Last Man in the Bloggernacle

June 27, 2006 | 55 comments

I’m thinking of starting a series to document all the insights I get that, on reflection, I realize everyone else in the Bloggernacle already knew.

For example, a few months ago sitting in church I had a blinding insight. “Hey! We aren’t ritualless after all. We do have a ritual, its just the ritual of a town meeting or a committee.” I was excited to share my blinding insight until I realized it was blindingly obvious.

My latest insight comes from Abinadi. He got arrested for disturbing the peace and speaking evil of the King and the people. Noah’s priests then set out to examine him and one asks him to interpret the Isaiah passages that begins “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings; that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good.” I had always thought that the priest intended this as a what-could-this-scripture-mean stumper, in the style of the Pharisees with Christ. This time I realized he meant it as a criticism. Abinadi had been mean, critical, and hurtful to people’s feelings, so how could he really say he was a man of God, hmm?

Well, this insight really opened up the story and I got excited and told the Lovely One about it. She agreed that it opened up the story. She also agreed when I said maybe all the Mormons but me had figured this out already.

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55 Responses to Last Man in the Bloggernacle

  1. Connor Boyack on June 27, 2006 at 11:24 pm

    This parallels several other stories (Nephi and the corrupt judges being one of them) where the people were upset because they were getting reprimanded. Nobody likes being told that they\’re wrong and need to change. It\’s human (read: carnal) nature to resist change, and feel that you are in the right.

    This is very prevalent in our society today. When Prophets denounce sin, when missionaries teach God\’s strict commandments, when Bishops conduct interviews, some people get upset because they are being told that they need to change their behavior.

    I served my mission in Honduras, and there I would see people flock to other churches in droves because they could still get away with drinking, fornicating, and anything else they wanted to. Their pastors tip-toed around these issues, overlooked their sin, and invited them to come join them anyway. Then you have the true gospel, telling these people they need to abandon these sinful behaviors, and the people don\’t like it. But as we know, the guilty taketh the truth to be hard

  2. Connor Boyack on June 27, 2006 at 11:27 pm


    Hurting people\’s feelings isn\’t virtuous, no matter whose side you are on. It is, however, inevitable. Jesus himself said that his word is a two-edged sword. It\’s not to be fluffed up, and made politically correct so that nobody gets offended or hurt…

  3. Frank McIntyre on June 27, 2006 at 11:30 pm

    Well, Adam, I guess you can count yourself as the second to last man in the bloggernacle. I had not thought of the Abinadi one. Keep ‘em coming!

  4. DKL on June 28, 2006 at 12:24 am

    Jeez, Adam. You really only just realized the Abinadi thing this week? I’ve had that one figured out since June 11th.

  5. Geoff J on June 28, 2006 at 12:28 am

    That’s not an obvious one, so don’t worry about not thinking that all along. I must admit I think I learned that already (though I’m not sure I came up with it on my own.) It sort of parallels what the Samuel the Lamanite accused the Nephites of:

    26 Behold ye are worse than they; for as the Lord liveth, if a prophet come among you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord, which testifieth of your sins and iniquities, ye are angry with him, and cast him out and seek all manner of ways to destroy him; yea, you will say that he is a false prophet, and that he is a sinner, and of the devil, because he testifieth that your deeds are evil.
    27 But behold, if a man shall come among you and shall say: Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; yea, he will say: Walk after the pride of your own hearts; yea, walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth—and if a man shall come among you and say this, ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet. (Hel 13: 26-27)

    In any case it’s an excellent observation I think.

  6. Sideshow on June 28, 2006 at 12:30 am

    If you get what Abinadi says in Mosiah 15:1-5 completely figured out you just may be the first man in the bloggernacle.

  7. grego on June 28, 2006 at 12:47 am

    I hadn’t thought of that; of course, I’m a peon reader, not a Blog man. :)

    What’s worse, is when you come up with lots of new things, only to go reading your old notes from years ago and realize… the majority of your recent revelations are actually re-revelations.

  8. Kristine on June 28, 2006 at 7:22 am

    Just so noone’s confused about #2–Connor was directing his comment at a snotty comment I posted, then repented of and abused my editing privileges to remove.

