This week in the Book of Mormon we’ll look at Alma 1 to 4. What we see in Alma 1 is that Nehor is accused of priestcraft or obtaining money and praise by setting himself up as a light – 2 Nephi 26:29. What is important here is how Nehor is manipulating the people with false teachings to get them to follow him. Alma the younger is linking the previous discussion on eternal life with Nehor's false teaching that eternal life is obtained through the Messiah/Christ’s redemption. Nehor’s teaching amounts to dumbing down God’s Word so that God doesn’t have any requirements to become like Him and to live with Him forever – eternal life . First, we’ll review the process of transformation to see how Nehor's teaching is false and then we’ll consider replacement theology and other factors that contribute to dumbing down the Gospel.
Dumbing Down Defined
A good place to start this discussion is to define what dumbing down means. To dumb down the Gospel, is to lower God's requirements and standards so that becoming like Him is easier. There is also an element of simplifying His theology to fit this lowered standard.
Nehor’s False Teaching
Nehor's false teaching on qualifying for eternal life at 1:7 is a prime example of how God's Word is dumbed down.
And he also testified unto the people that all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble, but that they might lift up their heads and rejoice; for the Lord had created all men, and had also redeemed all men; and, in the end, all men should have eternal life.
The false teaching Nehor is laying out is that redemption will qualify men to receive eternal life. However, when we compare Nehor's teaching with the process of transformation, we can see that Nehor's teaching is false because eternal life actually requires being redeemed, sanctified and exalted. We can see that with our summary table.
Another concept that has promoted a dumbing down of the Gospel is replacement theology. Essentially, replacement theology postulates that the New Testament Church and its theology replaced Israel and her theology as God’s covenant people and Word. Further, the following analysis will show how the Churches theology lowered or dumbed down God’s standards. The table below summarizes Israelite theology.
Now we can compare this theology with the New Testament Churches theology that looks like this.
We can now see how God's Word-Gospel has been dumbed down on both requirements and simplified.
The “Feelings” Factor
Another way that God’s standards are dumbed down is looking at the Word of God on how we feel rather than on law and principle. Many people don’t want others to feel bad because they don’t measure up to a standard. So they lower the standard to be inclusive. Unfortunately, God can’t lower standards because he is a just God and must maintain order in the Universe. Once emotions become the basis for doing the things we do, we can be manipulated to do just about any thing.
The Feelings Factor can also be applied to the "victim mentality". The New Testament Church Gospel attracts people that are down and out and are looking for unconditional acceptance. Though God loves each of us unconditionally, He is bound to maintain justice and order in the Universal and must follow His Law. Further, the Israelite Gospel promises healing by accessing God's power to heal.
The Book of Mormon - a Hebrew Record
Traditionally, the Book of Mormon has been interpreted as a Christian writing, but there is good evidence that is is consistent with the Torah as it's foundation and a Hebrew or Israelite Gospel.
A Personal Note:
At a point in my faith journey, I set out to reexamine what I believed because the religion I was raised in had voids in its theology. So I set out to discover what God was really saying even if it meant that I was at the bottom of God's Ladder to Heaven and didn't have any preconceptions of proving that what I already believed was true.