At the same time though I tried to rewrite it in a way that this question wasn't the most important point of the exegesis. Anyway, that is my reasoning. Of course, all, feel free to revise. --Matthew Faulconer 15:07, 3 Apr 2006 (UTC)
I am thinking a bit more about the first question on the commentary page (currently first anyway).
Here's how I see the argument going here:
1) I know you are good since I've seen your good works (v 4)
2) That is a good way to judge; it is how God has directed us (v 5)
3) God also said if we don't have real intent then the work we do is not good. That is just another way of saying that good works only come from good people and therefore that we can judge people by their works. (vv 6 - 12)
4) Bad things invite/entice us to do bad; good things invite/entice us to do good (v 12-13)
5) Then don't judge wrong; (v 14)
6) Here is how you judge: the Spirit of Christ tells you good from evil. Everything that inviteth/enticeth to do good is good. Everything that inviteth/enticeth to do evil is evil. (vv 15-17).
...it keeps going but I'll stop here for now...
The thing I find odd about this is that there is little scope for a person who outwardly does all the right things but is doing them for the wrong reasons. I'm not sure how a scenario like that fits into this picture. Also I don't really make sense of both bullet 4 (v 14) and 6 (vv 15-17). They seem to be aiming at different things but seem to be saying the same thing.
Help on any of my various points of confusion is much appreciated.
--Matthew Faulconer 08:21, 4 Apr 2006 (UTC)
When Jesus visited Jerusalem he focused quite a bit on the person who does what the people of the time thought was good, but for the wrong reason. There are two parts in the New Testament that I am thinking of that seem really closely related to this chapter. The first is the part about praying with real intent. As is noted in the commentary page, Mormon's words that we must pray with real intent are similar to what Jesus says where he says we should not pray to be seen of men. The second part that is very similar is 1 Cor 13 where Paul is telling the people about charity and tells them that if they have not charity all their "good works" are of no value--see especially 1 Cor 13:3. I wonder if maybe the point is very different because of the culture. Maybe in the New Testament time around Jerusalem there was a real problem with people doing good for the wrong reason. In Mormon's time maybe it was the case that they simply didn't have this problem. Doing good, following the prophets, believing in Christ, etc may have been so unpopular in the Nephite culture that it wasn't something that people did "to be seen of men." --Matthew Faulconer 15:00, 4 Apr 2006 (UTC)
- I think the audience distinction is a very good point. I think it could be developed more by contrasting verses in the BOM where they seemed to understand the purpose of the law of Moses and looked forward to Christ, whereas in Jerusalem they were focused just on the law (and looking beyond the mark).
- Regarding judging, I like how you've highlighted the tension between these different teachings. I'm a little surprised I haven't thought or heard of this tension as clearly before. One way to resolve it, might be to to read Mormon as discussing how to judge that which entices us (maybe teachings, doctrines, or others asking for help?) whereas the New Testament seems to be focused on judging ourselves. I may have the distinctions a bit off, but I think there is a definite difference between the object of what we're to be judging (the purpose for juding is probably different too), whether or not the object is explicitly or implicitly identified.
- --RobertC 17:45, 4 Apr 2006 (UTC)
- I thought about the "judging us" versus "judging them"--I'm not sure I agree. If two people judge me, myself and someone else, shoudln't we come to the same conclusion if we both judge correctly? (Of course, that doesn't mean we should use the same method to get there. Maybe that it what you are saying.) Regarding the idea of explaining how to judge what entices us--I find the idea appealing. It does seem like the way to judge a person may differ from how to judge a doctrine or teaching, but then (and maybe I am misunderstanding what you are saying) it seems like Mormon's own example--judging the people he is teaching--wouldn't fall into the "judging what entices us" category. --Matthew Faulconer 06:09, 11 Apr 2006 (UTC)
- I think your claim that we should all come to the same conclusion if we are judging correctly is right in some ultimate sense, but maybe not in a limited, mortal, human sense. That is, why should I judge others at all? (Are there other scriptures besides the Sermon on the Mount about not judging others? I now in 3 Ne this is modified to "judge not unrighteously," though there doesn't seem to be any JST for the occurence in Matt 7....) And perhaps it's all part of the plan that we judge different things differently and we are both right. Take a political issue for example, or maybe an issue that, say, members of the Quorum of the 12 might disagree about—I think there are issues where disagreement amongst members can be a good thing and lead to better understanding for all involved.
