A few days ago I directed you to Alma 13. I suggested that it be read without preconceptions and you let the words just acquire whatever meaning they appear to have in the chapter itself. Some of you have begun that process and have raised questions. I thought I might revisit the chapter to open up a few ideas for those who haven’t begun the exercise.
Here’s the first verse:
“And again, my brethren, I would cite your minds forward to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children; and I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests, after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son, to teach these things unto the people.”
Why “cite your minds forward?” Especially since it was talking in the past tense? Why is this idiom in the verse? How would Joseph Smith know about this kind of word usage? (Perhaps this is an indication the text is translated from another language rather than being composed in English.)
Why “the Lord God ordained priests?” Were they ordained by God indeed? Was there another man involved in conferring that authority? Did it necessarily come from God alone? What priesthood is it that is referred to?
What is “after his holy order?” Is this Aaronic? Is this Melchizedek? Or is this something different? There are three orders of priesthood, the third being “Patriarchal” as explained in Beloved Enos. Which one is this verse referring to of the three?
What form of priesthood is “after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son?” Are all three? Or is there one that is distinguished by being uniquely after the order of His Son?
What “things” are these people to “teach.. unto the people?” Is there something associated with what is contained in the chapter that alone is the province of those possessing the “holy order” to teach? If so, why is that?
What is going on here? Is this deeper doctrine than we normally encounter? If so, why has it eluded our attention? If our preconceptions have blinded us to this material, then why would we want to ever read scripture through the blinding lens of the notions we have inherited? Is this part of the wicked “traditions of our fathers” that the Book of Mormon warn us against?
Oh ye Gentiles…..
Now I’m missing the weekly Book of Mormon class I taught for so many years. There I could go ahead and discuss all the answers. My home was too small for the crowds and I wasn’t going to export it to a less sacred place where the Spirit would not permit me to teach. Well, the questions are better than merely giving answers, as I have said before. If you can learn to ask good questions, then you can go to the Lord and get the answers. Who knows where that dialogue will lead you.