26 November 2015

Alma 51: Freemen and Kingmen

We left last chapter with a young Pahoran in the judgement-seat, and peace in the kingdom. The time of peace was fairly short-lived, because there was a group of people who wanted to establish kings in the land, rather than judges. The people who wanted kings were called "Kingmen", and the people who wanted to keep the system the way it was and stick to judges called themselves "Freemen". "Freemen" has a better ring to it, so they were clearly in the catbird seat in terms of spin, much like "Pro-Choice" is in the abortion debate. We'll see how this plays out.

And now it came to pass in the commencement of the twenty and fifth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi, they having established peace between the people of Lehi and the people of Morianton concerning their lands, and having commenced the twenty and fifth year in peace 51:1
Nevertheless, they did not long maintain an entire peace in the land, for there began to be a contention among the people concerning the chief judge Pahoran; for behold, there were a part of the people who desired that a few particular points of the law should be altered. 51:2
But behold, Pahoran would not alter nor suffer the law to be altered; therefore, he did not hearken to those who had sent in their voices with their petitions concerning the altering of the law. 51:3 

Therefore, those who were desirous that the law should be altered were angry with him, and desired that he should no longer be chief judge over the land; therefore there arose a warm dispute concerning the matter, but not unto bloodshed. 51:4
And it came to pass that those who were desirous that Pahoran should be dethroned from the judgment-seat were called king-men, for they were desirous that the law should be altered in a manner to overthrow the free government and to establish a king over the land. 51:5 
And those who were desirous that Pahoran should remain chief judge over the land took upon them the name of freemen; and thus was the division among them, for the freemen had sworn or covenanted to maintain their rights and the privileges of their religion by a free government. 51:6
The Kingmen's referendum failed, and the people sided with the Freemen, and they stuck with the judge system. Pahoran kept the judgement-seat, and all was well.

And it came to pass that this matter of their contention was settled by the voice of the people. And it came to pass that the voice of the people came in favor of the freemen, and Pahoran retained the judgment-seat, which caused much rejoicing among the brethren of Pahoran and also many of the people of liberty, who also put the king-men to silence, that they durst not oppose but were obliged to maintain the cause of freedom. 51:7
But they still had that pesky Amalickiah to deal with. He had sworn to drink the blood of Moroni, and his recent failed campaigns hadn't made him want to give up. He went around raising an army of Lamanites and people from all over the land. He didn't have quite as strong of an army as before, but he put together a "wonderfully great army" that he brought to Zarahemla in the 25th year of the Judges.
But behold, this was a critical time for such contentions to be among the people of Nephi; for behold, Amalickiah had again stirred up the hearts of the people of the Lamanites against the people of the Nephites, and he was gathering together soldiers from all parts of his land, and arming them, and preparing for war with all diligence; for he had sworn to drink the blood of Moroni. 51:9
Now his armies were not so great as they had hitherto been, because of the many thousands who had been slain by the hand of the Nephites; but notwithstanding their great loss, Amalickiah had gathered together a wonderfully great army, insomuch that he feared not to come down to the land of Zarahemla. 51:11 
Yea, even Amalickiah did himself come down, at the head of the Lamanites. And it was in the twenty and fifth year of the reign of the judges; and it was at the same time that they had begun to settle the affairs of their contentions concerning the chief judge, Pahoran. 51:12
When the former "Kingmen" heard that Amalickiah was coming with an army against Pahoran, they refused to defend their country. When Moroni heard this, he issued a petition to give him the right to draft the Kingmen into the army against their will (or to kill them).

And it came to pass that when the men who were called king-men had heard that the Lamanites were coming down to battle against them, they were glad in their hearts; and they refused to take up arms, for they were so wroth with the chief judge, and also with the people of liberty, that they would not take up arms to defend their country. 51:13 
And it came to pass that when Moroni saw this, and also saw that the Lamanites were coming into the borders of the land, he was exceedingly wroth because of the stubbornness of those people whom he had labored with so much diligence to preserve; yea, he was exceedingly wroth; his soul was filled with anger against them. 51:14 
And it came to pass that he sent a petition, with the voice of the people, unto the governor of the land, desiring that he should read it, and give him (Moroni) power to compel those dissenters to defend their country or to put them to death. 51:15
Moroni got his order granted, and he went to town against the king-men. They resisted, and fought the conscription. Moroni's army killed 4,000 of the kingmen, and threw the rest of the survivors in prison. There wasn't time for a trial right then...this was war!