  9. Adam Greenwood on June 28, 2006 at 8:37 am

    Connor Boyack,
    Those are my sentiments, except without whatever it was that gave KHH an occasion for sin. (grins)

    I would comment on Mosiah 15:1-5 but I feel that making WoW jokes about the scriptures would be unholy levity.

    That’s why I try to never read my journal.

  10. Kristine on June 28, 2006 at 8:46 am

    Adam, do you think there’s any danger of being mistaken about our own righteousness when we take it upon ourselves to call people to repentance, even if we think we’re just repeating prophetic counsel? That is, should we set a different standard for ourselves in our interactions with our brothers and sisters than the one that applies to the called and chosen prophet?

  11. Connor Boyack on June 28, 2006 at 9:34 am


    I’d agree with your posed question. As missionaries, home/visiting teachers, co-members and friends, we should repeat prophetic counsel with love and kindness. Leave it up to the GA’s to boldly declare the word of God as they’ve been called to do. Granted, they too are imperfect people, and so some might rub the wrong way at another imperfect person calling them to perfection, but that is their duty and responsibility as God’s chosen disciples.

  12. Adam Greenwood on June 28, 2006 at 10:05 am

    “Adam, do you think there’s any danger of being mistaken about our own righteousness when we take it upon ourselves to call people to repentance, even if we think we’re just repeating prophetic counsel?”


    “That is, should we set a different standard for ourselves in our interactions with our brothers and sisters than the one that applies to the called and chosen prophet?”

    Yes, but probably not to the degree you’d like. We aren’t ontologically different from God or the prophets and ultimately our destination is to embrace everything that they are, both the love and the condemnation. Holiness is legion.

  13. Kiskilili on June 28, 2006 at 10:34 am

    “Holiness is legion.”

    So are devils (see Mark 5:9; Luke 8:30). That’s where I get confused. ;)

    I don’t understand God. But I’d like to believe his condemnation is a part of his love, whereas my own inclinations to condemn others arises, I’m afraid, from anger and defensiveness. That’s where I think I should restrain myself in a way God need not.

  14. John Mansfield on June 28, 2006 at 11:01 am

    What does our righteousness have to do with calling others to repentance? Being called of God, by prophecy and the laying on of hands, is all it takes. So the families I home teach will just have to take it. If I tell you strangers that you’re dwindling in apostasy, though, that’s strictly for informational purposes, not a charge to do something about it.

  15. Adam Greenwood on June 28, 2006 at 11:16 am

    Legions are legion too, and air molecules, and lots of thing. Let us know if the confusion gets too much for ya.

    “But I’d like to believe his condemnation is a part of his love, whereas my own inclinations to condemn others arises, I’m afraid, from anger and defensiveness.”

    Defensiveness, or fear, has no part in love, but anger does. At least, the scriptures are clear that anger is part of the divine character.

  16. Kristine on June 28, 2006 at 11:20 am

    Adam, Jesus and the prophets spend a lot more airtime telling us about our pride than about our holiness.

  17. Adam Greenwood on June 28, 2006 at 11:26 am

    Sure. Holiness is what we aspire to. Pride is what are. It infects everything we do, including our attempts to love and serve (it is also what makes us angry when our wicked choices aren’t affirmed, and, as Geoff J. quotes from the scriptures, what makes us praise as Godly people who flatter us).

  18. Kaimi Wenger on June 28, 2006 at 11:46 am


    Yes, one can be divinely angry. However, one can also be carnally angry. And I have to guess that when we think we’re divinely angry, we’re more often carnally angry. Let’s be honest — anger is most often a product of lack of self-control, not a product of divine order.

    God’s plan gives a place for a lot of things. Even murder is occasionally sanctioned — see, e.g., Nephi-and-Laban. That doesn’t mean that murder should become part of anyone’s daily routine.

    Our modern prophets tell us repeatedly that we should be slow to anger. See, e.g., november 2002.htm/each a better person.htm and may 1994.htm/the path to peace.htm . I may have missed the memo, but I’m not aware of recent prophetic statements urging us to follow a path of divine anger.

