What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
I find it interesting when people claim that there must no longer be a threat of secret combinations, conspiracy, and government corruption. The argument these people put forward is that modern prophets have been silent on this issue, whereas in the days of Presidents McKay and Benson these things were broadly discussed and made known in Church conferences and talks.
First of all, I would like to propose that when a people doesn’t listen to the prophet, the Lord stops sending the message. For example, we have this section of scripture regarding the Church’s condemnation for treating lightly the things in the Book of Mormon:
And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received—
Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation.
And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all.
And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written—
That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion. (D&C 84:54-58)
Here the Lord is saying that Zion is under condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, and the former commandments which have been given. Likewise, it is a common belief among Latter-day Saints that we’ve yet to receive the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon because we’re not ready for it. We often hear people say “oh, we don’t study and pay attention to our current scriptures enough, so why is the Lord going to give us more?” Indeed. The Book of Mormon is permeated with examples, warnings, and commandments regarding secret combinations and political corruption. It is my belief that the vast majority of Latter-day Saints seemingly ignore this aspect of scripture.
Another example is when Mormon is commanded not to preach any more to the people because of their rebellion and hardness of heart:
And I did endeavor to preach unto this people, but my mouth was shut, and I was forbidden that I should preach unto them; for behold they had wilfully rebelled against their God; and the beloved disciples were taken away out of the land, because of their iniquity.
But I did remain among them, but I was forbidden to preach unto them, because of the hardness of their hearts; and because of the hardness of their hearts the land was cursed for their sake. (Mormon 1:16-17)
Additionally, we have been warned over and over and over again by modern prophets to prepare for what is to come by storing, at the very least, a year’s supply of food and other needed items. Have we obeyed? Do you have your year’s supply? It is estimated that 4-6% of members in the LDS church have a year’s supply of food. This is saddening. That means that 4-6% of the members are listening to God’s prophet, and as Mormon labeled it, “wilfully rebel[ling] against their God” . Sad indeed.
Upon reading these examples, one might be led to think that the reason the prophets have been silent on this issue is due to the rebellion and hardness of heart among the people. While this argument does carry weight, I believe that the Lord, in His infinite mercy, never fully stops warning the people who will listen.
For example, the children of Israel were taught things in the simplest of terms, with blatantly obvious examples and situations, that they might learn that the LORD was their God. But when their hearts had been hardened for too long, they were no longer privileged to be taught with such clarity. For this reason, among others, Christ taught in symbols and metaphors. Not everybody picked up on what he was saying. Understanding his statements and teachings required being spiritually in tune. As he said, “he who hath ears to hear, let him hear”.
So, for those who “have ears to hear”, it is clear that modern prophets have still spoken out and warned us about these things. Listen to the words of our modern prophets:
The Book of Mormon narrative is a chronicle of nations long since gone. But in its descriptions of the problems of today’s society, it is as current as the morning newspaper and much more definitive, inspired, and inspiring concerning the solutions of those problems.
I know of no other writing which sets forth with such clarity the tragic consequences to societies that follow courses contrary to the commandments of God. Its pages trace the stories of two distinct civilizations that flourished on the Western Hemisphere. Each began as a small nation, its people walking in the fear of the Lord. But with prosperity came growing evils. The people succumbed to the wiles of ambitious and scheming leaders who oppressed them with burdensome taxes, who lulled them with hollow promises, who countenanced and even encouraged loose and lascivious living. These evil schemers led the people into terrible wars that resulted in the death of millions and the final and total extinction of two great civilizations in two different eras.
—President Gordon B. Hinckley, “A Testimony Vibrant and True”, August 2005
Fast forward eight months, and President Hinckley confirms that “we are involved in terrible wars”. Brothers and sisters, I give you Book of Mormon prophesy in the making!
The major writers of the Book of Mormon did not intend it to be a history book at all. In fact, Jacob said that his brother Nephi commanded him that he “should not touch, save it were lightly, concerning the history of this people” (Jacob 1:2).
Each time we read the book we should probably ask ourselves: “Why did these writers choose these particular stories or events to include in the record? What value are they for us today?
Among the lessons we learn from the Book of Mormon are the cause and effect of war and under what conditions it is justified. It tells of evils and dangers of secret combinations, which are built up to get power and gain over the people. It tells of the reality of Satan and gives an indication of some of the methods he uses. It advises us on the proper use of wealth. It tells us of the plain and precious truths of the gospel and the reality and divinity of Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice for all mankind. It informs us of the gathering of the house of Israel in the last days. It tells us of the purpose and principles of missionary work. It warns us against pride, indifference, procrastination, the dangers of false traditions, hypocrisy, and unchastity.
—Elder L. Tom Perry, “Blessings Resulting from Reading the Book of Mormon”
The Book of Mormon speaks of the Gadianton robbers, a vicious, oath-bound, and secret organization bent on evil and destruction. In their day they did all in their power, by whatever means available, to bring down the Church, to woo the people with sophistry, and to take control of the society. We see the same thing in the present situation.
—President Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Times in Which We Live”, October 2001
I testify that the Lord’s prophets are still speaking. Only those who are attuned to such things will pick up on them and understand them. We, as a people, will remain under condemnation until we “repent and remember”. We must prepare, we must store a year’s supply of goods, and we must listen attentively to the prophet of our God. Anything less than that will not suffice.