Korihor has modern counterparts

In one of his books, Plain and Precious Things, Elder Neal A. Maxwell noted that the Book of Mormon contains striking similarities to the present day. He cited the prophecy: " . . . there shall be great pollutions upon the face of the earth; there shall be murders, and robbing, and lying, and deceivings, and whoredoms, and all manner of abominations; when there shall be many who will say, Do this, or do that, and it mattereth not, for the Lord will uphold such at the last day. But wo unto such for they are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity." (Morm. 8:31.)

"Clever but pathetic Korihor surely has his modern counterparts, especially in today's settings in which so many people are especially free to choose for themselves. In his time (as in ours), there was no law against a man's belief; for it was strictly contrary to the commands of God that there should be a law which should bring men on to unequal grounds. For thus saith the scripture:Choose ye this day, whom ye will serve. Now if a man desired to serve God, it was his privilege; or rather, if he believed in God it was his privilege to serve him; but if he did not believe in him there was no law to punish him.' (Alma 30:7-9.)"Soon we may see such situations in which there will be no laws against a man's belief,' but also few laws against a man's behavior. As Korihor contended so articulately and agnostically,O ye that are bound down under a foolish and a vain hope, why do ye yoke yourselves with such foolish things? Why do ye look for a Christ? For no man can know of anything which is to come. . . . How do ye know of their surety? Behold, ye cannot know of things which ye do not see; therefore ye cannot know that there shall be a Christ.' (Alma 30:13, 15.)

"In the denouncement of Korihor to follow, discerning Alma said: `Behold, I know that thou believest, but thou art possessed with a lying spirit, and ye have put off the Spirit of God that it may have no place in you; but the devil has power over you, and he doth carry you about, working devices that he may destroy the children of God.' (Alma 30:41-42.)

"Then Korihor confessed: `But behold, the devil hath deceived me; for he appeared unto me in the form of an angel, and said unto me: Go and reclaim this people, for they have all gone astray after an unknown God. And he said unto me: There is no God; yea, and he taught me that which I should say. And I have taught his words; and I taught them because they were pleasing unto the carnal mind; and I taught them, even until I had much success, insomuch that I verily believed that they were true; and for this cause I withstood the truth, even until I have brought this great curse upon me.' (Alma 30:53.)

"At first reading, this episode may seem too simplistic. But the brevity of the report does not argue against its validity. It contains several elements that are fascinating even though they were not further developed. There was the zeal to shake the faith of believers. (How often has intolerance covered itself in the cloak of pluralism?) There was the almost inevitable responsiveness of those misled, because Korihor's message was `pleasing to the carnal mind,' with all that that implies; success and self-deception were intertwined. And there was adroit use of political and religious freedom."

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