    Given that reality, focus on divine anger is misplaced. It is a focus on the narrow exceptions, ones which we as mortals are not developed enough to understand, much less incorporate in our life. And inordinate focus on the exceptions — look, Abinadi got to be angry — provides an avenue for rationalization and pretext for our own carnal angers. If you or I are angry with a fellow, chances are about 99% that we are sinning. No amount of attempts to extrapolate from Abinadi will change that reality.

    (Also, on a doctrinal level, Abinadi was pre-Christ. Stephen, post-Christ, handled things differently. As should we.)

  19. Adam Greenwood on June 28, 2006 at 11:57 am

    Almost immediately before he was martyred, Stephen threw this in the face of his Pharisee listeners:

    Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.
    Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers.

    If you or I met anyone who handled things like Stephen, we’d have an apoplexy.

  20. Kaimi Wenger on June 28, 2006 at 12:07 pm

    Again, though, I refer you to repeated, recent talks by modern prophets — which make it very clear that right now we ought to have less anger and condemnation, not more.

  21. Kaimi Wenger on June 28, 2006 at 12:13 pm

    Gordon B. Hinckley, 2002:

    We can lower our voices a few decibels. We can return good for evil. We can smile when anger might be so much easier. We can exercise self-control and self-discipline and dismiss any affront levied against us.

    Let us be a happy people. The Lord’s plan is a plan of happiness. The way will be lighter, the worries will be fewer, the confrontations will be less difficult if we cultivate a spirit of happiness.

    Let us work a little harder at the responsibility we have as parents. The home is the basic unit of society. The family is the basic organization of the Church. We are deeply concerned over the quality of the lives of our people as husbands and wives and as parents and children.

    There is too much of criticism and faultfinding with anger and raised voices.

    Thomas S. Monson, 1994:

    We are reminded that “anger doesn’t solve anything. It builds nothing, but it can destroy everything.�

  22. Kaimi Wenger on June 28, 2006 at 12:19 pm

    Marvin J Ashton, 1991:

    “Controversy and contention are other weakening habits. If Satan can succeed in creating in us the pastime of arguing, quarreling, and contention, it is easier for him to bind us with heavier sins which can destroy our eternal lives. Anger is a poor substitute for self-mastery and compassionate service.”

    Marvin J Ashton, 1992:

    In the world today we are victims of many who use their tongues as sharp swords. The misuse of our tongues seems to add intrigue and destruction as the media and private persons indulge in this pastime. In the vernacular of the day, this destructive activity is called bashing. The dictionary reports that to bash is to strike with a heavy, crushing blow.

    Such a popular behavior is indulged in by far too many who bash a neighbor, a family member, a public servant, a community, a country, a church. It is alarming also how often we find children bashing parents and parents bashing children.

    We as members of the Church need to be reminded that the words “Nay, speak no ill� are more than a phrase in a musical context but a recommended way of life. (See Hymns, no. 233.) We need to be reminded more than ever before that “if there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.� (A of F 1:13.) If we follow that admonition, there is no time for the dastardly hobby of bashing instead of building.

    Some think the only way to get even, to get attention or advantage, or to win is to bash people. This kind of behavior is never appropriate. Oftentimes character and reputation and almost always self-esteem are destroyed under the hammer of this vicious practice.

    How far adrift we have allowed ourselves to go from the simple teaching “If you can’t say something good about someone or something, don’t say anything� to where we now too often find ourselves involved in the bash business.

    . . .

    Once again may I emphasize the principle that when we truly become converted to Jesus Christ, committed to Him, an interesting thing happens: our attention turns to the welfare of our fellowman, and the way we treat others becomes increasingly filled with patience, kindness, a gentle acceptance, and a desire to play a positive role in their lives. This is the beginning of true conversion.

    Let us open our arms to each other, accept each other for who we are, assume everyone is doing the best he or she can, and look for ways to help leave quiet messages of love and encouragement instead of being destructive with bashing.

    Again James reminds us, “The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.� (James 3:18.)

    May God help us individually and collectively to know and teach that bashing should be replaced with charity today and always.