For it was his first care to put an end to such contentions and dissensions among the people; for behold, this had been hitherto a cause of all their destruction. And it came to pass that it was granted according to the voice of the people. 51:16 
And it came to pass that Moroni commanded that his army should go against those king-men, to pull down their pride and their nobility and level them with the earth, or they should take up arms and support the cause of liberty. 51:17 
And it came to pass that the armies did march forth against them; and they did pull down their pride and their nobility, insomuch that as they did lift their weapons of war to fight against the men of Moroni they were hewn down and leveled to the earth. 51:18 
And it came to pass that there were four thousand of those dissenters who were hewn down by the sword; and those of their leaders who were not slain in battle were taken and cast into prison, for there was no time for their trials at this period. 51:19
So Moroni put an end to this little rebellion. And just in time, too, because the Lamanite army was coming up on their land, and they were spoiling for a fight.

And the remainder of those dissenters, rather than be smitten down to the earth by the sword, yielded to the standard of liberty, and were compelled to hoist the title of liberty upon their towers, and in their cities, and to take up arms in defence of their country. 51.20 
And thus Moroni put an end to those king-men, that there were not any known by the appellation of king-men; and thus he put an end to the stubbornness and the pride of those people who professed the blood of nobility; but they were brought down to humble themselves like unto their brethren, and to fight valiantly for their freedom from bondage. 51.21
Behold, it came to pass that while Moroni was thus breaking down the wars and contentions among his own people, and subjecting them to peace and civilization, and making regulations to prepare for war against the Lamanites, behold, the Lamanites had come into the land of Moroni, which was in the borders by the seashore. 51.22
But even with the new conscripted soldiers, the Nephites were not strong enough to resist Amlickiah's forces. They attacked the city of Moroni, and took it, and all of it's fortifications. The Nephites fled to the city of Nephihah, and prepared for battle with the people of the city of Lehi. Meanwhile Amlickiah didn't want to risk open battle, so he kept his men in the cities that he had conquered to defend them.
And it came to pass that the Nephites were not sufficiently strong in the city of Moroni; therefore Amalickiah did drive them, slaying many. And it came to pass that Amalickiah took possession of the city, yea, possession of all their fortifications. 51.23 
And those who fled out of the city of Moroni came to the city of Nephihah; and also the people of the city of Lehi gathered themselves together, and made preparations and were ready to receive the Lamanites to battle. 51.24 
But it came to pass that Amalickiah would not suffer the Lamanites to go against the city of Nephihah to battle, but kept them down by the seashore, leaving men in every city to maintain and defend it. 51.25

Until the next verse, when he's conquering city after city (first on the list was Moroni, which the book said that he was avoiding...)

And thus he went on, taking possession of many cities, the city of Nephihah, and the city of Lehi, and the city of Morianton, and the city of Omner, and the city of Gid, and the city of Mulek, all of which were on the east borders by the seashore. 51:26 
And thus had the Lamanites obtained, by the cunning of Amalickiah, so many cities, by their numberless hosts, all of which were strongly fortified after the manner of the fortifications of Moroni; all of which afforded strongholds for the Lamanites. 51:27
So things aren't looking very good for the Nephites. This Amalickiah guy is really causing trouble. Luckily, his killing spree was about to end. Amalickiah and his men were about to have an unlucky run-in with Teancum.
And it came to pass that they marched to the borders of the land Bountiful, driving the Nephites before them and slaying many. 51:28 But it came to pass that they were met by Teancum, who had slain Morianton and had headed his people in his flight. 51:29
Amalickiah was trying to head to the land Bountiful to attack the people there, but Teancum wouldn't let him. Teancum and his men met up with Amalickiah, and killed them until the sun went down. His men were much stronger than the Lamanite men, and they were also more skilled warriors, so they completely dominated them. Once night fell, both sides stopped fighting and made camp.

And it came to pass that he headed Amalickiah also, as he was marching forth with his numerous army that he might take possession of the land Bountiful, and also the land northward. 51:30 
But behold he met with a disappointment by being repulsed by Teancum and his men, for they were great warriors; for every man of Teancum did exceed the Lamanites in their strength and in their skill of war, insomuch that they did gain advantage over the Lamanites. 51:31  
And it came to pass that they did harass them, insomuch that they did slay them even until it was dark. And it came to pass that Teancum and his men did pitch their tents in the borders of the land Bountiful; and Amalickiah did pitch his tents in the borders on the beach by the seashore, and after this manner were they driven. 51:32
And then things get interesting. Teancum brings his servant on a secret mission: to run over to the enemy camp and to kill Amalickiah. He does this so quickly and quietly that Amalickiah's servants don't even wake up. Teancum thrusts a javelin straight into his heart, and instantly kills Amalickiah.

And it came to pass that when the night had come, Teancum and his servant stole forth and went out by night, and went into the camp of Amalickiah; and behold, sleep had overpowered them because of their much fatigue, which was caused by the labors and heat of the day. 51:33 

And it came to pass that Teancum stole privily into the tent of the king, and put a javelin to his heart; and he did cause the death of the king immediately that he did not awake his servants. Teancum snuck into the king's tent and stuck a javelin into his heart. 51:34

Then Teancum and his servant return to their own camp and tell eveyone what happened. He also prepares them for battle -- who knows how the Lamanites might recact?