- I recognize there's a danger in this perspective about moral relativism, but I think a strong case can be made that truth can be something personal, not just something universal. Terry Warner wrote the Encyclopedia of Mormonism entry on truth and emphasizes that in the Mormon conception, it seems to be related to action, not just a metaphysical, static and impersonal entity. I think this all relates to how we understand correctly in your claim about consensus if we all "judge correctly."
- I'm not being very clear here, but don't have time to think or write more carefully right now....
- --RobertC 23:47, 11 Apr 2006 (UTC)
- I think I agree with the point of what you are saying--even if I may disagree with some of the details. But, i am having a hard time figuring out how it fits into an interpretation of these verses. In other words, when I actually try to write it up in the exegesis I'm not getting anywhere. If you have time and want to give a shot at that, I'd be interested in seeing the results. --Matthew Faulconer 05:09, 12 Apr 2006 (UTC)
- Matthew, I hadn't noticed verse 8 very carefully before. I think this weakens the tension described above. That is, in discussing "giving a gift," it seems that this would be considered a good act. But it isn't "counted unto him" for good. This seems more similar to the NT concepts you mentioned above, about the difference between actions and intentions, in contrast to the way you're paraphrasing Mormon above. (I could be wrong on this, I'll try to look more carefully at all this later.) --RobertC 23:56, 11 Apr 2006 (UTC)
- Related to the previous point above--I agree that the question of when and how to judge others is a topic itself that deserves more attention. On the point about contrasting the New Testament to here, I'm honestly not sure. You may be right that I overstated my case.
- How's this. The structure of this passage (e.g. 4 through about 14) suggests that the verses where Mormon tells us that intent matters are meant to bolster the claim that Mormon can justifiably judge his audience as good by their good works (v 4). For these verses to play that role, we can't use them to say the opposite--we can't take them to mean don't judge people since you can't know their intentions. On the contrary, these verses only make sense playing the role they do if we assume that Mormon, and presumably others of us as well, have the ability to judge intent when we see works. In other words, if someone gives a good gift grudgingly we can tell the difference between that and someone who gives it with real-intent. --Matthew Faulconer 05:58, 12 Apr 2006 (UTC)
- Good point about the implications of Mormon judging his audience. I still think, at least in vv. 14-19 (possibly excluding v. 18), Mormon's point is more about judging that which entices us rather than judging others. But you've rightly pointed out that these concepts need to be reconciled with Mormon's judging his audience, so the manner of judging should apply to how we judge that which entices us, as well as how we judge others.
- Also, I think there are important implications and implications of these verses regarding faith vs. works. Here, "good works" seem to imply good intentions. So praying itself is not a good work, only praying with real intent. I think my tendency has been to read these verses with a false dichotomy between works and intent. Instead, Mormon seems to be using the term works in a way that includes intent.
- It'll probably be several days before I have a chance to try playing with the commentary page. I need to work on my OT lesson a bit more first.
- --RobertC 12:31, 12 Apr 2006 (UTC)
- You say:
- Mormon seems to be using the term works in a way that includes intent.
- I agree. To me this is a key to understanding this passage. --Matthew Faulconer 05:58, 24 Apr 2006 (UTC)
- I think you did a very nice job summarizing our discussion here on the Moro 7:1-5 page. I hope my minor changes were improvements—as always please don't hesitate to change anything back or edit what I wrote. --RobertC 03:22, 25 Apr 2006 (UTC)
- You say:
Verses 11-15: Is the devil being defined or ascribed causation?
Verse 18 "then the Lord will judge us harshly and not be willing to forgive us." This line of thinking doesn't appeal to me. I don't want to believe that God is reactionary and will be harsh and unwillinging to forgive based on my petty actions. Being petty because someone else was petty doesn't seem like a divine characteristic to me. I always liked the story of the man who went about his day "acting" instead of reacting to the sour people about him. That's the higher standard I think God employs.
- Makes sense. Any suggestion what the verse does mean? --Matthew Faulconer 16:18, 9 Feb 2006 (UTC)