Rob, I'm not ready to post this in the exegesis section. I need to think about it a bit more. I have a couple of comments related to your second question "Why would the People of Ammon be willing to sacrifice their children to the Nephite war effort, rather than teach their children to make the same covenants that they had made?"
- It seems like even as a question it takes a certain position. I think it is a good question, but somehow the way the question is written (especially the phrase "sacrifice their children to the Nephite war effort" seems to take the position that the Nephite's shouldn't have been at war. Is that what you intended? The exegesis section is really where positions should be laid out.
- I think part of the answer to this question is an answer to the larger question, "Why did the people of Ammon make this covenant in the first place?" As I recall, (does anyone know the scripture? I couldn't find it off-hand), there was something connected with their past murders and that having committed such murders in the past they were afraid they could not participate in war without becoming corrupted and becoming like they were before they accepted the gospel. With that explanation it makes sense that they wouldn't teach their children to take upon them the same covenant, given that their children didn't have the same history they did.
--Matthew Faulconer 02:06, 13 Jun 2005 (CEST)
Matt, I'll make no bones about the fact that I think we misread the Book of Mormon to support our own views on war--and I'm willing to include my own understanding there, as long as others are willing to have there's out there as well. In trying to reconcile the Book of Mormon with the Lord's latter day injunction to "renounce war and proclaim peace", I have been exploring the possibility that the Anti-Nephi-Lehite position of renouncing armed conflict may be more closely alligned to the Lord's teachings than were those of the Nephites. I think I can make a strong case, see all my comments from last week, but understand that this may be a minority position within the Church. I don't want to dogmatically assert my own position, but want to raise these questions--especially those which may help us question our own assumptions about what the Book of Mormon story is trying to tell us about warfare--my interpretation being that it never accomplished more than temporary relief from armed aggression, usually led to additional spiraling violence leading eventually to the full destruction of Nephite society. I'm reading the Book of Mormon more as a cautionary tale and warning against the futility of warfare, rather than as a book glorifying warriors and justifying modern warfare.
That said, if my questions can be rewritten to question my own position, that's OK and probably better. I'll see what I can do. --Rob Fergus 19:11, 13 Jun 2005 (CEST)
- Hi Rob, I like the way you rewrote the question.
- As an aside, I don't have any problem with people giving minority interpretations on Feast upon the Word. I am more concerned about whether an interpretation of scripture is right than whether it matches what a majority of people believe. Generally though, the question isn't "which interpretation is right" but "which interprations are right" because so often there really is more than one good way of reading the scriptures. In these cases my thinking is that both interpetations should be explained on the exegesis page. Sometimes though someone will feel like one interpretation is not an okay interpretation of the scriptures while someone else thinks it is a good one. In this case if both people are fair-minded, and both honestly seek for the truth but come up with different answers than I think the right thing to do is for them to work together to explain clearly the different positions on the exegesis page. I am not ready to go there yet, because I don't know what I think.
- Back to the topic at-hand. You mention above your reading of the Book of Mormon relative to war-fare. Do you think that your position relative to warfare is held by Mormon? In other words, does the Book of Mormon show us what it does about war-fare, in your view, in spite of the fact that Mormon wasn't specifically trying to make these points, or was Mormon presenting the information to us, in your view, specifically so we would see what you are telling is true of war-fare?
- --Matthew Faulconer 16:12, 14 Jun 2005 (CEST)
- Great question about authorial intent, Matt. Not sure, and I'll have to get back on that. Since Mormon was a war leader and also saw his people destroyed by war, not sure what he thought...I'll have to go see what evidence we have. I've concentrated more on trying to figure out how to view all the wars in the Book of Mormon in light of Christ's teachings about love and war in 3 Nephi and the D&C. Given Christ's admonitions to love our enemies and to renounce war and proclaim peace, I can more easily reconcile the Anti-Nephi-Lehi approach than the traditional Nephite approach. Rather than seeing any one view on war as right or wrong, I like to see them falling somewhere on a continuum between the self-serving maneuverings of some of the apostate Nephite leaders of Lamanites and the teachings of Christ against war. To that extent, I see the Nephites somewhere in the middle, and the Anti-Nephi-Lehis more closely approaching the "turn the other cheek" and willingness-to-die-for-a-cause-rather-than-kill-for-it example of Christ. More than arguing about right and wrong, I'm more concerned about modern readers seeing what they want to in the Book of Mormon, rather than other messages that might be there that cut against their traditional interpretations.
- --Rob Fergus 20:10, 14 Jun 2005 (CEST)
I can't find an electronic copy of the whole essay, but Eugene England makes this argument in his essay "Thou Shalt Not Kill" (In Making Peace):
The Book of Mormon at times reflects the values of a violent Hebraic culture of the kind that Christ called his disciples to rise above. At other times the Book of Mormon clearly advocates a higher non-violent ethic which it makes clear is a higher standard. Regarding the Lamanites converted by Ammon who renounced violence, even in self-defense, Mormon writes, "Thus we see that when these Lamanites were brought to know the truth they were firm, and would suffer even unto death rather than commit sin" (Alma 24:19). The sacrifice of these Lamanite pacifists ended violence, while the "just" wars of the Nephites did not and were followed by a decline into apostasy. (p.159 Making Peace)--User:Bwb2001
Hi Rob (or others), do we think there is a need for both the Helaman question and the question on the parents of the 2000 stripling warriors? To me it really seems like the same question from a slightly different angle. The difference doesn't seem to me to justify a second question. Is there something I am missing? --Matthew Faulconer 04:37, 4 Oct 2005 (UTC)
Not sure exactly how it figures in but I came across the verse in Morm 2:23 and it seems relevant to the question of authorial intent discussed above. I do think the question of authorial intent is relevant to the question of how we are to understand the writings of Mormon about warfare. --Matthew Faulconer 04:16, 5 Oct 2005 (UTC)
I am deleting this phrase: "The warriors could see this, so they knew that if they followed him, then they would be spared" from the commentary because I find no evidence that this in fact what the stripling warriors knew. It is a nice thought, but as applied to this circumstance I believe it is speculation.
I like in this passage of scripture the faith that Helaman and his army shows. Things are so desperate and they need recruits so badly but instead of blaming God which is a foolish and rash thing to do, they stay firm and constant and are slow to judge the circumstances they know nothing about. They just turn more to God and hope everything is ok with there government. Why do we sometimes start to blame God for the sticky situations that we most often put ourselves into. My answer is because it is the easy way out. In troubled times we need God more than ever but often times it is a hard thing to do in hard times to fully put your faith in God but if we have the faith and pray always it's possible. -- Brandon Hardle