  23. Adam Greenwood on June 28, 2006 at 12:22 pm

    I agree, Kaimi. As the scriptures we’ve cited here show, most anger is the product of pride. Or is based on injustices to oneself that one should forgive. On the other hand, as you’ll see based on my first comment to the thread on the philosophies of men, I think you’re trying too hard to set up a dichotomy between some of the sayings in the prophets and the scriptures, and then to reject one side of the dichotomy.

  24. Abinadi on June 28, 2006 at 12:26 pm

    Don\’t get angry at people. You were not staring down the barrel of a burning stake as I was (and yes, I knew it was coming long before I went in to speak to Noah and his little band of ne\’er-do-well\’s.) or facing martyrdom as was Stephen. Issues were settled a little bit differently in those days. Back then we had to walk uphill both ways to preach so we were understandably grumpy when we arrived.

    As Abraham Lincoln said in Bill and Ted\’s excellent adventure…

    \”Be excellent to each other\”

  25. Kaimi Wenger on June 28, 2006 at 12:27 pm

    Russell M Nelson, 1989:

    What can we do to combat this canker of contention? What steps may each of us take to supplant the spirit of contention with a spirit of personal peace?

    To begin, show compassionate concern for others. Control the tongue, the pen, and the word processor. Whenever tempted to dispute, remember this proverb: “He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace.� (Prov. 11:12; see also Prov. 17:28.)

    Bridle the passion to speak or write contentiously for personal gain or glory. The Apostle Paul thus counseled the Philippians, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.� (Philip. 2:3.)

    Such high mutual regard would then let us respectfully disagree without being disagreeable.

    But the ultimate step lies beyond beginning control of expression. Personal peace is reached when one, in humble submissiveness, truly loves God. Heed carefully this scripture:

    “There was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.� (4 Ne. 1:15; see also 4 Ne. 1:2; italics added.)

    Thus, love of God should be our aim. It is the first commandment—the foundation of faith. As we develop love of God and Christ, love of family and neighbor will naturally follow. Then will we eagerly emulate Jesus. He healed. He comforted. He taught, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.� (Matt. 5:9; see also 3 Ne. 12:9.)

    Gordon B Hinckley, 2003:

    I pray that each of us will be a little more kind, a little more thoughtful, a little more courteous. I pray that we will keep our tongues in check and not let anger prompt words which we would later regret. I pray that we may have the strength and the will to turn the other cheek, to walk the extra mile in lifting up the feeble knees of those in distress.

    (Why do I feel like I’m channeling M&M?)

  26. Adam Greenwood on June 28, 2006 at 12:27 pm

    I also refer you, Kaimi, to numerous conference talks where the Prophets have been angry and condemnatory (Hinckley on racism and spouse abuse, just recently, e.g.). I am by no means arguing for more anger than we have already. Its mostly misplaced. But the attempt by y’all to treat anger and condemnation as evil is unscriptural and denies God’s character. Anger is not on par with Nephi’s murder. Given God’s character, and the frequency of anger and wrath in the scriptures, as with Stephen, I think if you insist on finding exceptions the modern distaste for anger has to be the exception

  27. Adam Greenwood on June 28, 2006 at 12:32 pm

    I am assuming, Kaimi, that it is in the spirit of love and friendship you are trying to bludgeon me with proof of a proposition I’ve never denied?

    My world view can accomodate prophets and scriptures warning us against anger and being righteously angry themselves. I’m not trying to deny anything. You are the one who flatly misrepresented Stephen, e.g., and when corrected has ignored it. That just won’t do. Truth is a great whole.

  28. Kaimi Wenger on June 28, 2006 at 12:34 pm

    Joseph B Wirthlin, 2005:

    Kindness is the essence of a celestial life. Kindness is how a Christlike person treats others. Kindness should permeate all of our words and actions at work, at school, at church, and especially in our homes.

    Jesus, our Savior, was the epitome of kindness and compassion. He healed the sick. He spent much of His time ministering to the one or many. He spoke compassionately to the Samaritan woman who was looked down upon by many. He instructed His disciples to allow the little children to come unto Him. He was kind to all who had sinned, condemning only the sin, not the sinner. He kindly allowed thousands of Nephites to come forward and feel the nail prints in His hands and feet. Yet His greatest act of kindness was found in His atoning sacrifice, thus freeing all from the effects of death, and all from the effects of sin, on conditions of repentance.
    . . .
    I often wonder why some feel they must be critical of others. It gets in their blood, I suppose, and it becomes so natural they often don’t even think about it. They seem to criticize everyone—the way Sister Jones leads the music, the way Brother Smith teaches a lesson or plants his garden.

