This week in our review of the Book of Mormon we’ll look at Moroni’s puzzling statement about the law of circumcision being done away that we see at Moroni 8:8. This statement seemingly proves that not only is circumcision no longer required in the Gospel, but in a bigger way, some many see that this may prove that the Law is also no longer required. Essentially, Moroni is setting up a paradox. This week we’ll unravel this paradox as we look at the Abrahamic Covenant, Redemption and Sanctification, and Paul’s teachings to the Galatians.
The Book of Mormon and the Abrahamic Covenant
The one covenant that the Book of Mormon repeatedly refers to is the Abrahamic Covenant. The reason this covenant is so important to the Book of Mormon writers is because it is the basis for saving their descendants when God gathers the literal House of Israel at the Endtimes.
The Abrahamic Covenant and the Salvation of Humanity
Probably an even greater reason that the Abrahamic Covenant is so important is because it is the means that Humanity will be saved for it is through the Law and Yeshua’s redemption that many will be saved from death in this life and from eternal death that came through the Abrahamic Covenant. In many ways, the Abrahamic Covenant is the “mother” covenant because all other covenants follow from God’s relationship with Abraham and his posterity.
An Everlasting Covenant
Because the Abrahamic Covenant has an eternal effect in saving Humanity from eternal death, the covenant is everlasting – Genesis 17:13. Moreover, it is the covenant that blesses Humanity throughout eternity.
One thing that the Tanach/Old Testament over the New Testament and even the Book of Mormon excels at is covenant theology. In the Old Testament, we see a more comprehensive and complete understanding of covenant theology. The elements that are integral to the integrity of a covenant include a covenant name, type, sign, a pledge, the covenant terms and sometimes a new name.
When we look at the covenant sign, it represents on going witness that that person is actively living within the terms of the covenant law.
Circumcision – the Sign of the Abrahamic Covenant
God has designated that circumcision is the sign of the Abraham Covenant for several important reasons.
First, it identifies those who are the seed of Abraham and are in the covenant including those who gentiles are adopted into Israel.
Second, it is a reminder to the parents of a child that they have dedicated their child to the service of the true God – Yehovah; and have committed to raise their child in the ways of the Lord.
Third, it is also a reminder to those bear the sign of circumcision that they have been dedicated to Yehovah's service.
Fourth, the sign is given to only males since they are God’s earthly sovereigns over the fundamental unit of society – the family and bear the primary responsibility to see that the terms of the covenant are fulfilled.
Paul’s Teachings to the Galatians
Christianity has taken Paul’s perplexing words to the Galatians to abolish the requirement of circumcision. However, the Apostle Peter warned believers that Paul’s teachings are hard to understand and not to twist them into lawlessness or in other words a rejection of the Law.
14 So then, beloved ones, looking forward to this, do your utmost to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15 and reckon the patience of our Master as deliverance, as also our beloved brother Sha’ul wrote to you, according to the wisdom given to him, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them concerning these matters, in which some are hard to understand, which those who are untaught and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do also the other Scriptures. 17 You, then, beloved ones, being forewarned, watch, lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the delusion of the lawless, - 2 Peter 3, ISR Translation
Moreover, Mormons have taken this verse at Moroni 8:8 and Paul’s words to the Galatians to abolish the sign of circumcision, which Peter said not to do.
We can also see this affirmation of the Law by Yeshua when he states that he did not come to abolish the Law but to make if full, complete and perfect – Matt 5.
Redemption, Sanctification, and Exaltation
One of the keys to understanding Paul is through his teachings on the spiritual categories of Humanity that we see in the 15th chapter of First Corinthians and in Paul’s teachings on the three heavens – 2 Corinthians chapter 12. We can use Paul’s teachings to define how the Abrahamic Covenant and circumcision apply to these categories of Humanity.
Moroni’s Circumcision Paradox
We can now see the connection between Moroni’s statement that circumcision is not required for redemption, which resolves our paradox. The context that we see at Moroni 8:8 is strictly limited to redemption only and is not to be applied to being sanctified and/or exalted.
A New Journey
Watch for our next week's post as we start a new journey. Does the Book of Mormon take us into Mormonism or does it take us somewhere else?