There are some disturbing things in the text of Mormon from time to time that indicate the how the church kept falling further and further.

In Mormon 2:8, Mormon observes there was one complete revolution throughout the land, and it may be that there was massive rebellion in the government and in the church.

In Mormon 2:15, there is an observation that many of the Nephites were hewn down in “open rebellion against God” after cursing God, wishing to die, but struggling for their lives.

I have to wonder in what way they were openly rebelling.  To openly rebel and then be hewn down makes me think that the rebellion was related to something that would have kept them safe in war.  Perhaps it was open rebellion against summons to gather all the Nephites in one place as protection against the Lamanite armies. It is possible they didn’t want to because of the thieves, robbers, murder, and witchcraft in the land that would make a high concentration of people very oppressive to each other.  Also, with such revolution previously, the spirit of rebellion and ain’t-no-one-gonna-tell-me-what-to-do may have spread to the point that they questioned even the necessity of safety measures.

In Mormon 2:23, when the Nephites are up against a wall, Mormon urges them to fight for their wives, children, houses, and homes. This is similar to Captain Moroni’s Title of Liberty, but noticeably absent are thoughts of fighting for their religion and God. It suggests that religion and God would not have been compelling motives for the Nephites and the Nephites had an increased cynicism about the worth of their religion, probably based upon the lack of spiritual gifts and absence of true disciples of Christ.

In Mormon 3:2, the Lord tells Mormon to preach repentance with a specific message—1) repent, 2) come to me, 3) be baptized, 4) build up again my church. It sounds like many of the Nephites had been excommunicated or left the church and rebelled, but had not defected to the Lamanites. 

I think this pattern shows the effects of how growing individual wickedness among members pollutes the aggregate church until the church itself loses moral authority and trust in the larger society.  It’s a warning to us of something we don’t want to cause in our day.

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