    Even when we think we are doing no harm by our critical remarks, consequences often follow.
    . . .
    When we are filled with kindness, we are not judgmental. The Savior taught, “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.� 4 He also taught that “with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.� 5

    “But,� you ask, “what if people are rude?�

    Love them.

    “If they are obnoxious?�

    Love them.

    “But what if they offend? Surely I must do something then?�

    Love them.


    The answer is the same. Be kind. Love them.

    Why? In the scriptures Jude taught, “And of some have compassion, making a difference.� 6

    Who can tell what far-reaching impact we can have if we are only kind?

    My brothers and sisters, the gospel of Jesus Christ transcends mortality. Our work here is but a shadow of greater and unimaginable things to come.

    The heavens opened to the Prophet Joseph Smith. He saw the living God and His Son, Jesus the Christ.

    In our day, a prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley, walks the earth and provides direction for our time.

    As our Heavenly Father loves us, we also should love His children.

    May we be models of kindness. May we ever live up to the words of the Savior: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.� 7

  29. Kaimi Wenger on June 28, 2006 at 12:37 pm

    Weird . . . um, did your comments hang up in the queue, Adam? Or did mine? I didn’t see responses until just now.

  30. Kaimi Wenger on June 28, 2006 at 12:39 pm


    In at least one instance of condemnation, Stephen handled things quite differently than Abinadi. Abinadi died condemning his accusers to hell; Stephen died asking for forgiveness for his killers. That’s the difference I was referencing in my prior comment.

  31. Frank McIntyre on June 28, 2006 at 12:44 pm

    I agree with Adam that there is an obvious place for anger and calling to repentance and that these are clearly divine characteristics well documented in ancient and modern scripture. I also agree with Kaimi that I see no push for that among the modern prophets. Rather they suggest that we should be swinging back the other way. Surely this is because, just as we are bad at United Orders, we’re bad at divine anger. Or bad enough that enough of the anger is carnal that it is worth reigning it all in. Think of it as the WoW injunction as being for the weakest of all Saints, so perhaps are the injunctions on anger (although in this case I think we are all pretty weak).

    That said, GBH always sounds a little mad when he starts talking about men who don’t treat their families right (and sounded mad when he spoke about racism and delinquent fathers in the last conference). So I think divine anger is not absent from modern discourse. Just the body of Christ right now needs to overcome carnal anger before they can worry about the righteous kind.

    Fortunately, one can call to repentance without being angry. And “calling to repentance” by itself was probably more than enough to inflame the priests of Noah. Not that I think we need to be calling individuals to repentance on the internet, but nor do I see a need to shrink from the truth because the truth offends (as long as it is the truth that is doing the offending and we are doing our best to convey ideas respectively).

  32. Adam Greenwood on June 28, 2006 at 12:45 pm

    I don’t see the distinction, Kaimi. Abinadi wasn’t saying he *wanted* his persecutors damned, he was saying they were. Stephen wasn’t saying his persecutors *weren’t* damned, he was saying that he wanted them forgiven. Even if there was a distinction, your argument that prophetic and divine anger ceased after Christ is flatly wrong, as evidenced in the life of Stephen himself. The real problem here is that there are two sides of a coin clearly evident in scripture and the prophets. You keep quoting one of them over and over (but in love and friendship, I’m real sure), and ignoring the other, or treating it as some kind of rarity like Nephi killing Laban.

  33. Adam Greenwood on June 28, 2006 at 12:59 pm

    “I also agree with Kaimi that I see no push for that among the modern prophets. Rather they suggest that we should be swinging back the other way. Surely this is because, just as we are bad at United Orders, we’re bad at divine anger.”

    I’m inclined to think that its more of a cultural thing. Anger is so thoroughly rejected in our culture that the church emphasizes the parts of the Gospel that reject anger and talk about love as a gentle, meek thing. Also, personal affirmation and the rejection of judgment and authority are so ingrained that its best not to push the Saints by practicing the rejection of one and the embrace of the other too much, lest it be more than they are able.