And he returned again privily to his own camp, and behold, his men were asleep, and he awoke them and told them all the things that he had done. 51:35 
And he caused that his armies should stand in readiness, lest the Lamanites had awakened and should come upon them. 51:36
And that was the end of the 25th year of the Judges. And it was also the end of Amalickiah.
And thus endeth the twenty and fifth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi; and thus endeth the days of Amalickiah. 51:37

14 November 2015

The Great Controversy: Ben Carson, Ellen G. White, and Seventh-day Adventism

Ben Carson has famously said that a Muslim who wishes to become president of the United States must "reject the tenets of Islam."

But what about members of his own church -- The Seventh-day Adventist church? Must they reject its doctrines in order to become president?

The SDA church was co-founded by Ellen G. White, who was its original leader and prophet. She is to Adventists what Mary Baker Eddy, Joseph Smith, and Muhammad are to Christian Scientists, Mormons, and Muslims, respectively (not respectfully). And her book, The Great Controversy, corresponds to Science and Health, the Book of Mormon, and the Quran. And it fully deserves to be among them, as one of the the worst books ever written.

I wish I had time to do a Skeptic's Annotated Great Controversy. But I don't. So I'll have to be satisfied with a short summary.

Fortunately, it's an easy book to summarize, even though it is nearly 700 pages long.

It turns out that it's mostly about Saturday.

Here's the story.
[The first half of the book is an anti-Catholic "history" of Christianity. The rest is supposed prophecy (beginning with #3 below).]

  1. The evil Catholic Church changed the Sabbath from Saturday (the seventh day) to Sunday.
    The papacy has attempted to change the law of God ... to authorize the observance of the first instead of the seventh day as the Sabbath. ... Here the papal power openly sets itself above God. p. 446
  2. The Protestants went along with the change (and thereby became apostates).
    When the world and the Protestant churches accept a sabbath of her creating, while they reject the Bible Sabbath, they ... bring the whole Protestant world under the banner of Rome. p. 448
  3. The United States (the beast of Revelation with lamb-like horns) will begin to enforce the Sunday Sabbath and make everyone receive the mark of the beast on their hand and forehead.
    The United States is the power represented by the beast with lamblike horns, and that this prophecy will be fulfilled when the United States shall enforce Sunday observance, which Rome claims as the special acknowledgment of her supremacy. p. 579
  4. Those who observe the Sabbath on Saturday will be persecuted and put to death.
    As the Sabbath has become the special point of controversy throughout Christendom, and religious and secular authorities have combined to enforce the observance of the Sunday. ... It will be urged that the few who stand in opposition to an institution of the church and a law of the state ought not to be tolerated ... and a decree will finally be issued against those who hallow the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, denouncing them as deserving of the severest punishment ... to put them to death. Romanism in the Old World and apostate Protestantism in the New will pursue a similar course toward those who honor all the divine precepts. p. 615-616
  5. But before evil Catholics, apostate Protestants, and the United States can kill all of the Seventh-day Adventists, Jesus will return, raise the dead, slaughter everyone who doesn't observe the Saturday Sabbath, and take the SDAers to the City of God.
    Jesus rides forth as a mighty conqueror. p. 641

    All come forth from their graves the same in stature as when they entered the tomb. p. 644

    At the coming of Christ the wicked are blotted from the face of the whole earth--consumed with the spirit of His mouth and destroyed by the brightness of His glory. Christ takes His people to the City of God, and the earth is emptied of its inhabitants. p. 657

  6. The only one to remain is Satan, who will walk to and fro on the desolate earth for 1000 years.
    For a thousand years, Satan will wander to and fro in the desolate earth.... p. 660
  7. After Satan's thousand-year walk, Jesus will return again to the earth and raise the billions of wicked dead people that he killed 1000 years before (in #5).
    At the close of the thousand years, Christ again returns to the earth. ... He bids the wicked dead arise to receive their doom. They come forth, a mighty host, numberless as the sands of the sea. What a contrast to those who were raised at the first resurrection! The righteous were clothed with immortal youth and beauty. The wicked bear the traces of disease and death. p. 662
  8. Satan will try to rally the living dead to attack the City of God.
    Now Satan prepares for a last mighty struggle for the supremacy. ... As the wicked dead are raised and he sees the vast multitudes upon his side, his hopes revive, and he determines not to yield the great controversy. ... He proposes to lead them against the camp of the saints and to take possession of the City of God. With fiendish exultation he points to the unnumbered millions who have been raised from the dead and declares that as their leader he is well able to overthrow the city and regain his throne and his kingdom. ... With military precision the serried ranks advance over the earth's broken and uneven surface to the City of God. p. 663-664
  9. But when Jesus appears, the ugly dead people chicken out.
    Now Christ again appears to the view of His enemies. p. 665

