Feast upon the Word Blog

A blog focused on LDS scriptures and teaching

Friends and Lost Hope

Posted by kirkcaudle on July 1, 2010

The theme of the blog this past month seems to be the role of God in death, dying, and killing. Therefore, I have had these (related) subjects on my mind for the past couple of weeks. I have also (like many of you out there) been reading Grant Hardy’s new book, Understanding The Book of Mormon.

While thinking on these subjects my mind turned to Mormon and Nephi. Both of these men failed to save the people they loved. They spent most of their lives crying repentance to a people who would not hear their words. However,  Mormon seemed to lose hope in his people a little faster than Nephi did, imo. Hardy states, “like Nephi, he [Moroni] hopes for their repentance but at some point recognizes that it will not come” (94).  This is a different message than I heard growing up in Sunday School.

I was always taught growing up, and still in church today, that, “everyone has a chance” and “never give up on people because they can change, you never know a person’s heart.” But that really true? Grant Hardy seems to put forth the idea that at some point Nephi and Mormon had to face the facts and give up on the idea that their people would be saved. This was because God himself had perviously said they had no hope. 

This sounds harsh (and maybe it is), but how can you really have hope for a people God has already said would become wicked and He would destroy? Does this example of a damned  people relate to us in the contemporary world, or does it just turn into one of those stock answers in church where people say, “things were just different back then.”

 Mormon states in Morm. 5:2 that, “I was without hope, for I knew the judgments of the Lord which should come upon them; for they repented not of their iniquities, but did struggle for their lives without calling upon that Being who created them.” Are their people in our lives now that we can really say we are “without hope” for?  In church I always hear the exact opposite of this scripture.I personally think there are those we cannot hope for, but I recognize that is an unpopular opinion.

I would be interested to hear your thoughts.

6 Responses to “Friends and Lost Hope”

  1. Niklas said

    On mission that was something I thought a lot. When has one received his chance? Dropping an investigetor was really hard. Was there really anything we could do more? But at the same time we contacted former investigators, even though they had been contacted several times before with little success. So, dropping someone really didn’t mean that we were “without hope for”, quite the contrary we hoped and prayed that he would be more prepared some time in future.

    I personally think too that there are those we can’t hope for.

  2. Rameumptom said

    At least for Mormon, I think the issue was the people as a group. We can tell when a group is ripened in iniquity. That said, the children under 8 years of age would still be innocent. For Mormon, he could tell they were, as a group, unwilling to repent. They no longer listened to him, began using cannabalism and torture as types of bravery, and began running amok.

    Yet there are still small bits of hope for certain individuals, such as his son Moroni.

    For Nephi it was a more personal level with his brothers. He could see the change in them over the years. While rebellious and somewhat murderous initially, they would still repent. After Lehi died, there was nothing to prevent them from their murderous acts, and so Nephi was forced to flee.

    While there is hope for all people in general, for specific groups or individuals we can often determine that while they remain in their wicked state there is no hope for them. And the longer they remain in that state and the more wicked they become, the less hope there is of reclaiming them.

  3. BrianJ said

    The application of your question is what interests me. Should my actions towards someone else change depending on whether or not I view them as beyond hope? In some ways, I suppose my actions should change: I have a limited amount of time/resources, so perhaps I might be forced to choose whom to reach out to. To balance that though, I’d add that I think our character might best be revealed by how we treat others even when we believe they can do nothing for us. (This takes me back to the question I asked on Lesson 11: “Why would [Christ] “waste his time” on someone who refused to accept him?”)

  4. kirkcaudle said

    Brian, I am glad you brought up your Lesson 11 thread because that (along with Matthew’s Joshua thread) are the two main discussions that got my mind moving on this. I mean, how should I react towards a people who god says should be destroyed from off of the face of the earth???

    Like me put forth a theoretical example:

    Say I had a vision and an angel told me that after one generation my family would fall into apostasy. I was to keep a journal of the family happenings; but overall, I knew my grandkids would all leave the church.

    I cannot imagine a situation like that not changing my perspective on how I treat my family. If even I loved them, it would be very hard for me to live without hope for their future.

    So maybe that situation will not happen to most of us. However, this one might:

    What if I had a friend who became strongly anti-mormon and anti-christian. He always talked bad about the church and does many immoral things. I like him, but I feel like he is a horrible influence to my family and children and I greatly fear for his eternal salvation.

    Can I really know if my friend is “lost?” Is it really acceptable for me to lose hope on this person?

    So like Brian said, “Should my actions towards someone else change depending on whether or not I view them as beyond hope?” I’d like to respond to that question with a question, “how can it not?” It seems we put forth the most effort into situations were we have hope of a good outcome. I think this is true in most (if not almost all) areas of life.

  5. kirkcaudle said

    Something else that might help us (or muddy the waters) as we think about this subject are a couple of scriptures in the BOM. In Mosiah 3:11 it reads, “For behold, and also his blood atoneth for the sins of those who have fallen by the transgression of Adam, who have died not knowing the will of God concerning them, or who have ignorantly sinned.” Therefore, the people were already aware of what they should be doing. They knew what their responsibilities were.

    However, by the time 3 Nephi roles around we read in 6:17-18, “in the commencement of the thirtieth year—the people having been delivered up for the space of a long time to be carried about by the temptations of the devil whithersoever he desired to carry them, and to do whatsoever iniquity he desired they should—and thus in the commencement of this, the thirtieth year, they were in a state of awful wickedness. Now they did not sin ignorantly, for they knew the will of God concerning them, for it had been taught unto them; therefore they did wilfully rebel against God.”

    Here we find that the Nephites set themselves up to fail. Therefore, the justice of God that came upon them was just. To tie this in with the larger conversation, if my family and/or friends were in the group described in Mosiah 3 I would have hope for their salvation. Whereas if they were in the group described in 3 Nephi 6 I am not sure what I would do.

    Maybe to complicate to the matter even more, is there anyway to know if people we associate with today are in the group described in 3 Nephi? Do we as lay members of the church have the power (or authority) to look into someone’s heart and say as Alma did to Korihor, “thou art possessed with a lying spirit, and ye have put off the Spirit of God that it may have no place in you; but the devil has power over you, and he doth carry you about, working devices that he may destroy the children of God” (Alma 30:42).

  6. BrianJ said

    “What if I had a friend who became strongly anti-mormon and anti-christian. He always talked bad about the church and does many immoral things. I like him, but I feel like he is a horrible influence to my family and children and I greatly fear for his eternal salvation.”

    If he’s a bad influence on you/your family then you avoid him. But suppose you also had a friend whose calling and election was sure, yet he was also a bad influence on you/your family. Wouldn’t you likewise avoid him? I just see no reason why your friend’s eternal fate must factor in to how you interact with him.

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