    Finally, the kind of anger that doesn’t get put aside easily and thus would come to the attention of the brethren, is usually the kind that results from petty affronts or from pride at being corrected, so I’m not surprised that the brethren adopt their usual practice and just preach the principle without always carefully balancing it against other gospel principles. I think the examples Bro. Wirthlin gives of the criticism he’s condemning show the kind of thing they have in mind (that and the fact that he’s *condemning*)

  34. Kaimi Wenger on June 28, 2006 at 1:02 pm


    Sure, there are two sides of the coin. However, there seems to be sufficient current warning towards the one side, to give us an indication of which way we ought to go.

    It’s possible to have too little fat in one’s diet, or too little sodium. Those are both potential problems. However, current health authorities focus on those who get too much fat, or too much sodium, for the obvious reason. Most of us are just fine getting to the level of enough fat in our diet. Our problem is that we then go too far and it becomes unhealthy.

    So you’re correct – divine anger is probably not a special exception, like Nephi and Laban.

    Rather, lack of anger is like lack of sufficient sodium. Rare enough in modern society that most people needn’t fret about it; easily rectified through a single Big Mac; and offering a flipside — too much sodium –that is quite dangerous.

  35. Frank McIntyre on June 28, 2006 at 1:05 pm

    I almost agree with Kaimi, except I think “anger” is best thought of as two kinds– one is always good and one is always bad. Thus it is not that we have enough anger in our diets, but rather that we have too much of the bad kind and we are not so good at telling them apart. If we know it is divine anger, then great. But usually we don’t or we are wrong. Thus we need to tone down “anger” as a whole because we can’t seperate the good and bad.

  36. Adam Greenwood on June 28, 2006 at 1:06 pm


    see #32; the distinctions between kinds of anger that have been made throughout this thread; and consider the fact that the prophets are mainly preaching to the mainstream of the church and not to the world. In general I’d say we have way too much unrighteous anger in the world and not enough salt, though the people who do recognize the need for salt tend to overindulge.

  37. Dave on June 28, 2006 at 1:22 pm

    Adam, that’s a new insight for me. Thanks for sharing it.

  38. B. Dylan on June 28, 2006 at 1:26 pm

    I realize this is terribly cliche, but isn’t the the couplet: “Hate the sin, love the sinner” really what we’re struggling with here? Adam is focusing on the former, Kaimi on the latter. Might you both be right? (Cue the campfire and a round of “Kumbyah”…)

  39. John Mansfield on June 28, 2006 at 1:28 pm

    Interesting how a post about how prophets upset people has turned into a discussion of inappropriate anger. Great deflection. For all the talk of anger and unrighteous dominion, it seems far more common for people who have responsibilities to lead and call repentance to just not do anything. How many times have the home teachers or your bishop told you to change your ways? Stake presidents seem more willing to do that, though.

  40. Adam Greenwood on June 28, 2006 at 1:29 pm

    B. Dylan, I love you, man.

  41. Mark Butler on June 28, 2006 at 1:33 pm

    Holiness is legion indeed, however the weighted integral over holiness has a clear central value, where the weighted integral over evil does not converge.

  42. Mark Butler on June 28, 2006 at 1:42 pm

    Or should I say that if you tune in holiness you get a clean signal on an everlasting carrier wave, and if you turn in evil you mostly get chimeras, interference, and white noise – false signals that draw your personal phase locked loop away from the main carrier, but at last dissapear into the noise floor.

