The Book of Mormon covers a history of over a 1000 years. In that period, many dissented from the truth as taught by the prophets of God, beginning with Laman and Lemuel. Dissent from God’s plan is not new. Dissent is as old as God.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints was established 185 years ago. During this time many have dissented from the church. Their impact then and now is succinctly described in the following verse:
“And he became a great hinderment to the prosperity of the church of God; stealing away the hearts of the people…giving a chance for the enemy of God to exercise his power over them”. Mosiah 27:9
The Book of Mormon uses the word dissenters to describe those who left the church. The word “dissenters”, with all its word forms occurs approximately 50 times in the Book of Mormon.
AND it came to pass in the fifty and fourth year there were many dissensions in the church…Helaman 4:1
6 Thus they were led away by Amalickiah to dissensions, notwithstanding the preaching of Helaman and his brethren, yea, notwithstanding their exceedingly great care over the church, for they were high priests over the church.
7 And there were many in the church who believed in the flattering words of Amalickiah, therefore they dissented even from the church… Alma 46:6-7
If we were to write a verse of scripture to describe our day it might read:
And it came to pass in the hundred and eighty fifth year there were many dissensions in the church. And thus were the Mormons afflicted, and began to decrease as to their faith and righteousness, because of the rising internet generation.
Reasons for Dissent
There are many reason for dissension from the church. The Book of Mormon repeatedly points out that prosperity is a contributing factor to church members rejecting their covenants. In prosperous times church members were described as “stiffnecked,” they “began to depend upon their own strength and upon their own wisdom…“ Helaman 16:15
Education was another factor that contributed to church members losing humility and becoming stiffnecked: “people began to be distinguished by ranks, according to their riches and their chances for learning; yea, some were ignorant because of their poverty, and others did receive great learning because of their riches…insomuch that the church began to be broken up.” 3 Nephi 6:14
It is important to add, that wealth and education are blessings from Heavenly Father. The problem is pride, not wealth and education.
The Lord prospers His followers when they turn to Him.
And they did pray unto the Lord their God continually, insomuch that the Lord did bless them, according to his word, so that they did wax strong and prosper in the land. Alma 62:51
The scripture teach that education is a virtue except when when they forget God.
O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God…but to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God. 2 Nephi 9:28
Dwindle in Unbelief
The Book of Mormon uses the term “dwindle” to describe what happens to church members, “they shall dwindle in unbelief, after they have received so great blessings from the hand of the Lord.” 2 Nephi 1:10
Alma went to church members in Zarahemla and asked a series of questions with the intent to teach them that the zeal they had for the gospel was dwindling. He asked, “if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?” Alma 5:26
In 1833, just a few years after the church was organized, members were warned that “they were slow to hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God; therefore, the Lord their God is slow to hearken unto their prayers…in the day of their peace they esteemed lightly my counsel…” D&C 101:7-8
When things are going well, it is human nature to begin to forget God. Our day, is a day of great prosperity for many church members. Thus, we see many in the bloggernacle in a state of dwindling faith, “and they began to disbelieve in the spirit of prophecy and in the spirit of revelation”. Helaman 4:23
And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment–seat of Christ. (Book of Mormon | Preface Title Page:2)
The title page of the Book of Mormon explains to the reader an important point that needs to be reemphasized in this generation of fault-finders: God’s servants are not infallible.
Church members are also warned about lifting their heel against the Lord’s anointed in language that in unmistakable.
Cursed are all those that shall lift up the heel against mine anointed, saith the Lord, and cry they have sinned when they have not sinned before me, saith the Lord, but have done that which was meet in mine eyes, and which I commanded them. D&C 121:16
I hope church members who are struggling in their faith in this era of the internet will turn to the Lord for answers. I did, so I know by experience He will answer any seeker who diligently calls upon Him.