CPR for the Soul

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(This is an excerpt from the chapter "Is It In You?" in the book Bad Guys of the Book of Mormon.)

We have, in the Church, a certain set of answers that always seem to be the answers for everything. We give them almost as knee-jerk reactions so regularly that we call them the “Sunday School” or “seminary” answers. Here’s a partial list: faith, repentance, Jesus, celestial kingdom, pay your tithing, go to church, say your prayers, read your scriptures . . . the list could go on and on, and we doubtless know them all by heart.

The Sunday School answers often get a bad rap during gospel discussions, as though we need to get them out of the way up front so the teacher can get to the real answers—the mysterious and cool answers. Over the years, I’ve even heard some people comment about how the Brethren always talk about the same things in general conference. “When are they going to say something new?” is the underlying sentiment.

What does all this have to do with the Zoramites? Well, the scriptures tell us exactly why and how the Zoramites had gone wrong: “But they had fallen into great errors, for they would not observe to keep the commandments of God. . . . Neither would they observe the performances of the church, to continue in prayer and supplication to God daily, that they might not enter into temptation” (Alma 31:9, 11).

Sound familiar? It wasn’t any one big thing that caused the Zoramites to fall away from the Church and fall “into great errors”; it was when they stopped doing some of the small and simple things—the Sunday School answers—that they got into trouble. They stopped going to church, they stopped praying daily, and even though it’s not specifically mentioned, I bet they stopped reading their scriptures daily as well. (It’s not such a large leap to suggest that daily scripture reading falls under “observing the performances of the church.”)

Could it be that the reason the Sunday School answers are brought up so much is because they actually work? Could it be that they’re the answers we always give because they actually are the right answers for everything? Could that be the reason why the Brethren keep talking about them in general conference?

The Zoramites were in need of some serious CPR for the soul: Church activity, daily prayer, and reading the scriptures. Turns out doing those three things will help revive us when we’re feeling spiritually dead inside. And doing those three things on a consistent basis will help keep us from falling into trouble like the Zoramites.

One of the main problems for the people in Jacob’s day was that they stopped reading their scriptures every day. By not doing that one simple thing, they became susceptible to Sherem’s flattering words. I think the same thing may have happened with the Zoramites—they stopped doing their daily CPR and after a while, even some of Korihor’s ideas began to make sense.

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