  43. Doc on June 28, 2006 at 1:48 pm

    The question I have for you is why are the prophets condemning? Why did Abinadi merely state they were Damned?
    You have a point. The word “condemn” carries with it a lot of emotional baggage in our society. Nobody wants to be condemned. But there is a different way to look at God’s anger. Prophets warn. They let us know that there are real consequences to our actions. To do otherwiese is no service to another individual. Suppose you are an office employee and are doing overlooking your important duty of filling the tomer, and nobody is willing to give any feedback, but smiles and “overlook” it and do it for you until BAM, you get fired. Well, they hardly did you a favor. It is important to reprove at times when moved upon by the spirit, but equally important to show afterwards an increase in love lest the reproved esteem thee to be his enemy. In fact, this isn’t just modern culture, but the most effective way to work for change in others. One of the most powerful scriptural examples of God’s anger that I can think of lies in Doctrine and Covenants 19:5 . “Repent lest I smite you with the rod of my mouth” sounds pretty harsh, but later it is shown for what it really is. Christ is pleading for us to repent because he, of anyone, KNOWS the consequences. So I have to say, righteous anger is really anger done in love. Something I have to be much better at before I can freely start reproving others.

  44. Mark Butler on June 28, 2006 at 1:55 pm

    Anger is not the proper emotion here – we can leave anger to God as a rule. Condemnation is what we should be talking about, and as I see it there are two types – the condemnation of man, and the condemnation of God.

    The former is saying you are wrong because you don’t agree with *me*, the latter is saying by the gift of prophecy in the proper context that the world is in danger because they disagree with God, that one’s own opinion has nothing to do with it. The former is pride the second is prophecy.

    “Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.”

    “And let your preaching be the warning voice, every man to his neighbor, in mildness and in meekness. ”

    “Therefore, tarry ye, and labor diligently, that you may be perfected in your ministry to go forth among the Gentiles for the last time, as many as the mouth of the Lord shall name, to bind up the law and seal up the testimony, and to prepare the saints for the hour of judgment which is to come;
    “That their souls may escape the wrath of God, the desolation of abomination which awaits the wicked, both in this world and in the world to come. ”
    (D&C 88:81, 84-85, 38:41)

  45. Kaimi Wenger on June 28, 2006 at 2:02 pm


    One other framework that occurs to me, as I think about this more.

    You’re right, that sometimes divine anger is a good thing. However, it’s in many ways fungible with carnal anger. That’s the big problem. And it strikes me that this looks a lot like music.

    When I start out as a beginning piano student, I can’t hit my notes. The sheet music calls for a C, but I play a D instead. This is because I haven’t learned the skill very well, I’m not in control of my fingers. I need to practice and learn and gain control and mastery, and get to where I can play a C when the music calls for a C.

    Compare this to John Coltrane or Miles Davis or Thelonious Monk. There are instances in which the music calls for a C, yet Coltrane plays a D. That’s improvisation, and it’s great.

    The difference is this: Coltrane is a master, and he has the _ability_ to hit all of his notes just as written on a score.

    Divine anger is like Coltrane’s improvisation. A particular missed note looks the same whether it’s my flub or Coltrane’s improv. But there is a world of difference. Most importantly, Coltrane is in control of his altered notes — whereas, my missed notes are in control of me.

    One can’t become Coltrane, able to improvise, until one is able to perfectly hit one’s notes. And similarly, we can’t hope to act in divine anger until our carnal anger is completely in check.

    The ratio of bad-ameteur-musicians – to – Coltranes is also instructive.

  46. John Mansfield on June 28, 2006 at 2:06 pm

    Well put, Mark Butler, and good words from the Doctrine and Covenants. They call to mind also Joseph Smith on Jesus’ meekness:

    Some of the company thought I was not a very meek Prophet; so I told them: “I am meek and lowly in heart,” and will personify Jesus for a moment, to illustrate the principle, and cried out with a loud voice, “Woe unto you, ye doctors; woe unto you, ye lawyers; woe unto you, ye scribes, Pharisees, and hypocrites!” But you cannot find the place where I ever went that I found fault with their food, their drink, their house, their lodgings; no, never; and this is what is meant by the meekness and lowliness of Jesus.

  47. Nate Oman on June 28, 2006 at 3:10 pm

    Odd. When I read the post, I thought that it was about interpretation rather than action. In other words, I thought that rather than providing a justification for our being angry, it was offered as an aid to interpretation when God and prophets are angry with us.

  48. Ben H on June 28, 2006 at 3:26 pm

    (#12) We aren’t ontologically different from God or the prophets and ultimately our destination is to embrace everything that they are, both the love and the condemnation.

