Book of Mormon Lesson 47: Moroni 1-6
“To Keep Them in the Right Way”
THE BOOK OF MORONI
A Few More Things: Moroni 1:1-4
Click here to listen to Jared Anderson’s podcast that reviews this lesson and to review his notes
“…of the twenty-seven Book of Mormon chapters attributed to Moroni, twenty-one are either copied directly or only lightly edited, and even in the six chapters where he is expressing his own ideas (Mormon 8-9; Ethe 5,12, Moroni 1, 10), he does so with an unusually high proportion of phrases borrowed from previous Book of Mormon authors (Grant Hardy, Understanding the Book of Mormon: A Reader’s Guide, pg. 249).
1:1, 4 Here you get the clear sense that Moroni expected to be dead by now.
It is not clear exactly when Moroni made this [the Jaredite] abridgment or appended it to Mormon’s shortened version of the Large Plates, but the next time he writes – admitting that he had not really intended to say anything further after “having made an end of abridging the account of the people of Jared” – we discover that another twenty years have slipped by (Moroni 10:1)
…A lot can happen in thirty-six years; Moroni, however, tells us nothing of his life other than that he was a fugitive, always on the run or in hiding from the Lamanites. Instead the Book of Moroni includes a half a dozen brief liturgical items, two letters and a sermon written by his father, and one last farewell. As a result, Moroni’s contribution to the Book of Mormon is much briefer than either Nephi’s or Mormon’s and he reveals much less about his own life, though stories and details from decades of wandering alone undoubtedly would have proven quite interesting (Hardy, A Reader’s Guide, pg. 218)
Moroni does state that his compilation of the Book of Mormon was for the benefit of his brethren the Lamanites, but he seems to be entrusting these materials to the Gentiles, expecting that they will eventually make them accessible to the descendants of Lehi. Only in Moroni 10:1-23 does he address these “brethren” directly, and then he concludes by speaking “to all the ends of the earth,” that is, his wider, primary audience (Moroni 10:24-34). One other passage where the House of Israel is addressed directly is Ether 4:14-15, but this is Jesus speaking rather than Moroni (Hardy, Reader’s Guide, pg. 317, note 4)
The Gift of the Holy Ghost: Moroni 2:1-3
We must work backward from Moroni’s additions to determine what it was that his father had commanded him to do. It appears that he had been asked to tie up a few loose ends [such as] ….providing the words by which Jesus had conferred on his disciples the power to give the Holy Ghost (Hardy, A Reader’s Guide, pg. 226)
2:2 “…which he spake unto his disciples…” These are the words that are promised in 3 Nephi 18:36-37
2:3 “…fell the Holy Ghost…” See 3 Nephi 26:27; 4 Nephi 1:1
Ordinations: Moroni 3:1-4
I usually prepare these notes prior to listening to Jared Anderson’s podcast; I don’t want to be just an echo chamber. Today (after orignally posting this), I began listening to Jared Anderson’s podcast for this Book of Mormon lesson. Jared brought up some fascinating points that I want to include here.
“Note that there is both charismatic ( Moroni 2:2) and ordinational (Moroni 3:2-3) authority in these chapters.
Historically, women in the LDS church have given blessings and healed. As this was done without priesthood authority (I realize some will disagree with me here – insert D. Michael Quinn and Margaret Toscano), this would be seen as a charismatic form of authority. I got the following quotes and links from Jared Anderson’s lesson notes:
“someone apparently reported to Joseph that the women were laying their hands on the sick and blessing them. His reply to the question of the propriety of such acts was simple. He told the women in the next meeting “there could be no evil in it, if God gave his sanction by healing.., there could be no more sin in any female laying hands on the sick than in wetting the face with water.” He also indicated that there were sisters who were ordained to heal the sick and it was their privilege to do so. “If the sisters should have faith to heal,” he said, “let all hold their tongues.”
“It is the privilege of all faithful women and lay members of the Church, who believe in Christ, to administer to all the sick or afflicted in their respective families, either by the laying on of hands, or by the anointing with oil in the name of the Lord: but they should administer in these sacred ordinances, not by virtue and authority of the priesthood, but by virtue of their faith in Christ, and the promises made to believers: and thus they should do in all their ministrations.”