    The time has come for a last desperate struggle against the King of heaven. He rushes into the midst of his subjects and endeavors to inspire them with his own fury and arouse them to instant battle. But of all the countless millions whom he has allured into rebellion, there are none now to acknowledge his supremacy. His power is at an end. The wicked are filled with the same hatred of God that inspires Satan; but they see that their case is hopeless, that they cannot prevail against Jehovah. Their rage is kindled against Satan and those who have been his agents in deception, and with the fury of demons they turn upon them. p. 671-672

  10. God will then burn the living dead. Some will die quickly; others will suffer for many days.
    Fire comes down from God out of heaven. The earth is broken up. The weapons concealed in its depths are drawn forth. Devouring flames burst from every yawning chasm. The very rocks are on fire. ... Some are destroyed as in a moment, while others suffer many days. p. 663-664
  11. After the last resurrected dead person is finally dead, the Seventh-day Adventists live happily forever in the City of God, where no one sleeps and there is neither night nor need for candles.
    While the earth was wrapped in the fire of destruction, the righteous abode safely in the Holy City. ... In the City of God "there shall be no night." None will need or desire repose. ... "And they need no candle." p. 663-994
Okay. So that's it. That's what Seventh-day Adventists believe (along with some dietary restrictions).

Ben Carson believes it as well, or at least he claimed to in an April 5, 2013 interview with the Seventh-day Adventist Church. [For some reason, the interview was removed from the official SDA website, but it's still available (via the wayback machine) here.]

Here's what he said during the interview:

Adventist News Network: Are there ever any times when you feel it’s best to distinguish yourself from the Seventh-day Adventist Church and what it teaches?

Carson: No, I don’t.

In another interview (see the below video), Dr. Carson said,

I don't know what role the Lord has for me in all this. I do know, in looking at prophecy, that the United States will play a big role; that there has to be a return first to a religious awakening; and, more than likely, any persecution, particularly of the Sabbath, will come from the right, not from the left."

Someone should ask Dr. Carson if he believes in Ellen White's prophecy in The Great Controversy with regard to the "big role" that the United States will play. Specifically, is the United States the two-horned beast that speaks like a lion of Revelation 13:11?

If so, he should renounce that belief (along with the rest of White's "prophecy") before anyone should consider voting for him for president.

30 September 2015

The two faces of pope Francis

Well it was fun to imagine, but now we know the truth: Pope Francis is as anti-gay as Kim Davis.

During his visit to the U.S., the pope met secretly with Kim Davis, thanking her for her "courage" and telling her to "be strong."

Then the two hugged and promised to pray for each other.

I hope someone got a picture of that.

28 September 2015

Imagine that: Shakira sings "Imagine" for the pope and Mo Rocca does a reading at his mass

Here are the two things that most surprised me about Papa Pancho's visit.

Shakira introduced him to at the UN by singing John Lennon's "Imagine."

And Mo Rocca did a reading at the pope's mass at Madison Square Garden.

Everyone knows the lyrics to "Imagine", but in case you've forgotten, here are the first two verses:

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

It's one of my favorite songs, of course. But is it also one of the pope's?

But perhaps the pope didn't know what Shakira planned to sing, or couldn't do anything about it if he did.

There is no doubt about Mo Rocca's reading at mass, though. He was selected to do the reading; something that could not have happened without the pope's knowledge and approval.

So what can we conclude about all this?

Does the pope imagine there's no heaven or hell? Does he hope for a world without religion?

And does the pope support gay rights?

Probably not. But it's fun to imagine.

22 September 2015

Ben Carson is right: We should not elect Christians or Muslims (unless they renounce biblical and sharia laws)

Last Sunday on Meet the Press, Ben Carson said that he "absolutely would not" support a Muslim for President.

If you haven't seen it, here it is:

Yesterday, on Fox News he tried to clarify his view by saying:

This is America and we have a constitution. And we do not put people at the leadership of our country whose faith might interfere with them carrying out the duties of the constitution. So if, for instance, you believe in a theocracy -- I don't care if you're a Christian -- if you're a Christian and you're running for president and you want to make us into a theocracy, I'm not going to support you. I'm not going to advocate you being the president.
I don't care what religion or faith someone belongs to, if they're willing to subjugate that to the American way and to our constitution, then I have no problem with that.

And I agree with Dr. Carson on that. We should not elect Christians or Muslims unless they renounce all biblical and sharia laws -- at least those that are contrary to our constitution (which is nearly all of them).