    Okay, but we are relationally different. A prophet has to declare the word with boldness. Once that has been done, though, the rest of us, “on the ground,” are in a position to find out how the teaching is received, and (if we’re clued in) approach particular receivers in a way that is appropriate for them. I think these are two different jobs, perhaps a bit like how the Son intercedes for us with the Father, even though they are both perfectly just.

    As a general rule I suggest if the bold declaration of the prophet hasn’t caused the message to be received as we suppose it should be, then more boldness from puny us will not help and will in fact be counterproductive.

  49. Beijing on June 28, 2006 at 7:54 pm

    “divine anger is probably not a special exception, like Nephi and Laban”

    It might be. I see a parallel between divine anger and divine killing.

    Apparently it’s part of God’s holiness when God sends a destroying angel to kill all the firstborn sons in Egypt, floods the Earth and kills its inhabitants, rains down fire and brimstone on cities and kills the inhabitants, etc. (I would be real nervous about a church that EVER told its followers to emulate the mass killing aspect of God’s behavior. I seriously think only an insane person would advocate the other side of that particular holiness coin.) Even with the rare exceptions allowing for killing, such as Nephi-Laban or soldiers in war, the idea is to do so reluctantly, only when you’re constrained to by the spirit or by duty.

    Similarly, God’s anger gets kindled rather often in the scriptures. Prophets seem to get angry somewhat less often than God. (At least I think there are more examples of prophets pleading with God not to be so angry, and fewer examples of God rebuking prophets for being too angry.) And the general message about anger seems to be that rank-and-file people are supposed to engage in it only reluctantly, as an exception, only when constrained by the spirit (showing forth afterward an increase in love).

  50. Mark Butler on June 28, 2006 at 8:40 pm

    I would say the difference is because God is the ultimate competent authority. A man killing another without mortal provocation is vigilantism at best – when God does it is merited retribution, and he has the capacity to count the cost, and make the necessary amends – here and in the spirit world.

  51. Adam Greenwood on June 28, 2006 at 10:45 pm

    “Okay, but we are relationally different. A prophet has to declare the word with boldness. Once that has been done, though, the rest of us, “on the ground,â€? are in a position to find out how the teaching is received, and (if we’re clued in) approach particular receivers in a way that is appropriate for them. I think these are two different jobs, perhaps a bit like how the Son intercedes for us with the Father, even though they are both perfectly just. ”

    I agree with everything you say, except the first part, that we are relationally different. The prophets are mostly speaking very publicly, to a very general audience, so the balance tilts a little more towards speaking boldly (or reproving with sharpness) rather than radiating love and acceptance. Our dealings are usually more personal and thus are usually tilted in the other direction. But this is not always so. Sometimes we are interacting with a public in a general way, like the prophets, and sometimes the prophets are dealing with individual persons.

  52. Adam Greenwood on June 28, 2006 at 10:45 pm

    turn out the lights.

  53. danithew on June 28, 2006 at 10:52 pm

    Abinadi the kamikaze prophet’s approach has me scratching my head a bit. I can never quite figure out why it was so important to him to coerce King Noah and his priests into either 1) repenting or 2) becoming murderers. As I understand it, Abinadi says that he allowed himself to fall into their hands. My wife and I were recently reading the chapters where Samuel the Lamanite preaches to the Nephites and it occurred to me that one could compare the attitude of prophet Abinadi (who allowed himself to be caught and killed) to that of prophet Samuel who fled and lived to preach another day. I am convinced they are both noteworthy righteous prophets. Yet they are so different, at least in this one particular aspect.

  54. danithew on June 28, 2006 at 10:54 pm

    Well, I don’t know if Abinadi “coerced” King Noah and his priests into becoming murderers. I think the word I should use instead is “provoked.”

  55. Adam Greenwood on June 29, 2006 at 10:35 am

    Abinadi’s purpose, in retrospect, was to convert Alma. I seem to recall that Alma was pretty young at the time. This makes me think about different approaches being appropriate to different ages. It sure seems that some of the young, young men especially, are open to boldness, angry clarity, and martyrdom in a way that might put off the rest of us. Mormons should find this post interesting:


Times and Seasons is a place to gather and discuss ideas of interest to faithful Latter-day Saints.