John A. Widtsoe:
“Men have no greater claim than women upon the blessings that issue from the Priesthood and accompany its possession. … “The man holds the Priesthood, performs the priestly duties of the Church, but his wife enjoys with him every other privilege derived from the possession of the Priesthood. This is made clear, as an example, in the Temple service of the Church. The ordinances of the Temple are distinctly of Priesthood character, yet women have access to all of them, and the highest blessings of the Temple are conferred only upon a man and his wife jointly.”
Joseph F. Smith:
“The sisters have the privilege of laying their hands on the head of the person for whom they are officiating, and confirming and anointing in the spirit of invocation. The Lord has heard and answered the prayers of sisters in these administrations many times. It should, however, always be remembered that the command of the Lord is to call in the elders to administer to the sick, and when they can be called in, they should be asked to anoint the sick or seal the anointing.” Messages of the First Presidency, Vol. 4 (314ff)
To read more about Mormon woman giving blessings, click on the following links:
“A Gift Given, A Gift Taken: Washing, Anointing, and Blessing the Sick among Mormon women” in Sunstone https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/pdf/115-6-30-43.pdf, also Carol
Lynn Pearson’s “The Flight and the Nest”.
The Blessing on the Bread: Moroni 4:1-3
4:1 “…according to the commandments of Christ…” These sacrament prayers may have been revealed at the time of 3 Nephi 18:3-14 (Grant Hardy, The Book of Mormon: A Reader’s Edition, pg. 616, note b1).
4:2 “…did kneel down with the church…” To me, this seems to indicate that the whole church would kneel.
4:3 “…take upon them the name of thy Son…” Click here to read a great talk by Elder Oaks about the idea of taking upon oneself the name of Christ
The Blessing of the Wine: Moroni 5:1-2
“Wine was used in the sacrament of the church as late as 1897.” And “In keeping with the change in emphasis, the First Presidency and twelve substituted water for wine in the sacrament in their temple meetings, apparently beginning July 5, 1906.”(click here to read more)
Or you can click here to read an article that also touches on the same subject. It is written by one of our past Church Historians, Leonard Arrington.
I stole both of those links from Jared Anderson’s notes too.
I’ve been thinking for quite some time now how the words “sacrament” and “ordinance” are used in our LDS community. I realize in our community that when we use the definite article “the“, we are referring to the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. I wonder when we truncated the name to just “The Sacrament”? If we were to use say, “a sacrament”, I wonder if that would cause confusion, or if it would be assumed that one was speaking of the bread and water? I have heard people say, “the sacramental ordinance” or “the ordinance of the sacrament”, which to me, just sounds redundant. Maybe some history will explain why I think this way.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines the sacraments as “efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions.” To me, that sounds like a good working definition even for us LDS folk. The catechism included in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer defines a sacrament as “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace given unto us, ordained by Christ himself, as a means whereby we receive the same, and a pledge to assure us thereof.” Likewise, this is also a good working definition that we can use.
Some Protestant traditions avoid the word “sacrament”. Reaction against the 19th-century Oxford Movement led Baptists to prefer instead the word “ordinance”, practices ordained by Christ to be permanently observed by the church. “Sacrament” stresses mainly, but not solely, what God does, “ordinance” what the Christians do. It seems to me, because we come more out of Protestant thinking instead of Catholic thinking, that this explains the reason we tend to use the word “ordinance”, where Anglicans and Catholics use the word “sacrament” . Historically however, they appear to be interchangeable terms, just used differently by different Christian traditions.
The Catholic Church and Oriental Orthodoxy teach that the sacraments are seven. The Eastern Orthodox Church also believes that there are seven major sacraments, but applies the corresponding Greek word, μυστήριον (mysterion) also to rites that in the Western tradition are called sacramentals and to other realities, such as the Church itself. Similarly, the Catholic Church understands the word “sacrament” as referring not only to the seven sacraments considered here, but also to Christ and the Church. Anglican teaching is that “there are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel, that is to say, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord”, and that “those five commonly called Sacraments, that is to say, Confirmation, Penance, Orders, Matrimony, and Extreme Unction, are not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel”.
The following are the seven sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church, here listed in the order given in the Catechism:
- Baptism (Christening)
- Confirmation (Chrismation)
- Holy Eucharist
- Penance (Confession)
- Anointing of the Sick (known prior to the Second Vatican Council as Extreme Unction (or more literally from Latin: Last Anointing), then seen as part of the “Last Rites”)
- Holy Orders
- Matrimony (Marriage)
What about the question that always gets asked, “What if the one performing the ordinance is ‘not worthy’?” The The Catholic Church offers a plausible answer. The Catholic Church teaches that the effect of the sacraments comes ex opere operato (click here for definition), by the very fact of being administered, regardless of the personal holiness of the minister administering it. However, as indicated in this definition of the sacraments given by the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a recipient’s own lack of proper disposition to receive the grace conveyed can block a sacrament’s effectiveness in that person. The sacraments presuppose faith and through their words and ritual elements, nourish, strengthen and give expression to faith.
Though not every individual has to receive every sacrament, the Catholic Church affirms that, for believers as a whole, the sacraments are necessary for salvation, as the modes of grace divinely instituted by Christ himself. Through each of them, Christ bestows that sacrament’s particular grace, such as incorporation into Christ and the Church, forgiveness of sins, or consecration for a particular service.
As a Mormon, how would I define “sacrament” ? I think a good definition would be a rite that is necessary for salvation and through which Christ’s grace is manifest. These would include: Baptism, Confirmation and the Receiving of the Gift of the Holy Ghost, (another post I am going to write is exploring the idea of confirmation), The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper (Holy Eucharist), Temple Marriage, Washing and Anointing, The Endowment Ceremony, Priesthood Ordination for Men. What about “ordinance”? This word, in our common parlance, seems to carry with it a broader meaning. A priesthood blessing is an ordinance, but not a necessary rite for salvation ( although His grace can manifest through a blessing). The tradition of giving a baby blessing at church, seems to be an ordinance, but not a necessary rite for salvation. Dedication of a grave is an ordinance, but not a sacrament. So, what’s my definition of an “ordinance”? A rite that is performed, by priesthood authority, but not necessary for salvation. Now, I am trying to think of an ordinance that can be performed, but for which priesthood is not necessary. Temple rites come to mind.
Hmm. I should right a post just about this.
Baptism: Moroni 6:1-4
6:1 “Behold, elders, priests, and teachers were baptized…” This sounds like people were ordained to the priesthood prior to baptism.
Church Order: Moroni 6:5-9
6:8 “…they repented and sought forgiveness…” I have heard it said the a church disciplinary court is at times the first step towards repentance, unless the person is activly trying to harm the church – then the discipline is to protect the church.
I stole these quotes from Jared Anderson’s notes:
“Religion is more about meaning and purpose than facts and events. Through religion, we experience the mundane as miraculous and the normal as numinous. Religion teaches us that our lives have inherent worth and that the world is shot-through with value…More than any other institution, religion deserves our appreciation and respect because it has persistently encouraged people to care deeply—for the self, for neighbors, for humanity, and for the natural world—and to strive for the highest ideals humans are able to envision” (Bruce Sheiman, An Atheist Defends Religion, pp. ix-x).
“Religious Americans are, in fact, more generous neighbors and more conscientious citizens than their secular counterparts. On the other hand, they are also less tolerant of dissent than secular Americans…Nevertheless, for the most part, the evidence…suggests that religiously observant “Americans are more civic and in csome respects simply ‘nicer’…theology is not the core explanation for what we shall call the ‘religious edge’ in good citizenship and neighborliness. Rather, communities of faith seem more important than faith itself…Religiously based social networks that…convey partisan cues also turn out to be crucial in transmitting civic norms and habits.” (Robert Putnam and David Campbell, American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us, p. 444).
“Religious faith seems to operate largely invisibly, taken for granted and in the background of [teenagers’] lived experiences. Faith seems to help teens to feel good and maybe to behave better…differences between more religious and less religious teenagers in the United States are actually significant and consistent across every outcome measure examined: risk behaviors, quality of family and adult relationships, moral reasoning and behavior, community participation, media consumption, sexual activity, and emotional well-being…there is definitely something about religious belief and practice that shapes adolescents’ lives in positive directions” Christian Smith, Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers, p. 218-219.